Aug 262014
 

Thursday 11th September 2014

End Bedroom Tax; No Sanctions for Claimants – No Targets for Staff

On 11th September the Anti-Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Campaign is holding a day of protest: say no to claimant sanctions, bedroom tax and benefit cuts

Government attacks on benefits mean hunger, debt and fear. Ex-soldier David Clapson died hungry and destitute after his benefits were stopped, the latest in a string of deaths and suicides related to sanctions and benefit cuts.  The overwhelming majority of referrals to food banks are due to  claimants being sanctioned.

Sanctions cutting benefits of disabled people on Employment and Support Allowance, rose by nearly 580 percent between March 2013 and March 2014, and total sanctions rose to over a million last year, from 100,000 in 2010 (DWP figures).
PCS union is supporting the 11 September protests.  Research by PCS members working in the DWP revealed that 82% of members felt ‘pressured’ into sanctioning claimants, and 62% said they had made ‘inappropriate’ sanctions decisions.Protests have forced Government to promise changes: see Review report. But sanctions remain a vicious plank of the Government’s punitive welfare reforms, and are still supported by Labour in parliament.

Join us on one of protests below or organise your own.  Demand an end to the Bedroom Tax and link it to the slogan: ‘No sanctions for claimants, No targets for staff’. Build links with local PCS members – contacts for local PCS in DWP and PCS regions.The Bedroom Tax is almost dead – we will demand MPs kill it now  and up the pressure to beat the sanctions regime too. Let us know any actions you are planning so we can promote them.

End Sanctions, Bedroom Tax and benefit cuts11am Old Palace Yard Westminster SW1P 3JY
and 1pm DWP HQ Tothill St SW1

Other protests planned in
Leeds, Sheffield, Oxford, Manchester/Liverpool, Birmingham, Glasgow


Aug 242014
 

Dear Mr Winstanley,

Re: Your apology over the use of the term “disease burden” quoted below

Rethink wrote: In response to concerns over the use of the phrase ‘disease burden’, Mark Winstanley, CEO of Rethink Mental Illness said: “We sincerely apologise if any offence was caused by our use of the phrase ‘disease burden’ in our recent email to our supporters.

“Health organisations campaigning on a wide range of issues have been using this term for many years. It is widely accepted by health professionals and policy makers as the correct term for quantifying the national impact of a health problem as measured by financial cost, mortality or morbidity.

“It is in this spirit which we use the phrase to highlight this nationally important issue. It is in no way intended to imply that individuals affected by mental illness, or other diseases or disabilities are a burden.”
ENDS

We are fully conversant with the use of the term “disease burden” being used in the context that you outline above. To the small number of people who have asked us why we were offended, we have made the following response:

“It is highly complex but I think there are three main arguments. The first point is that this mail out was sent to people who were not familiar with this term as a technical term, it was sent to everyday people, including a lot of disabled people. Rethink should be capable of thinking ahead and asking how this term would be understood by the random people they were sending the mailing to.

“Secondly, I think there is an acceptance that technical language can never direct, even at an unconscious level, how people, including the technicians who use it, perceive an issue. But this is questionable. In the same vein, technical language can reflect how something is viewed at an emotional or political level but be embedded within technical terms that cannot be challenged, just as you are questioning whether a technical term should be challenged. The concerns around technical language being “loaded” would require a whole book to be written to tease out all of the issues. It may seem radical to even question the use of language that is deemed to be technical or academic but there are good arguments for doing so, however these are too complex to go into here.

“There is a final point that relates to the medical model of mental distress which questions whether what is called “mental illness” is even “illness” (or “disease”) at all. For several decades there has been a question mark over whether mental distress is an illness or a human response to unbearable circumstances. This is why many survivors prefer the term “mental distress”. This non medical model of mental distress, a social model, has been argued for many years by survivors yet Rethink, along with the other mental health charities, still refuse to even consider it. Hence we have legions of people who are not helped by drugs yet who live with dreadful side effects from them. However, the pharmaceutical companies are too powerful for us ever to be able to move away from the medical model of mental distress. Having said all of this, I think for the purposes of this complaint, the first objection is more than enough.”

