Mar 312014
 

Bedroom Tax demo in Swindon in conjunction with the  Swindon Tenants Campaign Group, on 5th April as part of a national campaign.

At the fountain, Canal Walk, Swindon Town Centre

10.30 am on April 5th

We will have leaflets to distribute and banners.

We also have a project collecting peoples stories about ATOS injustice in Swindon. We will be arranging a meeting with our MPs to present our concerns. People can join the face book group or email SPA  peoplesassemblyswindon@gmx.co.uk or phone 01793 522824 if they would like to be a part of this. All information will be treated with strict confidentiality.

https://www.facebook.com/SwindonAtosProject?ref=ts&fref=ts

 Posted by at 17:44
Mar 302014
 

As British Gas owners annouce their profits, we announce that we will be targetting the British Gas AGM

Centrica, owners of British Gas, today revealed their profits had dipped slightly to £2.7bn. British Gas profits from their customers was announced to be £571,000,000 – that’s £571m of pure profit made at a time when over 10,000 people died last winter from cold homes, when 20% of households are in debt to their supplier, when about 1 in 4 people are making the “choice” between heating or eating. Centrica wanted sympathy and asked that hostilities towards them and the energy sector must end.

We don’t agree.

Centrica talk about wanting an ‘end to hostilities’ and it’s an appropriate way of looking at the situation of millions of people in fuel poverty today. People in fuel poverty do feel like there’s a war against them, they do feel attacked by a company which breaks into their homes to install unwanted and expensive Prepayment meters, with prices that are so violently high that they’re forced top chose between heating and eating. We all feel abused by a company that makes £7million profit per day but sees it fit to raise prices by 9.2% and let people freeze to death in their homes. The communities in Lancashire which have clearly said NO to fracking feel violated by Centrica going for shale Gas, with all it’s associated risks to health, wellbeing and environment, at a time when we need to be slashing our carbon emissions and going for renewable, sustainable energy.

We think the way to ‘cease hostilities’ as Rick Haythornthwaite, the newly appointed Chairman of Centrica puts it, is to end the profiteering of energy companies like Centrica. Energy is not a game. Warm, damp and mould free homes are not a privilege for the rich. They should be a minimum standard that everyone should have access to. Over 70% of the British public want to see energy back in public hands. Centrica need to wake up and smell the coffee – the days of a for-profit energy market in the UK are numbered.

We will be targeting British Gas as a symbol of everything that’s wrong with our energy system. We will be holding a mass protest this May at their AGM in London. We will be joined by those hardest hit by fuel poverty and we will be calling on the government to bring our energy back into public, democratic ownership and to invest massively in renewable, community owned energy. We want to see an end to winter deaths and sickness from fuel poverty. We want to see an end to the ‘Poverty Premium’ faced by millions in this country forced into dependency on payday lenders, sky-high rents, ‘kettle packs’ at foodbanks and extortionate pre-payment meters. Enough is enough. It’s time to end the cold homes casino and callous profiteering of companies like British Gas. Rick Haythornwaite: stop punishing us and profiteering from us. Until you do there will be no end to the pain, distress and anger that people all over the country feel precisely as a result of yours and the other Big Six’s insatiable lust for profit. No justice, No peace.

http://fuelpovertyaction.org.uk/2014/02/20/as-british-gas-owners-annouce-their-profits-we-announce-that-we-will-be-targetting-the-british-gas-agm/

 Posted by at 12:47
Mar 282014
 

DPAC supports the organisers of phase 2 of demos against ATOS and DWP.

Please see national Face book page for those organising in your area

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

ATOS may have run away from the WCA contract, but they have plenty more contracts funded by public money from this unelected Government, including the disastrous PIP contract, in which people have been waiting for up to 10-12 months to obtain support. The DWP continue to oversee the round of cuts impacting on disabled people leaving them destitute or dead, sanctions are at an all time high.

Show them we’ve had enough-see you there…..

 

Mar 282014
 

NAPO, a member of Justice Alliance are striking on the 31st March and 1st April. London Criminal Courts Solicitors Association and Justice Alliance will join their protest on 1 April 2014. The protest will take place outside Westminster at 2.15 and then march to the MoJ at 3.30 where a birthday card will be delivered to Chris Grayling and we will sing an ‘alternative’ rendition of Happy Birthday.

Happy birthday to you
You want justice for the few
No more justice for the many
Only justice for you

http://www.savelegalaid.co.uk/justicealliance

twitter: @justallianceuk

image justice alliance

Mar 272014
 

This article is reproduced from our allies Black Triangle Campaign blog “The leadership of the British Medical Association is ‘complicit in the suicides of Britain’s disabled people’”
BMA

 

Edinburgh, Thursday 27th March 2014

By Alan Wylie

Arguably the most hated company in Britain, Atos Healthcare is the multinational corporation that carries out the Tory Government’s ‘Work Capability Assessments’ (WCA) on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions. This computer-based, tick-box ‘functional assessment’ is supposed to determine if a sick and disabled person is ‘fit for work’ or if they meet the criteria for any sickness benefit.

The assessments are so inadequate that, according to the mental health charity Mind, in Oxford 90% of those who have been found ‘fit for work’ have had their decisions overturned when they have appealed with the help of an advocate. This figure is replicated throughout the UK. Even when unrepresented decisions are overturned in 40% of cases.

 

Protesters demonstrate in London yesterday against Atos's role in benefit assessments

Protesters demonstrate in London in June 2012 against Atos’ role in benefit assessments

The DWP’s own statistics reveal that in 2011 alone 10,600 people died within six weeks of being found fit for work by Atos and another 2,200 died before their assessment was complete. 1300 of these were classified as having had limited capability for work and had been placed in the ‘Work Related Activity Group’ (WRAG).

The Government has since refused to publish statistics for 2012/13 having rejected a Freedom of Information request submitted by Mike Sivier of the Vox Political blog on the grounds that is was ‘vexatious‘.

Mr. Sivier has since lodged an appeal with the Information Commissioner with the help of a solicitor specialising in human rights: What we should be clear on is that this Government has a lot to hide.

Atos Healthcare’s reputation now stands in ruins. The company is completely discredited and it’s name now so toxic that earlier this month they rebranded themselves under the new name of “OHAssist”.

This reminds me of a phrase my mother used to say: “You can polish a turd but it will always be a turd.”

The company is now attempting to run away with its tail between its legs, confirming in February that it is seeking to end its contract to assess whether benefits claimants are fit to work, citing unsubstantiated ‘death threats‘ to its staff. They can run, they may rebrand – but their infamy will plague them for as long as our collective memories last in this country.

Cartoon by Martin Rowson for The Black Triangle Campaign

Cartoon by Martin Rowson for The Black Triangle Campaign

 

Perversely, the company was awarded the tender to act as assessors for the new Personal Independence Payment (the replacement of the now abolished Disability Living Allowance) under the OHAssist name and only last week they were directly accused by members of the Commons public accounts committee of lying in their bid to secure the contract.

Already it has been widely reported that terminally ill people are now going for months without the benefit they are entitled to owing to ‘delays’ in getting an assessment and the charity Scope estimates that up to 600,000 disabled people are set to lose their entitlement to disability living allowance, owing to the new, much harsher criteria.

The word “henchmen” is the word which immediately comes to mind when thinking about Atos, If you’ve ever wondered where Osborne’s “savings” are coming from, look no further: Atos cuts – disabled people bleed.

In June 2012 Britain’s Doctors overwhelmingly backed a motion at the BMA’s annual conference submitted by the Scottish-based Black Triangle Campaign through their Medical Advisor Dr Stephen Carty stating that Atos’s assessments were “inadequate” and had “little regard to the nature or complexity of the needs of long-term sick and disabled persons”. The motion went on to demand that the tests be ‘scrapped with immediate effect to be replaced by a rigorous and safe system that does not cause avoidable harm’ to sick and/or disabled people.

The vote was a huge victory for the Black Triangle Campaign’s activists and gave hope to hundreds of thousands of people at the brutal receiving end of this fascist-like disability assessment regime.

Regrettably since then, sick and/or disabled people have felt badly let down by the inaction of the BMA’s leadership who they say have in reality done little to give effect to the wishes of the union’s membership.

Granted, they have tussled with intransigent DWP ministers and officials who clearly have no intention of doing anything that might jeopardise their primary aim of kicking as many people off benefit and into destitution as necessary in order to “pay down the deficit” as sacrificial lambs on the altar of austerity, but nothing more.

BMA HouseWorse still, many Local Medical Committees (LMCs) – local associations of GPs – have appallingly mounted a ‘Just Say No‘ campaign instructing GP surgeries all over the UK to refuse patients further medical evidence in support of their benefit applications and appeals to the Tribunal Service.

The two main reasons given justify their unconscionable stance is that such work is outwith the duties doctors are required to perform as part of their contract with the DWP and that they are swamped with so many requests that they interfere with the core work of doctoring.

One of the functions of the doctors’ regulatory and disciplinary body, the General Medical Council (GMC), is to set the standards of professional and ethical conduct that all practising doctors in the UK must abide by. The chief guidance is contained in a document entitled ‘Good Medical Practice‘ which clearly states that :

‘… a doctor must (overriding duty or principle) take prompt action if he feels that patient safety is or may be seriously compromised by inadequate … policies or systems.’

Consistent with this and the fact that the WCA incontrovertibly compromises patient safety Black Triangle argues that doctors have an overriding duty in these cases to intervene to prevent catastrophic harm to their patients and to do so independently of any government interference or agreement, if required.

They have furthermore pioneered a simple and effective way for doctors to fulfil their duty of care which has been adopted by dozens of practices belonging to the Deprivation Interest Group in Scotland, the Lothian Area Health Board and the Glasgow Local Medical Committee district.

Dr Carty, who practises in Leith on the north side of Edinburgh has helped over thirty of his patients to gain exemption under the “exceptional circumstances” rule ESA regulations 29 and 35. In these cases, he has effectively informed the DWP that in his clinical judgment he believes that were his patient to be found ‘fit for work’ or to have ‘limited capability for work’ (i.e. placed in the WRAG) there would be a ‘substantial risk of harm to the physical or mental health of either the patient or to others around them’. He does this using one side of an A4 sheet of paper justifiying his declaration by stating clearly his clinical reasoning based on his patients’ diagnoses. He has said that in almost every case the DWP have not resisted his evidence and a great deal of suffering and tragedy has thereby been avoided.

The Black Triangle Campaign has one simple demand.

