Everyone should get the real support they need

It is no secret that I am concerned at how Personal Independence Payments are regarded as the one and only solution for anyone with any form of impairment, which can indeed mean anyone. The rights to welfare agenda is based on a tragedy model of disability, where payment is offered as a pity motivated compensation to a situation that the middle class fear. Because it is offered to ease the conscience of the middle class, the idea of challenging who has a significant level of need to require the benefit, as well as its actual effectiveness in providing real benefit, is shunned.

I would argue that it is not about who should or should not receive the benefit, which is a random amount that bears no relation to specific needs, but rather how can we properly provide people with the support they require when they require it. While for some people, this would remain in the form of a monthly amount of money paid to them for specific extra costs, for others it is about the provision of specific services when and where they need them.

If we take the issue of travel anxiety, I would firstly never underestimate the relative impact this may have on someone’s life and ability to function. But providing them an unrestricted random amount of extra income for the rest of their lives because it is the right thing to do really going help them to improve how they manage their condition? I believe while PIP is sold in terms of meeting extra impairment costs, it soon simply becomes extra income that does very little to meet impairment needs. Its removal when an impairment situation has improved is therefore seen as a dent in their income despite no impairment costs.

The better solution for travel anxiety would, therefore, be more to offer an intensive course of counselling to identify the specific triggers of a panic attack and develop a bank of personally developed coping strategies. The anxiety may never be ‘cured’ but it will be better managed. If there are then any specific extra costs as a result of using the coping strategies, these can be considered and funding made available.

I believe meeting specific extra costs in comparison to someone’s peers as opposed to a PIP for all strategy is the only way to be fair to everyone, as opposed to making people with minor impairments the winners of the benefit system as the cost of people with significant and severe needs, who are slowly been pushed off the political agenda. But we live in an era of greed where people are only willing to see their need to be identified as disabled as something that as absolute as opposed to relative.

And it is the misunderstanding of disability that is worrying. As increasingly minor impairments are reasons to be labelled as a disabled person, with all the rights and funding attached to that, the perceived severity of other impairments is increased and the battle from minor impairments for unnecessary resources slowly and steadily is fueling the eugenics agenda few people will admit exists.

If you like my blog article, have a look at some of my products;
Achieve Support – Coming soon
Having Pride (My Life Story) – http://www.balsy.me
Stevens’ Manifesto – Coming soon
Understand Accessibility – Coming soon
Understand Assistance – http://www.understand.tips
Understand Dysabiity – Coming soon

or visit my website at http://www.simonstevens.com

You can also email me at simon@simonstevens.com

Scaremongering by activists may be causing deaths, not the DWP

There has been a lot of articles written about welfare reforms and most of it is quite negative,  especially in terms of its impact on people with impairments. There is an endless supply of articles conveying shock and anger at how people with impairments did not receive the benefits that the reader is asked to assume they were obviously entitled to. I feel that rather than showing support, these articles reveal the deep-rooted prejudices that exist regarding people with impairments’ place in society.

One angle of the opposition to the welfare reforms that I have been uneasy with has been the direct link to the welfare reforms and the deaths of ‘claimants’, which has been persistently highlighted by journalist John Pring and other activists. When they are in full swing, the accusations have been that the DWP and its government ministers have been guilty of deliberately murdering claimants, a form of democide. When you get past the political posturing, their point is that the stress of the benefit assessment process can be a contributing factor to someone’s decision to commit suicide.

They may be surprised by the fact that I agree with them, but this can only ever be seen as one of many contributing factors. From unfortunate experience, I know suicide is a very complex issue, and that to investigate the reasons behind someone’s suicide, especially regarding allocating blame, you will need a full multi-agency investigation. This would include the roles of their GP, other health services, their bank, other financial services, their housing provider, their family and friends, and so on. Each agency, as well as family and friends, could have contributed to their decision and therefore it is unfair to simply blame the DWP because it is politically easy.

If these activists want the DWP to take responsibility for their contribution to so-called ‘benefits deaths’, then they also need to do the same. Many activists have gone far beyond highlighting the failings of the welfare reforms to deliberate politically motivated scaremongering, to cause harm they now blame the government for. Many activists are happy to take credit for making many aspects of the welfare reforms ‘toxic’, causing the public to assume all assessments are wrong (if found not in favour of the claimant) regardless of the evidence.

