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Disability: Uncaring and Disinterested

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Not that it is unexpected, but those of us with disabilities (whether MS, like me, or one of a host of others) are definitely getting a raw deal from the government, with no sign of any relief any time soon.

Two days ago, I brought you news that official UK government figures (reluctantly produced in response to a Freedom of Information Act enquiry) show alarming numbers of people with disabilities losing out in the move from Disabled Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payment. The figures show horrendous cuts to those being awarded the higher rate of the mobility component.

Now the Disability New Service has highlighted three more examples of an uncaring government under prime minister Theresa May who is more likely to be focused on the intricacies of Brexit than worrying about disability issues.

Crisis ignored

Chancellor Philip Hammond MP.

Chancellor Philip Hammond MP.

Chancellor of the exchequer Philip Hammond has shocked disabled activists by ignoring the social care funding crisis in his autumn statement, and refusing to scrap a planned cut to employment and support allowance (ESA).

Despite weeks of lobbying from disabled people, politicians – including some Tory MPs – and charities, he announced no new money for adult social care.

Philip Hammond’s 6,000-word speech contained not a single mention of disabled people, disability or social care, and there was no suggestion of any u-turn on the £30-a-week cut for new claimants placed in the ESA work-related activity group (WRAG).

The WRAG cut had also been the subject of fierce lobbying, which had again included some Conservative MPs, and is now set to go ahead in April.

Disability employment gap election promise abandoned

A Labour MP has proved that the government has abandoned a target it set to halve the disability employment gap by 2020.

Justin Tomlinson MP.

Justin Tomlinson MP.

The promise, included in last year’s general election manifesto, said a Conservative government would “aim to halve the disability employment gap” in the next parliament.

A month after the party’s election victory, Justin Tomlinson, then minister for disabled people, confirmed in a press release that the government “aims to halve the gap between the disabled employment rate and the overall employment rate by 2020”.

But in recent months, ministers have suggested that there was no target date for halving the gap, with Penny Mordaunt, the current minister for disabled people, stating on November 4 that it was “a long term project”.

Mordant has now finally admitted that the government has abandoned the target, in a written answer to Labour MP Stephen Timms, himself a former work and pensions minister.

In his latest attempt to persuade the government to admit that it had abandoned a target date, Timms had asked whether it expects “to achieve the commitment to halve the disability employment gap by (a) 2020, (b) 2025 and (c) 2030”.

Mordaunt told him the government was “not setting a deadline for completing this work”.

Employers from discredited scheme transferred to replacement

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Minister for the Disabled Penny Mordaunt MP.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has admitted flooding its under-fire Disability Confident scheme with hundreds of employers from the hugely-discredited disability employment programme it is replacing.

The revelation is yet another blow to the credibility of the newly-relaunched scheme.

Penny Mordaunt, the minister for disabled people, boasted earlier this month that more than 2,400 businesses had already signed up to Disability Confident.

But DWP has now admitted that all but about 100 of those 2,400 organisations have simply been transferred across from Two Ticks – the scheme that Disability Confident is replacing – with many of them not even having to fill in an application form.

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ian profile50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, who is Managing Editor (columns division) of BioNews Services. BioNews is owner of 50 disease/disorder-specific news and information websites – including MS News Today. Ian has enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor, in the print media. During that career he gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. He was diagnosed with MS in 2002 but continued working until mobility problems forced him to retire early in late 2006. He now lives in the south of Spain. Besides MS, Ian is also able to write about both epilepsy and cardiovascular matters from a patient’s perspective and is a keen advocate on mobility and accessibility issues.

 

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