Part 3 of the ESA drama kicked off this morning. (Earlier episodes can be found here and here.) As usual, the vile brown DWP envelope arrived on a Saturday when the helpline is shut.
A summary of the story so far;
I accidentally discovered LB was entitled to Education and Support Allowance (ESA), got a sick note (A) from the GP. He wrote ‘indefinite’ for the length of the illness. A second sick note was requested (B) to backdate the first sick note by 3 months. A 20 page questionnaire needed to be completed for some shitbag company called Atos. JobCentrePlus only keyed in the details on B (Nov 11 – Feb 12) and suspended his allowance almost as soon as it was paid.
At this point, I couldn’t disentangle what was incompetence from what is a cynical and deliberately obstructive process, designed to obscure people’s entitlements and make it as complicated as possible to claim. And as for ‘sick notes’? Anyway, it was sorted. I thought.
Until today’s letter stated;
I am writing to tell you that the medical certificate you sent us, which covers the period from 17/2/12 to 10/5/12 is about to run out. Please send us another medical certificate by 11th May if you are still sick and cannot work.
Whaaaa???? You gotta be kidding me?????
After some raging about JCP incompetence and vile, cynical obstructive systems, I googled ‘medical certificates and ESA’. On a handy forum, rightsnet, the relevant regulations were highlighted, stating that two three-month sick notes need to be produced by the GP before an indefinite one can be accepted. Ah. So now I know.
But what do I know? What’s the basis for these time regulations? Why so many hoops? And how much does it cost to administer such a clunky, overly-bureaucratic and obstructive process? A process that is not fit for purpose for learning disabled people.
I don’t want to be part of a society in which dudes like LB are issued with ‘sick notes’ to exempt them from the workplace. He is not sick. He could thrive in a particular environment in which his strengths and abilities were encouraged, developed and valued. Instead his future, his potential and possibilities are constrained before he’s even finished school. By a system in which he’s already signed off sick. Indefinitely.