I would also like to add that many people have contacted us to say they were offended and I am attaching a few comments made in response to your apology:

“Rethink seem to think they’ve offered an apology – I don’t agree, plus this is not on their home page, but needs to be searched for”
https://www.rethink.org/media-centre/2014/08/burden-of-disease-response

“Winstanley has also clearly missed the point because he refers to “mental illness or other diseases” so reaffirming his belief that mental distress is a disease.”

“…I’m thinking there must be a long list of former technical terms that have been abandoned exactly because they were offensive, I’m not an expert in this but in my youth words like mad, handicapped, mongol, manic depressive, and more were in common use as the correct labels for people, so I don’t think calling it an accepted technical term can be considered a defence.”

So long as mental health charities continue to capitulate to the damaging ideas that people living with mental distress are fighting against, and refuse to participate in the debates that occupy us, your organisations will remain irrelevant to any meaningful progress that will eventually be made by those of us you are meant to be championing. It is precisely because you pose no threat to the status quo that you have, to some extent, the ear of government, however, as always, when we do start to impact on thinking around these important issues, you will jump on the bandwagon and claim all of the credit for our hard work for yourselves.

Yours sincerely,

Denise McKenna, Co-founder, MHRN
Co signed by DPAC Steering Group

Mental Health Resistance Network are on Facebook here

 Posted by at 20:13
Aug 232014
 

 

Read Denise McKenna’s co founder of Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN) response to Rethink’s mail out that termed people with mental health issues as a ‘disease burden’!

DPAC fully support our good friends Denise and MHRN in urging Rethink to issue an immediate apology for using this offensive term.

If you want to email Rethink’s CEO too his email is mark.winstanley@rethink.org

Dear Mr Winstanley,

 

Members of the Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN) and our friends at Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) were included in your mail-out below. We were shocked and bewildered that Rethink thought it acceptable to use the term “disease burden” in relation to mental health in a bulk mail-out. In this context it is brutal language and has caused offence to those of us who live with mental distress and to other members of the disability movement who have received your mailing. 

 

Disease burden” is a specialist piece of jargon used in disease informatics but, even when used in this context, disabled people do not accept that it is neutral. No language is neutral and this term should never have been used in a mail-out to random disabled people. You are no doubt aware that the words “disease” and, above all, “burden” are highly toxic to disabled people and those living with mental distress. It was crass to send this out willy nilly. Is there no sensitivity at Rethink? 

  

We urge you to issue an immediate apology to all of the people who received this mailing and rightly experienced it as offensive and hurtful.

 

Yours sincerely,

Denise McKenna

Co-founder, MHRN

Manifesto for Better Mental Health

Dear

Today we’re launching A Manifesto for Better Mental Health which sets out practical changes that a future Government must make in order to ensure our mental and physical health are valued equally. We’ve joined forces with our colleagues across mental health to agree on five key areas we are calling on all political parties to commit to if they are elected in 2015.

Mental health accounts for 23% of the disease burden, but it gets just 13% of the NHS budget and funding has been cut even further for the last three years.

This is not acceptable. The next Government must seriously tackle this issue.

That’s why we need YOU. You can help us secure change by:

Send a card to your MP with the Manifesto’s key priorities for action

1. Fair funding for mental health
2. Give children a good start in life
3. Improve physical health care for people with mental health problems
4. Improve the lives of people with mental health problems
5. Better access to mental health services

Share our asks on social media and raise awareness

Our Manifesto for Better Mental Health’  has been written with the Centre for Mental Health, Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Network, Mind and the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Together we intend to turn this tide. Our time has come.

Thanks for your continued help and support,

Mark Winstanley
Chief Executive

 

Aug 192014
 

 

A second court case against the DWP on the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) will take place at the Royal Courts of Justice on the 22nd and 23rd of October. It is expected to last one and half days.

