Charities and disability groups have expressed outrage, blaming the government for a series of attacks on disabled people by able bodied assailants. “Up and down Britain disabled people are afraid to leave their houses thanks to this government’s implication that they are benefit scroungers,” says Sid Wattocks of the charity Disability Action. “Indeed, they are allowing people to think that the cost of providing special provision for disabled people to access buildings and the like is the underlying cause of the recession!” A recent assault in Luton saw a paraplegic left at the mercy of a hostile mob. “This bastard just came over to me as I was going through the local shopping mall and tipped me out of my wheelchair! I couldn’t believe what had happened,” forty eight year old Glenda Druggs later told her local newspaper. “He was shouting ‘Walk you lazy bitch, walk! We all know you can’, whilst a crowd of people gathered and cheered him on as I tried to crawl away! Not one of them tried to help me. In fact a couple of kids even ran up and spat on me.” The assailant then jumped into the wheelchair himself, pushing himself up and down the mall shouting ‘Look at me, I’m disabled!’, pulling offensive faces whilst a growing crowd laughed and applauded. Druggs was eventually rescued by two passing deaf people – “They can pass for able bodied, so the mob ignored them”, she explained – while her wheel chair was later found by police, burned out and abandoned, in a nearby car park.

Other incidents have seen disabled access ramps torn up by mobs, with wheelchair users being told to ‘get off their arses and use the stairs like everyone else’, disabled toilets being vandalised and guide dogs being ‘set free’ from their ‘oppressive’ blind owners, who were left to aimlessly wander the streets, with several falling under cars and buses as they tried to cross busy roads unaided. Some disabled people have found that they aren’t even safe in their homes. “I answered the door to this bloke who said he had a delivery for next door, who were out, next thing I knew he’d forced his way in and started dismantling my chair lift!” Darlington wheelchair user and former fire fighter Brian Jibbling – who lost the use of his legs when a burning roof collapsed on him as he tried to rescue two children. “He told me that if I really couldn’t use the stairs, I should ‘move to a bloody bungalow’.” The assailants, even when arrested, remain unrepentant over their actions. “They had it coming – these gits get paid shed loads of cash for doing nothing,” unemployed twenty two year Darren Brokfirk last week told Solihull Magistrates Court after his arrest for fire-bombing a specially adapted car displaying a disabled parking sticker. “The economy is on its last legs and we’re paying out money so that they can park a few yards closer to Tesco than the rest of us! Most of them are faking it anyway – look how many have been rumbled now the government have started cracking down on their benefits!”

Indeed, the government has been highlighting the supposed success of its policy of assessing the ability to work of all those applying for disability benefits. “Our outsourced testing regime has revealed many of these so-called disabled people as being malingerers, perfectly capable of working,” junior Benefits Minister Charles Frimley-Wattington recently told the BBC’s Newsnight. “Believe me, having a slight limp, or a couple of missing limbs doesn’t stop anyone from working for a living.” It is this attitude, Wattocks claims, which is legitimising attacks on disabled people. “It’s clearly a concerted hate campaign designed to demonise the disabled and divert attention away from the real causes of the recession – banker’s bonuses and naked greed,” says the charity spokesman. “They’re whole assessment scheme is a scam, for God’s sake – the assessors aren’t even medically qualified!” The awarding of the disability benefits assessment programme contract to a company best known for running school canteens and with no experience in the fields of either welfare or medicine, has raised many eyebrows. “Well, medical expertise id greatly overrated,” Frimley-Wattington told the Parliamentary Accounts Committee at the time the contract was awarded. “Really, it’s just a case of common sense when it comes to deciding whether someone is disabled or not, isn’t it? Our contractors have devised a series of simple and cost effective tests for deciding the most difficult cases.”

According to Wattocks, one of these ‘tests’ turned out to involve a private detective driving their car at high speed straight toward a suspected benefit cheat who was crossing the road, on crutches, in order to see if they would drop the crutches and run to safety. “Of course the poor bugger tried to run – wouldn’t you if some lunatic tried to run you over? He ended up doing even more damage to legs – which had been injured in a traffic collision,” says Wattocks. “Not only is he now claiming even more disability benefit, but the government was forced to pay out thousands of pounds to the owner of the parked vehicle that the private detective’s car crashed into after it narrowly missed the disabled guy!” Frimley-Wattington has dismissed such incidents as being “mere teething troubles”, pointing out that the assessment service has successfully matched many of those whose benefits it has stopped up with suitable employment. “For God’s sake, only last week we had a case where they tried to pass a registered blind person as fit to drive a delivery van!” responds an exasperated Wattocks. “Not to mention that guy with Tourette’s Syndrome they said could work as a station announcer! It’s quite obvious that they’re taking the piss – all they are interested in is finding the flimsiest excuses to cut genuine claimant’s benefits so as to reduce spending.”

Nevertheless, the Benefits Minister has continued to vigourously defend the government’s approach to disability. “Our starting point is to ask whether they are really disabled? I mean, take the kind of people who use those disability scooters – the only disability most of them seem to have is being grossly overweight,” he explained in a recent interview with The Independent. “We’re simply redefining the parameters of disability – under the last Labour government the definition was, thanks to political correctness gone mad, allowed to become too broad. Consequently, many people who, by any reasonable measure, are clearly perfectly fit for work, have been labelled as disabled. This is obviously demeaning to them, denying them the opportunity to become fully productive members of society. We’re merely trying to give them their dignity back.” By contrast, John Dick-Wadd of the shadowy right-wing think tank Foundation For a New Order, and a close political associate of the minister, seemed to confirm many of Wattocks’ claims in a recent speech to Young Conservatives. “The fact is that people need concrete hate figures – we all know that the recession is the fault of greedy bankers and financiers, but the average guy on the street can’t get at them,” he told them. “Disabled people, on the other hand, can be seen out on the street any day of the week. They’re highly visible and, best of all, they’re easy targets – once you’ve kicked their sticks away, they can’t defend themselves!”