Letter to Chris Grayling

Dear Chris,

Your nice piece in The Guardian today, illustrating just what your brand of Tough Love can do to rescue sick and disabled people from Labour-induced festering, almost had me going.

In fact, if I weren't sick and disabled myself and a veteran of successive sickness benefit regimes (24 years "on the sick" makes me a little before your time), I might have bought your argument that compassion was really at the root of the Work Capability Assessment.

You and the DWP might not be aware but there were medical assessments before the WCA, and they got tougher and tougher. And there were also schemes to support people on Incapacity Benefit to get into work. I believe it was the New Deal for Disabled People.

"Great!" I thought when I read about them (going back about 10 years now) and gave them a call. Maybe there is a form of work I could do that I just haven't thought of.

I explained how my ME meant that it was too exhausting for me to attend an office for normal working hours. And that my condition fluctuated unpredictably so I couldn't manage any regular hours. But I stressed I could do some work from home, in small bursts, as and when my condition allowed, and above all that I was highly motivated to work and had good academic qualifications.

"Sorry, we can't help you", was their bemused reply. Now maybe you have some really hot shot specialist Work Programme providers who do know of jobs that would suit me. But everything I've heard tells me I'm going to be forced into CV writing and motivation-building programmes and if I'm too ill to attend I'll risk having my benefits sanctioned. So forgive me if my response to your rescue plan for me is a little jaded.

So it could simply be that you are not knowledgeable enough about different forms of sickness and disability and have not spent enough time talking to businesses and employers about whether or how they could employ people like me.

I would like to think it was ignorance anyway, rather than callous cruelty.


  1. Grayling's jaded rhetoric really does depend on who he's speaking to, doesn't it?

    Thanks for the great article.


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