So the Tories have a majority, what do we do now?

 

**** Please note that I am safe now and am receiving help for some of the issues I mention in this blog. Thank you all for your concern ****

 

It just started raining in London, maybe this is god’s way of saying that the Tories winning a majority at yesterday’s general election was a bad thing, I hope so at least.

As someone who has an expensive, long term health condition, mental health problems and Autism, it would be a fair assessment to say that as a result of this, I am royally screwed. Now that the Conservatives have a clear majority and they don’t have the Liberal Democrats interfering to water down their policies, they can effectively do what they like. Welcome to a Britain where there is no support for people who are unemployed or disabled and they are just left to die, where there is no National Health Service and people can’t get help for their medical problems without paying huge sums of money to private companies, where we have destroyed all the oversight and protection given to us by the EU and European Court of Human Rights in exchange for strict controls on immigration and an end to freedom of movement within the European Union, where the rich are taxed at a knockdown rate to encourage the myth of a trickle down economy and keep big exploitive businesses in the UK. Welcome to a country where rich people have overwhelming power and don’t care about anyone but themselves.

The last five years have been bad, but there is no doubt it is going to get worse. Only hours after the result was declared, Jeremy Warner – assistant editor of the Telegraph is calling for an end to the NHS on the basis that it costs too much money (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/nhs/11590377/Do-we-want-better-health-care-or-do-we-want-to-keep-the-NHS.html). How will I live if I cannot get insulin for free to treat my diabetes? How will I cope without the excellent diabetes team at Barts and Homerton Hospitals to keep me going?

I am sure the next point to be brought up will be benefit ‘scroungers’ and how we are spending too much money on welfare – we didn’t kill enough people last time, so it’s time to go further with those cuts. The Guardian announced on Tuesday that they had seen a list of potential cuts to the welfare budget, including: ‘Making it harder for sick people to claim state aid when they are out of work by introducing “stricter” fit-for-work tests and/or tighter limits on eligibility.’ (http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/may/05/revealed-coalition-plans-to-slash-welfare-for-sick-poor-young-and-disabled) well, it’s already difficult enough as it is for me to claim ESA, I have in the past been able to work and ‘chickened out’ at the Work Capacity Assessment stage, but my mental health problems have become much worse lately and I can’t face dealing with recruiters or applying for jobs, I haven’t worked properly in six months, so that’s another thing that an employer or recruiter can hold against me when I try to apply –
Employer: “Explain why you haven’t worked in the last six months?”
Me: “Well, I was ill”
Employer “So that means you’re going to be ill again then and wasting my time not working?”
Me: “Well I can’t rule it out”
Employer “Next!”

I have spent the last Five months living very close to the breadline, I have had to borrow money for rent and it is very uncertain where I will find the balance of the next rent payment from. I have tried to get help from my local council and they are paying me the full amount of housing benefit that they are able to, but the dates do not line up with when I have to pay my rent and I will be short £500 at the end of May again, after borrowing £500 this week to top up what I had. I have built up another £3,000 of credit card debit which basically paid for day to day expenses whilst all the rest of my money went on trying to pay the rent and bills. That brings my total to £7,000, only 7 years after being made bankrupt because credit card companies and banks were pushing overdrafts and credit cards on me like they were candy. I have no savings, no pension, nothing much to show for my nearly 35 years on this planet.

In the past few weeks I have talked about getting out of London and going to live somewhere else that would be less expensive… This would be a start, but what point is there if I move only to discover that I am no-longer eligible to be helped, because I am deemed not to be sick enough. Yes, I can stand up, I can walk… but it’s hard to explain to people how it is, what’s going on in your head and why you feel so upset about what is going on… it’s even worse when you tell them that and they don’t believe you – because that is what is going to happen, people think that I am delusional, but I don’t think so, I think it’s pretty clear that if you can be in a coma and still be found fit for work, then really the rest of us are screwed (http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/ros-wynne-jones-sheila-hounded-death-5353202). This is only going to get worse as the Tories get their own way.

