Feb 242014
 

This article draws unashamedly on David Webster’s excellent briefing following the release in February 2014 of sanction statistics for JSA and ESA claimants by DWP. David Webster, who is Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Glasgow University, also presented very strong and documented evidence to inform the enquiry of the Work and Pension Committee into sanctions in March and November 2013. http://paulspicker.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/david-webster-evidence-to-hc-work-and-pensions-committee-20-nov.pdf

The briefing on which this article is based can be found here: http://paulspicker.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/sanctions-stats-briefing-d-webster-19-feb-2014-1.pdf

It explains in great detail the trends in sanctions, in reasons for sanctions, in appeals etc. since 1997 which, for David Webster, is evidence that Iain Duncan Smith is behaving unlawfully on a large scale.

Number of sanctions: The latest figures released by DWP through its new software (Stat-Xplore) show that the number of sanctions for JSA and ESA claimants has reached unprecedented levels.  Between 22/10/2012 and 30/09/2013 (49 weeks) 527,574 JSA claimants received a sanction. The figure for ESA claimants over a complete year is 22,840, also a record number. Although the rate of sanctions for ESA claimants is much lower, it is rising and stands almost at 0.,5% per month (compared to 6% for JSA claimants in the 3 months to 30/09/2013). 

Length of sanctions: What has also changed is the length of sanctions. Although ministers claimed that hardly anyone would be subject to the new 3-year sanctions, the number of JSA claimants who had received a 3-year sanction rose to 962 by 30 September 2013, up from 700 by 30 June 2013.  Claimants’ ‘failures’ such as not attending or being late for advisory interviews,  non-availability for employment, which used to attract  1 or 2 week sanction, are now penalised with a 4 week sanction 

Reasons for sanctions: The main reasons for JSA sanctions are failure to participate in training/employment schemes and not ‘actively seeking work’ while the majority of ESA claimants are being sanctioned for not participating in work-related activity (75%), and the remainder for missing or being late for an interview.

Work Programme: The Work Programme continues to fail JSA claimants, as contractors have been responsible for twice as many sanctions on the people referred to them as they have produced job outcomes:  394,759 sanctions and 198,750 job outcomes. There is also evidence of maladministration of referral forms which has lead to a huge increase of cancelled referrals. What it means is Work Programme contractors are making mistakes in their paperwork on a big scale.

Appeals and reconsiderations:  The success rate of appeals taken to an independent tribunal is quoted as being 58%, even by the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary. This figure represents an average over 12 months, which fails to reflect the strong and clear upward trend of successful appeals. Tribunals are now upholding almost 9 out of 10 of appeals against DWP. This confirms the evidence that sanctions are applied unreasonably.

Unfortunately, only about one in 50 sanctioned claimants appeals to a Tribunal – 2.44% in the latest 3 months. The vast majority of claimants find the process too difficult.

To conclude, a note added by David Webster to his briefing regarding the role of sanctions in creating destitution:

‘There is clearly a lot of confusion about the role of sanctions in creating destitution. The current regime under which sanctioned claimants lose all their benefits and, unless in an arbitrarily defined ‘vulnerable’ group, are not allowed even to apply for discretionary ‘hardship payments’ for the first two weeks, has been in force since October 1996. What has changed dramatically in recent years is the number and length of sanctions. Prior to the Jobseekers Act 1995, sanctioned claimants were entitled to a reduced rate of Income Support or Supplementary Benefit as of right from the start, assessed on the normal rules’.

 

Feb 242014
 

Poster Save Legal Aid 7th March, Old Palace Yard

Demonstration Grayling DaySave Legal Aid

Friday 7th March 10am Old Palace Yard SW1

Training event between 1-4pm at Methodist Central Hall

www.iccsa.org.uk/lcssa-training-day-07032014

Sign the petition for legal aid www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/david-cameron-uk-government-save-legal-aid-to-protect-tojustice-for-all

Followed by march to Ministry of Justice

Speakers include:

Paddy Hill (Birmingham 6)

Shami Chekrabarti,

Ian Lawrence (NAPO)

Feb 242014
 

In an urgent memo obtained by Benefits and Work, the DWP have told staff that due to a growing backlog at Atos all current employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants will be left on the benefit, without further medical checks, until another company can be found to do repeat work capability assessments (WCAs). The memo, dated 20 January, goes on to say that this will reduce the number of claimants moving off ESA, but that there are no plans to inform claimants or MPs about the change.

Benefits and Work obtained the memo from the DWP via a Freedom of Information request. It is headed: ‘FOR URGENT CASCADE. Control of the Referral of Repeat work Capability Assessments’.

The memo explains that back in July a ministerial statement announced that:

“in the drive to continually improve the Work Capability Assessment process and bring down waiting times for claimants, DWP had decided to seek additional capacity to deliver Work Capability Assessments.

“We are working towards having new provision in place – it will of course take some time for that to become fully operational.”

However, the memo goes on to explain that:

“The number of cases currently with Atos Healthcare has grown. A decision has therefore been taken to control the referral of repeat work capability assessments. Therefore, with effect from 20 January 2014, further routine repeat assessments referrals to Atos will be deferred until further notice.

“Controlling the volume of repeat Work Capability Assessments should help us to reduce delays for new claimants and those that have already been referred.”

The memo goes on to say that staff must still refer claimants for reassessment where there has been a reported change in condition, giving the example of a claimant placed in the Work Related Activity Group whose condition worsens and who might be expected to move into the Support Group.

Aside from this, however, reassessment of existing claimants is to end until further notice, with no new cases being referred to Atos from 20th January.

The memo is keen to point out that the decision to stop repeat assessments by Atos is not ‘linked to the quality issues outlined in July 2013’ which the DWP ‘has been working closely with Atos to resolve’. It also reassures readers that the change will have no impact on Atos’ ability to carry out personal independence payment assessments.

