Jan 292013
 

Discretionary Housing Payments are to offset extra costs of so called Bedroom Tax but many local authorities are NOT advertising that this DHP is actually available. Yet the government is giving an extra 30 million pounds to LA’s specifically for this purpose. So for any disabled person facing a reduction in housing benefit due to having spare rooms please do pass on this link to the DWP guide for this year; http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/discretionary-housing-payments-guide-draft.pdf
at
www.dwp.gov

There should be information and claim forms on your local council’s website.

DHPs pose some problems however

1. You normally have to reapply for them every 13 weeks

2. There is no guarantee how much you’ll get each time you apply.

3. There is no right of appeal if you are refused one BUT you can seek a Judicial Review against that decision if you qualify for legal aid or you can threaten it if you don’t.

 Posted by at 22:06
Jan 292013
 
Hi there,
My name is Lauren Layfield, I work on The One Show at the BBC.
I wonder if you can help me? We’re desperately after families, single mums or single people who are going to be affected by the bedroom tax.
I wondered if you knew of anyone who’d be willing to speak to us about their situation?
We’re tried a few options now, but we’ve had a lot of bad luck…namely case studies falling poorly! We’re worried, unless we find someone soon, we won’t be able to do the story. Which would be a terrible shame as we get around 5m viewers every night and we want to bring it to people’s attention – one massive concern from housing associations is that many people don’t know it’s happening, or even BELIEVE it’s going to take effect, which is worrying.
I very much hope you might be able to help!
Best wishes,
Lauren Layfield
Researcher
Description: Description: cid:image001.png@01CC98AF.693F0BE0
4th Floor | Quay House | BBC MediaCityUK
Salford Quays | M50 2BH
0161 335 7558
* lauren.layfield@bbc.co.uk
 Posted by at 19:47
Jan 292013
 

The government is inviting views from disabled people and carers as the bill reaches committee stage. Although the oral evidence session was cancelled, Parliament has agreed to open up its web forum to disabled people as well as carers to feed in our views to the Joint Committee, chaired by Paul Burstow MP, as it conducts pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft Care and Support Bill.

To have your say follow this link: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/joint-select/draft-care-and-support-bill/web-forum/

Then click on the different sections to give your views:
Responsibilities of Local Authorities
Assessing Needs
Safeguarding Adults at Risk of Abuse or Neglect

The forum is moderated and they want to hear the views and experiences of individuals rather than template responses.

Points you might want to make include the lack of mention of the Independent Living Fund in the bill and how local authorities are not able to meet the outcomes of the ILF. The bill makes proposals for safeguarding interventions and boards but concrete measures to prevent abuse would be to stop disabled people being sent into residential care, against their wishes, where they are at risk of abuse (as we have seen from cases like Winterbourne View) through the closure of the ILF.

The bill misses the opportunity to set a national eligibilty. Such a threshold should be set at low or moderate in line with the preventative aims the bill talks about.

You can download Inclusion London’s response to the draft bill here: http://www.inclusionlondon.co.uk/inclusion-london-comments-on-draft-care-and-support-bill

 

 Posted by at 16:48
Jan 292013
 

The government is inviting views from disabled people and carers as the bill reaches committee stage. Although the oral evidence session was cancelled, Parliament has agreed to open up its web forum to disabled people as well as carers to feed in our views to the Joint Committee, chaired by Paul Burstow MP, as it conducts pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft Care and Support Bill.

To have your say follow this link:  http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/joint-select/draft-care-and-support-bill/web-forum/

Then click on the different sections to give your views:
Responsibilities of Local Authorities
Assessing Needs
Safeguarding Adults at Risk of Abuse or Neglect

The forum is moderated and they want to hear the views and experiences of individuals rather than template responses.

Points you might want to make include the lack of mention of the Independent Living Fund in the bill and how local authorities are not able to meet the outcomes of the ILF. The bill makes proposals for safeguarding interventions and boards but concrete measures to prevent abuse would be to stop disabled people being sent into residential care, against their wishes, where they are at risk of abuse (as we have seen from cases like Winterbourne View) through the closure of the ILF.

The bill misses the opportunity to set a national eligibilty. Such a threshold should be set at low or moderate in line with the preventative aims the bill talks about.

You can download Inclusion London’s response to the draft bill here: http://www.inclusionlondon.co.uk/inclusion-london-comments-on-draft-care-and-support-bill

 Posted by at 12:13
Jan 262013
 

Frances Ryan of the New Statesman is asking for disabled people’s experiences/fears/thoughts stories on the bedroom tax. Please send your stories direct to Frances at frances.ryan18@btinternet.com also on twitter @frances__ryan

Also please see http://www.dpac.uk.net/2013/01/bedroom-tax-and-discretionary-housing-payments/ for possible help

Jan 262013
 

Thanks to Occupy the London DPAC meeting on Saturday will be livestreamed:

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/occupynewsnetwork

London Disabled People Against Cuts (LDPAC)
Meeting
Saturday, 9th February 2013
11am – 3.30pm
Room RHB 142, Main Building, Goldsmiths, University of London, Lewisham Way, New Cross, London, SE14 6NW
This meeting will be a chance to
  • to find out more information about DPAC, the attacks on disabled people and what we will be doing over the next year,
  • to network, meet other disabled activists and share information
  • to hear from local London DPAC groups what they have been campaigning on in their local areas
We will also looking at what disabled people want from a London DPAC and how you want to work together over the next year
The venue is wheelchair accessible. See below for travel information.
 
