Is it time to eat the rich yet?

I have a theory that the only people this will be read by are other disabled people, because we have been so isolated. If you’re an abled person and reading this, can you identify yourself in the comments? Doesn’t have to have your name, or anything, just a +1 or something. I just suspect that I’m preaching to the choir. All other comments are also, of course, welcome. First posts may take a minute to get through moderation though, since I don’t know how to change that setting.

 

Content: Eugenics, financial coercion, tories, politics, homelessness, medical coercion, swearing, food insecurity… The whole lot.

 

I have tried so fucking hard to keep the politics off this blog lately. Partly because I know that other people can say it better than I can and partly because it is so fucking depressing that even writing about it on my own terms makes me think life is not worth living.

Today is the budget. George Osborne declaring how he will make this country fit for “the Next Generation” and from what he’s doing it’s pretty obvious that our Next Generation will not include the disabled.

At first I’d thought it was all an accident, that it just so happened that all the cuts and all sanctions and the worst of the punishment disproportionately affected disabled people. It was very easy for me to imagine that, in the minds of the Tories, disabled people were just acceptable collateral damage in their war against the poor. But with the power of hindsight it’s obvious that the plan all along was eugenic.

 

We start off with the changes to disability living allowance. Suddenly for a disabled person to get an amount of money they could live on the have to be found not just “not fit for work” but they have to promise not to try to find work, or even to try self-employment above a ridiculously low threshold. Meaning that once a disabled person has been declared “not fit for work” it becomes very difficult for them to even try to return to the workforce – would you risk taking self-employment which could ruin your health if you knew that in taking that risk you would have the money taken away which you had been trying to live on, and that if your business failed it would be months or years before that money was restored to you if it was restored at all?

In addition to this, there is a savings cap of £6000. This sounds like a lot of money, but it won’t get you a deposit on a house, it won’t buy you a vehicle (especially not a wheelchair accessible vehicle or a vehicle with adapted controls), it won’t even buy many of the more expensive mobility aids such as tilting beds or maximally-supported powered wheelchairs.

So, in one fell swoop, disabled people are locked out of the workforce and their mobility outside the home is reduced.

At the same time, there have been massive cuts to social care budgets.Never mind the loss of the Independent Living Fund, there are now no councils in England (at least) which provide their own social care provision – the instead rely on private agencies. This in turn means that provision of carers, personal assistants, and other human-based help to disabled people has become more expensive and less available.

That, again, has reduced the mobility of disabled people outside the home. Many of us would describe ourselves not as “living” but as “subsisting”, “surviving”, or even “being kept in storage”.

The sum total of this to begin with has been to reduce the visibility of disabled people in the abled world. Less people now will have a disabled co-worker, less people will know a disabled person down the pub, and less people would describe themselves as having disabled friends. As such, to most abled people, the thought of the systematic persecution of disabled people does not bring to mind the face – a friend – who will be hurt, or even killed, by these policies. It’s tragic, but it’s tragic in the same way that the destruction of the rainforest or a melting ice flow or the extinction of a rare rhinoceros is. It’s a sad, but ultimately natural, result of an unavoidable natural process. Darwin himself tells us that the strong survive and the weak perish.

Also involved in the changes to disability funding has been a particularly cruel piece of legislation which stops disabled people from forming families. Much like housing benefit (landlord greed subsidy) does not allow the poor under-35 to live in anything more than a room in a shared house, if a disabled person lives with someone who is waged (Above a certain, low, point) they become ineligible for ESA. Effectively this means that if an out-of-work disabled person enters into a relationship with either an abled person or a disabled person who is able to work, their partner must financially support them in every way. Food, rent, bills. PIP is, after all, only supposed to cover the “extra costs of disability”.

Unless you are extremely well paid it is basically impossible to support a second adult on one person’s wage whilst maintaining any quality of life.

Thus many disabled adults are forced to either live in shared accommodation or live with their parents, even when it is detrimental to their health.

(Another cruel side-effect of this policy, since the DWP require a long “cooling off” period after a relationship has ended before awarding a disabled person the full allowance which would be granted to them as a single person. This can trap disabled people who live with their partners into staying in sub-optimal or actively abusive relationships long after they would otherwise have ended.)

