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From: The Socialist issue 879, 18 November 2015: No to terror, war, racism

Search site for keywords: Disability - Incapacity - Mobility - Housing benefit - Stress - Disabled - DWP

My struggle for an income I can live on

"Please Sir, can I have a job?"

Photo Dan Moyle (Creative Commons)

Photo Dan Moyle (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

Steven Green, London

I have multiple disabilities that include mobility post-traumatic stress disorder and dyslexia. After a long period of mental illness, I reflected on what I would like to do with my remaining 21 years in the workplace.

After much deliberation I decided to re-enter full time education to train as a teacher in the post-16 sector. Anybody who has completed teacher training or a PGCE will tell you it's a long, hard slog.

Throughout my training I kept my incapacity benefit for my disabilities. I need a very complicated operation on my spine - and even that may fail to take away the pain I experience.

Agencies

Upon completion of my PGCE, I entered the minefield that is the job market - the reams of paperwork and compliance checks, all of them necessary so that I can go out into a classroom and teach.

I wasn't confident that I would find work, being middle aged and disabled. I applied to work through agencies but I became jaded with their promises.

It made me realise how it must have felt for the stevedores and others who queued up to be chosen to work for a day in the 1920s.

Time passes by - days turn into weeks. But before they can turn into months, I receive a call - there is a job for me, with hours to suit. It was like winning the lottery I was so pleased.

I knew I would have to contact the DWP as I had found a job - I did, and told them of my part time hours. I was told it would have to go to the 'decision maker'. I waited and waited. In the meantime I had to miss the dreaded medical because I was scheduled to teach at that time.

One day I came home from work and there was a letter explaining that my incapacity benefit would be stopped from November. The issue is whether I was carrying out 'permitted work' - but this had never been mentioned to me.

They sent me a form to fill in - more fun for a dyslexic! I'm broke - physically, mentally and financially. I have had to reclaim housing benefit.

I find myself on one hand a highly valued teacher, but on the other marginalised and under scrutiny. Not for the first time in my life, I'm in a position where I could find myself homeless.

I'm still available for work, should any arise that I can do with my disability. Please Sir, can I have a job?

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Article dated 18 November 2015

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