Saturday, February 18, 2012

Disability workloaded

Thanks to one of my contacts for drawing my attention to one of the nastier bits of the current governments disability legislation - see Guardian article

They seem to be giving themselves the power to insist on disabled people being forced to take work at no pay while on benefits for an unlimited time. Now god forbid I'd want to suggest they wouldn't be sympathetic in implementing this, and I'm sure they'd not actually insist on really disabled people taking up jobs that would damage them, or terminally ill people having to work until they're given less than 6 months to live, or making disabled people work for less than the minimum wage straight away. But if they really are that humane - why do they need the powers to do all these things? The defence that 'we wouldn't actually use these powers that way' just isn't good enough. If they're not going to do it, they shouldn't make it legal.

There are a number of powers in the current governments health and 'welfare' legislation agenda that smack horribly of a desire to return to the
workhouse or worse. There are also even more sinister overtones which seem to want to brand disabled people as a 'problem'. We have seen this before - in the eugenics movement. Pastor Martin Neimoller famously warned of this.

Unfortunately he was wrong - First they came for the disabled. (Ultimately resulting in Aktion T4).

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Wirral council fallout

So the politicians in Wirral are now arguing about whether they should force one another to resign over their financial abuse scandal.

But in the press coverage, the fact that the actual abuse and whistleblowing was an institution taking money it wasn't entitled to from real vulnerable people with learning disabilities seems to have got lost. Yes they are being compensated - reluctantly, after the council was ordered to by a judge, and they had to live in poorer circumstances while they were being cheated.

I don't really care which politicians resign - or not. I do care that this happened in the first place and I do want to see other councils make sure it isn't happening in their areas - and there isn't much evidence of this happening. My impression is that no individuals benefited from these people being cheated. It's just the finance department managed to save money for the council when it should have been social services in control, ensuring these people got what they were entitled to.

People should come before money, here concern over money took precedence over care for people. And politicians publicly battling over their own political skins without acknowledging what actually happened and who really got hurt, isn't very edifying.

NHS not for sale

I'm conscious that some of the people reading this seem to be from from America. It surprises me you'd be interested but you're very welcome. This weeks Panorama TV programme about poverty in America made me think how fortunate we are here.

I'm conscious there's a big health care and welfare debate over there and I'd just like to make the point that I'm not against the NHS generally - my son would never have survived without it, beyond a baby. Health and social services here, in the main, work. The issues I raise in this blog are about the failings any system will have - particularly big systems - and getting them put right. Many of these deficiencies are a result of current policies to move closer to the privatized, American model.

I'm a major backer of the NHS and social services and want it improved not cut back. Under a privatized system, even if my son had survived (unlikely), we would have been bankrupt long ago, and I wouldn't be able to afford a computer or internet access, so wouldn't be speaking here.

Health and welfare in Britain are a bit like the BBC. They do get things wrong but we'd be lost without them. If the 'Big Society' means anything at all, it's already here with everyone (almost) committed to making sure everyone has a decent chance in life - the NHS and social services are a major part of this.