Sep 302012
 

In Glasgow there is a monthly picket of ATOS offices and we’ve been asked to advertise the next one plus a meeting date. At the moment we don’t think the meeting venue is accessible so if anyone knows of anywhere that could be used for free or very cheaply please let us know at mail@dpac.uk.net

 

Glasgow Against ATOS upcoming events
End the war on welfare! Picket ATOS!
Friday 26 October & 30 November, 2 – 4pm
Protest outside the ATOS office,
Glasgow Corunna House,
Cadogan Street, Glasgow,
G2 7BN
Bring banners, whistles, placards and chants.
Spread the word!
Glasgow Against ATOS launch meeting
Wednesday 10 October, 7.30 – 9.30pm
Upstairs in the Piper Bar,
George Square, Glasgow
Share and discuss ideas for protest against ATOS.
 Posted by at 12:56
Sep 292012
 

Act Now to Save the Independent Living Fund (ILF)- an article by a disabled activist involved in the ILF campaign

When ILF users and supporters involved in Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) delivered a letter on 13 September to the new Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey MP, asking for a meeting to be arranged so they could discuss their concerns with her about the government’s plan to close the Fund, they were greeted by a very friendly Metropolitan Police press officer and several vans full of Tactical Support Group officers parked immediately in front of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) HQ in central London.

Why was there a need for the DWP and Met Police to use the ‘carrot and stick’ approach? What were the ILF users present doing wrong?

What was absent was a willing team of senior civil servants from the DWP prepared to come outside and discuss with the ILF users why the DWP are running a consultation that is misleading and fails to discuss a range of options for the ILF. Including that favoured by many in the disabled people’s movement of a national Independent Living Fund under our control, free of political interference, which provides one source of personal assistance funding as of right for all disabled people, irrespective of their age.

Four days after these ILF users were greeted with the Met Police, Esther McVey and the DWP hypocritically announced the formation of a new Disability Action Alliance “to help respond to the ideas put forward by disabled people and their organisations on living fulfilling lives”. Clearly though this does not include ILF users who oppose a return to the forced institutionalisation of the past or living in the community with limited life chances,  and who are trying to protect the interests of 20,000 families and the livelihoods of 15,000 personal assistants and care workers.

The Disability Action Alliance will help to implement the government’s new disability strategy. On 17 September, the Office for Disability Issues published the related ‘Fulfilling Potential – the Discussions So Far’. In the Easy Read document it explains on page 27 that “residential care” is “where people go to live when they cannot get the support they need to live in their own home”.  It reveals: “The government is going to change the rules about the way people are charged for residential care. This will mean that any money a disabled person gets from their job will not affect the residential care charge.”

Given people with learning difficulties not living with their families usually have their own tenancies in Independent Supported Living schemes, and people with severe physical impairments live in their own homes with ILF and local authority funded personal assistance, why would disabled people of working age be in danger of losing their wages to residential care fees unless a policy assumption is being made in government that residential care will become the norm once again for some of us in the future? After all, it was the Independent Living Fund that allowed many disabled people to leave residential care in the past before it was closed to new applications in May 2010. 

What you can do

  1. Be an ‘ILF Champion’ – be proactive and do not assume others in your area are campaigning to save the ILF.
  2. Respond individually or through your disability or carers organisation, trade union, community group and so on to the government’s consultation ‘A Future for the Independent Living Fund’ which closes on 10 October 2012. You can find the documents on this page: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/consultations/2012/future-of-ilf.shtml
  3. The online version of the consultation is unreliable, so give yourself the time to respond by post if necessary and keep a copy of your comments.
  4. Respond to the online survey being run by Disability Rights UK as their response to the government’s consultation will include an analysis of this survey. This survey ends at the end of September and can be found at: http://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/ilfconsult.htm
  5. If you know other ILF users or their families, contact them and organise a local ‘Save the Independent Living Fund’ campaign in your town and city.
  6. Organise a public meeting with local disability and carers organisations. Ask your Council’s Director of Adult Social Care to circulate the information to ILF users and their families and/or contact your local newspapers and radio stations.
  7. Write to your MP and/or go to their monthly surgery and explain the issue to them and what your feelings are about the possible closure of the ILF. Explain it from your perspective as a disabled person, family carer, family friend, personal assistant or care worker, social worker or member of the public.
  8. Contact your local Council leader and the Cabinet member for adult social care and ask them what they are doing to stop the closure of the ILF. If nothing, organise a lobby of the next Council meeting.
  9. Keep DPAC informed about what you are doing and try to coordinate local campaigns with others in your area and region.

10. Share this information and article as widely and as quickly as possible.

Criticisms of the consultation process:

  • The DWP consultation is deeply flawed and demonstrates a ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude towards 19,000+ ILF users and their families.
  • There is no equality impact assessment – this avoids the need to discuss the ILF’s history, policy implications and practical examples of what closure would mean.
  • Each ILF user is subject to regular reassessments so it is easy to identify what the loss of ILF funding would mean in 19,000+ cases.
  • Questions steer respondents towards the option of closure and transfer of responsibility to local authorities.
  • There is no discussion of the option of a national Independent Living Fund under disabled people’s  control free of political interference that provides one source of personal assistance funding as of right for all disabled people irrespective of their age.
  • The shortest possible timescale for the consultation of 12 weeks has been adopted.
  • Only 14 consultation meetings have been organised across the UK with very limited numbers.
  • These have given less than 2% of the ILF’s 19,000+ users the opportunity to attend, a figure that falls well below 1% if family carers are factored in.
  • The ILF itself has organised the consultation meetings at the behest of the DWP – ILF trustees are in conflict with their fiduciary duty to defend their beneficiaries’ interests and actively oppose closure.
  • The Easy Read document gives no practical examples that set-out what closure of the ILF would mean, an essential step for disabled people who find comprehending abstract ideas difficult.
  • ‘The Future of the Independent Living Fund’ is an English consultation document for a UK-wide fund  – there is no discussion of a scenario where national independent living funds are set-up in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland while there is transfer of responsibility to local authorities in England.

The Independent Living Fund’s History

An Erroneous and Misleading Assertion

  • The DWP’S consultation document ‘states: “The fund was originally established for a maximum of 5 years and was expected to support around 300 people.”
  • This assertion is erroneous and deliberately misleading to give the impression the ILF was and is an anomaly.
  • While the ILF was set-up in April 1988 to help 250-300 people who were directly affected by the loss of domestic assistance addition with changes to the social security system, disability organisations had a clear view from the start that it would help many more than this.
  •  In the July 1994 edition of Critical Social Policy, Bob Hudson recalled: “The Disablement Income Group (DIG) estimated the figure to be nearer 1500, while the more radical Disability Alliance saw potential demand running into several thousands.”
  • By 30 November 1988 the new Fund had received 2,502 applications with 354 people having received assistance and 1,574 being assessed.
  • Nicholas Scott MP, Minister for Social Security, reported to Parliament on 19 December 1988 that: “I understand that 16,000 posters and 55,000 leaflets have been produced by the ILF, for distribution to directors of social services, health authorities, voluntary organisations, and so on.”
  • These facts and the ILF’s proactive marketing of itself are not consistent with the assertion the ILF “was expected to support around 300 people.”

Responding to Unmet Need

•    The National Assistance Act 1948 marked the beginning of the welfare state and the end of the Poor Law.

•    In the 1960s, Paul Hunt and other disabled people in residential care started to assert their right to be treated equally – this was one of the main seeds in Britain for independent living, personal assistance, the disabled people’s movement and social model of disability.

  • The Disablement Income Group (DIG) was set-up in 1965 to campaign for disability benefits and services.

•    In 1970, section 2(1) of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act created an individual right to services once a person was assessed as having a need and their local authority’s eligibility criteria was met.

•    Attendance Allowance was created in 1971 with day and night time rates for disabled children and adults – the original ‘cash for care’.

•    A DIG Policy Statement argued in 1987 for the creation  of “a third rate of attendance allowance, substantially higher than the rates presently payable, ….to enable even the most severely disabled to buy the help they need to live outside institutions. As with the existing attendance allowances, this should be payable to the disabled person, thus giving disabled beneficiaries a measure of control over their own lives.”

1988

  • When the ILF was set-up there was a policy flux as changes to the social security system were being made and Sir Roy Griffiths reforms to community care were being debated.
  • In 1988, while the ILF helped to resolve a bureaucratic problem for the Department of Health and Social Security (DHSS), for DIG and the British Council of Organisations of Disabled People (BCODP) the ILF freed disabled people for the first time from the forced institutionalisation associated with the localism of the Poor Law and the early welfare state.
  • There were differences among disability organisations. DIG was centrally involved in the development of the ILF and nominated with its Scottish counterpart 5 out of 10 ILF trustees.  The disabled people’s movement opposed the discretionary nature of the ILF. The BCODP organised a demo on 28 July 1988 that demanded ‘Rights Not Charity’ and won the ‘hearts and minds’ of young disabled people.

•    The development of the ILF quite literally revolutionised the social opportunities of a generation and meant for the first time severely disabled people could become or continue to be parents, care-givers, workers, students, volunteers, partners, and of course, disability activists.

  • It gave disabled people the freedom to move from one area to another because their care packages were portable in a way that was consistent with the principle of free movement now promoted by the European Disability Forum.
  • The ILF provided funding for critical personal care support and personal assistance not just in the home, but also in community settings in a person’s local area or in other parts of Britain and abroad.
  • It also meant thousands of people with learning difficulties started to receive funding for community based support that enabled them to live active lives in the community on their terms.
  • The opportunities and life chances ILF users have experienced since with the help of their personal assistance are entirely consistent with the aims and principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

An extension of the social security and national insurance system

  • In 1988 the DHSS was split into the Department of Health and Department of Social Security. The latter maintained responsibility for the ILF, which reflected the fact the Fund was itself an extension of the national insurance and social security system.
  • By the end of 1992, 18,000 disabled children and adults of all ages were receiving ILF support.
  • The ILF freed disabled people from the unwillingness of local authorities to meet their statutory duties under section 2(1).
  • The ILF would only give funding to those living in the community and its practice has been to maintain this for life.
  • No local authority can ever make this commitment as it would mean providing community based services to all older disabled people over 65.
  • The ILF’s creation was also recognition that broad resource-led allocations such as Attendance Allowance or even today’s personal budgets were insufficient for severely disabled people.
  • The ILF recognised the needs of people with complex physical impairments or learning difficulties or autism required assessment in a personalised way with the full involvement of a social worker with the experience to ensure a person’s needs were fully met.
  • And the cost of care should be established based on the most appropriate way of meeting these needs from person to person.
  • The DWP’s consultation forgets to mention the closure of the ILF will mean the loss of this approach in social care, marking a fundamental and regressive change.

