Big Brother.

The Department of Work & Pensions are best described as a necessary evil, & that’s being generous. You’d think that an organisation that is supposed to support people in finding employment & aiding us in retirement would be well-loved, but the fact of the matter is that much like the NHS, the idea has outshone the execution.

Lots of people have cause to dislike the DWP, but the hostilities are perhaps felt most strongly among disabled people. Simply put, the majority of us live in fear of them.

At the time of writing I’m on the higher mobility rate of Personal Independence Payment & get nothing for the care rate. My powered wheelchair, without which I couldn’t go to work, is paid for on a scheme that takes the money from my monthly allowance before I have received it, and the little that’s left over goes towards (but by no means pays for) medication, other mobility aids, & transport. When this contract comes to an end, I plan not to renew it, but to buy my own wheelchair independently. Why? Because all it would take is someone from the DWP to put my benefit up for early review & the rate be dropped, & I would lose my wheelchair instantaneously.

This may seem paranoid but multiple acquaintances of mine have already experienced this, & the cases reported in the news demonstrate that this is not as rare as you would think.

CCTV footage from public places, particularly supermarkets, has been used as evidence in court to show that someone is not disabled on multiple occasions. On the surface this might seem sensible, or at the very least, not objection-worthy. However, despite clearly stating on my application form that I am capable of standing up & walking short distances with support, & that my condition varies greatly day-to-day, I still find myself looking for all the CCTV cameras in a store when I’m on my walking frame. I worry that I don’t look disabled enough, particularly on days when I feel well. Quite frankly it is like living under the judgemental gaze of George Orwell’s Big Brother.

At this point people like to argue that if you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear. I wish this was true but I fear wrongly convicted criminals might feel a little differently. The fact of the matter is that while in a court of law you are innocent until proven guilty, the reverse seems to be true for disabled people.

For example, I have to watch what I post online, which for someone with a blog about disability is rather contradictory. I like to take photos of my outfits for Instagram, but I’ve taken to sitting down for most of these out of fear that someone could take a snapshot quickly taken before sitting back down, & use it to claim I’m lying. Every picture & comment becomes a calculated risk, & even this blog post is no exception.

Even being called back for your review assessment after the assigned period of time since the last one is dehumanising. Assessment centres are often inaccessible, but your application will be denied automatically if you fail to attend.

Even if you do make it into your assessment, the assessor is not the one who makes the decision about your benefit; this decision is made by someone who has never met you. They take the assessors report, look at any other evidence you have managed to supply (the majority of which they will tell you is ineligible due to arbitrary reasons), & having never seen how you have to live will make a decision that controls how you live for the next few years. Appealing poor decisions takes months, is highly stressful, & everything you say & do is subject to scrutiny for the duration of the procedure. Anyone who does choose to appeal is made to feel like a criminal.

Disabled people are not criminals. Being disabled is not a crime. Yet it is demanded of us that we repeatedly prove our innocence. Under any other circumstances this would be deemed diabolical, yet it is how many of us, myself included, must live.

Author: diaryofadisabledperson

My multi-award-winning blog discusses what life is like as a disabled bisexual woman. I have a 1st class honours degree in nutrition from the University of Leeds where I now work in medical research, an achievement which was undeniably difficult to reach. Outside of work I have a passion for wrestling, rock music, and the MCU. You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram simply by searching diaryofadisabledperson.

4 thoughts on “Big Brother.”

  1. I feel exactly the same. Rather than the PIP application process being an assessment it feels and behaves more like a trial. I’m conscious of everything I do, where I’m seen; if I manage without my wheelchair on one day I’m scared that could be used as evidence against me even though, like you, I’ve stated how my condition varies from day to day. The terrible irony is how PIP is now being treated as a short term fix. Being given PIP may help with mobility, being more able to take accessible transport or funding a wheelchair, which in turn might make it seem as though people receiving PIP are capable of being more active. The more active you’re able to be the less of the mobility component you get. The less you get the less you can be mobile. It’s a catch 22 that I fear every day and leads me to weigh up how I present myself to the world every single day adding to my daily stress. It shouldn’t be like this.

    Thank you for another brilliant blogpost about subject which needs more discussion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely. Going to university was used against me & I’m almost certain having a job & a blog will too. But I couldn’t have done any of it without my wheelchair, which I couldn’t have afforded without PIP in the first place. There’s a large part of me wondering whether it’s even worth the hassle now that I’m earning a bit more.

      Like

  2. I think this is a fear we all share, it’s a case of “if you weren’t paranoid before you were on PIP/ESA, you soon will be”. We know that the Police now pass on the names of disabled people (when they get them) at demonstrations to the DWP, it feels like there is a deliberate policy to force us to become invisible again, life going back to the 1950s or earlier.
    Personally I refuse to be intimidated in this way, I am cautious and don’t put myself in certain situations, but no one is going to stop me from having a good life.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for writing this article that expresses what many people must feel.
    Lack of adequate provisions for and suspiscious scrutiny of people who must live with a disability, compared to amount of taxes paid in the U.S.A. (where military is always awarded the lion’s share and routinely cannot account for trillions of missing dollars and where the huge section of the Pentagon where military spending records are kept was “coincidentally” demolitioned by a “hijacked plane,” before an audit could be done, on 11 September 2001) is equally disheartening.
    The current catch-22 is that in U.S.A. wages have pretty much frozen for decades now while basic living costs keep rising. Housing costs have more than tripled in the county I live in, in about 30 years time and it’s created a horrible situation for everyone forced to rely on what’s known as in-home support services to avoid potential hospitalization.
    The low hourly wage paid to these care providers is no longer enough to cover housing. So the pool of people to interview (whose personal situations don’t require them to pay rent or mortgage) is far too small to help all the disabled and elderly people in need of this service which allowed a neighbor (who died when 103) to remain in her home all those years, until a broken hip required a stay at a nursing facility, where her long-time caregiver observed that staff neglected her care which lead to rapid deterioration and her death.
    It is always hard to feel up to doing the interview process to find new help and now there’s not much help to be found.
    And I believe the economic manipulation of stagnating wages and housing costs that were artificially driven up by uber-wealthy sorts paying above asking price for homes are a part of the globalists’ depopulation agenda.
    For people the financial elite globalist eugenisists consider to be “useless eaters” (which is everyone but themselves and the others in their top income bracket) to be living a decent quality of life is the opposite of the intentions they have so arrogantly carved into the Georgia Guidestones (see short documentary, Destroying the Georgia Guidestones on Really Graceful channel of YouTube if not familiar with them.)
    I’m sure the Bilderberg/Bohemian Grove-trotting globalist set, who I prefer to call “nefarious naybobs” since one insulting label begs another and because it’s a more accurate description than globalists, oligarchs or plutocrats) are delighted by every needless death that’s intentionally been caused by “unavoidable” things such as bad bureacratic decisions and red-tape delays or the lack of available care providers that disrupts critical services or withdraws life-support equipment for months at a time which can lead to death by health deterioration or suicide.
    Because in their sociopathic world view nobody deserves to die more among the population of “useless eaters” than whoever’s in need of any type of government assistance. Because tax dollars are for handing over, not for handing out.

    Liked by 1 person

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