Francesca Martinez’s petition as mentioned on “The Wright Stuff” on the 7th December 2015

You can find Francesca’s petition here; WOWpetition.co.uk

Posted in WOW Blog

How does the DWP ensure that concerns raised by coroners after inquests into the deaths of benefit claimants are not just put in a file and forgotten about? – It doesn’t and it wants them to be forgotten. In fact, it doesn’t want you to know about them in the first place!

The WOWpetition spoke at the 10,000 cuts and counting service of remembrance in Parliament Square on the 8th September 2013 as we truly believed the evidence strongly suggested disabled people were being targeted by the ConDem’s and this was a causal factor in some deaths. Rather then accept that reasonable people held this belief and reassure them that this wasn’t the case, we have been told by Government Ministers that disabled people die because they’re disabled, “trolled” by journalists telling us the statistics don’t mean what they say, lied to by Iain Duncan Smith who said the statistics didn’t exist barely weeks before they were published and had to deal with this Government continually trying to hide the actuality & delay releasing the truth.
It is of no surprise to the WOWcampaign that the DWP do not professionally manage the correspondence from Coroners nor ensure that any recommendations or findings are properly considered as we believe they do not want any evidence in the public domain of what they have been doing. It seems that this Government believes that if it both denies its policies are a causal factor in the many thousands of deaths of disabled people and either doesn’t collect or refuses to publish the evidence of causality, then nobody died because of its policies and ideology. The WOWcampaign believes that truth and the evidence is out there and will continue to work to bring it out into the open. We will not rest until this Government and its Ministers face justice in respect of the thousands of disabled people killed by their ideology.
We believe that our Government should accept that it is a widely held view that they are practising the policies of Democide and accept it is time for them to Just Stop acting like cowards. Come clean. Set up a Royal Commission into whether their policies been a causal factor in the deaths of many disabled people? The thousands and thousands of disabled people that have died deserve at least this much. You could also sign wowpetition.co.uk and someone might just ask them to do this during the debate it will generate, once it gets 100,000 signatures.

Posted in WOW Blog

WOWpetition’s Press Release concerning the Governments official response to e-petition 106068

Tuesday 3rd November 2015

“The Government’s response to the WOWpetition can only be described as inadequate.”

Since 2012 nearly 200,000 signatures have been collected by 3 e-petitions that challenge the Government to demonstrate a duty of care towards sick and disabled people by assessing the cumulative impact on this group of the swathes of cuts inflicted on them by Government policies on Health, Social Care and Welfare. Until Friday morning the Government had claimed it was impossible to disaggregate the cumulative effect of their policy changes on disabled people but Friday’s response (View at www.wowpetition.co.uk) confirmed that it is possible to produce such an analysis but that the Government have chosen not to do one, presumably because “voters” would be sickened if they understood that austerity had been deliberately targeted at sick and disabled people. Dr Simon Duffy’s research for the Centre for Welfare Reform found that some disabled people have been subjected to cuts 19 times larger than the average. The Government’s own figures show the number of households with a disabled family member living in “absolute poverty” increased by 10% between 2013 & 14.

Actress & Comedienne Francesca Martinez said on behalf of the WOWcampaign, ‘The government have once again shown how little they care about investigating the impact their cuts are having on disabled people and carers, and how willing they are to continue to push ahead with their heartless ‘reforms’.

Debbie Abrahams MP, Shadow Minister for Disabled People: “I am appalled at the Government’s refusal to carry out a cumulative impact assessment into the effects of their policy decisions on disabled people.” and went on to dismantle the Government argument saying “It is simply incorrect for the Minister to state that only one model can be used to analyse the effects of a policy and I understand the Equality and Human Rights Commission have been in correspondence with the DWP on this issue.  Disabled people deserve to know the impact of the Government’s policies on their lives and I will continue to press Ministers to produce a full cumulative impact assessment.”

Concerning the impact Government reforms are having on both families and carers, Carerwatch and Pat’s Petition commented Government’s Policies were having a “negative impact on family carers. Welfare Reform, NHS reform, loss of Legal Aid, cuts to local authority budgets, closure of the Independent Living Fund are placing unbearable pressure on families.

