Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Smoke and mirrors

Evasion of tax is illegal, avoiding paying tax is not, hence the numbers of people who earn their living as accountants.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines tax as : n 1 a compulsory contribution to state revenue, levied by the government on personal income and business profits or added to the cost of some goods, services, and transactions.

I am a tax evader. I buy my fags duty free from under the counter. This is really common where I live and nearly everybody I know buys their roll ups this way.

But I am not::

These multimillion pound companies avoid paying tax out of principle.

So who's criminal?

Thursday, 6 June 2013

It gets worse before it gets better

I felt a bit guilty when I heard the ruling that the ESA Work Capability Assessment was unfair to people with mental health problems.

I've recently gone through the same process for depression. However - unlike the court claimants - I was lucky and spared the much-dreaded interview, and was fully successful in my claim.

Despite my experience, I wholeheartedly agree that the process is unfair on people with mental health problems. Here’s why.

I have a Masters in Social Policy, so I know a fair bit about benefits, and I did my dissertation on mental health, so I’m pretty clued up about that too. But there was no chance that I would have been able to fill out the necessary forms without an advice worker helping me over several sessions.

Fortunately I also happened to have a slew of evidence – GP notes, psychiatrist reports - from previous desperate (and failed) attempts to get appropriate housing and treatment. They were not easy to get and I found it distressing repeating ‘my story’ to stranger after stranger.

I had two advisers from separate organisations tell me that I should bring someone with me to the Work Capability Assessment interview – not for moral support, but to take notes due to regular reports of interviewers just making stuff up and ignoring evidence given.

Sorry, what? Seriously? Like the process wasn't already stressful and difficult enough, I also had to ensure I could protect myself against fraudulent reports made by the government against me. (no, paranoia is not one of my symptoms, but no prizes for guessing who would win that court case)

Luckily I was spared that misery, but that didn't stop me fretting about it for weeks.

The whole application was a complete nightmare to pull together, making my depression worse, when I just wanted to focus on pulling myself together. Getting better. So I wouldn't have to be on benefits.

Isn't that the point?