One of the most remarked elements of Cameron’s conference keynote was the ‘angry’ section, in which he invoked the experience of NHS care for his disabled son, who tragically died in February 2009.
Attacking what he called “complete and utter lies” promulgated at Labour conference last week, the PM jutted his jaw and grimaced:
“I just think: HOW DARE YOU!
“For me, this is personal. I’m someone who’s relied on the NHS and … who knows what it’s like when you go to hospital night after night with a sick child in your arms
“How dare they say that I would ever put that at risk for other people’s children.
In the interests of balance, here are some other disabled children from around the country — a nation in which 40% of children with disabilities live in poverty — who didn’t merit inclusion in his keynote address.
Five year old Reuben Sims requires round-the-clock care and breathes using a ventilator. His mother has been charged £18.40 per week for the ‘spare bedroom’ used to store Reuben’s medical supplies.
Here is Luis Rennie, who suffers from cerebral palsy and is registered blind. He has faces eviction from his family home — specially adapted at a cost of £60,000 — if his mother refuses to pay for the room used to store equipment such as wheelchairs.
And it’s not just the Bedroom Tax which is putting the squeeze on families with disabled children.
A flavour of the impact of austerity on services provided directly by local authorities is given in an analysis of London boroughs by Ambitious About Autism:
- Cuts to transport services for children with special education needs
- Cuts to children with disabilities teams
- Charging for non-statutory services
- Provision of statutory services at a reduced level
Then there’s Universal Credit, which — if Iain Duncan Smith’s team develop the competency to actually implement the policy — will leave 100,000 disabled children worse off by more than £120 per month.
Young people’s charities also face public funding cuts of almost £405 million over the five years to 2015/16 — a greater proportion than the rest of the voluntary sector.
Respite for carers is being slashed, with 8 out 10 family carers telling Mencap that “they have reached breaking point due to a lack of short breaks”:
“When you care for someone 24 hours per day and you know it’s going to be forever, sometimes a short break is your only hope.”
It’s also worth remembering what the Tories have in store for disabled children when they reach adulthood:
Cameron to disabled children: Have your NHS. When you grow up and claim Disability Living Allowance we will vilify you. #cpc14
— Political Scrapbook (@PSbook) October 1, 2014
Cameron isn’t the only one who is angry.