20/12/2017 17:54 GMT | Updated 20/12/2017 17:54 GMT

The Problem With Disability Is... Philip Hammond

Thank you for reminding me just what this government thinks of me and many others like me

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Good. Great.

That’s a really good thing you said, Hammond.

I never thought anyone could be so ignorant, but this is Theresa May’s government we’re talking about here.

If you haven’t heard Hammond’s pearls of wisdom let me give you the rundown. At a meeting with the treasury committee he stated that “far higher levels of participation by marginal groups and very high levels of engagement in the workforce, for example of disabled people ... may have had an impact on overall productivity measurements.”

The long and short of it is that he says productivity is low in the UK due to disabled people in workforces slowing it down.

You can appreciate my frustration with the man. Philip Hammond’s comments end a year that of several kicks in the teeth for the disabled. For those who haven’t read my previous work, I am disabled and I work so cant help but take it personally. Philip Hammond has confirmed my suspicions that this government has no intention of helping the lives of disabled people, and is in fact is undoing everything put in place by previous governments to ensure us a decent quality of life...

Now, I have always been so proud to live in the UK due to its support of disabled people; especially when compared to other European countries. This is a country that supports its disabled population through free health care, financial assistance and anti-discrimination laws. However, this year more than ever those things are being dismantled, and Hammond’s comments are the cherry on this anti-disability cake.

Let me give you a quick rundown: the NHS is underfunded, which is detrimental if you have a disability or chronic condition. Benefits are being cut and there is less help with health and living costs for the disabled. In fact, let me sum it up with one sentence: no word of a lie, a pal of mine had to crowdfund for his new wheelchair.


To coincide with this, the disabled rights bill that our government signed was recently evaluated by the United Nations recently and guess what? Our government has failed to adhere to the disabled rights bill. Don’t worry, though: it’s not really important like say, the Geneva Convention which affects everyone. This just affects disabled people so who ruddy cares, isn’t that right Hammond?!

The final slap in the face was him kindly informing us that disabled workers participating in the UK workforce are actually hindering its productivity. So not only are we unnecessarily spending public money (why else cut our benefits?) We’re also the reason the UK is not performing at its best. Thanks, Hammond. Thanks for abolishing that last shred of self-esteem I had. Thank you for reminding me just what this government thinks of me and many others like me. Thank you for ensuring common misconceptions of disability continue and that employers can discriminate as they see fit. as You have literally just given them a reason to.

Now, I could continue to rant my own special brand of bile, but that won’t gets us anywhere (thought it will make me feel marginally better). I want a purpose; I want clarity; I want to try and get something done and create a conversation about disability, because the future looks exceptionally bleak.

The fact that Hammond said this is incredibly worrying. It shows that despite great efforts from the disabled communities and charities to break down stigmas, they still exist at the highest levels of government where they can have a truly devastating effect.

So why is this government so backwards thinking? Why is it undoing all the good that was put in place for the disabled community? I can’t help but feel we have lost our power. The rights of the disabled have never, as far as I’m aware, been decided by the disabled. I would even go so far as to say that being disabled is no longer in the hands of the said individual themselves. It has now got to the point where I cannot even define my own disability.

We have to go through a gauntlet made up of the government’s DWP invasive assessments, proof from a doctor and then maybe we can be classified as disabled. Me, the persons whose mind and body is being discussed, can’t define her own situation: it is now in the hands of assessors and MP’s like Hammond who have no idea what it is to be disabled. We must take disability back and make it our own again. 

How? Create a conversation about disability and allow disabled individuals to be heard. Once people know the truth about the governmental changes then we might be able to start a battle and one day win the war. Over the next few months, I will be meeting disabled individuals and helping tell their stories. There can be no conversation until our voices are heard.