Jul 312012
 

Join The Atos Games!

On your marks, get set…
for a week of Paralympic fun and games against Atos!

From Monday 27th to Friday 31st of August, join Disabled People Against Cuts for The Atos Games – five days of action against a company that’s sponsoring the Paralympics but wrecking disabled people’s lives.

We are calling on disabled people, disabled activists, families, colleagues, friends and supporters to come together and fight back against Atos’s attacks. Atos represents as dangerous an opponent as any government, law or barrier the disability movement has faced in its long history. It’s not just welfare, but our very identity and our place within society that is under attack.

And we are asking the whole of the anti-cuts movement to join us in our opposition to the company most responsible for driving through the government’s brutal cuts agenda. Let’s make it Games over for Atos!

We’re not against the Paralympics or the people taking part in it. We’re highlighting the hypocrisy of Atos, a company that soon may be taking disability benefits from the people winning medals for Team GB.

Ever since George Osborne announced he was slashing £18 billion from the welfare budget, the government has paid Atos £100 million a year to test 11,000sick and disabled people every week, then decide whether they’re ‘fit for work’.

Atos uses an inhumane computer programme to do the testing, and trains its staff to push people off benefits. The government has admitted the tests are flawed, and the British Medical Association wants them to end immediately.

But Atos continues to devastate people’s lives. Many have committed suicide because of its testing programme, and over 1,000 people have died of their illnesses soon after being found ‘fit for work’.

We won’t let them get away with murder, so join in The Atos Games however you can – online, on the phone, or on the streets!

·         Monday 27th: We’ll hold a spoof Paralympic awards ceremony, hopefully with some very special guests…
·         Tuesday 28th: Pay a visit to your local Atos office – and maybe even take your protest inside!
·         Wednesday 29th: A coffin full of your messages about Atos will be delivered to its doorstep.
·         Thursday 30th: Phone jam! Let’s flood Atos with calls, and generate a Twitter-storm they can’t ignore!
·         Then on Friday 31st, join us in London where we’re teaming up with UK Uncut for the Grand Finale – an audacious, daring and disruptive action. Last time we shut down Oxford Circus, this time we will be performing miracles…!
Join us at 12.45pm in Triton Square, just off Euston Road, at ATOS head office.

 

Over the next few weeks we’ll give more details about each day of action. We’ll make sure that DPAC members and disabled people who can’t travel will be able to take part in different and accessible ways.

We’d really like YOU to make this week of action a great success! Let’s come together and show this monstrous company that we’re stronger than them. They’re the vulnerable ones and they know it.

Atos has offices in most towns across the country, so start organising an action for August 28th at your local Atos now!

Let the Atos Games begin!

If anyone wants to use any of these from Atos Stories then they have said you are free to do so

http://atosstories.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/its-not-over-yet.html

 

 Posted by at 16:10
Jul 272012
 

Although some people still haven’t had any letters telling them the dates of the very important ILF consultation and many of the events now have no places available here is a list of the original dates and venues.

If you apply to go to an event and are unable to get a place could you please let us know at mail@dpc.uk.net

We think the main thing to ask for if replying to the consultation  is a nationally transportable ring-fenced funding stream preferably administered by a non-governmental department such as the ILF but without the trust status there now is.

We will be producing a draft response to the consultation before the end of these events ie mid-September.

We will also be holding our own consultation event week beginning September 10th in the House of Commons. Date to be confirmed.

Newcastle – 8 August
Leeds – 9 August
Cardiff – 15 August
Birmingham – 16 August
Belfast – 17 August
Wrexham – 21 August
Manchester – 22 August
Nottingham – 29 August
Exeter – 4 September
Southampton – 6 September
Glasgow – 11 September
Aberdeen – 12 September
London – 17 September
There are limited spaces on the events and a lot of them are now full. If you wish to book a place on an event please let us know and I can let you know if there are any spaces available.email –  Consultation@ilf.org.uk
You can also respond to the consultation through the DWP website www.dwp.gov.uk/future-of-ilf  you can also email your responseilf.consultation@dwp.gsi.gov.uk or respond in writing to the following address:

ILF Consultation Team

Ground floor

Caxton House

Tothill Street

London 

SW1A 9NA

The closing date for responses is 10 October 2012.
 Posted by at 18:14
Jul 262012
 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

High Court rules Work Capability Assessment arguably unlawful 

The High Court has today granted permission to two disabled people to bring a claim for judicial review against the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to challenge the operation of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA).

WCAs are face to face interviews carried out by healthcare professionals (HCPs) employed by Atos Healthcare (a private contractor), to assess disabled people’s entitlement to Employment and Support Allowance (a sickness benefit that has replaced the old Incapacity Benefit). Each existing recipient of Incapacity Benefit is now being assessed for eligibility for ESA, at the rate of some 11,000 people per week. WCAs have been the subject of serious criticism by all relevant stakeholders in civil society including doctors and NGOs working on behalf of disabled people.

The present case concerns some of the problems with the system as experienced by people with mental health problems. Although medically trained, Atos HCPs typically have very limited knowledge of mental health. The interviews are often hurried, and rely on applicants to explain the limitations on their ability to work.

This is a serious problem for people with mental health conditions who lack insight into their conditions, whose conditions fluctuate in seriousness, or who cannot easily talk about their disability. Such people are placed at a substantial disadvantage in navigating the system. Even if they appreciate the need to get expert medical evidence for themselves, they are often less able to navigate the system successfully and to obtain the medical report that they need. The Equality Act 2010 requires the DWP to make reasonable adjustments to avoid such disadvantage.

The reasonable adjustment to the process that the claimants seek is for medical evidence to be sought by the Atos HCP and the DWP at the very outset of the claim. This would ensure that very sick people for whom having to go through a WCA would be extremely distressing are exempted from the process, and for those that do attend a WCA, the assessment of fitness to work takes place in the correct medical context, so that dangers associated with forcing people back to work are correctly identified.

At present, the DWP do not routinely ask for expert medical report from an applicant’s community-based doctor. The judge has held that it is arguable that this failure is a breach of the duty to make reasonable adjustments, and is therefore unlawful.

In granting permission to apply for judicial review, the judge stated:

“I consider that it is reasonably arguable that the reasonable adjustments required by the [Equality Act 2010] include the early obtaining of independent medical evidence where the documents submitted with the claim show that the claimant suffers from mental health problems and that this has not been done, or at least not done on a sufficiently widespread basis”.

The claimants, known as MM and DM, were granted anonymity by the court. Their solicitor, Ravi Low-Beer of the Public Law Project said:

“The present system results in many thousands of unnecessary appeals at great public expense, with a high success rate. What is not counted is the cost in human misery for those people who should never have had to go through the appeals process in the first place. This could be avoided if doctors were involved in the assessments at the outset. The Government’s policy of by-passing doctors is inefficient, unfair, and inhumane. We gain heart from the court’s finding that as a matter of law, it is arguable that something has to change.”

For further information contact Ravi Low-Beer on r.lowbeer@publiclawproject.org.uk/0845 543 5944

or Adrian Lukes on

a.lukes@publiclawproject.org.uk/0845 543 5946.

Public Law Project (PLP) 

PLP is an independent, national legal charity which aims to improve access to justice for those whose access is restricted by poverty, discrimination or other similar barriers.   To fulfil its objectives PLP undertakes research, policy initiatives, casework and training across the range of public law remedies.

 

For more information on our work, events and publications: www.publiclawproject.org.uk

 

 Posted by at 12:34
Jul 252012
 

Re-thinking disability equality policy and practice in a hostile climate’

 

Advance notice of a national event for the UK disabled people’s movement

 

When: Thursday 27 Sept 11am to 4.30pm

Where: Coin St Neighbourhood Centre, 108 Stamford Street South Bank, London SE1 9NH

Who is the event for: Places available for 80 representatives from disabled people’s organisations (DDPOs) and disabled activists from across the UK .

Aims of event:

1. ‘Take stock’ of the achievements and challenges
disability equality policy and practice has created over
last 15 years

2. To explore how we can best defend our achievements
and rights in a climate of austerity and free market/
anti Welfare state ideology.

3.     To identify areas of consensus that the movement can
mobilise around and take action on to influence the
political and policy agenda

 

Speakers include: Jenny Morris, author of Re-Thinking
Disability Policy published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Booking details to follow soon. To register an interest in
attending email: info@inclusionlondon.co.uk

 

 

 Posted by at 13:47
Jul 232012
 

 

Dear Remploy strikers,

 We send our heartfelt support to you for your strike days against the closure of Remploy factories.  Every one of us who is disabled has a right not to have our disability used against us, and that includes the right to a decent job with a living wage. Remploy factories shouldn’t close, and wages should be higher.  Workers organising themselves into unions at Remploy helped get better wages and working conditions.  Closing the factories is an attempt to punish workers with disabilities for having the impudence to organise together.  How dare a government of millionaires tell us our workplaces are too expensive while they give billions to bankers and corporations in subsidies, and bonuses to Remploy management with our tax money?  We are determined to defend everything we’re entitled to and which we (and those who care for and about us) fought hard to get – benefits, decent wages and working conditions, high-quality services, accessible transport and more. 

 The government is criticising “segregated employment” in order to take away what gives us some equity — our hard-won disability concessions based on recognition of the added difficulties and discrimination we face in an inaccessible society.  These include Remploy and the welfare state.  They give huge contracts to companies like Atos to carry out “work capability assessments” in order to justify cutting our benefits.  They want us dead or begging on the street.  Thousands of sick and disabled people found fit for work are having to fight to keep our benefits.  Many of us, reliant on benefits, are refusing workfare – disabled people, mums (many are disabled or looking after disabled children), people of colour, people who have problems with reading and writing.

 We condemn prominent disabled people who claim to represent our best interests, but who are prepared to leave us with no wages at all, as they provide cover for the brutality of the government policy of Remploy factory closures — like Liz Sayce (whose report recommended ending “segregated employment”) and Mike Smith of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (who said on Channel 4 News that closing the factories is in the best interests of disabled people).   Some of these disability ‘leaders’ are happy to take government money for themselves and their own organisations while helping to throw the rest of us out of a job.  Scabs!

 We also condemn disability charities which do the government’s dirty work, running workfare programmes that get them cheap labour, and specialised schemes for sick and disabled people forced into “work-related activity” which is contributing to early deaths. 

 Despite the onslaught, we take courage from your strike and from any victory we are having: at least 40% of appeals against Atos are being won and there is increased support for our demands – the BMA recently voted to end the work capability assessment.  

 All of us are workers, waged and unwaged, campaigning together to defend our rights. As part of the movement against the cuts, we are determined to support each other so we can all win. 

 Keep Remploy!  Keep our benefits!

WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities)  

win@winvisible.org

020 7482 2496

Payday men’s network

payday@paydaynet.org

020 7267 8698

 

Jul 222012
 

Defiant Remploy Strikes Boost Jobs Fight –

From Barking to to Bridgend and from Derbyshire to Dundee, up and down the country Remploy workers walked-out on strike together in defiance of Tory plans throw them on the scrapheap.

Last week, the Minister for Disabled People, Maria “Factory Killer” Miller announced the closure of 27 of the 54 Remploy factories meaning the sacking of more than 1,200 mainly disabled workers.

The outrage at this callous Tory decision was not only reflected in the solid strikes, the first of two 24-hour stoppages (the next being next Thursday 26th July), but also in the solidarity from other workers on display at each picket line.

Teachers, council staff , IT workers, construction workers, students and more brought banners and collections to the picket-lines. Postal workers and lorry-drivers refused to cross picket lines.

The stand taken by Unite and GMB members at Remploy is an example to the whole trade union movement about how to fight job losses.

Work and Pensions minister Iain Duncan Smith says that he says that he wants to get disabled workers into mainstream employment or “proper jobs”.

Daniel Garvin’s film on the Guardian website contradicts IDS’s despicable insult that Remploy workers were “not doing any work… just making cups of coffee”

But millions can see through the Tories – they know that with more than 2.5 million unemployed and disability benefits being slashed, the standard of living for many Remploy workers will be immeasurably damaged, should their factories close.

Since the last wave of Remploy factory closures in 2008, 85% of those made redundant have not worked since, and 95% of those that found employment were on less pay.

Today’s marvellous show of solidarity was a step towards winning the battle for jobs. Next week the picket-lines need to be bigger and a strategy implemented for forcing another Tory U-turn and saving the factories.

(Above reposted courtesy of Right to Work. For full article see http://righttowork.org.uk/2012/07/defiant-remploy-strikes-boost-jobs-fight/)

 
At the Barking factory in East London more than seventy workers, their families and supporters came to support the picket throughout the day. Just one day earlier the factory workers had learned that the date they have been given for closure is 30th September. Although shocked and upset the strike day was a chance to rally round and rebuild confidence and spirits.
 
Every hoot from passing buses, lorries and cars was met with a cheer while deliveries and post were turned away. Paul, who has worked at the factory for the past 21 years and who prior to that had turned to street drinking as a consequence of a period of unemployment, led the chants of “Maria Miller Factory Killer”.
 
