Bob

Sep 192014
 

Katy a journalist from BBC South Today, regional TV News for Hampshire, Dorset, West Sussex and a bit of Surrey is looking into what impact the change to Personal Independent Payments has had on disabled people in the South.

She is currently finding out how many people who’ve applied for PiP since it was rolled out have been successful and would like to hear from anyone who has unsuccessfully applied for PiP – or has had severe delays with their application.

She’s interested to kow how this has affected you whether it’s had a financial impact or just been more stressful than the old system.
If you are willing to talk to Katy she’ d be grateful if you could contact her on 02380 374540, 07732 986357 or email katy.austin2@bbc.co.uk.

 Posted by at 22:25
Sep 122014
 

TTIP: The ‘harmonization’ of regulation for the benefit of corporations

Negotiated in secret and widely opposed by civil society and community groups, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) calls for the ‘harmonisation’ of regulations between the United States and the E.U.  Safety, Health and Environmental regulations in all areas are expected to be decimated if this anti-democratic re-write of common protections for workers, the environment, and the public is permitted.  Corporate interests with privileged access to the negotiating process hope to achieve technocratic control of regulatory science. To learn more come to this public discussion event:

Speakers:

  • Linda Kaucher – Stop TTIP!
  • Wendy Grossman – Open Rights Group
  • plus tbc speaker on fracking/GMOs/chemical regulation

Monday October 6th, 7-9pm @ The Feminist Library, 5 Westminster Bridge Rd, London SE1 7XW

Organized by Breaking the Frame www.breakingtheframe.org.uk

Breaking the Frame (BTF) working group supports the October 13th Day of Action on TTIP. For more information or to find your local action http://www.nottip.org.uk/

 Posted by at 23:29
Sep 112014
 

This is the Guide to the Oakley Report and the government’s response on JSA sanctions written by David Webster, Honorary Senior Research Fellow in Urban Studies at Glasgow University.

This guide explores the remit of the review, the areas covered or left untreated, the concerns raised or ignored, and the recommendations. It also looks at the government’s response and at the recommendations the government accepted for implementation.  In spite of the positive spin the government put on its response, only 7 out of the 17 recommendations have been accepted and two do not have a fixed timescale.

The government defined very narrowly the terms of reference for the sanction review, which was only supposed to look at the communication issues with claimants and it chose to carry out this review an academic working for a right-wing think tank, who supports sanctions and had even been instrumental in promoting the rationale and the need for sanctions.

The government has also put a veil of secrecy over the contributors to this review, with a few exceptions.

In spite of this, the review is more critical than the government expected, but it does not take away the need for a wider independent inquiry into the sanctions system.

This briefing has been published on the DPAC website with the kind agreement of Dr David Webster .

You can download the report from https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1xBBs-iUSwleUFDRlFmNnhQSWM

 Posted by at 22:05
Sep 112014
 
Motion to be debated at full council on Tuesday 16th September
The ability to be able to live independently is a fundamental right for disabled people – it is enshrined in Article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities [1]. Over 18,000 disabled people in the UK, including over a hundred in Bristol, are only able to live independently by accessing the support they need through the Independent Living Fund (ILF).
Therefore, the Coalition Government’s decision to close the ILF will have seriously repercussions for many of our fellow citizens, denying them the right to choose to live in their own home, and to be active members of their local communities.
On Wednesday, the Bristol Green Party will ask the council to vote to ring-fence all funds transferred from the ILF, and to call upon the national leaders of the main political parties to reverse the closure of the ILF.  If passed, it is believed that Bristol will become the first city to take an official position against the closure of the ILF.[2]
“We are calling for the funds that will be transferred locally to be ring-fenced but we also need any future national government to commit to providing the necessary resources to enable disabled citizens to live independently.” said Tony Dyer, the Green Party candidate for Bristol South, “Welfare reform, including changes to incapacity benefit and the introduction of personal independence payments have badly affected many disabled people – they have too often borne the brunt of this government’s cuts.
“Changes to the ILF fund in particular are causing stress for many people who depend on the fund for their support needs and who fear that it will be cut” he continued; “Disability rights groups are also concerned that some people who will have been eligible for ILF support have not been able to apply to the fund since it was closed to new applicants and thus we are also calling for the Council to ensure that these people are not forgotten.”
What is the Independent Living Fund? [3]
The ILF was originally set up in 1988 as a national resource dedicated to the financial support of disable people, enabling them to choose to live in their communities rather than being forced in to residential care.
The ILF is amongst the most efficient of all public sector organisations, with administration costs of just 2% compared to an average of 16% for local authorities. It also has a 98% satisfaction rating amongst its users. In addition, the average weekly ILF fund of £345 to allow disabled people to live at home should be compared with an average weekly cost to the taxpayer of £738 per week to provide residential care.
Despite this exemplar performance, the Coalition government announced in December 2012 it will close the scheme.  This decision was subsequently overturned at the Court of Appeal where a judge found that the decision breached the government’s equality duty.
However, the Coalition Government has since repeated its intention to close the fund in June 2015 and transfer its funding responsibilities to local authorities but has only committed to funding local authorities for one year. Disabled groups have already stated their intention to also challenge this decision in the courts. Meanwhile, in August, the UK became the first country to be the subject of an investigation by a high level United Nations commission into “grave violations” of the rights of disabled people. [4]
“I am proud that the Green Party is raising this issue with the Council.”

said Rob Telford, Green Party councillor for Ashley. “The UN  human rights investigation to find out if Coalition Government policies have led to ‘grave violations’ of the rights of disabled people comes in the wake of studies showing that those with disabilities have been impacted disproportionately by the cuts – almost 20 times as much. Here in Bristol we must aim to do everything we can to ensure disabled people can live independent, dignified lives and be allowed to contribute to our communities. Any effective future solution needs to directly involve disabled people themselves in the decision making process”
Many of the actions called for by the Greens are based on the concerns raised by Disability Rights UK following responses to Freedom of Information requests sent to all the relevant local authorities.  Only 10 local authorities confirmed they were planning to ring-fence ILF transfer funding. [5]

 

References
(1) United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; http://www.un.org/disabilities/convention/conventionfull.shtml
(2) Green Party motion to full council on Independent Living Fund is now available on the Council website – it is motion a, under agenda item 10 – and will be the first motion debated
(3) House of Commons Library Standard Note on the Independent Living Fund is available here; http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/research/briefing-papers/SN05633/independent-living-fund
UK is first country to face UN enquiry into disability rights violations
(5) Most councils will not ring fence ILF resources
Further Information on
Tony Dyer (named as Green Party candidate in Bristol South)
Rob Telford, Green Party councillor for Ashley Ward
 Posted by at 14:02
Sep 112014
 

SERTUC disability workers open meeting –

“How will Labour improve the lives of disabled people?”

