I suggest a campaign about ...

Being disabled is not a crime, so why are we being punished ?

As you will no doubt be aware, the welfare reform act is now law. I'm appealing for support in addressing some of the savage cuts the government is planning to inflict on genuinely sick and disabled people, as a result of measures contained in the act.

Instead of aiming the cuts at stopping fraud, as they pledged to do, the government are going after genuinely and severely sick and disabled people - this is because they have realised that there is actually very little fraud in the disability benefits system and that it is the genuinely most severely disabled who cost the most to support, so these are the people bearing the brunt of a thinly veiled exercise which is more about saving money than genuine support.

The previous labour government devoted themselves to a media campaign over a number of years which has vilified disabled people and portrayed them as idle benefit cheats and scroungers. The coalition has stepped up this campaign as a smokescreen to get the public onside for the wave of massive cuts currently in the pipeline. This is morally bankrupt - in the 21st century, surely the best way to judge any decent society is by the way it cares for the weakest and most vulnerable - the sick, disabled and the elderly. I believe the measures now being introduced as a result of the welfare reform act will fail these people on all counts.

In reality disability benefit fraud is running at about 0.5% which is the lowest in the welfare system - mainly due to stringent medical
examinations which have been rolled out in the last few years.

As a result of the act, disability living allowance will be replaced with personal independence payment, which is being designed, not with supporting the genuinely disabled in mind, but with a medical assessment deliberately designed to save money by not taking into account the more severe and costly factors of living with a disability. Thousands of the most severely disabled people will be much worse off and some will face losing their motability cars as a result, despite having severe walking disabilities which are fully accounted for medically. instead of tightening the rules for disabiity living allowance, which is is all that is really necessary, the government is spending millions of pounds of tax payers money on reforming it into something which will provide much less support. There are also swingeing cuts to employment and support allowance which is the mainstream benefit, split into income related and contribution based benefits.

As a result of the changes in the welfare reform act anyone claiming Employment And Support Allowance (ESA) which was formerly Incapacity Benefit, who is deemed fit to undertake work related activities designed to help them move into work, can only claim the benefit for twelve months - even the contributory part which does not currently take other earnings into account, and is paid because the person has qualified through working and paying national insurance contributions. This group contains people who are severely disabled - some of whom have been wrongly categorised as fit to look for work due to badly handled medical assessments - it also includes cancer sufferers, some of whom are terminally ill. If their life expectancy is more than 12 months they can be compelled to work !!

The latest group of people to come into the crosshairs of the
government rifle are those severely disabled people who are claiming ESA, and fall into the support group. This group are deemed, by completing a stringent medical assessment, to be too ill or severelydisabled to be expected to work, or undertake any work related activity. These are the people that government
spokesmen refer to as the most vulnerable and whom they have pledged to support - ESA claims are not limited to 12 months for this group and the benefit can be claimed for as long as the person remains in the group. Buried in the welfare reform act is a clause which will change this by underhand means. There is currently an £85 per week income disregard for contributory ESA, and the act states that with the introduction of universal credit next year, means tested ESA will form part of universal credit and contributory ESA will remain in it's present form. BUT, and it's a big but, the earnings rules for contributory ESA will be aligned with those of universal credit, which means that 65% of any earned income of a partner will be taken into account and 100% of any personal pension will count. Even a pension of as little as £200 a month or minimum wage will be enough to wipe out any entitlement to contributory ESA. This will effectively withold the benefit from claimants by indirect means testing, despite the fact that claimants may have worked for years and paid national insurance contributions to qualify them.

To put this change into perspective, keep in mind that these are very sick and disabled people who have tried to work, and have eventually been forced to stop because of worsening health conditions. Traditionally disabled people are amongst the lowest earners and any pension payable on stopping work is likely to be small in most cases - certainly too small to live on. What puts it even more in perspective is that in the budget, the chancellor announced what is effectively a £50,000 earnings disregard for higher rate tax payers claiming child benefit. I'm not against child benefit - It's there to support families who need it. What I am against is the massive disparity between this earnings disregard for wealthy higher rate tax payers and those at the bottom of the pile, struggling to make ends meet on disability benefits which are now being affected by the smallest sums of extra income. Here is a link to my e-petition -http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/32503. The petition only covers one aspect of the changes, as I feel it's better to tackle it bit by bit, but I will be covering other aspects as soon as I can and will publish the links on facebook, but in the meantime there are numerous other very worthy e-petitions concerning the various aspects of the act. If we can get over £100,000 signatures they may have to debate the petitions in the commons and we may get somewhere.

