The government’s focus on alleged fraud and overclaiming to justify cuts in disability benefits has caused an increase in resentment and abuse directed at disabled people, as they find themselves being labelled as scroungers, six of the country’s biggest disability groups have warned.
Some of the charities say they are now regularly contacted by people who have been taunted on the street about supposedly faking their disability and are concerned the climate of suspicion could spill over into violence or other hate crimes.
While the charities speaking out – Scope, Mencap, Leonard Cheshire Disability, the National Autistic Society, Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB), and Disability Alliance – say inflammatory media coverage has played a role in this, they primarily blame ministers and civil servants for repeatedly highlighting the supposed mass abuse of the disability benefits system, much of which is unfounded.
Last April, employment minister Chris Grayling said the “vast majority” of new claimants for sickness benefits were in fact able to go back to work, after official figures showed three-quarters of applicants for employment and support allowance (ESA) failed to qualify for assistance.
Tom Madders, head of campaigns at the National Autistic Society, told the newspaper: “The Department for Work and Pensions is certainly guilty of helping to drive this media narrative around benefits, portraying those who received benefits as workshy scroungers or abusing a system that’s really easy to cheat.”
I think now would be an appropriate moment to recall how the Nazis saw the disabled.
I found this from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
On August 18, 1939, the Reich Ministry of the Interior circulated a decree compelling all physicians, nurses, and midwives to report newborn infants and children under the age of three who showed signs of severe mental or physical disability. At first only infants and toddlers were incorporated in the effort, but eventually juveniles up to 17 years of age were also killed. Conservative estimates suggest that at least 5,000 physically and mentally disabled children were murdered through starvation or lethal overdose of medication.
The Nazis depicted the disabled as “drains” on the state. We are witnessing exactly the same thing in this country, only this time the The Sun and Daily Express-reading ignoramuses and pathologically tribalist bumpkins of Britain are carrying out violence and abuse on behalf of the state; the very same state that will induce their young to fight a future war with Iran. A war from which many will return physically disabled.
On this issue, there has been nothing but silence on the part of the government. But given that certain Tories have a fetish for all things Nazi, it wouldn’t surprise me if many of them actually applauded this abuse in private. If they don’t, then now would be the time to set the record straight.