Letters

Letters: DWP benefit reforms are fuelled by decades of disability hate

A reader says the DWP benefit reforms are shortsighted, plus your responses to our special issue for Learning Disability Week

A reader argues that declining health services and poor housing have contributed to an epidemic of ill health. Image: PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Big Issue readers have their say on Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) benefits reforms, our Learning Disabilities Week special issue, Big Issue’s Blueprint for Change and crisp controversy.

DWP benefits and disability

The derogatory and shortsighted DWP proposals ignore the fact that disability is not caused by personal failings.

Failing health services and care systems that do not adequately recognise and address the long-term effects of malnutrition, housing and environmental issues have replaced coherent medical, dental and social care in our country. This situation is fuelled by decades of mismanagement, perpetuating disability hate rather than addressing the real underlying problems.

The recent attempts to criminalise disability and distress while disguising the systemic failures to provide basic services and affordable care, food, housing, and essential services are the real reasons for increasing disability. This has resulted in a worldwide health epidemic.

I suffer from multiple long-term medical conditions with no available services or accepted care pathways. I use my disability benefit to fund and implement my own care protocols, including specialist diets and supplements essential for my condition. 

This has destroyed my health, career, family, and ability to work, along with access to appropriate medical and supportive services.

Many people on DWP benefits have been left in horrific housing conditions, denied proper medical services and subjected to abuse and neglect. Symptoms are often misdiagnosed. Systems are set up to fail those most in need. 

To try to steal more essential resources from the most vulnerable is the most abhorrent misuse of authority.

Sarah Richards, Kent

Blueprint for billionaires

I admire you for your Blueprint for Change initiative. But how are we going to pay for this? Why aren’t you asking for increased taxes on the most wealthy in society?

There are more billionaires than ever before, yet many people cannot even afford to buy basic foods or heat their homes. The call for a redistribution of wealth should be shouted from the rooftops!

Juanita Bullough, Cheshire

We saw you

Your Do You See Me? issue for Learning Disabilities Week is the best issue ever.

The collaborations between the wonderful contributors and your team have produced brilliant, varied and informative articles. 

I hope as many people as possible get to read this issue – I am passing my copy around and recommending everyone to buy their own.

Janice O’Neill, Stockport

Special mention

Last Thursday in Harlow while on my way to volunteer at Plant Pots and Wellies, an allotment-based project which involves people with disabilities, I came across a Big Issue vendor. A whole issue on Learning Disability Week, edited with people with learning disabilities. Wow.

It was a fantastic edition and I took it with me to the Learning Disability Festival held at Harlow Town Park the following day to share with over 40 different care organisations dealing with the exact issues featured.

I want to congratulate everyone at Big Issue on this special edition.

Dave, Essex 

Food bank fury

I think you underestimate the number of food banks in the UK [Big Issue magazine 1621, 24-30 June]. According to the House of Commons Library, the Trussell Trust distributed parcels from 1,699 locations across the UK in 2023/24 and there are at least 1,172 additional independent food banks, making over 2,800 in total, double your figure.

The number of food parcels supplied by the Trussell Trust has increased from 40,898 in the year
ending March 2010 to over 3.1 million in the year ending March 2024. That’s a 75-fold increase over the last 14 years.

That this has been allowed to happen in the world’s sixth largest economy is simply shameful.

Chris Snow, Devon

Tasty Taytos

Never mind the politics, Paul McNamee’s piece was missing the most important point of all.

Tayto crisps/Taytos as manufactured in Northern Ireland are a poor second in flavour to Taytos as made in the Republic. Unfortunately, in Morrisons supermarket in Byker, Newcastle, I can only get the NI version.

We should start a campaign to make the ROI Taytos available here. On a more positive note, I can get Cadbury’s chocolate, made in the Republic, in Morrisons, and this is much tastier than the UK version.

Keep up the good work.

Joe Kelliher, GP to the Homeless, Byker

Do you have a story to tell or opinions to share about the DWP, food banks, or Tayto crisps? Get in touch and tell us moreBig Issue exists to give homeless and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income. To support our work buy a copy of the magazine or get the app from the App Store or Google Play.

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