“What ails you” is a book that can’t be judged by its cover

The Mail reports on the scandalous 80,000 claimants who receive sickness benefit for what is noted as “minor ailments”.  There are many disturbing figures such as 81,670 drug addicts … hold on – 81,670 but the headline reports 80,000 in total, why the discrepancy?

Sky News reports the total figure as 2.1million on incapacity benefit which costs the country £7bn a year.

Come on guys, we’re all concerned about the benefits culture and the effect is has on the whole of society not least of which are the implications to those who get depressed as a result of being unemployed and whose only desire is to feel some self-worth again.  The DWP have released the figures in order to boost support for their draconian and unlawful approach to penalising those on benefits – given the recent whistle blower inside information, clearly the DWP have a lot of explaining to do; instead they release these statistics in an attempt to divert attention.

Take Mr X – good executive level job, married for many years, twin babies, both he and the missus have worked since leaving school and paid their taxes.  Made redundant from the job; the marriage is breaking down; he is the better parent (yes, a man) so he battles through the courts to get custody of the twins and wins.  He takes his parenting responsibly, washes, cooks and keeps house, takes care of the twins, comforts them when they get hurt, scolds them when they are naughty to teach them right from wrong, gets them to school on time, is there for them when they come home, has their little friends over for play; reads with them, puts them to bed and reads to them.

He’s now a single parent with full-time responsibility for the children but he also has ambitions, so he develops a business plan in his spare time for a future business.  He signs on each week; he applies for jobs which might suit his unusual needs and he takes his business plan to the local government sponsored BusinessLink connection.  He makes his appointment and takes his typed business plan with Excel spreadsheets detailing the projections and figures – the what now?  Pardon?  What are Excel spreadsheets?  So ends the possibility of any help from BusinessLink who have no clue what Excel is and no clue what a spreadsheet is – not a good start.

He continues to sign on, applies for jobs through specialist agencies, takes good care of his children.  The next sign on day, he asks what assistance is available to him or how the Jobcentre can help in finding him a job.  There is nothing they can offer that is of any use to him and they tell him not to bother signing on, he is in a “mortgage trap” and any job they might possibly find him won’t cover his mortgage so its a waste of time signing on – especially as he is a single parent and doesn’t need to.

While he continues to pursue his business plans, he asks about help with training, not the generic nonsensical rubbish that passes as training under the various DWP schemes but specific training that would give him a particular skill in the marketplace to improve his chances of getting a job. Computer sez no!  You can’t have that training because it’s not on the “approved” scheme and there is no alternative we can offer – back to square one.

Mr X develops health problems and undergoes various surgery.  Finally, he undergoes surgery which goes wrong and he is left in constant pain and has an effect on his ability to concentrate and on his short term memory.  While in hospital he has his first ever anxiety attack during which he feels completely helpless and close to death.  His lower spine is degenerating and he is in constant pain that only morphine can alleviate but the drug is too powerful and means he can’t care for his children properly so he chooses not to depend on it.

He doesn’t sit around, he goes to evening classes, depending on his mother to take care of the children for a couple of nights a week; he wants entry qualifications to go to University to retrain.  He passes the exam with additional support because of his recently developed learning issues.  He passes the entry exams for University and gets a place (he’s 48 by this time).  He battles with his disabilities, takes care of his children depending on his mother again for those times when he can’t get back in time for them.

While he finds the commitment uplifting, he is having trouble making the finances work out.  His housing benefit is interrupted and his rent goes into arrears because the information he was given before starting at University was wrong.  He is called in for an “interview under caution” by the council because they say he has not properly informed them of some detail or other – he produces the evidence to prove that he had, in fact, followed all the rules and procedures and that the failure was on the part of the ‘system’.

Mr X has to give up University because he is unable to meet his rent obligations on the money provided by the state and he is being forced into debt.  He continues pursuing his interests and looking for work.  He applied at a secondary school to be an “instructor” – without the teaching qualification, he cannot be a “teacher” although the job is exactly the same.  He gets the job and pushes his disabilities to one side and gets on with the job.  He creates lesson plans, spending long hours bringing together the material needed to make the lessons interesting for the pupils and marking assignments.

Try as he might, he cannot maintain the pace and his health deteriorates further and he finds he must leave the job due to his health.  He’s disappointed, his students are disappointed because he made a difference to them, his real-world approach had been new for them and some sparks were fanned into flames of inspiration where before there were none.

Although he had to give up work, he continued to look for other work.  While looking he volunteered his time to a community project and helped elderly and disabled people learn new skills in computing and the use of the internet.

Yes, he has been on and off benefits over a long period of time but he has never sat around and expected handouts, he’s done his best to change his circumstances and to be of use to himself, his family and the community.

Individually, he has learning difficulties due to his memory problems; he has mobility difficulties due to his spinal problems and he suffers from a sleep disorder which makes things even worse; under certain circumstances he may have an anxiety attack which is embarrassing and difficult for him to manage; he is depressed.  He is one of the statistics on “sickness benefit” that The Mail feel is such a scandal and he hates being dependant on anyone for anything.

