Iain Duncan Smith’s comments in the Telegraph over the weekend should place every serving soldier on notice. The social contract has changed. If you get your limbs blown off fighting some rich man’s war then don’t expect the Government to support you when you return home. IDS has made it clear, people who have had limbs amputated, or are wheelchair users, will no longer be guaranteed support.
IDS, who has previously stated that disabled people lead ‘wasted lives’ due to reliance on benefits, has gone one step further over the weekend, claiming that people on DLA have been left to ‘fester’. After his recent outburst aimed at disabled workers facing the sack at Remploy factories, IDS’ language is increasingly revealing the nasty little prejudices at the heart of this Government.
It is little wonder that disability hate crime is soaring when senior Government ministers like Iain Duncan Smith are ever ready to launch into a tirade of vicious abuse, smears and lies aimed at disabled people.
The UK Paralympic Team may be surprised that the Government seems to think they have been ‘festering’ in the run up to the Olympics. Far more concerning however will be the changes to DLA which may see many of them stripped of benefits after the tournament is over. People claiming out of work benefits due to sickness or disability have been told that being able to watch an episode of Eastenders indicates that they might be fit for work and ineligible for benefits. It is quite likely that Paralympians may find their sporting achievements used as evidence against them to cut benefit payments.
There is no reason why disabled war veterans or Paralympians should be given any special status above the hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled people who also face losing vital and life saving support. But it is them who will make the headlines when people are forced into suicide, poverty and homelessness.
The Government claims that 500,000 people are to lose DLA when the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment begins next year. As revealed over the weekend, there is no evidence that these people don’t need, or qualify, for the benefit. Iain Duncan Smith’s pack of lies in the Telegraph, already demolished, shows he either doesn’t actually understand the DLA process, or more worryingly he doesn’t give a shit how many lives are destroyed by the changes.
Shockingly the number of people who may lose benefit may turn out to be far higher if the experiences faced by sick and disabled benefit claimants who have undergone the notorious Work Capability assessment are anything to go by.
People currently claiming Disability Living Allowance are to be forced to undergo the same kind of intrusive and demeaning checks currently being inflicted on those on out of work health related benefits. French IT firm Atos have the contract to carry out assessments on benefit claimants and the system has already caused untold suffering with an ever growing number of people taking their own lives due to the process.
The Atos assessment has been designed to declare as many people ‘fit for work’ as possible, despite many of them having serious, and often life threatening conditions. Although claimants who have been judged unable to work by their own doctor, and in most cases an independent DWP doctor, the magical healing Atos Assessment has judged 37% of people ‘fit for work’ after just a short 20 minute chat. A further 34% have been judged as fit for work at some point in the future, meaning if they are on contribution based benefits they will lose them after 12 months whatever happens to their health. A recent investigation by the Daily Mirror found that 32 people a week are dying after being placed in this group.
Whilst huge numbers of Atos’ decisions are overturned on appeal, the Government is quite happy with the Atos system, which is finding far more people ‘fit for work’ than ever expected. It is clear that there will be pressure on whichever private sector poverty pimps are employed to carry out the new assessment for PIP to replicate these results. So impressed are this Government with Atos’ performance that they have been placed on a list of preferred bidders for the new PIP Assessment contract.
If the experience of the Work Capability Assessment is replicated in the new PIP system then the number of sick and disabled people losing benefits is quite likely to top one million. This will be seen as just as much a success as the Work Capability Assessment and will be used to demonstrate that people on disability benefits are largely frauds, or faking their conditions.
This is not idle scare-mongering. It is happening to sick and disabled claimants on out of work benefits right now.
That Iain Duncan Smith thinks he’s being brave by destroying disabled people’s lives reveals everything we need to know about the toff Government. The Tory party haven’t changed in the slightest despite Cameron’s oily spin. They are as nasty and out of touch as ever. But no Government in living memory has been so brutal as to strip vital support from disabled citizens to fund tax cuts for the super rich.
Iain Duncan Smith’s father was a war hero who fought against a fascist government that believed disabled people were a drain on society to be eradicated. How ashamed he would feel were he alive to see his own son taking yet one more step down that contemptible path.