Disability, the undeserving poor and a game of space invaders

Another announcement about benefits policy is made by the Daily Telegraph, the third hostile proposal I’ve had occasion to post about in the last three days. This one comes from their Senior Political Correspondent, writing from Abu Dhabi (I’m not making this up). It is a proposal that drug addicts or alcoholics should have benefits suspended if they refuse treatment. “This would see alcoholics denied benefits unless they attended regular meetings at a support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Similarly, drug addicts would be denied payment if they refused to be treated.” Apparently, what is keeping addicts from giving up the drugs is that they have too much money.

The article continues: “The proposal, which is likely to be fought by campaigners, could be extended to people who claim benefits because they cannot work due to obesity or back pain.” What objections, one wonders, could campaigners have?

This is beginning to feel like a surreal game of Space Invaders; the aim is to stop the bombs landing, while correspondents from remote places drop their loads, faster and faster, until something finally gets through. If anyone is out there: the reason why people with disabilities need support from benefits is that it is difficult to manage with a serious illness and no income. A good reason why you should support them is that, in time to come, either you, or a member of your family, or someone you care about, will be ill or disabled, too. That might just be because of obesity, or mental illness, or back pain, or any of the hundreds of disorders that people suffer. There are good reasons, then, to defend the system; but in Space Invaders, the defenders always lose.

Leave a Reply