Sunday, 13 June 2010

Con-Dems and public secor/service cuts

No self respecting HR department would allow the employer to be taken to court for disability discrimination; not when there are so many ways for companies to circumvent the DDA.

Then there’s the difficulty in actually bringing an action against a company you feel has acted discriminately. If you belong to a trade union you could seek help through their offices; otherwise, it could work out very expensive in legal costs.

The DDA doesn’t give universal cover against disability discrimination. The law possibly favours disabled in employment, particularly in organised workplaces; but, as people on here have testified, even this is no safeguard against determined employers.

Labour, and now this shower of vicious cutters, the ConDems, are playing lip service to disabled people. If they were they serious about helping us into employment they’d ensure the easily accessible legislation existed; they’d have an affordable path to Tribunals.

The system would not be tortuously difficult and prohibitively expensive to access. For instance, why not have legal experts in each JobCentrePlus? If jobs are advertised in a discriminatory manner; or, if people feel they’ve been mistreated at any stage of the job seeking process they’d have a means of redress.

Unfortunately, we’re stuffed. This regime we’ve just been saddled is about to make the most vicious serious of cuts ever to befall the Welfare State. Our only hope is that they become riven with internal dissent as soon as possible and that such schism leads to another election.

Otherwise, I hold little or no hope for things like care packages, with councils only offering these to those assessed with critical care needs; a universal review of DLA will make the qualifying criteria more stringent, thus forcing scores of thousands off the benefit; I predict they’ll exclude all public sector jobs from the Access to Work scheme, with a view to abolishing the entire scheme; and, they’ll dispense with Tax Credits for disabled people.

Hope I’m wrong on all counts. But, from what I’ve read our new government has a greedy narrow grasp of economics; it is steeped in the creed of neo-liberalism; and, will strive to ensure its class comes out of recession relatively unscathed.

History has taught us the line of least resistance in their reaching such goals is an attack on the public sector; bitter lessons of mass unemployment and dismembering of entire communities is writ large across the pages of our social history, reaching down the decades.

Unlike previous recessions and cuts in the social budget, this time it will hit us, disabled people as never before. Just as we begin to make some breakthrough socially; just as we take our first tentative steps towards equality we’ll be driven back.

Despite our slow progress we are making headway; not as fast as, say technology or medicine or other social progressions; yet, it is an improvement to say the mid 1980s.

Today more of us live independently. More of us are seen travelling on public transport. We’re not restricted to driving around in pale blue three wheelers. Less of us are in institutions. More of us progress through ‘mainstream’, from primary to tertiary levels. And yes, more of us are in employment; and, less of us, as adults, living at ‘home’ dependent on aging parents.

For these very reasons I fear the retrogressive backlash that will result from the ConDems attacks on the public sector and services. What will happen to severely disabled people who are stripped of benefits; how do we survive without life sustaining care packages. I’m concerned, very worried. I envisage lots of our number being failed by the system; and, many people will die prematurely as a result of the actions of this uncaring government.

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