It does, however, admit that the result of the change is that the number of people coming off ESA each month will reduce because:

“the Work Capability Assessment is the main trigger for off-flows from the Employment and Support Allowance load. We will continue to assess the potential for alternative interventions on those whose repeat Work Capability Assessments are deferred to seek to manage this consequence.”

No details of what those ‘alternative interventions’ might be is given.

It is clear, however, that the DWP is not keen for people to be aware of the ever more disastrous state of medical assessments for benefits by Atos. The memo explains that claimants who enquire about when their next WCA will be, should only be told that:

“Although the Department will periodically review a person’s Limited Capability for Work, there is no set date for this to happen.

“The timing of this review is at the discretion of the Decision Maker acting on behalf of the Secretary of State and is influenced by the evidence available to them, which can mean on occasion longer periods between face to face assessments. “

In addition, the memo explains that as this is simply an ‘operational decision’ and not a ‘policy change’ there are no plans to notify ‘external stakeholders such as claimants, claimant representative groups, Members of Parliament, etc.’

It is hard to imagine that IDS and his fellow DWP ministers believed that they could keep this further Atos-related failure secret for long: you can’t stop reassessing thousands of claimants a week without anyone noticing. If, however, they could have kept it secret at least until they found a new company to take on the repeat assessments, it would have been easier to explain away and not added to the ever mounting pressure for a complete overhaul of the WCA.

“Yes, there was briefly a problem” IDS could have said “But we now have a new provider and it is no longer an issue.”

As it is, this news is simply further proof that the WCA is not fit for purpose, because as soon as the DWP attempts to impose proper quality controls a massive backlog results. It is, we hope, another nail in the coffin of a completely discredited system.

And, for all those claimants with static or degenerative conditions who continue to be forced to undergo repeat assessments, often followed by repeat appeals, on an annual basis, the news will come as a welcome respite.

Reposted from Benefits and Work website with thanks

 

http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/2645-all-repeat-wca-medicals-to-be-stopped

 

 

 

Feb 232014
 

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DPAC_coloured_Logo_2__bigger

47c6dee651ac495fe43bca08a9b3baad

DPAC, Black Triangle & WOW Petition

Joint Statement on the Bizarre ATOS Exit Strategy

Several years of campaigning have paid off in making more and more people realise that ATOS, the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) and Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) policies imposed by the ConDems are completely toxic, inhuman and abhorrent.

DPAC have been leading campaigns against ATOS, the WCA and DWP since 2010 including: visits to Trinton Square (shiny headquarters of ATOS), with our local DPAC groups repeatedly protesting outside their local assessment centres and feeding in to the day of protest on the 19th of February. DPAC also fed into the channel 4 program Dispatches: ‘Britain on the Sick’ which revealed the horrendous system of getting as many people removed from support as possible, has exposed the devastation and misery and led the highly successful ATOS games in 2012 which saw ATOS shares drop in value and an increase in media attention against them. DPAC have occupied Caxton House (home of the DWP) and gathered outside the entrance of the DWP on many occasions, most recently in the 7 days of action ‘Reclaiming our Futures’.

Our sister group Black Triangle have fought tirelessly with us. Black Triangle has worked with us for over 3 years fighting and exposing continuous wrong doing and working on publicising regulations that can be used by GPs to prevent further harm to thousands of disabled people under the WCA regime. Our allies at WOW have successfully raised the issue of a cumulative impact assessment, abolishing the WCA with the Wow petition, and secured a debate in Parliament on February 27th. This month also saw a UK wide protest outside local ATOS centres organised by local groups. We’ve all been clear that it is the WCA itself that needs to be scrapped immediately.

The bizarre exit strategy ATOS have developed in identifying apparent physical threats on Facebook despite the growing lists of real deaths caused by the WCA regime is an outrageous insult to all those that have died and all those that have lost family members through this regime. It is an insult to those left without their homes, without money and needing to go to foodbanks. It is an insult to every person who has suffered worsening physical and mental health through this inhuman regime.

ATOS attempting to pull out of its contact represents only a partial victory. The alphabet corporations (G4S, A4E, SECRO, CAPITA) are already lining up to take over the multi-million profits and the mantle of the new Grim Reapers. The misery imposed by this Government and the DWP will continue as long as its heinous policies continue.

Goodbye to ATOS -but the WCA must also end. The reign of terror by this unelected Coalition Government which has awarded itself pay rises, cut taxes for those earning over £150,000 while piling punishment, poverty, misery and premature death on everyone else in its policies of rich against poor must end.

Make no mistake- We will continue to demonstrate against ATOS, now delivering the complete failure of PIP in which claims are being delayed by up to a year. We will demonstrate against any other company that takes over the WCA contract. We will continue to demand the immediate removal of the WCA, and the removal of this Government.

DPAC, Black Triangle and WOW demand:

  1. That the WCA be ended with immediate effect to be replaced with a rigorous and safe system that does not cause avoidable harm to disabled people, those with chronic health issues, terminal illnesses or long term health issues. It is the WCA – the assessment itself – that is fundamentally flawed and must end now as called for by the British Medical Association (BMA), the Royal College of Nursing and the 104,725 people who signed the WOW Petition.
  1. That the UK Government at Westminster and the opposition follow the Scottish Government’s pledge that private for-profit companies are removed entirely from having anything to do with the assessment of disabled people. This area of public policy belongs firmly within the NHS and the public sector.
  1. That all support and commend the initiative being led by Black Triangle in union with DPAC and WOW to work together with the BMA to ensure that GPs are able to flag up a substantial risk of harm to disabled people, those with chronic health issues, terminal illnesses or long term health issues at the very outset of the WCA process. The complete lack of any such mechanism to assess and flag up complex risk under the current regime has given rise to countless tragedies which could thereby have been avoided.
  1. That the PIP contract be removed from ATOS with immediate effect-they have shown errors beyond incompetence affecting thousands of disabled people, leading to waits of up to a year and leaving people without income or food

We’ll celebrate Atos’ realisation that the WCA contract has always been poisonous, but we won’t rest or stay quiet. Atos’ absence from the WCA regime will not allow us forget the evil we have endured:

Suicides

(Atos, the Coalition and DWP all share responsibility)

The Decisions

The appeal rate – c40% without support, up to 70% when claimant supported by trained advocate (CAB).

