We recently hosted a Hidden Heroes event at the new Brent Civic Centre which was well attended and received by all. It championed disabled people in the Borough. A video clip of the event is below.
This letters to the Prime Minister page on the Carers UK website says it all really – LINK
I came across this Department for Work and Pensions guidance manual with good practice on how local authorities should manage Discretionary Housing Payments.… as you do.
I was intrigued by the example case study given in the document on page 26 (FULL DOCUMENT LINK). It says “Mrs Thom is in a wheelchair”, at which point I thought, that must be pretty tough being all tangled up and stuck inside a wheelchair.
Of course that’s not what the DWP meant, but disabled people and disabled people’s organisations have for long looked to discourage terms like living in a wheelchair. People are human beings first and Mrs Thom is someone who uses a wheelchair, so being described as a wheelchair user is far more appropriate than someone in a wheelchair.
The point I’m trying to make is that using the right language is important. It frames what your thoughts are about the people you are talking about. You can end up losing people.
The recent example I have is when we had a deputation from a local business owner on the reduced parking charges that Brent Labour introduced last month. The owner argued for a free parking period for up to 45 minutes and “handicapped” people would struggle with cashless parking. At which point he had lost me and I thought to myself that this person obviously has no regard for disabled people if he’s going around at public meetings describing them as “handicapped” – a phrase that disability organisations have long looked to stop the use of and is considered offensive to disabled people.
Similarly, people are no longer described as being ‘in wheelchairs’ or ‘confined to wheelchairs’ and ‘wheelchair user’ is more appropriate.
It’s sad that this example was found in a Government Department for Work and Pensions document and they should really know better.
Towards the latter end of 2012, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson launched an inquiry looking into the introduction of Universal Credit as part of the Government’s wider welfare reforms. The graph below shows the devastating impact that their reforms will have on families with disabled children.
The graph above relates to the Universal Credit proposals, which will cut the level of support in half of the disability element of child tax credit. At present, families with a disabled child in receipt of some level of Disability Living Allowance may be entitled to this support. The report highlights that under the Government’s own estimates, this change will affect around 100,000 disabled children.
You can read the full inquiry document here – LINK
At the same time, this Tory Liberal Government is cutting taxes for the wealthy. We are clearly not all in this together.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has sparked celebrations filled with jubilation and also tearful emotion among disabled people, their carers and charities that help disabled people.
The Australian Labour Government has championed this progressive move in care provision for disabled people. Two federal states have caved in to the Prime Minister’s demands to provide additional funding for the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
In stark contrast, our Tory Liberal Government has stalled care reforms and is using “scrounger” rhetoric to justify cutting benefits to disabled people.
The national disability charity Scope have recently reported that almost half of disabled people feel that attitudes towards them have worsened in the last year.
“For Scope it’s impossible to ignore that the results comes as Government continues to focus the welfare debate on a few benefit scroungers in a bid to make the case for radical reform.”
Front page of today’s Daily Telegraph. Pictured in the corner is Vincent Kompany, captain of Manchester City Football Club, celebrating after his club won the Premier League championship last night. At the same time, the Tory supporting Telegraph report on the Tory Liberal Government’s attack on the most vulnerable in society with 500,000 set to lose out on disability benefits.
Fraud for the Disability Living Allowance is estimated to be in the region of 0.5%. However, the Government will cut funding for the Personal Independence Payment (which is the new disability benefit replacing the Disabiliy Living Allowance) by 20%. This simply means that disabled people will have less support.
FullFact.org highlights the lack of media understanding on disability benefits for the most vulnerable in our society.
I’ve submitted a policy proposal to the Housing department at Brent Council to investigate, in terms of feasibility, a change in the way that the Council administrates the Disabled Facilities Grant for people who have their own home, but cannot move back into it due to accessibility issues.
See the proposal here – Brent DFG – Cllr Hirani
A Disabled Facilities Grant is a local council grant. It helps towards the cost of adapting your home to enable you to continue to live there. A grant is paid when the council considers that changes are necessary to meet your needs, and that the work is reasonable and practical.
The Disabled Facilities Grant makes a world of difference to people in Brent. An elderly resident on Marley Walk was full of praise for Brent Council after she received a grant last year to install electronic controls to open and close her windows. She lives on her own and her arthritis and limited finger dexterity meant that she was experiencing great difficulty in reaching for and opening and closing her windows. Her new electronic controls through the Disabled Facilities Grant means that these troubles are no more!
This online newsletter produced by the disability charity Mind shows some shocking facts that the Tory Liberals should take note of about people who claim disability benefits.