Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Open letter to the Opposition: Where are you?

The Welfare Reform Bill is now law.

As a result of the Welfare Reform Act, DLA is to be scrapped. Its replacement, PIP will be denied to an estimated half a million disabled people, left with no support at all.
Under this scheme, among many many issues consider just the following:
  • People who can move just 20m will lose their high rate mobility benefit, will be stripped of their car, yet still face an inaccessible public transport system.
  • People unable to bath or shower will be stripped of their personal care benefit as long as they can wash their face and under their arms. Personal hygiene does not seem to matter.
  • People unable to dress and undress themselves do not qualify
  • People who are incontinent no longer qualify for help to clean up clothes and bedding, regardless of whether they need it.
  • People requiring assistance to cook will no longer qualify for help. No information on what they are supposed to do is forthcoming.
Against a backdrop of social services cut, these disabled people will get no help there either and will now be left entirely without support.
    Where are you? Why are you not speaking out against this inhumane treatment of disabled people?

    As a result of the Welfare Reform Act, a working family who has to support a disabled adult unable to work now receives £100 per week less compared to an equivalent family supporting a child. This is despite the disabled adult having faithfully paid their National Insurance contributions throughout their working lives.
    Families with disabled children have just seen their benefit almost halved.
    This was done despite the fact that a third of disabled people already live in poverty.
    Where are you? Why are you abandoning working disabled families and disabled children to sink even further into poverty?

    The Independent Living Fund is closed to new claimants. Its continued existence is under threat. Social services are restricting care to all but the most disabled, cutting care to those who already receive it and increasing cost contributions to a point where people are unable to pay. As a result, many disabled people face an uncertain future and a possible return into institutions. Others already live in dangerous conditions and poor qualify of life through lack of care. This is only set to get worse.
    Where are you? Why are you not fighting for the reinstatement of ILF? Why are you not fighting for ringfencing of adult social services care money to safeguard disabled people's independence?

    Disabled people unable to work face a test unfit for purpose by a company unable to fulfil its obligations with a third of test centres remaining inaccessible. Seriously ill people with cancer, MS, parkinsons, strokes and heart disease, not to mention debilitating mental health conditions are being found fit for work and face a jammed backlogged appeals process.
    Where are you? Why are you not insisting the system be fixed before rolling it out to all claimants?

    A disabled person still classed as unable to work can now nonetheless be forced to work for free. Unlike healthy young people, this will be indefinitely.
    10,130 disabled people have already faced sanctions, with around 45% handed out to those with learning difficulties or mental health illnesses making them 50% more likely to be stripped of benefits. This is 50 times the amount of sanctions handed to non disabled people and reports are coming in that they are often targeted as an easy way to meet a sanctions quota.
    This will only get worse as the workfare programme is rolled out nationally.
    Where are you? Why are you leaving sick and disabled people to a system without hope and which will punish them unfairly?

    For the past few years disabled people have been the target of a concerted effort from the media and the government, portrayed as scroungers and fraudsters, with misleading statistics released and quoted as “evidence”.
    As a result hate crime is rising. In the past year alone disability hate crime has risen by 20% against a backdrop of an overall drop in hate crime. Many disabled people report living in fear.
    Where are you? Why are you complicit in this instead of standing against it?

    Disabled people need change. They need hope. They need representation. And they need it now before it is too late. WHERE ARE YOU?


    1. Trouble is Labour cottoned on to how popular benefit bashing was in the Daily Mail. As far as politicians are concerned that ignorant rant rag is a policy document.
      So, fumbling about, they decided to jump on the bandwagon and see if they could out nasty the nasty party on Welfare - We will make them work even harder for even longer for even less benfit kind of thing.

      They were too stupid to realise that by the time they started on this path, the mood of the average Daily Mail reader and even Telegraph commentator had turned. Some had been caught up in the ESA medical fiasco themselves. Some had personally realised being made redundant didn't give them access to unlimited spending money for fags and TV's but they were losing their homes.
      Instead,the average DM reader has now turned their limited attention more to hating immigrants, along the lines of why should we give benefits to immigrants and their children when we penalise pensioners and the disabled? Well, it wouldn't be the DM if they weren't given someone to hate would it?
      The Labour Party has failed to keep up with the public mood, just as out of touch as the Tories.
      If they opposed the vast sums of money going to companies carrying out fake "medicals" and work providers fiddling forms to claim they got someone a non -existant job, they could save billions. And get millions of votes from that section of the population who have been demonised and blamed for a crisis they didn't cause. They'd get a landslide.

