Posts Tagged ‘Disability’

Time for Labour to stand up for the hardest hit

11/05/2011, 11:30:38 AM

by Julianne Marriott

10,000 people are marching past Parliament now. If you were here, though, it would not be the march’s size that would catch your attention. Nor the distance; it will only really be a few hundred metres. Yet for many of those marching today, that short journey is more like a marathon.

And this march looks different too. It is slow. It includes lots of wheelchair users, people walking with sticks and others with guide dogs. Many are living with constant pain, on gruelling medication regimes, distressed by being in a crowd.

Scores of the walkers have fluctuating conditions, including cancer, dementia, arthritis and MS. Which means that many marchers can only be here because they are “having a good day”. Lots of people have a carer with them and wouldn’t have been able to come alone. They may have had to pay their carer, or they may be a family member, who’s had to take a day off work.

These 10,000 people are the hardest hit. Their incomes, independence and integrity are being systematically undermined. And today, a year to the day since that seven page initial agreement was signed, they have made a difficult and exhausting journey to Westminster to tell their story.

After the march, over a thousand people will queue for two hours to make their way into Westminster Hall. They hope that their MP will give them 15 minutes. And in that quarter of an hour they need to paint a picture of their lives now, and what effect of the welfare bill will have on them.


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A little bit of information can make a big difference

27/04/2011, 02:01:40 PM

by Mark Cooper

The easter break and the royal wedding weekend will be a great opportunity for people to socialise at their local pub up and down the country.

When you plan a social occasion what do you think about? Is it what to wear,  or if you’ll have a drink or two at home before you go out? I think: “can I get to the loo”?

Why? The answer is simple: I am disabled. Going out for me isn’t just a quick email or text “would I like to go for a drink after work”, it’s a military operation.

I have experienced many nights out which have been ruined for me because I have been unable to find an accessible loo. After one night out I had had enough of this problem. I was out in Edinburgh enjoying a post-campaign drink with friends in a pub, which we thought was accessible. But it turned out it did not have a disabled toilet. So I was forced to leave my friends, find another pub with an accessible toilet, then return to my friends.

After this experience, Barred was born, with the simple aim of trying to find out where the pubs are in Edinburgh with disabled access. I started a Facebook group, which soon had hundreds of members all with similar experiences to my own. The local campaign succeeded. Spurred on by the response I decided to try and make it Scotland wide.

The campaign was backed by disability organisation capability Scotland and with their support and the support of Lord Foulkes, the former Labour MSP for the Lothians, secured an amendment to the Scottish criminal justice and licensing act last July. The amendment means licensees must show how their pub can be accessed by disabled customers, when applying for a license. (more…)

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Somebody tell the government that some disabled people are actually, er, disabled

17/02/2011, 07:00:48 AM

by Sally Bercow

The disability living allowance (DLA) is forecast to cost the taxpayer £12 billion this year, the same as the department of transport’s entire annual budget. So briefed the Whitehall machine as the government launched its public consultation on DLA reform in December (the consultation closes tomorrow).

Doubtless, the figure of £12 billion is correct, but before you rush to join the chorus of Daily Mail-minded souls and proclaim your horror, bear in mind that we spend three times more on defence than we do on disabled people (around £37 billion a year), that renewing the UK’s Trident nuclear deterrent will cost around £20 billion, that we have spent over £20 billion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t spend those sums on defence, Trident or our international adventures (well maybe I am  – but that’s a whole different column), but the point is that it’s all relative.

So while £12 billion for disability benefit is a hell of a sum, maybe, just maybe, we spend that much because – and hold onto your hats here – there is actually a genuine need. Could it be that, with a small minority of dishonourable exceptions, the people who receive DLA really are deserving of it? That they actually rely on the help DLA provides, so that they can cover the higher costs of living, care and mobility that come hand in hand with their disability? After all, there is no evidence of widespread fraud – indeed the 0.5% (£200 million) fraud rate for DLA, while unacceptable, is nevertheless the lowest of any benefit. (more…)

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Eugene Grant says the disabled should still have grounds for optimism.

14/06/2010, 11:51:24 AM

Helen Keller, the deafblind American radical, once said: “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope or confidence”. The first deafblind person to earn a bachelor of arts degree, Keller went on to become an accomplished author, well-travelled lecturer and prolific political activist.

The election feast is now behind us.  The first frenzies of the coalition’s honeymoon are done.  And yet, thus far, the Lib-Con coalition has offered little in the way of optimism for some of the most disadvantaged in our society: people with disabilities. On the contrary, the approach adopted by the new government appears tainted by cynicism.

First, the pledge from work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith to reassess all 2.6 million incapacity benefit (IB) claimants and move them onto other benefits like jobseeker’s allowance and employment and support allowance (ESA).  This is a thorny political issue, which isn’t necessarily regressive.


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