February 5th, 2013
A personal statement by Brian Barefield.
1. About me:
I am a 63-year-old male and I live alone in a one-bedroom flat which I have occupied since 2001.
I have two recognised forms of disability: the first is “cyclical depression”, a form of bipolar depression. I have lived with this condition since I was a teenager and apart from a three-month stay in a residential community in 1987 I have not missed work because of it.
The second and most disabling condition led to my enforced retirement from work in 2004. “Degenerative Disc Disease” is a condition similar to osteoporosis. It is gradually destroying discs in the lumbar region of my spine causing the spine to “crumble”. Arthritis occupies the spaces left by destroyed discs and puts pressure on various nerves and, to some extent, on the spinal-cord. In addition to affecting my mobility this second condition means I live with continuous chronic back pain and Sciatica, and, because the degenerative nature of the condition means I wake with a different “disability” each morning, I experience occasional bouts of encopresis and/or enuresis.
Because of my inability to adjust to the requirements of formal education – caused by what I now realise were early symptoms of my developing mental illness – I left school in 1965 when I was 15 years old and embarked on a journey which led to me achieving my true academic potential when I was 40 years old.
In a nutshell, during my teens and early twenties I made Read the rest of this entry »
February 4th, 2013
Received from We are Spartacus
Disabled and sick people are being hit by a huge range of cuts and changes to benefits – be they general or disability-specific, means-tested or universal – as well as tightening eligibility criteria and increased charges for social care support. Whilst the poorest are undoubtedly suffering the most, almost every disabled or sick person in the UK, and their family, is affected by the cuts and changes.
The Coalition Government is moving all the goalposts; secure support we’ve come to rely on, that we were told would be there as long as we need it, has been thrown into doubt. And not content with these cuts and policy changes, the Government stands by whilst the media portrays us as malingerers and scroungers, misinforming the British public and ensuring support for its abandonment of disabled and sick people.
If the Labour Party truly believes disabled and sick people should be supported to live independent lives, it needs to nail its colours to the mast and shout it from the rooftops. We don’t have anyone else to fight for us against this Government’s policies; please don’t let us down.
February 4th, 2013
Received from Berkshire DPAC
These are just some of the things that have impacted on disabled people – at a time of mass unemployment and recession.
The debate in the House earlier this month highlighted the appalling impact of the Work Capability Assessment ALONE on disabled people. People with the most serious and complex impairments can no longer apply for help from the Independent Living Fund, as this has been closed to new applicants. It will be closed completely in 2015, throwing its users on the mercies of local authorities who will apparently not have ring fenced money in their rapidly decreasing budgets to support this. As from April this year the government starts to remove Disability Living Allowance from anybody who is able to mobilise (I use this word advisedly since it includes people who can wheel their own wheelchairs) more than 20 m. They have reduced this distance from 100 m in one fell swoop and failed to put this figure in their consultation paper.
Despite the increasing numbers of administrative errors and technical problems within the DWP, which have caused deaths in some instances – one was quoted in the debate last week – and massive distress in many, many others, the government is also withdrawing legal aid for appeals by benefit claimants as of the 1st of April.
Then there’s the bedroom tax, penalising families of sick and disabled people who need extra bedrooms to cater for things like storage space for equipment, or where it is impossible for anybody else to sleep in the same room as the claimant. Meanwhile social care is denied to the vast majority of people of any age who need it, because local authorities are not receiving enough money to meet the real need.
And now they’re introducing new and frankly insane guidance to the WCA, as if it wasn’t bad enough already. Assessors will no longer be able to consider issues like the depression that often accompanies chronic pain for example, or the physical impact of medication for mental health problems. Why? Because the new guidance insists that people must only be assessed on either physical impairments or mental impairments. Furthermore assessors, who we know rarely have the qualifications or expertise to do so, will be allowed to IMAGINE that a bit of equipment or a type of therapy might help you – and deny you your benefits until you’ve tried them out. Please bear in mind this could take months, in the case of therapies and could cause actual harm in the case of equipment.
All of these lead to stress, anxiety, physical and mental ill health, especially because of cuts to benefits and available cash. They also leads to isolation, depression and in some cases suicide. Some people are told they are fit for work by ATOS but when they go the Job Centre, they tell them they can’t satisfy the requirements for Job Seekers Allowance and therefore will get nothing.
As we have seen, the Work Programme is utterly failing disabled people (Panorama 28/1/2013).
Which other group in society has been hit by as many cuts as these? How can the Government possibly justify its refusal to do a cumulative Impact Assessment? It is no surprise that the references to Nazi Germany’s treatment of disabled people are becoming more frequent.