Jan 282014
 

Imagine being homeless……… in Winter.

Now imagine being homeless when the temperature is -14 degrees and there is nowhere to go. Its hard to imagine being that cold, and without any prospect of shelter.

That’s why we are asking you to take action on twitter and email in soldarity with our allies in Canada – Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty (SCAP) and Ontario Coalition Aginst Poverty (OCAP).

SCAP are asking people to help create a twitterstorm at the city of Greater Sudbury in Ontaro demanding they take action on an emergency homeless shelter.

This is to replace the gap created when the Elgin Street Mission stopped opening its doors at night throughout the winter, and is a follow up to the Sudbury Coalition’s ongoing attempt to convince the city to take responsibility for filling this gap. Currently the city pays the mission to be open only on cold weather alert days, when the temperature drops  below -15 degrees (or -20 with the wind chill). This is inadequate as it leaves the homeless unsure as to which days they can expect to find open doors, and it there is need for a safe warm space even when the temperature is above -15.

You can tweet through-out the day, but we want to focus the most action around 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m on Thursday 30th Jan.

OCAP have acted in solidarity with DPAC on our previous campaigns, during our last week of action, they Demonstrated at the British Consulate in solidarity with us, and recently they have joined us in tweeting against the hateful Benefits Street programme on Channel 4

They are valued friends of DPAC and we want to show solidarity with OCAP and SCAP in a campaign which might mean the difference between life or death to the people who live out on the streets in Sudbury, Ontario.

You can read more about the SCAP campaign here and below are some tweets that you can either copy and paste or just click on the “tweet” button.

You can also  and .

If you don’t have twitter but want to add your voice, please email the Sudbury City Council.  You can also help by sharing this page on facebook or through email.


*** Stop Press ***

Last night members and supporters of Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty took direct action and  interrupted tonight’s city council meeting with a statement, signs, and chanting to demand council end its inaction on emergency night-time shelter for homeless people but their protest was effectively ignored by Mayor Marianne Matichuk (@mayormarianne) you can read about the action here http://sudbury.mediacoop.ca/story/activists-interrupt-council-meeting-challenge-sudb/21085

Please feel free to let @mayormarianne know what you think of this –  as always keep it polite – don’t give her an excuse to ignore you, just ask her why its OK to ignore homeless people being left to freeze.

And then please feel free to use the tweets below to send a message to Sudbury City Council


 Will @mayormarianne take action to bring the homeless in from the cold? http://www.thesudburystar.com/2014/01/26/coalition-still-pushing-for-city-run-shelter #sudbury via @sudburycap

 Caring individual takes homeless in when city of #Sudbury leaves homeless out in the cold http://bit.ly/1dKY0Ve #sudbury via @sudburycap

 City of @GreaterSudbury is not doing enough to help the homeless. Time to change http://bit.ly/1aZaAug #sudbury via @sudburycap

 I support @sudburycap in their work to get an emergency homeless shelter  http://sudburycap.com/2014/01/20/cold-shelter-entire-winter-community-start-maintenance-benefit-csumb-funding-policies-chpi-funding/ #ocap

 Toronto opens Metro Hall to the homeless. Why won’t @GreaterSudbury do the same with Tom Davies Square? #Sudbury http://www.insidetoronto.com/news-story/4303064-toronto-s-metro-hall-opens-as-pilot-warming-centre-during-extreme-cold-weather-alert/ #OCAP

 I’m showing international solidarity, because no one should be left out in the cold. @GreaterSudbury needs an emergency homeless shelter. http://www.thesudburystar.com/2014/01/26/coalition-still-pushing-for-city-run-shelter #Sudbury

Jan 272014
 

Richard Butchins who we have worked with before is looking for people who have been faced with a very long delay waiting for a PIP assessment or decision or both. This is for a Channel 4 documentary but will not in any way be like the recent Benefits Street.

Richard produced and investigated ATOS medical assessments for an excellent channel 4 documentary. We are entirely certain that Richard’s programme will represent the true facts and not be sensationalised in any way.

Please contact Richard directly if you can help with this

richard.butchins@hardcashproductions.com

 Posted by at 16:12
Jan 272014
 

Take action on Monday 27th January while poverty profiteers gather at Capita’s ‘Welfare reform’ conference

While millions of people struggle to eat or heat their homes, and thousands of families face eviction, foodbanks and homelessness due to sanctions, bedroom tax and loss of disability benefits, Capita cashes in with conferences for Lord Freud (Minister for Dismantling Welfare) and his workfare collaborators.

boycott workfare

You could pay £350 – £575 (plus VAT) to join all those snouts in the workfare trough at the Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel. Or you can let them know what you think via twitter, email, phone – follow the links below.

 

We’ll post the conference hash tag as soon as we have it so you can join in the discussions on the day (or you can check out @capitaconf and their inspiring #capitaconf hashtag to see for yourself). You could also use the DWP’s #job2014 hashtag. The DWP are making a big effort to improve their social media presence – the least we can do is increase their footfall @DWPgovuk

The aim of the conference is to get ‘partners’ who make money from it ready for the next stage of ‘benefit reform’, with a special focus on ‘shifting the culture’. Let’s shift it in another direction!

In addition to the DWP’s own Lord Freud, (one of the chief architects in paying the private sector to dismantle welfare rights aka the great welfare rip off) the organisations below are supporting the event.

Private and voluntary sector organisations making big money from the outsourcing of welfare – let them know (politely) what you think…

Papworth Trust
As they say ‘If disabled people are affected, it’s likely that we’ll have something to say about it.’
Text 07860 021210 and Papworth will contact you.
Email: info@papworth.org.uk
Twitter: 
@Papworth_Trust

 

David Martin, Director of Strategy and Marketing will be speaking on the needs of job seekers with disabilities.  He’ll be covering self esteem and self awareness.  We’d like to know if he has anything to say about suicide, despair and plunging people with disabilities into poverty.
D: 01480 357208
M: 07772 197770
E: david.martin@papworth.org.uk

Aspire Housing

Email: enquiries@aspirehousing.co.uk

Sinead Butters CEO  of Aspire will be speaking on ‘achieving social and financial return on investment’ – and ‘delivering enhanced employment and skills interventions to tenants’. Let her know what you think about making money out of workfare and using housing as a route to coerce people into ‘skills interventions’.

Twitter: @SineadBAspire

A2Dominion

A2Dominion – another housing association collaborating with the DWP’s benefits cuts agenda.  As part of the ‘digital deal pilot’, A2Dominion are ‘getting social tenants on line as part of preparation for universal credit’.

Fiona Cornell, Deputy Executive Director, will be talking about the digital deal pilot and how it helps the DWP to spy on and harass claimants
Twitter: @A2Dominion

Tomorrow’s People  ‘making life (low pay/no pay) work’

TP are major players in the forcing young people to work for nothing industry.

Steve Swan, Tomorrow’s People Director of Welfare to Work will be holding forth on how to push those who are most vulnerable and disadvantaged into the new growth industry of low pay, no pay jobs

You can let them know what you think about their schemes for young people:
Twitter: @TPCharity

ATOS Healthcare

Gary Gear from ATOS will be speaking alongside Stephen Duckworth from Capita.

This is the ‘healthcare’ arm of the French IT firm ATOS, well known for making millions out of DWP contracts for ‘work capability assessments’ designed to strip people of out of work sickness and disability benefits.  They are also well known for earning hundreds of millions from WCA and payingno Corporation Tax in the UK.

Local Councils

Lewisham, Wigan and Southwark councils are also taking part.  If you live in these boroughs, why not let them know what you think:  Gerri Scott (Southwark Strategic Director of Housing), Peter Gadson (Lewisham Head of Customer Insight), Alison McKenzie-Folan (Wigan Director of Customer Transformation) and Graham Cadle (Croydon Director of Customer Services).

Lewisham Council
Twitter: @LewishamCouncil

Wigan Council
Twitter: @WiganCouncil

Southwark Council
Twitter: @lb_southwark

Croydon Council
Twitter: @yourcroydon

Citizens Advice Bureaux
Twitter: @citizensadvice

We’re sorry to see CAB taking part.  CAB workers across the country have seen first hand the impact of sanctions, forced unpaid labour, bedroom tax and other benefit cuts.  The evidence is set out in a report from Manchester CAB. So why is Katie Shaw, Head of CAB Welfare Policy chairing this event? Workfare and other attacks on social security and workers’ rights would collapse without the collusion of the voluntary sector.

