Incapacity benefit challenge: Week two

It’s only the second week of my three week task to live on the equivalent of incapacity benefit (£89.80 a week) but already it strikes me how different this challenge is from others I have undertaken on the blog.

Obviously money is a major issue for IB claimants. A number of people have been in touch through the blog to explain that despite the benefits they receive they are still struggling to pay for basic items, such as groceries and heating. Many are angry at benefit fraudsters who, they feel, give genuine claimants a bad name. They are angry too at being targeted by politicians. They argue that the MPs who have worked the expenses system to their advantage are no better than ‘benefits scroungers’ themselves.

Here are just a few of your comments:

“People don’t choose to be ill, and most people who are ill are trying hard to regain their life and deserve to be supported,” says Sarah.

“If you find one day after you have been in employment, paid your own bills, tax and stamp, you are ill – and I’m not talking about something minor but a life debilitating illness – and you cannot support yourself, what will you do?” says Sue. “I live on just over a hundred pounds a week, pay my gas, electric, water, TV licence, phone bills, don’t have a car, don’t go on holiday, pay for my groceries. If someone can come up with an all-round fair scheme for disabled people, I will be the first in line to vote for them.”

“All of my life I was brought up to think of people on any kind of benefit to be ‘Scroungers on the Welfare State’,” admits Malcolm. “However, after an accident at work…and with degenerative damage to six vertebra in my spine coupled with chronic bronchitis, I had no option but to claim incapacity benefit.  Friends tell me I should claim mobility allowance, care allowance and disability living allowance. God knows, I could do with the extra cash as I have a 10 year old son and 14 year old daughter. Up to now I have struggled on, not wanting to be thought of as a ‘scrounger’”.

But the daily struggle of people who are too ill to work doesn’t just revolve around finances. There are many other issues that are just as problematic: struggling every day with ill health, having to rely on other people to do things for you, such as carers or family members, and the strain this puts on relationships. Then, outside the home, the lack of facilities for disabled people, the sometimes judgemental or ignorant attitude of others and the unpleasant and stressful medical assessment regime. What’s more, if you can’t work, you have to find something else to fill your time. It must be easy to become bitter and depressed. Of the other challenges I’ve undergone on the blog, I feel there are some parallels though with the frustration felt by those struggling to make ends meet on the Jobseeker’s Allowance and the mobility and health issues many pensioners suffer from.

However, as some of you point out, it’s all very well for me. My challenge lasts just a few weeks and I’m not really ill or disabled. I don’t have to go through painful visits to hospitals or assessments and I’m free to leave the house whenever I want. I’m not struggling to cope with pain or having to take any medication. I am amazed by how people, like Diane, and all those of you who have taken the time to tell me your stories, cope with this. Thank you for taking the time to email me or comment on the blog.

On a practical note, so far I’ve just managed to keep within my weekly budget – although only with DJ paying his share of our outgoings. I’m concerned about our heating bills, though. It’s been pretty cold over the past week and I’ve had to have the heating on sometimes during the day, which could easily break the budget when the bill shows up.

Later on in the week I’ll be finding out more about disabilities and the workplace. Are you a disabled person who works? What challenges do you face? Leave a message and let me know.

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19 Responses to Incapacity benefit challenge: Week two