There will be a vigil outside the courts from 12.30 on the 22nd to support the ILF users taking the case and to support our right to independent living as enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities- article 19

Article 19: “Living independently and being included in the community”, states that “disabled people have a right to live in the community; with the support they need and can make choices like other people do”.

Please join with us to show your support!

The closure of the ILF  has obvious implications for the UK’s chances of meeting such obligations. Most importantly for those disabled people who will lose this financial support they will lose any independence and choice in their lives. You can listen to how this vicious attack will affect disabled people at these links.

http://www.dpac.uk.net/2013/02/a-nasty-cut-people-affected-by-the-closure-of-the-independent-l5142/

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMElPk0pq6I

 

We will be posting further updates

 

Aug 182014
 

We’re currently producing a brochure for campaigning work and wanted to include a few examples of how each cut has affected disabled people. We already have examples for most things but if you have been affected by the bedroom tax, council tax reduction changes, or the overall benefit cap, cuts to social care or increased charges for care could you please send us a short email about what has happened to you and how this has affected you to mail@dpac.uk.net

 

Many thanks for help with this.

Linda

 Posted by at 21:01
Aug 162014
 

 

(Report from workshop at national meeting of Anti Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice federation)

Fighting Benefit Sanctions

 

The government has a policy  of increasing sanctions to force people off benefits. 

 

More than 800,000 people have been sanctioned in the last year. Referrals to food banks are mainly due to claimants being sanctioned. 

 

Martin Cavanagh is the PCS Group Exec member for civil servants working in the DWP.  The PCS union resolved at their recent conference to oppose both Workfare and Benefit Sanctions. He explained the three central reasons behind the Tories policy of increasing sanctions; Further demonisation of the poor, financial savings for the government, and driving a wedge between claimants and workers. 

 

PCS survey of members working in the DWP revealed that 82% of members felt ‘pressured’ into sanctioning claimants, and 62% said they had made ‘inappropriate’ sanctions decisions. 

 sanctions

The Kirklees Axe The Tax group have used a banner : No Sanction for Claimants! No Targets for Staff! This attracted claimants and some staff to their stall outside a job centre.

 

Roger Lewis speaking for DPAC said that ‘more needed to be done by the PCS.’ But, he insisted, ‘we will not allow the government to divide us. Those working for the DWP alongside claimants have a common interest, we are locked together in a common fight against the Tories.’ 

 

‘More will be done from our union the PCS over the sanctions,’ explained Martin. 

 

‘Advice for claimants on how to challenge sanction decisions has now been agreed between our union, the PCS, Unite the Union Community branches, and campaigners against sanctions. That advice will be issued shortly.’

 

Research has shown that only 1 in 50 claimants who are sanctioned appeal the decision. Of those 90% win their appeal. Forthcoming advice will explain to claimants how they can appeal. 

 

To launch the joint advice and joint campaign, we agreed a day of action against benefit sanctions for Thursday 11th September. 

 

Protests will be organised in every region outside key DWP headquarters or similar high profile government offices.

Fighting Workfare

Public campaigns work! 

 

With just a few protesters the Boycott Workfare actions have ‘shamed’ many employers into withdrawing from the Workfare scheme. Companies and businesses don’t want to be exposed as employing ‘slave’ labour. Only when a company signs up to the Boycott Workfare pledge are they removed for the Boycott Workfare website listing. 

 

Protests outside flagship venues of those companies still in the scheme will continue until the schemes are scrapped.

 

Reblogged with thanks from http://antibedroomtax.org.uk/2013-05-29-04-42-41/latest-news/110-stop-sanctions-11th-sept-day-of-action

 

 

Aug 162014
 

 

Responsible department: Department for Work and Pensions

We are asking for the inequality in the way Personal Independent Payment (PIP) claims are handled to be stopped and for those making transfers from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to PIP to be treated in the same way as fresh claims for PIP.

Currently those making claims for PIP have their payments backdated to date of claim. However those receiving DLA do not get their claim backdated even if a change of circumstance means they are entitled to a higher rate of payment.