 

 

 

Jan 262014
 

As if we hadn’t had enough benefit bashing via Channel 4 with their highly dubious misrepresentation of everyone on benefits as accurately represented by the carefully selected participants of Benefit Street, it seems the BBC has joined the fray in their highly misleading (and factually wrong) headlines informing us: ‘Million sickness benefit applicants ‘fit for work’.’

I completely agree with Mike Sivier of Vox Political who accuses the “BBC of being a mouthpiece for the Tory party”, he’s wisely encouraging people to write in and complain.  It’s good advice to those who are incensed by the right wing media’s continual portrayal of everyone on benefits as low life scum.

So you know what you have to do; complain in your droves!

What the BBC won’t tell you is that over 5 million of you have been subjected to the humiliating & Support Allowance regime in terms of original claims, reassessments and transfers from existing benefits.  Whilst the overall claimant count hovers around 2.5 million, lightning has a nasty habit of striking more than once and thousands of you will have been repeatedly struck by the absolute chaos which surrounds the DWP’s handling of this particular benefit.  So hopefully there should be no shortage of complaints to the BBC.

But before doing so, I would encourage you to get ‘clued up’ on the facts which the BBC (and no doubt the papers which will follow) make no attempt to explain, as with so many of these reports they only give you half the story (well in this case considerably less) ……

For some extraordinary reason the DWP and media have an almost obsession with ‘new claims’ for the dreaded Employment & Support Allowance.  On nearly every statistical release the accent is principally on new claims, it’s not hard to understand why; they invariably provide the public with more sensationalist headlines over ‘millions being found fit for work or ‘closing their claims without an assessment’ (by the awful Atos ‘Healthcare’ who conduct the controversial examinations under £100 million contracts with the DWP).

Here’s what they don’t tell you….

Over 2.3 million cases are being left out of the BBC’s figures
leaving out claimant success rates of up to 88%.

Why leave out 88% claimant success rates?

Searching for Facts vs. Fiction - Magnifying Glass


In excess of 2.3 million incapacity benefit cases (each one yielding a result) being tested under the much stricter ‘Employment & Support Allowance’ regime and those who are ‘examined’ on a second, third or even fourth occasion are being completely left out of the figures.

Had the BBC fully reported the facts, they would have had to go in to the nasty truth which gets in the way of a good story.  They could have told you all how in the six months between October 2012 and May 2013 an average of 83% of 1,078,200 incapacity claimants were passing their assessments and 88% of those 1,332,300 ‘repeatedly assessed’ were re-qualifying for the allowance.

But the Beeb buried the good news.

Instead they chose to home in only new claimants who score a lower ‘pass’ rate at what the DWP incorrectly cite as an ‘initial’ assessment’.  The BBC cites an average of 32% of ‘new applicants’ being found ‘fit for work’ between 2008 and 2013.  I’m not sure where the BBC get the figure from as it’s more correctly an average of 46% for new claimants being found ‘fit for work’ with 54% qualifying for the allowance following assessment.  The figure rises to 60% when we look at the last six months to May 2013, I’ll come back to my reservations over these figures later on in this thread.

The BBC headlines are meaningless unless considered with the context of all the available facts.  It just looks like more of the same propaganda aimed at making us think people are coming off benefits and back in the work market.


Why doesn’t the BBC challenge the bigger picture? 

 

nick chart


Don’t they possess a calculator?


Let me show you what everyone out there seems to be missing, you’ll need to follow something which sadly seems too challenging for the BBC….

The BBC article tells us that very close to 2 million people have come off the sick either as a result of being found ‘fit for work’ or ‘closing their claims before being assessed’.   The clear intention of the BBC is to infer 2 million people should not have been claiming the sick and should instead be in the labour market, meaning either looking for work or in work.

The DWP tables for October 2008 to May 2013 tells us that the figure for ALL claimants found fit for work is in fact
1,453,400 and the numbers closing their claims amounts to 1,298,400 making a grand total of……


2,751,800 allegedly ready for labour market

Why didn’t the BBC give us the figure for ALL claimants?

I’d suggest; because they knew it would open up a can of worms for a government which they continually support with misleading articles when it comes to reporting on those ‘on the sick’.

Given that the above figures relate to the entire time the ESA assessment programme has been running (since 2008) it is is necessary to align the ESA figures with the time the Coalition has been in power.  This enables us to analyse how many (of ALL ESA claimants) have been found either ‘fit for work’ or who have ‘closed their claims before assessment’ since May 2010 to May 2013. The latest DWP figures available is (it will be even higher now):

1,856,100 allegedly ready for labour market
under Coalition

This infers that the Coalition has found 1.85 million claimants ready and able to enter the labour market.  Claimants in this position would generally claim Jobseeker’s Allowance or attempt to find work, (some will however neither claim or work). When it comes to work bear in mind that the Coalition claim to have found ‘1 million extra jobs’, it’s not enough to give everyone seemingly ‘coming off the sick’ a position in employment – it’s 856,100 short.

But remember, it’s NOT just the sick who are looking for work, we also need to consider other working age groups as others will potentially have to position themselves towards the labour market after coming off working age benefits, we also need to consider how many of our 1.85 million may perhaps claim another working age benefit.  The way we do is to check the DWP cumulative figures for ALL working age benefits and make a comparison between May 2010 and May 2013.

This is replicated copy and paste of a DWP table:

Quarter     

Total

JSA

Incap
/ESA


Lone parents


Carers     

Other
Income Based    


Disabled      

Bereaved

May-10

Aug-10

Nov-10

Feb-11

May-11

Aug-11

Nov-11

Feb-12

May-12

Aug-12

Nov-12

Feb-13

May-13

5,747.83  
5,744.64

5,685.60

5,765.34

5,709.55

5,802.82

5,778.16

5,881.70

5,753.88

5,708.22

5,636.79

5,695.38

5,541.49

1,354.62

1,349.71

1,328.91

1,438.67

1,404.14

1,482.86

1,478.43

1,589.64

1,484.07

1,471.07

1,443.54

1,514.37

1,371.62

2,613.10

2,606.61

2,586.42

2,578.66

2,570.22

2,582.18

2,575.60

2,557.68

2,528.14

2,517.07

2,499.96

2,475.67

2,456.47

679.15

672.35

648.3

613.78

595.4

595.29

581.62

584.17

577.08

545.24

510.06

504.89

499.73

430.23

439.43

445.44

450.42

456.06

465.99

470.96

477.15

486.94

495.71

504.13

513.61

523.64

192.19

191.38

192.03

191.76

187.18

180.08

174.91

169.11

164.96

159.9

156.01

151.26

147.79

390.81

396.81

399.38

406.31

411.01

413.11

413.84

420.7

429.51

437.17

442.2

454.31

460.53

87.74

88.36

85.11

85.75

85.55

83.3

82.79

83.25

83.17

82.06

80.89

81.26

81.7

Now let’s look at the difference within the same working age benefits by comparing 2010 against 2013….


Total

JSA


Incap/
ESA


Lone
Parents

Carers

Other
income
based

Disabled

Bereaved


Difference
between
2010
& 2013 >

 -206,340     

+17,000     

-156,630   

-179,420  

+93,410   

-44,400  

+69,720 

-6,040

These revealing figures show how the claimant count has risen or fallen in terms of actual claimant numbers recorded by the DWP unlike the ONS figures who collate the data using a ‘labour market survey’.

That’s how the ONS can provide more up to date figures than the DWP, the DWP work at a much slower pace and can only count claimants up to May 2013.  None the less the DWP claimant count is the one which most accurately informs us how many claimants are within the DWP system.

What we can see from these figures is this:

The numbers on JSA has actually increased by 17,000

The numbers on incapacity / ESA has fallen by 156,630

There are 179,420 fewer lone parents

93,410 more people are carers

Other income based claims are down by 44,400

The DWP aren’t too clear over their definition of ‘disabled’ within the claimant count

And finally, Bereavement claims are down by 6,040

The total reduction in ALL the main working age claims is 206,340 under the Coalition


Remember these are the actual claimant count figures derived from the DWP and therefore hard for anyone to refute, they are designated a reliable National statistic and are not based on surveys but on an actual measure of those claiming benefits.

So what conclusions can we draw



From the facts since May 2010?

