Crippled: Austerity and the Demonization of Disabled People | Frances Ryan

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Disabled people are hit 9 times harder by austerity 

Over the last decade, tens of billions of pounds have been cut from support for disabled people. Disabled people have been hit 9 times harder by austerity cuts than the average person, rising to 19 times harder for severely disabled people.

In this video, Frances Ryan speaks to Rachel and the effects of austerity cuts on her care package. She no longer has assistance to clean, get dressed, or into bed. She lives off fruit and bread, and is now clinically malnourished. On bad days she sleeps in her clothes in her wheelchair. In one of the richest nations on earth, we should be able to make sure that all citizens live in safety and dignity.

The demonization of disabled people

Britain's disability benefit system is in chaos with the roll-out of faulty fit-for-work tests, and the rise in benefits sanctions. This has gone hand-in-hand with an increase in vilifying media rhetoric around disabled people on benefits. In recent years the public attitude towards disabled people has transformed from compassion to contempt: from society’s ‘most vulnerable’ to benefit cheats.

In this video, Dr Frances Ryan speaks to Sandra –  a woman with a spinal condition, living in chronic pain. Stuck in a cycle of being assessed, wrongfully rejected, and fighting tribunals, with devastating consequences. The social security system should be there to protect disabled people in times of need. Now, too often, it is the thing that pushes people over the edge.

In austerity Britain, disabled people have become the favourite target. From social care to the benefits system, politicians and media alike have made the case Britain’s 12 million disabled people are a drain on the public purse. In Crippled, leading commentator Frances Ryan exposes the disturbing reality, telling the story of those most affected by this devastating regime. This includes a paralyzed man forced to crawl down the stairs because the council wouldn’t provide accessible housing; the malnourished woman sleeping in her wheelchair; and the young girl with bipolar forced to turn to sex work to survive. 

Through these personal stories, Ryan charts how in recent years the public attitude towards disabled people has transformed from compassion to contempt: from society’s ‘most vulnerable’ to benefit cheats. Crippled is a damning indictment of a safety net gone wrong, and a passionate demand for an end to austerity measures hitting those most in need.

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