I cannot go on like this, I am tired, I am worn out, maybe once I could do a job – it is true that I do have a lot of skills and abilities with computers, but I need a break, I need help to find a job where my employer will understand my circumstances and help me to stay in work. I need stability and a roof over my head that isn’t going to be taken away by some rich foreign landlord when I can’t pay the rent. I need the certainty that I will have money to feed myself and my cats, and pay my bills.

I have tried to get help, every time I go to hospitals in a crisis situation they don’t listen – they say they will help but they don’t, I wait around to talk to them, but then they let me go. They don’t realise that someone who can sit there and describe their problems in a calm and matter of fact way is actually in a crisis, because this is not how people with mental health problems act. They don’t have enough training or understanding of Autism to realise this, they probably don’t really have enough time to listen to people properly.

I would like to say how grateful I am to various people in my life for their support and how sorry I am that I am letting them down and will no-longer be around.

I would like to thank:
Claire Wakefield – for talking to various local officials and trying to get them to listen to me and for trying to get someone to offer me a meaningful job.
Leneh Buckle – for her help in trying to make things better for me and find alternatives to my current situation.
Norman Corke – for always being around to listen and having a good laugh at what was going on.
Nancy Rowell – for helping me out financially – I am sorry I will not be able to pay back what I owe you.
Larry Arnold – for always keeping me entertained and informed with your take on what was going on, I hope you will be able to keep your allotment going.
Gina Muollo – despite being so far away you have always been a fried over 16 years.
Ian Molton & Lyndsey Barwell – for offering support an accommodation, even though it probably wouldn’t have worked out.
EB Algol – for many many chats over the past few years.

To my parents, sister and brother-in-law – I am sorry I have let you down, I wish you could really understand how I feel about things and how I can’t just snap out of this situation.

At home I have 2 cats: Dave and Arnie. They have food, water and a litter box. They have access to outside through a cat flap. Dave and Arnie are brothers from the same litter, I am sure that with me gone they will be sad enough, but it would be worse if they were split up. Arnie is very skittish and will run off and hide when other people are around, Dave is a bit more social but will still run. I suggest that whoever goes in to remove them and re-home them locks the cat flap so they can get in but can’t get out and then goes away and waits, once they are back indoors then it will be a lot easier to catch them. Please be gentle with my babies…
It’s nearly time to get on the bus, so I guess I’d better be going. To those of you who voted Tory, I hope you are fucking pleased with yourselves…

A job I would really like to do, but…

So, today in my usual job searching on Jobserve I found a job that I really like the sound of, here are some of the highlights:

My client is looking for a Data Centre Technician on an initial 3 month contract based in Angel, London in the Financial, Data and Media Services Industry. Rate: GBP 20/25 per hour Ltd.

The Data Centre technician will be responsible for providing technical assistance and overall support to our customers providing 24/7 cover through a 12 hour shift pattern.

Shift Pattern: 07:00 and 19:00 start times, 12 hour shifts including breaks.

Week 1: 4 shifts (4 nights)

Week 2: 6 shifts (3 days/3 nights)

Week 3: 3 shifts (3 days)

Week 4: 1 shift (1 day)

The Data Centre Technician will also be responsible for the installation of racks, housing, network and computer equipment. Each Data Centre technician is also responsible for managing and implementing installations as required, including shelves, power strips, rails, cable management and customer IT equipment. When required identify issues with the hardware or cabling, which can include replacing internal components and testing, tracing and labelling of cabling.

So here we have a well paid job, very local to me (20mins or so walk) and it’s working inside places I really enjoy… Data centres.

I don’t know what it is about a data centre, but I just love the buzz of it, a huge building filled with computers, cabling and links to networks near and far. The noise inside these places is often deafening, but the plus side is that the air conditioning (which is there really for the machines rather than the humans) is incredible, so no baking in summer!

I have a fair amount of experience with servers, I can take them apart, replace components, set them up, etc… but I have only had one job working specifically in a data centre, which was 13 years ago and not specifically dealing with hardware.

People say to me in this situation, “why not, go for it, you might get it” and all that sort of thing, the issue is that these days unless your most recent jobs match very closely the job that you are applying for, then you can forget it, you aren’t what they want.

