Sunday, 24 September 2017

The fable that this government seriously wants to assist disabled people into work

Back in 2011 I began a new job and applied for Access to Work (AtW). After undergoing a relatively painless application process, AtW promptly awarded me a three-year grant. As I recall they contacted me once during the three-year period for a review. Great. This gave me a modicum of security at work.

In 2014, I was caught out by an administrative error by AtW. This meant I spent Christmas that year miserable and worried whether my AtW application would be successful. When I returned to work after New Year’s Day, I was around £3,300 out of pocket. That is, I had dipped into my own bank account to pay my support worker for the months of October, November and December.

On returning to work after a dismal Christmas and New Year’s period AtW contacted me to say I had a three-year renewal. Again, this at least allowed me to plan ahead.

This year my AtW grant is due to end on September 25; and with this in mind I began my AtW reapplication around six weeks ago. Therefore, by early this month, September, AtW had verbally interviewed me; and I’d completed the written section of the reapplication process.

The AtW officer who interviewed me was very nice. She was extremely reassuring telling me that she didn’t envisage any problems; but she was bound to carry out the assessment as the three-year grant was coming to an end. On receiving my written submission, the officer emailed me stating everything was in order, and I’d hear back from AtW shortly.

Last week I received a one-year AtW award. Though there were some slight changes to my work duties. None of the changes in any way changed the level of the support I need in the workplace. Indeed, AtW didn’t challenge the hours I was claiming. In fact, they acquiesced to the 5% rise in the hourly rate that I requested.

As you’d expect I contacted the AtW assessor and challenged the award. In the first instance, I argued that the award was inconsistent with past grants, these being paid for the maximum period. Initially the assessor argued that my previous applications has been annually. However, when I quoted from the ‘offer letters’, suggesting that I could scan and email the evidence, at this he apologised. Instead he pointed out that my AtW claim had been reviewed during these periods, which they had.

Despite the arguments that my support needs were the same and this assessment was inconsistent, the assessor refused to move. As a sop, he said he would put a note on my case to the effect that my 2018 reapplication would be automatically renewed. Except when the email arrived it said:

Good Morning Mr McGovern

Our earlier conversation refers. Awards can be made for up to 3 years and this has applied on your previous claims. Your present award will be considered for automatic renewal for remaining 2 years of this award to make the 3 years in total nearer the time it is due to end. Your records have been noted accordingly.


Access to Work”

So much for an automatic renewal.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Why waste an emotion like hatred on Tories?

A bloke on Facebook called Joe Gorham thinks that:

"The problem is the teachers are so massively unionised into hating Tories by their political masters and their is plenty of nasty rhetoric coming from them."
Well Joe Gorham, I think that themselves. I doubt many teachers hate Tories, for that would be a waste of emotional capital. Instead I've no doubt lots of teachers disagree with Conservative policies. 

They are very likely saddened and angered seeing their young charges arriving to school hungry. There's a strong likelihood that school teachers are unsupportive of enforced sanctions against the unemployed. And, as a stab in the dark I'd wager that any decent teacher would find the Tories treatment of disabled people disgusting.

But hate? Not at all. The Tories aren't worth the emotional energy that goes into hatred.

Friday, 15 September 2017

History Regurgitated

As we sit back watching and listening, our leaders are getting it monumentally wrong with their austerity programme. A game of 'chicken' is being played out between N Korea and the States. Then there's the horrors of wars in Syria and Iraq. It makes me wonder, couldn't they foresee the outcomes of all these events? Hasn't all this happened before, again, and again, and again?
I guess old George Santayana made a valid point when he said: "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it." However, he would have been nearer the mark had he said: "Those who do not remember the past condemn others to pay the price for their ignorance." 
Those others being poor and disabled people in the UK who are paying a very high price for the repeated stupidity, or ideology, of our government. 
Then of course, the USA and N Korea playing a very dicey game of dare on the world games board.
And finally, the poor bastards who by dint of geography happened to be born in a part of our planet that the world's powers decided to use as a fucking lethal chess board.
It isn't that they do not remember the past. No, it's because they know the past very well, but are hell bent on wasting the lives of others to make their point.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

May should watch her back

PM May is back from her hols with an exuberant spring in her political step and is ready to take on the world. According to an interview with Theresa May from Japan, the PM intends remaining in power “for the long term”. In addition to delivering Brexit she’s also intends to come to grips with social “injustices” and to stamp brand UK across the globe.

No sooner were Madame May’s announcements bounced across the globe from the Far East than Grant Shapps, former Tory Party Chairman, disabused her by stating that she is on probation, and the party would decide her future. This is a view voiced by both Nicky Morgan, MP and Michael Heseltine, grand Tory panjandrum.

However, the foreboding words from Schapps, Morgan and Heseltine are but weasel threats as Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s bestows his "undivided backing" to the PM.

Boris Johnson’s seal of approval is the kiss of death. Handed this cup of hemlock, May should think about booking Pickford’s for a quote for a speedy removals job.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Personal Independence Payment

A friend of mine living with HIV recently failed the PIP 'assessment' as well as the mandatory reconsideration. Fortunately, he is in a stronger position than most who are failed by this flawed system as he has the assistance of a friend who has worked as a benefits' advisor.