George Barratt, independent councillor for Barking and Dagenham, spoke to workers and expressed his support in the fight to keep the factories open. Solidarity also came from further away with a group of Unite workers hailing from as far afield as Rochester on a nearby course joining the picket in their lunch hour. One of the union reps commented that when he worked for the Ministry of Defence all the best quality manufacturing came from Remploy factories.
 
Messages of solidarity and support were read out from disabled people and union members across the country. Mark Holloway, GMB rep for the Barking factory expressed thanks to everyone who took part, He said he had only expected “three men and a dog” to turn up and was completely blown away by the level of support.
 
A DOZEN striking workers gathered outside Remploy Acton on Thursday. They were joined by local trade unionists from Ealing council, as well as by John McDonnell MP.
 
The workers argued that their factory is profit-making, and produces vital equipment, such as fire-safe clothing for the fire brigades. They made the point that they are skilled workers, and that the closure of their factory would mean the loss of their skills, as well as the destruction of the community they have built in their workplace.
 
The pickets turned away four delivery lorries, and used the picket line as a base to coordinate an even bigger presence for the next strike on Thursday 26th July. Local trade unionists pledged their solidarity and support for the next walk out. One striker remarked, “this is just the beginning. This campaign will get bigger and bigger.”
 
To find out where your nearest factory is and to find out how you can get involved in supporting the workers please contact mail@dpac.uk.net
 
Thanks to Richard Donnelly for his report from the Acton strike
Jul 222012
 

Organised by Fuel Poverty Action (fuelpovertyaction.org.uk) Thursday October 4th 7-9pm Crossroads Women’s Centre, 25 Wolsey Mews, Kentish Town, London NW5 2DX
Last Winter, one in four UK households were unable to heat their homes to a safe level. Millions of us faced a choice between heating and eating, being unable to afford both. As the Big Six energy companies keep pushing up our energy bills, the government cuts its Warm Front scheme and private landlords become less and less regulated, the cold is set to bite harder than ever in the winter to come.
The struggle against fuel poverty connects to struggles around austerity, economic justice, environmental destruction, poor housing, disabled peoples’ rights and pensioners’ rights. If we want to win warm homes and affordable, sustainably produced energy for all, we need to work together to take on profiteering energy companies and the ConDem government in their pockets.
This public meeting will be a chance for different groups working on issues connecting to fuel poverty to get together, hear about each others’ work, network and plan how we can take action together to tackle fuel poverty in the winter to come.
All welcome!
More details tbc nearer the time. —- Website: www.fuelpovertyaction.org.uk Email: fuelpovertyaction@gmail.com Twitter: @FuelPovAction Facebook: Fuel Poverty Action

Jul 222012
 

Right to Ride, disabled activists block traffic outside Westminster

DPAC is pleased that London’s 28,000 bus drivers who threatened strike action on 5 and 24 July have won their right to receive an Olympic bonus which other transport workers have been offered in recognition of the extra strain the Games will put on their working conditions. The deal follows the first capital-wide bus strike in decades and six days of negotiations. It has been signed by all 20 bus operators amid fears the network could be brought to a standstill, heaping embarrassment on the London as it staged the Games.

DPAC calls for a fully accessible public transport system that provides disabled passengers with the same opportunities to travel as anyone else. We recognise that an important part of a fully functioning system entails respect and fair terms and conditions for transport staff in order to enable them to do their jobs fairly. DPAC supports the bus drivers in any action they feel they need to take in order to get their voices heard.

Last month DPAC and Transport for All staged a successful direct action with activists blocking the path of an 87 bus outside Westminster for more than two hours. The action which was featured on a Channel Four news debate drew attention to the barriers that disabled people face in accessing London buses ahead of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games when campaigners fear that poor disability access will make London a laughing stock. http://www.dpac.uk.net/2012/06/right-to-ride-report/

In speaking out against the daily discrimination and frustration disabled people experience trying to access bus transport DPAC does not blame the bus drivers themselves. Drivers are held back from delivering a fair service to disabled passengers by cutbacks which have seen conductors removed from buses whilst drivers are not allowed to leave their cabs for safety reason, by strict regulation of timetables that do not give drivers adequate time to meet the needs of disabled people and by a lack of investment in fully user led disability equality training that could be delivered around drivers’ shift patterns.

DPAC encourages our members to show solidarity to bus drivers in any further actions.

 

Jul 212012
 

by Disabled People against Cuts (DPAC), Black Triangle and Social Welfare Union (SWU) 

In an answer to a parliamentary question on Atos from Frank Field (lab) Chris Grayling said:

“Based on the results of a trial during 2011, we have not implemented universal recording for claimants going through the work capability assessment (WCA).
We have asked Atos Healthcare to accommodate requests for audio recording, where a claimant makes a request in advance of their assessment.
This approach began in late 2011 and we will monitor take up during 2012 before making a decision on the requirement for recording assessments, taking into account factors such as value for money and the value it adds to the WCA process. As part of this process we are also reviewing Atos capacity to provide recordings for those claimants who currently request one”.

We at Disabled People against Cuts (DPAC), Black Triangle and Social Welfare Union (SWU) want to make sure that we gather the REAL facts on what people are experiencing. We suspect that the government will try to pull the option for recordings of WCA completely due to what they will say is a lack of demand, so we have put together a short survey to gather information on the demand for recordings and on other issues on the WCA.

Please pass this survey on to as many people as possible. If you know someone who would like a printed paper copy of this survey please send their details to mail@dpac.net.uk

 Go to survey https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/FGKJBSQ

 

Jul 202012
 

What are you currently working on?

I work at the Alliance for Inclusive Education which is a Disabled People’s Organisation that campaigns for all disabled learners to have access to mainstream education, no ifs, and no buts. Our current campaign is to fight the government’s continued attacks on inclusive education, as if disabled people ever had the right to inclusive education in the first place. Disabled learners are the only group of people who can be lawfully discriminated against when accessing mainstream education despite the government’s commitment to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Article 24 which states that disabled people should not be “excluded from general education system and receive the support required.      Moreover we mustn’t forget that in terms of accessing 16+ education there is not a squeak on segregated education.

We are campaigning vigorously against the Government’s plans to remove the bias towards inclusive education through increasing segregated and education provision in both schools and colleges that is being proposed in the Government’s proposals for young disabled people in their draft Children and Families Bill.

We have been fighting against the outright attacks on disabled people’s right to mainstream education through the government’s academies programme and their attempts to weaken the special educational needs legal framework.    Additionally we have been campaigning against the Government’s attack on local authority’s role in providing coordinated specialist SEN services that are available free of charge for all state funded schools.   Such services may include behaviour support, educational psychologists, occupational psychologists, dyslexia therapists which can make a real difference in supporting mainstream schools capacity to support inclusive education practise for a whole range of disabled kids.

ALLFIE were successful in ensuring academies complied with the SEN framework and generally required to be have an intake of pupils of all abilities.    This doesn’t get away from the covert discrimination that disabled people and parents face in accessing mainstream education through admission procedures.

Please see ALLFIE’s website for on-going campaigning activity: www.allfie.org.uk

 

What do you see as the biggest threat to disabled people at the moment?  The Government’s

Disregard for the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, European Human Rights Convention, Human Rights and Equality Acts duties in their responsibility for promoting inclusion of disabled people in mainstream
society.

Constant attack on anyone relying on the state for any kind of support, welfare benefits, housing, social and health care and so on.     Individualism, capitalism, competitiveness and productivity are the driving force of Government policy.   They are wrecking any kind of collective responsibility for supporting each other in times of need.

Plans linking duties to being entitled to state funded support – i.e. requirement to be looking for work whilst having a social housing tenancy or being in receipt of employment and support allowance.

Then we have disabled people being seen as scroungers when accessing benefits when time and time again it has been shown there is little evidence of fraud.

State’s responsibilities and Public sector’s duties being privatised by commissioning such services to the private sector such as profit making organisations, ‘social enterprises’ and charities.  This will undermine the integrity and democratic accountability for decisions that will have a huge impact upon disabled peoples’ lives.   ATOS is an example where the Work Capability Assessment should be under the direct supervision of the Department for Work and Pensions as opposed to a private company that is only interested in meeting the Government’s targets of getting disabled people off benefits so they get their contract renewed.   Simarily, private companies are involved in determining whether job seekers are doing enough to find work and if not they can contribute to the decision of withdrawing job seeker’s benefits.

Market determines what services will or will not be made available for disabled people.   Just because disabled people need services does not mean that the market will deliver – as it depends on whether a profit can be made by the provider.

The idea of objectivity and assessments without recognising the whole move towards carrying out individual assessments is based on a universal application of ideas.    There is an assumption in the work capability assessment that an ability to read, write, use a computer, lift objects and so on at home is an indicator of a disabled person’s ability to do paid work.     An ability to concentrate in a work setting is assumed if a disabled person has the ability to watch Eastenders.

The Big Society Bank where we are going to have the elite deciding who will be deserving poor or ‘needy’ and who will be providing those services.   As the bank will be providing loans instead of grants, only companies that can pay back the money will be considered – Disabled peoples organisations are unlikely to get any assistance.

Another major threat is the bio-psycho-social model replacing the good old social model of disability in terms of understanding the barriers that disabled people face.

What can disabled people do in the face of all these threats?

I think disabled people need to get together and think through what needs to happen in order for things to change. Reconceptualising how we understand disabling barriers in today’s society in order to challenge our most pressing threats, for example the bio-psycho-social model.

We need to work together in developing an ideal world that promotes inclusion, both in theory and in practise.

In terms of campaigns we need to link to wider anti-capitalist campaigns because we are affected differently but equally. Capitalism is there to divide us, it is about squeezing out the resources from the many (disabled people, women, Black and Minority Ethnic groups, the working poor and so on) for the benefit of an elite. We need to stand firm to this continuing threat to our freedoms.

 

What is the best action you have ever taken part in?

Anti-discrimination, Apprenticeships and the Jodie and Mary’s Equal  Right to Life campaigns.

Throwing stink bombs into a Leonard Cheshire Ballroom which stopped a charity ball and throwing false shit and sitting on a very doggy toilet outside the Department of Health against cuts to social care campaign.

 

Is there any message you would like to give DPAC members?

Kick some butt!

Jul 202012
 

Feedback report from DPAC steering group member Roger Lewis.

On Saturday June 23rd over 700 Trade Unionists, anti cuts campaigners and invited speakers met inCentral London to discuss the next steps in the fight to stop the ConDem austerity cuts.

DPAC was proud to be there and our stall was in the main hall at the event.

Those attending heard from a tremendous set of platform speakers ranging from well known figures in our movement like John McDonnell MP and from speakers invited from across Europe who are involved in fighting the cuts in their own countries. The biggest reception by far went to one of the Spanish Miners currently engaged in pitched battles with the police as part of their fight to save their own jobs and pay. He electrified the audience with graphic descriptions of their use of rocket launchers in their fight against the brutality of the Spanish police who are clearly being used to try to break their strike action.

John McDonnell spoke in as uncompromising and combative a mood as ever underlining the importance of uniting all the struggles across the summer and leading up towards the TUC National Demonstration planned for October 20th. John spoke about the importance of the fight to save the Remploy workers jobs and described how the attacks on their jobs epitimised the sheer brutality and visciousness of the Condems. As usual, he went on to promote DPAC and the importance of our Direct Actions including the successful road blocks at Regent Street and Trafalgar Square earlier this year. He described how we provide a blue print for other sections of people fighting back and praised us for our dedication and resilience in the face of the attacks by Atos and the attacks on our welfare benefits.

Mark Holloway, a Remploy Shop Steward from the Barking factory in East London addressed the meeting from the floor in the second session of the day.

Mark explained the lies behind the government’s assertion that closing the factories was a move against segregated workplaces. He got a huge round of applause when he told the meeting that workers across the various factories under threat were being balloted for strike action and were also considering what alternative action they could consider in building a campaign to save their jobs.

Other speakers referred to the work DPAC has done and described our importance as a central part of the struggle.

The Unite the Resistance meeting came at a hugely important time as many of the public sector unions try to up the anti in their fight against the cuts in their pensions and link the strikes seen over the last year and a half to upcoming fights against pay cuts and privatisation.

We believe DPAC needs to be a central part to that fight and we can form the link between the Trade Unions disputes and strikes and direct action by community groups, anti-cuts groups and movements like our own.

 

 

Jul 202012
 

Posted from: http://leicestersocialists.org.uk/2012/07/launch-of-east-midlands-disabled-people-against-cuts/

Post written by Lucy Stokes

On 30th June 2012 Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC) launched East Midlands Disabled People Against Cuts, with people from Nottingham, Northampton, Leicester and Market Harborough attending the meeting. The main speakers were Linda Burnip and Debbie Jolly, who cofounded DPAC. We talked about what activities to do in the region and about past activities, such as blocking traffic in Oxford Street and Trafalgar Square; the creation of gridlocks on the streets of London (as a result of a mass wheelchair assault on the buses) and a number of other protests held outside Atos’ headquarters in Euston. Discussion also dealt with forming alliances with other campaigning groups such as Right to Work, UK Uncut and the Climate Justice Collective.

