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.



  1. I'm really sorry to hear what you've been going through in recent months, especially the violence. I hope that you can get some appropriate care help soon. Social Care is such a mess - and it breaks my heart a little that we have to talk of "Social Care" now, no longer the "Independent Living" that disabled people had been fighting for (and had won many battles with) since the 1980s.

    Best of luck with getting some positive PIP news soon! Not had mine yet, but Mr Goldfish has and it was basically fine (even though the assessor they sent from Maxima was a bit hopeless, especially on the cognitive stuff). I hope yours comes through smoothly.

    Thank you for contributing to Blogging Against Disablism Day once again, especially when it's so much hard work! It's very much appreciated. :-)

  2. Normally, I write a blog in plenty of time for BADD. This year, I knew what I wanted to say, but just could not think clearly let alone write. Ended up typing on the beach in the sunshine bit by bit.

    Thank you Mrs. Goldfish for continuing to offer a platform for disablies and our supporters.