Friday, 28 October 2011

Article by Inclusion London

"Bad News for Disabled People – report reveals extent of media misrepresentation

A new study of how media are reporting disability in the context of government spending cuts reveals a major shift in how disabled people are portrayed and the negative impact this is having on public attitudes and on disabled people themselves."

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Welfare to Work policy 'casts the disabled as cheats'

From today's Guardian

Flagship initiative threatens safety of the disabled by suggesting that they are scroungers, say charities

First line is "Employment minister Chris Grayling has said he cannot prevent the publication of negative stories about benefit claimants"

What is Maria Miller doing about this?

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Disability Capital Conference report from Disabled People's Action Network

This tallies with my experience at the Disability Capital Conference, too.

Was anyone else there? What did you think?

Maria Miller not fulfilling role as Minister for Disabled People.

What should a Minister for Disabled People do?

- Work for disabled people's equality in society.

- Educate government ministers about disabled people's needs and rights.

- Understand the needs of disabled people.

- Speak out against the misrepresentation of disabled people in the media.

- Listen to disabled people.

- Be accountable to disabled people.

What does our current Minister for Disabled People do?

The Minister for Disabled People heads the Office for for Disability Issues, which describes their role "The Office for Disability Issues (ODI) leads the government’s vision of achieving equality for disabled people".

Maria Miller is also responsible for " specific responsibilities within the Department for Work and Pensions which include Disability Living Allowance reform, reviewing the Independent Living Fund and specialist disability employment programmes."

As far as I've seen, our minister does the following:

- Allows newspapers to run inaccurate stories about "benefit scroungers" unchecked.

- Allows her colleagues to go on national radio and talk about Disability Living Allowance as though it were an out of work benefit, further reinforcing public misunderstanding of benefits.

- Is in charge of massive reform of Disability Living Allowance without adequately consulting with disabled people. The DWP consultation for the DLA reforms took place between the 6th of December to the 18th of February. That is 8 weeks for people to read and digest a 45 page document, and construct a response. Considering many disabled people may need support to access and understand this document, I don't think 8 weeks is a reasonable amount of time for such an important consultation.

- Responds to disabled people's letters about their concerns with form-letters that don't answer questions raised.

- Continues to allow a private company (ATOS) to be paid by the government to carry out assessments for benefit eligibility that have been shown to be inaccurate and unfair. ATOS assessors have found people to be "fit for work", who have died days after their assessments, and around 40% of people found "fit for work" have that decision overturned on appeal.

I believe Maria Miller is falling short of her duties in her role as Minister for Disabled People, and as such should be removed from her role in the cabinet. I need you to send evidence so I can present this information to the committee that scrutinises the work of Maria Miller, to get her work examined thoroughly.

The Shadow Minister for Disabled People, Anne McGuire is critical of the smearing of people claiming sickness + disability benefits: