End of Paralympics signals benefit loss for athletes

Some of us saw this coming, weeks in advance. We knew that, once the chance for profile-boosting photo opportunities were over – whether or not they backfired, Mr Osborne – the disability pogrom would be extended to paralympians.

And that’s what is happening, according to today’s Sunday Mirror.

Team GB footballer Keryn Seal is blind and relies on his £70 per week Disability Living Allowance to get to training. He fears for what will happen to himself and hundreds of thousands of other disabled people when DLA is replaced by the more restrictive Personal Independence Payment as part of a plan to cut £2.2 billion from benefit costs.

“I can’t understand why the Government would dream of taking this money away from us. It shows a complete lack of empathy,” he told the Mirror.

Disillusioned, disenchanted and disappointed are all words I would use to describe how I feel about the Government.”

Double-amputee Derek Derenalagi, who came 11th in the discus, said the changes would have a “devastating” effect: “Not every Paralympian is sponsored and we would hugely struggle without it. We do not get paid like footballers and it really helps us.”

And wheelchair dancer Laura Jones, a star of the Paralympics opening ceremony, said she was worried her £50-a-week payment is under threat.

She told the Mirror: “If people miss out on leisure activities and sports, they end up stuck at home and that will obviously be worse for their health.”

Another thing that looks as though it will be worse for people’s health is the Universal Credit, which the government is touting as “the most radical redesign of the benefits system this country has ever seen”, adding that it will ensure that it pays people to work rather than claim benefits.

What did I say yesterday about this lie? Oh yes: Forcing people off of a benefit system that doesn’t pay their costs and into a job that doesn’t pay their costs is no solution at all and any Tory who spouts this nonsense in the media is to be mocked and targeted for unseating at the next election (in my opinion).”

Honestly… Do they think we’re not paying attention?

It seems there are problems with a plan to pay the new credit only once a month, meaning it will make a mess of people’s budgeting plans and they may be unable to make ends meet.

Also, the plan to make it payable to only one member of a household is likely to cause friction and upset the family dynamic – possibly destabilising family groups and leading to splits.

Bear in mind also that this is another continuation of the attack against disabled people, as the new credit will replace, among other things, Employment and Support Allowance. I wonder if Atos will be interviewing all its disabled ‘clients’ yet again, to find out if their missing limbs have grown back yet?

13 thoughts on “End of Paralympics signals benefit loss for athletes

  1. Pamela

    I hope people realise that the introduction of Universal Credit will mean that the contribution based ESA, although not part of UC, will be means tested in line with Jobseekers Allowance and ALL other household income, not just that of the disabled person will count. This means that most people with even the smallest of pensions or a partner in employment, will lose most or all of their entitlement. This includes disabled people in the support group – the very most sick and disabled that this government pledged to continue to support. They couldn’t stop the benefit of this group after 12 months like they could with those in the work related activity group, so they have now resorted to means testin even though this is a benefit for which recipients have worked and paid tax and NI. God help us all if the tories get in again at the next election because without a coalition to hold them back there will be no stopping them. The Welfare State and the NHS will be things of the past. We are failing our sick, disabled and elderly now – how much worse will it be once this inhumane system is introduced.

  2. Mike Sivier

    This is appalling – worse than what I wrote in the article.
    Thank you for bringing this to our attention, Pamela. Does anyone else have information about what future changes mean?

    1. Pamela

      I doubt that very many people will be aware of this Mike, as it’s buried in the small print of the welfare reform act. What’s worse, is that I have tried to bring this to the attention of the major disability organisations and no-one appears to be interested that those severely disabled people who have attempted to support themselves whilst they can, are now being punished by withdrawal of benefit for which they have paid their contributions. If anyone has any ideas as to how this can be put into the public domain I’d be very interested in lending any support I can.

  3. peter smith

    Well they were warned by REAL disabled people . I have no sympathy for them they have brought the actions on themselves. You cannot be a disabled athlete. Hope you enjoyed your ego trip you have sold out Real disabled people.