Payments are made from date of decision, meaning current delays, which the DWP admit to, mean claimants losing out on several weeks payments, depending on the length of delay and time to process a claim.

This goes against what the DWP themselves have said in response to questions from Susan Elan Jones MP i.e. ‘…the benefit is backdated so NO ONE is left out of pocket’. The current system is in no way equitable and victimises long term disabled people.

There is a petition at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/66447

Also let us know if this has happened to you by emailing : mail@dpac.uk.net

 

 

Aug 152014
 

 

The campaign to save the Independent living Fund (ILF) is now at its most crucial stage, because it involves you.

 

Following the high profile Westminster Abbey sit-in and the tea parties held outside DWP offices, we’re now asking ILF recipients to invite MPs to their homes to show them exactly what the ILF means in reality and why it must be kept.

 

This Summer is a great time to lobby MPs as they’ll be back in their constituencies working hard in the hope of securing votes in the run up to the 2015 General Election.

 

Please take the simple steps in this toolkit and let us know how it goes so we can target politicians and do everything we can together to save the ILF.

 

It includes writing a letter/email to your MP, writing to the local paper, meeting your MP, arguments and briefing and an invitation for your MP to the MP Drop in on 2nd September

 

Independent Living fund Drop in

with BBC Silent Witness actress Liz Carr

2 September 2014; 2 – 4pm; House of Commons Committee Room 19

This drop in session will be a chance for MPs to find out more about the closure of the ILF which currently supports nearly 18,000 disabled people with the highest support needs to live independently in the community, to contribute to society in employment, education, volunteering, as family members, friends and as members of our communities and to build the local economy through employing teams of Personal Assistants.

 

The surgery will be an opportunity to ask questions and to speak to Liz who has been enabled, through support from the ILF, to progress an acting career that has spanned stand-up comedy, presenting for BBC and primetime television.

 

Also in attendance to answer your questions will be a former ILF staff representative and a disabled person who missed out on the ILF through its closure to new applicants in 2010 and whose experiences reflect those of many other disabled people now excluded from participating in areas of life that non-disabled people take for granted.

 

The Drop in is being organized by PCS Union, Disabled People Against Cuts and Inclusion London.

 

For more information contact ellen.clifford@inclusionlondon.co.uk or Natasha@pcs.org.uk

 

Click Save-the-ILF-mobilisation to download the full Save ILF Mobilisation Word document

 

 

 

Aug 142014
 

 

Disabled people are more likely than all other groups to be impacted by the cuts to legal aid. The Ministry of Justice conducted an equality impact assessment which concluded “that overall the proposals have the potential to impact a greater proportion of women, BAME people and ill or disabled people.” 1 The assessment found that, whilst 19% of the general population have a long-term illness or are disabled, the figure was 58% of those receiving legal aid for welfare benefit claims. To get legal aid for a discrimination case, disabled people must use a telephone gateway, and there are now only three firms allowed to apply for legal aid for discrimination claims. This has resulted in a massive drop in the number of people getting legal aid for this type of case; in terms of discrimination cases there is a 77% shortfall in the predicted take-up since these restrictions were introduced2.

 

If you have been personally affected . For example have been unable to claim support, had to part claim, or had to represent yourself in court and would be willing to talk about this to a Guardian journalist please contact emma.howard@theguardian.com as soon as possible.

 

It is only by talking about how we are affected that we are able to get these issues out to the public.

 

 

1Reform of Legal Aid in England and Wales: Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) June 2011

http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20111121205348/http:/www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/consultations/legal-aid-reform-eia.pdf, See Table 6, in particular

2See “Civil legal aid – the secret legal service”, a report published by Legal Action Group in September 2013 reviewing the figures for legal aid take-up in the first quarter of 2013-14.

 

Aug 142014
 

 

Has anyone experience of people being denied #ESA in annual review, reinstated on appeal, but refused back payments on technicalities?