Well, despite what the BBC tell you about nearly 2 million being identified as ready to hit the labour markets, the reality is they have under-quoted the overall figure, it’s actually 1,856,100 found either ‘fit for work’ or having ‘closed their claims before assessment’.  There’s no way 1.8 million claimants have somehow magically disappeared from the incapacity claim count (including ESA) because the DWP’s own figures confirm the overall numbers have only reduced by 156,630 since May 2010; it’s all there in black and white.

The BBC have failed to look at whether the numbers being found fit for work or closing their claims has materially made any difference to the claimant count; in short there is very little impact upon the overall numbers of claimants.

The Government’s claims to have found ‘1 million extra jobs’ are pretty meaningless too.

A Daily Telegraph article uncovered a study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development in Jan 2010 revealed that 1.31 million people were made redundant during the pre-2010 recession.  The DWP were processing an astonishing 6.2 million fresh claims for jobseeker’s allowance between April 2008 and November 2009.  It highlights how the claimant count is far from a static number, each month thousands of claimants come on and off all benefits. The Telegraph article reveals that on Jobseeker’s Allowance alone in December 2009 ” over 350,000 – left unemployment benefit in a single month.”

Similarly, many thousands of claimants leave Employment & Support Allowance each month, the quarterly figures for May 2013 amount to 153,360 coming off benefit, some 175,810 came off other incapacity benefits in the same quarter, the number of claimants coming off Income Support amounted to 150,130 Add the whole lot together and you can see how ‘1 million extra jobs’ isn’t going to go far. What we really need to know is how long these jobs last and exactly which groups of people are filling them.

What the BBC fails to address in their meaningless drivel over 1 million being found ‘fit for work’ and a further 1 million closing their claim before assessment is what happens to these claimants afterwards.

Let’s also not forget the massive numbers of job losses in the public sector under the coalition, the GMB Union claim that over 631,000 job losses have been dished out under the Coalition.

We also have, according to Thomson Reuters a 1.1 million increase in the population aged 16 and over , what few people realise is that when the number of people in the labour market increases, exactly the same number of unemployed will result in a reduction in the unemployment level simply because it’s a smaller percentage of a bigger number. There are all kinds of factors which factor in to an increase in the working age population, not least that fewer people can afford to retire as well as changes in the age at which people can retire.

So there you have it, the BBC headlines are very much a ‘non story’ without all the peripheral facts which they so conveniently omit to mention.

In my next post, I’ll explain what closing a claim without an assessment really means, I’ll then go on and explain why the DWP’s latest work assessment figures continued to be riddled with flaws.

with great thanks to the excellent Nick for agreeing DPAC can repost-for more see: http://legalaidandme.proboards.com/thread/7258/serious-flaws-governments-statistics?page=11&scrollTo=21055

 

Follow Nick on Twitter: @Mylegalforum



 

Jan 252014
 

This month DPAC ran two articles , one on PIP being sanctionable evidenced through a DWP Freedom of Information request (FOI) response http://www.internaldpac.org.uk/DPACClone/2014/01/how-can-pip-be-sanctionable/ (we put our own FOI in on this on the day) and the other on DWP information of cuts to the benefit cap for couples without children http://www.internaldpac.org.uk/DPACClone/2014/01/dwp-cuts-by-stealth-benefit-cap-for-couples-without-children-from-26000-to-18000/

The PIP being sanctionable issue had a lot of attention – how could they possibly do this? Kate Green responded to DPAC on Twitter, after asking questions and obtaining info and documents from the Parliament library to say PIP wasn’t sanctionable, other MPs said they would raise questions on this. John Pring of DNS News also contacted the DWP and their view was PIP wasn’t sanctionable. But we were all confused, none more so than the DWP, it seems. On 23rd January the DWP issued an apology ( yes really: an apology) and said they had made a mistake: PIP is not sanctionable https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/192913/response/474265/attach/html/3/WDTK%20FOI%20194%20correction.pdf.html

We are still not entirely clear how PIP fits in with ‘withdrawal of benefits’, linked benefits to PIP and other puzzles set up by minsters and the DWP which it appears that the DWP themselves cannot properly follow either.

The second story on the benefit cap information and its cut was also clarified by DWP –they didn’t apologise this time, but again they got it wrong! The cap wont be cut, at the moment anyway. http://nationalhousingfederation.newsweaver.com/update/15j1xj9pu8q?utm_source=hootsuite&utm_campaign=hootsuite

We are all trawling through these cuts they call reform, and its difficult enough, given 2 cock ups in 3 weeks by the DWP, plus all those emails that DPAC gets through its mail box from people whose lives are affected by DWP incompetency-we ask: are the DWP falling apart at every level? If so UNUM will be pleasedDWP

               

Jan 232014
 

Caroline Murphy

22nd January:  This is day three of the Court of Appeal hearing against the bedroom tax. Monday morning began with a vigil outside the Royal Courts of Justice, supported by Disabled People against  Cuts (DPAC)WinVisibleTaxpayers Against Poverty, Camden Association of Street Properties, the Anti Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Federation and others.

The Appeal concerns with discrimination against disabled people, a group disproportionately affected by the bedroom tax. Two thirds of all those hit by this iniquitous tax are disabled. Imagine for a moment that your life depends upon having ready access to cumbersome medical equipment or supplies. If you have the temerity to store them all in a small bedroom … tough. You get taxed. You should have someone living there.

If you’re facing mental health issues, changing your environment, or having personal boundaries invaded can trigger painful symptoms. But if you have that spare bedroom, you have to take in a lodger, or you have to pay the tax. It’s about as conclusive a “lose-lose” you could hope to impose on anyone.

One example given was of a mentally unwell resident whose home was filled with paperwork he had accumulated & stored over years. Was his home in an acceptable state to take in another resident?

Meanwhile, more evidence is emerging about how disabled people are plugging the holes that have opened up in their domestic budgets as a result of the bedroom tax. Personal Independence Payments (PIPs) for adults are intended to be used for specialist care & mobility support. Now they’re going on necessities.

Check out these figures from the National Housing Federation.
In a survey of disabled people denied local authority support to replace the money lost through the bedroom tax, nearly 40% had cut back on specialist mobility transport; over 25% had cut back on medical expenses; and 90% had decreased their spending on food.

Exemption from bedroom tax has been won for disabled children already. Now that exemption should be extended to disabled adults. And then it should be abolished entirely.”

 with thanks to Caroline
http://iamcarolinemurphy.tumblr.com

Caroline is on twitter: @_C_Murphy

Jan 212014
 

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is the new benefit which replaces Disability Living Allowance (DLA). 

DLA was introduced in the UK in 1992, and its main purpose was to compensate for the extra costs associated with disability and it was therefore not means tested, non contributory and not taxable. Although the majority of people claiming DLA had mobility issues, some disabled people would also choose to claim it to cover their personal care costs. Many were awarded DLA for life in recognition that their impairment/health issue would be with them for life. DLA was for those both in and out of work for the extra costs associated with disability. The Government presented PIP as a ‘like for like’ payment to replace DLA.

PIP was introduced in 2012 to replace DLA, the government arguing that the increasing number of claimants made DLA unsustainable.  PIP is therefore more restrictive and will lead not only to a reduced number of claimants but also to a reduced number of claimants entitled to the enhanced rate of the mobility component. http://disabilitynewsservice.com/2014/01/shocking-pip-figure-raises-new-motability-concerns/

PIP has also been riddled in controversy because of Atos, the firm contracted by the government to undertake the PIP and the Work Capability Assessments, which has led to 1 million disabled people appealing in court, with 43% of them succeeding in having their fit for work decision overturned. http://www.internaldpac.org.uk/DPACClone/2012/11/esa-appeals-increase-by-40-what-the-newspapers-wont-print/

Therefore it really came as a surprise to discover that in 2012 PIP had become a sanctionable benefit.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/192913/response/472770/attach/3/8.194%20Clarification%20letter%20Jones%20WDTK..pdf

http://legislation.data.gov.uk/ukpga/2012/5/schedule/9/crossheading/social-security-fraud-act-2001-c-11/data.htm?wrap=true

However aborrhent sanctions are, there is a kind of twisted logic behind them.  JSA and ESA claimants have to sign a contract (under duress, meaning threat of sanctions) and have to comply with the terms of this ‘contract’ (again under threat of sanctions). If they don’t, they will lose some of their benefits and many JSA and ESA claimants have been sanctioned, some 120 disabled people up to three years http://www.cpag.org.uk/content/3-year-benefit-ban-hits-120-disabled-people-under-new-sanctions-regime

 But with PIP, there is no contract, no Jobseeker’s agreement, no Claimant Commitment and it still remains a recognition that life for disabled people is more expensive, if they have to buy appliances or care that non disabled people don’t need in order to live a decent and dignified life or to work.