For more information or to join East Midlands DPAC email mail@dpac.uk.net.

Thanks to Roxeanne and Joanna for the photos.

Jul 202012
 
We invite Remploy workers, their families and supporters to a Save the Factories meeting on
Monday 23rd July      7 – 8.30pm
                         at the Spotted Dog, 15a Longbridge Road,   IG11 8TN
Speakers include: Remploy Electronics Barking Factory Union Reps & Workers, John McDonnell MP (tbc), Rob Williams NSSN, Ian Bradley rank and file electrician, George Barrett Independent Cllr Barking & Dagenham, DPAC & RtW & more
FIGHT THE REMPLOY CLOSURES – support disabled workers in Barking
The government has announced their decision to close Remploy factories, set up after the war to provide real jobs for disabled people. 27 factories across the country including the one in Barking are set to close before December. This decision will leave thousands of disabled workers without income. Following an earlier round of factory closures in 2008 disabled workers left without jobs ended up suicidal and ill with only 5% going on to find alternative work. We must not let this happen to disabled workers in Barking.
Disabled People Against Cuts is a campaign led by and for disabled people, campaigning against the Condem government’s vicious attacks on disabled people that risk pushing our rights back decades. John McDonnell MP speaking in the House of Commons in June about the Remploy closures warned the government that our campaign is strong and that disabled people will not go away.
We say we will not give up the fight and let thousands of workers be thrown on the scrapheap. We believe we can win this if we unite in support of the Remploy workers.
for more details & messages of support contact
Jul 182012
 

The dangers of throwing several thousand people from paid work into unemployment should be obvious to anyone. The fact that a majority, although not all, of the Remploy workers are disabled people should signal a further problem: disabled people who want to work, are more likely to be unemployed than non-disabled people in all official statistics since records began. For example in 2011 the employment rate was 48.8% for disabled people compared to 77.5% for non-disabled people .

It is dangerous, misguided and completely ludicrous to claim that all disability organisations and the disability movement have decided that a new perverse way of supporting disabled people is to make them unemployed and subject to the ravages that disabled people must endure under this government, as the Sayce report suggests. For those of us that have spent years arguing for an equality agenda for disabled people the arguments put forward in the Sayce report are dangerous, misguided and wrong.

 

1. Remploy factories due for closure are “unviable” and too costly to run.

Remploy is no more unviable than the Royal Bank of Scotland, yet the Government found billions to bail out bankers. Remploy was set up before the end of the Second World War to provide employment and employment placement services for disabled people.

Labour MP Geraint Davies exposed the mismanagement of Remploy in Parliament recently when speaking as part of the Opposition Day Debate on disability welfare and support on 20th June :

 “When I started becoming actively involved with my local Remploy factory about a year ago, the orders it was receiving were not high enough. I went round to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, the local health service, the local university, and so on, and now the factory is working flat out, getting more and more orders. That just shows that if the central command in Remploy were more effective, the factories could be successful and could work.”

 If the factories are not financially sustainable, then why have there been 65 bids to save 31 Remploy sites (all but 9 were rejected)?

2.  Remploy workers don’t do “proper” jobs.

 This is a myth peddled by the Work and Pensions minister Iain Duncan Smith, who said that Remploy workers were “not doing any work… just making cups of coffee”.

 This sneering insult is far from the truth.

 Workers at Remploy are involved in a range of jobs from producing medical equipment to CCTV operators, and from assembly for car companies  to book-binding.

 

3. Each Remploy place costs some £25,000 per year.

This was the figure used in the Sayce report which recommended the closure of the factories.

The report does not explain that that this figure was calculated on the basis of how much it costs to run the entire factory network including layers of unnecessary of overpaid management, their bonuses and company cars, and under-performing central posts filled largely by non-disabled workers at a time when managers were running the factories into the ground and not using resources to capacity.

Mark Holloway a worker at the Barking factory in east London said, “They say it costs £25,000 per disabled person to keep the jobs, but over 400 senior managers are on salaries of £40,000 to £60,000”. 

For 2010-2011, as recently 4 months before the beginning of this closures process, Remploy management received 1.8 million in bonuses at a time when the factory floor was on a pay restraint.

The cost of running the factory network was calculated without taking into account income earned from provision of training placements, which although delivered through the factory network was used to generate income instead into Remploy Employment Services.

Trade Unions representing the workers estimate that when the profit from sales is considered and taken into account the cost per disabled worker to the State could be as low as £7,000. When you also take into account the fact that tax and insurance is being paid in and benefits are not being paid out this figure could be substantially lower.

The cost of per worker needs to be compared against the £18,880 per year cost to the tax payer for those on long term benefits. There is also a hidden cost to the NHS. It is commonly accepted that once a disabled person stops work their health deteriorates and more medical intervention is needed. Add this to the increase costs of the £18,880 and the actual final cost could be £30,000 to £40,000 per year in increased costs. If we add in the cost of the 2008 redundancy of £40+ million, plus the impact on family members having to give up or reduce work in order to support disabled relatives now at home during the day and you can soon see it will take years, if ever to recover the costs.

 

4. Money spent on Remploy factory placements could support thousands more disabled people through Access to Work.

Access to Work can only support disabled people once they are in jobs, it doesn’t help people find jobs.

Access to Work has a lower success rate than the Remploy factories with supporting disabled people from impairment groups that are under-represented in the workplace. In 2010-2011 people with mental health support needs made up just 1.4% of disabled customers helped by Access to Work compared to 5% of Remploy employees. When you look at learning difficulties, Access to Work provided support to just 5% compared to 17.2% working in Remploy.

Access to Work provides support to different groups of disabled people than are employed by Remploy.

Increasing its budget alone will not enable Access to Work to more successfully reach these under-represented groups: government policy is to reduce resources invested in individual disabled people through Access to Work support. Instead of stretching the budget to cover more disabled people this effectively stops the programme from being any use to many disabled people. Jobcentre Plus disability equality advisors have told us they have stopped referring disabled job-seekers to Access to Work because the growing restrictions on what the programme will cover make it pointless.

 

5. It’s segregated employment.

This is one simplistic argument popularised by the Sayce report, however the Remploy factories do not employ disabled people exclusively. In 2008, 29 factory sites geographically based from Scotland to Cornwall closed with over 2,500 Remploy employees becoming unemployed. Of these, 1,700 employees were disabled. The 2012 closures will affect around 80% of employees who are disabled.

 

6. The closure of factories will lead to greater inclusion for disabled people.

The inclusion of disabled people in society is at greater risk under this Condem government than it has been for decades. Inclusive education is fundamental for achieving inclusive communities, yet Condem education policy (name it/link it) is to bring back segregated education through what they call ‘removing the bias of inclusion’ and the promotion of Academies  which notoriously  discriminate against disabled pupils. For disabled adults the closure of the independent living fund signals a return to institutional care as local authorities such as Worcester seek to cap social care support forcing disabled people with higher levels of support need to go into care and denying them the right to live in the community.

Against attacks on disabled people’s right to inclusion on this magnitude pushing a few thousand workers into joblessness will achieve nothing.

On the other hand through employment Remploy workers have access to life chances that would be denied to them through joblessness. Remploy employee Tony Collins, a middle distance runner with the Great Britain Learning Disabled Athletics Squad who uses his salary to travel the world attending international athletics events,  will not only lose his job when the factory where he works closes but his whole life will change for the worse.

 

7. The workers will be supported when the factories close.

During 2007 and the early part of 2008 the company gave promises of support for those leaving in the round of closures(being) carried out under the Labour government, but history has shown that very few of the 1,700 disabled people received even a phone call from Remploy let alone any practical support of any kind.

Remploy workers will be given access to a person budget but a recent Community Care survey showed 48% of social workers do not believe personal budgets are of high enough monetary value to achieve personalisation, while a survey by the Learning Disability Coalition into the impact of cutbacks on frontline services revealed that 47% of people with learning difficulties spend most of their time at home.

In 2012 there is a community pot of 1.5 million offered to charities and disabled peoples’ organisations to support the workers into jobs by the DWP. This may explain the keenness of the illogical ‘equality into unemployment arguments’ that some were producing but it is unlikely that Disabled People’s Organisations and the usual list of disability charities or voluntary organisations can find jobs for ex-Remploy workers where they do not exist.

 

8. The workers will be able find mainstream employment

A survey by GMB of disabled workers made redundant in 2008 revealed 74% left on State benefits and of the 26% who had found alternative work only 5% of those had found work on equal or better terms.

From the round of Remploy closures before that in the 1980s, 85% of disabled ex-employees remain unemployed . This was in a better economic climate than that of today. Some committed suicide, many threatened suicide and many experienced mental health issues, for those that already had mental health issues these were exacerbated.

Jul 182012
 

Messages of support for the striking Remploy workers

DPAC has been clear from the start that it supports the Remploy workers. The Remploy workers have overwhelming support. Below are some of the many messages DPAC has received which will be passed on

To Unite & GMB strikers at Remploy
You have our wholehearted support for your action this week and next in defence of your jobs at Remploy. The Coalition government’s treatment of disabled workers is a disgrace.
PCS members at the Equality Human Rights Commission are currently fighting plans to cut all our frontline advice and mediation services and grants programme, which will have a devastating impact on disabled people. We are with your action 100% and oppose all these attacks by a government which aims to strip disabled people of their rights and turn the clock back to the Victorian age.
In solidarity
PCS Branch Executive at the EHRC.

 

All strength to Remploy workers and their allies in their struggle. Until government successfully addresses the increasing discrimination facing disabled people, they must act on the principle that half a loaf is better than none. Of course high quality flexible mainstream employment without glass ceilings must be the goal for all disabled people. But in the meantime, the closure of Remploy factories and the resulting loss of opportunities for remploy workers just adds to the barriers and discrimination disabled people experience.

Peter Beresford OBE

Chair, Shaping Our Lives, the national disabled people’s and service users’ organisation and network

 

To the striking members at Remploy factories,

Know that every disabled person in the United Kingdom is with you in spirit, it is a terrible thing to face redundancy, as I know from personal experience, but to have your jobs axed by a cruel and calus government because it does not suit their Tory Ideology, is indefensible.

This government does not represent the will or the wishes of all the people of the United Kingdom, but infact only represents a small minority.

Now is the time to stand firm, to raise your voices and insist that people listen to what you have to say, now is the time to show the strength and courage, the determination and the fellowship which will see you through these trying times.

signed;

Tim batchelor

 

To whom it may concernm

just wanting to send you a quick message of support from Tokyo – I won`t translate the Japanese for  やったれ! (Yattare!) as it`s not appropriate for an email but it basically means keep fighting – if you can beat the government in this, imagine what hope you can give to other groups who want to fight the cuts.

I hope you get all that you all want. Good luck! 頑張れ! (Ganbare)

Tom Pengelly

 

I just wanted to show solidarity for this strike action. What sort of government would target an organisation offering employment to disabled people? These cuts are immoral and despicable. I stand with you on this issue.

> Yours,

> Catherine O’Neill

 

Very best wishes, solidarity greetings and good luck from Southwark DPAC. We will follow what is happening and be in touch again.

 

To the Remploy strikers.

We are disgusted at the Governments cynical cuts at Remploy. The proposed closures must be stopped and the labour movement support you in your fight for respect, dignity and the right to work. We offer our solidarity and pledge to support you in whatever action you take in your campaign to keep Remploy factories open.

Please contact us for any assistance you need to help you stop these closures.Unite Selex Galileo Aerospace, Shop Stewards Committee, Luton.

 

i’ll support strikes in aberdeen/shire area

 

We congratulate you on your fight against closures as a result of the Government decision to reduce current funding for Remploy. We recognise that mainstream employment is not an option for all. We support the call for more public sector contracts to be awarded to Remploy. The deliberate policy of starving Remploy factories of work has rendered them less economic, being only 50% loaded with work because either public bodies have failed to support them with work as allowed under EU rules. You have our full support and admiration. Yours, in solidarity.

Public and Commercial Services Union, HM Revenue and Customs, Dundee Branch

 

Please pass on my support to the strikers at Remploy, fighting to defend their livelihoods against this vicious Con-Dem government.  You have massive public support, and if you stand united and determined you can be part of a movement that overturns this rotten policy and kicks out this rotten government.

Ian Allinson, UNITE Executive Council member

 

Sodexo Defence Services Branch of the PCS Union sends its support and a message of solidarity to the Remploy Workers!
keep the hope alive,
Keep the fight strong,
Keep the right to work!

