i’ve just added a WORKFARE page to my blog. since this is now a part of my life i had to decide whether to blog about it and risk who knows what in sanctions or to keep it to myself and risk a hernia.
reader, LETS GO! FUCK WORKFARE AND THE HORSE IT RODE IN ON! because imma blog the fuck out of it.
so, where were we? yes. this morning i decided to make an introductory page about it which is basically cut and pasted from last week’s protected blog post, so if you read that you are up to speed. if you didn’t here’s the link to the page. you can find it any time, though, because it’s right up there at the top with ‘about the author’ etc. i will be updating it as i go along.
well, monday i had to go to another “work focused interview”. i was super anxious, since i had decided that i didn’t want to sign their incomprehensible paperwork, and i had printed out one of these consent withdrawl letters to hand to my ‘advisor’. my stomach was in knots about it, but the thing is that DSS (department of social security) paperwork is all kitemarked by the plain english campaign, so whether you like what you are signing or not it is at least unambiguous. if i have to have something explained to me verbally i don’t like to sign it, because what, then, are you signing?
the consent withdrawl letter i used is all DWP (department of work and pensions) policy quoted verbatim. it’s written in legal english, which is difficult but not ambiguous. i was worried that it would mark me out as ‘anti’ and make for tense times at these mandatory meetings.
ten walked me up there, and i went in to the crowded open plan office. the bloke i see is nice enough, and clearly does want to help me, but it would seem that he is woefully ill informed about LOTS of things. lots and lots of things. let me be an education for him.
so, i explained to him that it was nothing personal, but that i declined to fill in the forms he had given me. i gave him the letter and a copy for me to read and sign, and unsurprisingly, he was disinclined to sign it right then and there. however, happily, he appeared to not take it personally, and the rest of our meeting went ok within the bounds of as ‘ok’ as it could ever be.
in fact, i told him two things about not signing the paperwork. i told him that it was unclear and that i didn’t want to sign it, and that legally i didn’t have to sign it, and i also told him that due to my heightened anxiety levels i no longer considered myself mentally competent (mental health act 1982, if i had to quote it, though i didn’t – i feel i need back up for EVERYTHING now). it seems that St Anne’s Hospital has lost my referral from the Complex Care team to the next team i will be handled by, for people with chronic health conditions, so if i want my medication looked at i will either have to wait til the original psych comes back from holiday and re-sends his referral, go to emergency, or get my GP to review my meds. this all seems too complicated for me to think about, so am currently just gritting my teeth.
at the top of the meeting he asked me how i was. obviously, in a normal situation i simply lie and tell people i am fine because that is the answer to “how are you?” however, it behooves me to tell the truth in this instance, since i need him to understand that i am very much not fine and expect to be not fine for the foreseeable future.
now, since receiving the letter about the changeover from Incapacity Benefit to Employment and Support Allowance, and my categorization in the work related activity group i have read it rather closely. obvs, i didn’t read it properly when i first got it, since i was OFF MY FACE on antipsychotics at the time. i tend not to read letters. i didn’t even open the original form, and had to phone them to ask for clemency because i hadn’t returned it during their time frame. guess what? that’s part of mental ill health. i was too busy having suicidal ideations to open letters, sorry.
anyway, now that i have read it more closely i have noted a sentence on page 4 which reads;
“You are required to attend and take part in work-focused interviews as a condition of continuing to recieve benefit. If you do not attend or participate in a work-focused interview your benefit may be reduced.
However work-focused interviews may be deferred if there are good reasons as to why it is not appropriate or of no assistance at that time.“
i showed my advisor this, and HE HAD NEVER SEEN IT BEFORE and he asked me if he could take a copy. OF COURSE he could have a copy. the better informed he really is the better for me. it would appear his masters don’t want him knowing that he needn’t continue with someone who is clearly not well enough to attend interviews (this is, after all, how the organization makes it’s money, processing the sick and poor for profit).
of course, i have been thinking about what i would do if they took my benefit off me. unfortunately, my work based fantasies are just that, fantasies. if i were well enough there are any number of things i could do. my thought was that i could do murals for people, because if i could do them then it wouldn’t take many to replace the ESA money. so, i mentioned this to him. OOH! he loved that. it was like i had thrown him a bone. i think it is evident to him that i would not be able to manage anything like a regular job, so i expect he was expecting a bit of an uphill interview.
if you do 30 hours a week paid work you can claim working tax credit, he explained. (that would be an income of half what i get on ESA, but of course, better than nothing, i suppose.) it would get me off ESA which would be a win for statistics, and more importantly for his company, a big fat cheque for getting me ‘into work’. he explained that i didn’t really need to be working 30 hours, that lying on the sofa thinking about my project would count as working. HA! if there really was a job called ‘lying on the couch and thinking’ i would be fully employed!
he printed off a ream of paperwork about self employment for me to take home. he is completely in denial about what i have told him is my physical state. bless him. he is also extremely uninformed about how working tax credit works. he did tell me that i would have to be making £70 a week. if i could make £70 a week doing anything i would have signed off so i could be free of this farce and the duress it puts me under.
i have looked up the regulations for working tax credit. as it happens, if you are considered ‘disabled’ the weekly hours go down to 16. still more than i could manage, but does he not know that? and according to their paperwork i could claim it, were i actually going to do this, while claiming EAS.
anyway, it’s all in the realm of myth right now. if i were well enough to work i would be happy to go to the job centre where the career advisors are more well informed about guidelines if i wanted to be self employed or if i was entitled to working tax credit. if i were well enough to work, though, i’d much rather get a job. self employment is, in reality, incredibly hard work and involves a LOT more than 30 hours of work a week. the stress alone would put me back to square one.
sorry for banging on! unfortunately, dear readers, i will likely be blogging about this for some time to come. i hope that what information i glean can help others in my situation. go forth! be well! and if you are dealing with this abomination yourself, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.