Lets look a bit further at the job spec and the things I do/don’t have experience with:

Suitable candidates will be able to demonstrate the following skills:

* Computer engineering experience and knowledge in order to achieve optimum methods of working

* Cabling experience and knowledge, in order to achieve optimum methods of working.

* Installation of rack mount kit including HP and CISCO

* Hardware maintenance/swapping of failed customer replaceable parts such as cache battery, HDD, Power Supply.

* Highly motivated individual, with a positive and pro/active attitude to work.

* Willingness to make changes to improve operational efficiency through innovation, process and procedures, adopting and adapting ideas and practices from elsewhere.

* Ability to act rapidly and logically under pressure and making effective use of others in resolving problems.

* Capable of working with the minimum of supervision.

* Good written and verbal communication skills .

* Good working knowledge of Outlook, Word and Excel

* Excellent team skills, with an ability to listen and contribute to discussions and meetings.

* Customer and service focused, with determination to meet their needs.

Also of interest to my client:

* ITIL Accreditation

* Experience of HP Service Manager 7

So, actually, looking at that spec, I can actually tick off most of those things. But it’s actually really hard to ascertain from a CV/Resume that you have actually got those “soft skills” like team working, being highly motivated, etc, etc…

Realistically I would expect this job to get a lot of applications and the people who get shortlisted for interview are likely to be those whose last two jobs have been working in data centres…

The question I want an answer to here really is how can we stop this kind of “unfairness” in the job market, here I think is a job I would be really suited to, but because my background is in desktop support rather than server support, I will not be considered.

Those of you who are saying “apply for it, you never know”, I can tell you I have applied, but I am willing to put £5 on never getting a call back from this agency about this position….

Attitudes

I suppose that all along I thought I was owed something or wanted something I couldn’t have, maybe that is just the way things are when your parents don’t have a great deal of money. Back in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, things were expensive. China wasn’t the huge superpower it is now and not everything was made there. This happened to be the times that I grew up in.

Most of my memories of childhood are probably about being told that I couldn’t have x or that I should save up to buy y. I suppose that was a good thing, trying to teach me the value of money or that I couldn’t have everything I wanted should have given me a good grounding. But I thought I knew better.

I was 12 when I heard on the news one day that a kid in America divorced his parents. Through Google I can now tell you that this child, Gregory Kingsley, was more or less the same age as me at the time and that basically his mother was an unemployed waitress with a history of drug abuse and promiscuity and his father had been out of the picture for some time. Kingsley befriended an attorney whom he met at the boy’s shelter he was staying up after his mother placed him and his brothers into the temporary care of the state because of her drug problem. George Russ, the attorney whom Kingsley had gotten to know empathised with Kingsley, having not had a great childhood himself and he and his wife agreed to adopt Gregory.

I picked up on this and decided I wanted to do the same, my parents were not unemployed promiscuous drug addicts or anything or that kind, the problem was mostly down to my idolisation of America and American life and the fact that I wanted things (mostly computer equipment) that my parents could not afford. At this point of my life, my parents and I were seeing a child psychiatrist who rather than pick up on the fact that I might be Autistic, chose not to label and told my parents and I that I had “normal teenage problems”.

Do normal teenagers write letters to social services and council chief executives trying to blackmail them into finding a new family in America? I also had an American maths teacher when I was 13/14, I wrote a letter pouring my heart out to him and asked him and his wife to adopt me.

The letter writing didn’t stop when I left school. At age 17, having been asked to leave the family home and ‘existing’ in a hostel for the homeless with virtually no money, I wrote another letter to the city authorities in Southampton, this time I didn’t want to go to America. I wanted to be self-sufficient, I wanted a swanky flat, laptop, car, driving lessons, etc…. of course this came to nothing again.

By age 18 I had a diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome and was living in a specialist college in Sunderland. Apart from getting to see the North East of England and meeting fellow people on the spectrum, it really didn’t help me. Having spent months living alone in hostels, I had my street cred. I had come face to face with drug addicts and people with serious mental health problems, but they wanted to treat me as if I was an insurance liability, I was not supposed to go off alone, even crossing the road was a big deal. I will admit I had fun some of the time, sneaking into university computer labs, using the Internet before most people really knew what it was (this was 1998); but the experience of living under one roof with such a mix of abilities, despite all being Autistic, we were not all the same.

