It was Christmas Evening....

12/21/2011 01:45:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 8 Comments

Inspired by this I thought I'd share my favourite Christmas story. Fortunately I finally confessed this sorry tale to my father recently, which did not further endear him to BendyCat or her mum Kitty#1. Both cats were always generous with their gifts, and still in the stage of hauling dead rats as big as themselves home to be proudly presented and on one memorable occasion, a still live blackbird which one of them triumphantly dumped on my parents bed at 5am.

It was some time in the 90's - sometime in the particularly blurry, drunken student shagging days when BendyCat was still young and able to jump onto things without falling over. Ah how things have changed for us both since then! It may have been the first Christmas after my grandmother died as I don't remember her reaction to this story and she would have howled with laughter. Christmas was never the same without Gran's uniquely stylish look of tracksuits and stilletos or her tradition of sliding drunkenly under the table into a haze of Gold Label and whiskey fumes at some point during the festivities.

So, it was Christmas evening in the Franklin family nuthouse, Oldest Friend and I were sitting in the kitchen chatting. The ham my mother had spent hours preparing was cooling on the side and all was as calm as Christmas ever was.

Then we noticed an odd noise....

Unnoticed BendyCat had jumped onto the kitchen counters and made her way to the ham. In a 'once in a lifetime' moment of strategic planning she had her eyes firmly on the ham and how to make it hers....

You'd think perhaps a cat would try and pull the ham off the counter top and spirit it away to be shared, but she must've been foiled by it's size and weight and had to come up with a better plan...

The odd noise which alerted us to the cat's plans was the tinkling noise as she squatted over the ham on it's cooling board......

and pissed all over it!

It was the noise of me and Oldest Friend howling with laughter and shouting at the cat which alerted my mother who came sprinting in from the lounge just in time to see BendyCat still pissing all over the ham she'd spent hours preparing and Oldest Friend and I too convulsed with hysteria to do anything about it.

Being the type who grew up the era in post war rationing my mother has always had, um, let's say an interesting relationship with the concept of food fit for human consumption. My ability to eat luminous green bacon is amatuer stuff compared with her ability to hoard food still labelled in shillings and pence whilst simultaneously swearing it's fit to eat.

So, upon witnessing this act of blatant cat terrorism, screaming at 'that fucking cat' my mother swiped BendyCat away from her prize and onto the floor. Grabbed the ham and ran it under the tap swearing both Oldest Friend and I to secrecy as she did so.

Funnily enough neither Oldest Friend or I were willing to eat the ham which was served up soon after...but the rest of the family were unknowing and got stuck in.

Eventually though, even my mother was forced to concede the ham had had it's day, she'd been outwitted by BendyCat and the only one's to truly enjoy the slightly odd tasting meat were furry and possessed of four paws!


Disability News Roundup By John Pring - Week Ending 16/12/2011

12/20/2011 10:52:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 0 Comments

  • Outraged campaigners say a new government-backed benefit fraud campaign could expose disabled people to hostility and violence in their own communities.
  • Serious doubts have emerged about crucial statistics used by the minister for disabled people to justify the government’s sweeping disability living allowance reforms.
  • New government proposals to “shake up” the scrutiny of adult social care failed to mask growing concerns that the coalition is planning to postpone the long-awaited reform of care and support funding.
  • A disabled peer failed by just two votes to overturn plans that will see a steep cut in financial support for many families with disabled children.
  • Government proposals to remove funding from organisations that provide expert legal support for discrimination cases will have a “catastrophic” impact on disabled people, experts warned.
  • A committee of MPs and peers suggested that parts of the government’s controversial welfare reform bill could breach disabled people’s human rights.
  • A university has prevented one of its disabled students from using an accessible parking space that was allowing him to carry out vital work experience, and has now painted over the bay’s markings.
  • The Department for Work and Pensions turned away disabled activists who wanted to deliver a campaigning Christmas card on behalf of 23,000 people who signed a petition calling for urgent changes to the welfare reform bill.

For links to the full stories, please visit Disability News Service


Research Fund - Fighting Disability Cuts

12/14/2011 10:36:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 4 Comments

 As we always say "Alone we whisper. Together we shout" Money is very tight for everyone at the moment, especially in the run up to Christmas, but if we all donate just £1 we can be heard.
A guest post from Sue Marsh;
For months now, I have been working on vital research. There are only a few of us, all unpaid, all seriously unwell or disabled. 

We have no funding, we are not a charity or an NPO. We do what we do because we are desperate. Because it is our lives being decided in Westminster, our futures in the hands of remote politicians. 