To RSVP or for other access enquiries please contact Ellen ellen.clifford@inclusionlondon.co.uk or 07505144371
Many thanks to Inclusion London and to Goldsmiths Students’ Union for their support and facilities for this meeting.
Travel information:
  • 5 minutes’ walk from both New Cross and New Cross Gate stations (zone 2), on the main rail network and London Overground.
  • On major bus routes including 21, 36, 53, 136, 171, 172, 177, 225, 321, 343, 436, 453.
  • 10 minutes’ walk from Deptford Bridge Docklands Light Railway (DLR) station.
  • On the National Express coach route.
  • At the junction of the A2 and the A20, on Lewisham Way.
Directions for getting to Goldsmiths:
http://www.gold.ac.uk/find-us/
Access information about New Cross station:
http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/nwx/details.htm l
Goldsmiths access information:
Accessible parking: if you will need this on the day please contact Ellen on 07505144371 or by email ellen.clifford@inclusionlondon.co.uk to arrange
Jan 262013
 

Protest against the planned £10 million cuts to Adult Social Care in Croydon

Monday 28 January, 5.30pm

Croydon Town Hall

 

Croydon Council are in the process of agreeing their budget setting which includes a proposed set of cuts to services across Adult Social Care, that amount to £10million being taken out of the budget.

 

The Council carried out a consultation that was inaccessible to disabled people and included no detailed information about the cuts proposed to vital support services that the most disadvantaged members of the community depend upon.

 

We are very concerned that on top of year on year reductions by Croydon, and the huge central government cuts to disability-related benefits and entitlements, these cuts represent a further attack on the quality of life of disabled people. The cuts are adding injury to injury, and mean yet morepainfordisabledpeopleinCroydon.

 

Disabledpeopleshouldnothavetochoosebetweeneatingandheating!

Jan 262013
 

An organising meeting called on Saturday 19th January by Defend Council Housing (DCH), Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and Right to Work (RtW) attracted around 40 people representing 32 different campaign groups and union branches to build an umbrella campaign to oppose ConDem attacks on the poor and fight for benefit justice. The idea for the meeting came from a workshop on Welfare and Austerity hosted by DPAC and RtW at the Unite the Resistance conference in London in November.

Anger and desperation are mounting as benefit claimants brace themselves for changes due to come in this April at a time when many are already having to choose between heating and eating. The Bedroom Tax will mean tenants having to find around a £1000 a year to plug the cut in Housing Benefit, something that is simply unaffordable for people also facing a cut in Council Tax Support through what is fast becoming known as the new Poll Tax, and the benefit cap. Disability benefits are under attack on an unprecedented scale with cuts to DLA set to remove essential support from more than 600,000 claimants and the closure of the Independent Living Fund literally returning disabled people to the institutions. Unemployed workers are labelled as skivers and scroungers when the reality is there are no jobs and mandatory work placements are being used to drive down wages. Many low paid workers who will be expected to implement the changes will also be affected by them as research by union PCS has shown.

Campaign groups and actions are multiplying as people are left with no option but to fightback. In Liverpool last week 100 tenants attended a meeting called by Defend Your Homes Against the Bedroom Tax with plans for February to occupy a local housing association that is using housing benefit cuts to push tenants into unpaid work. Local Councils are being targeted with protests called at town halls such as those organised by Camden United for Benefit Justice. A facebook group called Anti Bedroom Tax has over 6000 members, many of whom have never been politically active before. Fuel Poverty Action is linking up with Greater London Pensioners Association and Disabled People Against Cuts on a weekend of action from 15th – 17th February and Boycott Workfare has a week of action planned from 18th – 23rd March.

The Campaign for Benefit Justice is about uniting the growing resistance, overcoming the divide and rule tactics the Government is using to get away with its assault on the 99% and bringing together disabled people, tenants, unemployed workers, trade unions, students, pensioner, single mothers and others to oppose benefit cuts.

We will be holding an event in London in early March with protests planned for budget day. More details to follow. For more information or to sign up to the statement below please contact info@defendcouncilhousing.org.uk.

Campaign for Benefit Justice – Statement

 Cuts in benefits are an unjust attack on the poor.  Cuts concentrated on Housing Benefit are already breaking up families, communities and support networks.  They will mean poverty, debt and evictions.
We oppose all cuts in benefits and tax credits. We did not cause the banking and economic crisis and will not be scapegoated to pay for it.

