Disability: Uncaring and Disinterested


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


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.


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.


May uncaring,  Green self-interested, Crabb disgraced

As the dust begins to settle after the shock referendum result in the UK that says that Britain should leave the European Union, how do those with disabilities stand?

Well, in the medium-term, the country will still be in the EU until two years after clause 50 is triggered and that looks set to not happen until the end of the year. And that means we remain protected by European laws relating to the treatment and employment of disabled people.

In the short-term, however, there may be some difficulties ahead.

PM Theresa May: Uncaring.

PM Theresa May: Uncaring.

Both Theresa May, the new prime minister, and Damien Green, the third work and pensions secretary this year, have records of voting to reduce spending on welfare benefits as well as other so-called reforms aimed at saving government money – irrespective of the likely effect to the disabled and vulnerable

In May’s case, that is despite having her vicar father in a wheelchair when she was about eight years old and her mother living with multiple sclerosis.

Both her parents died within a year of each other when Theresa was in her mid-20s. Any hope that such experiences in her early years might have engendered some compassion seem, however, to be sadly misplaced. She is just another uncaring politician.

Damien Green: Self-interest.

Damien Green: Self-interest.

Green has never rebelled and has always voted the way the government demanded, showing he has a distinct disinterest in serving the people, just his party. And, from that faithful obedience, he has also served his self-interest well, leading to this cabinet appointment.

Stephen Crabb’s high-flying political career seems to have crashed and burned, at least temporarily. This was the guy plucked from his role as parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Welsh Office to take over as Welsh Secretary on July 15, 2014. He was then promoted to work and pensions secretary on March 19 this year, following the dramatic resignation of Iain Duncan Smith.

Then, following David Cameron’s decision on June 24 to stand down, he declared himself as a candidate for leader of the Conservative party but dropped out of the race after finishing fourth of five in the first round of voting.

Stephen Crabb: Disgraced.

Stephen Crabb: Disgraced.

This week, Crabb withdrew from consideration as a government minister after a newspaper exposed him for sexting, or sending sex text messages. In his letter to Mrs May, he said he was standing down “in the best interests of his family”.

He was disgraced and his career was significantly damaged after The Times alleged that he had been sending sexually explicit messages to the WhatsApp messaging service.

According to the newspaper, Crabb, 43, a Christian and a married father of two, had a series of flirtatious and sexually charged exchanges with a young woman during the run-up to the EU referendum. In a late-night exchange last month, he is alleged to have told her that he wanted to kiss her “everywhere”.

In this blog on July 1, I said that Crabb was unfit to head the work and pensions department, let alone the entire government. Now I have to question his suitability for any public office, including that of a back-bench MP.