Letter #1

Dear Mr. Jones,

Andrew – can I appeal to you as a person not as an MP. I would question why you, Andrew Jones, would vote to decrease the welfare of a severely disabled adult by what is our weekly expenditure for the food shop. I am not appealing to you as a politician – I am trying to appeal to you as a man. You held yourself as a man of promise, Andrew, but the promises never materialized.

I like how you have consistently voted for the equal rights of same-sex couples. Good on you – not bad. Now try working on that compassion and try and help the disabled – the people who are most vulnerable in society.

Before people are classed as disabled they have been to see countless medical specialists, been signed off work by a DWP officer and then suffer the humiliation of being called a liar and told to re-apply through ATOS. Yes, I am peeved that me and my wife have to choose between heating and eating now – but, please, do not take any more of our dignity. I appreciate that there will soon be sweeping reform to try and get the vulnerable back in to work – but, golden carrot or birch rod if you are too ill to work you are too ill to work.

It is bad enough that the Conservative party pandered to the moderate-right of the Nation when they were seeking power by saying “We will do something about the Disabled Problem.” As if denying our suffering and the prejudices that we encounter daily. Thanks to the policies that you voted for, Andrew Jones, I feel like I am the victim of a witch hunt. Allow me to give you a bit of background information:

I was a promising student at the University of Plymouth – whilst out in the rain forests of Borneo, researching seed dispersal, I had a reaction to the anti-malaria medication I had been prescribed. My brain damage has been diagnosed a schizo-affective disorder – a phasic illness that renders sustainable work impossible. If I had the health, yes, I would work – but being house-bound most of the week means I cannot go to a Remploy factory that you voted to close down in your last office. I am trying to work as a part time freelancer. Even though this work is starting to prove detrimental to my health.

How could you pander to the blood lust of the masses for the money of the vulnerable? I know, it beggars belief when it is spelt out like that but that is the case, Andrew Jones. People are DYING because of the reforms you have voted for. History will be the judge of you (either that or the Hague).

Yours,

Andrew Backhouse

2 Comments

  1. The Reply –

    Dear Mr B________

    Thank you for contacting me regarding proposed changes to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

    We spend around £50 billion every year on benefits to support people with disabilities or health conditions and this is over six per cent of all Government spending. I am proud of that record. I have voted for the Welfare Reform and Work Bill as it progressed through Parliament and thought I would take this opportunity to explain my reasons for doing so.

    Support must be provided to those who have health challenges but are capable of taking steps back to work. I have met several times with the local MIND branch and attended Mental Health Forum locally, in addition to my campaigning in Parliament on a number of issues surrounding mental health. It is an important issue and it is a priority for me that people with mental health conditions continue to be supported.

    Firstly let me confirm that these changes will not affect those already in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) or claimants with limited capability for work. These people will continue to receive the additional payment.

    We know that sixty one percent of claimants in the ESA WRAG want more help to get to work. At the same time those who are placed in the WRAG receive more money each week than those on Job Seekers Allowance but receive nothing like the same amount of help to find suitable employment. Aligning these two payment levels will those with mental health difficulties are on an even footing as those without. I believe it is important for all people to have access to the help they need to move back in to work. We must not write people off simply because they have a health condition but rather offer the appropriate support for the way their condition affects them. Those campaigning against this change only focus on the financial element but the whole package of support – financial and practical – need to be considered as a whole.

    I could not support the amendments made by this policy in the House of Lords as this would have prevented the Government’s proposal from taking place. The amendments asked the Government to publish a report based on data that is not available. The Government has provided the estimated financial impact of the reforms in an impact assessment published last July. This document is available at the following website: tinyurl.com/ngceopf.

    These reforms are about listening to those who are already in the WRAG and concentrating future resources on helping claimants recieve the same help to get back to work as those who claim JSA. As I have mentioned these changes will not affect those who are already in the WRAG or with limited ability to work.

    I hope this provides some clarity on the issue which is not as has been portrayed in some quarters. Please let me know if you have any further comments or questions on the issue.

    Yours sincerley – Andrew Jones MP.

    Reply

  2. I received the above letter today – in the interests of Democracy, I figure I would publish it up here – without a commentary.

    However, I believe he missed my point: Golden Carrot or Rod of Birch – an incentive is nothing if you actually cannot do it due to health.

    I also think I was motivated out of personal reasons – maybe my passion frothed over in my letter, but, surely people should not be punished financially for being ill. I appreciate that, yes, we are getting money from the Government for just being here …. ill ….. but ….. well, why kick someone when they are already down.

    And now, with Osbourne’s latest budget – we will soon not have an NHS to care for us.

    ……. Maybe it is time to seek asylum in Scandinavia ……

    Reply

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