Sunday, 1 May 2011

#badd2011 Vulnerability

The government keep banging on about how benefit reforms will still see the "most vulnerable" supported.

But what do they mean by "vulnerable"? Innately I don't think of myself as vulnerable, I'm confident and articulate enough to stand up for myself (metaphorically at least). Despite my brittle bones I've stepped into the middle of a physical fight to break it up on many an occasion because I felt the benefits of doing so outweighed any "vulnerability" on my part. (And for the record it's never resulted in me getting punched. Something about people not wanting to hit a speccy disabled girl.)

But this government, with their cuts and their propaganda, are making me vulnerable.

Is this disablism though? Abso-bleeding-lutely when so many of the cuts and so much of the hate is aimed at us.

I'm vulnerable because I'm facing a future with no income because the DWP keep deciding ill people are allegedly "fit for work". If I end up losing everything how can I go on living? Other disabled people have already killed themselves because they lost their income. I'm not suicidal at the moment, I have no reason to be. But I'm vulnerable to finding myself suicidal in the near future because of the government.

Lets imagine I do get to keep my income replacement benefit (currently IB, soon to be ESA) and housing benefit. I'm still at risk of losing my Disability Living Allowance. DLA is a benefit paid to cover some of the extra costs of being disabled. Without my DLA I won't be able to shop to get food in. I currently have a Motability car, which I will lose if I'm one of the 1 in 5 DLA claimants who'll lose their money. I know some people who don't/can't drive who use their DLA to pay for online supermarket deliveries, without my DLA that'll be out of my price range. So I'm vulnerable to, you know, starvation thanks to the government's disablist cuts.

Then there's care funding. At the moment I don't get direct payments. I've toyed with the idea of applying but because there's so much paperwork involved it's less work to just struggle with domestic tasks myself and then guzzle painkillers in a House-esque fashion afterwards. As I smash up more joints that balance will change and I'll eventually pass the tipping point where the paperwork will become the easier of the two options. I used to live in one of the few local authorities in the country that provided care packages for people assessed as having less than "substantial" needs. Not any more. It's one of the things that got cut in my local council's budget this year. So if I sustain an injury (likely what with having brittle bones) I'm vulnerable to getting completely stuck and being unable to manage simple things like cooking because the council won't give me any assistance.

Thanks to the propaganda we see daily in papers like the Daily Mail and Express - encouraged by the government with their "scrounger" rhetoric and DWP press releases filled with half truths - I'm now more vulnerable to hate crime and being falsely accused of benefit fraud.

These brutal, unnecessary, unfair and disablist cuts are creating a raft of vulnerable people like me. People who are only vulnerable because of this government's actions.

If they truly cared about protecting us they wouldn't have put us in this position in the first place.


  1. They consistently state they'll still be supporting the most vulnerable, and this appears to be true. However,the many who are simply vulnerable will apparently be left to fend themselves.
    I still think pointing out how unjust this is isn't the way to fight it. I'm sure the companies (Unum, Atos) and the politicians both Labour and Conservative are perfectly well aware how unfair it is and couldn't care less. In my view they're only in it in the short term so they can plunder the public purse and divvy up the proceeds between them, destroying the welfare state to boot so Uunum can then step in and sell everyone disability insurance and then refuse to pay out. This was the scam they pulled in America to such an extent it became a national scandal - just Google for Unum scandal to see what went on! Surely there would be Anerican journalists involved in that exposure effort who would be interested to report to their readers that after consulting with Unum (back in '94) the British Government is now using exactly the same disability denial techniques on its own citizens? With the exceptions of the Guardian and the Mirror the press here seem happy to repeat DWP press releases but that doesn't mean the American press would be. You guys want to do some spade work, email some people in the States, try to whip up some interest over there. Google it, look up the articles and see if the reporters are interested. This would be more productive than simply banging on about the problems.


  2. Perhaps they intend to save some money for the short term by making everyone more "vulnerable" and then when we are all dying they will throw a lot of money at the few who haven't died or killed themselves so they look like compassionate heroes. What me cynical?

  3. I like your thinking, Bill. I've long been interested in the corporate corruption angle on this, though most days I have no energy to spare for intellectual activity. Obviously our situation is unfair, that's because we're being screwed like the Bolivians who had their water access stolen for private profit, or the poor farmers sold single-generation corn by Monsanto; this is what big business does, it spots a cash cow and moves in, and it doesn't matter how many people die because of it.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again. I want to know who is paying who and how much. These contracts have not been got on merit.

  4. I keep wondering who this "Most Vulnerable" person is (and by the sheer amount of folk I know who have some major health issues facing frightening amounts of cuts, it must only be one person). I imagine whoever it is must be having a pretty cushy time of it. My gallows-humour suggests that Mr/Ms Most Vulnerable is the dead who died of their disabilities and "being protected" means the graveyard where they're buried is not going to be built on for more housing for at least, oh, about eight years or so.


  5. Cameron should be ashamed - the govt (DLA) helped him with his son and he is a millionaire who didnt even need it - Yes he wishes to remove this vital help from all of us who dont have multi millions to our names, who dont have a life of luxury to live. He is the most horrid person to take when he needed it then remove from all the people he deems unsuitable. One day maybe (i wish) he will lose his money (would be fab) and maybe he will get a disability and get told he is unworthy of life!

  6. From experience, I would suggest you take the plunge into Direct Payments now, while you can, rather than later at a time when you are not managing as you are now. Direct Payments have to be made accessible, especially the paperwork, so your local authority should have contracted a support organisation, which should cover the paperwork of employing help and payroll. And, the more you have evidence of only being able to 'live' with support - the less likely (I truly hope) you are to have other essential benefits taken away.

  7. "They consistently state they'll still be supporting the most vulnerable, and this appears to be true"

    The savaging of ILF would seem to argue against that.

  8. In my view we are all vulnerable so how to parse out the "most" is intriguing. The shrinking middle class and expanding poverty line? How can we make sure that politicians feel more vulnerable is the issue I think.

  9. vulnerable moi, of course i am. if my dla is taken away then my independence goes with it. its my right to have an independent life no matter what. i will fight them either verbally or physically if the need arises

  10. I've been thinking a lot about vulnerability lately. I feel relatively safe because, due to misfortune in my own life, I am currently living with parents. The roof over my head and food on my plate are safe, even if I lost my income. But my future, the prospect of ever regaining my independence? Not so much.

    Great post, Lisa, well done.