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Has anyone read 'Crippled' by disabled academic and journalist Frances Ryan?


New Member
Has anyone read 'Crippled' by disabled academic and journalist, Frances Ryan?

This is queried on account of the prospect of a non-fiction book group being created.

Full-title citation below:
Ryan, F. (2019) Crippled: Austerity and the demonisation of disabled people. Verso Books.
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Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
"In austerity Britain, disabled people have been recast as worthless scroungers. From social care to the benefits system, politicians and the media alike have made the case that Britain’s 12 million disabled people are nothing but a drain on the public purse. In Crippled, journalist and campaigner Frances Ryan exposes the disturbing reality, telling the stories of those most affected by this devastating regime. It is at once both a damning indictment of a safety net so compromised it strangles many of those it catches and a passionate demand for an end to austerity, which hits hardest those most in need."

Sounds interesting, but very heavy going. I'm guessing there'll be a lot of examples of the state failing various people, and a lot of harrowing cases etc. Can't say that'd be my choice of topic - I become quite emotionally overwhelmed when I read such triggering material.

Mind you, in numerous books I've read about Autism, trauma, and various mental health conditions - there are a wide range examples of how people are failed by Dr's, hospitals, and mental health professionals.



Random Member
V.I.P Member
I haven't read it, but from looking at the reviews, I'm not surprised that it's about things in the UK since Britain seems to have an unusual fetish for pointing fingers at those who rely on assistance.

Yes, there will be some abusers (as there are anywhere and in any system where resources are given away), but we should not, for the sake of trying to eliminate abuse/fraud perpetuated by a few, make life difficult for the vast majority of those who genuinely require supports.


New Member
I haven't read it, but from looking at the reviews, I'm not surprised that it's about things in the UK since Britain seems to have an unusual fetish for pointing fingers at those who rely on assistance.

Yes, there will be some abusers (as there are anywhere and in any system where resources are given away), but we should not, for the sake of trying to eliminate abuse/fraud perpetuated by a few, make life difficult for the vast majority of those who genuinely require supports.


For example, interestingly and in relation to your comment of fraudulence, '... prior to its demolition DLA was one of the most effectively targeted benefits with an estimated fraud rate of just 0.5 per cent' ➀ (Ryan. F, 2019. p. 19).

Nevertheless — before any internal studies were conducted, and before it was succeeded by PIP or universal credit — ministers propagated that a fifth (500,000) of all claimants would have this income withdrawn ➀ (Ryan. F, 2019. p. 20). On account of this, and despite individuals' conditions remaining the same or getting worse, mass reassessments and DLA reform engendered '... the widespread removal of disability support: official government figures show that by December 2017 nearly half of disabled people put through these reassessments ended up having their support either cut or stopped entirely' ➀ (Ryan. F, 2019. p. 19)

To understand this as part of a broader sociological phenomenon, studies referenced within the work found that a condition of "new destitution" was developing among the disabled—and that an "epidemic of disability poverty" (historically and contemporaneously) exists within Britain.

For example:

All below quotes are cited from the aforementioned work, with the inclusion of contemporary supplementary statistics and findings from exterior sources (with references):

○ The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) found that in 2018 '... 4 million disabled adults are now living below the breadline [which] accounts for over a third of all adults in poverty in the country.'

○ Scope, a disability charity, discovered that in 2017 '... one in five [...] are currently in food poverty [...] and that one in six' existed within a condition of heating poverty.

Comparatively, in 2020 '... disabled households allocate almost as twice as much of their expenditure in electricity, gas and fuels [...] and are more than twice as likely to have a cold house and three times as likely to not have been able to afford food' ➁ (Scope, 2022).

Furthermore, fuel poverty charity National Energy Action (NEA) warn that '... if average energy bills soar to £3,000 per annum as predicted 2.1 million households across the UK where one or more members are disabled, will be pushed into fuel poverty' ➁ (Scope, 2022). Adjacent to this, in 2022, Scope found that '... two-thirds of disabled adults have seen their energy bills rise in the last three months [moreover] disabled adults have seen the biggest increase in household costs for their energy bills (67 per cent have seen an increase), food and non-alcoholic drinks (54 per cent have seen an increase) and petrol costs (48 per cent have seen an increase)' ➂ (Scope, 2022)

To further contextualise this, Ryan draws upon the concept of the "disability poverty premium", which emphasises that '... while being more likely to be on a low income, on a day-to-day basis, disabled people are faced with extortionate outgoings. Research by Scope in 2018 found that life costs on average £570 more a month in Britain if you’re disabled [...] for one in five, it’s over £1,000 extra per month. In a climate in which disabled people’s income has been gutted, it means that the most basic human needs, like being warm and dry, are widely becoming too expensive to meet.'

