Skip to main content

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.







Comments

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

    Thanks for the great article.

    ReplyDelete

Post a comment

Popular posts from this blog

Sickness and the Social Model of Disability

This is the first part in a series of blog posts that will explore the uneasy relationship between chronic illness and the social model of disability. From my perspective as a Sick person (more on that controversial word next time) I will explore why people with chronic illness often feel excluded from the Disability Rights Movement (DRM) that emerged out of the social model. But rather than reject the social model I’ll discuss how we, the Sick community, could claim it for ourselves and what a social model of chronic illness would look like. The crucial distinction between impairment and disability lies at the heart of the revolutionary Social Model of Disability that emerged in the 1970s – the model that underpins the disability rights and independent living movements. To paraphrase it simply, impairment is loss of bodily function, whereas disability is disadvantage imposed upon people with impairments due to hostile social attitudes or inaccessible physical environments. 

The future of assessments and social security for disabled people

This is a slightly edited version of notes for a presentation to the ESA roundtable meeting chaired by John McDonnell MP on 29th November 2018. The content is based on previous research work with Spartacus Network, independent research into ESA and the WRAG, research on Access to Work, as well as current research with the Chronic Illness Inclusion Project. The current benefits system was identified as the biggest source of social oppression faced by CIIP participants. We recently completed focus group on designing better social security for people with energy-limiting chronic illness. Introduction The first part of this presentation is four main principles for a new assessment framework. A set of tests that any new system must meet if it is to restore the Human Rights of disabled people. The second part covers points for further discussion. Highlighting areas of current debate and disagreement. Principles 1: Overturn the ideology behind the Hostile Environment, restore digni

And now, for my latest trick

I am the lucky owner of a fab new powered wheelchair. And my new trick is that I am an ambulatory wheelchair user. That means, sometimes you'll see me sitting in my wheelchair, and sometimes you'll see me walking. This causes a great deal of social awkwardness, consternation and even shock. People seem to think I'm leading a double life. So I'll explain how it works. Little Britain 's Andy and Lou sketch: making part-time wheelchair users into a laughing stock. If you see my in my chair, thank you for your concern, but I have not just had an accident or broken any bones. And, thankfully, my condition is no worse than it has been for the past few years. If you see me walking, I have not suddenly been graced by a miraculous recovery. I still have the same crappy chronic illness I've had for 30 years. Neither am I using my chair to get attention or to pretend to be more disabled than I am in order to get some kind of advantage over everyone else - lik