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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Anna Morell

Dis Life: 'Tories' spending small fortune making poor disabled people live in penury'

Universal credit? Universal deficit more like…

Do you remember Iain Duncan Smith? Architect of the Universal Credit (UC) system which was meant to make a complex benefits system easier for people to navigate and transition from into the world of work? In some cases by moving people over from benefits they could live on to less benefits they couldn’t live on (guess who – go on, guess which group was badly affected by that – yay! Disabled people again!) IDS is long gone, but the moves he put in place are still being rolled out, with most disabled people now on track to be moved over fully to UC from slightly better legacy benefits in the next two years.

Many of us disabled people are not happy about this. Which is why it’s a great relief that the Court of Appeal has blocked an attempt by the DWP to overturn a High Court ruling from a year ago which ruled that two UC claimants known as TP and AR were unlawfully discriminated against when the DWP refused to repay their monthly benefit losses from being switched to UC in full.

Iain Duncan Smith was the architect of the Universal Credit system (Getty Images)

This has been a long old bun fight. A five year fight involving four stressful court cases, during which the DWP has been heavily criticised for wasting public funds and scarce court time to fight to ensure that policies which have been found unlawful and have actively impoverished thousands of disabled people get to stay in place.

It’s a complicated sentence read it again slowly: the Government has spent a small fortune on trying to deliberately put poor (financially) disabled people back in their box, to live in what often amounts to penury.

Not all disabled people can work. UC is so focused on work. The government refuses to hear that disabled people can live valid, productive, non-economically viable lives that still add value to society because they are alive, and living well, and interacting with the world with parity. This country is more than an economy. Disabled people are more than cogs in the economic wheel. But we do need money to thrive. And when the money offered isn’t enough to survive, we need to ask ourselves what kind of society we are. What kind of people we are. Where the hell we left our moral cores.

Anna Morell works for Disability Rights UK (Handout)

Before UC, TP and AR received £178 per month to help with the additional costs of living as disabled people without a carer. House moves triggered a change from older benefits systems onto UC, meaning they lost this much money each month. Scope puts the figure for the cost of living as a disabled person, pre cost of living crisis, at around £600 per month. Even before UC, the benefit figures didn’t add up.

I wonder, for those who serve in public office and do such bonkers sums, whether the reward for long service these days has shifted from a silver carriage clock to a silver dagger. Because all I see these days, with my jaw on the floor, and my work inbox overflowing with desperate emails from people ready to take their own lives as they cannot live on what they have any more, is cuts, cuts, and more horrific bone-exposing cuts. When will it end? When will government listen, make the changes, and stop these horrific cuts which are leading to actual loss of life?

Prepayment meter

Props to The Times for having the balls to send an undercover reporter out last week with a strongarm prepayment meter installation team. Finally, we have a non-disabled reporter writing out loud what we have been screaming about as a community for several months now – that these people are acting without compassion, sense or any sense of moral propriety on behalf of major players in the energy industry. And it took this for anyone to listen.

British Gas immediately issued statements saying that’s not how they operate, except it was, and it is, and god knows how many thousands of people now have these meters and are still stuck with them despite an Ofgem-implemented immediate moratorium on these horrifically dodgy installations. It’s not enough.

If you’ve pushed thousands of people off the cliff and they are hanging on to scrappy branches halfway down that cliff for dear life, vowing not to push any more people off the cliff is only half of the solution. Ofgem needs to demand that energy suppliers go further and uninstall these meters immediately and rapidly. If it can incentivise teams by paying them bonuses for putting them in, it can do the same for them taking them out.

That disabled and other financially poor people are shelling out between £20-40 per day on fuel is incomprehensible. The rates on meters need to be fixed in line with the rates on non-metered fuel. That people known to have less money are forced to pay above the odds beggars belief. That people cannot stay warm, in a world where we have the resources to make sure that everyone is warm, fed and clothed, is, and should be recognised as, systemically criminal.

Selina shakes it up

Delighted to see Selina Gomez doing TikTok make up tutorials with tremors. As a fellow hippy hippy shaker due to an exhaustion condition, it’s really refreshing to see someone going about their daily business who just happens to have the shakes. It’s not something we see in the media in day to day life, but over a million of us in the UK have tremors. Selina has said she shakes as a side effect of taking Lupus medication.

Most people are aware of Parkinson’s, but there are all sorts of reasons why we shake. It says everything that the response was one of horror and concern, because, as ever, we’re still not au fait with the social model of disability which says that what our bodies do isn’t the issue, the focus should be on the adaptations we need.

I often do a little light shaking, and also sometimes shake like a headbanger doing a jackhammer impression. It’s ok. It’s just a part of life. Selina has over 45m followers on TikTok. It’s great that she can be her authentic self on social media. Broadcast media has further to go to catch up – can you name me one on-screen-tremoring presenter? It’s time.

Henry VIII

The National Trust has announced it is revising its representation of Henry VIII to portray him as a disabled person. Henry got crushed by a horse in midlife while attempting to knock the s**t out of someone with a jousting pole. He had leg ulceration and poor mental health for the rest of his life, with the incident also thought to have triggered obesity.

He spent the next eleven years suppressing public representation of himself as a disabled person, which is the angle the Trust is interested in – why? (Answer, because he was a massive narcissist who didn’t want to appear ‘weak’ on the world stage. Sigh.)

During this time he also managed to bump off wife number five. Which is hopefully another nail in the coffin of the all disabled people need pity narrative. Henry was a g*t, whatever was going on with his body. We come in all flavours, us crips.

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