So, I recently had the pleasure of seeing a disabled comedian do their
stand-up routine (its fine to cross that out, if they can mock themselves we all can. Relax everyone.). They were pretty funny and spoke well about their condition, how there’s no such thing as ‘normal’, how they were proud of their differences, and how it has never held them back. They were keen to dispel common myths about disabled people being able to have sex, have relationships, and have jobs – they even went as far as to single an audience member out and ridicule them for something they couldn’t do (in this case, learn a foreign language). “Do your parents struggle too with foreign languages? It must be genetic. Poor you… Oh you have a wife, wow, its nice to know there are people who don’t mind people who can’t learn another language….. so, can you have sex?”
You see my point.
But then they went all political on me. Started having a go at the government for welfare cuts (some of which I do agree are harsh and there are cases where people have been wrongly penalised), especially the recent re-assessment of DLA, where claimants move on to PIP. Now I didn’t get a chance to ask them this in person, and I wasn’t going to try start a debate mid-routine like some arsehole heckler, however I would love to know if they seriously believe in what they were saying as it’s the most hypocritical / contradictory thing I have witnessed.
The crux of the routine/rant was based around the waste of money the government were spending going around asking someone “Is your leg still missing” or “are you still deaf?”. Whilst this made for passable material for a comedian, they totally missed the point of what the government is doing.
The first half of their act basically focussed on “Don’t define me by my condition or what I can’t do, look at what I can do”. The second half then lambasted the government for doing exactly that.
Under old DLA rules, certain conditions triggered certain levels of benefit. So someone with a condition like a missing leg may have automatically got middle rate mobility, regardless of their circumstances. So a 35 year old man would be entitled to the same as a 6 year old boy for arguments sake. What PIP is doing is saying, actually theres a lot of difference between those two people so instead of saying you both have the same condition therefore get the same benefits, we’ll pay you a level of support equal to your needs as an individual. That 6 yr old boy may need money for transport, constant new equipment as he grows and his body changes, therapy and physio to help him understand and adjust to his condition. The 35 year old man may have had a leg missing for 20 years, be able to walk fine on a prosthetic, drives a car, has a job, doesn’t feel any more disabled than me or you therefore why should he expect the same level of benefits as the first child? PIP does not define you by your condition.
So yes, this means some peoples benefits get reduced. If you want to insist that you be judged on your abilities then you can’t bemoan the fact this might mean you don’t need the extra financial support previously provided to you.