Today, the Commons Public Accounts Committee published its report into some of the activities of JobCentre Plus (JCP), managed by the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP). Despite being snowed under with other work, I’ve read some of the report with interest, since I know very well that sick & disabled people who are dependent on benefits are often treated very badly indeed by the system that’s supposed to support them.
As an aside, I dislike the word “vulnerable”, as it tends to be used in relation to most or all sick & disabled people, and there’s no automatic reason why people have to be considered vulnerable just because they happen to be disabled. However, I do think most sick or disabled people who are dependent on benefits are made vulnerable by the benefits system itself, which is steadily becoming less supportive and more punitive. Indeed, in a meeting I attended yesterday, we were reflecting that we really don’t believe punishing people and making their lives more and more stressful is going to “change their behaviour”, which in DWP-speak means “make them get a job”. Quite the reverse; the more punitive the measures taken against sick & disabled people and the more hardship they suffer, the more stressed they will become and the more their health will worsen. It’s not rocket science! If DWP doesn’t understand that, it’s because they don’t want to. Continue reading →
Words seem inadequate as I contemplate what this Government is doing to our country and its people. As I struggle with the reality of winter, so soon after autumn, when my health is at its worst, I know there is little or nothing I can do to change the cruel policies inflicted on those least able to fight back.
But I don’t want to accept it. I don’t want to accept that I’m powerless to change things for those who are desperate. So I sit here, thinking, wondering… who do I know, who might be able to influence the Government, even just a little bit? Will they listen? Will they demand ‘quantitative evidence’ – numbers, statistics – which I can’t provide? Or will they listen as I tell them how sick, disabled and poor people are suffering? How some are stockpiling tablets for the time when they can no longer face the fight for survival? How others are going on hunger strike in protest at how they and other sick & disabled people are treated? Do they read the same reports as I do? Or do they inhabit a different universe? Continue reading →
Today, 3rd December, is International Day of Disabled People, a day on which we should celebrate our progress in achieving human rights and equality for disabled people. But this year there is little to celebrate, as we anticipate the implementation of a horrifying range of policies set to devastate the lives of hundreds of thousands of disabled Britons.
Most disabled people rely on benefits of one sort or another – to help meet the additional costs of disability and because many disabled and sick people are unable to do much, or any, paid work. So most disabled people will be badly affected by welfare ‘reform’ as the Government seeks to reduce the benefits bill. Continue reading →
The one word that describes how I feel right now is pressure. Partly, pressure on me to deliver various types of work, both small pieces of work and more significant projects but, more significantly, the pressure of knowing how many are suffering and how little our Government and most of our politicians, across all parties, actually appear to care. And alongside pressure, my feeling about what is happening to our country is moving close to despair.
So I could barely bring myself to listen to David Cameron’s speech today. What I read about it on Twitter told me all I needed to know, anyway – a Prime Minister using personal, emotive anecdotes to give a totally hypocritical, even mendacious impression of his Government’s priorities. It feels wrong to criticise when he uses the example of the death of his disabled son Ivan, but this blogpost: http://sturdyblog.wordpress.com/2012/03/12/we-need-to-talk-about-ivan/ written in March makes the case much better, and probably more sensitively, than I can. Interestingly and concerningly, when I talk to my MP about the suffering being caused by Government policies I realise how powerless he is to make any difference to his own Government’s actions. Continue reading →
In my own comment on the article, I point out to Zac and his colleagues that if you value your integrity, you can’t demand that some promises are kept while supporting policies that clearly break other promises. Continue reading →