The Devastating Impact Of Uk Austerity On Disabled People
When the UK’s Conservative-led Coalition government introduced their austerity program in 2010, most people weren’t aware of its devastating effects on Britain’s disabled population.
It was only when statistics started to reveal the harsh truth about how these cuts had impacted those with disabilities that people began to realize just how dire a situation there was.
Thanks to Crippled: Austerity and the Demonization of Disabled People, we can now understand exactly what austerity means for disabled people.
Through hard-hitting facts and personal case studies, we learn how these budget cuts are forcing many into poverty and dependence and how they’ve especially been hitting women and children the hardest.
More than just raising awareness, the book calls for a change in our attitudes towards disabled people – which is desperately needed now more than ever.
The Disastrous Consequences Of Austerity On Disabled People In Britain
The British government’s austerity program has been devastating for disabled people since its implementation in 2010.
Under the Cameron-led Conservative Party’s coalition, public spending was significantly reduced in response to the global financial crash of 2008.
Despite the prime minister’s call at the opening of 2012 Paralympic Games that Britain is a “trailblazer for disability rights,” his government’s policies have had an extremely negative impact on this vulnerable population.
Individual cases tell a dire story: take Jimbob, a 68-year old Ayrshire resident with chronic lung and bone disease who could no longer work due to his disabling health issues.
He lost his disability benefits in 2013 and now has to live without heating his two-bedroom apartment because he can’t afford it.
It highlights how people with disabilities are disproportionately affected by the cuts, with some facing 19 times more than average citizens according to 2013 research from the Centre for Welfare Reform.
Far from helping balance the books as austerity claims to do, disabled people are instead being denied their basic rights and support – all under a false pretext that they are trying to take advantage of the system.
These conditions are nothing short of disastrous and must be addressed going forward if true progress is to be made on disability rights in Britain.
Disabled People In The Uk Are Being Exploited By The Austerity Program
British disabled people are feeling the effects of austerity more than ever before.
In 2010, much of the United Kingdom’s social welfare system was slashed with a £28 billion reduction in benefits for disability claimants.
The British government has attempted to justify these cuts by portraying disability claimants as “scroungers”, but this is far from the truth – only 0.5% of Disability Living Allowance claims were fraudulent.
In response to this change, three million people claiming disability benefits were forced to reapply, and come December 2017 almost half had lost at least part of their payments due to incredibly harsh requirements.
One individual affected by this shift was 51-year-old Bessie, whose multiple disabilities prevent her from working or even from eating solid foods from food banks without an oven or microwave; yet she still cannot afford these items due to the lack of income from her disability benefit.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation reported that in 2018 four million disabled adults in the UK were living below the poverty line since their income decreased with these updates.
The past safety nets that used to help those in need have been completely weakened and are now only available locally – so individuals must resort to taking out loans with high interest rates to cover what they already cannot afford on their own.
Furthermore, it’s estimated that average disabled people have extra monthly expenses £570 more than non-disabled people which only adds further strain on those already struggling financially; whether scroungers or not, they deserve aid throughout this time rather than having it taken away unnecessarily.
The Cruel Paradox Facing Disabled People: ‘Fit For Work’ But Unfit For The Workplace
Disabled people face immense obstacles when searching and maintaining jobs.
They endure incredible discrimination, unfair assessments, and a lack of support in the workplace that leaves them feeling alone and frustrated.
The British government sets punishing measures for claimants with their “fit-for-work tests”, often making wrong decisions regarding disability status which even worse leads to heartbreaking consequences like suicides in England.
Disabled people are paid below the national living wage, and Scope data shows that half of disabled people experience bullying or harassment due to their disability at work.
Additionally, many disabled individuals find themselves with jobs with odd hours and activities that are hard for them to medically manage – Pearl was fired twice in nine months due to her disabilities being discriminated against by her employer.
In truth, it is unfortunate that disabled persons can’t land a job let alone keep one due to this severe lack of understanding by employers for the special situations some are placed in – not only do they have to overcome stereotypes in regards to their stigma but also widespread apathy or ignorance towards disability accommodations in the workplace.
How Austerity Measures Have Stripped People With Disabilities Of Their Independent Living
The lack of adequate funding for social care and wheelchair provision in the UK has had a devastating effect on disabled people’s independence.
Even those who desperately need them, like 53-year-old Philomena, are being denied the tools they need to move around freely.
The government-run National Health Service or NHS simply doesn’t have enough money to provide wheelchairs, leaving many people stuck at home, unable to leave.
Not being able to buy one either – as it can cost upwards of £2,000 – many disabled people have no choice but to stay inside their homes for months at a time without any assistance.
Moreover, cuts in adult social care services totaling almost £6 billion since 2010 has had a huge impact on those that need personal support for daily activities such as meal preparation and bathing.
This has resulted in even more disabled individuals having to move into care homes; something which was supposed to be avoided by decades of progress made in the UK.
Sadly, the lack of necessary resources and services available is forcing these individuals back into the “warehousing” experienced in out-of town institutions from decades ago.