 

So, disabled people are now;

  1. Living alone, or living with their parents
  2. Not socialising with abled people
  3. Unable to save money to have any kind of personal safety net, thus more totally reliant on the state

 

And then the media campaign began in earnest. 2010’s “when you leave the house at 8 AM, it’s natural to resent the man whose curtains are still closed” looks frankly tame and benign compared to more recent rhetoric.

Disabled people are “scroungers”. Disabled people are “a drain on the state”. Disabled people are “expecting something for nothing”.

Disabled people are getting “special treatment” and “your taxes are paying for it”.

Look at the comments under any article about NHS care or state support of disabled people, and you will see plenty of people who believe that disabled people shouldn’t have nice things, or shouldn’t own property, and should basically be granted the absolute minimum required to survive (something like the diet of porridge whilst living in a three deep shelving system) and that to ask for anything more is greedy.

It’s no coincidence that disability hate crimes are on the rise, and that most disabled people I know live in fear. The tabloid press colludes with the government to paint disabled people as suspicious, dishonest, and not-like-us, not “full members of society”. I’ve been spat on, kicked, had people attempt to take my dog away from me, been denied taxis and buses, been pushed to the back of queues, all the while the familiar litany drones from the crowd; “Cripple”, “Scrounger”, “Faker”, “Freak”, “Kill yourself”, “Spending my money”, “How dare you”, and the worst of them all “I’ll dob you in”.

 

The implications of “I’ll dob you in” are startling. For the blissfully unaware; the Department of Work and Pensions has a hotline which you can call to report disability benefit fraud. The only evidence required is to know a disabled person’s name, and to have seen them doing something suitably un-cripple like. This could be as simple as standing up, opening the door, smiling, going to a nightclub, riding a motorcycle, basically anything other than lying in bed. It doesn’t matter if the person has a fluctuating condition and exhausted themselves for a week in order to get a chance to sit by the canal for an afternoon. If you saw them enjoying the sunshine, and that annoyed you, you can tell the Department of Work and Pensions and their benefits will be immediately stopped pending a reconsideration.

As you can imagine this results in a lot of vexatious calls. Got a grievance with a disabled person? Instead of having an argument you could just get the government to starve them for six months. Much easier. And, best of all, calls to this hotline are anonymous meaning that you can keep making vexatious claims as often as you like with no chance of retribution.

 

Effectively, the government have enshrined the right for the people to armchair-diagnose the disabled, and hold this armchair diagnosis in higher regard than the collective opinions of the disabled person and their own doctors, and even higher than the opinions of their own assessment team.

To add to the count, disabled people are now;

  1. Living alone, or living with their parents
  2. Not socialising with abled people
  3. Unable to save money to have any kind of personal safety net, thus more totally reliant on the state
  4. Living in fear of casual hate crimes, encouraged by the press
  5. Living in fear of “not looking crippled enough” in case a stranger decides to report them

 

And then the cuts began.

First, the privatisation of removal of many NHS services which are largely used by disabled people. Ever tried to get a physio appointment with a long-term condition? How about looked at the length of surgical waiting lists? Never mind guidance on reducing the prescription of needed painkillers and other medications because they are “too expensive”.

 

People believe that. It’s easy to believe that disabled people are just “too expensive” to support – We have all these strange demands, and we make planning things more complicated, and, honestly, who knows any really disabled people anyway? And obviously the ones on painkillers are junkies, and the ones who use a wheelchair part-time are fakers, and anyone who uses a blue badge or a priority seat is taking a lend, so why should we support these horrible, unproductive, useless eaters anyway?

Now, it’s the cuts to ESA (Why should a cripple get more money than any other jobseeker?) and then finally, today, the planned cuts to PIP (Wherein any disabled person who uses an appliance instead of human help will no longer qualify).

 

The result is that many disabled people, possibly even most disabled people, will have no money at all unless they can find and keep work. Which, with some disabilities, will just be impossible – It’s hard to find an employer who will let you take infinite sick days for pain, or to sleep in the afternoons, or work variable shifts, when often you might have only minimal education due to a lack of university provisions for disabled students, and the prohibitive cost of university for most people anyway.

