A flood of comments posted on a government website that call for the Motability car scheme to be scrapped or drastically cut back as a cost-cutting measure has left disabled campaigners bemused and angry.
The Treasury’s Spending Challenge website has received more than 44,000 suggestions from the public for how the government could save money, and is now asking people to rate which ideas they like best.
Many suggestions posted on the site focus on disability living allowance (DLA) and the Motability car scheme, and appear to show no understanding of the purpose of DLA or how the car scheme works.
One person who used the website called the scheme a “scam”, while another said it was a “waste of money and should be scrapped for all but the most essential users”, while a third said the scheme was “just a fiddle by at least 80 per cent of disabled people”.
Another complained that if disabled people can drive “they can afford to buy and run their own car and not sponge off the hard working taxpayers”.
Helen Smith, director of policy and campaigns for the disabled motorists’ charity Mobilise, said she found it “really difficult to understand” the “bigoted and angry” comments that had been posted on the Treasury’s site.
She added: “I sincerely hope that the views of these people are not going to be taken seriously [by the government]because they obviously have no idea what they are talking about.
“A lot of people are using these cars to enable them to go to work and be tax-payers and take part in education and better themselves.”
Disabled activist Anne Novis said: “I am extremely disappointed that the Treasury has allowed these ideas on the website.
“They have allowed derogatory and offensive ideas to remain online to allow people to vote on.”
Disability News Service forwarded five examples of offensive public suggestions about the Motability scheme to the Treasury’s press office.
A Treasury spokesman said that three of them were “probably offensive” and so would be removed from the site.
He denied that the Treasury was breaching its public sector duty to promote disability equality and eliminate harassment by asking the public to vote on disablist and offensive suggestions.
He said: “The Spending Challenge website sought to encourage open debate but we were always clear that offensive ideas were not welcome.
“As the website makes clear, if anyone sees anything that they think is offensive or inappropriate, they should flag the content immediately and it will be removed asap if it does not comply with our moderation policy.”
A Motability spokeswoman said: “Having access to a safe and reliable vehicle gives disabled people the freedom and independence to play an active part in society.
“It allows them to pursue educational and employment opportunities and hobbies, as well as doing day to day chores and attending medical appointments.”
But she declined to comment when asked for the charity’s views about the comments posted on the website.
26 August 2010