Sunday, 30 April 2017

Disablies are Dying in the UK

I have been having a really bad few months.

Since prior to my housemate finding new employment, I have been trying to obtain a formal statement of need from my local social services.  I had one but being socially minded, I chose to let my housemate look after me whilst he was unemployed, thus saving the Council money in paying for formal carers. A social worker got involved this time, instead of the usual council assessors. The assistance was requested in October, and only just before this bank holiday weekend did the social worker contact me with her assessment, which completely ignores my known needs as backed by my own G.P. (family doctor). This will now of course require me to appeal, further delaying the assistance I need to eat, take medications and deal with my personal care. My housemate now is so fed up of it all, that he has decided to throw his hat in the ring and advise Trafford Council that they either come up with an appropriate care package, or he will refuse any caring for me. This of course will then mean the council and social services will have to provide a much more expensive package as well as the cost of more frequent visits from the social worker and other bureaucrats. There is a social care crisis in England & Wales: tens of thousands of elderly, disabled and sick folk cannot obtain a care plan and thus the care they need just to stay alive.

I was assaulted and injured in December by an acquaintance who knew full well I am disabled and could not fight back. Because he is dating one of my good friends I feel constrained about reporting it to the police, as he would end up with a criminal record and the likelihood is that he would lose his livelihood. This then would likely put inordinate pressures on my friend’s affinity. The evidence is mixed, but the general consensus is that disability hate crimes have been on the increase since 2010. A report by the EHRC was misreported as stating that there had been no increase; but the agency swiftly issued a clarification. Unfortunately, by then the media was reporting the non-increase in hate crime...

In January I finally received my electronic Personal Independence Payment (PIP) claim-form from the UK’s notorious Department for Work & Pensions (DWP). It was necessary to get my Member of Parliament (MP) involved as the DWP were very reluctant to assist me with a non-paper form and provide me with one that could be completed via computer. This is a legal requirement of UK anti-disability discrimination legislation. However the DWP regularly fails to issue forms appropriate to inter alia blind & partially-sighted folk, for example, so is constantly breaching the Law. They also do not publicise the email address from which one can request accessible format forms. I only found it out due to having connections from my disability rights activism. (Ultimately I hope to lodge this issue with the Equality & Human Rights Commission (EHRC). Unfortunately, the UK government has cut this body’s funding to the bare minimum, so that it is now very difficult for them to fulfil their statutory obligations.) Due to arthritides writing for me is exceptionally difficult if at all possible. The form is actually a forty-plus A4 page booklet. I have cognitive difficulties at the best of times; but during the winter months my (progressive) aphasia is at its worst. Thankfully, I dealt with a very understanding civil servant who permitted an extension, so I had sufficient time to fully answer all the questions. It is now more than two months since the DWP received my claim and I have still had no decision.

Very large numbers of disabled individuals have been losing their disability payments as they are moved from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) the UK’s previous, far from generous, top-up payment for the extra costs incurred by those with impairments and disabilities. Losing this extra cash is not the only ramification of being found ineligible for PIP. It is an access payment to other social security benefits, such as housing benefit and the Motability scheme, whereby one is entitled to an adapted vehicle, electric wheelchair &/or mobility-scooter. Tens of thousands of disabled folk have had their adapted transport confiscated and are now trapped in their homes, many also have lost their jobs as they are unable to access public transport. The Citizens’ Advice Bureaux (CAB) network has calculated that some half a million disabled will lose out under the UK government’s cuts to benefit payments.

[*TRIGGER WARNING* Please do not continue reading if discussion of death/suicide may upset the reader!]

One of the most under-recorded and under-shared issues occurring in the UK is the sheer huge numbers of disabled people who are being “nudged” to commit suicide or are dying due to lack of food, appropriate medicines, accommodation that means they can lead independent lives, etc. The UK has gone from being one of the better countries supporting disability rights globally, to a pariah state quietly killing off its disabled & chronically sick populace. The mass media all but refuses to report on these issues, due to being in the main controlled by supporters of the ruling party. Only a few weeks ago one of these right-wingers suggested that it was appropriate that disabled folk and poor folk committed suicide in order to reduce the burden on the country’s economy - sounds similar to the polemic of 1930’s Europe and the USA, when it was euphemistically called eugenics and which led ultimately to the deaths of millions, a genocide. Currently the numbers dying due to the failures of the UK state are in the tens of thousands. This is termed ‘democide’. But when does democide become genocide?

The United Nations (UN) has already published three reports heavily critical of the UK’s approach towards the vulnerable in British society. A fourth report is due after the snap election, so too late to have any real effect on the electorate - assuming, of course, the media actually reports on the findings.

Europe has been asked by several disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) to investigate the deaths of we disablies. Up to now they have refused to do so. The UN can only write report after report. Meanwhile more disabled folk die needlessly each and every day. The relevant European Commissioner appears to have made no public statement about what is occurring in Britain. The European Union (EU) also appears completely unprepared for the tsunami of disabled/chronically sick people who will flood into Europe once BREXIT is complete, if not beforehand.

My academic background means I should have preferred to publish this blog completely annotated with supporting links to documentation, reports, statistical analyses, etc. Alas, I am not well enough to do so. However, my long-term readers know I do not exaggerate. Please do your own searches to check the facts.

The United Kingdom IS KILLING disabled &/or chronically sick individuals: family members, friends, neighbours, community members…… NO-ONE is lifting a finger to support us. I can only hope that this blog will survive to record what is happening here and that historians will once again record that the world stood by why innocents were killed by an uncaring state.

Please stand witness with me & my ilk!


