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Where is the humanity? Where is the mercy? October 6, 2015

Posted by Phil Groom in 5 Quid for Life, Mental Health.
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EVEN DALEKS UNDERSTAND MERCY. But not, it seems, the DWP, the Department for Work and Pensions.

That’s the conclusion I reached this week as I signed yet another cheque from 5 Quid for Life for someone whose benefits have been axed after a Work Capability Assessment (WCA). No matter that they’ve been diagnosed with mental health difficulties which affect their ability to hold down a job: the DWP’s decision makers decided that they’re capable of some type of work and can therefore no longer be paid Employment and Support Allowance, ESA:

Because your work capability assessment shows that you can do some type of work this means we can't pay you ESA...

Because your work capability assessment shows that you can do some type of work this means we can’t pay you ESA…

No matter that they’re out of work with no job prospects on the horizon: they’re capable of some type of work and can therefore no longer be paid ESA.

No matter that this leaves them without enough income to live, without enough to cover the basics of rent, heating, utilities or even food: they’re capable of some type of work and can therefore no longer be paid ESA.

No matter that finding work is hard enough for those who are fit let alone for someone being starved by the state: they’re capable of some type of work and can therefore no longer be paid ESA.

Nothing matters, it seems, except the points scored on the WCA scorecard: score less than 15 and you may as well be facing a Dalek repeating its mindless mantra: Exterminate — or as pronounced by the DWP, ESAterminate.

We use a points system to assess whether you have limited capability for work or are capable of doing some type or [sic] work...

We use a points system to assess whether you have limited capability for work or are capable of doing some type or [sic] work…

This, my friends, is wrong. Worse than wrong, it’s evil. It dehumanises and degrades. It turns human lives into number crunching exercises — and for those whose lives are already blighted by mental illness, it drives them even further into depression and despair. It’s no wonder that ESA has been described as “the most bewildering, unfair and badly designed benefit since the abolition of the workhouse.” (Benefits and Work)

But it’s not only the victims it dehumanises: it also dehumanises the decision makers, turning them from fellow human beings into nothing more than DWP Daleks. Any compassion or care they may feel for their victims is overridden by the system as all discretion is taken away: the numbers are all that count. Like Clara Oswald locked inside that Dalek shell screaming, “I love you,” only to find her words translated by the Dalek interface into that nightmare word Exterminate, all they can do is fill in the blanks on their form letter and say, ESAterminate!

It’s strange: when I first started composing this post in my head, I was angry, more angry than words can express, angry at the DWP decision makers destroying people’s lives. But now, reflecting back over what I’ve said, that anger’s been ablated to something more like pity, pity for these DWP workers: I find myself wondering what it must be like for them at the end of their working day, knowing that they’ve successfully trashed yet another vulnerable person’s dignity? What kind of job satisfaction can there be in the knowledge that you’ve driven yet another person to the foodbanks? Or to suicide?

But more than the DWP Daleks endlessly repeating ESAterminate! ESAterminate! I pity their Davros, Iain Duncan Smith, and wonder what it must be like to be so lacking in the human graces of compassion and care? To have no understanding of mercy? To be responsible for so much destruction of hope and so many lives laid waste?

For in this, the real world, there is no time traveling Time Lord who can go back and show him mercy: there is only the dissolution of the present and the bleak landscape of a future in which there are no more benefit claimants to process because they’ve all been ESAterminated. Would that be the DWP’s final utopia, I wonder: a nation without people in need, created not by meeting their needs but by destroying the people?

Yes, I know there’s an appeals process: the ESAterminate letter says so. But the need is now, not in ten weeks time or however long that torturous process may happen to take (although if you’ve been ESAterminated, it’s definitely worth lodging an appeal).

The need is now — and that, my friends, is where you come in, lights in the darkness, driving back the despair to bring hope and life: as one of those 5 Quid for Life has helped recently  expressed it, “You’ve restored my faith in humanity.”

Whether you’re supporting 5 Quid for Life financially or by sharing the word that the project is there, you’re making a difference. Please: keep that support coming and keep on sharing so that when the DWP strip away their support, the people who need a mental health safety net can find the help they need.

Thank you.

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Health Scare Alert: Be afraid, be very afraid February 6, 2014

Posted by Phil Groom in Knockabout.
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GOVERNMENT MEDICAL EXPERTS have today identified the number one cause of death amongst the human population: breathing. In short, the advice is: breathing kills and should be avoided wherever possible.

The evidence that breathing kills is said to be irrefutable: NHS health records show that every person who has died since records began used to breathe and research indicates that every person who died before records were kept also used to breathe. Observers have further noted that zombies, who don’t breathe, don’t die and in fact cannot be killed.

Responding to the news, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, has pledged to take whatever action may be required to minimise risk to the general public: “The police, the military and all emergency services are on standby to offer whatever support the public need,” he said. “We have reviewed government policy on this matter and we will ensure that people who do the right thing, hardworking families and Conservative Party supporters, will be protected.”

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, threw his weight behind the Prime Minister’s stance: “People should be in no doubt about this,” he said. “Breathing kills and zombies are real. Look at me, look at the people around you next time you travel on the London Underground. Many may appear to be breathing but for most of us it’s an act as we attempt to blend in with the rest of the  human race. If you’re not sure, look us in the eye and you’ll see that dead look as we stare past you and through you. This is the reason we need to close down all the ticket offices: they force people to talk, talking requires breathing, and people who breathe, die.”

