Actually, there was lots more in the speech than the headline proposal that under-25′s should no longer receive housing benefit… and Moggy Militant II, a disabled benefit claimant, has written an excellent letter of rebuttal. It’s long, but stick with it; it’s not an ‘official’ Spartacus publication as such but it’s brilliantly satirical in places… You can download the letter here: Response to Bluewater Speech (or the accessible version: Response to Bluewater Speech (Word version)).
The letter, signed by more than 100 of Moggy’s friends and contacts, was delivered to the House of Commons on 17 July, after DPAC’s Pauper’s Picnic, when Chris Huhne’s secretary promised to ensure it reaches the Prime Minister. Here are some tasters from the letter:
“….your government and aggressive market economies have created an income gap in this country between those in the Bullingdon set and those outside it. Those within it grow up with a series of expectations:
- You can have a home of your own.
- Your cronies will support you whatever decisions you make.
- You will always be able to take out no matter what you put in.
This has sent out some incredibly damaging signals, that:
- You are owed something for being born into privilege.
- That there is one rule for the rich, and another for the poor.
It created a culture of entitlement for the rich…
… And it has led to huge resentment amongst those who pay into the system, because they feel that what they’re having to work hard for, others are getting by tax avoidance, stepping on others, cosying up to the press and exaggerating the problems of the welfare system for their own political ends…”
“…. So yes, let’s have a sensible and intelligent debate about work. Work is not always good for you. Some people have their health ruined through work. Research has shown the right sort of work at the right sort of pay is right for some of the people, some of the time. But you are trying to prescribe a one-size-fits-all solution, instead of celebrating diversity, and it is doomed to failure.”
“…disabled people who can only manage a few hours a week from home are rarely going to be financially self-reliant. So where is the safety net for them? Where are the subsidies? How do you propose to help people in these situations where it is more than money, where they want to hold their heads high, maybe in the creative arts, but where they need a permanent safety net unless or until they make enough to live on?”
“…. [Karen Sherlock] was diabetic. Her symptoms included chronic kidney failure, partial blindness, a heart condition, and unpredictable bouts of severe vomiting. But the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) essentially told her to get back to work. She lost her contributions-based Employment and Support Allowance and recently died of heart failure, scared and abandoned by a government that should have been caring for her. Ironically, she was placed in the [ESA] Support Group only a couple of weeks before she died.
To expect those with severe, debilitating long-term health issues, to work the same long hours as their able-bodied peers is unethical.
So, Mr Cameron, you may ask “whether your reward for paying in is that you won’t have to face all the tough conditions that we’re imposing on those who haven’t paid anything into the system at all”, but it is too late for Karen and her family. Your words that “this is very simply about backing those who work hard and do the right thing” begs the question – whatever did someone as sick as Karen do wrong?”
As Moggy says, whatever did any of us do wrong? She reckons we had the audacity to become ill or disabled and to need a bit more support than our fellow citizens…