attacking the already vulnerable
October 27, 2010 3 Comments
In the UK, people with disabilities have been among the hardest hit by the recent Thatcher 2.0 ConDem cuts of the Osborne Review. The employment support allowance (ESA) which was previously able to be claimed until the person finds a job has now been set with a limit of one year. I’m sure that’ll be of great comfort to people, cos disabilities also expire after year amiright?
This will hit hardest people who are already vulnerable – Mute magazine reports that 75% of people with disabilities and 70% of people with disabilities are already living in poverty in the UK. Taken in context with cuts to housing and education, and the future looks bleak. As Mute rightly points out, these cuts will kill.
Natacha Kennedy recently wrote a post arguing that cuts to housing where single people under 35 won’t qualify for housing will disproportionately affect young trans people. Young trans people are frequently kicked out of their homes, and are placed further at risk with transphobic sex segregated youth shelters. We already have high rates of poverty, unemployment, and homelessness (further compounded by survival sex work and its associated dangers, most notably the astronomical HIV infection rates for trans sex workers) and the lack of governmental support for under 35s to get housing will only make things much, much worse.
Paul Krugman recently pointed out in the New York Times that there is no real reason for this comprehensive axe-swinging–the job cuts will almost certainly depress the economy even further. He rightly points out that all the historical precedent is against austerity measures, and in particular those are Krugman draws the obvious conclusion – funding cuts are part of a pre-existing neoliberalist desire to do away with the welfare state:
It would cut government employment by 490,000 workers — the equivalent of almost three million layoffs in the United States — at a time when the private sector is in no position to provide alternative employment. It would slash spending at a time when private demand isn’t at all ready to take up the slack.
Why is the British government doing this? The real reason has a lot to do with ideology: the Tories are using the deficit as an excuse to downsize the welfare state. But the official rationale is that there is no alternative.
It is worth pointing out in the light of this that the fact that austerity measures will most affect vulnerable communities is not a bug, it is a feature. It is no accident that the poorest and most vulnerable are being hit hardest, emerging as Laurie Penny suggested recently, from the “the ugly Conservative conviction that poverty is a moral failing.” Indeed, the disparity between the attacks on the poor and the treatment of the rich is rather stark given the recent news that Vodafone had been waived 6 billion pounds of outstanding taxes – something people rightfully protested in London today.
One rule for us, another for them. Plus ça change, plus c’est la meme chose, eh.