For a virgin claimant who is fed a diet of hostile left-wing propaganda and scaremongering, they are going to expect the worse before they even started. This can cause them to go one of two ways. The first is they will approach the system with a chip on their shoulder causing the assessment staff to respond in kind, making the whole process less pleasant for everyone. The second is the unproven claims of total systematic breakdown causes them a lot of unnecessary distress and upset, resulting in them considering suicide. Therefore, is it not time that the spotlight was placed on the role of activists in ‘benefit deaths’ that includes the role of opposition political parties? This is the real scandal!

The saddest part of all this is that in trying to put all the blame on the government for ‘benefit deaths’, these activists are not looking at how as leaders of people with impairments they have a responsibility to support other people with impairments who are experiencing emotional distress to avoid suicide as the answer. The blame game can only lead to a hollow victory if it is not improving the mechanisms of suicide prevention.

Blaming WCA for suicides is cruel and unforgivable

It has almost become a fact that the Work Capacity Assessment is linked to suicides and other deaths. A recent piece of academic research claimed that in total, the assessment has claimed 590 suicihdes. However, I would like to suggest the truth is very different.

In exploring the recent research, the National figure of 590 came from just 6 suicides within the sample size. These 6 were guessed to be WCA related because that was the number in the sample above the national average. When you understand left wing disabled activists were consulted in the design of the research, you can understand why the assumptions and conclusions were made.

Can WCA be linked to stress and therefore suicides? Absolutely, but it can also be linked to 100s of other reasons from work to family pressures. Those left behind from suicide victims can spend years trying to understand why they did it without finding answers. The ‘automatic’ link with WCA is symbolic to the bigotry and assumptions that fear the inclusion of dysabled people, which is institutional. This has to be taken into consideration when a coroner rules a suicide is WCA related, an easy answer for a grieving family to accept.

When activists like John Pring of Disability News Service spearheads hostile awareness raising in blaming WCA for suicides, my question to them is what is their end game? I am sure each claimant will find the test stressful for very different reasons. This means any kind of redesigning the test will be as useful as rearranging deck chairs on the sinking Titanic since it will never please everyone!

This leaves 2 options. The first is the one I woukd prefer and that is stress embracement. There are difficult things we all have to do in life and it is about being supported to do them. This could include advocacy, coaching people and supporting people to have a positive attitude, moving them from being a passive victim and towards being an active partner in services.

The second option is the one I fear John Pring and others are heading towards, which is stress evasion. This means that their solution to the alleged suicides is to automatically not assess people who appear stressed, presumingly automatically ruling them indefinitely unfit for work and therefore society.

It is a crowd pleasing idea but the long term consequences are deeply worrying. If stress suddenly becomes more than an issue or illness, as it is now, into something we have a human right not to experience, where will it end? Mortgage applications? Exams? Blood tests? Weddings?

There are only 2 ways we are currently guaranteed someone will not experience stress. The first is to put them in a drug-induced coma, and the second is to end their lives since living is by default stressful. If we now link this back into  the  institutional bigotry and assumptions that exist in terms of dysabled people, we can see how John Pring’s campaign can be used to argue for exclusion and eugenics, making it a very dangerous game to be playing.

No one should be using anyone’s suicide for cheap political point scoring, and I find those who do cruel and immoral. No suicide can be blamed on one factor and we can not ask DWP to take over from the NHS in terms of assessing and treating mental distress, as John Pring and others are demanding.

We need to support people to embrace and overcome stress, not avoid it, as the only way forward.

WCA may have failed but what activists want is worse

The Work Capacity Assessment (WCA) for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) has been controversial to many people, and there has been plenty of calls for it to be scrapped. I am therefore somewhat bemused by the mute response to the government’s commitment to do just that in the spending review.

Despite what many believe I have said, I have never said WCA was a good thing, especially in the long term. However, what I have said is that I opposed the assumptions activists and others have made about who should be automatically labelled unfit for work based on meaningless labels.