So what does it take to have your PIP sanctioned?  Is there somebody in the twittersphere or reading this article who can answer this question?  Because making PIP sanctionable does not make any sense, unless the DWP or IDS have a cunning plan. And they might.

Jan 182014
 

 

Sanity in an era of rabid capitalism?

 

Date: Friday 7 February, 2014

 

Time: 6.30 doors open for 7pm start

 

A F.E.E.L. (Friends of East End Loonies) occasional event todiscuss abuses within the psychiatric system, what a humane asylum would be like and the wide range of alternatives.

 

SPEAKERS

 

 

Denise McKenna, Mental Health Resistance Network

 

 

Towards a social model of mental distress

 

 

A Local Trade Union activist

 

 

The impact of local authority & NHS cuts on

 

mental health services

 

 

Questions/comments from the floor

 

 

Venue:Kingsley Hall, corner Powis and Bruce Roads, E3 3HJ,

 

(Nearest tube stations: Bow Church and Bromley-By-Bow)

 

 

There will be an interval with music, poetry and refreshments.No entrance fee but donations will be welcome to cover costs.

 

FEEL is a democratic anarchic group in which people are encouraged to share what they need to say and to contribute what they can. It meets the 3rd Monday of the month at 6.30 pm at the LARC centre, 62 Fieldgate St E1 1ES. For more information call:

 

David: 020 7790 0269 or Myra on 020 7780 9038 email: f.e.e.l.campaign@googlemail.com

 

 

Humane Therapy not Drug Tyranny

 

 

 

Joanna Moncrieff says in her book, The Myth of the Chemical Cure, “My thesis in this book is that the disease-centred model of drug action has been adopted, and recently widely publicised, not because the evidence for it is compelling, but because it helped promote the interests of certain powerful social groups, namely the psychiatric profession, the pharmaceutical industry and the modern state.” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009 London)

 

 

 

We need a liberating movement to transform hospitals and Mental Health Units into humane asylums and to demand the full range of complementary and natural therapies including arts therapies (which a study has indicated is more effective than drug therapy) and talking therapy, and an end to pharmaco-custodial control.

 

 

 

F.E.E.L. – Friends of East End Loonies

 

Believe in empowering all people in the mental health system

 

Ending the chemical cosh

 

Supporting community mental health services

 

Encouraging more holistic therapies

 

HUMANE THERAPY – NOT DRUG TYRANNY

 

 

 

Jan 182014
 

Having become aware that there seems to be some confusion about People First groups operating in England Disabled People Against Cuts invited People First (Self Advocacy)’s Director Andrew Lee to set the record straight:

People First (Self Advocacy) is a national, user-led self-advocacy organisation, run for and by people with learning difficulties.  People First has been operating for 27 years.  The constitution says that the number of members of the company is unlimited, and can be individual members – any person with learning difficulties, 18 years or over, and group members, which will be organisations run by people with learning difficulties.  People First has a national membership of 101 self-advocacy group members and 150 individual members; the spread of members is national, covering every region.
The Charity Commission entry for People First states:
Activities
PEOPLE FIRST IS AN ORGANISATION RUN BY AND FOR PEOPLE WITH LEARNING DIFFICULTIES TO RAISE AWARENESS OF AND CAMPAIGN FOR THE RIGHTS OF PEOPLE WITH LEARNING DIFFICULTIES AND TO SUPPORT SELF ADVOCACY GROUPS ACROSS THE COUNTRY.
Where it operates
THROUGHOUT ENGLAND AND WALES

Having set the record straight, some people may say it is easy to say People First is a national organisation, but ask where is the proof?  People First’s response would be the we have a long history of working nationally with groups and individuals, and we would really like to share with you and your readership the detail, depth, quality and impact of our work, both in terms of campaigning with and on behalf of our national membership, and in supporting self-advocacy groups to build their capacity and become strong groups.
This is a summary of our current work:
1. Policy and Campaigning
We are working with a large range of organisations to make change happen for people with learning difficulties on all of the key Government changes affecting our members.  This includes local self-advocacy groups, SCIE, Inclusion London, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, DPAC, ALLFIE, The Mayor’s Office and many other national and Government organisations.  As well as this many other organisations come to People First for advice and support, For example, this week we have carried out some work on behalf of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, to make sure that people with learning difficulties can give their views to the United Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons, about the most important areas for the Government to work on; we worked with York People First and Bristol and South Gloucestershire People First, as well as our national Board of Trustees.  We work with organisations, but as well as this we make sure that we are in touch with our membership and that we are campaigning out on the streets.

2. Cuts Impact Action Now Project
We have also set up the Cuts Impact Action Now Project (CIAN).  The CIAN project, funded by Trust for London, is an evidence collection project looking at what impact both local authority and national cuts and changes are having on people with learning difficulties in Barnet.   This project is a pilot project starting in borough of Barnet.  We are working in partnership with People’s Choice at BCIL.  We are piloting a way of collecting evidence that can then be used in other London Boroughs and nationally.
The reason that we are running this project is because there are lots of national and local changes and cuts happening at the same time.  There has been no research or evidence collected about what impact all of these changes together will have on people with learning difficulties.  We are worried about what this will mean for people and we want to make sure that the voices of people with learning difficulties are heard.  We want to make sure that any cuts or changes do not have an unfair impact on people with learning difficulties.
We want to pilot a way of collecting evidence so that eventually all self-advocacy groups can use this to collect their own local evidence.  We know that cuts and changes are very different in each local authority as a result of the Localism Bill.  This is why a project like this will support local self-advocacy groups to campaign with solid evidence in their local area.  We will also support them to campaign nationally.
3. Supporting Self Advocacy Groups
Our work was very public during the years that we ran the National project and when we were part of the Disability LIB project.  During this project we capacity built 30 organisations.  These organisations were all members of People First (Self Advocacy), but they were not all called People First.  They included Speak Out groups, SHOUT groups as well as other local self-advocacy organisations that had completely different names.  To be a member of People First (Self Advocacy), a group does not need to have the ‘People First’ name.  It just needs to be a self-advocacy organisation run and led by people with learning difficulties.
Since this Big Lottery funding ended, it has been very difficult to get funding for this “second tier” work.  We therefore offer a more low key type of support, such as training, consultancy and research. During the past year we have supported 6 local self-advocacy groups with things such as Management Committee training, consultancy on the future of organisations, fundraising and support with other issues that groups have been having.
4. Advocacy Signposting and Advice
We offer a telephone service to all people with learning difficulties and their carers and supporters.  With all of the cuts to advocacy services and support services happening many people that are going through very difficult issues do not have anyone to turn to.  We offer this service so that anyone going through an issue can come to us and we will support them to get the information and support that they need to move forward.  People have come to us with issues around debt, benefits, getting support, getting advocates, problems with local authorities, hate crime and many other areas.  For this project we have been included on the SCIE Find Me Good Care website, as an organisation offering support and advice to people with learning difficulties, their carers and supporters.  We use our core funds to cover this work.

5. Easy Read
We have a long term campaign of making Easy Read more well-known and better used.  With the support of the Facilitation Fund from the Office for Disability Issues we putting together a service to make sure that there are no excuses for not using Easy Read.  This is so that anyone can have the tools they need to put something into Easy Read.  We have already put together Easy Read training and we are now using the fund to design a new and improved Easy Read Picture bank.  We also provide an Easy Read translation service for a range of Government, local authority, and voluntary sector organisations.
In Conclusion
With the change in the political climate, and funding priorities, like many charities we have had to review our position and develop new strategies and plans.  Our new BIG PICTURE approach to how we move forward is that all the work we are now doing could be described as taking a strategic approach, that is not just being out there strutting our stuff, but putting plans in place to make sure:
The work we do takes into account the need for major structural change, that means in the way systems and policies work at a local and national level, which will make a real difference to the lives of people with learning difficulties
The work we do takes into account the Localism Bill, and will put information, power and control back into the hands and voices of local people with learning difficulties
The work we do has a major impact to benefit the lives of people with learning difficulties who are often excluded from the debate and that’s why our organisation has led the Self Advocacy Movement for 27 years.

