Monday, January 14, 2013

The Personal Independence Payment


I should explain that I have never received Disability Living Allowance. The reason for this was apparently that although I have some difficulty walking forwards I can walk backwards without any difficulties whatsoever. If the British state had its way I would be walking the Earth like a Lakota contraire, and presumably going as mad as them in the process. 

According to the BBC, 

"Tougher rules to assess how far people can walk mean many claimants will lose help with transport from April.


Those unable to walk more than 20m would qualify, rather than the previous distance of 50m."

On the face of it, this seems to be just the sort of hard-hearted, mean-spirited nonsense we have come to expect from the softly spoken right-wing fanatics who are currently tearing the welfare state limb from limb, hewing its flesh from its bones with unseemly relish; and it's worth quoting a little more from that BBC report to give that distance some context -

"Baroness Grey-Thompson said at her local supermarket she could not get from a blue badge parking space to the doors - 20m is not that far, she said."

(What Baroness Grey Thompson might have been too civil to say is that any attempt she might make at doing that would be dependent upon actually being able to find a Blue Badge parking space that was not already, and illegally, occupied by a vehicle not displaying a valid Blue Badge. If abuse of the Blue Badge system is not a victimless crime, then neither is the commandeering of disabled parking spaces by those not entitled to use them. But that's life, at least as some of us have to live it; and don't ever get me started on the abuse of the disabled toilet system by the able-bodied.)

However, thinking about this a little harder made me realise that it might not be intended to be so sinister; it might merely be the consequence of the person who drafted that law being as mentally disengaged from wider society around them as some disabled people will become physically after it comes into force. 

The only logical reason why a distance as short as twenty metres has been selected as the cut-off point is that it was selected by someone who doesn't walk anywhere; in other words by someone who travels everywhere by car and who does all of their shopping online, someone who doesn't ever stand at a bus stop and who never goes into a shop; someone so digitised and lacking in spontaneity that they can program when they'll need milk for their tea.

A law very possibly designed by a 24 year old nerd, with a 24 year old nerd's range of influences and experiences, might just be about to determine whether mobility impaired 50 year old computing illiterates are going to be able to get out and about. It's got to be something as daft as that, for the only alternative explanation is that it's intended to keep the disabled in their homes; turning them not into ghettos, as Baroness Grey Thompson believes, but prisons. 

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