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Cuts Hit Sick, Disabled & Poor


Back in October, the Hardest Hit campaign held rallies throughout the UK to highlight the impact that cuts were having on sick and disabled people. We have already written about the end of Incapacity Benefit, the way Local Authorities have illegally tried to 'cap' the money they spent on social care, and the other cuts which specifically affect sick and disabled people. But what many people fail to realise is that people in these groups are already amongst the poorest in society. This means they will also be hit harder by general cuts and price rises than most other people.


Last year saw the publication of a new set of Indices of Deprivation - the first since 2007, and so the first since the recession started to bite. In my home town of Oxford, the Communities Safety Partnership has produced a detailed report, which includes many maps such as the one below.


5. Health and disability deprivation domain



Local residents will not be surprised to find the City's ring road Council estates regularly coming out on top on a wide range of indicators, from poverty and poor housing through to crime. What will perhaps be more surprising is that poor health and disability are also concentrated in the same places. Why should this be?


You can think about this as two trends both working in the same direction. Firstly, people who are ill, frail or become disabled are often unable to work and support themselves, so they become dependent on state benefits and are commonly provided with housing in those areas where Councils (or the the Housing Associations that have taken over their old stock) own properties. Secondly, people who live in poverty in poor housing with worse access to support services often become unwell.


Most people think of Oxford as the city of dreaming spires, Oxford University and Inspector Morose, a place of relative wealth and beauty. In many ways, Oxford is still a lovely city in which to live, and I am certainly grateful to be a part of such a great community. But looked at from the perspective of the deprivation indices it becomes very much like every other town - with poor and disabled people stuck on remote estates that are out of sight and all too often out of the minds of the politicians who control the money. As the recession deepens, it's increasingly important that we stick together, and don't let the burden fall unfairly on those who are already the worst off.


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