A letter a day to number 10. No 1,317
Saturday 16 January 2016.
Dear Mr Cameron,
It is unforgivable that in 2016 Iain Duncan Smith is still running a tick box assessment system with the express aim of denying people help based on narrow and stringent criteria absent of any human or humane considerations what so ever.
Smith has removed any consideration of disability and illness from his assessment regime, the only criteria for assessments are work related, work focused and swingeing definitions that deny people who are sick or disabled help and assistance based on any personal needs or circumstances at all.
This is all of a piece with the maliciously and duplicitously rebranded ‘Fit Notes’, another ideological move in abandoning social care and writing sickness and disability out of the official lexicon.
Smith claims that ‘the “fundamental flaw” of ESA is the way it divides claimants into those who are fit for all work and those who can’t do anything at all’. Wrong, in fact many disabled people work and have done all their lives aided by a benefit system that did not discriminate against them. I am in a position to know as I am one of them. Disability Living Allowance was a support benefit that was awarded whether one worked or not. The same was true of the Independent Living Fund which you axed in June 2015 and also true of motability which people are now being routinely denied under Smith’s Personal Independence Payments (PIP) at the cost of their ability to work.
The only criteria in Smith’s draconian regime is benefit denial. Esther McVey told MPs in the House of Commons in 2012 that 300,000 people would lose benefits in the move from Disability Living Allowance to what she then described as a ‘new benefit’, which we now know as PIP. That was a bold claim to make prior to a single assessment being undertaken and told us all we need to know about this despicable regime of benefit denial.
Making war on poor, sick and disabled people and those suffering from life threatening diseases like cancer has been rightly described as ‘chequebook euthanasia’. That this war is being conducted under an endless torrent of the most despicable lies whilst giving tax breaks to the rich and huge corporate handouts is the sickness that needs addressing, but just like sickness and disability in ordinary people, that sickness too is rendered invisible by the disease and national affliction that is your government.