Simon Barrow's blog

Social media, disability, welfare, work and calculating 'benefit'

Social media, disability, welfare, work and calculating 'benefit'

In recent months social media has proved its worth against some harping critics. The uprisings across the Middle East, the worldwide Occupy protest against unsustainable corporate neo-capitalism and the Spartacus Report revolt of disabled and sick people over punitive welfare cuts and changes: all these movements for change have benefited in a variety of ways from web 2.0 and beyond, from online crowd-sourcing, from twitter, from virals, and from 'internetworking'.

Scotland's independence referendum consultation

The official consultation on the Scottish independence referendum has now been launched and is already provoking a lively and important debate.

Disabled rights on the streets

Disabled and sick people angry at government cuts and changes that will hit thousands of vulnerable people across Britain are taking to the streets over the coming week.

Children's Society analysis of government's benefit cut impact statement

Children's Society analysis of government's benefit cut impact statement

The government's revised impact assessment of the household benefit cap was only published this morning. It was full of surprises, none pleasant.

Briefing: More crucial Welfare Reform Bill votes

Briefing: More crucial Welfare Reform Bill votes

Following three defeats and one almost-defeat in the House of Lords in the past fortnight, the Report Stage of the controversial Welfare Reform Bill continues this week and then comes to the Lords one last time on 31 January 2012 before passing to the Commons and on to Royal Assent.

Why Maria Miller's DLA-PIP claims are misleading

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's World at One, ahead of the House of Lords Welfare Reform Bill (WRB) debate today, Parliamentary-Under Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Maria Miller sought to sound reassuring and reasonable. But the key points she made were either highly debatable or plain wrong. And the stakes are high. The government is attempting to move from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to an untried Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and to cut around £2.7 billion from the benefits system for the most vulnerable people.

The reality of DLA - Spartacus stories

In preparation for the House of Lords debate on the Welfare Reform Bill (WRB) tomorrow, where Disability Living Allowance (DLA) will be in the spotlight, the #spartacusreport campaign ( has launched a fresh initiative - #spartacusstories, which gives people the opportunity through Twitter, blogs and other social media to tell their own stories of why DLA is important to them and the realities of living and surviving as a sick or disabled person.

A fresh propaganda offensive against disabled rights

With the government still apparently willing to make sick, disabled and vulnerable people pay for a financial slump brought about by greed, de-regulation and speculation, the press-mediated propaganda assault has begun ahead of the next House of Lords debate on welfare reform (17 January).

Work Capability Assessment (WCA) is deeply flawed

This week the Welfare Reform Bill returns to the House of Lords, following three damaging defeats for the government last week. Disability Living Allowance, the subject of the #spartacusreport, will come into the spotlight. But so will assessment - not least the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), which is being used in relation to Employment Support Allowance (ESA). It is the process by which people in receipt of the allowance are formally tested to see if they are "fit for work".

A changing Middle East and North Africa: annual overview

It has been a momentous twelve months in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and in relation to developments popularly dubbed the 'Arab Spring' or (perhaps more helpfully) the 'Arab Awakening'. Time, we think, to stop for a moment and take stock.