We do it for the people who can't fight for themselves, for those who may not even know what is being done in their name. We do it for the people who have shared their stories of fear or desperation or hardship. 

We have given our time and what precious energy we have to presenting evidence and testimonial to politicians who have been all to often, unwilling to listen.  

Now, time is running out. We have just a few more weeks to present our research to MPs, Lords, the media and the public. We need to get our work to the printers, we need envelopes, we need stamps. We want to make sure that every parliamentarian has the evidence in front of them before they vote for the final time, before they pass the welfare reform bill. 

The vote will abolish the Disability Living Allowance, I must try to stop that. The voices of the sick and disabled have not been heard. I have to change that. People are suffering every day. 

Please, give what you can afford. Do NOT give more than you can afford. £1 will get us closer to our target. £3 will pay for 6 MPs or Peers to see our work. £20 will mean that 100 parliamentarians with the power to change the bill have all the evidence they need to make a balanced decision. 

I've never asked you for money before. I wouldn't be asking now if I didn't think this could make a real difference. 

Thank You. 


Disability News Round Up By John Pring - Week Beginning 12/12/2011

12/13/2011 10:57:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 0 Comments

  • Police are unlikely to reopen their investigation into the death of a disabled man who had suffered a hate crime ordeal lasting nearly 40 years, even though a coroner has ruled that he was unlawfully killed.
  • Many of the country’s leading disabled activists have accused the government of “a total ignorance” of how a lengthy delay in deciding the future of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) is affecting thousands of disabled people.
  • A transport minister has announced new funding of nearly £40 million to improve access to Britain’s railway stations.
  • The disability movement is mourning the death of one of its pioneers, an academic and anti-apartheid campaigner whose work “transformed people’s understanding of disability” and laid the basis for what became known as the “social model”.
  • The government will be forced to spend an extra £1 billion a year, after over-estimating how many people would be found “fit for work” through a controversial new assessment.
  • Bosses from the country’s three leading cinema chains have been given a grilling by young disabled activists over their failure to make their screens more accessible.
  • The first major survey to explore the barriers that disabled people face to participating in British society has produced a detailed picture of their experiences across work, transport and education.
  • New fears have been raised about the safety of people with learning difficulties, after the care watchdog published the first reports from a national programme of inspections.
  • Disabled protesters furious at the involvement of two of London 2012’s major sponsors have targeted the first “test event” held to prepare for next year’s Paralympics.
  • The European Union’s (EU) leaders have been urged to take action to ensure disabled people do not suffer more poverty, exclusion and discrimination because of the European financial crisis.
  • The government should consider introducing legislation to give disabled people a legal right to a personal budget, according to a committee of MPs.
  • The government’s “Big Society” agenda could provide an opportunity to put into practice many of the “long-cherished principles” held by people with mental health difficulties, according to a disabled journalist and activist.

For links to the full stories, please visit Disability News Service


Disabled People On Benefits Shouldn't Have To Fear Being Active

12/08/2011 02:12:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 1 Comments

Cif article here by Lucy Glennon


Deathwalk - The Movie

12/06/2011 11:10:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 21 Comments


It's been a rough few months. After six plus weeks of voice loss and being too floppy to function I'm more than a bit fed up, a state of mind not helped by the DWP's continuing and blatant spin war against benefit claimants. When you can't get out for weeks on end, can't find the energy to get washed, dressed or even swallow properly, life becomes narrow and focused on nothing but existing. Memories of happy times are more precious than anything - snapshots to hang onto until the weather and health once again improve.

This past year I've acheived alot, something it can be hard to remember when I'm vomiting out of the back door at 6am or swigging Oramorph like it's lemonade. But, one day stands out above all others; a day when somehow, miraculously the gods of hormones, floppy muscles, sunshine and corsets managed to combine into a pinnacle of acheivement. A day in which I walked almost a mile.


All the physio, all the deathwalking practice, all the medications on this one day paid off and it was glorious. Even the rowconstructive discussion with my boyfriend about how it was time to get in that damn wheelchair and rest before I keeled over couldn't spoil it.


It's the furthest I've walked in years. Despite the pain I felt amazing when I was doing it and during these past weeks I have fantasised back to that day more often than is probably healthy. It wasn't just the distance, but that for those few hours I felt in control of my body, like it remembered how to work properly.


