Iain Duncan Smith says:
This government has embarked on one of the most aggressive programmes of welfare reform Britain has ever seen, and we already have a proud record of achievement. There is no doubt that changes to the welfare state are desperately needed. Our reforms will put an end to people being left on sickness benefits year after year; they will eradicate the trap that has left so many better off on benefits than in work; and they will ensure the benefits bill is sustainable over the longer term.
For example, someone like Steve, permanently disabled since an accident thirteen years ago:
I suffer from fibromyalgia, depression, severe pain in the lower back and neck and constantly have to have pain relief. My left leg is useless as a leg, and will if I don’t watch it get caught under my own wheelchair wheels as I’m not always aware of where it is. My right leg is better but standing upright, for even a few seconds’ causes a massive increase in pain then, I collapse and have even passed out.
Everyone dies. Nothing’s sure but death and taxes.
In general, over decades of the NHS and welfare support and help for disabled people, people have been living longer. Since the first Coalition government spending review, cuts on spending have targeted the poor and disabled.
The DWP’s own figures say:
The prevalence of disability rises with age. Around 6 per cent of children are disabled, compared to 16 per cent of working age adults* and 45 per cent of adults over State Pension age in Great Britain.
In 2008/09, 16% of pensioner households were living in poverty.
Esther McVey, the minister for disabled people, told the Mail on Sunday in March this year that in her view many of the people receiving disability didn’t really need it:
“Only three per cent of people are born with a disability, the rest acquire it through accident or illness, but people come out of it. Thanks to medical advances, bodies heal.”
Mortality rates have been falling steadily for years. There was a blip upwards in 2003, but it was followed by a blip downwards in 2004 – no overall change in the general trend downwards. Since the beginning of 2012, mortality among older people has been rising steadily, and has continued to rise in 2013.
[Note: The government have since decided to ensure no further evidence is published that could evidence a general trend upward by abolishing the Public Health England reports.]
Unnamed DWP spokesman:
“ESA for people who could be expected to get back into work was never intended to be a long term benefit.
“The time limit of one year strikes the best balance between recognising that some people need extra help to enter the workplace and that the taxpayer cannot afford to support people indefinitely who could return to employment.”
Marilyn Blakeman was initially told she was now permanently on incapacity benefit. But Iain Duncan Smith, proud of his ability to change people’s lives and get them off benefits, has indeed changed her life and will soon get her off benefits. Of course that would mean she’s living on nothing, but that would certainly be a life-changing experience, wouldn’t it?
Leigh Wright, of Jobcentre Plus wrote:
“You must attend and take part in work-focused interviews if you are asked to do so, to qualify for your benefit. You may also have to carry out work related activities that your adviser thinks will help you be able to return to work in the future.” If not: “Your payment can be reduced by £14.07 a week, rising to £28.15 a week after four weeks, until you comply. We call this a sanction.”
For those that need the warning, further down this blog I discuss child abuse.
I’ve been thinking about names and Internet privacy since Jeremy Duns asked the internet:
The answer to me is obvious: yes, they are. My personal unfavourite is the Herald, which bans all pseudonymous commenters: the New Statesman, which is just a complete muddle, is probably the next worse. Facebook is problematic, and Google Plus is a cosmic screwup all of its own. Part of that reason is that most computer systems do not handle names very well: see Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names.
Jeremy Duns has, fairly enough, got valid reasons to detest people who use multiple pseudonyms on the Internet, aka sockpuppets, which the Urban Dictionary defines as:
An account made on an internet message board, by a person who already has an account, for the purpose of posting more-or-less anonymously.
In 2008, fifteen Shadow ministers who are in the Cabinet today voted to cut the right to choose abortion to 22 weeks. (David Cameron: also Chris Grayling, William Hague, Philip Hammond, Jeremy Hunt, Andrew Lansley, Oliver Letwin, Francis Maude, Theresa May, Patrick McLoughlin, David Mundell, Owen Paterson, and Eric Pickles.)
