Is it fair to scare?

There has been an incredible amount of research from charity on the so-called effects of the changes in Disability Living Allowance as its becomes ‘Personal Independence Payments’. Most of the research focuses of what specific individuals feel would be the negative effects of losing their benefits would be.

I have 3 main concerns with this kind of research. The first is that the headlines from the research usually assume it is a ‘done deal’ that far more people will lose their benefits then anyone can imagine. It is as if the charity itself as made judgements about who will and will not be entitled to the new benefit in a manner the government itself has not done. The government is not automatically removing anyone’s benefits and I question whether it is fair for any charity to ‘hype up’ the effects the changes may bring?

My second concern is that if I asked my personal assistants, just as an interesting exercise, what would be the effect on their lives if I decided to suddenly cut their wages by 20%, I feel it would be fair for them to start wondering why I asked and could assume that I was planning to cut their wages, despite the fact I make it clear it was just a question. I am therefore concerned when charities are inviting disabled people from all levels of need to imagine life without benefit. I believe this is a nasty form of scaremongering that is not abusing individuals by adding unnecessarily stress to their lives. The research leaves individuals feeling vulnerable and dependent on the charities doing the research to play the hero. I would imagine very few of the individuals being interviewed would actually be anywhere close to losing their benefits.

My final concern is that the research also assume all disabled people are the same and that they are all deserving of the benefits they receive. The research often ignores the reasons behind the new benefit, to prevent frauds and abuse, which is a big issue. Charities often demand absolute pity for anyone claiming to be disabled based on 19th century values of welfare and not 21st century values of rights and responsibilities.

Disabled people are becoming the pawns of the current era of ‘Big Society’ empire building as charities become the new way fat cat directors make hidden profits by pretending to help people, when in reality they are keeping them dependent and disempowered for their own benefit.

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