“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”

It is two years since I wrote a post that allowed me to offload hurt.  I have now deleted it and replaced it with this one.

At that time I was in a very bad place.  Twenty four seven pain makes you ……. shall we say a little tetchy?  Recovering from a bi lateral hip operation was the turning point for me and my family.  I am very, very grateful for my surgeon, my lovely Hungarian  anaesthetist, nurses, the ones that aren’t nurses but also help out, cleaners, trolley ladies and the lady that came around with the papers.  My heartfelt thanks to all of you.

Things have changed and I have moved on and life is much better than it was.  Not least because I have another gorgeous grand daughter and because I will be ……. dare I say it drawing my pension next year!  Six months and counting.  Can’t come soon enough.

Things are far from perfect, in this present climate that is hardly a surprise.  But I am determined to make things change for the better.  And my quote above applies to positive actions as it does to negative ones.  The more positive I become the less stressful I am.  It is going to be my mantra.  I misread the above.  What I will do is be kind.  Thoughtful.  Caring.  Try and be positive about everything.  If I do then that is what will come back to me and that is a wonderful thought.








Call me cynical but……

On Friday 5th February I received a phone call from my favourite department the Employment and Support Allowance folk in Caerphilly.  It was nearly four in the afternoon and I wasn’t expecting a call back.

“We are just phoning to arrange a call back to discuss you Work Capability Assessment.”


“So that you can discuss any changes in your condition.”


“So that the Decision Maker (read GOD) can make a final decision on your claim.”

“But I thought that was what the Work Capability Assessment, by a Medical Professional was all about.  To assess me in person and make a report about my capability to return to work or not.  How will someone who hasn’t seen me be able to make a decision without meeting me?”

“Will you can tell the Decision Maker if your condition has become worse.  Or he can just make a decision without talking to you.”

This was the point that I felt that something was not right.  As we had been speaking I had looked at the leaflet that explains what happens when you have a Work Capability Assessment and nowhere does it stipulate that you will be contacted after to discuss the report by the Medical Professional.  Certainly not when you do not have the report to discuss!  We made an appointment to receive a call back on Tuesday 9th February.

Today, 8th February I contacted the Employment and Support Allowance department to cancel that appointment as after reading up on the procedure on the excellent Disability Rights UK website I can see that you can ask to receive a copy of the Medical report.

So I did, I asked for a copy to be sent to me as I explained to the person on the phone I was not able to discuss a report over the phone with someone who had a copy of the report but I did not.  He was not happy with this and continued to try and persuade me that they would read out the report to me?

“Then please send it and we will rearrange a call back once I have received it.”

I have my doubts as to what will happen next, but rest assured I will keep you posted!


Queue up if you’re over 60

I didn’t watch the whole debate on Monday with regard to the speeding up of denying women born in the 1950’s their full entitlement of pension years, by moving the goal posts twice, the Pension Act of 1995 but rushing it forward in 2011.  I happen to be one of the unlucky women who fall into the zone that means that instead of having to wait eighteen months for my pension, it was moved to having to waiting five years and four months, not that I’m counting.

Not only have we been hit twice by the changes, which obviously affect women more than men, due to the fact that we have to catch them up, but how would we be able to sustain ourselves for those missing year.  Examples given have been the following:

Mrs X worked as a teacher, throughout her working career and accumulated 40 years of National Insurance Contributions.  She was due to retire at 60 years old as she was born in March 1954.  With the Pension Act of 1995 her plans were put on hold and she would be almost 62 by the time her pension was paid.  She asked her private pension provider how much she could draw down to close the gap of the two years and was happy that, although a tight squeeze she could still retire at 60.  In the Pension Bill of 2011 with less than three years to go before her retirement the Government had changed her state retirement age to almost 65 years old.  She was not notified of this change, not by the government or her pension provider.  So she retired at 60 and asked for the private pension payment, only to then find out in 2014 about the change.  How would she cope?