David Davies, Liam Fox, Damian Green, Patrick McLoughlin, Owen Paterson – in all twenty front bench Conservative MPs, including Jeremy Hunt – had earlier voted in favour of cutting the right to choose abortion to 12 weeks.
In October 2010, Jeremy Hunt was happy to “elaborate” on the role of Tory cuts in denying people on a low income support for large familes:
“The number of children that you have is a choice and what we’re saying is that if people are living on benefits, then they make choices but they also have to have responsibility for those choices,” Hunt said on Wednesday’s Newsnight. “It’s not going to be the role of the state to finance those choices.”
Yesterday, two members of Abort67 won the right to continue to harass and intimdate women entering in a clinic in Wales. In the US this is called “sidewalk picketing” – harass enough women going into the clinic, the thinking of the prolifers is, and maybe one of the women will be scared or shocked or horrified out of deciding to have an abortion. Most women will of course just find these prolifers making a bad day even worse, but if you’re virulently prolife, that’s a win too.
If this catches on in Edinburgh, we may need clinic escorts.
Today, a group of people have written a letter to the Telegraph demanding that the legacy of the Paralympics should be – guess?
More funding for organisations that help disabled children to enjoy sport?
Most of learning to swim is confidence in the water.
I struggled to learn to swim without that confidence: once I had it – the surety that I could – I went from struggling with a buoyancy ring to underwater somersaults in what, looking back, feels like months, not years.
A group of scientific researchers in Australia have shown that participation in swimming lessons is benefiting the over all health and well-being of children. Early results of a study at Griffith University in Queensland has revealed that children who learn how to swim at a young age have physical, social, intellectual and language development advantages compared to the non-swimmers. Professor Jorgensen said this study was the largest of its kind in 30 years and stated: “We’ve only just done the first year of the study but already the indicators are suggesting that the children who have been in longer periods of time in early swimming do appear to be hitting those intellectual milestones, those physical milestones, earlier than children who aren’t doing swimming”. – Blue Wave Swim School
Leith Victoria is a nice swimming pool: I like it and I swim there regularly. But it’s a pool designed for people who already can swim. Two lanes are standard for people who want to swim regular lengths without interruption from adults and children splashing about, and so a child who can’t swim yet is confined to a quarter of the pool at most during regular public swimming hours. That’s normal for most pools.
Leith Waterworld was a treasure: a pool designed for all children, for disabled adults, for family use. Closing it down means fewer children will be swimming regularly, learning to have confidence in the water, discovering they love to swim. It’s ironic that this should be Edinburgh’s Olympic & Paralympic memorial: closing a pool that fostered the love of swimming.
Royal Mail offered to do a commemorative stamp for every TeamGB gold medallist, and to paint a pillar box in their home town gold.
So far – there are five days of the Olympics left to run – TeamGB has 22 gold medals. According to BBC Sport:
Great Britain have also bettered their overall Beijing medal haul of 47 following high jumper Robbie Grabarz’s bronze – Team GB’s 48th of the Games. They also look certain to add to that tally in the coming days – UK Sport had set a target of a minimum 48 medals at London 2012.
That is gold, silver, and bronze medals (as of today, TeamGB had already won that many) – not a target for gold medals alone.
Royal Mail will paint a red pillar box gold in every Paralympic gold medallist’s home town. But it will not issue a next day stamp in honour of every Paralympian.
After Aidan “Nazi stag party” Burley had to sit through “the most leftie opening ceremony I have ever seen”, he tweeted:
This evening at the Olympics stadium the three British gold medallists were a picture of the British multiculturalism that Aidan Burley and the Daily Mail had decried. Published on the Mail Online only a few hours after the Opening Ceremony came to an end, Rick Dewsbury wrote:
“This was supposed to be a representation of modern life in England but it is likely to be a challenge for the organisers to find an educated white middle-aged mother and black father living together with a happy family in such a set-up.