There is a line in many people’s heads between dysabled people who are fit for society as meaningful citizens, and those unfit for society who should simply be paid to sit at home and do nothing in the name of their human rights. While no one would dare say it to my face, I know if most activists saw me in the street and did not know who I was, they would put me in the later category solely based on my appearance.

No activist is willing to formally say which label based impairments they will put in the later category but my guess is by the time they stopped feeling sorry for everyone, very few dysabled people would be considered able to work. And once you been labelled unfit for work, and therefore society, by your so-called peers, there is no coming back.

In a shrinking economy no amount of socialism banter will fix, leaving the majority of dysabled people on benefits doing nothing at the increasing expense of taxpayers, the compassion argument will soon go sour. If community engagement and participation is off the table, as left wing activists demand, decisions will be made about resources and they will not be pretty. We could see a return to Victorian style 1000 bed institutions to keep the cost down, warehousing the growing numbers of socially unwanted. Worse still, we could see a ‘humane’ eugenics programme being given public support, to let those who clearly live unbearable lives go, like myself. Assisted suicide is stage one to this outcome.

When most people talk about reforming WCA, they mean writing off more dysabled people as unfit for work. No replacement to the test would work because the problem is not the test, but dysabled people’s and the public’s attitudes towards dysabled people’s ability to make a meaningful contribution. 

Asking dysabled people to write the test as a piece of democracy, as ‘we are the experts’, would be a nightmare. The people going through the WCA system, something I have not done, are new to their impairments and often have a negative attitude towards themselves which they want to test to validate. Since the test is not and can not be designed to do this, the conflict of expectations is the source of stress, anger, distressed, depression and so on.

The NHS is still very negative about what patients can achieve, creating a negative mindset in dysabled people and a belief they have a right to be regarded as unfit for work regardless of the facts to please the emotions of themselves and their families. Rather than helping people understand their emotional journey, left wing activists have abused their vulnerability as claimants for their own anti-cuts agendas.

It is a mess not because of how WCA is designed, but how it has ignited public bigotry towards dysabled people, masked as compassion and a fight for human rights. Too many activists deep down do not want us to work, and simply find reasons to justify their stance, blaming everyone but themselves. Many of them would desire a system where you can simply get your GP to sign you off as indefinitely unfit, with no way back from being excluded from society. But like many Jed supporters, they think money also grows on trees!

Before the government designs a new test, something I will get involved in, it needs to understand the deep rooted bigotry that the reactions to WCA has uncovered since this stops many sick and dysabled people from being included in society.

Has Disability become a 21st Century excuse?

When I was a child, having an impairment was a very big thing and people did not admit they were disabled unless they really had to, because of their appearance, like mine, meant they had no choice. The stigma was far greater as we were deems freaks.

Nowadays, everyone seems to be happy to be labelled disabled as they list their many impairments, as having one impairment is never enough these days. When I fought to be allowed to do things others assumed I  could not do, disability has now been reversed.

Disability now seems to be a label for individuals to self-define upon themselves as a reason why they are allowed to be considered unable to do things when other people think they can. ‘but I am disabled’ is something taught to people of all ages and backgrounds, as a secret weapon to avoid doing anything they do not wish to do.

Since few people in society have the knowledge, experience and skills to combat the negative brick wall of the disability excuse, the victory remains with those who use their impairments as a form of laziness. As someone capable of disarming people who use this excuse, softly or harshly if needed or deserved, I am regularly labelled a traitor to ‘my kind’.

Until recently, ‘a bad back’ was the magic term to get time off work and eventually end up on disability benefits. As medical science has caught up and is now able to better manage back pain, probably to some people’s annoyance, the new condition of choice is ‘stress and anxiety’. While I do not dispute either stress and anxiety exist, they are a symptom of everyday life comparable to mild hunger and feeling hot on a summer’s day. If you can say you have not experienced stress in the last 12 months, you are a very lucky person indeed!

Yet, welfare activists compare people just experiencing stress to people with severe cerebral palsy equally, and demand they receive the same level-based benefits, and they regard them both equally unfit for work, when I believe neither are. Making everyone ‘disabled’ means that people with real impairments, those who cause social disadvantage, and I do not know a better way to describe it, will end up losing the support they need as resources are wasted keeping too many people ‘disabled’.

