Sarah’s paraplegic – and now she’s been penalised for trying to work

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Sarah’s paraplegic – and now she’s been penalised for trying to work

Post by sassy on Thu Jun 02, 2016 9:22 pm

The Conservatives may like to lecture on the value of work, but since Sarah Jones – paraplegic, with chronic rheumatoid arthritis – took on a part-time job she has found herself under investigation for benefit fraud, and is struggling to feed her children.

Jones is not her real name. She tells me she feels as if the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is “hounding” her, and she’s afraid speaking out will only make her more vulnerable.

Worry and shame are constants for people in her situation. She sits in lingering nerve pain, but when we talk the first thing she wants to stress is that “being on welfare isn’t a life I chose”. Six years ago she was a comfortable, healthy mother of two doing a job she loved as a teaching assistant. Then, at only 40, she broke her back. Overnight, she was paralysed from the waist down.

Now she lives by stretching her out-of-work sickness benefit – employment and support allowance (ESA) – to cover bills, rent, and clothes for the boys. Physiotherapy to cope with the pain from the arthritis is another cost. Private, because the NHS doesn’t cover it. But in November last year, life began to look a little brighter: with the help of a friend, Jones was offered some work: eight hours a week doing consultancy at an agency. As she describes it, “a purpose, a way to contribute”.

In the benefit bureaucracy, this is what the DWP call “permitted work”: a disabled person may be employed for fewer than 16 hours a week (and earn less than precisely £115.50 for it) and not lose their sickness benefits.

However, when she checked the rules online, Jones says she found every disability forum “screamed ‘Don’t do it!’.” The message was clear: “If you raised your head above the parapet, you’d be shot down in flames.
“The thing is, I had two kids, and I wanted them to see me working, even if only for a few hours a week,” she tells me. “And I wanted to prove to myself and everyone else that I wasn’t on the scrap heap.”

After getting written permission from the DWP, Jones started work that winter. But by March, even a few hours a week was taking its toll on her health. She told the DWP she had to resign. The next month, an official envelope landed on her doorstep: the DWP fraud department was accusing her of working without permission. If she didn’t fill in a PW1 – a “permitted work” form – and send them her bank statements and pay slips, they would stop her ESA.

Despite the fact that she already had permission to work, Jones sent the paperwork the DWP demanded – but she couldn’t find her January payslip. A fortnight later, she got a letter from the department informing her she hadn’t “complied” by sending in requested information. Her benefits would be stopped.

Jones rang the DWP straightaway – “I was honestly hysterical,” she says – and was given an entirely different explanation: her benefits had been discontinued because she’d earned too much in January to qualify for ESA.

“That was because my boss hadn’t paid my Christmas holiday pay in December and so the January payment did seem inflated,” Jones stresses. “A quick call to my employer or myself would have clarified this. But no: they just stopped my benefit.”

Jones spent all that weekend “turning the flat upside down”, trying to find proof. “I couldn’t eat or sleep and was seriously at one point thinking of suicide,” she says. “I just couldn’t see a way through it. We had no money or food, and I’d been tried and found guilty of something that I didn’t do.”

In the early hours of the Monday morning she found the payslip and sent a scan to the DWP. She got a call that afternoon: the DWP accepted that she had got permission to work. But her payslip wasn’t enough to explain her “overpayment”, and they wanted to keep investigating. “People claiming ESA are able to undertake some paid work without it impacting on their benefit entitlement,” a DWP spokesperson said when approached for comment. “If further details of this case can be provided we will investigate.”

Jones has now been without her benefits for four weeks. “I can’t feed my children or pay my bills,” she says. “I can’t remember the last time I ate or slept.” (Jones later tells me she’s had to start taking antidepressants.)

“I’ve had to have nerve blocks injected into my legs because I can’t afford to pay for physio now they’ve stopped my payments.”

Currently, Jones says, it’s like she’s living in “hell” and “limbo”. She’s had no letter informing her of the fraud investigation, or a time frame as to when it will be over – or when she’ll get her benefits back.

“I’m powerless,” she says. “I did everything by the book. I was totally honest and upfront … but because I’m disabled and poor, no one wants to listen. I need a lawyer, but of course I’m in no position to pay for one.”
A few days later, Jones emails me: she’s been vomiting. She has just called the DWP and been told her January sickness benefit has been “disallowed” – “I’m not sure what that really means,” she says – and they’re deciding whether she can continue claiming it. In the meantime, no benefit payments will go into her account. It’s half term for her boys this week, and that means no free school meals to help feed them.
“I want people to see what this government is doing,” she says. “I was just trying to make things better, and they used that to destroy me and my children.”