Speakers:

Kate Green MP, Shadow Minister for Disabled People

Paula Peters, Disabled People Against Cuts. (DPAC)


 

Date: Thursday, 30th October 2014

Time: 6.30-8.30 pm

Venue: TUC Congress House, 23-28 Great Russell Street, London, WC1B  3LS.

Please e mail sertuc@tuc.org.uk to register a place


 

 Posted by at 11:13
Sep 102014
 

Reblogged from Fuel Poverty Action Group

After a lovely warm summer colder weather is on the way. As the weather gets colder we know many people’s thoughts will turn to their energy bills and to thinking about ways to stay warm over the winter. But we don’t have to struggle alone!

Fuel Poverty Action are ready with events and workshops and have resources that will support you or group to keep warm, fight the Big Six and to demand a energy system that works for all of us.

Invite us along to your meeting -we can speak about fuel poverty, just listen to you or we can do:

‘Energy Rights’ workshops. Think you’re getting ripped off? Being pushed onto an unwanted prepayment meter? Got debt you can’t pay? Not sure what your landlords are allowed to do regarding energy bills? Want to learn what your rights are when dealing with energy companies and what you’re entitled to?Invite us to put on our energy rights workshop- learn how to get the most, and pay the least, out of the current energy system and get together to think about ways we can help to protect each other from the brutality of the energy companies. We can do it in an hour, or less or more, and it can slot into your usual meeting or we can put on a special workshop. Interested? Email: fuelpovertyaction@gmail.com and/or a…
‘Keep Warm Cafe’ Want to find out ways to save money on your bills, how to insulate your home very cheaply or avoid a prepayment meter? Just want to chat about what’s wrong with the energy system over a cup of tea in a warm space? Invite us to the venue you use, give us a slot in your meeting or we can put on a special ‘Keep Warm Cafe’ at a time convenient to you. We can talk about ways to keep warm, ways to fight off the energy companies and we can discuss ideas about what we want to do about the unfair energy system. We’ll bring biscuits!  Interested? Email: fuelpovertyaction@gmail.com
Also,
Come to the launch of our Energy Bill of Rights at the House of Commons on 27th October, 5pm! The government tells us that the energy system is broken and the best we can hope for is a few pounds off our rip-off bills but we think there needs to be an energy revolution where we all have access to affordable, sustainable energy that isn’t supplied by aggressive money-hungry companies. We’ve put together an Energy Bill of Rights that we hope will encourage all of us to stand up to the energy companies, from energy bill debt to the Big Six profiteers destroying our climate. We’re launching it at the House of Commons and we want you to be there. Interested?Email: fuelpovertyaction@gmail.com
Please share our facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/361093010682602/?fref=ts
Sign up to and endorse our Energy Bill of Rights! We need individuals, groups and organisations to tell us why they think the Energy Bill of Rights is needed. Send us a couple of sentences about why you think the Bill is needed and why it’s relevant to you and your group. Email us: fuelpovertyaction@gmail.com 
And check out our free online guide ‘In trouble with your energy company? A mini-guide to your rights’ , please print and share! http://www.fuelpovertyaction.org.uk/home-alternative/info-advice/

We’ll be printing copies in the coming month so if you would like a few (or more!) please do let us know!

We declared our Energy Bill of Rights in May 2014. Last winter 10,000 people died from fuel poverty whilst energy companies made billions of pounds off of expensive and dirty energy.
We want groups to sign up to and endorse these rights! Get in touch if you want to.

Energy Bill of Rights Poster

 Posted by at 22:42
Sep 102014
 

In less than 2 months time, a new occupational service called Health and Work Service will be introduced in the UK run by a private company, in order to ‘help employees on sick leave to return to work’. This will be done through an occupational health assessment when they reach or are expected to reach more than 4 weeks of sickness absence.

After four weeks, employees will be referred by their GP for an assessment by an occupational health professional, who will look at the all the issues preventing them from returning to work. Following this assessment, employees will receive a return to work plan containing recommendations to help them to return to work more quickly, and information on how to access appropriate interventions.

Given that the referral volumes anticipated are in the region of 350,000 to 700,000 per annum , of which between 5 per cent and 10 per cent are expected to require a face-to-face assessment, it means that the majority of employees will be assessed by telephone. This assessment will not only look at health issues in the workplace but also at non health and non work issues. So the advice given will not just be health related.

There will also apparently be tailored support for the employees through case management. The package is supposed to be agreed between the employee and the private company and failure to cooperate with the service will mean the employee will lose their sick pay.

There are many issues with this scheme which have already been debated in the House of Commons, notably the removal of the percentage threshold scheme, and others which are likely to emerge once it is implemented, but one which did not receive as much publicity as it should have is the tender winner, Health Management Ltd which is a subsidiary of the American multinational Maximus.

Maximus operates in many countries, and it shares the particular distinction with UNUM (the architect of the Welfare reform in the UK, which has close contact with 2 of the authors of a report on which this new Health and Work Service is based, namely Dame Black and Kim Burton) of ‘improper benefit denial’ (in addition to insufficiently trained contractor staff, delays in application processing, etc.). But what looks like a repeat of the Atos disaster is much more sinister. It seems that Maximus not only denies sickness benefits to people who are entitled to them, but also worker compensation and treatment. The following letter is addressed by Maximus to an US employee who made a compensation claim against her employer. Not only was her claim dismissed, but all the medication she took to manage the pain were deemed ‘not medically necessary and appropriate’, meaning she could no longer get her medication on prescription.