Central Government’s Bureaucratic Mismanagement of the ILF

  • Bob Hudson in Critical Social Policy in July 1994 pointed out: “Once the ILF had in effect uncovered a huge and legitimate demand for independent living amongst severely disabled people, the government took fright at the contents of this Pandora’s box, and began to seek ways of restricting demand and diverting responsibility.”
  • The ILF used the age criteria for Attendance Allowance from the start, but government funding restrictions eventually stopped disabled children under 16 and people aged over 75 from accessing the ILF.
  • An opportunity to create one cohesive funding system for personal assistance and social care was lost and gave way to the current bureaucratic maze where large care packages can be made up of several sources of funding – including local authority adult services, Access to Work, primary care trusts, education services, children’s services, Disability Living Allowance and the Independent Living Fund. Given the multiple layers of personal assistance funding, the assertion there is a “mainstream care and support system administered by local authorities” is a myth.
  • After April 1993, the £200 of local authority services threshold for the new ILF 93 was introduced.
  • Rule changes initiated by the government also led to the means-testing of ILF users whereby any ILF user who worked was expected to contribute all their wages above income support levels to their care package – not surprisingly many young ILF users were dissuaded from finding paid employment.
  • Maria Miller’s Ministerial Forward recognises the ILF has applied its eligibility criteria consistently across the country.
  • Before it was closed to new applications, the ILF had a reputation for a very rigorous assessment process – applications from the local authorities with the greatest uptake were needs-led and necessary.
  • The significant variations in uptake between local authorities stem in part from the different ways local authorities spent their part of the £230 million Independent Living Transfer between 1993 and 1996 – the most progressive ring-fenced it for severely disabled people.
  • One of the ironies that will result from the closure of the ILF if funding is transferred from central government to local authorities on a per capita basis is the very local authorities who have done most to promote independent living rights through the uptake of ILF will lose out the most.

Changes in Social Care

•    Maria Miller argues there’s been a fundamental change in social care in the last 20 years citing the development of ‘personal budgets’ – this puts the cart before the horse.

•    The changes proposed in the recent social care White Paper will see a statutory right to personal budgets introduced, but repeal of the section 2(1) duty.

•    A needs-led, personalised approach is to be replaced by a resource-led, administrative approach.

•    Since the 1990s legal judgments that allow councils to consider their resources when meeting need and to choose different options based on cost there’s been a search nationally for a mechanism to control costs.

•    The Department of Health, Department for Work and Pensions, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, and the Care Quality Commission and its predecessors have developed personal budgets and personalisation through the misnamed In Control to this end.

•    Statutory and professional bodies tasked with safeguarding disabled people worked to undermine the statutory duty and individual rights of section 2(1).

ILF Review in 2007

•    The ILF review in 2007 commissioned by DWP recommended “the ILF should be fully integrated with personal budgets rather than existing as a parallel system of social care funding” when personal budgets were only being piloted in 13 local authorities. Its authors Melanie Henwood and Bob Hudson helped prepare the red carpet for personalisation and personal budgets.

•    It recommended a proven model that was successful and gave disabled people ‘choice and control’ should be ditched for an experimental idea that still has major teething problems.

  • The ILF review chose not to debate Colin Barnes proposal from 2004 for a single national independent living fund for all personal assistance and direct payments under disabled people’s control, or other examples of European countries where national independent living schemes successfully sit alongside local services.

•    The ILF review continued the ‘paternalism’ that disabled people sometimes experience when changes are being proposed about their lives and held only 6 consultation meetings with 120 ILF users and carers. The principle of ‘nothing about us without us’ was lost in translation.

  • The confusion about the intentions and recommendations of the ILF Review led Sue Bott, the Strategic Director of the National Centre for Independent Living (NCIL), to declare in NCIL’s ‘Independently’ newsletter in April 2007 that: “NCIL is in support of the recommendation not to transfer the ILF to local authorities.”
  • Yet Henwood and Hudson wrote in Community Care on 14 December 2010, the day after Maria Miller MP’s parliamentary statement that the ILF was “financially unsustainable”, about their review:  “Our core conclusion was that it is highly anomalous for significant amounts of public money to be placed in the hands of a cash-limited, discretionary fund administered by a board of trustees, resulting in inequity, lack of accountability, overlap and duplication of functions, arbitrary decisions and major confusion for disabled people seeking support for independent living. / This is an anachronistic and paternalistic model that should have no place in a 21st century system of care and support. We recommended therefore that the ILF should be fully integrated with personal budgets rather than existing as a parallel system of social care funding. / Despite welcoming our report, the previous administration failed to act on it, and the coalition government should be congratulated for these first steps towards a principled and strategic decision about the future of the fund.”
  • For disabled people and family carers who appreciate plain language and being told what’s what, Henwood and Hudson mean they were recommending the ILF should be closed all along.

We trust Esther McVey MP and/or Maria Miller MP or a senior civil servant from the DWP will correct DPAC if any of the assertions above are factually incorrect.

 Posted by at 19:13
Sep 292012
 
DPAC will be at the Cuts Cafe  on October 1st and 14th. Hope to see some of you there as well as we think it will be a really good place to meet up and be.
The government tells us that cuts to public services and social security are needed to save an economy in crisis, but in reality the crisis is capitalism.
For the two weeks leading up to the Trade Union Congress demonstration on October 20th, Cuts Café will provide a radical space in Central London to build resistance to these devastating cuts, and to explore the real alternatives to austerity.
It will be open for all of us who are affected, whether we are people with disabilities, women, migrants, workers, pensioners, students, unemployed,… or anyone else not part of the privileged elite who are enriching themselves in this ‘crisis’.
By sharing this reclaimed space, we hope people working in their community, local anti-cuts, student, or autonomous groups, as well as the trade unions, will be able to collectively and democratically build positive alternatives with which to challenge the ‘politics as usual’ forced upon us.
This will be an opportunity for connections to form outside of those groups that we may already be involved with, and to reinvigorate the anti-cuts movement at the grassroots level.
Cuts Café, being part of a movement for creating equality and real democracy, will be organized without discrimination and, as much as possible, without hierarchy. We welcome you to come and participate in the running of the space.
If you or your group would like to facilitate a workshop or skillshare, screen a film, hold a discussion, or use the space in any other way please get in touch! You can also contribute by helping to provide some of the more material resources needed for the day-today running of the space, or just by coming down to share a bit of your time.
For more information email cutscafe@riseup.net or to propose an event get us at eventscutscafe@riseup.net.

Twitter: @Cuts_Cafe
 Posted by at 13:06
Sep 262012
 

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

Live webcast.

We’re sorry but the above event is fully booked. However, the event will be broadcast live over the internet on Thursday 27 Sept during 11am to 4.30pm.  We plan to show the main speakers, discussions and summaries, but will turn off during the breaks.

To watch the event click on the following link…

http://www.ncodp.org.uk/news-and-events/news-archive/505-livestream-feed

 

The video is streamed via ‘livestream’, and as it is a free service a 30 second advert is shown initially when you first click the link.  The video will also be made available following the event.

 

 Posted by at 15:10
Sep 262012
 

We often don’t get a chance to let people know what we do other then our street protests and direct actions so we thought you might all be interested in what we’re all going to be doing over the next few weeks. Of course as well as this we have surveys to analyse and information to put together to submit to various UN bodies. Plus we have our normal campaigns to run especially those on WCA and ILF funding which seem to be going well.

All- attending Inclusion London conference on Rethinking Disability Equality Policy in a Hostile Climate.

October 7th– protest at the Tory party conference,Birmingham

October 20th – TUC march,London.

Roger – Recently spoke at Walthamstow anti-cuts mobilising meeting, also speaking inPortsmouth, at GMB Equality conference, and inLiverpool at a NW anti-cuts conference.

Ellen – Speaking inOxford, Tower Hamlets and at Unite the Resistance conference. Doing workshop at Climate Justice Collective event and manning a stall at the Anarchists Bookfare. PCS meeting.

Linda- Derby speaking at ALLFIE conference, PCS meeting and PCS-led Equality conference in Liverpool doing a joint workshop with Laurence Clark. Workshop with Faryal from Transport for All for Inclusion London leadership course.

Debbie- speaking at Disability Wales AGM, ENIL meeting inAntwerpand another ENIL meeting about austerity cuts.

Andy- Cuts Café workshop, Meeting in Luton, PCS meeting and full day networking event with activists in London.

We also have Mike speaking for us at a Unite the Resistance meeting inSheffield.

There may well be more that I’ve forgotten.

 

 Posted by at 12:28
Sep 252012
 

The United Kingdom Disabled Peoples Council Response to the Fulfilling Potential Disability Strategy issued by the DWP.
The United Kingdom Disabled Peoples Council (UKDPC) initially had welcomed the long awaited publication of the Government Disability Strategy, Fulfilling Potential.

This important document would have guided the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and been a public declaration of intent to support disabled people to exercise full participation in every aspect of society.

UKDPC was surprised and disappointed to find that the action plan, Fulfilling Potential Next Steps, has set out the intention of creating a Disability Action Alliance, convened by Disability Rights UK, (DRUK). This alliance is apparently intended to be a partnership of ‘organisations from the voluntary, public and private sector who have expertise and influence’.

UKDPC is unable to support this action based on the following:

  • The contracting of DRUK to convene such a group was not obviously opened to expressions of interest or tendering by any other organisation. Alongside the appointment of the CEO to lead an employment review commissioned by Lord Freud without public tender, this places DRUK in a position of preferred supplier to the ODI.
  • The continued contracting of DRUK by the ODI and the convening of an unaccountable group could be construed as the creation of a Quango, which is against the principals of co-partnership and accountability.
  • This is a ‘top down’ structure that excludes disabled people from setting the agenda or defining the terms of reference. The creation of this alliance by the government is antagonistic to the principals of the CRPD which advocates the value of consulting and full involvement of disabled people.
  • Without clear terms of reference there is the possibility that the service providers or corporate employers represented would have a potential conflict of interest, eg if participating in government backed schemes such as Workfare or if being awarded contracts determined by changes in the benefits system.
  • The use of the name, Disability Action Alliance, gives rise to potential confusion with Disability Awareness in Action, a human rights based disabled peoples organisation that closed last year, with a well earned respect not just within the sector but also internationally.
  • As UKDPC considers the convening of the alliance as a flawed process then it follows that the function of such a group would similarly be flawed.
  • UKDPC wishes to state these concerns publically, and calls for:
  1. The process of contracting DRUK as the convenors be questioned and an open response be sought from government.
  2. The potential for forming a Quango be questioned and an open response from government.
  3.  Any proposed alliance be guided by disabled people with agreed terms of reference drawn up by the participants.
  4. Any further move to implement this alliance be suspended pending the questioning and satisfactory response to these concerns.

DPAC says….

We’d also like to add some further concerns as the inclusion of corporate partners and private for profit partners is not something DPAC endorses due to the activities of ATOS, UNUM and CAPITA being involved in actions through government partnerships and contracts that have clearly led to devastating outcomes for many disabled people. These outcomes have impacted on the core principles of independent living, dignity, respect and equality for disabled people throughout theUK.

We also feel that involving those who will profit from their exploitation of disabled people is against the intentions of the UNCRPD and the involvement of disabled people in self-determination of their lives and may lead to a conflict of interests with DRUK’s ability to carry out their functions.