Additionally, '... disabled households spend more than twice as much on energy each year than the average family [...] recently '... debt has ballooned in the UK with 8.3 million families in 2017 living with problem debt, fuelled by anything from low wages, the increase in the gig economy’s erratic incomes, to council tax charges [...] hit those with disabilities and illness harder still: disabled people are twice as likely than non-disabled people to have unsecured debt totalling more than half of their household income, according to a Scope survey in 2013.

Here are some (though not all) factors which account for said phenomenon:

➞ '... half of disabled people use credit cards or loans to pay for everyday items like food and clothes' (Swinford, 2013) and [...] over half of households referred for emergency food parcels in Britain include a disabled person [...] 75 per cent are experiencing ill health.'

➞ '... The Living Wage Foundation (LWF) calculated that the figure needed to cover the true cost of living was £9.00 per hour (£10.55 in London) in 2018–19 [...] however (a) classification of ESA (is) the equivalent of £2.55 an hour [...] a sum so meagre that researchers at the Disability Benefits Consortium in 2015 found it was leaving a third of recipients struggling to afford to eat.'

➞ '... chronicling the proportion of disabled people who are classed as living in what is termed ‘severe material deprivation’ the New Policy Institute (NPI) in 2016 discovered that '[...] one in five of working-age disabled people now meet this criterion [...] three times as many as non-disabled people [...] to be ‘merely’ poor would be an improvement.' Heriot-Watt University in 2018 further established that '... 1.5 million people in Britain are so far below the poverty line that they are officially destitute [...] their weekly income is not enough to buy even basic essentials nor can they meet their core material needs ‘for basic physiological functioning.' Proportionally, 650,000 of said "designated destitute" are classified as disabled. (Ryan. F, 2019. p. 15)

➞ Ryan expounds that the 2010 coalition initiated '... £28 billion worth of cuts to disabled people’s income, [alongside] the introduction of the bedroom tax, cuts to council tax support [...] and the tightening of benefit sanction rules [...] by 2017–18, 3.7 million disabled people would experience a reduction in income. Hundreds of thousands of them would be subject to up to six cuts simultaneously* [...] by 2018, disabled people would on average be losing over £4,400 per person per annum. For severely disabled people, that goes up to almost £9,000 [and for tens of thousands] between £15,000 and £18,000 in income through a combination of cuts. (Ryan. F, 2019. p. 17)

[...] The EHRC calculate that '... by 2022, the combined tax, social security and public spending policies carried out since 2010 will put a particular burden on disabled people. Families with a disabled adult as well as a disabled child will shoulder annual cash losses of just over £6,500 as a result of tax and benefit changes (or about 14 per cent of their net income) [...] people with the most serious disabilities actually stand to lose the most.' (Ryan. F, 2019. p. 15)

➞ '... almost six in ten families that include a disabled person are currently living without even basic necessities, such as food or shelter. That’s twice as many as the total population [of which are] likely underestimates' (Ryan. F, 2019. p. 13)

➞ Another factor is that of the '... epidemic levels of unemployment [...] under half of disabled people aged sixteen to sixty-four are in work, compared to over 80 per cent of non-disabled people, as of 2017 (fewer than five out of ten disabled people have a job compared with eight in ten non-disabled people) [...] by disability and it gets worse: just 16 per cent of people with autism are in full-time paid work, while less than 6 per cent of learning-disabled people are in full-time employment.' (Ryan. F, 2019. p. 35)

'... fundamental to perpetuating a disabled underclass.' (Ryan. F, 2019. p. 36) this mass 'scale of unemployment' is exacerbated and perpetuated by employers. Scope research in 2017 deliberated that '... disabled people have to apply for 60 per cent more jobs than non-disabled people before being hired [...] in 2019, Leonard Cheshire found that nearly a quarter of employers in Britain admit they’d be less likely to hire a disabled person.' (Ryan. F, 2019. p. 36)
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New Member

