Controlling the plebs

VIII hate the word “hysterical”, derived from the word for “womb”, but it has no precise synonym. Irascible and neurotic together fit the circs. I had a letter from the landlord’s agent, about the safety inspection for my gas boiler. “It is imperative that the appointment is kept.” In Bold at the bottom, it says,

If you have a card/key operated gas or electricity meter, please ensure that gas and electricity is in credit, as the plumber requires both to carry out his tests. If there is no gas or electricity and the plumber has to call back you will be responsible for the call out charge of £25. It would be far better to arrange another appointment, than incur a bill for an abortive call out.

XVIII wonder how often that happens, that people have no money for gas or electric, the paltry Emergency Credit of £5 runs out, most of the money they have paid in has gone to past arrears, so they are cut off at the exact time of the annual safety inspection. Possibly only once, or possibly the agent has thought- oh help, what if that happens? A hectoring WE WILL BLAME YOU AND YOU WILL SUFFER!!!! paragraph is necessary.

What about this, from the friendly DWP, requesting information? If I have not received this information within 14 days from the date at the top of this letter then I may need to suspend your claim to benefit [stop paying your income] until this info has been received.XIII

Stop paying my income! Plunge me into crisis! Crises come regularly. I was in the surgery when a woman wanted a prescription the following day. “We need 48 hours’ notice,” said the receptionist, and the woman had a melt down. The receptionist relented.

I can still pass for middle class, my underclass status comes out later, and Phil told me how unpleasant it was to work in the jobcentre. When she joined a few years ago it was about supporting people to find work, but now it is about bullying and threatening them. Pete said that people were bullied into any sort of job- zero hours contracts, minimum wage- rather than found jobs fit for their skills.

When the DSS stopped paying giros on the sick weekly, making them fortnightly, I had people complaining that they could not budget for a fortnight, the money would run out two or three days early. The DSS would send a special giro book paying weekly in only exceptional circumstances. Now, they are starting to pay benefits monthly, in arrears.

Though now I read that if it is more likely than not that one’s health will be adversely affected by having ESA stopped, it should not be stopped. Brilliant! I record this, for my next struggle with ATrOciouS and the Department for Withdrawing Payment.

All the love here

Cadmus Harmonia Evelyn de MorganI never expected the letter. I thought it would say the opposite. With four pages of tedious verbiage, starting with skirting round the issue, I had to go over it a few times before I realised. Then I paced the floor and babbled for a bit, looking back and forward. Then in the evening, meditating, I had to check the letter again- it could not say that, could it?

But- an extra ¬£28 a week does not mean that I get an extra ¬£28 a week. Down comes the once-so-familiar Welfare Benefits Handbook. Mmm. On last year’s rules, my housing benefit personal allowance would rise by the same amount. So I would keep it. But then, on last year’s rules, I would have got housing benefit for my whole rent for nine months before it reduced to the “Local Housing Allowance,” rather than three months as this year. That is, the benefit changes this year reduced my benefits by ¬£500. Might they also have taken away that ¬£28 a week?

At meeting, Liz ministered about missing Terry, and how here in the Meeting house there is so much love and care. It seemed to me that there is so much love, and that, as if I had a chlorophyll deficiency, I am unable to feel it properly. I am like a cur expecting a kick: I get good news, and I think of ways in which it is not good. I get to keep ESA. I told ATOS about the psychiatrist, and the endocrinologist, and what they are doing, and I got to keep ESA. I hope that means I have more money. I will check. Rather than thinking of the possibilities this opens for me, I think of ways in which it could be not good news really.

I need to be more open to the even breaks. Liz was one of two women who taught me that: I need a lot of practice.

When my housing benefit went down, I really should have moved into Swanston. Services would be in more easy reach, and I could get a flat closer to the amount housing benefit would pay. My flat would not be as lovely, nor in such a lovely location, but the course of action is clear and obvious. Snakes 2Rather than doing the sensible thing, I hunkered down, trying to live on £50 a week, rarely putting the heating on, and mostly not thinking about when I would be obviously found fit for work and have to sign on and get benefit sanctioned and not get any money and

you get the idea.

This is really good, though I will still check that I do get to keep the £28.

Helpful suggestions

How can we deal with the financial crisis at a time of low growth?

What is happening is the withdrawal of democracy. Mario Monti, new prime minister of Italy, is appointed, not elected: he is not a member of Parliament. Lucas Papademos is a former banker and academic, also unelected, whose rise to be¬†father of the people began with Mr Papandreou’s suggestion of a referendum, which could not¬†be allowed. Could it happen in this democracy? Lord Salisbury was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1903. That is recent enough. Yes it could.

The Spectator had some suggestions: cut taxes on the wealthiest, cut welfare benefits, cut the minimum wage, get rid of the right to contest unfair dismissal in an employment tribunal. The Government has only been talking of limiting it. Well, what do you expect of the Spectator? I am far more concerned by people I expected to be bleeding heart liberals. I quoted from¬†the test for “Employment and Support Allowance”, which is the benefit one must apply for if unfit for work. I think that lots of people who are unfit for work will be refused that benefit, because the test is far too restrictive, and in support of this quoted

Because of a specific mental illness or disablement, frequently cannot, due to impaired mental function, reliably initiate or complete at least 2 personal actions (which means planning, organisation, problem solving, prioritising or switching tasks).

I thought that made anyone unfit for work by itself, but it only scores six points, and you need fifteen points to get the benefit. And my friend asked, who decides? His concern is that points will be awarded incorrectly. I said that to get points, you need medical evidence that you cannot control such behaviour, because of a medical condition. He was unmoved.

I met a survivalist at a shotgun club (shooting at targets, not birds) in Aberdeen in the 1980s, and thought him an idiot, but recently I have come across two men with such concerns. First the global economy, then society, will break down, they think.

I remain sceptical of all the 2012 as a Spiritual Watershed hype. It will happen if we human beings make it happen. And so I recommend the Golden Light Project starting on 19 December.