It isn’t the world that they are asking for.

They are not asking GPs to act as gatekeepers to the benefits system.

They stress that the judgment call as to whether or not to invoke these regulations must be left entirely at the professional discretion of the clinical practitioner.

BMA caring for patients and supporting the actionThey fully recognise that a GP may not feel qualified in every case to decide upon a person’s suitability for work as they are not trained Occupational Health experts.

Their simple demand is that the BMA issues an advisory to their members informing them of the existence of these regulations and how to apply them in cases where a GP has a grave concern for the safety and well-being of their patient facing the Atos assessment regime in order to prevent avoidable harm from the outset. They argue that in most cases where the regulations are invoked the clinical condition of the patient in question will be so severe that the judgment call will be an absolute ‘no-brainer’.

The method they have pioneered for making it takes up little more time for the doctor than it would to write out a prescription and in the end will result in fewer acute admissions to hospital and generally dealing with the adverse impact on the patient’s health with the fallout that inevitably follows as the knock-on effect of a wrongful decision by DWP-Atos.

wowv2g-300x272On the 10th December last year, after two solid years of lobbying, Black Triangle led a meeting with Dr John Canning of the BMA’s General Practice Committee who travelled up from London and Dr. Dean Marshall of BMA Scotland at BMA House in Edinburgh. Also in attendance was Bill Scott, Manager of Inclusion Scotland and representatives of the PCS Union from London and Glasgow who are desperate to find a moral and ethical solution to prevent the catastrophic consequences of wrongful decisions their members witness every day as administrators of the system.

They say that at that meeting it was agreed that the campaign would submit their materials to the BMA delegation which would then be discussed at BMA Council with a view to issuing a cascading advisory to all 55,000 GPs in the UK.

That was nearly four months ago and Black Triangle now believes that they have been stonewalled and strongly suspect that they have met with stubborn resistance within the ranks of the BMA’s hierarchy in London.

McArdle says:

“In advance of the historic Commons debate – the first one in history ever to be secured by disabled people themselves after raising over 104,000 signatures on the War on Welfare Petition (The ‘WoWpetition’) on 27th February, the BMA put out a briefing document that merely recognised what we all know and stated that they look forward to working with the DWP to address the issues giving better feedback to the department at the outset of the process on the ESA113 (the so-called ‘fit note’ – actually the old sick note). This does not adequately address the issue of flagging up substantial risk because the ESA113 is only rarely requested by the DWP and is returned on time in less than 37% of cases.”

An article in GP Online published the day before the WoWpetition debate reports the BMA as warning that ‘GPs are not occupational health specialists and are unable to make the judgments required’ to provide appropriate medical evidence.

The article reported that ‘Although GPs are not under a contractual obligation to provide this evidence directly to patients, these requests (for evidence) place GPs in a difficult position that can potentially compromise the doctor-patient relationship,’ warning that the requests were taking up limited GP appointment time ‘inappropriately’.

McArdle continues:

Mark Wood R.I.P.

Mark Wood R.I.P.

“Recently we witnessed the case of Mark Wood, a man with severe and enduring psychiatric illness starve himself to death following a fit for work decision by DWP-Atos in Oxford. We have no doubt in our minds whatsoever that had Mark’s GP been given the necessary information and tools with which to effectively flag up risk in this case by the BMA this appalling tragedy could have been averted. We are now in close contact with Mark’s sister who has joined together with us in campaigning to see to it this this never happens again.”

“We are sincerely grateful to the grassroots support of the BMA’s membership who have supported us from the outset in demanding an immediate end to this cruel and barbaric disability assessment regime with immediate effect.

DPAC LOGO“However, the members and steering group of the Black Triangle Campaign and allies in our sister organisation Disabled People Against Cuts together with Mark’s sister stand united in protest and condemnation of the unacceptable quiescence on the part of BMA Council in continuing to fail to address this issue robustly.

“We have done all we can as disabled people. We have mobilised and galvanised opinion among grassroots GPs, Consultants, trade unions and campaigners from across civil society.

“It is now time for the BMA to stand up and show true leadership in defence of sick and/or disabled people. In our view the leadership is acting completely out of step with the clearly stated wishes of their membership who support us in bringing down this whole putrid edifice.

“As sure as night follows day, many more tragedies such as that of Mark Wood will continue to occur as a result of this inaction.

“We call upon them now to issue, with immediate effect, a substantial risk advisory to all their members to equip them with the tools to ensure that such barbarity is stopped and that there will be no more deaths such as Mark’s on their watch.

“Not to do so is in our view to be complicit in the deaths of innocent people whose only crime is to have the misfortune to be sick and/or disabled.

“History will not hold them guiltless.”

McArdle finishes by quoting the holocaust scholar, Yehuda Bauer who said:

Professor Yehuda Bauer

Professor Yehuda Bauer

“I come from a people who gave the Ten Commandments to the world. Time has come to strengthen them by three additional ones, which we ought to adopt and commit ourselves to: thou shall not be a perpetrator; thou shall not be a victim; and thou shall never, but never, be a bystander.”

“The BMA cannot wash its hands and abdicate from their moral responsibilities. It must act now without any further delay.”

Of all the professions, British society places the medical profession upon the commanding heights of moral authority. Standing by and allowing patients’ health to be damaged risks a severe fracturing the public’s high esteem for our Doctors.

They must take action now. 

Dr Eugene (Eugeniusz) Lazowski, Poland's Schindler

Dr Eugene (Eugeniusz) Lazowski, Poland’s Schindler

Their position as passive bystanders witnessing this carnage at the hands of an inhumane and outright nasty Government is no longer tenable. 

Black Triangle’s demand is not only a simple one and easy to achieve: It is an astoundingly reasonable one.

For the sake of us all, I hope and pray along with Black Triangle that just for this once, power listens to reason in this case and that the BMA leadership’s inaction does not translate to infamy when in future people ask “what did the British medical profession do to put a stop to it?”

 

Alan Wyllie is the Creator of PoliticsUK, a founding member of the No2BedroomTax Campaign and is an ’Ambassador’ for the Labour for Independence Campaign

Woman killed herself over benefits cut, says mental health watchdog: Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland finds that woman took her own life after assessor docked benefits by 30%  26 March 2014

The Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland has recently conducted an investigation around the new benefits system. 

‘We investigated the case of a woman who tragically took her own life in December 2011. She had recently had a work capability assessment following which the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) decided her benefits were going to be reduced. She was on incapacity benefit and was told she would not be able to be transferred to Employment and Support Allowance so would receive Jobseekers allowance …’

http://www.mwcscot.org.uk/about-us/latest-news/our-latest-investigation-is-now-available/

Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland Investigation Report: Who benefits? The benefits assessment and death of Ms DE

We have received a response from the DWP in relation to our recommendations and we have made comments on their response:

Social security: a cap designed to confuse ~ Policy lazily lumps all benefit costs together, irrespective of whether they reflect mismanagement or answer genuine need

Mar 252014
 

Also see How to get your voice heard in Parliament

This new guide takes you through the Parliamentary process and details how Z2K – an organisation providing practical help for vulnerable debtors – tried to influence the outcome of the Welfare Reform Bill so that the legislation took into account the needs of their client group, which may be useful for your members. 

 

Plain English briefings on judicial review reform

 PLP  has developed Plain English briefings on judicial review reform Judicial review is the legal mechanism by which unfair and unlawful decisions made by public bodies can be challenged. Claims can be brought by individuals or groups who are affected by the decision. Examples of the kinds of decisions that may be subject to judicial review are:

  • Decisions by local authorities to close down libraries, hospitals, care homes,  advice centres or disabled people’s services
  • Decisions by the Department of Health to limit the availability of particular types of medical treatment, such as new cancer drugs
  • Decisions by the police or CPS not to investigate or prosecute allegations of domestic abuse, sexual assault or forced marriage

The Public Law Project  has developed plain English briefings about judicial review.  The briefings are available at: http://www.publiclawproject.org.uk/news/36/plp-briefs-parliamentarians-and-csoeys-on-judicial-review-reforms?dm_i=679,2AOUM,C758CV,8BSAZ,1

This work was funded by Trust for London and other independent funders.

More information about the Public Law Project is available at: http://www.publiclawproject.org.uk/

Please share widely.

Mar 252014
 

On Saturday 29th March there will be a march and rally from Eccles to Meadowbrook Hospital to protest against mental health cuts. 

·         Save Mental Health Services in Salford are organising the event on behalf of mental health campaigners in Bolton, Salford and Trafford, where the local NHS trust, Greater Manchester West Mental Health Trust, is planning to reduce the number of beds by 20% over the next two years.  The demo is timed to coincide with the end of their consultation on 30th March.  Eccles was chosen as the location because it is equidistant from the three towns.

·         The UK has lost 1700 mental health beds over the last three years; a further reduction locally will make it more likely that admissions will have to be made to units a considerable distance away, and often to private hospitals.  This makes impossible for friends and family to visit, delaying the patient’s recovery.  It also costs the NHS, as private beds can cost up to £4000 a week.  Manchester Mental Health Trust which has already made similar reductions in capacity recently had 38 patients being treated outside of area.

·         The trust claim that by closing wards they can extend cover to support care in the community but this will not be appropriate in many cases and staffing calculations suggest home visits will be of extremely short duration.

·         Since the demonstration was called mental health community care workers employed by Salford City Council have been ear-marked for redundancy as part of a wave of budget cuts.  Service users thus face a double whammy – there will be less support to prevent hospital admissions and if an admission is necessary there will be fewer hospital beds.  Redundancy notices have not yet been issued but if they are employees will be ballotted for industrial action. 

·         There will be a rally at Eccles Cross at 12.30 pm, with speakers from all three areas, including service users, carers, trade unionists and health campaigners.  The march will move off at 1.00 pm and proceed through the pedestrian precinct, along Wellington Road, Gilda Brook Road, and along Eccles Old Road, past Salford Royal Infirmary, and down Stott Lane to a rally at Meadowbrook at approx. 2.15 pm.

·         Organisations supporting the march include:

o   UNISON Greater Manchester West Mental Health Trust (Karen Reissman 07972 120451)

o   Salford against Cuts (Kevin Corran 07971 495597)

o   Save Mental Health Services in Salford (Jill Royle 07914 893653)

o   United Service Users Committee (Steve Cullen 07941 400870)

o   Greater Manchester Keep Our NHS Public  (Hugh Caffrey 07769 611320)

Mar 252014
 
Behind the promotional gloss of the Department for Work and Pensions’celebrity-backed ‘Disability Confident’ roadshow lies the reality of how current government policy is actively undermining employment opportunities for Deaf and disabled people. Deaf and disabled people will gather outside the conference at London Hilton Canary Wharf from 9am on Tuesday 25th March to protest against the most urgent threats to employment we are facing. For those unable to attend the protest in person there will be a twitter storm.
 