Moreover, marked by fluctuation in employment, as of 2017, disabled people are resigning from their workplaces at a larger rate than moving into it '...Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show that for every 100 disabled people moving into work, 114 leave.' (Ryan. F, 2019. p. 37) Additionally, '... around a third of disabled people – 30 per cent of disabled men and 35 per cent of women – are paid below the national living wage in Britain [...] rewarded for it with poverty wages [...] routine for disabled workers to be paid less than non-disabled colleagues [...] The EHRC August 2017 report on pay gaps found that the disability pay gap [...] was at 13.6 per cent [...] inequality [...] worse if you’re a disabled person who also happens to be a woman or from an ethnic minority background. Disabled men from the Bangladeshi community, for example, experience a pay gap of 56% compared with non-disabled white men.' (Ryan. F, 2019. p. 37)

Ryan discerns a tacit and material movement towards the 'promotion of a two-tier wage system' (p. 37) and recounts that in 2014 a key Conservative ‘welfare’ minister was recorded as stating that some disabled people are ‘not worth the full wage’ [and] suggested [they should] be paid as little as two pounds an hour [...] in 2018, Chancellor Philip Hammond linked the low productivity of the economy with the increased number of disabled people in the workforce [...] justified by the false premise that disabled people are less productive than ‘normal people’ and employers need a financial incentive to take ‘the risk’ of hiring them.' Moreover, '... the chair of the Work and Pensions Select Committee, Labour MP Frank Field, published an essay in September 2017 recommending paying disabled people less than the minimum wage as a way of reducing disability unemployment' (Ryan. F, 2019. p. 40)

Building upon this, in January of this year, the Resolution Foundation gauged an average gap of 44% in the comparative incomes of the disabled to that of the non-disabled. ➄

Housing inaccessibility is also a point of contention:

Research composed by the London School of Economics (LSE) '... in 2016 estimated that there are 1.8 million disabled people struggling to find accessible housing [...] Leonard Cheshire estimates that as many as one in six disabled adults and half of all disabled children live in housing that is not suitable for their need [...] few properties are accessible: in England, 93 per cent of housing stock is inaccessible to disabled people [and] fail to meet minimum accessibility standards.' (Ryan. F, 2019. pp. 68-69)

Furthermore, '... in 2018, private housebuilders were caught lobbying councils against building accessible homes for disabled people [...] this lack of accessible housing is compounded by the fact it is increasingly difficult to obtain the funding to adapt existing inaccessible homes [...] [adjacent to this, and relative to a lack of apportioning of disability grants] at least two-thirds of councils were breaking the law.' (Ryan. F, 2019. pp. 68-69)

The ramifications of this matter mean that '.... while social care bills go up, the NHS takes the cost of avoidable accidents. Leonard Cheshire calculates that the financial cost of inaccessible homes to the NHS and care services is as much as £450 million a year, with 15,000 hours of GP appointments being taken up in the space of a month by people injured through living in unsuitable homes.' (Ryan. F, 2019. pp. 68-69)

Nevertheless, '... only 22% of English councils have an accessible-housing register. Therefore, politicians aren’t monitoring provision and disabled people have nowhere to turn in their search for accessible homes.' (Ryan. F, 2019. pp. 68-69)

➞ Another matter is that of social care depletion:

'... since 2010, adult social care has seen cuts of almost £6 billion' with the Local Government Association (LGA) stating that '... care services for older and disabled adults were now ‘on the brink of collapse’ [...] the government’s long-delayed 2018 consultation on reforming the social care system failed to include a single disabled person or organization [...] even though disabled people represent a third of all social care users. [and] almost half the disabled people who say they need support [stated that they] aren’t receiving any at all.' (Ryan. F, 2019. p. 47)

In September of 2022, the Government estimated that there exists an adult social care '...funding gap of £3.6 billion in 2023/24 which will rise to £4.5 billion in 2024/25 based on inflation [with] survey work by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) showing that just 12 per cent of directors are confident that they have the resources required to deliver all of their statutory duties.' ➃ (Local Government Association and Morton, 2022).