Please get in touch with Kerry McCarthy MP

email: kerry.mccarthy.mp@parliament.uk 

Twitter:@KerryMP

Facebook:http://www.facebook.com/Kerry4MP 

Kerry McCarthy MP
326a Church Road
St. George
Bristol
BS5 8AJ

phone: 0117 939 9901 (Lines are open from Monday – Friday 10am – 1pm)

MP for East Bristol you can also contact DPAC on : mail@dpac.uk.net

twitter: dis_PPL_protest

 

Aug 142014
 

 

At midday today (August 14), protestors from Reclaim the Power set up camp at Preston New Road, at fracking company Cuadrilla’s proposed drilling site. Approximately 1000 attendees will stay for six days, to take direct action and share skills and knowledge. They do so in support of the local community’s fight against Cuadrilla’s plans to drill for shale gas in Lancashire.[1]

Last year, the Reclaim the Power camp shut down Cuadrilla’s operations in Balcombe, Sussex for a week. The company later announced that they would not frack the site, and the Balcombe community has set up an initiative to supply their area with renewable energy.[2]

 

In 2011, Blackpool experienced earthquakes caused by fracking. Hannah Jones from Reclaim the Power said:

Blackpool is where the fracking industry started in the UK, and this is where it has to stop. Besides the damage it can cause to water and air locally, fracked gas can be as bad for the climate as coal. We need energy that’s sustainable, democratic, and affordable, instead of corporate controlled fossil fuels.”

 

Since August 7th, a group of Lancashire grandmothers, mothers, and children have been occupying the field at Preston New Road – one of Cuadrilla’s proposed drill sites. Local residents handed in a record-breaking 14,000 objections to a council consultation on Cuadrilla’s plans.[3] When asked why the local women are occupying the field, Tina Louise from Lancashire said,

The shale gas industry and Cuadrilla in particular have not acted honestly in their dealings with our community and are not to be trusted with the health and well-being of our children. We do not want them here and so are gathering to make sure we are heard and we are calling others to help us amplify this. As air and water do not recognize county boundaries, the defence is for everybody in the UK.”

[1] Press pack with more detailed camp information available. [2]http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/apr/17/balcombe-fracking-energy-community-renewables[3]http://www.foe.co.uk/news/14000-people-call-frack-free-lancashire

Contacts @nodashforgas
07447 027112
press@nodashforgas.org.uk

 

Aug 112014
 

 

This is an unreported national scandal….

It is only the mainstream media’s failure to bring this state of chaos to the public’s attention which prevents it from being plastered all over the front page of every single national newspaper.

If this was people stuck in NHS waiting listsawaiting their passports, unable to travel by train, stranded abroad,struggling to get money out of cash pointsmarooned in the channel tunnel, affected by adverse weather conditions or by striking public service workers the national newspapers would ensure it was in print for all to see.  

Yet here in the UK we have a crisis of unprecedented proportions as thousands upon thousands wait month upon month to get the benefits to which they are entitled to and hardly a word appears in any of the big hitting papers. The British public are being deceived into believing that government’s welfare reforms are achieving the desired results with no unnecessary human suffering.

The mainstream media has a duty to report the mayhem which exists within the chaotic Department for Work & Pensions and must expose this mass maladministration of thousand of benefit claims.  What makes this all the more deplorable is the victims are by and large thousands of sick and disabled people who desperately need the right amount of cash to live on.  

1 million delayed assessments/decisions, 1.7 million appeals & 1.3 million put through the sanction regime is a collective 4 million exposed to some degree of benefit decision related chaos.  How can 4 million people locked in government backed chaos not be a national chaos?  we could say:
1 million delayed assessments/decisions, 1.7 million appeals and 1.3 million put through the arbitrary sanction regime is a collective 4 million people plunged into chaos by DWP incompetence and IDS arrogance. Why is it not a national scandal and why are the media not talking about the huge waste of money and the terrible human costs of the Welfare reform?

Chaotic Department for Work & Pensions fails to process people’s claims, leaving tens of thousands of claimants destitute & impoverished for months on end…..

On the 23rd June 2014, the then disability minister Mike Penning admitted in Parliament that the number of claimants awaiting an assessment for Employment & Support Allowance had stood stood at a staggering 766,000.
 