On Tuesday 25th March an event will be held in Canary Wharf which the DWP is describing as “the first ever conference of its kind to showcase the talents of disabled people” and which aims to dispel the myths of the complexities of employing disabled people. The event is being marketed as a chance to boost employment rates for 350,000 disabled people in London without a job.
 
Deaf and disabled campaigners are concerned that the Disability Confident programme is a cynical attempt by government to deflect from the fact that its own policies are undermining the ability of Deaf and disabled people to find and retain employment at a time when benefits and are being cut and life out of employment being made unbearable.
 
The closure of the Remploy factories in 2012 and 2013, pushing 1,800 Deaf and disabled people into unemployment, was justified on the grounds that money saved would be invested in the Access to Work scheme which provides financial help towards the extra costs of employing Deaf and disabled people and which will be promoted through tomorrow’s roadshow. Despite the fact that the scheme has been shown to make a profit of £1.48 for the state from every £1 invested in it[1], increasing caps and restrictions on what the scheme can be used for are severely limiting its usefulness and numbers accessing the scheme have dropped since 2009-2010.
 
Changes to Access to Work are having such a detrimental impact on the employment of Deaf BSL users that a campaign has been started fronted by Jenny Sealey, artistic director of the Paralympic Games opening ceremony whose ability to continue her acclaimed work is directly affected. Jenny says, “Without that provision I couldn’t do my job. It’s fundamental to me being Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Graeae Theatre Company.” Many Deaf people are now finding their employment futures uncertain as the result of changes to the scheme are introducing an expectation on employers to make up the difference between the cost of suitably qualified interpreters and the caps being introduced on what Access to Work will now pay.
 
Meanwhile the closure of the Independent Living Fund, which provides support to disabled people with the highest levels of support to live in the community, is also limiting opportunities for disabled people to participate in employment. Whereas Access to Work will only cover support directly associated with an individual’s job tasks, the ILF currently supports disabled people with areas of personal support essential for being able to work, for example maintaining personal hygiene, using the toilet, getting ready for work. Social care support provided by local authorities is not able to meet the same outcomes and disabled people face futures where they can no longer retain their employment once the ILF transfers to local authorities in 2015.

The employability of disabled people is also being undermined by attacks on disabled people’s access to education. The ILF provides essential support enabling disabled people to participate in further and higher education that is not available through for example the Disability Support Allowance. The growth of free schools and academies alongside the government’s failure to protest a presumption for mainstream education in the newly passed Children and Families Act are restricting disabled pupils’ educational opportunities. When the government shut the Remploy factories they said there was no place for segregation in modern society. If they were really interested in building inclusive workplaces the place to start would be with inclusive education.

According to the DWP press release the majority of employers attending the event other than Southwark Council seem to be in the private sector. With the Access to Work scheme being adapted to increase the level of contribution expected of employers, employers will literally be paying to employ disabled people. The press release makes the argument that investing in disabled employees pays off because we stay in the same job for longer and have lower rates of absenteeism. Many disabled workers do over compensate and have fewer chances of job progression but these are not things to be celebrated or promoted and fall outside any true disability equality agenda. The reality of employing disabled people requires a level of flexibility and added expense that are simply not compatible with a competitive workplace. That’s not because of any inadequacies on our part, and certainly not because, as this rhetoric of overcoming personal challenges in order to be ‘successful’ suggests, because we don’t try hard enough. It’s the faults in the construction of a profit-focused workplace.

 
Ellen Clifford from Disabled People Against Cuts said, “Deaf and disabled people continue to face attitudinal barriers and discrimination which exclude them from the workplace and all attempts to remove stigma and dispel myths are welcome. However a far more urgent threat is currently being posed by the government’s own policies which are undermining the ability of those Deaf and disabled people who are in work to stay in work and which is limiting opportunities to employment more savagely than any initiative like Disability Confident can possibly make up for.”
 
 
For more information or case studies of Deaf and disabled people affected by either the changes to Access to Work, the closure of the Remploy factories or the closure of the Independent Living Fund contact Ellen: 07505144371.
 
Information about the Stop Changes to Acess to Work campaign and for an interview with Jenny Sealey:
http://stopchanges2atw.wordpress.com/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gk0i6vd305o
 
NOTES TO EDITORS:
 
1) The Work Programme is projected to cost £3-5bn over five years, yet is not working for a core group: people living with disability or long-term health conditions. According to data released at the end of last year, more than 93% of disabled people on the Work Programme are failing to find long-term work. Just 6.8% of those referred to the programme in the latest three months have found long-term work.
2) 1,800 disabled workers at the Remploy factories have been laid off over the last couple of years with the promise that the Access To Work scheme would help them all back into the workplace.  According to The Mirror in October 2013 just 535 of them have found jobs.
3) Around 18,600 disabled people with the highest level of support needs are currently supported through the Independent Living Fund. In November 2013 a Court of Appeal judgment pointed to the potentially very grave impact of closing the Fund and quashed the government’s decision to do that. In February 2014 Mike Penning, Minister for Disabled People announced that the government had retaken the decision and that the Fund will now close in June 2015.
 Posted by at 07:35
Mar 242014
 

#Disability CON-fident

Another Con about us without us-but we can be there and let Penning and others know what a Con #Disability CON-fident is.

 

Lets take over the tweet stream with some facts on what this Government is doing, from cutting Access to Work to imposing work programs that don’t work- so much CON rhetoric and no useful actions. They might CON some but they don’t CON us

Join in the twitter storm from 9.30 am 25th March till 1.30, publicise Boycott Work fare’s week of action, the Deaf campaign against cuts in Access to Work, Why the Work Program only works for the private companies paid with public money and much, much more….

 

Go to http://dftr.org.uk/DisabilityCON-fident and join us

Let’s tweet this CON out

 

 Program

Hilton London Canary Wharf Hotel, South Quay, Marsh Wall, London E14 9SH

Schedule:

08:15Guests arrival and registration – Tea/Coffee

09:15Introduction and Domestics

Simon Minty

09:30Highlight Video of the National Conference from July 2013 to be played

09:35Keynote speaker

Mike Penning – Minister of State for Disabled People

09:45Keynote speaker

Ashok Vaswani – CEO Retail and Business Banking, Barclays

09:55Case study

Stuart Roe

10:05Case study

Beverly Tew – Action for Blind People

10:15Case Study

Hilary Farmiloe – Instructability National Project Manager

Vanessa Daobry – Administrator at Aspire

Andy Kelly – Fitness First Regional Manager

10:25Discussion and Preparation for Ask the Expert Session

10:30Case study

David Burdus – Director of Burdus Ltd

10:40Coffee Break

11:00Keynote Speaker

Simon Weston OBE

11:25Ask the Expert Session

John Beasley – Access to Work, Department for Work and Pensions

Terry Waldron – Co-chair of Barclays internal disability network ‘Reach’

Tracey Abbott – Special Recruitment Advisor, Business Disability Forum

Kate Headley – Co-Founder and Development Director, the Clear Company

Dawn Milman-Hurst – Founder/ Owner, Equal Approach

12:10Make a pledge

Fiona Kilpatrick, Department for Work and Pensions

12:25Closing Speech

Mark McLane, Managing Director, Diversity and Inclusion – Barclays

12:30Wrap Up Session

Simon Minty

12:40Performance – “As I am”

Oscar Bell (Student Kidderminster College)

Jordan Statham (Student Glasshouse College)

12:45Networking lunch

13:30Conference Close

 

Mar 242014
 

This is an account we received of the continuous damage the regimes of Government do, on an individual basis and on a family basis-while the private companies lap up millions in public money. The impacts of failed systems are more and more destructive, making no sense at all. 

My son is 23 years old and lives with us. He has a serotonin deficiency which makes it difficult for him to sleep normally like other people. So he will go for days without sleep and then crash without warning and then nothing we can do to rouse him.

It’s always been a problem but it got worse when he was 15 due to severe depression and the fact that he had a number of traumatic incidents including saving sister from being kicked & hit by a rock at school, being hit with a half brick on way home from school and  punched in the face by someone he only knew vaguely. Then there were 2 muggings, one of which involved him going to police station and identifying assailants etc but he didn’t go to court as assailants pleaded guilty. Left him with traumatic stress syndrome.

So where previously he struggled to college he gave up and now spends months at a time in his room. Sometimes I don’t speak to him for weeks. Just leave messages on his computer. Some of his behaviour is quite odd but can’t get him psychiatrically evaluated as they say he is not in crisis and he won’t go there. They did manage an assessment over 18 months and found he was depressed and suffering from depression plus his neurologist has written letter to DWP about my son’s physical problems. 

Progress until Atos and back to work scheme

Things were beginning to go well. Under the neurologist they had worked out a strategy of treatment including a light box and drug treatment. That’s when ATOS struck. They had to try twice to find my son actually awake. We told ‘assessor’ all his problems but they moved him onto a back to work scheme. I wrote a letter to DWP and said there is no way that my son could guarantee to make any appointment. His treatment had just started and involved him adjusting gradually to a more normal sleep pattern which could take over a year to do. Forcing him to go to set appointment would destroy the treatment strategy. 

We went to CAB and we appealed against the decision. We had to wait a year before they even replied. Meanwhile the appointment letters kept coming. He made the first one at Job Centre. Seemed very positive and hope of training on some online course. Son was handed over to this other group SERCO but was told that they would take into account his sleeping difficulty. After several missed appointments he made a Serco appointment. The added problem of him going, as well as sleeping problems, meant that he wouldn’t travel on his own to the appointment, as he had panic attacks. The stress of whole thing was beginning to tell on all of us too. 

Treatment abandoned, appeal abandoned 

My son’s treatment regime had to be abandoned due to all these appointment letters phone calls coming. He missed the appointment. I would have to phone and explain why. They would send another appointment and the whole cycle went on for months. It was making me ill as well as my son.  Then we were sent a piece of paper to sign to say Richard had seen them. I took it to CAB and asked should he sign it as he had only seen them once in six months. I was told he had seen them even if it was only once so my son signed it and they moved him to new group and new building. All the stress and failure of never making a meeting made my son sink back into the depression. 

