Congratulations to Dave Allen for winning his landmark Disability Discrimination Act case against the Royal Bank of Scotland – and, I’d add, shame on some of the commenters on the Times article, for displaying the backward attitudes towards disability that are sadly still too common in the UK.

I often notice that a large number of shops and businesses in my town are completely inaccessible to people who use wheelchairs, in spite of laws telling them to build ramps. For some small businesses who rent space in old buildings this is understandable, and the law allows them other ways to make accommodations to serve customers with disabilities, but it seems that many who could make better efforts don’t bother, and they’ll continue not to unless cases like this continue to be brought and won (and I think it’s a pity that the burden is on people with disabilities to take the legal action against them).

Mr Allen said: “I’m glad the bank finally had to apologise in court and acknowledge they treated me badly.

“But I am still very disappointed that RBS, whom I have banked with since I was 10, when I was still able to walk, would not willingly comply with the Disability Discrimination Act and provide wheelchair access which not only I, but many of their other customers with disabilities need.

“They just failed to understand anything about the need for privacy and dignity.”

It’s a pity that many of the commenters on the article also fail to understand anything about dignity.

Elsewhere in the press, Liz Jones of the Daily Mail was distressed to discover she couldn’t afford her usual £800 monthly grooming routine when she tried to spend a week living on £64.30, the standard payment for Job Seeker’s Allowance.

It would be very, very easy to mock this article, in which the highly paid Jones discovers that in spite of being £150,000 in debt she isn’t really poor. Instead I’ll highlight just a few of her comments.

I am exhausted. I cannot move or think. I look terrible, ugly. I feel completely humiliated. The reason? I have just spent a week trying to live on benefits.


All your energy is consumed by getting through the day.

She’s not disabled, she’s not suffering from mental illness, she doesn’t have chronic fatigue, so imagine for a minute how much more exhausting the experience of living on benefits is for those who do. On income support for incapacity I get more than someone on JSA, but the difference between £65 a week and £90 a week isn’t huge when it’s all you have to live on for years, especially when unlike Liz, walking four miles to the shops is simply impossible for you.

Let’s hope that this piece will help at least some Daily Mail readers realize that being on benefits does not in fact mean an easy life lazing around enjoying yourself, and in itself can make you exhausted and depressed.