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Sick of attacks on Disabled people

by In Wales Thu Jan 20th, 2011 at 07:43:56 AM EST

It is all well and good letting off steam and ranting about the unfairness of the world, but it doesn't create change.  The ConDem coalition attacks on disabled people are horrific and for those of us affected, incredibly frightening. To target and demonise the very people who are most in need of support in difficult economic times says a great deal about the values of the UK Government right now.

It is good to see plenty of disabled people rising up against the cuts and the damaging rhetoric, with blogs, websites, campaigning, lobbying and petitions but we have nowhere near the scale of influence, support or media attention that we really need to mount an effective challenge.

Think of the huge campaign against the rise in tuition fees, the level of coverage and intensity of media attention that came along with that. Rightly so.  But the attacks on disabled people seem to be floating by with relatively little public awareness or action.  If that continues, huge damage will be inflicted on a very sizeable proportion of our population.

For disabled people to live independently and participate economically and socially, the barriers within society need to be removed. Before I go any further I'll just outline the fact that under Human Rights legislation and under the UN Convention on the rights of Persons with Disabilities disabled people do have the right to exercise full choice and control over their lives and to be able to access mainstream society.  Those rights are not conditional, they are not only there to be upheld when we feel like it or when the economy is strong.  Those are our rights.

In a few short months the UK Government has already cut Access to Work (vital for supporting disabled people in employment), proposed hugely damaging 'reforms' to Disability Living Allowance and Employment Support Allowance (see the so called consultations), drastically reduced the budget for the Government Equalities Office, and is rumoured to be abolishing the Office for Disability Issues.

Don't forget that despite promises to the contrary, frontline services are being cut, which disabled people depend on.  Despite all of David Cameron's grand talk of the 'Big Society', third sector (voluntary and charity) organisations are subsequently facing huge cuts to their budgets, again impacting on the services available to disabled people.  The Government did a hugely botched and useless 'equality impact assessment' of the Comprehensive Spending Review showing up their ignorance and complete disregard of disabled people.

All the while we are drowning in stereotypes, assumptions and negative portrayals of disabled people as frauds, benefit scroungers, lazy bastards living it up on harworking tax payers money.  No wonder disability hate crime is such a huge issue.

In every direction the human rights of disabled people to live their lives independently are being breached by the Tory-led Government.  That is the bottom line.

So what can we do?

Firstly, go over here and sign the petition to call for the PIP proposals to be withdrawn:

Petition the Minister for Disabled People to Recall the Public Consultation on DLA Reform - Petition Online - UK

The Personal Independence Payment (PIP) appears to be a case of cuts dressed as positive reform. Disability rights groups and charities have uniformly condemned the proposals, warning of dire consequences. The list of those affected includes: people who are mobile with aids; people with disabilities so severe that they are unable to be very active; care home residents; those who receive local authority care packages. Most other disabled people will suffer through needless reassessments upon the introduction of PIP, and re-testing every few years even when a condition cannot be treated.

Next, if you are living in Wales and have a story about how you are being affected by service cuts and through proposals to reduce benefits then contact Disability Wales:

We are currently preparing our "spot campaign" on the impact of benefit and service cuts, our main aim being to raise MPs' awareness of the issues and to gain their support in fighting the cuts.
The more we can collect, the higher the impact the campaign will make.

You can also view Disability Wales' position statement on DLA here.  Contact Disability Wales if you would like to contribute to their response to the PIP consultation.

If you also want to share your story more widely or if you want to see how disabled people are being affected, then go to the blog One Month Before Heartbreak

Next, contact your MP, contact your Assembly Member, contact AM candidates who are running in your constituency and ask them what they have done to challenge the Tory-led Government's attacks on disabled people.  Raise awareness of how you and other disabled people have been affected by the cuts.

Get in touch with local radio, or papers, write into the letters page, post a link to the petition on an email forum, blog or facebook. Tweet about it, talk to your family, friends, neighbours - tell people what is happening. Tell them why it is an absolute disgrace.  Tell them why we need everyone to help us fight this.