Quoting the targets from the trainer in the dispatches show – just 13% expected to keep ESA

Atos have £3bn pounds in public contracts, yet pay no tax here. 
 

Whistleblowers

Greg Wood

Joyce Drummond


T
he complete failure around people presenting with MH Diagnosis.

Claimant in wheelchair left upstairs in fire drill

Claimants left out in the cold

Police called on Welfare Advisors

Atos claimed to be working with groups they weren’t.

and

Atos boss accused of 'living in a parallel universe' after claiming hated benefits assessor is popular with public - Mirror Online


Goodbye ATOS-We’ll be back….


This statement is also supported in Solidarity by:

  • Inclusion London
  • Pat's Petition
  • Carer Watch
Feb 222014
 

I am delighted to see that Sir Andrew Dilnot, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, has written to Sheila Gilmore MP in response to her complaint to the authority over the Work Capability Assessment statistics.

This follows a great deal of intensive research in to the figures on the ilegal/mylegal forums to which Sheila Gilmore’s attention has been drawn and which she has acknowledged.  Her unstinting challenge of the DWP in her role on the Parliamentary select committee over the dreaded Employment & Support Allowance along with many other increasingly alarming elements of welfare reform are to be applauded.

And here follows Dilnot’s reply, to view it all use this link…..

In my view we are only scratching the surface with a much deeper failing in these statistics which has yet to emerge.  What particularly galls me is how the media as well as government and its ministers have continually based all their (mis) reporting on the back of figures which it is becoming more and more obvious were flawed from the outset.  The error which emerges in this instance is one where the DWP are effectively concealing their own ‘overturns’ within a set of statistics which have been misrepresented as ones subject to ‘initial assessment’.

The effect of this is (1) to hide the true initial results and (2) to keep from the public the true number of decisions which the DWP considers to be erroneous at the initial stage.

My bigger concern is what these figures hide; the true number of claimants who have appealed.  Figures from Her Majesties Tribunals, Courts and Tribunals Service confirm that over 1 million Employment & Support Allowance appeals have been lodged with Tribunals, many more will be waiting for action at the DWP and no clear figures have yet been made available making it clear as to how many internal reconsiderations by the DWP have led to Work Capability Assessment results being overturned.

Our thanks as ever to Nick –a true hero

Go to http://ilegal.org.uk/thread/7258/serious-flaws-governments-statistics?page=12&scrollTo=21206

To see this post in all its glory including tweet to Nick thanking him for his research from Sheila Gilmore

Please follow Nick on twitter and support his great work @Mylegalforum

Feb 202014
 

Bedroom tax appeal judgment

Vigil outside Royal Courts of Justice: 9.15am Friday 21 February

Disabled people and supporters will gather outside the Royal Courts of Justice on Friday morning as the Court of Appeal delivers its judgment in the ‘bedroom tax’ legal challenge.

Under new Housing Benefit rules introduced in 1 April 2013, persons deemed to have 1 spare bedroom have had their housing benefit reduced by 14% and persons deemed to have 2, or more, spare bedrooms have had their housing benefit reduced by 25%. This bedroom tax or ‘removal of spare room subsidy’ as the government prefers to call it, has had a devastating impact with two thirds of those households affected containing a disabled person.

Last year 10 claimants represented by 3 law firms, argued the new rules discriminate against disabled people. In July 2013 the High Court accepted that they are discriminatory, however decided that the discrimination was justified and therefore lawful in cases concerning disabled adults, although not in cases of disabled children unable to share a bedroom because of their impairments.

Lawyers for disabled adults went to the Court of Appeal, arguing that the discriminatory impact of the measure on disabled people cannot be justified and is unlawful. Lawyers for disabled children and their families also appealed the earlier ruling because the Government has failed to provide a date by which it will implement the high court judgment meanwhile despite the judgement families with disabled children who cannot share rooms because of their impairments are still subject to the bedroom tax.

Evidence of the injustice of the bedroom tax is widespread with families falling into arrears and at threat of eviction. A report by the Papworth trust found that 1 in 3 disabled people hit by the bedroom tax have been refused the Discretionary Housing Payment so far and of those, 9 in 10 disabled people are cutting back on food or bills. There has been at least one suicide as a direct consequence of the distress caused by the new Housing Benefit regulations.

Grassroots campaigns have presented consistent opposition to the hated tax. In April last year a group of disabled activists and supporters from DPAC and UKUncut travelled to Iain Duncan Smith’s mansion in Buckinghamshire to present an under-occupation eviction notice and enjoy an uninvited picnic in his extensive grounds. There have been a series of legal rulings highlighting the unfairness of this poorly thought out and unworkable measure.

We say that no one should have to move and the answer is to build more social housing. A legal victory against this rotten policy would highlight how unworkable and unfair the government’s so-called welfare reforms really are.

The vigil has been called by the Anti Bedroom Tax Federation and Disabled People Against Cuts.

The judgment is due to be given in court room 72 at 9.55am.