But the fear of being accused of benefit fraud intruded on that incredible day. Whilst we were walking, despite the fact I was accompanied, despite the fact we had my wheelchair with us, both of us were incredibly conscious that if someone snapped a photo or videoed me on their mobile phone and sent it to the DWP it would trigger an investigation into my benefits. Despite the fact that I was still dislocating while I walked, despite the oramorph and other medications I'd taken to enable me to do that, despite that fact that it's further than I've been able to walk in years, that I haven't been able to repeat it since, I was afraid. Afraid to celebrate this massive acheivement, afraid to share my joy, afraid to be accused.

Just for one rare, special, oh so precious day.

And this is the direct consequence of the government's  continued demonisation of sick and disabled people in the name of austerity measures, welfare cuts and protecting the most vulnerable. People whose lives are already difficult, people who 99.9% of the public would happily agree should be supported from their taxes, people who have committed no crime other than to become sick or disabled in a society which demonises dependency having their acheivements and happiness sullied by the fear of false accusation.

No-one hates benefit fraud more than sick and/or disabled people relying upon those benefits. Each gloating tabloid report of benefit fraudsters being caught doing outrageous things makes us more scared, more angry and less able to enjoy our lives on the days we can.

The memory of walking that mile, the sunshine, the sparkling sea, the company, the utter joy of completing a personal marathon will forever be sullied by the fear that on those magical days someone, somewhere might decide to report me for 'faking it'.

The video footage was shot in early November. The weather still extremely mild, but the walking extremely tough going. Almost 25 minutes of footage as wobbly as the walker have been edited down for this snapshot of a deathwalk approximately 100 meters long. An averagely 'not brilliant but not the worst' deathwalk day. An insight into how my life is usually lived, but for that one, magical, mile long day. And how 'looking fine' can be anything but.

To coin a corrupted cliche: "They can take away our lives, our benefits which enable us to live them independently, but they can never prevent our ability to soar free"


Disability News Round Up By John Pring - Week Ending 02/12/2011

12/06/2011 08:19:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 0 Comments

  • Mobility component u-turn: The government has refused to say how it will fund its decision to abandon plans to remove a key mobility benefit from disabled people in residential care.
  • Mobility component u-turn: The government has been accused of “incompetence” after it finally abandoned plans to remove mobility support from disabled people in residential homes.
  • Disabled people could face fresh cuts to spending on social care and other services and benefits in future years, campaigners fear.
  • Disabled activists have been left “bewildered” by the decision to present the minister for employment with an award for the accessibility of his website.
  • The government is urging disabled people to suggest measures they would like to see included in its new disability strategy.
  • Most of the remaining tickets for next year’s Paralympics in London have gone on sale.
  • A government department has been heavily criticised for ignoring the needs of disabled people in developing countries.
  • The Motability car scheme is facing anger from disabled customers over new restrictions that will make it harder for them to find personal assistants to drive their vehicles.
  • Recommendations in a major government-backed report on “sickness absence” have placed a worrying question-mark over vital new equality laws that protect disabled job-seekers from discrimination, say campaigners.
  • A “powerful and enlightening” series of experimental poems has captured the lives of four disabled people in their own voices.

For links to the full stories, please visit Disability News Service


DWP's billion pound mistake on sickness and disability benefits: government forced to revise up forecast spending on ESA

12/05/2011 02:53:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 9 Comments

The independent Office for Budget Responsibility has said that spending on Employment Support Allowance will be £1bn higher in 2014/15 than previously forecast by the government. It says that this is because fewer people are expected to be assessed as 'fit for work'  and more people are expected to be given unconditional support than the government had previously assumed.

This is a major revision to DWP's earlier forecast of £9.7bn ESA expenditure in 2014/15.

The OBR says ''ESA changes have resulted in an increase in expenditure of £1bn by 2015/16 *

They go on  to say 'The latest administrative data suggests that fewer people than previously assumed will be judged 'fit for work 'as a resut of the initial ESA work capabability assessment and reassessment of incapacity benefit cases, and more will be placed in the support group.This accounts for four fifths of the increase.'

That sounds a bit wonkish doesn't it? Trust me, this is fascinating news! What it means is that the government has to find a billion pounds more than the Chancellor included in his calculations to spend on Employment Support Allowance. And what that means is that a billion pounds more has to be spent on ESA mainly because the DWP will not be able to find as many people fit for work or 'work-related activity' through their work capability assessments as they'd claimed.

