Fox (n): carnivore of genus vulpes; crafty person; scavenger; (vb) to confuse; -ed (adj): to be drunk.
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Thursday 30 August 2012


IT IS a universal truth that if you tax people they don't like it.

Poor people get uppity and rich people threaten to just get up and go, which means that whoever's running the country - and some days I honestly couldn't tell you - worries about who to tax.

It's a bit like listening to schoolchildren planning who to pick on next. Cleggy wants to tax the rich. Gideon thinks the rich will run away. Either way, Dishface wants to blame last year's bullies. The way they're carrying on they'll never get round to taxing people at all.

Luckily there is a solution, which is to take money from those who aren't real people and can't threaten to get up and go.

They're sly little sods, the disabled. They use wheelchairs when they're capable of walking for ten or twenty yards. They selfishly force businesses to install ramps and widen doorways, and make buses wait for a few seconds longer so they can get on board.

Some of them don't make it obvious they're disabled but keep their medical conditions hidden away so you wouldn't know to look at them that they're not like you. They need special signs and their own bogs, and they wilfully sit on vast piles of taxpayer cash. If you counted it all up, why, it would pay to bail out the banks all over again.

Luckily you can say what you like about them. You can call them frauds, cheats, liars. You can use names like mong and spaz, and talk about how they could work if they made the effort. Look at all those paralympians - if one spaz can do the high jump, why can't the rest of 'em do a job?

Which is why we're spending £170million a year making the disabled jump through hoops. That's the cost of the contract and appeals process for the assessments given to disabled people to see if they can work.

Around 1,400 doctors and nurses use a points system to decide if you're fit. The system decided a man who can't stand on his own two feet was fine; it said a man with an incurable brain disease was healthy; and it decided someone in a coma could get a job because he hadn't sent the form back. It's even accused 32 people who are terminally ill of malingering.

It's probably ferreting out people who aren't as disabled as they say they are. The Department for Work and Pensions' own estimates show that a whopping 0.5 per cent of disability living allowance is claimed fraudulently - worth £60m.

NOUGHT POINT FIVE PER CENT! Crivens, that's worth spending nearly three times as much to stop. We won't mention the fact official error accounts for another £90m of wasted money, because that's not as important.

Far better to spend £170m to save £60m, and while we're at it scoop in a few thousand disabled people who will have to give up millions more in order to make the government contract not look like a complete waste.

In fact if the 'savings' on the balance sheet don't pass £200m it will have been a failure, so we can rub our hands with glee at the likely prospect of disabled people losing at least £140m they've been hoarding, the lazy gits.

Money which for many is used to help them get to work so they can earn and pay taxes, and without which around 25,000 won't be able to do either. Money which pays for adapted cars, public transport, or to help the one third of disabled people who live in poverty because their conditions produce a higher cost of living.

It's far better that money is spent on paying for a massive government contract awarded to a French firm which is using some of the cash to sponsor the Paralympics. An optimist would say they're trying to give something back, a realist would say they're engaging in PR, and only a real cynic would suggest they're trying to prove everyone without legs can run just fine.

The games organisers say without sponsorship the Paralympics wouldn't happen; personally I'd rather they'd asked almost any other firm on Earth to do it. Presumably there are no banks with money or a need for good publicity.

But you can ignore me, because I'm a spaz. I was born with a brain wired differently to most people's, and while what is wrong with me isn't interfering with my life and probably won't get any worse, other people with the same thing are in wheelchairs and graves.

You wouldn't know it to look at me. I don't hide it because I'm not ashamed, but I don't make a point of mentioning it because people find it hard to grasp I'm fine while also having to occasionally compensate in silly little ways for something no-one else notices.

Disability is a spectrum - and I can get around my very minor one fairly easily. Because I can walk, and talk, and do a job people presume there's nothing different about me.

And because the Paralympians can run, and jump, and win gold medals, because they can overcome a severed spinal chord or a bomb blast or accident of birth and because they seem to be fine, people will think better of them than the hundreds of thousands who are confined to their homes and bedrooms and who cannot fight back when those playground bullies turn up and ask for money they can't afford.

I don't know how many of the athletes hold down a job, but I'll bet it's harder work to prove yourself to an employer than it is to an ATOS assessor.

They say the Paralympics are showing the best of British - and they are.

They're showing not only what disabled people are capable of with the right opportunities and funding, but also that if you want to call them scroungers, cheats, fraudsters, mongs, malingerers or spastics you'd best do it from a safe distance.

Just like all bullies do.

"Ivory tower? Not a problem."