Inequality will be the winner

Walking through London alongside half a million other people in protest at the Government cuts last month was a surprisingly pleasant experience. There was a carnival atmosphere to the whole day which was probably best summed up by Billy Bragg’s description of it as a ‘march of compassion’.

While I didn’t think it would change our world it was personally important for me to show solidarity with the people, public sector organisations and charities which will be hit hard by these cuts. I wanted to be involved in something which said very clearly – this isn’t fair.

Personally I do believe that some cuts are essential; there is too much waste in the public sector and these are tough economic times. But in my view these cuts are coming too fast and disproportionately impacting on the most vulnerable people in our society. It’s those who can least afford to lose services and benefits who are getting hardest hurt not those in the financial sectors who, it can be argued, got us into this mess in the first place.

People who require the greatest support are often those with a combination of needs. At Certitude we support people with learning disabilities and mental health problems, many who have additional needs – maybe a physical disability, substance misuse or housing problems. These cuts will batter people from all directions; disability living allowance under threat, incapacity benefit cut, housing benefit capped. That’s before you factor in the impact of NHS cuts and changes– which will yet again hit the most vulnerable hardest.

Most of the protesters on the march were working people while many of those we care for are unable to work. We rightly value the contribution working people give to society but people can also play a worthwhile role in the community in a whole variety of different ways. Not being able to work – for whatever reason – locks people into poverty. If you are able to work – even if you are out of a job for a while – you have some control over your income as well as the value and self esteem you get from working.

I feel ashamed that we are living in a society where cuts are being made in such a way which will, with absolute certainty, increase this divide between the “haves” and the “have-nots”. My job is to protect the people we support from the worst of the consequences.

In Control April Newsletter

John O’Brien and MarianneMarianne Selby-Boothroyd, Development Director recently had the opportunity to spend time with fellow Partners in Policymaking graduates working with John O’Brien in developing a vision for the future of community and genuine inclusion. Marianne attended the 2010 “All Together Better” leadership course and Certitude is delighted that another member of staff – Harriet Michael-Phillips is attending 2011’s “All Together Better 2”

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