Q. If you're on benefits, have you felt pushed into work? If you're in paid employment, what’s it been like for you?
I am a disabled lone parent on legacy benefits including Employment Support Allowance (ESA). I am fortunate compared to my fellow participants in that I am in the Support Group of ESA and I am not required to work because my health condition makes it too difficult to do so. So, thankfully, I do not have to fear sanctions or conditionality. I am lucky - but it shouldn't be down to "luck"; the whole benefits system ethos needs to shift from one of punishment to one of compassion and support. My last medical review for ESA was back in 2015 and the Dr found in my favour, so hopefully I will only have light touch reviews every so often. That said, when I first became disabled back in 2011, necessitating spinal surgery, the DWP had me put into the Work Related Activity Group within 6 months of having the op, even though it takes up to 2 years to heal properly. Even though I couldn't walk properly and was prone to falls. It necessitated going to tribunal to get into the Support Group, so I didn't have that worry - one of 3 I've had to undergo in the last 7 years.