Saturday, 19 October 2013

I Introduce : The new Minister NOT for Disabilities. RIP Alf Morris

Aha! We have the first jewelled utterances from the new Disability Minister, Mike Penning. Except he isn't called the Minister for Disabled People any more. In the Daily Mail of course. Where else?

I'm sure it will surprise no-one to know that this government who have set about demolishing or undermining every single support and service sick and disabled people rely on, have abolished the role of a dedicated minister. He is "Minister of State for Work and Pensions" and hisrole only includes the issues of sick or disabled people.

This is the first time since 1974 that we have not had a minister soley focussed on the rights and inclusion of sick and disabled people. In 1970, Alf Morris (Labour) successfully introduced the Chronically Sick & Disabled Persons Act, the first in the world to recognise and give rights to people with disabilities. In 1974 he became the first Minister for the Disabled anywhere in the world. In 1991 he introduced a Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill. (Wikipedia

Well, I say the first time, but in effect, Maria Miller singularly failed to champion the causes of sick and disabled members of society in any way at all. Esther McVey did little more, though at least she had the decency to mention access and transport issues here and there.

Both accepted the role and stood by silently as sick and disabled people saw a shocking 28 Billion stripped from their incomes and services. A full Fifth of the entire deficit reduction plan. This is the biggest single assault on the lives of those with disabilities in memory. They accepted their roles as members of a DWP team, not as independent ministers in place to challenge and inspire society to be inclusive, whilst challenging ministers to follow their duties under UK and international law to ensure basic human rights for those born to face great challenges.

They both accepted the poison chalice and both kept quiet. They were both promoted for their willingness to walk on by on the other side. They both lied repeatedly. Just search "Personal Independence Payments" here  They both knew the details and have as many desperate constituents as any other MP.

Now we have Mike Penning, who in his first interview for the Daily Mail here : claims that it is "morally wrong" for people with cerebral palsy or motor neurone disease to get "welfare payments" for life. Wrong for people undergoing dialysis every day. Wrong for people on chemotherapy. He claims that it is "morally wrong" for people with quadriplegia or Alzheimers or Parkinson's to get "welfare payments" for life.

Oh of course, he doesn't tell you that in the article! That would be shocking. No, he makes these claims because

"Only 6 per cent of new disability benefit claimants have a face-to-face assessment with a medic, it has been revealed."

I'll leave others to rebutt the half-truths, mistakes and outright lies in his article - they'll do it much better than me and I can feel the deferred glow of a thousands heated keyboards smoking as we speak. 

But it's very important that the public know that what Mr Penning fails to mention is that the ONLY way someone can qualify for Disability Living Allowance at present on a paper assessment alone, is if their impairments and diagnoses are so significant, their medical evidence so strong, written by the GPs and Consultants that know them best that a Department of Work and Pensions own decision maker, has no doubt of a genuine claim and which rate it is appropriate to award. 

They know that the conditions I list above and hundreds more will never get better. Many will only get worse. They know that it is a non-sensical waste of taxpayers money to insist that a non-verbal young man who will never walk or feed himself is put through the unnecessary trauma of attending a face to face assessment with someone they have never met. They know that the impairment will always mean that the individual will need our care and that life will always be more expensive for them than someone living without an impairment. 

That's why they make the decision to only see people when more information is required, or a face to face assessment might be helpful in complicated cases. 

I wonder if faced with this new information, the tax-payer might actually agree, that it's efficient to assess the people you need to assess and make the process as stress free and uncomplicated as you can for those who clearly qualify? 

As the article states, the replacement for DLA, PIP is about to be rolled out. An incomprehensible 1 in 5 people will lose the support they need to get out of bed in the morning or get dressed or leave their homes. 1 in 5!! 

If you were part of a government about to attempt to slash vital support so vastly, you'd need a pretty good line wouldn't you? How would you even begin to convince the public that you're right?

The only way is to imply that that 20% of all people in the UK relying on us to help them to live with the dignity we take for granted, don't need us any more. It's to imply millions didn't really need the help anyway. No-one checked them, they could be saying anything! "Not seen by a doctor" implies they have nothing wrong with them, perhaps no diagnosis. But the headline refers to a benefits doctor not a GP or consultant. 

You convince the public, just as you did with those who were too ill to work, that someone's getting an easy ride, taking something for nothing. Taking them for mugs. All those people with Alzheimers and breast cancer, and kidney failure and severe brain damage. 

And don't you have to be a pretty special kind of soul to make that argument knowingly? Aware that misrepresenting the people you will harm is the only way to get things done?