 

 

Notes for editors

1) Two thirds of the people affected by the bedroom tax nationally (around 420,000 out of 660,000) are disabled people

2) The challenge against the government was brought by 10 families through a three day hearing from 15 to 18 May: http://www.leighday.co.uk/News/2013/May-2013/Bedroom-Tax-Challenge-at-the-High-Court-(1)

3) Aragon Housing published a report on the first 100 days of the bedroom tax that evidences the disproportionate impact on disabled people as many other issues that make it unworkable

4)  In December it emerged that a loophole had been identified whereby anyone receiving Housing Benefit continuously since before 1996 should be exempt and in January the government had to publish official guidance acknowledging this. A recent Upper Tribunal ruling that defined the term ‘bedroom’ using the plain dictionary meaning also implications for implementation of the bedroom tax.

http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/regulation/full-details-of-first-bedroom-tax-tribunal-rulings/6528701.article?PageNo=1&PageSize=50

http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/housing_benefit_and_local_housing_allowance/changes_to_housing_benefit/bedroom_tax_loophole

http://www.innertemplelibrary.com/2014/01/upper-tribunal-on-bedrooms-nearlylegal/

5) Disabled People Against Cuts is a national campaign led by disabled people, set up to oppose the government’s attacks being carried out in the name of welfare reform. For more information see http://www.dpac.uk.net

6) The Anti-Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Federation is a federation of anti bedroom tax and benefit justice campaigns across England and Wales. We were formed in May 2013 shortly after the launch of the Scotland Anti Bedroom Tax Federation. For more information see: http://www.antibedroomtax.org.uk

 

 

 Posted by at 12:34
Feb 182014
 

It was amazing to see so many people at the meeting last night. There was no doubt that everyone there was strongly against introduce these dangerous weapons to a police force we can’t trust.

In case you weren’t there, last night Dietrich Wagner, a German pensioner blinded by a water cannon, visited the official public meeting on water cannon and warned about the life changing dangers they will pose to Londoners.

Dietrich was also able to tell the media his story and everyone from Channel 4, ITV to the BBC shared his warning about water cannon with the UK public. Even the Daily Mail wrote a strongly anti-water cannon article and published his quote that ‘The use of water cannon is akin to the breakdown of the democratic process.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2561709/Dont-deploy-water-cannon-blind-victim-urges-police-Pensioner-says-wants-make-people-aware-lethal-controversial-weapon-is.html

There is 10 days left of the “engagement” process before Boris decides whether to push for them so if you haven’t already then tell them what you think at: watercannonengagement@mopac.london.gov.uk

We heard from Jenny Jones that the Met and Boris hell bent on introducing them so the campaign needs to build from here. Please share this image and help build the movement against these deadly weapons.

Other media coverage:
http://notowatercannon.wordpress.com/media-coverage/

We’ve also got a Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/No-Water-Cannon-on-Our-Streets/1438349739735074

Feb 172014
 

Many disabled people feel that none of the main political parties represent us: while the Condems are inflicting an unprecedented level of attack on disabled people’s rights and entitlements, we remember that it was New Labour who introduced Atos and the Work Capability Assessment and, much as Labour now tries to distance itself from the Blair and Brown years,they are failing to take a strong stand in defence of the welfare state. 

As things become ever more desperate for disabled people pushed into poverty and destitution, with independent living under greater and greater threat, people are searching for a way to escape the onslaught. One thing that is certain in these uncertain times is that UKIP is not the answer.

UKIP have undeniably rattled and inflicted defeats on the government. They have also succeeded in capturing the imagination of substantial sections of the electorate, pulling support away from the Tories. They are however nothing but bad news for disabled people.

UKIP has clearly been linked to racist, homophobic and disabilist attitudes. In December 2013 a UKIP county council candidate was investigated for advocating compulsory abortion of foetuses with spina bifida and Down’s Syndrome. Examples of racist attitudes displayed by UKIP members are too widespread to be disregarded as anomalies. The rise of a party linked so clearly to anti-equalities and intolerance of diversity is not something disabled people can afford to celebrate even when it does weaken the Tories.  

There does appear to have been a concerted effort by UKIP to reach out to disabled people’s groups to offer support and thereby contribute to building its own base. This does not mean that UKIP supports the principles of disability equality and independent living. Its policies are reactive, opportunistic and bigoted. Its focus on immigration is divisive, having the effect of shifting all the main political parties to the right, while diverting attention from the real issues, from the dismantling of the welfare state, the privatisation of the NHS and the attack on workers’ rights. They might succeed in blocking votes for the Condems but they are also holding back the development of a wider political consciousness that would actively fight for disabled people’s rights.

After the raft of benefit changes and cuts brought in from 1st April 2013 we saw real media attention focusing on welfare and a growing awareness among members of the public not yet personally affected by the cuts about the impact on disabled people – in spite of the lies and misrepresentations from Iain Duncan Smith. The rise of UKIP and their success in the elections has distracted the focus away from government attacks on the poorest and disabled members of society. Increasingly the problems caused by austerity are being blamed on government being soft on immigration instead of holding all political parties to account for the consequences of neoliberalism. 

Reposted from May 2013

Please also see Unite against Fascism web http://uaf.org.uk/

Stand up to UKIP http://standuptoukip.org/

Unite against fascism 22nd March event across Europe http://uaf.org.uk/?attachment_id=3472

All of which DPAC fully support

Feb 162014
 

The WOW petition debate which has been supported by John McDonnell MP will take place on Thursday 27th February 2014 around 11.30 am at the House of Commons chamber.

Please contact your MP to ask them to attend this important debate. You can find your MP’s email details at www.parliament.uk

You may want to remind your MP that as we are approaching an election in the not too distant future you will be monitoring to see whether they attend or not on your behalf.

Template letter mainly taken from WOW

http://wowpetition.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/draft-letter-to-mps-option-2.html

Dear …..

I am writing as your constituent to ask you to represent my views in Parliament.

I support a government e-petition, the WOW petition, which passed the 100,000 signature mark, and on the 10th December 2013 and was granted a full chamber debate by the Back Bench Business Committee in the New Year. This in itself is a historic event as it is the first time in the history of this country that disabled people have secured a Main Chamber debate.

The petition calls for a cumulative impact assessment of welfare reform as it affects disabled people and those with a long term health condition as well as family carers, and an end to the Work Capability Assessment, as demanded by the British Medical Association.

==================

Please add a personal message here to illustrate how this Government’s Policies are either directly affecting you, your family, people you know or society and why you believe the Government should properly debate their policies, the effect they are having and the hardship they are causing to specifically targeted groups with UK society. 

==================

I know you are very busy, but please allow me to present some evidence to support the need for these measures.

