Disabled people in Sheffield say they are not ‘coasting’ on benefits and have slammed their demonisation, in response to recent comments made by the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt. Hunt’s comments relate to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) ‘Back To Work Plan’, announced in the Autumn statement.
DWP changes forced through by Hunt
As BBC News reported, Hunt cemented weeks of rumours over changes at the DWP. Some of his new measures include:
- Work Capability Assessment (WCA) to be tightened, under the guise of ‘reflecting home working’. Hundreds of thousands of people could lose their benefits.
- Claimants in England and Wales deemed able to work who refuse to seek employment to lose access to their benefits and extras like free prescriptions.
Hunt preceded the budget by saying on 16 November that:
Anyone choosing to coast on the hard work of taxpayers will lose their benefits.
So, one group of disabled people has hit back.
‘We’re not ‘coasting’ on benefits, Hunt’
David Hayes of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) Sheffield said:
When Hunt spoke of people ‘coasting’ on taxpayers’ money, people may have thought he was referring to corporations who dodge billions of pounds every year, bosses and shareholders of the numerous companies that governments are so fond of bailing out with public money to the tune of many billions and to whom they also give taxpayers’ money for crony contracts, people like Sunak’s wife, or MPs and ministers like himself who receive a very generous salary from the public purse each year along with heavily subsidised travel and meals, or The Royal Family who receive over £86m a year from the public, enough to support thousands of families.
However, Hunt was dredging up his ideological obsession with punishing disabled people by forcing people who are unfit to work into work, something that not even the Victorian workhouse system tried to do. So we have the obscene sight of people who have everything taking everything off people who already have very little in order to fund tax cuts for the wealthiest.
This is part of the government and DWP’s well-worn tactic of creating scapegoats to cover up and distract from the complete misery and mess they have created for most people in the country.
We don’t believe most people are willing to keep falling for it. Like most people, disabled people face a cost of living disaster created by the government, trying to exist on incomes which are not keeping up with true inflation, whilst the companies for which governments really work are increasing their already obscene profits and shareholder payouts, living the high life and coasting off everyone else’s efforts whilst people from all walks of life are becoming destitute because of daily living costs.
DWP: an ‘expression of hatred’ of disabled people
We’ve seen Cameron retread and reintroduced to the cabinet by Sunak, yet his Conservative/LibDem coalition introduced the needless, ideological policy of austerity on behalf of the bailed out financial institutions that caused the global economic crash in 2008.
That ideology has caused hundreds of thousands of deaths through cuts to social security, the NHS, social care and other essential services, and it is still killing people.
The ‘Back to Work Plan’ will lead to more people like myself dying and our conditions deteriorating through forcing disabled people into job search activity, looking for jobs that we cannot do and cannot cope with due to our medical conditions, whilst DWP boss Mel Stride whose salary exceeds £150k before expenses has threatened us with losing our NHS prescriptions if we don’t comply.
The current disability payments regime has already caused many people to take their own lives and put thousands of disabled people into poverty. We know the sanctions system runs as a parallel penal system for claimants, treating us worse than prisoners, causing misery and impoverishment for people, a system that actually ends up costing the government money.
None of this makes any sense other than as an expression of hatred from government for disabled people. The biology of disabled people’s bodies and medical conditions does not care about the ideologically warped views of government ministers; if we are unfit for work then we are unfit for work, and we are not going to be miraculously cured by a government white paper.
We urge all disabled people, their families and supporters to resist the government’s plans to vilify disabled people as part of their ever regressive shift to the far-right.
Featured image via UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor