Thursday, October 21, 2010


I want to post about the cuts made in the Comprehensive Spending Review yesterday.

I'm not doing so well at the moment, so for the sake of spoons this is going to be short and based on my own experiences rather than linking to statistics and documentation. That in itself is part of what makes the cuts to disabled people so underhanded - we're not all able to fight back in a planned, structured and comprehensive manner.

Personally, at this point in my life, I probably won't be too badly affected for a couple of years. Oh, there are things that I should have that are now disappeared into the long grass, but my extremely fortunate circumstances mean I am not being thrust into heat-or-eat poverty. I know just how lucky I am and I know many others will not be so lucky.

What happened to me was not unusual. One week, I was a reasonably healthy, reasonably fit, reasonably bright young woman with a reasonably well-paid job, reasonable promotion prospects, living in a small but reasonably pleasant bedsit flat and, all in all, living a reasonable life. The following week, I was being sent home from work with what was assumed to be 'flu. Three months and half a dozen failed attempts to return to work later, I was being prepared to accept that my illness might be rather more long-term, and three months after that, my work contract was ended and I was obliged to claim welfare benefits to survive.

I did survive. It wasn't without difficulty, what savings I had were eroded, and I don't know how long I would have kept it up - let's not pretend we lived like princes under New Labour - but I had practical support, an intact National Insurance record, and the wherewithal to challenge the DWP when they cocked up their own rules, and so here I am. I landed on the welfare safety net, but I bounced, and a few years later with a lot of help from loved ones I was able to start earning again.

However I feel very sorry for anyone who goes through that same not-unusual scenario with ESA (thanks to Labour for that) and the cuts proposed by the Conservative/Liberal alliance yesterday. I would not have survived.

The harshest cut? Removing DLA mobility allowance from disabled people who live in residential homes. This is the money that goes towards the difference between what the NHS will pay for a wheelchair and what a suitable wheelchair actually costs. This is the money that pays for taxis to visit friends and family. This is the money that residents pool together to get an accessible minibus for their home so that they can have trips out. I do not understand the rationale for removing it.

1 comment:

Dark Angel said...

In Holland, where I live, the government is also cutting left right and centre and it's also the people on benifits and in care settings who will be hit hardest. Certainly in my sheltered accommodation there's cronic understaffing becauwe this saves the organisation money.