Listen to disabled people

Baroness Lister of Burtersett

Today marks the publication of a new report, Beyond the Barriers, on the failure of the employment and support allowance (ESA) system.  So what’s new you might wearily respond given the almost daily criticisms of the system in the media?  But this is a report with a difference.  First it is entirely researched and written by disabled people in the Spartacus Network who are able to bring their experiences of the system and of disability to bear on the critique.  Secondly this is not just another critique.  Instead it offers constructive alternatives, which take as their starting point the everyday experience of disability.

The report illustrates just how stressful the current work capabilities assessments can be and suggests an alternative system.  For me of particular interest was the analysis of a labour market that still creates far too many barriers for disabled people.  The report illuminates how difficult it can be for people with degenerative, mental health or fluctuating conditions to sustain employment when the labour market is so inflexible in the face of their needs.  There are a number of ideas for how to inject an element of flexibility so as to lower these barriers. 

All in all the report really brings home the value of listening to disabled people themselves when developing policies that claim to support them.

10 comments for “Listen to disabled people

  1. tizres
    09/04/2014 at 3:00 pm

    Baroness Lister, one of the reasons why I stopped offering short-term placements for a number of voluntary groups was due to the number of health and safety checks for each and every group. It would be helpful if just one person checked, say somebody from the local authority, and made a report available for everyone. I mentioned this to all concerned but, sadly, nothing was done.

    However, I was encouraged to see some of the experiences in the report noted the problems facing employers. I would make a point that the employer and the employee might well have been able to get together but there are so many small ‘back to work’ organisations that put themselves in the middle, doing just enough to earn their fee and are causing more problems than if they didn’t exist, ditto the shedload of employment laws.

    One other suggestion: I totally get why people often fail with micro-businesses, whether disabled or not (see above). Perhaps other local micro-biz’, who are generally very community-minded at the level needed, might be encouraged to give a hand as and when necessary. Anne Marie Morris MP chairs the APPG for Micro Businesses…good luck!

    • 11/04/2014 at 8:49 am

      Fascinating comments.

      Especially the tip on the Micro-biz MP, I’ll definitely store that away for when these suggestions get more discussion, thanks

  2. Tricia Williams
    09/04/2014 at 6:41 pm

    This is a well researched and positive report about how we can improve a badly flawed and badly executed system. Thank you for drawing attention to it.

  3. MilesJSD
    10/04/2014 at 4:59 pm

    There is a generic package that could help every-class of people, including the disabled and the long-term impaired or disadvantaged, consisting
    firstly of the relatively new but rapidly establishing in its own foundation-right

    1. Somatics, Somatic Education, and Somatic Remediation.

    2. “Bodyfulness” as a starting level immediately before “Mindfulness”
    Herein could be applied eminently useful older, but “cinderella’d”, advances such as
    a) “The Thinking Body” by Mabel Todd
    [still shown to doctors in training but only cursorily; and never “taught”];
    b) “Effort” by Laban & Lawrence;
    c) “The Body of Life” by Thomas Hanna;
    d) “Six Thinking Hats” by Edward de Bono;
    e) “How To Win Every Argument” by Madsen Pirie;
    f) “Natural Vision Improvement” by Janet Goodrich [in this most excellent knowledge & know-How friendly illustrated manual, the idea of the imaginary paintbrush extended from the tip of your nose might be supplemented by holding something straight between the teeth instead, and pointing/outlining with that];
    g) “Awareness Through Movement” by Moshe Feldenkrais; [this still world-leading self-help manual can help many differently impaired, and even disabled, people; as well as being foundation expertise for all].

    It is vitally important, and strategicly urgent actually, to “individuate” life-education as well as job-training for all genericly and for the impaired and disabled in particular here.