  1. Bill says:

    A slightly better neighbour of mine, with only 1 leg & crutches, can move faster than most, but has a mobility car. She always had a Longbridge mini until the collapse of the firm. She had new every 3 years. Now she has some foriegn junk which she does not like at all. The new BMW from Swindon retails at over £18,000, therefore it is understandable that they have changed. She questions, why could she not keep her old mini a little longer?I also ask, why are they not buying British?The Corsa is extreme popular as a fleet vehicle, & the Fiesta/KA is also a good option, they are both struggling, but need genuine sales, not charity or bail-outs. I have just seen an extermely good local charity, the Lighthouse Project, go under after 12 years of roaring success. Unfortunately, the very nature of their work left them completely dependent on state support, which has now dried up. The local council, Sandwell MBC, attempt to blame bad management, but forget to mention the fact that this same bad management has assisted 12,000 people over the last 12 years, or the fact, that they, Sandwell MBC, have pulled the plug on £250,00/annum funding, & their neighbours, Dudley MBC, something similar. Dudley MBC have also closed all public swimming facilities, in order to "stay afloat".Why is the motability vehicle lease only 3 years?I would also ask the same, why not at least 10 years, or 5 years, with an option to purchase the 2nd hand ex-lease vehicle?They do not realise more than£1,000 at the auction, normally reserved for 2nd hand dealers.I also question why a school-leaver only receives £25/wk JSA, when some pensioners receive 5 times that, + £200 winter fuel allowance & bus-pass?If we had one standard price for all, it would give the civil service slightly more incentive to put us back into productive employment, asap. The civil service in both the NHS & DWP, need to work together on this, as most wheelchair drivers have the ability to work at least part-time in highly skilled IT & even light production/catering etc.Most of us would prefer to work full time, at least 30hrs/wk, just to relieve the extremely monotonous boredom. I have no wish to return to the 18 hr shift in transport on the road, or the 90 hr week, but have recently been offered permanent nights, 3 on, 3 off, which is 3.5 shifts/wk, @ only 12hrs/shift, which would give me ca. 42hrs/wk average. The post office have also offered me similar. I worked for the post office, on the same contract, spasmodically in the late 90\’s, & the other firm in the early 70\’s.I would only be paid 11hrs/shift, 38hrs/wk. I do not wish £12/hr., £9 would suffice, on night shift. In comparison, the post office are currently offering £15.50p/hr ! ! !Unfortunately, the home office, without rhyme, reason, or any tangible proof of anything, do not allow me to work, as I am apparently too dangerous thereto. Every year a fresh appeal by myself results in a fresh medical, by the DW&P, which shows/proves nothing, but both tribunal, as also magistrates refuse me my "work permit". I also take 2 private medicals each year, the one financed by the NHS always agrees with that of the DW&P, showing/proving nothing, the other private medical, costing me only £35 cash, from an NHS GP, gives me a clear bill of health, as fully fit for my Trade. All Group 2 drivers in the EEC/EU, including Blighty must take this same medical (D4) every 5 years. Ironically, they can easilly die of stroke, heart attack behind the wheel, only one week after a clear medical. It would be much more effective as a preventive meaqsure, every 3 months, or at least every year, but this should include every driver, not just us 4% Group 2. Every civilian pilot must atke both medical & complete flying test every year, at their own, or the firm\’s expense.My own GP, also NHS, demands £200 for the same medical, but refuses me one. Obviously, it is the identical system/medical in his own country, Greece. I could even do my driving test in this country, in any Euro lingo of my own free choice. That is law.Should I be receiving full Incapcity Benefit, if so why?A few months ago the magistrates told me in court that this is not a criminal, but a civil case.WHY ARE THEY STILL YET HEARING IT THEN, IN THEIR OWN MAGS COURT, YEAR AFTER YEAR?A civil case should be in the county court. They also told me that a retest is not necessary, even after 10 years off the road, despite a retest normally being automatic after a maximum of 5 years off the road. They say that my "competence " is not in question.HOW DO THEY KNOW THAT, IF THEY DO NOT USE A RETEST?WHY THEN, AM I STILL YET SERVING THIS MYSTERIOUS SENTENCE, 10 YEARS ON?ARE THEY AFRAID OF THE POSSIBLE TEST RESULT?If it came out clear, it would finally put an end to their little game, & I could possible reclaim the £250 expense, from them.If I am too dangerous to work, why am I not locked up, for public safety?If I am truly incapacitated, how?Why am I not on some relative form of therapy?My latest ex solicitor, suddenly retired at ca. 50, sat & took no action whatever, for 12 months, for £500. He complained that I was frustrated!I have no idea how he came to such a conclusion, as we never met until 2 weeks before he retired. Possible it is my brief to sit quietly, & simply wait for the Grim Reaper?I am a qualified driving Instructor, since 05/01/\’71, & have instructed all classes/groups of license for the British ministry of transport, in their own school, Wrexham, as also for the Red Cross Munich, in Dresden, Auschwitz, & Zagreb. Also for the ministry of transport, Bonn, in the Chamber of Trade Munich, also the Bundespost, Munich.Red Driving School have repeatedly offered me a 3 year contract, complete with car etc., in recent months, but it is not legally possible to take it. I would possibly find myself driving "other than in accordance with" valid insurance, but, it is still yet legal for me to give free driving instruction, which I have been doing some time, for charity.I have to releive the boredom/stress somehow, & believe that the £25.50p/hr charged by Red is absolute extortion, when many small firms only charge £10/hr, some only £8/hr. I myself, would only charge £10/hr, if it were legally possible. It would still yet allow/yield me £5/hr wages.I know many wheelchair drivers, & others, now confined to their so-called homes, many alone, for the rest of the winter. Why do pensioners receive the £200 winter fuel allowance, & no one else?All those on Benefit, even fraudsters, should receive the full fuel allowance, it could easilly be paid @ £12.50p/wk, over 16wks, with other Benefit payments. Any disability/care allowance could be paid extra.Why do we need DW&P medicals, do they not believe, or trust, their fellow civil service GPs of the NHS, who already sign the sick note?My own D4 is signed by a GP, a civil servant from the NHS, are they calling him a liar?Was the district Judge who gave me my full driving license, with no weight or size restriction, in Warley magistrates, 02/03/\’07, wrong, or even a liar?No, I am not frustrated, at least not after my first Brew of the day, I am simply non-plus extra, & have been for well over a decade. Possible their is no known cure for such an illness.Sadly, Blair, Menzies, Major, Cameron, Prince Charlie (patron of age concern), & Trevor McDonald, & the entire BBC/ITV, are all too busy swilling pink gin, to investigate the problem. I have also tried the TImes & Telegraph, but they are also s . . t scared of the civil service.After 8 or 9 years I finally met my own MP, John Spellar, who is also unable to assist, a typical, complete waste of space. He already knows that he never receives my vote, that I am, with good reason, a devout Abstainer.

