The Clock Is Ticking: One Month Before Heartbreak

I wrote yesterday about the importance of simplicity, patience and compassion in our daily lives. Sometimes, decisions are made that make it very difficult to keep my peace or feel anything but revulsion for those that are imposing them.

It’s already become clear that the financial measures that are being put in place by the government will directly and adversely affect our poorest and most vulnerable. But when they start gleefully and spitefully kicking people when they are down, something has to be done.

As an example, let’s look at the reviews that are being considered for the Disability Living Allowance. The DLA is a necessary safeguard, allowing those of us unlucky enough to be unable to work through ill-health to carry on, funding mobility allowance and help with care. I see no problem with this. You’d like to think that, should you need it, the state would give you the funds you need to continue functioning as a useful member of society. To contribute, rather than be stuck in a hospital or care home. To have a life rather than an existence. Lisa Elwood on the UKUncut blog puts a contemporary spin on a very old saying when she points out

“The moral health of a society can be judged by how it treats its most vulnerable members.”

If that’s the case, then modern British society must be very sick indeed. The poisonous attitude spread by the government and certain media outlets (I’ll leave you to figure out which ones I’m talking about) is that claimants are scroungers, layabouts and leeches on the state. Worse, that a lot of “them” (notice the anonymous, amorphous terms that begin to be used in arguments like this, taking away the individuality and humanity of the people concerned) are fakers, plain and simple. In an interview in the Sun on the 1st of December, Iain Duncan Smith went so far as to try to partly blame claimants for the fiscal deficit.

What a horrible way to think. What a STUPID way to think. The changes to the current system are rushed, flawed and un-necessary. Worse, they’re invasive and upsetting, forcing people into needless reassessments and retests, even for chronic or untreatable conditions, conducted by private healthcare assessors, not doctors. And of course, there is the insistence of cuts to the caseload of the new service. The figure of 20% has been bounced around, with no clear method or reasoning as to what the new guidelines might be, or what constitutes a pass or a fail.

It is clear that the changes that are being considered for the DLA will force more people under the poverty line, and make it more likely that an greater number of disabled people will be unable to fend for themselves. This is desperately wrong. No-one chooses to be disabled, and to have further indignities and ill-informed spite piled up on top of everything else you have to deal with on a daily basis must be close to unbearable.

A Nanowrimo mate, Emma, has launched One Month Before Heartbreak, a blog that tells the stories behind the lying headlines and snarky commentary. It lets the people that will be directly affected by the cuts tell their story. It’s an absolute must-read. I’d like to quote from one poster, who makes the point:

David Cameron has claimed that “we’re all in this together”, but these cuts won’t affect him in the slightest. He is not relying on friends or family to enable him to live from day to day. He is not facing the prospect of having his care funding cut, and being left to lie in his own urine and faeces all night, because his carer has been replaced with an incontinence pad, nor is he looking at spending every day of his life within a respite home, because the removal of his mobility Disability Living Allowance component has been withdrawn and he can no longer afford an electric wheelchair. He will not be a working person, taking over from the agency carer the local council can longer fund. He won’t feel suicidal because he is being made to feel that he doesn’t deserve to live, or because he simply does not have to means to to. These are real issues being faced by people with disabilities.

So please, the next time you see a story about the ConDems cuts on benefits in the newspapers and you tut about these disabled people draining the state, please remember three things:

1) Disabled people aren’t spongers, they are people who truly need the money, and desperately wish they didn’t.

2) When you go to bed tonight, you won’t need someone to dress you, or clean your bottom, and you won’t be left to lie in your own defecate. You will be free to do as you please.

3) Not all disabled people are born that way, and many are disabled due to accidents and illness, and you may find yourself in their dependent shoes one day.

One Month Before Heartbreak was envisaged as a weekend campaign to highlight the issue, but I see no reason why it should not carry on to be a vital resource. Certainly, Emma has now opened up the submission deadlines, so if you have a story to tell contact the website.

Further work? Right then. Here’s a link to a petition asking for a recall on the consultation work being done. There is still time to stop this, and to make sure that the people that most need our support to lead meaningful and fulfilled lives can continue to do so.



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Writer. Film-maker. Cartoonist. Cook. Lover.

2 thoughts on “The Clock Is Ticking: One Month Before Heartbreak”

  1. Hi Rob. I wouldn’t for a moment claim that everything the government is planning is right or appropriate (and I voted for them), and it probably is the case that some of the DLA cuts will affect people who shouldn’t be affected. The problem, though, is that – like many many other parts of the welfare state – whilst much of it does exactly what the wartime and post-war governments intended, much that has evolved since c.1944 is bloated, wasted, mismatched and bureaucratic. The DWP prosecute thousands a year for benefits fraud and secure many convictions, TV programmes often show ‘sick’ people acting anything but, and anecdotally many of us know of people on benefit that don’t need to be. You don’t need to read the Mail to believe any of that, but neither should you trust the Guardian (say) every time either – the truth is probably somewhere in between.

    Another good post, though, keep it up. My blog sticks to architecture, art, film, etc and thus avoids controversy. Did manage to get the word ‘genitalia’ in the other day, though, which is about as iffy as it will ever get…


  2. Chris:

    always good to see your responses in the blog. I agree that the system as it stands is flawed. I would however argue that the reforms that have been proposed will cost more money and add further bureaucracy without addressing the issue of fraud any more effectively than the system that’s already in place.

    Can I point you at this?

    A response from The Broken of Britain Blog

    Keep on getting the genitalia in there!

    No, hang on, that came out wrong…

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