Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Sobering Thought

On Sunday evening, I received an email from a young man who has cerebral palsy, is profoundly deaf and non-speaking, and lives life in a wheelchair. He lives alone, and manages on on income support and disability benefit. Although he would have liked to complete his education, he told me that it was considered too expensive for him to do this. He needs a lot of expensive electrical equipment to support him, much of which relies on recharging batteries regularly.

In order to make ends meet, he had decided to turn off the heating in his flat during the daytime. Using the government's Direct Payments scheme, he employs a Personal Assistant. His main concern was that in order to keep warm, his assistant needed to keep her coat on for warmth while she was in his flat. He was concerned that because of this, as her employer he was actually breaking Health and Safety rules.

As I said at Monday's Cabinet meeting, what kind of a society can we be that this chap is forced to exist like this? Can we truly call ourselves 'civilised society'.

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