 

Last Saturday Sussex LRC ran a stall as part of Brighton & Hove People’s Day. People were queuing up to sign the Save Remploy petition. When talking about this issue to the general public, the most common responses we heard were “it’s a disgrace” and “it’s disgusting”. Remploy workers should be well aware that they have the public full square behind them in this struggle with an uncaring Minister and her callous Coalition.
Claire Wadey, Chair, Sussex LRC

 

all remploy strikers
you keep fighting to keep your jobs this goverment is a disgrace to our country the conservatives should be removed out of power and as for ian duncan smith with what he said about remploy workers sit on their arse and drink tea that is discusting he should of been removed straight away. I dont know why they keep saying that there is jobs out there if that is so why have we got two and a quarter million unemployed or is david cameron saying that all these people are to lazy to go to work if the work is out there why doesent he get up off his arse and get people the jobs that he says that are out there the whole party are on another planet. how can we have someone running this country who wants to cut down our forces just as well he hasnt done it yet other wise we would be in a mess with the olympics thats how crazy he is.well anyway getting back to disability i have epilepsy and the dwp have just called me up on the 30th of this month to try and stop my severe disablement allowance and are going to put me through a work focus interview and a interview with personal adviser to get me back into work god knows where they think they will get me a job i think all they want to do is take my other benefit off me to save the goverment money the same as they are doing to you people so wish me luck everyone and all the best to the remploy workers stay strong and dont let these arseholes get the better of you
best wishes
paul

 

Having spent 8-months on the Tories unemployment scrapheap I know well that it is not a fit place for any worker. We must stand united disabled and non-disabled, employed and unemployed to fight back against the vicious austerity cuts. Solidarity to all Remploy workers taking strike action to defend your jobs, you can count on the full support of the Right to Work campaign for any action necessary to win this fight.

Mark Dunk – Right to Work

 

We are disgusted at the Governments cynical cuts at Remploy. The proposed closures must be stopped and the labour movement support you in your fight for respect, dignity and the right to work. We offer our solidarity and pledge to support you in whatever action you take in your campaign to keep Remploy factories open.
Please contact us for any assistance you need to help you stop these closures.
Unite Selex Galileo Aerospace, Shop Stewards Committee, Luton.

 

 

 

 

Jul 162012
 

The dangers of throwing several thousand people from paid work into unemployment should be obvious to anyone. The fact that a majority, although not all, of the Remploy workers are disabled people should signal a further problem: Disabled people who want to work, are more likely to be unemployed than non-disabled people in all official statistics since records began. For example in 2011 the employment rate was 48.8% for disabled people compared to 77.5% for non-disabled people[1].

It is dangerous, misguided and completely ludicrous to claim that all disability organisations and the disability movement have decided that a new perverse way of supporting disabled people is to make them unemployed and subject to the ravages that disabled people must endure under this government, as the Sayce report suggests. See for example http://www.dpac.uk.net/tag/guardian-newspaper/

For those of us that have spent years arguing for an equality agenda for disabled people the arguments put forward in the Sayce report are: dangerous, misguided and wrong.

Dangerous Partners

The Sayce report (‘Getting in, Staying in and Getting on’) and the Tory desire to seemingly make the poorest most excluded people further excluded and even poorer are a strange partnership, throw in Miller, Unum and ATOS and we have a list of known enemies of disabled people-some might wonder what Sayce is doing in such unpleasant company.

The Sayce/ Tory partnership produced a report rumoured to have cost over 2 million pounds to:

1. Explain how to save money

2 Improve disabled Remploy workers lives’ by closing their factories and seemingly removing their jobs.

3. Ensure that if factories are sold off to buyers at knock down prices, buyers have no enforcement in place to re-employ disabled workers

The basis of these ‘improvements’ are predicated on the notion that disabled people need to be included in society- who would disagree? However, inclusion for disabled people and many non-disabled people in society now often means being included in the growing army of the unemployed –for those disability organisations that sign up to this notion, unemployment prevents segregation- well that’s true, but maybe they should re-examine that particular version of inclusion vs segregation. Maybe we need examine the other partners in this game? Is it a surprise that Unum were involved in the Sayce report for example? See here for an explanation of why Unum have satisfied the status of an enemy of disabled people and co-conspirators in welfare reform or the cuts agenda. One organisation that needs no introduction is ATOS. ATOS own the company KPMG. KPMG were contracted by the Department of Works and Pensions too (cost currently unknown) – they produced a report of their own in March 2012. The report was titled: Analysis of Remploy Enterprise business and Employment Services’ A copy of the report summary can be found here

However, the validity of this report may be in doubt to the general reader as page two is filled with a list of disclaimers. These include:

●Nothing in this report constitutes a valuation or legal advice.

●We have not verified the reliability or accuracy of any information obtained in the course of our work.

●In preparing our report, our primary source has been Remploy’s internal management information and representations made to us by Remploy Senior Management during the project. We do not accept responsibility for such information which remains the responsibility of Management. Details of our principal information sources are set out on page 4 and we have satisfied ourselves, so far as possible, that the information presented in our report is consistent with other information which was made available to us in the course of our work in accordance with the terms of our Service Order. We have not, however, sought to establish the reliability of the sources by reference to other evidence.

Maybe Les Woodward’s analysis, which the DWP didn’t pay millions for, might be more credible

Closing Remploy factories will not save disabled workers from ‘Victorian-era segregation’. It will wreck lives[2]

An interesting postscript is that one of the directors of Remploy is also a director of RADAR: ‘all in it together’? Labour, (who incidentally closed a number of factories in 2008 so let’s not get too teary eyed), have urged the Government to start the whole consultation again, some claiming that it is a shambles. While Phil Davies, secretary of the GMB accused the Government of turning the consultation into a

good old-fashioned Klondyke gold rush”[3].

But there’s more, as argument after argument presented in the Sayce report is knocked down and proved to have a false or questionable basis.

 Misguided Arguments

The ‘Independent’ Sayce Report of June 2011 and the consultation that followed apparently showed that a group of  individuals, organisations, charities (and the insurance company Unum) felt that segregated workplaces were outdated and as a result disabled workers should be made redundant (see appendix for those involved in consultation).

 

 However, the process of redundancies was underway as early as January 2011 six months before the estimated 2 million pound plus Sayce report began. On 14 January 2011 Remploy HR Director, Sue Butcher phoned the GMB National Secretary and informed him that an announcement was to be made on 18 January 2011. No other information was given.

On 18 January 2011 the company met with the trade unions and informed them that they were opening up a voluntary redundancy programme and that consultation would start on 24 January 2011. The company had already informed the employees by letter that it was opening up a Voluntary Redundancy scheme. No consultation had taken place with the trade unions. Seems they were not important enough to be invited[4].

The Sayce report found people working at Remploy factories who were quoted as saying they wanted ‘real’ jobs and the report ‘team’ claimed to have consulted in-depth with workers

 

The GMB union cannot seem to find these quotees in the factories who wanted ‘real’ jobs, for some reason. It has, however found 4 people who took part in what was presented as an in-depth consultation with Remploy employees[5].

The closure of the Remploy factories is because they are segregated workplaces isn’t it?

 This is one simplistic argument popularised by the Sayce report, however the Remploy factories do not employ disabled people exclusively. In 2008, 29 factory sites geographically based from Scotland to Cornwall closed with over 2,500 Remploy employees becoming unemployed. Of these, 1,700 employees were disabled. The 2012 closures will affect around 80% of employees who are disabled.

Given the other players in the partnership –it all points to a ‘cuts agenda’ rather than any supposed moral high ground on inclusion.

The workers will find alternative jobs in the open workforce?

 

In 2008, 29 factory sites geographically based from Scotland to Cornwall closed with over 2,500 Remploy employees becoming unemployed. Nearly 1,700 of these employees were disabled and most of them have not worked since and remain on benefits.

From the last round of Remploy closures  85% of disabled ex-employees remain unemployed[6]. This was in a better economic climate than that of today. Some committed suicide, many threatened suicide and many experienced mental health issues, for those that already had mental health issues these were exacerbated.

The workers will be supported when the factories close

 

 During 2007 and the early part of 2008 the company gave promises of support for those leaving in the round of closures carried out under the Labour government but history has shown that very few of the 1,700 disabled people received even a phone call from Remploy let alone any practical support[7].

In 2012 there is a community pot of 1.5 million offered to charities and disabled peoples’ organisations (DPOs) to support the workers into jobs by the DWP. This may explain the keenness of the illogical ‘equality into unemployment arguments’ that some were producing but it is unlikely that DPOs and the usual list of disability charities or voluntary organisations can find jobs for ex-Remploy workers where they do not exist, despite taking their 30 pieces of silver. However, some are running the much maligned mandatory work programs-so maybe that will the grand plan, sanctions and all.

The full criteria for this fund has been laid out in a Freedom of Information Request on the purpose of the Community Support Fund (CSF)  [8]

The CSF will offer financial and non financial support to local disabled people’s user led organisations (DPULOs) and voluntary sector organisations to deliver support and services designed to meet the specific needs of
disabled Remploy employees affected by the announcements on the future of Remploy factories.

The intention is that the fund will help to support affected Remploy staff to re-engage with their local communities and help their transition from segregated sheltered employment to mainstream employment. It will be focussed around the geographical areas where affected Remploy employees live and used to build the capacity of local DPULOs, 3rd sector and voluntary organisations and to develop a range of activities and projects to help the move from sheltered to main stream employment.

As well as a modest amount of money being available to support projects to help ex-Remploy employees, and other local disabled people, get into work, training or volunteering funding will be made available to help create learning and development activities to improve employment
opportunities.

 Not really that impressive. But impressive enough for emails asking organisations to ‘put their applications in’ to go out to selected disability organisations and charities 24 hours after the closures were formally announced. These emails say nothing about jobs but give examples of film clubs and other types of support , none of which offer a paid job which is what the factories offered. One option is to offer support in ‘choice and control’ where was the choice and control for those workers that wanted to stay in their paid jobs in the Remploy factories?

The Remploy workers will be better supported by Access to Work Schemes- money will be better spent on Access to Work

 

First, to qualify for Access to Work you need to have a job or a documented firm offer of one: first hurdle. The problems with Access to Work, including cost cutting under this government are too numerous to go into here, but even the hallowed Access to Work cannot match the percentage of support that was already being provided at the Remploy factories. This is particularly the case with learning difficulties and mental health issues.

Another point made in the Sayce report is that access to work may be able to benefit disabled people with a mental health conditions.  Out of the 32,680 helped in the current year only 460 have a mental health conditions.  This is only 1.4% of all those helped.  Compare this to 131 employees in Remploy who have a mental health conditions out of 2,692 employees which is 5% or 4 times higher.

When you look at another major disability which is learning disability, out of the 32,680 helped by access to work only 1,680 with this particular disability have been helped into employment.  This is just over 5% compared to the 462 disabled people out of 2,692 who have a learning condition working in Remploy (17.2%) again over 3 times as high[9].

Never the less, its all been a useful exercise to set up an expert panel on Access to Work run by the CEO of Essex Coalition of Disabled People and to extend access to Work to young disabled people enduring workfare type schemes[10]

The workers in the factories cost too much

 

GMB argues that voluntary redundancies increased the cost of each worker by £1,000 per worker. Management has remained top heavy, apparently ineffectual and overpaid- and the continued use of consultants such as KMPG have added to costs. These costs were lumped together along with running costs to produce a misleading amount per worker[11].

Further: There are 3238 employees most of whom are disabled and who earn less than £16,000 per year. The cost of travel for all employees has escalated to £2m, the cost of company cars to £2.4m and the cost of car allowances to £1.1m; a total cost of £5.5m.

The figure of £138m losses for the factory network is not true. We believe that if all the measures outlined in the trade unions document are taken on board and implemented then the cost of the factory network would be approx £35m per year.

Put another way when the profit from sales is considered and taken into account the cost per disabled worker to the State could be as low as £7,000.

When you also take into account the fact that tax and insurance is being paid in and benefits are not being paid out this figure could be substantially lower[12]. Alternatively: the cost of unemployment which for a disabled person could be as much as £25,000 to £30,000 per year for each disabled person not working when you take into consideration the revenue lost in tax and national insurance contributions the cost could be higher. A disabled person who is not working will probably receive higher benefits than a non disabled person. Housing benefits and careers allowances are only the tip of the iceberg.

The unseen and unmonitored costs start to mount up when you consider that a large number of disabled people who were made redundant when Remploy closed 29 factory sites now have severe health problems and the use of the NHS has greatly increased. We would estimate that this cost could be as high as £20,000 for some disabled people.

Figures in the Sayce report show that factories never profit

 

 In May 2012 Profits were up -Sally Kosky said: “According to the management’s own figures, the cost to government is down by £16.5 million on the previous year – £2.5 million better than budget”[13].

Also from May: A letter sent to Remploy employees shows the business is doing well, Plaid Cymru has claimed. The letter congratulates workers on a 12.2 per cent growth in sales and a 17 per cent reduction in costs. The Remploy factory in Swansea is one of seven sites in Wales which has been earmarked for closure.

Plaid Cymru’s equalities spokeswoman, Lindsay Whittle AM, said: “These figures prove that the UK Government’s intention to close Remploy factories is a thinly veiled attack on the welfare state. It shows that there is absolutely no justification for the government’s plans, except as a continuation of its attack on welfare recipients.”[14] 

So it looks like they did profit! The Swansea factory will be closed along with the others despite 12.2% in growth and a 17% reduction in costs. It was never about profits or costs was it?

