Letters

Letters: Benefits system does need reforming – but not in the way Rishi Sunak thinks

A reader struggling with the benefits system is critical of proposed reforms

rishi sunak/ dwp benefit cuts

The government is plotting to reform the disability benefits system. Image: No 10/ Flickr

Big Issue readers react to benefits reforms, voter ID, an opinion piece on healthcare for young trans people and smoking bans.

Who benefits?

When I watched the benefits reforms speech by Rishi Sunak I was in disbelief. I worked all my life as a primary school teacher and loved it. However, I developed lung disease and COPD in 2016 and was unable to work so I left my job. I struggled for years after that, only being paid £300 from universal credit a month with no other income. I lived in a tent for a year at one point as I was so poor and had no savings from work as my £1,600-a-month salary didn’t go far enough to save back when I was working.

I’ve only recently been given LCWRA after years of being told I couldn’t apply due to Covid backlogs and before that not knowing about universal credit sickness benefit. I also get full PIP and still struggle to survive. I’ve also just applied for social care for a carer to look after me but then had to turn it down as I couldn’t afford the £70 a week they wanted me to pay the council for that care.

Sunak says people on benefits make it unfair for the taxpayer, but what about those who were taxpayers for many years? I know in my time as a teacher, I paid well more than £100,000 in tax plus a lot more in national insurance and certainly won’t get anywhere near that back in benefits if I’m on them for the rest of my life. He is blaming the sick and disabled for basically draining the taxpayer of all their contribution. Shouldn’t he be looking elsewhere for savings rather than from the needy? Is he trying to make everyone work so that when the war comes and conscription is introduced, no one can refuse due to health reasons?

The work capability test for universal credit is horrific and scary as it is. The system punishes people too poorly to engage with the process already. If you’re too poorly to jump through hoops your benefit is stopped.

If you’re well enough to jump through hoops you shouldn’t need benefits. The system does need changed but not in the way Sunak has proposed at all.

Anonymous reader, Middlesbrough

Identity crisis averted 

Further to your articles about needing photo ID at polling stations, could you please let your readers know that if you vote by post, no photo ID is needed?

You still have to prove your identity (with a national insurance number, usually), but not with a photo ID. I’m afraid it’s too late to apply for a postal vote for the early May elections now (the deadline was 17 April), but applying now means you can vote by post in future elections. 

You can register a postal vote online.

Joanne, Northumberland

Giving voice

I’m writing on behalf of my daughter Emily. She is 15 and transgender. She contributed to a book on human rights with Amnesty International, so she was very pleased to read your article on the healthcare situation for trans young people.

This topic affects her, as does a number of things; her being bullied out of mainstream education and the
frustration of conversations being had about her and her voice not being heard.

Emma Williams, Liverpool

Smoked out

It’s been shown time and again that prohibition doesn’t actually help addicts. However, I am glad that my daughter will hopefully grow up in a world where smoking is not commonplace.

I remember going to a pub and having to walk through the smoking section to get to the non-smoking section – now it feels like that is our high streets. The amount of times I’ve literally held my breath from one store to the next.

I don’t think it should be illegal as what people do in their own homes is their business, but I do look forward to the hopefully positive impact this could have on society in general.

@livemoreharmless, Instagram

Do you have a story to tell or opinions to share about any of these topics? We want to hear from you. Get in touch and tell us more.

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