I suppose I have always had plans for myself, who doesn’t? I was 19 when I first started working in IT and I liked it pretty well, so I decided I should keep going. However, none of the jobs I had really lasted much more than a year, either through my own doing or because the company had issues. I went to University for the first time aged 25, having given up at least 3 times on getting A-Levels or equivalent qualifications to get into University, I decided to take the route of a “Foundation Year” in which I would gain that level of knowledge prior to starting the first year of a degree. It took about 3 months before I got behind, couldn’t turn in my work on time and then became suicidal because my whole plan had shattered. I would never finish this course and I would never get my degree. I battled with this kind of depression many times over since then. I tried again to re-take the modules I had failed in the foundation course, I tried to do the foundation work for a different degree (electronics rather than computing) at a different university, but again got behind and dropped out.

I then moved to London at the age of 30. My first job in London and my first proper IT job for some time lasted 3 months. This has lead into a succession of situations where I have gotten jobs, for some reason given up or gotten fired, then had a huge breakdown where I became suicidal because my whole plan lay shattered again.

I don’t know what the solution is. I don’t think counselling will work, in my head, I am doing everything right, it’s the other assholes who get in my way and mess it all up. I have tried CBT, it didn’t work. There is documented fact to show that CBT does not work for Autism and a single book about how you can possibly adapt it for Autism!

All I want is a normal life: a driver’s licence, a car, some kind of house that I actually own (I don’t care if this actually a shipping container that I transformed into a house). These are simple demands, I don’t want thousands of pounds worth of Mac computer equipment or a family in America any more.

So every time I start a new job I think to myself, yes, this is good, I will use this money to do the stuff I want to do. But somehow it all goes wrong, usually leaving me in debt of some kind.

So, can you see my frustration? Is my attitude so wrong? That I want things that nearly every other person has? These are the problems I can’t fix and the cause of my current depression.

Asking for help

So, this is what I have written down to either read out to or give to my GP tomorrow, presuming I can see him.

We both know the current government’s attitude is that sick and disabled people should be in work. With the support of my employer, I have so far managed to stay in employment for 8 months, although given my non-attendance at work yesterday, this may not the case. Anyway… if the government expects people who have disabilities to stay in work, then it follows, surely, that the NHS should support them in staying in work.

Right now I feel that I am teetering on the edge, for the last month, I do not think I have really experienced much happiness, I have realistically just existed. At several points I have contemplated suicide or had suicidal ideation, including throwing myself in front of a train.

I feel that at this point, my main issues revolve around the following:

Giving up: As we both know, there have been many opportunities over the past 3 years (and further back than that), which I have squandered. Then when things become too difficult, or it feels like there is no way out, I have resorted too quickly to suicidal thinking.

Anger: over the last few months, I have become more and more affected by anger and frustration. Perhaps the majority of this has come from the continued attitudes of the current government and the effects of their policies on my more disabled friends. I have also had some periods of heighted emotion (e.g. sadness) which may be related to this. Often when watching films or TV, tears come to my eyes and I feel very sad, even though I know it’s not real.

I am also frustrated by my loneliness and inability to find a suitable sexual partner. I have perused any woman who has shown interest in me online and then unfortunately taken things too quickly, resulting in loss of friendship and further frustration.

I have failed to pay more than a casual level of attention to my diabetes and other health issues. Although this may be down to the tiredness which I often feel when I am working, changing my pump set when it runs out is about the level of care of myself I have been taking. I have not brushed my teeth in quite some time; I pay no attention to the content of my food, despite the fact that I experience diarrhoea often, probably due to the fact content and my body’s inability to digest it. The physical flaws of my body just add to my frustration.