  4. maude elwes
    11/04/2014 at 2:40 pm

    ATOS is a scam. It is set up to bring forward an absolute lie. The lie being the sick are shirkers and really doing a fake on the tax payers. This of course being a joke as the numbers increased dramatically because of the huge increase in population over the years Labour were in power and continues under this bunch. The hard working party boys we presently have Parliament are work their cajones off day and night to earn their pay packet, yet, when scrutinised, we find they are robbing the treasury to the tune of £100,000 a hit and made to pay back only £5,000 of it, out of a million pound profit that is. As Mr Nell would say, this presents a problem for you, Mr P. It doesn’t fit with your version of events.

    ATOS is said to be French but the hidden truth is, it is registered in the USA a second part of a big concern. Now how do you think we came to the conclusion this company would do the job for them? And they would be cheap to hire.

    And they cheat. What a surprise. Smart lawyers should research this and take it to the EU courts of Human Rights. Which, of course, is why governments and UKIP want us out of Europe altogether. Too difficult to control and buy them off. Doesn’t leave enough for their cronies to feast on.

  5. Baroness Lister of Burtersett
    Baroness Lister of Burtersett
    11/04/2014 at 3:30 pm

    Thank you both for your comments – appreciated. I have forwarded them to Sue Marsh who was one of the report’s authors.

    • maude elwes
      19/04/2014 at 9:37 am

      Perhaps the groups who are trying hard to support disabled people through this horrific attack by right wing government against their well being, should consider looking into the European Left party policies.

      What is desperately needed here in the UK is a party of the working people. Something that can offer an alternative to hard right wing, US Republican style, politics. New Labor bringing in an American to run their campaign is a very costly, as well as strange, move for a group who claim they want to fight for working people.

      Now this link below shows the ten most popular promises offered by Alexis Tsipras and the European Left who has been been selected by this group to run for Ashtons job there. What a great counter these policies would make to what we are seeing here with UKIP and the massive move to the right by all our UK parties. Which means more of the same and less connection to true Labour voters.

      • Lord Blagger
        23/04/2014 at 10:32 am

        Wrong and wrong big time.

        It doesn’t matter who is in charge. It doesn’t change the underlying facts.

        The state is up to its neck in debts. 9 trillion when total wealth is 7.3 trillion.

        A party of the workers? So what. Nothing changes. All that will happen is that its more likely they go on a lets steal money campaign, and you end up in an even bigger mess.

        It’s the worker’s party, ‘Labour’ that by and large created the mess. Labour started unfunded pensions, and labour has borrowed and spent so much. End result, its the workers that are screwed.

        Meanwhile, the Peers carry on costing us 2.5K a day.

        • maude elwes
          24/04/2014 at 6:40 am


          You know this mantra is really old hat now. Labour caused the troubles, they are the ones to blame. Oh, really?

          Labour is not Labour at all. It is weak in comparison to the vicious horror we see today. Did Labour, in its heyday, throw those ‘rich’ out of their homes and see them workless in starvation lining up at food banks? All reminiscent of the Victorian era. Did they completely ruin the economy the way the Capitalists in Wall Street imported from the US have? No, they were babies in comparison to this bunch. The creep Blair, that Middle East ‘peace’ envoy, (who should be in the Hague) from yesterday, is ‘once again’ calling for more war against Islam, reduced the so called Labour party to a right wing group of hypocrites. Still running wild today. He’s obviously looking for another big injection into his money laundering efforts.
          So cut the creep on its ‘all because of the workers.’ It has nothing to do with the workers and everything to do with armed robbers in the upper echelons of power.

          What is needed, and desperately, is a party for the worker which is as stringent and unforgiving in its policies as this bunch we have running this country since the Thatcher period. An anti US group to oppose the hard pro US runners we see directing our lives now. And the only group who even touch on this opposition is what I put up here above, the European Left. Miraculously it encompasses a great deal of what I find most suitable and is the rightful answer to UKIP. A party the average man can embrace. Live with it Blagger, it’s people of the right who have made this a necessary outcome.

          Scroll down and watch the video in this link. It’s all about what is really going on against the poor and what a money making coup it really is.

          And another.


  6. Baroness Lister of Burtersett
    Baroness Lister of Burtersett
    22/04/2014 at 3:49 pm

    Thanks for the further comments, which just read on my return from holiday.

Comments are closed.