This article will be ignored and labelled as reinforcing hostility towards ‘disabled people’ in line with the left’s obsession with Scrounger rhetoric. This is because society is not ready to face up to this huge sociological problem, or even admit it exists. Until then, I would remain feeling like the boy who knew the Emperor was wearing no clothes.

– If you like what I say, have a look at my website at http://www.simonstevens.com or follow me on twitter, @simonstevens74

When did asking a disabled person to take responsibility for their actions become a crime?

It is generally assumed that the way to improve the inclusion of sick and disabled people is to focus on providing them access to rights. However, rights simply exist, they are passive and meaningless without responsibilities. Anti-discrimination ‘civil rights’ legislation, like the original ‘Disability Discrimination Act 1995’ is really about the right to take responsibility in terms of employment, transport and so on. It is easy to provide equal rights on a piece of paper, but it is much harder to create equal responsibilities, the true sign of inclusion.

At a time where the agenda should be shifting from rights to responsibilities, it has instead been halted and maybe reversed. As more people identify themselves as disabled people, there is an assumption that being associated with this label means it is acceptable to make excuses to avoid responsibilities. Society seems to be backlashing against this next step to the full and meaningful inclusion of disabled people as full contributing members of society.

By this, I mean that the media, politicians and activists have framed disabled people as the most vulnerable members of society who needs protecting at all costs. The misplaced prejudice reduces disabled people to the ranks of children, unable to take responsibility for their actions. We now reached a point where even asking disabled people to fill out a form results in public outcry because it is too stressful for them!

The mock outcry is partly designed to attack the government, as the stressful forms only ever relates to DWP, as opposed to anyone else. If we look dispassionately at the experience of the average hospital stay, people are subjected to far more violations of their human rights. They do so to get better, and so to receive welfare benefits, you need to fill out forms and have assessments. This is no different to getting a mortgage and millions of other every day stresses.

If you really believe an assessment is too stressful for some people, redesigning it will be meaningless as someone will always complain its not right for them. And when did it become the responsibility of the state to provide disabled people, or anyone else, a stress-free life? Any change in circumstances is and will always be stressful. Wrapping up disabled people in cotton wool will keep them vulnerable and fragile.

While the term is now hated by many over politically correct activists, ‘tough love’ is exactly what disabled people need to be enabled and empowered to be included into society. There must be consequences to my actions and I must have the right to make a complete mess of things. I always found it hypocritical many activists demand the government treats people with mental health issues with ‘kid-gloves’, yet they are happy to personally insult me with no empathy for my own mental health issues, and how that affects my management of emotions.

Too many people are willing to play the disability card to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. It is acceptable to explain the reasons why you may have difficulties performing specific tasks, but simply saying “I am disabled, I can’t …” should no longer be acceptable. If you do not want to work, just admit it as saying “I would love to work but…” annoys me greatly. We all have a responsibility to make a contribution to society, or take the consequences of not doing so.

The ability to take responsibility, or simply take, is going to be the key differences between the Conservative and Labour manifestos at the next election. Labour wants to take social responsibility away from disabled people, making us no different to children. The Tories are bravely fighting against the prejudices that exist to give disabled people the social responsibility they deserve.

– If you like what I say, have a look at my website at http://www.simonstevens.com or follow me on twitter, @simonstevens74

Has Labour lost its natural friendship with disabled people?

On my wall I have the back of one of my business cards signed by Tony Blair (in Blue) and the late Tony Benn (in red). I got their autographs at a lobby for Roger Berry’s Disability Rights Private Members Bill in 1994, which failed but it was the start of a whole raft of legislation improving the civil Rights for disabled people.

The mid-1990s were an exciting time for a young disabled person as I was, and Labour was making a lot of great promises to improve the inclusion of disabled people, which they actually delivered during their 13 years in office. Even in the 2010 General Election, it was clear to see Labour was the natural friends of disabled people, but then things started to change.

Five years on and the Labour Party is a very different beast in every respect. After failing to win the last general election with a poor facsimile of Tony Blair, like a wounded animal, it now appears to be going into a long period of rage against the general public as it turns left for inspiration, ignoring the fact we all went right. I fear whether or not Jeremy Corbyn wins the leadership race, the damage has already been done as Labour’s credibility is diminished.