Jan 182014
 

Sign the petition to Scrap the Cap NOW, get your organisation to endorse it, like it to you friends on Facebook and Twitter – we need as many signatures as possible.  Endorsers include the Black Women’s Rape Action Project, Single Mothers’ Self-Defence, John McDonnell MP, WinVisible.

Women Against Rape was among the groups demonstrating at the High Court in October.  We heard in court what the mothers and children have gone through, including living for years in rundown housing.   They are represented by Rebekah Carrier of Hopkin Murray Beskine, who describes the Cap as catastrophic, cruel and arbitrary:

“Two of the families have fled domestic violence in circumstances where they were financially reliant upon their abusive partners, and they now face a stark choice between descending further into poverty and risking losing their homes, or returning to their abusers in order to escape the imposition of the cap.”

Even Child Benefit, and many refuges and hostels for vulnerable women are not exempted from the Cap.  Lisa Longstaff of Women Against Rape says:

       “We call on the government to put the safety of women and children first by lifting the Benefit

        Cap so no one is trapped in a violent a relationship where they risk injury, trauma and even death.”

Monday 27 and Tuesday 28 January

Appeal vs the total Benefit Cap

In defence of families affected & impoverished by it.  The Cap is even more drastic than the bedroom tax and is trapping women and children in violent relationships.

9.30am Join the protest outside the court

called by Women Against Rape

Royal Courts of Justice, Strand (off Kingsway), London WC2A 2LL

Jan 172014
 

Remember the massive Solidarity Sunday march during Reclaim the Power in
Balcombe?

How’s about we do it again!.

Sunday 26th January at Barton Moss.

Be there and show Cameron that we see through his bribes and we don’t want
fracking or the dash for gas.

Fracking is Stoppable! Another World is Possible!

Please forward to list and help mobilise people from your area/offer to
help with eg media/publicity etc.

SOLIDARITY SUNDAY @ BARTON MOSS

https://www.facebook.com/events/204357003090823/?ref=5&source=1

26th January 2014,    1:00pm

Barton Moss Road (off A57), Salford, Greater Manchester M30 7RQ

Do you live in the 60% of the UK that has been made available to fracking
companies? Solidarity Sunday is an opportunity to support a community
fighting fracking NOW, but also to highlight the threat to your community
and the resistance taking place where you live!

LETS MAKE THIS BIG.

*Things to Bring*

** BANNERS/SIGNAGE representing your community and the extreme energy
development your resisting
** WARM/WATERPROOF clothes
** Food & Water
** If travelling in a vehicle, anything from the camp’s wish-list:
http://northerngasgala.org.uk/whattobring/

*If You Cant Attend*

If you can’t make it dont worry – this is a nation-wide day of solidarity
and resistance:

** MESSAGES OF SOLIDARITY!: Send photos of your message to
info@northerngasgala.org.uk
** Use the day to get your group together where you are: Run an
info-stall/hold a film screening

See http://northerngasgala.org.uk/solidarity-sunday/ for more details and
directions to Barton Moss Community Protection Camp
etc. Try to avoid bringing alcohol, drugs, anything which could be
construed as a weapon (glass etc.).

Latest News from Barton Moss:
http://frack-off.org.uk/barton-moss-latest-news/
Directions: http://northerngasgala.org.uk/map/
Know Your Rights: http://northerngasgala.org.uk/knowyourrights/
More about Threat to North West:
http://frack-off.org.uk/fracking-threat-in-the-north-west/
New UK fracking licenses confirmed:
http://frack-off.org.uk/new-uk-fracking-licenses-conf

 Posted by at 16:59
Jan 162014
 

Bedroom Tax Appeal

Vigil – Monday 20th January, 9.30am, outside the Royal Courts of Justice

Disabled people and our supporters will hold a vigil outside the high courts to mark the start of a three day appeal hearing looking to overturn the judgment handed down in July 2013 that found the government can lawfully discriminate against disabled people through implementation of the bedroom tax.

Monday’s legal challenge focuses on discrimination against disabled people, who make up two thirds of those affected – exemption for disabled children was recently won. Other challenges brought against the discriminatory nature of the policy, by separated parents with shared care of children, and mothers fleeing domestic violence in housing with security measures, are on hold behind this case and could be affected by the result, so it’s even more important for everyone to show their support.

The bedroom tax is vicious and punitive. All social housing tenants should have a right to a family home for life. The longer people have to suffer the bedroom tax, the longer people are having to go without essentials like food and heating in order to try to make up the shortfall they are left with, the higher the arrears that are mounting up, and the closer we come to evictions. In November the Disability Benefits Consortium reported that 9 out of 10 disabled people and three quarters of carers affected are now having to cut back on food and heating.

Campaigners from the Anti Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Federation, Camden Association of Street Properties (Camden tenants), Disabled People Against Cuts, Single Mothers’ Self-Defence, Taxpayers Against Poverty and WinVisible are calling the vigil in solidarity with the disabled people taking the appeal and everyone affected. It is also an important opportunity to keep the spotlight on how unfair and unworkable this policy is and to maintain pressure to axe the tax.

We invite everyone who can get to the high courts on Monday to come and show support. The media are keen to hear from disabled people who are directly affected by the bedroom tax and if you are willing to share your story please let us know.

The following Monday 27 January, the appeal against the total Benefit Cap is being heard.  Women Against Rape and Single Mothers’ Self-Defence are calling a protest against the Cap outside the Royal Courts of Justice at 9.30am.  We hope you’ll be able to support that too.

 

 

 Posted by at 18:26
Jan 162014
 

PRESS RELEASEholocaust day 2014

Mad Pride Holocaust Memorial Poster

‘Lest We Forget’

THURSDAY 23RD JANUARY 2014-

@TOTTENHAM CHANCES

399 Tottenham High Road

Tottenham N17 6QN

8pm – Midnight

Admission £5 /£ 2 concessions

THE SEA ENEMIES / KATHERINE TOY / THE BONNIE SISTERS SOCIAL

CLUB / FIONA BRANSON & COLIN MALONEY/ BARNEY FLOORBIRD

/ LUCY LYRICAL & MAGGIE SWAMPWINO / JESSICA LAWRENCE / DJ

HONEY.

MC’s JASON WHY & RAZZ.

PRESS RELEASE holocaust day 2014

Jan 162014
 

A blog article published yesterday http://blog.cix.co.uk/gmorgan/2014/01/14/sneaky-sneaky-sneaky/shows that DWP has been quietly sneaking amendments to the benefit cap with the introduction of Universal Credit, cutting it effectively from £26,000 to £18,000 for couples without children, without almost anybody noticing.

When the benefit cap was introduced for Housing Benefit, it was as followed:

  • £500 a week if you’re a couple – with or without dependent children
  • £500 a week if you’re a lone parent with dependent children
  • £350 a week if you’re a single person without children.

http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/england/benefits_e/benefits_the_benefit_cap_e/the_benefit_cap_what_you_need_to_know.htm

But the new benefit cap under Universal credit which has been announced by DWP in December 2013 moves quietly and softly the couples without children from the £500 cap to the £350 cap, effectively cutting their benefit award from £26,000 to £18,000, as shown here by Steve Webb statement in the Commons

Webb: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201314/ldhansrd/text/131209-wms0001.htm and DWP website: https://www.gov.uk/benefit-cap

Although the exact number of couples affected by this change is currently unknown, many of them will include disabled people and disabled people with partners as carers, who will be hit by the cap on top of other benefit cuts.

Jan 142014
 

Thanks go to Liz Kendall who argued for independent living and choice to be included in the Care Bill when Independent living and Choice was debated in the Care Bill Committee on Thurs 9 January  – Norman Lamb argued against.   Liz Kendall used the wording suggested by Inclusion London and supported by DPAC re the definition for independent living,  see below.  Norman Lamb said the definition of independent living was unclear.

Please tweet your thanks to Liz Kendall MP in recognition of her efforts

Unfortunately the vote narrowly went against the amendments 10 to 12, so the amendments will not be recommended by the Committee, but the fight goes on as other MPs can recommend amendments when the Bill returns to the House of Commons….    It also now goes back to the Lords so you may wish to contact some lords about this as well.

Please write to your MPs to urge them to propose the independent living amendment and others that are vital for disabled people. See the template letter prepared by Inclusion London attached. 