Specific mention is made in the Government’s response to the Health and Social Care Reforms. Professor Peter Beresford, co-Chair of Shaping our Lives and Professor in Social Policy at Brunel University commented: “Social care provision is in a parlous state and this is being made worse by ongoing cuts and welfare benefits restrictions. No wonder the UN is investigating the situation of disabled people in the UK.”

David Cameron believes his personal experience enables him to act in the best interests of disabled people but it is “on his watch” that the UN has launched its first ever enquiry into grave and systemic abuses of the Human Rights of disabled people. Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party said that the response to the WOWpetition “does not acknowledge the widely documented disparate effects of the greatly harshened benefits sanctions regime” and “The Government must surely be concerned that the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has launched an enquiry into the impact of welfare reforms.”

Whilst Government claims its “reforms are focused on supporting people to find and keep work where appropriate” they ignore people for whom work is not possible and rather than address prejudice in the workplace, their “Disability Confident” scheme appears to simply ask employers to be nice to disabled people. Sadly this leaves many disabled people capable of great things in the workplace either excluded or filling junior positions. Ellen Clifford of Stop Changes to Access to Work said Over the past few years Deaf and Disabled people have experienced difficulties with Access to Work and cuts to their support that has seriously undermined our ability to stay in employment, with numbers of people pushed out of careers and jobs they loved.” The underlying hypocrisy in the Governments position in talking about the need to encourage “behavior change” is highlighted by the comments of Tory Welfare Minister, Lord Freud, architect of this attack on disabled people, when he said in 2014 that disabled people were “not worth” the minimum wage. How does that encourage employers to close the disability employment gap?

The WOWcampaign believes that now that this Government has admitted it is possible to assess the fairness of the austerity cuts targeted at disabled people the debate should now move onto whether it is right to make disabled people pay for the greed of the bankers. How we can make society fairer and more inclusive for all by giving all the equality of opportunity that the Government has committed to provide? Please sign our e-petition www.wowpetition.co.uk .

End

 

Notes to Editors

Active WOWpetition can also be found at: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/106068

The original WOWpetition is at: https://petition.parliament.uk/archived/petitions/43154

Signatures calling for Government to assess impact of its policies on disabled people since 2012:

e-petition 209681 – Pat’s Petition: 62,775 signatures; e-petition 43154 – WOWpetition1: 104,818 signatures; 106068 – WOWpetition2: 29,347 signatures. (at 11-30am 3Nov2015)

The WOWcampaign launched its new petition calling for the Government to “Assess full impact of all cuts to support & social care for disabled people”, 18 months after the original “WOWpetition” was debated in the House of Commons because little has happened since the debate, save for sick and disabled people being targeted by further cuts. During the debate The Minister for Disabled committed to working with Dr Simon Duffy [1] of the Centre for Welfare Reform to make the Independent Cumulative Impact Assessments carried out by him as accurate as possible but the DWP have not been willing to engage on this issue in good faith[2] . It would also appear that Mike Penning MP also misled the House during the debate when he stated “the Institute for Fiscal Studies has also said that that could not be done properly and accurately enough.”[3]. The IFS have stated on numerous occasions that they do not hold that position.[4]

Since the WOWdebate, the DWP’s own advisors, The Social Security Advisory Committee, have concluded that the Government could and should provide an analysis of the cumulative impact of its welfare reforms on disabled people[5] and the Equality and Human Rights Commission and The National Institute of Economic and Social Research, recommended “that HMT incorporates breakdowns of the cumulative impact of tax and social security measures according to protected characteristics into its distributional analysis as a matter of course.”[6]

John McDonnell MP for Hayes and Harlington revisited the Back Bench Business Committee and asked them to schedule a further debate of the WOWpetition stating

The motion was carried without opposition at the time, but 18 months on, we still have not had the assessment.”

“I led the debate presenting the original WOW petition to Parliament over two years ago but life for people with disabilities has been made even harder by this Government’s cuts. This new petition will highlight the appalling suffering many people with disabilities are enduring still.”

