Apr 232011
 

DWP - headless woman interpreted as having a headache

cartoon by Crippen

Incapacity Benefit was introduced in 1995 to replace Invalidity Benefit – both come under the earnings replacement benefit heading. It is important to understand that earnings replacement benefits have a chequered history. Prior to 1971, those unable to work due to sickness or disability were generally not distinguished from other non-workers, and simply received means-tested assistance, if they were poor enough.

Tania Burchardt (1999) wrote:

The 1970s and 1980s were in general periods of expansion and improvement in the coverage of earnings-replacement benefits. However the tide did begin to turn. First in 1980 all long-term benefits, including IVB, were linked to prices rather than being up-rated with earnings as they had been previously.  Then through the 1980s short-term sickness benefits became flat-rate (losing their earnings-related element) and responsibility for them was gradually passed to employers. Finally, and decisively, Incapacity Benefit (IB) replaced IVB in 1995: taxable, unlike its predecessor, and with tougher eligibility criteria. For IVB, assessments of incapacity for work could take into account the  claimant’s age and qualifications, but for long-term IB the test (at least in theory) is whether there is any work the claimant could perform, regardless of the likelihood of him or her getting such a job or its suitability.

A number of issues arise from this period which still haunt us today and makes it extremely difficult to have a meaningful and rational discussion around the ‘benefits agenda’. Firstly, it is a widely held belief that Tory Government’s encouraged IVB claims rather than unemployment benefit in key regional areas in order to mask the true unemployment figures. Secondly, the State has always bound together ‘sickness and disability’ and as a result misrepresented and abused the lifestyles of people with chronic illness and/or impairment. Finally, it should be noted that three years after IB was introducted it became part of New Labour’s first shake up of the Welfare System under Alistair Darling. Labour were concerned by the fact that the ‘disability benefits’ element of the social security bill had between 1974 and 1998 risen from 16% to 27%.

This is the background to the rentless campaign that has unfolded since the end of the 1990s against people claiming ‘disability benefits’. DPAC has highlighted how both Labour and the Coalition have employed the rabid Tory press to witchhunt claimants. It is not our argument that there is no need for reform of the benefit system, nor would we foolishly refuse to acknowledge that some claimants might not need the benefits they are claiming; however, we assert that these issues should not detract us from questioning the real agenda behind the so called ‘reforms’ and the discriminatory and disablist manner in which the three major political parties and the mass media are targeting those on ‘disability benefits’.

The latest attack came on the 21st April 2011 when both the Daily Mail and the BBC using data collected by the DWP in August 2010 supported a speech made by David Cameron. In his speech Cameron said:

People on benefits due to drink and drug problems will be expected to work if they can

He promised “tough action” after government figures showed 80,000 people claimed incapacity benefits due to drink, drug or weight-related issues.

The Daily Mail carried an article by Daniel Martin which re-articulated a previous one written back in the Autumn – the theme of both being that drug addicts, drunks and people with minor ailments such as headaches were abusing IB. The BBC went one step further and produced a chart:

Most common ailments cited in benefit claims (top 10 and selected)

And this shows what exactly? That the world of work makes people ill, perhaps? Having a category such as “depression” or “obesity” masks the nature and degree of the condition, it fails to acknowledge the varied causes of the conditions held within the categories. Alcoholism is for example an extremely complex condition – however Cameron and the mass media are happy to make reckless generalised comments about people with a variety of medical conditions.

As a result of their actions the public are encouraged to pin “common sense stereotyped” labels on benefit claimants. The BBC’s chart, for example, are we clear as to what is covered by “drug abuse”? Are there 37,480 “junkies” on benefits or could it just be that this figure includes people who are ‘drug dependent’ due to the nature or treatment of their condition”? This approach tars everyone with specific impairments with the same brush – the social context of impairments are ignored in favour of crude discriminatory stereotyped descriptions. People are drug dependent for many reasons; people can have weight issues for many reasons too – but the Tories don’t want this to be considered.

Another question absent from Cameron’s lips and the media stories is: ‘Are these claims within the Social Security rules of entitlement?’ Why is the focus always on the claimants? When was the last time you read in the Daily Mail or heard via the BBC that senior officials at the DWP have been hauled over the coals?

Let’s cut the crap – the 21st April marked the latest attempt to instil in the minds of the public that there are two groups of claimants – “deserving” and “undeserving”. This Government has made “impairment” a political issue by asserting through a moral discourse there are acceptable and unacceptable impairments. How dare Cameron pretend to have morals when he has allowed the banking sector get away with immoral acts time and time again? How dare Cameron pretend to have morals when he fiddled his own expenses? We must stand up and oppose the immoral way in which people with impairments are being scapegoated as an excuse for dismantling the Welfare State.