We reject false divisions and stigmatisation of people who are low-paid or unpaid.

We will join with local and national campaigns including disabled peoples, tenants, unemployed workers, trade unions, students, pensioner, single mothers and others to oppose benefit cuts

We will support and link up local campaigns.

We oppose all evictions and legal action against those hit by benefit cuts and support all actions taken in defence.

 

Signed:

Defend Council Housing

Disabled People Against Cuts

Right to Work

National Shop Stewards Network

Jan 232013
 

 

  1. Writers based in London are looking to create a verbatim theatre piece built from the testimonies of people affected by the cuts. They are hoping to speak to as many people as possible who have experience of the cuts, with a view to creating and staging a play which will contribute to the wider effort to get these vital stories heard. They would like to meet up with anyone from DPAC who might be willing to help with this and are willing to travel.
  1.  We need people particularly in North East, Yorkshire, Teeside and North West to help us with an access audit of sorts. This would involve going to look at access into and inside some buildings. This needs to be completed by the end of February.
  1. We want to hear from anyone in the West Midlands area who think they might be affected by the changes in the PIP proposals for the ability to walk being reduced from the current 50 metres in DLA down to only 20 metres.

4. We want to hear from anyone in Worcestershire who thinks they     might be affected by the Maximum Expenditure Policy which caps the amount of funding anyone can get towards their care and support funding.

If anyone can help with any of these things please contact mail@dpac.uk.net. Sorry we can’t at the moment give any more detail about these things on the website  although can say that all 4 of these are really important. Many thanks to those people who have already responded and offered to help with these.

 

 Posted by at 13:32
Jan 222013
 
Inline image 1

A central London fuel bill assembly at the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
Organised by Fuel Poverty Action
 
When? Saturday 16th February, 2pm
Where? The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), 3 Whitehall Place, SW1A 2AW
 
Join us at the Department of Energy and Climate Change as part of a national weekend of fuel bill assemblies and action. Come speak out about surviving mammoth bills, debt, cuts and cold homes and share experiences of how you’re getting by. Come discuss how we can support each other. And come take action to Stop the Great Fuel Robbery.

Bring:
– Your fuel bills or records of recent payments for your prepayment meter.
– Symbols or examples of the things you’re doing without in order to heat your home.
– Blankets, hot water bottles and flasks to keep warm.
– Banners and placards.
 
Join and share the event on Facebook if you can.
 
>>>> 
While one in four households must choose between heating and eating, the government is plotting to increase our dependence on dirty and expensive gas power. This will send fuel bills even higher, contribute to rising food prices through climate change and block the alternative of cheaper, cleaner renewable energy.
Pensioners, disabled people, homeless people, asylum seekers,  mothers and young children are being forced into libraries and shopping centres to keep warmPeople with cancer cannot afford the warmth they need and thousands of people are relying on food banksOver 7000 people died from cold homes last winter and deaths from hypothermia have doubled in the past five years. But the government is slashing crucial benefits and cutting grants to make homes energy efficient.
Dozens of Big Six energy company staff are being paid by the government to set energy policy within the Department for Energy and Climate Change. The government is snugly in bed with the Big Six energy companies. Together, they’re doing all they can to keep profiting from the Great Fuel Robbery. We say: enough is enough.
Join us at the Department of Energy and Climate Change to speak out, to discuss how to support each other and to take action to Stop the Great Fuel Robbery. 
 
Afterwards, we’ll find somewhere warm to go together to keep on the conversation.
 
Please spread the word far and wide!
 
Organised by Fuel Poverty Action.

 

 Posted by at 18:16
Jan 192013
 

In case anyone hasn’t seen this on the MHRN facebook page: 

HOW THE JUDICIAL REVIEW WENT!

The judicial review was scheduled for three days although we thought that it would only last for two. In the event, it lasted for the whole three days and there was a member of the MHRN in court at all times.

The claimants were asking that further medical evidence should be sought by the DWP from a person’s own health care professionals prior to the ESA50 form being sent out for all people with mental health problems (called MHPs in court). We believe that obtaining evidence at this stage will enable some people to be spared the distress of having to attend the face to face WCA interview and, where they do have to attend it, at least the assessor would know something about their condition and how it affects their functionality rather than the claimant being entirely at the mercy of the Atos computer and an unqualified Atos ‘Health Care Professional’. This in turn might spare some people from going through the misery of having to appeal. And, importantly, it would help identify people for whom regulations 29 and 35 apply. These regulations cover where there would be a risk to a person if they were found fit for work or for work related activity even if they had less than the required number of points for ESA.

Obviously this change is only one way that the WCA needs to be improved on. Initially the MHRN was calling for the test to be completely scrapped but we are also realistic about what can be achieved. Who knows, it may be scrapped in a few years time but, in the meantime, we have to survive it.

Now to the court case.