Since the WOWdebate figures have been released showing 10% more disabled families are in absolute poverty after housing costs (the only statistically significant increase/ decrease contained in the release)[7]; The UNCRPD has launched an enquiry into alleged grave and systemic abuses of the Human Rights of disabled people; and figures showing 4,010 people have died after being found fit for work have been published.

Pledged supporters

House of Lords

  • Baroness Sal Brinton (Liberal Democrat)
  • Baroness Celia Thomas (Liberal Democrat)
  • Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson (Cross-bench)

House of Commons and European Parliament

  • Labour : John McDonnell MP; Jeremy Corbyn MP, Debbie Abrahams MP, Graham Morris MP, Ian Mearns MP, David Lammy MP, Clive Lewis MP, Lucy Anderson MP, Dennis Skinner MP, Andrew Gwynne MP, Michael Meacher RIP, Katy Clarke, Jude Kirton-Darling MEP, Lucy Anderson MEP
  • SNP: Natalie McGarry MP
  • LidDem: Tom Brake MP
  • Sinn Fein: Francis Molloy MP
  • Green Party: Caroline Lucas MP
  • Plaid Cymru: Liz Saville Roberts MP; Hywel Williams MP

 

Statements Received for this Press Release

Debbie Abrahams MP, Shadow Minister for Disabled People: “I am appalled at the Government’s refusal to carry out a cumulative impact assessment into the effects of their policy decisions on disabled people. This is an issue I raised in a Westminster Hall debate on the effect of the Government’s policies on disabled people in June and again during the Committee and Report Stages of the Welfare Reform and Work Bill in the Commons.

“There is still no detailed government assessment made of the combined impact of social security cuts to disabled people. This has created a clear gap in accountability for the Government, although we do know that last year, more than 300,000 additional disabled people were pushed in to poverty.

“It is simply incorrect for the Minister to state that only one model can be used to analyse the effects of a policy and I understand the Equality and Human Rights Commission have been in correspondence with the DWP on this issue. Disabled people deserve to know the impact of the Government’s policies on their lives and I will continue to press Ministers to produce a full cumulative impact assessment.”

Reference:

During the Report Stage of the Welfare Reform and Work Bill on 27th October, Debbie said (Hansard, Col 252)

“Why have the Government not undertaken a cumulative impact assessment of the latest proposed cuts for disabled people, given that it is a requirement under the Equality Act 2010? I raised that point in Committee, and although I am grateful to the Minister for her response, she implied that only one model can be used to analyse the distributional effects of a policy. That is a flawed judgment. The Equality and Human Rights Commission is somewhat surprised by the suggestion that such cumulative modelling is not possible, given that it is undertaking its own cumulative impact assessment. I understand that the commission has written to the Government and highlighted the resources that are available to help them do that work, and perhaps when she responds the Minister will enlighten the House as to whether the Government have changed their mind.”

Professor Peter Beresford, co-Chair of Shaping our Lives and Professor in Social Policy at Brunel University commented: “The government again demonstrates its preparedness to ride roughshod over disabled citizens in rejecting the call for a full impact assessment of cuts to support and social care. It talks up the importance of evidence based policy and practice but refuses to act on its own rhetoric. Social care provision is in a parlous state and this is being made worse by ongoing cuts and welfare benefits restrictions. No wonder the UN is investigating the situation of disabled people in the UK.”

Actress & Comedienne Francesca Martinez said in response to the Government, on behalf of the WOWcampaign, ‘The government have once again shown how little they care about investigating the impact their cuts are having on disabled people and carers, and how willing they are to continue to push ahead with their heartless ‘reforms’. Their response makes us more determined to challenge their policies and fight to protect the rights of everyone, regardless of ability. We will not give up.’

Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett said The government’s response to the WOW petition can only be described as totally inadequate. In acknowledging existing analytical tools cannot ‘produce a cumulative assessment of the impact of policies on disabled people’ it is acknowledging that it has failed to act to secure essential data. Its response ignores the strong conclusions of coroners in several cases about the impact of the Work Capability Assessment on vulnerable people, and the broader conclusions of campaigners on the same issue. It does not acknowledge the widely documented disparate impacts of the greatly harshened benefits sanctions regime on disabled and ill people. The government must surely be concerned that the United Nation Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has launched an inquiry into the impact of welfare reforms. It needs to act to turn around the grave concerns that launched that.”

