Showing posts with label Disabled. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Disabled. Show all posts

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Disability Benefits

Although I have a vested interest in the Government's Welfare reforms (Mrs TBF is disabled), for various reasons I've been rather reluctant to comment on them here.

In the main though I agree with many of the sentiments expressed here by Oliver Lewis at the Spectator. Like him, I cautiously welcome them albeit with some concerns. The welfare system does desperately need reforming and Iain Duncan Smith appears to be trying to make a decent fist of it with due consideration to the disabled community:
In fact, despite Polly Toynbee's claims, as far as I can see, the government has been cautious and sensible about making sure these reforms do right by the disabled community. Starting from 2013, it expects the process of examining every claimant to take up to three years. It has engaged with disabled groups, amended proposals and recently agreed to halve the time that seriously ill or disabled people will have to wait to receive PIP – to three months instead of six – a massive improvement, especially for cancer patients. The Welfare Reform Minister, Lord Freud, has also proposed an amendment allowing disabled people living in care homes to keep payments worth up to £51 per week. 
Undoubtedly, due to the nature of bureaucracy, some will be wronged - thus making the headlines, it's inevitable. But a Government has a duty not only to look after the weakest in society but a duty also to spend taxpayer's money wisely.

Such contradictions and subtleties though escape the likes of Polly Toynbee, which the Spectator, in its article links to. To her life is black and white instead of the shades of grey that it really is. It's one of the reasons I've tried to leave this subject well alone - it's an emotive subject which will reduced down to a narrative of 'nasty cuts' and 'evil Tories' and 'right wingers' against instead those nice cuddly Labour left wingers. Despite all their faults, I doubt very much any MP, regardless of party or political persuasion, is callous enough to want to deliberately send disabled children into abject poverty.

One wonders, reading Polly's rather ironically hate filled article whether it even crossed her mind that Cameron knows exactly what it's like to look after someone who's disabled.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Blue Badge Rebellion

As Richard North superbly illustrates, one of the Achilles' heels in how our country is governed is the way our local councils are funded - remove their revenue stream and effectively we put them over a barrel :
That people are reaching the limits of tolerance is illustrated by events in Wiltshire where a downturn in car park income has triggered the classic (and economically illiterate) response from the local council. It has put up charges to make up its income shortfall, the effect of which – according to local traders – has driven business away.

Such is the level of protest here that the council leader has not ruled out a U-turn at a full council meeting on 8 November, again illustrating how, when expressed at a local level, people power can have an effect.
Like all councils, the ones in the county where I live - Oxfordshire - are having to find significant savings. Funnily enough it comes as no surprise that any savings won't come from salary reductions or other costs (my emphasis):
We are an equal opportunities employer and we offer generous holidays, training and development opportunities, a final salary pension scheme and a wide range of family friendly policies and working patterns.
I lost my final salary pension scheme (like may others in the private sector) over 5 years ago. Nevermind, despite the desperate economic situation the public sector tries to continue as normal. Instead any savings will come from services:

LIBRARY users have expressed scepticism that the service in many Oxfordshire communities can be saved from closure by using volunteers.

They claim the plans revealed by the county council last week could mean Oxfordshire will be robbed of a modern library service.

As usual it's the vulnerable that are picked on first. This is made explicit by numerous councils attempting, among other measures, to introduce parking charges on disabled drivers:
A SUPPORT worker has called on Cherwell District Council to reverse its controversial decision to charge disabled blue badge holders to park.
My local council, in Oxfordshire, has put forward similar proposals this week.

This is a rather mean-spirited policy, which has been adopted by numerous other councils. However in the race to increase the revenue stream whilst trying to maintain the expenditure this is where the economically illiteracy comes in. The council won't make any more money from this and here's an example why.

Mrs TBF is partially disabled and as such is a frequent wheelchair user - she is unable to walk more than a few yards. As a consequence she is a blue badge holder which means she is entitled to, obviously, use disabled parking spaces. However also under the blue badge scheme this condition applies (my emphasis):
Badge holders may park on single or double yellow lines for up to three hours but in general not where there are restrictions on loading or unloading – indicated by yellow kerb dashes and/or signs on plates. (You may wish to check whether a particular local authority has chosen to exempt Blue Badge holders from this restriction.)
So fine, charge disabled drivers for parking spaces, they'll just legitimately park on yellow lines - free of charge - instead and much more besides.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Disabled Sign

Able-bodied people who park in disabled spaces is one of my pet hates, so I rather like this sign from Going Fast Getting Nowhere:

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Philip Davies And The Disabled

I'm going to do something that I don't often do on this blog and that is to agree with a Tory MP (mostly). Conservative MP Philip Davies has caused uproar among charities, the press and the usual suspects over his reported comments that the disabled are second class citizens and that they should be paid lower than the minimum wage and be exploited.

Aside from the fact that most of the 'outrage' is deeply patronising - Mrs Boiling Frog who's wheelchair bound has a voice (a very loud one at times) and doesn't need others to be offended on her behalf - reading through Hansard reveals that Mr Davies never actually said any of things reported. In a debate about the downsides of the minimum wage, Mr Davies said this:
I went to visit a charity called Mind in Bradford a few years ago. One of the great scandals that the Labour party would like to sweep under the carpet is that in this country only about 16%—I stand to be corrected on the figure—of people with learning difficulties and learning disabilities have a job. The others are unemployed, but why is that? I spoke to people at Mind who were using the service offered by that charity, and they were completely up front with me about things. They described what would happen when someone with mental health problems went for a job and other people without these problems had also applied. They asked me, “Who would you take on?” They accepted that it was inevitable that the employer would take on the person who had no mental health problems, as all would have to be paid the same rate
So Mr Davies visits a charity in his constituency and then stands up in Parliament to put forward concerns of some of his constituents who happen to be disabled. Isn't that what he's supposed to do? He then argues:
The point is that if an employer is considering two candidates, one who has disabilities and one who does not, and if they have to pay them both the same rate, which is the employer more likely to take on? Whether that is right or wrong and whether my hon. Friend would or would not do that, that is to me the real world in which we operate. The people who are penalised are those with disabilities who are desperate to make a contribution to society and who want to get on the employment ladder, but find time and again that the door is closed in their face. If they could prove themselves earlier and reassure the employer who took them on that they would not cause a problem in the way the employer might fear—I am sure that there are a lot of myths out there and that many of these people would be just as productive as those without a disability—they might well move up the pay rates much more quickly. At the moment, they are not getting any opportunities at all.
And he's right. Whether it is unfair or not, it is impossible to deny that employment discrimination exists and the minimum wage laws make this discrimination even worse. And, as Davies argues, the problem is not exclusive to the disabled but other groups of people, such as young people, who are disproportionately excluded from employment by minimum wage laws.

Ironically those who dismiss the arguments against the minimum wage laws are doing the greatest disservice to the those who suffer the most. It's quite clear that Davies, by his comments, is trying to help get the most vulnerable back to work by trying to remove the barrier that condemns them to rely on the state for a lot less,

However, despite the compelling case for some flexibility in the minimum wage, to help give opportunities for some sections of society to get work, the toxic combination of 'Tory, disabled and minimum wage' has lead to emotional criticism, including by both sides of the house. Funnily enough, MPs don't have the same problem when it comes to breaking minimum wage laws and exploiting young workers for themselves.

Ludicrously Mr Davies has been warned that he can no longer represent his constituents in Parliament:
The MP was warned that he would be questioned over the remarks by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
If such people are disgusted and outraged by Davies' measured arguments, perhaps they should accompany Mrs Boiling Frog on a Saturday around any major city or town in this country then they would really see and hear some truly offensive stuff.