Tories attack disabled Liverpool fan they once praised
Liverpool fan John Smith has been winning plaudits for his work with the disabled.
The Mirror reported on August 18:
A lifelong Liverpool FC fan who overcame his disabilities to become a club charity coach has been recognised by the Prime Minister. John Smith, from Croxteth, was presented with a Point of Light award at Liverpool FC’s match against Bournemouth for his commitment to teaching wheelchair football to people with severe disabilities.
Prime Minister David Cameron was full of praise for the 39-year-old:
“For many people conquering disability to play wheelchair football would be enough of a challenge, but John has gone so much further. Through his key role in Liverpool’s Respect 4 All programme, he is sharing his wheelchair football skills with others and helping to make football more accessible for disabled people. What John is doing at Liverpool is inspirational and I am delighted to recognise him as the UK’s 317th Point of Light.”
John Smith features on the Number 10 official Facebook page.
On August 21, the Disability News Service had more on John Smith:
A disabled football coach has been recognised by the prime minister with a national volunteering award, even though that work is threatened by a legal battle over the “bedroom tax” with work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith…
Because he lives alone in social housing, in a two-bedroom adapted bungalow, he was forced to find an extra £12 a week towards his housing costs after he was told he was not entitled to a second bedroom because of the government’s “spare room subsidy removal policy”, also known as the bedroom tax.
This meant that Smith had to cut down on his spending on food while fighting the decision through the tribunal process, a battle which he said caused him to feel “very stressed”.
Last September, he won an initial appeal, on the grounds that he needed his spare room to store essential independent living aids, including his second wheelchair and a bath chair, as well as equipment he uses to play and coach wheelchair football, boxes of specialist powdered food, a bag of swimming equipment, and a punch-bag he uses to keep fit.
The room is also used to store a table football game that he plays with friends.
But after his initial victory, the work and pensions secretary appealed against the tribunal’s ruling, putting at risk all of Smith’s volunteering work and social and community links.
Now he is having to await the result of test cases in the Supreme Court, in which the bedroom tax will be challenged on the grounds that it discriminates against disabled adults like him.