Will Maximus behave or be allowed to behave in the same way in the UK?

Sample IMR Determination (Upheld Denial) Letter, Page 1

Sample IMR Determination (Upheld Denial) Letter, Page 2Sample IMR Determination (Upheld Denial) Letter, Page 3Sample IMR Determination (Upheld Denial) Letter, Page 4Sample IMR Determination (Upheld Denial) Letter, Page 5

By Anita Bellows, with thanks to assistance of George Berger

 Posted by at 22:03
Sep 092014
 

From Boycott Workfare Boycott WorkFare, If you Exploit Us, We Will Shut You Down

Forcing people to work for free through the threat of removing people’s benefits (sanctions) is unfair, unjust and wrong. In the week of action, tell the companies and charities who are profiting from this exploitative regime what you think of their involvement! Email, Tweet, use Facebook, phone them, protest, organise a flashmob: for a week of piling the pressure on workfare exploiters.

We know these tactics work! Just look at how quickly Byteback IT had to pull out when you told them what you thought after George Osborne made the mistake of visiting them. This is just one of the latest in a whole list of businesses and charities that have also pulled out of workfare following our pressure.

The latest workfare scheme, “Community Work Placements” (CWP), forces people to work for nothing for up to six months – twice the length of the maximum community service sentence for committing a crime. But there is growing resistance from the voluntary sector which the scheme needs to work: over 400 charities have signed up to Keep Volunteering Voluntary and 22 councils have pledged to boycott workfare. They know that workfare does not help people find jobs and being
unemployed is not a crime.

Resistance is paying off: the launch of the CWP scheme was massively delayed. Instead of using ‘big name’ national charities, the DWP has had to resort to small local charities and businesses to provide these Workfare placements. So local actions are all the more important! See Boycott Workfare’s list of Workfare users to find one near you.

All this means it is getting harder and harder for the government to find new employers willing to risk taking on Workfare placements. In fact the government is desperately doing all it can to avoid revealing the organisations using Workfare out of fear the schemes will collapse!

People pressure has ended Workfare in the place where it all started – New York – now let’s end it here!

Workfare undermines real paid jobs and wages; results in sanctions for thousands; does nothing to improve the chances of finding a job; and exploits those forced to take up these placements. Our actions can stop companies, charities and councils from exploiting this forced unpaid work. Wherever you are, however you can contribute, take action on 4-12 October.

Whatever you’re planning – let us know and we’ll help spread the word!

Join our Facebook event here which we will update with links to all the local actions.


Reblogged from JohnnyVoid Blog with thanks

 Posted by at 14:10
Sep 062014
 

 

“£18bn of value will be delivered to the economy…” 

…..In reality it’s another far fetched claim that the economy will benefit to the tune of £18 billion pounds over the next 50 years with the government getting back £7 billion, employers receiving £4 billion ££££’s in handouts and employees seemingly benefiting by up to £7 billion pounds….. 

 

This latest claim has Iain Duncan Smith’s name written all over it…..

It follows in the wake of Monday’s Parliamentary Pantomime which saw Smith, flanked by fellow spin masters & mistress, Mike Harper, Steve Webb, and Esther McVey taking it in turns to head off fierce opposition over the chronic state of chaos which continues to bog down the DWP, making IDS’s promises to turn around the welfare state even more unbelievable.

This latest and perhaps most absurd announcement to date also comes after yet another Parliamentary probe in to employment support and access to work schemes for disabled people which was held on Wednesday.  The inquiry is in its early stages but has already revealed that the access to work scheme is one which is being ‘hidden’ from those who need the most help.  One witness described access to work as being ‘90% bad’ with rude and intimidatory letters as well as abrupt staff handling disabled people’s pleas for help with people not being phoned back after frustrated efforts being made to get support.

She went on to say the ‘whole culture of the scheme was against supporting disabled people’.  The video footage of the evidence session is one which I’d encourage you to watch – it very effectively highlights the difficulties which disabled people are facing, it brings shame on the government for incessantly drawing so many parallels with top class paralympians as the measure of what can be achieved.

On Monday, Smith left all the technical stuff to fellow statistical partners in crime with McVey up and down as though she was tightly suspended on elasticated string spouting continual reminders that ’employment was up, up, up, up’.  Webb told us all of his wondrous pension reforms and Harper proudly announced how the number of Employment & Support Allowance claimants awaiting assessment had reduced by 75,000 to a still very chaotic 637,000.

Smith put the icing on the cake with his insistence that his beloved but much beleaguered Universal Credit was still going to happen with a less than convincing assurance that his much slated scheme was a step nearer towards getting business case approval – “The final stage in Treasury approvals is sign-off of the full business case, which covers the full lifetime of the programme.”

He added: “I genuinely believe, from my discussions, that it will be signed off very shortly.”

Very few people looked or sounded convinced.  Even David Cameron could be seen looking skywards as IDS mentioned claimants being left in limbo.

This latest booming success story emanates from a report commissioned by the Employment Related Services Association who promote the following ‘good’ news….

“The figure of £18bn refers to the value to the economy provided over the lifetime of the workers on the programme who would not have otherwise found work. Of the £18bn total:

£7bn will be delivered to workers

• £7bn will be delivered to the government

• £4bn will be delivered to employers

Around 300,000 workers have found lasting work while on the Work Programme. Europe Economics estimates that around 100,000 jobs for the long term unemployed would not have taken place without the programme.”

You can read the ERSA’s press release here

Work Programme providers have echoed the apparent success of the Work Programme with various releases repeating the £18 billion pound boost to the economy.

The glitzy promotion

One time TV presenter, Esther McVey may be the smiling face of the DWP, but no – one be fooled, she’s been well and truly conditioned in to promoting IDS’s failing welfare reforms at every opportunity….