Since being taken on by Addaction and my salary increased to £33,333 I have all support from benefits taken away from me. I had been receiving £760/month from Housing Benefit and £400/month from Tax Credits on top of £290 DLA and between £1100 and £1300 Salary for a total of around £2500 per month, minus £1035 rent and £350 bills = £1,115 to deduct food, travel and entertainment from. Now I have an income of £2280 minus £1035 rent and £350 bills = £895. Except because of my absence from work during August I was paid £1400 and had to borrow £600 from my Dad to cover a £480 pay day loan, pay rent, bills and exist. I am not doing very well at present in this respect, because I do not cope very well when I realise that I do not have much money to cover my possible expenses. I also have to pay my Dad back quite a lot of money.

I had hoped that with my extra cash, I could try to further my life – pass IT certifications and learn to drive. These goals now seem further and further out of reach and I feel angry at those who seem to flaunt money in a way that I can only dream of.

I do not know if the issues that I have tried to explain here are mental health problems related to or an extension of Autism and/or related to ADHD. But I know that these aspects of my personality need to be changed or I will find myself destitute, homeless and suicidal once again.

No-one will let me give up, despite being tired and pissed off.

So, I started this job in January, that’s 8 months, possibly a record? Well in recent times, yes.

However, this has taken me down a road which maybe at the start I wanted to go down, but now, I don’t think so. I am tired, I am angry and I really don’t like this job any more. So much of it has become paper pushing, except that paper is email and the email is basically asking someone else to do something because we contracted that out to them. Users ring us, but really we can’t do anything.

I’d like to give up, but then what would I do? Find another job? Well that would just be so much hassle of dealing with stupid recruiters who don’t know a thing about IT and are paid stupid amounts of money to find people for jobs. They are salespeople, they all wear expensive suits and would probably drive fast cars if they could.

Could I go back to my previous life of claiming benefit? Well technically I am still sick, my disability hasn’t gone away because I have a job. But who would sign me off to say I am sick? My GP was a complete wanker the last time I saw him and had all the sympathy of a blow-fly. So I doubt he is going to sign a sick note for me if I went in there and told him I had quit my job.

Then even if I did get back on to benefits I would have to endure all the crap from IDS and the DWP, and within 6 months I would probably be queuing up in the job centre trying to make it look like I was looking for jobs and struggling on JSA.

It’s not the fact that I have overspent or have higher overheads now that means I can’t go back to benefits. Heck, I would probably have more money because Housing Benefit would pay my rent. No, it’s because I have worked this long, so I am seen as being capable of working.

So basically I have two choices, keep working or die. Right now, I think I’ll choose the latter.

Is this the future I really want?

I have spent quite a long time thinking about how to write this, but I don’t think there is an easy way. I am a very broken person. Not quite as broken as Latent Existence or Dannilion but broken in my own ways.

Today I spent most of the day in bed, I woke up at 9pm and ate pizza, yoghurt and chocolate. Since then, at least once an hour I have had to make trips to the toilet which resulted basically in water emerging from my rear end. This happens most days, because my pancreas cannot deal with fats that I ingest. Why should I change what I eat just because my body is broken? I certainly don’t have enough patience to maintain some kind of avoidance diet or spend hours reading packaging in supermarkets. Then there is the cost of special diets.

Also as a result of damage to my pancreas, I have diabetes. I wear an insulin pump, but I still have to tell it what I have eaten, test my blood sugar and change the sets every few days. I am currently performing at the level of being able to do one of these activities.

I try to be a happy person, I really do, I consider myself to be amusing. But realistically I cannot maintain this outward persona. As I said in my last post I was given a new post at work, a pay rise etc. I should have been so happy, and I was until I realised that: 1. Actually I had taken a pay cut, because I have lost most of the assistance I was getting from the government and 2. They were going to leave me with a skeleton staff, of which I am being relied upon as the most knowledgeable and “lead” person.

I have never dealt well with promotion or responsibility, I have not sought it out, but some how because I “wowed” someone, they thought I could deal with everything. I often think that the best job for me, would be the one with the least amount of responsibility, because then when my brain decides it’s had enough, as it usually does, then I am not really causing anyone problems by disappearing back into the mist that I arrived from.

Except this time, I am supposed to be “the one”, despite all my broken-ness and depression, I must come into work every day and perform to a high level, complete all the tasks set for me that week and answer phone calls and tickets with routine technical support enquiries. I cannot do this any more. It is not that I am bored, or have lost interest, I have genuinely lost my ability to cope with what I am being asked to do.

