Extract from Community Living, 28,3
Jobseeker with learning disabilities loses benefits for being four minutes late. A jobseeker with learning difficulties was left without food or electricity after he was four minutes late for a Jobcentre appointment.
During a debate on the state of poverty in Britain in February, Labour MP Lisa Nandy, shadow civil society minister, told parliamentarians about a vulnerable person in her constituency of Wigan who had his benefits taken away under the sanctions regime.
Tory MP Mark Spencer said that people like him needed to learn “the discipline of timekeeping”, and suggested the education system needed to improve to cure the constituent’s learning difficulties.
Letter from Barbara Thorn of Ipswich Mencap
I have three children with learning disabilities and I also work for Mencap. I would like to challenge Mark Spencer to spend a couple of days with me and my family and see how he copes trying to organise them. Only one of my three can tell the time although he is extremely bright. Another constantly seeks attention and is always in trouble; the third has early stage dementia as well as learning disabilities.
As their mother I am their ears and eyes most of the time and if I can’t cope how can I expect them too?
Learning disabilities is just a label. It covers a wide spectrum and no two people are the same. Supposedly educated people like Mark Spencer should understand this. Perhaps he has a silver spoon in his mouth and does not realise that people with learning disabilities have to fight for everything.
I know from first hand experience that people with learning disabilities are being discriminated against and benefits are getting harder to obtain. Unless they have true honest carers who are prepared to help them, people are losing out. They are left in the dark and not everyone knows who to ask for help.
I spend a great deal of time visiting both parents and people with learning disabilities, helping them fill in forms correctly. I am there to support them whenever it is needed. But who is there to support me?