Posts Tagged ‘Welfare Reform’

Penning Axes the Disability Living Fund

March 22, 2014


Mike Penning, Disabilities Minister. Now in charge of making things worse for the most disadvantaged.

Also in this fortnight’s Private Eye is the news that the Disabilities Minister, Mike Penning, has announced that the government is closing down the Disability Living Fund. The Fund, with a budget of £320 million, supports 18,000 severely disabled people. It allows them to remain in their own homes, be able to get into work and take part in other activities, which they would otherwise be unable to do. The Coalition had tried to close the Fund down last year, but a court ruling in November (2013) appeared to quash that. The court found that the government had not properly considered their duties under the Equality Act. This was to promote the rights and needs of disabled people to participate in public life.

The government, however, merely acted as it always does when its reforms are criticised or blocked by an independent body. It waited a bit, and has now gone ahead and announced it will be closed anyway. The Eye states that on average the fund pays out about £300 per month. It will now be devolved to the local authorities, who are responsible for most social care. It will not, however, be protected, and local authorities are already being forced to drastically cut budgets for social care, and are finding it difficult to support the needs of increasing numbers of disabled people. The Eye states ‘many disabled people are terrified of the consequences’.

The Eye also notes that Penning has announced the Fund is to be axed just a month after the Centre for Welfare Reform issued its report “Counting the Cuts”. This showed that the 4.5 million British citizens with a significant disability bear a far disproportionate burden of the welfare cuts. The average burden of the government cuts is £1,126. For disabled people living in poverty, it’s four times as much: £4,660.

Nevertheless, Penning states that the government’s long-term economic plan will “ensure that disabled people are given the support that allows them to fulfil their potential.’ The Eye drily concludes that how they are expected to do this when they are already struggling ‘is thus hard to fathom’.

The article is on page 31 of the Eye for 21st March -3rd April.

I’ve already blogged about the vicious eugenicist hatred Maggie’s mentor, Keith Joseph, had for the working class, and his declaration in a speech in 1974 that ‘The balance of our population, our human stock, is threatened’. See Owen Jones, Chavs, pp. 45-6. One can reasonably ask how widely such attitudes are shared in the Tory party, and how far they have contributed to a climate of opinion on the right that seems to view the deaths of tens of thousands of people from poverty inflicted through the benefit cuts as acceptable. As many as 38,000 people per year may have died through them. Does Penning share this apparent visceral hatred of the poor and disabled, or is he simply a career ‘yes-man’, who has left his conscience aside in order to gain promotion from doing his masters’ bidding?

I put up a piece a little while ago commenting on the similarity between the Tories’ policy of having Atos throw the disabled off benefit, and often to their deaths, and the organised murder of the congenitally mentally retarded by the Nazi regime. This was organised by Hitler’s doctor and medical staff. At their trial, one of the doctors responsible for the mass murder attempted to defend their actions by saying that ‘they didn’t separate brains and arse’ – a German idiom meaning they had guts. One anti-Nazi doctor at the trial declared that that was because they didn’t have a backbone. Is this true of Penning and the other Coalition functionaries, administering and implementing cuts and reforms that have had the effect of further impoverishing and even ending the lives of the disabled?