Tag Archives: disabilities

The Tories have used Covid to abandon children with disabilities and their parents

Money, money, money: Boris Johnson’s government says it is spending billions to help children with special educational needs and disabilities weather the Covid crisis – but they aren’t seeing it. So where is it going?

It may be hard to accept, but Boris Johnson and his cronies have been weaponising Covid-19, using the crisis as an excuse to take support away from vulnerable children.

Parents of children with special educational needs and disabilities have been particularly hard-hit, as Metro‘s report shows:

An Ofsted report into the impact of the first lockdown published this week found that some children lost basic skills and learning as a result of school closures and restrictions on movement.

Turning to SEND children, it found the pandemic has presented ‘serious and far-reaching’ challenges for families, with some feeling ‘isolated’ from existing services.

One parent who spoke to Metro branded the situation a ‘national disgrace’ and said her three-year-old son had received no physio or occupational therapy for nine months.

Another told of a ‘pressure cooker’ environment and the ‘terror’ parents face with no end in sight, as they struggle without services they had previously relied upon in their day-to-day lives.

The response from the Tories’ Department for Education spokesperson gives great emphasis to the amounts of money that have been allocated to help parents and children in this situation.

It mentions “£37million this year to help thousands of low-income families raising disabled or seriously ill children with the challenge they face staying at home”, a “£1billion Covid catch-up fund”, and “increasing high needs funding for local authorities by £780 million this year and a further £730 million next year”.

But who actually receives the cash and what does it actually pay for?

This year we have seen the Tories waste no less than £12 billion on a Covid-19 test, track and trace system that not only doesn’t work but is actually a contamination risk.

So quoting amounts of money allocated to particular projects means nothing.

It is clear from the stories here that these parents and children are not receiving the support they need.

And I, for one, would like to know what the Tories are really doing with that cash.

Source: Exhausted parents of disabled children feel ‘abandoned’ in lockdown | Metro News

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Starmer’s Tory-supporting crackdown on his own party makes him a danger to people with disabilities

[Image: @Rachael_Swindon on Twitter.]

Apologists for Keir Starmer who reckon he’s easing the way for Tory legislation to make them “own their mistakes” will have a hard time justifying this.

Starmer and his team are working behind the scenes to stop Labour MPs from criticising the Conservatives.

After significant rebellions against one-line Labour whips on the Overseas Operations Bill and the Covert Human Intelligent Sources Bill (the so-called ‘Spycops’ bill that allows government agents to commit crimes including murder, torture and rape), the whips office has broken party protocol to issue written reprimands to the rebels.

The letters stipulate a reprimand period of six months, to be extended to twelve if the recipient continues to break the whip.

They have been shared with Labour’s parliamentary committee – a group of backbench MPs elected by the parliamentary Labour party (PLP), and currently dominated by the right – which will determine whether to inform the MP’s constituency Labour party (CLP), as well as the party’s national executive committee (NEC).

This information could then be considered when an MP seeks reselection ahead of a general election.

“That’s the fear factor,” one MP told Novara Media. “This could impact your reselection [and] it might be over a one-line whip. It’s intimidation plain and simple.”

A number of those who received letters are seeking legal advice from union representatives, the MP added.

But that’s not all.

It seems someone in Starmer’s office has taken it upon themselves to water down criticism of the Tory government’s failure to protect people with disabilities by reducing the disability employment gap and mitigating the effect of the Covid-19 crisis on them, and in its new COVID-19 guidance for people placed in the “clinically extremely vulnerable” group.

Someone in the office of the shadow minister for people with disabilities, Vicky Foxcroft, sent a draft of her comments to John Pring of Disability News Service which differed significantly from the official version of her comments released by the Labour Party.

The changes include the removal of a reference to the “vital” role played by trade unions in protecting disabled people from discrimination, along with any reference to disability discrimination.

Read the DNS article and see for yourself. It states,

Responding to the new pandemic guidance… her official statement said that disabled people were just “anxious” rather than “extremely worried”. Her call for disabled people who might need to shield again needing to be “properly compensated and not left without enough money to survive” had vanished.

This represents a serious policy change from Labour – back to the indifference to anti-disability discrimination that marred the New Labour years and Ed Miliband’s leadership.

People with disabilities can no longer rely on Labour MPs to stand up for them because it seems the party leadership now supports the Tories’ campaign to punish them, just for existing.

Starmer seems determined to let Boris Johnson’s corrupt Tories do whatever they want – harm whoever they want – while threatening to sabotage the careers of anybody in his own ranks who dares to protest.

The big question is: What is to be done about this?

The union Unite has already cut its funding to the Labour Party by 10 per cent, and the decision to remove a supportive reference to trade unions from an official comment could be interpreted as an attack – or even a retaliation. Should that union – and others – cut support for Labour even more?

