Welfare Reform Bill

Memorandum submitted by Neil Foss (WR 05)

1. I have been disabled for over 20 years. I applied for and was given DLA when it was introduced in 1994 ish. After 3-4 years it was granted for life. At some point the term for life was replaced with indefinitely. I have a deteriorative, degenerative condition which is genetically linked and never expected to improve, in fact get worse as I age. I live on benefits, my wife is my carer and we raise our children in a rented property in the social housing sector.

2. I am very concerned at the proposals in the welfare reform bill. I have been to lots of assessments and it is pointless sending me for more. It causes me extra stress and pain being targeted in such an impersonal way. I have medical notes and files several inches thick. I have been x-rayed lots of times, I have been hospitalised. I think a review is a good idea but all existing notes and opinions from GPs and consultants who are the professionals should not be ignored by the WCA.

3. I am concerned at the reports of targets being bandied about in terms of numbers to reduce the benefits bill. It is entirely spurious to claim there are x number of people who shouldn’t be getting sickness or disability benefits when they are already getting them. It is entirely untrue that it is easy to persuade medical professionals and benefits officers that one is unfit when one is actually fit. I accept that there will always be a minority who can fool the system but how can anyone be sure what the number actually is.

4. I hate being disabled. I hate being singled out. I hate living in pain. I hate being targeted and portrayed as a scrounger, liar, thief, sponger, etc. etc. etc. It is soul destroying. I am severely depressed. My medication is causing extra problems through the side effects but there is no alternative to taking the medication to control my health. I feel useless. I want to be left alone to die early without being abused in the street or on TV and other media. There must be a proper review of the full medical evidence for each person or a list of incurable conditions which allow the sufferers to be left in peace. The bill is in danger of tarring everyone with the same brush and probably causing more distress to genuinely severely sick and disabled people while the ones playing the system will keep playing it.

March 2011