Friday, 14 January 2011

The fear of benefit cuts.

After seeing the One month before heartbreak blog I felt I needed to share my fears and worries and help to raise awareness of just how essential these benefits are to our lives and wellbeing. 

From a personal point of view, without benefits I couldn't survive. I would be homeless, could not feed or clothe myself and would end up in a worse state of illness than i already am. 

I suffer with ME (Myalgic Encephalopathy) and I use the word suffer because it is one long suffering. I was diagnosed nearly 9 years ago and i have gone from a healthy, active, busy young woman to a woman that cannot work, has no social life, barely leaves the house and one who's body is controlled totally by illness. 

The daily, non stop symptoms of extreme exhaustion, muscle pain, joint pain, nausea, dizzyness, weakness, IBS, brainfog, loss of short term memory and low concentration, sound and light sensitivity, headaches, sleep problems, anxiety, depression etc... are difficult enough to cope with without the stigma attached to the illness by ignorant people who disbelieve or belittle what ME sufferers go through. 

As if this isn't enough to cope with there is now added fear and stress caused by the governments plans to scrap DLA and Incapacity benefit to try to encourage people back to work. 
This is all well and good for those who cheat the system and those who avoid work, but what about how badly it will affect those like me who are severely affected by illness and disability? 
The problem is the government really only care about the figures looking good and will always put profit over people's lives. 

The fear these cuts are causing me is constant. They are making me iller with the constant worry and stress of what i may have to face. 
 I'm already waiting for a tribunal date as i've had to appeal against the decision to cut my DLA care rate from middle rate to nothing. This fight has now been going on since April 2010 and I am still waiting to see if i get back the money I am entitled to. 
 The whole system exhausts me. Most days i can barely keep my eyes open, yet I have to continue to fight for a small amount of money just so i can survive. 

Yet this last year of fighting for DLA (care componant) may all be wasted if the government go ahead with plans to cut DLA. To some it may seem like an exaggeration, but without benefits, I literally cannot survive.
 I live on my own and without disability benefits I could not afford to keep my housing association property. I could not afford to look after myself. I would lose everything. 

The biggest fear i have is that changing these benefits to focus on getting people to work rather than supporting those most in need, will end up with those most vulnerable living in poverty or resorting to suicide. Some people will just not be able to survive. Is this really what this country has become? For those most in need of help to be forced into work or lose everything?

If i can't work how am i expected to go to numerous medical appointments to be judged by someone that has no idea about ME and who is merely following a list of things to tick off. Applying for DLA means a huge form full of very personal questions already so these appointments seem to be unnecessary.  Anyone who has been to a benefits medical appointment will know just how horrible it is. You are treated as if you are lying and misbelieved. It's almost as if we are all guilty until proven innocent. 
If after these appointments that stranger has decided I can work, then I get put on JSA. That then involves living on about £60 a week and going to sign on every two weeks. 
  If you don't turn up to these appointments on the day they say you risk losing your benefit. If I am barely well enough to get off the settee all day, how am I going to be able to cope with going to sign on every two weeks? 

Then the worry is who on earth would employ someone who would maybe last the morning before having to go home utterly exhausted and nauseous, and then having to phone in sick for the rest of the week as the mornings work has put you back in bed for weeks? 

Maybe the government need to concentrate on getting those who are able and healthy enough back into work. If there arn't enough jobs for those on JSA then where are these jobs meant to come from for those on disability benefit? 

Due to my brainfog and inability to concentrate for long, I can't claim to understand everything that is being threatened and trying to read through all the in depth information is just too much for me, but what i do know is that the disabled are being treated as an easy target and we somehow need to make our voices heard. 
 We can't protest and go on marches like students can. We don't have the ability to fight like healthy people, so this blogging idea is important. 

I'm scared enough about how my life is going and about how vulnerable I am but this benefit cuts situation is terrifying me and makes me feel like there is nothing I can do about it.