And what does this mean for disabled people? Well it seems Labour has abandoned most of us. It narrowly sees disability as a welfare/employment issue for those who see themselves as sick and not disabled, except when they want to be disabled to get benefits. Those of us who require support and assistance are ‘helped’ under the label of ‘helping unpaid carers’, basically leaving us at the whims of our families, who have the real choice and control. And any kind of meaningful independent living and inclusion remains only accessible to those who shout the loudest, like myself.

The party’s message seems to pander to those who perceive themselves as unfit for work as a right, with negative and destructive language that should have been stamped out years ago as I am labelled as ‘the most vulnerable’. And in the background, we have Labour’s covert support for Assisted Dying, with both Shadow ministers dealing with disabled people showing their public support to allow us to ‘choose to die’.

In recent months I have encountered the left’s attitude to the meaningful inclusion of disabled people, which has to include employment in its widest meaning. I have been told that my values of inclusion are in fact neo-liberal slavery and as Kate Green MP put it bluntly ‘work for disabled people is a punishment’. So what do they expect me to do with my life? The problem is they don’t want me to do anything. This is the rhetoric of Corbynism and the greatest threat to many disabled people for a century.

Those on the ideologically utopia left of the party are pushing those of us looking forward towards the Tories. If we are abused as we were Tory by the left, we will end up believing them. Disabled people are only now welcome in the Labour party if they support their destructive exclusion rhetoric, where moral superiority overrides any open debate. Anyone in the Labour Party who believes everyone has a contribution to make to society without exception is now routinely burnt at the social media stake, since they will only tolerate people who pity disabled people, seeing social warehousing in the name of dignity and compassion as the only solution that can be offered.

Labour is no longer my natural friend, and it needs to work hard to deserve my friendship again. While many left wing ‘disabled’ activists (most of which were not active before 2010) will still argue Labour is the party for all disabled people, I believe the silent majority of disabled people will feel abandoned by them.

If you like what I say, have a look at my website at http://www.simonstevens.com or follow me on twitter, @simonstevens74

