A lifeline faces the axe

The Basildon based Disability Information & Advice Line (DIAL)http://dialbasildon.co.uk/index.php?id=1 – faces closure on 21st April as a result of its funding being cut. One of the services offered by DIAL was to help disabled people appeal against Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) assessments wrongly declaring them fit for work. Last year, Basildon Council axed its £10,000 annual funding to DIAL and gave it to the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) instead. This amounted to five percent of DIAL’s budget – because of this cut, other backers pulled their funding and a situation has been reached where it’s impossible for them to carry on. See here for the full story in the Yellow Advertiser: EXCLUSIVE: Disabled Basildon residents will die if local charity DIAL is forced to close, service users warnhttps://tinyurl.com/lv8xsj4

With the CAB, an appointment is needed and people are given an allotted time. With DIAL, people can walk in or call the hotline and be seen pretty much immediately – if needed, casework taken on is carried through to its conclusion and is not subject to time constraints. Basically, we’re looking at two different modes of operation here with DIAL being more flexible and responsive. Basildon Council’s scrutiny committee challenged the notion that the CAB could provide the same kind of service as DIAL but that was ignored by Tory councillors who went ahead and approved the funding cut regardless.

There has been a long litany of horror stories where people with serious disabilities have been declared fit for work by target driven contractors operating on behalf of the DWP when it’s patently obvious they’re not. All too often, these callous, botched decisions have been followed by the death of the claimant as a result of their condition or suicide as tragically, they see no way out of an impossible situation. Voluntary groups such as DIAL are the only ones speaking up for vulnerable claimants against a system that displays a horrendous mix of incompetence and callousness. DIAL literally are a lifeline for disabled people being screwed over by the system. Despite all of this, the Tories on Basildon Council approved the cut to DIAL’s funding knowing it could eventually force the group to close.

This illustrates the sick and twisted priorities that underlie the political, economic and social system we have to endure. People are judged by how much they can contribute to the bottom line. If for whatever reason, you’re no longer able to work and are forced to rely on benefits, you’re treated as an ‘unproductive’ burden. You’re vilified by rags like the Sun, Mail and Express and bullied and harassed by the DWP and the agencies they sub-contract their dirty work to. While it may not be publicly expressed (yet), when someone with a serious disability is driven to the depths of despair by these scum and can see no other way out than suicide, you get the distinct impression the powers that be see it as a result…

* DIAL manager Jan Stevens said they had funding applications outstanding but was being forced to close before hearing the results as it cannot cover its costs in the meantime. However, she said that an offer of free premises could provide a ’last minute lifeline’ in case those grants proved successful in a few months’ time.

Anybody with possible premises for DIAL can call 01268 285676


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