The National Union of Journalists today released a statement asking journalists to stop calling disabled people scroungers. You can click the title of my blog post to see the whole article, but there are also some snippets below.
I personally find it interesting that it states the rate of Incapacity Benefit fraud to be 0.3%, and the rate of Disability Living Allowance fraud is 0.5%. 0.3% being the lowest benefit fraud statistic. Given the demonisation I've personally felt from people I have met and people I know, it is evident that the press coverage of benefit fraud has indeed lead the public to believe otherwise.
"Over the last few months we have seen a continuous drip-feed of stories which have promoted a range of inaccurate and generalised accusations against disabled people with long term health conditions. As a result disabled people have faced greater hostility from the public, with many claiming that they have experienced hostility, discrimination and even physical attacks from strangers.
"The Work and Pensions Select Committee on Incapacity Benefit have themselves criticised the Government for the language it uses when it releases and comments on official statistics on the incapacity benefit reassessment programme resulting in some media using terms such as "scrounger" and "work shy".
"Rather than offering constructive support to disabled people, certain stories and features have portrayed disabled people as unsustainable, unproductive and even not disabled at all, but profiting from fraudulent benefit claims"
I've not personally experienced violence, but hostility I have. In fact, one of the reasons I left a dating site earlier this year was the number of people who had a go at me when they discovered that I am incapacitated. The most hurtful incident was Easter Sunday (long time ago now). Having spent Easter very sadly alone I went to the Chinese take away to get something to eat. A new person working there asked me if I had just finished work. I said that I had not. He then asked me what I do. I explained that I do not work at present. I didn't even say I was ill or claiming benefits, but received a mouthful from him asking whether I just intend to live off benefits for the rest of my life. He then had to answer the phone, otherwise I'd have given him a mouthful back and asked for a refund.
I agree with the NUJ. The media is deliberately stirring up hatred against the disabled and incapacitated. I cannot begin to imagine why. There is a lot of benefit fraud happening. People claim Job Seekers Allowance with no intention of actually working again. Everyone I know who claiming sickness or disability benefits, would much rather be healthy and working.
One of my friends summed it up beautiful recently. He has Cystic Fibrosis. He is on high rate mobility, and therefore has help with costs towards a car. Someone expressed to him that they were envious. His response was that he would gladly exchange them the car for their healthy lungs.