We need to talk about Sue Marsh @sue2y2


When I first heard Sue Marsh has accepted a senior job with Maximus, I thought it was a joke! I know I may been a bit behind in providing my viewpoint, I was in Orlando about to embark on a Caribbean cruise when the news broke but I still think it is important I put my two pennyworth into the mix as someone who often sees things differently.
The first thing I must explain is that it is no secret I have not got on with Sue Marsh for the majority of the last 5 years, although people may be surprised to know we did get on for a few months until she wobbled on a comment I made, blocked me, and started hostile relations again. So I am very aware many people will read this article and see it as simply sour grapes, but that is not the case. This is my analysis of her appointment.
The first issue to discuss is her health. Unlike some people, I do not question the illnesses she has nor suggest her appointment suggests she is faking it, quite the opposite. Although I believe everyone can work, and she has proven with the right motivation, 75k a year, people will work, I would never suggest to anyone to make the jump she has. I do not believe anyone, sick or not, can go from not working for 20 years to suddenly doing a high powered executive job working 40 hours a week with lots of home work. Throw in long term sickness and it is a dangerous situation waiting to happen. Moving into work in a step by step process to build up hours, experience and confidence. I believe she would have been better being a self-employed consultant for Maximus, where she would have far more control over her terms of employment. She will find it tough and unlikely to survive the pressures physically and emotionally.
Both she and Maximus are crowing about her experience but what experience? The bottom line is she is a self-appointed Labour activist with a very prejudiced viewpoint so had simply moaned on Twitter for five years. As far as I am aware she never been on any formal committees nor worked with existing disability organisations, basically calling them all wrong. I know as a matter of fact she has taken credit for other people’s work. Her infamous blog is full of factual errors, lies, and things she just made up. In her new job, everything she says will be carefully scrutinised and her lies will be quickly exposed and blow up into maybe legal and criminal actions against her and  Maximus as her new array of enemies will play every trick in the book.
The bottom line is she is probably the least experienced disabled person for the job. But this job was a political gimmick and I am sure it was a corrupt backroom deal as the job was designed for her and her alone. The question is now whether this was a fair and proper recruitment and whether her fixed appointment is a breach of European employment law.
The issue that worrying me the most about her appointment is her attitude towards people with high support needs, those she has consistently referred to as profoundly disabled and naturally vulnerable, which shows a level of bigotry I am unwilling to accept. While she is now acknowledging people within the support group can possibly work, those who should be working anyway, I believe she will see her role to ensure more people with high support needs are easily written off and parked on benefits for their entire life out of pity and compassion. My belief comes from her blog and the consistent prejudices towards us. And because she is ‘disabled’, her prejudices will be accepted and celebrated by Maximus and others, ensuring the greater exclusion of disabled people. She has made it very clear to me by email previously she is not interested in the inclusion of disabled people and that now makes her very dangerous as someone nowresponsible for playing god in terms of who is allowed to work, and who is not.
I am unsure she understands what the job is going to be in reality. The tidying up of letters and procedures, the bit she is selling her excuses on, will only take a few months. After this, her main job, whatever the job description says, will be damage limitation as she will be the PR gimmick, the disabled person paid to tell the media and endless conferences how wonderful Maximus is and answer all the accusations of murder, corruption, incompetence and so on. It will be her job to provide endless statements to the Anti-disabled blogger, John Pring, in his vendetta against disabled people and the government. And because she will be paid £1500 each week, she will fool herself into believing in the organisationand quickly be the puppet they wanted.
I believe Sue’s greatest difficulty will be her inability to take criticism as well as her egoistic nature. Sue has never taken criticism very well, blocking anyone on Twitter who challenges her, and while I think she thinks she has prepared herself for the backlash, what she is getting now is extremely mild to what will be coming over the next year. She has easily made herself the most hated disabled person in the UK, knocking me off that spot by miles. How will she coped when she is heckled at conferences or receives the death threats, the same ones she denied ATOS staff received? Most disabled people right now do not know who she is, like they do not know who I am, and will not care about her background, just seeing an evil nasty disabled woman who is against the vulnerable need to be wrote off. Any reputation she had or thinks she had is already gone and even if she resigned today, her credibility with anyone is lost.
For me, if there was a battle between myself and Sue, she is just let me win. It is interesting that I got a lot of stick for trying to work with ATOS as a consultant on my terms. The reality is the only money I had was my travel expenses back from the only meeting I had with them. I did not sell out because I remain consistent in my agenda and methods, working as a consultant, being paid to tell them how crap they were. Sue has sold out because they own her and what she can now say in and out of work. I am sure they will require up her stop her anti-government blog and curb her tongue, because that is what they are paying her for. I think the real reason I was given a beating is because I believe in the abilities of everyone, and this offends the bigotry of those opposed to the inclusion of disabled people. Therefore, the fact Sue remained prejudiced may rescue her from the worst attacks.
So with all this information, my prediction is that for one or more reasons Sue and Maximus will decide to mutually go their separate ways within six months, and it will probably be as a result of her health situation as well as a couple of out of court settlement caused by inappropriate things she has said in her role.
The big question to ask is do I need to work with her and will she work with me? She is now paid to be nice to me and listen to what I say politely, even if she simply ignores it. Whether she will be prepared to do this and for example show good faith by unblocking me on Twitter is another matter! But is there any point to trying to work with her? WCA/ESA is a dying project that needs replacing with something better and I think I want to focus my energy on being a part of the solution, since she has chosen to remain a part of the problem!

– If you like what I say, have a look at my website at http://www.simonstevens.com or follow me on twitter, @simonstevens74

