I wasn’t planning on writing today. I slept late. My brain is fogged. I was just going to potter gently round the house, ignore the ironing and the cleaning, but maybe making some soup and chilli. They don’t require much effort, but make me feel like a culinary whizz.
My cereal munching, blog browsing, muddling came to a halt as I read that some of the authors of the ‘Spartacus‘ report have been hospitalised. Oh. And what did I do in the war?
The coalition government in Britain want to save money. Not by ensuring that major corporations pay appropriate levels of tax, or by regulating the excesses of the banking industry, but by making sure that
public services are decimated expenditure on public services is drastically reduced. Youth services are being cut, the health service is being cut, charities are struggling. Thousands of people are losing work. Particular effort is being put into changing the benefits system, demonising those who rely on unemployment and/ or disability support.
‘Responsible Reform: A report on the proposed changes to Disability Living Allowance’ is a challenge to government announcements. The report is entirely written, researched funded and supported by sick and disabled people, who came together through social media to share their experiences, skills and talents. The main author is Diary of a Benefit Scrounger. The report analyses responses to government consultation, and finds that parliament was misled.
In conclusion, we remind the government that DLA is already a cost saving benefit. Cuts to DLA cannot cut disability, they simply shift the costs elsewhere. One in three disabled people already live in poverty and many feel proposals for PIP (Personal Independence Payments, the proposed replacement for DLA) can only see this increase. We find the government’s response to the DLA consultation highly misleading throughout.
In truth, there’s too much depth in the report for my mind to cope with, but it’s clear that the impact of it is not simply from disabled people opposing changes to disability benefits; it’s in the analysis of government information, and the realisation that what is being proposed has overwhelming opposition, which the policy makers chose to ignore, and to mislead parliament about.
Those of you with the mental agility to think about politics and philosophy will be able to consider social contracts, the consent of the governed and all that. This is not a matter of national security, where telling the whole truth and nothing but may be dangerous. This is a political, cost driven exercise where the poor and disabled are being attacked because of their perceived inability to fight back.
The upper house, the House of Lords, knocked back some of the proposed amendments to the benefits system for the disabled earlier this week. This was unprecedented, and largely due to the work of the report authors. These folk researched and wrote and tweeted and campaigned. You can read what it has cost them.
I live in my own wee world, with books and cushions and girls. I complain about governments. I volunteer. I’m not well enough to work. I haven’t ruined my health campaigning, and I have no intention of doing so. I’ve signed a petition. Big deal.
But this report is for me. And for you.
If you are sick and disabled, it’s for you.
If you realise that one day, at any moment, you too could face illness or disability and that our fight is your fight, it’s for you.
If you are concerned at the lack of rigour and openness of our government, it’s for you.