This blog-post is published as part of Blogging Against Disablism Day 2017 (#BADD2017). For this year's articles and previous years' archives, please see here.


Thursday, 20 April 2017

Vote Tory To Kill Your Disabled Neighbours…

It's been a hard few months for me. Nearly six months down the road, and I still have NO care plan due to the national social care crisis. However, even if my toilette is not regularly seen to, I am now eating more regularly and taking the vast majority of my meds and at the appropriate times. Still awaiting after nearly two months to hear from DWP about PIP decision, after taking me six weeks to complete the claim-form (forty-plus page booklet!). My state of health remains poor and my cognitive abilities weak. There has thus been a dearth of blog-posts. My apologies therefor.

[Image description: white background, black triangle to the left; to the right the slogan -
I will be voting
Against the
In Support Of
Disabled People
(sic) courtesy of Black Triangle]

This morning I was sent a link to a blog-post by Fiona Robertson aka @knittingquark on Twitter on the Commonspace website.

Fiona has very kindly given me permission to reblog the post in full. Please read and share either the original or my reblog, but please share it as widely as possible on any social media platform the reader happens to use. Fiona's writing is concise and lucid and makes the arguments way better than I could.

If a state "nudges" folk to suicide, then that state is guilty of murder. This IS what has been happening in the UK since 2010 due to deliberate policies of our elected government, policies that have been criticised by the United Nations.

We disablies and our carers & supporters need to let the British populace know that if they vote for the Conservatives they will be complicit in, depending on numbers, democide or genocide.


[Image description: blue background, EU ring of stars to the right; to the left the slogan -
Let's make June
the end of May
© n/k]

The article is entitled: 


Voting Tory in #GE17 is a vote to kill people like me, and you need to know why


Disability activist and writer Fiona Robertson says the UK's most vulnerable are screaming for help

IT IS to their credit, and to our collective doom, that the Conservative Party are masters of controlling narrative. 

Although, much of the groundwork was done during Tony Blair’s days of rhetorical tricks and language manipulation to sow doubt about the veracity of a person’s disability, to seed suspicion and harden attitudes. It is these linguistic and narrative tricks which have been used to make people think of the tens of thousands of deaths under austerity as a sad but necessary evil, or to make people ignore them completely.

They speak as if what they say is reality, and we usually just go along with it until it is.

Theresa May’s General Election announcement included a lot of these narrative devices, accusing anyone who doesn’t agree with her of treating politics as a game, and framing the vote as entirely a vote regarding Brexit and the mandate she needs in order to negotiate from a place of strength.
We cannot, under any circumstances, allow the Tories to reframe the concept of a General Election.

This is not just a vote on Brexit, it is a vote on their entire manifesto and a judgement on their policies on everything from crime to social care to housing to international relations. Voting for the Tories may well be a vote for Brexit, but it is also unquestionably a vote for certain death for some, and permanent damage to the health of tens of thousands of disabled people.

Never, ever forget that.

When I and my fellow disability activists woke up on the morning after the last General Election, we spent an unrelenting few days tag teaming as we tried to keep people in our community alive. We were not always successful. Over and over, hour after hour, we saw iterations of the same message: "I do not think I will survive this government."

The day of the election, we had all taken a few moments to remember the people who were not there to vote because of the actions of the coalition government. We took a moment to think of the people who would not make it to the next election if we lost. 

Amid the elation so many in Scotland felt at the sweep of SNP seats, we disabled people also felt utterly betrayed and hopeless, because the population of the UK had voted to enforce extreme, frequently lethal, damage to our health.

If you do it again, if you do this to us again, we will never forgive you. You can't pretend you don't know, you can't pretend that other things are more important, that it’s not the killing of disabled people you’re voting for really; it’s the other stuff. 
The point of civic nationalism is that we have to take responsibility for the choices we make as part of a society. We cannot tick a box and say 'I didn’t know', or 'I care about this bit but not the other bits'. 

We have to weigh our decisions, weigh our actions and inactions, and live with the results. We have to accept responsibility, and we have to ensure that others accept their responsibility. We have to not look away.

There were 30,000 extra deaths in England and Wales in 2015 as a result of cuts to health and social care, according to research by Oxford University. There were hundreds of suicides by the very lowest estimates, though we who spend our days working with people who are struggling to survive this government know there are more which aren’t counted; that there are many, many deaths because the stress and fear and pain and malnutrition and isolation exacerbated a person’s condition to the point of lethality. 

More than 50,000 people have lost their motability vehicles and become chronically isolated. Every one of those is someone who was considered disabled enough to require high mobility care until the Tories changed the narrative of who deserved assistance, against all the evidence from expert organisations who responded to the consultation. 

There has been "almost universal" deterioration in and frequently permanent damage to the mental health of people going through the Work Capability Assessment.

We have to be completely clear to the people we speak to. We can no longer afford to mince words or be neutral because, again, the narrative is that neutrality is rationality. In situations like this, anger and bluntness are the only rational responses.

We need to tell them, with no platitudes or appeasement: "You will be voting to allow the government to kill us. We will not forget, and we will not forgive."

Nothing else is more important than this.

Do not let them change the conversation.


BREXIT is not as yet a fait accompli: it can still be stopped. The rights of disabled family members, friends, neighbours and disabled folk in the wider community can only be safe-guarded for the long-term within the EU and under the Council of Europe. At the moment the UK government blithely ignores international laws and treaties. Outside Europe it will be at liberty to do as it wishes with disabled and chronically sick folk. Please support us.


I have lost the credit for the above poster, however the creator stated that she was happy for it to be used and shared.