Be angry, take action and fight for our rights.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 20th, 2011 at 08:04:54 AM EST
Apart from the cuts, which are damaging enough, can you give us an idea about the rhetoric? Who has said what?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 20th, 2011 at 09:17:46 AM EST
Looking around on LibDemBlogs I found this:

Disconcerted Discursives: Disability in the Coalition's Budget Cuts

I am a disabled person, but I still work full time. I have an "invisible" disability, which is arthritis in my fingers. In my late 20s, people do not see this or even think of it.

But cuts to Access to Work will mean I will find it difficult to work unless I have an employer willing to fund reasonable adjustments (in particular voice recognition software).

This would mean I would be resigned a to dole queue, or left to work in reception or some other menial employment that would make my post graduate status faintly ludicrous.

This is a far bigger issue for disabled people in light of cuts.

But I have yet to find many people who have a disability who are willing to undertake menial work. I have worked in receptions, I would undertake call centre work if I could (but this is tricky with voice recognition software) but I know many, many people who reject these areas of work and prefer to choose benefits.

I do not think that people eating humble pie and undertaking work that does not conform to their sense of entitlement is a bad thing.

Keynesianism is intellectually hard, as evidenced by the inability of many trained economists to get it - Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 20th, 2011 at 09:41:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Rhetoric such as "we will provide support for genuinely disabled people", which implies that many people claiming benefits are not genuine.  Plenty of that from Cameron, in the consultation documents and so on.

They've hijacked the disability movement's rhetoric of the social model and independence as a way of saying a) the proposals will make people more independent (although they won't) and b) if you want to be independent then you can't possibly want to be on benefits.

Largely it is a lack of recognition that disabled people are at a great disadvantage and support is needed to overcome or mitigate some of that.

Parents receive child allowance but they aren't made to justify how every penny of it would be spent, they aren't targetted and shamed as lazy scroungers for taking child benefits.  Yet disabled people are made to jump through so many hoops, justify and evidence absolutely everything in the framework of a system that is designed not to support them but to use any opportunity possible to find reasons not to give support.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 21st, 2011 at 04:29:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is a standard conservative reaction to socio-economic problems: focus on the symptoms, blame the victim. The problem being: the trend in the Bliar years to reduce unemployment numbers by sending people into disability retirement. (I'm sure Jérôme still has the graphs somewhere showing the comparison numbers between the UK and other EU members.) Now the Con-men act as if the phenomenon arose out of the private scheming of the disability-retired masses (rather than employers and policymakers), and as if they'd made a distinction between different people on disability benefits based on the seriousness of their claims, whereas their policies obviously don't.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Jan 22nd, 2011 at 01:34:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The other aspect of the rhetoric stems from those who know nothing about disability deciding what is reasonable for disabled people to have access to.

In times of austerity, for example, it isn't reasonable for a disabled person to expect to be given funding for a 'luxury' wheelchair.  They need to slim down just as everybody else has to.  

The fact that a chair tailored to the body of a disabled person and to the disabled person's requirements (and those of their carers) is critical for quality of life, and to enable carers to do their job properly without putting themselves or the disabled person at risk of injury, is obviously by the bye.  We're all in this together, don't you know?

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 21st, 2011 at 09:29:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Diary of a Benefit Scrounger: Riven Vincent, 1st of Many
See, we haven't been exaggerating, we're not all raging drama-queens. This woman is so ground down, so exhausted, that she feels she has no choice but to put her severely disabled 6 year old daughter into care.

We've all been trying to explain that we're on the brink already. DLA practically impossible to get, ESA slashed, assessments and statements and care applications. Many already living in poverty, the amount judged acceptable for desperately ill people to live on so inadequate that we were experts at austerity long before the credit crunch.

For years and years, successive governments have cut support for the sick or at least made it harder to get the support in the first place. We vocal sickies and carers are shouting now because we simply can't afford to have anything else taken from us. We don't have the energy to fight, but somehow, this time we have to find it or Riven Vincent will be just the first of many, many stories of total desperation.

But do you know why I'm crying as I write this? It's Cameron's response in the Independent.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Jan 20th, 2011 at 03:27:41 PM EST
Cameron to look into disabled child's case | Reuters

(Reuters) - Prime Minister David Cameron said he would look "very closely" at the case of a severely disabled girl whose mother has accused him of going back on a pre-election promise to ensure more help for families like hers.

