DAA News Network

UK: Minister not listening to disabled people on impact of cuts

Posted 19/7-11 at 01.14

Richard Hawkes, chief executive of the disability charity Scope, is worried that the social care reforms and benefits cuts are going to have "devastating consequences" on the lives of disabled people.

"I would say that the government has not been listening," he says. "Maria Miller does meet with disability charities, but I don't think she really understands a lot of the issues, I don't think she listens. What disabled people need at the moment is a minister for disabled people who is really fighting their corner, really understanding the issues that disabled people face, and acting as their champion in government. I don't think that's happening at the moment."

Among the problems facing disabled people are cuts to local authority spending, so that in some areas, only the more severely disabled will have access to state-funded support.

"The whole range of different proposals that are being put forward could have a really negative impact on the lives of people. We don't think [the government is] thinking things through properly," Hawkes warns. "The collective, cumulative impact of all the changes that are being introduced are hitting disabled people the hardest."

He questions whether the government is primarily motivated by the desire to reform outmoded benefits or whether the principal driver of change is an aspiration to cut costs.

More broadly, he is concerned that the tone of the discussion about disability benefits has radically changed, with a creeping trend towards demonising claimants as "scroungers".

"There's too much of a focus on that, rather than on the huge numbers of disabled people who want to work, are able to work, but just need the support to be able to do it," Hawkes says.





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