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ESA Cuts: View From a Person With a Disability

28/03/2016 15:18 | Updated 28 March 2016

In my time I have seen an array of governments pass through parliament from Labour to the coalition of the Conservative and Liberal Democrats, back to the Conservative again and I never really felt that any politicians in the House of Commons have spoken for people with disabilities. This was illustrated 8th March when parliament made the decision to cut over £30 week to the new claimants of Employment Support Allowance in the Work Related-Activity Group will come into place of April 2017.

The government's argument for the cuts to this particular benefit is that they believe that more people with disabilities will get into work as a result. Though this is not the case as the chief executive of Scope, charity, Mark Aitkintion responded to leak ESA cuts from BBC reports in July of 2015 stating saying, 'ESA is not a 'passive benefit' - disabled people are required to active steps to move closer to work, such as work placement or training, or their benefits will be stopped. If disabled people are out-of-work, reducing their incomes won't provide an incentive for them to find a job. It will just make life harder at a time when disabled people are already struggling to make ends meet'.

I have many friends on ESA and I am on this benefit myself and having had many a conservation with them about how their job searching is going and experiences in work. There is a real sense of a loss of faith in the employment system for which there are lots of reasons, that all boil down to the same thing a lack of understanding. At this time I feel that employer officers, job advisors do not really understand the person with the disability that they are supposed to be helping. This in itself creates lots of barriers such as being put up for jobs that person is just not interested in or simply cannot do. To understanding someone strength and weakness. Another down fall of the system is that there seems to be lack of asking people with disabilities what we are interested in and what area we would like to see ourselves working in and furthering our training and skills, through work placements and qualifications.

I also feel that employers need to be given further training in equality and diversity regardless of whether they are big national company or a small business. In order to support small businesses to allow them to take part in this I think government should subsidized cost of training so they too can participate. This is essential so that am employer can support a disabled employee. As the employment statistics from the charity, Scope, stated in 2014, 42% of people with disabilities felt that they had lost out on a job, 'every time' or 'a lot of times', because of the way employers perceived their impairment.

It is not just equality and diversity training that needs to take place and job advisor and employment officers change way in which they can help people with disabilities find work. We also need to change way in which we talk about disability in society. As a young child growing up with a disability my parents' experienced this attitude first hand, when I was diagnosed and the doctor gave them a long list of limitation, which I might have. This is not how it should be and we need to move away from the negative aspects surrounding disability and look at the positive.

The social model of disability states that disability is caused by way in which society is organised, more than by the person impairment. Its focus is to look at ways in which barriers can be removed that limit life choices of those with a disability. There are many examples of this:

'A man with a learning disability would like to live independently but unsure how to go about paying utility bills and rent. The social model states he would be supported in order so that it could be able to live independently in his own home.'

I would like to live in a society that sees people with disabilities as individuals who are personified by their interests and skills they can offer and just to be valued people like anyone else.

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