The Welfare Reform Act  was promoted as the biggest shake up in welfare for 60 years, so it was extraordinary that no assessment was carried out on how it would affect disabled people. I believe the government now needs to take stock, and face the fact that disabled people have been caused great distress and hardship by measure such as the Work Capability Assessment, bedroom tax, the twenty per cent cut in the budget for Disability Living Allowance, the closure of the Independent Living Fund to new applicants, and many more measures. The think tank Demos has calculated that disabled people, already more likely to be living in poverty, will lose around £28 billion over five years. This hardly seems to be sharing the burden of austerity fairly.

As for the Work Capability Assessments, these have been a disaster. The British Medical Association last year called for them to be scrapped with immediate effect. Parkinson’s UK’s research found that almost half of people with a progressive illness, when assessed, are told they will get better and placed in the Work Related Activity Group. This means they are required to prepare for work, and if they are unable to do what is required of them can be sanctioned leaving them with no income. Please remember these are people with Parkinsons Disease and other progressive illnesses.

As my representative in Parliament I am requesting that you attend and speak at this debate so that your constituents and I can understand your views on government policy towards disabled people.

I would also like to add that we are quickly approaching national elections and I and your other disabled constituents will be watching how you are willing to support us very closely.

Yours sincerely,

 Posted by at 21:23
Feb 132014
 

DPAC support the ATOS demo on Feb 19th. Due to the use of the DPAC logo on some of the posters showing DPAC support we’ve had loads of emails about this. So just to set the record straight- DPAC are not organising the Feb 19th Demos.

We are not responsible for the 8am starts in some areas and accept that these timings will often be difficult for many disabled people. Please contact your local organisers on this, not us.

There may be DPAC speakers, there may be DPAC people at this- and why would we not be there? DPAC along with UKUncut organised the successful ATOS Games across the UK in 2012, so we’re really pleased to see a set of national and local disabled people taking this up again two years on. Big thanks go to Tom Smith and others for mobilising everyone….

The info for all demos is on Facebook along with specific pages for local demos.

https://www.facebook.com/ATOSNationalDemo?fref=ts

Any disabled people wanting to speak about their experiences or to have something read out from them on their behalf should contact a local organiser to arrange this. 

see also

http://ukrebellioncom.ipage.com/atosdemo/

We wish everyone a safe and peaceful action

Feb 132014
 

Independent living amendment – One more chance to get independent living included in the Care Bill but we have to act now!

Just email the template letter below to you 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/

Encourage your users/members to send the letter too.

If you need more information please don’t hesitate to contact Henrietta.doyle@inclusionlondon.co.uk

Many thanks for your action!

Henrietta

Here’s the template letter:

Dear (Name of your MP)

Please write to the Minister of Care, Norman Lamb to ask him to put forward the Clause below as a Government amendment to the Care Bill 2013 at Commons’ Report Stage:

Clause 1, page 2, after line 1, insert:

“(j) the right to living independently and being included in the community.”

This Clause, which was recommended by Joint Committee on Human Rights, will provide for a free-standing right to independent living that could be directly enforceable by individuals in domestic law.

Why is the amendment needed?

The Government has not included the right to independent living in the Care Bill, believing that the duty to promote Well-being covers this vital right. However, although the current ‘well-being’ definition in the Care Bill 2013 does incorporate some aspects of independent living, it leaves out vital independent living concepts of equality, choice, access, inclusion, rights and equal participation.

This is supported by Law Society’s response to the Care Bill, which points to the limitations of the well-being principle saying that “the failure to reference the right to independent living as central to the provision prevents the necessary approach to the individual and their specific needs”.

The lived experiences of disabled people overwhelmingly support the need for a free-standing, enforceable right to living independently and being included in the community, because support in many areas is being cut to a clean and feed model of care, which prevents participation in the community and an active life. This situation will become even more urgent if the closure of the Independent Living Fund goes ahead: Local Authorities will be responsible for those with highest care and support levels of need, at a time when Council’s support packages are being cut to the bone, with the consequence that disabled people are increasingly denied equal life chances and quality of life.

We need independent living and being included in the community in the Care Bill to ensure the full and equal participation of disabled people as much as the well-being of the individual.

We agree with the Joint Committee that the Care Bill is the most appropriate opportunity for the Government to provide the necessary legislative underpinning of the right to independent living as enshrined in Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.

We would also like to highlight that the judgement on the Independent Living Fund (ILF) which raised the need for the Minister to consider the UK’s obligations under Article 19 when making the decision on the closure of the ILF.

I urge you to ask the Government to bring forward the amendment above at Report Stage of the Care Bill 2013.

Regards,
(Your name and organisation)
References:

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/joint-select/human-rights-committee/news/care-bill-substantive/

2http://www.inclusionlondon.co.uk/domains/inclusionlondon.co.uk/local/media/downloads/Bracking_v_DWP_4.5_draft.pdf

3 http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?id=259

 Posted by at 12:01
Feb 122014
 

The care system in the UK today is desperately under funded and not fit for purpose. Every day we hear of local authorities closing, withdrawing or cutting back on essential facilities and services. One of the areas causing great concerns is  Community Care Assessments .

CarerWatch are working with supportive MPs, and collecting evidence of how our members, and others, may be affected.

If you have experience of a Community Care Assessment, could you please complete this survey.

http://fluidsurveys.com/surveys/carerwatch/community-care-assessments/

Feel free to share with others.

We will also be doing a survey next on Carers’ Assessments too.

Any questions please contact admin@carerwatch.com

Many thanks

Reposted with thanks from CarerWatch http://carerwatch.wordpress.com/2014/02/08/share-your-experience-of-community-care-assessments-survey/

Twitter: @CarerWatch

 

 

Feb 122014
 

With 2/3 people being rejected for PIP and apparent everlasting delays causing more misery and destitution we need to raise this issue more through the media. 

