Thursday 30 December 2010

A New Year's Message from The Broken of Britain

This year was not kind to people with disabilities. 2010 began with a steady trickle of horror stories about Employment Support Allowance introduced by the Labour government in 2008 as the replacement for Incapacity Benefit, thus creating a draconian system making benefits conditional on work-related activity for most claimants. This conditionality is based on assessment by ‘healthcare professionals’ who are not doctors and may not be familiar with the variety of health conditions they face. The assessment is run by private sector provider Atos, who refuse to release the details of the test used to assess eligibility for reasons of ‘commercial interest’. There followed more disability charities lining their own pockets by colluding in the unfair system rather than fighting for those they claim to represent; and continuing doubts regarding the future of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) paid to help disabled people face the additional costs of disability.

Labour eventually backed away from DLA, and disabled people sighed with relief. Past Tory zeal for chopping at the welfare state and the Tory papers’ penchant for calling disabled people cheats has not befriended the party to us, but the Coalition Government was not totally objectionable. After all, David Cameron has experience of disability in his family, the Tories made an election promise to safeguard DLA, and the Lib Dems were not a party of unfair and discriminatory cuts. Early statements and the news of big changes to come caused some unease, but the first real signal of the Government’s intention came in the Emergency Budget, with George Osborne’s announcement of unnecessary medical tests for DLA claimants.

Since June, news of substantial losses for disabled people has come thick and fast. The axing of disability bodies doing useful and necessary work in the cull of quangos; a Comprehensive Spending Review which removed the mobility component of DLA from those in residential care to much anger; time-limiting contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance to 12 months in the same review; the cutting of advice on benefits; the fudged Harrington review of Employment Support Allowance which avoided the major points of criticism; the three-year extension of a contract worth over £100 million per year to Atos; all whilst disability charities continued to cheerfully pick the carcass of the welfare state. Then came the straw that broke the camel’s back – the Government decided to scrap DLA and replace it with a new, leaner system called Personal Independence Payment (PIP) - the public consultation on DLA reform closes on February 14th. PIP will cut the DLA caseload by 20% using testing similar to that used for Employment and Support Allowance. The case for reform is badly flawed and there are several damaging changes hidden in the small print. For example, six-times London Marathon winner Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson could lose out because she uses her wheelchair too well.

The Coalition Government has heaped misery on disabled people in just six months, backed up by their tabloid attack dogs, targeting them more than anybody else. A week after breaking the camel’s back, the Coalition decided to bash its head into the sand by axing the Independent Living Fund. This money funds 21,000 people to live independently who would otherwise live in hospitals or residential care, at far greater economic and social cost. Maria Miller, Minister for Disabled People, justifies the decision by deeming the ILF to be “unsustainable”. On a personal note, my best friend relies on ILF to support her care needs. ILF enables her to live independently and employ her high skills. Her contribution to society, including the tax she pays, is enormous. I suggest the Minister try telling her that her support is “financially unsustainable”.

By targeting DLA and the Independent Living Fund the Coalition have gone too far. A number of new disability rights groups and websites have responded to the proposals with focus and determination and are organizing alternative protest and direct action. Whilst the disability charities busy themselves forming consortia worth £654 million to bid for Government back-to-work contracts, protesting for disability rights is coming from the grassroots using our skills to raise awareness of our fights and to build political alliances. Public sector workers have been unfairly targeted as well; students too are victims of cuts and broken promises; these and other Coalition targets are our natural allies. We are campaigning on many fronts and ask that you join us in doing so by signing our petition to stop DLA reform and supporting our DLA campaign, as have a number of Lords and MPs including Jon Cruddas and Hywel Williams. We are getting MPs to ask questions, start debates and table Early Day Motions on DLA, pressuring the Coalition to back down.

2011 will be a good year for disabled people as we petition this Government to withdraw on DLA and the Independent Living Fund, and to bring fairness back into Employment Support Allowance. David Cameron and Iain Duncan-Smith have picked the wrong fight.

- by Kaliya Franklin and Rhydian Fôn James


WoundedNation said...

It's a great pity that people didn't put up more resistance to Labour and the greedy disability charities - including Mind & the Centre for Mental Health - for their attacks on claimants and betrayal of the disabled over the years as they paved the way for the Coalition to take the targeting to the next level of disability discrimination. But at least we have learned a hard practical lesson , that we can't depend on the Labour elites , the disability charity aristocracy or the fickle Guardian reading contigent of the chattering classes to support us , we need to constantly remind them that we're here and also closely watching them as we take the fight for fair treatment , disability equality and human rights into 2011.

No disability charity collusion with the Tories or ATOS.

Happy New Year

UserWatch said...

Its true what "WoundedNation" says. Here's some more .

The "PathWays to Work" saga was started long ago (2002) by Sainsbury's Centre For Mental Health who reasoned that by seconding into the DWP one of their top staff Dr Bob Grove - they could encourage along with the organisation <a href=">they registered the website of</a> and created (NIMHE) recover people back to work .

The problem though was large amounts of diverted money (over 100 million) were used on NIMHE and its recruits in the absence for instance of using the same money for special training and help - and even patient choices of treatments or therapies that could have moved at least some Service Users on sooner

The truth across 10 years of Labour became selective inclusion for some fitter Users mostly prepared to work for Gov't and the MH charity alliances like MIND Rethink and Together so that a whole section of ex-User's were bought off with a Govt agenda attached.

Gone was the push for equivalent legal mechanisms of MH Patient Choice (barred by Labour in 2009 regs) - gone was huge amounts of money (2004 - 2008) into diverted recovery orientated welfare NIMHE shaped cannibalism.

Pathways to Work (which had failed mental health Users according to the DWP 2010 Outcome report ) just became a money spinner for charities ready to sell out their own. Mind you when you look at them they are run by a corporate classes now ....

Your enemy is not yourself (some Users have learned) but it is yourself if you give yourself away too for corporate state hypnotic baubles to charities and Govt who actually want welfare that does not work but a wholesale inadequate slaughter of dependency that quite genuinely needs aid ..

Anonymous said...

If I were a broken toy
You would throw me in the bin
If I were an animal
Euthanasia would come in

But - I - I am a Human
I have supposed 'Human rights'
And yet this coalition
Has turned my life into a constant fight

I have to fight to prove I'm broken
Just enough to qualify
For PIP and ESA and stuff
Or they'll just hang me out to dry

I didn't ask to be disabled
I didn't ask for my life to change
I didn't ask for all this pain and stuff
And my life to be re-arranged

I do not enjoy begging this government
For food to line my belly
For heat and light and housing
And to hear how they hate me on the telly

I do not enjoy being a nothing
I do not find warmth in being one of 'the scum'
I really hate having to ask for money
And I am not the only one

I am too tired to fight the big guns
My voice it is far far too small
I know you cannot hear me as
Up on that pedestal you are too tall

Your ears are closed to the needy
Your heart it has just turned to stone
And the broken ones of Britain
We have to get through this all alone

I am sorry that my body
Will not work as I need it to
I am sorry I cannot do things
That would make me not depend on you

But I really do not want to
Cease to exist to help your cause
I just want to be allowed to LIVE life
Even tho mine has so many flaws

Please Mr David, please just hear me
Please listen through my tears
Hear what I am saying
About my fright, terror and fears

Please stop attacking those people like me
We are NOT the sh*t upon your shoe
To show Humanity is not a flaw
It's what could make the huMAN of You


WillC said...

When we are bombarded by the amounts of interest payments government pays on so called deficits,this link will give some insight into how the money system works.Those who control the money supply could at a stroke remove all poverty-if they choose to.