Here is part 2 of the update I posted last week. Part 1 covered the current cutbacks that are being made to the National Health Service in the UK under the current government. Today, I will be focusing on the availability of employment and the cuts to the welfare state under the current government.
Work & Employment
Another place in society where we need to acknowledge a disadvantage, especially at this time of transition in the UK, is in the job market. Layoffs are becoming commonplace in most industries and the job market has become more competitive; it is simple math, more people applying for fewer positions.
In this more competitive market, when looking at it from the point of view of employers, it kind of makes sense that they are becoming more selective with candidates and using higher standards in their hiring process. Whilst I hate to admit that, we do have to acknowledge it. This philosophy does make it more difficult for people like us, people with permanent disabilities, to find manageable, appropriate, employment. Why would you employ disabled person? When you can hire a fully able to person with a lot less chance of problems in the workplace. Which leads me to…
Part of the difficulty for a disabled person in trying to get back into work is, and I’m just going to put this out there, the presence of prejudice. Subconscious prejudice maybe, but prejudice nonetheless. Often, employment can either be terminated or an application rejected because of the potentials for difficulties that have to be allowed for regarding disabled people; more likelihood of days off, more safety concerns in the work place or, in the mind of the opinion of the employer, a higher likelihood for accidents in the workplace. Whichever way you look at it, the difficulties of hiring someone with a disability like ours far outweigh the positives in the minds of employers. It would be far easier to hire and employ someone without our kind of health problems when there are so many people, fully-abled people, out there looking for work. At this current time, it does not necessarily come down to qualifications or experience but convenience.
If I may provide an example for my own life, I had been hired as a server at a gastro pub. A job that combined work and foodservice I had gone past the twelve-week trial period by around three weeks and nobody had spoken to me regarding my work performance. As far as I was concerned, everything was fine. That is until I had a seizure at work. I was given a few days to recover and after those days rest I went to the pub to tell them that, as far as I was concerned, I was ready to return to work.
At this point I checked the work Rota only to see that my name and my scheduled shifts had all been crossed off. The manager then approached me telling me that the owner wanted to meet with me. I was very suspicious at this point but did as I was asked. As I sat down with the owner I was informed that my services would no longer required. I requested a written letter listing the reasons for my dismissal, none of which were really legitimate reasons. It seemed obvious that I had been laid off because I had had a seizure in the workplace. However, There was no way I could prove it and due to the short amount of time I had been working there, according to the citizens advice bureau, I was not protected by the many workers right schemes so there was little legal recourse I could take with a realistic chance of success. It was just something I had to grit my teeth and bare.
Benefits & The Welfare State
This is a fairly obvious one. We have all seen the recent crackdown on those who are beneficiaries of the welfare state. Once again these money-saving/making tactics seem to be aimed at taking advantage of the poor, the ill, and generally vulnerable.
Claiming money for ill health (whether physical or mental health problems) has developed a stigma and there is now a scrounger type narrative that surrounds it. With regards to how it is dealt with and treated in this country, it seems now to have become less about helping people and more about meeting quotas and ticking the right boxes. The challenge being to stop people from getting money and accessing services that are necessary for them to get by in the hope of saving money to meet monthly quotas and budgets.
This is by no means a criticism of those involved in the systems I have mentioned. The people that work in these institutions and frontline services, to some degree, have their hands tied by the rules, quotas and targets of the current government; to save money at all costs.
Looking Out For Number One
I hate the subtitle for my own conclusion. This is something that I am fundamentally against in terms of a mentality. It seems though that it is a mentality that is becoming increasingly necessary for people like us. All of the things I have mentioned above are a part of what makes this country such a Great place to live. Whether it is the health service or the welfare state, the safety net that was once there to keep all citizens from falling through the cracks is seemingly, slowly being removed. The country that we live in, where we could rely on the fact that, should the worst happen, there is a structure in place that would ensure we could not fall through the cracks, is slowly being disassembled to ensure the government makes as much money as possible. Whether that is through cuts to welfare, to frontline services such as health, education and policing or the privatization and selling of public assets. So it seems that if we want to access the things that we want and need, we need to go out and get them ourselves, for our own sakes or for the sake of the loved one we are fighting for.
Please Excuse Me…
This post has not been as specifically brain injury orientated as all of my previous ones have. I am sure you have noticed the changes that are happening in our great country right now as a result of government policy. The reason I chose not to aim it specifically towards brain injury patients is because all of the above issues affect not just the disabled but so many (as in the working class, the working poor, the young, the old as well as the disabled) so I have tried to keep this post broad. I apologise if you feel as though I have just been venting and that this has had a political agenda, I can honestly say, that was not my intention. I felt it my responsibility to highlight the fact that all of these issues do affect us and I felt that this was a warning that needed to be given. Before we know it, if we don’t stand firm and take action and responsibility ourselves, the removal of the services could be completed without us really being aware, turning “Great Britain” merely into “Britain”.