Yesterday the UK media reported on something to do with disabled people, something which the Government described in their press release as the “largest shake up of rules for 40 years” and something which was being gratefully received. The Conservative Government was going to give learning disabled and autistic people Blue Badges for the first time. Oh the joy that rained down upon us all whether carer activist or disabled person was everywhere.
Oh the kindness.
Oh the humanity.
Oh what a total load of bullshit.
The track record of the UK government for the last eight years particularly in respect of disability benefits can best be described by the United Nations, who reported the Government’s treatment of disabled people as “a grave and systematic violation of the human rights of disabled people”.
That’s the UN. Not me.
So forgive me or don’t when I call yesterday’s announcement as bullshit. I’m saying it because unlike the 24-hour news cycle reporting on the Government’s largesse, this announcement is in fact a U-turn.
This Government is only giving back what it took away. This isn’t the largest shake up for 40 years, that happened in 2013 when they reworked the benefits system. Rather than magnanimously accepting gratitude and praise, this Government should be apologising for its withdrawal of parking entitlement which millions of disabled people rely on. By the way, the parking isn’t always free. Most carparks are privately run, like the companies employed by the DWP to assess claimants’ eligibility for disability benefits. In the main, it’s just accessible parking. So put down your pitch forks and pay closer attention.
They took Blue Badges away when the Government moved disabled people claiming disability benefits, from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payments. The fact of just how much of a misnomer the name of this benefit was, became clear when hundreds of thousands of Blue Badges holders and their carers pitched up to their councils looking to renew and were told that they were no longer eligible.
They were just as disabled as they had been before they moved onto Personal Independence Payments, it’s just that under the Government rules that personal independence was taken away.
But why and how I hear you cry. Well I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you the truth and if you don’t believe me you can take a look at this Motability link, which says the same thing but in a less angry way.
So under the new Personal Independence Payment’s eligibility criteria you have to qualify for a Blue Badge in two ways and in each way you are awarded points. You get points on whether you can plan and follow a journey, and points on whether you can walk a set distance. The way it works now is that if you can walk a set distance (200 meters) you get zero points and zero points mean: “Congratulations - you’re not disabled and so you don’t get a Blue Badge”.
Don’t get me wrong, the Government isn’t saying that my profoundly learning disabled daughter Emily, who has autism, isn’t disabled, it’s just that her learning disability, which will render her as vulnerable as a young child at permanent risk- for the rest of her life, is totally negated by the fact that she can walk. Hooray.
As with many things disability-related, the Government seemingly found a cure for disability by moving the goalposts of eligibility.
When I found this out I launched a campaign. You’d think that given how many organisations, charities and politicians are now claiming this governmental largesse as a direct result of their own effort and hard work, that more of them would be joining with me in calling out this as a U-turn. In the last 24 hours I’ve seen quite a lot of compliments and gratitude and no “That’s wrong, you took the badges away in the first place” calling out at all. Weird, huh?
Anyway, the focus is now on a different subject. The “PC is for losers” brigade are now declaring that there won’t be enough parking places for all the “new’ and “undeserving” Blue Badge holders. In a retreading of an old trope but rebranded for a new day, the “We’re full up, go away” mantra is back amongst us. That’s worked well so far, hasn’t it.