Here’s a piece from Liz Kendall’s speech:  The debate available at:http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmpublic/care/140109/pm/140109s01.htm

Liz Kendall: The Bill is an important opportunity to ensure that our legislation fully addresses the needs, aspirations and rights of disabled people. Disability organisations have rightly welcomed the new duties that the Bill will put on local authorities to promote well-being and prevention. However, many organisations, such as Inclusion London, Scope and Mencap, have argued that a duty to promote independent living is also essential. That is not a minor or technical point, but a point of principle. Independent living is crucial to ensuring that disabled people have the same rights, choices and chances as any other citizen in this country. Independent living is essential to getting a good education, finding a job, building a career and taking part in community and public life. It is about ensuring that people can live in their own home with whoever they choose to live with and have the opportunity to have a family life. It is about ensuring that they are able to get out and about, meet up with friends and participate in the cultural life of the community and the country. In other words, independent living for me, and more importantly for disabled people and the organisations that work with and represent them, is about being able to participate in, contribute to and be included in society, as the rest of us usually take for granted. 

Disability organisations say that disabled people’s rights to independent living are being undermined by the Government’s policies in social care and the welfare system. The Government’s decision to reduce local council budgets by a third, the biggest reduction in any part of government, is having a real effect on services that are essential to helping with the basics of daily life, such as getting up, washed, dressed and fed. We do that every day, which is essential to getting on with the rest of our lives, but for disabled people— 

Grahame M. Morris (Easington) (Lab ….. I recall that, in our discussions with Swedish parliamentarians, who have a sort of Standing Committee on Health, we were told that if any responsibilities were placed on local government, it is a legal requirement for the necessary resources to be made available for the councils to carry out those services and delegate the functions.

Liz Kendall:  My hon. Friend makes an important point about the needs of adults with disabilities and about the importance of having a right to the basics of daily life, which are essential. The recent joint inquiry by the all-party groups on local government and on disability showed the real problems with the services in the current system: four in 10 disabled adults are now failing to have their basic social care needs met; and nearly half of all disabled adults say that services are not supporting them to get out and about in their local community. The same erosion of independence and opportunities is happening in the social security system through the closure of the independent living fund; problems with the Work programme; how the personal independent payment is being implemented; and the bad bedroom tax. 

 

 

 Template letter to MPs

Dear   Add the name of your MP,

I am writing to you regarding the Care Bill which is in currently being discussed by MPs.

The Care Bill has been described as a once in a life time opportunity to tackle the social care crisis which is impacting on my life. I am asking for your support to propose the amendments to the Care Bill below, to ensure that I am given the support I need for my independent living. 

Independent living for disabled people

As a disabled person I have the right to the same opportunities, choices and rights as other citizens. I want to get a job, build a career and have an education and to take part in community and public life.  I wish to decide when I go bed, what I eat and to live in my home with people I choose to live with, I also want to be able to leave my home to go out and about – go shopping, go to see a band. I would like the opportunity to be a parent and friend, have a family and social life. All these elements are included in independent living for disabled people.  Independent living is being able to contribute, participate and be included.

Funding

Social care is in crisis resulting in more and more disabled people going without the essential support they need. This situation is likely to continue because the Care Bill does not tackle the fundamental issue of funding for social care. I have not got large savings and do not own my house, so I will not benefit from the Government’s funding reforms.  I would like care and support to be funded so it supports me to lead an independent life of participation, inclusion, dignity and equality. To achieve this I believe it should be funded out of National Insurance contributions/general taxation and free at the point of need like the NHS, this would ensure I get the care I need for independent living in the future.

Amendments to Care Bill

I would be grateful if you could put forward the amendments below to the Scrutiny Committee or to the House of Commons when the Bill reaches Report stage, to try and ensure that independent living for disabled people becomes a reality. All the amendments are highlighted in bold: 

 

1. Amendment to: Clause 1 ‘Promoting individual well-being’ 

Can you please propose the following amendments to the definition of ‘well-being’ and to the General responsibilities of local authorities:

1 Promoting individual well-being and independent living

(1) The general duty of a local authority, in exercising a function under this Part in the case of an individual, is to promote that individual’s well-being, independence and inclusion as equal and valued citizens and members of the community.

(a) That duties under independent living promote the wider definition of independent living as expressed in the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

2. Advocacy

It is very important that disabled people are provided with independent advocacy right through the process of obtaining and maintaining care and support.

It is important because independent advocacy enables disabled people to participate in the assessment and review process but also enable disabled people to give direct feedback about the quality of services, which will help prevent on-going abuse of disabled people in the future. Therefore we ask you to put forward the following amendments to three clauses, (see wording in bold)

Clause 5.Promoting diversity and quality in provision of service:

A local authority must have regard to —

(c)      the need to offer and provide an independent advocate to enable service user feedback to improve the quality of services  

Clause 9.  Assessment of adults need for care and support:

A local authority, in carrying out a needs assessment, has

(d)     A duty to offer and provide an independent advocate to the adult to enable full participation in all needs assessments and reviews

Clause 42.   Enquiry by local authority:

(2)The local authority must-

(a)     Offer and provide an independent advocate to an adult who is experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect to enable them to give evidence and participate fully in the enquiry. 

3. Amendment to Clause 9 ‘Assessment of an adult’s needs for care and support’

The assessment is the key gateway to care and support so it is important that disabled people, who are expert in their own needs, should be at the core of the assessment process. Can you please propose the following that:

  • All care assessments reflect the rights to independent living and choice encompassed in the UNCRDP.  Also that all care and support assessments should be a person centred process. 

 

4. Amendment to Clause 13 ‘The eligibility criteria’

The government has announced that the national eligibility threshold is to be set at ‘Substantial’. This means support will only be provided at a very late stage when disabled people’s health, wellbeing and independence has deteriorated badly. Can you please propose an amendment so that:

  • The eligibility threshold for care is set at ‘moderate’ to ensure that disabled people are able to receive the support needed to maintain and sustain health, wellbeing and independence

 

5. Independent Living Fund (no existing clause)

The impact on the independent living of disabled people with high support needs if the Independent Living Fund (ILF) closes in 2015 will be devastating. I would be grateful if you can propose a new clause to ensure there is:

  • A duty on local authorities to provide equivalent support as provided by the ILF that ensures independent living in the community on an on-going basis.  
  • Set up an Independent living task force, co-produced with ILF users, to review independent living and specifically the Independent Living Fund in order to identify how best to improve, develop and extend independent living support building on the successful model of ILF provision. 

5. Amendment to ‘Continuity of care and support when an adult moves’ – Clause 37 ‘Notification, assessment etc

I believe I should have the same freedom to move home as non-disabled people i.e. without the fear that my care package will be removed or reduced. I urge you to propose and amendment so there is a duty to:

  • Ensure the new care package provided by the receiving authority must be equivalent to the existing care package, provided by the first authority.  

Together these amendments will help make the Care Bill better for disabled people and help make independent living a reality for me and other disabled people.

Can you please let me know what action you will take and what amendments you will be proposing and supporting.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

 

 

 Posted by at 21:37
Jan 122014
 

In another year of imposed austerity when the Condems voted in a 5% tax cut for all earning over £ 150, 000, another year when unpaid tax by corporations was at £95bn per year, a year that MPs paid their heating bills with our money, while we couldn’t afford to heat our homes DPAC received more emails and realities of destroyed lives under imposed austerity.

We have reproduced some of these below with all identifying elements removed. We know they don’t fit into anything that Channel 4 or the BBC would like to show as part of the media demonization propa ganda – so we rely on you to share and publicise the real demons and real impact of austerity for those that should be supported with basic necessities like food….

 

“I just got this information from a nurse friend of mine last night…….a man who has diabetics type 2 and severe copd was brought in to hospital last night…..aged 61 his esa was stopped 8 weeks ago after being found fit 2 work….. it turns out he has been eating dried corn flakes for the last 5 weeks and has no electric on for 5 weeks….. he has had no heating or even able to boil a kettle for a hot drink…..he was not even able to use his nebulizer without electric…..the cold has got to his lungs and his blood sugars have gone dangerously low as type 2 diabetics must eat 3 times a day 2 keep blood sugars level……the nurses have chipped in to get him a bottle of squash and some fruit ….apparently this gentleman is very unwell at the moment and if the Tories and Lib- Dems find peoples hunger something to laugh at will they also find this funny? The sick will end up in hospital beds if they cant eat and stay warm……this mans situation is just a taste of what the future holds for thousands…….”