  2. Bill says:

    ps. My license is still yet clean, after 42 years.

  3. sarah says:

    i am on incapacity benefit..and it is so hard to cope…i have spina biffida occulta..and need regular medication..but i have to pay for prescription,dental,glasses…i didnt choose this option…i have worked since i was 16..and 4yrs ago when i was 31 had an accident and have been off work since..what annoys me most is the incapacited have to fork out for dental etc..but if your a single mum on benfit ect u get it for free????job seekers u get it for free????so why do we incapacitaed have to pay…your not even entitled to certain help from goverment ie budgeting loans cause your on wrong benfit..and now the over paid goverments wants to stop are benefit…..system sucks…..

  4. Unknown says:

    Claimant – there are 2 categories of benefits claimants – whether it is unemployment or incapacity: the genuine and those who skillfully work the system rather than work for a living. Insufficient money is going to those who are genuine claimants – the welfare system is failing, the young, the elderly and the vulnerable.As an employer of thousands over the years I have become familiar with the behaviours and skills of the dishonest claimants and setting aside the fact that those paying tax in this country are carrying over 20% [yes, 20%] of the elgible work force in this country on their backs – the thing that has always stood out is the imorality of these dishonest claimants in taking money away from those in genuine need.Incapacity benefit was introduced as one of a number of means of managing the unemplyment statistics – it fooled nobody while we were all making money but perhaps we were less bothered in prosperous times. Now even those of us who are financially fortunate will either ease off or move abroad as soon as the 50% rate comes in and, in my case increase my charitable giving to directly benefit those in genuine need rather than rely on a failed state distribution system.Living on benefit – while many are truly disadvantaged it seems astonishing to me that others can still afford their Sky subscriptions, gamble, drink, holiday – and so on. The case presented in your \’experiment\’ is false and unrepresentative, it takes no account of the thousands of pounds available from other sources – available to support perfectly satisfactory lifestyles by many.The truly ill, immobile, and otherwise suffering from incapacity are often those who are either too inexperienced or shy to ask for the supplementary payments and while the DWS does do a good job in seeking these people out and ensuring they are aware of their rights, there are thousands who are missed.Ironically, although I have been fed up with dishonesty in this area for years, and begrudged handing over my money to the undeserving – I have always become philosphical and shrigged shoulders, eventually something tips you over the edge and I am now off to a simpler, cheaper and less taxed environment – so thanks for finally giving me the push to do something about it!