Sep 252012
 

award

linda burnip

linda burnip

Last Tuesday on behalf of everyone who has campaigned for DPAC and marched or protested in the rain with us in any way over the last 2 years I was a finalist in the SMK (Sheila Mckechnie Foundation) awards ceremony in the Economic and Social Justice category.

I spent an interesting afternoon with about 20 other campaigners who were campaigning around all sorts of issues ranging from human trafficking to safer cycling routes. The oldest campaigner there, although she didn’t win an award, was a sprightly lady called  Hetty who was 107 years old and who had started campaigning at the beginning of World War I for peace so maybe I am not as near to true retirement as I thought.

I also found out what canapés are as I’d previously thought they were bits of cheese and things on Ritz crackers so it just goes to prove that you live and learn everyday.

Anyhow we’re obviously very pleased to have this recognition of our hard work and have found many useful contacts already to build further networks through.

It seems a very busy ahead for us over the next few months and we’ll be letting everyone know all the things the steering group and others are doing very shortly.

 

Sep 242012
 

Many thanks to Inclusion London for helping put this document together . Please let us know at mail@dpac.uk.net if you have difficulty accessing this on-line survey please.

Save the ILF – respond to government’s ILF consultation and encourage any other ILF users to respond too! 

Save the Independent Living Fund (ILF) and with it the quality of life, dignity and independence of disabled people with the highest support needs    

Deadline for responses to the consultation: 10 October 2012 

There are just 5 consultations questions, which we have set out below as provided in the consultation document. 

Inclusion London have also set out the key messages, below, which we think the government must hear. To make responding easier we have given a ‘suggested response’ to each question, which you can adapt to suit your own opinions and circumstances.  We have also provided an paper to give background information on the ILF, government proposals and the content of consultation document, which is attached.  

It is also important respond to DRUK’s survey as they will use your responses in their submission, please go to:  www.surveymonkey.com/s/independentlivingfund.

More information about the survey is available at: http://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/ilfsurvey.htp

This closes at the end of September.

Responding to the government consultation

You can respond online at: https://interactive.dwp.gov.uk/?page_id=3737  or by email at:  ilf.consultation@dwp.gsi.gov.uk

or by post at:

ILF Consultation Team
Ground Floor
Caxton House
Tothill Street
London
SW1H 9NA

The consultation documents are available at:  http://www.dwp.gov.uk/consultations/2012/future-of-ilf.shtml

Your response needs to reach the ILF consultation team by 10 October 2012.  

The key messages are:

·         I disagree with how the consultation has been conducted.

·         Funding of the ILF should be discussed in the wider context of funding for care and support as whole.

·        Save the ILF because it works! For instance the ILF:

ü enables disabled people with the highest support needs to have real choice and control over their lives and in doing so contribute to, and take part in, society

ü is key to disabled people maintaining independence, social networks, health and well-being avoiding more expensive interventions at a later stage.

ü creates jobs – many personal assistance jobs are created by the ILF

The ILF also provides:

ü a needs- led (rather than budget led) independent approach to support

ü an in-depth expertise on independent living issues

ü portability of support packages without reassessment, so I can move to another area taking my care package with me, if I wish to.

ü minimum overheads and bureaucracy, so the ILF is easy to contact and less expensive to run compared to Local Authorities (ILF’s overheads are approximately 4% compared to 16% for L.A. social care services).

ü a national eligibility criterion

Potential impact of the transfer of ILF functions to Local Authorities

Without additional or replacement ring fenced funding to maintain ILF support packages the impact on mainstream LA social care funding will mean:

o   L.As will have little choice but to limit my social care support, denying me the ability to maintain a decent, healthy and active life.

o   My support package is likely to be dramatically cut on transfer to the L.A. as a result I will go without basic support, far less choice and control than I currently experience.

o   It will also mean that I will then be faced with two alternatives; staying at home without adequate support, which will put my health and wellbeing at risk, or I will be forced to move into residential care, as a result I will lose my independence, autonomy and inclusion in the community and put me at risk of abuse that has already been experienced by disabled people. 

Below are the 5 consultation questions, with the introduction given in the consultation document, followed by Inclusion London’s suggested response, please adapt the response to your own circumstances, as it is much more likely to influence government if you include your own experience:

5 Consultation questions

1.           If the ILF is closed in 2015, Local Authorities will continue to have a duty to assess the care and support needs of those disabled 16,309 Group 2 users who are already jointly funded by local authorities and the 1,737 Group 1 users who receive some local authority care and support; and will be required to assess the needs of those ILF users who do not currently have a relationship with their local authority.

Question 1Do you agree with the Government’s proposal that the care and support needs of current ILF users should be met within the mainstream care and support system, with funding devolved to local government in England and the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales?[1] This would mean the closure of the ILF in 2015.v Suggested response The consultation process:

I am concerned that the government has only put forward one option in this consultation i.e. to close the ILF and pass ILF responsibilities to Local Authorities:

·        I do not understand why the government is suggesting this. Also there is not enough details for me to comment on the proposals, other than highlight the concerns raised below.

·        If the government is able to explain clearly why they are intending to pass responsibilities for the ILF to local authorities I would be happy to comment, if I had more time to do so.

·        No other options have been proposed and the consultation has not asked respondees for other options.

·        Only small numbers of ILF users were able to attend the consultation events. This is not an open or thorough consultation.

I completely disagree with the way the consultation has been conducted.

No Impact Equality Assessment:

It is appalling that the government did not do an equality impact assessment on the closure of the ILF before this consultation. Many of the difficulties with the government’s proposal to pass responsibilities to Local Authorities would have been highlighted at an earlier stage, if an impact assessment had been carried out and government proposals amended in response.

Future of ILF

I am totally against the closure of the ILF and I believe that the ILF should be saved because it works! For instance the ILF:

ü Gives me real choice and control over my life and enables me contribute to, and take part in, society.

ü It is key to my independence, social networks, health and well-being, avoiding more expensive treatment or care at a later stage.

ü The ILF creates jobs – many personal assistance jobs are created by the ILF

The ILF also provides:

ü a needs- led (rather than budget led) independent approach to support

ü an in-depth expertise on independent living issues

ü portability of support packages without reassessment, so I can move to another area taking my care package with me, if I wish to.

ü minimum overheads and bureaucracy; I find the ILF is easy to contact, also it is less expensive to run compared to Local Authorities, (ILF’s overheads are approximately 4% compared to 16% for Local Authorities (L.As) social care services).

ü a national eligibility criterion

I believe the ILF should not be abolished but that it should remain and its role developed further.

 

Question 2What are the key challenges that ILF users would face in moving from joint ILF/Local Authority to sole Local Authority funding of their care and support needs? How can any impacts be mitigated?v Suggested response:My independence, choice and control will be threatened if funding is solely provided by my Local Authority.

My Local Authority’s (LA’s) budget is over stretched, in response it has already cut disabled people’s care in my area to a bare minimum. It is likely that my ILF funding will be cut in a similar way when responsibilities are transferred to Local Authorities.

Without additional ringfenced funding for LA’s to maintain ILF users support packages I fear that my support will be severely reduced. I will then be faced with two alternatives; staying at home without adequate support, putting my health and wellbeing at risk, or I will be forced to move into residential care, which will stop me from being involved in my local community and could put me at risk of abuse, that has already been experienced by disabled people.

 

Question 3What impact would the closure of the ILF have on Local Authorities and the provision of care and support services more widely? How could any impacts be mitigated?v Suggested response:I am concerned that the government is seeking to decide the future of the ILF before a decision on how social care and support will be funded in the future  has been taken. The future of ILF should be included in this overarching decision.

I believe that funding for care and support should be provided out of general taxation, the same as funding for the NHS is.

I do not believe that Local Authorities will have the capability or capacity  to take on the responsibilities of the ILF, for instance:

Capability:

·        Many social services staff due not have the necessary knowledge of disabled people with high support needs to provide an ILF ‘needs-led’ type of assessment and review.

·        Assessments and reviews should be needs led rather than budget led. However, I do not think this will be possible due to the pressure of austerity cuts on LA budgets, unless additional, ring fenced funding for ILF users is put in place.

Capacity:

·        Local Authority’s will have little choice but to raise FACS eligibility criteria to critical needs only, thereby denying the vast majority of disabled people the support they need to maintain decent, healthy and active lives

·        Local Authority staff are being cut due to austerity cuts, there is unlikely to be enough staff to take on the additional ILF responsibilities.

·        My local Deaf and disabled people’s organisation is currently struggling to withstand funding cuts and may not be available to provide the necessary support and advocacy with assessments and reviews.

2.           We know that the closure of the ILF would be more difficult for those Group 1 users who are not currently receiving any Local Authority funding, and who in some cases have little experience of the mainstream care and support system. It is important that those users engage with the local authority care and support services for which they are eligible.

Question 4What are the specific challenges in relation to Group 1 users? How can the Government ensure this group are able to access the full range of Local Authority care and support services for which they are eligible?v Suggested response:The Government must ensure that the same level of funding as provided by the ILF continues for Group 1 users, as well as all other ILF users.  The Government should ensure this funding is ringfenced. Without this commitment to provide the same level of ringfenced funding Group 1’s, as well as all other ILF user’s, independence, choice and control will be threatened, with Group 1’s independence the most severely jeopardised.

The Government must ensure that a needs led, not budget led assessment and review is put in place, as mentioned above.

3.           The Government remains committed to funding current ILF care packages until 2015. But we know that it will take some time to manage the move to sole local authority funding. It would be necessary to start such a process well in advance of 2015. This consultation is only the start of a process of working with users, Local Authorities and the Governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Question 5How can DWP, the ILF and Local Authorities best continue to work with ILF users between now and 2015? How can the ILF best work with individual Local Authorities if the decision to close the ILF is taken?v Suggested response:·        ILF users and Deaf and disabled people’s user led organisations should be well represented on any working party/committee, which produces proposals put forward by the government on the back of the consultation.

·        Government must be transparent about the responses to this consultation and indicate the numbers of those that were for and against the proposal to pass responsibilities to the Local Authorities.

·        Government must carry out a full Equality Impact Assessment (EIA). The content of the EIA should be guided by ILF users and Deaf and disabled people’s user led organisations.

 

Many thanks for your time to help Save the ILF.

 

 

 Posted by at 15:18
Sep 222012
 

When George Osborne was booed at the Paralympics it was the clearest expression yet of the anger building up against the Tory / Liberal coalition’s welfare reforms, and their treatment of disabled people and those who are ill.

 The death of cancer patient Cecilia Burns on 27 August and her treatment by the benefits system managed by the Department for Work and Pensions and in part the private company ATOS Healthcare illustrates the nightmare situation anyone can find themselves in if they become disabled or fall ill.

 While undergoing treatment for breast cancer, Cecilia approached the state for help. She was subjected to the new Work Capability Assessment (WCA) system that was introduced in October 2008 alongside Employment and Support Allowance. This resulted from New Labour’s long-term policy of reducing the numbers on incapacity benefits by one million.

 The WCA, which is administered by ATOS, usually lasts about 15 minutes and uses a points system that looks at how a person is able to function physically, intellectually and socially. This assessment is so flawed that at their conference in May 2012, representatives of Britain’s 44,000 General Practitioners voted to campaign to end it.