Journalist Francis Ryan is looking for people

1.       –Who have been rejected by the PIP system

2.      – Those who are being forced to endure long and damaging delays

We can completely recommend Frances who has written many excellent and supportive pieces on the situations facing disabled people.

Please get in touch with Frances directly at frances.ryan18@btinternet.com

Comments will only appear on the DPAC site and do not go direct to Frances

Frances is also on twitter @frances__ryan 

You can read more about Frances at http://differentprinciples.co.uk/about/ 

Feb 122014
 

The Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union (BFAWU), Youth Fight for Jobs, National Shop Stewards Network, Unite the Resistance, DPAC and John McDonnell

MP and other supporters of the new Fast Food Rights initiative are launching our campaign with a day of action on Saturday 15th February.

We’ve been inspired by the movement in the USA. Fast food workers there have taken wildcat strike action, in some instances, demanding a fourfold increase in their pay, to reflect the real cost of living – the ‘Fight 4 15’, a $15/hr minimum wage. This groundswell of support helped propel Socialist Alternative member Kshama Sawant to victory in Seattle.

More and more young people are forced into low-paying, super-exploitative jobs in the fast food industry – not just as stop-gaps, but permanently. When young workers realise that they’ll be stuck in these under-employed jobs for the foreseeable future, they’ll be pushed to fight back. A Unite the Union survey showed that 5.5m workers in Britain are on zero-hour contracts.

BFAWU have raised the sights of workers everywhere with their strike at the Hovis factory in Wigan, showing that zero-hour contracts can be beaten. Last year, Youth Fight for Jobs launched a new initiative, ‘Are you Sick of your Boss?’ to take up the growing issue of under-employment and respond to a sharp rise in the prevalence of zero-hour contracts. Armed with Sick of your Boss leaflets Youth Fight for Jobs have marched straight into shops and handed them to staff. Fast Food Rights will be doing the same on its day of action, this time handing recruitment forms for the BFAWU directly to fast food workers ready to join.

Across the country, on Saturday 15th February, Youth Fight for Jobs alongside BFAWU is organising protests through Fast Food Rights. In London, we’re meeting at the corner of Tottenham Court Road at 1pm, marching along Oxford Street, encouraging McDonalds, Burger King, and Costa staff to get organised, demonstrating to fight for our rights. Fat cat corporations like McDonalds are more than happy to leave there staff in the lurch, suffering on zero-hour contracts and Workfare, while McDonalds use these schemes to rake in billions of £ in profits.

With Fast Food Rights we’ve already done preparatory work, leafleted the staff in these stores on numerous occasions, to explain our protest is not against them. Youth Fight for Jobs is enthusiastically supporting Fast Food Rights because it represents a significant step forward. BFAWU as a trade union have taken it on themselves to organise the unorganised. Hopefully, through our struggle starting on Saturday, we’ll be able to further build BFAWU, and gain a momentum so other trade unions join the campaign alongside us.

 

London: meeting at the corner of Tottenham Court Road at 1pm, marching along Oxford Street, encouraging McDonalds, Burger King, and Costa staff to get organised, demonstrating to fight for our rights.

Leeds: Meet at 1pm outside McDonald’s at the St. Johns Centre, Merrion Street, Leeds, LS2 8LQ. Backed by Leeds TUC

Wigan: Meet 12.30pm in the car park of the Cube nightclub (formerly Maxim’s), at the bottom of Standishgate

Sheffield: We will meet at the bottom of Fargate, Sheffield, S1 1QF to walk the short distance to our first target. 12pm until 1pm For more information, please message https://www.facebook.com/UniteCommunitySheffield or email gareth50lane@gmail.com

Brighton: Meet by McDonalds on Western Road, 12-2pm
Called by the Sussex Labour Representation Committee
http://sussexlrc.com/

For more details, click here to go to the related news story on Fast Food
Rights website; email fastfoodrights@mail.com   or on the web at
www.fastfoodrights.wordpress.com   where there are links to Twitter and our Facebook page. BFAWU website www.bfawu.org/

Email – youthfightforjobs@gmail.com

Website – www.youthfightforjobs.com/

 

Feb 112014
 

https://www.facebook.com/notes/tismes-page/atos-assessments-update/480168792087405

 ATOS assessments in East Anglia are at Critical levels.

Last week, a meeting held at ATOS the CEO told staff there that face-to-face home assessments were now at such level that 80,000 people across the UK are waiting for them alone.  This is JUST home visits – it does not include those people who are waiting for assessments at Assessment Centres.

The DWP are warning people it could be 6 month to a year before you will be seen for ATOS assessments and even longer to get a decision on your benefit application.  The DWP informed me in late October that they were “just starting to process May applications” and when I rang last week they were now “only just starting to process end of May/June” applications – nothing has moved in 4 months!

Yesterday management at ATOS had a CRISIS meeting in the morning which lasted over 3 hours.  ATOS is drafting people to Norwich and Ipswich from all over the country as a matter or urgency.  Yesterday they announced that every one is going to get a home visit.

Figures have emerged that the backlog has reached 40,000 in Norfolk/Suffolk area alone!

ATOS assessors are REQUIRED to now carry out 44 assessments a day in centres and 4 home visits a day per person.  However, it takes 2 hours to do paperwork per person to write report but ATOS staff are only being given 35 minutes to write reports!

Monday morning an email was circulated from “on high” – a new DWP directive was put out.   ‘We are looking at achieving’ a Fail rate 65%!

There are fewer Drs on PIP assessments than for ESA but these Drs and nurses are rebelling and putting their foot down and demanding duty of care protocols are followed!  The UK floods are only adding to the pressure and staff are deeply concerned that disabled people in flood areas are not only being left to cope with the aftermath of flooding with no support but because their benefits are being held up due to this non-assessment situation, there is going to be a MASS Starvation situation unless these benefits are sorted out ASAP.

ATOS is aware of problems but only looking at it from a Business needs perspective and not putting the right training protocols into place.  Staff are only getting 2 days PBR training (should be a week) – and only thinking of getting the queue down but all that is happening is that the queue is being shifted from one area to another.