She’s ‘proud to work’ and even seems convinced the Work Programme is….working:

“The Work Programme is helping more people than any previous employment programme and we are committed to keep driving up performance to get the best deal for jobseekers and taxpayers.

“It is transforming how we help claimants who have been unemployed for a long time whereas before many would have been written off to a life on benefits. As part of the Government’s long term economic plan, it has helped people to turn their lives around and build a career – from catering to construction and care work to hairdressing – contributing to the biggest annual fall in long term unemployment since 1998.”

There’s a few token video’s of people supporting the DWP in their efforts to get people back to work….

Well Brian, you’ve really sold it to me, not quite sure whether you ended up with a job or not but there you are ….

Matthew Sinclair of Tax Payer’s Alliance seems taken with the good news as he retweets Conservative MP Guto Bebb’s words of support….

Tweet by Guto Bebb "Research by ERSA highlights delivery of £18bn of added value to the economy through the Work Programme."

Guto thinks everyone who damned the Work Programme now owes the government an apology due to it finding this new found ‘success’ status….

Tweet by Guto Bebb - "Those who ridiculed and attacked the Work Programme need to apologise. It's a real success."

I’m not so sure the National Audit Office would agree after their scathing report which led to the BBC reporting that 26% would be helped by the Work Programme rather than government’s estimate of 40%

I’m also a little perplexed as to why Matthew Sinclair didn’t appear to tweet the good news in his own name; especially given that he was one of the authors of the report which led to this apparently wonderful news for the economy (if you’re around for 50 years to see the results come in).

All that glistens is not gold 

Amidst all the good news is reality.

A million miles from where the right wing want you to be, but none the less it’s the place where the facts are to be found.  Reality is to be found deep within the DWP’s overly complex set of Work Programme statistics.

For all of Iain Duncan Smith’s talk, here’s the deplorable reality of the Work Programme when it comes to actual Job Outcome results:

In the New ESA claimant group, out of 484,900 in the ‘Work Related Activity Group’, just 10,760 ended up with a Job Outcome (2.2%)

In the Incapacity Benefit to ESA conversion group, out of 469,200 in the ‘Work Related Activity Group’ just 980 ended up with a job outcome (0.2%) – this is the group which IDS claims to be tackling the most effectively!

In the Incapacity Benefit to ESA conversion group, out of 249,300 found ‘fit for work’ just 3,160 (1.4%) ended up with a job outcome.   Whilst this appalling result is shocking in itself, it should be remembered that the DWP’s figures only point to people on JSA who have been on incapacity benefits.  This may therefore relate to someone who has ended their older incapacity claim and taken up a JSA claim voluntarily without being tested for ESA.

In the overall ‘voluntary participation group’ where there is no mandatory requirement to take part (until you’ve signed up) out of 957,500 claimants placed in the Support Group (from both new ESA and incapacity to ESA claim groups) 3,350 claimants (0.4%) ended up with a job via the Work Programme. This group does better than the mandatory groups in incapacity to ESA conversion cases.

 

And IDS has the raw nerve to call this
programme a success?

 

 Posted by at 15:45
Sep 022014
 

Equal Lives Press Release 02/09/2014

Norwich deaf man says that the government initiative ‘Access to work’ is making it impossible for him to do his job.

Matt Talbot, a deaf man from Norwich says that his job (to run a Youth Forum for young disabled people in Norfolk) has become almost impossible in the last 6 months. Access to Work, a government initiative introduced to support disabled people into employment, has actually become a barrier to Matt doing his job effectively.

Matt said ‘Access to Work promised me lots of help and support – like providing funding so I can pay for the interpreters I need to do my job successfully. Much of my time in the last 6 months has been spent in correspondence with Access to Work, responding to cuts in the funding I receive and endless requests for detailed information on what I do each minute of the day or information about project users which I am not at liberty to share.

Matt continued ‘Its ben a real challenge to deal with the workload of all this – let alone the work I’m expected to do with disabled young people in my day job. I’ve had more than 4 different advisors on my case in 6 months – it’s become impossible to make any progress.

Matt is also very concerned that Access to Work have withheld payments. As a result Ensign Interpreting, the Kings Lynn based agency that Matt uses for interpreters, is owed more than £10,000 from Access to Work.

Matt said ‘I rely on my interpreting service to do my job well. It’s very important to me that I’m not seen as a ‘bad debt’ to the local agencies I ask for support. It feels unfair on a small agency to ask them to keep delivering my services when they have not been paid.’

Mark Harrison, the Chief Executive of Equal Lives, said ‘We’ve kept a record of the endless correspondence that Matt has endured with Access to Work – it’s become a farce. Access to Work are imposing cuts on disabled peoples funding by stealth with no evidence. The way that Matt has been treated is tantamount to bullying – the unnecessary stress this has caused Matt is particularly disappointing’.

The Government justified closing down Remploy by saying they would invest the savings in Access to Work. They have spent the last two years cutting this support and moving the goalposts.”

Peter Weston, Director at Ensign Interpreting in Kings Lynn said “Due to the way that Access to Work are currently handling claims for support, agencies are left waiting for payments for months. This jeopardises the support that is being provided leaving disabled people unable to focus on their job roles. Access to Work fail to communicate these issues with agencies and clients leaving them uncertain as to whether they can continue to provide support.

He continued “Despite laws being in place to protect small businesses, government agencies like Access to Work fail to acknowledge late payment charges even when accounts are eventually settled. It is especially disappointing that this particular client was informed by Access to Work that he was underspent on his budget and yet we are still awaiting payment.”