As justice becomes harder and harder to access, so more of us will find ourselves denied the means to exist. Being turned down for PIP may have far-reaching consequences; and it's not simply a matter of us tightening our belts and getting on with things.

Losing out on PIP could have an impact on employment. Without their Motability car, a person's job could be at risk. Not qualifying for PIP could threaten Access to work, if a person needed a support worker. Councils are cutting care and support packages to ribbons already. Imagine how failure to receive PIP could impact on this resource.

Blue Badge, TaxiCard, Freedom Pass, Free Prescriptions, disability premiums attached to benefits, etc, can all depend on a gateway benefit such as PIP. Turning people down for PIP really does have far-reaching consequences; and I haven't even addressed the impact on mental and physical health, nor the very real prospects of social exclusion and social isolation.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Use of False Dichotomy Weakens Your Argument

Listening to a discussion on knife crime a caller to the radio station stated that poverty was a factor in and around the incidence of knife crime. The radio presenter jumped straight in with: "So everyone in poverty is involved in knife crime?"

This use of false dichotomy by media presenters is annoying. This disingenuous line of argument is prevalent amongst shock-jocks with a reactionary right-wing agenda to promote. It is employed to skew a debate in an attempt to invalidate an opponent's case.

In this instance, the guest speaker made it clear that his thesis did not mean that all people living in poverty were disposed to knife crime; but instead that research had found that poverty was a factor in this area of criminality.

The use of false dichotomy is lazy journalism. Rather than countering another’s views with well-structured argument some journalists and commentators resort to this construct demonstrating a bankruptcy of balanced opinions.     

Monday, 7 August 2017

Strange Sleep Actions

Do an of my FB friends or Blog readers experience their body falling to sleep while the brain remains awake?

For a few years I've experienced this weird phenomenon. This is what happens. During the night, I get up to pee a lot. Between every 50-70 minutes my bladder drags me from the arms of Morpheus to release water. After peeing I sit on the edge of my bed to psych myself up to lie down – as lying down is a very painful action.

At some point as I sit, delaying the inevitable, I nod off. Most times I'm rudely awakened just as I nod off – often dropping my Kindle. At other times I'm asleep, but my mind is functioning in its awakened mode. My thoughts are sluggish, yet I am conscious.

Though conscious, my body refuses to obey instructions from the brain; I’m unable to perform voluntary body movements. At this point I know that I will keel over. In order to secure a soft landing, anywhere on the bed, I attempt aversive action by reaching for, and holding onto the grab at the side of the bed.

Nothing. My arm stubbornly refuses to budge. Panic ensues. As my upper body begins to sway, I attempt to influence its direction of movement.

Nothing. My upper body continues to sway.



The fall can result in either a fairly painful landing on the soft bed; or, an extremely painful floor landing.

By this time, I'm fully awake, though maybe stunned.

Have any of you experienced the body sleeping while the brain, or mind, is completely conscious?

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Authorities create greater barriers for disabled wheelchair users

Lilford Road is a nearby backstreet. A few minutes from my home it runs through to Coldharbour Lane and for me it's a shortcut to Kings College Hospital and to Myatts Field Park, places I regularly attend.

Lilford Road isn't particularly accessible for wheelchair users. But then there are access problems on most street surfaces and pedestrian spaces in Lambeth, and London. Yet despite this I was able to access Lilford for its entire length in my electric wheelchair.

Not so now. No, during recent pavement and kerb maintenance by Lambeth Council or the Highways Dpt. it was decided to dispense with properly graded dropped kerbs. Replacing these they've decided to follow the School of Brutal Pavement Design by chucking a few shovelfuls of 'Tar' McAdam's best mix up against the kerb.

These tarmaced short steep inclines make it hazardous for wheelchair users as they create a tipping point  Therefore, I am now forced to use the road itself, not a safe way for me to travel.  

Friday, 4 August 2017

Prince Philip, rude racist royal

Prince Philip is said to put his foot in his mouth with his comments. They are held up as tactless. I disagree. Being tactless suggests to me lacking tact or sensitivity, as though through difficulty.

Prince Philip was never tactless. No, he has simply never given a fuck what he says and to whom the remarks are levelled. He's an arrogant man who has used his position to talk down to people for decades. His behaviour is a form of bullying, as he knows full well he can say what he wants, while those he abuses, racially or otherwise, don't have the right to reply.

Is it then surprising when we hear the sychophant Boris Johnson toadying up to and extolling this exponent of royal racism and rudeness as: "One of the last great impregnable bastions of political incorrectness.”

Prince Philip exemplifies all that is wrong with royalty. His privileged life has endowed upon him a sense of entitlement that has allowed him to say what he wants, to whom he wants, and when he wants, regardless of the feelings, social standing or cultural sensitivities of those he insults.

Philip is a relic from an age that demanded and received deference as the right of royals. Sadly, this anachronistic institution will continue, as it is necessary in order to perpetuate our class system; and for this reason it needs the likes of Boris Johnson for support.