Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The Highs And Lows.

Last week was a somewhat euphoric week for disability campaigners given the Government defeat at the hand of the Lords, in triplicate!

Today however, the same cannot be said. The Lords today were debating two highly anticipated amendments to PIP as part of the Welfare Reform Bill and it was a Government victory. They defeated a crossbench amendment to delay the introduction of PIP for another year.

Baroness Grey-Thompson had to withdraw her proposed amendment to require PIP assessors to take account of evidence from claimants' GPs - this is a very worrying development. As ACT NOW has said countless times, many adults with autism are living with no support as they were dropped once leaving children's services. The only people providing 'support' and holding evidence of how their condition impacts on their lives will be with GP's.

Lord Freud did give some ground on PIP today, so there were some positives, by rejecting a pilot for PIP he did give guarantees about the transparency and effectiveness of the new system and process.

We are not convinced, we know of people who have taken part in the trial assessments and it (like the WCA) is not fit for purpose and especially not suited to people with autism.

Some have suggested this was a 'win' for disabled people but I don't know of many who are feeling satisfied or that they have won tonight. It's too early to know much of what happens from here with this Bill (other than it's about to be pushed through!) but we do know the Lords were listening to all the people who have taken time to contact them over this last week.

Autism was discussed in the chamber today, which seems to have irked some campaigners but we have to remember, it is a largely hidden disability and alongside all people with hidden disabilities, the autism community is likely to be hit the hardest.

Baroness Browning hit the nail on the head: "...aspergers is NOT autism-light"

Simon Barrow said of Maria Miller's (Minister for Disability) radio interview today: "Everyone agrees that the current system needs to be simplified and improved. But that is not achieved by cuts, shoddy statistics, late reporting, attempts to subvert parliamentary process (Lord Freud's procedural tactics last week) and statistical evasion. The case for a significant re-examination and re-think on the government's part is overwhelming."

We agree and we'll keep campaigning - keep marching! 

We still have no answers about who the 500,000 people are who are set to lose their benefits.  We will continue to campaign for trained, independent autism advocates to be put in place and for reasonable adjustments to be made for adults with autism when faced with a largely ignorant society/professionals who know little about the reality of the condition.

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