Blogs

Britain is losing its sense of decency when it comes to the disabled

Sharon Brennan
Disabled 300x225 Britain is losing its sense of decency when it comes to the disabled

(REX FEATURES)

Worcestershire county council has just announced its proposal to shut away disabled people in care homes for the rest of their lives – openly admitting that it is a policy based on finances not necessarily on the individual’s health or care needs.

Called the Maximum Expenditure Policy, the council has stated home care will be capped at the level of what it would cost for that person to live in a residential care unit. The disabled person would then be forced to live in a care home, or find private funding for his or her additional care needs.

The council’s consultation on this proposal fails to declare how many people this might effect, what the financial cap might be or if private funding or charitable support is at all feasible for the people it will effect.  However a new report, Past Caring, published by the research team at the WeareSpartacus campaign group, has estimated that people who need over six hours care a day, or three hours from two carers simultaneously, will be faced with spending the rest of their lives shut away, isolated from families, friends and with the prospect of employment extremely low.

If this were to happen, there couldn’t be a clearer confirmation that disabled people are now seen as second class citizens, so irrelevant to society that local communities no longer have need for them.

With the number of disabled hate crimes reported to the police up by 14 per cent since 2010, it seems that the constant cry of “scroungers” and “benefit cheats” has now permanently affected the public’s view of disabled people. Before we are even able to have a fair discussion on what should be cut and by how much, campaigners have a battle to convince people that the genuinely disabled neighbour, work colleague or distant family member they know is not an aberration but the norm. Stats published by the Department of Work and pensions show that the combined fraud level for both Incapacity Benefit and Disability Living Allowance is just 0.8 per cent, yet the battle is almost lost – disabled people are regarded with suspicion, viewed with sceptical eyes as to whether their illness really is as bad as they say. And so the cuts keep coming – the politicians recognising an easy target when they see one.

Charity after charity has implored the Government to rethink the cumulative effects of its cuts, showing that they fall disproportionately on disabled people, pushing a group, a third of which already live in poverty, into dire financial circumstances and social isolation. But the Government refuses to listen.

Back in February the House of Lords passed several amendments to the Welfare Bill which included increasing the time people are allowed to claim contributory-based Employment and Support Allowance (the new Incapacity Benefit) from one year to two. But the Government used an archaic parliamentary process called Financial Privilege to overturn these changes, sticking stubbornly to its agenda by declaring they couldn’t afford to fund the amendments.

However, by May money was suddenly found by Osborne to alleviate the impact of a Child Benefit cut for higher rate tax payers – pushing back the earning threshold from £43,000 to £60,000 before this benefit is removed completely. And only last week in Prime Minister’s Questions Cameron reiterated his commitment to not means testing free bus passes and winter heating allowances for pensioners. Apparently this is a Government that will appease its core electorate even at the cost of what is fair.

As a country we cannot ignore this ethical crisis any longer. Bar bringing in euthanasia, these cuts to the disabled will be felt on the public purse. The cost of appeals alone against incorrect Employment and allowance benefit decisions are estimated to be running at £80 million and rising. The NHS is already seeing the effect of a crisis in community care as 66 per cent of NHS managers polled report a rise in demand for health services as a result of local authority funding cuts.

And what of the moral implications? Much has been said recently of rebalancing society away from the greed of chasing money at any cost. We cannot rebuild a fairer Britain, with a sense of what is decent at the heart of our communities, if we willingly allow some of the most vulnerable people to be pummelled by politicians with policies that turn the clock back thirty years and cleanse our streets of disabled people. These are normal, decent people – it is you and your family if misfortune came your way.

Instead of outlawing this local council’s suggested moves, the Cabinet actually approved plans for the council to consult on this appalling proposal. No wonder the Government quietly announced a delay on the publication of its disability strategy, as clearly all its practical policies fly in the face of its apparent desire to allow disabled people to live “fulfilling” lives. If Worcestershire council gets away with this then a precedent will be set: as other councils look to manage their budget they will have received a clear signal that disabled people are not on anyone’s political agenda – do with them what you will.

Tagged in: , ,
  • eomunda

    Written by Helen posted via me’

    The 1 in 200 figure comes from the DWP itself. Can I ask where you get
    your figures from? I’m sure you would like to believe that they aren’t
    after people like me – I would like to believe that, it certainly would
    make my anxiety less and I might actually manage to sleep again, but
    the fact is they are. People in worse situations than myself have been
    reassessed and left with next to nothing. However, if you don’t want to
    see and believe the truth, then I feel there is little I can do to
    convince you otherwise’
    57 minutes ago · Like

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Teresa-Harris/682028551 Teresa Harris

    I AM DISABLED AND BECAUSE ITS NOT PHYSICAL PEOPLE LAUGH AND SAY HOW CAN YOU BE DISABLED I HAVE AMNESIA AFTER A TRAUMA IVE HAD IT FOR SO LONG I CANT REMEMBER DAY TO DAY LIFE IS HARD AS I DON’T REMEMBER WHERE I PUT THINGS OR WHAT I WAS DOING BUT I STAY IN MY OWN HOME AND COPE I HAVE TO BUT ITS HARD

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Teresa-Harris/682028551 Teresa Harris

    CAMERON ONLY CARES ABOUT FOREIGNERS THEY HAVE ALL THE JOBS ALL THE BENEFITS HE DON’T CARE ABOUT ANY ONE ELSE

  • jnk9

    On the contrary, nothing would please me more than to be talked out of mistaken beliefs. I may be a bit naive here, but I hope that voters will not tolerate the removal of disability benefits from people who need them. If you know anyone with visible disabilities who has had their benefits withdrawn, and is not afraid of publicity, try to make sure the disability charities know about their case. TV exposure of heartless decisions could play a big part in influencing public opinion.

