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LETTERS: Tories’ attacks on benefits make claimants more sick

This article is over 5 years, 2 months old
Issue 2529
Activists protest against work capability assessments that can lead to benefits being removed
Activists protest against work capability assessments that can lead to benefits being removed (Pic: Guy Smallman)

The government’s claims to help Employment Support Allowance (ESA) sickness benefit claimants into work are ridiculous.

I used to work until I was hospitalised with a severe brain illness. Since then I’ve had aggressive migraines and become very sensitive to bright lights and loud noises.

I never know when I’m going to have an attack. I can go days without one and then wake up one morning so ill I can’t get up.

I can’t get disability benefits because I can still walk. But I have to wear sunglasses just to go round the supermarket.

When I was called into the job centre the lights made me ill. But you have to go for your appointments or they cut off your income.

It doesn’t matter how hard you try to explain what illness you’ve got, they aren’t interested.

I ask them what will happen if I’m hospitalised again. Aggressive migraines can cause strokes or brain haemorrhages. They say that won’t happen, but they don’t know that.

I’m not allowed to see the report on me. If I appeal I can only win £40 a fortnight backdated. That doesn’t even cover the bills.

Now I have been told to find voluntary work or lose my benefits.

I would lose my house—I don’t know how they expect me to live.

But the work they want me to do is in a shop. I can’t work under the bright lights.

I’ve applied at the marketplace. But if the lights make me ill I’ll have to come home, and the job centre will be checking up on me every week.

I don’t know what to do.

People think being sick off work is like a holiday. I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.

If someone can’t work they can’t work. But the government keeps piling on the pressure. That doesn’t help people—it only makes them more ill.

Chlare, Scarborough

Orgreave shows up Tory fears

Fisk is right about poppy

Fisk is right about poppy

I was glad to see Robert Fisk talk about the “disgrace” of the poppy.

He’s right to point out the hypocrisy of warmongering politicians who “mourn” the victims of their conflicts.

The political class doesn’t care about the war dead.

Jackie Carter, West London

The governing football bodies could resolve the row about the poppy ban effortlessly.

White poppies for peace would keep everyone happy.

William Burns, Edinburgh

Remembering racist history

BBC Radio 4 dedicated a programme to Asquith Xavier, who came to Britain from the West Indies and worked as a train guard.

When he sought a transfer in 1966 he found that management and the National Union of Railwaymen operated a colour bar.

We have become a much more tolerant society.

But when racism rears its ugly head we should condemn it.

John Appleyard, West Yorkshire

Refugees and signs of stress

It’s with great sadness I’ve read the recent attacks on unaccompanied child refugees in other papers.

Neither my children nor I have faced daily bombings, starvation, threats of rape, forced conscription and no health care.

But if we had, I suspect we might look a bit older than our actual years.

Jo Rust, King’s Lynn

System loves Sir Shifty

even the Pensions Regulator seems determined not to let Sir Philip Green off the hook over the theft of BHS workers’ pensions.

The gap in the pension scheme is £571 million.

Billionaire Green has done nothing effective to resolve it—yet gets to keep his knighthood.

Shelley Palmer, Louth

George hates workers

George Osborne said last week that migrants don’t take jobs from people born in Britain.

But he went on to say a skills shortage was a “big problem”.

Either way, it’s still blaming working people.

Sammy Stone, Bristol


Home secretary Amber Rudd’s refusal to investigate the Battle of Orgreave is outrageous, but not surprising.

Orgreave was a potentially crucial development in the miners’ strike—and Margaret Thatcher, the police and press colluded to prevent it.

The slogan “Turn Orgreave into Saltley” summed it up.

In February 1972 the first national miners’ strike since 1926 was biting.

Saltley coking works in Birmingham became a flashpoint. Some 30,000 Birmingham engineers struck to support the miners and up to 15,000 marched to Saltley.

The mass picket closed the works and the strike went on to victory.

We must remember what Thatcher’s government was scared of—defeat at the hands of the working class.

Pete Jackson, Birmingham

Amber Rudd said there is a difference between South Yorkshire Police (SYP) handling of Hillsborough and Orgreave.

She is right. At Hillsborough it was sheer incompetence and cover-up.

At Orgreave the SYP went organised, armed with long sticks, horses and with the full support of Margaret Thatcher’s government to attack the miners.

It is no surprise that the Tories don’t want an inquiry!

Alan Watts, north London

SNP aids Theresa May by backing Heathrow

The surprise decision by the Scottish National Party (SNP) to support the new Heathrow runway is outrageous.

It goes completely against the SNP’s claim to be green.

And importantly it helps to stabilise a viciously right wing Tory government by handing 56 parliamentary votes to Theresa May.

This will enable her to overrule the Tory rebels in parliament on this issue.

The SNP has always abstained on matters that did not directly affect Scotland but not in this case.

The whole matter stinks.

Duncan Brown, Glasgow

We must keep Ukip out of our schools

Suzanne Evans, Ukip leadership candidate, has said more good “kippers” need to become teachers.

The idea is dangerous and ridiculous.

Teacher standards state that equality and inclusion should be actively promoted in schools.

But the right wingers of Ukip would be unable to do this—and would be breaking the law.

Teaching children about British history is important. We need to be able to learn from history so the same mistakes are not made again.

Although if you look at the utter disaster of the dismantling of the Calais camp, where 1,500 children have been left with only volunteers supporting them, I’m not sure we have learnt enough.

I don’t think Ukip can be taken seriously as a party, especially with recent events that have occurred between members.

And I certainly don’t think they should become teachers to influence childrens’ knowledge of history.

To think “kippers” want to teach children the right way to remember history is quite frankly scary and very worrying.

Amy Barry, Sheffield

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