How encouraging to see one of the more high-profile left-wing politics sites taking a stronger interest in the well-being of disabled people!
The feature makes good points about the way Conservative-led governments since 2010 have deliberately discriminated against people with disabilities:
Cuts to benefits (excluding pensions) and local government made up 50% of the 2010 austerity plan. With disability and carers benefits making up about 40% of non-pension benefits, and social care making up 60% of local government expenditure, austerity measures were effectively targeted at disabled people and attacked our living standards. Year-on-year cuts and misery have continued unabated for nearly a decade now.
By 2013 disabled people were already being hit by the cuts nine times harder than non-disabled people. For people with the highest support needs, this figure rose to nineteen times harder than non-disabled people. The Tory mantra that they were directing resources at protecting “the most vulnerable” was a lie: those with the greatest needs were suffering the greatest losses.
In 2016, an unprecedented investigation by the United Nations found the UK government guilty of grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s rights due to welfare reform and austerity. They weren’t suggesting that disabled people in the UK have it harder than those in other parts of the world – what concerned them was the extensive evidence of serious retrogression deliberately enacted through government policy and legislation.
According to Theresa May, austerity ended in 2018, but welfare changes and cuts to social care were never reversed. Benefit deaths are now part of our social security system. The shambolic roll-out of universal credit has been driven onwards in spite of mounting evidence of the harm it is causing. A new phenomenon has emerged of disabled people becoming re-institutionalised within their own homes as already meagre support packages continue to diminish year on year.
And then Covid-19 arrived…
Responses to the outbreak reflect the lack of worth that is commonly placed on disabled people’s lives. Even worse, is the suspicion among many disabled people that the government’s pandemic plan has been influenced by an ideological agenda to remove us from society.
Disabled people in care homes and living in the community were completely ignored within the government’s initial response to the pandemic. Both the British Medical Association (BMA) and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) published guidance setting out eligibility criteria for intensive care treatment based on the absence of underlying health conditions or impairments. NICE’s guidance was only revised following the threat of legal action from disabled campaigners. We nevertheless continue to hear of advance DNACPR (‘do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation’) forms sent out by GP surgeries asking disabled patients or those with the power to make decisions on their behalf to complete them.
Campaigners suspect that Boris Johnson’s original strategy of seeking to create “herd immunity” and the government’s failure to do more to protect disabled people was part of a deliberate plan to remove from society those whose lives are deemed to represent a cost burden on the state.
The decision to end lockdown before it is safe to do so will result in more avoidable deaths.
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