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Monthly Archives: December 2015

This is getting tedious. Something needs to change and it needs to change fast. Yet again I am reading stories online and in the papers which make no sense to me.

What’s new? I hear you ask. Well, if I’m honest, nothing. Just our wonderful Conservative Government being as illogical as ever. And, what’s the latest? What’s the story that has got me so riled up today? Just something that makes as little sense as many of the other things that have been happening. Just something to make us even more of a world-wide laughing stock that we already are.

Let me explain. It’s something I’ve seen several times before and it’s something that is likely to become more and more common as this non-sensical Government continues to turn the never-ending austerity screw. Disabled people being targeted just because we need some help sometimes in order to live a full and productive life. Yet another item about a working disabled person who is going to lose their job due to benefit cutbacks. Time and time again the Tories have said they want disabled people to go out to work yet, when we try, they pull the rug out from under is.

In the case that has angered me today, a disabled woman, who has worked and paid taxes continuously since the age of 16, is going to lose the mobility car she needs to get to work thanks to changes in how entitlement to mobility benefits are worked out. And, furthermore, as she needs her car to get to and from work and attend client meetings as part of her job it is likely she will lose her job and have to apply for unemployment benefits instead.

Am I the only person who cannot see the logic in this?

Surely having her able to go out work and pay her taxes by allowing her access to the benefits she needs to enable her to be independent makes sense. But no, obviously not. According to the all-powerful DWP taking the car away so she loses her job and has to claim benefits instead whilst not paying tax is a much better idea. Great.

And this is not the only person this has happened to, its happening to working disabled people nationwide.

Please would someone explain the rationale behind this to me because I just can’t see it. The illogicality is mind-blowing.

If we, disabled people, are going to be able to support ourselves and our families and contribute to society, then stop taking away the aids and benefits we need for our independence. We have already lost the Independent Living Fund. Access to Work funding is to be curtailed. Now we are losing our entitlement to our own personal support and transport which enables us to do what you want and get a job. What next? What do you want from us? Blood? Leave us with our dignity and allow us the right to show you what we can do. Apply some common sense and stop cutting everything. Let this nonsense end now, we’ve had enough at always being at the bottom. Invest in us and give us the opportunity to rise up and show you what we can do. We may surprise you.

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If this is true then GOOD! Couldn’t happen to a better respected company NOT!!!!!

Beastrabban\'s Weblog

And now for a bit of good news! Maximus, ATOS’ successor in administering the fitness-to-work tests intended to stop the disabled and chronically sick from claiming benefits, is experiencing some difficulties. According to the Christmas edition of Private Eye, 19th December 2015 -7th January 2016, they’re having problems recruiting medical staff, and have made a loss. The Eye’s report begins as follows

Fitness To Work

Maximus Pain

Maximus, the US outsourcing company, is taking a financial hit on its £565m ($900m) contract to carry out controversial “fitness to work” tests for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

Maximus took over the assessment of sick and disabled people from pisspoor French firm Atos earlier this year, clearly expecting to do rather well from the deal. But results published in the US last month show it is already operating at a $4m loss, with revenue of $105m falling far short…

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Social media certainly lets you see and ‘meet’ all sorts of different people. Well, that is what it’s for after all. Thing is, I’m not exactly sure I’d like to meet all these people in person. Some days I wonder why I bother even looking at the posts. Sure, some of them sound like they would be people I’d like to get to know better but some of them don’t come over as being very nice at all.

Yesterday I read posts from people at at both ends of the spectrum. One of these guys was completely amazing and made me cry with happiness and the other was amazing in a totally different way and made me ashamed to be the same species.

The first guy, Pete, had posted a story about something that had happened to him the evening before. He had been taking his dog out for it’s usually walk in the park when he had come across a young homeless man trying to sleep on a park bench, and, instead of just walking on past as many would have done, Pete sat down and started to talk to this him. It turned out that the man was an Eastern European guy from Poland who had been promised a job, as a casual labourer, which had never happened. The job offer had been withdrawn and the Polish guy had lost his home and been thrown out on the street as a result. He had no money and was desperate. And this is where I started to cry. Pete wrote that it was cold and it was raining and he decided to extend the hand of compassion and friendship. He offered the young man somewhere to stay and a hot meal. He invited the homeless young man to come home with him for the night and then, the following morning, took him to the station and bought him a ticket to the town where his brother lived. Tear jerking stuff which left me with a warm fuzzy feeling – some people are so wonderful.