And what about constituency Labour parties? The threat to MPs – which includes sanctions that could lead to their deselection (to be replaced by right-wingers parachuted in by head office, no doubt – that was Tony Blair’s practice) – is also an indirect attack on the power of members to choose their representatives.

Will they act? Should they?

What do you think?

Source: Keir Starmer Has Launched an Unprecedented Crackdown on Rebel MPs | Novara Media

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Why do we think it’s okay for people with disabilities to be terrorised by Tory benefit assessors?

As seen on Twitter.

“When I looked at the report I had to double check it had my name on it. I have never seen so many lies in my life!”

That‘s just one comment on the assessment process for Personal Independence Payment, the so-called “benefit” the Conservative government claims it provides to people with disabilities.

In fact, it has always been more about denying that claimants have any disabilities at all and removing their cash so that they die slowly in despair – but the Tories can deny responsibility.

A response to the above comment reads: “Fantasy masquerading as fact again in a PIP assessment. How many more such cases are there going to be before the DWP does something about it?”

Many – because a change of government is required before we can expect a change of heard and we can’t expect that any time soon.

Even people who should reasonably expect to be safe from sanction are terrorised by the process.

So. The dreaded PIP renewal has arrived. Why when he’s 20 and nothing has changed, do I get the awful knot in tummy? Knowing we will have to fight hard again,” wrote one carer.

Another wrote: “Got a brown envelope regarding … PIP today. Theres no issue, they’re extending it. Its fine. But the effect that brown envelope has on me is terrifying. Seeing it makes me physically sick, sweaty and my heart race I’m genuinely scared [of] my government.”

These good people have reason to be.

New figures from the Department for Work and Pensions have shown that, between April 2018 and the end of January this year, 1,700 people died within three months of their PIP claim being rejected by the government.

As I mentioned above, the Tories can deny responsibility for these deaths – as minister for disabled people Justin Tomlinson did when providing the figures in response to a question from Labour MP Jessica Morden.

He said: “There is no evidence in this data to suggest someone’s reason for claiming Personal Independence Payments was the cause of their death and it would be misleading to suggest otherwise.”

But it is reasonable to question whether these people would have died if they had not been deprived of the benefits they seem clearly to have needed, in order to live.

And these figures follow on from work carried out by This Writer – me – a few years ago in which I had to force the government of the day to admit 2,400 people had died between dates in 2011 and 2014, within just two weeks of having their claims for sickness benefits rejected.

It is a quiet cull.

The Tories have learned from the mistakes of the Nazis; they don’t send a van around to people’s houses to gas people with disabilities to death. They have realised they don’t have to.

The Tories know that it is much easier for them simply to deprive people with disabilities who claim benefits – the Nazis used to call them “useless eaters” and I’m sure some Tories do the same – of the means to survive.

This Site is filled with countless stories of the victims of this policy.

I could pick holes in Tomlinson’s words; of course it is not anybody’s reason for claiming a benefit that leads to their death after being denied it. The cause is the deprivation of the means to continue living.

But no individual case can prove this because the Tories would say it was anecdotal.

What is needed is a class action legal case in which it may be demonstrated that disabled people died who may not have done so, had they not been deprived of money.

There are plenty of examples now. All that is needed is someone to take it up as a cause. They could probably face a deluge of information if only they advertised for it.

I would do it myself but I seem to be spending too much time in courtrooms as it is. And I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

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Why are people with disabilities being refused access to Covid-19 test centres?

Cartoonist Andrzej Krauze’s view of government sickness and disability assessments, from years ago. Now it seems we can apply it to Covid-19 test centres, which are inaccessible to many people with disabilities.

Remember when This Site was publishing articles showing how people with disabilities were being refused benefits because their assessments were in inaccessible places so if they made it to the test, they were seen not to have disabilities, and if they didn’t, then their application was binned because they couldn’t be bothered to attend?

Well, now it seems the government is using the same wheeze at Covid-19 test centres:

Back in the day, Tony Blair (I think) passed a law called the Disability Discrimination Act, in which it became illegal for buildings that were supposed to be publicly-accessible not to have facilities for people with disabilities.

What happened to that? Is it still on the statute book? If so, why the hell isn’t it being enforced?

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Now the Covid crisis is being used to lever working disabled people out of their jobs

It seems people with disabilities have no safety net when threatened with losing their job because of measures they’re told to take, just to protect themselves from Covid-19.

Was there an underlying prejudice against people with disabilities all along, or did the Tories put it on the national agenda?

Until 2010, This Writer thought the UK was moving in the right direction, discarding discrimination against ethnic minorities and people with physical impediments.

But racism and disablism have skyrocketed since the Tories came back into office and I don’t know whether they have instigated it or merely allowed bigots across the UK to express what they felt all along.

