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
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
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
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
Along with other commentators, an article in today’s Guardian by my own Tory MP, Zac Goldsmith (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/sep/07/third-runway-heathrow-betrayal) set me thinking. In his article, Zac makes the comment:
political promises need to mean something
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