A fantastic initiative has been taken which hit the internet with force yesterday. The idea of ‘One Month Before Heartbreak’ which can be followed on their blog and on ‘The Broken of Britain’ blog – is to collate voices and raise voices and awareness about the government’s nefarious targeting of disability benefits in the month before the end of the consultation about changes to the DLA.
The campaign has also taken off across Twitter – and posts can be found with the #ombh tag.
The best summaries of the cuts are listed by Community Care here. Too m any for me to focus on one by one here in brief.
I have seen the difference that DLA and Attendance Allowance (a similar – but, crucially, lower – benefit for over 65s – cos as the government know, once you hit 65 and aren’t in the work market, your aspirations should decrease and so should the money you receive but that’s another argument for another day) make.
My concerns are two-fold
– Firstly, that the government have, straight off the bat, explained that they want a decrease in take-up of DLA by 20%. For all their guff about reforming benefit, we know that DLA is not the way to target fraud. There is, in fact, little fraud of DLA claimants and it is not an easy benefit to claim. If anything, the cost of re-assessing everyone by an independent company (ATOS) will obviously have a cost. The aim of this government is to cut costs. It isn’t about making things fairer. It isn’t about reducing fraud. It is an ideological decision by this government to target people who they think won’t have the fight in them and to pander to ‘Daily Mail’ politics of the ‘grumble of the self-righteous taxpayer’.
– Secondly, the Labour Party have stated that they support some of the government cuts on DLA and ESA (Employment and Support Allowance) . So let’s not assume that the wider fight is only with the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in the coalition. This fight must be taken to the Labour Party, who, after all, introduced ATOS into the process of assessment. (CORRECTION – as pointed out in the comments below – I was wrong about Labour introducing the ATOS link – see ians12’s comment)
As for me, I’d like medical and social care professionals to be trusted to make judgements and assessments of people in their care. I have helped and co-signed many many DLA and AA forms over the years. I would never falsify any of my information and no form that I have assisted in the completion of, over the years, has ever been turned down.
I’ve been phoned by the DWP to ‘check’ I was legitimate and to discuss forms that I had counter-signed. Why isn’t that enough? Why does the government then need to employ a further independent private company to ‘check’ and to become rich in the process.
So I wholeheartedly support the ‘One Month Before Heartbreak’ campaign. I became a social worker to fight social injustice and I can’t do that solely in my office. This is a campaign that needs broad and wide support. So go to the sites, read about the personal experiences of people who rely on these supports and answer the government consultation.