Disabled and sick people should shape policies that impact them

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Supporting the WOW (War on Welfare) Petition initiative, Simon Barrow, co-director of the beliefs and values thinktank Ekklesia, said:

"All the evidence is that the government's current policies and priorities on welfare are causing serious harm to the most vulnerable people in society.

"A proper, independent, cumulative impact assessment, of the kind called for in the WOW petition, is urgently needed.

"In addition, disabled and sick people, people with learning and mental health difficulties, their families and carers, should be key stakeholders in making the policies that impact and shape their lives. It is not acceptable that they are merely consulted and then ignored, as has been happening.

"A proper 'new deal' for disabled and sick people is about ensuring that those in greatest needs receive the best support and a properly generous share of public resources.

"Equally importantly, it is about who decides how those resources are used and who is involved in administering them.

"As the famous South African saying puts it, 'Nothing about us, without us, is for us.' That is the public policy principle adopted by the Poverty Truth Commission in Scotland, and it is the irreducible principle that should inform the way the Westminster and devolved governments should operate in all areas of policy-making -- not least those that impact people living with disabilities, sickness and mental health problems.

"It is vital that the War on Welfare campaign is being initiated and led by disabled people themselves, and that in addition to specifying the areas of welfare assessment that are needed, it is seeking to challenge the profoundly misleading and damaging anti-welfare ideology that is being pushed by government and sections of the media at present.

"It is to be hoped that charities, churches and faith groups, civic organisations, researchers, academics and advocacy and policy NGOs will get behind the WOW initiative, using their petition as an axis for change in 2013."

* Petition calling for a cumulative impact assessment of Welfare Reform - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/17653