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General Election 2017
Geoark Community champion, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,275 Disability Gamechanger
edited April 2017 in Coffee lounge
I am often surprised how often people say they ‘don’t do politics’. This is because life in the UK is about politics and this often impact negatively on disabled people more than any other group. This has been especially true in the last seven years of conservative government.
I believe this year’s general election will be one of the most important for disabled people there has been for many years. For the first five years from 2010, the conservatives were hindered by having to share power with the Lib Dems. The last two they have been hampered by having a small working majority. Despite these limitations, the effect on disabled people has been devastating for many.
We can expect the Conservatives and UKIP to make this election about Brexit and negotiating our exit from the European market. ‘Give us the mandate and we will be able to negotiate a better deal for Britain’. Sounds good, but if we give them the mandate they want – an overwhelming Conservative majority in Parliament – we grant them the mandate to do whatever they want, with only the House of Lords left to offer any checks and provide an effective opposition.
When it started PIP applicants had their assessment, if the applicant was unhappy with the result they could go to tribunal. Applicant success rate was high, 65 – 70% success rate. To deal with this the Conservative introduced the mandatory review. This was designed to cut down the number of cases going to appeal and has been effective, while those who continued to the appeal stage still hae a success rate of 60%. To reduce this further they are now talking about changing the appeal stage so applicants do not appear before the tribunal, again designed to reduce the number of applicants and to reduce the success rate.
Last November the government published a green paper on the welfare changes. A single line went largely unnoticed and generally unreported, they want to move those in the ESA Support Group to be moved to the WRAG group, with all the stipulations and demands this group face. Including a reduction in this benefit of £30, so they receive the same as those on JSA. This reduction was introduced because those in the WRAG group were less likely to move into work than those on JSA, the loss of £30 obviously would be a greater incentive to this group to move back into work. If this change goes through then potentially people with terminally illnesses will be expected to attend work related activities or face sanctions.
It is this perverse way of thinking which lead to another decision which has had a huge impact on many families. Those who were in rented accommodation were more likely to be working than those in social housing. To their way of thinking forcing more people into private renting would encourage greater employment. So councils were encouraged to fulfill their obligations to house people by putting them into private rented accommodation. The result has been the largest growing number of children living in relative poverty is among families living in private accommodation. Higher rents, less security, lower access to support and far more vulnerable.
The housing crisis in the South East and London, in particular, is so skewered that there is a growing number of architects and developers who pushing to be able to build micro-homes to sell. These are units which are smaller than the regulations for a bedroom in social housing with shared facilities. You read it right, these are not designed to be a temporary solution for homelessness but to actually sell. Young single people, 18 to 25, no longer qualify for housing benefit leaving many young people who are abused at home to either stay where they are and continue to be abused or become homeless.
Theresa May when she became the Prime Minister promised to work for the UK which benefited everyone. Yet continued Conservative policy suggests that there are clear losers while they continue to reduce subsidising poverty and continue to subsidise wealth. For me, the question is if Theresa May is creating a better UK for everyone, who are the nobodies? The answer seems obvious, anyone who depends on the welfare system.
Why bother voting, it won’t make any difference?
The vast majority of welfare spending goes to one vulnerable group who currently enjoy a triple lock on their benefits. So what is so special about this group? The majority vote. It doesn’t matter who they vote for, the fact they vote means they can have a huge impact on elections and keeping them sweet and happy makes sense.
While I may scratch my head as to why people may vote for a party that does not have their best interest at heart, at least they have voted and I respect that. To not vote but then complain about what follows, is a failure to understand that by abdicating your right to vote you consent to what follows.
Another argument I have heard is that so and so party always wins, my vote will not make a difference. Too many politicians sit on comfortable majorities and don’t have to worry about the views of those who do not vote. Each vote against them reduces their majority and as that majority vote disappears they can no longer ignore what the local electorate think.
There is little point in complaining that we do not have a voice when the opportunity to have one comes and we stay quiet because we cannot be bothered.
As I said, I don’t care who you vote for, but please vote in June.
As an individual I stood alone.
As a member of a group I did things.
As part of a community I helped to create change!