 

“Hi guys… You’ve probably had a few complaints already, so I really am sorry, but I need to unwind… Would it have caused that many issues for the DWP to release our disability payments a few days early, and in time for Xmas this year? I struggle to feed myself as it is, and my payment is due this Friday, the 27th. I have no food in my fridge, nor my freezer, and none in the cupboards…I honestly do not know what I’m gonna do for food between now and Friday… Is the Government that much out of touch with the people? I have no family to whom I can turn for help… What am I going to do? I remember a time when payments were made available early, to cover such occasions… What’s happened? I have osteoarthritis, which is aggravated by my hypertension, and one out two other complaints. I’m unable to walk far, and I have no transport. I thought I had a friend, until I found out just how self-centered he is…Now it’s clear that I’m on my own. Is there any wonder people withdraw and become isolated from society if this is what’s on offer? Sorry for bring the bearer of such bad ridings, and I sincerely hope you have a great time. Thank you for taking the time to read this email”.


Today at the foodbank in Bromley over 200 families received help to eat over Christmas. Many of their stories were horrendous. Three of them am going to share with you now.

The 89 year old man, in hospital with malnutrition, freezing in his home, kicked out of the PRUH for bed blocking, sent home to a freezing cold home, and no food. Tonight he has food, carers are going in, and someone is going to spend Christmas with him. He has money on the gas and electric, the local shops made sure of that with donations. It was heartbreaking to see him cry and thanking us all. He hasnt had a decent cup of tea at home for the last 4 weeks, he told us. I just wanted to do more to help, but now the agencies in the area have swung into action to help. 

Of the family with a three week old baby, her father sanctioned this morning for a year. The job centre said he came on the wrong day, he showed them the letter for the day to see them today, the JCP changed it and did not tell him. Then as they sanctioned him they wished him a Merry Christmas and smiled at him. He cried on my shoulder, his family affected by the bedroom tax, no food, nothing. So we applied for DHP for him, and for hardship payments, his baby called May has a few toys for Christmas and some clothes and baby milk, some of the shops in the area donated for them. 

Of the man homeless who walked four miles in the driving rain to the foodbank today. The local church clothed him, got him hot food, and he is in a shelter for the next few months”. 

 

“my benefits are sanctioned over Christmas for arriving to a work program 5 mins & 15 minutes late on 2 appointments I’ve no money until the 5th January is I cannot get a budgeting loan as they say i owe them to much already I have no food no electric no heating & 2 young children I’m in desperate need of some form of help is there anything I can do?”

 

“I have just been sanctioned.

Apparently i have not been doing enough to find a job … despite the fact i have a job to go to in January.

When I mentioned this, I was told … but what if for some reason, that job falls through.

WHAT IF ??? ……….. can you imagine the hoops we’d have to jump through if we put on the jobsearch record … what if i got a job by sending out cv’s to companies that don’t exist ….. yet”

 

“I really need some money because I have no food and i need to pay rent and I need gas and electric I cant get help nowhere and I have been to the food bank 4 time AND you can only go 3 time they cant help no more”

 

 

am a 23 year old male with A levels and a degree.

Unfortunately I have been forced to sign on. My “Advisor” has put me down for picking/packing work and cleaning.

Not only that, I was sanctioned for not attending a group session. The reason for this is because I met up with a guy who interviewed me for a job. I told the job centre the reason and told them to ring the guy. I even got him to write them a letter. The PROOF is there. How can they sanction money for trying to get a job??????? Its ridiculous. They cant make ONE phone call. Its all computerised and robotic in today’s world so we don’t even stand a chance.

Why are the sanctioning innocent people?

The UK is meant to have a system in place to help those in need. I’m not a bad person. I have saved lives, raised money for charities and even worked voluntarily. I am treated with disgust by our system. I can now see why a man set himself on fire outside of the Selly Oak job centre!

I have lost weight. I have depression. My motivation is zero. I am in a pit. As I write this, suicide is in the back of my mind because I feel helpless. The support is not there and it never will be until there is a major change. Would me taking my own life be enough to make the system change? Sadly I think it will. It always takes somebodys life to make people realise.

I have waited over 8 days for a hardship fund. I am living on old biscuits which I had from Christmas 2012″.

 

“Just thought I’d post this I found, then read it again, this is the “care” cancer sufferers get

Dear Mr Cameron,

Chester and Ellesmere Port Foodbank (Wednesday, 6 November 2013): ‘Jenny shared her story with one of our volunteers, and requested that we share it with you (everyone). We are privileged to do so.’

Jenny

Jenny came to the Chester and Ellesmere Port Foodbank last month, having been diagnosed with terminal Cancer. Her prognosis was three to six months. She already suffered with several chronic illnesses preventing her from working over the last two years and was in receipt of Disability Living Allowance. Having no family she was trying to “put her house in order”, ensuring all her bills were paid and saving up for her funeral. Her DLA was stopped; the reason given was that as she was not expected to survive the required time, she did not qualify for this benefit!

She came to the Foodbank not for herself but to bring a neighbour who had mental health issues and short term memory problems. He had been 30 minutes late for his appointment at the Benefit office (he had forgotten the time!) and had therefore been sanctioned. He had not eaten for three days. They were both given a meal and the time to talk of their problems and referred to the appropriate agencies for food vouchers and further support and help. Several weeks later Jenny came to the Foodbank to thank everyone for the help and food that was given and the kindness and support that was shown in their time of need. Jenny died three weeks later.

Where did Jenny fit in your striver/scrounger world, Mr Cameron? Evidently she did not fit at all, she was abandoned to die in poverty as a direct result of your government policies and in particular the welfare policies of Iain Duncan Smith”.

 

“I’ve got no food rent is due also got an appointment 20 miles away on Tuesday at a local hospital with atos to see if I can get PIP don’t get paid ESA until next Thursday already had budgeting loan 3 months ago suffer with recurrent depressive disorder care cluster 3 and severe anxiety”

“I am close to suicide due to the threat of eviction due to not being able to pay council tax or the bedroom tax!

I have applied for a DHP and been refused, I also have a carer overnight which I have to pay £400 per month for and they use one bedroom but this is not being counted,I also have a room that is used for medical equipment such as a scooter, wheelchair toilet rolls and paper towels and washing tablets as I have bowel problems due to cancer treatment, and also the bed is used as a massage bed due to alleviate my pain due to arthritis, and also facial masks and filters for my CPAP machine and a facial steamer which clears my air passage at night and massage equipment! This was scoffed at as being a room for medical use”

 

Don’t forget: Monday 13th Twitter Demo against Love Productions supporting Street Demo against #BenefitsStreet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan 122014
 

For those who can’t make it to the Demo at Love Productions on Monday 13th at 3PM we are holding a twitter demo in support of the people demonstrating on site – you can view the details and sample tweets here

Also we will be joined by members of Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) who have answered our appeal to assist and will be tweeting in solidarity – so look out for tweets with the hashtag #OCAP

We want to let @Channel4 and @LoveProdHouse, the benefits street production company, know how angry we are about the #BenefitsStreet TV Programme – so please join us in creating a twitterstorm they will never forget

Jan 072014
 

Independent Living & The Care Bill 2013 – help make this Bill better for disabled people 

The Care Bill going through Parliament this January 2014 will shape social care for years to come yet the Bill currently does not include any mention of independent living and fails to address key concerns like independent advocacy and funding of social care. 

The Care Bill is being discussed by MPs from 9 January till early February, during this time changes can be made to the Bill to improve it. We know you are extremely busy but please take the time to get in contact with your MP to ask them put forward amendments to the Care Bill to ensure independent living is at the heart of this important piece of legislation and also encourage your service users and members to contact their MPs as well.

We have received some great news – Liz Kendall, the Shadow Care Minister has put forward important changes to the Bill suggested by Inclusion London and supported by DPAC regarding choice and independent living, for discussion by the Care Bill’s Scrutiny Committee! Pressure from your MP now will help these amendments to be accepted in the House of Commons.

Detailed below is all the information you need to lobby your MP. It won’t take that long and your input could make all the difference.

How to lobby your MP

  1. 1.   Email or write to your MP. 

Find out who is your local MP at: http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/

Their contact details are available at: http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/

Send the attached letter to your MP, feel free to change the letter to reflect your / their circumstances.

