Blind Fury

When disability forced me into early retirement, my big worry was how would I manage? Bereft of what was for Galloway, a well paid job. Okay, I’d developed a rare eye condition; but nothing could be done about it. It was there. And over who knew how long, it would degenerate. A case of wait and see. Or, in this case, perhaps not.

Finances were different. Surely something could be salvaged? Thankfully, I belonged to a union who confirmed what I’d calculated to expect in my pension. The Social Work department and a helpful chap in the old Welfare Rights office beside the bridge sorted out which disability benefits I was entitled to, then completed the forms on my behalf. Daunting booklets! By comparison John Stuart Mill is a cosy evening’s read.

Mind you, there was a glitch. Just as I assumed all was settled, I received a tax demand. For 600 quid! Centre 1 were awfully decent. Over the phone, real people with Scottish accents carefully explained the situation. At the time, I actually understood this! A mistake with Statutory Sick Pay. Something either not done by my employers or something which they Had omitted to instruct me to do. At least, the Taxman was happy to accept his due in stages, even if each cost me £50 a month. Astute readers will notice this is my first mention of employers. Well, as far as advice is concerned they offered none. They were busy. My absence leaving them with so much to rearrange.

My Red Clyde Granny used to quote, “From each according to his capability. To each according to his needs.” And here I was, putting all this into practice. For over twenty years I’d worked, paid tax, my superannuation and National Insurance and now, I had enough ready dosh to buy the cat food and the occasional piece of brisket. The Welfare State in action!

Of course, cultivating a positive attitude helps! No longer being a professional allows for a more casual wardrobe. Have I bought tights since the millennium? And a designer handbag is still designer whether it comes straight from a posh shop in Buchanan street or the charity shop down the town.

Until now, Bankers have been playing nine card brag with our money; MPs expect us to fund the maintenance of the odd moat or subscription to mucky films. Millions is lost to the Exchequer because so many law abiding citizens pay accountants to do creative things with their tax bills. So, how to redress this financial imbalance? Easy! Hunt down those with little political clout; those who will find it most difficult to object and protest. No, it won’t be Fat Cats secreting vast sums on Caribbean tax havens. Much easier to target Mrs. Wifie tottering about with her arthritis and that young bloke round the corner who does such odd things when he forgets to take his tablets. For a start, Mrs. Wifie won’t write to her MP, she can’t hold a pen or manipulate a keyboard and as for Mr. Odditie, he won’t have anything to do with devil computers, he knows are destroying civilisation as we know it.

You’ve guessed it. As with all receiving Incapacity Benefit, I’m in the middle, or should that be muddle, of Incapacity Benefit Migration. Being assessed as to whether I’m fit to work. No matter that my disability satisfied the criteria for Incapacity Benefit years ago; never mind the others I’ve picked up since, no matter that my condition is degenerative. And as for the system making contact through an an accessible format, don’t be daft! Why go to the expense of printing information in Braille? Hasn’t everyone a spouse available to read the post?

Apparently, this ESA project will save public money. It certainly will! Apart from zombies and the undead, everyone still breathing will pass the criteria and immediately be deprived of a benefit originally awarded to people who while fit enough to do so, worked. Paying their stamp and taxes so, if dreadful things happened, a safety net would save them.

Gosh, at about 5k a pop, and with thousands being processed weekly, our Government will not only clear the National Debt but could sort out the Euro as well. I hope the politician or Whitehall mandarin who came up with this wheeze receives his OBE. Well, that stands for Obviously Barmy Eejit, doesn’t it?

© Charlotte Bennie 2011