Covid-19 seems to have brought this ugliness into its own.

The latest outrage is the revelation that a quarter of working people with disabilities are likely to lose their job – because of safety measures they have been told to take, to avoid infection.

This rises to 37 per cent of those who said their disability had a large impact on their day-to-day life.

And half of those shielding because of extreme vulnerability to the coronavirus risk redundancy.

It seems employers see people with disabilities as an easy cut to make – especially in an atmosphere where unfair dismissals are more likely to go unremarked.

And people with disabilities going onto benefits face an uphill struggle getting benefits – even if they’re not claiming sickness/disability benefits.

The five-week wait for Universal Credit is bad enough for able-bodied people, remember.

The Tory government isn’t particularly bothered. Anyone can seek an employment tribunal against unfair dismissal.

But how long is that going to take? And what will they do in the meantime?

Source: Parents, carers and disabled people in UK ‘twice as likely to lose job’ | World news | The Guardian

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Sunak’s online sales tax really is just another way to attack people with disabilities

Rishi Sunak: he keeps interfering with the market, despite his party’s claim that it’s better to leave it alone. Is it because Tories love to torture people with disabilities?

Rishi Sunak isn’t making any sense at all.

He says his plan for an online sales tax is intended to push people back onto the High Street, to physically go out and buy products in order to save businesses that are in danger after the lockdown forced us to stay indoors.

We’ve been buying products online while Covid-19 remains a threat.

And we’ll go back to the High Street, but only once we are convinced the danger is over.

So if High Street shops are in danger, it’ll be because we can’t trust Sunak and his fellow Tories on when that’s likely to be.

Not only that, but in considering such a tax, Sunak is saying the UK is hostile to the new commerce that the Internet represents – as net-based firms still pay business rates and all the other taxes associated with sales.

That’s not good for any country’s economy in this day and age.

It simply doesn’t make sense.

But, considering the Conservatives’ well-known passion for cruelty, there is one reason for bringing in an online sales tax that does make sense: they’ve found out it’s another way they can attack people with disabilities.

People whose health conditions mean they can’t get out of the house have to use the Net to get their stuff, and many shops don’t have access for people with disabilities anyway – despite disability access laws having been enacted many years ago.

People with disabilities don’t have much cash to enjoy, either. They’re either on benefits or in low-waged employment.

So the logical reason for imposing an online sales tax is to push disabled people further into poverty – or to deprive them of goods that they should have the same opportunity to enjoy as the rest of us.

Tories have form in this regard; “Eat out to help out” was another attack on people with disabilities, as you can’t benefit from a discount on restaurant meals if you can’t actually leave home.

Underlying it all is yet another big lie:

Tories have supported, on the face of it, neoliberal ideology since Margaret Thatcher became their leader in the mid-1970s – and that means they support a laissez-faire attitude to the market.

This means they believe the market will automatically adjust to prevailing conditions in order to keep going.

So the proper government policy is non-interference.

Yet here they are, interfering.

Source: Rishi Sunak’s planned online sales tax is a tax on disability | Disability | The Guardian

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Tory back to work plan may endanger millions of people with disabilities

Bearing in mind that two-thirds of all the people who died of Covid-19 had disabilities, I reckon they know what they’re talking about when they say Boris Johnson’s latest plan puts them in danger.

But then, killing people with disabilities was the plan, wasn’t it?

So shielding – where people with serious illnesses or disabilities are given extra help to stay isolated from the rest of the population – is going to end on August 1, meaning many more of these people may be exposed to the virus.

And with their illnesses, exposure may be fatal.

Scope’s James Taylor explains it in the BBC news piece:

“Millions of disabled people at greater risk of coronavirus feel their fears are not being taken into account.

“Disabled people must be able to have flexibility about returning to their workplace.”

He criticised the government’s advice that decisions about going back to workplaces should be made my employers, saying it will “create inconsistency”.

He added that it also “does little to reassure those disabled people who fear being forced to choose between protecting their health and paying the bills”.

A Scope survey of 1,115 people with a disability or other health condition found half of those that responded feel anxious about shielding being paused.

Of those surveyed, 67 per cent think the government’s plans for easing lockdown did not take their needs into consideration, while 59 per cent said they are concerned about feeling forgotten by the government.

Moreover, 41 per cent think life will be worse for disabled people after the pandemic.

That’s if they survive the pandemic, of course!

It seems – despite a few mealy-mouthed words of comfort, the Tory government is still trying to eliminate the so-called “useless eaters”.

Source: Back to work advice ‘alarm bells’ for disabled people – BBC News

Coffey shows ‘active contempt’ for rights over Disability Confident snub – Disability News Service

She’ll never support it: Therese Coffey’s record suggests she is not sympathetic to disabled benefit claimants – so why would she take on disabled workers?

