The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) announced a ‘major’ policy shift on Sunday 29 July. But in reality, all it’s doing is giving back a benefit it took away from countless disabled people four years ago. One campaigner has called the DWP announcement “the very definition of fake news”.
The DWP: a good day to bury fake news?
The DWP and the Department for Transport (DfT) have announced changes to the Blue Badge parking scheme. It was originally launched in 1970 to allow disabled people to park without charge. But previously in England [pdf], people generally only got a blue badge if they have difficulty walking more than 50m, or if they have other issues with physically getting around.
Now, after a consultation, the DWP has said that the Blue Badge scheme will be “extended to people with ‘hidden’ disabilities” like autism and mental health conditions. Branding it the “biggest overhaul to the system in 40 years”, the scheme will now be available to people who can’t do a journey without:
- “There being a risk of serious harm to their health or safety or that of any other person (such as young children with autism)”.
- “It causing them very considerable psychological distress”.
- Having “considerable difficulty when walking (both the physical act and experience of walking)”.
But in reality, all the DWP and DfT are doing is giving Blue Badges back to people who they snatched them away from.
Giving with one hand…
As BuzzFeed documented, historically under Disability Living Allowance (DLA) autistic people and those living with neurological or mental health conditions, automatically got a Blue Badge if they received the highest rate of DLA. But after the DWP began rolling out the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) in 2013, this changed.
It introduced new rules in 2014 that meant [pdf, p17] anyone receiving PIP would only get a Blue Badge if they received eight points or more on the “moving around” part of the PIP assessment. This immediately excluded many people who did not have physical impairments; including autistic people.
So, in reality, all this DWP policy shift does is give back Blue Badges to people it previously took them away from.
…taking away with the other
The Canary asked the DWP for comment, but it had not responded at the time of publication. But the minister for disabled people, health and work, Sarah Newton said:
It’s absolutely right that disabled people are able to go about their daily life without worrying about how they will get from one place to another.
We’re taking an important step forward in ensuring people with hidden disabilities get the support they need to live independently.
Sunday’s press release from the DWP is the very definition of fake news.
The treatment of disabled people by the government over the last eight years has been shameful and cruel. The removal of blue badges… was divisive and utterly ignorant of what it means to be disabled.
Now we’re expected to be grateful that they… are returning blue badges to people who never deserved this callous cut… in the first place. We aren’t fooled by this duplicity. We demand our human rights be complied with. And we always will; even when they take the next step and remove those too.
The DWP’s cynicism cannot be overstated. It thinks it can roll out a policy on a Sunday morning, and people will simply lap it up. The department’s hypocrisy and callousness know no bounds.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?