Carerwatch and Pat’s Petition said they “are alarmed that constant changes from the government are having a negative impact on family carers. Welfare Reform, NHS reform, loss of Legal Aid, cuts to local authority budgets, closure of the Independent Living Fund are placing unbearable pressure on families.  We believe the breakneck speed from the government to be dangerous, especially taking in to account that no one within government has assessed the cumulative effect of all these changes.”

Ellen Clifford, Stop Changes to Access to Work Steering Committee said: “Over the past few years Deaf and Disabled people have experienced difficulties with Access to Work and cuts to their support that has seriously undermined our ability to stay in employment, with numbers of people pushed out of careers and jobs they loved. Difficulties have ranged from payment delays, continuously lost paperwork and unacceptably hostile attitudes from advisers to the introduction of a cap in October next year which will discriminate against Deaf and Disabled people with high levels of support need, in senior positions.”

Twitter: @WOWpetition; Website: wowpetition.com; email: info@wowpetition.com; e-petition 106068 @ wowpetition.co.uk

[1] Hansard 27 Feb 2014 : Column 470

[2] http://www.centreforwelfarereform.org/library/by-date/next-steps-on-a-cia.html

[3] Hansard 27 Feb 2014 : Column 470

[4] http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/ministers-humiliated-over-cumulative-impact-assessment/

[5] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/324058/ssac_occasional_paper_12_summary.pdf

[6] http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/publication/research-report-94-cumulative-impact-assessment

[7] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/437246/households-below-average-income-1994-95-to-2013-14.pdf

Posted in WOW Blog

The WOWcampaign today launches a new e-petition!

wowThe WOWcampaign today launches a new e-petition to remind the Government that they have failed to honour the parliamentary motion in support of the WOWpetition.

You can sign WOW Petition here!

 

Today the WOWcampaign launches a new petition on the Government e-petition website, e-petition 1060681. It calls for the Government to “Assess full impact of all cuts to support & social care for disabled people”. The WOWcampaign have taken this action 18 months after the original “WOWpetition” was debated in the House of Commons because little has happened since, save for sick and disabled people being targeted by further cuts.

The “WOWpetition” was debated in the House of Commons on the 27th February 20142 after gaining 104,818 supporters. A motion put to the House, which called on the Government to produce an analysis of the cumulative impact of the Government’s cuts on sick and disabled people, was overwhelmingly passed. During the debate Mike Penning (then Minister for Disabled People) undertook to carry out several actions, including asking his officials in the DWP to work closely with Dr Simon Duffy 3 of the Centre for Welfare Reform to make the Independent Cumulative Impact Assessments carried out by him as accurate as possible. Since that debate nothing has happened. Dr. Duffy has been in touch with the DWP but has not been able to progress his work, and in an email of the 7th October 2014 he outlined his frustrations at the DWP for not being willing to engage on this issue in good faith4 .

It would also appear that Mike Penning MP misled the House during the debate when he stated “the Institute for Fiscal Studies has also said that that could not be done properly and accurately enough.”5. The IFS have stated on numerous occasions that they do not hold that position.6 Additionally, since the WOWdebate, the DWP’s own advisors, The Social Security Advisory Committee, have concluded that the Government could and should provide an analysis of the cumulative impact of its welfare reforms on disabled people7 and the Equality and Human Rights Commission and The National Institute of Economic and Social Research, recommended “that HMT incorporates breakdowns of the cumulative impact of tax and social security measures according to protected characteristics into its distributional analysis as a matter of course.”8

Francesca Martinez, stand-up comedian, actress and writer in whose name both the original and this new WOWpetition were submitted, said:

We need to show the new government that their continued attacks on disabled people and carers cannot go unchallenged. We need to show the new government that their continued attacks on disabled people and carers cannot go unchallenged. The cuts have had a devastating impact on a huge number of lives and have left many people fearing for their future. With the closure of the ILF, the disappearance of DLA, the withdrawal of benefits and the disastrous WCA, the basic rights of sick and disabled people are fast being eroded. Anyone can become disabled or a carer at any time so it is vital that we all get involved in ensuring that the human rights of every person – no matter what their ability – are protected. We call for a cumulative impact assessment, and we will not stop fighting until these dreadful cuts, which have already claimed thousands of lives, are reversed.”