But, I cannot take sick leave – or I will not get paid and I cannot just quit and go back to the world of Welfare, because that world isn’t really there any more. I know after a few weeks of claiming ESA, I will be expected to fill in the dreaded ESA50, followed by the Work Capability Assessment, which will ultimately say that I am capable of picking a pencil up off the floor, so I am capable of working.

I have had enough, I have spent 17 years doing this, back and forth between work and benefits. Hoping that maybe one day I will find a job where I can do what is asked of me and live comfortably. But now I realise that is a fantasy, despite laws to the contrary that are supposed to protect people with disabilities, no-one really wants to help me, or in fact could offer me the right help to get past my struggles and onto something resembling “normality”.

My greatest regret is that my kittens, having just about settled down will face more upheaval and have to find another human they can trust.

I am not going to tell you what or when I am going to do anything, because I know people will just send the police after me, I realise you care about me, but neither they, nor mental health professionals can help me. They will listen to my story, find it to be far too matter of fact and basically tell me to just get on with it. This is the reality and any of you cared, you wouldn’t bother with me, you would just find someone who can look after my kittens.

In London, you need a lot of money to be rich

So, on 1st July I started working for the company I had been contracting for, directly. Its not a permanent, permanent job, I am on a short term contract until 31st December, they also gave me a pay raise, apparently I am now worth £33,333.00 per year, before tax.

However, this causes me something of a problem, because now I (apparently) have too much money to get Housing Benefit, which was paying about 70% of my £1035.00 rent when I was earning about £22,000. Then there is Tax Credits, I don’t know how I stand with this – I was getting about £400 per month, but because the calculations are so complicated, I have no idea if I am still eligible or not.

There is no way I want to spend half my salary on rent, living close to work and the centre of London is not worth that. But now I have a problem, not realising this was going to happen I have signed a new lease for 1 year from 30th July.

However, my problems are more immediate than that, I needed the housing benefit payment I am due next Monday in order to make ends meet after having to pay £1,300 in vet bills for my cat who wasn’t insured.

Yes, I know I am stupid, this is not about that. This is about the fact that just because I learn a fair amount, it really isn’t much when you live in the most expensive city in the UK. I don’t even live in a nice flat, I pay over £1,000 per month for a hole in the ground which leaks heat in winter and gets too hot in summer. All this because there is not enough social housing and Landlords can legally rip people off, because someone will willingly pay what they are asking, despite the condition of the flat/location.

So, I thought I had turned a corner in my life, that everything was getting better because I had managed to keep a job for 7 months, win an award for being “Employee of the Quarter” and generally be good at what I am doing. But it appears none of that matters, because my finances are going down the toilet again. It’s not like I can loan any money from a reasonable lender, have an overdraft or get a mortgage, because I am still suffering from being made bankrupt at 28.

Why do I bother when the world doesn’t want to unerstand Autism?!

I didn’t go into work today, I am so tired and drained from dealing with all the problems, because I have been the only person who gets results, everyone comes to me to get things done or things just get left and then when users complain I am kind enough to help.

Case in point – long standing systems/network admin doesn’t have the time to help a company we have contracted to move users onto a new system, so I send this email:

Well fine then, these users will never be migrated and we’ll be stuck with the windows 2000 servers forever.

I am sick of being some go between for every other agency or company we deal with in order to get things done when they don’t really care.

That’s why I didn’t come in today.

Now I am going to the seaside for a bit. Probably see you tomorrow.

Then I get this back off my boss:

Seth

 This isn’t acceptable behaviour. I can tolerate certain behaviour and I accept the different agencies and stakeholders have different priorities and motivations and this is causing stress for everyone.  Before you go throwing your toys out of the pram you need to communicate with either me or Trevor.  I am trying to run a team here under very difficult circumstances and you storming out or not bothering to come in does not help and is compounding the problem.  I do not expect to have this happen again, I have personally extended as much flexibility as I can now.  If you decide not to come in tomorrow please refer to the agency.  