 

About Equal Lives

Equal Lives is a user-led human rights organisation supporting all disabled people in Norfolk. It was formed in 1996 by groups of disabled people in Norfolk. The organisation is led by a Board of Trustees all of whom are disabled people and elected by and from its membership. The organisation undertakes a wide range of services including:

Comprehensive advice that covers all Department of Work and Pensions benefits relating to illness and disability. We offer support, advice and information to families and carers of disabled people

Providing advice and support to people considering or using Personal Budgets or Direct payments in Norfolk

Support for vulnerable adults and juveniles detained in police custody

Advocacy support for users of mental health services to make sure that their views and concerns are heard by others

Advice and support to people considering or using Direct Payments in Suffolk with our Suffolk Independent Living service

Projects and activities with our membership and others to work towards achieving Equal Lives

 

 Posted by at 18:58
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
Jul 242014
 

 

Joint statement by Black Triangle Campaign, CarerWatch, Disabled People Against Cuts, Mental Health Resistance Network, Pats Petition, #NewApproach and WOWPetition

The WCA presumes that there are too many people on disability benefits because disabled people are too lazy or too comfortable living on benefits to work.

It is founded in the idea that disabled people need to be harassed and hounded out of their comfortable life into finding work under the threat of loss of benefits.

No one is comfortable living on benefits. Disabled people are no more lazy that the rest of the population.

The real reason that there are so many people on benefits is that society does not include disabled people.

We do not have the same access to education, transport, housing and jobs.

Social attitudes ensure that disabled people in the workplace are seen as a problem, rather than an equal opportunity.

And there are large numbers of disabled people who simply can not work. Why should they be harassed? Why should they be hounded?. Why should they have to live in fear?.

We know, and this report confirms, that many people have wrongly been found “fit for work” when they can’t work.

We also know and the UK courts have confirmed WCA discriminates against claimants with mental health impairments.

The Work and Pensions Committee report recommends “improvements” to make the system more workable and less harmful.

This is pointless, because it would not make the WCA any less wrong or any more useful

We call once again on Labour to commit to scrapping the WCA and to address the real problems that disabled people on benefits face in society.

We call once again on the British Medical Association to send guidance on DWP rules “29 and 35” which allows doctors to prevent foreseeable harm being done to ‘at risk’ patients.

They didn’t improve slavery, they abolished it, because it was wrong.

They didn’t amend Apartheid , they ended it because it was wrong

The WCA is wrong, and it needs to be abolished

Signed

Andy Greene, Disabled People Against Cuts
Annie Howard, Disabled People Against Cuts
Bob Ellard, Disabled People Against Cuts
Debbie Jolly, Disabled People Against Cuts
Denise McKenna, Mental Health Resistance Network
Jane Bence, #NewApproach
Eleanor Firman, Disabled People Against Cuts
Ellen Clifford, Disabled People Against Cuts
Gail Ward, Disabled People Against Cuts
John James McArdle, Black Triangle Campaign
Katy Marchant, Disabled People Against Cuts
Linda Burnip, Disabled People Against Cuts
Michelle Maher, WOWPetition
Nick Dilworth, #NewApproach
Pat Onions, Pats Petition
Paula Peters, Disabled People Against Cuts
Rick Burgess, #NewApproach
Roger Lewis, Disabled People Against Cuts
Rosemary O’Neil, Carerwatch
Roy Bard, Disabled People Against Cuts
Wayne Blackburn, #NewApproach
 
 Posted by at 14:47
Jul 082014
 

By Paula Peters

Just wanted to say thank you for all the support for the WCA judicial review for mental health claimants vigil that was held at the Royal courts of justice today. Thanks for all the tweeting, and messages of solidarity that everyone sent.
Just to let you know the court case was concluded at 5pm today. There will be no third day as both legal teams agreed it was not necessary.
The judges are now deliberating the case and the decision they will be making. The judges will not be long they said in making a decision on this judicial review.
During the vigil we held a minutes silence for all human beings who have died due to the horrendous stress and fear this process has caused. Many claimants health deteriorated with the constant re assessments. Many claimants took their own lives in tragic and devastating circumstances.
We also paid tribute to hundreds of thousands of people who are suffering through the process at the moment and the 715,000 claimants in the backlog.
To all the families and friends who have lost loved ones to this callous process we will never forget your loss and the suffering you endure today.
The fight back against this callous process and all the welfare reform policies continue.
Once again thank you for the support. Pictures to follow. Xx

Some pictures of the Vigil today have been posted here

We will publish some more shortly

 Posted by at 19:46
Jul 082014
 

Twice over the past quarter it has been publicly announced by 2 different ministers that the huge reduction in the appeal intake was due to more accurate ESA decisions, first by Mike Penning, the Minister for Disabled People on the Daily Politics Show on April the 13th and then by Steve Webb, the Minister of State for Pensions, during the debate about DWP chaos. It is essential to put the record straight as DWP continues taking credit for what it describes as an improvement of the WCA process, leading to more disabled people being entitled to ESA. Far from being improved, the WCA process has become unmanageable and is described by Judge Martin, the recently retired President of the Social Entitlement Chamber, dealing with benefits tribunals, as being in a state of virtual collapse. This state of virtual collapse has led to the publishing of astonishing figures.

First there has been an 89% reduction in the number of appeals compared with the same period in 2013 . Then the number of new claimants being found fit for work: 27%. Last year, for the same period, the percentage of new claimants found fit for work was 48%, almost double.
But perhaps the most astonishing figure is the percentage of new claimants assigned to the Support Group: 57%. This is unprecedented, and difficult to explain in the absence of further data from the DWP.
But a publication by Judge Martin, which he ironically called Dark Matters, throws some light on these figures, especially Dark Matters 1. (and see also Dark Matters 2 )

Chronologically:
In July 2013, DWP started to express concerns about the quality of Atos written reports. All Atos healthcare professionals were to be retrained and re-evaluated.
The consequences seem to have been a reduction by half in the number of assessments completed by Atos, from 200,000 per month to 100,000.
HMCTS (Tribunals) was informed that the effect was likely to be a reduction of 9,500 appeals per month from September to December 2013.
In January 2014, DWP stopped making ‘repeat referrals’ to Atos. From what Judge Martin is saying, there is anecdotal evidence that an increasing proportion of ESA claimants, both on new claims and IB-ESA reassessments, were simply being assigned to the Support Group without a face to face assessment.
Judge Martin’s conclusions that the ‘virtual collapse of the WCA process is the biggest single factor in the decline of the appeals intake’ is therefore supported by the evidence:

  • A reduction by half in the number of assessments
  • More claimants assigned to the Support Group without a face to face assessment.
  • Repeat assessments being paused

These 3 factors combined would have drastically reduced the number of assessments and therefore the number of likely appeals, especially with more claimants assigned to the Support Group who would not have a decision to appeal against. Additionally the introduction of Mandatory Reconsiderations will have had an impact, but compared with the other factors, it appears to be marginal, although at this stage the impact is unknown.