Then there was the second guy. Let’s call him Alan. Someone else had posted a picture of the refugee camp in Calais with the message that the first Syrian refugees who were to be settled in this country were due to arrive and would be going to Nottingham. Amongst the other comments on this thread, some welcoming the new arrivals and some saying ‘not in my town’, Alan’s stood out. He posted that he hoped that this winter would be cold and wet and snowy so the refugees still in the camps would freeze. He suggested that if it was too cold for them then they could always have snowball fights to keep warm. When he was challenged about his unfeeling attitude, and asked if he was advocating for something that would mean misery for many and the probable deaths of young and old alike, Alan said he thought this would be a good thing because it would mean fewer economic scroungers on our doorsteps. This made me cry too but with no warm fuzziness, just anger and despair that there are people like Alan in the world. People with seemingly no compassion whatsoever.

Both these stories prompted a small flurry of posts. More tales of compassionate acts like Pete’s but, sadly, a few messages of support for Alan, agreeing with his attitude. Thankfully Pete’s post had many more responses than Alan’s but the fact that Alan’s horrible attitude had any supporters at all was so upsetting.

When did we lose our humanity? What has caused this? I am not sure but, as far as I am concerned, this Government’s austerity program, which has  condemned so many to poverty and visits to food banks, and all the reality programmes on TV about benefits cheats and so-called scroungers, have a lot to answer for. We seem to have all become a nation of people who don’t care as long as we’re all right and this is so sad.

A new year is just round the corner, why don’t we all do our best to make things change. Why can’t we try making 2016 a year to remember but a year to remember for the right reasons. Why don’t we all do our best to make things better. We don’t have to spend money to do this, all we have to do is listen, challenge and care. We need to stop thinking about just ourselves and start thinking about other people too. The way things are going at the moment we are all just one step away from trying to sleep on that park bench in the rain. We need many more Petes and far fewer Alans and I know who I want to be. Who is with me?

Sneaky, sneaky Mr Cameron. Thought you could get it through when no-one was looking eh? Tut, tut, shame on you.

“Get what through?” I hear you ask. “What have I missed?”

Well, whilst everyone has been caught up with the ever evolving situation in Syria and the heavily contested vote in the House of Commons this week, the Government has manage to get away, almost unnoticed, with cutting the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA), a fund that was designed to help disabled higher education students with the additional costs they face at University due to their impairments.

Currently, DSA can help disabled students pay for things such as specialist equipment, for example, scanners and voice recognition software, and for non-medical personal support such as British Sign Language interpreters, readers for visually impaired students and note-takers. The Government is now saying that, from September 2016, Universities will have to fund non-medical staff themselves and that funding for specialist equipment and accommodation will also be reduced.

Great. Having told us that the way forward for young people in this country is ‘Education, education, education’, Cameron and Co are obviously now saying that this mantra does not apply to disabled students and that they will not be helped to obtain the same level of education as their non-disabled compatriots. Sure, the Government aren’t saying disabled students will not be helped, just that it’s going to be more difficult for us to continue into higher education if the Universities have to cover the costs of disabled students as well as pay for all the other things they have to pay for.

Of course, I’m not saying that universities cannot do this, it’s just that, as someone who has experienced some of the so-called help a University can sort out for a disabled person when left to their own devices, I have little faith in the ability of many higher education institutions to manage to do this successfully. I only got through my Post-Graduate qualification thanks to the help of my fellow students in ensuring I had the assistance and access I required, not due to the efforts of the University to cater for my disability related needs. When you find can’t even get into your University building for lectures without making sure that your friends will be there to open the door for you, you almost give up before you start. When you are awarded extenuating circumstances for all your first year exams due to the unholy mess the University made in ensuring you were able to access the examination room at all, you start to lose the will to live. When one of your finals. scheduled for two hours, takes nearly five hours because the University could even ensure that you were given the right papers once they had found the keys to the room they had assigned to you, you will understand what I mean.

And then there are the other implications this decision will bring. If DSA is abolished, and responsibility for catering or the needs of disabled students is transferred to the Universities themselves, then those institutions will have to ensure that they have a section in their prospectuses and on their websites which details what help they can provide. Disabled students will need to be able to consider where is the most suitable place to study depending not just on the subject they want to study but on the help they will get based on their own individual needs. Secondary schools and Career Advice Services will have to consider adding details of any schemes run by Universities especially for disabled students on their websites and in staff training too.

Whatever happens, disabled students themselves will have to ensure they keep up pressure on all the institutions so that our needs are not forgotten or dismissed as being too expensive or too difficult to bother with. Disabled people have the same right as everyone else to continue with their studies as far as they want, need and are able to do so.

How many more restrictions must disabled people face to their life chances? Cutting access to the Disabled Students Allowance is a retrograde step and must be resisted. If we want the brightest and best of our young people to lead us in the future, let that be the brightest and best of all young people, not just those who do not experience the restrictions disability can bring. Don’t stifle our ambition from the outset by restricting our access to higher education because of our disabilities, instead, encourage our aspirations based on our abilities. Give us a chance to succeed, you won’t regret it.