A Fair Society and the Limits of Personalisation

Author: Simon Duffy

This discussion paper is based on Simon Duffy's 2011 Tizard Lecture. He describes how the current cuts that target disabled people reflect deep flaws within the welfare system and he sets out the case for more fundamental reforms to the welfare state.

A fair society is a society which supports everyone to be a citizen. And our society fails that test. Even in the old system disabled people faced:

  • Weak and fragile entitlements to support
  • Super-taxes - charges levied only on disabled people
  • Poverty traps - locking people into poverty
  • Bias against families - systems that encourage crisis and family breakdown

Today the crisis in disability funding will see 25% of the planned cuts imposed on 2% of the population - people with the severest disabilities. It is clear that the old paternalism is insufficient. Disabled people are not safe in the current welfare system - their rights are not adequately protected.

In this paper Simon explores the cuts and the problems inherent to the existing welfare systems for disabled people. He identifies three phases of de-institutionalisation for disabled people. First there was the battle to close the institutions that kept people outside communities. Second there was the development of personalisation technologies - the effort to help people get a full life within communities. 

Today the third phase of de-institutionalisation will be the campaign to ensure the rights of disabled people are reflected in good laws and constitutional arrangements that ensure everyone can get the support they need to be a full citizen.

This paper offers some early thoughts about what will need to be done to ensure that the battle to defend disabled people from the cuts becomes a battle to really reform the broken welfare system.

There is an easy-read version of the document available here - with thanks to Norma Curran at VIAS for writing this.


The publisher is The Centre for Welfare Reform.

A Fair Society and the Limits of Personalisation © Simon Duffy 2011.  

All Rights Reserved. No part of this paper may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher except for the quotation of brief passages in reviews.

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