 Like hundreds of thousands of others, Cecilia was badly let down and told despite her ongoing treatment she was ‘fit to work’. Her benefits were reduced by about £30 a week. At a time when Cecilia should have been allowed to concentrate on her health and be free of pressure, she had to appeal this decision. Her appeal was successful and she had her benefits restored a few weeks before her death.

 Cecilia said herself:

I was treated badly. I’ve been working since I was 17, I’ve paid all my stamps, all my National Insurance. The only time I was ever sick was when I was pregnant with my two sons. It has had a financial effect on me but it’s more (that) they’re getting away with it. They are just treating you like a second class citizen. That’s how I feel – that I don’t count, I don’t matter.”

What Cecilia Burns went through could easily be experienced by your mum, dad, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, son, daughter, partner or you.

 Even those disabled and ill people who are assessed as being unfit for work are facing the prospect of fines of £71 a week if they fail to take part in work-related activities such as training or ‘condition management programmes’.

 At present about 70,000 claimants lose some or all of their benefits every month when they are sanctioned. The WCA is resulting in people being found fit to work who very few employers would ever consider giving a job to. People with moderate and mild learning disabilities, long-term and enduring mental health problems, and other complex conditions find it difficult to understand or complete the tasks demanded by the jobseekers benefit system. They face losing benefits for months for failing to do enough to find work they’ll never get.

 Disabled people have had enough and are fighting back. Disabled People Against Cuts organised 21 protests against ATOS on 28 August, and several other high profile protests in London during the Paralympics.

 ATOS has made hundreds of millions from running the Work Capability Assessment for the DWP, and is now about to heap more misery as they reassess millions of disabled people for the new Personal Independence Payments. We call for the WCA and recent Welfare Reform Acts to be scrapped, the DWP’s contracts with ATOS to end immediately, and the introduction of a more humane and compassionate welfare system.

 One person’s nightmare……

 I became disabled when I was hit by a car during my first year at University.  The collision put me in a critical condition with multiple injuries including a severe brain injury.  I survived the accident but was left with permanent disabilities as well as suffering from epilepsy.

 
I had wanted to study Law and become a Solicitor, but my disabilities have made that impossible.  In fact my disabilities, combined with the psychological trauma I suffered, have meant that I haven’t worked since my accident.
 
Until recently I was claiming two benefits, Disability Living Allowance as well as Incapacity Benefit.  My benefits didn’t amount to much but at least they allowed me to lead some kind of life.  Earlier this year that all changed when ATOS called me in for a Work Capability Test.
 
I was so angry when I first received the letter from ATOS.  After attending a Work Capability Test I was passed fit to work by ATOS and had all my benefits stopped.  ATOS made their decision based on a 15 minute interview.  They never contacted any of the medical professionals treating me; they never even researched my case history. 
 
Now I face a lengthy and stressful appeals process against ATOS.  I’m being treated for depression and at times have experienced suicidal thoughts.  ATOS never seemed to care what affect their ruling would have on my health or on the health of those around me.
 

A DPAC North East member

 
 

The Austerity War and the impoverishment of disabled people Chris Edwards

 All Posts, News, Resources, Welfare reforms  Comments Off on The Austerity War and the impoverishment of disabled people Chris Edwards
Sep 212012
 

The Austerity War and the impoverishment of disabled people

Chris Edwards[1], 3 September, 2012

 Contents

 Executive summary

1. The aims of the study

2. Disabled people in the UK – who are they and what are their incomes?

3. The effects of the Austerity Package on income groups  

4. Are disabled people suffering greater losses than non-disabled people within each income group?

5.  The financial crisis of 2007/08 and ensuing depression

6. The public sector deficit, the 2010 General Election and the Coalition Government

7. The Austerity Package announcements

8. The components of the Austerity Package

9. The Austerity Package causes recession

10. The Austerity Package is not even cutting the deficit  

11. But there are alternatives    

12. Are we all in this together? The hypocrisy of the Coalition Government

13. The cuts are counter-productive

14. The Austerity War and the need for action

Appendix 1 The Austerity Package – the planned cuts

Appendix 2 The cuts in disability benefits and the job prospects for disabled people

References

 

But today we have involved ourselves in a colossal muddle, having blundered in the control of a delicate machine, the working of which we do not understand, The result is that our possibilities of wealth may run to waste for a time – perhaps for a long time”  (Keynes, 1930)

 Executive summary

Sections 1 and 2

  • This report studies the effects of the Austerity Package of the Coalition Government on disabled people
  • The government has refused to do such a study, that is to estimate the cumulative impact of the cuts on disabled people, claiming that it is too complex
  • This study has been carried out by me, an economist who was not initially familiar with the statistical sources. Imagine what a team of specialists from the Treasury or Department for Work and Pensions could have done!
  • But the fact that I have done such a study shows that the government was afraid that it would show that those households receiving disability benefits are suffering much greater losses in income and benefits-in-kind as a result of the Austerity Package than households in general
  • People with impairments should have a higher income to enable them to play an active and fulfilling role in society and to prevent them from being disabled. Instead the official statistics show that households where someone is disabled are poorer on average than households where no-one is disabled, and this 16% gap is greater in the UK than the 12% gap in the rich, OECD countries as a whole
  • More households where someone is disabled are living in poverty (with an income less than 60% of the social median) than households where no-one is disabled   

Sections 3 and 4 and appendices 1 and 2

  • The Austerity Package analysed here consists of  cuts in cash benefits, increases in taxes (most notably VAT) and cuts in benefits-in-kind (cuts in local government , education, health and other Departmental Expenditure) amounting tom £69 billion over the four years from 2011-12 through 2014-15. The government has announced further cuts of £25 billion in the two years 2015-16 and 2016-17 but has not yet given the details. And so this report looks at the £69 billion of cuts planned through to April 2015, the last month of the next General Election  
  • This has been a depressing study for me to carry out because the biggest burden by far of the Austerity Package falls on the poorest households. The estimated loss for the poorest fifth of households amounts to £2,600 over the four years which, as a percentage of their initial cash income plus benefits-in-kind is 10%. This percentage loss is two and a half times as big as the loss on the richest fifth of households. So to say, as the government has, that ‘we are all in this together’ is a lie   
  • Far from being all in it together, the government has not discouraged lies in the tabloid press about disabled people being fit to work but who avoid doing so. The result is that disability hate crimes have reported to a have reached a record high in England and Wales in recent months.
  • It is true that fewer disabled people of working age are working than non-disabled people. But survey after survey shows that disabled people want to work more but can’t get the jobs and it is the lack of jobs that cause disability rather than the reverse. And it needs to be repeated time and again that disability benefit fraud is tiny. Official errors and unclaimed benefits are both higher.     
  • Cuts in disability benefits were announced in 2010 and were reinforced by the Welfare Reform Act which the government forced through the House of Lords in 2012. The government is notoriously re-assessing disabled people for work through the Work Capability Assessment (WCA). This and the French company, ATOS, running it under a £500 million contract have been strongly criticised by independent experts. Two recent TV programmes both found that the WCA was declaring people fit to work who clearly were not fit to work and it has been reported that the appeals system is gridlocked with 40% of appeals by claimants succeeding.
  • The cuts to disability benefits are estimated to total £9 billion over the four years, about a third of the total paid in 2009-10. This means that the poorest  fifth of the 2.7 million households receiving disability benefits will lose 16% of their cash income plus benefits-in-kind over the four years. This percentage loss is four times as big as the loss for the richest fifth of households

Sections 5 to 10

  • What is even worse is that the Austerity Package is not working. In the Great Depression of the 1930s, it took five years for national output to get back to pre-recession levels. The Coalition Government is mis-managing an economy where national output is likely to take eight years to get back to the level of 2007.
  • The Austerity Package is taking government consumption out of the economy at a time when personal consumption is flatlining as the private sector attempts to cut its accumulated debt. To cut government expenditure at such a time is the politics of the madhouse as Paul Krugman has argued in this recent book, End this Depression Now.
  • The government has been throwing money at the problem through Quantitative Easing (QE) but no-one is spending it on goods and services. It may have pushed up the prices of shares and bonds and property but it of little use in stimulating output. According to the Bank of England, 40% of the gains from QE have accrued to the richest 5% of households.
  • Since the financial crisis of 2007-08, the British government has channelled £1.2 trillion to the financial sector in the form of bailouts, loans and guarantees and yet the economy continues to stagnate. This is the madness of King (as Governor of the Bank of England) and George (Osborne, as Chancellor of the Exchequer)
  • It is clear that the Labour Governments of Blair and Brown were incompetent in not regulating the banking sector. But the accusation that Labour let spending run out of control before the recession to not stack up. The deficit grew rapidly because of the banking crash and expenditures undertaken to counter the recession.
  • The stated aim of the Coalition government when it came to power in 2010 was to eliminate the budget deficit (11% of GDP in 2009) by 2015. For from doing so, the underlying budget deficit was higher in the first half of 2012 than in the first half of 2011. In July 2012, David Cameron was reported as saying that “I don’t see a time when difficult spending choices are going to go away”
  • The annual cost of the Austerity Package in terms of lost output is running at about £250 billion or almost £10,000 per household  

Sections 11 to 14

  • But there are alternatives to the Austerity Package which are set out in section 11. Broadly these consist of taxing the rich more heavily and introducing a financial transactions tax and spending half the proceeds.  At present the richest fifth of households pay less tax than the poorest fifth so taxing the rich would be equitable. It would also be efficient since it would close the deficit while stimulating demand since at the margin the rich spend little on domestic goods and services.
  • The government says that ‘we are all in this together’. At present, this is clearly nonsense. The poorest sections of society and in particular disabled people are bearing the biggest burden of the cuts
  • This is a government of the rich (mostly men) serving the (short-term) interests of the rich. The fees for the private schools attended by many if not most members of the Cabinet are greater than the average annual income of UK households.
  • The Manifesto of the Conservative Party for the 2010 election promised no cut in the disability allowance. In 2002, Iain Duncan Smith, then then leader of the Conservative party sought to rebrand the Tories as the party for the vulnerable. He is now the Coalition’s Work and Pensions Secretary and it is under his watch that the cuts in disability benefits are taking place.      
  • The Austerity Package is an Austerity War and leading to the impoverishment of disabled people. All the advances that disabled people have made over the period since 1945 are being reversed. The Austerity Package must be opposed

1. The aims of the study

This report studies the effect of the Austerity Package of the Coalition Government on disabled people[2].  There are five ways in which the real incomes of people can be cut. One is by a cut in real wages; the second is by being sacked and becoming unemployed; the third is by a rise in taxes; the fourth by a cut in cash benefits; the fifth is by a cut in benefits-in-kind through cuts in government spending on health, education and other support services.

In this report I analyse the third, fourth and fifth of these. As far as I know, this is the only study carried out on the effects of the cuts on disabled people looking at the changes in taxes, the cuts in cash benefits and the cuts in benefits-in-kind through cuts in other government expenditure.

