Sunday, 13 November 2011
WtB Podcast - 3. #myDLA
On Friday November the 11th several of the right wing newspapers were running dubious stories about DLA; varying from slightly massaging the facts to suit their agenda to out and out bollocks.
In response writer Lucy Glennon asked people on Twitter to use the hashtag #myDLA to tell their stories about claiming DLA and how they spend it. Inspired by this I asked WtB readers to submit short audio files with their DLA stories. This is what people had to say:
Person 1: I get DLA as I am bedbound with ME. My DLA review was
refused on paperwork and then it was stopped completely when I had a
medical because apparently, I don't look disabled. It was reinstated
at the highest rates after my MP became involved. The whole thing took
18 months to get sorted out and it shouldn't take an MP's involvement
to get the basic rate of support in this country. Daily Mail articles
are just full of lies and hate and I just don't understand why? What
did we do wrong? We've done nothing wrong, it's just so pointless.
Person 2: I have an invisable illness. It took me two years, a medical
assessment, two appeals and a tribunal to get my DLA. It was highly
damaging to my health. Because my illness is also variable, I let my
DLA lapse when my health improved for a while and now I've relapsed, I
have to go through it all again.
Person 3: My DLA is how I buy equipment. It pays for the electricity
that keeps my ventilator powered. It pays for the electricity that
keeps my feeding equipment powered. It pays for my electric
wheelchair, without which I would be completely unable to mobilise and
it pays for other smaller things like incontinence pads or special
cutlery, plates - all the things you can't really get from the NHS.
Really, without my Disability Living Allowance, I wouldn't be able to
survive and I would die without my ventilator.
Martyn: Hello, my name is Martyn Sibley. I'm 28 years old. I've been
disabled since birth due to a genetic condition called Spinal Muscular
Atrophy. I just wanted to take a little moment to share with you
#myDLA, the way I use Disability Living Allowance. Due to my
disability, I qualify for both the higher rate of care and the higher
rate of mobility component of the benefit. Obviously the overall point
of the benefit is that it recognises the additional costs that result
from being disabled, living in a society that exists at the moment.
The care part of my component enables me to employ full time care
assistants to enable me with getting out of bed, general personal
care, domestic chores and also getting out of the house and socially
being active in the community. The mobility part of my DLA is also
enabling me to drive my adaptive car, without which I would find it
very very difficult if not impossible to get anywhere beyond the
distance in a wheelchair. And because I have that adaptive vehicle, I
am able to drive myself out for work, which means I am contributing to
the economy, and also I'm able to get out and about and spend the
money I have earnt, back into the shops and cinemas and bars, again,
putting back into our economy too. So I hope that illustrates the
picture that DLA enables me to live a very full and independent life.
And if you want to look at it from a very economical perspective as
some of the right wing press seem to want to do today, I am actually
far more valuable to our society and our economy when I am able to be
out there, living a great life, working and spending my hard-earned
money. Thank you very much.
Person 4: Without my DLA, I wouldn't have personal assistants. I would
be stuck inside all of the time. I wouldn't be able to eat. I wouldn't
be able to get out of bed. I wouldn't be able to move around my house,
go to the toilet or enpty my catheter bag. Without my DLA I would be
moved to a nursing home. I'm 25 years old and that would be the end of
Jack: Hello, my name is Jack and my DLA supplies us with a reliable
car and helps us towards essential costs such as energy, special diet
foods, medication and travel to appointments and many many more
things. Without my DLA I would be less independent and not more. This
would force me to be more reliant upon my partner and the social care
system. It took me six weeks of all my useful hours to fill out the
application form. That is 36 hours and resulted in a form including
evidence that was hundreds of pages long. I would hardly call that a
Louise: My name's Louise and I'm a working claimant for Disability
Living Allowance. I receive middle rate care and lower rate mobility.
I have epilepsy which means I don't have a driving license any more
and haven't done for the last 15 years because my seizures are
uncontrolled. I use the mobility allowance mainly for taxis because I
am a working journalist, I am out and about a lot and sometimes it's
quite difficult for me to get around. Sometimes journeys would take
for example an hour, and hour and a half whereas by car they might
only take 20 minutes as I am reliant on public transport so that's
where the money goes on taxis. For the care allowance, which I get the
middle rate I use that to buy in meals for after I've had seizures and
I'm not well enough to get out of bed and cook for myself, or
sometimes I'm just too tired from the medication and just don't want
to make the effort, so on those days I will do something like order a
takeway over the internet and have it delivered.
I also occasionally use my DLA for things like buying in the
assistance of a cleaner for the days when I'm too tired and too ill
tobe able to do things like vacuuming my home. For me it is an
absolute lifeline. I really wouldn't be able to manage without because
of the things I am able to do with that extra money. I don't earn a
lot of money for my work. But the DLA helps me with all those extra
costs and if I was to stop receiving it under the proposed changes, I
would probably have to stop work, that would mean I would be thrown
back completely onto benefits whereas while I'm working and receiving
DLA which enables me to keep working, I'm actually paying back into
the pot, I'm paying my taxes and my National Insurance. For the state
that's actually a lot cheaper than taking away my DLA and stopping me
Person 2: My DLA form was so overwhelmingly
long and difficult that I had to get a charity to fill it in for me.
Eleanor: Hi, my name's Eleanor. I use my DLA to help me with
transport, to get train tickets. I also use my DLA to get support for
doing housework that I can't do, to get some shopping. I also use my
DLA to help to adapt my flat so I can negotiate my everyday living.
And I use my DLA to help me buy equipment.
Pippa: Hi, my name's Pippa, also known as Incurable Hippie. I'm one of
the bloggers with Where's the Benefit? I get DLA for my mental health
problems. The difference it makes to me is massive. I can get very
extreme anxiety which will stop me from going anywhere or doing
anything and I use my DLA for things like taxis or my telephone bill
to help me get support, taxis to appointments for instance. Another
thing it's very helpful for is that sometimes when I'm unwell I'm not
safe to use things like sharp knives and heat sources and I can use my
DLA to spend the extra money on things like ready meals which make it
a lot easier to be able to eat. Without my DLA I would be a lot more
isolated, I would have less contact with my friends, which is a very
important part of me staying as well as I can, I would miss
appointments, which are also clearly important in helping me stay
well. And I would overall become a lot iller, which would of course
cost the government a lot more in treating me, perhaps in hospital or
certainly more intensive treatment. So not only does DLA help me, it
also helps the government save money, because it reduces the risk of
me getting so ill that I would need a lot more expensive care.
Lisa: You can read all the My DLA tweets Lucy collated at http://storify.com/LucyTweeting/mydla
There’ll be another episode of the WtB podcast… Eventually. In the meantime you can find our blog at wheresthebenefit.blogspot.com, you can ‘like’ us on facebook by going to www.facebook.com/wheresthebenefit. You can follow us on twitter @wheresbenefit (there’s a character limit on twitter usernames and we didn’t have room for the “the”. So we’re just @wheresbenefit) or if you’ve got anything you want to ask us, or you’d like to pitch us a guest post for our blog then you can Email us at wheresthebenefit *at* gmail *dot* com
Thanks for listening!