Inspector Gadget has just posted along familiar lines that PC David Rathband has only been given the lowest rate of DLA and contrasted this with some clown who took her three kids to Moat’s funeral and gets £33,00 a year in benefits. It would be good to know more about the latter, but my interests lie with the blinded officer.
We understood his force was going to retain him, and if he wants that it should happen. If IG is right he intends to appeal the DLA decision, but this is probably not the best advice. I would hope his force is keeping its promise to keep him on, and one ‘solution’ would be to discuss work he can do in the force to take him through to retirement. One option is a training role, or specialism in something like a coordination role such as fraud liaison. He will be able to get substantial help through ‘access to work’ provisions. This should get him help (and full payment) for travel to work and a personal assistant (fully paid). One would hope his force would help with necessary training, perhaps including help with the promotion exams if he hasn’t passed them. Learning is difficult once sight is lost, but my best friend managed a first class degree, teacher-training and PHD at about David’s age now. I have this knowledge due to personal experience and am sure my friend would help if David’s HRM people and force somehow let him down. One hopes they will not and are already active in coming up with a plan.
My outline suggestion here would lead to David staying in employment and not needing to be hassled dealing with benefits bureaucracy, and able to cope with his adjustments knowing his force cares and amongst people who will help in informal ways. The training route would also help prepare for life after the police (my friend works as a university lecturer and opportunities exist in this and related fields). My own partner works for my friend, driving him to work, other engagements and doing the sighted work he cannot. It is all fully funded. We would freely give any advice from a practical perspective.
Such a plan should be in place to help reassure David and I would be asking questions of his force HRM if one is not. I’m serious on the advice and will give contact details to anyone with PC Rathbone’s interests at heart who asks on this blog. The scheme should cost his force next to nothing and it’s hard to think of any better PR or more decent action.
There are clearly other issues. Guide Dogs aren’t perfect, but are a great help when not trying to eat cats. Properly adapted computers with screen reading take a lot of getting used to, but again help a lot and you can get help buying and setting them up. My mate was able to write his own PhD and “read” loads of academic dross on his own with minimal help from me. I know it was hard, but I can’t see that putting David off. A much better solution than leaving him anywhere near a benefits office.
In my view, Northumbria Constabulary should be round at David’s house early morning today with their outline plan for discussion with him, even if they haven’t got one! The costs are so low the force will be quids in. The ‘access to work’ is fully funded and even the dullest HRMer should be able to work out the benefits.
The benefits available to David Rathband could amount to two people doing 16 hours a week for him and able to claim tax credits, plus being driven about and some help with accessibility issues. This may be as much as £30K a year. DLA is a minor issue in this. Gadget’s story on this is frankly scandal-scaremongering, but who cares if it helps David Rathband – I agree with its spirit. A quick read through posts on IG suggest only 1 in 100 is aware of the actual situation (me). If David has not had proper advice it’s time he did. His force HRM and Federation should be ensuring this, and I would suggest ramping up support to help a DWP appeal is wrong and an insult to other blind people. Northumbria should also be concerned to ensure those of us who want to see David get the best possible know what they intend.