Certainly there is no government study of these effects on disabled people. In May 2012, I wrote to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) asking if the Government had estimated, or were planning to estimate the cumulative effect of planned reforms on disabled people. The reply was a quoted response to a Parliamentary Question on the issue. I was told that In Parliament, the Secretary of State had said;

“The government is limited in what cumulative analysis is possible because of the complexity of the modelling required and the amount of detailed information on individuals and families that is required to estimate the interactions of a number of different policy changes. In addition the Government’s programme of welfare reform will not be fully implemented until 2017/18 and many policy details are still to be worked through. Equality Impact Assessments are however carried out for individual policies where there is a requirement” (email to me from the DWP dated May 3 2012)   

And so, the government argues, the analysis is too difficult. As I write this report, a group of disability campaigners have launched a petition “to stop and review the cuts to benefits and services which are falling disproportionately on disabled people, their carers and families”. As of August 24 2012, more than 42,000 people had signed the petition[3]   

As I say, in this report I have analysed the effects on disabled people of changes in taxes, cuts in cash benefits and of cuts in benefits-in-kind.  There are three steps in this analysis.

The first step is to look at the income distribution of households in the UK in five groups or quintiles. In other words, the 26 million households are divided into five income groups or quintiles, each of just over 5 million.  This step distinguishes between households in which someone is disabled and households in which no-one is disabled. The households in which someone is disabled are further split into those receiving disability benefits and those not receiving disability benefits. The information for this step comes from the annual survey published by the DWP and entitled “Households Below Average Incomes”.

The second step is to analyse the effects of the Austerity Package on the five income groups of households. As far as the changes in taxes and benefits are concerned, I have used the studies published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS). In most of their studies, the IFS looks at the effects of changes in taxes and benefits on different income groups. The IFS groups households into ten income groups or deciles and examines the effects of the changes in taxes and benefits on these deciles. However because I have income distribution data for disabled people only by quintiles, I have collapsed the IFS data into quintiles of households.

Occasionally the IFS carries out a study on particular groups of households across the income groups, an example being a study entitled “The Impact of Austerity Measures on Households with Children”. The report’s author was James Browne and it was published in January 2012 (Browne, January 2012). But the IFS has not carried out a specific study of the effects of changes in taxes and cuts in cash benefits on disabled people.

Nor has the IFS carried out a study of cuts in benefits-in-kind and so it does not include all the changes in public expenditure in its analysis. This is a major omission given that just under 70% of the planned austerity package (to be implemented up to 2014-15) consists of cuts in spending on public services. About 26% is planned to be cuts in cash benefits and a little over 4% consists of net changes in direct and indirect taxes.

The next question is; How do we allocate the spending on public services (such as local government, health, education, etc) between income groups?  Here public service spending is allocated across income groups according to the size of the household and the households’ relative use of the services, the latter derived from various surveys.  O’Dea and Preston of the IFS have warned of the dangers of this approach arguing that cost is not the same as the value to the user (see O’Dea and Preston, October 2010). However my answer to this is; given the importance of public expenditure to the welfare of households and given the importance of changes in spending on services compared to changes in taxes and cash benefits, it is surely a mistake not to attempt to measure the impact of the cuts in benefits-in-kind.  Otherwise we are looking at only a few trees in the forest.

Fortunately for me an analysis of the distribution of, and cuts in government service expenditure has been carried out by Howard Reed of Landman Economics and he has kindly provided me with the figures on the distribution of benefits-in-kind and the cuts in these services by quintile group.    

The third step is to measure the effects of the cuts in benefits and increase in taxes on those households receiving disability benefits. The source for this is the annual analysis of the Office of National Statistics entitled “Effects of Taxes and Benefits on Household Income”.

I do not pretend that the analysis is precise. It could doubtless be improved. It has been a difficult study to carry out. But the fact that I have achieved as much as I have reveals the dishonesty of the Government when it says that a cumulative impact assessment of the cuts on disabled people is ‘too difficult’. It is clear to me that the Government is afraid of revealing the vicious effects of the cuts on those households receiving disability benefits. I have carried out this study alone. Imagine what could have been done by a team of people from the Treasury or  from the Department for Work and Pensions.  

As I say, it has been a very difficult study to carry out. It has also been depressing – for two reasons. First because digging out the information has been difficult since I was not, initially, familiar with all the surveys and sources. The second reason for getting depressed was because as I began to collect the information, it painted such a harsh picture.  The cuts are hitting disabled people (arguably the most vulnerable section of society) very hard indeed. Indeed this is probably the hardest hit of any group in society.

But not only has the exercise been depressing. It has also made me angry since the whole Austerity Package exercise is so stupid and unnecessary. I feel the same anger as is reflected in End this Depression Now, the book published earlier this year and written by Paul Krugman, the Nobel prize-winner (Krugman 2012).   

The next few sections of this report look at who the disabled people are, how many of them there are and how the Austerity Package (the cuts in benefits, rise in taxes and cuts in benefits-in-kind) is affecting those households receiving disability benefits. Then I set out the historical context of the Austerity Package, its component parts and why the policy is not only vicious but also counter-productive. The final sections look at the hypocrisy of the Coalition Government, sets out alternative policies and the need for action to implement alternative policies.   

Download full report

Sep 212012
 
Saturday 29 September 2012
 
12pm – 4pm
 
The Pandon Room
Newcastle Civic Centre
NE1 8QH
 
An independent consultation event for disabled people living in the north east who use the Independent Living Fund and their families to help them respond to the government’s plans to close the Fund.
 
Please return the booking form to Gateshead Access Panel or email your name, address and a contact number to dpacnortheast@hotmail.com by 3pm on Thursday 27 September. For more info text DPAC on 0780 449 8228 or phone Ian or Christine on 0191 443 0058.
 
Sep 212012
 

An email to DPAC yesterday

I failed in my attempt to overturn the appeal decision against me at tribunal. I was not even allowed into the tribunal to state my case. Upon arrival at the tribunal site a receptionist took my name then informed me that I didn’t need to be there and I could go straight home. Two days later a letter arrived saying I had lost. I think the decision had already been made.

This morning (20th Sept)  I found my ESA claim had been stopped on August 20th, they didn’t write and tell me, I only found out when I tried to pay my bills. I now have to start a new claim, possibly attend another WCA.

Basically I think I am just going to have to go through the whole cycle again. My only option was to apply for a crisis loan. When I listed my expenses for the next two weeks it came to just over two hundred pounds at a bare minimum, they could not include prescription costs. They suggested I commit fraud by ticking the box saying that I receive ESA when they’ve stopped it. I have no other choice as, out of my anticipated expenditure for the next fortnight, they will loan me £42.

Having read of disabled people losing claims I didn’t think I would be in the same boat as my doctor gave me a new sicknote for three months on 13/9/2012 and I have followed their procedure to the letter. My new sicknote counts for nothing. I can’t describe how pissed off that today’s rigramole has got me and I have no idea what I will do for money. Feel free to use my example for your campaign, perhaps if other claimants are forewarned that they’re gonna lose whatever they do or whatever evidence they provide and they can lie and cheat to get what they should be rightfully entitled to. I’m sorry to tell you my woes, I hope my example can be used in a positive manner for people going through this farce.

DPAC wants to send thanks for allowing us to post this on the web site. The British Library began archiving the DPAC site from 2011 so know that all on this site will stand as an historical testament of this governments actions towards disabled people and what they are doing to the lives of  millions-we will not give up fighting!

DPAC facebook group is an area where people can support each other through their experiences and offer info and advice

https://www.facebook.com/groups/DPAC2011/

Sep 182012
 

Section 102 and Schedule 11 Welfare Reform Act 2012 – Power to require consideration of revision before appeal

 Section 102 and Schedule 11 of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 legislate for the following changes to the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Disability Living Allowance (DLA) appeals process:

 Ÿ  Under the new rules, due to be implemented from April 2013, claimants who wish to challenge a benefits decision will no longer be allowed to choose to lodge an appeal immediately.

Ÿ  Instead, there will be a new requirement for claimants to request a revision of the original decision from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and have that request determined before launching the right to appeal to an independent tribunal.

Ÿ  Only once the decision maker has either issued a revised decision, or decided that they cannot revise the decision, will the claimant be able to lodge their appeal.

Ÿ  There will be no time limit on how long this process can take.

 DPAC is very concerned at the harmful impact these changes will have on many claimants:

 Ÿ  The new bureaucratic tier in the appeal system has the potential to cause confusion for many claimants and lead them to make the wrong appeal to the wrong people at the wrong time, leading to inevitable problems with the payment of their benefits. Some disabled people may even withdraw from the appeals process altogether. The current appeal system is already a highly stressful, time-consuming process, resulting in considerable instability in many people’s lives and finances. The addition of a mandatory review stage, with all the attendant uncertainties, can only exacerbate these problems. DPAC is not convinced that the addition of a mandatory revision stage will in any way increase the efficiency of the system.

Ÿ  This problem will be heightened by the fact that there is no statutory time limit for the revision stage. This could lead to indefinite delays to the process while the DWP revises the decision. There is already no time limit in the current system, so adding another stage can also maximise delays, with, once again, a corresponding adverse impact on the health and well-being of the claimant. This could be alleviated if there was a maximum set period for the review process. This would at least provide the claimant with some level of certainty.

Ÿ  Around 40% of all WCA appeals are currently successful with 70% sucessful with representation which is a damning indictment of the quality of ATOS Healthcare’s initial assessment. Tragically and scandalously, many people who have initially been found fit for work have actually died before the appeals process was completed. With the extension of the time frame for appeals that this change will introduce, and no perceivable improvement in the WCA itself, this number can only rise even further.  

Ÿ  It is also unclear how the new process will deal with the payment of ESA during the new mandatory revision stage. Currently, a claimant appealing against a decision that they do not have a limited capability of work is able to continue to receive ESA at the assessment phase rate pending the outcome of their appeal. However, if the ESA Regulations are not amended, the position would be that claimants would have to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), and therefore comply with all the conditions associated with receipt of that benefit,  or face receiving no benefit at all. Many claimants with severe conditions would simply be unable to fulfill the JSA conditions and therefore face a very real prospect of destitution. This would be inhumane and lead to a catastrophic increase in the amount of distress, poverty and debt many disabled people already suffer from. The Government should therefore, as a matter of urgency, provide clarification on whether it intends to allow ESA claimants to continue to receive ESA at the assessment rate while they undergo the mandatory revision stage.

Ÿ  The fundamental problem is that the WCA process is itself fundamentally flawed and it this broken system that needs to be completely overhauled. The standard of the initial medical examination, and the information provided to the claimant on their WCA decision, need to be drastically improved before any needless tinkering with the appeals system is introduced.

 The Government consulted on the implementation and operation on the appeals reform provisions from February to May this year. The consultation, though, did not ask for responses on whether the mandatory reconsiderations should be introduced. The Government revealed, in its interim response published in June, that it had received 154 responses to the consultation but indicated that it “does not propose to make any significant changes to the draft regulations included in the consultation document as a result of the comments received“. DPAC calls on the Government to publish a full response to this consultation as soon as possible so we can ascertain the evidential basis for this change and just how much support the proposed change has received from respondents.  