But Remploy wasn’t getting Contracts was it?

 

The more worrying aspect of the company’s strategy on sales is the outsourcing of work and the lack of tendering for public procurement contracts.

Letters from the NHS Forth Valley and Stirling Council to the Minister show it is clear that Remploy has not shown interest in tendering for large contracts that the company could have won.

It is also apparent that the senior managers work within a very nice comfort zone; no aggressive sales strategy exists and no stretching targets exist. The trade unions believe this is part of the conspiracy to fail and the failure of the sales team is the responsibility of the Chief Executive and the Board.

We understand that because of the previous reduction in manpower that large amounts of work is being turned away or outsourced. Birmingham factory and Healthcare are prime examples[15].

 

DPAC seems to be saying that disability Charities and some DPOs are involved in some way that is not in line with the principles of disability rights- this does not make sense

 

It depends on your idea of disability rights; the old chestnut that keeps being trotted out is that closing the factories is all about the right of disabled people to be included. We ask what are the ex-Remploy workers going to be included in exactly? Film clubs?

Where was their choice and their rights in where they wanted to work and in keeping their paid jobs in the worst recession since the 1930s?

So who Gains?

 

 Cleary not the Remploy workers, they are merely the collective sacrificial lamb on the altar of profit and gain by others or those with vested interests if you prefer.

These include:

The beneficiaries in the invited team that made up the Sayce report.

The director who was on the board of Remploy and RADAR (now DRUK: chief executive Liz Sayce) simultaneously–there’s got be some gain there.

Those disability charities and organisations who may gain from the community pot to support the Remploy workers in their unemployment

KPGM (and ATOS who own KPGM) whose report has so many disclaimers making it another gross waste of tax payers’ money

UNUM, but we are not sure how they gain yet-their inclusion in the Sayce consultation team must serve some purpose for them.

Remploy senior managers’ beneficiaries of a 1.2 million bonus payment in 2012 when it was clear that factories were earmarked for closure

Those companies and disability charities running work programs such as work for your benefits ‘work programs’ such as workfare.

Those that will further their careers (and income) by sitting on ‘expert’ panels discussing Access to Work (rather than paid jobs) in the wake of the closures

Remploy itself by winning contracts to deliver Access to Work for mental health users for every area tendered before the closure deal was complete[16]

Doesn’t all that show a conflict of Interests?

 

 Yes, but this is Tory Britain- who cares about other peoples’ lives anymore when they can make a few quid?

Debbie Jolly co-founder DPAC

twitter: @redjolly1


[1] Source: Labour Force Survey, Quarter 2, 2011

 [4] Written evidence submitted by the GMB May 2011

 [5] Sayce Report Analysis July 20th 2011 GMB,UNITE, Community

 [7] Written evidence submitted by the GMB May 2011

 [9] A new strategy for the employment of disabled people: a new concept in the field of employment – by Phil Davies, GMB National Secretary for Manufacturing Section on behalf of the Consortium of Trade Unions

 [11] Written evidence submitted by GMB May 2011

 [12] A new strategy for the employment of disabled people: a new concept in the field of employment – by Phil Davies, GMB National Secretary for Manufacturing Section on behalf of the Consortium of Trade Unions

 [15] Written evidence submitted by the GMB May 2011

 

Appendix

 List of those involved in Sayce Consultation NB we are still waiting for a list of those involved in the report itself.

The following organisations submitted evidence to the review. Source: appendix 3 of Sayce report

1. 104 films Limited
2. A4e
3. Acquired Brain Injury Forum for London
4. Action Group
5. Asperger’s Inc
6. Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council
7. BASE
8. Birmingham City Council
9. British Assistive Technology Association
10. Bradford Council
11. Bristol and South Gloucestershire People First
12. Bristol City Council
13. British Psychological Society
14. Camden Society
15. Cardiff and Vale Coalition of Disabled People
16. Centre for Mental Health
17. Centre Point
18. Changing Faces
19. Cheshire East Council
20. Choices and Rights Disability Coalition
21. Elcena Jeffers Foundation
22. Employment Services at Westminster Centre for Independent Living
23. Enham College (RTC)
24. ERSA
25. Finchdale RTC
26. Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities
27. Hands Free Computing Ltd
28. Hao2.eu Ltd
29. Headway
30. Hertfordshire Action on Disability
31. Hillcrest Branch
32. Hudson Interpreting Services
33. Inclusion
34. Indigo Dyslexia
35. Ingeus
36. Kent County Council
37. Key Ring
38. KM Furniture Ltd
39. Lancashire County Council
40. Leicestershire Centre for Integrated Living
41. Low Incomes Tax Reform Group
42. Mencap
43. Mental Illness
44. Mind
45. Monmouth People First
46. National Association of Deafened People
47. NASUWT (teachers union)
48. Newco Employment and Training
49. North Bank Forum
50. Nottinghamshire Deaf Society
51. Papworth Trust
52. People First
53. Pluss
54. Queen Alexandra College (RTC)
55. Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation (RTC)
56. Reed in Partnership
57. Rethink
58. Royal British Legion Industries
59. Royal College of Nursing
60. Royal College of Psychiatrists
61. Royal National College for the Blind (RTC)
62. RNIB
63. RNID
64. Scope
65. Scottish Association for Mental Health
66. Scottish Autism Service
67. Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance
68. Sense
69. Shout Out
70. Signature
71. Slough Council
72. Social Firms FRC Group
73. St. Annes (social firm)
74. St Loye’s (RTC)
75. St Mungo’s
76. Sustainable Hub of Innovative Employment for People with Complex Needs (SHIEC)
77. The Association of National Specialist Colleges
78. The Coalition of RTC Providers (covers all nine residential colleges)
79. The Small Business Consultancy
80. Transition Information Network
81. Travel Matters UK
82. UNITE
83. UNUM
84. Vangent
85. Visibility
86. Vocational Rehabilitation Association
87. Welsh Assembly Government
88. Woman at Wish
89. Work Fit

Liz and the review team met with people from a wide range of other organisations including, among others, People First, National Centre for Independent Living, Disability Wales, Inclusion Scotland, the Employers’ Forum on Disability, Remploy, the TUC, GMB, Social Policy Research Unit, Centre for Mental Health, Disability Alliance, Sense, UNITE, RNIB, Mencap, the Scottish Union for Supported Employment, a range of central government departments, Essex Coalition of Disabled People and many more.

N.B we do not suggest that those appearing on this list are all in favour of closure of the Remploy factories, but the list is telling, more so because DPAC also responded to this consultation and don’t seem to get a mention. The DPAC consultation response can be found here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jul 152012
 

The Government has confirmed the closure by December of 27 Remploy factories, only days after workers at Remploy’s 54 factories balloted for industrial action with two 24-hour strikes planned for the 19th and 26th July. Phil Davies, national officer of the GMB union, said: “To close these factories that employ disabled people in the present economic climate is a sentence to life of unemployment and poverty. The strikes will go ahead on July 19 and 26 as planned and should be a rallying point giving for each local community, the opportunity to stand behind these disabled workers who will be facing the scrapheap.” DPAC encourages disabled people, our allies and our organisations to show support the strikes in any way possible and to show solidarity with the thousands of disabled workers facing the loss of their livelihoods.

Maria Miller, minister for disabled people, was heckled by Opposition MPs as she carried out the Secretary of State for Work and Pension’s dirty work in making the announcement to the House of Commons on Tuesday. The government’s justifications for the closures are flawed and inaccurate. Miller claimed that the loss-making sites could not be subsidised any longer and that the £320 million budget for disabled employment services could be spent more effectively, following recommendations from the Sayce Review that money from the disability employment budget should be reinvested into other schemes to help disabled people find work and she referred to support from disabled people’s organisations for the ending of segregated employment practices.

As was raised in the motion for the Opposition Day Debate on welfare and support for disabled people earlier this month, the Government has in fact ignored key aspects of the Sayce recommendations in terms of proper consultation with disabled Remploy workers and the establishment of an independent panel to consider the future of each factory. The figures used to prove that the factories are financially unsustainable have also been widely discredited: the figure for how much it costs to employ a single disabled worker is based on the amount it takes to fund the entire factory network including layers of unnecessary of overpaid management, their bonuses, and under-performing central posts filled largely by non-disabled workers and does not take into account income earned from provision of training placements, which although delivered through the factories has been used to generate income instead into Remploy Employment Services. Mark Holloway a worker at the Barking factory in east London said, “They say it costs £25,000 per disabled person to keep the jobs, but over 400 senior managers are on salaries of £40,000 to £60,000”.

Offers to find more cost effective solutions for the running of the factories by the unions and most recently by the Welsh Assembly have been turned down. A Welsh Government spokesman said: “When the UK Government made their closure announcement we asked them to devolve the Remploy budget and factories to the Welsh Government so that we could create our own sustainable future for this organisation. The Department for Work and Pensions has refused to consider this.”

Alternative uses for the disability employment budget include awarding substantial contracts to disabled people’s organisations to support individual Remploy workers following the loss of their jobs. 8 million will be made available for individualised packages of tailored support which will include a personal case worker with one-one-one sessions and access to a personal budget. 1.5 million is also available to disabled people’s organisation through a community support package aimed at supporting groups of Remploy workers through time-limited projects focused either on employment or community support. At face value these proposals could be taken as promoting disability inclusion with their emphasis on the principles of personalisation and support for disabled people’s organisations. In reality they will neither empower not improve inclusion for the disabled community.

At this time there are no jobs for anyone, not non-disabled people, not disabled people and not former Remploy workers, and especially not in the areas where the factories are largely based, thus targets for supporting the transition of individual workers into alternative mainstream employment are completely unrealistic.

The idea that the workers will benefit more from access to a support plan and personal budget than from continued employment in the skilled and salaried positions they currently hold is incredibly patronising and represents a step backwards in terms of equality and independence. It is insulting to claim that the factories and the wages of individual hard-working disabled people can no longer be afforded when millions of pounds can be simultaneously spent on help and support packages with little or no chance of success.

The overall aim associated with improving the life chances of disabled people has always been for us to be supported to lead ordinary lives. The question of segregation is not as cut and dried as supporters of the closures would have us believe as visits to the factories and time spent with the workers themselves reveals. The reality is that employment in the Remploy factories equates to an ordinary working class life. Government proposals for Help and Support initiatives to support individual disabled Remploy workers will benefit the organisations that are awarded the contracts to deliver the packages and fail to improve the employability of disabled people in general while robbing individual disabled workers of their livelihoods, replacing their ordinary lives with dependency on time-limited support without any future prospects.

The ideology of disability equality and inclusion does not justify the closure of the Remploy factories but it is discredited by the government’s exploitation and appropriation of the values of the disabled people’s rights movement. Whilst pursuing its agenda to smash the welfare state, with dire consequences for disabled people who depend on state support to meet our most basic human rights, the government is at the same time alienating ordinary disabled people from the principles of choice and control and personalisation for which our movement has fought so hard over the past few decades. Tools designed to empower disabled people such as personal budgets are becoming ever more widely associated with distrusted concepts such as privitisation and contract culture while being used to replace things that disabled people value such as in the case of the Remploy factories, self-respect, dignity and employment.

The list of the 36 factories that were announced in March to close were: Aberdare, Aberdeen, Abertillery, Acton, Ashington, Barking, Barrow, Birkenhead, Bolton, Bridgend, Bristol, Chesterfield, Cleator Moor, Croespenmaen, Edinburgh, Gateshead, Leeds, Leicester, Manchester, Merthyr Tydfil, Motherwell, Newcastle, North London, North Staffs, Oldham, Penzance, Pontefract, Poole, Preston, Southampton, Spennymoor, Springburn, Swansea, Wigan, Worksop and Wrexham .The nine factories to be subject to further consultation are: Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Springburn, Barrow, Bristol, Chesterfield, Poole, Bridgend, Croespenmaen.

If you would like to post messages of support for the Remploy workers we will ensure they reach workers on the picket-lines on Thursday.  To find out how you can support your local strikes please contact mail@dpac.uk.net.

 

 Posted by at 23:32
Jul 142012
 

DPAC – DISABLED PEOPLE AGAINST CUTS, ARE HOLDING THEIR LATEST DIRECT PROTEST ACTION OF DELICATE DISRUPTION ON 17th JULY ON COLLEGE GREEN AND IN THE CENTRAL LOBBY OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS.

There will be an alternative Picnic On The Commons on Tuesday 17th July 2012. The aim is to Lobby MP’s in the Central Lobby and then go onto a Paupers Picnic consisting of BREAD AND WATER AS A SYMBOLIC GESTURE.