His mother is now dead, his children are grown; one is working and the other is in full time education but neither of them claim any benefits at all; he continues to look up and forward having adopted a “use it or lose it” approach to his health problems; he does not wear a sign declaring them and there is no outward sign that he is in pain or in need of additional support in other areas; he is not sitting in a corner with a begging bowl and pushes himself forward by supporting other disabled, unemployed and elderly people in the local community until such a time that he can find a job that can see past his age, his disability limitations and his obnoxious personality (just kidding).

What’s the point of all this?  Well, it’s a scenario that the media cannot see and does not factor into their reports.  Chris Grayling, the employment minister, is “putting an end to this”; to what?  To people with minor ailments claiming sickness benefit – very good but remember why some of them are there in the first place – because YOU and your ilk parked them there to massage the figures?

It’s almost certain that many of these people have been pushed onto this benefit by the DWP themselves in an attempt by the Employment Minister (either this one, or past ones) to massage the unemployment figures.  People on sickness benefit are not considered “unemployed” which has suited governments in order to manipulate the unemployment figures when it suits them and now that sickness benefit is on the agenda, that’s the thing to put the spotlight on.

Mr Grayling says “it is not fair” – what is not fair was the £127,000 flat he bought in 2001 and the “unusual arrangement” with the Parliamentary Fees Office which allowed him to claim for mortgages on two separate properties at the same time.  As shadow home secretary, he lived only 17 miles from the House of Commons yet claimed thousands of pounds to renovate a flat in central London that was purchased with a mortgage funded by the taxpayer.

Grayling also owns other buy-to-let properties which must certainly make an income for him or at least pay the mortgages – his property empire is worth around £2.5million when last reported and could be worth even more at this time.

He carried out a full refurbishment of his flat in the summer of 2005 yet soon after the general election in May, he claimed £4,250 for redecorating and £1,561 for a new bathroom; followed by £1,341 for new kitchen units a month later and in July he claimed a further £1,527 for plumbing and £1,950 for rewiring.  All of these obvious ‘tricks’ had added to the value of the property considerably – we’re certain that any profits from a subsequent sale with go straight into his own pocket and not back to the taxpayer who funded the original purchase and the subsequent work.

He has claimed pretty much the maximum he can get away with in all areas of expenses and even submitted claims for work carried out in previous years thereby spreading the claims over two years so as not to ring any bells and have the claim rejected – he even wrote on the invoice in his own hand “please note this has only just been issued, date notwithstanding” which we all know is a load of nonsense.  Apparently his decorator was “very ill and didn’t invoice him until now” – we wonder if the poor chap was on sickness benefit at the time?

The Pimlico flat (nice and convenient for the Commons – a nice walk along the Thames perhaps) was estimated to have risen in value with a studio flat in the same block selling for £235,000 – using that as a guide, Mr Grayling has made a tidy £108,000 profit at the expense of the public purse – that’s equivalent to the long-term sickness benefit at the long-term rate for 1,181 people for a week or the annual income of 22.7 unfortunates on incapacity benefits.

The Mirror reports that Mr Grayling has claimed £100,000 for the flat in which he is “rarely seen in” and where his mailbox is packed with unopened mail leading to the question of why is he claiming this money from the public purse when clearly he has no real need of the flat other than as a cash cow by which to fleece the taxpayer.

His family home in Ashtead is an imposing house with sweeping grounds and cost £680,000 in 2000 and is estimated to be worth around £1.5million.  As shadow home secretary, Mr Grayling’s salary was £64,766 and he made second home claims of £68,304 and has, in our view, profited greatly from the public purse he now says should be closed because it “is not fair” – please Mr Grayling, your duplicity is showing and it’s not very attractive.

We only wish that we could end the cycle of addiction and expense dependency of MPs with no prospect of doing a useful days work for the money they steal from the taxpayer.  Maybe the Coalition would like to reduce the expenses bill by testing MPs to see if they are actually eligible for the considerable amounts they spend on their second homes.

Perhaps some of the MPs with second or third jobs can give them up to give others a chance at getting a job.  At least Liam Byrne, the shadow work and pensions secretary has given voice to the other side of the coin in his statement “with five people now chasing every job, what we need to get people off benefits and paying tax is more jobs” – it’s a shame that his lot didn’t put their money where their mouth is when they had the reigns.

One sterling commentator on the Sky News page has hit the nail on the head with their insight

Oh can’t people see that this is all designed by the government to turn us all against each other. A headline story, along the lines that someone is leeching off the state and everyone jumps on the bandwagon of criticism just like the hate chants in Orson Wells’s 1984. Wake up people and realise that this is part of not only a divide and conquer policy, but also a tactical diversion from the main issues. Production of brown wrapping paper up 300% Victory Gin production up 700%.

Good for you for having your eyes open to this blatant propaganda.  Perhaps the Liberal Conspiracy have it right when they say simply that Chris Grayling is ‘hopelessly full of s*@t” which just about sums him up.

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