The last thing I cared about for most of my time in hospital was the food. I ended up not eating between Wed Aug 26 and something like Sat Sep 5th and it didn’t matter one iota. In fact, I was more bothered about how to get shot of the saline drips and sips of water I had imbibed (see previous posts on My Life as Linda Blair). Slowly, the idea of a bowl of ice cream or a slice of toast and marmalade began to insinuate itself as a good idea rather than the very worst one.

It’s very different if you are stuck in hospital for non-digestive problems, and so it is with “Traction Man”, a freelance journalist who contracted a bug and is now in hospital for the foreseeable.  His blog on hospital food and the quiz he sets on recognizing the various “food servings” is worth a click for a laugh.

He isn’t just cross with the NHS catering sub-contractors and their efforts from a 59p a day, per patient budgets. He had the poor judgement to believe that maybe the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) might help him financially. After all, it’s hard to earn your freelancer salary trussed up in a hospital bed. But they turned him down, twice. They told him (without asking his doctors) that he would be better within 6 months, so he didn’t need it.

He was after something called the Disability Living Allowance (DLA). Now, if you are not a Daily Mail reader I  have to explain that this the payment that those malingering scroungers receive when they are lazy to even bother with signing on for Unemployment Benefits because (get this!) they are too unwell to be available for work! Shocking.

Had he been accepted, and assuming he was at the highest end of entitlement, he would receive the amazing sum of £70.35 per week. That’s a “salary” of £3600 pa. Maybe there are other ways to combine DLA with one or more of the dozens of other benefits on offer, but if that isn’t encouraging you to convert into a full-time professional claimant then I don’t know what is?

But maybe he’s not disabled? Maybe he’s just sick? In that case he needs to get his company to pay him? That would be covered by Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). The standard rate for SSP is £79.15 a week. That would be a salary of £4000 pa, except that it only lasts for 28 weeks.

Now people reading this are probably covered by an employment contract that does better – full pay for a couple of months, half pay for a bit longer would be a typical example. Your employer takes over from the Government on the responsibility of looking after you.

But – a big but – remember that Traction Man is a freelance journalist. Freelancer = no employer. No matter how much he earned and paid in income tax in (say) the last couple of tax years, it makes no difference now.

So, check that employment contract if you have one. Consider this factor if you ever decide to go freelance. End of sermon.

Gang of Four – To Hell With Poverty