The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is probably the most scandalous of all government bodies. But in a response to the most damning analysis of its conduct ever, it’s now scraped the bottom of a very empty barrel. Because, according to the DWP, there are no “grave” or “systematic” violations of disabled people’s rights in the UK. Nor does it believe they are facing a “human catastrophe“.
Its lies are almost as shocking as its arrogance.
The DWP: a report to end all reports
I’ve covered the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’ (UNCRPD) report. In fact, I’ve covered it, then covered it some more. But, in short, it accused the DWP and successive governments of violating disabled people’s human rights via welfare reforms, cuts, and general negligence. So much so, the chair of the committee accused the government of creating a “human catastrophe” for disabled people and then trying to cover it up.
A year on from the UNCRPD’s final conclusions, and after repeated denials of wrongdoing by some of the most odious Tory ministers in recent history, the DWP has now ‘fessed up’. After a fashion. Well, actually – not at all.
The DWP and its weaselly ministers, namely Sarah Newton, have again put their fingers in their ears and screamed ‘LA! LA! LA! WHAT DISABLED PEOPLE DYING???’
Newton’s fairy tale
The eight-page, DWP ‘note-to-self: we’re alright, Jack’ is an insult to the 13 million disabled people in this country; not least because of its tawdry length. But moreover, it’s essentially a blanket denial of any wrongdoing; like a death row serial killer telling the priest at the gallows: ‘I thought it was OK to murder people! Isn’t that my job?’.
In this “progress” report, Newton covers six areas:
- Participation in society.
- International development.
Now, I could take you on a magical, meandering mystery tour of the fairy tale world Newton has bastardised. It’s a Disney-like affair: disabled people merrily bop in their wheelchairs down yellow brick roads; a chorus of birds tweets the melody to Whistle While You Work as a group of autistic people perform a tap dance routine; talking mice help people living with mental distress to build a house made entirely of gingerbread, and a Down’s Syndrome princess marries her learning-disabled Prince Charming.
But the reality of life for disabled people, compared to the utter bollocks Newton has written in her report, is as far removed from Disney as you can imagine.
The DWP are making people kill themselves
If you browse the Twitter timeline of user ‘I was a JSA claimant’, you regularly see the stories of people dying on the DWP’s watch, or taking their own lives after it cuts their benefits.
Yes, I know: the reasons behind someone’s ‘suicide’ are complex, etc, etc, etc.
But spare me the PC, third sector hand-wringing. Someone has to say it in print: people are killing themselves because of what the DWP has done to them. Even John McDonnell has said as much.
Disabled people are starving, homeless, penniless, terminally ill, dying and killing themselves. After three years of one political party’s rule, you could put it down to policy errors; five years could just about be excused by rhetoric like ‘we’re still learning lessons’. But after eight years of misery, poverty death and effective democide – only one conclusion can be drawn.
The Conservative government and the DWP are allowing sick and disabled people to die.
What’s often asked of suspects in murder and manslaughter trials is ‘why did you do it’?
As I wrote about Universal Credit, the cruelty within it, and the misery it causes is intentional. The government want an underclass of people. It’s dystopian in its severity. But here’s the worst part: the people that govern us don’t even care.
I don’t believe the government sets out to kill off sick and disabled people. I believe it views their deaths, due to (ultimately) the onward march of corrupt, corporate capitalism, much like Tony Blair’s government viewed half a million dead Iraqis: collateral damage.
It’s that thought which is probably the worst part of all this. That sick and disabled people are worthless lives to the DWP and the government. But I’m afraid I believe it’s true.
Enough is enough
So, what can be done?
In reality, the UN’s repeated criticisms, while welcome, are pretty toothless. It can’t force the government to act. Meanwhile, Labour is still only giving murmurs of hope for disabled people, when it should be roaring for them.
So I believe it’s up to you and me now.
I know you’re exhausted by constantly fighting; I am, too. And I know some of you have made yourselves ill during all this. I know that it seems like this battle will never end; I feel like that, too. But hang on in there – and keep the pressure up.
Scream about what the DWP is doing on social media. Talk to your family, friends and neighbours. Challenge the department at every opportunity. Try to persuade DWP workers to see the error of their ways. And maybe, just maybe, we can ‘be the change we want to see’. We’ve got a fight on our hands. But people’s lives are literally at stake.
– Check out the #DWPcrimes, #ScrapUniversalCredit and #CrimesOfDWP hashtags on Twitter. Support the blogs Universal Credit Sufferer and The Poor Side of Life. Get involved with Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), fighting for disabled people’s rights.