Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Disabled and tarnished

So the Low Review into the effects of stopping Mobility Allowance for people in residential care is out. It's a good clear report, setting out the evidence and making the case well for not taking this critical benefit away. (The 'easy read' version - designed to help people with a learning disability is particularly worth commending.) Thanks must go to Lord Low for carrying it out independently and to Mencap and Leonard Cheshire for setting it up.

We now wait to see whether Maria Miller and the government will take any notice of it. They have set up their own very low profile internal government review so they're obviously not just intending to take the Low Review on board as stands.

The thing that really worries me here and might swing the governments response into making this invidious cut, is the general background media articles and TV programmes that publicize benefit cheats as the predominant face of disability. These media forays put disability and benefit scroungers together, making the two closely associated in the public mind. This sort of presentation doesn't actually accuse disabled people of being benefit cheats, but it does bracket them together - and that's wrong. And it can cause substantial damage.

We need to make sure people understand that real people have real disabilities and desperately need things like Mobility Allowance. If we let this association of disability and benefit cheats take hold, the government could play on this as public opinion being for the cut. These views are out there - see the talk forums, even on the Low Review site itself. However much we know they're wrong, we have to acknowledge the views exist so that we can mobilize opinion against them.

We don't want the image of disabled people tarnishing.

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