Nasty party gets nastier

UNPOPULAR CHOICE: many people left disability charity ‘Contact a Family’ when Sam Cam was made their patron

UNPOPULAR CHOICE: many people left disability charity ‘Contact a Family’ when Sam Cam was made their patron

by Sandra Webster, SSP national co-spokesperson The press is full of pictures and interviews of ordinary everyday life in Number 10. Sam and Dave posed with their family. Dave was praised for combing his daughter’s hair even though he is left handed. The emphasis was on an ordinary family with a father with an extraordinary job. Look a little closer though and the staging of the pictures was evident.

Despite the children sitting round the kitchen table doing their homework. The three Rs are important to the Camerons, the dishwasher was empty at 9.20am. Given most of us can’t afford one how many “ordinary” dishwashers are empty at breakfast time? Then there was little Ivan who as usual was discussed.

The death of any child is a tragedy. Little Ivan only lived a short time. According to Sam Cam he changed their world forever. She talked about why their experiences of being Ivan’s father was a good reason to re-elect Dave for another five years as he truly knows the impact of disability on a family.

All these happy family photographs the week after the nasty party may have become nastier. I didn’t think that was possible either.

However, the cuts to welfare spending “leaked” by civil servants last week will have a huge impact on the lives of people with disabilities and their families. As Sam Cam described, with a disabled child in your family, life is fragile. For many families, these proposed austerity cuts will make life so much more difficult, putting some at breaking point.

Carer’s Allowance is a pitiful amount £62 a week but it provides a small payment to compensate carers for their unpaid work. At present it is a universal benefit. The leak announced this would only be paid to families in receipt of Universal Credit. Thousands of families will lose out.

For many, this is a safety net payment allowing people to remain at home rather than being cast into the workplace. That is if you are not too exhausted to work. Many carers work over 60 hours a week and there is no sick leave or respite.

ESA and Carer’s Allowance may be taxable and again will be means tested. This will affect many young adults who stay at home with their families. The transition from children to adult services are difficult enough to traverse without this increased financial difficulty.

Perhaps most contentious is if you have more than one disabled child you will only be able to claim for one of them. This will decrease many families budgets but not cover the extra cost of disability which multiplies with the number of disabled people in a family. Many disabilities have a genetic disposition which runs in families. Again the most vulnerable are under attack.

Child benefit may be limited to the first two children. Again, this is a safety net benefit which means that parents can ensure there is food on the table.

In ‘Breadline Britain’, every penny counts for struggling families. All of the carers I have spoken to can barely believe what is happening. Things are difficult enough now but if these rules become legislation it will tip many over the edge.

The sad fact though is that this policy seems to be popular to some of the electorate. Their ire, fuelled by the ever growing list of programmes about how life on benefits is a bed of roses, means they believe the divide-and-conquer rhetoric of the Tories.

Being poor is not protected by any legislation. It is acceptable to call people out of work “feckless” and “lazy”. These are the actions of Cameron’s government. Life for carers and mothers is a thousand miles away from Number 10’s cosy kitchen. Life is hard and a struggle.

Most carers I know are keen to emphasise how having a loved one with a disability has changed them. They are able to be more compassionate and walk in others’ shoes. Can Sam and Dave Cameron say the same?

Looking at the world through Tory-tinted glasses, they may believe they are supporting families. Sam Cam is a patron of ‘Contact a Family’, a charity which supports families with a disabled child. I know many who left after they made Sam Cam patron.

Enough is enough though. Although people feel isolated and crushed by the present cuts, I can sense anger from people who have never been politically engaged before.

It is time for a change and a challenge to the Tories to face the inconvenient truth that their policies are not the oxymoron “caring conservatism” but an attack on the most vulnerable.

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1 Comment on Nasty party gets nastier

  1. Reblogged this on SandraSSP.

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