 With Thanks to Richard Woodward

Sep 162012
 

Will Universal Credit merge all
working age benefits…
In to a ‘single’ streamlined payment?

With thanks to the brilliant Nick fighting for justice and raising issues we should know about: see more at http://mylegal.proboards.com/index.cgi

“Universal Credit will simplify the benefits system by bringing together a range of working-age benefits into a single streamlined payment.” – say DWP

Well let’s just check the DWP’s claim out…..

Take the case of John. He’s 59 and he’s in receipt of Employment & Support Allowance (Support Group] because he has very severe limitations and cannot work, he also receives some Disability Living Allowance. Having paid all his National Insurance contributions he is entitled to the contribution based variant of his Employment & Support Allowance. He lives in his own rented property.

Under the current system John has to claim four separate benefits:

 

  • Employment & Support Allowance (contribution based)
  • Housing Benefit (for his rent)
  • Disability Living Allowance for his severe mobility & personal care needs
  • Council Tax Benefit

So will John’s life be made any easier once he’s been reassessed under the welfare reforms?

Will Universal Credit simplify things for John?

Will John’s four benefits all be merged into one?

Here’s how John’s claim will be affected by welfare reform …. 

 

  • John will carry on claiming his Employment & Support Allowance – because it’s contribution based it won’t be included with his Universal Credit claim.
  • John’s Housing Benefit will be replaced by Universal Credit, but it will no longer be paid by his local Council.
  • John’s Disability Living Allowance may well end up being replaced by Personal Independence Payment but it won’t be included with his Universal Credit claim.
  • John’s Council Tax Benefit will be replaced by a localised benefit for Council Tax but it won’t be included with his Universal Credit claim.

John will still be claiming four separate benefits despite his ‘Universal’ Credit – hardly simplification is it?

Government is spending billions of pounds in a blaze of publicity aimed at convincing us all that the new Universal Credit will integrate working age benefits into one ‘single streamlined payment’. It’s a claim which falls flat on its face when you start to look at the detail.

It’s only Income Based Employment & Support Allowance which will be included in a Universal Credit claim, the contributory based variant John claims stays outside of the system because it is not a means tested benefit. It’s only John’s Housing Benefit which becomes part of his Universal Credit claim. Under the current system John’s Housing & Council Tax Benefit are both paid by the Local Authority but from next April it all changes as Council’s commence the administration of their own ‘localised’ version of Council Tax Benefit. John’s rent payments will be paid directly to him rather than get paid directly to his landlord under the new scheme and what’s more they will be paid from a completely different source to his Council Tax Benefit.

John’s Disability Living Allowance will eventually be transferred (subject to assessment) to the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) which has never been integrated into the plans for merging of payments in with Universal Credit.

So John’s Employment & Support Allowance stays exactly as it is, his Housing Benefit becomes his Universal Credit, his Council Tax merely becomes localised and his new Personal Independence Payments stays outside of the system.

Now will someone tell me, or rather to the point the DWP: how is this ‘simplification’ of the system?

We will take a look at some more comparisons in due course, although this one seems to say it all I think; what do you reckon?

 


Now let’s look at another typical claimant situation involving a family…..

Take the case of Ben and Barbara and their 3 children: aged 9,11 and 14. Barbara is the carer for their 11 year old son who is disabled. Bob goes to work and the family receive Working & Child Tax Credits, they don’t qualify for any help with their mortgage and nor do they get any help with Council Tax.

Under the current system Ben and Barbara have to claim four separate benefits:

 

  • They receive Tax Credits: Working & Child Tax Credits from the HMRC
  • Carer’s Allowance for Barbara who looks after the family’s son.
  • Disability Living Allowance for their son
  • Child Benefit for all 3 children

So will Ben and Barbara’s life be made any easier once they’ve been reassessed under the welfare reforms?

Will Universal Credit simplify things for this family?

Will Ben and Barbara’s four main benefits all be merged into one?

Here’s how Ben and Barbara’s claim will be affected by welfare reform …. 

 

  • Universal Credit replaces their Tax Credit claim (Working Tax Credit & Child Tax Credit)
  • Child Benefit is not included in the Universal Credit
  • Carer’s Allowance is not included in the Universal Credit
  • Disability Living Allowance is not included in the Universal Credit

Ben and Barbara will still have to claim four separate benefits despite their ‘Universal’ Credit – it’s not really simplification is it?

So again we see another example of how this unification doesn’t really merge payments at all. Some may of course argue that their Working Tax Credits and Child Tax Credits are two separate benefits but existing claimants will be aware that both are paid in the existing system by the HMRC; essentially the claim process and award notices for both the working and child related credits are already unified. In this case the two different credits are reclassified as ‘Universal Credit’. The other benefits which Ben and Barbara claim all fall outside of the new Universal Credit because they are non-means tested. How can we claim this to be simplification?

It’s another example which shows how Universal Credit isn’t the ‘single streamlined payment’ claimed by the DWP.


So perhaps it will be easier to claim Universal Credits in the event of Ben losing his job…..

In the previous post we looked at how Ben and Barbara would be affected by Universal Credit if they were in work. Now let’s look at the same family and how they will benefit (or not as the case may be) in the unfortunate event that Bob lost his job.

Under the Universal Credit system with Ben working, the family would still be claiming four separate benefits:
 

 

  • Universal Credit replaces their Tax Credit claim (Working Tax Credit & Child Tax Credit)
  • Child Benefit is not included in their Universal Credit
  • Carer’s Allowance is not included in their Universal Credit
  • Disability Living Allowance is not included in their Universal Credit

So will Ben and Barbara’s life be made any easier with Universal Credit as they move from being in work to unemployed?

Will Universal Credit make it easier to transition from employment to unemployment?

Will Ben and Barbara’s four main benefits become all merged into one?

Here’s how Ben and Barbara’s claim is affected as Ben becomes unemployed….

  • Ben will be entitled to claim contributory based Jobseeker’s Allowance – which is not part of Universal Credit (but see below)
  • The Disability Living Allowance claimed for their son is not part of Universal Credit
  • The Carer’s Allowance claimed for looking after their son is not part of Universal Credit. (but see below)
  • The Child Benefit is not part of Universal Credit.
  • Because Ben and Barbara are now on a low income – they can claim some Council Tax benefit, but it will not be part of their Universal Credit.
  • Their existing Universal Credit claim is altered to take account of how Ben is no longer working but the Children still need to be claimed for. (but see below)

Potentially Ben and Barbara may be seen as still having to claim 5 separate benefits!

This scenario flags up a number of problems, take it from me these are the kind of problems which you always get when merging contributory based benefits with those which are income based. Anyone in this situation will also be affected by the Universal Credit regulations, they are in draft form but are now at an advanced stage and can therefore be relied upon to get an idea where the problems may be. The potential problems in Ben and Barbara’s claim will revolve around the following:

  • Their Carer’s Allowance
  • Their mortgage costs
  • The correct handling of their claim
  • Ben’s contributory based Jobseeker’s Allowance.

The reason these are all problematic is because because Ben and Barbara’s income has fallen so low that they now fall subject to ‘means testing’ of their non – means tested benefits. Bob’s Contribution based Jobseeker’s Allowance and the Carer’s Allowance are both treated as income in a Universal Credit claim. The problem is how many claim handler’s or advisers will recognise this or for that matter how can we be sure it will be picked up by the IT system when a claimant does their claim on-line. Remember claimants will only put in what they consider to be relevant.

This is always a classic point of failure in the benefits system and Universal Credit has merely moved it in to the arena for error. Having been told Carer’s Allowance and Contributory based Jobseeker’s Allowance are not part of Universal Credit, how many claimants are going to think ” I don’t have to put that in then”. It’s no good saying there will be comprehensive instruction or advice on tap – the reality is people don’t understand or always read the instructions and advice is something the government has made it clear they do not want to fund. The scope for error is immense, in fact it’s just waiting to happen.

In practice Universal Credit is composed of elements which offset the income which you have to declare. So for the Carer’s Allowance there is a ‘carer’s element’ and for Ben and Barbara’s mortgage interest costs there is a ‘mortgage element’. It’s more or less exactly the same as it is in existing income based claims. The Universal Credit will make an allowance for both Ben and Barbara by regarding them as a couple. But remember Bob’s Jobseeker’s Allowance isn’t actually part of the Universal Credit claim but it is very much taken in to account as their income for Universal Credit purposes.

Confused?

Yes I expect you are, it’s no different to the confusion which exists already – its just been extended to a newly named benefit. The confusion doesn’t end here because the mortgage interest costs (only the interest is paid) fall to be included as part of Ben and Barbara’s Universal Credit but only after a ‘qualifying period. It’s the point at which all of these elements & allowances apply which marks the point at which the contribution based benefits fall to be assessed as income.

In an ideal world Ben and Barbara’s Universal Credit should include their Carer’s Allowance, housing costs and Bob’s Contribution based Jobseeker’s Allowance but the problem arises in working out when they fall to be assessed and in recognising the alignment of all the different elements and the dates from when they ‘kick in’.

Many of us will remember the chaos caused with the implementation of the tax credits system, it resulted in an epidemic of overpayments. The scope for overpayments is far greater with Universal Credit because it’s being carried out on such a huge scale. What makes it all the more alarming is that if you make a mistake you risk a new £50 fine, the fine could be the least of your worries because there is also a pronounced determination to prosecute those who are deemed to be ‘cheating’ the system. We have all seen examples of a hostile media and a renewed DWP stance to get tough in a desire to name and shame anyone who falls foul.

Overpayments under the new system will not be subject to the same rights of dispute which currently exist so many claimants simply won’t be able to properly contest an unfair decision. When government is asked about the problems all of this creates they stick to script and tell us all how ‘work pays’. The emphasis on work is backed up by an assurance that simplifying the benefits system makes it more possible to transition from welfare to work; the new highway for making the transition is Universal Credit which we are all told is ‘on track’.

Let’s just wait and see whether the government’s new super – highway from welfare to work is all they say it will be. They can make all the claims they like but the one which promotes Universal Credit as a ‘single streamlined payment’ is to say the least a gross distortion of the facts.

To those of you who don’t understand a word of this: welcome to Universal Credit, you’ll need to put all your faith in the DWP and the Ministers who tells us it’s on track. I can see the newspaper headlines which will highlight all this chaos, it won’t be too long before the printing presses start rolling!

And they say there’s no need for benefit specialists, honestly what planet are they on?

It’s yet another example which shows how the DWP’s claim that Universal Credit is a ‘single streamlined payment’ is nothing short of a lie.

Read more: http://mylegal.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=frontline&action=display&thread=758#ixzz26fxEa5g7

 

Sep 092012
 

 

For printing purposes you can download –

Why the closure of the Independent Living Fund affects everyone in the UK (Word doc)
Why the closure of the Independent Living Fund affects everyone in the UK (pdf)

Sep 082012
 

No, really, I mean it. If I am forced to swallow one more dose of Paralympics hype syrup, I will throw up. With the Olympics, the shock and awe blast of nationalist triumphalist machismo was at least familiar – this is just the capitalist-spectacle-as-usual. But with the Paralympics we have seen the addition into this cocktail of a supremely powerful and toxic ingredient, the opportunity for liberals to feel good about themselves for supporting the underdog and ‘progress in the fight against prejudice’. It is this thick coating of syrup which has confused even radical disability rights advocates, and is making it almost impossible for critics to speak out, except about the blatantly obvious outrage of Atos as sponsors. But the truth is that, despite all the hopeful talk about how the Paralympics are going to revolutionise people’s ideas about disability, the ideas and values at the core of the Paralympics are the precise opposite of the values of disability liberation. (I write this as a disabled person, one who has undergone one of Atos’ medical assessments and been found wanting, and who is suffering financially as a consequence.)

