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So the Paralympics will be over after today, then. It must be time for the Coalition government to start taking away our athletes’ disability benefits. After all, they have proven they’re fit enough to work and therefore don’t need them. Right?
Some of us saw this coming, weeks in advance. We knew that, once the chance for profile-boosting photo opportunities were over – whether or not they backfired, Mr Osborne – the disability pogrom would be extended to paralympians.
And that’s what is happening, according to today’s Sunday Mirror.
Team GB footballer Keryn Seal is blind and relies on his £70 per week Disability Living Allowance to get to training. He fears for what will happen to himself and hundreds of thousands of other disabled people when DLA is replaced by the more restrictive Personal Independence Payment as part of a plan to cut £2.2 billion from benefit costs.
“I can’t understand why the Government would dream of taking this money away from us. It shows a complete lack of empathy,” he told the Mirror.
“Disillusioned, disenchanted and disappointed are all words I would use to describe how I feel about the Government.”
Double-amputee Derek Derenalagi, who came 11th in the discus, said the changes would have a “devastating” effect: “Not every Paralympian is sponsored and we would hugely struggle without it. We do not get paid like footballers and it really helps us.”
And wheelchair dancer Laura Jones, a star of the Paralympics opening ceremony, said she was worried her £50-a-week payment is under threat.
She told the Mirror: “If people miss out on leisure activities and sports, they end up stuck at home and that will obviously be worse for their health.”
Another thing that looks as though it will be worse for people’s health is the Universal Credit, which the government is touting as “the most radical redesign of the benefits system this country has ever seen”, adding that it will ensure that it pays people to work rather than claim benefits.
What did I say yesterday about this lie? Oh yes: “Forcing people off of a benefit system that doesn’t pay their costs and into a job that doesn’t pay their costs is no solution at all and any Tory who spouts this nonsense in the media is to be mocked and targeted for unseating at the next election (in my opinion).”
Honestly… Do they think we’re not paying attention?
It seems there are problems with a plan to pay the new credit only once a month, meaning it will make a mess of people’s budgeting plans and they may be unable to make ends meet.
Also, the plan to make it payable to only one member of a household is likely to cause friction and upset the family dynamic – possibly destabilising family groups and leading to splits.
Bear in mind also that this is another continuation of the attack against disabled people, as the new credit will replace, among other things, Employment and Support Allowance. I wonder if Atos will be interviewing all its disabled ‘clients’ yet again, to find out if their missing limbs have grown back yet?