Liz Sayce: ‘The UK thinks it is a leader in disability rights. But it has a long way to go’
“Government has continued to focus on influencing individuals to change their behaviour, rather than influencing the behaviour of employers to open up employment opportunities [to disabled people]. You can’t just keep putting pressure on the individuals. You have to change the way employment works and the way [we] support individuals into work. What we want is policy across government – whether it is transport, social care, education or employment policy – that is all working to an agenda of full participation and independent living.”
This comment states it all: “My generation grew up under governments that believed in full employment and a welfare state. We benefited from decades of struggle, hard won rights that enabled us to have decent wages, decent pensions, own our homes and be cared for when we got old or sick.
But then something changed. We were never given any choice, no-one ever put it in any manifesto, we never voted for it, but we got it all the same. The bankrupt ideology of Neo-Liberalism, with its dogma of economic liberalization, free trade, privatization and deregulation, and its mantra that all human activity is a market from which a profit can be made. For 40 years, this has been the only way to run the economy.
And just where has it gotten us?
Low taxes for the wealthy, stagnation for the middle, poverty pay for the working class and attacks upon the poor, sick and disabled. The ruling elite now own our land, gas, electricity, railways, water and media. They are now coming for our pensions, our NHS, our roads, our schools and our green spaces. They have systematically destroyed the unions, dismantled our protections, pay poverty wages and are dismembering the welfare state. They caused an economic crash which bankrupted our economy and yet they walked away with their wealth intact.
And what did we get in return?
Austerity, recessions, huge debts and deficits. A government conducting a systematic assault upon the sick, the poor and the disabled, slashing welfare budgets and forcing people off benefits. 1,000,000 of us now use food banks. They make it easier to sack us, make us work longer hours for less pay, weaken our health and safety laws, force our kids to work for a pittance, raise the retirement age whilst cutting our pensions and now want us to pay for our care in old age. Meanwhile, every public service is now in crisis.
For 40 years, we have let them slowly dismantle everything my parents and grandparents had fought for. For the millions born since 1980, the only assets they will own will be the ones passed on by their parents. They live in rented accommodation, or negative equity or have interest only mortgages. Their pensions are worthless. They spend every penny they earn, have no savings and buy everything with credit.
But it’s even worse for our grandchildren. 50% of them are now loaded with debt before they even leave education. If they are lucky enough to have a job, it’s on minimum wage, on zero hour contracts, or part time work. They have no protections, no rights. Pensions are just a pipe-dream. None of them have any hope of getting a mortgage. This is the true cost of the last 40 years. In our lifetime, they have managed to strip away everything our forefathers built for our children, reducing our kids to the level of medieval serfs, possessing NOTHING.
This is by far the worst damage they have inflicted upon us, they have destroyed our children’s futures.
So, It’s time to get angry, and we need someone to express that anger. Someone to speak for the millions of hard working people who only want a decent life for themselves and for their kids to have a decent future. Someone that speaks up for all of us, not just a privileged few. Someone that tells us that our worth is not measured by our wealth, but our value as human beings. Someone that tells us that compassion and empathy are not bullshit. Someone that tells us that ordinary people can expect to have a decent job, a decent house and decent healthcare. Someone that tells us our elderly can live out their final years in a degree of comfort. Someone that tells us our sick and disabled should be allowed to exist with a shred of dignity. Someone that tells us that the most disadvantaged will not be looked down upon as scum.
Someone that tells us that our kids can still have hopes and dreams.
That someone is Jeremy Corbyn
We should all be born equal, with an equal chance to develop, to achieve, to succeed. But far too many are now condemned to a life of struggle by a system that creates so many losers for the benefit of so few winners. It is not only unfair and unjust, it is unsustainable.
And it’s time we all stood up and said, enough is enough.”
UK judges rule DWP wrong to deny appeals over refused benefits