 

The real-world result of this is that disabled people will die. We are already dying. The government is reluctant to release figures about deaths after benefit sanctions, deaths after being found for work, and deaths whilst waiting for benefits to be awarded. That’s even before we look at figures for homelessness, housing vulnerability, morbidity associated with poor diet, poor mental health outcomes due to lack of physical security or social inclusion, and all the other likely outcomes of taking a population who are already very sick and discriminated against and taking away their money and their rights.

 

Recent conversations between myself and other disabled people have tended to all point towards a similar conclusion; that the next step will be something like a workhouse. Now that we are entitled to less monetary compensation, and without the support that has helped us to find work in the past, it might seem like an obvious solution to the problem. House the disabled people in a big Institute somewhere, give them simple work sewing underpants, and in return for that work they will get regulation clothing, and medications, and room in a bunkhouse. They won’t need money; everything they could possibly need will be provided. Asking for choice in what to eat, or the opportunity to socialise, or raise a family, or keep pets, or live where they want, or pursue a hobby or education or a career of their own choosing, will be parsed as greed. And the general populace will say “isn’t that nice? The government have made it so easy to care for those poor people. I remember before the workhouses, they all lived in poverty and alone and afraid.” And, of course, the government will make a tidy profit selling our labour to the kind of multinational corporations that they are so keen to protect and attract to our shores.

 

Considering everything else, this doesn’t feel far-fetched any more. The UN is investigating the UK for grieviously violating the human rights of disabled people. This isn’t just a few frightened people who think the sky is falling.

One of these outcomes could have been an unfortunate accident. Two or three of them, perhaps a thoughtless snowballing of circumstances, which would obviously be rectified as soon as it was noticed. But all of them? This is a campaign. This is eugenics. This is a naked attempt to isolate, scapegoat, weaken and eventually (judging by history) murder an entire sector of the population, whilst blaming them for the sins of the rich.

 

If I don’t survive this government, know at least that I saw it coming.

 

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117 thoughts on “Is it time to eat the rich yet?

    • +1 able bodied
      Until this year I attempted not to ‘be political’, though I do use my vote. This year the need to speak out has been overwhelming.
      Great blog, sorry it’s necessary, sorry trend seems to be unstoppable. GE2020? I should live so long … ☹

      • Here’s hoping – And rumour has that they’re going to call for the GE early, so maybe it’ll even be 2019. We can live that long, I hope.

  1. +1. I’ve yet to meet anybody who thinks this is a good idea. Making life harder for vulnerable people just doesn’t feel very British, and I really hope we stand up as a nation and tell the government it’s not good enough. George Osborne found the money to cut capital gains tax and corporation tax, so why can’t we afford to look after disabled people?

    • He found the money by creating more Child poverty by cutting benefits to the Disadvantaged! Then he hitvthe Disabled yet again. Next thing it will be the Pensioners! ( Forgot he already has)

  2. Miriam I must say you have put down very “eloquently” how many Disabled people feel, I know this Government will outlive me now. Apart from my disabilities Irefused to go to hospital two days ago and am taking antibiotics at home(After my pharmacist checked that I am able to take them ,I have multiple allergies to antibiotics) One thing very important I know you Miriam and I know you are too well educated and do not normally lower yourself to use expletives as you have done in your OP, this must have really hit home with all the cuts and the disregard that has been shown to all the Disabled in this Country, I personally do not see myself surviving much more of the Tory or for that matter the Media rhetoric against not only the Disabled but the Disadvantaged people of this once Great country! Britain was the forerunner to help the Disadvantaged and then eventually even the Disabled ,it was made an offence to “Discriminate” against the Disabled but this Government has done it since day one! Even the Lib Dems helped in the last Government! Labour can Not hide from the fact that no matter how good intentioned they brought out the Atos tests first perhaps they did not intend for it to go as far as it has ?but it has! It is about time Labour as a whole stood up and supported their leader and then speak with one voice and fight against the injustice that we feel everyday ! Waking each day with the fear of the brown envelope saying you have yet again another ESA or PIP interrogation! I no longer have an official carer as I can not get the funding my Council tax has risen (at least the portion I have to pay has !even though my disability benefit can not be counted In the assessment it is ) I like you am at my wit’s end I now just want to give up there is No so called Disability group fighting for Disabled as a whole they fight for little things not Major things ! Why don’t they all get together Network and “Speak as one”? A larger force does not necessarily win, but it can certainly be better heard!

