A mother and a daughter, both living with disabilities, explain why they believe UBI would be transformational for them both.
One of the major reasons for implementing basic income is that it would stop the harm caused to disabled people by the current benefit system. This story, in the words of a disabled woman and her disabled daughter, explains why they are UBI supporters. The fact that they both chose to be anonymous also speaks to the terrible fear of the DWP, and the UK Government, that many disabled people now experience.
I'm currently on ESA support group and PIP; I have been for about 4 years. I'm 56 and desperate to work or volunteer. But, I was just thinking of trying to volunteer, and was indeed doing a PGCert, when my review for PIP landed on my doorstep. I went from 12 points to zero with (like so many others) blatant lies reported in my review. My mental health went downhill and I was prescribed anti-anxiety and anti-depressants that I didn’t take. I’m still going through the appeals process and I’m totally disheartened; this has had a bad effect on my disabilities.
I think the Government should be taken to court for defamation of character and mental abuse; as before all this I was fine. I've been through 3 appeals in my sad time on benefits and I now feel less than worthless, and worn out by the constant re-assessments. Lucky for me I know I'm not worthless. However, even if I wanted to try to volunteer to see if I could manage it, and even progress to a few hours part time or even full time, I can’t. If were to try and I'd have to inform the DWP, who would say that 'as you can do some work voluntarily' then you are able to work; and then they'd review your benefits, putting you through the degrading and dehumanising process yet again. I'm even afraid to take exercise and go for a walk just in case I did more than I said I could on benefit application.
This needs to stop. Why is no one doing anything and why can the government get away with this treatment of disabled people?
I would like to see the introduction of a basic income - perhaps with an upper income cut off - and then the pressure would be off. You would be able to volunteer, or work a couple of hours, and not be afraid to get better. The current system is broken, and so thanks to them, are disabled people. They know we won’t protest as we would get our benefits stopped. Is there no one can speak for us? Plenty of charities and groups like DPAC seem to shout, but it's not loud enough.
How many will have to die under this shameful treatment?
Sorry for the rant, but I'm reaching out. I desperately want a job, I want to contribute and I want to be able to get out of this poverty and this deprivation trap that disabled people do not deserve to be in.
If I had a good basic income then I could afford healthy food and pay my bills. I would volunteer, try to work a few hours or run my own small business from home and get more exercise. The most important thing would be the change in attitude, not only from society towards disability, but also for myself, to believe I am worth something, I can take part, I can achieve and I can get better.
Not only this would save potentially millions in mental health costs for the NHS, it would save millions from the pathetic chase for medicalised proof of disability clogging up the NHS with x-rays, scans, physio and therapies just to confirm the medical evidence for the disability assessment process. It would be of great benefit for everyone.
A basic income of some sort, capped at higher end, if you earn a lot maybe, would be a progressive, a healthy way for society to genuinely accept disability and for disabled people to accept themselves as part of society too. Currently disabled people are seen as lesser human beings.
Today, the treatment of disabled people is totally unacceptable, tomorrow it needs to be be different.
For me a universal basic income would be incredible. I have autism dyslexia and ADHD I cannot apply for PIP as I ‘function’. Mom can’t be classed as my carer as I am not seen to be disabled enough. Equally I cannot be classed as her carer as I work too much.
I currently have to do a full time job. This is not good for my well-being or mental health, however I am stuck. Because of my autism I cannot progress into higher paid jobs as I am seen by society not to be capable of doing such a job. Lack of social communication skills and all that. I am also stuck as applying for jobs is a mine-field. I have had far too many experiences of an abusive managers not caring to understand me or my neurodiversity.
I have also done a PGCert but I am deemed not to be clever enough; so I am forced to stay in retail where it is easy enough for me to cope, yet I am bored out of my mind. I can be so much more, but I am just weird enough not to fit in like normal people. Getting passed over for promotion is demoralising. I am tenacious, clever and have a desire to do stuff, but no one cares. I am also having to support the household I get little over £1,200 a month full time, £800 of which goes on rent and council tax. This leaves precious little to feed my ADHD/autism.
This is what I feel a basic income could help: it could feed my ADHD/autism; it could fund a Masters; support me to do hobbies; run a side business; take fewer hours, yet be able to cope financially; take up volunteering; invent things; patent things - basically allow me to be me.
All I seem to do right now is exist, not live. I exist to support mum. I exist to be at the mercy of a cruel society who doesn't understand neurodiversity. I exist to be a good person get paid rubbish and spend all day lining someone else’s pockets. I exist to be a square peg in a round hole.
All I can see is that a universal basic income could be the breathing space many need, the financial security to be me. I have so many great ideas; but I end up at the end of a 8 hour shift a mental vegetable, totally burnout and spent. This is no way to live long term and neither is barely scraping by on pennies from a low hours job.
The publisher is the Centre for Welfare Reform.
Mother, Daughter and UBI © Centre for Welfare Reform 2021.
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