So the Lib-Dem Spring Conference is over and the activists have headed back to their constituencies, patting themselves on the back for telling their leaders they have to be something more than just a Tory sock-puppet when it comes to things like the NHS and DLA Mobility Component.
Talk is easy, but the Liberal Democrats currently stand complicit in a massed attack on the benefits disabled people need to enable them be truly equal in our society. It isn’t just DLA Mobility Component where we are under attack, it’s the threat to DLA as a whole, with an expected 20% cut in the people eligible for the replacement benefit — does the Government somehow have Lourdes and St Bernadette on tap to manage the miracle cures needed? Or is the truth that 1 in 5 people are going to see their benefits slashed without any change in their acute need for those benefits (and with ATOS running the assessments it’s likely to be 4 in 5 refused, not 1 in 5).
Then there’s ESA, where Lib-Dems like Danny Alexander railed against the inequity of ATOS WCA assessments in opposition, but suddenly became rabid supporters in government. I’m one of those ESA claimants, so let me put a human face on the benefit scrounging scum Cameron and IDS would have people believe we are. I didn’t opt out of Alarm Clock Britain, it opted out of me. I worked through 20 years of disability, often working even while curled up in pain on the office floor, until my employer decided disabled people were just too much of a bother and got rid of me. Every employment consultant I spoke to told me to forget about the private sector, that discrimination in recruitment of disabled people is so rife I would be wasting my time, that the public sector was only a little better. I claimed JSA, but DWP is incapable of dealing with claimants who are either disabled people or highly qualified and God help you if you are both. It took a complaint to the Minister for Disabled People to get them to admit I couldn’t be treated like everyone else and they only way they could do that was by placing me on ESA.
I passed my ESA WCA, despite ATOS destroying six weeks of my life at the first attempt (and claiming that I had failed to attend rather than admit that they had failed to provide the needed reasonable adjustments), the second attempt was nearly as bad and it was only when I became visibly physically distressed from the amount of pain I was in that the doctor stopped trying to force my situation into his computer generated script and deigned to treat me like an individual. And yet, sometime early next year, because I’m claiming Contributions Related ESA, my household income will drop to precisely zero, never mind that my disability is actually becoming worse, not better.
Talk is easy, votes count.