Why the struggle against ‘war on welfare’ really matters #WOWpetition

This is a cross-post written by Bernadette Meaden and first appeared on Ekklesia:

On the evening of Tuesday 18 December, the WOW petition was launched. WOW stands for War on Welfare, and behind the petition is a community of sick and disabled people, carers, friends and families, who have come together via social media to start a resistance.

Spearheaded by actor and comedian Francesca Martinez, the petition aims to get 100,000 signatures to end the ‘war on welfare’ being waged by the government.

“It’s a scary, dark time for disabled people,” says Francesca Martinez. “Already a third of disabled adults live in poverty. That’s disgraceful and with the new cuts, that figure can only rise. It breaks my heart that some of the most vulnerable people in society are being demonised and used as scapegoats. It’s something everybody needs to fight against.”

The propaganda which has been used to win public support for massive welfare cuts in Britain has left many people feeling frightened, unwanted, and in some cases, suicidal. Time after time, the Work Capability Assessments (WCA) carried out by private company ATOS have been shown to be a grotesque farce, as seriously ill people die shortly after being declared fit to work.

Growing numbers of poor, sick and disabled people are threatening to take their own lives, and in some cases actually doing so.

Just last week, @IanLaveryMP tweeted: “Very busy day ending in great sadness, reading a 54-year-old man’s suicide note blaming the #wca and zero score. Couldn’t face another year.”

Also last week, the New Statesman’s Laurie Penny penned an open letter to a reader, entitled, ‘You are not a scrounger’. She wrote: “A few days ago you wrote to me and told me you were planning to take your own life. You told me that your reasons for this are: because you are frightened about what will happen to you when you lose the disability living allowance you rely on to live independently, and because you want to take a stand against the government’s assault on welfare.”

The very next day, Minister for Disabled People Esther McVey announced in the House of Commons that when Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is replaced by Personal Independence Payments (PiPs), more than 300,000 people will have their benefits cut or removed altogether.

Anybody who can walk more than 20 metres will not receive the mobility element of the new benefit.

Now, imagine you can only walk about 30 metres before pain or exhaustion means you can’t go any further. Would you be able to rely on public transport? I doubt it. Without the money to fund a car, or taxis, or a mobility scooter, you would become housebound, and this is what will happen to countless thousands of people under the government’s plans.

All of this indicates why the WOW petition initiative is so vital.

* Sign the petition (http://tinyurl.com/cgjwx5f ) and promote it on Twitter using the #WOWpetition hashtag.

* Help push the debate on the impact of cuts on the disabled - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/17590

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5 Responses to “Why the struggle against ‘war on welfare’ really matters #WOWpetition”

  1. Peter D Says:

    Yes, I do wish people would think about labels before they used them. It has taken me the best part of ten years to get my aged parents to accept the benefits I kept telling them they were entitled to. But they don’t like to think of themselves as receiving benefits – it was poverty, once their savings had been used up, that made them accept help. Working in cancer care I have had to argue sometimes to get the DWP to accept DS1500s – and on one memorable occasion a few weeks ago I had to argue with someone in at the Dept. of Education and Employment because they had sent a threatening letter out to a patient of mine, saying if he didn’t attend a back to work interview, his benefits would be stopped. The man was within weeks of death and a DS1500 had already been sent to the DWP – but guess what? The DWP doesn’t speak to the DEE – so could I please send them another copy of the DS1500!

    For several years I used to volunteer at a mental health drop-in (it was actually set up and run by people with mental health problems – I and other volunteers were just used to act as facilitators). A good portion of my time then was spent completing DLA forms to ensure people with profound mental health problems didn’t loose benefit. Many just wouldn’t have bothered because of the nature of their illnesses and would have become destitute.

    There are a hard core of people on benefits who could work (a close friend of mine is in a wheelchair and has a full time, highflying job – if he can work, anyone can!) – but are they scroungers or victims of a system that has failed them?

  2. Jane Chelliah Says:

    God bless you Stuart for raising this issue.

  3. Goy Says:

    In someways the WOW petition in its preamble reinforces the IDS war on welfare.

    The welfare war cry must be for universal and unconditional subsistance welfare for all in need, NOT a cry that echoes the division of the deserving or undeserving poor and strivers v. shirkers.

    The signs of this welfare war being lost was when the socialists targeting benefit thieves propaganda posters of several years ago remained largely intact and unchallenged on social housing schemes across the U.K.

  4. Jane Chelliah Says:

    Goy, Benefit thieves are a minority of those seeking benefit but they have provided ammunition for the anti-welfare culture. The left was correct to challenge their actions.

  5. Goy Says:

    @Jane Chelliah,

    No, the point was to criminalise ALL welfare recipients, the (modern) UK historical record shows that the declaration of the war on subsistance welfare was scribed with the red ink of socialism.

    The politics of UK welfare reform and socialist eschatology go hand in fist, with this in mind IDS is playing the role of useful idiot.

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