It’s clear that UK austerity policies are limiting disabled people’s ability to lead independent lives and feel included within society as equal citizens with rights.
With adequate funding in place for wheelchairs and social care services, thousands would once again be able to achieve the freedom they so deeply deserve.
Disabled People Struggle To Find Suitable Homes In Britain’S Housing Crisis
The Equality and Human Rights Commission puts it bluntly: the state of accessible housing in the UK is dire.
Of all housing in England, 93 percent is inaccessible to disabled people, which means that they face huge difficulties just finding a suitable home.
What’s more, if they are lucky enough to be assigned one by local authorities, even then there may not be an elevator or other accessibility features available.
This reality translates into serious negative consequences for disabled people in the UK.
Without access to suitable housing, many end up living in conditions that can exacerbate their disability or create entirely new problems.
For example, Robert experiences extreme difficulty accessing his attic apartment due to the lack of elevator access – this daily struggle has caused him irreparable damage and resulted in him being turned down from a rehabilitation program.
Not only are disabled people consistently locked out of safe and secure homes; when they do manage to find accommodation options these are often inadequate or temporary in nature.
Most of these come without tenants’ rights so making any modifications for accessibility purposes isn’t possible.
Understandably then, independence becomes harder as does paying rent with cuts and capped benefits reducing income further each year.
Austerity’s Brutal Impact On Women With Disabilities
For disabled women, the realities of modern society can be anything but equal.
From inadequate healthcare to gender disparities in salary, sexism is a prevalent problem facing women with disabilities around the world.
But it’s not just these subtle disadvantages that are causing issues for disabled women; there are an alarmingly high number of particular challenges they face due to the current economic austerity measures.
Single mothers who have disabilities are particularly vulnerable when it comes to cuts in benefits, with up to an estimated £7,000 lost from their annual income by 2021 according to UK Women’s Budget Group research.
This knock-on effect creates a vicious cycle: with so much lost in benefits, many disabled single mothers struggle financially and cannot raise their children in a secure environment – one that may then lead to them being accused of neglect and having their children removed from their care.
The lack of support for disabled women has long been an issue even before austerity was introduced; Bethany, who is deaf, found she couldn’t obtain help when trying to leave her verbally abusive husband due to the lack of British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters available at the time.
Things have improved slightly since 2008 but BBC statistics from 2018 suggest that still only one in ten domestic violence refuges are accessible for those physically disabled and over 60% of referred women seeking refuge are unfortunately unable find suitable locations.
No Support, No Progress: How Disabled Children Still Struggle To Receive The Same Opportunities As Their Peers
Disabled children are being denied the life chances that their non-disabled peers enjoy.
A United Nations report in 2017 was harshly critical of the increase in disabled children attending specialist schools and up to six times more likely to be excluded or permanently expelled.
The stark reality is that disabled children are not provided with the support they need to have a normal life.
This is evident in Louis’ case, who became the youngest person in his borough to be expelled from school at just six years old.
His first primary school had no specialist staff to help, and his subsequent placement at a special independent school proved unsuccessful as it was for children with emotional and behavioral problems – something he doesn’t have.
His mother now has to quit her job as she looks after him full time, receiving only limited hours from private tuition.
The UK think tank Resolution Foundation found that child benefit for a second child was set to become worth less than what it was when it was fully introduced back in 1979 by April 2019.
Families rearing disabled children are spending an average of 43% more on items than families with a non-disabled child, but austerity cuts haven’t allowed for appropriate increases in state support since 2012.
Meanwhile, poverty levels among disabled children increased significantly due to tax and benefit reforms implemented in 2021 resulting in households losing, on average, £3,300 yearly across the country – showcasing how little progress has been made over several decades.
It’S Time To Champion State Support For The Disabled And Reject Unnecessary Benefit Cuts
The state of our society is in danger of losing its basic humanity.
Too many disabled people are facing maltreatment and lack of adequate provision due to the austerity cuts of recent years, with social welfare cut to the tune of £35 billion per year.
To make matters worse, a rise in hate crimes against disabled people has only added to the problem.
Fortunately, attitudes might be changing as evidenced by an increase in public support for spending money on disability benefits and a larger acceptance that benefit claimants can’t all be dishonest.
But it’s not enough – we need to do more to show society how essential providing for the disabled really is and how it does not reflect negatively on the public purse at all.
Ultimately, society’s attitude towards disabled people reflects its overall level of humanity.
We must take action now towards creating much-needed change and ensuring equitable support for all those who need it most.
With Brexit, a roll-out of Universal Credit that has been disastrous thus far, and severe issues with affordable housing still looming large on the horizon, time is very much running out for humane intervention.
Crippled is a book about the unequal impact of austerity on those who need care and support the most, disabled people.
Its message is powerfully clear; since 2010, the British government has made a conscious choice to deny disabled people resources that they desperately need.
The key takeaways from this book have been a sobering combination of facts and stories that offer an informative but frightening insight into the society we live in today.
The end result is one that no one should be happy with: vulnerable members of our community now go without proper support in their time of need, all for lack of adequate investment from the government.
It’s a tragedy and one that Crippled does its best to expose.