Saturday, 29 June 2013

Another interesting Facebook status

Here's the full text of a Facebook status from a group I follow called Respect For the Unemployed & Benefit Claimants.

Conservatives want to recycle benefit fraud myths -

Ask this question, who are the real scroungers in society ? ANSWER - corporations & those who commit TAX FRAUD !

Nearly £25 billion pound - is removed from benefit claimants due to benefit sanctions etc - compare this to the Department for Work and Pensions - DWP figures showing just over £1bn was lost to benefit fraud - and another £20 billion UNCLAIMED by claimants.

More information : .

The £25 billion pound that is removed from benefit claimants, due to benefit sanctions is legalised theft - that money belongs to benefit claimants !

Welfare payouts totalling £20 billion a year are going unclaimed by members of the public - almost 12 times the amount lost through fraud.

Ministers have long tried to keep the spotlight on a small number of fraudsters rather than ensuring that people entitled to support receive it.

The amount of benefit going unclaimed has risen to 'alarming levels' as benefit claimants become increasingly confused over the wide array forms needed to claim benefits & information required.

Average Cost Of Local Authority Benefit Fraud Per Case: £2,166.

Average Cost Of Tax Avoidance Per Case: £248,780

The astonishing average £248,780 cost of each tax avoidance case identified as outstanding at HM Revenue and Customs by the National Audit Office should be benchmarked for comparison. The total outstanding is nearly £15 billion.

So I’ve compared it with the average cost of each local authority housing and council tax fraud case identified in a report by the Audit Commission, also published this month. They found fraud of £117 million spread over 54,000 cases in 2011/12. That’s an average cost of £2,166 each. I suspect that is typical of all benefit frauds.

Now which one of those two requires more attention and publicity, do you think?

So why do we always hear about benefit fraud??

Interesting points, don't you think?

Friday, 28 June 2013

The hibernation cycle continues

I really feel as if I'm letting the side down during this hibernation cycle and the ones I've gone through previously.  All I seem to be doing is strengthening the Government's case against people on benefits during these cycles as I become the negative stereotype that the Tories use as justification for their harsh treatment of benefit claimants.

I don't mean to sleep late into the morning and doing nothing of value with my time but my depression and the side effects of my medication have, for the past three of four weeks, left me almost too tired to maintain a suitable level of consciousness and lacking the motivation to do anything.  That's not to say that I have been completely idle as only this past Monday I attended some training at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge but other than that and writing posts for this blog, I have been either unconscious or demotivated.

These hibernation cycles don't have a set length so this one could end tomorrow or next year.  I seem to have no control over them and that, in itself, is a depressing situation to be in.

Even now I can feel my eyelids getting heavier and my brain starting to shut down.  The self-hatred that plagues my every waking moment increases with every day I fail to achieve something, no matter how small, and all that does is feed the depression which in turn feeds the sleep disturbance which in turn feeds my hibernation cycle.

I hope that, by explaining the situation in which I find myself, people may not judge me too harshly for giving people on benefits a bad name during this cycle and that people will not extrapolate what is happening to me at the present time to others on benefits thereby increasing the discrimination and demonisation they are increasingly subject to.

Another response to another e-petition

Here is the response to an e-petition I signed a while back.  Get your vomit bags ready!

The e-petition 'General Election - 500,000 epetition signatures required' signed by you recently reached 13,789 signatures and a response has been made to it.

As this e-petition has received more than 10 000 signatures, the relevant Government department have provided the following response: The Government will not seek to dissolve Parliament before 2015. We came together at a time of crisis to fix the country and ensure our long term prosperity. We intend to secure a country in a better state than when we came into office. Although we know that not everything we do is popular, we know it is necessary for Britain to rebuild and compete in the world. We are making progress and keeping our promises by cutting the deficit, cutting crime and immigration, reforming our welfare and education systems to help people work hard and get on. We have cut corporation tax and are slashing red tape to make Britain a good place to do business, and have increased the personal allowance to cut taxes for millions of low and middle income earners, frozen council tax and cut fuel duty to help families with the cost of living. Practically, the Fixed- term Parliament Act 2011 abolished the Prime Minister's prerogative power to dissolve Parliament. The Act provides that Parliament can only be dissolved early if a Government is unable to secure the confidence of the House of Commons within 14 days of a no-confidence vote, or where at least two thirds of all MPs vote for an early general election. The legislation established five year fixed terms for the UK Parliament. The next General Election is therefore planned in law for 7 May 2015, and polling day will ordinarily be the first Thursday in May every five years. A debate in Parliament on an e-petition is unlikely to result in legislation to undo this legal lock. This e-petition remains open to signatures and will be considered for debate by the Backbench Business Committee should it pass the 100 000 signature threshold.

View the response to the e-petition


HM Government e-petitions

Right, I have some comments to make here.

They say that they are trying to "fix the country and ensure our long term prosperity" but the UK is more broken than ever and our economy's in the crapper.

They also say that they "intend to secure a country in a better state than when we came into office" which is not going to happen in the less than two years they have left before they end up lynched by the angry hordes of the poor, the sick and the disabled.

They're "cutting the deficit"? Perhaps someone should inform the deficit that it's been cut because no-one else has noticed it.

They're "cutting crime and immigration"?  That might be true I'm the short term but as people get more and more desperate crime will go up.  As for immigration, we're due a tsunami of East European immigrants very soon now.

They're "reforming our welfare and education systems"?  Shouldn't that be 'destroying' those systems?

They say they're "slashing red tape to make Britain a good place to do business", missing out the words 'for our rich, tax avoiding friends and party funders'.

They say they've "increased the personal allowance to cut taxes for millions of low and middle income earners, frozen council tax and cut fuel duty to help families with the cost of living".  What they neglected to say is that the personal allowance changes have given the rich more money as well, some councils have jacked up the council tax anyway and that the rise in VAT and other 'hidden' taxes together with the stagnation in wages has negated the personal allowance increase for those at the lower end of the socio-economic scale.

And they fall back on the argument that the legislation they brought in would make it impossible for Cameron to dissolve the current administration.  How fucking convenient for them!

So we're stuck with the self-serving scumbags but we knew that anyway, didn't we?

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Interesting blog

My last entry got a comment from a gentleman who believes as I do that people with mental health issues should have the option of an assisted suicide if they so wish.  I have had a look at his blog and would like to recommend it to my readers (especially those students and staff from Anglia Ruskin University in Essex, Cambridge and Peterborough).

The blog is called I Don't Want To Hang and you can go there directly by clicking the title.

Some soul searching

I have been doing a bit of soul searching over the past couple of days - about my desire for death, about my continuing contributions to Your Thurrock, about my lack of forward movement in virtually every aspect of my life - and I have come up with some answers, even if they happen to upset or annoy some people.

I still want to die, consciously at least, and if I could find a way to commit suicide in such a way that my organs might still be used for transplantation, I would certainly wish to take my life.  That may require some assistance and I would be eternally grateful if the UK Government would permit me a special dispensation to have an assisted suicide but I know that won't happen although it would cut the welfare bill by £6000 a year.

As for Your Thurrock, I'm not exactly sure what to do really.  I could continue to write stuff for the site but I'd be doing it for free and I'm not sure whether my contributions are leading me towards a paying job or whether I'm just going to be working for nothing for ever.  I love doing the writing; well, I love doing the blogs and the news items but not the historical column so much.  As much as I love the writing though, I have been getting rather frustrated with the fact that my last piece, which was supposed to be serialised over the course of a couple of weeks, has only had the first section posted and that was over two months ago.  It took me over a month of research and writing to complete the piece and it has remained mostly unread.  I have received quite a deal of criticism over the first section for the lack of my personal view on the subject and the delay in posting the later parts is just adding fuel to the fire.  I feel as though all my work was for nothing.

There's also the fact that the training that I was offered hasn't really materialised and the fact that the formatting of the last piece I wrote wasn't kept so the painstaking work I put in adding emphasis to different parts was lost.

It actually feels now that I am being used for my writing and just picked up when I'm needed and ignored when I'm not needed.  As a result, I'm actually thinking of just giving up writing for Your Thurrock and hoping that I can find another outlet for my writing.

My lack of forward momentum in life is harder to rectify as part of the problem is my mental health issue and my age. I mean, how am I supposed to get a job at my age when there's so much discrimination surrounding mental illness?  It doesn't help that my qualifications aren't exactly the best in the world and my attempts at trying to improve my employment prospects have all come to naught.

My life won't improve without a steady income and I can't get that without a job.  My skillset is quite a diverse one but it doesn't seem to help me move forward in life.

My marriage is wrecked and my home life is complicated at best with my wife wanting a divorce but neither of us having the money to go through with one.  The housing department of the local council hasn't helped us one bit in trying to get separate accommodation so I can't even start to have a love life to try to brighten my drab life a little.

