Socialist Worker

‘We can work, but can’t get the jobs’

Rob Murthwaite, a visually impaired senior lecturer in the law department at London Metropolitan University, spoke to Socialist Worker about the situation facing disabled people

Issue No. 2248

“I’ve got a degree and a qualification in law. But it took me over a year to get an interview for a job.

The government is slashing public sector jobs, and the idea that disabled people are going to get jobs in the private sector is nonsense.

The level of unemployment among visually impaired people of working age is 72 percent.

We are capable of working, but we can’t get the jobs. I get funding under a scheme called access to work.

The government pays for specially adapted equipment for my work. The Department for Work and Pensions now says it can no longer fund this and my employer must. The pressure on employers not to employ disabled people is going to increase with the cuts.

One of the cuts they are making is to the Disability Living Allowance. This helps with the additional costs disabled people face day to day—like reliance on cabs because public transport isn’t really accessible.

And at the same time they are cutting platform staff on the London Underground so it is harder for disabled people to use it. I sometimes have to stand waiting on a platform for a staff member who is able to assist me getting out of the tube. It is taking me longer to get to work everyday.

The staff are fantastic—really supportive—but there are not enough of them.

The government and the press constantly cast us either ‘scroungers’ or as victims.

Well, we’re not prepared to be victims any longer. We’re fighting back.”

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