From Socialist Worker weekly in Britain:
Tue 28 Aug 2012
‘Seven medals but now the Tories want my benefits’
Paralympic gold medallist and world record holder Tara Flood faces a test that could see her lose her disability benefits, she told Socialist Worker.
Tara is a seven-time Paralympic medallist. In 1992 she set a world record for 50 metres breaststroke that still stands today.
But that hasn’t saved her from the Tories’ harsh benefits clampdown.
“I’ve already had my letter,” she said. “At some point next year it will be my turn to be assessed.”
Tara is one of hundreds of thousands of people in the Tories’ sights as they try to slash benefits for sick and disabled people.
She said that receiving Disability Living Allowance made a huge difference to her everyday life. “Without it I wouldn’t be able to get out of the house,” she said. “It’s a fundamental benefit, not linked to work.”
As the Paralympics begin, Tara pointed out the government’s hypocrisy. “They’re calling us scroungers and benefit cheats at the same time as they celebrate the Paralympics,” she said. “It’s like disabled people are either elite athletes or workshy scroungers.”
Tara spoke out on a protest against Atos, the private firm that carries out humiliating assessments to decide who gets benefits and who doesn’t.
Incredibly, Atos is an official sponsor of the Paralympics. “Atos destroys disabled people’s lives,” Tara said. “It gets me so angry.
“It is carrying out a government contract and a government agenda to punish disabled people for the financial crisis. It’s no coincidence that hate crime against disabled people has increased massively since the coalition government came in.”
But Tara added that this week’s action against Atos could encourage more resistance against the Tories.
“It’s a scary time,” she said. “But there’s a growing backlash against the government’s right wing agenda. So many people who would never have gone out and protested before are saying enough is enough.”
Want to get a ticket to the Paralympics? If you’re a wheelchair user, it could cost more than you think. The only way to get wheelchair tickets is to wait on hold on a premium rate number—at a cost of up to 41p per minute.
Do the Paralympics put extra pressure on disabled people? Philippa Willitts and Frances Ryan debate whether being told to be an inspiration is any easier than being called a villain: here.