The case was being brought under the Equality Act and was heard by three judges in the Upper Tribunal Court. It began with much debate about how exactly people with MHPs were being disadvantaged in the process of claiming ESA and the case for the claimants was that the self reporting aspect was often, for a variety of reasons, difficult for people with MHPs. In addition, MHPs may not be able to obtain further medical evidence for themselves. The DWP barrister argued that there was already procedures in place to ensure that further medical evidence was sought in appropriate cases.

As well as the claimants’ barristers there was a barrister representing, jointly, National Mind, Rethink and the National Autistic Society, who also argued the claimants’ case and there was evidence written from consultant psychiatrists. It is hard to say, but, on balance, I felt that the existence of disadvantage may have been successfully established in court, but please, don’t rely on my impression!

A lot of time was spent arguing about who the MHP claimants were being disadvantaged in comparison with. This was very much a technical point and an Equality and Human Rights Commission barrister was present to intervene here.

The claimants were asking that reasonable adjustments are made to rectify a disadvantage (the adjustment being that medical evidence be sought by the DWP in all mental health cases) and therefore the ‘reasonableness’ of this adjustment was also up for debate with the DWP unsurprisingly arguing that it was wholly unreasonable, cost being one factor, the burden on doctors being another, and so on.

So is there a disadvantage and in comparison with whom are MHPs disadvantaged? If there is a disadvantage, would the requested adjustment rectify this disadvantage? And is the adjustment ‘reasonable’?

Obviously, as the case was being brought by individuals, there was some argument over whether the individuals concerned had been disadvantaged and whether the adjustments requested would have rectified that disadvantage. The DWP barrister tried every which way to counter the claimants’ arguments.

The feeling among the members of the MHRN who attended the court was that the claimants got a fair hearing. The judges will be meeting with three high court judges and, I think I got this right, it is these high court judges who will be making the final decision. This will undoubtedly take some time to come through and we have no idea how it will go.

So fingers crossed!

Whatever happens, we’ll never give up!

Jan 192013
 

Ellen Clifford joins Paul Carter and Sophie Partridge to talk about DPAC, the end of DLA and the migration to personal independence payments, sport and the Independent Living Fund with Neil Coyle from Disability Rights UK,  and Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson. Includes John Evans interview with Sunil Peck on the closing of the ILF.

from Disability Now – The Download podcast: DLA sport and the Independent Living Fund (to listen to the podcast click on image below)

 

 

Jan 192013
 

reposted from Social Work Action Network:

Please find below the call for proposals for both papers and workshops for 2013 Social Work Action Network (SWAN) conference, which will be held at London South Bank University between 12-13 April 2013.

‘Defeating the politics of austerity: creating an alternative future’

Call for Papers and Workshop Proposals

As we move towards 2013 and society becomes increasingly unequal with social protection perilously eroded, the neoliberal consensus around austerity is starting to falter and fracture.

Social workers and care employees work with families and communities struggling with the cumulative impact of cuts: parents who are forced to choose between feeding their children and paying the rent; people who are out of work or forced onto ‘workfare’ programmes; disabled people who are vilified by the government and media as unproductive scroungers while having their support for independence and employment snatched away from them. Whilst retrenchment deepens, marketisation progresses in social care as multinational companies such as Serco, G4S and Virgin profit from welfare delivery.  Meanwhile, the UK government ‘s collusion with News Corp, rate-fixing by Barclays Bank and the reduction of the top rate of tax on the rich all underline social injustice and feed the anger of people already enslaved to paying for an economic crisis caused by a pursuit of the free market.

Social workers and social care workers are themselves attacked through redundancies, pay cuts and higher workloads; many struggle to practice ethically whilst expected to work with the context of welfare cuts.

Yet social workers and service users are also witnessing and participating in the fight back to defend the welfare state. Likewise, they are involved in social movements that are developing alternative visions of social care and welfare based on collective benefit.  This year’s SWAN conference will provide an opportunity to share strategies in the struggle against cuts and marketisation of services, and to challenge the hardship these create. Join social work and care practitioners, service users, carers, educators, students and other activists to defend, debate and create alternative visions of social care and welfare.

We welcome papers and workshop proposals on the main conference themes:

•    Privatisation in care (e.g. G4S, Virgin, Atos): alternatives to outsourcing
•    The disability movement
•    Anti-racist/anti-fascist social work practice
•    Work with asylum seekers
•    Women and the cuts
•    User-led groups and community campaigns
•    How to do it in practice: radical social work in 2013 in state and voluntary sector social work
•    Radical social work education
•    Big society vs big state – should we take sides? Big Society, community social work and the role of the state in the provision of social work services.
•    Other themes relevant to the conference

We would like to encourage activists and practitioners as well as academics to submit ideas.  We hope to have workshops where people can engage in debate as well as having more formal papers presented.

Please send proposals (200 – 300 words) to swanconf2013 [at] gmail.com by 31st January 2013 and indicate the aims of the session, whether presentation or workshop and the content.  Please include a cover sheet with your name and contact details.  You will receive confirmation of whether your proposal is accepted in early March 2013. All those who are accepted to present at the conference must book a place at the conference.

