Thursday 22 September 2011

Would you like fries with your cancer?

I should be inured to the horrors issuing from the callous Conservatives by now but no, they've managed to surpass themselves. Verily, as they claim to be Christian, Jesus must have said, "Take up thy bed and work."

A bit of background. Prime Minister David (call me Dave) Cameron, Chancellor George (the one who didn't go to Eton) Osborne and little Nicky Clegg (the one nobody cares about) want to cut the amount spent on Disability Benefit. This is money that goes to people who are unable to work through sickness or disability. There are two ways to do this:

1) Throw the undeserving off the scheme. One such undeserving person is the mentally handicapped man who took a day to travel a few miles to an assessment office - he was scared to ask anyone as he has profound communication issues so he walked round and round the town until he saw the sign outside the office. He arrived panicking and exhausted, to be told "well, you found us, you're capable of work, benefits stopped." Doctors associated with the company making millions by such sympathetic handling are being investigated to see if they're breaching the Hippocratic Oath.

2) Time-limit benefits. Cut them drastically after a year. Yes, you bleeding heart liberals (small l) will probably point out that anyone who's too sick to work will probably be even iller in a year and not capable of much work anyway. Tough. This government has an agenda and a few MS patients starving are irrelevant.

Now all of this isn't yet law. The UK has a defined procedure for laws to be passed, involving transitions between the House Of Commons and the House Of Lords and debate in each House. The Lords, once called "the Conservatives in retirement", are not only rediscovering their conscience, they're up in arms about Call Me Dave's latest blunder - a letter that's just been sent out to terminally ill people telling them their benefits will probably be cut in the near future. That's upset the Lords because the Bill to do this hasn't even reached them yet. Parliamentary processes - tough.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which is sending the letters, has compounded the error with a statement that's almost laughable for its callousness. A spokesman said: "It will depend on the individual's capacity to work. Everyone will be assessed on an individual basis and if the decision is that they are able to start the journey back to work there will be a time limit.

"Speaking of terminal illness is clearly emotive and if they are on their deathbed they will clearly not be going back to work, but if someone is not in that position they may be able to lead a normal life which could involve work. The process of working may even be helpful in giving them a sense of being useful and prolonging their lives."

So there, all you miserable sick people, lying at home using up drugs and oxygen and medical help and carers and home nurses (guess which of these are also being cut and charges made) - you can put a sense of purpose back into your lives by retraining for work and getting a job in a call centre. Oh frabjous day, the morphine doesn't cut the pain any more but at least I can look forward to my night shift in MacDonald's.

The spokesman added, "We must ensure that the benefit system has to be fair to taxpayers as well as disabled people." Unbelievably crass! Guess what, DWP spokesman - many of these terminally ill leeches and mentally handicapped nonentities have contributed hugely to the taxation system. Many of them have paid National Insurance for decades.

Many of them are even people.

Are there problems with the system? Yes, and ironically many of them started under a previous Conservative government (though Labour was happily complicit) - cut the unemployment figures by moving long-term claimants onto sickness benefits. That works nicely when the economy is booming. Come hard times and a Chancellor who can't spell "double dip recession" and the drain on the nation's finances is clear - and it's those long-term work-shy chavs - the sort who riot and steal trainers and televisions - who should be dragged off their arses and forced into jobs. And the heckler in the corner shouting "What jobs?" can shut up as well. Okay, we have to clobber sixty year old stomach cancer patients at the same time but they probably don't vote - not for much longer anyway.

David Cameron thinks that society is broken - not yet Dave, but you're getting there.

They haven't stopped: see Cancer patients to face welfare tests during chemotherapy. If I made these stories up as a grim parody I'd be accused of over-exaggeration.

Plans for privatisation of long term care. I've read this twice and I can't see any way this isn't a guaranteed profit for the "initial" vultures.


Unknown said...

OMG (that's Oh My Gosh) Paul, you have to be actually living in the UK to know what all this is about. Our friends across the pond will undoubtedly think that this is the outline for a very black humour comedy show, wouldn't they?

Here's another example of how insensitive these people are - my Dad has been diagnosed with various forms of Lung Disease and they have been doing tests to see if he has Asbestostosis, as he came into contact with the stuff when he was in his early 20s. However, he was told that, if indeed he does have it, he would not qualify for support because he is too old.

The inference being that as he has survived this long (he's 82) then he has done well and is too old to be bothered about. Fortunately, further assessment has shown he does not have the disease.

But getting back to the point you make, it seems that actual quality if life does not matter to the Government any more. Can you imagine this scenario being played out in homes across the country:

"Sorry kids I only have six months to live but I cant spend more time with you before I die, because the government needs me to work so I can boost their coffers with more tax and national insurance payments."

And what pisses me off big time, is that all the people making these decisions about our lives are not going to be adversly affected by the decisions they make. For example, will a cut in Child Benefit next year affect the Cameron and Clegg families? Nope!

Paul said...

Since the above comment was made, AJ's father has sadly passed away. RIP to him and may his family find peace in the memory of a much loved man.

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