So he moved onto next group. There has been no help for him getting online courses. They wouldn’t talk to him online. He won’t use phone as it often brings on panic attacks. So he goes for several months and this time doesn’t make any appointments.

He is more withdrawn than ever and even misses seeing Neurologist.

Finally the DWP reply about appeal and say there will be meeting within six weeks. I go to CAB to prepare case but Son takes off in panic to Friend. I didn’t know exactly where although I knew he was safe and got messages from him re emails. CAB says we can’t continue without Son so we withdraw appeal and son comes back home.

 

Increasing problems, but Serco still drawing the cash 

His behaviour is now more and more erratic. He talks of laundry baskets attacking him and pinning him in corner. I set up appointment with GP but last minute he is asleep. SERCO then say he has passed through 2nd stage and is on 3rd stage. They set up an appointment for him to go to workshops. He hasn’t made one yet. The pressure of letters and phone calls start again but I have stopped answering them or phoning to cancel as my own health means frequent doctor appointments and clinic appointments and can’t keep up with SERCO too. I went to ATOS and actually passed as too sick to work. I do have chronic ME, a cataract and severe chest problems and was nearing 60 but hasn’t stopped ATOS re friends of mine. Probably the stress re my son helped as I was pretty shattered with it all and all my own hospital tests.

                                                     

Son has taken off once again to the friend. The letters are piling up. I suppose I should tell SERCO he is gone as he has been away for over a month. I think whole thing is a scam as no way has he progressed and he hasn’t had any useful help. If they were legit they would have referred him back to DWP and he probably would have had his money stopped. However if I go to DWP or police they could argue that sons flight off to friend means he isn’t meeting terms re benefit and possibly even accusing him of fraud. CAB says we need psychiatric evaluation of son. GP is unwilling to send someone to our home when Son is there & Mental Health people say he is not a danger to himself or others. If he has to talk to authorities he will probably leave forever and I will lose all contact with him. So at moment I know even SERCO will have to claim he has finished course eventually and then we will have to challenge them. We will be asked why we didn’t challenge before and Son will go into hiding.

It’s just a case of waiting for axe to fall…..       

 

 

 

Mar 232014
 

Fit for Work or Survival of the Fittest? We need to Act Now to make our Voices Heard!

How can we restore dignity to disabled Welfare Benefits?

Market Hall, Assembly Rooms, Chesterfield Sat 29th 11am-4pm

Speakers

Richard Exell-TUC

Kate Green -MP Shadow minister of State for Equalities

Debbie Jolly -DPAC

Sue Marsh- Spartacus

Plus Dead Earnest Theatre Company

Food available

Ring or text Colin on 0787 387999

For info/access requirements

Unite Community membership

Welfare poster 2014

Mar 192014
 

1000 mothers march for justice

with families, carers & supporters
11am Saturday 29th March 2014
Assemble at Bruce Castle Park,
Lordship Lane N17 8NU
Move off 11.30 – march down Tottenham High Road to Tottenham Green East, N15 4UR for a
PUBLIC SPEAK-OUT
Follow up meeting: Haringey benefit claimants and supporters
11 am – 1 pm Saturday 12th April
North London Community House, 22 Moorefields Rd, N17 6PY
MOTHERS OF LONDON SAY
MARCH TO DEMAND living incomes and decent, affordable homes to rent or buy for waged & unwaged
MARCH TO REJECT bedroom tax, housing benefit caps, unfair taxes, hunger and cold homes – austerity hurts vulnerable people, the rich get richer
The £500 overall benefit cap forcing families to pay rent out of the income they need for food, utilities, clothes and transport or be evicted and deported away from their extended families and vital support to anywhere in England or Wales; cap rents not benefits.
The bedroom tax hits disabled people who have one or two spare bedrooms. It also hits 50 to 60 year old adults who become unemployed and are expected to survive on £71.70 a week minus £24 pw bedroom tax and £5 pw council tax. People evicted are forced out of London – this is social and ethnic cleansing.
20% of the council tax has added to the misery of residents. Last year Haringey Council started court proceedings against 23,000 households adding £125 court costs and in over 9000 cases bailiffs’ fees, which have already been increased by 42% this year.
Sanctions imposed by jobcentres punish people for little or no reason leaving them penniless for up to three months.
Freezing increases in benefits at 1% a year while prices escalate inflict hunger and cold on thousands of households.
Food banks as an alternative to social security; the three days food does not end hunger for adults or children.  Supply food by right, not by charity.
The activities of ATOS inflict poverty on disabled people with inappropriate fitness for work tests carelessly administered.
All African Women’s Group, Barnet Alliance for Public Services, Day-Mer Turkish & Kurdish Community Organisation, UCU at CONEL, Global Women’s Strike, Haringey Alliance for Public Services,
Haringey Defend Council Housing, Haringey Federation of Residents Associations, Haringey Green Party, Haringey Housing Action Group, Haringey Solidarity Group, Haringey Trades Council, Haringey UNISON, Holy Cross United Reformed Church,
Unite the Union/Community, London Region National Pensioners Convention,
Single Mothers’ Self-Defence, Socialist Women’s Union, Socialist Workers Party,
Somerford Grove Community Centre, St. Paul’s C-of-E Tottenham,
WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities),
Women of Colour in the Global Women’s Strike
Contact Rev Paul Nicolson, Taxpayersagainstpoverty@gmail.com
Mar 172014
 
Protestors with placards
Requesting solidarity and support for people with complex mental health needs who are fighting to save Cambridgeshire’s last Complex Cases Service in the community, Lifeworks at 128 Tenison Road, Cambridge.
A small, brave group of the disabled people have occupied Lifeworks round-the-clock since 4 March after being told the centre was being closed, and they would be discharged back to their GPs as of 25 March. There has been no consultation with them or their GPs, no Equality Impact Assessment, despite these being cuts that may well cost lives.
The occupiers and supporters held a peaceful protest in Cambridge market square on Saturday.
—-
This morning various ‘men in suits’ with clipboards tried to enter the building on ‘official’ biz. Serco security turn up fairly regularly too. It’s intimidating. Unfortunately Complex Cases Service staff haven’t been allowed to continue working there during this period, so there are no mental health support workers on site. The first meeting the occupiers have been offered with a representative of either CPFT or CCG is tomorrow ….
The stress is really beginning to show on the  occupiers, and exhaustion is setting in, so please could you help boost morale and show solidarity by
They would warmly welcome visits in person too. If it’s your first visit, it might be a good idea to let them know you’re a ‘friendly’ in advance – you can message them directly via the Facebook page. They make a mean cuppa!
– from Annie Galpin
Mar 162014
 

ILF- DWP equality analysis relating to the closure of the fund

Press release

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/future-of-the-independent-living-fund

 

Ministerial Statement

http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-vote-office/March_2014/6th-March/18.DWP-AligningSocialCareSystem.pdf

 

Full Equality analysis

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/287236/closure-of-ilf-equality-analysis.pdf

 

Throughout this document the numbered paragraphs in italics are the wording used by the government in their equality analysis.

 

In spite of the Court of Appeal ruling on November 6th 2013 quashing the government’s decision to close the Independent Living Fund to current users the government have again announced the closure of the fund from June 2015. This decision will negatively affect the UN convention rights of disabled people particularly in relation to articles 19, 24 and 27.

 

In relation to the new equality analysis the government made to try to meet its duties under the Equality Act 2010 they admit that going ahead with the closure of the ILF will lead to a regression of disabled people’s rights as outlined in UNCRPD.

 

That is in spite of them being a signatory to the convention which commits the UK to ensure the progressive realisation of disabled people’s rights to live independently in the community and be able to take part in society on an equal basis to non-disabled people.

 

The cost of the ILF is currently a mere £320 million which is a miniscule amount of overall public spending.

 

Within the equality analysis the government have also implied that ILF can be replaced by Disabled Students Allowance or Access to Work funding which is  either duplicitous in explaining the use of Disabled Students Allowance and Access to Work funding or shows a total ignorance about what these funding streams can actually be used for.

 

Articles 4, 19, 24 and 27 have been breached and in particular the three parts of Article 19 which recognise the equal right of all disabled people to live in the community, with choices equal to others, the need to take effective and appropriate measures to facilitate full enjoyment by disabled people of this right and their full inclusion and participation in the community.

 

The general obligations in Article 4 of the UNCRPD, Article 4(2) of which states that parties to the Convention should undertake measures with a view to progressively achieving the full realisation of the rights of disabled people.

Article 24 – education – ensure persons with disabilities are not excluded from the general education system on the basis of disability; and

 

Article 27 – work and employment – safeguard and promote the realisation of the right to work and promote employment opportunities

 

Overview of analysis

The government make clear that the changes being outlined will only apply to England and not the whole of the UK as the devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be able to make their own decisions about ongoing care and support funding for their residents.

 

Perhaps most importantly in reaching their decision and carrying out this equality analysis the government have only looked at the immediate transition period when one years non-ring fenced funding only will be devolved to local councils and not to the longer term impact of closure of the fund when there will be no additional devolved funding available to local authorities.

 

The 2013 Spending Review allocated a total of £262.3m to be transferred to local authorities in England and to devolved governments in Scotland and Wales in 2015-16 (funding for Northern Ireland is already a matter for the Northern Ireland administration).

 

They have not in any way considered or evaluated the impact of closure of ILF once this transition funding ends in 2016.

 

The government say they have based this second decision on evidence gathered during the consultation on the future of the ILF undertaken in 2012, along with further representations made to them since the consultation closed. However they give no information about what that evidence is, where or how it was collected or whether it involved any input from disabled people themselves. (point 12)

They then say at point 14 that the government is fully committed to supporting independent living through personalisation and localisation of care and support. This drive to push care and support funding for independent living onto local authorities is happening against the backdrop of the same government being found by the Council of Europe in March 2014 to have made such savage cuts to local government funding that the UK is in breach of its international obligations and official rapporteurs for the Council of Europe have found funding levels inadequate and too low to provide essential public services including health, social and elderly care. This findings of this report have been supported by the Conservative councillor and previously leader of Kensington and Chelsea council, Sir Merrick Cockell, who is now chairman of the Local Government Association. [1]

In addition the Care Bill if passed will restrict eligibility to care funding to substantial and critical only. The analysis says at this point – from April 2015 – that everyone will have a right to a personal budget but in later paragraphs of the equality analysis contradicts this entirely.

