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The importance of May 5th

Disability issues, access to voting and the importance of voting by Steve Sinclair, disability campaigner

I am a 50-year-old disabled person and I believe that this election is one of the most important ever for the disabled community.

The current Westminster administration’s plans for the National Health Service and benefits system are shocking to say the least. Whilst there is no doubt that there are some who do play the benefits system, the majority who do claim benefits are genuine. It is proven and universally accepted that support systems such as direct payments are vitally important.

The statements being made that there are no cuts in frontline services for the disabled is misleading. In practice the average cut to care packages is about fifteen per cent in weekly hours and this does not include the added problems which will come from the abolition of the Independent Living Fund in 2015. Direct Payments are a vital resource for the severely disabled to maintain independent living in the community and cover essentials such as feeding and personal hygiene. Any reduction in weekly benefits will have a negative impact on the ability of the disabled to live and function in the general community as the cost of living is higher for the disabled. Everything that is marketed for the disabled community carries a huge mark-up, for example gloves that a wheelchair user may use are charged at about £35, whereas the similar product for weightlifters or roofers is about £12.

The cuts intended for our community are severe and badly thought-out with the bottom line being the only consideration. Obviously this situation is extremely unsatisfactory for those of us who are disabled.

The way to protest is to vote for any party opposed to these cuts, for a party committed to improving our lot in society and not for heartless, uncaring parties who don’t care.

Access to voting is thankfully not as much of an issue as it used to be. Various acts of parliament have ensured that voting stations are fully accessible and that postal voting is more prevalent. This means that the voting process and actually casting a vote is easier than ever.

The importance of voting has never been clearer. We, as a community, need to vote in order to protect our future. I thought the days of financial cost-cutting and penny-pinching were gone, but for us, sadly, it would appear this is not the case.

So get out and vote on May 5th and vote for a party that protects our future. Please do not under-estimate how important this election is.

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