MANY TRADE UNIONISTS will be familiar with the work of Leonard Cheshire Disability (LCD). It’s a charitable group which – according to its website www.lcdisability.org – exists “to change attitudes to disability and to serve disabled people around the world”.
In the UK, its principle activity is:
“the provision of services in support of disabled people in the widest context.
These services include care homes, supported living, domiciliary support, day services, resource centres, rehabilitation, respite care, personal support and training and assistance for those looking for work.
We operate in all parts of the UK and are the largest voluntary sector provider of care and support services for disabled people.”
Early last year, Solidarity Trade Union featured two articles relating to reports produced by Leonard Cheshire Disability.
Solidarity supports disabled workers - of 26/02/2010 – discussed an LCD report, Disability and the Downturn. It found that disabled people faced greater discrimination at work with employers more likely to make them redundant during the economic crisis than non-disabled workers. It also found very high levels of poverty among disabled people with dependent children.
At the time, Solidarity National Executive member Simone Clarke spoke out in support of disabled workers. She said:
“As a trade unionist, I find it hard to believe that disabled people are still being discriminated against. It’s disgraceful and unethical. It goes against the grain. We should be helping the most needy and vulnerable – not hindering them.”
She returned to the subject - of discrimination against the disabled - in the wake of another report, Rights and Reality.
It was based on research which found that 40% of disabled people had experienced difficulties accessing goods and services during the previous twelve months. Of this figure, around 25% directly identified their experiences as discriminatory.
Many of these difficulties include using public transport, a lack of user-friendly facilities and not enough information being made available for disabled people.
Once again, Ms. Clarke spoke out in defence of the disabled. In Solidarity opposes discrimination against the disabled – of 29/04/2010 – she said:
“Disability and the Downturn made for depressing reading. But Rights and Reality is even worse.
Here we are in 2010 and disabled people are still being discriminated against. It’s hard to believe really.”
A year has passed since then, but life hasn’t improved for the disabled. Indeed, the Con-Dem coalition government seems to take a sadistic pleasure in picking on the vulnerable and needy.
For Leonard Cheshire Disability is now warning that the “Welfare Reform Bill, announced on 17th February includes proposals to stop paying mobility component to people in residential care.”
In an extensive q and a section the LCD explain how this will discriminate against 80,000 disabled folks.
Solidarity General Secretary Pat Harrington has also condemned this element of the proposed Welfare Reform Bill. And he warned that it could leave disabled people trapped in their homes.
“This change is scheduled to start in October 2012. So we have just over a year and a half to organise and kill this bill. If we don’t, around 80,000 people will have vital funds cut – funds that help them meet extra transport costs. The results could be devastating as many will be trapped in their homes without any independent means of travel.”
He reiterated his claim that the “Con-Dem coalition government seems to take a sadistic pleasure in picking on the vulnerable and needy.”
“After disabled people, who will they pick on next? What about those in nursing homes, unable to fend for themselves? Or what about single parents, the unemployed, those just about scraping by on the National Minimum Wage or Jobseeker's Allowance.
Cameron and Clegg claim that the Welfare Reform Bill is going to "make work pay." They’re going to get people off of benefits and into jobs. But where are all of these jobs? I don’t see them – do you? All I see are cuts, cuts and more cuts.
I don’t think that this Con-Dem government is interested in ordinary working folks anyway. All they seem to worry about is appeasing the banks. Look at Barclays bank. It paid just one percent tax on profits of more than £11billion. It also looks like its Chief Executive – Bob Diamond – will receive a bonus of around £8 Million. Is that right, is that fair?”
Returning to the specific question of discrimination against the disabled, Mr. Harrington called upon Solidarity members and supporters to help organize opposition to this element of the Welfare Reform Bill.
“In the first instance, everyone should support the Keep the UK Disability Living Allowance! campaign that’s being run via Facebook Causes.
It’s got over 30,000 supporters, which gives an indication of the strength of feeling out there. Hopefully, the Con-Dem government will take notice of this campaign and stop discriminating against disabled folks. If not, Solidarity Trade Union is willing to take its part in any campaign to stand and defend the rights of those who are less fortunate than ourselves.
In the meantime, I’d urge all members and supporters of STU - as well as many, many, more members of the public to support this Facebook-based campaign”.
The Facebook campaign can be found here.