In an unprecedented show of absolutely fuck all, members of the Disability Benefits Consortium – which includes some of the UK’s largest disability charities – have written a stern letter to Iain Duncan Smith asking him not to cut disabled people’s benefits.
In the Welfare Reform and Work Bill, due to be debated in the House of Lords next week, plans have been announced to slash some out of work sickness and disability benefits by almost a third. New claimants in the so-called Work Related Activity Group, meaning people assessed as likely to be fit for work at some point in the future, will receive just over £70 a week – the same amount as those currently on the dole. People in this group include those with degnerative or progressive diseases such as Multiple Schlerosis, Parkinson’s disease or cancer. This vicious benefit cut is not being done to save money, but to ‘incentivise’ people to find a job. It is about as vile as anything that Iain Duncan Smith has done so far, and he’s done a lot.
In response the Disability Benefits Consortium have written a letter, which only half of their members bothered to sign, and which was published in the Daily Mirror over the weekend. Big fucking deal.
According to their website the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) is a “national coalition of over 60 different charities and other organisations committed to working towards a fair benefits system.” They include Disability Rights UK, an organisation who have recently been handed a huge contract to work for Maximus – the shady US conglomerate who carry out the despised Work Capability Assessments which will be used to decide which disabled people face a benefit cut under the new rules. Other charities involved in pretending to defend social security are MIND, RNIB, Leonard Chesire and Mencap – all of whom happily accepted lucrative sub-contracts to run Iain Duncan Smith’s mandatory Work Programme which disabled people are forced to attend under the threat of vicious benefit sanctions. Also on the list are the workfare supporting Papworth Trust, along with Age UK who in 2013 were accused of running a ‘workfare warehouse’ in East Sussex. Citizen’s Advice, who welcomed the introduction of the Claimant Commitment under which unemployed people are forced into pointless jobsearch for 35 hours a week under threat of benefit sanctions, are also included in this fight for a fairer benefits system.
Despite the vast resources possessed by the 60 charities who make up the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC), their website is hosted for free on wordpress.com. It looks like someone knocked it up on a cheap smartphone during their fag break. Last year this group of fearless campaigners made a total of 12 posts on their blog – and I thought I was getting slack. According to the website they have not been arsed to contribute to a government consultation on welfare reform since 2012.
Compare this to the now defunct Disability Works campaign – launched with a glitzy House of Lords reception by many of the DBC charities and used to lobby the government to hand them juicy welfare-to-work contracts and you see the true priority of these organisations. Money.
The very worst thing that could happen is big disability charities hijacking the fight against welfare reforms, although there is little danger of that. The fucking awful Hardest Hit demonstration they organised in 2011 was little more then a march to protect disability charity funding, not disabled people’s benefits. And it’s been downhill ever since. For every statement released by charities condemning social security cuts a story emerges of them quietly sidling up to the DWP in the hope of lucrative contracts. Until disability charities form a united stance of complete non co-operation with this government then their words mean fuck all when their actions are complicit in destroying the lives of sick and disabled people.
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