As much as I am tempted to say screw you, I know those fucking tories would love me to go back to them asking for benefits and help. Right now I have no rights, because I am a contractor.

So you want to know why so few people with Autism/Aspergers aren’t in work? People don’t care. They don’t really want to help, they just want to make it look good for themselves that they have employed someone with a disability and then when things go bad, they fire them.

Fix the employment system and you will have more people with disabilities in meaningful work.

Why do I let them get to me?

Tories… well, specifically members of the current cabinet including Iain Duncan-Smith and David Cameron.

They didn’t need to do this, they didn’t need to cut back on benefits to the extent that people will be made destitute, homeless and left to suffer. They could have looked for other ways to raise revenue, get back some of the taxes owed to the nation, but they didn’t. For this reason they cannot be forgiven.

Yet, supposedly, I am well off. I have a job, I get Housing Benefit and Tax Credits to make up for the fact that although I am paid what seems like a reasonable wage, its not really enough to exist in London. But I feel that I am really just existing, in a cold basement which I have tried to insulate the best I can. Paying £50+ per month for gas. I can’t move because I am a contractor, my job isn’t secure and if a letting agency ran a credit check on me, they would be horrified with what they saw, because I was made bankrupt 5 years ago.

But its not me that I worry about, it’s my friends, the ones really living on the edge, having to deal with these changes to disability benefits. The prospect of more medicals and more paperwork, despite the fact that they will never get better.

Today I let them get to me, those Tories with blood on their hands. I didn’t go to work. I called in sick. I slept on and off, worrying about what would happen to me, that I would screw up yet another job. I know I need help, but I won’t get anything, because in my area the NHS aren’t interested in Mental Health unless you’re about to kill yourself or someone else. You can hardly blame them I suppose, so much crazy in London with so many people from different backgrounds all trying to live together in such a small space. Then you add to that all the cut backs that the NHS is making or will have to make, again thanks to those fifthly stinking Tories…

Tomorrow I will go to work, I will try to forget about it, but how long until it happens the next time. Until something happens at work and my boss just says “I’m sorry Seth, but I’m gonna have to let you go”? I really wish I could fix this.

I came off of Employment and Support Allowance because I found a job and I wanted to work, not because my disability is made up or not a problem. It is a problem, but I have skills that I want to use, I want to help people. I feared the Work Capacity Assessment because my disability is not obvious and Atos/DWP are not willing to make allowances for that. I feel like I have no choice now, I have to get on with this job, but this country is such a hard place to exist in right now, especially if you have a disability.

Am I really better off Working?

About a month ago, I started working. I am a contractor doing IT support for a Charity in Central London. This means I have had to give up claiming Employment & Support Allowance and (temporarily) Housing Benefit. I was paid on Thursday, after tax, NI and the cut the umbrella company takes out for providing their services, I am left with £1,196.58.

The day I started working I claimed Tax Credits, only they have decided I am in some way dishonest, so their compliance department have asked me for bills, bank statements, tenancy agreements, etc. I don’t know what the hope to find, its not like I have a few million stashed away *cough*…

This is a breakdown of what I was getting when I was claiming benefits and what I am getting now. Note that bills does not include Electricity (which I pay for on a key meter), Food or Travel.

Income from benefits:

Housing Benefit  £     960.00
ESA  £     516.80
DLA  £     289.60
Total  £  1,766.40
Minus Rent  £     741.40
Minus Bills  £     500.11

Income whilst working (without Tax Credits or Housing Benefit)

Wages after tax  £  1,196.58
DLA  £     289.60
Total  £  1,486.18
Minus Rent  £     451.18
Minus Bills  £     209.89

I don’t blame my local council for waiting until they have the evidence they require (2 months of payslips) before they will pay the housing benefit I am entitled to, after all they are just following the rules that the government set down. However, tax credits are a benefit specifically to help people get back into work, and here I am a month into my job and I have no money because they are wasting time and money investigating me when I have done nothing wrong.

Fortunately I am fairly happy at the moment and I have supportive family and freinds, so I will probably make ends meet, just. This will mean cheap shopping trips, sandwiches every day and no Starbucks…