I started work in 1977 and made National Insurance contributions until I became seriously ill in 2002.
Then I needed to access the benefits system for the first time.
Applying for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Incapacity Benefit was a very difficult and upsetting process.
It seemed designed to discourage applicants and make it easy to turn them down. It was long and intrusive, and made me dwell on negative thoughts about my health for months.
However, I was given a long term award which has helped me somewhat to manage my serious mobility problems, depression, pain and fatigue.
These problems mean I am still unable to work.
Although I was awarded long term DLA it will be stopped early and I must apply for the Tories’ new Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
Many disabled people are in the same position.
The new PIP benefit will be so much worse. As well as having to go through the trauma of application forms again and additional interviews, it will be assessed by private firm Atos.
Atos has targets to make savage cuts in payments to the most vulnerable in society. Like many disabled people, I don’t know how I would manage if lost my benefits.
Even if I could get a job, I wouldn’t be able to go to work regularly. When the Tories talk of “scroungers” it makes me question my self respect and makes my depression worse.
Yet the real scroungers are George Osborne, David Cameron and their ilk with their inherited millions who avoid tax and attack the poor.
Many people are worse off than me. I have people around me who help, but lots of people do not.
The welfare state—benefits and the NHS—was first conceived in 1945 in a time of genuine austerity.
Now in a time of fake austerity it needs defending more than ever.
JP, South London
Venezuela’s president Hugo Chavez died on the eve of the publication of the 2013 Wealth Report by property firm Knight Frank.
It calculated that the number of individuals on the planet with net assets in excess of $30 million (£19.8 million) went up 5 percent in 2012.
These individuals now have a combined wealth of £17.2 trillion.
Chavez stood against the neoliberalism that condemns the vast majority of humanity to poverty and rewards a tiny minority with unimaginable wealth.
He will be mourned by millions. RIP Hugo Chavez—“Hasta la victoria siempre!”
Sasha Simic, East London
Don MacDonald was arrested at his home on 16 February and faces a charge under Section 5 of the Public Order Act.
The arrest followed an anti-cuts march attended by thousands of people earlier that day.
Don challenged Newcastle Labour council leader Nick Forbes for his role in implementing devastating cuts.
This is political policing and an attack on democracy.
Support the campaign at defencecampaign.wordpress.com
Mark, by email
I apologise if my review didn’t make it clear to readers what I meant by describing the Roy Litchenstein exhibition as “accessible” (Letters, 9 March).
The exhibition made it easy to grasp the importance and brilliance of Litchenstein.
Of course the £14 ticket makes it out of reach for many, despite concessions.
The sad fact is that it is increasingly difficult for museums and galleries to put on special exhibitions for free. This is because there have been huge cuts.
The impact is felt by visitors and those of us who work in the sector. Key areas such as education and outreach are rolled back.
Volunteers and interns have replaced some trained staff. It’s just one more example of how we’re not all in it together.
Siobhan Brown, London
British resident Shaker Aamer is still unlawfully incarcerated in Guantanamo, an innocent victim of the US policies of torture and abuse.
He faces no charge or trial. He has been cleared for release for over six years.
There are only a few weeks left to get the 100,000 signatures on the e-petition 33133, “Return Shaker Aamer to the UK”.
We appeal to all readers to add their names.
Joy Hurcombe, Chair, Save Shaker Aamer Campaign
The coalition plans to take more than half a million claimants off Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
Sign the petition against the abolition of DLA at epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/38182
Stephen McMurray, Edinburgh
When the Tories talk about “benefit tourism” they should consider how low benefits actually are.
Do they think migrants are really desperate for £60 a week? Would the Tories travel across the world to live on that?
Pam Ward, Leeds
I was sorry to see the treatment of women taking part in a recent debate at the Glasgow University Union.
Male students shouted sexist insults.
Thankfully, many other people are against sexism. The women have received messages supporting them from all over the world.
Helena Rowe, Dundee
What happened to the Heygate Estate in south London (Socialist Worker, 2 March) is as bad as what’s been done with Park Hill in Sheffield.
Part of it was sold to a company to make ultramodern “penthouse suites”.
The rest was left to decay with many flats left uninhabited—while there are many homeless people.
These “penthouses” are marketed at prices higher than the previous tenants, who the estate was built for, could ever scrape together.
Robin Clark, on Facebook
Fight fire cuts—sign and share a petition at epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/39494
Jim Wedgbury, on Facebook
A spotlight on Australia’s immigration system
Celebrate Colston 4 victory
NHS workers speak out against Tories