Iain Duncan Smith has resigned. The cuts to disability benefits which he approved are to be reversed++.
After 2138 days in office, after being directly implicated in more than 80 suicides, after more than 2380 people had died though Iain Duncan Smith’s system found them “fit for work”, while children go hungry and cold because of Iain Duncan Smith’s benefit sanctions on lone parents, after a jump in the death rate for the elderly and infirm unprecedented since World War II, Iain Duncan Smith has finally resigned – claiming at length that he did so because the new disability cuts brought in by Wednesday’s budget were “indefensible”.
Remember Leith Waterworld?
This was a unique facility at the foot of Leith Walk – a swimming pool with shallow areas and room to play. Edinburgh Leisure had nothing else like it. Leith Waterworld was closed in January 2012, and sold to a commercial property developer in May 2013. Nothing has been done with the site since: it’s just another greyzone area in Leith.
The decision to sell the site for a million pounds to a property developer was defended by the SNP councillor for Colinton / Fairmilehead, Richard Lewis, who is now the City culture and sport convenor, as “we had to be realistic” since a property developer will promise to develop the site as a soft-play area and generate 80 jobs [which did happen eventually…] whereas Splashback, the community campaign to re-open Leith Waterworld, was “a long punt”. (By December 2014, the main sign of that promised “substantial investment” in the area was a pile of dangerous rubbish left outside the Leith Waterworld building for over a week: the property developer, based in Glasgow, professed themselves entirely unaware of the rubbish heap.)
As I wrote in September 2012:
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.
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.