Thursday, 27 May 2010

A radical solution to getting me off benefits: Let me work

Iain Duncan-Smith thinks that he is the man to cut the benefit bill by threatening to put people into chain gangs picking up dog mess in the local park. Just how that makes them more attractive candidates in the eyes of employers I don’t know. I am open to instruction on how that works.

I have repeatedly begged for help to get back to work, but have been refused on every occasion. From reports I read and hear, I haven’t lost out on much. There was a chap o the wireless the other day describing what the ‘help’ he gets. He is put in front of a computer and told to search and apply for jobs on-line. There simply isn’t any practical help available. I don’t need instruction on how to find roles, or how to apply for them. I already have a good CV. There is nothing lacking in my motivation either. The days of me having any self-respect or pride have long been abandoned and I will do accept any form of employment no matter how degrading, disgusting, or even dangerous.

Every time the letter box rattles I have a mini-panic attack out of fear that today will be the day that I get called in to have the reassessment done on my incapacity claim. What am I to say to them? On the one hand I have on my record that I have been held under section 3 and diagnosed with having persistent delusional disorder. However, when challenged with the question “What are your delusions”, I have to respond with “I don’t know, they won’t tell me”. The supplemental question of “Do you think that you are delusional?” I have to respond with “No.” That will cause my claim to be closed and I be left destitute with no hope of ever being able to get back to work.

Before all my trouble started, I was a highly skilled and experienced freelance IT developer in the financial sector. That was before the Labour government flooded the market with fraudulent work permits. At the beginning I did not lack skills; I did not have any background problems such as poor credit history; I do not have an alcohol problem and have never taken drugs. I was a totally respectable business person. All that happened was that I was denied the opportunity to earn a living through the use of cheap imported workers on fraudulent work permits. Once a gap in the employment history appears, it compounds exponentially. Very rapidly my life collapsed as the money I had ran out.

Although I have tried my best to keep both my technical skills and business knowledge up-to-date it is a bit patchy. My physical and mental health has been damaged so much that I don’t believe I could safely work full time until I have had substantial medical treatment first. In any case, no employer would ever hire me given my background. When they find out about the time I have spend out of work, my disastrous financial status, and now a history of mental health problems any employer will bin any application. These details can never be hidden; any attempt by me to do so will be found out and would make things even worse.

The solution to getting me off benefits and back to work is not to be found by driving me into ever deeper poverty and degradation. It is to be found in asking questions about what put me out of work in the first place and why are applications for jobs rejected. Every person will have unique circumstances, but there will be many common features.

Demonising claimants is counter productive. It is not going to shame people into getting jobs, but it is going to make employers more prejudiced against hiring them. To solve the problem it is necessary to get tough on the employers and not the unemployed.