This is the advice that has been given by the government after announcing that there would be no change to the present system.

“Shailesh Vara, a Work and Pensions minister, defended the policy by insisting it needed to be considered in a “broad context” alongside a “whole lot of other benefits”.

He told MPs: “We need to look at things in a broad context. There are a whole lot of other benefits that are available to the women who may be affected.

“For example there’s jobseeker’s allowance, there’s Employment and Support Allowance, there’s income support, carers’ allowance, Personal Independence Payments.”

So a working woman of 60 years old who has worked all her life should then be subjected to the sole destroying cycle of attending JobCentre’s, places that most working women have never been in, attend work placements, interviews for fear of being sanctioned and not receive the pittance the government has decreed that is enough for her to live on and then be made to feel a drain on society because she does.

Where is the fairness and equality in that?



Born in the 1950’s?

On Monday, 1st February 2016, the public debate, which was given the go ahead after an online petition received nearly 150,000 signatures, the House of Commons decisions of petitions committee decreed that the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) could have their say.

Many women who have paid into the NI for over the qualifying thirty five years will be denied the pension that they had anticipated at 60………if you did not receive a letter or are not interested in pensions, finance or have no access to that information.  Originally the pension age for those born between 6th October 1953 and 5th April 1955 will lose out to an estimated £20,000 to £30,000 because this government changed the original Pension Act 1995 in 2011 to speed up the process.  Unfortunately they forgot to write to anyone.

So even if you diligently take care of your finances and were aware that you would not be retiring at 60 but at, in some cases, 61, 62 etc. most women were not prepared to have to wait another five years to receive their pensions.  More importantly no-one notified them that this was going to be the case.  There may be many articles that relate to the Pensions Act of 1995 but hardly any that relate to the changes made in 2011.  DWP state that they sent out letters to all those affected, this is a blatant lie, as has been proven time and time again.  In the debate on Monday, please see attached link, the Teachers Pension Scheme was used as an example of a large organisation who did not know about the changes in 2011!

According to research undertaken by Carer’s UK in May 2014 with figures from 2011 census, women make up 72% of the people receiving Carers Allowance, which is paid for people who care for family and friends for more than 35 hours per week, out of a total of 6.5 million carers.

The majority of these women have worked for more than the 35 contributor years needed to enable them to receive the state pension.  Many women have worked for over 40 years.  Is it right and fair that women, many of them mothers and carers, should have to wait up to six years in some cases before they can receive their state pension?  Of course it isn’t no matter which way you argue it.

Support WASPI show that we can bring about change and that we won’t let this one go!!!!


Motherhood Challenge on Facebook

Why is the Motherhood Challenge on Facebook so abhorrent for so many women, as has been highlighted in an article in the Guardian by Flic Everett see attached link http://gu.com/p/4gbtg/sbl

Or is it a more sinister piece of writing than that. Does the writer, who has a child/children herself really believe that the Motherhood Challenge on Facebook is anything more than harmless fun. Just friends, some not so informed as to whether their Facebook “friends” have children or not, have nominated other friends in a show of solitary, posting photos of their children, just because. No ulterior motive, no spiteful, I have children and you don’t chants, as if they were in a playground. Just fun!

What really makes me cross is that the writer has been paid to stir up this cauldron of women turning on women, at the last count we were heading for nearly 50,000 shares and nearly 1500 comments.

It all seems a little contrived to me that one of the most news worthy items of the week, by all accounts is something as mundane as photos of kids on Facebook.

Who really cares?

Photos are uploaded of dogs, cats, holidays, weddings, births, deaths, engagements and marriages. On top of news feeds from all over the world. Why this particular one? It seems so contrived. As if friends have shared it to pass to other friends who want to prove that not having children is okay?

