Monday 7 March 2011

Left Out In The Cold - Why We Oppose The Welfare Reform Bill

First posted at Community Care - Service User Voice
by Melissa Smith

The Welfare Reform Bill, proposed by the government last month, has created a pervasive sense of fear and anxiety in the disabled community of Britain. With what can easily be described as ‘anti-disability’ policies throughout, the Welfare Reform Bill aims to change and remove ‘benefits’ that the majority of disabled people in Britain rely on, and has real potential to damage the lives of so many vulnerable people. Despite their title, ‘benefits’ do not give those who claim them a better life than those who do not; for disabled people, this financial support allows us to achieve a basic standard of living and quality of life.

The Broken of Britain are vehemently opposing the anti-disability policies within the Welfare Reform Bill, as we are acutely aware of the devastation they will bring. We know that disabled people face being forced under the poverty line, leaving them to live like third-class citizens, struggling to fund the necessities of daily life: housing, heating and food. They will be even less able to pay for the expenses that result from being disabled, including mobility aids and personal and medical care.

We are also gravely concerned about the proposed methods and processes of assessing the extent of claimants’ disabilities and their ability to work; the exhaustive paperwork, interviews and assessments will be too much cope with for those already experiencing the chronic fatigue that accompanies so many physical and mental disabilities. The Work Capability Assessment is a “complete mess” according to its creator Professor Paul Gregg, who also admitted that it would cause “stress…misclassification [and] anguish” to all disabled people who are subjected to it.

The Welfare Reform Bill is an unacceptable regression in the fight for the rights of disabled people. It is already making those who rely on benefits, while desperately wishing they didn’t, feel that they are being punished for their ill-health and vulnerability. These proposals are re-establishing the archaic social stigmas attached to being disabled, and The Broken of Britain realise that the myriad impacts of this Bill may be too much for some to bear. We will not tolerate disabled people being made to feel that they cannot continue to live, nor we accept measures that will make their lives a near impossibility. That is why The Broken of Britain is opposing this Bill, and why we hope you will join us.

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