What should a Minister for Disabled People do?
- Work for disabled people's equality in society.
- Educate government ministers about disabled people's needs and rights.
- Understand the needs of disabled people.
- Speak out against the misrepresentation of disabled people in the media.
- Listen to disabled people.
- Be accountable to disabled people.
What does our current Minister for Disabled People do?
The Minister for Disabled People heads the Office for for Disability Issues, which describes their role "The Office for Disability Issues (ODI) leads the government’s vision of achieving equality for disabled people". http://odi.dwp.gov.uk/about-the-odi/index.php
Maria Miller is also responsible for " specific responsibilities within the Department for Work and Pensions which include Disability Living Allowance reform, reviewing the Independent Living Fund and specialist disability employment programmes." http://odi.dwp.gov.uk/about-the-odi/the-minister-for-disabled-people.php
As far as I've seen, our minister does the following:
- Allows newspapers to run inaccurate stories about "benefit scroungers" unchecked.
- Allows her colleagues to go on national radio and talk about Disability Living Allowance as though it were an out of work benefit, further reinforcing public misunderstanding of benefits.
- Is in charge of massive reform of Disability Living Allowance without adequately consulting with disabled people. The DWP consultation for the DLA reforms took place between the 6th of December to the 18th of February. That is 8 weeks for people to read and digest a 45 page document, and construct a response. Considering many disabled people may need support to access and understand this document, I don't think 8 weeks is a reasonable amount of time for such an important consultation.
- Responds to disabled people's letters about their concerns with form-letters that don't answer questions raised.
- Continues to allow a private company (ATOS) to be paid by the government to carry out assessments for benefit eligibility that have been shown to be inaccurate and unfair. ATOS assessors have found people to be "fit for work", who have died days after their assessments, and around 40% of people found "fit for work" have that decision overturned on appeal. http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/feb/23/government-reform-disability-benefits
I believe Maria Miller is falling short of her duties in her role as Minister for Disabled People, and as such should be removed from her role in the cabinet. I would like to post an e-petition asking for her to be removed from her role, but we only have 1000 characters to do this. I need help wording the e-petition - please could you post in the comments so we can get a well worded petition together?
The Shadow Minister for Disabled People, Anne McGuire is critical of the smearing of people claiming sickness + disability benefits: http://www.bhfederation.org.uk/federation-news/item/1422-government-is-%E2%80%98talking-up%E2%80%99-benefit-fraud-says-shadow-minister.html
The Responsible Reform report proves without doubt that the Minister for Disabled People DOES NOT listen to disabled people, and DOES NOT work with disabled people's organisations.