But wait a minute, I hear you say, isn’t that a bit extreme, surely all the visibility and celebration of disabled people’s bodies is a good thing, at least it’s a step in the right direction? Sorry, I’m afraid not. It’s not just that the current epiphany of non-disabled people is shallow (how many of those enthusiastic millions will be attending the protests against Atos?). What is actually going on with the Paralympics is an intensification of the values that drive the oppression of disabled people. And there is actually no contradiction at all between Atos as administrators of assessments that rob disabled people of their benefits and Atos as sponsors of the Paralympics.

First, lets clear away some obvious dead wood. There is nothing useful to disabled people in being seen as inspirational for their heroic overcoming of their impairment rather than as pathetic disgusting objects of charity. As some have already pointed out, since the vast majority of disabled people will never become Paralympians, all this does is to set up again the traditional distinction between the deserving and undeserving poor. Equally obviously, this is the quintessential liberal narrative of the heroic individual, filled with (in the words of Tory Prime Minister David Cameron) ‘steely determination to succeed’. It has nothing whatsoever to do with a collective struggle for disabled people’s rights or the values of disability liberation. I don’t remember a wave of national euphoria about collective achievements of the disability rights movement.

Only slightly less obvious is that the deluge of what has now been dubbed ‘inspiration pornography’ is not about us: it’s composed largely of non-disabled people’s self-congratulation that they have overcome their bad feelings about disabled people and relief that they are no longer being asked to feel sorry for these poor creatures. The inspirational narrative makes them feel much better. The medical model again But the heart of the issue is this: this change of narrative is just the flip-side of the same coin, the medical model of disability, the rejection of which, in favour of a social model, has been the theoretical foundation of disability liberation for the last 30 years. While the medical model says that disability is caused by impairment, the social model insists that people are dis-abled by society that refuses to accommodate their needs (for a decent income, accessible transport, buildings etc). Medical model thinking is always focused on our individual impairments, and how we can overcome them.

In the past, the non-disabled people’s predominant feeling about this was despair and pity, expressed by wanting to help through charity; all that’s changed is that now they’re excited that it seems that impairments can be overcome after all. Can they not do better than go from one end to the other of this stupid construct? I am neither a hero nor a victim, just an ordinary person, as we all are. At the heart of the medical model is a value judgement that seems to be such a matter of common sense that it does not need examining; low functionality – bad, high functionality – good, and this is what is being celebrated at the Paralympics, (and, of course, in competitive sport in general). Here we are seeing the flip side of the medical model, a triumphalist ‘we can fix it with technology’ narrative that, in the age of high technology and biomedicine, has superseded the old designation of disabled people as ‘incurables’. Technocracy

The point is that the Paralympics don’t just reflect the familiar capitalist values of competitive sport, they also represent something just as deep and significant, the values of technology. The concept of functionality/performance/efficiency is one of the concepts that come from machines and engineering that have been the ruling concept of capitalist technocracy for the last 400 years. In economic theory, it is efficiency that leads to success in the marketplace. The medical model of disability springs directly from technocratic thinking. In capitalist technocracy, what matters is not ‘arbitrary’ or theoretical ideas (like religions or humanist principles) lacking a firm evidence base, but utility, ie. what works, what can be palpably felt and cashed out. ‘Facts! Give me facts, not fancies,’ declares Dickens’ Mr Gradgrind (Hard Times).

Thus Atos’ medical assessments are not about what illness/impairment you have, rather they are (supposedly) scientific assessments of the functionality of your body, what tasks it can and cannot do. It is perfectly logical within this technocratic way of thinking that people with terminal cancer can nonetheless be fit to work. This ruthlessly scientific way of thinking is, naturally, being implemented in the government’s planned Personal Independence Payments, replacing the Disability Living Allowance system that ‘arbitrarily’ accepts people with certain conditions as eligible for benefit payments.

In a world in which functionality rules, Atos as sponsors of the Paralympics makes perfect sense. And all the ‘radical’ talk of integrating the Olympics with the Paralympics, since the performance of Paralympians is approaching that of Olympians, is just another manifestation of technocratic thinking: in a world ruled by a linear scale of performance such ‘arbitrary’ distinctions are a form of discrimination, aren’t they? It is always the ironing out of ‘arbitrary’ anomalous barriers that is defined within liberal technocracy as progress. ‘Superhumans’?

Sep 082012
 

Many thanks to Chris Coltrane for agreeing to us re-posting this. If only it was unbelievable.

1x1 transparent

Last Friday I took part in the protest outside the offices of Atos, the company who won the contract to decide whether disabled people are disabled enough to receive benefits.

In the UK, Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is being replaced with the controversial Personal Independent Payment (PIP). DLA fraud stands at a paltry 0.5%. Nevertheless, the government wants to bring fraud to an end. To do this, the government has commissioned Atos to remove the new PIP from 20% of disability claimants. Which is a bit like punishing one child from skipping football by setting fire to the gym.

Of course, a far higher percentage than 0.5% of MPs were found to be cheating their expenses. But it would be wrong to punish MPs, because, you know. Because. Wait, what was my point again?

The consequences of Atos’s decisions are sickening. My friend Polly has a severe form of Crohn’s disease. She’s been given countless different medications, and operations to remove parts of her small intestine. In fact, her Crohn’s is so resistant to the strongest medications and surgery available that she was referred to an experimental chemotherapy and stem cell transplant medical trial. If Crohn’s were a video game, she is playing it on hardest difficulty, with no cheat codes and a broken controller.

Atos sent a doctor to assess whether she could re-qualify for benefits. On arrival, he told her that he’d never heard of Crohn’s Disease. Forgive me for being pedantic, but a doctor who hasn’t heard of Crohn’s Disease isn’t a doctor. That’s like a dentist who hasn’t heard of gums, or a plumber that’s never heard of pipes. Imagine police officers coming to your house after your telly has been stolen, only to find that they’d never heard of “burglary”. They then suggest that you shouldn’t complain because you’ve got enough possessions to be getting on with, after which they hand you a bill for wasting police time, and make you work in Poundland for free to pay it off.

I had heard rumours that Atos doctors mark people down if their illness isn’t visible. Which seemed ludicrous even for Atos. As if the only three kind of illnesses are eczema, nosebleeds and an unfortunate haircut. Cancer? Look mate, unless you’ve got cancer of the face, we’re not interested. Get back to work!

Sadly, Polly has confirmed the rumour. One of the very few notes the Atos doctor wrote was “No obvious external signs of generalised systemic disease found”. Because for most people, their intestines are an external organ. Fashionistas like to stylishly wrap them around their hips, like a kind of pulsating belt. I hear the trend in Milan this season is to wear your intestines as a scarf, to keep your neck warm.

I reckon the doctor was there on a workfare scheme. Perhaps even the people who set the criteria for what constitutes as an illness are unqualified workfare temps. That might explain why we suddenly seem to have forgotten the past 150 years of medical and social progress, and are instead guessing whether someone is ill based on whether they can raise their arms, and walk five metres. (Those are genuinely the only two physical tests Polly’s Atos doctor used to see if she was disabled.)

Atos must have just told the doctor to learn medicine on the job. It’s obvious if they’re ill: just look for open wounds. If you can’t see directly into their heart, they’re good for work. Accept nothing less than four missing limbs. And if you get stuck, just remember this handy mnemonic: If The Patient Isn’t Bleeding, They’re Probably Misleading™.

If the aim of this exercise truly was to rid the system of the 0.5% of fraudulent claims, the government wouldn’t need to give everyone such shockingly inhumane treatment. They certainly wouldn’t need to take the benefit away from 19.5% of genuinely disabled people. They wouldn’t need to send doctors who are woefully under-qualified. And Atos definitely wouldn’t need to get their doctors to sign the Official Secrets Act to stop them from whistle-blowing.

But, like all their policies, their real motivation is not the one they claim in public. Their motivation is simply to reduce government spending, to reduce their own personal tax bill, and to sell public services to the companies they themselves own, to become even richer still. And if disabled people have to suffer, and die, to make it happen: well, who cares?

Not the Tories, that’s for sure.

 Posted by at 18:52
Sep 082012
 
Jobs Not Sanctions Protest at DWP HQ – Weds 12th Sep 9am
This week Newsnight reported on one of the most shocking consequences of this Government’s austerity measures and in particular their attacks on welfare.
In 2007, food banks fed around 14,000 people in the UK.
Last year 130,000 were fed at food banks and by 2013 that figure is expected to leap to 200,000.
There are at least three food banks opening every week.
43% of those that ask for help from food banks do so because of problems with their benefits, mostly sanctions.
Benefit sanctions, where the DWP stop or reduce benefits for a period as a punishment for a ‘failure’ to adhere to an instruction (e.g. being more than a minute late for an interview, failing to complete a job diary satisfactorily,etc) have also increased massively.
In 2009, 139,000 claimants were sanctioned. By 2011, this had trebled to 508,000 and just in the first 3 months of this year, sanctions have been imposed on 167,000.
The Tories’ Workfare schemes, providing the unemployed with the “choice” of working unpaid or losing their benefits, has contributed to many of these sanctions.
110,000 recommendations to sanction claimants have come from welfare-to-work firms such as A4e. These firms are paid to provide unemployed labour for workfare schemes.
Jobs Not Sanctions
Protest Called By Unite Community London
Wednesday 12th September from 9am
Department of Work and Pensions
Caxton House
Tothill Street
London SW1H 9NA
 Posted by at 10:31
Sep 062012
 

We have put together a list of resources- please contact us if you know of others that would be useful to add

DPAC receive a large number of requests for advice and information on cuts and the WCA . We cannot give advice, but direct to web resources that we know.

We also have a DPAC Facebook page which includes many people struggling with issues of ESA, Atos assessments and DWP failures –it acts as an advice forum from those that may have been through the issues you might be experiencing it’s at https://www.facebook.com/groups/DPAC2011/418279398228320/?notif_t=group_activity

Useful web sites

www.benefitsandwork.co.uk

http://edinburghagainstpoverty.org.uk/

http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/

http://www.citizensadvice.co.uk/en/  Northern Ireland

http://www.cas.org.uk/cta/find-your-local-cab Scotland

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Diol1/DoItOnline/DoItOnlineByCategory/DG_067277 Find your local CAB

WCA: how to prepare

http://www.socialworkfuture.org/articles-and-analysis/articles/242-survival-tips-for-the-work-capability-assessment

http://antp.org.uk/wcarules.htm

WCA Appeals: what you need to do

http://www.solfed.org.uk/?q=unwaged-workers/know-your-rights-failing-a-work-capability-assessment

Free legal assistance list with thanks to Inclusion London

Bar Pro Bono Unit

Who are they?

