Saturday, 4 March 2017

Let's redefine disability away!

This fortnights edition will be more old school Daytime Office Girl Crisis than what I have published more in the last ten and bit month but inspiration is at hand as the expression might go.
Ever since its introduction, Personal Independence Payments, otherwise called P.I.P.s the gradual replacement for 1992's  Disability Living Allowance, a payment made regardless of employment status to help with costs of maintaining independence and personal dignity has been dogged by controversy from the designed in to lose 20% of existing DLA claimants element, movements in who gains what levels of payment, reducing the unable or virtually unable to walk criteria for around 200 yards to under 50 and so on.
The consensus among disabled people and many in charity sector has been that this while potentially offering a higher payout to a few was rather more about reducing the total claimant bill fitting in with more the idea of medical adaptions and technology reducing the disabling impact to those of us who are disabled while rather ignoring how this was to be funded by the individual in an era of reduced grants and local government provided support.
Well the proverbial hit the fan this weekend when a assistant of the Prime Minister started to talk about keeping P.I.Ps for "genuine disabled" not people sitting at home taking pills.
What he was alluding to were to court decision against the governments criteria that said they needed to consider conditions such as social anxiety where a person may be unable to go say to a doctors appointment or get the shopping in so that a person may go with them on on their behalf as say a carer that was estimated to increase the bill somewhat.
Part of the problem was his wording which as a someone who has invisible disabilities such as memory issues and social anxiety as well as learning and physical ones is offensive implying that what we have isn't interfering in regular everyday life to the point it disables us taking us back the days of only physical  or sensory disabilities being accepted and all else not visible being treated with suspicion  or widespread ridicule.
The other is many physical conditions may be part managed by pills at home such as painkillers, some many not manage weight issues that make things worse for themselves but they're exempted from any similar consideration. And why the rush to shut down this widening of the criteria?
Many us feel the buzz word "sustainability" in the context of sustainable disability welfare payments really means paying the least to the fewest consistent with relatively low taxation plans.
The minister tried to suggest care packages as delivered by Care Trusts would provide what these people need but there's no indication how many of these people would get anything like the same care and how  with shrinking health and council budgets with a political imperative to deal with the frail elderly to avoid so-called "bed blocking" at hospitals how much of these funds would be spend on people of working age requiring considerable support.
That policy measure doesn't actually justify in itself the attempt to reduce the type of disabilities P.I.Ps are supposed to help promote personal independence for.

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