Work and pensions secretary Dr Therese Coffey has shown “active contempt for disability rights” by refusing to sign up to her own flagship disability employment scheme, information released by the government has confirmed.

Here’s Disability News Service:

A freedom of information (FoI) response from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has confirmed that Coffey is refusing to join Disability Confident.

DNS asked the department in the FoI request whether Coffey and 11 other current and former ministers were members of the scheme.

In its FoI response on Friday (3 July), DWP said it did not need to provide the information because it was easily available online.

It pointed to its own website, and a list of Disability Confident members, which had been updated the same day.

That list showed that all four of the MPs who serve as ministers alongside Coffey – Justin Tomlinson, Mims Davies, Will Quince and Guy Opperman – have signed up, although Quince had only done so since DNS first raised concerns in March about current and former ministers turning their back on the scheme.

But Coffey, who has been work and pensions secretary since last September and has been an MP since 2010, is not on the list, even though – like all MPs – she employs staff to assist with her parliamentary duties.

A DWP spokesperson this week refused to comment when asked why Dr Coffey had not signed up to Disability Confident, and whether it showed that she did not value the scheme, and that she did not view the employment of disabled people as important.

I think this silence speaks volumes. Don’t you?

Source: Coffey shows ‘active contempt’ for rights over Disability Confident snub – Disability News Service

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The Tories have used the Coronavirus crisis to attack disabled women

Actor Rory Kinnear’s disabled sister Karina died of Covid-19 recently: writing about it, he tried not to criticise the government too harshly. Would many other women with disabilities agree with that choice?

How miserable, how underhanded can a country’s government be in attacking its most vulnerable citizens?

This Writer would suggest that the UK’s Conservative government is writing the book on how to betray the people who need state help the most.

Women have been disproportionately attacked by Tory cuts since they first slithered back into office in 2010, along with people who have disabilities. It doesn’t take genius to work out that women with disabilities are doubly endangered by a Conservative government.

But now we have the evidence, courtesy of gender equality charities the Fawcett Society and Women’s Budget Group. It shows that:

  • Six in 10 disabled women are struggling to buy necessities from the shop during lockdown. A third have run out of money altogether.
  • A fifth of disabled women said they had lost support from the government during lockdown, while almost half reported having lost help from other people.
  • Six in 10 disabled women are fearful of not being able to access medicine.
  • 38 per cent of disabled women who have children said they were finding it difficult to ensure their children have food to eat during the coronavirus emergency.
  • Disabled women were found to be suffering from social isolation and loneliness more than others — with a quarter saying they had not ventured out of the house once in the last week, in comparison to 17 per cent of all those polled.

But it seems worse is to come with the easing of lockdown, including problems with face coverings – who should wear them, the impossibility of lip-reading – to wider isolation, more cuts and restricted access to services.

And you know what the government spokesperson will do, if challenged? They’ll shrug.

Source: Disabled women in ‘very bleak’ situation as almost a third running out of money in lockdown, study finds | The Independent

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Learning-disabled deaths linked to coronavirus are huge – but nobody’s talking about it

The proportion of people with learning disabilities who have died with coronavirus is higher than that of people in care homes.

But nobody seems to want to mention that.

Is it because we’ve been told for the last 10 years that they are scroungers and skivers?

Between the March 16 and May 10, 1,029 people with a learning disability died in England, with 45 per cent, 467, linked to coronavirus.

Overall the number of deaths during the eight weeks is 550 more than would be expected when compared to the same period last year.

The charity Mencap warned people with a learning disability were “being forgotten in this crisis” and called for action to tackle what it said could be “potentially discriminatory practice.”

It highlighted the percentage of Covid-19 related deaths among learning disabled people was higher than those in care homes, where the proportion of Covid-19 deaths was 31 per cent for the same period.

The data has been published after an outcry over the lack of transparency about the impact of Covid-19 on mental health patients and people with a learning disability or autism.

A spokesperson for NHS England said the number of deaths was “broadly in line with the rest of the population”. This is clearly not true.

The simple fact is that double the normal number of people with a learning disability are dying – but they continue to be forgotten and, according to Mencap chief Edel Harris, they are “forgotten in this crisis”.

Forgotten? Maybe.

Or maybe that was the intention.

The fact is that the Conservative government – which has a history of discrimination against people with any kind of disability – tried to hide the figures.

People don’t do that if they have a clear conscience. They do it if they feel guilty.

Let’s remember to demand an independent inquiry into these deaths, with a focus on whether there was a deliberate move to focus resources – and attention – away from helping people with learning disabilities.

Source: Coronavirus: Hundreds of learning disability deaths in just eight weeks, new data shows | The Independent

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