**UPDATE Thanks to FOIs from Jayne Linney, and quick linkage from @Hossylass Caroline Richardson and Anita Bellows from DPAC (@anitabellows12) here are the figures Mike Penning refers to at the top of P6

As you can see, "Medical Examination Report is the 6% figure of those who were actually seen face to face by a DWP engaged assessor. 40% GP, 10% on the claim form they submitted alone, and 45% on "other evidence" perhaps a community psychiatric team or a consultant. 


  1. more from the naive at best labour loony, someone wants to educate her on dismantling of services by her labour party, to bring up the great Alf Morris in the same breath as today,s labour party shows how desperate she is

    1. I find one mention of Labour in the article and it is not in reference to today's Labour party.

      Troll harder.

    2. You should change your name to voxUNpopuli2, especially when you are trolling this website. Conservatives are more LOONY than anyone to do with labour! Don't dare say anything bad about Sue in your stupid waste of time comments, you are pathetic.

  2. Troll harder, heeeheee, love that. I don't get a very good standard of troll, sadly. Nothing to really get my teeth into.

    1. Trolls are useful Sue - more comments, means more unique content which means a higher google ranking for you website.

  3. I know the standard of trolls these days lol, so at least we know where we stand with new minister for disability

  4. And so the Propaganda has started...well, here's my pennorth, I'm sure there are lots of good people gathering stats to point out how much misinformation was in that article by Penning. The one about DLA being for people unable to walk was a straightforward lie, no doubt to make Daily Mail readers assume that only those in wheelchairs were able to legitimately claim DLA(PIP) and those with other conditions, downright scroungers and fakers. Ho hum. I found this list of conditions relating to DLA, just to put that tiny piece of the record straight at least.

  5. Disability denial has extended to Ministers job titles then? I'm surprised they don't call him the 'minister for lazy scroungers'. *head desk*

  6. Just got home from Unite the Resistance conference in London. Pleasing to read your article Sue, though the content is somewhat saddening. It only adds weight to the points raised by many, including Keira from DPAC. GET ANGRY AND FIGHT BACK - ORGANISE TO Win!

  7. The Daily Heil article is SHEER EVIL! So much for Lord Leveson's inquiry - They just carry on spewing hate and outrageous LIES with IMPUNITY!


  8. In Tory minds the benefit is for those unable to walk. Thats why they introduced criteria which says that "if you can walk 20metere but no more than 50 meters with or without an aid." If you can do that then you don't qualify for the new high rate or whatever its called. . The other thing in this article that really annoyed me was how they kept focusing on work and inferring that people claimed DLA instead of unemployment benefit. The article started by saying " Labour tried to ‘control unemployment’ by putting people on disability benefits." The references to work then went on and on. Then there is one reference to the fact that DLA is not an out of work benefit but you have to look hard to find it. This is it "Though DLA can be claimed by those in work, """the minister said he believed people had been shoved on to a range of sickness and disability benefits to stop them claiming unemployment handouts."""" Notice immediately the article then goes back to trying to claim its claimed as a replacement for JSA. The fact is, DLA is the main way disabled people CAN work. For many if they lose that they lose their jobs. I know i'm terrified as it took me years to build the confidence to work again but its only possible through DLA.

    1. Quite right Peter, my daughter (who has MS) works, but can only do it because she gets DLA, without it the cost of getting to work, of having carers to help her get up in the morning would mean she could not work. There may come a time when the MS gets so bad she will no longer be able to drag herself to her front gate to get in the taxi, but she wants to continue to contribute for as long as she can.

  9. Anyone noticed that no comments have yet been published on the DM article (as of Sunday lunchtime). Are they perhaps too critical of the DM's bile?

    1. I was wondering about that myself Mark. I made a comment yesterday.

  10. i think when you have cases like what Dennis Skinner outlined last week in the commons and that death failed to move the prime minister then you think to yourself why is David Cameron not reading the riot act to the DWP


    one of the most horrific pictures you will ever see in modern EU history then you know that David Cameron is a monster after all as no one could mistake that man as being fit for work only a sociopath would and if this being the case the deaths of many sick and disabled people are yet to come in there thousands

  11. Mark, I left a comment on the site critical of their misinformation..of course, it wasn't printed..So 4 hours later..I sent them an even stronger 'message'..the contents of which were ALSO not printed..tho at least someone there knows EXACTLY what I think about their right wing 'rag'

  12. I did too - but there are no comments? I expected a whole chorus going on about people being given cars, running to the pub when no-one is looking, etc.

    How can ministers make these cuts/pronouncements when they clearly have no clue or interest in the realities? The Mail just clearly panders and parades its own prejudices - but we pay these idiot politicians to get it right.

  13. Interesting, I tried to comment too, but it seems it got swallowed into the ether...


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