Booking for the conference can be completed here:  people from DPAC and other disability activists who want to come should register here:

http://www.socialworkfuture.org/conference-and-events/conference-2013/273-register-for-swan-conf-2013

They should then make a donation to the conference when they turn up on the day, but only if they feel they can afford to do so. 

Download this file (Call for papers - FINAL.docx)Call for papers and workshops – SWAN Conf 2013

Jan 162013
 

Alec Shelbrooke the Tory MP who wants to introduce cards for benefit payments so people can’t squander the massive amounts of money they get (ha!ha!) in this article defending his bill to introduce payment cards to limit what claimants can buy. Does he actually know that an under 25 year old on JSA only gets £45 a week to cover all bills and food?

However Alec’s has kindly written this blog on which you can leave your comments by clicking here

 

Jan 162013
 

 

DPAC Press Release 

WCA Descriptors fail, DWP fails, Atos fails.  

Does any part of Work Capability Assessment actually work?

A recent case has come to light which proves beyond doubt, as many people suspected, that:

 -the Work Capability Assessment is a complete shambles,

 -the WCA Descriptors are completely inadequate at assessing fitness for work,

-the Descriptors fail miserably to capture a person’s level of disability,

-the Descriptors fail to predict the long term prognosis of a disabled or a sick person,

-the DWP and Atos over-reliance on these descriptors explain the number of successful appeals against Fit to Work decisions.

 It is unimaginable that the DWP and Atos are unaware of these failings, however they continue to give more weight to WCA Descriptors than to Professional Medical Evidence.

 In the following case, and many other cases, judgement based on Medical Evidence is the only solid basis for robust, fair and reliable assessment of a level of disability.

 It is also the only solid basis for predictability of ability to return  to work. This is  clearly illustrated by Charles’ story (shown below).

 Finally the asinine crudeness and sheer stupidity of what the DWP have the impudence to call a ‘medical report’ is shown by a copy of Charles’ report (attached).
If there is a case to illustrate the inadequacy and the irrelevance of  using Descriptors for WCA assessment, it is this.

 If there is a case to show the casual and irresponsible attitude of the Department of Work and Pensions towards Sick and Disabled benefit Claimants, it is this.

 If there is a case to show that Atos computer based assessments are not fit for purpose, it is this.

 How much longer will this rotten system be allowed to continue to fail Sick and Disabled people within our Society?

 

Here is Charles’ Story:

 Charles stopped work after contracting a serious viral infection in July 2009 and was also diagnosed as having ME in November 2009. He claimed ESA in June 2010.

 In 2011 he had an Atos WCA assessment, which found him fit to work but after appeal he was put in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG).

 He was placed again in the WRAG after a second assessment in January 2012, although he felt he should be in the Support Group, but was too ill to appeal the decision. 

A few months later, in April 2012, he was diagnosed as having Leukaemia and a degenerative dysfunction of the spinal cord.

 Following this, on several occasions he contacted the Benefits Office to request to be put in the Support Group, but received no direct response.

 In April 2012, his ESA was stopped because his savings exceeded the threshold but in August 2012 he notified the Benefits Office that that was no longer the case and sent a letter in September to explain his financial situation.

 He did not receive any response, and he was still not receiving any benefits, although in September 2012, he was sent another ESA50 form to complete.

 In September 2012, he requested a copy of the report from his last ATOS assessment from January 2012.

 Although he did not receive this report despite a further request, a few days later he received a Medical Report dated mid 2012, which until then he did not know existed, having never met the ‘author’ of the Report, a Registered Nurse and Approved  Disability Analyst.

 Reading the report, Charles was astonished to discover that although the nurse who reviewed the medical evidence stated explicitly that he was unlikely to return to work the medical evidence did not score any points for him against the descriptors.

 As Charles has been too unwell to return to work, it seems that the nurse’s judgement, based on the medical evidence presented to her, was right, and that the descriptors were unable to capture Charles’ level of disability and his long term prognosis.

 This fact was recognised by the nurse who wrote that if Charles was called to Board he would score above the threshold but that there was insufficient evidence that he met the LCWRA descriptors.

 But because the DWP decided that more weight should be given to the descriptors than the medical evidence, the nurse’s recommendations were disregarded, although ultimately they were correct.

 Charles pursued the matter, with assistance, and the decision not to place him in the Support Group was reversed in November 2012, backdated to February 2012

 

 the link takes you to  a copy of the Medical Report for Charles’ case (reproduced with his permission), clearly showing that the Descriptors give Charles a clean bill of health, while in reality he is completely unfit for work.

 For further information, please contact Annie Howard anniehoward83@gmail.com

 ESA report form 

 

Jan 112013
 

Many Disability Benefits Claimants will have noticed on their ESA85 form a box containing the words “Harmful information – not to be copied to the client”.