    • Thank you – And I am sorry to hear of your situation; I know I’m a long way away, and not financially any use, but I can phone people and trawl the internet to help you find resources if you need or want to get help.

      I must admit, I flinch at how much Labour have distanced themselves from the WCA, since they first instituted it, but I can only hope that two regime changes in the middle will have made them back away from it, and see that all it’s doing is making peope suffer needlessly.

      The closest thing we have to an umbrella organisation right now is DPAC, who do good work, but they’re not huge and they’re largely reliant on the interests and directions of their members. They’ve got some public voice, so they’re proably the best thing to crystalise around.

      Many thanks for your comments – I can only hope that things won’t end up as bad as we’re all predicting.

      • Thankyou Percy, I think I am one of the Lucky ones as my friends and neighbours are helping me with day to day things, I really appreciate that you took the time to read my post, I have only just got it together to log back into WP as have not been with it just lately! any ways IDS gone Steven Crabb in ??? ooer thats from the frying pan into the fire! IDs will be back that bloke is like Haemorrhoids ! they never ever really go !
        they always come back with a vengeance!

      • Oh definitely – Thought we were rid of him when he stepped down from party leadership, but lo, he crops back up. Almost exactly like a haemorroid, really – Just when you think you’ve seen the back of tem, they’re back, they ruin your entire day, and then stick around for far too long. Ergh.

        Scrabb looks terrible – Like exactly the kind of Tory-boy that will cause us even more problems. And they’ve refused to debate the ESA cuts, again. So not only “Out of the frying pan, into the fire” but a full on “Out of the frying pan, into the fire, then hit with the poker a few times to make sure we stay down”. Argh.

        Glad you’ve got people helping out – It’s never easy having to ask for help, but it’s a thousand times easier if there’s someone providing it.

  3. Able bodied. What can we do? I am serious I am out of the country atm but as soon as I get back I know I need to help somehow, that the fight needs contributions from everyone to help the vulnerable in our society. But I have no idea how.

    • Thank you – At the moment, I think the best help possible is to spread awareness; You’re able bodied, thus you’ll hopefully have the ear of other abled people – When you hear one starting to claim that the disabled are lazy and living in luxury, correct them. And remind people that this isn’t the natural order of things, so to speak; We had, and were on the way towards, a society where it was expected that the vulnerable would be provided for and allowed to participate fully. We can get back on that track, we just need to get these far-right horrors out of office.

  4. Apologies Percy this came to my inbox from a friend Miriam and was so spot on ,On how I feel and many of my disabled friends, I automatically thought that the sender was the Author, You wrote this so well I genuinely believed that (apart from the expletives) that Miriam Binder wrote it! Please keep up the good work of letting everyone know what the Disabled go through and what we are now expected to endure. By the way your use of expletives are well placed and actually Do help make the point! Due to my Disability I am now a recluse to the extent I am agoraphobic that is due to the way people behave towards myself since my disability! Thank you for your post I now know others feel like I do

    • Many thanks, and high praise indeed 🙂

      I am so sorry that the people outside have driven you indoors – Here’s hoping that time will move on, and the pulic will forget (or better yet, apologise for!) having been whipped into a frenzy against the most vulnerable by a government of amoral sadists.

  5. +1, I am reasonably able bodied these days, 6 years ago I was so obese that I could only walk about 40 yards without becoming distressed and in pain. After a near death asthma attack which resulted in a 10 day stay in hospital, I was given help to get an electric wheelchair to use at work. I applied for and was awarded DLA at the highest leave on the mobility element and somewhere on the care element (sorry it was 7 years ago and the details are sketchy). I suppose I got lucky that this happened while them last labour government were in power. I’ll be honest I felt a bit bad about getting DLA because I was working and I was well paid. But I had to be in receipt of DLA in order to get a blue badge for my car, I could afford to pay for parking, but I needed a disabled parking space to get to wherever I was going on foot (the wheelchair was only useable at work – i didn’t have a car that would take it). I saved money from my DLA to but a mobility scooter that could be dismantled by my wife and put into the back of my car. Then the change came along! I was made redundant! Suddenly the DLA became essential, with my redundancy money I bought a car that I could get the wheelchair into. I decided that I could not continue this way and I managed to lose 6 stone in a year. I got to a point where I didn’t need the wheelchair any more. It took me a year, but I managed to get a low paid job just before my DLA needed to be reapplied for. Sorry that this is very long – but I am convinced that if this situation had arisen in 2015 rather than 2009 then none of this help would have come my way and I am as sure as I can be that I would be dead by now. Either by natural causes brought about by weighing 30 stone or by suicide! You might at this point be wondering how on earth i got to 30 stone in weight, well I have Bipolar Disorder type 2 – I am what would be called high-functioning if I had autism – but a combination of my mental illness and the medication that I take for it, gives me a massive appetite and food comforts me when I am in mental anguish, which I am a lot of the time. I am pretty sure that this government find my death quite acceptable collateral damage.

