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Disability Bitch gets a bit of hot action

19th August 2010

• Disability Bitch is published every Thursday on bbc.co.uk/ouch
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Oh readers! What a week it's been! For ages now, the media has speculated over plans to radically reform the welfare state, and what effect this might have on disability benefits. Just when you thought that coverage couldn't get any more sensationalist, it seems the world at large has suddenly discovered disabled people have sex and - apparently - that taxpayers are funding this salacious activity, along with exotic holidays and subscriptions to internet dating sites.
money
Cash = good times
Naturally I was delighted and got straight on to my local council, demanding they pay for the orgy I'm planning in three weeks' time, followed by a recuperative break in The Maldives.

The council laughed at me then hung up, which seems strange when you consider that, according to the journalists going red in the face presently, there's a £520 million pot of "taxpayer money" set aside for just this purpose.

Naturally, I HATE SOCIAL CARE. I mean, what is the world coming to!

The reports have led certain commentators to describe sex with disabled people as "one of the last taboos". Amazing. Simply by having sex and being physically abnormal, I am engaged in some debauched endeavour, of which most people dare not speak. Such a thrill!

But, readers, shall we talk about it? I think we should. I did a little journalistic investigation of my own and discovered that this story did not simply land in the tabloids from nowhere. It was, shall we say, inspired, by a report in Community Care magazine, the industry journal for social workers. Community Care had published an article on the question of whether Individual Budgets for disabled people should be used to pay for sexual services. It was seemingly initiated by a debate between social workers on their own internet forum, a debate which ended up being quoted widely in the national press.
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The original Community Care article included an interview with Tuppy Owens of the TLC Trust, which campaigns for the sexual rights of disabled people. TLC had put in Freedom of Information requests asking councils what their policy was on disabled people using Individual Budgets to pay for sex workers, and 87% of those that answered the question said they did not condone the practice.

Yup, you read that right: The vast majority of councils do NOT support disabled people using Individual Budgets for sex.

A majority did say they had a policy that 'explicitly empowered' disabled people to pursue their sexual aspirations ... but that is not the same as saying they authorise disabled people to pay for prostitutes. In fact, only four local authorities said they explicitly condone the practice.

Call me Sherlock, but I conclude there are not thousands of disabled people getting their end away "at taxpayers' expense", more like a tiny handful.
newspapers
While we're here and talking about it, I'd like to run through what this £520 million pot of money - Individual Budgets - is more usually spent on.

Essentially, it's cash allocated to people who are eligible for social care services, and it enables them - us - to make choices towards living as independently as possible.

As you'll see from these case studies, Individual Budgets are most usually spent on directly employing personal assistants as an alternative to relying on day centres, care agencies or care homes. It's the real basic needs in life like being assisted to get up in the morning. It increases flexibility and often saves public money in the long term.

To receive the money, you have to agree a care plan with your social worker and account very closely for the money's spent. So, my hunch is that if a cheeky disabled did try and spend all his cash on jelly babies and call girls without prior permission, it's probable that someone would notice quite quickly. In other words, Don't Panic, Taxpayers!

there is a real untold story here that some journalist could write about if they wanted to. I note that people receiving budgets directly are reportedly much happier with the service they now receive. Being as only a minority of disabled people receive Individual Budgets, this means that the more traditional council-led services are leaving the majority of disabled people unhappy. I'm a taxpayer. I'm outraged by THIS. Perhaps someone could write about that next week. Thanks.

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This week on Facebook, me and my 2700-ish friends have all been comparing notes on our filthy taboo-busting sex lives. Not really! But if you'd like to be my virtual chum, join here.

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