Government of millionaires attack benefits

TheSocialist spoke to William, a disabled low paid worker and single parent in East Belfast who relies on benefits which are now coming under attack. “I’ve been receiving a small amount of disability benefits for a number of years following a serious breakdown caused by stress and overwork. Although I’ve managed to get back into some work, its only part time and at a very low wage. I get about £2,400 a year in benefits on top of my wages of £9,700, so life is a struggle.

“I’ve just received a letter saying I have to prove I’m entitled to benefits again. If I lose that £2,400, I’m in big trouble. Among the criteria to prove you are entitled to benefits are – you must be seeing a psychiatrist or counsellor – and also – you must be on medication.

“I saw various psychiatrists for years before they ended treatment because they said there was no point. I was “untreatable” they said. I still feel this decision was partly based on the cost of treatment rather than a medical decision. Either way I didn’t decide to stop treatment but I wasn’t given a choice.

“Also, I stopped taking tablets years ago after taking them for 6 and a half years. The tablets made me put on several stone, made me sweat a lot, made me fall asleep all the time and made me feel dopey. How was that supposed to make me feel better? Again, at the time the docs thought in my case it was probably the best thing to do. But in no way does this mean I am recovered. I still struggle to cope with even everyday stress.

“Every penny counts for me, so to lose £2,400 on my income will be a huge drop in living standards for me and my family. Frankly, since I got this letter I have been extremely stressed and struggle to keep doing my job.

“It is sickening that the Tories and Liberals are attacking the poorest in society. They know mentally ill people will struggle to organise any resistance to this, especially with all the propaganda in the papers about “scroungers”. Things are just going to get worse for ordinary people until we get organised and fight back. I’m joining the Socialist Party.

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