Saturday, 7 April 2012

Benefit Cheats

As some of you may know the government have started a process of assessing all those claiming disability benefits.As a disabled person I see nothing wrong with this as it is well known that disability benefit is the most abused benefit we have. In the past people have been awarded disability because they eat too much, are alcoholics or have drug problems, not anymore. I've always maintained that if you have a genuine disability you have nothing to fear. Yesterday I read something that made me change my mind and have decided to share it with you.

In Norwich, Atos, the agency the government has entrusted these assessments too, are located in a building that has no car park, is not on any public transport route and has no disabled access. The assessment center is situated on the second floor of this building, it does have a lift but wheelchair users are not allowed to use it for health and safety reasons. Talk about stacking the odds. No wonder the agency is boasting that more than a third of claimants don't bother turning up for their assessments. I'm willing to bet they do, they just can't get in.

Well the choice has been made and this afternoon I am attempting to bake a white chocolate gateaux. I say 'attempt' because as regular readers will know I am not a pastry chef. My efforts in the cake making department are variable to say the least. Thankfully this cake will be smothered in cream and white chocolate curls so no one will notice, or care, if it sinks in the middle.

After driving past two supermarkets on my way home yesterday we have decided to forgo the shopping experience today and stay put. These supermarkets are closed for one day and yet people are acting as though they might never open again. Why do people do this? Yes I buy things I would never normally get at Christmas and Easter but it really isn't the end of the world if I forget the cranberry sauce or we end up eating beef instead of lamb, and yet for some people such events are major problems. Maybe I'm just too laid back, maybe I have just given up caring, personally I'd like to think that I'm sensible and level headed enough to realise there are worse things going on in the world than not having sprinkles for the fairy cakes.

Talking of worst things, this week saw the release from prison of Karen Matthews. For those of you who have forgotten or have no idea what I'm talking about a quick resume.

Back in 2008 an eight year old girl called Shannon went missing while popping  down to the shops for her mum, that would be Karen. A huge media campaign was launched and Karen was seem crying and begging for the return of her daughter on almost every news bulletin. Karen lived on a poor estate but the neighbours rallied around cooking her meals, printing t shirts, spending day after day and night after night searching. After a couple of weeks neighbours and friends began to worry about Karen's mental state. They commented on how calm and brave Karen was, some even though the event has sent her a little crazy as she'd act as though there was nothing going on.

Twenty one days after she went missing Shannon was found safe and well concealed in the bottom of her uncle's divan bed. He was arrested and promptly pointed the finger at Karen. If you put the pair of them together their IQ would struggle to reach a hundred but they had put together a plan that they hoped would net them money, and lots of it. The plan was roughly that Shannon's uncle would join the hunt and 'find' Shannon. He would then claim the generous reward put up by several newspapers and split it with Karen and they would all live happily ever after. Unfortunately for them their lack of intelligence meant that they gave the game away almost immediately. Shannon and her siblings were taken into care and Karen and the uncle were jailed, Karen protesting that she hadn't done anything wrong.

Fast forward to last week and this silly woman has been released still believing she did nothing wrong. Not only that but she wants to go on Jeremy Kyle (the English version of Jerry Springer) and take a lie detector to prove it. Unlike other notorious criminals Karen has not been given a whole new change of identity simply because they believe it would be a complete waste of time and money. Karen hasn't got the sense to keep her true identity secret. Karen has been warned to stay away from the estate where she used to live but I have absolutely no doubt that instruction will be ignored and we will soon be reading Karen's sob story about how she tried to build bridges and got beaten up. I just hope whichever newspaper prints it gives the fee to a children's charity and not to Karen Matthews.

Ah well gateaux waits for no man. I'm going to go and stare at the ingredients for a while as I brace myself for, what could be, another kitchen disaster. I'll let you know how it turned out tomorrow.

Happy Easter!