Saturday, September 15, 2012

No gold without DLA

DANIELLE Brown, a gold medal winner in the Paralympics, last week said that Disability Living Allowance, which is about to be scrapped, made it possible for her to take part in the games.
 She was the first Paralympian to speak out since the games began on the importance of the benefits and other financial support received by our elite disabled athletes.
 Her comments will deliver a boost to disabled campaigners who fear the Government will use the success of Britain’s Paralympians as an excuse for cutting vital support to disabled people.
 Brown, who won an archery gold medal in the individual compound event to add to the gold she won in Beijing four years ago, is believed to be the first disabled athlete to represent England in a non-disabled Commonwealth Games team, after qualifying for Delhi in 2010 and winning a team gold.
 She receives the higher rate mobility component of DLA, and also the DLA care component, but prefers not to say at which level.
 Like many ParalympicsGB athletes, her life is focused almost entirely on her sport, but when told by Disability News Service (DNS) of the Government’s plans to replace DLA with a new personal independence payment and cut spending by 20 per cent (saving the Government £2.2 billion), she said simply: “Oh, wow”.
 She said: “From a personal perspective, without the support, I personally couldn’t manage. If it was to be cut I know I would struggle. I can see how that would make other people be affected in a similar way.”
 She added: “I have got a Motability car [which is paid for with her DLA mobility payment] which I couldn’t manage without. I would struggle if I didn’t have a car.”
 Without her DLA, and without her car, she would be forced to take public transport. “If I catch a train it is very difficult. What do I do when I get to the other end, especially if I have very heavy equipment with me?”
 Asked why other athletes had failed to speak out so far about the cuts, she said: “I genuinely think that your focus is on the competition. You focus so hard on training, competing… it is not like real life.”
 She said she and other Paralympic athletes were just not aware of what was happening with welfare reform and cuts, and other political disability issues.
 Team GB’s Paralympic heroes have launched a furious attack on the Government over the savage plans to slash vital disability payments.
 Last week George Osborne was booed as he appeared in front of an 80,000-strong crowd at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, east London, to present medals to triumphant Paralympians.
 Now competitors have told of their own fury at the Coalition cuts which will see benefits worth between £20 and £131.50 a week slashed next year.
Blind Team GB footballer Keryn Seal, 30, who relies on his £70-a-week allowance to get to training, told the Sunday Mirror: “I find it quite incredible that the Government can go around handing out medals when away from the Games they are taking the DLA away.
 “It’s all well and good backing disabled sports at the highest level and looking good for the cameras but what they are doing is going to affect hundreds of thousands of disabled people really badly.”

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