There is good news though:  ATOS are being inundated with customer service calls.

The more people who ring the more pressure that gets put on ATOS to do assessments.

This then puts pressure on ATOS to pressurise DWP in turn to give more resources to get assessments done.

What you can do:

CALL ATOS today and COMPLAIN if you have been waiting MORE than 3 months for an assessment.  If you contact your GP and get your GP to chase you will get a Home Assessment.  If you have applied for PIP more than 4 months ago, if you ask your GP for a home visit you will be given one within 14 days!

Contact your MP and get them to ring ATOS with your NI and DOB.  This will bring extra impetus on ATOS to get your assessment moving.  Call your MP today tell them how long delay is – this is only way you will be seen before June.  People who are chased up by MPs say they are going to top of list.

PLEASE PLEASE SHARE THIS NOTE!  Get the word out – get people complaining.  This is the only way that people are going to get their assessments.

To apply for PIP 0800 917 2222

PIP Processing Centre no. (To check on PIP Claim progress):  0845 850 3322

ATOS:  0300 3300121

DLA is still 08457 123456

 Posted by at 20:15
Feb 112014
 
bromley DPAC will be presenting the bedroom tax to bromley council on Monday 24th February 2014 at bromley council full budget meeting at 7 pm. This meeting will also announce the next round of cuts that will affect Bromley residents.
Meeting takes place. Bromley Civic Centre
Stockwell close
Bromley, Kent BR1 3UH.
Main council chamber.
nearest train station is Bromley South…(disabled access is availlable for wheelchair users or people with mobililty issues)
Buses 61,208.161, 358, 126 all go to the stop opposite the civic centre..

 

 Posted by at 20:11
Feb 092014
 

Next week, there is a unique and valuable opportunity for us to question and confront the NSFT Board members, management and local commissioners over the decision to close another 25 beds and the on-going cuts and chaos.

We want to overwhelm the Trust and the commissioners not only with our arguments but also with our numbers. The public meeting is taking place between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Thursday 13 February at The Sanctuary, North Lowestoft United Reformed Church, London Road North, Lowestoft NR32 1HB (click the link for a map). We are also hoping to arrange our own public meeting afterwards – we will let you know by email and social media if we are able to secure a suitable venue.
We need a great turnout for this important event. This isn’t just a local issue – more than one quarter of these beds are used by people from the rest of Norfolk & Suffolk and we need to support each other. Please forward this email to people and groups who might be willing to support us and do go if you possibly can – and take people with you.
Our initial response to the consultation, with links to the CCG/NSFT closure consultation document, is here. There is a forum topic for arranging and offering lifts here. The venue is only about ten minutes walk from Lowestoft train station for those who will be using public transport. We can also help with reasonable transport costs for those suffering genuine financial hardship.
email enquiries to dpacsuffolk@yahoo.com
Feb 092014
 

The Don’t Cut Us Out Campaign have organised a demonstration in protest against the £100+ Million in cuts planned by the County Council over the next 4 years.

On February 14th, councillors will vote on whether to approve these brutal cuts. We will send the leader of the County Council, Louise Goldsmith a valentine’s card to show that West Sussex residents need their vital services.

£79 million has already been cut since 2010 which has caused untold misery for the vulnerable by decimating public services they rely on.

Make your voice heard. Lobby your County Councillor, tell them that you oppose these cuts. Attend the Council debate which follows this protest.

 

We say there is no more fat to cut.

 

Join us on February 14th at 9.30am

County Hall, Chichester (Main Entrance)

 

Yours,

 

Don’t Cut Us Out

 

Feb 092014
 

Monday morning at County Hall against the £190m cut imposed by the Coalition Government on Norfolk.  The proposed cuts to social care will devastate disabled and older people’s lives and leave many ‘prisoners in their own homes’.  No return to institutionalisation!  Defend our right to independent living!

norfolkdpacProtest Against the Cuts to Adult Social Care and Children’s Services

 

Monday 17 February

 

County Hall,

Norwich

  

Protest from 8.00am

Lobby from 9am

  

Assemble outside County Hall and bring your banners!

 

 

 

Feb 092014
 

There will be an inquiry into Employment and Support Allowance and the Work Capability Assessment. The committee are asking for submissions from you. DPAC will be sending a submission of the misery, destitution and deaths this process is causing. The deadline for receipt by the committee is March 21st

We ask you to take this opportunity to add to further evidence, if you would like to send experiences to DPAC to send on your behalf please email: mail@dpac.uk.net  with the subject line: ESA WCA inquiry

Otherwise, the details of how to send written experiences and data are copied below:

The Committee’s inquiry

In light of recent developments in this area, including the publication of a number of reviews of the WCA, expressions of concern from DWP regarding Atos’s performance in delivering the WCA, and the introduction of mandatory reconsideration, the Committee has decided to undertake an inquiry into ESA and WCAs to follow-up its 2011 report.

Submissions of no more than 3,000 words are invited from interested organisations and individuals.

The Committee is particularly interested to hear views on:

  • Delivery of the WCA by Atos, including steps taken to improve the claimant experience
  • The effectiveness of the WCA in indicating whether claimants are fit for work, especially for those claimants who have mental, progressive or fluctuating illnesses, including comparison with possible alternative models
  • The process and criteria for procuring new providers of the WCA
  • The ESA entitlement decision-making process
  • The reconsideration and appeals process
  • The impact of time-limiting contributory ESA
  • Outcomes for people determined fit for work or assigned to the WRAG or the Support Group
  • The interaction between ESA and Universal Credit implementation

Submissions do not need to address all of these points.

The deadline for submitting evidence is Friday 21 March.

How to submit your evidence

To encourage paperless working and maximise efficiency, select committees are now using a new web portal for online submission of written evidence. The web portal is available on our website.

The personal information you supply will be processed in accordance with the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 for the purposes of attributing the evidence you submit and contacting you as necessary in connection with its processing.

