Entitlement – an ugly word?

So, I can’t sleep. I got two hours in total before I woke up, twitching, jerking and irritable. Cats cleaning themselves really loudly. My husband breathing, that sort of thing.

I tried to stop my heart racing and myself from entering a full-blown panic by asking S to turn on the radio (it’s on his side of the bed), as the World Service, our usual station at home, is usually employed at a lower volume than normal in such instances. Then breathing exercises, then cuddling that beautiful, damnable noisy cat until his tail twitched. No can do. So, back to something I’ve been mulling over for a day or so.

I mentioned in my last post that S was entitled to his money. Someone I once knew vehemently disagreed with this a few days ago. She was aggrieved that I considered him entitled; that ours was a something-for-nothing culture; that we should go and live somewhere else to see how things truly are, like they did. This came as if from nowhere and I was truly shocked at her venom.

So, entitlement is a loaded, ugly word it seems. The search engine of your choice confirms it to be a guarantee of rights under law as well as in the more pejorative sense, that these things are felt to be deserved. But can it not be that if you live in a country where these benefits and rights are established and for whatever reason you are not recieving those benefits, that you deserve – or are entitled – to them? Should S accept that as he is not getting any money at all, he is not entitled to it?

I do know S deserves these things, and I shall attempt to unravel why through legislation. I promise not to use the European Human Rights Act. I’m sure this would be roundly and soundly laughed at.

S could be getting an award! In the Welfare Reform Act (2012) the money gained through a person recieving Universal Credit is described as both an entitlement and a award. Award; I rather like that. It has less of a negative connotation and more of a beneficial one. Interestingly, disability and incapacity payments (or Employment Support Allowance as now is) are not mentioned here. It is not a part of Universal Credit. You can laugh here if you like. So theoretically and as per the law, does this mean that healthy people capable of work are entitled to their award from the State and that the ill and disabled are not? If so, what does this say about our society, that those least able to find and carry out work needn’t get anything at all? This is all rather puzzling.

However, there is a draft item of legislation, the Employment and Support Allowance Regulations (2013) which is now a statutory instrument. Although it is not as immediately noticeable as in the previous document, that magic word is used in relation to ESA. (Part 2, 6.2.a; (i)-(iv)). Entitlement to ESA; it actually exists! And yes, Part 3 – Conditions of Entitlement. Here we are; I’ve sold the cow and I’ll be damned if one of those magic beans hasn’t started to grow.

(Here though is where I’m going to have to admit that although I did well in the Law and Ethics module in my (paused) nursing degree, I am not immensely practised in decoding employment and support law, and am absolutely no expert. But principle established, I think?)

It’s Part 4 where things get a little easier to understand. It’s about limited capability for work. It mentions the descriptors for claimants and the 15-point system that is applied by the assessors. Part 4 seeks to establish

whether a claimant’s capability for work is limited by the claimant’s physical or mental condition and, if it is, whether the limitation is such that it is not reasonable to require the claimant to work is to be determined on the basis of a limited capability for work assessment of the claimant in accordance with this Part. 15(1)

This directly applies to S’s situation. This is the statutory law under which S is entitled to a state benefit.

Of course, being enshrined in law does not make anything a worthy or good, or even a desirable thing. I suppose in this case it depends on the extremity of your political viewpoint. But at least it does show that yes, providing he meets the criteria, S deserves – under law – this benefit. He may have failed the initial assessment, the appeal, a tribunal which was found to have so many holes in it that it could call itself a colander. (That’s the post I’m petrified to write, and is the reason why we are both quite so anxious about the forthcoming rerun). But he is entitled – that pesky word again – to his appeals, too.

Any country where a legal judgement is made and appeals cannot be lodged – isn’t that an injustice? And that is A Bad Thing. So why on earth should he not exercise that right? Otherwise, we would be one of those countries where things really are real, where injustices happen, and we’re no longer in our safe little corner of the developed world. Because any system where appeals are unable to be lodged when failures are seen are, well, just as flawed as those countries without those laws at all, and it is as likely that injustices will flourish.

