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New Communist Party of Britain

adopted December 2015

The Disabled

People with disabilities have suffered a shocking and unprecedented attack from the Con‑Dem Coalition. The Work Capability Assessment is a device for depriving genuinely disabled and long‑term sick people from benefit support they should be entitled to. It is a humiliating and intimidating procedure based on mechanistic computer driven questionnaire. The outcome of these tests can force claimants to look for work or to join a “preparing to look for work” scheme. If, through ill health, they fail to comply they can be stripped of all benefits.

The abolition of Disability Living Allowance — that was a non‑means tested benefit recognising that coping with a disability incurs extra costs — has left disabled people claiming a local‑authority based personal income allowance which is means tested and curtailed by the general cuts in budget for local authorities.

Benefit sanctions are used regularly and cruelly on the flimsiest of excuses. Claimants have their benefits cut for failing to attend interviews when they are in hospital, even when they are in a coma. Many premature deaths, including by suicide, are associated with benefits sanctions.

The “bedroom tax” a cut in housing benefit for those deemed to be living rented in accommodation larger than they need, have hit disabled people very hard. Many need specially adapted homes with extra room for equipment or to sleep separately. They are now supposed to seek smaller, unadapted accommodation or face higher rent charges.

Cuts to legal aid have left disabled people unable to challenge unfair decisions about their benefits or their lives in general.

The New Communist Party believes that people with disabilities should be helped and supported according to their needs to be full and active members of the community where that is possible. Discrimination against employees and job applicants with disabilities should be outlawed. Disabled people should be encouraged to join the workforce but not forced to do so with threats of benefit cuts. Employment with shorter hours, assistance with travel to and from work and facilities for rest breaks at work should be offered. The bedroom tax must be abolished and Disability Living Allowance reinstated.