To add to the picture of the virtual collapse of the WCA, there is now a backlog of 712,000 claimants waiting to be assessed . The waiting times reported by CAB are regularly between six and eight months. Although the UK government is blaming the backlog on the previous government, the figures do not support this as shown by Nick Dilworth in his excellent blog. From the figures available, it can be calculated that the total number of cases which were subject to assessment but had not been assessed (the backlog) as of May 2010 was 28,300.
Far from being an improved system, the WCA process has descended into chaos. Although more claimants are entitled to ESA and are being assigned to the Support Group, the notion that it is an independent process which can be replicated anywhere and produce consistent results is undermined by the level of influence applied by DWP, whose intervention seems to bypass the descriptors which are enshrined in law, if more claimants are assigned to the Support Group for reasons of convenience.

Another sign of this chaos is the increase in the number of sanctions. Sanctions, which are primarily aimed at claimants on the work programme who have mental health conditions or learning difficulties, have quadrupled from 1,102 a month in December 2012 to 4,789 a month in December 2013 ,

Table: Employment Support Allowance Sanction Decisions, by Month

Employment Support Allowance Sanction Decisions, by Month

 

even though referrals to the programme have fallen from 41,360 in the second year of the work programme to 20,300 in the third year for new ESA customers.

Table: Referrals, Attachments, Job Outcome payments and Sustainment payments for the new ESA customer

Referrals, Attachments, Job Outcome payments and Sustainment payments for the new ESA customer

This massive increase cannot therefore be explained by an increase of referrals to the work programme or a sudden surge in the number of claimants in the WRAG. As seen previously, because the number of claimants assigned to the Support Group has massively increased, the number of claimants assigned to the WRAG has consequently decreased by the same proportion. The implication is, in the absence of additional data from DWP, that sanctions are being exceedingly applied to an ever decreasing number of claimants. And 9 out of 10 ESA or JSA claimants who appeal the decision have their decision overturned by a tribunal according to the ‘Fulfilling potential? ESA and the fate of the work-related activity group report released by Mind.
Interestingly enough, the National Audit Office published today (2nd of July 2014) its report on the work programme. Among its findings: Performance for harder-to-help groups is still below expectations and
about the same as previous programmes, but the Department expects further improvements.
To spell it out more clearly, the Work Programme is not performing better than previous programmes but it is driving more claimants into destitution by sanctioning them. Incompetence, complacency and total obliviousness to the consequences will be the DWP’s legacy of this government.

by Anita Bellows

This text can be viewed and downloaded as a research paper  from here

Jul 052014
 
Monday 7th July 9am: Justice for Tony and George 7th July Sheffield
Tuesday 8th July 12-2pm: Vigil for the WCA Judicial Review High Court, London
Wednesday 9th July 1pm: Legal Challenge to PIP descriptors, Birmingham – Vigil

Thanks to Paul Bull (@CllrPaul4Cowick) for producing this Storify

 Posted by at 12:32
Jul 032014
 
Friday 4th July 2pm: Independent Living Tea Party – Caxton House, Tothill St, London, SW1 #SaveILF
Friday 4th July 3pm: LET THEM EAT CAKE? No to all sanctions! Fri 4th July, 3-5pm Peckham Jobcentre.
Monday 7th July 9am: Justice for Tony and George 7th July Sheffield
Tuesday 8th July 12-2pm: Vigil for the WCA Judicial Review High Court, London
Wednesday 9th July 1pm: Legal Challenge to PIP descriptors, Birmingham – Vigil

The flyer that has been printed to hand out during the Vigil for the WCA Judicial Review at the High Court in London on the 8th of July has been reproduced below.

At the end are details of our call for people to support us by writing to Iain Duncan Smith to inform him that you are aware of the case and that you support the claimants’ fight for justice.

And if you can’t make the vigil, you can still join in by tweeting on #wcamentalhealth, Tuesday 8th July, 12pm-2pm


Banner Picture With MHRN and DPAC logos plus title

WHY ARE WE HERE TODAY? You may have heard of the tough new assessments for people claiming disability benefits; the truth is that these are mock assessments that the government are carrying out via Atos which ignore our disabilities and focus on whether we can walk 20 metres, push a button and sit in a chair. We are fighting to ensure that they conduct real assessments instead.

DID YOU KNOW THAT THE GOVERNMENT DO NOT WANT TO ASSESS US ON THE BASIS OF MEDICAL EVIDENCE FROM OUR DOCTORS AND THE OTHER HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS WHO TREAT US? Why is this? It is because the assessments that we currently go through are specifically designed to deny us access to benefits and the DWP knows that if they had to look at our medical evidence, the majority of us would qualify for disability benefits. They have been fighting tooth and nail in court to be able to continue carrying out assessments that cause harm, in order to push through the ideologically driven policies of the coalition government, with the ultimate goal of abolishing the welfare state.

THE COURTS HAVE ALREADY FOUND THAT THE WORK CAPABILITY ASSESSMENT PLACES PEOPLE WITH MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS AT A SUBSTANTIAL DISADVANTAGE BY FAILING TO ENSURE THAT WE ARE ABLE TO SUBMIT FURTHER MEDICAL EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT OUR BENEFIT CLAIMS AND TO ACCURATELY REPORT HOW OUR CONDITION IMPACTS ON OUR DAILY LIVES AND OUR ABILITY TO WORK.

