Christian activists call for a ‘Compassionate Britain’ for disabled people

By agency reporter
May 20, 2015

A new grass-roots organisation has sprung up following the General Election: Compassionate Britain - speaking up for disabled people. Inspired by Jesus’ compassion, it aims to unite people across the whole political spectrum to speak up against the welfare cuts targeted at disabled people.

Its website lists facts and statistics to help people in writing to their MP about the effects of the welfare cuts on disabled people. 

Founder Tanya Marlow, who is herself disabled and housebound with severe Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, argues that the welfare cuts have been falling  disproportionately on disabled people. She wrote an open letter to Conservative voters, posted on the Archbishop Cranmer blog, which was tweeted more than 300 times and had more than 8,500 views in the first 24 hours. In it she wrote: "Austerity should mean that everyone tightens their belts, and yet the sharp edge of the cuts has fallen repeatedly and disproportionately onto the most vulnerable. Disabled people have been cut so deep they are collectively bleeding."

She references Dr Simon Duffy from The Centre for Welfare Reform, who has estimated that the cuts have affected disabled people nine times more, and those with the most severe disabilities 19 times more, than the average person.

“Most people are shocked by the statistics when they hear them,” Marlow says. “David Cameron promised that more money would go to the most severely disabled, and yet the reality is that money is being taken from the most severely disabled. He has gone on record committing to social justice and compassion, so this is about keeping our politicians accountable. It is not right that cuts are falling disproportionately on some of the most vulnerable in our society." 

According to The Poverty Site, a third of disabled people in the 25 to retirement age bracket, are already living in poverty. More than 55 per cent of the welfare bill goes on pensions and pension credits, which the government has promised not to touch.  With a promised £12 billion further cuts coming to working age benefits, there is a growing concern for how this will affect disabled people.

Rather than distracting from the campaigns already run by disability and Christian charities, Compassionate Britain’s aim is to bring them together, and work together with as many different groups as possible in order to heighten the impact. 

“I would love every Christian to read the facts, pray, and consider how they can help: whether that is by supporting disability charities or writing to their MP”, Marlow says. “After the buzz of the election, many Christians are now talking about being more politically active. Compassionate Britain is a great opportunity for Christians and others to be involved in social justice.”

* Compassionate Britain launched on Sunday 17 May 2015, and can be found at http://compassionatebritain.org.uk

*Tanya Marlow’s open letter to Conservative voters: http://archbishopcranmer.com/an-open-letter-from-a-disabled-christian-to-conservative-voters/ 

[Ekk/4]

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