There’s a burning issue out there that it seems a lot of people are ignoring. Three weeks ago, Conservative MP David Willetts announced changes to the Disabled Students Allowance. This basically involves awarding support only to those defined as having “complex needs”.
This might just be the most recent offence, but I think this is part of something bigger. In my opinion, the coalition government is attempting to reduce costs for themselves by cutting the support that countless disabled people across Britain.
At present, the government has a disablist attitude, perhaps because it wants to avoid hurting their real masters – the rich and powerful. If that’s not enough, the government still has contracts with Atos, a multinational French IT company that receives contracts for public services that were outsourced from various governments.
Atos is currently responsible for carrying out Work Capability Assessments on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions. Their handling of the WCAs is notorious for being skewed against the claimant. To qualify for full sickness benefits, one must get a certain number of points, which are deducted for any area in which you are healthy.
Naturally, many disabled people and disability rights activists are extremely offended, mainly because these assessments wind up deeming patients suffering from brain damage, multiple sclerosis, and various other terminal illnesses as “fit for work”. Atos’ criminal incompetence was usually followed by slow, painful deaths within days or even weeks of benefits being cuts.
There’s another twisted side to this story. Last year, the courts have found that the WCAs weren’t fit for their purpose, and that they disadvantage the mentally handicapped, and yet Atos is still doing this. It would appear that Atos had completely ignored the judgement of the courts.
With this in mind, it’s no wonder that many people view Atos as a force of pure evil.
Atos may play a big role in all this, but they too are just another tool of the government, and therefore are just another part of their war against the disabled.
In the wake of the economic crisis, the disabled, the sick, and the poor became victims of scapegoating at the hands of the right-wing media, and the Conservatives, who would later seize power in 2010 by seducing the Liberal Democrats.
Throughout the 2010’s, a new wave of disablist rhetoric has caused hate crimes against the disabled to rise to an all-time high. It’s really sad and pathetic that disabled people are still treated and second-class citizens, and even killed. Some disabled people have even been falsely accused of sexual crimes, and these accusations have contributed to numerous deaths.
The worst part about this is that none of this has been stopped. We’re living in the 21st century, and yet, somewhere out there, disabled people are still the victims of scapegoating and hate crime because they don’t fit into a box that doesn’t exist.
Thankfully, there are people out there who are willing to fight back, whether it’s against cuts to the Disability Student Allowance, or against hate crimes against the disabled. Their campaigns are more important now than they ever were in the past, for as long as they stand in the way, the government will not be able to go unopposed for long.
Perhaps the most important thing to do is to change society’s view of disabled people in general, to reverse the tidal wave of toxic “scrounger” rhetoric.