I don't know what to do to change my fortunes regarding moving forward in life and all my ideas that I've come up with have just brought me back to the exact place I'm in now.

It's typical that days of soul searching have come to almost nothing but a realisation that I should leave the only 'work' I like doing because it's going nowhere even if I do get more readers with it than I get with this blog.

Perhaps I should just let myself slip into my hibernation cycle and try to remain in it for an extended period.  It would at least give me time to consider what I could do.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Reflections on my suicide attempts

Last week I gave a presentation on my experience of depression to a group of social work students at Anglia Ruskin University in Chelmsford at which one of the students asked me about my suicide attempts.  Her question was about how I was discovered before I came to any serious harm and, as two of my attempts were due to a kind of 'reaching out', were they genuine attempts to kill myself.

The tutor explained to the student that a person isn't exactly acting rationally at times like that as I seemed to be having trouble finding an answer to the question.  I have to say that the tutor was precisely right but I've been considering the matter further and I think I have a reasonable explanation for what happened at the time.

At the time of each attempt on my life, I have genuinely and consciously wanted to end my life.  Nothing would have made me happier than to have not survived each attempt and that ultimate end was the purpose I had planned for myself; not some stupid cry for help but an end to my suffering.

The problem with my personal brand of mental health issue is that I have a rather aggressive and irreconcilable cognitive dissonance (the ability to hold contradictory thoughts at the same time).  This cognitive dissonance manifests itself as a kind of dual personality, not a case of multiple personality disorder, but a definite warring personality.

My assumption is that, whilst the conscious and self-destructive side of my personality wanted to die, the subconscious and life-affirming part of my personality was causing me to act in a way contrary to my conscious wishes.  Basically, my subconscious 'Eros' was subtly trying to subvert my conscious 'Thanatos'.  I had no control over my actions during this period of irrationality.

My conscious mind was so set on the act of taking the overdose that it missed the stupid actions my unconscious mind was taking to prevent my death.  My unconscious mind made me make the ill-considered telephone call to my old therapist, wanting to apologise for wasting two years of her time during the group therapy sessions we had together.  That's not to say that my conscious mind didn't feel apologetic but that it simply didn't care to voice that apology.

The second attempt was an overdose at home on the day my wife told me she wanted a separation.  I went into the spare bedroom and took an overdose, a month's worth of the two anti-depressants I was on at the time.  It was an error to stay in that room because, even though my wife had no reason to come into the room and she was not really in the mood to be around me, there was the possibility of her discovering me before the drugs could do any damage.  I can only assume that the decision to stay in the apartment was down to irrationality and my subconscious 'Eros' doing its level best to keep me alive.  I don't know if the overdose I took would have killed me or not although that was the intent but my survival, if death was indeed the consequence of the action, was due to the ill-timed telephone call for me that brought my wife to the room to get me.

My last attempt so far, an attempted hanging, was foiled by no such subconscious actions or errors but by an unknown hand.  I was blacking out when a brilliant flash appeared before my closed eyes and I was, to all intents and purposes, thrown back by the light, loosening the belt around my neck and bringing me back to consciousness.  What saved me could have been as simple as a muscular jerk accompanied by the sensations of a brain becoming oxygen-deprived but I really don't know.  One of the students asked if, perhaps, my failure to successfully commit suicide was a sign that I was meant for something better.  My answer now is the same as the one I gave last week which is that I don't believe in God but I could be wrong about that and it could be that some higher power saved my life by throwing me back.  I do not know what happened that day.  I only wish I had an answer for that.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013


So, the last few days have been a real pain in the butt.

Most of my time has been spent falling asleep whether I'm tired or not.  I seem to just lose consciousness.  I'm not sure whether it's the side effect of my medication or what but I wake up late, fall asleep during the evening and during the night too.  It seems as though I am slowly becoming a summertime hibernator whether I like it or not.

I suppose I shouldn't go public with this information because all it will do is give ammunition to the anti-welfare lobby as I have become the type of person they hold up as a negative stereotype of welfare claimants.  It is not, however, something I have any control over and this blog is meant to be both my thoughts on different subjects and a true reflection of my experiences of being a sufferer of depression.

I still do the odd bit of voluntary work but I have to admit that since the DLA tribunal decided to hold my voluntary work against me when I appealed against the rejection of my claim, I wonder whether I should even bother.