    1. Pamela

      I really don’t believe I’m reading this !! REAL disabled people ? Were you watching the same paralympics as the rest of us Peter ? If so you couldn’t fail to notice the severe disabilities some of the athletes were suffering from. Do you realise the amount of help they will have needed to take part in their sports, and do you also realise that just because they have worked hard to compete in a given sport, does NOT mean that they can cope in the real world. I can tell you from my own experience that I suffer from spina bifida. I have an amputated leg, no back muscle control, double incontinence as well as a range of deformities to spine, hips, the remaining leg and foot. If I can get the help I need to get into and out of a swimming pool, I can swim like a fish and revel in the feeling of freedom and the relief from pain the water gives me. Does that mean I am not really disabled ? Am I not entitled to that pleasure just because I have a disability ? Consider the swimmer with NO arms – would you describe him as not having a real disability and not needing help out of the water. Look at the paraplegics who took part in sitting volleyball – would you doubt the severity of their disabilities ? The clue here is ‘sitting’ implying that they are unable to stand. Is that not a ‘real’ disability’. These people were not on any more of an ‘ego trip’ than conventional athletes – to suggest that they cannot do things of which they can be proud just because they are disabled is contemptible. Disabled people have fought long and hard for the independence they have now – this government are on a mission to erode that independence and try to force disability out of the mainstream and back into institutions, under the disguise of spending cuts. Disgusting opinions such as yours can only help them in that mission. If you want to be outraged by something, be outraged that vulnerable people – the sick, the elderly and the disabled, are being punished with cuts to funding – along with the rest of us ‘ordinary’ people, because of the actions of rich bankers who, to date, have not been punished for what they have done, and probably never will be. And while you’re at it I suggest you do some voluntary work with the disabled to find out what disability really is and what it means on a day to day basis for those afflicted. Then perhaps you will think twice before blogging drivel on the internet.

  4. peter smith

    The first point i would like to make is i am disabled and cannot even stand up without severe dizziness due to having a brain tumor. I would like to work with disabled people but am not fit for work. I can not run 100 mtrs cannot swim and In general am disabled. I am also fully aware that atos sponsored both the paralympics and the olympics, and as a disabled person dont want anything to do with these murderers full stop I didnt watch any of the olympics or the paralympics this is called a boycott in fact i found the paralympics completly degrading to disabled people. I would also like to say I have the deepest sympathy with your condition The competitors even advertised atos on their landyards.
    I am fully aware of all the points you make later in your reply re bankers etc
    And while you are at it i have been disabled since birth as indeed you have.
    The point i am making is disabled people are NOT athletes i certainly am not and dont pretend to be but am suffering the result of the paralympics compettitors

    1. Joan

      Paul, you say that you didn’t watch the paralympic games. If that is so, you will have missed the fact that many of the competitors hid their ATOS lanyards during the ceremony in support of ALL disabled people in the UK who are being targeted. I’m not disabled myself, although I have friends who are, but I find your attitude very similar to the “divide and rule” of the Tories. Surely you should be sticking together rather than slagging off people who have been lucky enough to be able to enjoy some sort of activities.

    1. pamela

      Don’t really know how to reply to this to be honest. I apologise for any offence I caused with my reply, as you are obviously disabled, but I find your attitude and quite frankly obvious bitterness towards the paralympic athletes very strange. The paralympics is not the problem – the attitude of society towards the disabled is what you should be angry about. The paralympic competitors are not to blame for your suffering or anyone else’s as a result of benefit losses. If disabled people are to be punished with benefit losses every time they step outside of the traditional view of how able bodied people think they should look and behave, then we have turned into a very intolerant society and we need to take a long hard look at ourselves. . I don’t know to whom you are referring when you say you want nothing to do with ‘murderers’, but I’ll take a guess that you mean ATOS. Remember, ATOS are only doing the medical assessments and do not actually make the decisions about who is awarded what benefit – the DWP decision makers do that, based on the medical evidence. The whole system needs looking at properly, as I have also heard of some stories where ATOS have supported the disabled person’s account of their disability in their medical assessment and the DWP have still denied benefit – these are evidenced in documents produced at successful appeals. i’m not supporting ATOS because I do think there is a major problem with the way they work, and I understand only too well your fears for the future – I have them myself, but please don’t put the blame at the door of fellow disabled people who have done their country proud. Some of these athletes were very obviously extremely disabled and needed a lot of help to compete. Because they had this help and overcame their limitations for a short time in order to compete, does not mean that they do not continue to need help in everyday life. Their achievements should inspire, not generate fear or bitterness – and certainly not from fellow disabled people. This government has made a concerted effort through the press and the media to brand the disabled as workshy scroungers and the new PIP benefit to replaced disability living allowance has been deliberately designed to dumb down the effects of even the most severe disability in order to make the savings the government need. It may interest you to know that the fraud levels in DLA are 0.5% and yet the government want to make savings of 20%. This means that 19.5% of those savings will be made by clawing back benefit from genuinely disabled people. If you want to be angry about something, start with that.

      1. peter smith

        The public see the paralympians run a mile and then think everyone who is disabled can do this, so people like myself suffer – what’s there to not understand? Are you aware about Atos’ reputation in the USA under the guise of a firm called Unum? The point I am making is we cannot all be athletes so why should we suffer as a result of your achievement (admirable though it is in a normal world)? The mention of Atos would put me off competing in any event they have sponsored. By the way, the Nazis after WWII also said they were only acting on orders and the DWP DO take Atos’ side 9 times out 10; after all, they have targets to meet. Hope you are keeping well and will be at the TUC march in London on October 20th, sorry no medal for attending.

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