The truth about disability and the Scroungers rhetoric

One reoccurring theme that has plagued this government’s welfare policy is an accusation that they, along with their ‘right wing’ media, are responsible for unnecessarily labelling disabled people as ‘Scroungers’. The accusation has been successfully used by activists and charities alike to reframe sick and disabled people as victims, suggesting it is practically immoral to consider them has having an ability to work (with the right support).
The term ‘Scroungers’ means I believe, people who could and should work but have chosen not to because of the ease of claiming benefits. The vast majority of people are legitimately on benefits, and I do not believe the public generally has any issue with that. But there is a small proportion of people, disabled or non-disabled, who know how to play the system, and it is unfortunately their actions that has created a distrustful culture within Jobcentre Plus, and I believe has resulted in the liberal use of benefit sanctions.
So if the general public is smart enough to understand who is being genuine, and who needs a kick up their backside, why have disabled activists steadily tried to portray disabled people as being seen as ‘Scroungers’? I think the first thing to explain here is when I say disabled activists, I really mean people who are focused on the issues of working aged sick and people with hidden impairments, a very vocal group that has dominated the way disability has been politically framed over the last few years.
For them, many of them who are either new to impairment or new to politics, I get the feeling that they believe the way they feel, as oppose to their level of function or need for resources, is not being fully recognised and so they can frame their disharmony in terms of their belief society does not care about their issues. While they may be on an emotional journey towards some kind of employment, the fact they may not understand they are on a journey will make them defensive, and so accusing others of labelling them scroungers is a way to handle the situation.
This is very different to the experiences of people with visible impairments, especially those with lifelong and/or significant impairments. The first thing the public feels when they see us is pity, people who obviously can not work and should be protected. We are regarded as burdens, in terms of the social care we need or our supposed dependency on unpaid ‘carers’, but it is wrapped up in kindness and tolerance that fuels the support of ‘assisted dying’, to put us out of our misery. While people’s behaviour towards disabled people has improved, I am unsure if deep down and within the fabric of society, these negative attitudes have changed.
So for me personally, I would love to be considered as a ‘scrounger’ if I was not working for no other reason than I did not have to. I would regard this as a step forward in the liberation of disabled people because it would demonstrate that for the first time, I would be seen as an equal citizen who has the same responsibilities as anyone else. I know this is the point many readers begin choking on their cornflakes, shouting at the screen that not all disabled people can work, but I still fundamentally believe that with the right support, and adapting the meaning and practicalities of paid employment, it is only a matter of time before work is accessible to everyone. But this is not the point here, the point is so many disabled people are written off as unemployable before they are given any chance to try, sometimes as soon as they are born, because it is considered horrible to believe they are citizens with responsibilities.
I therefore worry that the ‘Scrounger’ rhetoric is being used by Charities and others, to reinforce and protect the portraying of disabled people as victims who ‘need them’ to function, ensuring they remain disempowered using their services, rather than empowered in mainstream society. Their mindset they wish to suggest is that it is wrong to believe disabled people could work, and so it is a clever way they undermine the citizenship of disabled people.
At the end of the day, I believe we get what we ask for, and if disabled people unconsciously wish others to regard them as scroungers in a negative way, that will happen. I always saw myself as an equal citizen, so for the most part, that is what I enjoy.

– If you like what I say, have a look at my website at http://www.simonstevens.com or follow me on twitter, @simonstevens74

This is the moment that matters


If there is a time in British History that mattered for disabled people then this is it! The battle between welfare and inclusion, a medical model approach or a social model one, and between the past and the future is clearer than it has ever been and the issue is set to become clearer. if the welfare reforms have done anything then it has brought the prejudices towards disabled people by the welfare activists to the surface for everyone to see.


Before this time, the concept of inclusion as a goal was publicly unchallenged out of a desire of political correctness for a whole decade or two, but that does not mean everyone deep down believed in the full inclusion of disabled people. Now, in the name of welfare, those who oppose inclusion have found a voice and ability to justify themselves in terms of protecting the vulnerable, a misuse of the concept of hate crime to frighten people back into institutionalised support, as well as scaremongering over supposed poor ‘rushed and impersonal’ care services and unfounded poverty.


It looks like welfare campaigners have seized the moment but they have merely gained a voice, and it in now time for the inclusion activists like myself to gather evidence and plan the next stage of the battle as people realise it is time to pick sides, and those who commit to both have in reality committed to neither.


This is the moment that matters for disabled people and I hope it will be the moment where the welfare agenda made way for the inclusion agenda to ensure all disabled people are seen as fully contributing members of society, not just objects of pity.


If you like what I say, have a look at my site at www.simonstevens.com or follow me on twitter, @simonstevens74, or even leave me feedback on +44 (0)121 364 1974 or email simon@simonstevens.com