Community Care
  • Click to see all the latest social work and social care jobs

‘Anti-cuts groups risk undermining social model of disability’

Simon-Stevens-opinion.jpg

Technological and social progress mean the government is right to look at reducing benefits and support for disabled people and campaigns against cuts risk undermining inclusion, argues disability issues consultant, trainer and activist Simon Stevens.
It appears to be currently extremely fashionable to be against the welfare reforms and cuts. I must make it very clear I do not believe either the reforms or cuts are being implemented perfectly but I can see the logic of them for the economy and for society.
The welfare state was designed on the basis that a proportion of the population was unable to make a contribution to society and was therefore excluded, warehoused and/or compensated. I strongly feel that this is no longer an acceptable premise and that society has changed to a point where everyone can make some sort of meaningful contribution. If we compare society in 1992, when disability living allowance (DLA) was introduced, to now, we can see huge technological, environmental and other advances that have enabled so many disabled people to have greater control over their lives and ability to make a difference.
Success of the social model
This is the success of the social model, a concept disabled people themselves fought for on the condition that when they achieved the rights they needed they would take up the responsibilities which went along with them. The government is now asking disabled people to honour this as greater accessibility and inclusion means they is a lesser need for compensation payments like DLA or its prospective replacement, personal independence payment, for some disabled people. 
This is however falling upon deaf ears as a new generation of disabled people appear to seek to revert back to a medical model concept of disability, where people with impairments are victims who are portrayed as unemployable and naturally inferior. Overnight it appears a new movement disabled people has forgotten the opportunities they have as they revert back to a Victorian idea of disability and dependency. As someone who fought all my life to make a difference, I find this very insulting.
Budget cuts versus cuts in outcomes
The same can be said about the reaction to social care cuts. I feel financial cuts do not necessarily mean reductions in outcomes as technological and social changes have altered how we do things. Should someone have a shopping call when they are able to do online shopping? Care packages have been reduced but these are not the crisis cuts that were happening in the 1990s when community care was finding its feet. 
Rights are meaningless without responsibilities and right now, whether we like it or not, we have a responsibility to play our part in these difficult times. That means being honest about what we really need and how we are able to change how we do things to save costs for others, rather than unhelpfully using a misguided notion of rights that could destroy the inclusion we have fought for.
Related articles

Mithran Samuel

About Mithran Samuel

Mithran Samuel is adults' editor at Community Care.

, ,