  1. Tweet:
    Service users / members can tweet about any responses to their letters or meetings, which will keep interest in the Care Bill alive. Use your own twitter account or email your tweet to henrietta.doyle@inclusionlondon.co.uk who will tweet it for you.
  1. Attend your MP’s surgery or ask for a home visit.
    Information about your MP’s surgeries times and venues is available at:http://wiki.openrightsgroup.org/wiki/London_MP_Surgeries

Home visits:  If you are not able to attend your MP’s surgery because of your impairment you should ask for a home visit.

  1. DDPOs you can organise a meeting between your MP and your members and users about the Care Bill.

For information on how to contact your MP go to: http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/ 

We know you are extremely busy but please take the time to get in touch with your MP. This is a vitally important piece of legislation that will have a huge impact on disabled people’s lives now and in the future. We can make this Bill better.

Many thanks to Inclusion London for putting together this campaign pack for people to use. Further information on the Care Bill is available to read at   http://www.inclusionlondon.co.uk/ 

Template Letter for individuals

 

Dear   Add the name of your MP,

I am writing to you regarding the Care Bill which is in currently being discussed by MPs.

The Care Bill has been described as a once in a life time opportunity to tackle the social care crisis which is impacting on my life. I am asking for your support to propose the amendments to the Care Bill below, to ensure that I am given the support I need for my independent living. 

Independent living for disabled people

As a disabled person I have the right to the same opportunities, choices and rights as other citizens. I want to get a job, build a career and have an education and to take part in community and public life.  I wish to decide when I go bed, what I eat and to live in my home with people I choose to live with, I also want to be able to leave my home to go out and about – go shopping, go to see a band. I would like the opportunity to be a parent and friend, have a family and social life. All these elements are included in independent living for disabled people.  Independent living is being able to contribute, participate and be included.

Funding

Social care is in crisis resulting in more and more disabled people going without the essential support they need. This situation is likely to continue because the Care Bill does not tackle the fundamental issue of funding for social care. I have not got large savings and do not own my house, so I will not benefit from the Government’s funding reforms.  I would like care and support to be funded so it supports me to lead an independent life of participation, inclusion, dignity and equality. To achieve this I believe it should be funded out of National Insurance contributions/general taxation and free at the point of need like the NHS, this would ensure I get the care I need for independent living in the future.

Amendments to Care Bill

I would be grateful if you could put forward the amendments below to the Scrutiny Committee or to the House of Commons when the Bill reaches Report stage, to try and ensure that independent living for disabled people becomes a reality. All the amendments are highlighted in bold:

1. Amendment to: Clause 1 ‘Promoting individual well-being’ 

Can you please propose the following amendments to the definition of ‘well-being’ and to the General responsibilities of local authorities:

1 Promoting individual well-being and independent living

(1) The general duty of a local authority, in exercising a function under this Part in the case of an individual, is to promote that individual’s well-being, independence and inclusion as equal and valued citizens and members of the community.

(a) That duties under independent living promote the wider definition of independent living as expressed in the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

(See Inclusion London’ paper attached for all the amendments to this clause). 

2. Advocacy

It is very important that disabled people are provided with independent advocacy right through the process of obtaining and maintaining care and support.

It is important because independent advocacy enables disabled people to participate in the assessment and review process but also enable disabled people to give direct feedback about the quality of services, which will help prevent on-going abuse of disabled people in the future. Therefore we ask you to put forward the following amendments to three clauses, (see wording in bold)

Clause 5.Promoting diversity and quality in provision of service:

A local authority must have regard to —

(c)      the need to offer and provide an independent advocate to enable service user feedback to improve the quality of services  

Clause 9.  Assessment of adults need for care and support:

A local authority, in carrying out a needs assessment, has

(d)     A duty to offer and provide an independent advocate to the adult to enable full participation in all needs assessments and reviews

Clause 42.   Enquiry by local authority:

(2)The local authority must-

(a)     Offer and provide an independent advocate to an adult who is experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect to enable them to give evidence and participate fully in the enquiry. 

3. Amendment to Clause 9 ‘Assessment of an adult’s needs for care and support’

The assessment is the key gateway to care and support so it is important that disabled people, who are expert in their own needs, should be at the core of the assessment process. Can you please propose the following that:

  • All care assessments reflect the rights to independent living and choice encompassed in the UNCRDP.  Also that all care and support assessments should be a person centred process. 

4. Amendment to Clause 13 ‘The eligibility criteria’

The government has announced that the national eligibility threshold is to be set at ‘Substantial’. This means support will only be provided at a very late stage when disabled people’s health, wellbeing and independence has deteriorated badly. Can you please propose an amendment so that:

  • The eligibility threshold for care is set at ‘moderate’ to ensure that disabled people are able to receive the support needed to maintain and sustain health, wellbeing and independence

5. Independent Living Fund (no existing clause)

The impact on the independent living of disabled people with high support needs if the Independent Living Fund (ILF) closes in 2015 will be devastating. I would be grateful if you can propose a new clause to ensure there is:

  • A duty on local authorities to provide equivalent support as provided by the ILF that ensures independent living in the community on an on-going basis. 
  • Set up an Independent living task force, co-produced with ILF users, to review independent living and specifically the Independent Living Fund in order to identify how best to improve, develop and extend independent living support building on the successful model of ILF provision. 

5. Amendment to ‘Continuity of care and support when an adult moves’ – Clause 37 ‘Notification, assessment etc

I believe I should have the same freedom to move home as non-disabled people i.e. without the fear that my care package will be removed or reduced. I urge you to propose and amendment so there is a duty to:

  • Ensure the new care package provided by the receiving authority must be equivalent to the existing care package, provided by the first authority.  

Together these amendments will help make the Care Bill better for disabled people and help make independent living a reality for me and other disabled people.

Can you please let me know what action you will take and what amendments you will be proposing and supporting.

Yours sincerely,

 

 

 

 

 Posted by at 16:36
Jan 072014
 

We promised to update everyone about the outcome of this case where our ally Citizen Smart was charged and in court for singing anti-Tory songs.

 

http://www.internaldpac.org.uk/DPACClone/2014/01/anti-tory-songs-now-illegal/

 

Yesterday was the day of the court case but the case has still not been heard. Our understanding of the events are the court had difficulty trying to video-record proceedings so there wasn’t enough time to hear the case and the trial has been postponed again. We will let people know how this farce is progressing when we get more news.

 Posted by at 15:37
Jan 062014
 

The Mayor of London, who campaigned for election on the promise of keeping ticket offices open, now plans to close them as part of the 12.5% cut in the budget of London Underground (LU) announced on 21st November. This will, at a stroke, reduce safety, reduce service, cause inconvenience to the travelling public and increase the cost of travelling cattle class. The intention of London Underground is to create a self-service, supermarket model, and that means all Ticket Offices are due to close by 2015.

Look at the crowds in busy ticket halls like Euston – long queues for the ticket office, and even longer queues for ticket machines. It appears that more space, more ticket machines and more staff are actually what’s needed. Even in the current insanity that pervades the mayor’s office, the mayor must be aware that the crowds and the queues include millions of tourists – both foreign and domestic – and they are likely to tell their friends and relatives of their under whelming experience on London’s underground.

The news of the savage cuts was given at the same time as announcing the 24 hour running of some tube lines; neatly hiding the cuts from all the headlines. The mainstream media has played along with this scenario, and has also repeated London Underground’s assertion that the Railway Marine and Transport Union, the RMT, is balloting for strike action over the 24 hour running. They are not. They are balloting for strike action over the cuts.

Little prominence has been given to the phasing out of the Oyster card, to be replaced by contact-less bankcards. The Oyster card works fine for the passenger, but LU want to switch to a system that conveniently means that any ticketing problems experienced by passengers are no longer dealt with by LU, but by the passenger’s bank!

More about these cuts here

http://handsofflondontransport.wordpress.com/

The Hands off London Transport campaign is staging a Flash Mob protest this Friday, January 10th 3pm Euston Tube station ticket office for all those who can make it along.

January 16th – public meeting – Conway Hall, 18.30 pm with Bob Crowe, Ciara Doyle and others. More details to follow.

https://twitter.com/HandsOffLT

 

 

 Posted by at 20:59
Jan 052014
 

Singing anti-Tory songs will now land you in court. Citizen Smart who has supported many camapigns against the cuts  is before Sterling Sherrif court tomorrow (Jan 6th) for anti Tory song : Hey Mr Cameron! See video below and dont forget to sign along at a street near you-solidarity from DPAC to Citizen Smart. We’ll update on what happens

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