In the last Parliament, people with disabilities who challenged government cuts were labelled extremists. Political opposition was weakened by a fear of being seen as on the side of ‘scroungers’. But with more cuts coming, perhaps that is about to change. As more and more lives are affected, awareness of just how bad these policies are is growing.
On Friday, when David Cameron stood outside Downing Street to address the nation, he struck a less strident note then he has for some time. He talked about giving the poorest a chance for 'training, a job, and hope for the future'. He seemed in his speech to be reclaiming the mantle of the compassionate Conservative he appeared to be back in 2009/10. I wish I could believe him.
Cuts in the UK have harmed many of the most disadvantaged, including people who are disabled or low-paid. If a Conservative-led government takes power, further reductions and privatisation are likely to have a harsh impact on middle-income households too.
People with disabilities or a long-term illness, having borne the brunt of welfare cuts in this Parliament, fear what will happen after the General Election. With the Conservatives promising a further £12 billion cuts without specifying where the axe would fall, they fear the worst.
John Pring is an experienced journalist, who has been reporting on disability issues for nearly 20 years. He launched the Disability News Service (DNS) in April 2009 to provide in-depth reporting on issues that affect the lives of people with disabilities.
When Gordon Brown became Prime Minister in 2007 I was initially quite pleased. Since both he and David Cameron (then Leader of the Opposition) were parents of disabled children, I thought their experience might a make a real difference.
The Conservatives are refusing to give details of where £12 billion of further social security cuts will come from, but Iain Duncan Smith has said, "there are some things that we will do, and want to do, that are of life-changing, dramatic effects."
On 2 April the Learning Disability Alliance is holding a citizen’s jury, where its members – people with learning disabilities and their supporters – will be quizzing members of political parties about their policies.