The time to start going into the Central Lobby to see your MP is 2pm onwards, so please give yourselves enough time to go through Security and be guided by House Of Commons Guides to walk you to the Central Lobby. Meet for 1.45pm on College Green opposite Parliament if you want to go in a group.
As Tuesday 17th July is the day that Parliament goes in Recess and all the MP’s rush off for their 2 month paid holidays, by lobbying them we will be keeping them back a bit and maybe  inconvenience them as they must see their constituents if a signed Green Slip is submitted.

Everyone attending will be wanting to lobby their MP on their local disability issues in their constituency or they will be lobbying them in supporting DPAC in their aims of direct action to raise the harm that the Welfare Reform Act has caused many of us in the UK Disabled Community.

After we have seen our MPs, we will invite them to join in with our alternative picnic, so bring along a blanket, food & drink, I promise you all it will be something to remember.

I look forward to seeing as many people there as possible, until then, BE WELL, BE GOOD & BE HAPPY…Adam

 Posted by at 11:14
Jul 142012
 

It is with great sadness that DPAC announces the passing of one of our supporters, the disability campaigner Nick Danagher whose contribution to the Independent Living movement leaves an enduring legacy.

Nick attended a mainstream secondary school, an education establishment with a history of turning out disability activists including Jane Campbell before him, and he believed firmly in the importance of inclusive education. He did his degree in Brighton at the University of East Sussex and was able to indulge his love of cricket living opposite the cricket ground. Although sports journalism would have been a dream job (being an ardent Queens Park Rangers fan) he was strongly political and began work within the Independent Living movement, working as a Direct Payments Adviser in Greenwich before setting up Surrey Independent Living Council. Through his involvement with the National Centre for Independent Living he courted controversy through his role in taking NCIL to independence from under the umbrella of BCoDP (as it was at the time). As Chief Executive of NCIL, Nick was instrumental in securing the commitment of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services towards User Led Organisations. He experienced great frustration with non-disabled people’s organisations taking over the concept of Direct Payments, rebranding them and selling them to Local Authorities on the premise they could save money and his fears about the dangers of this approach are increasingly evident in this current climate of cutbacks and erosion of disabled people’s rights. As a Trustee of the Independent Living Fund he received criticisms from disabled commentators about its inadequacies and although he never pretended the ILF was perfect, he understood and defended the importance both of the Fund itself in relation to the position of disabled people in society and its ability to manage on relatively low overheads. Following the closure of the Fund its significance as he understood it is becoming ever more widely recognised.

Nick was social model through and through. He was also a lifelong socialist who firmly believed that disability equality is only possible through state intervention and was committed to the protection of the welfare state. In his honour we must not give up the fight but without his perceptive and political insights it will be all the harder.

 Posted by at 01:18
Jul 122012
 

Some information that may be useful to use

The Failing Local Authority Care System 

DPAC has analysed a number of recent reports on care funding cuts and added to that research made through Freedom Of Information ( FOI) requests to 20[1] of the main English local authorities[2] to try to provide an overview of what is happening with care funding and where the personalisation agenda has reached and failed to do what it was originally intended to do which was to facilitate independent living and greater choice and control for disabled people.

We feel this is important as the government seem to be basing their reasoning for closing the Independent Living Fund totally from 2015 on the notion that the personalisation agenda is alive and well which anyone who uses, or has tried to use, local authority services will know is not the case.

The main thrust behind United Nations Convention on the Rights of  Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and the personalisation agenda should be service improvement and not cost reduction, however with the aim for a 100% take up target for personal budgets by 2013 personal budgets are likely to become a cost cutting tool rather than a way of giving choice and control to disabled people.

A Think Local Act Personal (TLAP) report [3] found that only 30% of all people eligible for social care now receive a personal budget – half of those are aged over 65 years.

This was borne out by results from an ADASS survey[4] of 132 English councils with a response rate of 86% which found that the total amount allocated in Personal budgets was £1.5 billion and that less than £1 in every £7 was spent by councils directly on care and support services.

One-fifth of personal budgets are for less than £1,000 per year, 33% for between £1-5,000, 22% for 5-10,000 and only 24% are over £10,000.

Most of the increases in the numbers of Personal Budgets between 2010 and 2011 were in managed budgets with no significant increase in Direct Payments to individuals to manage themselves. This is most likely to be due to the complexity of having to manage Direct Payments without adequate independent support to do so.

At least 19 councils were delivering personal budgets to less then one-fifth of eligible users.

While this survey shows about 1 million people were eligible for personal budgets only one-third got them.

This failure to roll out personal budgets and make them adequate to meet the needs of disabled people is reinforced by figures from those councils we surveyed; from adult care budgets two councils spent over 20% of the total budget on overheads, the highest amount being 24% of total budget. The lowest figures for spending on overheads was 10%.This compares very unfavourably with the overhead costs of Independent Living Fund (ILF) which are only 2% of their total budget.

The number of people in receipt of a Direct Payment or Individual Budget was as low as 7% and 9% in two local authorities and the highest figure was 34%. Most councils were unable to tell us what their spend on Individual Budgets were or extrapolate spending on DPs and IBs from overall spending on community services.

Most of the councils surveyed still spent much larger amounts of money on residential care services although the eligibility criteria for these have been massively tightened and far fewer older disabled people in particular are able to access residential care placements, even if they want to. The lowest percentage spend on residential care was 20% but in most cases this accounted for around 40-45% of total spending. In Trafford and Sandwell that figure rose to a staggering 83% and 63% of total adult care budgets.

Impact of Central Government Funding Cuts to Local Authorities 

A second survey from the Learning Disability Coalition[5] surveyed 152 local authorities of which 61 responded.(40%)

90% said they had less funding than last year
20% were making cuts
57% have increased charges or raised eligibility criteria or were holding      consultations on these

.Of People with a learning difficulty or their families surveyed

20% had their hours of care reduced
33% were told the council were increasing eligibility criteria
27% faced increased charges
21% received both local authority and ILF funding.

A budgetary survey by the Association of Directors of Adult Social services (ADASS) found that in total Adult Social Services teams are cutting £890 million out of the social care budget between April 2012 and March 2913. When combined with last year’s figures the total cut from social care funding by local authorities is £189 billions of cuts.[6] 

This is in spite of demand for services increasing by 3% a year from older and disabled adults.

The Demos Report ‘Coping with Cuts’ [7]found that councils are making cuts to disabled people’s services without any knowledge of the number of disabled people or needs of people in their areas. There are no satisfactory impact assessments being made at local level which can be fed back to national level for any real and informed decisions to be made. The way cuts have been implemented varies between local authorities and there is no consistency in how services are being reduced to save money from local authority budgets.

From our FOI responses we found a similarly surprising and worrying lack of information was collected by councils on care funding and most worryingly none of those surveyed had any information available about what impact the closure of ILF funding from March 2010 meant for any new service users. None kept any details of whether disabled people with high support needs were having funding made up by local authorities. Again this means that there is no data to be fed back to central government on which they can base any decisions about the future of the Independent Living Fund.

Bradford council said only that “ILF allowed more support than the council is able to  provide”  and Birmingham “The council does not make up any difference in funding, (where people would have previously been able to apply for ILF funding) however we would seek to offer equipment, adaptations and support for daily living …”

The response offered byNorthamptonwas even more baffling

“If a funding stream such as the ILF is no longer available then the local authority would need to consider whether that need is an eligible need and if it is would fund support in the most cost effective way. In the first instance the local authority would try to support the customer to find ways of meeting this need themselves or through other networks in line with the County Council’s core purpose of  helping then to help themselves. Where an eligible need is determined, this may or may not be the same level of funding, however it is likely to be similar to ensure need is met.”

The Demos report also found that funding for care and support services are not ring-fenced by councils in any way and so what is cut, how and when is entirely up for grabs with no real information available to either officers or councillors of what this means in real life for disabled people and their families.

They also found that local authorities are not systematically collecting data on the effects of the cuts resulting in disabled people being left with significantly reduced quality of life [8]. Our FOIs showed that all councils surveyed had experienced large reductions in their adult care budgets. This is in spite of Maria Miller claiming that an extra £7.2 billion has been made available for social care funding.Liverpool for example had a gross reduction in their budget of £36,514,345 in 2010-2011 with a further reduction of £3,231,188 in 2011-12.Wolverhampton lost £5.6 million in 2010-2011 and £3.4 million in 2011-2012 from a total budget of only £69.8 million which is overall more than a 10% cut.

From our FOI requests we found that only one council Bradford still funded moderate needs according to Fairer Access to Care (FACS) criteria. Two of those surveyed Northamptonand East Riding did not even fund Critical and substantial but had categories called greater substantial restricting what support needs they fund even further. Birmingham had of course tried and failed to remove care funding from over 4,000 disabled people with substantial needs in 2011 but were prevented from doing this by a successful legal challenge. This tightening of eligibility criteria is supported by the budgetary report from ADASS which found that 83% of councils now fund only substantial and critical needs an increase of 6% since 2011-12 and 2% only fund critical. Those figures however ignore councils where they have introduced eg. greater substantial criteria.[9] 

There is no data or evidence collected on the cumulative effect of cuts to disabled people’s families in spite of many using multiple services which are all being cut at the same time eg increases in charging for day centres, play schemes, Individual budgets and eligibility criteria.

A recent poll by Community Care found that 48% of social workers felt personal budgets were set at too low a monetary value to achieve personalisation.[10] 

Many councils were found to employ a deflator eg Salford andShropshireused a 25% deflator. This makes the value of a personal budget 25% less than the value of services people had previously received from the council directly.

Other local councils deflated by using costs from the bottom end of local market prices.

Overall one-fifth of councils adopted some form of reduction to the Resource Allocation System (RAS).

Another Survey report by the Red Cross[11] says that the health of elderly people is being put at risk by “dangerous and short-sighted” cuts in home-based care services.

The charity said the cuts were a false economy creating growing pressure on the NHS, and called for a rethink in the way social care is organised. It said elderly people faced increased levels of isolation.

Almost nine in 10 GPs among 200 surveyed for the Red Cross said elderly and vulnerable patients were being put at risk by a lack of social care support, and 80% of the 2,200 members of the public polled said [12]standards were being driven down.

The charity released an economic analysis of its own home-based low-level care services by the New Economics Foundation think tank, which it said showed that a preventive approach to health and social care could save the NHS up to £10,000 per patient thanks to avoided hospital and residential care admissions.

Sir Nick Young, chief executive of the British Red Cross, said: “We all know budgets are tight but cuts and under-investment to lower-level home-based care which jeopardise patients’ wellbeing and dignity must be challenged.

“The practical and emotional support these services offer often makes the difference between coping or not, between independence or desperation, and between remaining healthy for as long as possible or rapidly deteriorating into crisis.

Some examples of local authority failures to meet care needs. 

Wirral

http://www.communitycare.co.uk/blogs/adult-care-blog/2012/03/leader-says-council-deliberately-delayed-care-packages.html 

Wirral Council’s department of adult social services “deliberately” and “unlawfully” delayed arranging care packages for service users to manage costs.

Community Care reported allegations last year from a whistleblower that the council was operating a policy of delaying care packages for four weeks unless line managers had issued a waiver. At the time, the council said that this was not the case, but that documentation supplied to practitioners could have been “misinterpreted as meaning that care packages should take 20 days to process fully”.

However, Green has now said that minutes of a meeting had been unearthed that “prove a decision was taken not to implement care packages immediately but to delay for four weeks”.

There’s yet more bad news in the Wirral News today which seems to be about personal budgets being allocated to service users without funding being in place for them. Apparently, this had placed learning disabled personal budget holders at risk of being sued for breach of contract by support providers if they were not paid. So now the council has had to find this money – some £630,000 – to stave off this possibility.

March 2012Newcastle

Newcastle city council – introduction of caps on high-cost care packages 

The council’s budget papers contain a proposal to introduce a cap on high cost care packages.From the budget:

“We plan to put in place a funding panel that will authorise all high cost care packages to new and existing users. Packages costing more than £500 per week will be reassessed with a maximum upper limit of spending on care packages to meet each person’s individual needs. We will implement this over the next two years. The upper limits principle is already applied to services for older people.”

Source: www.newcastle.gov.uk/sites/drupalncc.newcastle.gov.uk/files/wwwfil… 

April 2012Liverpool

1. The council have recently removed all funding for recipients of ‘moderate’ banding care packages – 66 people have already had their service taken away

2. The council are currently reassessing all recipients of social care services across the city. This will allow downgrading – i.e from substantial to moderate – taking more people out of the system.

3. Closure of day-centres by non-referral (stated by carers who have tried to access a day-centre)

4. Non- completion ofLime Courtafter 2 years (still no design and contractors)

5. Non-development of Speke and Lancaster day centre ‘hubs’.

6. Privatisation of Beresford House – Beresford House is used for respite and residential clients, it is going over to the private sector; tenders have been submitted to the council.

May 2102Nottingham

Tuesday, 15 May 2012-Nottingham

A National disgrace – disabled isolationism in the community !

A disabled man living in Nottinghamfeels the state has created a ‘prison’ for him at home.

Trevor Marshall had been attending Rushcliffe Resource Centre three times a week, at a cost of £12. Those cost are now £207 a week, making him a prisoner in his own home – isolated & forgotten.