  5. Bill says:

    As I receive full Incapacity Benefit, against my will, because the welfare state will not allow to work, I am also P . . . -off with the system, & have genuine empathy with those genuine ill & dsiabled.In my case, although I oft feel a guilty fraud, I am not one. They who tresspass against me, namely the entire conspiracy of state organs, are the true fraudsters. Sadly they are totally immune to the law, & so far I have not succeeded in laying their handwork. They should be sent into the desert, without food or water, for a few months, see how they like living way below the breadline, "through no fault of their own".I am perfectly fit & able to work, & do so most days for charity, despite being far to dangerous therefore. I have only ever yet killed, or maimed, when paid to by the British state, & only then in complete self-defense. I have never yet caused a road accident, accidental death, or even an injury.I have now been driving almost 3 years for charity, & still yet no road accident, I do not even drink, or smoke. By keeping myself, & many others on any form of Benefit, without due, legal, cause, against our will, they are committing more than one offence against the basic Human/Civil Rights, but then, they are immune to any form of legislation.They force us to live off Benefit against our will, while denying those who need & deserve it, the correct & proper level of assistance.Central gov.uk recently gave all students & pensioners free swimming in all Public Tubs. Why not all those on Benefit?Meantime, in less than 3 months of the new legislation, Dudley MBC have closed all swimming facilities, due to "cash-flow" problems. They will not re-open anytime soon. Both Birmingham City, & Sandwell MBC are moving in a similar direction.Sandwell MBC have closed a very successful local charity, & sent the receiver in, after they, Sandwell MBC pulled the plug on an annual £250,000 grant. Another large sponsor, possibly Dudley MBC, also pulled the plug. Over 1,000 who were currently on literacy/numeracy & IT courses, were left stranded, devoid of this vital education, completely without any notice whatever. Many of us saw it coming, but had no idea until it was already £60,000 in the red, with only 1 month to pay. We needed at least £15,000/mth to stay afloat. The work in question should not have been necessary, if the victims had not already been let down by the welfare state. We had a creche in each of 5 centres, greatly assisting single parents in their future education, & employment prospects. Some of these single parents, as also many others, did child care courses, partly in the local creche. A great employment choice, for those who wish. Most of the work was done by volunteers, with only two paid management in each centre. I was not a registered regular volunteer, but assisted with houshold removals, & other transport problems, in my own large 3.5t van, all free of charge, as a donation. I also assisted with IT education spasmodically. Opposed to that, I did mentoring/counseling courses, & was a 2-way member of the British Sign Language Social Group, learning & practising for my own L 1 NVQ at college, in a mutual Benefit system with several others, on the "open door" policy, oft assisting fresh beginners with taster sessions, & further. Also, I was oft called to reception as interpreter, when communication problems arose with Deaf Service Users.Now, after assisting 12,000 over the past 12 years, the system is dead, killed by the state, depriving so many needy of this mutual self-help. So many lost & lonely, elderly & infirm, depressed & shy, have all lost their spiritual home, their only hope, or chance, of a solution to their problems.As a Service User/spasmodic voluteer, almost fulltime for the past 5 years, I am fit & able, fully IT literate, & have me own set of wheels, which also serve as a mobile hotel & office, total insurance value £1,000.Many of the other victims, some completely illiterate/innumerate, are on zimmer frames, mobility scooters etc. Some, like myself, have not only lost our spiritual home, but also our fairly large spiritual familly. Very few are adequately IT literate to even manage an email, let alone consume a blog site.There will be many more such closures soon. Birmingham City have already closed several care Homes & Day Centres in recent months. Softly, softly, the entire country is in complete meltdown, just keep it to yourself, or you could be next fers almighty chop.

