In case any of you were wondering what is going on in the UK with regard to the removal, sorry ‘reform’, of the disability benefits system…
There are various disability groups attempting to raise the profile of what is happening to the disabled in this country. Focus groups around the UK were asked about how many disabled people they think are fraudulently claiming benefits, and the figure that transpired was 70%. You may remember from my previous post that the actual government figure is merely 0.5%, (less than all other benefits apart from pensions). So the view of the general public is distorted. Okay, so now we know (officially) that this is the case.
So what’s happening now then?
Well, some of the newspapers are beginning to write a bit about some of the more salient points. A bit. Sometimes. It’s an improvement, though.
The ‘ATOS Games’ (mentioned at the end of my previous benefits post) kicked off with a protest outside the ATOS building involving hundreds of people. ATOS are the company running the disability assessments for the government. The company that has the task of removing benefit from a large percentage of the genuinely disabled and declaring them ‘fit for work’.
But ATOS are the ‘middle man’, they are only doing what the government contract asks/tells them to do. I feel that it is more relevant to address the cause, rather than the symptoms. Many others feel the same, and yesterday a peaceful protest occurred outside the DWP (Government Department for Work and Pensions) offices in London. I don’t currently know how many people were there, I can’t find a report of numbers. Even the BBC barely gave it a mention, morphing quickly into a report about the paralympics being great, but how it was terrible that some cash machines did not have voice commands, (Coz that’s soooo much more important than people no longer being able to live, right?) (Yes, I briefly dissolved into sarcasm. Sorry about that. How unprofessional of me).
And that’s why I’m sat here writing this, when I should be winding down and taking care of the pain in my body. But how can I let this pass without commenting on it? Why is this barely being reported at all? Why is the footage of London police pushing, shoving and dragging disabled protesters not priority news? Why did the local news on TV make a point of showing yet another minority bad person who pretended to be disabled but was found out and taken to court? What is going on here? These are not rhetorical questions. Somebody somewhere is making the decision that this is not to be top news. Which makes the current state of affairs even more frightening.
It is truly shocking that the general public are not rising up against the wholesale abuse of some of the most vulnerable people in society. But this lack of clear and comprehensive reporting is keeping wider society from hearing about just how horrific the situation is. So the task of reporting falls instead to those of us who are living it.
I have heard this morning that some of yesterday’s protesters went and asked a BBC reporter why the BBC was not covering this situation in any detail. I have also heard that there may well be a bit of subsequent reporting coming up soon as a result. I hope so. And if there is, credit to the protesters who asked and to the reporter who went away and did something about it. Fingers crossed.
The figures are out there, we know there are less than 1% disability fraudsters, although admittedly the numbers have so far only really been out there for those who can be bothered to look for them. So what is going on?
Seriously Britain, what the flip?
Everyone in this country will know someone with a disability, there are so many disabilities and illnesses that it’s just statistically unlilkely for anyone to not know someone who is disabled in some way. In addition, none of us know when illness or injury may strike. This is relevant to us all.
These protests need to be made. The latest figure I have found for suicides and deaths of those who have been pronounced ‘fit for work’ is over 1,300.
Just in case you missed it….. more than…. one thousand three hundred.
Likelihood of this number of deaths occurring in those who are truly fit for work…? Yeah. Not very.
So, in case no-one actually ever tells you about it. I am telling you about it…. Yesterday peaceful protesters gathered outside the British government offices for the department of work and pensions. Some of them made their way into the building. That was probably a rather bad idea, better to remain truly peaceful, but understandable considering the level of fear and distress these changes are causing. However, bearing in mind that many of the protesters are disabled, even if they don’t ‘look’ it, this video was a bit bit of a shock to see.
Please support British disabled in asking for nothing more than a fair system. We need your help.
Reeaally need your help.
In case you feel you would like the above clip in a broader context, here is a different, longer video recorded by a protester.. http://bambuser.com/v/2946786