Since 2012 nearly 200,000 signatures have been collected by 3 e-petitions that challenge the Government to demonstrate a duty of care towards sick and disabled people by assessing the cumulative impact on this group of the swathes of cuts inflicted on them by Government policies on Health, Social Care and Welfare.
Until Friday morning the Government had claimed it was impossible to disaggregate the cumulative effect of their policy changes on disabled people but Friday’s response confirmed that it is possible to produce such an analysis but that the Government have chosen not to do one, presumably because “voters” would be sickened if they understood that austerity had been deliberately targeted at sick and disabled people. Dr Simon Duffy’s research for the Centre for Welfare Reform found that some disabled people have been subjected to cuts 19 times larger than the average. The Government’s own figures show the number of households with a disabled family member living in “absolute poverty” increased by 10% between 2013 & 14.
Actress & Comedienne Francesca Martinez said on behalf of the WOWcampaign, 'The government have once again shown how little they care about investigating the impact their cuts are having on disabled people and carers, and how willing they are to continue to push ahead with their heartless 'reforms'.
Debbie Abrahams MP, Shadow Minister for Disabled People: “I am appalled at the Government’s refusal to carry out a cumulative impact assessment into the effects of their policy decisions on disabled people.” and went on to dismantle the Government argument saying “It is simply incorrect for the Minister to state that only one model can be used to analyse the effects of a policy and I understand the Equality and Human Rights Commission have been in correspondence with the DWP on this issue. Disabled people deserve to know the impact of the Government’s policies on their lives and I will continue to press Ministers to produce a full cumulative impact assessment.”
Concerning the impact Government reforms are having on both families and carers, Carerwatch and Pat’s Petition commented Government’s Policies were having a “negative impact on family carers. Welfare Reform, NHS reform, loss of Legal Aid, cuts to local authority budgets, closure of the Independent Living Fund are placing unbearable pressure on families.
Specific mention is made in the Government’s response to the Health and Social Care Reforms. Professor Peter Beresford, co-Chair of Shaping our Lives and Professor in Social Policy at Brunel University commented: “Social care provision is in a parlous state and this is being made worse by ongoing cuts and welfare benefits restrictions. No wonder the UN is investigating the situation of disabled people in the UK.”
David Cameron believes his personal enables him to act in the best interests of disabled people but it is “on his watch” that the UN has launched its first ever enquiry into grave and systemic abuses of the Human Rights of disabled people. Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party said that the response to the WOWpetition “does not acknowledge the widely documented disparate effects of the
greatly harshened benefits sanctions regime” and “The Government must surely be concerned that the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has launched an enquiry into the impact of welfare reforms.”
Whilst Government claims its “reforms are focused on supporting people to find and keep work where appropriate” they ignore people for whom work is not possible and rather than address prejudice in the workplace, their “Disability Confident” scheme appears to simply ask employers to be nice to disabled people. Sadly this leaves many disabled people capable of great things in the workplace either excluded or filling junior positions. Ellen Clifford of Stop Changes to Access to Work said “Over the past few years Deaf and Disabled people have experienced difficulties with Access to Work and cuts to their support that has seriously undermined our ability to stay in employment, with numbers of people pushed out of careers and jobs they loved.” The underlying hypocrisy in the Governments position in talking about the need to encourage “behavior change” is highlighted by the comments of Tory Welfare Minister, Lord Freud, architect of this attack on disabled people, when he said in 2014 that disabled people were “not worth” the minimum wage. How does that encourage employers to close the disability employment gap?
The WOWcampaign believes that now that this Government has admitted it is possible to assess the fairness of the austerity cuts targeted at disabled people the debate should now move onto whether it is right to make disabled people pay for the greed of the bankers. How we can make society fairer and more inclusive for all by giving all the equality of opportunity that the Government has committed to provide? Please sign our e-petition www.wowpetition.co.uk .