It has been successfully argued in court that the DWP should make reasonable adjustments to the WCA process to make it fit for purpose, as is required of them by the Equalities Act of 2010. Today the court is hearing about what reasonable adjustments, if any, the DWP propose to make.
One would never imagine, by looking at the stories in our national media, the high levels of distress, anxiety and fear that the WCA process is causing to people who already live with mental distress. HOWEVER THERE IS CLEAR EVIDENCE THAT THERE HAS BEEN A SIGNIFICANT NUMBER OF SUICIDES BY CLAIMANTS GOING THROUGH THE WCA PROCESS. In addition, an overwhelming number of people have suffered a serious deterioration in their mental health requiring further NHS treatment, including hospital admissions, or have had to increase their medication as a result of having to go through this cruel and iniquitous process.
PLEASE SUPPORT OUR STRUGGLE FOR JUSTICE and ensure that the safety net which exists for all of us remains effective and firmly in place by writing to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, the Right Honourable Iain Duncan Smith, MP, to inform him that you are aware of the case and that you support the claimants’ fight for justice.
His contact details are:

The Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP
Secretary of State
Department for Work and Pensions
Caxton House
Tothill Street
London
SW1H 9DA

Or email: caxtonhouse.clerkpru@dwp.gsi.gov.uk
This vigil has been organised by DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) in partnership with the Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN)


 

 Posted by at 22:41
Jul 022014
 
Friday 4th July 2pm: Independent Living Tea Party – Caxton House, Tothill St, London, SW1 #SaveILF
Friday 4th July 3pm: LET THEM EAT CAKE? No to all sanctions! Fri 4th July, 3-5pm Peckham Jobcentre.
Monday 7th July 9am: Justice for Tony and George 7th July Sheffield
Tuesday 8th July 12-2pm: Vigil for the WCA Judicial Review High Court, London
Wednesday 9th July 1pm: Legal Challenge to PIP descriptors, Birmingham – Vigil

Save the Independent Living Fund #SaveILF

Save the ILF Comic Page 1


Save the ILF Comic Page 2


Save the ILF Comic Page 3


Save the ILF Comic Page 4


Save the ILF Comic Page 5


Save the ILF Comic Page 6


Save the ILF Comic Page 7


Reproduced with thanks to Lucie Kinchen @ Drawn Out Thinking

 

See website at http://www.independentliving-fightback.uk/online/

Twitter: @dis_ppl_protest

Pictures http://www.independentliving-fightback.uk/online/?page_id=314

Information http://www.independentliving-fightback.uk/online/

For press contacts email mail@dpac.uk.net

 

 Posted by at 22:00
Jul 022014
 

Upcoming actions:
Friday 4th July 2pm: Independent Living Tea Party – Caxton House, Tothill St, London, SW1 #SaveILF
Friday 4th July 3pm: LET THEM EAT CAKE? No to all sanctions! Fri 4th July, 3-5pm Peckham Jobcentre.
Tuesday 8th July 12-2pm: Vigil for the WCA Judicial Review  High Court, London
Wednesday 9th July 1pm: Legal Challenge to PIP descriptors, Birmingham – Vigil
Thursday 10th July 11.30am: Peoples’ Assembly Strike day demo: Assemble: 11:30am, BBC HQ, Portland Place, London W1A 1AA.
Busy, ain’t we!



Early Day Motion 197

The forever excellent John McDonnell MP has supported us once again and raised an EDM (number 197) about the Westminster Abbey Protest last Saturday

WESTMINSTER ABBEY DISABILITIES PROTEST
That this House congratulates Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC) and ILF Fight Back and Occupy London for their protest on 28 June 2014 occupying the grounds of Westminster Abbey and calling on the Government to halt its plans to abolish the Independent Living Fund in view of the impact this would have in undermining the potential of disabled people living independent and full lives within the community; regrets the refusal of the Dean of Westminster Abbey to even talk to the disabled protesters; but lends its support to DPAC and ILF Fightback’s ongoing campaign to save the Independent Living Fund.”

You can view EDM197 here.

Please support us by contacting your MP by email or twitter to ask them to sign up to it.

Remember that EDMs are usually only signed by backbench MPs and not ministers, shadow ministers and parliamentary private secretaries.

Here is a video clip of John McDonnell’s speech to the house of commons on the ILF Protest

 Posted by at 15:46
Jul 012014
 

Next Action – this Friday 4th of July – join us

http://www.internaldpac.org.uk/DPACClone/2014/06/july-4th-our-independent-living-day-party-and-picnic-london-and-around-the-country/


Since the attempt by ILF users, DPAC, Occupy London and UK Uncut, to set up an occupy camp in the grounds of Westminster Abbey on Saturday was prevented by a disproportionate police response and a total lack of respect and support bordering on cowardice by the Church of England, we  (ILF users,  DPAC, Occupy and UK Uncut) have been inundated my messages of support in person, on social media and via email.

There are far too many messages to include, but here are a sample:


 
Congratulations to all the protestors. A brilliant protest.
MHRN
Please send my support to DPAC –   Whilst unable to be there in person I am there n spirit and have chanted for your strength.   Please tweet and send this email our.   Simone Aspis XXXX

To all at Westminster Abbey fighting back for the ILF and against the vicious Tory assault on disabled people you have my respect and my solidarity. Unite and fight to win!

Mark Dunk,
Unite the Resistance steering group
& Unite member

A brave demonstration against the severity of the political attacks on us and a brave response, hundreds, thousands who could not be in London watched and supported via online & social media. It really is one for all and all for one. What the Save ILF Occupiers did was for all us, the spirit that defeated Fascism in the 40’s is alive here and now.
Rick Burgess, Founder Member #NewApproach
Your doing a great job, it’s about time more people started to stand up and join in the fight, to stop the sick and disabled being repeatedly kicked by this god awful government.Sally
Good luck to the protesters.
You have my solidarity.Mike
Sorry not to have been available yesterday, but belated CONGRATULATIONS to all involved. The Dean of W’minster and the police showed themselves in an extraordinarily bad light and will have come away severely morally damaged.