George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, explained the Treasury’s response: “We are bringing in a new, fairer, tax regime and people who insist on breathing will pay the price through increased taxes and further benefit cuts. We are raising the age at which Housing Benefit can be claimed to 125 to ensure that no one who breathes can claim it. Furthermore, VAT and fuel duty will be levied at 200% on all purchases made by people who breathe.”

Iain Duncan-Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, added his support:  “We will protect those who do the right thing, who work hard for low pay or no pay. We will also protect the wealthy and the wealth creators to ensure that they can carry on receiving their bonuses. But if you insist on breathing, if you do the wrong thing, you will be penalised. Alongside the Treasury’s actions outlined by my Right Honourable friend, the age at which the State Pension becomes available to people who breathe will also be increased to 125 and anyone who carries on breathing after this age will be automatically excluded from receiving the winter heating allowance. Disabled people or those who suffer with mental health problems, however, will be given all the help they need to stop breathing at the earliest possible opportunity.”

Business leaders applauded the government’s response: “Breathing kills. The medical evidence is clear: people who breathe take in oxygen and give out carbon dioxide, using up their bodies’ resources. This forces them to eat, and to eat, they have to buy food, which means we have to pay them. Zombies, however, do not breathe and do not need to eat, which means they don’t have to be paid. This means that we don’t have to pay National Insurance and can keep all the money for ourselves instead of most of it.”

The Prime Minister reiterated his commitment to support those who do the right thing: “Do the right thing,” he said. “Stop breathing. Become a zombie. Support the Conservative Party.”


Breaking News: UK Government to Cut Time by One Third November 17, 2010

Posted by Phil Groom in Knockabout, Life.
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IN ANOTHER DAZZLING DISPLAY OF BRILLIANCE the UK Government has announced plans for a new round of cuts, this time to time itself. To help reduce the economic deficit, hours will be reduced by one third to only 40 minutes. In order to ensure that most people don’t realise that they’re being short-changed, minutes will also be reduced by one third to only 40 seconds, whilst — by an amazing feat of quantum mechanics — seconds will be lengthened by one half.

At a Press Conference held earlier today, Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister, explained how the new time system will be brought into play:

This is something that we as Liberal Democrats have long anticipated. It’s a sophisticated calculation but can actually be explained quite simply: if you take a second and add another half-second you end up with a time span that’s one third longer than the original. You then apply the temporal dilation principle to squeeze the extended second into the original temporal space and that space expands to accommodate it in much the same way that we Liberal Democrats keep expanding our manifesto to give the Tories everything they want without actually compromising any of our core commitments. It’s a very elegant solution which means that I get to remain as Deputy Prime Minister for twice as long as the Coalition itself exists whilst David triples his power base and eventually takes up residence in Buckingham Palace leaving me to run the country. We can, as David has said, be immensely proud of how far we have come — and with time even shorter for you but longer for me, we’ll be going even further.

Speaking more specifically about the cuts, George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, said:

By shortening hours to only 40 minutes, more people will be able to work more hours whilst still taking home the same pay. This will reduce unemployment at the same time as reducing the need for employers to give their workers breaks. Paying people the same for working shorter days will be offset by devaluing the pound by 50%, which means people will be able to buy less for the same money and will thus be incentivised to work harder, faster and longer in order to earn more. To offset the currency devaluation the British economy will be floated on the international stock exchange. We expect China to make a successful bid and should therefore be able to introduce greater levels of poverty and slave labour within a very short time frame, shortened even further by the shortened hours. I think we can call that a result, don’t you?

Ian Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, elaborated:

This is a very far-reaching policy that will impact upon all of our lives to ensure that the rich continue to get richer whilst the poor get poorer until they are so poor that they simply vanish from the face of the earth, apart from a few who will still be needed for cleaning duties. We have worked out that people will work, on average, twice as fast as they do now in order to achieve the same amount in a reduced time span. This will lead to increased stress levels, heart attacks and premature death which will represent considerable savings on the pensions bill. At the same time we expect the elderly to degenerate faster as they simply won’t know what’s hit them: you get to a certain age and time flies by anyway; this system will make time fly even faster and they’ll age faster without noticing. Within half their anticipated pensionable lifespan most of them will be dead. The ramifications are enormous, almost as big as my ego, and I am therefore delighted to be changing my name — officially — to Iain Bunkum Smith. If anyone argues with me I’ll tell them they’re speaking absolute bunkum and that will be the end of it, especially if they’re a BBC Today Programme presenter attempting to ask searching questions. If you’re my friend you can call me IBS.

George Osborne continued:

IBS is quite right. Even eternity will be affected because it will arrive sooner than expected for most people, especially asylum seekers, the homeless, poor, weak, vulnerable, anyone on benefits and anyone who is mentally ill or whom we, for whatever arbitrary reason, simply do not like. We have further ascertained that due to the quantum mechanics involved even God cannot escape: his job title will be reduced by one third. We gave him the choice of becoming known as Od or Go and he explained that since most people think he’s pretty odd anyway, he’d prefer to go for Go — which also happens to be my initials. Unfortunately because of the time dilation effect we don’t have time for any questions but you may now worship at my feet and a mandatory collection will be taken as we all sing a rousing hymn.

Now go read about the impact this government’s cuts are having in real life:

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