The question is why do they think that the choice needs to be justified? I am astounded by it all.http://gu.com/p/4gbtg/sbl

Back again after a busy absence

I have another string to my bow!  I have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis so some of the posts will now be featuring an additional carer.  Yes!  The carer becomes the cared for?  Who would have guessed.  My lovely daughter, who I have cared for the past twenty odd years, has now been tasked with a bit more responsibility.  In my opinion this is not a bad thing and certainly something that she is more than capable of.

Readers, you never know what is around the corner.

Often when I have written about disability I have always mentioned the fact that because none of us know what the future holds we should be always be grateful for what we have and have empathy for those who are not as lucky as we are.  At present I think myself very lucky.  If I compare my life, my good fortune of having a warm house, food, water, shelter and even more importantly I know that my children and grandchildren have the same.

I have also been able to fulfil one of my dreams.  Open my own bistro.  For those of you over fifty five, you will remember Robins Nest in the seventies.  The little bistro with the cute round tables, with checked tablecloths, French music in the background.  It was brilliant.  I met loads of people, I love people, they are so interesting.

Anyway, I will write about that at a later date but for now I am back.  Back to my other love, which is writing.  Please be patient, I may be a bit rusty.  I am a bit rusty, who am I kidding, but hopefully the writing will improve.

Hello all!

Raising money for the local hospice

Raising money for the local hospice

Nice lady or man on phone…..

Today is a good day, I have unravelled another mystery of the benefit system, I will relay it to you purely because it might be useful, and also it always helps me to let off steam by writing about it.

So, because I work and the DWP Income Support section takes so long to action the wage slips, invoices etc that I send in I have what is called an “overpayment” situation in which I owe money to the DWP.  While I was working last year and not receiving Income Support for five months or so, the payments were deducted from my Carers Allowance, fair enough (though it goes to show how much I was earning as I was still eligible for Carers Allowance which allows you to ear around £100 without any loss of this benefit) so the payments were taken from that.  However when my IS was reinstated sometime in December the IS started to take money out of my benefit to pay for these overpayments to!

So in Febraury when I discovered the mistake I contacted CA and asked if this was right. No they said I should only have monies deducted from IS.  We will contact the Debt Management department and ask them who should be taking the monies.  Message left on phone to confirm that no more monies would be taken of my CA.  Job done.  Two letters arrive in post one says that I am no longer paying anything towards this repayment the other tells me how much they will deduct and the dates they will deduct it!!!!  They are dated the same day????  I assume the monies will be coming off as my benefit is much less than it should be and ties in with the figures in the letter.

March arrives and ……..you know you know, CA has deducted money again.  Ring ring….

“Errr money has been taken off my CA again which I was told last month would not happen again as IS are taking it off.”

Nice lady on phone

“Oh yes, I see the notes, they did phone us but they didn’t confirm in writing.”

“But I received a phone call saying that it had all been sorted, someone from your department.”

At which point I knew that what she had said was a blatant lie because she said that she would sort it.  I stupidly asked who would reimburse me.

Phone call to CA again yes money was incorrectly taken off, no they will not reimburse.  Is this legal???  All the forms you send out say that I receive such and such an amount which is what the government states I need to live on???

Another nice lady on phone.

“You will have to ask the Debt Management team they tell us how much to take off.”

Phone call to Debt Manangement team.  Nice lady on phone.

“No monies have been taken out of IS only CA.”

“Oh that seems odd because it is quite a low amount, surely they should only take off the CA that I acutally receive not what I should receive.”

“No they don’t calculate it like that, it is calculated as what you should receive.”

To me this just doesn’t sound logical…….and that is my problem…..I let logic come into the equation.  But now I am like a dog with a bone and I go to the IS department and ask them how my benefit is calculated.  They confirm what the Debt Management has said, but I say, surely if I have had money taken off my CA then the figure that you are working with in incorrect.  Well it must be because you owe money to the CA for overpayments, no, says I, just IS has been for a long time.  Well then yes, says the nice man, I will contact them and ask them why they never told us that they were taking this money off so that we can get an accurate figure.

Nice man!