 Some will have understood this as being information which would be “likely to cause serious harm to the physical or mental health or condition of the patient or any other persons”, and in the context of consent to treatment, the GMC states:

 “You should not withhold information necessary for decision making unless you judge that disclosure … would cause the patient serious harm. In this context serious harm does not mean the patient would become upset, or decide to refuse treatment.”

 Or if they checked the contract between Atos and DWP, they would learn that harmful information “means information unknown to the Claimant which if disclosed to him may be harmful to his health”. And because “harmful information” is quite vague, in 2011 the DWP issued further guidance in the WCA handbook:

Harmful information: This is information which has not been disclosed to the claimant by their medical attendant, and of which they are unaware.  It is information which would be considered as seriously harmful to their health if divulged to them and is the only type of information which under the regulations may be withheld from the claimant in the event of a review or appeal.  Examples are details of:

­ Malignancy

­ Progressive neurological conditions

­ Major mental illness.

Revised WCA Handbook

ESA (LCW/LCWRA) Amendment

Regulations 2011

 What claimants might not have envisaged is that this “Harmful Information” box could be used as a means to covertly influence decision makers or the tribunal appeals service by prejudicing a case.

 Because of one DWP employee’s mistake or stupidity, one claimant who obtained his report was able to see what “harmful information” means for Atos and the DWP:

 Client very obnoxious, sarcastic and complained about the assessment format and the typical day. He stated that they are not relevant and asked that I contacted his Consultant. Claimant very unco-operative and makes the assessment very difficult. He kept taking his medication throughout the assessment”. 

 Underneath these comments, a DWP employee wrote:

ADMIN
When bundle of evidence is back from photocopying, please add this sheet to the submission for the TAS – DO NOT send to customer!
Thanks
Anne
16/3”

 

 Harmful? Well unless being obnoxious and sarcastic are to be considered as a major mental illness, these comments amount to a subjective judgement, seen by the claimant’s lawyer as libellous.

 But the comments are certainly harmful and would have had, as the claimant believes, a bearing on the outcome of his case (he scored 0 points), and because of fears of what this could do to his reputation and professional standing, on the advice of his lawyer, he decided not to appeal. Had he done so, these comments would still have been withheld from him and his lawyer, in accordance with DWP guidelines.

 For this to happen, both the Atos HP and the DWP employee would have had to disregard the DWP guidelines, and it would also have escaped the scrutiny of any report auditors. This seems too much of a coincidence, (although incompetence in the case of the DWP and Atos can never be ruled out).

 What are the implications?

1)    It seems that the DWP, with the complicity of Atos, has found a way to circumvent the law it is supposed to uphold and to use it against the interests of people the DPA is supposed to protect

 2)    No claimant can be sure of what is contained in a report, if there is a parallel report which is withheld from claimants

 3)    Claimants and legal counsels go to appeals without access to all the evidence

 4)    The system is geared to trick claimants and cannot be described as fair, transparent or accountable.

 

 


 

Jan 112013
 

Tenants, Disabled People Against Cuts, trade unions and others are meeting 19 Jan 12-2pm to organise against Benefit Cuts.DCH, Disabled People against Cuts (DPAC), PCS and Unite trade unions and others want to get organised with tenants and other groups hit by the Bedroom tax, Council Tax and other Benefit  cuts.

Come along, or delegate someone from your tenants group, union, political or campaign to the Benefit Justice organising meeting 12-2.00 pm Sat 19 Jan at Unite House, 128 Theobald’s Road,London WC1X 8TN (nearest tube Holborn.)

Please forward to local groups and others who are concerned at the impact of Benefit cuts and want to challenge this injustice.

Get in touch for more information or see you on 19th
Eileen Short
for Housing Emergency

Jan 102013
 

Next week sees 2 disabled people take on the government in a judicial review (1) on the grounds that the process is not accessible for people with mental health conditions.
 
On 15th, 16th & 18th of January lawyers for 2 members of the mental health resistance network
(2) will be in the administrative high court, the division of the royal courts of justice (3) which handles judicial reviews , in London .
The DWP introduced WCAs to assess disabled people for eligibility for disability benefits. Despite criticism from MPs,(4) the British Medical Association (5) and campaigners, this policy rumbles on.
 
Dozens of disabled people are dying every week (6) following assessment. nearly 40% (7) of those who appeal the decision to remove benefits, have the decision overturned, meaning thousands of people are wrongly being put through a traumatic and harrowing experience needlessly. The governments own appointed assessor of the policy has ruled it ‘unfit for purpose’ .
 
This isn’t good enough. This would not be acceptable in any other government contract, yet goes without comment or sanction by this government. No-one is called to account, no-one takes responsibility.
 
DPAC and MHRN call on ALL activists and supporters to join them in a vigil outside the court to show your support for those taking the case, and your disgust at this shameful and harmful policy.
 
Action is :
 
Weds 16th January
@ 12pm
Royal courts of justice, the strand, London wc2a 2ll.
 
Send a strong, clear signal to those who make the decisions.
 
