Tom Shakespeare on Enabling Equality: from disabling barriers to equal participation

Pat’s Petition team and Carerwatch would like to congratulate Tom Shakespeare on the ground breaking lecture ( read in full here ) that he gave to the British Sociological Association on Friday ( podcast will be available soon ). It was a breath of fresh air in a debate that has been hi-jacked by politicians and subverted for their own ends. In his speech Tom Shakespeare emphasised that: I do not think that equal treatment will liberate all disabled people, in the same way as it has the potential to liberate other disadvantaged groups.  I believe that a level playing field is not enough to equalize opportunity for disabled people.  It may work for those disabled people who do not experience major limitations in their functional abilities, but it will not work for people with more significant or complex impairments. That may sound controversial and does not sit easily with the models proposed by disability ‘leaders’. But it is reflected in the statistics for attitudes to disability amongst disabled people: •46% of disabled people believe that health problems alone are responsible for them not leading as full a life as non-disabled people •Of those disabled respondents who said they were not able to lead a full life, 87 per cent said it was because of their disability, while only two per said that it was due to attitudes and barriers in society and 8 per cent said it was due to both (ODI, 2008). Government policies follow directly from the belief that disabled people can be liberated to compete in the competitive labour market on equal terms.  We have always argued that...

Campaign Statement for the General Election

  Pat’s Petition called for a Cumulative Impact Assessment and are delighted that there is now talk of establishing one through the EHRC. We understand that after the debacle that is welfare reform – a new government will want to take a very careful long term view as to how to get things right. The long term solution will be more complicated than simply reforming the Work Capability Assessment (WCA). The WCA has to test for something meaningful. The Employment Support Allowance (ESA) groups at the moment are meaningless. People in the Work Related Activity group (WRAG) can’t move to work. The new government has to understand that sometimes impairment does actually impair and lead to extra costs to the employer. As a society we need to think about whether it is government or employers who will pick up any on going extra costs of impairment when employing a disabled person. The government will probably have to intervene in the labour market to solve this problem. Until these extra costs are openly debated and it is decided who will pay – the government cannot continue to air brush the costs of impairment away because they are an inconvenient truth. They cannot continue to use ESA to try and force disabled people in to a labour market where they cannot compete. This is the Elephant in the room. But disabled people can’t wait for the long term solutions. They are in crisis. Carers and disabled people have always faced long term poverty and lack of support. Welfare reform has made it far worse. ESA has added undue stress and pressure and...

WOW petition has passed 1st stage in Parliament

  Many thanks go to the team, and all supporters, behind WoW petition. Pat joined them in London today and will give an update on her return. Although poorly attended by MP’s, those that did speak spoke of the real horror stories they are hearing from some of their constituents. You can read it in full here   and watch it on Parliament TV here ( debate starts at 1 hour 47 mins ) We hope everyone has a safe journey home and look forward to their reports.          ...

Inquiry – Employment and Support Allowance and Work Capability Assessments

With  reasonable adjustments many disabled people can work as productively as anyone else so that they can compete in the competitive  labour market on an equal playing field. But many others can’t. This Elephant is not being addressed. It is sitting squarely in the road stopping further progress. Pat’s Petition and CarerWatch are submitting evidence to the Inquiry into  Employment and Support Allowance and Work Capability Assessments being conducted by the Commons Select Committee for the   Department of Work and Pensions. Full details on link below We urge every one concerned about disabled people and carers to do the  same http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/work-and-pensions-committee/inquiries/parliament-2010/esa-wca-inq-2014/ We will be drawing attention to the Elephant in the  room. Some disabled people have an impairment which means that, although they  can and would like to do some work, even with reasonable adjustments they cannot work as productively as people who do not have impairments. This means  that the potential employer will be faced with extra costs or losses.     Employers recruit through the mechanism of a competitive labour market and this puts barriers in the way of disabled people   who are not able to work as productively. No effort has been made to name this problem or to solve it. Who should bear the extra costs or losses to the employer of taking a worker who cannot be as productive because of their impairments? Until this problem is named and addressed the progress of disabled people in to the workforce is blocked. The Elephant is sitting in the road. As disability campaigners, we do not want to  undermine the image of disabled people who, with reasonable adjustments and enlightened attitudes, can compete in the labour market. But not speaking up  for disabled...

Disability is just not that simple

As most campaigners reflect on 2013, and look towards 2014, it was interesting to read this viewpoint.   This is also true of what I am now calling the ‘work shy’ movement, a movement that likes to call themselves the ‘sick and disabled’ movement but I feel it is unfair and wrong for these people to claim to represent all sick and disabled people, when they are simply about one way of thinking, and that is a way I find quite offensive. The ‘work shy’ movement is led by people like Sue Marsh, and Kaliya Franklin (better known as Bendygirl) How can any one claim to represent all sick and disabled people. We are sure no one, including Simon Stevens makes this claim.   The confusion seems to arise because there are sick and disabled people who can overcome the societal barriers to work, and sick and disabled people who can’t,  and are overwhelmed by the barriers. In the middle are a spectrum of people having good days and bad days, and falling in to both groups for part of the time. What is needed is for us all to work together to get more support for both these groups. It is unhelpful for any campaigner to identify with and campaign for only one of these two groups. Disability just isn’t that simple....