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.