The BBC is very good at radio drama which I often catch on car journeys. But one or two sentences in one the other day had me seeing red.
This was the 15 minute serial at the end of Woman’s Hour, which is repeated at 7.45 in the evening. The serial was The Pursuits of Darleen Fyles, about the lives of two people with learning disabilities, acted by people who themselves have learning disabilities and are extremely good. The script is well written, sensitive and funny, but the other day it was clear one of the script-writers hadn’t done their homework.
Darleen was sent a letter which appeared to be stopping some of her benefits. In a conversation with her support worker, she admitted to forgetting to go to an appointment for an assessment. The support worker said the assessment was important because it was for the Personal Independence Payment. I pricked up my ears as I am still trying to persuade the Government to make it fairer. Everyone had to be reassessed, he went on, to see if they are fit for work. Oh dear. This is seriously wrong. The test for fitness for work is the Work Capability Assessment. PIP is the replacement for Disability Living Allowance, and is to help people with the extra costs caused by long term health problems or disabilities. Darleen is quite likely to be receiving DLA, and will certainly be called for a PIP assessment, but it has nothing to do with being fit for work.
Does it matter that the BBC got it wrong? After all, it wasn’t a factual programme. And maybe it demonstrates better than anything the vagueness amongst the general public of the whole benefits system. But I think it does matter because the character saying the misleading words was someone who was supposed to know about the benefits system. I just hope that the many disabled people listening to the radio realised the mistake.