Benefits- the real false claims.

Cheats, liars and wastes of space; all the reasons you shouldn’t trust someone who labels benefit claimants.

Just as all meaningful discussions start these days, I got into a twitter spat at the weekend.

I say spat, it was more of a fairly polite disagreement with someone who had a very different view of the world to that of my own; and I say fairly polite on accounts of another twitter user entering the thread with a far less tolerant tone.

I’ve learnt over the years that this aggressive approach will never work. You may disagree with a person on every level, you may be disgusted by the things that they say, but that doesn’t mean the conversation cannot be civil…. even if they are insufferably wrong!

So what was the ‘spat’ about I hear you cry…

It was about benefits. Or more specifically those who claim them.

Those lying, lazy, work shirking drains on society that want everything for free and to give nothing back in return. Or at least that’s what the lady from my disagreement would have you believe- yes I too am proud of the restraint I was able to show!

So where did it all begin?

The conversation started from a tweet about the headline- Benefit-related suicides fraction of true figure says watchdog; at least 69 suicides related to DWP’s handling of benefit claims.

Having related it to an example of a respiratory patient who hadn’t been taking his inhaler through fear of being be deemed ‘too well’ to receive vital support; the lady in question then proceeded to ask ‘why would he choose to be ill?’

As if that wasn’t bad enough, as I explained more of the man’s situation I was then bombarded with such questions as, why is he lying? What is he scared of? Why can’t he just go to work?

I think what’s most upsetting about the situation is the fact that the lady in question isn’t the only person who thinks this way. As a society we’ve propelled a narrative that people on benefits are scroungers, second class citizens, uneducated, out for everything they can get and probably lying. Sadly, society couldn’t be more wrong.

Nobody wants to be ill. And I now find myself asking, what sort of world do we live in when people are scared to be ‘too well’

Just let that sink in for a monent… ‘too well’!

Why the system doesn’t work.

Again, nobody wants to be ill, but what the current benefits system has created is a culture of fear. A fear that a debilitating, life limiting, chronic health condition is not severe enough to qualify you for support in the eyes of an assessor with a tick list.

 Don’t get me wrong, of course there needs to be a process, a system to ensure those in greatest need get the right support and those making progress can do so safely; but what that cannot be is a system based on fear. And it’s that precise fear that has led to the horrific headline I find myself arguing about. The fact that the people society so often label as liars, scroungers and fraudsters; are so desperately afraid of not getting the support they need, they see no other option but to take their own lives.

By no means do I have all the answers, my go to would be the introduction of a Universal Basic Income, allowing every person to start off with the financial security to make the most sustainable choices in life and build cohesive, happy and healthy communities around them; while  making additional allowances for those whose options may be impacted by other factors, such as disability or chronic illness. But even then, it is far beyond my ability to figure out how that would be implemented or costed for that matter- although it would certainly see huge savings on emergency care spend, avoidable illnesses and combating the lifelong impact of ACE’s!

But what I can be sure of is the fact that the current system does not allow those dependent on the government to live free, happy and healthy lives. It backs them into a corner, keeping them in their place with the fear of losing what little stability they may have. This is no way to live and this is no way to treat people already facing a life changing illness, diagnosis or disability.

It’s unfair that a nurse should be left in tears because they care so passionately about improving their patients’ well-being; while their patient has been left fearful of improvement due to the ‘wealth before health’ culture we have created.

It’s unfair that someone who wants to work but physically can’t should be branded a liar or a burden, while they have every aspect of their lives put under a microscope, afraid to show even a glimmer of comfort or quality of life.

So no, it is not the benefit claimants that are a drain on the system, it’s the system that has drained them of their freedom to live the healthiest lives they can.

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