Tomorrow marks the end of an era for the disability benefits paid to people like me. From tomorrow payments of contributory employment support allowance (ESA) will be limited to just one year – regardless of whether a claimant is well enough to return to work.
Despite the fact that I’ve endured 14 operations, suffered life-threatening bone infections and am coping with the loss of four centimetres from my left leg, thanks to a rare bacterial infection three years ago that resulted in septicaemia, Chris Grayling, the employment minister, is withdrawing my ESA with immediate effect. Although I suffer extreme pain and my mobility is severely compromised, my benefit will stop. And because my wife earns more than £7,000 a year I will no longer be entitled to a penny.
Grayling’s reforms to ESA will mean that I will be totally dependent on the loved ones who have already given up so much to nurse me through this debilitating illness. Not only has my wife had to help me with things like washing, dressing, administering drugs and physiotherapy, she’s also had to assume much of the financial burden of running the home. Where there were once two salaries, there is now one. What was once a relatively comfortable living has been hacked back to subsistence level.
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29th April 2012