The concept of welfare has been heavily demonized through a sustained media campaign which has resulted in a marked increase in disability hate crime and a growing rhetoric of blame towards claimants. We need to challenge this scapegoating, and remember that providing support for those who need it is something to be proud of – and what makes us a civilized society.”

John McDonnell MP for Hayes and Harlington, has revisited the Back Bench Business Committee and asked them to schedule a further debate of the WOWpetition stating

The motion was carried without opposition at the time, but 18 months on, we still have not had the assessment.”

“I led the debate presenting the original WOW petition to Parliament over two years ago but life for people with disabilities has been made even harder by this Government’s cuts. This new petition will highlight the appalling suffering many people with disabilities are enduring still.”

Jeremy Corbyn MP for Islington North, also commented, saying

“I backed the last WOW petition and I back this one because we can’t stand by and let this Government inflict this scale of hardship and suffering on people with disabilities. It’s inhumane.”

Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, said:

“This government must not be allowed to get away without accounting for the impact of the continuing attacks on the benefits and services that disabled people are entitled to in a humane, decent society.

“The WOW petition had a big impact last time around, and this 2015 version is entering a new political climate, in which campaigners are getting together to fight against the failed policy of austerity that is making the poor, the disadvantaged and the young pay for the greed and fraud of the bankers, and in which the political winds are clearly, finally, shifting after decades of failed Thatcherite policies from successive governments.”

Natalie McGarry MP, the SNP’s spokeswomen for Disabilities, said:

The SNP backs WOW’s campaign calling on the UK Government to conduct a full impact assessment of all cuts to support and social care for disabled people.”

and that the SNP

continue to call for full powers over social security in Scotland to allow us to protect, support and empower people who need help, rather than pushing them into poverty with punitive cuts and sanctions as the Tories are continuing to do.” 

Elin Roberts, Parliamentary Press Officer for Plaid Cymru commented that both Liz Saville Roberts MP and Hywel Williams MP have confirmed that they’re more than happy to support the petition.

Comment was invited from both the Conservative and Liberal Democratic Parties but none was received.

 

Increasing numbers of disabled people in are absolute poverty, hit by multiple spending cuts.

WOWcampaign believes that the last Government “targeted” sick and disabled people with their austerity agenda, with recently released figures showing 10% more disabled families are in absolute poverty after housing costs (the only statistically significant increase/ decrease contained in the release).9 More and more families with a disabled member are being forced into absolute poverty which, we argue, demonstrates how the Government’s austerity cuts are punishing sick and disabled people.

The impact of the myriad of spending cuts targeted at disabled people, and the withdrawal of support through often unreasonable benefit sanctions, has had a serious effect on the health of many, and may have even affected the life expectancy of sick and disabled people. However, this Government continues to withhold evidence, repeatedly delaying the publication of statistics relating to deaths following the withdrawal of support.

Debbie Abrahams MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth said it “‘beggars belief’ that Prime Minister David Cameron continues to back Mr Duncan Smith’s ‘inhumane’ sanctions despite a ‘mountain of evidence’ that … people are suffering and dying.” 10

We agree, and believe that if this Government is not going to act honorably and discharge its obligations in good faith, then we need to try increase the pressure on them to do so. Hence the new WOWpetition11.

 

2 Hansard 27 Feb 2014 : Column 423 to 474

3 Hansard 27 Feb 2014 : Column 470

5 Hansard 27 Feb 2014 : Column 470

Posted in News

WOWCampaign’s response to this ConDem Government’s repeated statement that it is impossible to do a Cumulative Impact Assessment of the way the Welfare Reform Act affected Sick and Disabled people, despite evidence to the contrary.