The government say that there is no doubt that the ILF continues to play a very important role in the lives of its users However they were the ones that created inequity in the system when they closed the fund to new users that since they closed the fund to new applicants in 2010. This has meant some disabled people are unable to access the fund.

They continue to say that closing the ILF and transferring the funding to local authorities in England and to the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales would enable them to use all the funding available for adult social care to support disabled people in a more consistent, effective and equitable way, within a cohesive mainstream system. Yet they refuse completely to consider any type of ring-fencing of that funding which means none of it has to be used to fund social care at all. With extensive cuts to social care and a system in crisis these platitudes are not credible. They further ignore the fact that any inequities in the system result from their decision to close ILF to new users from 2010.

Impact of Closing ILF identified by the government’s equality analysis.

The government say closure of the ILF will have a direct effect on disabled people, and in particular, those disabled people who are current users of the ILF. Two conditions are predominant among ILF users: severe learning disabilities and cerebral palsy (33% and 16% respectively).

Government admit that closure of the ILF will affect a disproportionate number of people with learning disabilities. However, they say there is no available evidence that would enable them to assess whether those with learning disabilities would be more significantly affected or affected in a different way when compared with users with other conditions.

33.The government say the ILF has undoubtedly played a significant role in supporting its users to live independently in their own homes, to access educational and employment opportunities and to participate actively in their communities. Closure of the ILF and the fact that the funding transferred to local authorities and the devolved administrations will not be ring-fenced in respect of current ILF users or disabled people more generally, has generated concern that ILF users will, as a result of reductions or changes to their current care and support arrangements, be denied opportunities they now have to participate fully in society.

This is clearly a regressive step and represents a grave and systematic violation of disabled people’s UNCRPD rights in relation to articles  4(2), 19, 24 and 27.

36.The government say that in the consultation disabled people’s concerns were linked to worries about care packages being reduced and disabled people being unable to achieve the same outcomes as they have with the ILF.

The equality analysis says this is most likely because the ILF provides greater flexibility in the use of funding than most local authorities. It is almost certain that closure of the ILF will mean that the majority of users will face changes to the way their support is delivered, including the real possibility of a reduction to the funding they currently receive. This is because the ILF funds some aspects of care that some local authorities do not and may also provide different levels of flexibility in the use of such funding.

37.The statement says loss of ILF funding could mean that current ILF users will have to make different choices about their daily lives. For example, this might be because they will no longer be able to employ a personal assistant. (37)  but the government fail to explore exactly what that would mean for disabled people and say simply the extent to which this will occur is impossible to calculate, given the variety of conditions and differences in local provision.

Thus in the equality analysis the government itself says that there is a real possibility of a reduction in funding, in less flexibility about what is funded and that choice and control over how people live their lives will be lost.

38.Another common concern raised by disabled people in the consultation was about inability to access social activities, voluntary work or employment either because of reductions in the number of care hours funded, or because the local authority would fund attendance a day centre rather than pay for a personal assistant to accompany people to activities of their choice.

41.The equality analysis shows this is likely to have an adverse, detrimental and regressive effect on ILF users because of monetary reductions in the amount of support a person receives and because of changes in how that support is delivered. In its joint response to the consultation, the Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Care stated that;

“As ILF recipients transfer into the LA system in 2015, and are subsequently reviewed against the [local authority assessment] criteria, the value of the personal budget calculated through the Resource Allocation System will generally be at a lower level than the initial ILF/LA budget.”

45.While it is accepted that closure of the ILF will mean monetary changes to the value of the support ILF users receive under the current arrangements, the crucial point for users will be what outcomes they are able to achieve rather than the money that they personally receive through a direct payment.

The equality assessment says any reductions in the value of care packages will not necessarily undermine those outcomes, local authorities currently offer users both care services and direct payments to meet their needs. Therefore, whilst the closure of the ILF may mean that users receive less money through a direct payment, this may be offset by more care services being paid for directly.

This directly contradicts what the government say with regard to the increasing use of personal budgets in the Care Bill. Provision of direct services is not the same as having a personal budget and being given choice and control over what you want to purchase. So at the same time that they are arguing local authorities will increasingly use personal budgets to meet disabled people’s desired outcomes they also say more direct services will be provided.

54.The 2,800 group 1 users who may have care and support needs that are defined as moderate or low under local authority assessment criteria, will not continue to receive funding. In practice, this could mean the loss of a carer or personal assistant as currently funded by their ILF award.

This impact is impossible to quantify given the variety of health conditions and disabilities and variations in local provision.

 

48.The position for Group 2 users is different, as these users are already required to be in receipt of a minimum amount of local authority funding in order to meet the ILF eligibility criteria. For the vast majority of all users this minimum contribution is now £340 a week. The requirement to have this level of local authority funding means that it is reasonable to assume that Group 2 users have support needs that would be defined as ‘substantial ‘ or ‘critical’ under local authority assessment criteria. Yet Local authority funding for around 34 hours care falls far short of the 24 hour support which most Group 2 ILF users need to be able to live independently and take part in the community and other activities.

49.There are a number of existing or planned features within the local authority system which are likely to mitigate the effect of closure of the ILF on the outcomes individual users achieve and, as a result, on the potential impact on their ability to live independently or to exercise control over their lives.

52. In some cases ILF users have indicated that they consider the impact would be severe. It is simply not possible to quantify accurately how the closure of the ILF would impact on individual care and support packages or how any funding cuts would translate into the loss of independence or reduce choice and control over their daily lives.

70.A number of those responding to the consultation expressed fears about having to enter residential care and, as a result, would no longer have any choice around their place of residence. As stated above, the government argue it is simply not possible to quantify to what extent this is likely to be a consequence of closing the ILF.

DWP claim that they closely monitor the impact of changes to policy but have repeatedly said throughout the equality assessment that there is not enough information to say what the outcome of closure of ILF will be. They have failed to take steps to monitor any aspect of the closure of ILF, for example they could have monitored the impact of closing ILF to new applicants from 2010 or to assess the effects of care package cuts on individual ILF users. They could have asked LA’s to produce accurate figures of what they would fund at the joint reviews. This would have given DWP would precise figures of what wouldn’t be funded and illustrated clearly what the impact of closing ILF would be for users. However it seems that DWP did not want this to be known and therefore did not collect this data when they had the opportunity to.

 

71.Data from the Department of Health shows that the overall number of adults of working age in residential care (in England) is not increasing. The total number of working age people in residential care has been falling since 2008-09, but the proportion of all social care users in residential care has been rising (due to greater falls in the number of people receiving other forms of care). Although there has been no discernible change in the general trends around residential care since the ILF was closed to new users in 2010, this data needs to be treated with caution due to the relatively small number of people who may have been eligible for the ILF (had it not been closed to new users). The data does not therefore necessarily indicate that 2010 changes have not had an effect on trends in residential care.

If the proportion of disabled people receiving social care funding but in residential care is rising overall this is an  indication that fewer disabled people are living in the community with the support they need to be included in society and to have choice and control over their lives.

61.A small number of the approximately 2000 plus people who responded to the 2012 consultation on the future of the ILF, and who expressed concern about changes to current care packages, explained how this would affect their lives in practice. Nevertheless, those who did provide further detail explained how they believed this would impact on their ability to live in their own or family home, on their educational or employment status or aspirations, and on their ability to access social or other community-based activities.

62 In addition to those users who expressed fears about having to move into residential care, referenced above after paragraph 40, a number of users stated that with the support of ILF-funded personal assistants they had been able to access higher education and enter employment. Their concern was that they would be unable to continue in higher education or employment if the overall level of support was reduced. As a consequence they would be disadvantaged as the opportunities that had been afforded to them would be reduced.

70.The government say that it is not possible to quantify to what extent disabled people are likely to end up in residential care due to closing the ILF.

63.It is accepted that, with direct payments from the ILF many users have been enabled to access a range of educational, employment and social opportunities. However, the ILF’s primary function is simply to make cash payments to enable them to purchase services, most commonly, the employment of a personal assistant or carer.

64.It is not possible to accurately quantify the impact of closing the ILF on individuals for both Group 2 users and those Group 1 users who meet their local authority’s minimum eligibility criteria. This would involve making speculative or predictive assessments that, for example, compare ILF recipients with other disabled people who do not have ILF support; or comparing what individual ILF users receive now with what they could get from 2015 onwards. In this case onwards only refers to until 2016 when any transitional funding to local authorities will end. This issue as previously stated has been totally ignored and no attempt to address it has been made.

Since ILF has been closed to new users since 2010 why have no attempts been made to collect data which would allow DWP to make some accurate forecast of the impact?

 Access to education and Work

68.For disabled people who want to pursue higher education, there are a range of Disabled Student Allowances available. These are payable in addition to other sources of student finance and the amount payable is based on individual needs rather than income. Eligible students can get help with the costs of specialist equipment, non-medical helpers, extra travel costs associated with a person’s disability and a range of other additional costs.

However without the support from ILF none of these DSAs allow a disabled person to undertake study as none of them provide the support needed to meet personal or social care needs.

69.For disabled people with more complex needs which cannot be met by local authorities, there is also a range of specialist disability employment provision, including Access to Work, Work Choice and Residential Training.

Again in the case of Access to Work funding personal needs cannot be met from this funding.

Opportunity to work and study –“Through support from the Independent living Fund I have been enabled to go back to University and to enter employment, firstly through casual work as an “expert by experience” for the Care Quality Commission and to then go on to get my first full-time job in 20 years….. I am worried for the day that my 42 hours funded by the ILF disappear …..(and I am) no longer able to pay for the support I need to lead the meaningful life I currently enjoy thanks to the ILF.”

 “I am an active member of the Disabled People’s movement, which includes being co-Chair of the [a local disability equality forum] that advises [local council] on its disability policies and supports local disabled people. I am also a school governor of a local infants school, and I am involved with [local university] in the training of social work students and medical students. I am able to do all this because of the support of the ILF to pay for personal assistance. However, without this funding I would either be trapped in my own home, or worse institutionalised in a care home.”

78.As already discussed in this document while the ILF has allowed users the opportunity to participate in public life, or in any other activity in which participation by disabled people is disproportionately low, and in doing so, inadvertently fostering relationships and helping to combat prejudice and promote understanding, there are a number of other initiatives which are expressly levelled at addressing these criteria. What these are however remains a mystery as the government have misconstrued what Disabled Students Allowance, and Access to Work funding can actually be used for and already said in their equality analysis that when ILF is transferred to local authorities the levels of care and support funding people get will be reduced.