We are NOT going away, we are not backing down. There is no hiding place.
 
We will fight you in parliament, on the streets and in the courts!
 
ENDS
 
p.s send messages of support to Mentalhealthresistance@lists.aktivix.org or mail@dpac.uk.net
 
1.http://atosvictimsgroup.co.uk/2012/07/26/judicial-review-of-work-capability-assessment-granted/
2. mentalhealthresistance.org
3. http://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/rcj-rolls-building/administrative-court
4. http://www.disabilitywales.org/1168/3817
5. http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2012/05/23/gps-vote-to-end-the-atos-farce/
6. http://blogs.mirror.co.uk/investigations/2012/04/32-die-a-week-after-failing-in.html
7. http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/press_20120817

Jan 072013
 

The next phase in the government’s assault on services for  disabled people is the withdrawal of the Independent Living Fund. This needs to be at the centre of campaigning around dignity for disabled people, argues Linda Burnip from Disabled People Against Cuts. Part of our series of short contributions from prominent writers and activists looking to the year ahead.

You can read the rest of this excellent piece at the New Left Project HERE

Jan 062013
 
The Co-Op have said that their new occupational health contract starts in March and that the bidding process for the new contract has already begun. The Co-Op have refused to publicly rule out a bid from Atos. Tendering processes are generally geared towards awarding the contract to the lowest bidder. If the Co-Op were going to make their decision based on ethical concerns, which they have said will be a factor, they would have already publicly rejected a bid from Atos. Atos’s unethical behaviour has already been well documented in the mainstream media and Disabled People Against Cuts have compiled a list of Atos’s unethical behaviour for the Co-Op. Pickets with calls for boycotts and communication blockades and the resulting damage to a company’s reputation does have a significant economic impact and has been shown to work with other campaigns. The Co-Op is particularly vulnerable to such tactics as their ethical image is their unique selling point in their part of the market.Hundreds of people have already complained about the contract on TheCo-operative Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/TheCooperative
and by tweeting @TheCo-operative:
https://twitter.com/TheCooperative

Why not join them and tell the Co-Op that you will stop shopping at their supermarkets or that you will close your Co-Op bank account unless they publicly state they will not be renewing their contact with Atos? 

You can also email customer.relations@co-op.co.uk or contact Chris Mills, their Ethical Policy Manager: 
chris.mills@co-operative.coop
Telephone: 0161 827 6160
Mobile: 07921 893 949
Facsimile: 01618276230
Up to 5 free faxes can be sent from this website:
http://www.freepopfax.com/
Perhaps you could fax them the gift of a file of a classic book, many of which are available to download for free online.

————————–————————–

Some background information:

It has recently been discovered that the Co-Op Bank and group of companies have had a 4 year occupational health contract with Atos and that the contract is due for renewal. Atos make huge profits carrying out work capability assessments on sick and disabled people on behalf of the Government. As was exposed by a Channel 4 documentary they automatically pass 7 out of 8 people as fit for work – to comply with Government targets for benefit cuts. Their decisions are not based on objective medical opinion. Citizens Advice Bureau Scotland have received 24,000 complaints about Atos. CAB win 80% of appeals against Atos finding people fit for work. The Daily Record reported on a Government survey that showed half of those found fit for work by Atos end up destitute.

The Government are cutting benefits as part of their austerity measures aimed mainly at the poor, while those responsible for the public debt continue to get richer. Despite the media headlines about one or two bankers losing their bonuses, generally bankers’ bonuses and those of company directors continue to grow. Sales in luxury goods are also rising. Nearly 50,000 new property millionaires were created in the UK in 2012. £2 billion of cuts in housing benefit and child tax credit where announced in the chancellor’s autumn statement, while £3 billion of cuts in corporation tax was announced in the same statement.

The Co-Op sells itself as an ethical company, but what ethical standards are they maintaining by not publicly ruling out awarding a new contract that gives millions to a company that cuts the benefits of sick and disabled people?

Claimants Resisting Unfair Treatment, Cuts and Harassmentwww.thecrutchcollective.blogspot.co.uk

Supported by 
Clydeside Industrial Workers Of The World 
www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Clydeside-IWW/216550781713688

Glasgow Solidarity Federation
www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Glasgow-Solidarity-Federation/237568036376381

Jan 052013
 

With thanks to Kevin and Steve. Please share, tweet spread as far and wide as possible

© by Robins/Clark

If you would like to know more about DPAC or make a contribution to our work please visit our website www.dpac.uk.net or email: mail@dpac.uk.net or twitter: @Dis_PPL_Protest *Special thanks to Rob Livingstone for some of the excellent artwork contribution on this video.

Con-Dem Love!

They’re screwing up my mind , wasting my time
Keeping up the pressure on this heart of mine
They’ve got a real obsession , egos out of hand
Out to make a make a killing from their “welfare” scam.

This is Con-Dem love, Con-Dem love, Con-Dem love ,
Condemn .. … Con-Dem love.

