Haven’t been doing much magical writing recently as I’ve been bogged down in sorting out the last bits of mum-in-law’s estate and dealing with a DWP appeal for a family member. I get Personal Independence Payments for my physical disability but lost my Mental health component quite a while ago now as they deemed me to have no issues. I’m lucky enough to be financially secure so didn’t appeal that decision as I realised the stress that would involve would be detrimental to my health and may have even made my problems worse.
Unfortunately some of my friends and family are not in that same position so have to run the gauntlet of dealing with an inherently unfair system. I have seen quite a few personal examples where people, who are clearly chronically unwell with mental health issues, have been denied benefits (PIP & Employment Support Allowance (ESA)) which are essential for them to be able to live and then have to go through the highly stressful process of appealing that decision in order to get them reinstated. They are trapped in their illness because these frequent interactions erode their already fragile mental health state and prevent them from moving forwards and getting better.
Surely the money spent on these procedures would be better spent on more therapy for sufferers to give them a chance of escaping this cycle? I appreciate there are some people claiming benefits who are not unwell and need “weeding out”. But, for those that are unwell, the system is actually causing their problems to worsen.
An example from last year saw me attend an interview with a friend. They were clearly highly distressed during the interview but co-operated and answered questions as well as they could. Their benefits were stopped shortly afterwards and we appealed on paper for a reconsideration. The report they produced bore no resemblance to what was said during the interview and was full of lies. That paper appeal failed so we lodged a final appeal. This stage goes to a panel of independent people who look at everything and reach a final decision.
Our appeal took place in an official court building and was heard by a psychiatrist and a chairwoman. (The cost must have been huge) They asked us about one aspect of my friend’s condition and then asked us to step out for a few minutes. When they called us back they advised us the appeal had been won on just that one aspect and they didn’t need to consider the other 9 aspects that this benefit uses to ascertain whether someone qualifies to receive it.
My friend had had to go through nearly a year of being on no benefit (luckily their family was able to support them) and their mental health deteriorated even further during that time as they worried and stressed about the outcome continually. Even though it has now been reinstated they worry about when they will next be called in. Given past history it is very likely the whole process will have to be gone through again as they have already been through it twice.
So I wrote a poem to sum up my frustrations :
It is my lot to help my friends
When DWP letters do descend
They ask to see the one concerned
The fear inside their souls is burned
For mental health is very fragile
And these dark letters remove a smile
An interview so often follows
Prior to it loved ones sit and wallow
In feelings of their very worst day
Why won’t they let us have our say?
The game is fixed to turf us out
Their fixed agenda what it’s all about
How can we heal and grow and play?
When we keep repeating our worst day
Why not spend the money involved,
On therapies, why not? Problems solved
But that’s too easy and may not work
Much quicker to search for those that shirk
So on it goes and stuck we are
Feeling helpless, bearing scars