Well, it seems clear that Britain's movement to fight welfare benefit reform and deep cuts to disability income supports suffered a major blow on Tuesday.
I don't know all the particulars. I still don't totally understand it all. I know that some legislation (which already went though at one level of government) to mitigate effects of the cuts on the children with disabilities was struck down at another. Classy. I've been reading on Twitter about some awful language from the Conservative Members of Parliament about people with disabilities: "the great unwashed", "retards", people that think disability is a "lifestyle choice" and so forth.
Stay Strong, Britain...
I still don't understand all of what's gone on here and what continues to go on. What's struck me the most about the whole thing, and its plainly visible in the post of Sue Marsh's to which I've posted (and the comments on it), is the desperation. Sue put together the Spartacus Report to try and show the British government the impact of the proposed welfare benefit reform, and has put countless hours into coordinating people and efforts even while hospitalized. I've read a lot of her stuff lately, and I don't doubt her when she says that she's not going to give up - but I've also never heard her sound so desperate.
Read this too from the woman who has been working with Sue. Desperate.
Why British Welfare Benefit Reform?
I've been asked why I've been writing on the welfare benefit reform situation in Britain. A lot of my Twitter followers (and the people I follow) are involved with the disability community in Britain, so I see a lot about it. There seems to be a perception that people using Britain's income supports are all "scroungers", and the government seems determined to deal with the inevitable few who abuse the system by punishing everybody who uses it.
And you don't have to understand all of it to appreciate that people are very, very frightened of losing support that allows them to live and being told to go out and find jobs when they legitimately can't work. As Sue says in her post, "Yes, even Blair backed down from sending cancer patients to the jobcentre." Apparently this government isn't prepared to.
I write about what's happening in Britain, to the best extent that I can, because I hear the "they're all scroungers" attitude from politicians in Canada and the United States, too. It has reached a fever pitch recently, particularly in the United States with the election approaching. I've heard Republicans talk about cutting food stamp programs, refer to people on social support programs as "raccoons" who will just keep coming back as long as you feed them, and suggest that people with disabilities could have their needs met through the generosity of churches and community groups instead of having them rely on income assistance.
In Ontario, monthly ODSP support still keeps individuals below the poverty line. And yet the focus on the very small amount of people who manage to abuse the system to get as much money out of it as they can, rather than the vast majority who can barely afford to both pay rent and eat each month. I also remember, several years back now, when Ontario Premier Mike Harris declared that people make a choice to be homeless, which always leaps to mind for me when I read stuff like, "Disability is a lifestyle choice".
What's happening in Britain could easily happen in Canada or the United States, too. And yet I've not heard or seen one news story about it here.
I write about what's happening in Britain with welfare benefit reform because it's a current event that potentially affects us all. Disability news needs makes to make the world news too - let's do what we can to make sure it does!