The older I get, the more I realize that people and their problems are much the same around the world. I have employees and friends who were born in foreign countries or whose parents were born elsewhere and immigrated here. Listening to their stories I appreciate the United States more, but I have come to know that aside from politics, people are not that different from country to country. Unfortunately, that means we all have the same kinds of problems, including disability. In the United States one way we deal with disability is through the Social Security system. My English friend Mr. Jim Loxley of My Compensation explains in this guest post a little about how disability is handled in the United Kingdom. And sure enough, both countries have the same types of problems. I especially like the last sentence of Jim's article.
Working in the legal sector representing disabled people (often in the arena of discrimination, in my case) it can be quite motivating seeing justice being done. Much like Bob Kraft, however, I often find myself frustrated with the government's poor implementation of measures to the legal systems surrounding disabled people. It’s difficult not to ask the question: why is it like this? This is a recent story on an example of the kind of things that happen in the UK that I thought highlighted the issue and was something of an echo of the US Social Security disability fund depletion.
The government has recently suggested a considerable delay to the publication of the new Disability Strategy. The on-going consultations on the disability strategy came to an end in early March with promises having been made that the Springtime would see the government publish the results. However, with a progress report on a wider Equality Strategy being published earlier on this week, the announcement was made that the Disability Strategy would now be brought to the public eye “later this year”. In December of last year a government document was published called Fulfilling Potential and provided a number of clues on which direction the government would be taking the Disability Strategy. In this document, the government asked disabled people to make suggestions on practical ways of making a real difference to their lives. Input from disabled people seems like a good move.
The Fulfilling Potential document outlined three key areas. An increase to individual control and choice, ensuring appropriate support, and making efforts to change attitudes and behavior toward disabled people. However, Maria Miller who is the Conservative’s Minister for disabled people, made the warning at the document’s introduction, saying that there was a challenging economic climate so we have to think about what priorities should be. It has been reported that over 5,000 individuals attended a number of events during the Disability Strategy consultation or submitted feedback via writing.
Miller has faced considerable disappointment from disabled people over the government cuts and reforms to disability benefits and services in addition to its approach to the equality agenda. At this stage the Office for Disability Issues, which looks after the Disability Strategy, has refused to comment.
With the recent issues in the solvency of the US Social Security disability security fund and Medicare, it seems that things are being somewhat mirrored in the UK. It often seems to me that political issues surrounding the disabled or injured are sidelined or deemed less important. Frankly though, I’m of the opinion that the rest of us should be waiting. If someone in a wheelchair was approaching a door that needed opening, most people with common decency would respectfully oblige; and I can’t help but feel this is a fact which the political arena should reflect.