One of the themes of this project is the shoddy treatment of disabled people by the current government. Disabled people are currently experiencing a relentless and multi-pronged attack as the tory government destroys systems, facilities and services that enable people to live independently, with dignity and in safety.
Disabled people are fighting back. Disabled People Against the Cuts are probably the most active organisation of disabled people and their allies, fighting for justice and human rights during these times of austerity and welfare cuts. As well as taking direct action and organising demonstrations, they publish and collate research, reports, blogs and other information which is available on their website. Rather than attempt to summarise this, I suggest you take a look: http://dpac.uk.net/
Disabled people are not the only people affected by the cuts, of course. But the cuts are not being applied evenly or fairly. The figures below are from the analysis by the Centre for Welfare Reform, which shows that:
- People in poverty (1 in 5 of us) bear 39%of all the cuts
- Disabled people (1 in 13 of us) bear 29%of all the cuts
- Disabled people with severe impairments (1 in 50 of us) bear 15%of all the cuts.
Here’s a list of some of the things that the government has cut or abolished. It’s not everything, I got too despondent writing it.
I’m no expert, so any comments and extra information are welcome.
Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
Replaced by Personal Independence Payment (PIP). Most people currently getting DLA will eventually have to reapply for PIP. Even if you were getting DLA, you may find that you don’t qualify for the new payment or that the money you get will be less than it was on DLA.
Replaced with Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). People have to go through the reviled and unfair Work Capability Assessment (WCA) to determine whether they are eligible for ESA or are well enough to go to work. The assessments are notoriously inaccurate and illogical. Thousands of people have died within months of being declared fit for work, for example. *
People on ESA will either be placed in the support group or the work related activity group where you have to take part in the work programme. This is when you have to attend work focussed interviews in order to keep getting your benefit
* update: an academic report published this week has said that almost 600 suicides may be associated with WCA.
Access to Work
Meanwhile, the fund that provides practical support for disabled people in work has also been cut. A range of physical adjustments including some computer software, computer screens and office furniture are no longer provided, along with reductions in provision of sign language interpreting and transport costs, for example. This means that disabled people are unable to do their jobs effectively, if at all. It doesn’t make any sense, by anyone’s reasoning.
Independent Living Fund
The ILF, which enabled people with higher support needs to remain in their own homes, was closed in June 2015. Responsibility for providing this support passed to already struggling local authorities.
Local authority funding
This has been slashed repeatedly for the last 6 years and will continue to be reduced for the next few years. As a result, funding for social care has been cut by around a third. This is leading to reduced care packages, cuts to services, and funds from preventative services being used to cover statutory services. And of course cuts to other council services, such as parks, libraries and sports centres, are affecting disabled people, particularly where using these services has become a preferable alternative to attending a social care day centre or similar.
On top of this, Public Health, which recently became the responsibility of local authorities, has now become a target for cuts. This particularly affects wellbeing and prevention services that keep people well.
A similar picture to above, with government cuts to this programme that funds, monitors and improves frontline housing-related support services for disadvantaged and vulnerable people, including disabled people, being reflected in local authority cuts. The combination of cutting housing-related support and social care support for disabled people is devastating.
People now receive less in housing benefit if they live in a housing association or council property that is deemed to have one or more spare bedrooms. This affects disabled people who may need an extra room for a personal assistant or carer, where a couple need to sleep separately, families with disabled children, where the choice of accessible housing is limited so people have no option but to live in a property with an extra room, and so on.
Cuts to the NHS
The government has been demanding “efficiency savings” in the NHS for the last few years. This has led to many specialist services being reduced or closed. Mental health services are particularly under-funded.
It’s hard to believe we’re living through such heartless times. This is beyond shoddy, it’s downright cruel.