    The figure of 8% of the working-age population corresponds roughly to the 2.6 million people mentioned here:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-13309755

    My other figure (two out of four claimants) was anecdotal. Of the two genuine claimants that I know, one has multiple chronic illnesses, and her claim was immediately accepted on reassessment; the other has an invisible illness (chronic fatigue syndrome) and won at independent appeal. In her case, I got the distinct feeling that part of the re-assessment process is to reject applications if possible at each stage, with a genuine assessment occurring only at the final independent appeal. If someone is disabled and faces re-assessment, I would urge them not to give up.

    The two doubtful claimants with whom I am acquainted don’t want to work when they can be paid to pursue their hobbies and social life. I hope the system catches them before they reach retirement age, because they give genuine claimants a bad name. I doubt that it will.

  • http://twitter.com/Lini769 Lini769

    i agree look at my sister http://www.gailslifeincare.com

  • eomunda

    Written by Helen posted via me
    You seem be positive
    towards those with obvious disabilities and that’s good, but what about
    those who have non- visible and yet chronic disabilities/illnesses…does it mean that they are suffering any less because a person can’t see it? No.
    So what would you rather those with non visible illnesses do, spend our
    lives inside and not LIVE because someone makes assumptions? Well it’s
    happening already and it’s destroying lives! Last time I checked, we
    were people too, with the right to live our lives the best way we can.
    We have tried to get publicity for these people and we have tried to
    tell the truth about the way people’s are being damaged, but we seem to
    be blocked at almost every turn. There is some sympathetic press, but
    the rest just seem hell-benton peddling lies and scrounger rhetoric. My
    figures are not anecdotal and neither are the cases I cite (including my
    own). Look at wearespartacus.org.uk or our facebook page and find the
    truth. I (and others) stand to gain nothing from misleading you. We
    simply want to be understood and believed about what we are going
    through. This government is destroying the lives of vulnerable people
    who already suffer enough. We need compassion and understanding, not to
    be called ’scroungers’ and ‘fakers’. Living the way we do and fighting
    the way we are is not our choice. Please believe that.

  • eomunda

    You seem be positive
    towards those with obvious disabilities and that’s good, but what about
    those who have non- visible and yet chronic disabilities/illnesses…does it mean that they are suffering any less because a person can’t see it? No.
    So what would you rather those with non visible illnesses do, spend our
    lives inside and not LIVE because someone makes assumptions? Well it’s
    happening already and it’s destroying lives! Last time I checked, we
    were people too, with the right to live our lives the best way we can.
    We have tried to get publicity for these people and we have tried to
    tell the truth about the way people’s are being damaged, but we seem to
    be blocked at almost every turn. There is some sympathetic press, but
    the rest just seem hell-benton peddling lies and scrounger rhetoric. My
    figures are not anecdotal and neither are the cases I cite (including my
    own). Look at wearespartacus.org.uk or our facebook page and find the
    truth. I (and others) stand to gain nothing from misleading you. We
    simply want to be understood and believed about what we are going
    through. This government is destroying the lives of vulnerable people
    who already suffer enough. We need compassion and understanding, not to
    be called ’scroungers’ and ‘fakers’. Living the way we do and fighting
    the way we are is not our choice. Please believe that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeff.suter.14 Jeff Suter

    So a Tory council is setting the tone egged on by the Tory dictatorship in London. If anyone lives down to their reputation as souless, heartless money worshipping creatures then it is the councillors in Worcestershire.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Satori/1118617608 Chris Satori

    This doesn’t compute. Most disabled people require less daily care. When they go into short-break residential care they can go at the lowest fee-rate as they are semi-independent, bar a few crucial but basic safety needs. A person requiring 6 or more hours care a day would be more severely disabled. Such a person would be looking at £500+ a week for residential care, with additi
    onal skill / equipment requirements, eg lifting. Plus sundries. And the truth is that care staff who operate ‘in the field’ bring more interesting and useful gossip, and develop more initiative. Every minute of their time is used to the max. I know of no other job where people push themselves so hard, maintain such reliability and stay kindly and polite as they do. And for so little money. We need these people in our communities.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=559116801 Ben Hannigan

    it has always been about money this isnt a tory thing, there is a set of maths done for everything to see what is cost effective, disability care in the home, what drugs and surgical approaches are offered, what access to support you get. its always about money the council are just being open about it. like it or not everything the government provides the people has a budget consideration somewhere. this is my experience of the system as a young adult with cerebral palsy. your treatment is based on financial concerns and always will be.


Most viewed

Property search
Browse by area

Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter