Family Magazine

Stop Clause 52

By Mmostynthomas @MostynThomasJou

Stop Clause 52 We must be realistic. There are no guarantees that Isobel will lead an independent life in adulthood without support. She is likely to have a daily care support worker as well as familial support, so to ensure she has some semblance of a "normal" life - and I use the term advisedly. We would also still need respite care, so both she and we get a sense of variety as well as a break from our routine.
In order to pay for this care after the age of 16, though, Isobel will need to be in receipt of Employment Support Allowance (ESA, which replaces Incapacity Benefit). Given that DLA, which she gets, is itself under threat - if I am correct, the government aims to cut DLA claimants by 20% with its controversial replacement, Personal Independence Payment (PIP) - qualifying for her ESA becomes more vital than ever before.
Yet it looks as though Isobel could lose out on that too. While Clause 51 of the Welfare Reform Bill, which proposes limiting ESA to one year for those deemed capable of "work-related activity," is attracting much interest, the very next clause is just as appalling, yet is being overlooked - leaving hundreds of thousands of children with disabilities and their families subject to a future life of drudgery.
Let me spell out what it could mean.
What if the grown-up Isobel didn't have the respite and social care in place for herself? Self-motivation - which is not only fueling her progress at PACE today, but is also key to her future sense of independence and continuing self-worth - would become very difficult to maintain on a regular basis. Her social life would suffer, especially if she was still making hospital and therapy visits several times a week - and with it would diminish her chances of finding romance.
If our household income remained low - and it is highly likely to, given the barriers to employment both Miles and I already face as deaf people - we would never be able to afford social care and facility costs. Isobel's dependence on me, Miles and Benedict for day-to-day living would be further aggravated by her own barriers to employment. (After all, PACE are not going to be around forever; they cater for children up to age eight.)
To expect a couple in their 60s (myself and Miles) and their youngest son (Benedict), who would otherwise be studying for his GCSEs, to support a 20-year-old in her daily chores - bathing, shopping, dressing, feeding and so on - without a break would be disastrous for all of us. Both Miles and I would probably develop permanent disabilities ourselves anyway from lifting her in and out of her wheelchair (and we cannot ignore the possibility of that happening either). Isobel is certainly not getting any lighter; at the age of 40, Miles has already taken time off work due to suspected sciatica and she is not even three.        
Stop Clause 52 Yet that is exactly the threat that Clause 52 will pose if the Welfare Reform Bill becomes law in a few weeks' time. It abolishes ESA in youth irrespective of whether the claimant is capable of "work-related activity" or not - effectively robbing a high proportion of the 237,000 children with disabilities who presently claim DLA of the automatic right to independent support post-16.
Imagine how that would affect not just the children, but also their families. If they all had David Cameron's wealth that might not matter so much, but the average household income would barely stretch to a third adult's expenditure - less for one-parent families - never mind one with a disability who couldn't get a job. And if the person still depended on his parents after they reached retirement age, what would the outcome be?
Clause 52 is both short-sighted and inhuman, and must be stopped if not changed. Please show your support for the campaign by clicking the link below to sign the e-petition.
For more information on Clause 52, try the following URLs:
Conservative compassion seems to exclude the disabled and sick (Guardian article)
Why would anyone want to do this?
 Those who are better-versed in politics and law than I am should be able to source the debates surrounding the Welfare Reform Bill on TheyWorkForYou.

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog