Posts

Do No Harm lobby

Image
This is the text of a speech I gave at a lobby of parliament organised by John McDonnell on 13.02.19 called Do No Harm. Campaigners told MPs how to reduce the appalling damage to disabled people's lives caused by social security cuts and reforms.

A hostile environment for disabled peopleThe Windrush scandal revealed how government policies can deliberately make life difficult for its citizens.
The same hostile environment has been put in place for disabled people, through welfare reforms that have caused us such suffering and harm, and made us into objects of hostility and distrust.
The hostility and suspicion was not accidental. As Mo Stewart, who can’t be here today, has demonstrated, its origins can be found in the writings of two scientists, Gordon Waddell and Mansell Aylward, who’ve advised insurance companies and governments on ways of cutting payouts to sick and disabled people.Their body of work says that most chronic mental and physical illness can be put down to malingeri…

The future of assessments and social security for disabled people

Image
This is a slightly edited version of notes for a presentation to the ESA roundtable meeting chaired by John McDonnell MP on 29th November 2018. The content is based on previous research work with Spartacus Network, independent research into ESA and the WRAG, research on Access to Work, as well as current research with the Chronic Illness Inclusion Project. The current benefits system was identified as the biggest source of social oppression faced by CIIP participants. We recently completed focus group on designing better social security for people with energy-limiting chronic illness.

Introduction The first part of this presentation is four main principles for a new assessment framework. A set of tests that any new system must meet if it is to restore the Human Rights of disabled people. The second part covers points for further discussion. Highlighting areas of current debate and disagreement.

Principles 1: Overturn the ideology behind the Hostile Environment, restore dignity and res…

And now, for my latest trick

Image
I am the lucky owner of a fab new powered wheelchair. And my new trick is that I am an ambulatory wheelchair user.

That means, sometimes you'll see me sitting in my wheelchair, and sometimes you'll see me walking.

This causes a great deal of social awkwardness, consternation and even shock. People seem to think I'm leading a double life. So I'll explain how it works.



If you see my in my chair, thank you for your concern, but I have not just had an accident or broken any bones. And, thankfully, my condition is no worse than it has been for the past few years.

If you see me walking, I have not suddenly been graced by a miraculous recovery. I still have the same crappy chronic illness I've had for 30 years. Neither am I using my chair to get attention or to pretend to be more disabled than I am in order to get some kind of advantage over everyone else - like a parking spot or a free ride.

No. I use my powerchair in the same way people use their car - for greater freed…

A Hostile Environment - briefing to Labour on DWP's treatment of disabled people

Image
Briefing to John McDonnell MP, Margaret Greenwood MP and Marsha de Cordova MP on my research into disabled people's experiences of conditionality and sanctions