Disability: A personal view

By Leon Collis

Disabled People Against Cuts protest Tory austerity attacks on the disabled, 2016

This is a short opinion piece based on personal experience and conversations with comrades: Much has been in the bourgeois media recently about proposed changes to disability benefits. We really should stop calling them benefits: They are social security entitlements!

There are two main social security allowances many disabled people are entitled to claim: Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP). ESA is for people who are unable to work or have limited capacity to work due to their disability. PIP is for disabled people who have care and transport needs.

Under the last Labour government, the ruling class decided that too many disabled people were claiming the social security allowances of: Incapacity Benefit (ESA’s forerunner) and Disability Living allowance (DLA) (PIP’s forerunner)

The ruling class decided that in order get around this problem as they saw it, they would scrap those particular allowances and replace them with new ones.  Hence the introduction of ESA and PIP.

These new social security entitlements go beyond filling in a claimant form: they require a full on physical assessment.  What’s more, the assessment process is run by the private sector.  The ruling class issue these companies with targets to deny a certain number claimants access to these allowances. Many of which are overturned on appeal. The government deny the existence of these targets. To make matters worse, many disabled people are constantly having to undergo reassessment despite no change in their condition.

Imagine the fear that one feels every time one gets a letter from the DWP.  This is because at first glance, its not possible to know whether it is just an annual rate change or a letter informing you that you are about to be reassessed.  Where you get a new form as if you are a new claimant.

New legislation has been introduced that means that those of us who are in the full support group of ESA will now be expected to seek work or face sanctions.  Disabled people in the support group of ESA until now had not been expected to work due to the nature of their disability or illness.

Some of us prematurely breathed a sigh of relief on hearing that the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) will be scrapped (this is the physical assessment for claiming ESA).  However, that is not until 2026/27.

So the government is obviously attempting another push to strip disabled people of their entitlements before the scrapping of the WCA. There has long been talk of merging the assessment process for PIP and ESA.  Currently they are two different assessments.

The ruling class always introduce these changes under the guise of helping disabled people.  In reality, it is a wealth transfer!

These constant changes lead to more ableism: Actions, attitudes and use of language that constitute prejudice towards disabled people. For example: The ruling class have long been pushing the idea that there is someone out there who is faking their disability.

Another example: In the environmental movement the rush to ban cars from our towns and cities fails to take into account that many disabled people do not feel able to use public transport for various reasons. This is a form of exclusion.

Finally, not introducing hybrid meetings (In-person and online participants) where people cannot get to an in-person meeting because of disability or illness is also a form of exclusion and therefore a form of ableism.

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