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Disability Scroungers

Today the BBC has as its top news item, GPs should 'not sign off long-term sick'.

This is yet another in a long running line up of the BBC (and the rest of the media) attacking certain adults. Which is curious, since last night was BBC Children in Need and the BBC raised money for disabled or sick children. (I am ignoring other arguments here). Except, when the same children reach the age of 18 years - in other words adults - perception changes. Should they need assistance when they become an adult, then they are stereotyped as benefit scroungers.

And no, the government doesn't just not attack adults, try this this petition as a starting point. So whilst you and your mates are busy raising money for children, a lot of it is about subsidising the government's cutting back of services. It shifts the axis from rights towards charity and begging.

So, we have the BBC News twitter feed, retweeting tweets such as:

Welfare reform minister Lord Freud: Current sickness system is 'an incubator for lifelong idleness for far too many people' #sickpay

Meanwhile there are no retweets giving opposing opinion. You make up your mind re biased reporting.

(At this point I cannot understand the BBC and I suspect they are trying to give the impression of being more right wing, due to threats of their own funding - which again leads to questions around free from political bias).

To get onto the point of the the article. It states, "A survey suggested 77% of GPs had admitted they signed people off sick for reasons other than their physical health, the report authors told the BBC." Physical health does not include mental health, and presumably the remainder of those signed off sick have been done so for mental health reasons. If so, then the reporting itself is misleading and implies. The public not familiar with language, might assume the remainder of people are a fraud by a simple lack of inclusion of information.

Stereotyping by the media has already been brought up by the National Union of Journalists, see here for more information.

The next part that raises concern:

If the recommendations are accepted people who are signed off sick would also be put on to Job Seekers' Allowance, instead of Employment Support Allowance, for a period of three months.

Here the government is proposing you to claim JSA when you perhaps might be at your most vulnerable. JSA involves turning up to the job centre each week, signing on, using the phones there, no being eligible for any form of assistance (when you perhaps might need it most).

So let's use an example, a hearing person who has lost all of their hearing overnight. They have never functioned without hearing before, and suddenly they are faced with no communication skills to manage their new situation, they don't know anything about practicalities and emotionally they've been hit by a frieght train. Suicidal thoughts amongst other things, are not uncommon. They cannot function in work, and need time to re-adjust to themselves.

First, such a person is not immediately covered by the Equality Act 2010, as any disability needs to have "lasted or is likely to last for at least twelve months". You haven't established likely yet, simply because you need to undergo tests. So yes, employers at this point could legally discriminate against you because you are not doing your job properly. You've just become deafened remember, thus you've no idea re basic practicalities nevermind anything else.

So lets suppose you have lost your job or can no longer do your job. You would not be eligible for ESA but JSA. You would need to attend the jobcentre regularly, and expected to comply with whatever terms are attached to JSA. With no support. This includes, communication with DWP staff - remember at this point you do not know how to communicate - expected to job hunt. Facilities in Jobcentres include the use of the telephone. So, good luck to the newly deafened person in their first three months figuring out how to do this. And what is more, they are not covered by the Equality Act 2010 to ask for communication support, as the likelihood test for at least twelve months needs establishing. Put more pressure on such a person, and mental health will take a nose dive. That would quite possibly put someone in hospital, and leaving a much bigger issue to solve.

Likewise, say you are newly diagnosed with cancer. Most employers would hopefuly keep you on, except this isn't the real world and discrimination exists (and you would not be covered by law). During the first 3 months, good luck being well enough on chemotherapy etc, to satisfy what is required of you on JSA.

There are several points in there somewhere, including what is National Insurance for? If you take insurance out for anything in life, be it your car, travel or your house - if catastrophe or the unexpected happens then you are insured. The insurer needs to pay up. NI should be no different except it is managed by the government rather than a private company.

My grandparents' generation set up National Insurance, and any history scholar will understand why. Here's an information video from that time (the video subtitles are bad - it is just as inaccessible to me):

There is a lot more I could say, however I am just going to pose a question. Is what the government and media doing okay with you?

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