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Channel 4 television's respected 'Dispatches' series will carry a programme on Disability Living Allowance at 8pm tonight (Monday 25 February). It is entitled, perhaps rather sweepingly and unhelpfully, 'Britain on Benefits'. Nonetheless, it will be important viewing.
When did sick and disabled people become 'fair game' for mockery in the UK?
Over the last few years the way certain elements of the media have portrayed these sections of the population as ‘scroungers’ and ‘benefit cheats’ has been depressing, but today the Daily Mail reached a new low. In this article dramatic claims were made about the numbers of new claimants for Disability Living Allowance, describing a rush to claim the benefit before new more stringent rules are introduced.
As elements of the government’s Welfare Reform programme meet growing opposition, the Secretary of State comes under increasing pressure. Defeat in the Court of Appeal over Workfare and increasingly vocal opposition to the bedroom tax has seen Iain Duncan Smith stridently defending his policies.
Should the welfare system be reformed? Is the tax credit system flawed? Is a universal credit a good idea in principle? The answer to all these questions is 'yes'. But if the question is about whether the government is tackling these issues in the correct way, the answer is 'no'. A huge change of direction is required.
Yesterday evening, an ever expanding group of sick and disabled people, carers and families launched an e-petition demanding an independent, cumulative review of the impact of changes to the welfare and benefits system.