Each submission should:

  • be no more than 3,000 words in length
  • be in Word format with as little use of colour or logos as possible
  • have numbered paragraphs

If you need to send a paper copy please send it to: The Clerk, Work and Pensions Committee, House of Commons, 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA

Material already published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within a proposed memorandum, in which case a web link to the published work should be included.

Once submitted, evidence is the property of the Committee. It is the Committee’s decision whether or not to accept a submission as formal written evidence.

Select Committees are unable to investigate individual cases.

The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to make public the written evidence it receives, by publishing it on the internet (where it will be searchable), or by making it available through the Parliamentary Archives. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure. The Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.

Further guidance on submitting evidence to Select Committees is available on the parliamentary website (PDF PDF 2.41 MB)Opens in a new window.

  

Feb 032014
 

The UN Raquel Rolnik ‘s report is now out -she calls for an immediate suspension of the bedroom tax and for it to be fully evaluated in light of evidence of its negative impacts

The section on disabled people and those with long term health conditions lists the retrogression of rights and especially the impact on article 19 is copied below

1.   The plight of persons with disabilities deeply touched the Special Rapporteur. She learned from their strength and welcomed their active engagement in discussing adequate housing from their perspective, and in sharing their testimonies.

2.   At the root of many testimonies lies the threat to a hard-won right to live independently. For persons with physical and mental disabilities, as well as for the chronically ill, adequate housing means living in homes that are adapted to specific needs; close to services, care and facilities allowing them to carry out their daily routines; and in the vicinity of friends, relatives or a community essential to leading lives in dignity and freedom. Often, the compounded impact of an acute shortage of adapted and affordable accommodation, combined with other changes to the welfare system, has left them “between a rock and a hard place”: downsizing or facing rent arrears and eviction. Many testimonies refer to anxiety, stress and suicidal thoughts as a result, precisely the type of situations that should be avoided at all costs. Serious concerns about the direct impact of these reforms were already raised in 2012: “The range of reforms proposed to housing benefit, Disability Living Allowance, the Independent Living Fund, and changes to eligibility criteria risk interacting in a particularly harmful way for disabled people. … As a result, there seems to be a significant risk of retrogression of independent living and a breach of the UK’s Article 19 [CRPD] obligations.”[1] The Department for Work and Pensions has made available additional funding under the DHP scheme to assist those affected by this measure, but, as noted above, DHPs are time-bound and limited in scope.

3.   According to Inclusion Scotland, the government of Scotland estimated that 95,000 Scottish households will be affected by this measure in the first year. In Scotland, 79 per cent of the households expected to be affected (76,000) contain a disabled person. They will lose an average of 13 pounds in housing benefit. Inclusion Scotland noted with concern that persons with disabilities will be among those least able to continue to meet their rent payments.[2]

See also DPAC piece showing 87% of disabled people affected by the change to bedroom tax pre-1996 exemption

http://www.internaldpac.org.uk/DPACClone/2014/02/more-proof-disabled-people-and-family-carers-are-severely-disadvantaged-by-bedroom-tax/

 

 The full Rolnik report can be downloaded from A_HRC_25_54_Add.2_ENG



                     [1]   House of Lords and House of Commons, Joint Committee on Human Rights, Implementation of the Right of Disabled People to Independent Living (2012), para. 161.

                     [2]   Submission of Inclusion Scotland for this report.

Feb 032014
 

We are conducting an investigation into the human impact of food poverty, child poverty, payday loans, and benefit caps. Our research will form a part of a wider investigation organised by Professor of Journalism Paul Bradshaw, who is gathering information from across the UK. Our focus is on people living in Nottingham,  and are looking to bring to light issues confronting those groups who are suffering as a result of economic changes in the past three to four years.


We are looking for people to come forward with experiences particularly of using food banks in Nottingham, especially those who have started using food banks in that last few years. We are also looking for people who are payday loan customers, and who have suffered financial losses as a result of using payday loans. If anybody has also experienced financial difficulties or has felt that they have been left vulnerable following changes to the benefits system, particularly regarding benefit caps, we would very much appreciate them getting in touch.


The questions we ask will be directed at understanding the impact of these circumstances on the daily lives of people in Nottingham, and the strains that they are under with reference to any of the issues stated above. Respondents will be encouraged to speak openly about their experiences, however all responses can be kept anonymous if preferred, and we will not publish any information without the express permission of respondents.

 

Please email editorinchief@impactnottingham.com

Feb 032014
 

BREAKING: 2/3 women, 87% long-term sick or disabled and 1 in 6 carers will be affected by change to Bedroom Tax pre-1996 exemption

An article by Joe Halewood, who has been the most vocal and articulate opponent of the bedroom tax, throws light on what the changes intended by the government following the discovery of  the Bedroom Tax pre 1996 exemption will mean for the people affected. This exemption means that tenants who have been continuously entitled to Housing Benefit since at least 1 January 1996 and who have occupied the same dwelling since that date are exempt from the bedroom tax.

Joe Halewood, a Housing Consultant, has been working with Reclaim, a local grassroot organisation which in December asked pre-1996 tenants to email them with their initials and their post code.

The results for the first 250 or so households which were unlawfully hit with this pre-1996 bedroom tax are as follows:

  • Two-thirds were women
  • 87% were long-term sick or disabled
  • One in six were carers for a family member 

These are the kind of figures IDS would not want you to know and they explain why he is in such a rush to change the law.  These figures are unlikely to change as more data is gathered. Disabled people who had their homes adapted to fit their needs are not likely to move, which explains why 87% of them will be hit by a change to the pre-1996 housing rule.

It is possible to bring pressure to bear on this government and on MPs by alerting public opinion on the impact this change will have for people who are least likely to find a job to offset the cost of the bedroom tax.

Joe Halewood’s article is here:  http://speye.wordpress.com/2014/02/02/cover-your-cock-up-ids-and-no-we-wont-be-on-our-knees/

 

 

 Posted by at 13:42
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