There are currently 1,924 people using care services provided by Nottingham City Council – those using care services have now been forced to pay the full cost. It is now expected to save it £900,000 a year, it was introduced to comply with Government guidelines.
The council has reviewed the way social care users pay for their services. The council has demanded 1,986 disabled people pay a financial contribution for care; and 1,924 were forced to pay the full cost.

June 2012 Halifax

http://www.halifaxcourier.co.uk/news/local/inquiry-into-why-home-care-was-stopped-1-4502468

COUNCIL chiefs have ordered an external investigation after a disabled woman was left without care and lying in her own urine and faeces.

Janis Milner, 33, of Stainland, suffers from spinal problems and is often bedbound.

Her care was suddenly withdrawn for several days after what appears to be a breakdown in communication.

Miss Milner did have carers calling three times daily.

She was told care was stopped because she hadn’t responded to phone calls but claims no messages where left on her mobile and her home phone hasn’t worked in recent weeks.

March, Westminsterhttp://www.london24.com/news/health/disabled_woman_told_to_cut_her_hair_to_save_her_carer_time_1_1326920 

A disabled woman from Lisson Grove says she was told to “cut her hair” to save her carer time when she raised concerns about her home care hours being cut.

Mary Garland, ofCapland Street, had her home care hours reduced from 19 per week to 10.5 when Westminster Council changed its eligibility criteria.

The 49-year-old, who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease, said she asked her social care manager how there would be time for her home carer to help her dress and wash as well as clean, tidy and perform other home duties.

She said the manager recommended she would be “better off cutting her hair”.

When Ms Garland asked what would happen if her condition worsened, she was shocked to hear the manager reveal she would have to go into residential care.

“When I asked about how they would have time to wash my hair it was suggested that I would be better off cutting my hair.

“That may be practical but I don’t want to have to cut it off.”

She said the reduction in hours of home carer visits has affected many aspects of her life.

“I don’t feel like a person anymore, I just feel like a number.”

Westminster Council said it was unable to comment on the specifics of the case but adult health boss Cllr Rachael Robathan said: “We are focused on protecting frontline services for those most in need, and strive to support disabled and older people at home for as long as possible before considering options for residential care.”

November 2011 Hucknall

http://www.hucknalldispatch.co.uk/news/local-news/care_plan_to_offset_grant_cut_1_3996976

COUNCILLORS have approved plans to change services for vulnerable and elderly residents of Hucknall and the rest of Ashfield — as part of a bid to cope with the fallout of £10 million spending cuts.

Notts County Council has rubberstamped proposals to reduce its Supporting People grant from £22.5 million to £12.5 million over the next three years.

The cash helps elderly and disadvantaged people, such as the disabled and residents with mental-health problems, live independently in their own homes.

But the budget has been reduced as part of the council’s drive to balance its books.

November 2011Isle of Wight

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/nov/11/social-care-cuts-unlawful-court

The judge ruled that the council had failed to comply with its own internal guidance on its new policy for assessing eligibility for adult social care.

The ruling would prevent the council “from cutting services to some of the most vulnerable disabled people” and would provide “comfort and peace of mind” to thousands of residents.

Rook said: “This landmark victory sends out a very clear message to all councils inEnglandandWales.

“If a council seeks to make cuts to its budget for adult social care, it cannot do so by only meeting certain needs designed to keep someone safe, but neglecting their overall quality of life.

The first claimant, JM, aged 32, has severe autism and a brain injury suffered at birth. The court heard that he lives with his retired parents, who devote themselves to his care, and he struggles to communicate with anyone else. He needs support with all areas of his life throughout the day.

The second claimant, 31-year-old NT, also has autism and a learning difficulty. He is currently living in residential accommodation provided by the council during the week, but returns home to his mother every weekend.

The court heard that he is highly vulnerable and anxious and has communication difficulties. His mother launched legal action because she feared the council’s new policy could potentially have a “devastating” effect on NT’s quality of life.

The council said it was facing a reduction of £21m in central government funding, representing a £33m budget gap taking into account inflation and increased need.

It added that 80% of those savings had to be made by the end of 2012-13. The savings anticipated through changes to the council’s community care eligibility criteria, plus charging, amounted to £2.5m. 

October 2011 Manchester

http://www.candocango.com/court-challenge-against-manchester-social-care-cuts-fails/

Manchester City Council’s plans to cut spending on adult social care by a total of £39.5 million over two years through increased charges, with about 75 per cent of disabled people likely to pay more for their care.

Liz Bruce, the council’s director of adult services, said: “We’ve carried out detailed consultations, and have looked at every option to try our very best to mitigate the impact of the cuts – and ensure that our policies are the fairest we could draw up in these difficult times.

October 2011Stamford

http://www.stamfordmercury.co.uk/news/health/health-news/carers_unite_against_lincolnshire_county_council_plans_to_cut_services_for_vulnerable_adults_1_3192

CARERS have united against council plans to close day centres and force vulnerable adults to find their own care.

Lincolnshire County Council is currently consulting on the way it provides adult social care in an attempt to cut costs.

October 2011- Croydon

Funding for carers will be cut, a new five-year Croydon Council strategy reveals.

At a cabinet meeting on Monday, October 10, Croydon Council cabinet member for health and adult social care Margaret Mead put forward the new strategy, which will see the budget for providing for carers cut by 10 per cent from next financial year.

This is on top of a 50 per cent cut in funding provided by South West NHS Trust Croydon in April, slicing almost £100,000 from the borough’s budget.

http://www.thisisleicestershire.co.uk/news/Council-blames-cuts-puts-care-charges/article-2962625-detail/article.html

Increases in care charges and other fees will net the city council an extra £400,000 over 15 months.

The largest increase is for home care services, which will increase from £9.15 per hour to £11.25.

Councillor Rory Palmer, lead member for adult services, said: “Let no-one be in any doubt that this is as a direct result of Government cuts. We don’t want to do this, but we have to.”About 500 of the 2,000 people using home care services would end up paying more.

May 2012-06-27

http://www.communitycare.co.uk/blogs/adult-care-blog/2012/05/proposed-70-care-cut-exposes-resource-allocation-failings.html

Plans to cut a severely disabled man’s care package by 70% were reviewed following a legal challenge, resulting in a cut of 14%. But, many others with complex needs face potentially catastrophic cuts because of the failure of resource allocation systems and council funding panels to adequately account for their needs, says Polly Sweeney, the solicitor who brought the case.

Serious questions about the adequacy and appropriateness of using resource allocation systems (RAS) to assess people with complex needs are raised by the case of Tarik Zavadil, a 27-year-old man with profound learning disabilities and epilepsy, cerebral palsy, who is unable to speak and registered blind. His case also highlights the importance of family carers such as Tarik’s mother,Lorraine, within the assessment process, and what can happen when their skills and experience are ignored.

Taxpayer’s care bill to double by 2030

The LGA analysis is based on primary research carried out by the Economics and Social Care Research Unit –  30 May 2012

The cost of care for the country’s rapidly-ageing population is set to almost double in a generation unless Government urgently introduces reform, local government leaders have warned.

New analysis by the Local Government Association (LGA) shows there would  be an average additional annual bill of £79 million for every council responsible for providing adult services or a further £230 for every man, women and child in the country.

The figures have prompted fears that, without Government action, councils will be left unable to provide anything except for care and waste services.

Councils, which are facing a 28 per cent funding cut from Government, already allocate more than 40 per cent of their budgets to fund care services for around three per cent of the population.

The growing financial care crisis is attributed to the combined pressures of a rapidly-aging population, growing demand, escalating service costs and a £1 billion reduction in councils’ social care budgets, which have been compounded by further recent Government funding cuts.

But alongside reform, Government must also address the significant shortfall in funding

The LGA represents more than 370 councils acrossEnglandandWales.

Councils with social care responsibilities (CASSRs) allocate more than 40 per cent of their budgets to fund care services. Spend on adult social care represents 30 per cent across the whole of local government.

 

 



[2]

[11] guardian.co.uk/society/2011/jun11/elderly-care-cuts-charity

 

 

 Posted by at 16:12
Jul 122012
 

After more than 12 months of waiting the government have at last launched their consultation on the future of the Independent Living Fund which they plan to scrap from 2015. This will run until October 20th and we will be posting lots of information for people to use to reply to the consultation. The government say that local authorities, like Worcester, can take over the funding needs of disabled people with the highest support needs. We say that’s wrong and the ILF must be retained.

this is the link to the consultation

http://www.dwp.gov.uk/consultations/2012/future-of-ilf.shtml

WHAT IS ILF funding?

Funding for care and support for disabled people and especially for those with the most complex needs to live independently can come from 3 separate funding streams, social services, health and from the Independent Living Fund. 

“The Independent Living Fund is a ring fenced resource, for a priority group of disabled people with high support needs that can provide a better lifestyle and outcomes for service users whose full needs would not be met by local authority funding. “ 

Unlike local authority and health care funding which tends to focus simply on keeping disabled people alive and clean the funding available from ILF helps disabled people to take part in society on an equal basis to non-disabled people. 

In 2010 Maria Miller, minister for Disabled People announced ILF was unsustainable and it was immediately closed to new applicants. It is planned to close completely from 2015 with no replacement funding put in place to provide this vital support to those with the most complex support needs.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and in particular

Article 19: “Living independently and being included in the community”, states that “disabled people have a right to live in the community; with the support they need and can make choices like other people do”.

It also says they should be included in things that other people in the community do. Countries, like the UK, who agree to the rights, have to make this happen.

Two of the things they must do are:

Make sure that disabled people get the help they need to live in the community, this means things like getting personal assistance

Make sure that disabled people can choose to do things in the community along with other people

The changes in the ILF priority system have obvious implications for the UK’s chances of meeting all such obligations, in terms of the resources available to do so as well as in the actual delivery of them e.g. ILF offers disabled people the flexibility to “choose to do things in the community” to go to university and in many cases to work and pay taxes. The Personal Assistants employed through this funding also pay taxes and contribute economically. There are a number of short case studies at the end of this document explaining how the loss of ILF funding would affect current users of the fund.

We believe that Maria Miller is wrong to say this fund is financially unsustainable as the ILF saves the state on average £37,888 per annum per person eligible for such funding. (the difference between the average ILF payment and cost of residential care at 2010 prices).

The cost to the state of scrapping ILF to save a mere £330 million will be a minimum of paying £757,760,000 * a year in residential care costs. That is more than double the current cost but this figure still excludes the loss of tax revenue as disabled people will no longer be able to work or employ PAs. It also excludes the extra costs which are likely to be generated for the NHS as hugely increased numbers of disabled people are likely to be denied overnight care and left instead with only incontinence pads, or as deteriorating support leads to more health problems.

Most importantly for those disabled people who will lose this financial support they will lose any independence and choice in their lives. So to say the cost of keeping ILF is unsustainable is we feel totally wrong. For those with complex support needs which is the case for those in receipt of ILF funding the cost of residential care according to the Scottish government’s estimate is £72,000 per annum. Using the case study provided by the Scottish government service user A aged 59 with Multiple Sclerosis it would cost the state almost £1million over an average life span to provide him with residential care at current prices. This is just one person.”[1] 

We are asking for a number of things from the government:

  •  that there is a separate consultation on ILF and it is not just rolled into the more complex debate around future funding of adult care and support.
  • that there should be a guarantee that ILF funding or preferably that some other form of national and transportable ring-fenced funding will continue as a distinctly funded aspect of care and support funding in some independent form.
  • As ILF has been closed to new applicants since 2010 we feel simply asking for it to continue for existing claimants is not enough and discriminates unfairly against younger, newly disabled people and those whose conditions may have degenerated.
  • Any care and support funding should be paid for through taxation and should be free at the point of delivery. Access to care and support funding should not be dependent on private insurance schemes. 
  • ILF should not be restricted to only those in employment as this means those who cannot sustain paid work, but can contribute to society in others ways, will be unable to participate in their communities, families or faith activities.
  • ILF funding must be available as now to those over pension age.
  • The funding must NOT be given to local authorities; it is meant to meet the needs of severely disabled people which mean that there may be more in one region compared to another. Also the LA will use the funding as they wish, it will not be ring fenced, and we suspect it will not be directed appropriately for the particular disabled people it is meant for.

We are currently collating research into local authority care funding and are concerned that so far neither DWP nationally or any English local authorities seem to have carried out any Equality Impact Assessment into the impact of the closure of ILF to new applicants, nor does it seem that any figures are being kept by anyone of what is happening to those who would have been able to claim ILF funding before.

  1. We therefore urge the government to carry out  Equality Impact Assessments into

a) closure of ILF

b) closure of ILF to new applicants from 2010

c) closure of ILF to anyone not working more than 16 hours a   week

d) the impact of the closure of ILF to new applicants who can no longer access any additional care and support funding.

2. We feel that an Equality Impact Assessment into the cumulative effects of all the proposed cuts by the government as advocated by JCHR is essential and should be carried out as a priority.

