Can you imagine yourself living independently with some sort of mental illness, lost limb, or blindness, without any financial or physical support provided to you? Being able-bodied people, it is sometimes beyond our imagination to comprehend what being disabled really means. The pain and sufferings of such people can only be understood by putting oneself in their shoes.
We believe in the disabled people’s right to independent living. However, the Government policies in this regard are under constant manipulation leading to changes in the Disability Living Allowance, Independent Living Fund and the cutbacks in funding to the NHS. We need to understand that a disabled person can live independently if an only if he/she is provided with the necessary financial and physical support. The fact is that the benefit cutbacks are posing huge threat not only to the independent living of the disabled people, but also to their lives as a whole. The funds that used to make a huge difference in the lives of the disabled people are no longer available which is considered as a major attack on the rights of this community.
There are many such examples around us where a disabled person has been deprived of the funds and left in a state of shock and uncertainty. One such person is Kate Rae from Aveley, Thurrock, in Essex, who was told that she is no more eligible for the disability living allowance that she was getting since past four years. The motability car facility that used to help her commute to work was also taken back, thus forcing her to give up the job. Previously, Rae was awarded eight points thus qualifying her for assistance with daily living. She was getting £56 a week in daily care allowance along with aids like rail support to help her with the use of toilet. Similarly, she was getting assistance for dressing, undressing purposes. However, according to new criteria, she cannot score enough points to prove herself eligible for the allowance. She describes her condition as follows:
“Under the new scheme, I will no longer qualify. I don’t know what I’m going to do. How am I supposed to feed myself, clothe myself? Without these things, I can’t get ready to work.”
This is an insight to one such story and it is feared that around 200,000 disabled people will lose benefits altogether under the new government scheme. It must be kept in mind that a huge number of disabled people have reportedly taken their lives in the past owing to the benefit cuts.
The Government Policy at the moment seems to forget that being disabled is not something by choice. No one wants to lead such a life, and if a person gets disabled, he/she does not lose the rights to independent living. We strongly recommend that instead of making life difficult for the disabled people, the government must take necessary steps to provide opportunities to help them live independently.