Campaign Idea!

No sooner into my office chair did my campaigning hat place itself firmly on my head and firmly  into first gear.

Over this last week, after passing through an induction and receiving lots of warm welcomes from the staff, I set down to the task of continuing to ensure this charity remains  the ‘driving voice’ of Disabled people in the face of there own daily obstacles and injustice.

Religion told us we are all born equal. Constitutions and Laws in countries far and wide  state we all should be receiving equal treatment.

In the UK – Governments have tried with mixed results to tackle inequality. With regard to Disabled people, via the 2005 Disabled Discrimination Act – which amended the original 1995 act – particular attention was paid to adding a ‘reasonable adjustments’ section to the   original 1995 act. This meant not only could an organisation – an employer for instance – be prohibited from discriminating against a disability- it also had to take account of how it affected there abilities to complete certain tasks and certain responsibilities. Where applicable certain allowances had to be made, and procedures adjusted to make sure the person was supported so as not to be put into a difficult situation.

With regard to the Employment Sector – this was followed obediently and without much fuss. If a client/employee had an interview they’d make sure adjustments where made to make it an equal playing field parallel to someone applying without a disability. If the employee was late and the manager was aware they had difficulty dressing promptly in the morning, they’d allow for more sympathy for lateness. In summary, on the whole, peoples code of rights and treatment where well regulated and employers where aware they where accountable for these measures in Law.

However, Banks & Building Societies & its regulators, remained untouched. Intelligently, they distorted The Act to allow themselves to insist ‘all customers be treated the same’ whatever matter was concerned or whether the individual would of found this difficult to understand or remember. There was and still in my view isn’t any provision for ‘Reasonable Adjustments’ in some of Britain’s biggest Banks who provide millions of disabled people with Bank accounts and facilities each day.If you fall into an unplanned overdraft – whatever your circumstances – it is deemed you where quite able whatever your explanation to ensure you avoided this and charged £28 pound for the liberty. Sometimes a further £20 charge in addition for just simply going overdrawn as well as the charge for making an unplanned payment.

I cannot express how unspeakably unfair this is. Lets say you had a Mental Health problem, and where going through Schizophrenic episodes – there would be lots of things crossing your mind and causing you great distress to the point where beginning to think or the ability to able to manage to remember that your required to check you have enough money in your account to pay your TV Licence is a non entity.

When this happens – Banks steadfastly stick to the ‘3 strikes allowances’ rule – and will not reasonably allow or relent that inevitably many disabled people, finding the organising, memory and mental gymnastics and the general  managing of there own money challenging, will most probably fall foul of this rule on the wrong side of 4 to 5 times maybe at least.

The alternatives banks provide are currently unsatisfactory and to some degrading. There advice that someone else takes control of your account to avert these situations completely contravenes the aims of most disabled peoples feelings and ambitions related to there own lives. To do things as independently as possible, to play a part – even if that is with a little assistance – is the gateway to a feeling of empowerment.

Banking and managing money is a prominent Activity of Daily Living (ADL) which The Banking Industry could provide more assistance and protection for disabled people.  Training of staff in advising feasible options and good assistance in managing with the disabled person there own money, and for greater empathy for there own difficulties, would be good.

Until that happens, Banks will continue to profiteer off disabled peoples innocent misfortune to be at a disadvantage in the challenge of managing your own monetary affairs. People’s equality is entitled to be respected but also should be the acceptance that your abilities are impeded.

This situation, being wholly unacceptable and  completely at odds with social justice, will be subject to future investigation and research from myself and I would hope the consideration of the perceived feasibility and benefits of a possible future campaign with the wider campaigns team.

In the mean time, If you feel Banks could protect and empathise with Disabled people more, please let us know, I would be very interested to hear your comments.



MenCap Liverpool

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Post: Mencap Community Cottage, 6-8 Mariners Road, Crosby, L23 6SX

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