Laid my cards on the table told their GP straight
Depressions biting hard and that’s hard to take
I showed him the scars on my arms where I’d cut
He looked me in the eye and said you’re “working fit”

This is Con-Dem love, Con-Dem love, Con-Dem love
They’re going to show you what they’re made of.

On a circle of emotion on the treadmill again
They took away my social, can’t pay the rent
What can do, so ill, I can’t fight,
I toss and turn I stay awake all night
Darkened thoughts are haunting me
I’m so afraid of this reality

This is Con-Dem love , Con-Dem love, Con-Dem love
They’re going to show you what they’re made of.

Sitting in a corner — with the lights switched off
This no win situation’s lost
Can’t make no plans for you or for me
There’s no reason to go on you see .

This is Con-Dem love , Con-Dem love, Con-Dem love
They’re going to show you what they’re made of.
They’re going to show you what they’re made of

They’re screwing up my mind, wasting my time
Keeping up the pressure on this heart of mine
They’ve got real obsession, egos out of hand
Out to make a make a killing from their “welfare” scam.

They’re screwing up my mind , taking away my life x 3

© by Robins/Clark

Jan 032013
 

Campaign of the year ….the fightback by disabled people as the Con/Dem Govt stripped some of the most ‘vulnerable’ sections of the community of their benefits. Their campaign against Atos (who made the decisions) during the Paralympics was inspiring and they have led the way in the fightback against the Con/Dem Govt.

cropped-Black-Triangle-web-banner-1 atos

Disabled People Against Cuts’ message for 2013: DPAC will not be resting in any tents in 2013 but fighting with disabled people in the courts, on the streets, online and everywhere we can

DPAC wants to thank lipstick socialist readers who voted and urge you to take a look at the other awards for 2012 and the lipstick socialist site here

Jan 032013
 

wowpetition122Disabled people and supporters have launched a petition calling for an end to the War on Welfare being waged by their own government.

The Welfare budget, and particularly benefits going to disabled people, has been heavily and unfairly targeted for cuts. It is said we can no longer afford the current welfare state. In reality however, as a percentage of GDP, the welfare budget is now lower than it was at any time during the eighties. While at the same time the combined wealth of Britain’s 1,000 richest people increased by almost 5% to over £414bn.

In order to resist the government’s cruel and failing welfare policies, disabled people, together with their carers, families and friends, have combined using social media to produce the #WOWpetition. This calls for an end to the War on Welfare. Spearheaded by actress and comedian Francesca Martinez the WOW petition aims to get 100,000 signatures to end this War On Welfare by the government. We will be calling for a Cumulative Impact Assessment, an independent inquiry and if necessary, the repeal of the Welfare Reform Act of 2012.

We believe that every single person in the country has a reason to resist the War on Welfare. Any one of us could have need of the Welfare State at any time.

The ‘Greatest Generation’ fought WWII believing they had secured this safety net for themselves, their children and generations to come. Don’t let it go without a fight! We owe it to them. We owe it to ourselves to ensure a decent and dignified life for all, and to provide security for all our futures. The deaths of disabled people linked to the Welfare Reform Act and the Work Capability Assessment administered on behalf of the Government by the private corporation Atos are reported in the press with alarming regularity. We believe that in any humane society the Government would want to know if one of their flagship policies was in any way responsible for a ‘slow genocide’ of disabled people.

Please join Francesca and the WOW campaign in resisting the deaths and unnecessary suffering being caused:

Sign wowpetition.com

http://wowpetition.com/

For more information please contact: info@wowpetition.com

Watch Francesca Martinez’s outstanding performance on Newsnight during DPAC and UK Uncut’s Atos games in August:

http://

Jan 022013
 

FREELANCE CONSULTANT REQUIRED BY BEING THE BOSS

Job Description:  The Consultant will work primarily with the organization called CHANGE which is the main partner in the project, to ensure delivery within very tight timescales..

Salary:   Hourly Rate to be agreed circa £25 per hour.

Employment status: Self Employed

Project:  Consultant to take forward the project “Making Direct Payment Easy”.

The work will include:-

Contacting all participants of steering group and focus groups to get a planned
schedule/time line for the project and feed into flow chart.
Consultant hours -Attending steering group and focus groups ( 4 in total)
Collating responses with Admin support and preparing report for Steering Group
Assessment of focus group minutes and compiling report in conjunction with Change
Working with Change proof reading training pack and checking for accuracy
Attending final steering group meeting and preparing report.Focus Groups and Steering Group meetings will be held in Leicester and Leeds and reasonable travel expenses will be paid.

It is expected that the work will take a total of 82 hours worked over a three month period.  Some will be full days at meeting venues and some will be working from home.  The Consultant will have Administration support and will be responsible for supervision of the admin assistant.

A full job description is available on request.

Closing date:  14th January 2013

Please reply to:  Being the Boss

8, Langdale,

Fleckney,

LE8 8TF

Or:                      mail@beingtheboss.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

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