Miriam’s open letter to David Cameron

Miriam’s letter poignantly describes the sorts of battles disabled people face every day in our country… this is our reality:

Dear Mr Cameron

On 16th August 2006 I was judged to be sufficiently disabled to warrant being awarded the higher rate mobility component and lower rate care component of Disability Living Allowance, indefinitely as my condition is not curable. I have severe Peripheral Vascular Disease. I was also in receipt of Incapacity Benefit at that time.

Within a few months it was decided, unbeknownst to me, that in fact I should have the middle rate care component. However, whoever was to have updated the records, forgot to tick some box somewhere and as a result the decision, though made, wasn’t acted on. This error came to light approximately a year or so later. The relevant department was more than willing to acknowledge that the award should have been back-dated. It was also willing to accept that it was at fault for not correctly updating the records at the time the original decision was made. It claimed, however, that as the error was over a year old, it would not pay the backdated benefit that would have been my due.

I have had to face ATOS and the Work Capability Assessment (WCA). I could not attend the local assessment centre as it is not wheelchair friendly. I was threatened with the loss of my sole source of income. I informed them that I did not refuse to undergo an assessment but that I could not attend the centre. I was left to wonder whether they would just stop my benefits until, just a week before the day I was due to attend the centre, they finally agreed to visit me at home. Mind you, I had to provide a letter from my doctor confirming that I could not attend the centre and I had 24 hours to provide the letter. After another lengthy conversation it was eventually agreed that I could fax the letter and I was provided with a fax number.

My surgery faxed the letter over. Thankfully, I checked to make sure ATOS had received the fax containing the letter as, despite my surgery having faxed it, they claimed not to have received it. So I asked my GPs’ office manager whether she would fax it again while I was on the phone to ATOS. This time, they received it. A few weeks later a doctor came to the house and I had my medical assessment, following which I was confirmed as being eligible for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

A mobility scooter I bought with funds I had saved was wrecked by a man who was angry. The criminal damage ended up in court. The man was found guilty and I was awarded compensation for what effectively served as my legs – the paltry sum of £80, of which eventually I received only £75, as for some reason “administration” meant I had to forego £5 of the compensation. I suggest you try to buy a mobility scooter that can cope with the hills of Brighton for £80! I ended up having to save again for a considerable amount of time to replace the mobility scooter.

Then a young man decided to steal my car, just a couple of hours after it came back from its second MOT. I never saw the car again. The young man was found guilty and ordered to compensate me for the loss of my car – the paltry sum of £200, a sum I have yet to receive though the order was made in March of this year, which was, just as a matter of interest, 42 weeks after my car was stolen. Another interesting fact is that the compensation I was awarded was £38 less than I had paid to get the car through its MOT.

Had either man broken my legs, making it impossible for me to move around outside independently, the matter would have been dealt with differently. But your courts of law regarded my mobility scooter and my car as some bits of machinery. Victim Impact Statement? Utterly disregarded, as was the fact that both crimes effectively left me housebound, increased my dependency on others and doubled my weekly outgoings as a result. One of your Conservative MPs agreed to look into it. After months of unsatisfactory exchanges, in which Simon Kirby was silent except for when directly asked, I finally managed to get hold of the copies of his efforts on my behalf – a series of extremely garbled emails addressing nothing.

Then yet another letter from ATOS, informing me that unless I return the questionnaire by 7 July my benefits as a severely disabled individual will cease – except that surprisingly, there was no questionnaire. Yet more phone calls, chasing this questionnaire which eventually arrived. I answer the questionnaire. I post the questionnaire. On the 28th of August, I prepare to pay some outstanding bills only to discover that my ESA has ceased. It is the bank holiday weekend and so I have to wait till the following Tuesday only to hear that my sole source of income has ceased, as ATOS claim not to have received the questionnaire.

No ifs, no buts. Just cut off everything. No warning, no appeal, nothing. As a severely disabled individual I have to start the entire process of registering a new claim. I have to go through a period of a minimum of three months awaiting an assessment with ATOS. I have to apply for sick notes. I have to apply for housing benefit or risk losing my one bedroom residence.

Mr Cameron, I refuse! I will carry on with my life and do the things I can for as long as I can. I will use my phone, till it gets cut off. I will buy my food, till I can’t pay for it anymore. I will stay in this house, till they evict me. And once they evict me, I will leave. I’ll trundle in my wheelchair till it stops and there I will sit till it is all over. I’ve fought all my life – to look after my brothers while mum was at work; to stick by my children when their father walked out. I studied, worked and volunteered. I fought. I give up!

Yours sincerely

Miriam

If David Cameron – or anyone else – wishes to contact Miriam, please use the contact form at https://janeyoung.me.uk/contact/ and include the name Miriam in the text box; your message will then be passed on…

13 thoughts on “Miriam’s open letter to David Cameron

  1. This is what is happening here Ellis as a disabled person myself you can see why I say my govt is evil and practicing en masse under the guise of deficit reduction whilst giving loans to buy houses guaranteed by state upto 600 k yes bro this is today shocking? Fascists and right wingers under the cloak of conservatism …..

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. I was a lifelong Tory voter but these punitive reductions in the already minuscule benefits genuine disabled people gets abhors me. I would rather vote Monster Raving Loony than this shabby despicable bunch. These cuts are tarring the genuine claimants with the same brush as the layabouts. Conservatives – you will never form a majority Government and will always have to answer to a coalition partner. Shame on you. Not even the Milk Snatcher would have hit the most vulnerable in society the way this stupid PIP has hit the less able.

  3. I filled out a form and sent it back, the reply I got was your benefit will remain the same I’m not sure if they meant my income support or my DLA

  4. I hope you don,t mind but I have forwarded Miriam,s open letter to my local Conservative MP Marcus Jones Nuneaton, with the heading , “what have you done today to make you feel proud”? Regards Philip Hale.

  5. Have forward this letter to Liam Byrne, how much lower will this government go?

  6. this leaves me speechless – why can’t someone with a bit of sense sort it out? IS there no-one with any sense left in these offices???

  7. I feel so so sorry foe Miriam wot is it with mr Damon he has just got it in for disabled WHY .i am disabled I now have to pay this bedroom tax I lived here 30yeRs this is my home I pay £27a wk for it out of my £90a week poll tax as well but don’t get any help they have no more small places it is unfair.hard to live how does she cope she can’t impossible do something please to help mr Damon unfair.if I was 61u would leave us alone but I 55i just cope but only just.how can Miriam cope she needs HELP so wrong .yes u mr Damon so WRONG

  8. I spent yesterday emailing my letter to all those Conservative and LibDem MPs I could get email addresses for. A couple of hundred all told. They will probably go right into the trash but I had to try.

  9. We are fighting a monster, one that uses lies and subterfuge. We need some 3rd party organisation that can deal with the paperwork side of things so they cant lie about not receiving things. In the absense of that, request email address’s from ATOS and the like to scan paperwork and send it, that way they cant say they haven’t received it !!
    Insist on contact name and email address !!

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