89.The ILF user base is comparatively young when considered in the overall context of the adult care and support system, where 67% of service users are 65 and over, compared to 9% of ILF users. The majority of ILF users are between 26 and 55 (68%).

 

In the absence of any adequate monitoring of the outcomes for disabled people generally and in particular the absence of any monitoring of outcomes for disabled people unable to access ILF funding since it was closed to new applicants it is interesting to note that the ILF user age range starts at 26 in these figures.

 

93.DWP is committed to monitoring the impact of all its policies. We will therefore be developing plans for monitoring the actual impact of the closure of the ILF on those groups who share protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010, and in particular on former users of the ILF and disabled people more generally.

Why haven’t they been monitoring what’s happened from 2010?

Why haven’t they been collecting data from the joint transitional reviews on what Local Authorities would fund after 2016?

What plans do they have to monitor what local authorities do with the devolved ILF funding they get for 2015-16?

Why do they not already have plans in place for monitoring the actual impact rather then their rather wishy-washy “we can’t tell what the impact will be” attitude?

39. A significant number of users did provide more detailed testimony to show how they believed their ability to live independently and to participate fully in society would be compromised.

Examples of ILF user concerns of a loss of independence and control over daily life

“If the ILF were to close completely (he) would lose almost 50% of his care package: He has been scored in the highest funding band on the Local Authority’s Resource Allocation System, but their highest indicative budget would only provide care up to a (limit) for someone living at home. This would mean he could not be looked after at home and would almost certainly need to go into residential care”.

“Before I had ILF my parents who both work full time had to help me with the most basic of tasks (getting undressed, eating dinner, assistance getting to bathroom during the night) making me feel like a burden to my own family. My social life hit a stand still as I was unable to go out and meet friends as I was too unwell to really leave the house.”

“….people like me will end up sitting alone looking out of the window for most of the day unable to even go to the toilet. Until now, despite being severely disabled…..and unable to walk or use my hands or arms, I’ve been able to live a fulfilling life.…. [without the ILF] I will be imprisoned at home, and will even have to give up my dogs…”

“…With no ILF and no ring-fencing of money my son’s budget will either be reduced so much that it no longer adequately covers his needs and he will end up with unacceptably substandard care. Or he will end up having to go into residential care which would also not be acceptable to him.”

Before I was introduced to the ILF I was looked after by the local authority. I had no life at all, just a horrible existence. I didn’t get out of bed for months at a time. I was not encouraged to take part in life with the children. My care was extremely basic – to be kept clean, fed and medicated”

“Without the ILF funding I would either be left to rot in a home or be dead. My support worker and carers are my lifeline; with this funding I am able to live my life. Should this funding be cut, I can honestly say I would not last long in the community. Obviously should I end up in a home, then the money the government are wanting to save…would have to be paid out for my home fees….”

“ILF allows me to do, as closely as possible, what normal human beings do. I do not do ‘activities’ or ‘access the community’ – I go out for a drive, for a picnic, to visit people, the kind of things ‘real’ people do.”

 

 

 Posted by at 20:34
Mar 162014
 
Thursday 20th march the public accounts committee is meeting to discuss personal independence payments (PIP), the vice president of Atos and Capita are going to be in attendance as witnesses.
 
Meeting will take place room 15 palace of westminster 9.45 am spread the word on this atos and capita in the same room…. we need a presence at this one!
Mar 142014
 

Jenny Sealey has agreed to become the spokesperson and face of the Stop Changes to Access to Work campaign.

cropped-cropped-atw1-e13845513016702

STOP CHANGES TO ACCESS TO WORK

#stopchanges2atw

Jenny is the Artistic Director of the Graeae Theatre and co-directed the London 2012 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony. Having such a high profile job, and with the government still making reference to the Paralympic legacy, you might expect that she would have escaped the 30 hour guidance. This is not the case. Jenny, like every other Access to Work user, is having to fight for the support she needs to do her job.

 You can expect to see and hear a lot more from Jenny and our campaign very soon!


Video transcript:

I just want to talk about Access to Work without that provision, I couldn’t do my job, it’s fundamental to being Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Graeae Theatre. Access to Work is amazing, it’s so brilliant to have that, when we were doing the Paralympics, I had a team of 14 or 15 fully highly qualified interpreters working amongst, I think there were 10 deaf people, plus me, and I had my own core team of three. Without that skill, that knowledge and everything, we would never, ever have been able to do such a glorious Paralympics and for all those deaf people to have full and equal access.

What I need in my job is so varied, I go from rehearsals, to budget meetings, to board meetings, to networking, working in schools, it’s so varied so I’m very, very aware, I carefully pick which interpreters I need for which jobs and to be forced to have one interpreter, just in the office… That’s giving me just one voice, one interpretation, all the way through my working life… That’s not going to work for someone like me, and there’s many, many other deaf people that I know, that same style will not work for them either. My interpreters need to be cast, I suppose, in the same way that I cast my plays… So I have the right person for my budget meetings, you know, an interpreter that knows and understands finance… I have the right interpreter when I’m working in schools that understands the school environment… I want, I need, and have to be allowed choice, and that is the same for other deaf people. Also, we need to have fully qualified high spec interpreters, not, you know, a baby CSW… Because… That’s wrong, and that means we’re not getting full and equal access, so… please, please, we have to have choice, skill, and qualified interpreters… We need that.

For more see: http://stopchanges2atw.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/announcing-our-spokesperson-and-face-of-the-campaign/

Sign petition: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-changes-to-access-to-work

 

 

 

Mar 142014
 

See below for a template covering letter citing case law that ‘obliges Decision Makers to take into account the relevance of a claimant’s existing DLA award when considering a Work Capability Assessment’

Date

 

 

ATOS Healthcare

SW95 9EB

 

Dear Sir/Madam

Re: M

 

We write on behalf of the above-named person. His authorisation to correspond is attached.

 

We helped M.. complete the enclosed ESA50 form.

 

M….short description

 

He gets highest rate care of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) because of his many care needs. He is also, for obvious reasons, in receipt of the higher rate mobility component of DLA. While we are aware that DLA has a different focus to ESA, case law (JW v SSWP (ESA) [2012] UKUT 256 (AAC)CE/2894/2011)obliges Decision Makers to take into account the relevance of a claimant’s existing DLA award when considering a Work Capability Assessment—there may be sufficient “common ground” for one to provide material evidence in respect of the other.

 

We are concerned that there would be substantial risk to M….s’ health if he were found not to have Limited Capability for Work (Regulation 29 ESA Regs.) or if he were found not to have Limited Capability for Work-Related Activity (Regulation 35 ESA Regs.). And given the level of care he requires, we cannot see what reasonable adjustments any prospective employer or JCPlus Claimant Adviser could put in place to lessen that risk.

 

In light of the above, we would ask that M….. be placed in the Support Group of ESA without having to undergo a Work Capability Assessment.

 

Yours faithfully

 

The use of these regs by doctors and welfare advisors has also been part of a long campaign by our sister group Black Triangle Campaign.

Attached is a piece of case law saying that a physiotherapist opinions re a claimant with mental health problems has no probative value whatsoever.   The reference is at paragraph 22.  

 This case law is very useful to include in ESA applications and WCA appeals so please pass to any Welfare Benefits advocacy/advisors or use yourself.  

This information has been proven to contribute to a high success rate re ESA/WCA

 Case law:SKMBT_C45114031409590

  

 

Mar 142014
 

We are beginning to see the results of several years of campaigning against unjust welfare reforms that target disabled people. But Atos attempting to pull out of its contract (Report, 22 February) represents only a partial victory. Other private corporations are already lining up to take over. So long as the work capability assessment (WCA) regime continues, so will the misery it causes to disabled people and their families, and to the workers involved in implementing a system they don’t agree with.

The WCA should be replaced immediately with a rigorous and safe system that does not cause avoidable harm to disabled people or those with chronic health issues or terminal illnesses. The UK government and opposition should 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.

The PIP contract must be removed from Atos with immediate effect: targets in its handling of the WCA have affected thousands of disabled people, leading to hastened deaths, waits of up to a year, and leaving people without income or food.


Linda Burnip Co-founder, Disabled People Against Cuts
Tracey Lazard CEO, Inclusion London
John McArdle Co-founder, Black Triangle
Mark Serwotka General secretary, PCS Union
Frances O’Grady General secretary, TUC
John McDonnell MP
Len McCluskey General secretary, Unite
Francesca Martinez WOW petition
Pat Onions Pat’s Petition
Rosemary O’Neill CarerWatch
Sean Vernell National secretary, Unite the Resistance
Eileen Short Chair, National Anti Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Federation
Rev Paul Nicolson Taxpayers Against Poverty
Claire Glasman WinVisible (women with visible & invisible disabilities)
Ariane Sacco WinVisible
Mark Harrison CEO, Equal Lives
Kevin Caulfield Chair, Hammersmith and Fulham Coalition Against Cuts
Rahel Geffen CEO, Disability Action in Islington
Lyla Adwan-Kamara Merton Centre for Independent Living
Shaun O’Regan Southwark Benefit Justice Campaign
Barry McDonald Chair, Bromley Experts by Experience
Ian Hodson National president, Bakers Food & Allied Workers Union
Ronnie Draper General secretary, Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union
Mick Carney National president, Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association
Manuel Cortes General secretary, Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association
Sean McGovern Unite executive councillor
Rob Murthwaite Equalities rep, UCU London region
Mike Cox Norfolk Disabled People Against Cuts
Dr Stephen Carty Medical adviser, Black Triangle Campaign
Debbie Jolly Co-founder, Disabled People Against Cuts
Andy Greene Islington Disabled People Against Cuts
Ellen Clifford Croydon Disabled People Against Cuts
Paula Peters Bromley Disabled People Against Cuts
Conan Doyle London Disabled People Against Cuts
Bob Ellard National steering committee, Disabled People Against Cuts
Anita Bellows National steering committee, Disabled People Against Cuts
Ciara Doyle National steering committee, Disabled People Against Cuts
Roger Lewis National steering committee, Disabled People Against Cuts
Jane Bence WOW petition
Rick Burgess WOW petition

March 3rd To see other letters:  http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/mar/03/grim-toll-fit-for-work-tests

 

Mar 122014
 

In 2012 not long after the government passed the welfare reform Act John McDonnell MP warned the House of Commons: ““We now have a disability movement in this country of which we have not seen the equal before: Black Triangle occupied Atos offices in Scotland, DPAC – Disabled People Against Cuts – chained themselves in Trafalgar Square. These people are not going to go away. They will be in our face – and rightly so.” And we have been ever since. With Atos on the run, the bedroom tax on the ropes and the ongoing fight for the Independent Living Fund we are seeing the results of disabled people’s co-ordinated grassroots campaigning.

