Friday, 19 October 2012

What the Prince's Trust say about our out of work young people

The Prince's Trust; Prince Charles' charity have just this week published a report which reveals the full extent of  long term unemployment among young people and how much worse it has become in recent years. as I have mentioned being unemployed when you are young causes real damage and longer term problems later in life. See Lost Generations:

The number of 18 - 24 year olds claiming JSA for at least six months has risen by 315% THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTEEN PER CENT in the recession. In August 2008 the number stood at 40 360. In October 2012 it stands at 167 580.

As regards long term unemployment the figures aren't much better: In 2008 there were 38 550 18 - 24 year olds who had been out of work for more than TWO years. By July this year that figure had risen to over 100 000. An increase of 170 %. ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY PER CENT

Martina Milburn who is the Chief Executive of the Prince's  Trust said: "Long term unemployment can lead to a downward spiral of poverty, homelessness and depression."

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

A guest blog from a woman with autism in her 40s

At the end of 2009 I left a job in a government department. I was very pleased to leave, as my disabilities were not being supported effectively. Government departments talk the talk on disability but don't get their act together. After being misinformed by the Jobcentre and applying for  Job Seeker's Allowance I worked out that I should have applied for Employment Support Allowance and was assessed for ESA mid way through 2010. Dealing with government bodies from the outside from outside proved no better than dealing with them from the inside.

The ESA assessment was farcical. The contractors doing the assessment proved  they  knew nothing about disability when they called themselves ATOS Healthcare with a section called Medical Services. Looking at disability as if it were health issue misses the point. Someone with, say Downs Syndrome might be fighting fit and able to run fundraising marathons and still not able to hold down a job. Treating this person as a malingerer misses the point. Looking at this person's ability to complete the ESA fitness for work test which asks  participants to lift their arms above their head and walk so many steps, misses the point too and is humiliating for those being assessed.

One of my disabilities is autism. At my assessment I arranged for an expert volunteer from the National Autistic Society to advocate for me. I had brought with me copies of lengthy expert reports on my disabilities and my advocate and I sat there and educated the assessor on what autism is. Neither the assessor nor the people back at the office she sent her notes to, have training on specific disabilities, so before they could assess me I had to educate them. Not easy when I have a communication disability and the NAS does not have enough advocates for more than a handful of cases.

I have recently been asked to attend a reassessment for ESA. I refused - writing to ATOS and asking what the purpose of the meeting could be. I have already provided all the information on my disabilities that I can, my disabilities are lifelong conditions which do not change. Reassessment would provide ATOS with no more information and would be a burden to me in terms of finding advocacy.

ATOS Healthcare Medical Services wrote to me to explain that reassessment was necessary because the ESA rules have changed. Well that explains everything, now that the government has new rules I am to undertake all and any forms of work and my disabilities have magically disappeared. I continue to refuse reassessment because I refuse to be humiliated by a bureaucracy which has been disabled from supporting me by its assumption that disability can be seen in terms of health instead of inclusion and writes its rules accordingly.