Stiletto and wheels Stiletto title Sole to sole Stiletto

STILETTO – a high pointed HEEL on a woman’s shoe or a small dagger.

WHEELS – a medieval instrument of torture or a vehicle for personal mobility. title
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Hazard lights

As if I were not already dismayed enough by the government’s persistent erosion of support for those with long term disability and illness, they have now announced their plans for reforming disability living allowance (DLA) as well.

In their DLA reform proposal, the government says it is ‘unsustainable’ to support existing, and rising, levels of disability claimants. Whoa, back up there. Unsustainable? We’re an aging society; medical advances keep us alive in greater numbers even when we are ill or disabled; better technology is available to improve the life quality of sick and disabled people. This is not fraud or efficiency reform; this is about providing and maintaining, quality of life for people in genuine need. We are actually saying we cannot support even the current cost of this?

This government has already upgraded the qualification criteria, reduced monies paid, placed time limits and non-compliance punishments on unemployment benefits – all of which make life much more difficult for many disabled and sick people who cannot find, or are unable to, work for reasons not of their own making. And now we say we cannot afford to help support the costs of disability - in a society that is palpably ill-equipped to provide equal, or even any, access for many? I know we are in the midst of a financial crisis but do the majority of us really want to make life even harder for people who are already disadvantaged and sick in order to pay the country’s debts?

“We put out such a tough message in advance, it’s almost as if people are pleasantly surprised.” A treasury source said of the public’s reaction to spending cuts. Well, not all of us, mate. Both me and EaZyD are taxpayers and there is not a lot that either of us like about absolute cuts in the incomes of the poorest and most in need whilst the richest amongst us are ‘pleasantly surprised’! It makes my head feel like exploding. I didn’t vote for this and neither did the majority of the electorate … most of whom, I suspect, are entirely unaware it is even happening, thinking that anyone in genuine need is supported.

The government, and their media buddies, talk up huge numbers for fraud and scroungers and say the public support harsh reform policies. No one mentions the numbers or circumstances of those in real hardship. And in pretending there are few or none such, the government stomps all over one of the binding principles of social welfare – to the detriment of us all, I believe.

We all know the truth is that most disability claimants are actually former/current/future taxpayers or those disadvantaged by circumstance or ill-health. We know there are many barriers to employment in our society other than lack of will to work – poor education, poverty, discrimination, disability, illness, lack of jobs, location and so many more. We know some people are too ill/disabled to be expected to work, sometimes over very long time periods, and do not live lives of luxury and plenty on benefits. And, we know that individuals do not always control their own destiny and one of the reasons we all pay taxes is because life is not always fair and sometimes an individual needs the support of others.

The government likes to say: we look after those who look after themselves and the genuinely in need deserve our charity. But, supporting those in genuine need is not charity from us. It is part of our social contract and most of us accept it willingly as we pay our taxes because any one of us may need it some day and we want it to be there on that day.

When we look the other way as we do at the moment, removing the rights, privacy and dignity of those not as fortunate as ourselves; as we feel relief the government has not targeted ‘us’; we are each of us diminished by being compllcit in these harsh actions against those whose voices are not as loud as our own, who are least able to protest. Reinstate child benefit? What about reinstating £50 a week to give those confined in care homes some mobility?

Are we going to accept those with real and desperate need being deprived, persecuted and terrorised or might we adopt a more thoughtful and temperate approach? Last week, I came out of the Donmar Theatre and there were people huddled in shop doorways, sleeping rough … in this weather! I was shocked. I have no stomach for this and I really do not think most people do. We live the sixth wealthiest country in the world, is this any way to repay our massive debts?

In a notable Youtube video, disabllity campaigner, Bendygirl said, ‘Shame on you, Prime Minister’. I do not think the government have a mandate that accepts the genuine costs of disabled and sick people are unsustainable. And if they do, well, shame on all of us because we know better than this.

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