Letter: Dickensian welfare

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The Independent Culture
Sir: In the last fortnight I have seen two patients with profound brain damage resulting in severe memory impairment, who have had their incapacity benefit terminated under the new welfare review procedures already in place. One of these patients was about to be evicted from his home for non-payment of rent when social services intervened.

You quote the Social Security Secretary, Mr Alistair Darling, as saying that his proposals would provide more help for those in greatest need ("Benefits rebels spurn Darling's new concession", 2 November). On the basis of these two patients, I regard this statement with considerable scepticism.

I would not expect the bureaucrats in the benefits office to know the difference between profound brain damage and minor disability, but in neither case did it appear that there had been any attempt to seek medical advice.

As so often, it was not the patients, clients or carers who were shirking their responsibilities, but the bureaucrats and politicians who are effecting these Dickensian reforms.


South London and Maudsley NHS Trust

London SE1