Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The misery of April 1: Jannice and her Benefits reassessment...

I'm no doctor, I wish I had had the application and aptitude when I was younger but I didn't, so I have the utmost respect for the hard work and dedication of those who are.

However, while it takes one look at Jannice's make up, resemblant of Jemima from BBC's Play School, perhaps 10 seconds of conversation, maybe 5 minutes to detect her fear of any male, it takes several years to understand the life of brokenness that has contributed to who she is and make it obvious to realise why she receives the benefits she does. We know because of the time our hospitality  coordinator / community development worker has spent with Jannice.

Here is why the benefit's changes of April 1 are no joke. Jannice is required to undertake reassessment and is deemed fit for work, why? because in one interview she happened to mention that she looked after her mother. I'm no doctor, but that does not make Jannice a carer and open up new opportunities for employment.

When it comes to the welfare state I'm not denying that something needs addressing, it does seem strange that Lord and Lady Sugar receive the winter fuel allowance and are eligible for a freedom pass.  But equally, I refuse to be nudged by this government into thinking that Jannice represents a problem when tax avoidance is running close to £30 billion, and that spending on welfare has risen less over the last two decades than overall government spending.

The impact on people like Jannice remains, I believe, something that should not be taken for granted. Is it right to be proud about being being part of a team at @suttonsa that marches with Jannice by sitting next to her at subsequent assessments and pointing out that which is obvious? 

Someone recently asked me what The Salvation Army does - well ..... that's what we do! Not as a quasi government social service, but by seeking to live out that attribute of God that is justice and equity. 



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