 
On the 5th June 2014 the DWP quietly produced statistics relating to the government’s new Personal Independence Payment statistics which showed that from April 2013 to March 2014 out of 349,000 new claims made, just 83,900 had reached the stage where a formal decision had been made on the applicant’s claim – a backlog of 265,100 claims where the claimant hasn’t received one single penny of the benefit for which they have applied. 

Between the two benefits, Employment & Support Allowance and Personal Independence Payments, an eye watering 1,031,100 claimants have yet to receive the legal decision which determines their claim.  It leaves claimants in absolute turmoil and completely unable to access the help they need.

Problems aren’t limited to ESA & PIP assessment chaos

This one million claimants does not include those who have had a decision, but are in embroiled in thousands of disputes with the DWP & Local Authorities over long drawn out battles which need independent determination by one of Her Majesties’ Courts & Service’s Tribunals.  

Since April 2010 no less than 1,698,321 benefit appeals have been lodged with Tribunals, of which 939,100
relate to the Employment & Support Allowance. Nearly 1.7 million benefit appeals is just part of this much bigger chaos. 

In March 2014, 78,347 benefit appeal cases remained outstanding.  In 2012/13 the number of benefit appeals received by formal tribunals was 507,131 against 465,497 cases which had been dealt with.  By 2013/14, whilst the number of appeals had fallen to 401,197 against 545,843 disposals, the fact remains that thousands are still trapped in a chronic backlog of appeal cases which saw 77,931 adjournments and a further 44,021 postponements, collectively accounting for some 22% of all benefit cases.  It’s mayhem on a scale which has spiralled out of control.  The DWP’s answer is to implement restrictive measures to access Tribunals with the introduction of its new ‘mandatory internal review’ procedure; a procedure which has come under fire for causing even further delays with thousands in limbo awaiting decisions.  

One MP in particular stands out, Sheila Gilmore is to be commended for her non stop persistence in calling for government to publish the figures relating to thousands of disputed decisions which are subject to the DWP’s internal review procedure.  Sheila Gilmore MP (with a little help from ilegal) has pressed this issue time and time again.  Following several complaints to the UK Statistics Authority and calling the government to account at several debates which she has called, she got the then disability minister to admit how he would “love the data to be published now, but it is not ready. As soon as it is ready, I will publish it.” – seemingly we will need to wait until the end of the year to see whether Government keeps its word.

Meanwhile, thousands of sick and disabled people await the right decision for months on end, often having to rely on food banks to survive.

On top of the one million awaiting assessments, who knows how many more thousands are stuck in a cruel and heartless system, having to wait week after week for the DWP to resolve their disputes?  – my guess is many thousands await decisions; it’s in the nature of the chaotic epidemic which has broken out in the DWP.  

The chronically stretched Department is quite obviously under resourced to deal with reforms of this magnitude.  The Public and Commercial Services Union are saying, in the wake of staffing cuts within the Department, that the DWPneeds more staff, not less.” 
 

On top of all this, the DWP have been applying sanctions on a level never seen before.  As refute report“Under the new sanctions regime, introduced on the 22nd October 2012, a total of 1.35 million sanction decisions have been made up to June 2013, of which, 580,000 were adverse decisions”.

Local Councils in meltdown 

What few people outside of the benefits system appreciate is how all of these delayed assessments, appeals and sanctions impact upon cash starved Local Authorities.  Councils such as Birmingham are struggling, to put it mildly, to see how they can come up with a budget plan when they know they are expected to make of 28% cuts from central government funding by 2015

1 million delayed assessments, 1.7 million appeals and nearly 600,000 adverse sanctions all have a knock on effect as local councils grapple with revised Housing Benefit awards, Council Tax Support and decide how best to administer limited Discretionary Housing Payment awards.  Every delayed assessment can affects other benefits, sometimes tax credits and the worst nightmare begins when an appeal leads to everything being retrospectively awarded.  It means going through umpteen awards and re – revising them to reflect the new entitlement.  There is also the knock on effect of the bedroom tax, localism of Council Tax support as well as the social fund now being dealt with at Local Authority level.  