  6. Bill says:

    ps. If I could skillfully work the system, I would have been able to take one of the many offers which I receive on a daily basis. Last week it was the post office again, 3 nights/week, x 12 hrs./shift, @ £15.50p./hr., ca. £600/wk, Freelance.Unfortunately, I am still yet trapped (inmate) in a council cave, 10 floors up on a demolition site, with no hope, chance, or future, all for the pittance of £93/wk, + Housing & poll-tax Benefit. I spend as much time as possible sleeping rough in me van, my only hope of any real sleep. I hate the place. If I attempt any cash-in-hand, as oft offered, they get the job for a third of the price, & I risk being caught driving "other than in accordance with" valid insurance, due to driving "other than in accordance with" valid license. Total cost to me, at least 6mths custodial, possibly 1 year, + a minimum of 3 years complete ban, + 12 years of stain on me still yet clean license.If only I could work the system, it would possibly be far easier to become PM, then I could give everyone a level playing field, a long overdue, fair chance. Only problem is, I am far too intelligent to win an election, or just not greedy enough. I would only ask £9/hr., even for night shift, Sun. & Bank Holidays, maximum £400/wk. (£20,000/annum), all so-called expences incusive.

  7. Paul a says:

    You tak about incap and living on £89.50 a week try JSA £60.50 then tell m its hard incap is £29.00 a week more and for most people who are able bodied is an insult to us on JSA £29.00 more a week would make a hell of a diference to me i would be able to afford clothes instead of looking like a refugee.??

  8. Paul a says:

    Ps I also have the expense of travel costs to sign each fortnight incapers dont sign ??

  9. mark says:

    my opinion is, and im on the dole after a heart attack, i was layed of by a blood sucking employment agency, i could easily go on long term incapacity and gain another 30 pw, but if i did i would begin to loose hope and hope is all i have at the moment.i know people who milk the system , i know why , its not because they dont want to work, its because they struggle to get work, eventually giving up and going on incapacity for thr extra money.if there was a one tear system where everyone gets the same amount would this happen? after 3 months i have bailifs at my door and i cant manage on 60 pw, is there an answer?? the answer has to be to get this economy back on its feet and get everyone real jobs, not employment agencys, part time jobs ect, untill that happens people will die in this country because of povety while bankers and mp rake in what isnt theres

  10. on says:

    amazing some comments on here i have not worked for a while embarrased yes, i live on nothing, been agreed i cant work, but cant have disablity, fair enough not screaming, just hungry. My kids all grown up and living decent productive lives and i am proud of them. I have watched the poloticians rip the people of for years i have wathed the promises and lies i have watched the pm all of them tories & labour say they are going to do this that and the other but you knwo something i even watched them say resecion ahahahahaahah with footballers getting £150,000 per week. Now all i want to do is be angry and smash up even though i knwo that will cost me and no wonder thew kids are growing with with little respect. So we pay sportsmen silly amounts of money and the firefighters policemen NURSES asnd the like who make society stay civilised have to fight and shout and go through hell sometimes to get a decent wage and the poloticians ohh they are fine best eduaction medical care two three houses massives wages and bonuses and all they have to do if there isnt nough money for the greed to slow down is create another enquiry into something and pay each other a few thousand if not millions more. England deserves it!! Yes thats what i said we deserve it becasue we sit on our butts and just moan moasn moan and the poloticians know this they are laughing there heads of and now, i cant blame them and if i had the chance i would join them beasue we just dont care enough.I mean look at us, celebrate guy fawks with the kids (the man tried to murder people) ? Pictures of Jesus in your house white skin blue eyes blonde hair (born in middle east for petes sake) illegal to drink and drive (excluding the police and pilots) and yet every pub in the country has a car park, The richest most powerful nation on the planet not that long a go and we are skint? in debt up to our nuptuals? poloticians caught thieving but no jail pay it back boys now dont be naughty ? yes it hapens to one of ours the whole family is chastised if not jailed, and to top it all of they want us to vote tories back in omg!! Its ok lets put rasism on the tv and talk about thaty then it will take away the real problems while people are killing each other. Or make some legislation that will confuse if not be contraversail to take away the problems we will have our bonuses by then i gues they say…….So it seems the wicked shall inherit the earth,,,,,,,, well i think my friends they are (poloticians) like drug addcits waiting for somethign that just isnt there vote green vote blue vote hateva you want i just dont care!!

