Disabled mum slams government amid fears for disabled community following Chancellor’s Back to Work plan

A DISABLED mum has slammed the government amid her fears for the disabled community after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Back to Work announcement.

In his Autumn Statement yesterday, the Chancellor shared his plans to “better support people into work where they are able, focusing on the long-term sick and disabled, and long-term unemployed.”

Rachel Curtis.
Pictured: Rachel Curtis. Image from Instagram.

The reform act will see many being penalised for not going back into work – including removing free prescriptions, having benefits cut entirely and providing “mandatory” work placements for benefits claimants who have not worked in over 18 months.

However, Rachel Curtis – who battles Myalgic Encephalomyelitis – has claimed that the reform will cause extreme difficulties for disabled people – including her daughter who has Down’s Syndrome.

In his Autumn Statement, the Chancellor said: “The government’s Back to Work plan, supported by over £2.5bn in funding over the next five years, is an ambitious new programme to help people look for and stay in work, manage their health conditions, and stem the flow into sickness related inactivity.

“There are now a record 2.6 million people who are economically inactive due to long-term sickness and disability, almost half a million more than before the pandemic.

“The government is taking steps to reform the fit note process to support more people to resume work after a period of illness and expanding the Universal Support programme that matches those with health conditions and disabilities into vacancies.

“The government is reforming the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) so that more individuals, such as those with limited mobility and mental health conditions, receive the right support to find work where they can, rather than being automatically deemed unable to work or look for work.

“To better help the long-term unemployed into work, the government is expanding Additional Jobcentre Support, extending and expanding the Restart programme in England and Wales, and strengthening sanctions for those who choose not to engage with measures that help them find work.”

He added: “The government will target claimants who continue to disengage with Jobcentre support by closing the claims of individuals who have been on an open-ended sanction for over six months and who are solely eligible for the Universal Credit standard allowance.

“This will also end their access to additional benefits such as free prescriptions and legal aid.

“To root out fraud and error, the government will use the existing targeted case review process to review the Universal Credit claims of disengaged claimants who have been on open-ended sanctions for over eight weeks, ensuring they receive the right entitlement.

“The government will track claimants’ attendance at job fairs and interviews organised by Jobcentres so that work coaches have the information they need to determine whether claimants are meeting their commitments.

“The government will look to build on these changes in the future to further integrate employers into Jobcentre processes and improve oversight of claimants’ work search activities.”

Rachel's tweet.
Rachel shared her thoughts on the matter. (C) Twitter.

In response, Rachel from Ellington, Northumberland took to social media yesterday (WED) to share her thoughts on the plan and how it will negatively affect many who are unable to work – including her own disabled daughter.

In a heartbreaking post she wrote: “Today is one of the darkest days for disabled people in living history.

“My heart is breaking for my community who have had our financial lifelines removed. There is no future for those of us who cannot work and therefore will have no income.

“Everyone is so frightened. When your body does not work as you need it to.

“When you are not able to earn money in order to feed, house and clothe yourself, you are in the most vulnerable position. A progressive society takes care of those who need support.

“Conservatives have now made the UK a cruel place. I have spent hours reading messages from terrified friends.

“Although we all knew how our government views us, it is a shock to know that they are carrying out plans to strip us of any income.

“To know it’s actually happening now is devastating. Disabled people left in the gutter. We have nothing left. If your body does not allow you to work, because it is sick then it’s quite simple.

“You cannot attend interviews or a mandatory placement. Your income is stopped resulting in starvation and/or homelessness. This is the future for disabled UK citizens.

“Around 39% of people who are homeless are disabled. The government are looking to increase this figure by removing the income of disabled people who are unable to work.

“How shameful that in the UK in 2023, disabled people are left to live on the streets. What a country the Conservatives have created.

“It is utterly shameful that the British government have, today, dehumanised disabled and sick people in the most callous manner. It’s hard to comprehend how they can justify their actions.

One commenter.
One commenter shared their thoughts. (C) Twitter.

“So, solidarity with each and every disabled or sick person who has endured the news today that we will no longer be allowed any financial support if we can’t work.

“I don’t know how we will survive but we must not give up. We deserve to live just as much as non-disabled people.”

“Why am I terrified? When my learning and physically disabled daughter, who has Down’s Syndrome, turns 18 she will be given 18 months to find full-time work to support herself.

“If she isn’t able to, the government will cut off her income. This is an attack on today’s disabled kids.”

The post received over 4,300 likes and more than 230 comments from users flocking to echo the concerns of the worried mum.

One person wrote of their own children: “Olivia is 22. Sophie is 20. Evie is 14.

“Three beautiful souls but they can’t even cross a road safely or recognise a penny from a pound. Jeremy [Hunt] wants them to go into paid employment.

“Do I laugh or cry? I’m done with this government.”

Another said: “It’s terrifying to be disabled in this country right now.”

A third commented: “Justice will win, I’m sure. These proposals are evil on so many levels and I think there will be such resistance they won’t get away with it.

“However, sadly people will die because of the stress caused, even the threats themselves will be killing people.”

Non-profit organisation Scope commented: “Today’s Autumn Statement doubled down on plans to ramp up benefits sanctions, at a time when many disabled people are struggling to make ends meet.

“It was a missed opportunity to set out how disabled people can thrive. Instead, many will be thinking about how to survive.”