THE TORY government have turned their fire against one of the most vulnerable sections of society: disabled people.
The government has launched a three-pronged attack: Firstly they have cut disabled people’s money by £29 a week; Secondly they have seized their mobility cars, leaving them isolated in their homes; and thirdly they are demanding all disabled people attend extremely stressful assessment interviews where they have to ‘prove’ that they are disabled or face being thrown off benefits and left to starve.
It was on April 1 that the Tories brought in the savage cut for disabled people. Anyone now filing a new claim for employment and support allowance (ESA) will only get £73.10 a week, instead of £102.15, a cut of £29.05 a week. Disability Rights UK said: ‘A £30-a-week cut in income is intolerable, especially when disabled people often live in deep poverty.’
Disabled people are in fact over twice as likely to be driven to food banks than able-bodied people, a newly released report has found. The £29-a-week cut is just one aspect of the Tory onslaught against the disabled: More than 51,000 disabled people have already had their mobility allowance and specially adapted cars seized since 2013. The Motability Scheme gives disabled people the chance to lease a specially adapted vehicle.
Thousands of people are now being denied mobility as they transfer over from disability living allowance (DLA) to the controversial new disability benefit Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
The charity Muscular Dystrophy UK said 900 cars are now being taken away every week as more and more people are being rejected from PIP.
Private companies Atos and Capita are the culprits, they are responsible for rejecting disabled people from receiving PIP. Atos and Capita are being paid hundreds of millions of pounds by the government to force disabled people to attend assessment interviews. Not only is it very difficult for disabled people to get to the assessment centres, especially if they have not got specialised transport, they are then subjected to a gruelling assessment.
It is up to the disabled person to ‘prove’ that they are still disabled. Even those who are suffering from incurable conditions are now being forced to attend assessment interviews. Three thousand, five hundred people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s and motor neurone disease were forced to attend assessments between April and October last year.
In one case, 41-year-old mother Sam Adams, who suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS), was told she did not need her mobility car after the assessor tickled her hand with a feather (a test for body surface sensation) after which she concluded that Sam Adams could walk up to the benchmark.
When PIP replaced Disability Living Allowance, the benchmark distance for someone being ‘virtually unable to walk’ changed from 50 metres to 20 metres. Adams said: ‘How she came to that conclusion when she’s not seen me walk, she’s not seen me walk up and down stairs – all she did was tickle my hand with a feather. What conclusions she was coming to from tickling my hand with a feather, I’ll never know.’
Sam Adams is one of hundreds of thousands of people that Atos and Capita have thrown off benefits, wrongly claiming that they are not disabled. For this service to the Tories they are paid and paid royally. Atos and Capita have already received £578m for assessments since 2013, with a further £700m promised over the next five years, a bonus of £200m more than was first agreed.
Rather than spend the £1.28bn on improving the quality of life of disabled people, the government would rather hand this money over to private companies to kick hundreds of thousands of disabled people off their benefits and onto the streets!
Both the private assessment companies and the Tories are hated in equal amounts. Disabled people are fighting back, organising demonstrations outside assessment centres up and down the country, even chaining their wheelchairs together to block the roads outside Whitehall.
They cannot be left to fight alone! The entire working class must be mobilised to back up their struggle with a general strike to bring down the Tory government, and bring in a workers government to abolish the assessments and give disabled people all the finances and assistance they need.