I know this is not a subject we would normally discuss on I Am Into This, but I wanted to share my thoughts about it because recently I have been asked if I have applied for benefits since I became unwell last June.
A lady who I have met at my weekly spinal class at hospital has asked if I had yet made a claim for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) - the replacement for Disability Living Allowance. My immediate reply was "No" and I thought to myself, why would I?
"… Personal Independence Payments are designed to help with the extra costs caused by ill-health or disability…" (http://www.entitledto.co.uk)
The fact is, I would be too frightened and also embarrassed to apply for such a thing. Every week there will be a story in the newspapers or on the television detailing a person being caught for benefit fraud and I am always appalled that someone could claim something which they do not rightly deserve. The news stories will be greatly publicised across all types of media and it naturally provokes a reaction from everyone. This has resulted in causing some people to judge those who do claim benefits and there is no doubt in my mind I would be judged too.
The sheer thought of applying for PIP fills me with absolute dread. Admittedly, I could never be caught bouncing on a trampoline, dancing in a nightclub or training for a half marathon. I have got medical evidence with MRI scans, two hospital appointments I attend every week and a monthly prescription for very strong painkillers which prove I am not able to live my life like I could before.
I can't go shopping without using a mobility aid; the wheelchair and crutches I use I have paid for out of my own money which I shouldn't have to do. That is what PIP is for, to help for all the extra costs involved, such as - attending hospital appointments every week, paying for numerous prescriptions each month, hiring someone to walk the dogs, a cleaner, someone to do the ironing, etc. All the things I used to be able to do I now have to employ someone else to do them for me.
So why haven't I applied for a benefit I am clearly entitled to?
Because I would feel guilty. I would feel ashamed.
Benefit claimants provoke emotions in other taxpayers who don't feel it is fair. I can understand that, I too get annoyed when I read yet another article of someone claiming housing benefit and jobseekers allowance when they have really been working on the side and they have a boyfriend living with them too who is in full time employment. They owe thousands but they usually escape with a slap on the wrist from the magistrate courts and a small fine which doesn't equate to the monies they received in benefits.
It simply is wrong and we have all been disgusted when we learn of this when watching TV shows such as Saints and Scroungers or Benefits Street.
Oh yes the infamous Benefits Street; the TV show that has created a huge reaction from the public and also the loathsome Katie Hopkins. I have watched an episode and noticed the lack of enthusiasm from some of the residents in pursuing any personal goals. But I didn't feel outraged by the people, hell no, I was more upset with the system.
It makes me mad that our Government allows a situation where some people are better off claiming benefits than going to work and earning the minimum wage. The government has created this culture of apathy.
Everyone has their opinion on the growing benefit culture in Great Britain and the vast majority of people are very unhappy about it. So for this reason I don't want to claim benefits; I don't want to be judged by others. I do not want to worry if someone finds out and then have to justify why I am entitled to receive PIP.
And I am quite sure I am not the only person who feels like this.