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jun/02/paraplegic-work-esa-benefits




This government should be put up against a wall and shot.   Cameron, Osborne and Johnson, as part of the initiation into the Bullingdon Club, had to burn a £50 note in front of a begger   Now they are doing the same, but to the country.   Fucking bastards, every one of them.

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Re: Sarah’s paraplegic – and now she’s been penalised for trying to work

Post by Guest on Thu Jun 02, 2016 10:52 pm

Currently, Jones says, it’s like she’s living in “hell” and “limbo”. She’s had no letter informing her of the fraud investigation, or a time frame as to when it will be over – or when she’ll get her benefits back.

“I’m powerless,” she says. “I did everything by the book. I was totally honest and upfront … but because I’m disabled and poor, no one wants to listen. I need a lawyer, but of course I’m in no position to pay for one.”
A few days later, Jones emails me: she’s been vomiting. She has just called the DWP and been told her January sickness benefit has been “disallowed” – “I’m not sure what that really means,” she says – and they’re deciding whether she can continue claiming it. In the meantime, no benefit payments will go into her account. It’s half term for her boys this week, and that means no free school meals to help feed them.
“I want people to see what this government is doing,” she says. “I was just trying to make things better, and they used that to destroy me and my children.”
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jun/02/paraplegic-work-esa-benefits

As frustrating this woman's true life example is for her - we've got as many or more over here; the lousy rotten apples have ruined it for the conscientious people that want to be productive members of society and want to keep working at some type of skilled job.
But the bureaucratic mounds of paper work and delays in obtaining current information just burns the good people and seems skewed to allow the neardowells to slide by unscathed Evil or Very Mad

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Re: Sarah’s paraplegic – and now she’s been penalised for trying to work

Post by sassy on Thu Jun 02, 2016 11:01 pm

Our benefits system is now designed to make life as difficult as possible and withhold money that they know they should be paying out.   We have dying from it all the time.

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Re: Sarah’s paraplegic – and now she’s been penalised for trying to work

Post by WhoseYourWolfie on Fri Jun 03, 2016 12:39 pm

Evil or Very Mad

DOWN HERE, they allow a certain amount (a couple of hundred dollars a fortnight..) to be earned by people on such benefits, before they start reducing the income part of that benefit by 50 cents in the dollar, for any amount over that $100/week;  while there would be extra allowance again for dependant children on top of that...

I BELIEVE that the British sytem was similar to that previously, before the Tories got back in and start screwing the ordinary people over -- was it not  ?

IT SEEMS  that when those hard nosed conservatives get hold, and begin looking for any savings in public spending to facilitate their promised tax cuts for their big business chums, one of their common ploys is to set up one department of scum-sucking bastards to cut the benefits, while another has the underfunded and undermanned job of fixing those mistakes, so even when it's the government wholly at fault, it still takes some weeks, even months, to bring things right..
Made even worse when so much work is being outsourced to contractors -- one of the regular complaints against Cameron's goon squads..

And in the process, the government will be saving £billions£ annually -- all heading into the pockets of the Tories' billionaire sponsors !        

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Re: Sarah’s paraplegic – and now she’s been penalised for trying to work

Post by Guest on Fri Jun 03, 2016 1:07 pm

If memory serves me correctly {admittedly I might miss a few finite details about this} during Bill & HRC era as Gov. of Arkansas ...his primary directive was moving able bodied humanity off of the 'welfare system' back to productive work force but still providing them with 'some' assistance so they could make a living off of a wage that wasn't designed to be a 'sustainable living wage scale'.
He asked for an got a extension for 'child care' those families going back to work; so the maximum amount of their earned income on child care expenses - often childcare is more costly than the monthly rent. And not all welfare families are recipients of Section 8 housing ...that's often the first that gets budget cuts - that and the food stamp/food assistance programs.
IRONIC - the home of the infamous 'Sam Walton - Wal Mart Corporation' and they had the highest unemployment/highest welfare/lowest minimum wage per person!

We can't take support from the very people struggling to work and support a family on 'non-livable wages' and then belittle them for trying to GET OFF GOVERNMENT subsidies - that's just cruel and insane. IMO

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