*assuming an additional care funding cost of £37,888 per person per year for 20,000 service users. 

Cases that give examples of impact of losing or not getting ILF 

A 55 year old lady has 35 hrs allocated from LA and 36 hrs from ILF per week, if she loses the ILF and the LA does not find funds to continue support she will lose the following aspects of her life; Volunteering, faith activities, visiting grandchildren, unable to get out of home, do her own shopping, no social activities, trapped. She was awarded an MBE by the Queen this year 2011 for her initiatives raising awareness of disability hate crime and helping disabled peoples organisations, all such activities will cease with no ILF funding. She feels her life will have no purpose if she loses the support ILF gives.

B – “My Son’s care package comes to over £50,000 per year of which the ILF package makes up over £23,000. The Local Authorities “Indicative Budget” maximum level for someone living at home is £31,094 so without ILF his total care package would be slashed by almost 50% and leave it impossible for him to manage to live at home”.e slashed by almost 50% & probably leave it impossible for him to manage to live at home. e slashed by almost 50% & probably leave it impossible for him to manage to live at home.

C –  25 year old man with ILF funding has been able to live independently for 7 years and get a 2:1 in Politics and International Relations plus an MA with merit in Journalism. As part of his degree course he spent almost a year working unpaid as a senior researcher for an MP. He has also worked on a self-employed basis and is now working in the media industry, in spite of being placed in the Support group for ESA previously due to his physical limitations. Without ILF funding none of this would have been possible and he would not be contributing to the economy as he is now doing. He would never have had the chance to go to university like his peers and would no doubt instead be incarcerated and abandoned by society in a residential care home costing the taxpayer much more.

D –  “As half my care package is ILF I would first have no control over my toilet needs, this may result in me being catheterised. I am not unable to get out of bed or in bed myself, nor can I dress myself.  I need support in all personal care needs, including keeping clean etc. I would not be able to attend any meetings when various government and NGOs ask me to be part of their various consultation plans. I would have no control over what time I got up or what time I went to bed therefore I would have no social life whatsoever. When ILF finishes in 2015 I will not have any social life. This will mean I will not be able to visit friends, attend the cinema or theatre, go to my bridge club or attend a primary school to assist children to read.  I will no longer be able to use my car for shopping taking my dog to the woods etc. Having campaigned for the last 26 years this will end as I need support to do this. I regularly attend course on photography and employment issues – these will not be possible without ILF funding.”

E.  “I am 27 years old female, and I currently live in my own flat, with 24 hour PA’s who I have directly employed. I have had various levels of funding from ILF, ever since becoming an adult. It has meant that I was able to live on campus at theUniversity ofWarwick, where I completed a BA in History and an MA in Modern British History. I was then forced to move back to my family home, because I did not have the high level of support that I need, and I have only recently been able to start living independently in the community, with funding from my local authority and ILF.  This amount was not as much as would have previously been the case because a freeze was put on the amount that they, ILF, could contribute to disabled people’s care packages in April last year, before my current care package was agreed. As  a result, I was only entitled to receive the same level of funding that I had been awarded in my previous, much less expensive, care package. This meant that my local authority was put under increased pressure to fund my entire care package, and after the ILF is abolished, it seems very likely that all local authorities will find it difficult to provide care for severely disabled people living in the community. I have had to really fight against my local County Council in order to get funding for my current care package, but what scares me is that although I will always be disabled (and actually, my needs will increase in time), there is no kind of guarantee that I will receive my current care package even past my next review. ”

F.  I am a  44 year old digital artist/editor & film maker, a lot of time is spent travelling to locations for shoots, I can’t imagine how I would manage without ILF which funds a third of my care package.. to lose such vital funding will probably change my life in a way presently I do not want to think about, however, as the government is pushing this legislation through regardless, I have to consider my position. Ultimately I fear that any real & significant control in my life and how I presently choose to live my life will be significantly curtailed. I know in this present political climate, any changes will be presented to the general public in a way that suggests no “significant” change, “the disabled” are worrying needlessly etc, but the reality has to be heard. I will have to make my PA’s redundant, relying on goodwill of friends or volunteers would not be feasible. I would lose control of my life.

H. I am a 40 year old ex archaeologist, living in busy East London, and it would be impossible to manage if I lost my ILF. This funds 50% of my care package, so the loss of ILF would mean that I would lose my independence. At the moment I live independently and use my ILF to maximise my independence, to access the community, to do voluntary work in three different places. This government has pushed legislation through in a way which challenges human rights. Without ILF I would lose my home and my independence and would be forced to rely on my aged father and sleep on his floor as his house is inaccessible.

I. I am 39 years old and my ILF contributes roughly 25% to my 24/7 package. It is thanks to the ILF that I have been able to study at University, become involved in voluntary work and, more recently, have been able to hold down a full time job in a disability organisation, helping other people make the most of their care packages. The ILF has allowed me to contribute financially to the economy yet there are many more people who, thanks to the ILF have made contributions to society that are every bit as important, and often times more, than my one contribution. In a time where disabled people are classed as undeserving scroungers it is vital to point out these invaluable contributions and also to not that, without ring-fenced funding that affords people more than survival care we will be forced into a position were we can’t give back to society. I have already seen this in my line of work where people who would have benefited so much from funding from the ILF are just left with a couple of visits a day – literally for “feeding, watering and toileting” – of course there is no willingness by Social service to put that extra little bit in any more, as they know that the ILF won’t be there to part fund! This is a real disgrace. Personally, any negative change to my care package will have not only a severe affect on me, but also on the 6 people that I employ as Personal Assistants. The loss of the ILF really is a return to the dark ages!

J.  Jane has Downs Syndrome.   In some ways she appears to be quite a capable lady, but has a severe learning disability and also and most importantly has severe health problems which could prove life threatening if not handled immediately and in the correct manor.

Karen has a profound mental and physical disability.   She is mostly a happy lady but with no means of communication other than her body language.

Jane and Karen’s families have come together with the help of their local learning disability team and have enabled them to live in an apartment together, for the past 4 years, with the care of personal assistants 24/7, employed directly by them using funding from the Independent Living Fund.   The ladies both live very productive and worthwhile lives together accessing activities in the community and interacting with everybody they come into contact with.

This is exactly what the Independent Living Fund was intended for and Jane and Karens lives have improved considerably.   They have a future to look forward to rather than spend the rest of their lives in a care home

Now it appears that the Independent Living Fund is going to be withdrawn at the end of the present parliament, with no promise of anything to replace it with.  How will Jane and Karen continue their lives living independently in the community?

 

 

 

 

 Posted by at 16:04
Jul 112012
 

DPAC and SWAN joint statement on actions of Worcestershire County Council

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and the Social Work Action Network (SWAN) condemn the announcement  of plans by Worcestershire County Council to put new limits on adult social care spending, which would see the rights of disabled people to independent living discarded in the name of meeting ‘the financial challenge’. If plans are approved, from September all new service users and existing service users (if their needs change) will face a tight limit on funding, meaning that they may have to receive care in residential or nursing care.

This is an abandonment of a crucial right that disabled people have fought for and won: to be socially included rather than ghettoised or institutionalised. Furthermore, if plans are approved, instructing social workers and social care workers to implement such proposals may be asking them to ignore their Code of Practice; the General Social Care Council has made it the principal responsibility of all social care workers to protect the rights of disabled people and other social care service users.

Worcestershire County Council identifies five future ‘choices’ for service users with reduced council funding:

Choice 1: to top up and meet the cost of desired care from alternative sources such as personal or family savings. This is an option only available to a comparatively wealthy people. Disabled people and other social care service users are highly unlikely to have such savings when facing huge restrictions and reductions in benefits, while concurrently experiencing entrenched discrimination in the job market. This is at a time of exceptionally high unemployment and when Remploy factories offering (albeit imperfect) employment to disabled people are being closed.

Choice 2: take a direct payment to arrange more flexible care arrangements. This is an example of the good intentions of personalisation being used as a flimsy veil for cuts. The cost of buying services individually in the market means that costs are highly likely to be greater than those purchased by councils via economies of scale; the possibility for people to arrange more effective care, which costs less than their present packages, is slim.

Choice 3: change the type or volume of care currently received. This is straightforward – for many people this will mean less care or support or poorer quality provision.

Choice 4: access alternative low level community support in addition to council funded care. Like other ‘big society’ rhetoric, this is dishonest as funding for the voluntary sector who might provide such support is being decimated or their energies are being consumed by shifting to bureaucratic, divisive tendering processes for short term grants. The general public may be struggling to make ends meet for themselves, rather than have greater spare time to engage in civic activity or neighbourly support.

Choice 5: is for people to receive their care in a residential or nursing home. This is in stark contrast to the familiar language of aspiration used by local authorities to describe adult social care of ‘choice’, ‘control’ and ‘participation’ – where are these concepts in such a policy? It disregards Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People which states that a) people are not obligated to live in a particular arrangement and b) that segregation should be avoided. Aside from the right to live in the community, service users will be aware of the recent reports such as last year’s investigation into the Castlebeck-owned Winterbourne View care home and understandably be concerned of the treatment they may receive in residential homes, or be concerned about the minimal staffing and support because of efficiencies driven by profit.

DPAC and SWAN believe there is no possible justification for this kind of social policy which is prepared to sacrifice quality of life and people’s rights at the altar of ‘current financial challenges’.  It is entirely possible for high quality, comprehensive social care to be funded free at the point of use and paid for out of general taxation – we are one of the richest countries in the world and one which established our entire welfare state under similarly challenging economic circumstances. It is a matter of priority and will.

DPAC and SWAN note that Jack Ashley, the Labour Peer who campaigned for the rights of disabled people who died recently. Among the parliamentary tributes to him were those of Iain Duncan Smith and Chris Grayling, the two Ministers for Work and Pensions.  Their fond comments were staggering in the context of their welfare reforms which are taking away the support for work and independent living from disabled people and other social care users. The logic of austerity underpinning the thinking of these politicians is same justification being used by the Tory-led administration of Worcestershire County Council to vanish people’s right to independent living. DPAC and SWAN wonder how such politicians reacted to Jack Ashley’s independent living bill, which proposed to sweep away the ‘feed and clean’ culture – a culture to which Worcestershire are now proposing that we return?

DPAC and SWAN encourages social workers and social care workers in Worcestershire and across the UK to work with service user led organisations and disabled people’s groups to oppose these plans as inimical to a social care based on human rights. This is one part of wider picture of social care austerity; DPAC and SWAN supports the call for a cumulative impact assessment on disabled people and social care service users of the government’s social policy, as called for by the Common’s Joint Committee on Human Rights.

One cannot justify diminishing rights or decent living standards because of financial cost. The true ‘cost’ of making these cuts will be a human one.

 Posted by at 19:42
Jul 082012
 

 Labour MP John McDonnell –a great and significant supporter of DPAC has launched an attempt to get the House of Commons to debate the £100m-a-year contract awarded to Atos to carry out work capability assessments of people applying for Employment and Support Allowance – which he claims has led to the deaths of 1,100 claimants put in the category for compulsory work-related activity.

In an Early Day Motion tabled last Thursday, John McDonnell (Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington) also praised the British Medical Association whose Annual Representative Conference last week called for the work capability assessment to be scrapped immediately and to be replaced with a system that does not harm the most vulnerable people in society.

His motion also includes condemnation of the decision to allow Atos to sponsor the Paralympics which follow the London Olympic Games and, for good measure, Dow Chemical’s sponsorship of the Games themselves.

Dow took over the Union Carbide company whose plant at Bhopal, India, leaked methyl isocyanate gas in 1984 – leading to the deaths and injury of thousands of people in the vicinity. The event was one of the world’s worst industrial disasters.

Please check the list of those MPs that have signed. If your MP isn’t there then a list on twitter can be found at https://t.co/E4f8RO2h

Or check http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mps/

Remember front benchers cannot sign EDMs

With thanks to welfare Union for letting us repost: http://socialwelfareunion.org/

Acknowledgements also to: the meassociation, Respect for the Unemployed and Benefits Claimants

Early Day Motion 295

ATOS
Session 2012-13
Date tabled: 28.06.2012
Primary sponsor: McDonnell, John
Sponsors:
Text:

That this House deplores that thousands of sick and disabled constituents are experiencing immense hardship after being deprived of benefits following a work capability assessment carried out by Atos Healthcare under a 100 million a year contract; notes that 40 per cent of appeals are successful but people wait up to six months for them to be heard; deplores that last year 1,100 claimants died while under compulsory work-related activity for benefit and that a number of those found fit for work and left without income have committed or attempted suicide; condemns the International Paralympic Committee’s promotion of Atos as its top sponsor and the sponsorship of the Olympics by Dow Chemical and other corporations responsible for causing death and disability; welcomes the actions taken by disabled people, carers, bereaved relatives and organisations to end this brutality and uphold entitlement to benefits; and applauds the British Medical Association call for the work capability assessment to end immediately and to be replaced with a system that does not cause harm to some of the most vulnerable people in society.

 

 

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