The Government would probably hate me now that I've become a hibernator because they hate people getting money for nothing but if doing any voluntary work is going to stop people getting benefits they are entitled to, why should we bother to do anything?

I don't like being a hibernator and it's really getting me down which is only making things worse; however, until I can get to see my consultant psychiatrist to discuss the current developments in my condition, I will have to put up with it as best I can and hope to Hell that I can manage to make it to the couple of bits of voluntary work I have got coming up.

It will be interesting to find out when my psychiatrist realises that he's now three months behind on my next appointment or if I'll have to wait another 11 months as I did between the previous two appointments.

Anyway, I can feel my eyelids getting heavy so I'll finish here and zzzzzzzzzz.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Time to hibernate, I think

I am so tired.

It's not just the tiredness that comes as a side effect of my medication but the tiredness of life in general...and, perhaps, a kind of reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder.

SAD is supposed to be a tiredness brought on by the longer nights and shorter days of winter but mine seems to be brought on by the longer days and shorter nights.  This effect is made worse by the side effects of the anti-depressants I'm taking so I find myself sleeping for more hours than I care to think about. 

I can barely keep my eyes open at the moment and it's getting to be a real pain.

Something else that makes me drowsy is stress and my regular depression. My depression is never absent from my life but stress comes and goes in my life as it does in everyone's life; however, today, I have received a letter that has both depressed and stressed me.

The letter is from the Courts and Tribunal Service and regards my DLA appeal.  I had my appeal rejected earlier in the year so I took the first steps towards a re-appeal, which is asking for the CTS to send a Statement of Reasons.

The initial letter I received from the CTS made a big deal of my physical health problem but made no mention of my greater mental health issue so I am surprised that the new letter even mentions it.  However, it seems as though my efforts to cope with my depression and try to keep some kind of connection to the rest of the human race have scuppered my chance of getting Disability Living Allowance.

The Tribunal ignored the letter from my wife on the basis that, even though she filed for divorce (although lack of money or help from the Housing Department have meant we still live together), they don't believe we are truly separated and can't imagine how people who were once married and remain on relatively good terms can care about what happens to each other.

They also ignored the letter from and testimony of my advocate, who happened to be a friend too.  They made a great deal of the fact that his testimony about the severity of my depression was not clinical but the evidence of someone who is nothing but a friend.  The fact that he is an expert trainer of NHS staff in Clinical Risk Assessment and Management and we used the Sainsbury Risk Assessment Tool to assess the risk I was under of suicide and self-harm due to my depression showed me to have been at high risk at the time of my initial claim for DLA, which is the only relevant time with respect of the claim I was appealing about.

It seems as though I am going to be forever denied my claim to DLA because I try to cope with my condition by helping others and going out as much as possible to try to acclimatise myself to being around people; because my consultant psychiatrist doesn't see me often enough to catch me during one of my extremely dark periods and therefore considers my condition mild.

The Tribunal also seemed to ignore the three suicide attempts in the preceding year or two to the date of my initial claim - two overdoses and an attempted hanging.

The extra income would have come in very handy, especially as I'm struggling financially.  I am, however, not likely to win a re-appeal as I'm never going to have evidence that any tribunal would find convincing enough to uphold my claim so I will have to remain without the extra financial assistance and with the extra stress and depression that the financial hardship and rejection bring with them.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Registering my disappointment with my MP

Here's the full text of a letter I've sent my MP, Jackie Doyle-Price.

I’m extremely unhappy, but not at all surprised, with how you voted on Tim Yeo’s amendments to the Energy Bill in parliament on Tuesday. You chose to vote them down, and to stick by dirty fossil fuels over committing to a cleaner energy future now. You’ve made a mockery of the ‘greenest government ever’ tagline, and of your constituents’ views. Once again, I’d like to express my sincere disappointment in your decision.

You made a great deal of sending out an unsolicited e-mail to me on subjects you obviously thought I might care about but you never support or represent my views on any subjects I have previously e-mailed you on. Your standard response is that you don't personally believe in or support my views. What you fail to remember is that your job is to represent the views of your constituents - ALL OF THEM; what you tend to do, however, is vote with your party and take opposing views from your constituents with total disdain. I have even heard of some abusive and judgemental replies you have made to other constituents you supposedly represent.

As this e-mail began, I am disappointed by your decision to vote against the proposal but as I added, I also find myself unsurprised.

I'll post any response I get here.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Unsolicited e-mail from my MP

Here is the full text of an unsolicited e-mail from my MP, Jackie Doyle-Price.

