As I rolled under the quilt earlier today, defeated once more by the whole getting up thing, I wondered if I’m hiding away from the world.
My brain is full of the many things I want/ need to be doing, and anxiety. Oh, bloggy buddies, anxiety. Avoid it if you can. It lures you into a vicious circle and prohibits progress.
Hiding amongst the volunteering paperwork, the bank statements and the bills is a Questionnaire. The questionnaire that strikes fear into the souls of the chronically ill and the disabled across the UK. In truth I haven’t considered it yet; it’s been enough to have its malevolent presence in the house. The friendly advice workers who I’ve relied on in the past are no longer. I have two weeks to make sense of it all. (They gave me 4 weeks- it took me two weeks to realise that Disability Action weren’t going to respond to my phone calls.)
There’s a letter, telling me dates, what to do now, what happens next etc. It is practically incomprehensible. I can send off medical documents with the questionnaire, but not medical statements. Anybody have any idea of the difference?
There’s a long paragraph telling me that the support I receive on the grounds of illness or disability will be converted to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) only if certain conditions are met. It lists the conditions, and then throws me into a spin. These conditions are different in Northern Ireland and can be found in the Welfare Reform Act (Northern Ireland) 2007. This letter only goes to people in NI- they couldn’t have taken the time to actually tell us what the conditions are? I can’t imagine the conditions are very different, but in the absence of the friendly advice workers, I’m going to have to look up the legislation to be sure. I still haven’t got to look at the Questionnaire, and I’m freaking out.
ESA50 is called Limited capability for work questionnaire. The answers you give…will tell us about how your illness or disability affects your ability to work.
About your treatment
About your illnesses or disabilities
About your medication
Part 1- physical functions
- moving around and using steps
- standing and sitting
- picking up and moving things
- manual dexterity
- communicating with people
- other people communicating with you
- getting around safely
- controlling your bowels and bladder and using a collecting device
- staying conscious when awake
Part 2- mental, cognitive and intellectual functions
- learning how to do tasks
- awareness of hazard or danger
- coping with social situations
- staring and finishing tasks
- coping with change
- going out
- behaving appropriately
- eating and drinking
There are several questions per section and a box for additional information. Can I go up 2 steps if there is a rail? Can I lift my arms above my head? Can I lift a milk carton? Can I press a button, or turn the pages of a book? Can I learn how to set an alarm clock? Can I get food and drink to my mouth without help or prompting from another person?
Well, it depends…
Ah, highly employable then.
I have referred you to Sue, at Diary of a Benefit Scrounger before. I don’t know how she does it. She has led the arguments against how the UK government treats the sick and disabled. She has put herself in hospital, fighting for fair treatment for us all, pointing out the inconsistencies in policy and the realities of life for those too ill to work. She’s my go to woman for articulate information and comment on what’s going on.
To cheer me further, a recent report The Impact of Welfare Reform on Northern Ireland, (Centre for Economic and Social Research, Sheffield Hallam University, October 2013) indicate that the changes to social security implemented by Dave and his chums will take £750 million out of the Ni economy- equivalent to £650 per year, for very adult of working age- making it the worst affected area in the UK. Belfast is hit harder by the reforms than any major city in Britain. A key effect of the welfare reforms will be to widen the gap in prosperity between NI and the rest of the UK. The reforms without a mandate, which purposefully vilify the sick and disabled and blame them for the economic problems, will hit this city hardest. We don’t even have the opportunity to vote for the parties which make up the British government. Connection?
I need to gather my resources, and all the energy in the world, to demonstrate my employability, or lack thereof. A few hours volunteering in my pjs, with the odd day out, does not a reliable employee make.
If only I could get out of bed.