Home > Benefits, Democratic Accountability, Funding, Health, Media, Mental Health > The Mirror: The REAL reason Osborne was booed at the Paralympics: Team GB blast coalition plans to slash vital disability payments

The Mirror: The REAL reason Osborne was booed at the Paralympics: Team GB blast coalition plans to slash vital disability payments


The outraged athletes lined up to slam PM David Cameron and his beleaguered Chancellor George Osborne in a storm that threatens to taint tonight’s ­Paralympic closing ceremony

Team GB’s Paralympic heroes have launched a furious attack on the Government over ­savage plans to slash vital disability payments.

The outraged athletes lined up to slam PM David Cameron and his beleaguered Chancellor George Osborne in a storm that threatens to taint tonight’s ­Paralympic closing ceremony.

Hundreds of thousands of disabled people are set to lose out when the ­Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is ­replaced with the more restrictive ­Personal ­Independence Payments as part of a £2.2billion cost-cutting plan.

Last week George Osborne was booed as he appeared in front of an 80,000-strong crowd at the ­Olympic ­Stadium in Stratford, East London, to present medals to ­triumphant Paralympians.

Now competitors have told of their own fury at the Coalition cuts which will see benefits worth between £20 and £131.50 a week slashed next year. And leading disability charities also hit out at the controversial plan yesterday.

Blind Team GB footballer Keryn Seal, 30, who relies on his £70-a-week allowance to get to training, told the Sunday Mirror: “I find it quite incredible that the ­Government can go around handing out medals when away from the Games they are taking the DLA away.

“It’s all well and good backing disabled sports at the highest level and looking good for the cameras but what they are doing is going to affect hundreds of thousands of disabled people really badly.

“Some of the reason George ­Osborne and Theresa May were booed was because of the DLA stuff.”

Keryn says he spends £50 a week of the allowance just to get to and from training. Like many of Team GB’s ­Paralympic athletes, the unemployed father of two receives no Government funding. He even relies on the DLA to pay for his young children to get to ­playschool.

Keryn, from Exeter, Devon, said: “I came out of university two years ago with a 2:1 in sports studies but I haven’t worked since. I have applied for loads of jobs and only had four interviews.

“In many ways training for the Olympics has kept me going and I wouldn’t have been able to do that if I didn’t have the DLA ­payments.

“I can’t understand why the Government would dream of ­taking this money away from us. It shows a complete lack of ­empathy.

“Disillusioned, disenchanted and disappointed are all words I would use to describe how I feel about the Government.”

The DLA currently goes to around 3.2 million people at a cost of £12.6billion a year. ­

Analysts estimate up to 500,000 disabled people will have their allowance entirely withdrawn over the next four years as ­eligibility criteria is tightened.

Ministers insist the switch to the means-tested Personal ­Independence Payments will enable the benefit to be targeted at “people who need it most”.

Double-amputee Derek Derenalagi, 37, from Bushey, Herts, captured the nation’s hearts this week when he finished 11th in the discus just five years after losing his legs in a bomb attack while serving as a soldier in Afghanistan.

Derek, who receives DLA of £100 a week, said the changes would have a ­“devastating” effect on many disabled people.

“The Paralympics have been huge and people have enjoyed it but when it finishes we are still disabled,” he added. “I hope the Government will change these decisions as it could be terrible for us.

“The money really helps with our ­training and everyday life. I spend it on things like my discs which cost £60 to £70, trainers which can be around £60 and physio which is about £70 a time.

“Not every Paralympian is sponsored and we would hugely struggle without it. We do not get paid like footballers and it really helps us.”

Judo bronze medallist Ben Quilter, 30, is partially sighted and receives around £50 a week in DLA. He said losing the allowance would seriously affect his ­independence.

Ben Quilter


“Losing this money will hinder my life, no doubt about it”: Judo medallist Ben Quilter


Ben, from Brighton, added: “Losing my DLA would affect my general life. There is no doubt about it. I need the money to travel around. For example, a train ticket to London costs about £14.

“I also need it to buy iPad apps which help me with my disability and allow me to interact with people.

“I really hope the Government change their mind on this. It’s a real shame as the Paralympics has been so amazing. It is a very important issue.”

Wheelchair sprinter Jamie Carter, 17, who came eighth in the men’s T34 200m on Tuesday, receives a weekly allowance of £50 to £60. The student said the money was “vital” to pay for essentials. His mother Sandra, 45, from Binbrook, Lincs, said: “The money means he can afford the fuel to get to and from ­training in his disability car.

“Losing that money could have serious consequences. It could mean he has to get a job to try to fund his athletics.

“It has helped him buy new tyres for his chair, which can cost up to £100.

“It seems crazy to take it away from people like Jamie who are so dedicated to their sport.”

A disabled star of the Paralympics opening ceremony also joined in the outcry. Wheelchair dancer Laura Jones, 30, who is paralysed from the chest down following a spinal cord ­haemorrhage at 16, is worried her £50-a-week payment is under threat.

She said: “I would have to cut a number of things I do outside of work like going to the theatre and dance shows which are interests linked to my career.

“If people miss out on leisure activities and sports, they end up stuck at home and that will obviously be worse for their health.”

Last night three major disability charities threw their weight behind the Paralympians. Jane Alltimes, of Mencap, said: “The Government’s plans threaten the ability of many people with a ­disability to live independently.

“This is yet another move that undermines the Government’s commitment to promoting social justice for disabled people.”

Keith Andrews, of children’s charity Variety, said: “In light of the success of this year’s Paralympic Games, the ­importance of funding and financial aid has never been more evident that these athletes deserve our support.

“If crucial funding is taken away, they would be unable to achieve their ­potential in such a financially strenuous discipline.”

Richard Hawkes, of Scope, said: “The legacy of the Paralympics should be a Britain where we focus on what disabled people can, rather than can’t, do and where we have the support in place so they can achieve their aspirations.

“The Government must grasp this opportunity and re-think cuts to a critical piece of support.

“The moves appear to be motivated by saving money rather than supporting people to live independently.”

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