The UK government have recently continued their policy of kicking the most vulnerable people in society by cutting the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) by £30 a week, from £103 to £73. If you think this is going to help save the economy then think again.
£30 might not seem a lot, but for people who depend on this allowance as their only means of income to put food on the table it is a lot of money. Especially considering that many people struggled to live on the amount as it was, now it will be even worse.
A survey of 500 disabled people conducted by the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) found that 28% of disabled people couldn’t afford to eat while receiving ESA. 38% struggled to heat their homes and 52% struggled to stay healthy.
Rob Holland, co-chair of the DBC, said: “The cuts to employment and support allowance and universal credit mark a step backwards for disabled people and their families many of whom live in poverty and struggle to make ends meet.”
So things are likely to get a lot worse for disabled people and their families in the near future. You would have thought that the government would want to know exactly what the impacts of their actions are likely to be for disabled people. Well, it seems they don’t give a shit.
The House Of Lords tried to postpone the legislation until after an impact assessment had been carried out. However the House of Commons decided in their infinite wisdom that an assessment was not needed, and decided to force the legislation through anyway, despite it being blocked twice already by the House of Lords and opposed by pretty much everyone who wasn’t a Tory.
We don’t actually need an impact assessment to work out what the effect on disabled people will be. It’s not going to be good.
The government says the cuts will “incentivise disabled people to go out and find work”. It’s more complicated than that you idiots!
Firstly, the reason that only 44% of disabled people are in work is not purely financial as the government seems to assume . It is not because benefits provide more money than having a job will. There are many other barriers that prevent disabled people from finding work.
Many employers still discriminate against disabled people, even though we should be protected under the Equality Act (2010). Don’t believe me? Take a look at this study. To summarise it researchers sent out 6000 fictitious resumes to employers, some mentioning disability and some not. The results showed that the resumes from candidates mentioning disability were 26% less likely to get approached by employers. It’s hard enough for able-bodied people to find jobs without being discriminated against. Imagine what it’s like for the disabled who not only have to compete against the other candidates, but also have to hope that the employer judges them solely on their merits.
Indeed it might not even be possible to get to an interview. The interview venue or the actual workplace may not be physically accessible for disabled people which obviously prevents them getting the job.
So, consciously or not, employers do discriminate against disabled people which makes it harder for us to get a job.
Another barrier is that disabled people obviously have to be physically able to carry out the job in hand. It depends on what type of disability you have, but in my case anything that involves physical labour is out of the question. This excludes a large proportion of the available jobs. Even if I did find a job I could physically do independently, such as using a computer, I need voice recognition software to be able to use it. If an employer is willing to install it on an office computer it would still need to be in a quiet environment, and a place that is wheelchair accessible with a disabled toilet. So you see finding an accessible job is not easy.
Indeed the report “Halving the Gap“, written by some members of the House of Lords including Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson, found that there is no evidence that cutting ESA will push disabled people towards finding work. In fact it will make it HARDER for them to find work as they wouldn’t be able to afford to take part in training, work experience or volunteering. Not that the government took any notice of this report.
But why target disabled people?
Targeting the most vulnerable people in society to save money does not make the slightest bit of sense. Benefit fraud consists of only 0.7% of total benefit expenditure in 2013. 85% of fraud allegations (887,468/1,041,468) made by the public over the last five years have been false. So trying to save money by going after people on benefits is ridiculous.
According to the report “A Fair Society?” by Dr Simon Duffy government cuts target people in poverty five times more than other citizens. The burden on disabled people caused by the cuts amounts to an estimated £4,410 per person. This means that cuts targeted at disabled people are NINE TIMES more than other citizens. How could this even be considered fair?! No wonder the United Nations are investigating the British government about violations of disabled people’s human rights. However their report won’t be published until 2017.
Forget Benefit Fraud
Instead why not focus on tax evasion? Tax evasion costs the government £16 billion every year, which dwarfs benefit fraud which amounts to £1.2 billion.
Here’s a radical idea. Why not go after people who have lots of money like bankers or premiership footballers.You can squeeze more money out of a millionaire then you can out of an unemployed disabled person. Go after companies that try to avoid paying tax like Facebook or Google. Tax people who have mansions, not people who have spare bedrooms.
Am I the only one who thinks this is a more logical way to go? But wait! I’m forgetting something. THE GOVERNMENT IS MADE UP OF MILLIONAIRES! Of course they don’t want to tax the rich. We can’t have them drinking substandard champagne now can we.
What are your views on the government welfare cuts?
Please comment! I would be interested to hear your views.