Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Exercise with Energy


So tomorrow there is a very important event happening in London. I know in the UK, England especially, there has been a lot of noise in recent months about the coalition government and the cuts that are being imposed by them, all in the name of the ridiculous concept of a "Big Society". One area of the cuts that you might not know about, unless it directly affects you or people you might know, are to something called the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and the Employment and Support Allowance. You might not know about them because they will be affecting a part of society that often doesn't have a very loud voice, and in some cases won't know the consequences of what is happening until it has already happened. Some feel that the government is consciously targeting people with disabilities precisely for this reason, despite the fact these cuts many in fact be completely illegal.

Effectively for many people what the consequences are is losing the ability to be a part of our society, to have the money to support them in leaving the house, to take part in activities which many of us take for granted and play a large part in our everyday lives. This affects people and families across the UK living with conditions like cancer, dementia, arthritis, Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis, sensory impairments, learning disabilities, mental health conditions and physical disabilities. Their everyday lives depend on support that is under threat.

Some stats for you -
The Government’s plans to cut billions from support for disabled people and their families. Their proposals include:
 - Cutting 20% from the budget for Disability Living Allowance (DLA). Disability Alliance estimates that over 700,000 disabled people could see their benefits reduced or removed. DLA helps disabled people with the extra costs of disability and without it more disabled people would be pushed into poverty. The cuts could have a knock-on impact on Carer's Allowance, leaving thousands of families even worse off.
 - Taking mobility payments away from disabled people living in residential care and children going to residential schools. Cutting these payments would trap many in their own homes.
- Cutting off payments of contributory Employment and Support Allowance after a year to people struggling to get back into work due to disability or serious illness.

The event, which I would encourage you to attend if you have the time, is tomorrow. It is called the Hardest Hit March and it will begin on Victoria Embankment between Horseguards Avenue and Bridge Street and will assemble at 11.30. There will be a rally on Victoria Embankment with speeches between 12.00 and 12.30 before the march sets off. The march will then begin at 12.30. There is more information about it here and here. And there is a great online resource about the cuts here.

I unfortunately won't be attending because I will be at work. Supporting 2 bands, The Dancing Rock Queens and the Flash Rockers, to write and record some new songs. These bands are made up of  members with learning disabilities and will be some of the people that will be directly affected by these cuts. If the DLA is scrapped then the possibilities of these guys playing in bands, going to clubs, having a social life in general is massively reduced. These cuts devalue the lives of people with disabilities and presume just because someone has a disability they don't need to take part in the things that really make us human, like music, art, friendship, working, being part of a community, going outside... Effectively they have no place in this "Big Society".

It also means songs like this wouldn't exist - 

Flash Rockers - Wonder Of Colour by Shut Up And Listen!

If you can't go to the march tomorrow, you can protest online.