 
A model of campaigning that responds to the direct lived experience of disabled people is not popular with everyone. Too often it rocks the boat in questioning entrenched positions within the disability sector such as the need to close the Remploy factories at the earliest opportunity whatever the cost and the wisdom of local authority administered social care support. Disabled people have looked beyond disabled people’s organisations and disability ‘professionals’ to gain support for grassroots led disabled people’s campaigns, making alliances with the broader anti cuts movement and the various, often conflicted groups within that, from trade unions to UKUncut.

 
The model has proved successful and disabled people’s protest has succeeded in punching holes in austerity, as the Government and private companies like Atos are strongly aware.  DPAC co-founder Linda Burnip remembers: “Our first protest against ATOS was January 2011 in Triton Square and few people had heard of the WCA or ATOS. Our continued national days of action against ATOS from then on helped very much to change that and bring the atrocities being inflicted on disabled people to the forefront of public awareness. After the DPAC actions against ATOS sponsorship of the paralympic games and the spontaneous booing of Osborne by 80,000 disabled spectators our campaign against ATOS gained international attention. Our early intervention in targeting protests at ATOS recruitment fares has eventually paid off and particularly after Joyce Drummond and Dr. Woods spoke out about their experiences of working for ATOS the WCAs and ATOS are now so toxic that they are unable to recruit enough staff to carry out assessments and the whole system is in melt-down. Any firm considering taking over the ATOS contract should be aware that disabled people will do the same to them as they have done to ATOS.”

 

While the bedroom tax is being held aloft as an example of the effectiveness of framing theory we should not forget that co-ordinated community action put the real pressure on. It may not have changed the government’s mind but the audacity of two wheelchair accessible bus-loads of disabled people turning up at Iain Duncan Smith’s mansion to serve an eviction notice and picnic in the lavish grounds last April set the tone for a determined campaign that has placed disabled people at the centre of community action on estates across the country. Disabled campaigner Robert Punton says, “Disabled people have been at the forefront of both this despicable tax and the resulting campaign. A by-product of the campaign has been that we as a disabled people’s pressure group have come into a working relationship with unions and other community campaigns strengthening everyone’s position and resolve.”

 

The campaign to save the independent living fund (ILF) led by ILF recipients and supported by DPAC and Inclusion London among other disabled people led groups has gained real traction despite the consensus among national charities and disability organisations that transfer to local authorities was the way forwards. Without a grassroots material basis from which to develop, theoretical rights will remain forever in the abstract. Disabled people are experiencing ever diminishing packages of support increasingly delivered on a ‘clean and feed’ model, with a rise in administration by in-house local authority services and prepayment cards. Yet, while, through continuation of the ILF, we have a layer of disabled people who regardless of their level of support need are enabled to enjoy a quality of life and level of choice and control that affords an ordinary life, we prevent a full scale roll back and the loss of aspiration for independent living for disabled people. Kevin Caulfield, disabled activist and Chair of Hammersmith and Fulham Coalition Against Cuts says “The campaign has been really important to draw attention to the government’s suffocation of disabled people’s right to independent living and equality. Every disabled person who needs support should have the right resources to live a full life which is why the ILF should be protected and re-opened so that everyone who needs it can apply. The campaign exposed the light touch of the government in relation to enforcing equality legislation and we can see why they are desperate to restrict disabled people’s access to justice by excluding us from legal aid and the right to take judicial review”.

 

It is interesting that the impact of disabled people’s campaigning at this pivotal point in history is so much better recognised outside the disability sector than within. This is for a number of reasons. Mainstream media bias means that most activity is only communicated through social and independent media and to those already linked in. Then there also seems to be a misperception in some quarters that because disabled people are allying ourselves with mainstream movements that it is not disabled people setting the agenda. This misses some really exciting developments where disabled people are influencing a wider understanding and application in practice of disability equality and inclusion. DPAC activists were for example central to last summer’s anti-fracking protest in Balcombe having worked with Reclaim the Power to build an accessible protest camp and a direct action of which disabled activists were at the forefront.

 

The point is not though to gain recognition, the point is to continue to effect concrete social change. Atos may be looking for an exit strategy but disabled people need abolition of the Work Capability Assessment itself, the bedroom tax may have lost all credibility but disabled people and their families are continuing to build arrears and to suffer under its implementation, the Independent Living Fund may have been at least temporarily saved for those existing recipients but the crisis in social care grows ever more desperate. What we have shown over the last few years is that we do have agency when we co-ordinate and campaign. Now there is more to do.

 

For more information about Disabled People Against Cuts national conference on 12th April 2014 contact dpacfightback@yahoo.co.uk. Please note due to limited capacity places are prioritised for signed up members.

Mar 122014
 

1. Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) has not been claimed during Mandatory Reconsideration (MR) period:-

 

You receive a letter from Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) to inform you that the MR has not been found in your favour, this letter will give details of how to proceed to formal appeal, ie submitting the appeal form to HM Courts and Tribunal Services (HMCTS) When this appeal form is received by DWP from HMCTS, your ESA will automatically be reinstated; you do not have to do anything else.  When the form is received by the Dispute Resolution Teams, they will inform the appropriate Benefit Centre immediately that ESA should be reinstated.  The BC will probably contact you to ask for evidence/Fit Notes etc.

 

 

-2. JSA has been claimed during Mandatory Reconsideration period:-

 

You receive a letter from DWP to inform that the MR has not been found in your favour, this letter will give details of how to proceed to formal appeal, ie submitting the appeal form to HMCTS.  For those who have claimed JSA, they must make it clear on the appeal form that they wish to have ESA reinstated.  This information should be put in Section 5 of the form, ‘About Your Appeal’.  When HMCTS have notified DWP that you wish to progress to formal appeal, ie the form is received, ESA will be reinstated.  DWP will contact the appropriate Benefit Centre immediately.  You will be contacted for Fit Notes/medical evidence to support the claim & it’s important that throughout their JSA claim, you adhere to the conditionality of that benefit, even after DWP has been informed that they would like ESA to be reinstated & until ESA has been reinstated.

 

This infomation is doing the rounds of Disabled Peoples’ Organisations. It has come direct from the DWP. DPAC are just passing the information on, and cannot be held responsible for any errors – but if your route doesn’t progress as laid out here please let us know….

 

 

 

Mar 102014
 

There are many different ways to be involved in the work of DPAC. All are equally valuable. We all have a role to play in campaigning for disabled people’s rights and a fair society, in whatever way we can from taking part in protests to tweeting, from administrative tasks to writing poems, from making banners to conducting research. Every contribution is important, formal or informal. Some ways to get involved are:

 

       Joining as a member. You will receive occasional urgent action and information updates from us and have the right to vote at our general meetings.

 

       Signing up to the website for regular information

 

       updates every time something new is added to our website.

 

       Following DPAC on twitter: @Dis_Ppl_Protest and Facebook or the quieter Facebook page

       Joining or setting up a local group. Local groups need to follow the DPAC constitution. Local activity is really important for raising awareness about the impact of austerity on disabled people and leading the way in the fightback. For a list of local groups see HERE

       Or contact mail@dpac.uk.net

 

       Linking between DPAC and other campaigns and unions, for example Occupy, UK Uncut, the Anti Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Federation, Reclaim the Power, Fuel Poverty Action, Boycott Workfare, the People’s Assembly, local anti cuts groups, local trades councils and trade unions branches.

 

       Joining or being involved in the running of campaign sub-committees. We currently have sub-committees at different stages of development in the following areas:

o   Atos and the Work Capability Assessment

o   Independent Living Fund

o   Access to Work

o   Reclaiming the Social Model of Disability

o   Disability, Art and Protest

o   Direct action

o   Inclusive Education

o   Communications and social media

o   Research

o   Local groups

o   Working with Disabled People’s Organisations – building a national voice

At the DPAC conference workshops will be held in each of the different campaigns and there will be a chance to sign up if you are not already involved.

       Being on the Steering group. At the conference we need to elect our steering group for the next year. There is more information about this below.

Steering group

One of the roles we have to make sure we run in a way that follows our aims and principles and is accountable to DPAC members is being on the Steering Group.

Being on the Steering Group is a big time commitment and is often a difficult job because there is so much to do.

For this reason in order to stand for nomination to the Steering Group we need people who can sign up to:

·         Minimum of 5 – 10 hours commitment per week

 

·         Corresponding regularly by and checking emails to stay in touch with developments and inputting to the development of DPAC initiatives

 

·         Co-ordinating particular areas of work, involving members widely and working with allies

 

·         Being involved in at least two sub-committees

 

·         Taking responsibility for either co-ordinating or providing an active and supportive link to at least two local groups

 

·         Representing DPAC at meetings, events and conferences sometimes at short notice

 

·         Working collectively and positively within a team of people with contrasting access needs

 

·         Following DPAC principles and values at all times:

o   Social model of disability

o   Rights not Charity

o   Inclusive Education (no ifs no buts)

o   Working within the broad left

o   Equal opportunities and social justice for all regardless of ethnicity, sexuality, gender, disability, age, faith, employment status, resident status. No to scapegoating of any kind.

 

It is important we have a diverse steering group covering a range of impairments, equalities strands and areas of the country. We also recognise that due to fluctuating impairments people may need to step back from activity for temporary periods.

The current DPAC constitution sets the number of steering group members at 8 but the current steering group will be putting forward a motion at the conference for members to vote on enlarging the steering group to 12.

All those wanting to put themselves forward for the steering group must be full DPAC members. If you would like to put yourself forward for the DPAC Steering Group please send a 500-700 word statement to mail@dpac.uk.net

 explaining why you would like to be on the Steering Group, how you are able to meet the commitment and any existing political/group affiliations before the 31st March 2014.

This text will be put on the DPAC web site-you do not need to be able to come to the DPAC conference on the 12th of April to be considered for election to the steering group, but we’d appreciate it if you could.

 

We’d like to say a big thank you to the past DPAC steering group for all their work, and invite them to apply again if they wish to

Mar 092014
 

The Government has announced that the Independent Living Fund will close on 30th June 2015 despite losing a Court of Appeal battle over this plan.

