Act Now on disability poverty
by Joel Lamy
The other day a work colleague told me she had finished at 5pm, instantly fell asleep then woke up just in time to start again the next day.
She has a hidden disability – and her experience is not unique – for many, the need to work full-time leaves them shattered and without the energy to even cook their food, never mind leave the house.
Not only is this an isolating and mentally-draining experience, it also means higher fuel energy usage – a problem when bills are soaring and unlikely to come down any time soon.
For others with a disability, they may rely on taxis because they cannot drive or use public transport, or specialist equipment for their needs.
All of this comes at a cost, but with unemployment benefits not keeping up with the rate of inflation and targeted support from the Government including a cut to fuel duty rather than measures which would help disabled people, it is little surprise that the charity Scope has said “many are already making decisions about whether they heat their home (or) feed their family”.
As a country we have acted in the face of full public demonstrations, whether it be over climate change or the treatment of ethnic minorities. But disabled people remain not so much the “silent majority” as Richard Nixon once coined Americans who refused to demonstrate against the Vietnam War, but a “hidden minority” who do not have the energy to hit the streets and highlight their plight.
That is why it’s more important than ever that the disability community comes together to make their voices heard, to make sure that people realise how disabled people continue to be let down – whether it be through an unfit for purpose benefits system, inadequate public facilities or unfair social care charges which will require them to make greater contributions than the average person.
For these reasons everyone should write to their MP highlighting the urgent need for action, otherwise we will see increased hardship with devastating consequences – https://actionnetwork.org/letters/help-disabled-people-survive-the-cost-of-living-crisis.
We know during the pandemic that the majority of those who died were disabled, and that Do Not Resuscitate orders were shamefully given to people with learning disabilities.
And we know that the cost of living crisis will disproportionately affect those with disabilities, an increasing number of people due to the effects of Long Covid.
It is why many with disabilities work full-time despite the crippling exhaustion it brings as the alternative is somehow worse.
It is why now more than ever we need to make some noise as the situation is unlikely to improve any time soon, and the longer we wait the more irreversible the consequences will be.