Monday 25 July 2011

DWP; time to act on disability!

Yesterday's Observer had a letter from the CEO of the Disabled People's Council which highlights growing alarm in charities over the DWP's treatment of disabled people.

I have blogged before about how DWP press releases risk stereotyping disabled welfare claimants as scroungers. It releases statistics, with accompanying media spin, on how the tests highlight people whose applications for disabled benefit fail.

The DWP fail to also press release the fact that on appeal nearly 4 out of 10 applications succeed. That is shameful.

As the letter states ,

" This partial picture feeds the tabloid media's negative narrative on "benefits scroungers" and this in turn has an impact on employer's perception of disability and disabled people".

Charities are now reporting that attitudes to the disabled are deteriorating. DWP need to carefully examine their behaviour. And not just on press releases.

Charities are also concerned that the new medical assessment for the new reformed disability allowance is flawed. Richard Hawkes , CEO of Scope has been outspoken about the dangers of a highly medical assessment meaning people being penalised.

And finally the Commons Select Committee will publish on Tuesday a highly damning report on the way DWP policy on sickness benefit has been implemented. Particular attention has been focused on the role of the company Atos, who undertake the tests , who are heavily criticised. Charities are again reporting that seriously ill people are being found fit for work in the tests this company are carrying out.

What is particularly disturbing is that mental health charities are reporting that some people have been seriously damaged by negative tests; people with mental health problems will always be especially vulnerable to tests. Some charities have reported this as a factor in suicides.

So it is now time the politicians and senior officials in DWP reviewed their policies on disability. It is repugnant that the most vulnerable in society are scapegoated or penalised, either by acts of commission or omission . The welfare state at its best is there to support those in our society with disability. Policies and actions by Government that might harm those most at need must be changed. It's time DWP took action on all this. Charity demands it.

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