January 15, 2011
Anne Novis was awarded an MBE in the Queens New Years Honours in recognition of her dedicated work and ‘Services to disabled people’.
I am a disability activist, you know one of those people who will complain, (how dare I?), when facing discrimination, challenge inequality wherever I find it and advocate for other disabled people.
Oh one of those you might say, YES! one of those who believes in the human rights of every single person, those ‘rights’ so many take for granted as they have not had them taken away yet.
I have fought, yes fought, for nearly twenty years for disabled people to be believed about their experiences of targeted hostility, harassment and abuse, hate crime and for an appropriate response from society.
Within all this I also fight for myself as a wheelchair user who needs care to live independently.
One of those who relies on benefits to live, to carry on having a family life, to practise my faith and be safe.
Oh I hear it already I am ‘burden on society’, ‘work shy’, a ‘fraudster’ and should have been ‘killed at birth’, I have actually been told this when attacked on a local high street and read it every day in the media .
I would love to get paid for the volunteering I do, for the contribution I have made to this society, for caring for my children and 23 foster kids, for advocating and counselling, advising and supporting other disabled people.
But hey I am part of the Big Society, one of those who does all this for free, you know like David Cameron wants you all to do now.
I am qualified up to my eyeballs, have attempted to get paid work many times often just a couple of hours here and there as that’s all I can commit to due to my body not being as active as my mind.
Most employers don’t want those who are sick, disabled a burden, work shy and fraudsters to work for them you know?
Now I face cuts in my personal care, the ILF which funds half my care package is scrapped and I will only get 5 more years of such support, that’s if I still qualify of course.
To qualify for ILF you must be on the high rate care component of DLA and need more then £340 plus pounds worth of care from your local authority.
But DLA is to be scrapped too , the local authority has no money and will be implementing increased charges for care and cuts in care as soon as possible.
I will be reassessed for the Severe Disability Allowance I get and probably have this taken away and be put on Job Seekers Allowance, after all I should be in paid work you know.
It does not matter about my health issues, regardless I must be in paid WORK!
Yet if I lose my care I cannot function, get up, get dressed, shop, socialise, practice my faith, in fact do nothing let alone be in paid work in some sort of ideal world where priority is given to sick and disabled people to get into work first before all those others sacked, made redundant, not sick, more experienced employees out there seeking work too.
I may get a basic income but I will have to jump through hoops, attend interviews, training and more and if I don’t ? Well I will be punished of course, the finance will be lessoned and eventually stopped.
Yet if I have no care support I cannot get up, dressed, eat, go out, and attend interviews or training.
But that does not matter I should make more effort as I am work shy, a fraudster and a burden on the state and ‘unsustainable’ as government ministers keep telling me.
So how will I survive? I will not.
But that’s ok too as then there will be less disabled people and we will save the government some money and all these incentives will have been shown to work as I, and so many others, will not exist.
And if we do mange to ‘exist’ it will be in residential care, or in bedsits, living on the scraps of funding society can ‘afford’ or deem reasonable for us to live on, we will return to begging on the streets then everyone will be happier as I will not be a ‘burden’ or a ‘fraudster’.
Yet once upon a time I had a dream, to own a home, have a career, travel and enjoy my retirement.
I was in paid work, as was my partner, we contributed to society by it’s current definition.
But oops! One day my body gave out, my back ripped apart and I entered the world of spinal injury, discrimination, inequality and prejudice.
Overnight I was unable to move from a bed, lost my work, my foster children, my partner and myself.
I did not choose this,it happened to me, as so many illnesses and accidents do.
One day you may find you or a member of your family becomes sick or injured, be born too early or face being different.
Now I face increased poverty, for no matter what you think disabled people on benefits are not rich, I face medical tests (many of them) by unqualified people who will decide whether I am too ill/disabled or not to be in paid work.
I face serious cuts in my care package, lose the five personal assistants I employ to help me, lose my wheelchair adapted car, lose DLA which was meant to help with some of the extra costs of being a disabled person.
Once I fail the ESA medical, which most do, I will become one of the invisible disabled, those not on anyone’s radar. I will face sanctions for not complying with job seeking requirement’s and lose even more of the pittance I am meant to survive on.
I will lose myself again.
Not due to an injury that was no ones fault but due to a society that is allowing a government to implement the most discriminatory harshest attacks on disabled people this generation has faced.
A society that is allowing those who can fight least to be targeted as the scapegoats for the financial mess they and the succeeding governments got us into.
Yes you, and you and you, all of you who stand by and say nothing or encourage such vicious and undeserving attacks are just as responsible for what is happening.
Those who stand by and allow this are equivalent to those who stood by when disabled people and Jews were targeted by the Nazi’s for annihilation.
Too harsh for you?
Its our lives we are fighting for, our very lives, some have already killed themselves due to what is happening, many more are considering it.
Will you stand by?
November 9, 2010
A Disabled constituent of Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion, has emailed to her asking if the equality impact assessments of the coalition government’s policy decisions are available and whether or not she has seen them?
Ms Lucas, who represents the Green Party, answered by return email and stated that she had tabled a series of written parliamentary questions in the run up to the Comprehensive Spending review asking each department whether an equality impact assessment of their planned cuts had been conducted. None were able to produce such an assessment and all claim this work will be done at a later stage.
She told her Disabled constituent: “I do not think this is good enough and it makes clear that despite the government’s claim to have produced a fair budget there is no evidence for such a claim. On the contrary, as you know, cuts to the disability living allowance, to housing benefit and to employment support are distinctly unfair and will penalise the most vulnerable.”
Ms Lucas added: “The budget announced last month will destroy half a million jobs in the public sector, according to the Government’s own estimates. And the knock-on effects will be at least as many jobs lost in the private sector. Moreover, when those public sector workers find themselves out of work they will, along with disabled people, feel the full force of the additional £7 billion worth of cuts in welfare spending, on top of the £11 billion of cuts announced in June.
“The Chancellor talked a great deal about fairness but I think there is nothing fair about a budget that lets vital public services go to the wall, hitting the poorest hardest.”
Ms Lucas has spoken out about the cuts and has made the point that in the long term changes are neither cost effective nor fair. She has also spoken in the debate about housing benefit – to argue that cuts in this area will impact disproportionately on disabled people and that by crudely slashing help with mortgage interest payments in half the Government is potentially forcing thousands of disabled homeowners into arrears or homelessness.