Derek Carpenter, 63, has advanced prostate cancer. He lives in constant pain and walking proves difficult, an activity which leaves him “feeling like the bones are sticking out from the bottom of his feet”. He cannot leave his home without a wheelchair. Despite this the government, famous for its zealous use of the word “fairness” when describing its “progressive” policies, has decided that Derek is no longer entitled to state support.
Following a “Work Capability Assessment”, the 63-year old cancer victim was told he was not eligible for Employment and Support Allowance, which replaces Incapacity Benefit. Derek says he is “a worker not a shirker, and I have been all my life”, yet the jobs he could do are non-existant, given his health and lack of mobility. Derek’s situation is not unique – unfortunately we will be hearing more cases like his over the course of this government.
The Citizens Advice Bureau is currently dealing with numerous cases like Derek, instances where people who truly require state support to get by have been stripped of benefits by a coalition government which cares more about allowing the banking sector to continue to hand out extortionate bonueses than being concerned with the more vulnerable members of society. Chris Darlington from Haverhill CAB says: “I am in the process at the moment of between 30 and 35 cases at the moment… the regulations are being too stringent”
Perhaps the name change is somewhat telling. The formerly entitled “Incapacity Benefit” has been replaced by “Employment and Support Allowance”, though clearly people like Derek Carpenter do not require support in the coalition’s eyes.
The Department for Work and Pensions says “The Work Capability Assessment is designed to assess whether someone is fit for work rather than writing people off on a lifetime of benefits” and that “changes will be made to iron out any problems”. Well unfortunately for some people, like Derek, they do require a “lifetime of benefits” simply to get by day to day. I highly doubt many would consider themselves “written off” merely because they need state support to get by. Some might say it is actually an insult to descibe them in that way.
Until the time when “changes” are “ironed out”, people like Derek will have to suffer, with little option but to appeal.
Oh, and check out this lovely article by the Daily Mail below. It details the “shocking” number of people on “sick benefits”. Yes, there are those that will “play the system” out of idleness or laziness, but there are thousands of people just like Derek Carpenter who need state support to continue living. It is propaganda like this that has contributed to this government’s “tough stance” on people claiming benefits.
- State-funded idleness: 1.5m are spending fifth Christmas in a row on sick benefits (dailymail.co.uk)
- Incapacity benefit tests face overhaul after damning report (guardian.co.uk)
- Shameful incapacity benefit consensus between main parties must stop (leftfootforward.org)