A charity that helps to find pro bono legal assistance from volunteer barristers for individuals and organisations who cannot afford to pay and who cannot obtain public funding (legal aid).

What do they do?

The Unit matches barristers prepared to undertake pro bono work with those who need their help. The office itself does not give advice.

The volunteer barristers can provide advice, representation and help at mediation; representation in any court/tribunal; give legal advice on any subject; and draft documents such as skeleton arguments.

How do you access the service?

  • They cannot accept applications unless they come via a referrer (generally, an advice agency such as the CAB or a Law Centre, or a local MP)
  • Visit the website www.barprobono.org.uk
  • For more information if you are an individual needing help Click Here
  • Submit a query via contact form Click Here

Community Legal Advice

Who are they?

A free and confidential advice service in England and Wales paid for by legal aid.

What do they do?

Provide free help or legal advice over the phone. They can help with family, debt, housing, employment, education, welfare benefits and tax credits problems.

They will check to see if you are eligible for legal aid and put you in touch with a specialist legal adviser, or refer you to other agencies of you do not qualify for their services.
Has a free translation service available in 170 languages.

How do you access the service?

  • Telephone 0845 345 4 345 (Open Monday to Friday 9.00 am to 8.00 pm. Saturday 9.00 am to 12.30 pm. Calls cost 4p per minute from a BT landline; cost from mobiles will be more)
  • Request a call back 

               -Via online form Click Here

               -Text ‘legalaid’ then your name to 80010 (Call back within 24 hours)

Disability Law Service

Who are they?

A national charity run by disabled people, which specialises in free legal advice and information for disabled people, their families and carers.

What do they do?

They provide free legal advice and representation (e.g. in complaints, using the Ombudsman, tribunals and courts), specialising in Welfare Benefits; Community Care; Disability Discrimination in Employment, Access to Goods and Services; and using the Equality Duty to challenge public authorities.
They run a free legal advice line, open Mon-Friday, 10am–5pm, with an answering machine service for out of hours calls.
They run an Employment Law drop in at their office in Tower Hamlets, where a member of their legal team will assess whether you are financially eligible for legal aid under the Legal Services Commissions (LSC) Legal Help scheme.
They also have factsheets available to download on key areas of the law, such as Community Care; education; employment; goods and services; and welfare benefits. The factsheets are available for download in different formats – regular, large print, text only and audio file.
They commit to responding to telephone enquiries within 24 hours, and written enquiries within 7-10 days.

How do you access the service?

Free Representation Unit (FRU)

Who are they?

A charity that provides free legal representation for the public 
and advocacy experience for junior lawyers.

What do they do?

Provide legal advice, case preparation and advocacy in employment tribunals (and appeals from decisions of the employment tribunals); social security appeals in the first-tier tribunal (and appeals from such decisions); and criminal injury compensation cases.

How do you access the service?

  • *Do not accept cases directly from members of the public – all cases must come through a referral agency. For a list of referral agencies, Click Here
  • Visit the website www.thefru.org.uk

LawWorks

Who are they?

A charity that works with law firms and legal professionals to involve them in delivering pro bono work.

What do they do?

Aim to provide free legal help to those who cannot afford to pay for it and who are unable to access legal aid.

Services to individuals include free Legal Advice Clinics, free mediation to settle disputes out of court, and free casework assistance if you need more than one-off advice.

Who are they for?

Individuals

How do you access the service?

ProBonoUK.net

Who are they?

A charity that run a website for the promotion of pro bono legal work.

What do they do?

Act as a resource for news andinformation about pro bono work for individuals, advice workers and lawyers wishing to offer help.

How do you access the service?

RAD Legal Services:   BSL

Who are they?

A dedicated legal advice service for Deaf BSL users provided by the Royal Association of Deaf People (RAD).

What do they do?

RAD Legal Services currently has three projects: a Discrimination Advice project, a Webcam Advice Project and a Money Advice Service project.
Discrimination Advice gives free specialist legal advice on discrimination issues in the areas of employment, housing, education and goods, facilities and services.  This is provided by a Deaf solicitor, and can be delivered face to face, via webcam, email, telephone or instant messaging software.
Webcam Advice is the BSL version of the Community Legal Advice Helpline, and is available free of charge to people eligible for legal aid in the areas of welfare benefits, debt, housing and employment.  As well as webcam, they can also provide advice via instant messaging software such as Windows Live Messenger, ooVoo, etc.
Money Advice Service has a qualified Money Adviser giving free, clear and ‘jargon-free’ Money Advice money advice to D/deaf and hard of hearing people who live in the South East. The Service covers the savings and investments; borrowings (credit cards, loans and mortgages); retirement planning and pensions; redundancy; tax and tax credits; insurance; debt; starting a family; and budgeting.

How do you access the service?

Other links

Advice Guide

Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) online advice resource.
www.adviceguide.org.uk

Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB)

The website of the national advice agency, including Search for your nearest CAB.
www.citizensadvice.org.uk

Law Centres Federation

The umbrella organisation that supports and promotes UK Law Centres. For a list of London’s Law Centres, visit
www.lawcentres.org.uk/directory/location/London

Legal Adviser Finder

Find legal advisers or solicitors near you
http://legaladviserfinder.justice.gov.uk/AdviserSearch.do

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Download the list of Legal firms: Public Law Specialists

Download list of Legal Firms: Community Care specialists


 

Sep 062012
 

http://www.bastamag.net/article2608.html
http://www.courrierinternational.com/article/2012/09/04/la-vitrine-doree-d-une-politique-honteuse-envers-les-handicapes

http://www.silicon.fr/atos-sponsor-controverse-jeux-londres-78002.html

http://www.arretsurimages.net/vite.php?id=14396&utm_source=ajeanfr&utm_medium=twitter&utm_term=ajeanfr
http://www.rue89.com/2012/09/06/paralympiques-atos-un-sponsor-juge-trop-severe-avec-les-salaries-handicapes-235136

 Posted by at 16:40
Sep 052012
 

PAUPERS’ PICNIC for INDEPENDENT LIVING

 

SEPTEMBER 13th 2.15-3.30pm meeting in Committee Room 8. Please invite your MP to come along to this and to meet you afterwards. We will try to keep the meeting to no more than an hour to give people time to speak to MPs.

 

MEET 1.30pm- 1.45pm at College Green,Abingdon Streetif you want to go in as a group.

Please bring plenty of bread and water to eat and share.

“The Independent Living Fund is a ring fenced resource, for 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. There is currently a very unsatisfactory consultation taking place about the future of ILF funding.

We must make it clear that we will not be silenced by this government’s injustices nor will we simply disappear. 

To lobby your MP you need to go to the House of Commons visitor’s entrance and fill out a green card or contact your MP beforehand and tell them you want to lobby them about keeping the Independent Living Fund and why it is important to you.

You can find your MPs contact details at www.parliament.uk or you can write to them at House of Commons,London,SW1A 0AA.

 

 

 Posted by at 14:43
Sep 052012
 

New Minister for Disabled People Esther McVey – Maria Miller Mark II?

 

  1. McVey was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to Employment Minister Chris Grayling in November 2010 and in this role supported Grayling’s work to get the Welfare Reform Bill made law. At the time McVey said: “I am delighted to have been given this opportunity to work within the Department of Work and Pensions alongside Chris Grayling and Iain Duncan Smith to assist in bringing about key changes. The appointment will enable me to give support to the minister and allow me to give vital feed back to the department from the people of Wirral and the wider area, while at the same time pushing for jobseekers to get the best possible help to get jobs as an urgent priority.”

 

  1. According to the blog of Labour MEP Mary Honeyball, McVey is a member of Conservative Way Forward. Its Honorary President is Margaret Thatcher. It was founded in 1991 to “defend and build upon the achievements of the Conservative Party under Margaret Thatcher’s leadership, and to adapt the principles of her era in government to modern concerns and challenges”.

 

  1. According to the Wirral Globe, Esther McVey worked from 2003 with Iain Duncan Smith to help establish the Centre for Social Justice. This right-wing think tank heavily influenced the development of the government’s Welfare Reform Act which Duncan Smith steered through Parliament in his role as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions with the help of Employment Minister Chris Grayling.

 

  1. On 01 February 2012, McVey voted with the government to defeat the seven amendments agreed by the House of Lords to the Welfare Reform Bill. Before being thrown out, these amendments originally:

 

a)   Protected housing benefit for social tenants deemed to have un-needed spare rooms.

b)   Protected young disabled people’s eligibility for contributory Employment Support Allowance (ESA).

c)    Raised to 24 months the proposed 12-month limit on claiming contributory ESA.

d)   Exempted cancer patients from the contributory ESA limits.

e)   Excluded child benefit from the £26,000 household benefit cap.

f)     Dropped proposal to charge single parents for using the Child Support Agency.

g)   Dropped proposals to cut disability living allowance payments by up to £1,400 a year for around 100,000 children.

 

  1. When McVey spoke in a House of Commons debate on Communities and Local Government on 20 December 2011 she said:

 

“When the coalition came into government, its focus had to be on reducing the UK’s debt and putting the UK economy on a sustainable footing. For too long, the UK had overspent and under-delivered. The Chancellor made it clear that the Government’s economic policy objective is to achieve strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries, rebalancing the economy by moving from unsustainable public spending and towards exports and investment.”

 

  1. When McVey spoke in a House of Commons debate on Community Cohesion on 26 January 2011 she said:

 

“I believe that our Localism Bill very much embeds all the charities and all the volunteers within what we are trying to do, whether it is HealthWatch, the Work programme, community groups or community centres. The big society is everything that you are talking about, just seen from a different viewpoint, and I have people coming to me locally and saying, ‘Thank goodness we’ve been liberated to go forth and develop what we want, rather than having a top-down state approach.’ “

 

  1. In a political discussion on 29 April 2012 led by Dermot Murnaghan on SKY News, McVey said:

“[David Cameron] he set out what he planned to do for five years, it was a five year agenda, not a two year one, not a three year one and we are in a coalition and not a Conservative government and the first thing we had to do was get the budget under control. When you ain’t got much money there’s not much you can do and when you are saying no to people, we can’t afford, let’s be honest you’re not going to be popular. But he has got to stick to his guns and he really has got to do that, he has got to get that under control and at the same time look what we’re doing with welfare. We have said it has to pay to go to work, we’re very clear there; education, we have to get that under control because we’ve fallen in all the OECD tables therefore that was wrong, so many things. How about exports, what about manufacturing? All these things he’s doing, we’ve got to do and it is a five year plan and we’ve got to stick to it.”

 

 Posted by at 10:30
Sep 042012
 

just to say we have been utterly overwhelmed by mail this week and have been unable to keep up and respond to everything. We will clear the backlaog as soon as possible and apologise if you feel you are being ignored. You aren’t.

If you haven’t heard anything back by September 12th please re-send your message as we also had a couple of problems with th email box being full last week and may have lost some messages.

Linda

 

 Posted by at 20:45
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