I hope you find this latest edition of my Parliamentary Round up informative. A lot has been going on here at Westminster and thought I should bring you up to date on some of the campaigns I am running in Parliament that matter to you and I here in Thurrock.

Free school for Chafford
Michael Gove confirmed last week that our application for a new Free school in Chafford has been approved. I am delighted and would like to thank everyone who supported the campaign.

I would also like to congratulate the hard work done by the parents and the Harris Federation in putting the application together. In the space of just one year we have gone from a situation where there were insufficient school places to a position where we have the green light to set up a new school. It just illustrates what can be achieved when the community comes together and I am proud of starting the campaign and bringing everyone together to make it happen.

Proposals for a new Lower Thames Crossing
The Government last week published its plans for a new Lower Thames crossing. As predicted all three options under consideration will run through Thurrock. I am anxious to make sure that our voice is heard and I would invite you to let me know your views so that I can put them to Government in response to the consultation.

As you may be aware, I have been campaigning to make sure that any new crossing will not lead to more of Thurrock being dig up to build new motorway. I am also determined that any new crossing should not cause further congestion on Thurrock's already congested road network and that it must alleviate the congestion we currently experience as a consequence of the Dartford crossing.  I have been encouraging Government to explore options for new crossings in London and to consider future road transport needs more widely.  Put simply, there is no point in building crossings which are
just going to add further pressure to the A13 and the M25. Government needs to be exploring whether there is a need for a new outer ring road.

The options are:

Option A – at the site of the existing Dartford Thurrock Crossing

Option B – Connecting the A2 with the A1089

Option C – Connecting the M2 with the A13 and the M25 between Junctions 29 and 30

Please let me know your views. So far my post bag suggests that opinion is evenly split on whether there is any need for a new crossing, but I am keen to hear from as many people as possible, both on the need for a crossing at all and on the individual proposals.

Basildon Hospital
Following the publication of the report into the mid Staffordshire hospital, the NHS medical director, Sir Bruce Keogh is reviewing the performance of Basildon hospital due to its unusually high mortality rates. I have made my representations to Sir Bruce documenting failings in leadership, estates management, record keeping and care which have contributed to failings at Basildon.

There have been significant senior management changes at Basildon over the last year and I am hopeful that the new team will take their obligations to patients more seriously and take action where deficiencies are identified. However the Keogh review is an opportunity to highlight exactly what has gone wrong in recent years and will therefore help the management drive the change to improve performance and make sure all patients get the treatment they deserve. If you have any views you would like to express, do get in touch.

Free tolls for Thurrock residents
As you may be aware, the Government will be introducing free flow tolls on the Dartford crossing and removing the toll booths next year. I have used this opportunity to renew calls for free tolls for Thurrock residents. At a time when we are bearing the brunt of the congestion caused by what is a national piece of road infrastructure, I think it is only fair we be allowed to use the crossing for free.  

I am asking the Government to allow amend the residents discount scheme to give unlimited free crossings following annual registration.

I have also called for the residents discount scheme to be extended to small vans as well as cars.

More apprentices
Expanding the number of apprenticeships is central to our strategy for equipping people with good skills as well as tackling the long standing problem we have with our unemployment. It is working, this month youth unemployment fell to below 1million, still too high, but moving in the right direction.

The expansion of apprenticeships has gone a long way to achieving that, but we still need to encourage more businesses to join in. To show your support, please sign up to my campaign at

I am of course always happy to hear from you on any issues you wish to raise.

Best Wishes,

Jackie Doyle-Price

And here's my reply:

Please don't send me any more unsolicited e-mails as, apart from the Basildon Hospital section, I have absolutely no interest in subjects about children (I have none) or motorist issues (I have no car).

I have sent you e-mails on subjects that I wish you to represent my views on in the past but because you do not agree with my views, you have refused to represent mine. I therefore, respectfully ask you not to contact me again in this manner unless it is a response to an e-mail I have sent you, that way both you and I do not have to waste each other's time with useless conversations like this.

I think JD-P has a real nerve sending me crap like this when she shows utter disdain for issues that I'm concerned with and interested in - the welfare 'reforms', benefit cuts, the NHS, corruption in politics, the environment.

She doesn't represent my views in Parliament and she should change her tune if she wants to get re-elected because she's in an extremely marginal seat and if everyone affected by the Bedroom Tax voted at the next election, she's out. Here's hoping!