Saturday, 21 January 2012

Dear Iain (& Chums...)

Dear Iain& chums,

We read today that you are pressing on with you disastrous reforms. That you don't believe people are suffering as a result of the Welfare Reform Bill.

You say this despite the wealth of concerns of disabled and seriously ill people, their carers and supporters. Despite the fact you've been defeated in the Lords 4 times over ESA and housing benefit, only narrowly avoiding a 5th because of Lib Dems too cowardly to defy the whip over DLA. Despite the twitter storm caused by the Spartacus Report and the wealth of stories of hardship and hurt that have appeared in newspapers of all political persuasions in the past fortnight.

How can you believe that no-one is suffering when the message boards of disability and carer groups are full of stories of distress and fear of the DWP and Atos assessments?

How can you believe that no-one is suffering  when 40% of ESA claimants (those that have the energy and support to do so) appeal their status of "fit for work"?

How can you believe that no-one is suffering when terminally ill people receive letters from the DWP stating they are fit for work?

How can you believe that no-one is suffering when 4 of the authors of the Spartacus Report have been in ill-health due to the stress of campaigning? And when Sue Marsh has ended up in a hospital bed?

How can you believe that no-one is suffering when Sue is turned down for DLA, when Kaliya Franklin (@BendyGirl) and 500,000 others like her won't qualify for PIP, despite being too sick to get out of the house most days?

How can you believe that no-one is suffering when your housing benefit caps stop families with disabled members being able to move to a house big enough for their needs?

You say you want fairness, to create less dependency, to help the most vulnerable. But you seem oblivious to the fact that  your policies do the opposite.

Everywhere we look people are suffering. It's time you opened your eyes and saw it too.

Monday, 9 January 2012

We Support the Spartacus Report (and some!)

Today has been an incredible day.

Thanks to the work of Dr SJ Campbell (@spooniedoc), Sue Marsh (@suey2y Diary of a Benefit Scrounger), Kaliya Franklin (@BendyGirl Benefit Scrounging Scum), Declan Gaffney  , Mason Dixon, Leigh James, Sam Barnett-Cormack, Rhydian Fon-James, Dawn Willis and several anonymous writers, the groundbreaking Spartacus Report has been produced. This report on the impacts of the proposed reforms to DLA in the Welfare Reform Bill is groundbreaking because it has been written and researched entirely by disabled and sick campaigners. And because for the first time the statistics the government would rather we didn't see are there in black and white. Statistics like 74% of disabled people surveyed were against reform of DLA - which slightly undermines the government's position that DLA reforms are welcomed by disabled people. Like the fact that DLA fraud runs at 0.5% (unsurprisingly, it's one of the most complicated benefits forms in the universe). Like the fact that the rise in people claiming DLA is 13% not the 30% the government presented to the House of Commons...We could go on, but you get the point and it's all in the report, so go and read it!

And thanks to the wonderful organisation of Sue and Kaliya, Declan and so many others the #spartacusreport has been sent by constituency reps to MPs, been in all the mainstream papers with even the DAILY MAIL reporting the 0.5% figure. Sue has been on Radio 5 Live today, giving Maria Miller a run for her money. And twitter and facebook have been overwhelmed with people writing and supporting the Spartacus Report.

The Welfare Reform Bill is debated in the House of Lords on Wednesday. Sympathetic Lords are reporting Lib Dems are wavering. Let's hope this will push them over the edge.

To quote (or possibly misquote) Miss Maudie in To Kill a Mockingbird. "It's a step. It may be a baby step, but it's a start."

Top marks to one and all.

We Support the Spartacus Report. So should you.