Monday, 6 February 2012

The "Somebody else's problem" field

I think Maria Miller, Ian Duncan Smith, Lord Freud et al read Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and took the "somebody else's problem" field to heart.

In case you're unfamiliar with the concept, "An S.E.P or 'Somebody Else's Problem field' is a cheap, easy, and staggeringly useful way of safely protecting something from unwanted eyes. It can run almost indefinitely on a flashlight battery, and is able to do so because it utilizes a person's natural tendency to ignore things they don't easily accept... Any problems which may present itself to a person inside an S.E.P will become Somebody Else's.":

So it looks like Miller, Freud, IDS etc are placing a "somebody else's problem" field around disabled people.

Access to Work, funded through the DWP, is now restricted, so specialist versions of things that an employer would normally provide for staff are no longer funded, even if a specialist bit of kit for a disabled person is significantly more expensive than the standard version. DWP don't want it coming out of their budget, it's somebody else's problem.

Telephones are provided by employers. So deaf people that use minicoms are now expected to have these funded by their employers. A minicom requires an analogue phone line. Many offices now use digital phone lines. So a deaf employee needs a phone costing around £300, and a dedicated phone line costing around £15 a month. The point of Access to Work was so employers wouldn't think of meeting access needs of disabled staff as a financial burden. Oh well, for the DWP it's somebody else's problem if fewer disabled staff are employed.

Mobility payments from DLA were to be removed from people in residential care, because care homes were thought to provide transportation. When it became clear this was poorly thought through, and many people would lose all independence, this policy was changed. It was to be somebody else's problem.

People with restricted mobility get DLA to try and remove barriers linked to poor access, but we have laws to make shops accessible now, don't we? Removing barriers via DLA is no longer the DWP's issue It's somebody else's problem.

Personal care tasks that are currently used to assess eligibility for DLA will no longer count in PIP, presumably because local councils are supposed to provide help with care (or direct payments so people can employ their own personal assistance). Never mind that councils can't afford to provide care for anyone other than the most desperately ill. That money won't come out of DWP budget, it's somebody else's problem.

The Independent Living Fund has been closed to new people, without any replacement being provided. It was intended to make sure people with the most complex care needs that would otherwise be in residential care, had those met in order to live independently. Presumably the DWP thinks local councils should be providing this funding, whatever the reasoning, by removing that support they've clearly labelled it "somebody else's problem."

People are going to get sick and deteriorate with these changes, but it won't come out of DWP budget. Somebody else's problem. The NHS will pick up the pieces, won't it? Never mind that NHS funding is being squeezed tighter and tighter, for the DWP it's somebody else's problem.

Edited to add:

I was suspicious when the Department of Social Security became the Department of Work and Pensions. Now it really does look like they don't want to deal with anything that isn't strictly "work" or "pensions".

Social Security really is disappearing.


Ruth Daniells said...

Governments may work it out one day! I urge everyone to appeal decisions thus putting pressure on (eg) Ministry of Justice budgets LOL

Anonymous said...

Good article,I agree with Ruth
Annie Bishop