  11. on says:

    i guess i just had enough and belive me i have tried enjoy my rant

  12. Maggie says:

    I appreciate that getting on to benefit for those who are physically ill is hard enough but try to get a benefit that you are intitled to if you have a mental illness. It is very hard to do and it adds to the stress of your illness trying. I think that they hope you will give it up as a bad job.

  13. helga says:

    what an utter load of crapp unemployment benefit is half of that so its all a joke,the government beleive that we can live off £49.50 per week, i was going to lower my standards and become a bank manager or a politician but it meant that i would have to become a thief and a liar so decided to try and work from home.i have just read all about scams and serious cons that have easily been performed, and made people loads of money, not only have my eyes been opened but at the end of this very informative book, i was shown how easy it is to start and run your own business from home, all of this with no help from the greedy bastard bank manager and no help from the liars in government.the only thing that i can say is dont steal the government hate competition!!!!

  14. sarah says:

    I my self am disabled and live of £96 every week and one week i get £74 pound DLA which i have my car taken out so every 3 weeks i get £96 and 1 week i get £170. I struggle to live of that, out of that i have to pay for gas (i have two gas fires and there is no other heating in the house and i have to have them on constantly) food,electric,petrol as i need to have the car as i need it to get to A and B as i can only walk short distances.I have had a Tripple Heart Bypass, ive had Four heart attacks. I am also a Diabetic ( which i have to take insulin and tablets for) i am in conctant pain with artheritus.I have lower back pain,which makes it hard for me to stand for more than 20 mins at a time. And i also fidget when im sat down because of the lower back pain. I also suffer from depression and short memory loss.I can not get Carers Allowance as im on Low rate care (DLA) but i do get high mobilaty which allows me to have my car.Becasue i have my car they leave me with £74 per month on top of my £96 every week. I think the goverment need to take a walk in our shoes and try to live twelve months on what we have and see how hard it is to live.If the other goverments get in and drop our money they need shooting and we need to rebel as we are struggling with what we have no never mind the fat cats that sit in the offices and decide what is liveable on they need to be in our shoes and see what its like to live.

  15. Debby says:

    I too am on benefit and know the genuine hardship you have to endure living on a mere pittance. I have worked all of my live but am now having to claim benefit. I have been made to feel like I am a criminal claiming for money, I have been penalised when ringing the benefits office, I have had my benefit stopped and have been expected to live of of nothing whilst waiting for them to make a decision on whether to reimburse me or not. The stress I have been put under is immense. This probably sounds quite familiar to others on benefit too. My arguement being why is the government allowed to continue treating vulnerable people in this disgraceful way. The situation should really be brought to the front and sorted… but who is going to do that? This has been going on for years and years. We all talk about it but nothing ever changes!!

  16. Carol says:

    There is no longer a benefit called Incapacity Benefit. It was replaced just over a year ago by Employment and Support Allowance which focuses on a person abilities rather than DISabilities. The rates are similar to those of Jobseekers Allowance with premiums being paid to those with extreme circumstances. The Governments stance is still very much that you would be better off working and claiming tax credits where possible, but there will always be those who choose to stay on benefits as it suits them best….

  17. Carol says:

    and for information i believe the rates of benefit are 50.95 pw single under 25 and 64.30pw single over 25, 100.95 for a couple

  18. christopher says:

    im disabled and have been since birth. i have marden walker syndrome (a form of downs ) i have sleep appnea and i have kidney failure. im starting to get arthiritis in my knees which makes it painful. i cant run etc. and a simple trip to the shop can leave me dizzy and in pain. i get incapacity benefit and dla and think if the goverment think that by cutting the rates of benefit to us is good then they need to think again. we still have bills to pay for ie electric and tv licence and water rates. i even pay part of my rent. and then we have food to buy. its not as if we waste our money by partying 24/7 lol…. my condition wont ever change but trust me would love to be a police officer if i could or a benefit fraud officer because it seems to me the goverment are tarring the genuinely disabled with the fakes as it where. ive applied for jobs in past but they never reply back to u.

  19. Rita says:

    well said chaz i totally agree polititians suck robbin bastards should be jailed we would be 🙂

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