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3 thoughts on “Entitlement – an ugly word?

  1. Y’know what, he IS entitled, to every last bean they are withholding from him. It’s the social contract we have in this country, and we have all been led to believe that our needs will be met if, at any point, we find ourselves in a position that requires it.

    Just because other parts of the world don’t have a welfare state does not in any way negate ours or the expectations we have all been led to have for almost 70 years.

    Your entitlement. your expectations, are all reasonable and entirely rooted in the culture, the law and the structure of our society.

    But, it’s easy to be judgemental when there is no heating bill to think about and one is living in a place where one’s western income can fund a lifestyle far in excess of the affordability of the UK.

  2. Unfortunately, it seems the media are a lot to blame for this current belief that everyone wants something for nothing. The government are bandying about random figures as fact (even when IDS is pulled up at least twice for claiming bogus figures as fact), the media report it and gullible and/or lazy people who can’t be bothered to check these things believe it and spout it back to those who genuinely need help. It’s not easy to admit that you aren’t 100% physically or mentally, worse to ask for help when in the past you’ve been the one people ask to help you and soul-destroying having to spell out in minute detail what you can’t do, telling total strangers about your bowels, sex life etc and even worse than all of that having people who don’t know you tell you to pull yourself together and you don’t need help.

    Either this means in the eyes of the decision makers, DWP, government, media and random outsiders you are a liar, a fraud or whatever that word was some overweight physio told me I was (decompensating or some such rubbish) meaning that once I had an illness which made it hard to do something and now I’m just scared to try in case it hurts again but it doesn’t. Seriously? For all those who have been refused the assistance they are ENTITLED to it would be great for all the decision-makers to have whatever illness/disability/condition the refused person has for a week without the knowledge that it would end in a week, just the thought that this might continue every minute of every day of every month of every year with no end in sight and see how you get treated, how you can’t access even a doctor’s appointment in that time let alone get the right medication, treatment or even information. Then they might be qualified to decide who can and can’t work and how much money they and their families or carers need.

    I worked from the age of 20 more or less every weekday of the year, only once or twice taking full holiday allowance as I was forced to by the company I was contracted to at the time, up until I got made redundant, couldn’t claim JSA as husband earned too much but was told nothing I could do except pay voluntary NI out of the no money I was earning (later found I was meant to have applied for JSA anyway, been refused but then given NI contributions as voluntary only pays for pension not benefits), got a poorly paid job after about a year of serious job hunting and retraining then got ill and was told I wasn’t entitled to IB as I hadn’t paid enough NI in the year I wasn’t working and was then told what I should have done even though no one at jobcentre, benefits helpline or the gov website mentioned it. All I got was NI paid by IB for the 4 years odd it took me to be able to get DLA so yes I think I’m *&^%$%^& entitled to something in return for all the tax and NI I paid for about 15 years and the fact that if I didn’t have a thyroid problem I’d still be expected to pay prescription fees for all the different medication I need to take (6 items per month currently but had loads of different meds over the years trying to sort everything) as you don’t get help with prescriptions if you are ill or disabled, only if you are unemployed or on income support.

    Having the Paralympics here should have helped but after the games, the tube station ramps and extra staff were put away and everyone claiming seems to have been measured against Paralympics – he’s got no legs but won a gold medal so you could easily work in an office, totally missing the whole point of different disability classes in the games, the fact that they DO get DLA as well (people don’t seem to know you can get DLA and work) and that it’s not comparing like with like – you are able-bodied, so is Usain Bolt therefore you should have a gold medal for running!

    Wishing you both the strength to keep on fighting and please let me know if there is anything I can do to help. I am happy to write stroppy letters to people on your behalf, send reiki, or just listen so you can offload.

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