Sunday, 20 May 2012

The shame of the blame game

On Friday night Christina Martin posted a link which caught my eye. It was a few lines from a local paper which said that a blind, deaf, tube-fed, non verbal, disabled man from Scotland had been deemed fit for work by the DWP. As a result of not completing the form correctly his benefits will be stopped on 7th June and he will have to access the appeal process to have this decision over turned.

This man has to have 24 hour care and the person who had completed his form for him as his disability prevents him had not included something in the 30 page form which meant that due to that error his money will stop.

These forms are very lengthy they are complicated and they ask many intimate and intrusive questions very like the Disability benefit forms I complete on behalf of my children (Disability Living Allowance) they suck the hope out of you as you detail why those you care for need help.

The problem isn't the fact that you have to ask for help, it isn't the time it takes to complete them, it isn't the caring that you have to do at the same time,  It isn't the humiliation that you feel as you complete them, it isn't the shame culture which has grown up in recent years around those legitimately asking for help, it isn't the grinding struggle of life with a condition or impairment which robs your dignity, it isn't the lack of a support network which isolates you, it isn't the fear of hate crime, or mate crime which vulnerable people face, it isn't the mental health issues which are a real and present danger for those who struggle to fit in to a world not created for disability, it isn't the lack of disability access which greet many disabled people who are called to an assessment with untrained staff, it isn't the MP's (from all parties)who show compassion in a photo with a disabled child only to vote for policies which will render them "undesirables", it isn't the Tabloid press who brand genuinely disabled people as scroungers and scum.

It isn't any one of those things. It's all of them.

The man was deemed fit for work, by virtue of an error a mistake. This mistake will take weeks to rectify and if reading this you still feel that this is a justifiable process in order to weed out the liars and fakes living in mansions and driving luxury cars, I ask you to think again.

The fact is that more money is lost in DWP error, than is lost through benefits granted to liars and fakes.

The fact that you feel this is a justification at all simply means that you have been desensitised by effective propaganda because Disabled people are the new scapegoats de jour.

Hopefully this error will be addressed but how long will it take and how was this allowed to happen?

Irrespective of what was omitted the words blind, deaf, epilepsy, non-verbal, were all, I'm sure included as were contact details, and medical contacts. A simple phone call would have resolved this issue rather than a systemic failure of a vulnerable man and a letter no doubt 2nd class announcing the cessation of all benefits with the only right to reply a lengthy and complicated appeal.

My thoughts are with those without a support network, those who are killing themselves because they have lost, or fear losing their benefits.

We have turned disabled people into the enemy within, as our hearts harden against the very people who need us the most.

The battle against disabled people shames us all.