WOWpetition secured a debate in the House of Commons on the 27th February at which here today, gone tomorrow Minister for Disabled People Mike Penning said, “the Institute for Fiscal Studies has also said that that could not be done properly and accurately enough” but agreed to look again in light of Cumulative Impact Assessments carried out by Scope and Simon Duffy at the Centre for Welfare Reform. However, on the 9th April 2014 he had reverted to his previous position by stating in response to a question from Naomi Long MP on whether he will review his decision not to carry out a cumulative impact assessment, that “the previous Government did not provide this type of analysis and that distributional analysis is provided for the whole population on the basis of household income and household expenditure. However this is not disaggregated to the level of household characteristics such as disability status or lower level geographies. No organisation is able to do this robustly.”

Also, Lord Freud said in response to The Social Security Advisory Committees call for a Cumulative Impact Assessment that he did not believe that data available could be reliably disaggregated for disabled people and said this was a view also help by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

However, The Institute for Fiscal Studies have denied ever having taken this position as reported in Disability News Service as follows:
“David Phillips, senior research economist for IFS, who wrote the report, said it was unclear where the government’s view about the organisation’s position on CIAs had come from; He said: “We can’t find anything we have written down saying we can’t do a CIA.”

WOWpetition are convinced that the evidence tends to suggest a conspiracy at the highest levels of government to hide the effects of this governments austerity programme on sick and disabled people. Many people have died whilst awaiting support from this government whilst stressed, humiliated and intimidated, as pointed out by Dennis Skinner at the WOWpetition debate. The Government does not want the public or press to know the true impact of the austerity plan on sick and disabled children and adults. A factual admission would put in contrast how one group are having their human rights attacked whilst another gets tax breaks.

Posted in News

What Human Rights do you think Disabled People should have?

There is currently an exercise going on by which the Government reports back to the UN on how well it has implemented the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). There are also “Shadow Reports” being compiled around the country by user led disabled people’s organisation’s that will outline how well they believe the Government is doing. The UNCRPD was ratified by the UK on the 8th June 2009 before the surge in online campaign groups like the WOWpetition and rather than consider how well the Government has done in implementing this Treaty, the WOWcampaign (or WOWpetition mk.ii!!) is asking what should the UK Bill of Rights for Sick and Disabled People be, knowing what we know now!

What do you think? Tell us at http://edwinmandella.blogspot.co.uk/2014_07_01_archive.html

Posted in WOW Blog

A New Deal for sick & disabled people based on their needs, abilities and ambitions

Guest post by EdwinMandella

 

The WOWpetition called for

“A New Deal for sick & disabled people based on their needs, abilities and ambitions”.

What exactly does that mean? To start off with it means different things to different people depending upon their perspective.

One of my key “hot buttons” is providing the framework for disabled people to “play” as fuller part in life and society as they are able to or able to want to. This Government (and to an extent the previous New Labour administration) has based its entire strategy for dealing with everything on the mantra that work sets you free. In fact, one of the key ConDem messages was that too many sick and disabled people were “parked on benefits” by the previous administration, so we are going to enrich their lives and find them all meaningful work.

The Government started off in 1995 with the Personal Capability Assessment. We then moved onto the Work Capability Assessment from 2007 onwards. This reinforced the mantra that to be worthwhile you have to work. What it never seemed to consider was did the opportunities to work exist in the free market?

Since my accident I have never held a job for significantly longer than 2 years. During that time I have never been terminated with cause. Generally I have been “let go” although I have negotiated settlements with PwC and Cognos. Significantly, in order to achieve senior jobs I have had to hide my disability. I have never come across a company that values or wants disabled staff working for them. I’m sure they must exist but I am yet to find one.

So what is my problem? I wish I knew exactly! I can only speculate. I suffered frontal lobe damage to my brain in 1991 following a car crash. Headway, the Brain Injury Association states that executive dysfunction is common following frontal lobe brain injury and have produced a factsheet, Executive Dysfunction.

