Friday, 7 September 2012

Millionaires picking on cripples

That's the Government bullying the sick and disabled. Whilst the nation is singing the praises of the Paralympians, what is the Government doing? Firstly David Cameron announced that he was going to set up a special Olympic and Paralympic honours list just to commemorate their achievements, and the flip side of what the Government are doing?

Yep that's right - threatening to withdraw £71 a week from sick and disabled benefit claimants! This is from a weekly total of £99.15.

People who claim Employment Support Allowance are judged to be too ill or disabled to work.

These people are split into two groups: Firstly the support group, who are deemed to be a long way off from rejoining the workplace. The second group are named the Wrag group. This is an acronym for Work Related Activity Group. This latter group are assessed to be capable of taking steps towards moving into work straight away. Therefore they must undertake a range of activities to help them get back into work

According to the Department of Work and Pensions these activities are to include:

  • Attending and taking part in work-focused interviews.
  • Carrying out work-related activities that the claimant's adviser asks the claimant to do.

This is to include unpaid and unlimited work experience according to what the DWP told the Guardian newspaper. In order to legally permit officials to make the sick and disabled in the Wrag group do work experience as a condition of their benefit claim the Government had to pass an additional clause to their Welfare Reform Act of 2012.

There are people concerned about the implications such new conditions will have for those affected. Gillian Guy the chief executive of the Citizens Advice Bureau, said there were already lots of cases that had cropped up where benefit sanctions had been applied "inappropriately, often causing great hardship". Ms Guy went on: " People have their benefits cut with little or no warning or explanation or understanding of what they failed to do."

Paul Farmer, who is the chief executive of Mind, the mental health charity warned: "It is important to remember that people in the work-related activity group have been assessed as unfit for work - they are not at full health and are still very vulnerable, they face significant barriers to return to employment and need support rather than the threat of sanction."

On top of this, the Government are "reforming " payment of Disability Living Allowance. What they are doing is replacing DLA with the more restrictive personal independence payment (PIP) from next year. DLA helps with the cost of transport, equipment, care and other specialist needs. DLA is currently paid to 3.2 million people. Under PIP, the Government estimates that up to 500 000 people will lose entitlement to the benefit in the coming years as the eligibility criteria are tightened and people's claims are reassessed.

Here are just a selection of remarks from some of the British paralympian team:

  • Aaron Phipps, Wheelchair Rugby:: "DLA pays for those essential things I would need. It is just completely essential, I would be completely lost without it."
  • David Clarke, Blind five-a-side football: "It seems as though disabled people's independence is being jeopardised by the Government's proposals, but it is so wide of the mark..."
  • Natasha Baker, Dressage: "DLA enables disabled people another allows us to be independent. I love my independence."
  • Kylie Grimes, Wheelchair Rugby: "DLA is really important.I have been injured now five and a half years. For me it is hugely important. I would have been lost without it, to be honest."
Our Prime Minister this morning announced that he was setting up a separate honours list for Olympians and Paralympians. He has spoken of a legacy from both the Olympics and the Paralympics. Yet he and his Government seem hell bent on depriving some of the very people he is speaking of, of monies that they need to live independent lives.

Some legacy Mr Cameron.