Life With ME On The Dutch Benefits Hamster Wheel

By Rob O’Brien.

Two years ago, my Dutch father-in-law dropped a casual reference to the British award-winning film I, Daniel Blake after hearing about our latest round with the Dutch government over sick pay benefits. “It sounds a lot like that British film where he gets trapped in the system,” he said.

I thought about this when me and my wife, who suffers from a condition called ME, were planning our next move in a two-year battle with the UWV, the government body charged with assessing and administering sick pay benefits in the Netherlands. I, Daniel Blake follows a man who is unable to work due to a medical condition and is forced to navigate an absurd and punishing benefits system. He fumbles around in a bureaucratic labyrinth that strips claimants of their humanity and reduces them to numbers. And we seem to be in the same boat.

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