    • Thank you for sharing – And I know far too many people who’ve got a similar story, of “X crisis occurred under the last government, and it was a disaster, ut I got back on my feet. Under this government, I think I’d just have died.”

      Very glad that you’re at a point now where you’re safe and hopefully where the worst that this government can do is annoy you.

      Keep on keeping on 🙂

  6. +1

    I technically qualify for PIP but once I realised the horrors I’d have to go through to get it (and probably get told that obviously I didn’t why on earth would I think that!), and the fact that we can manage ok without it, I decided against trying to claim it. I do have a friend who qualifies for higher rates on lots of it and claims it because she does it need it so I very much see the human side of it.

    • This is the cruelty of the current regime – So many people who do qualify for help are put off from claiming it, by the not-inconsiderable hurdles thrown up by the application process, and the persistent feeling that in asking in the first place is somehow either taking a lend or actively criminal.

      If you ever want to apply for it, and need help, drop me a line and I’m willing to proofread and give pointers. On the sensible, organisational front http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk are a really sound group that produce a lot of papers and guides to claiming which I know have helped a lot of people.

    • Thank you – I kept hoping I was wrong and just being paranoid, but everyone seems to be agreeing with me. On the other hand – At least we can all see it and thus, hopefully, fight it.

  7. +1

    Able bodied here, I do have a mother that is partially disabled, although she doesn’t require any aids or particular support beyond medications. Moreover, we’re a comfortably well off Tory voting (except me) family who haven’t been adversely affected by cuts or austerity measures. I’m well aware how fortunate I am to be so well supported financially.

    To my great shame I don’t have any disabled friends, and indeed I hadn’t thought to consider how awful the situation must be for disabled people. I’m angrier than ever about the government. Since the election last year, they’ve shown themselves to be not merely misguided, but downright nasty. It’s become clearer and clearer that austerity is failing the nation and kicking the most vulnerable groups and that these cuts are guided by a twisted ideology, not by necessity.

    All the best and don’t give up!

  8. +1 I guess ex disabled, or currently not but could well be again in future describes my situation. I seriously worry about if I get ill again. The two factors written in my notes as contributing to me getting sectioned last time can be summed up as a poor housing situation and attempting to work whilst too ill for an unsupportive employer. With the cuts to benefits, both those situations are far more likely both for me and many others.

    • Here’s hoping that you stay as well as possible for as long as possible – Or that we’ve changed goverments by then at least. Good luck, and if there’s anything I can do from all the way across the internet, just ask.

  9. Haven’t visited your blog for a few weeks, Percy, but I willingly add another +1 from an abled.

    Keep up the politics!

    My experiences from the last few years I was still in work were that the default setting of officialdom in dealing with applications for DLA or Statements of Special Educational Need (the related things I had most experience with) was to turn down first applications to deter folk from appealing or re-applying, no matter how good their initial case was.

    And then having to counter all the “oh it doesn’t really exist!” bullshit directed at autism or ADHD or depression, let alone the dismissal of most MH issues because they aren’t as visible a a broken leg…

    • Many thanks 🙂 And I’m almost happy that someone from The Inside has a similar experience with officialdom as I have; Confirming that, yes, they really are that petty and willing to torture people.

  10. +1
    Good to see other +1’s too!
    Able bodied, but dealing with mild mental health issues, and have many friends with differing abilities and mental health levels. Also equality advocate, bi, trans, and Scout leader 🙂

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