As always, the UK budget announcements are controversial. But the 2016 budget seems to have created more of a stir than usual. Why? Because the government were planning on cutting disability benefits again, and everyone has been in uproar, even some of the MPs that you might expect would have supported it. So amongst all the noise, Disability Horizons co-founder Martyn Sibley shares his thoughts on the disability cuts saga, and asks you to do the same.
These past days my news apps, Twitter feed and Facebook timeline have been all about the disability benefit cuts. This article may not have perfectly researched stats, inside knowledge of government policy, big media clout, or total rationality, but it’s from the heart.
Since leaving my job at Scope, I’ve concentrated on lifestyle content. My view has been the world is so much better for disabled people. With financial investment for care support, equipment/technology and living adaptions, disabled people finally could aspire to more in life. With our basic needs seen to – suddenly work, travel and relationships were all more possible.
Personally and professionally, with stable foundations, I’ve been employed and self employed after graduating. I’ve travelled the world. I’ve got engaged. Without my care/equipment/adaptions these amazing experiences wouldn’t have happened.
Furthermore the metric of a successful life isn’t just work, travel and sex. It’s about living a life according to personal preferences and choosing them ourselves. Many disabled people want to work, but their impairment stops them from doing so. This doesn’t mean they’re lazy or worthless.
The United Kingdom is a wealthy nation. This talk of recession and austerity is possibly a myth. If it is real, it certainly isn’t caused by the countries welfare costs. We see other people causing economic havoc and getting away with it. So why scapegoat those who least deserve it or can cope with it?
If we must look at this economically, let’s not forget that the ‘cost’ us disabled people cause our nations bank balance is actually an investment. From my care/equipment/adaptions I create economic productivity, jobs, tax revenues and require less welfare support.
Whether it’s me losing out on being employed, or others remaining unemployment and being more destitute – consider the longer term costs! Not only would there be a need for more support towards food, housing, and bills. There would be costs of physical health (for example sores from not showering enough). There would be costs of mental health (for example from going to bed at 20.30, as many have to already). There would be costs to society (for example the stigma that one of the richest countries cannot look after its own people).
So where do we go from here? Well, I’m not going to stop aiming and aspiring for more. Therefore the lifestyle content must continue. However, I’m going to share more about any disgusting cuts, proposed or otherwise – we need to make sure these never happen. I’m going to share more news, and ask guest writers to contribute to Disability Horizons on the matter.
I’ve already asked DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) to write for Disability Horizons. This will give you more information on how to engage locally. I’ve already joined my local DPAC Facebook group. They’ll also share information on protests and petitions.
Let’s not let this get swept under the carpet guys. It’s 2016! If the UK cannot do this, what hope is there for the rest of the planet?
By Martyn Sibley
Tell us your opinion on the 2016 budget and the previously planned disability benefit cuts. How would it have affected you or others you know? Get in touch by messaging us on Facebook, tweeting us @DHorizons (#Budget2016), emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or leaving your comments below.