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Labour’s buried treasure

The Labour Party has commissioned, received – and buried – a superb and timely report into poverty and disability in the UK today.  If they won’t publicise it, then we must!

One of the big social and policy challenges in Britain today is the persistent and complex link between disability and poverty – disabled people are more likely to live in poverty,[1] but people living in poverty are also more likely to become disabled.[2] Approximately one-fifth (19%) of the UK population is disabled or has a long term health condition.[3] Disabled people are 30% less likely to be in paid work than non-disabled people[4] but face very high disability-related costs.[5] And this is all in spite of the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 (which replaced the Disability Discrimination Act 1995) and the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People, ratified by the UK Government in 2009.

Against this background, last Summer Labour commissioned a Task Force to look at ways to break the link between disability and poverty, sending out a press release.[6] All six members of the Task Force are supremely well-qualified, both personally and professionally, to bring together evidence, research and their own understanding of the complexity of disability and chronic ill-health to produce an outstanding report. Mindful of the economic constraints that will face whatever party forms a government in 2015, they tailored the report’s recommendations accordingly, although it is unrealistic to expect to tackle this issue effectively without any further investment at all. Using current expenditure more effectively is the priority. Continue reading

Archbishop Nichols tells the Government: leaving the poor facing destitution is a disgrace

When I wrote this angry post: “On poverty and food banks, the Coalition reveals its true colours” in response to the rising need for food aid, I never thought a prominent Church leader would heed the challenge, “What would Jesus have us do?”.  But I was wrong.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, has spoken up in a strongly-worded  interview with the Daily Telegraph. In his interview, Archbishop Nichols makes two points:

  • The Government’s reforms have now destroyed even the “basic safety net”
  • The welfare system has become increasingly “punitive”, often leaving people with nothing for days on end…

I’m not naive enough to think the Government will listen, but I am encouraged that an increasing number of people, from all walks of life, are starting to see beyond the Daily Mail-ification of our society. For those struggling to heat their homes and eat, and are even facing eviction, time is running out…

New Cardinal Vincent Nichols: welfare cuts ‘frankly a disgrace’ – Daily Telegraph, 14 February 2014

We’re a wealthy country… money’s no object…

FloodingI’m supposed to be writing an important human rights report, but the political messages around today have tempted me to blog – for the first time since the turn of the year, when my anger about poverty spilled into a much less measured blog than usual. My anger has now got the better of me again…

First of all I must say, very clearly, that flooding is terrible for those affected and my heart goes out to all those who have experienced the horror of dirty, sewage-contaminated water flowing through their homes. This blog is not directed against flood victims, but is a comment on the political message and reality behind the Prime Minister’s promises.

The floods have reached the home counties. Beautiful homes next to the River Thames are awash. This is archetypal middle England. Confirmed Tory voters are now being affected by the floods which have ravaged the West Country and other areas for many weeks. Strangely, now that the water is affecting the homes of the “middle classes”, money is suddenly no object. Cameron even says “we’re a wealthy country”. He should choose his words with care…. Continue reading

On poverty and food banks, the Coalition reveals its true colours

This is a very personal blog. One of the issues that has troubled me greatly in relation to this Government is that I’ve been all-too aware of the support Iain Duncan Smith’s policies have enjoyed from the evangelical wing of the church. Indeed, a leading member of a church similar to mine is (still, I believe) one of IDS’s special advisers. I’ve found that very hard to understand or accept – that a committed Christian appears to support social security policies that are causing such hardship and suffering among those who have the misfortune to be disabled, chronically sick or poor. (See note 1) Continue reading

The PIP 20 metre rule remains intact

Despite hundreds of consultation responses explaining the devastating impact on people with significant walking difficulties of using 20 metres as the benchmark distance for eligibility for the enhanced mobility component of PIP* and therefore the Motability scheme, the Government has decided, as we suspected they would, to keep the assessment criteria the same. Whilst this is obviously a disappointment, there are several interesting features of the Government’s response to the consultation worth highlighting (although it’s impossible to unpack the whole document in one article). Continue reading

Miriam’s open letter to David Cameron

Miriam’s letter poignantly describes the sorts of battles disabled people face every day in our country… this is our reality:

Dear Mr Cameron

On 16th August 2006 I was judged to be sufficiently disabled to warrant being awarded the higher rate mobility component and lower rate care component of Disability Living Allowance, indefinitely as my condition is not curable. I have severe Peripheral Vascular Disease. I was also in receipt of Incapacity Benefit at that time. Continue reading

Receiving the O A Denly Memorial Award 2013

O A Denly Award trophy

The Trophy

If you can’t blow your own trumpet on your own blog, where can you?! You’ve been warned…. This has now been reported in our local Kingston press.

Last night I attended the annual Disabled Motoring UK Awards Evening at the Heritage Motor Museum in Warwickshire, where I had the honour of being presented with the O A Denly Memorial Award for my campaigning work on the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which is replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

The O A Denly Memorial Award is sponsored by Unity Law and I was presented with my award by Lucy Angus, Trainee Solicitor. This is what I said after the presentation: Continue reading