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Posted on 23 May 2012 at 16:47 GMT

Disabled people's organisations condemn views of Tory minister IDS

On 14 May the Daily Telegraph printed an interview with Tory minister Iain Duncan Smith. In it he made outrageous attacks on disabled people.
Since then over 400 signatures were collected on a letter asking the Telegraph to provide a right to reply to what IDS said but also to the appalling editorial on the same day as well, writes Linda Burnip from Disabled People Against Cuts.
The Telegraph has so far refused to publish this letter or give disabled people any redress. Linda, who was one of the signatories to the letter to the Telegraph, has sent a copy of it to the Socialist Party:

We are writing to you as representatives of disabled people's organisations. We wish to express our disgust and disquiet with the views expressed by the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith in his interview with the Daily Telegraph (published 14.5.12).

Let us first deal with the 'big lie' contained in the interview. Iain Duncan Smith believes that the current system of DLA (Disability Living Allowance) application conceals "massive fraud".

What evidence does Iain Duncan Smith base this assertion on other than his evident prejudice against disabled people?

His own department (the Department for Work and Pensions) estimates that fraud accounts for only 0.5% of DLA claims.

Since when did one in 200 become "massive"? In fact DLA is one of the benefits with the lowest levels of fraud.

Secondly there is the Secretary of State's use of the phrase "festering at home" to describe disabled people with lifetime awards of DLA.

This not only betrays Iain Duncan Smith's appalling attitude towards disabled people but also a complete misunderstanding of DLA.

Many thousands of disabled people use their DLA to maintain themselves in work (eg in paying additional transport costs).

The DWP estimates that 550,000 people will lose all or part of their mobility support when the Personal Independence Payment is introduced.

So when that mobility support is withdrawn tens of thousands of disabled people will become unable to afford to go to work. Is this an outcome that Iain Duncan Smith desires?

But why should Iain Duncan Smith's ignorance of the consequences of reform come as a surprise? - given that the Equality and Human Rights Commission has just issued a damning report showing that government ministers failed in their legal duty to carry out equality impact assessments on their proposed welfare reforms.

Then, as now, it seems that the government prefers wilful ignorance to care and compassion.

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 23 May 2012 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

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