    2. The game is 'I'm coming ready or not'. Yep some sick and disabled people are ready and taking what action they can but the majority just don't know and will be caught unaware ( catastrophic in all areas). As for the public they are unaware of the 'Hide and Seek' game. If public knew and shouted 'where are you' the Government would be more than running.

    3. PIP is a money-saving exercise - its not part of a package to genuinely help people back into work. Labour should be cashing in on all this incompetence and lack of strategy, but its not, its drifting along clutching at straws instead of sitting back and coming up with joined-up ideas and strategies of its own.

    4. Anon above was right - Labour are just cashing in on the perceived popularity of the scrounger rhetoric. The trouble is, both the government and opposition are underestimating how much these idiotic cuts will actually cement the relationship of the electorate AGAINST them. It's a case of the public cottoning on to the injustice eventually and, yes, I'm aware it's going to be too late for some. But come election time they will not be forgotten if we can help it.

    5. That's what our politicians do in the age of spin and lies. They get so good at it they even end up believing their own propaganda

    6. Disabled people are about to be involved in a catastrophic multi benefit and services pile up, that will not only cause widespread poverty among the disabled, but undoubtedly loss of life. The disabled community will not forget and will not forgive come voting time, who caused the crash, who stood by an applauded the MP's who are responsible, and who stood by and did nothing... Can you really afford to loose so many votes... well can you?
      Alone we whisper together we shout!

    7. Politicians forget that adults and children with disabilities have many allies- family, friends,care staff, work colleagues, local community groups, who care about the way they are being treated. Labour's silence [try finding "social care" or Welfare Reform Bill" on their website] is being noticed and they should not be surprised that people are bypassing political parties and supporting independent local and national campaigns. Charities who have traditionally avoided anything that could be seen as political are speaking up in a way I have never seen before.

    8. Its strange because I see the support for disabled, elderly, less well off in Labour's grass roots but sadly lacking in its leadership except with the possible exception of Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper who opposed such huge cuts when Labour were in office.

    9. Nobody on here yet has mentioned it was Labour who gave ATOS the 7 year contract [ extended by the coalition] and it was Labour who laid the foundations of the WRB, if anyone is waiting for labour or any of the other two parties they will be waiting forever. There is not a hair between the 3 main parties. I could write a hefty tome on 13 years of Labour, gap between rich & poor widened, child poverty increased, brought in the poverty wage then put 10p tax on it etc etc etc

    10. The big three parties have shown their contempt for the electorate. The only way to express our discontenet (short of outright revolution) is to vote independent (or at least for the smallest party running) at every single election, including those local council elections where you might even know and like one of the "party" candidates. I once stood as a LibDem candidate for the local council - I was told that I didn't have to vote the Party Line if I objected in a specific matter, that I should "go to the loo just before the count" but I would not be allowed to vote against the Party no matter how strongly I felt. I've never been more happy to lose something in my life. I say this to demonstrate that no matter how nice a person might be, if they are standing on a Party Ticket, then they are bound by their Party Line. Don't vote for the Big Three.

    11. To voxpopuli2, I haven't forgotten the actions of Labour while in government. Indeed at one stage they tried to scrap DLA altogether let alone replace it by a poorly thought out benefit.

      I strongly believe that one of the reasons we are in such a mess is not only the actions of the government in power, but the inaction of the opposition.

      If the opposition were to speak out against what the government of the day was doing, even if they didn't have the numbers to overturn the vote at first, it would at the very least raise the profile of the issues at hand. This would help get the public on board and then perhaps we would finally have a chance.

    12. There is NO opposition to the ConDems. Labour is merely Tory Lite. Fuck em!

    13. I have been ATOS bashing for months now on my radio show (Make Yourself Heard on Reading4u.co.uk Tuesdays 2-4p.m.) Please listen and contribute 'cos if people only hear yours truly going on about it, they'll get bored and want to move on.
      It seems to me that the great challenge is to make the media sit up and take notice... if we draw attention to the fact that our relatives will also suffer as they have to give up precious jobs to look after us, maybe that will help. (Sickening if you think it means that they matter 'cos they are not disabled...but...) Actually the Mirror seems like one of the best of the bunch at the moment.