Moreover, estimates for the funding gap vary '... in October 2020 the Health and Social Care Committee said an additional £7bn per year was required by 2023/24, which it described as a “starting point”[...] with The Health Foundation suggesting that '... an additional £14.4 billion a year would be required by 2030/31 to meet future demand, improve access to care, and pay more for care.' ➅ (Foster and Harker, 2023)

Consequentially, as established in their work, Ryan discerned that there now exist '... widespread reports of disabled people becoming physically sicker' (p. 47) on account of such gaps, and stated that cuts to the social care system had been '... so severe that in 2017 when the United Nations issued its scathing report into the UK government’s treatment of its disabled citizens, which highlighted the failure of the government ‘to recognise the rights of disabled people to live independently’ [...] in 2018, the Care and Support Alliance (CSA), warned that the care crisis had reached the point where disabled people were now having their legal ‘rights breached’ [...] finding that a quarter of disabled people relying on social care had had their support cut between 2017 and 2018, despite their disabilities remaining the same or even worsening. Nearly half were subsequently now unable to leave the house, while a third couldn’t maintain basic hygiene like washing or going to the toilet [and] a quarter had been forced to go without meals.' (Ryan. F, 2019. pp. 47-48)

Nevertheless, whilst being more likely to be in debt, the disabled are less likely to have access to general loans and other means of avoiding debt accumulation. Therefore, they have to routinely turn to other sources to acquire high-interest loans from 'less reputable' lenders. In 2018, Citizens Advice's research into payday loans found that '... nearly half (48 per cent) of people struggling with ‘home loan debt’ have a long-term health condition or disability'. (Ryan. F, 2019. p. 22)

To quantify this, broadly, one must keep in mind that approximately* 22% of the UK have some form of disability or health condition—equivalent to 14.6 million people—and, of this demographic in 2015–16, poverty rates stood at 31%*. (Ryan. F, 2019. p. 13)

[...] acknowledging the possibility of underestimation due to disparities in access to 'accredited' institutions.

[...] nevertheless, government ministers have refused to conduct cumulative impact analysis' of said cuts and reforms and have actively chosen, instead, to promote '... the illusion that these are cuts that are being fairly and evenly spread. (p. 15)

and 19% for the non-disabled, respectively.
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New Member


Ryan, F. (2019) Crippled: Austerity and the demonization of disabled people. Brooklyn. Verso Books. pp. 19-50.

➁ ➂ ➃ ➄ ➅
Scope (2022) Charities warn number of disabled households in fuel poverty set to double by end of year. Available at: Fuel poverty set to double | Disability charity Scope UK (Accessed: 7th February, 2023).
Scope (2022) Energy and cost of living crisis. Available at: Energy and cost of living crisis | Disability charity Scope UK (Accessed: February 7, 2023).
Local Government Association and Morton, N. (2022) Distribution of funding to support the reform of the adult social care charging system in 2023 to 2024.
Resolution Foundation (2023) 44 per cent disability income gap makes people with disabilities more likely to struggle to heat their homes and cut back on food this winter. Available at: 44 per cent disability income gap makes people with disabilities more likely to struggle to heat their homes and cut back on food this winter • Resolution Foundation (Accessed: February 7, 2023).
Foster, D. and Harker, R. (2023) Adult Social Care Funding (England) Research Briefing. rep. House of Commons Library. Available at: here (Accessed: 7th February 2023)

Angular Chap

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I'm not surprised that it's about things in the UK since Britain seems to have an unusual fetish for pointing fingers at those who rely on assistance.
You're correct, I see this first hand all the time, and it leads to some strange attitudes elsewhere as well:

I worked with someone who once had a job that paid less then what he would have received in welfare payments, but his mother made him take a lower paid job because she didn't want her son to be "on the dole."

Parents and their kids living on bread, water and macaroni and cheese because they proudly "don't take handouts."

Muggers who seem to be almost proud that they rob people rather than be "on the dole."

Yes, there will be some abusers (as there are anywhere and in any system where resources are given away), but we should not, for the sake of trying to eliminate abuse/fraud perpetuated by a few, make life difficult for the vast majority of those who genuinely require supports.
Fraudsters pay other fraudsters to tell them how to fill out the forms and fake a disability to obtain the largest amount of payments they can.

Legitimate claimants rely on charities to help them navigate and fill out the forms in an ethical way.

As vespertineautumn quoted, the rate of fraud was about 0.5% with the old system.

I've been trying to instil in people the attitude of insurance. Social security here is called national insurance, so I like to make the suggestion that people are claiming their insurance.

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