I believe the symptoms of Executive Dysfunction that occasionally affect me materially are:

Mood disturbances
  • Difficulty in controlling emotions when under what I perceive as a personal attack, which may lead to outbursts of emotion such as anger.
  • Rapid mood changes may occur. For example, switching from anger to happiness for no apparent reason.
Difficulties in
social
situations
  • Reduced ability to engage in social interactions.
  • Finding it hard to initiate, participate in, or pay attention to conversations.
  • Poor judgement in social situations, which may lead to saying or doing inappropriate things.
Difficulties with
memory and
attention
  • Decreased memory for past or current events, which may lead to disorientation.

This marks me out as different. I would ask you to consider whether the above dysfunctions would preclude me from senior level finance positions. In fact, would it preclude me from most paid employment, with reasonable adjustments? Being different is rarely an advantage!

These to me are all “soft skills” and reasonable adjustments can be found, but in my defence I am an accountant!

However, I’ll ask the question in a slightly different way? Do you think employers will rush to employ people displaying the above forms of executive dysfunction. I accept there are some enlightened employers, or specifically one individual, which is what in part allowed me to get to be CFO of a billion dollar company in Abu Dhabi but the financial crisis of 2008 appears to have changed that. Why should employers take a chance on “damaged goods” when there is a surplus of available qualified talent in the market place.

The question I pose is, will leaving it to the free market to decide whether to employ disabled, different people, produce the kind of society we promote in public? Why would the free market actively seek to provide equality of opportunity to all?

In “The Wealth of Nations (1776)”, Adam Smith proposed that when the “Invisible Hand”, or the law of supply and demand, operates,  people act in their own self-interest and that through this society benefits. However, crucially he caveated this by conceding that whilst individuals should be able to determine what to produce and consume, it is in our self-interest to have laws that protect consumers from being treated unfairly.

Here we come back to public opinion. Is it in the self-interest of the majority to protect disabled people and provide them with true equality of opportunity? Now do you understand why the ConDem government had to demonise disabled people and label them all benefit scroungers? We now have a free market where disabled people do not count.

This is important because the whole direction of efforts to get disabled people into jobs, let alone satisfying appropriate jobs, is based around convincing society that disabled people are worthwhile and should begiven a chance. That is what the Government’s Disability Confident initiative is about –

“A workforce that reflects the diverse range of customers it serves, and the community in which it is based, is good for business.”

Why not force the inclusion of disabled people in the workplace, and through them being there they can demonstrate their worth? Can anybody honestly say the current strategy is working?

The Office for Disability Issues says:

  • According to the Labour Force Survey, disabled people are now more likely to be employed than they were in 2002, but disabled people remain significantly less likely to be in employment than non-disabled people.  In 2012, 46.3 per cent of working-age disabled people are in employment compared to 76.4  per cent of working-age non-disabled people. There is therefore a 30.1 percentage point gap between disabled and non-disabled people, representing over 2 million people. The gap has reduced by 10 percentage points over the last 14 years and has remained stable over the last two years despite the economic climate.

So it all sounds positive? Try now?

  • There is a 30.1% gap between the numbers of working age disabled and non-disabled people in employment. What does that suggest to you? Substitute the word “black” for “disabled”. Does it read differently now? Don’t forget, these are all people that have been found fit for work so any allowance you are making in your head for these people not being as capable as their non-disabled counterparts is illegal discrimination
  • Under  previous Government’s this gap reduced by 10% up until the year the ConDems came to power, but we’ve managed to stop that . In fact, we’re surprised that our policies haven’t managed to reverse this trend given the economic climate.

I have spoken to many people on this subject and the underlying assumption has been in every case that the free market will provide appropriate employment for disabled people. I ask everybody that has assumed that to be true where is the evidence of that? Is it in the same place as the evidence supporting the use of the biopsychosocial model of disability? Where is the self-interest for the free market to provide equality of opportunity?

If we are serious about equality of opportunity and inclusion then let’s do something serious about delivering that. Why would we want to leave something as fundamental and important as this to the “free markets” who took us to the precipice in 2008?

What does a New Deal for Sick and Disabled People mean to you?

Posted in WOW Blog
Follow me on Twitter
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 11,801 other followers