The Department for Work and Pensions originally planned to abolish the fund on 31 March 2015, but was forced to review the move after the Court of Appeal ruled that it had failed to comply with its legal duty to promote equality when making the decision.

The fund provides cash payments to top-up local authority social care support to around 18,500 severely disabled people so they can live more independently.

This fund is ESSENTIAL to disabled people up and down the country -a lifeline for many and must be re-opened to new applicants.

The fund closing after the next general election gives us a window of opportunity.
This petition is to Nick Clegg and David Cameron and it is calling on them to not close the Independent Living Fund. *As the PM does not have a public email address, this petition will send email to offices of IDS*

The fact that this fund will not end until after the next general election puts the onus on the Labour Party to either continue the fund or create an alternative fund that will be in place post-30th June 2015.

This petition calls for the Labour party to put forward their proposals for a replacement fund at the earliest possible time and have this proposal in their 2015 manifesto. We need to make them understand how important this support is to sections of the disabled community.

Sign -up, share and fill up IDS’ and other MPs inboxes so they cant ignore us at

http://aworkingclassman.com/govt-announces-closure-independent-living-fund-3/

 

Mar 092014
 

Anthony has the label of Autism, he does not use the spoken word but he is able to communicate very effectively through typing on his light writer. Anthony’s struggle for independent living highlights important issues for all disabled people, living in Ireland and Europe who have a human right to independent living as per article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The catalogue of mismanagement and abuse outlined below demands a full and independent enquiry into the unacceptable experiences of Anthony.

For almost three years Anthony (now 26) had his own apartment in Dublin, he had 24hr personal assistance, and he was attending university classes. His support was managed by Cheshire Ireland, who fully accepted and welcomed Anthony’s communication and his voice. Cheshire Ireland managed the funding for support for over two years, which was provided by Health Service Executive of Ireland (HSE).

However, without consultation with Anthony or his Family a new organization took over Anthony’s support arrangements Áiseanna Tacaíochta Network (ATN) This organization was imposed upon Anthony and his family by HSE.

ATN did not accept Anthony’s communication, which caused a breakdown of Anthony’s support arrangements, including the Director informing Anthony’s parents that he had completed the necessary forms to have Anthony’s personal disability benefits paid into ATN accounts; this was without consent or consultation with Anthony or his family. As a result Anthony’s personal disability allowance was suspended. (Leaving Anthony without his own money for 10 months). After six months of ATN management the director had a private meeting with HSE to recommend Anthony goes into residential institution for further assessments.

Anthony and his family opposed such a retrograde step. At the same time ATN took the bizarre step of refusing to renew the rental agreement on Anthony’s accommodation, which resulted in Anthony being made homeless. He therefore had no meaningful choice but to accept the residential assessment at Redwood Centre, Stamullen in Ireland.

Within days at Redwood Anthony was put on antipsychotic medication and taken off his important gluten and diary free diet, against the strong protest of himself and his family, and against medical advice of Anthony’s own doctor (GP). Redwood ignored these representations. A few days later Anthony was admitted as an emergency patient from Redwood to a general hospital having had a series of nine seizures. Anthony had never experienced seizures prior to being admitted to Redwood.

Redwood also refused to accept Anthony’s communication needs and after several months, still on the same medication Anthony was refused the right to attend his own case conference at Redwood by Redwood senior staff and by HSE.

Anthony was removed from Redwood in December 2013, but is now at another institution, as the option of moving back into his old accommodation is no longer available to him due to the actions of ATN.

Redwood has refused to comment on Anthony experience whilst at Redwood.

HSE has refused to comment upon Anthony’s experience at Redwood.

ATN has refused to comment on Anthony’s experience at Redwood or their actions.

All involved appear to deny responsibility for any of the severe impacts on Anthony’s life or the removal of his right to live independently through their actions.

Anthony and his family want a full and independent enquiry into the unnecessary and unacceptable actions leading to this total abuse of Anthony’s human rights.

Important Questions for the Health Service Executive:

1. Why did the HSE change Anthony’s support arrangements to ATN without consultation with Anthony or his family, prior to those arrangements being completed?

2. Why did the HSE allow ATN to take over the management of Anthony’s support arrangement when ATN had not consulted with Anthony of his family?

3. Why did the HSE allow ATN to stop Anthony’s personal disability allowance without any consultation with Anthony of his parents?

4. Why did the HSE allow ATN to end the rental contract of Anthony’s accommodation without Anthony’s or his family’s permission?

5. Why did the HSE accept the recommendations of ATN, for Anthony for residential assessment when ATN failed to discuss such a recommendations with Anthony or his family?

6. Why did the HSE allow Redwood to administer Antipsychotic medication and remove his gluten and dairy free diet to Anthony without his permission and against the advice of Anthony’s own family doctor and parents?

7. Why did the HSE not explain to Anthony or his family why he was admitted as an emergency patient to the general hospital?

8. Why did the HSE refuse to allow Anthony to attend his own Case Conference at Redwood?

Joe Whittaker

Whittakerjoe5@gmail.com

Friend of Anthony

Please email Joe with messages of support to pass on to Anthony, or if you can help in any way please contact Joe.

Reposted from European Network for Independent Living (ENIL) website with thanks http://www.enil.eu/news/anthony-kletzander-abuse-of-human-rights-dublin-ireland/

 

Mar 092014
 

We told MPs we’d be watching to see who went to the WOW debate in parliament so we’re gratfeul to John Pring for permission to reproduce this article which shows how few MPs were there and outlines various excuses.

News story by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

8 th Mar 2014

MPs’ excuses for missing ‘historic’ debate lack the WOW factor

By john pring

The low turnout by MPs in for the WOW petition will damage efforts to persuade the public to engage with politics and politicians, according to the campaign’s organisers.

Backbench MPs agreed to hold the debate – which focused on the need to assess the overall impact of the government’s welfare reforms on disabled people, and calls to scrap the “fitness for work” test – after more than 100,000 people added their names to an e-petition created by the War On Welfare (WOW) campaign.

It was the first time that disabled people had secured a debate in the main Commons chamber on an agenda they had chosen themselves.

But there was frustration at the low turnout among MPs, particularly on the government benches.

Disability News Service (DNS) tried this week to contact some of the MPs who hold positions on disability-related all-party parliamentary groups to ask why so many of them stayed away from the WOW debate.

A spokesman for Robert Buckland, the Conservative MP and chair of the all-party autism group, said he had attended instead the speech given in parliament by the German chancellor, Angela Merkel.

Her speech finished by 12.45pm, while the WOW debate continued until 2.30pm.

Buckland’s spokesman said the MP “then had childcare issues back at home so had to return to the constituency quite early”.

He said: “He has a long-standing interest in disability issues. He had an interest in the topic but unfortunately just because of his diary on the day was unable to attend.”

John Woodcock, the Labour vice-chair of the all-party group on young disabled people, said he had been attending a foreign policy conference in Sussex, but he insisted that he remained “really committed to working closely with disabled people and campaigning organisations on furthering this agenda”.

Paul Burstow, the Liberal Democrat former care services minister, had meetings with ministers about the care bill, and then chaired a meeting of the CentreForum Mental Health Commission.

A spokeswoman for Burstow said he had “a particularly busy day last Thursday, otherwise I am pretty certain he would have gone to that debate. He was literally in and out of meetings.”

Annette Brooke, the Liberal Democrat MP and vice-chair of the autism all-party group, was unable to attend the WOW debate because she was in her Mid Dorset and North Poole constituency, but her spokeswoman said she had been “very active recently in her role on autism”.

She said: “Unfortunately with backbench debates on Thursday, MPs are sometimes not able to participate in debates which they are really keen to speak in as they have to head back to the constituency.”

But the Labour MP Russell Brown, secretary of the autism group, who attended part of the debate but was not able to speak due to other parliamentary commitments, said that party whips will have made clear to MPs that they are supposed to be working in parliament throughout most of Thursdays, at least until mid-afternoon.

He said: “You shouldn’t make arrangements for constituency business when you know… that you should be in parliament.”

He said it was “not a reasonable excuse to say it is a long-standing engagement”, although parliamentary-related business, such as a constituency visit from a government minister, was probably an acceptable excuse.

Sir Malcolm Bruce, the Liberal Democrat chair of the all-party deafness group, was unable to attend the debate because of a ministerial visit to his Gordon constituency in Scotland.

But Charlotte Leslie, treasurer of the autism group and Conservative MP for BristolNorth West, said she had had “back-to-back meetings and then had to make it back to the constituency in the early afternoon for constituency commitments”.

She said: “As I am sure you know, an MP’s diary can get booked up many months in advance.

“We do not get notice of debate dates until a couple of weeks in advance, and it is not always possible to rearrange several hours of meetings, since many people have made huge efforts and re-arranged their own schedules to be able to make the date to see me.”

But she said she had read some of the WOW debate online.

The disabled Conservative MP Paul Maynard was unable to attend the debate because as parliamentary private secretary to the Cabinet Office minister for government policy, Oliver Letwin, he had to attend two sessions of the deregulation bill committee.

Other MPs who hold positions on disability-related all-party groups, and who apparently failed to attend the WOW petition debate, and have so far failed to respond to DNS enquiries, include Conservatives Chris Skidmore, Stephen Phillips, Sir Peter Bottomley and James Morris, Labour MPs Tom Clarke, Rosie Cooper, Jonathan Reynolds and Robert Flello, and the disabled Liberal Democrat Stephen Lloyd.

In all, 21 Labour MPs spoke in the debate (8.2 per cent of the parliamentary party), five Conservative MPs (1.7 per cent), two Liberal Democrats (3.6 per cent), one of the six MPs from the SNP (16.7 per cent), the only Green MP, Caroline Lucas, but none of the three MPs from Plaid Cymru.

Rick Burgess, a co-founder of the WOW campaign, said: “MPs constantly say they want people to engage with politics. We engaged with politics and look how few of them engaged with us!

“We did what they asked. We did the petition, we engaged with them. On the day, it didn’t feel like we were welcome.”

Ian Jones, another co-founder of the WOW campaign, said his MP, Theresa May, had said she could not attend the debate because of her ministerial responsibilities as home secretary.

But he said she and other MPs should have attended the debate because it was “an historical event”, the first time that disabled activists had secured a debate in the main Commons chamber.

He said: “To have any respect for the e-petition system, when people actually get together and get the 100,000 signatures, the MPs should take it seriously and debate it.

“It just seemed to me that the Tories were just paying lip service.”

6 March 2014

 

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