Developing ICT skills and networks of support.
Since the spending review last week there has been 1,045 national articles detailing where budgets will be squeezed and who the winners and losers are – wow! However, hot on its heels was the news that Wayne Rooney was threatening to leave Manchester United, gaining column inches in 677 articles. Hmmm.
It has been interesting to watch the media coverage of the spending review. From attacks on the country’s ‘benefit scroungers’, to the view that the government is hitting the most vulnerable hardest, the coverage has been varied and opinion divided.
Welfare reform and getting Britain ‘back to work’ has been in the spotlight both before and after details of the spending review were announced. Out of all the media coverage the most frustrating thing to read has been the sensationalised headlines declaring the government’s ‘crackdown on incapacity benefit scroungers’ and outrage at the ‘78% who claim incapacity benefits are fit to do a job’. These stories give the impression that everyone on benefits has the option to go to work but are just too lazy to do so. The reality is that people with a learning disability who are able to work, want to work, but they just aren’t given the opportunity and support to do so. Mencap’s chief executive, Mark Goldring, spoke to The Guardian about this, saying that the government is in danger of “creating a climate in which people who have disabilities and need money and support to live a full life are labelled as benefit scroungers”.
The media has also covered the proposed cap on housing benefits. The Daily Telegraph reported unrest among London MPs who say that the government is “packing trains full of the poor and most disadvantaged and packing them off to outer London”. For people with a learning disability, these changes could have a devastating impact. Many will struggle to afford their current rent or find affordable homes, so may have to move away from friends and family – a vital support network.
The next challenge for Mencap is to get the media to take more notice of the cuts to the mobility component of the Disability Living Allowance (DLA). This is an incredibly important issue that will affect around 58,000 people with a disability and has yet to be given the attention it needs. This money helps people living in residential care get the personal support they need to get out and take part in activities they enjoy, to remove it is denying people their independence and the right to choose how they live their lives.
So as we share our stories with the media on DLA, let’s just hope Wayne Rooney doesn’t have a change of heart…