Riven Vincent made headlines on Thursday after revealing she could not cope with looking after her six-year-old daughter Celyn, who has severe quadriplegic cerebral palsy, and had asked social services to take the girl into care.

It came after she learned that her council could offer no more than six hours respite care a week.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 20th, 2011 at 03:40:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cameron to look into disabled child's case | Reuters
"As prime minister, one of the things I'm very keen to do is help families in this position..." Cameron said.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 20th, 2011 at 03:42:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"As prime minister, one of the things I'm very keen to do is help families in this position who are mentioned by the media..." Cameron said.


I think one problem is that the rhetoric from Miliband is still far too respectful.

The ConDems need to be put on the defensive, and that won't happen while they're being brutally savaged by pastoral politeness from Labour's front bench.

My guess is that the coalition is more precarious than it looks, and a few choice kicks in the headlines and a memorable phrase or two would be enough to undo it.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Jan 20th, 2011 at 09:52:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cameron bears brunt of anger at funding cuts for care of disabled - UK Politics, UK - The Independent

David Cameron's attempts to calm the storm over cuts in care for a severely disabled child were overwhelmed yesterday, as more parents came forward to say they were also being refused help in caring for their disabled children following council cuts.

The anger was sparked after Riven Vincent, the mother of a severely disabled child from Staple Hill, Bristol, used a forum on Mumsnet, the influential website that was a key political battleground of the general election, to announce that she was receiving so little support from her local authority that she had been forced to consider putting her daughter into care.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Jan 22nd, 2011 at 01:38:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We have reached the early culling stage in many industrialized societies. If you are not one of the rich/powerful you better band together for protection or you will be ... culled.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Fri Jan 21st, 2011 at 03:21:17 PM EST
Incapacity Benefit linking rules being stopped for disabled people

Benefits and Work are reporting that the "linking rules" for disabled people, which provides some security for those who take up employment but are unsure what the impact may be on their health/impairment, are being stopped:

Linking rules which allow incapacity benefit (IB) claimants to return to their previous rate of benefits if they try work and have to stop again on health grounds are to be scrapped from 31 January.

From that date onwards any former IB claimant who stops work will no longer be able to take advantage of the 104 week linking rules and will, instead, have to make a fresh claim for employment and support allowance.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Jan 23rd, 2011 at 10:39:21 AM EST
Cuts 'make a mockery' of Cameron's sympathy for disabled - Channel4 News

Riven Vincent and her heartbreaking plea via the influential Mumsnet caused me to feel both anger and empathy.

As the mother of two disabled girls, and with my own mum in end stage Alzheimer's disease, I understand too well what carer burn-out feels like.

I can't believe that David Cameron seeks to deliberately disenfranchise disabled people.

But the idea that he is leading a government which is removing the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance, yet tackling Riven's case personally, makes a mockery of his assertion that he stands shoulder to shoulder with all carer's and their concerns for their disabled children.

There are many people's children who are already in residential care and who are going to be devastated by the loss of their mobility.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Jan 23rd, 2011 at 10:47:18 AM EST
Oh dear oh dear

Atos Healthcare, a firm apparently employed by the DWP to "give medical advice to help DWP decision makers reach an appropriate decision on entitlement to benefit."  has provided a list of contact numbers for clinicians to contact them and help turn down benefit claimants ring up and consult

Now The DWP has a website, and  there they've  provided these numbers for doctors with the message "Please do not provide these numbers to Patients"

Atos Healthcare - DWP

Atos help lines for clinicians

Please do not give these numbers to patients.

Birmingham 0121 626 2941
Bootle 0151 934 6070
Bristol 0117 971 8382
Cardiff 029 2058 6750
Croydon 0208 633 1324
Edinburgh 0131 222 5055
Glasgow 0141 249 3616
Leeds 0113 230 9068
Manchester 0121 335 0720
Newcastle 01264 837 789
Nottingham 0115 975 8362
Wembley 0208 795 8772

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Jan 23rd, 2011 at 01:19:22 PM EST

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