The advances made and the hard fought battles won for independence for disabled people are being eroded in a terrifying manner by this government, and I think other high profile penny pinching and mean minded cuts in the news recently, have pretty much signalled their contempt for the ordinary man in the street. Whatever your views on benefit claimants, the welfare state was intended to be there as a safety net for everyone in time of need. Ask yourselves what will you do in your time of need if we allow this government to dismantle it brick by brick as they are doing now. Even if you're not disabled, don't assume it won't affect you - the welfare reform act, and with it, the introduction of universal credit, will merge all manner of in and out of work benefits into one system and is set to be the biggest intrusion into every area of the lives of ordinary people. The government bulldozed the Act through parliament by using parliamentary financial privilege, despite fierce opposition from both houses.

If you would like any more background information, it is freely available on the internet - just type welfare reform act 2012 into your browser and follow the links . There is also some very worrying information regarding the grossly unfair way the medical assessments for these benefits are being carried out by a private healthcare company who were found guilty of running what a judge termed as 'disability denial factories' by the supreme court in the USA. Despite being disgraced and fined millions of dollars for witholding benefits from disabled American welfare claimants by using highly questionable medical assessments, the British government has seen fit to award them ongoing contracts and a licence to do the same in the UK. It must be stopped.
Thank you.

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    pam stockpam stock shared this idea  ·   ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →

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      • Pam ColesPam Coles commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I totally agree that the Disabled are being targeted. I have a Disability myself, which is only going to get worse in time (and has got worse since diagnosis in 2007).
        It's about time that the Government stopped targeting the vulnerable.
        Also, having had a lease car from Motability and hoping to be able to purchase the car at the end of the three year lease, I find that the car is being overpriced to the point that it is out of our reach, bearing in mind that I paid a very large deposit, plus my mobility allowance for the past three years. My husband went online and found that there are also alot of other people who are also in the same predicament as myself and all you get from motability is, the price is non-negiatable and they are a non-profit organisation?
        What else can you do, take on another car, which is not guaranteed if your funding is pulled, or buy a car - is that a fair way to treat the Disabled?
        Regards to everyone who erads this comment.

      • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        If you are genuinely disabled you will surely get disabled benefits so you don't need to worry.

      • AnonymousAnonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        39,292 have signed Pats so far, as I see it we are all in this together, we fight as one, we get heard & state our cases, each cut/bad test affects all affected by ill health or disability. Unite to get one l.oud voice to show them we are not alone.

      • AnonymousAnonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Please 38degree members we need you, this is really wrong what is happening/going to happen. It really is for you too, lose your health & you would soon know how it really is, the battle the really sick/disabled face both daily & over these reforms.

      • AnonymousAnonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Unite people, members signing this if not already sign Pats-epetition & vote for Pats e-petition suggested camapign, its got 151 votes, needs many more by members, there asre more than 151 of you out there fighting this. Join as one to make the petition your voice for this alongside other campaigns. United we stand some chance.

      • AnonymousAnonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Unite people, members signing this if not already sign Pats-epetition & vote for Pats e-petition suggested camapign, its got 151 votes, needs many more by members, there asre more than 151 of you out there fighting this. Join as one to make the petition your voice for this alongside other campaigns. United we stand some chance.

      • AnonymousAnonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        They target these scapegoats to deflect attention away from the tax-dodgers:

        Vodaphone, Tesco, etc, etc

      • Lynne joyceLynne joyce commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        My daughter is severely disabled she can only breath for herself yet her benefit has been changed to employment support, how can she be supported in employment what a farce! No one will listen to me, I am so angry, my daughter received her p45 last week stating she was finishing work on 28/5 and giving her forms for her new employer. Does anyone think about the impact the names of these benefits have on parents and carers?

      • AnonymousAnonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Excellent article, difficult to understand, but, then, welfare law is difficult! This government is definitely targeting disabled and sick people who need support; the cost in more expenditure when their needs escalate and in human suffering will be huge. Just wish this government would start listening to those who want to see humanity and common sense!

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