Cuts review - a disaster in waiting

2010-10-22 by

As Rhydian James, a disabled Guardian contributor has pointed out , the cuts will provoke major upheaval amongst disabled people. A group of people very diverse yet united in the experience of discrimination. What should the next steps be?

I think it will be important to rally large disability charity organisations and independent DPOs (Disabled People Organisations) to unite and fight against the cuts because they are illegal and will ghettoise disabled people, in a move reminiscent of Nazi Germany, circa 1939. This is what will effectively happen when the cuts will prevent disabled people from leading an independent life, go to work, go to libraries, participating in society and the economy.

The Equality Act stipulates that public service organisations (such as government) have to consider the repercussions caused by a “provision, criterion or practice” placing people within the protected category (such as disabled people) at substantial disadvantage – directly or indirectly.

This means that even if the cuts are not a deliberate act of direct discrimination against disabled people, indirectly they put them at substantial disadvantage – confining them in their homes, unable to pay for assistance or equipment and live an independent life. If the government wants more disabled people in work, this might be a good idea if disabled people who can work are provided with the means to do so: assistive technology, personal assistants, interpreters, transport, and so forth.

The taxes, which disabled people and their families pay in a lifetime of work, more than pay for this assistance. Current government policies are taking away more than “allowances”: they are taking away disabled people’s rights and livelihoods.

Whilst the government looks up to “Big Society” – expecting volunteers, social entrepreneurs and corporate responsibility to solve society’s problems for them, they are also effectively washing their hands off of their electoral mandate of preserving the interests of those who are most vulnerable.

Being elected in government is not just about sitting on a posh chair and expecting immediate change upon placing a signature on a bunch of papers (see Patrick Butler’s blog ).

It’s about taking responsibility to protect the most vulnerable members of society, understanding fully the consequences of your actions and how political power is there not to serve yourself or your party, but the people.

It’s all very well to say that no responsible parent would wait for their children to pay off their credit card balance (we’ve heard this platitude over and over again in the last two party conferences). But it would be equally irresponsible to make their children starve and isolate them, only to be able to say you’ve reduced the debit by 19%.

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