Benefits and Work had almost 6,000 responses to our survey, launched in the last newsletter, asking readers about how life had changed under the coalition and whether you intend to vote at the next election.
We’ll be publishing the full results of the survey on Wednesday. But in the meantime, we can reveal that in response to the question:
“Overall, has the Coalition government made your life: Much better; Better; No different; Worse; Much worse.
an overwhelming 84% feel that the coalition has made their life worse or much worse, whilst 14% feel they have made no difference.
Fewer than 2% consider that the Coalition has made their life 'better' or 'much better'.
The precise figures were:
- 0.33% feel that the Coalition has made their life 'much better'.
- 1.24% feel that the Coalition has made their life 'better'.
- 14.42% feel that the Coalition has made 'no difference' to their life.
- 38.86 % feel that the Coalition has made their life 'worse'.
- 45.13 feel that the Coalition has made their life 'much worse'.
We asked respondents to tell us “In what ways, if any, have the Coalition made life better for you?”. Unfortunately, apart from “Raising the individual tax threshold” which was often more than offset by losses in other areas, few people could offer any examples.
When it came to telling us in your own words “In what ways, if any, have the Coalition made life worse for you?” we received thousands of responses, only a few of which we have reproduced here, though we hope to publish more in the future.
The absolutely overwhelming message is that financial insecurity combined with continual attacks in the media, have left sick and disabled claimants feeling frightened, persecuted and, in some cases, suicidal.
It should be an ugly and shaming legacy for the Coalition, but we suspect it is one they are secretly rather proud of - because it undoubtedly discourages people from making or continuing a claim.
“I do not have enough money to live on and constantly feel persecuted”
“Suffering abuse in the media and personally in the street because illness makes me unable to work.”
“Never felt so hated and despised as a person in need of financial support. Driven to despair and left feeling is life is not worth living under this current regime. It just gets worse.”
“I live with a permanent feeling of threat, from a bullying, harassing system that seems almost designed to shorten the lives of disabled folk. I am very frightened of what the future holds in terms of my financial security.”
“I don't let people know I'm on benefits as the atmosphere is so vindictive and at times hateful. It has become more scary under the Coalition being disabled!”
“They have driven me to the point of suicide with their harsh rules, bedroom tax, benefit sanctions, medicals and appeals.”
“The propaganda they promote about the people who receive benefits being dishonest, lazy, skivers, cheats and a burden to 'honest tax payers' affects your self-esteem and makes you very wary discussing anything personal with strangers. It makes you feel like a burden It does not offer anything constructive in the way of real help to get back into the workplace.”
“The stigma attached to claiming benefits. The climate of living under the fear of sanctions for spurious reasons. The hatred & scapegoating of claimants engendered by the government & the media.”
“Treating me like dirt, making me feel like a second class citizen and forcing me into poverty and feeling suicidal”
“Overwhelming panic worry and anxiety and made too feel worthless and huge guilt and shame for having a mental illness”
“Demonised. Degraded. Stigmatised. Ostracised. Paranoid. Afraid of postal deliveries. Now living under a feudal system.”
“Have created fear in addition to the other worries I already have.”
“The benefits system is a complete mess, having to go weeks without Gas, and sometimes many days with only bread and beans.”
“I've been made to feel like worthless scum thanks to the way the benefit system has changed. i worry a lot about money and having enough to make sure my children don't feel that we are struggling financially.”
“I dare not tell people that I am on benefits. the way the gov have portrayed sick people and those on other benefits is horrible.(I worked for 43 years)they do not seem to have any compassion for the sick in our country.”
“Cutting everything for my daughter with disabilities. On top, they play people against each other all the time, unfortunately many people don't realize. It's been appalling, I just hope it's coming to an end. Making people feel they are a burden. Awfully inhumane.”
“Made me feel like a burden and worthless!”
“All the hassle involved getting justice is unbelievable. I am ex Police and felt like a criminal clearing my name at tribunal, did so and won but ESA gone (12 month thing) Will never again vote for these two parties or Labour for setting it off with Atos. I am left bitter with my experiences and never ever thought such underhand tactics would be encouraged by the powers that be.”
“I have had an ongoing mental health problem (depression, anxiety & possible PTSD) for quite a number of years since leaving the Army. The condition has worsened due to the Coalitions continuous attack on the sick, disabled and unemployed.”
“Bedroom tax, worry over ESA, worry over PIP, worry of other people looking down on disabled people thinking they are all scroungers.”
“All my daughters benefits that she had had all her life were stopped over a year ago. This has had a profound effect on her health resulting in her wanting to take her life! We applied again for benefits with the help of an advocate. We have just been granted ESA. Having waited a year we finally have been given an appointment for a PIP interview. Had she not had us her parents she would be homeless and destitute.”
“Worked for 37 years then made redundant. when I sign on they made me feel like a criminal. It did not matter that I had always worked. they treat people like dirt”
“So much financial uncertainty. Terror, actually. I've seldom in my life been so chronically stressed as in the run-up to my WCA. I was very fortunate to continue receiving benefits, but now I'm worried about what'll happen when they convert DLA to PIP. Also, the extent of stigma and prejudice against people like me has magnified in a way that makes me very fearful.”
“Feel so insecure. Almost paranoid that people see me and think scrounger.”
“Made worse with the bedroom tax me and my husband are disabled and have a lift going into our second bedroom from our back living room so it’s a through fare but we were still charged.”
“Constant worry about bills ,food or lack of food and worry about cuts to benefits and never ending feeling ESA is going to be pulled ,
“Benefits cuts, sanctions and the mandatory reconsideration process has made things really difficult for me causing a great deal of stress and worry. I have found that since the coalition have been in power disabled people are treated with contempt and made to look like scroungers by the government and a lot of the public because of how we are portrayed.”
“I feel frightened, scared to mention on benefit, frightened terrified about my future and that I may be left penniless ..all the advocacy, small amount of support all gone locally. I am praying I am well enough to cope when next brown envelope comes through letterbox. but frankly feel living on borrowed time and suicide may be only option”
“Yes my health has deteriorated so much under this Coalition the my DLA has now increased from the lower rate to the middle rate on the care component and I now also get the lower rate on the mobility component. I probably would never have asked for my DLA to be revised if it had not been for the bedroom tax and constant ESA medicals which have made me very anxious and much worse. Now I am £100 pw better off but I would rather of had my health.”
“I have been harassed berated and made to feel like a criminal for being disabled. I have been verbally and physically attacked for being disabled. Told I have to give back to the community for my benefits, even though anxiety and bipolar mean I have difficulty with people but if I don't do community work I will be sanctioned!”
“I am a full time carer for my wife, who requires a high level of care. I am sick of being demonised by the broad assumption that claimants are scroungers, especially as I save the 'hardworking taxpayer' money. The problem with the rhetoric is that it's everywhere, and it has a very negative effect on my confidence, my sense of my own worth and my ability to be the most effective carer I can be.”