An Open Letter to Iain Duncan Smith… from a (should be) benefit recipient

By Paul Atherton @BenefitClaimant

Dear Mr. Duncan Smith,

As a supposed recipient of DLA and IB, that’s Disability Living Allowance and Incapacity Benefit in case you didn’t know, I felt it my duty to highlight a few of the problems with your current changes.

Firstly, it has allowed DWP workers to lie, cheat, ignore and bully the very claimants that they are paid to serve. And lets be under no illusion here, these are Civil Servants.  The role is implied by the name and they are shaming it to its very core. They neither show civility nor serve the public.

Sir Northcote would be spinning in his grave.

In 1869 the Civil Service had “…eliminated all dunces…., while an entirely new spirit of economy and industry had been introduced…”

In 2014 his work has been utterly and completely undone.

I’ve been without any money for 6 months, even though your department agree I’m entitled to it.

And secondly and far more importantly, you are turning our once “Great Britain” from a civilised nation to one filled with barbarians.  It can be acceptable to no decent human being that your changes are now intentionally starving people to death, making people homeless, abusing the disabled, the vulnerable, the ill and in so doing in many cases depriving children of their parents.

In 1572 an Elizabethan Government introduced the Poor Laws in order to replace the charity given by monasteries that were dissolved by Henry the VIII. The government of the day, even then, realised that you must do something to protect the poor, the sick and the vulnerable.

How can your Government be reversing nearly 500 years of civilised development?

Finally, please don’t think this is a political attack.

I grew up in a small Welsh mining town (with one of the last pits in Wales to close) and was, unthinkably for most, a huge fan of Margaret Thatcher. For me she represented a chance to take on responsibility, she gave me real choice and allowed me to challenge authority.

This is a perceived view from someone that used her Youth Training Scheme to challenge and get out of state care at 16 (Howell’s of Cardiff, cited as the best in the UK) , was able to go to University as a Mature student (Cardiff Business School at 21) because of the introduction of her Access courses and set up my first business thanks to her Enterprise Allowance Scheme (which of course you have recently revived).

I worked for the DHSS as was, in Wales1986/7 and it was her policies that insisted we get rid of the bazooka proof glass and started treating claimants like customers and showing them respect.

The biggest irony of all, was when I was the press officer for the Young Conservatives in Cardiff (1987), I was promoting the idea of a single payment to go to all claimants (thus eradicating all the ludicrous duplication of forms and disposing of the stigma of benefits), a good 25 years before your (sadly failed) Universal Credit Scheme.


I mention this, solely for the fact that you are fully aware I have no political axe to wield. I’m just interested in human decency, something that should be at the core decisions of everyone’s politics, right, left or in the middle.

So what’s the solution, how can you save both your political career, the nation and possibly your soul?

Simple, introduce Universal Basic Income. Yes the welfare that is paid to absolutely everyone over the age of 18. A sum sufficient to live on (at a guess I would say around £18,000 per annum) that regardless of whether you work or not, you know you’ll be able to live.



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