Heroes to Lead A Life of Poverty

Those of you who watched the latest “Britain on Benefits” programme from Channel 4 will be aware that the government is planning to Abolish Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and replace it with a Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

On the face of it, this looks quite reasonable and most people who know about DLA or have had the “wonderful job” of needing to complete the claim form will know that the process drastically needs reform. I say, process rather than the actual benefit itself.

So why are the government replacing it? Well, it’s quite simple really. This is being done to save money!

Surely, this can’t be a bad thing, you may say?

I do agree that it’s not a bad thing to look at saving money in these times of recession. However, what is happening here is very much a case of ”kicking” some of the most vulnerable people in society. I have already documented the horrendous erosion of support for disabled people that I have witnessed over the years and I strongly believe that this is yet another ‘nail in the coffin’.

Let’s be clear. DLA is provided to people, so that they can pay for the additional support they need to live as independently as possible. It is not a hand-out and in many cases it helps people to stay in work. This adds to the overall ‘colour’ of many workforces and enhances diversity in employment. Having a disability can be expensive. For example, if you are a wheelchair user, you may require a specially adapted wheelchair to enable you to become more independent and go to work.

The money will be saved by reassessing people and I dare say there will be targets to remove people from benefit. One of the most bizarre things about the new PIP is that; if someone can walk 200 metres unaided they do not qualify for the mobility component. As was mentioned by some of the people in the programme, they may well be able to walk 200 metres, but this would be incredibly uncomfortable or even painful. My other real concern is that this could lead to people not being able to afford to go to work and be consigned to the scrapheap.

David Cameron, in the summer, during the time of the Paralympics described the Paralympians as ”Superhuman”. Perhaps he is expecting these ”Superhumans” to be able to fly to work like Superman? I really can’t see a lot of disabled people being able to stay in work, if they are unable to afford the support they need. This will lead to greater inequality and a lack of diversity in employment.

Our Paralympians, in the summer provided us with the best pan-disability sports event that the world has ever seen. Many of them dedicate their life to training in their chosen discipline and make many sacrifices, whilst at the same time holding down a job.

I will say it again, and at the risk of sounding like a stuck record. Diversity in employment is needed for a number of very valid reasons, such as workforce creativity, insights into new markets and a better corporate image. Therefore, if the government pushes ahead with this proposal it will have a very damaging effect on people and business.