——Bob Williams-Findlay

Bob Williams-Findlay

Bob Williams-Findlay

Mar 102011
 

Description of cartoon: David Cameron is in a tank with the words ‘big society’ printed on the side. He is wearing a helmet and a camouflage top. There are also half a dozen wheelchair emblems painted on, as though they were confirmed hits. Under the tracks of the tank are various signs that have been crushed and broken. They include signs that read ‘United Nations disability rights convention’, ‘human rights’, ‘independent living fund’ and ‘article 19′. There is also a newspaper laying on the ground called the Tory news. This has printed on its front page ‘ Cameron condemns those ruthless dictators who have no regard for human rights!’. In front of the tank is a young wheelchair user. She is blocking its progress and is also glaring up at Cameron. Cameron has a surprised look on his face as the tank gun visibly wilts!

Read more about this cartoon on Crippen’s blog at – http://crippencartoons.wordpress.com/2011/03/10/our-voices-being-heard/

Mar 072011
 

Big Society beg society

Description: A lot of wealthy looking people are on top of an ivory tower, drinking and laughing together. There’s also large bags of money up there with them. On the wall of the tower is the sign ‘Big Society’. At the foot of the tower is a group of disabled people. They are looking up to the people on the top of the tower and have a large
sign that reads ‘Beg Society’

Dave Lupton

aka Crippen – Disabled cartoonist

Anyone wishing to use any of my existing cartoons for their own web sites or publications are asked to make a donation to support the Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) web site. Please make your payment by sending a cheque to Dave Lupton, 17 Cawsam Gardens, Caversham, Reading RG4 5JE and marked on the back DPAC – the amount you pay is discretionary. Thanks for your support.

Crippen’s web site – http://www.crippencartoons.co.uk

Crippen’s cartoon blog – http://crippencartoons.wordpress.com

Mar 062011
 

cartoon by crippen

Description: Three disabled people are up to their shoulders in shit. One of them is reading a newspaper that says ‘Cameron says we all in this together!’. One of the disabled people is saying:”I suppose some of us are deeper in it than others?!”

Dave Lupton

aka Crippen – Disabled cartoonist

Anyone wishing to use any of my existing cartoons for their own web sites or publications are asked to make a donation to support the Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) web site. Please make your payment by sending a cheque to Dave Lupton, 17 Cawsam Gardens, Caversham, Reading RG4 5JE and marked on the back DPAC – the amount you pay is discretionary. Thanks for your support.

Crippen’s web site – http://www.crippencartoons.co.uk

Crippen’s cartoon blog – http://crippencartoons.wordpress.com

Mar 042011
 

Cameron with no clothes


Description
: David Cameron is standing under a sign that reads ‘Big society fashion show’. He is accompanied by two Tory MPs who are wearing their traditional blue suits. Cameron is stark naked but is holding a box in his hand that has ‘Big society clothing’ printed on the lid and which covers his genitals. A little boy, holding his mother’s hand is laughing and pointing at Cameron whilst saying: “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!”

Anyone wishing to use any of my existing cartoons for their own web sites or publications are asked to make a donation to support the Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC)web site. Please make your payment by sending a cheque to Dave Lupton, 17 Cawsam Gardens, Caversham, Reading RG4 5JE and marked on the back DPACthe amount you pay is discretionary. Thanks for your support.

Crippen’s web site – http://www.crippencartoons.co.uk

Crippen’s cartoon blog – http://crippencartoons.wordpress.com

Feb 282011
 

Description: Two disabled people in a small dingy are confronting a large super tanker with TUC written on it’s bows. The dingy has ‘disabled people against cuts’ printed on it’s side and there is a large sign above it saying ‘cuts protest’ and an arrow pointing to the side. Another sign is floating in the sea alongside with the same message. The super tanker is slowly beginning to turn in the direction of the protests as the captain shouts out from the far distant bridge: “Sorry, it just takes us a while to change direction!”

Anyone wishing to use any of my existing cartoons for their own web sites or publications are asked to make a donation to support the Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC)web site.Please make your payment by sending a cheque to Dave Lupton, 17 Cawsam Gardens, Caversham, Reading RG4 5JE and marked on the back DPACthe amount you pay is discretionary. Thanks for your support.


Crippen’s web site -
http://www.crippencartoons.co.uk

Crippen’s cartoon blog - http://crippencartoons.wordpress.com

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