Social media. You either love it or hate it. It’s great for activism and countering government propaganda but it also attracts conspiracy theorists and undesirables who see an opportunity to be as offensive as they can be. Especially towards the marginalised in society and, with the help of MSM, disabled people are demonised on a regular basis as scroungers, grifters, lazy, fat, stupid, to name but a few. So I want to take an opportunity to point out a few facts and how I believe the benefit system is rigged to be punitive towards the disabled.
Tony Blair’s New Labour welfare reforms targeted the disabled and single mums. The dismantling of the welfare state began with the Green paper in 2006. It promised to reform incapacity benefit which basically meant reducing the income of disabled people unable to work and pushing them into work they weren’t healthy enough to do. Gordon Brown in 2008 set the plan into motion with the introduction of ESA which replaced incapacity benefit. Few people realise that the research for the green paper and for the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) was co-designed by a discredited American corporate healthcare insurance giant. That’s right, that’s how little Blair’s government thought of disabled people.
The 2010 coalition government, Nick Clegg and David Cameron. The financial crash had happened in 2007/2008 but the Tories used it to implement austerity measures and sold it to the public as a necessity. Of course welfare cuts were on the cards. £12 billion worth of cuts were made to the welfare budget and Lib Dems sold out the disabled in exchange for a charge of 5p on plastic bags. What proceeded was 130,000 plus austerity inflicted deaths, news article after news article of a disabled person losing their lives, some through starvation. What shocked me most then and now is how the Tories, with the help of the press, convinced a huge percentage of the public that disabled people are somehow responsible for their poverty and sometimes demise. Consecutive governments and three of the U.K.’s main parties are responsible for thousands of disabled deaths and plunging thousands more into poverty.
Let’s get down to facts and stats on the welfare bill. After years on social media one thing is clear, those who shout the loudest that the disabled on benefits are scroungers have zero idea what’s included in the welfare bill. It comes as a complete surprise to them and that’s the power of government propaganda, aided and abetted by the press.
According to Scope, there are 14.1 million disabled people in the U.K. 46% of them are OAPs. 4.4 million are in work. 8% are children. Almost half those on disabled benefits are OAPs. The rest of the bill includes JSA, housing benefit, working tax and child benefit, pension credit, attendance allowance, winter fuel payment and state/NHS/veteran pensions. In fact nearly half the welfare bill is state pension. So anyone calling the disabled scroungers are insulting OAPs, NHS staff and veterans. Shameful.
Truth is being disabled is very expensive. Scope statistics state that on average life costs £583 more a month. Families of disabled children face an extra £581 per month and 24% of families with disabled children have extra costs of up to £1,000 per month. Which is why 43% of the 4.5 million kids in poverty are from a family with at least one disabled person. If that makes you feel uncomfortable, it should do. It made the U.N. very uncomfortable. A U.N. report in 2016 cited ‘grave and systemic violations’ of disabled rights had taken place under the 2010 welfare reforms. That it disproportionately and adversely affected the rights of disabled people by removing the independent living fund along with changes to housing benefit and PIP criteria changes.
Let’s dispel some myths. Like disabled people being given ‘free cars’. They’re not free. You have to receive full PIP and especially the mobility component. There’s a care and mobility component to PIP. You pay for your car with the mobility component which is usually half your award. On larger cars needed for wheelchairs or scooters there is an advance payment, which is non refundable and can run into thousands of pounds. You fund that yourself along with any adaptations your car will need. Considering it’s the severely disabled who receive full PIP and the fact that if they want to be mobile, then most of them end up in thousands of pounds worth of debt.
Not every disabled person in England receives free prescriptions either. Some had medications withdrawn because the government deemed it too expensive and disabled people were asked to compromise on a cheaper alternative for their conditions or fund medication themselves.
Then there’s the cost of equipment, electric wheelchairs and scooters, hoists, etc… These are not provided, and run into thousands of pounds to buy and for the installation of said equipment.
We disabled people are not sitting at home watching Sky tv, smoking, drinking and ordering take out. We consider ourselves lucky if we can afford one meal a day and a couple of hours heat during the coldest winter months. I speak as a severely disabled individual who lives under a Tory government which has zero respect or empathy for any of us. We are a drain on resources to them. We’re taking away £££ that could go to their donors to keep them in office.