Few Council’s will speak out for fear of having their funding cut further or being labelled as ‘inefficient’ when compared against authorities in more prosperous areas where deprivation is less of a problem.   

A national scandal 

The mainstream media is doing no one any favours by glossing over the worsening chaos within the DWP and Local Authorities.  Failing to print a the real story as to the true extent of this crisis doesn’t make the crisis go away, the media owes a duty to the wider public to give way to propaganda and needs to out this scandal for what it is.  

1 million delayed assessments/decisions, 1.7 million appeals & 1.3 million put through the sanction regime is a collective 4 million exposed to some degree of benefit decision related chaos.  How can 4 million people locked in government backed chaos not be a national chaos? 

Government’s answer is something it has the raw nerve to call ‘Universal’ Credit.  By April 2014, the Secretary of State had promised that 1 million claimants would be on the new ‘single streamlined benefit’ system.  He has consistently misled his fellow Parliamentarians and the British public in to believing his flagship benefit system is ‘on track’ to transform the lives of 8 million households.  The reality is that the latest DWP figures confirm how between May 2013 and April 2014 6,960 claimants have made a new Universal Credit claim with 5,880 remaining on benefit – an overall reduction of just 1,080.  As always with the DWP, there’s no indication as to how many of them found work.  

What should worry us all is how the mainstream media, particularly the right wing tabloids, continue to pretend this crisis doesn’t exist. 

Burying this outrageous crisis behind good news is no answer, the media has a duty to tell the truth. They should do so without any sense of allegiance to those who have got these welfare reforms so horribly wrong.

 

With thanks to Nick @Mylegalforum and apologies for tampering a little with the headline

see more from Nick at ilegal.org.uk
 

 

Aug 092014
 

 

Disabled people have been expressing their disquiet at the news that the Independent Living Fund (ILF) will cease to exist in 2015, and that the money will be transferred to Local Authorities. To date, out of the 153 surveyed Local Authorities and from 106 responses, only 10 Local Authorities have said they will ringfence the transferred funds to ILF recipients, which means that in all other areas, ILF recipients face a potential reduction of their care packages. How is it likely to happen?

An interesting article was published this morning by Joe Halewood (@SpeyeJoe): http://speye.wordpress.com/2014/08/09/dhp-dubious-hoodwinking-practices-or-how-ids-pulled-the-woolsack-over-the-courts-eyes/

which shows that 16% (UK average) of Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) allocated by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to Local Authorities to mitigate the impacts of welfare reforms, and specifically of the infamous bedroom tax have been awards unrelated to welfare reforms. See Table 5 and 6 here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/322455/use-of-discretionary-housing-payments-june-2014.pdf

It would be interesting to know what the money was spent on, but more to the point, DWP has twice relied on the DHP argument to win a legal case against claimants challenging the bedroom tax policy, and although DWP’s spokesperson said that the government has put in £345m to mitigate the bedroom tax, the figures shown in the Table 5 and 6 not only disprove this but also show that out of the money disbursed, 16% of the allocated funds have been used for awards totally unrelated to welfare reforms. This shows that disabled people are right to be worried about the future of the transferred ILF funds and about the willingness or unwillingness of Local Authorities to allocate these funds to disabled people who have been assessed as having the greatest needs. The ILF should be retained until assurance is given that these people will not see a reduction in their care packages.

 

 

Aug 052014
 

Permission has now been granted and the second  ILF Court Case will go ahead.

The papers went to a judge today and he has granted both permission and expedition (which means speeding up the usual timetable for the court case). The hearing should be “as soon as possible”, which could mean anything at the moment, as the judges are on holiday and the court has a very bad backlog, but we would hope we will get a trial date for some time in September/October as planned.

On behalf of all ILF recipients we’d like to say a continuing thank you to those involved in taking the case. We know from experience just how gruelling and stressful taking legal challenges can be and we offer our solidarity with you all.

 

 

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