Tuesday, 16 September 2008

*"Power to the disabled people"

Commenting on a DWP conference, 'No-one written off' at which no speaker from any disabled people's organisations had been invited to speak or even to participate, Disability Spokesperson for London Green Party Alan Wheatley today said, "I have learned that when New Labour talk about 'service user involvement' what they really mean is service user enslavement.

"As Disability Action Network said in gatecrashing the event, 'Nothing about us without us; our expertise cannot be written off.'

"While there is currently much talk about global recession, the Government's plans for welfare reform as directed by investment banker David Freud amount to state sponsored human trafficking and a drive to keep wages low." David Freud of think-tank the Portland Group believes that it is 'economically rational' to award private companies £62,000 for each disabled person on Incapacity Benefit they can get into paid work. It is not surprising that the DWP excluded disabled people from such an event as this.

At a recent RADAR debate open to disabled people's organisation, before David Freud spoke most of those present voted in favour of the motion 'This house believes that most disabled people can and should work" After two speeches for and two against that motion, the motion was heavily defeated in a U-turn.

A replacement motion, "This house believes the majority of disabled people can work — and should do so with effective support and benefits protection" received 74 votes in favour and none against.

Speaking from the floor, Mr Wheatley pointed out that disabled people on Jobseekers Allowance are not allowed to work even an hour on the national minimum wage without it affecting their Jobseekers Allowance. The £5 per week 'allowable earnings entitlement' for jobseekers on unemployment-related benefits has not changed since 1988, and Jobseekers Allowance admin call-centre lines are now in meltdown, leaving JSA claimants who do part-time, temporary paid work in danger of severe hardship. "The Government's welfare reform guru had no answer to what I said from bitter personal experience," the Disability Spokesperson for London Green Party stated. Power to the disabled people.

'Community Spirit, Sharing Skills Award' runner up 2007 with Peter Bedford Housing Association, Alan Wheatley assists as a volunteer in teaching Web Design skills to people with mental health problems, while being a Jobseekers Allowance claimant.

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