So although they aren't saying this explicitly, the DWP would seem to be admitting that their previous assumptions about how many people were able to work were grossly exaggerated. This implies that thousands of sick and disabled people have been wrongly denied ESA over the last three years and thousands placed in the Work Related Activities Group who should have been put in the Support Group and given unconditional support

It's not hard to see the reasons for this change. Since the first report of the Harrington review of the WCA last year, many more people have been placed in the ESA support group than previously, and fewer found fit for work. It is clear now that the WCA has been a disaster, driven by lazy assumptions about claimants and spending targets plucked out of the air.

However, the government is still going ahead with its plans to time limit contributory ESA to just 12 months for people in the WRAG and to deny contributory ESA to people who have been disabled from childhood.

*in fact, their tables show the increase is £1bn by 2014/15 p.146-7


A Cripmas Lunch And Spoonie Secret Santa

12/05/2011 09:36:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 2 Comments

Christmas can be a difficult time for many people, especially those who are disabled whether that be through a long term sickness, a fluctuating condition, a mental health issue, learning disability or the traditional image of a wheelchair or white stick. For many of us on low incomes buying gifts or travelling to be with loved ones can be impossible, or just practically too exhausting.

Anyone in receipt of benefits will be receiving their annual Christmas bonus soon. Before anyone not in receipt of benefits gets too excited about us 'scrounging types' getting a free, state funded Christmas party this bonus is a one off payment of £10 which has not been increased since it was first introduced. From an initial joke on twitter between @zoesmith, @gentlechaos @Imogen_May @techiebabe and myself the idea of a Cripmas Lunch was born. 

We'd like to make sure that for anyone who's alone this Christmas or who needs to spend time with other people in a similar situation that there is an online meeting point where it's easy to gather together to find company, support and hopefully a few laughs. The old BBC Ouch message boards were always busy over Christmas and in recent years other sites disabled people could congregate such as 'yourable' have disappeared leaving a bit of a gap for people to try and find each other. We'll bring you the meeting details as we get more organised but for now there will be a #cripmaslunch tag on twitter so you can search on that and find others. We'll also direct people to particular facebook pages and hopefully a forum venue. People can chat, share music, jokes, find support, whatever they want and we're all looking forward to a fantastic cripmas tale written by @creativecrip

The fantastic Flash Bristow has volunteered to run a Spoonie Secret Santa and all the details are on her blog page here. We're particularly keen for anyone who's isolated to join in, so everyone can receive at least one gift this Christmas and know that someone cares, but it's open to all Spoonies, which means anyone with any kind of sickness, disability, learning disability or mental health problem.

Time is short to participate in the Spoonie Secret Santa because of the last posting dates, but we've set the budget at £5 per gift to try and ensure as many people as possible can afford to take part. Flash needs your details by midnight on Sunday 12th of December so she can assign Secret Santas and people have time to post their gifts.

So, don't be lonely this Christmas - come and join everyone in our Spoonie Secret Santa and Cripmas Lunch!


Please Sign Pat's Petition

12/05/2011 09:08:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 2 Comments

Pat Onions has submitted an e-petition to the government website. Pat is blind and Pat is also a carer. When we asked her why she submitted this petition she said -
We were determined to attend the Hardest Hit rally in Edinburgh. Determined, in spite of disability, to stand with the others who had made the long and difficult journey. Determined to show we were united as one voice against the vicious cuts we are all enduring. We knew there were many thousands who couldn’t make it. Disability, ill health or cost would prevent them coming. We made it. 
To the many there and those who came in spirit……….this petition is for us all.
Pat’s petition reads –

Stop and review the cuts to benefits and services which are falling disproportionately on disabled people, their carers and families.

You can see the full petition on the Government website here 

The Broken of Britain are supporting Pat’s petition.  If Pat gets 100,000 signatures it could generate a debate in Parliament.

There is massive concern over the huge extent of both the welfare reforms and the cuts. Too often when people speak up, their voice is fragmented and discounted. This is an opportunity to get everyone together to speak with one voice, and to register in one place, how many people are asking the government to listen.

Firstly – obviously – we ask you to sign this petition and persuade all your family and friends to do the same. The name of the game is numbers ; so please ask friends, family and any organisations you belong to to sign and get others to sign.

When you sign the petition you will see buttons for twitter and facebook; so please share it with others on Twitter and Facebook.  Let Pat know she has your support by leaving a comment here too.
The first signatures will be the hardest to get, while we get this juggernaut rolling, so please help now and make sure that this petition really takes off.

This petition will only succeed if everyone joins together to support it and TBofB are delighted that  organisations are joining our ranks and offering support.

Organisations on board so far that have agreed to help raise awareness of Pat’s Petition are :

Disability Alliance
The Broken of Britain
Benefits and Work