Merry Cross
Proud to support such a landmark action.  A vicious Government, an horrific police deployment and a cowardly Church vs people demanding something so basic and just.  This is the kind of action that can change how people think and act.  Congratulations and deepest respect.

John Clarke, Activist with OCAP Toronto
MAGNIFICENT! SOLIDARITY! XXXXX
John James McArdle, Black Triangle Campaign

There have been videos posted on Youtube:

 

 


But as much as we love the attention and the applause, its not about that.

Its about the people who stand to lose their freedom to live as others do if the Independent Living Fund is allowed to close.

 The Government don’t get that

The Church clearly don’t get that

But the massive support we’ve received shows that people do get that and that has given us renewed energy to keep on battling for the salvation of the ILF.

The church can try turning a blind eye. The government can keep trying to ignore us, but we’ll keep campaigning, through the courts, through daring and imaginative non-violent direct action, through the press and most of all, through your help.

Please keep supporting us and come and join us for a picnic and a little protest thrown in this Friday 4th of July http://www.internaldpac.org.uk/DPACClone/2014/06/july-4th-our-independent-living-day-party-and-picnic-london-and-around-the-country/

 


Shown below is a sample of the press coverage that this action generated:

And some of the Blog posts

And did you know there was an ILF Cartoon? and a Song? “The Battle of Whitehall Continues…..#SaveTheILF”

And then there is this excellent (as always) speech by John McDonnell MP in parliament yesterday:

You can read more about what happened during the action and about the reasons behind the decision to retire in the face of overwhelming force that day here

Finally we at DPAC wish to say a huge thank you to Occupy London and UK Uncut, for your fabulous support, we look forward to teaming up with you again !

…. and don’t forget

We don’t do Marches,

We don’t do Speeches,

We do Direct Action…… and Picnics!

Come and join us for a picnic and a little protest thrown in this Friday 4th of July http://www.internaldpac.org.uk/DPACClone/2014/06/july-4th-our-independent-living-day-party-and-picnic-london-and-around-the-country/

 Posted by at 11:15
Jul 012014
 

 

On Saturday 28th June 2014 I was proud to take a part in a legal non-violent demonstration the purpose of this demo was two-fold:

1 To shame the Coalition to reverse their shameful decision to close the ILF (Independent Living Fund) later this year.  There rationale is that it will save money and make life easier for users, we all know it given to people with high-complex support needs and we all know we will be imprisoned in our own homes as nearly all Local Authorities do not have the funds to provide the current level of support we require.  He funds release will not be ring-fenced and will in all probability be swallowed up.  Meaning we will be given call out care packages.

2 To publish our position to the general public and in doing so gain their support.

This the precise reason why after months of planning we decided to choose Westminster Abbey as the site of our camp.  The reasoning behind this being that we figured that as the Church of England had repeatedly voiced their concerns over the way in which the government’s austerity policies where having a detrimental effect on the most vulnerable people in society (vulnerability is placed on you by actions of others rather than your own actions) we concluded they would support us by allowing us to camp on their land, i.e. Westminster abbey. How wrong this assumption would prove!

Let met point out that the plan was to ask Church officials to allow us to camp out for 3 weeks until Parliament closed. This was always a DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) action, organisations such as Occupy and UK Uncut were only there to support DPAC. Believe it or not but when it comes to pitching tents crips are crap at such tasks.

We met up early and it was always our aim to pitch up (excuse pun) and take over site at 4pm. Thus causing the least trouble to any member of the general public visiting the Abbey that day.

However when we arrive it was obvious that the security of Abbey had been forewarned, because they had begun to lock gates early. This obvious curtailed our plans. However, we still managed to get a number of activists into the grounds, who secured gates by locking together both and to gates. Thus allowing our support team from Occupy to raise the camp.

Whilst this was happening our negotiation team contacted the Dean of Westminster (Rev. [honestly] Rob Hall) to ask permission to encamp. It became clear within seconds that we where not going to get the desired response. According to my colleague who was there. His reply went something like this: “We at CoE support the theory of standing up against austerity cuts and how they affect everyone. However the Church can’t support any form of Direct Action and we want you to leave immediately.

Before I continue I feel the need to point out to the Rev. that he needs to remember his history. What were the Crusades if not Direct Action?

Anyway back to Saturday’s events not only did the Dean request us to vacate his grounds, he called in the police to extract us. They arrived on mass. We estimate that around 300 police arrive and kettle the 100 or so demonstrators. Apart from surrounding the makeshift camp, they stood on tents and ripped the only accessible tent.

A Line of Police bravely protecting Westminster Abbey from ILF users

A line of Police bravely protecting Westminster Abbey from rampaging disabled people

I was one of the DPAC protesters left outside the gates. We asked one of the Officers why they thought the need to come out in such force his response was “that we are. Not here for you but because of UK Uncut Blackblock and Occupy”

I repeat what I said earlier, the part played by Occupy was solely there in a supporting role. This can be evidenced by looking at all pictures and video at no time have I see any banners or signs mentioning any other group or cause other then DPAC and Save ILF

Which leads you to ask the question how did the police know who was there?

During this time the first arrest of three occurred, a person was accused of assault a police officer.

There for a time a situation of tense stalemate the Police kept the protesters inside the cordon and just outside the fence taking to the press and general public.

At this time I found myself sat outside the gate situated to the left of the hot drinks cabin. Whilst I was there one of the protesters came over and asked my PA (Personal Assistant) to get his holdall which contained his medication. Once we got his bag we tried passing over the bag to him. At this time Sgt. Dodd XB 50 decided to step in, pushing the bag back over stating that: “No bags where going to enter.” When performing this task he aggressively pushed both my PA and the owner of bag. You can imagine tensions arose and I and many on street side of gate challenged his right to with hold vital medication from people. There was no leeway given by said Officer Sgt Dodd (or as I told him they miss-spelled name Sgt. Godd). He is pictured below.

More police

Due to the fact that the security of Westminster Abbey was so fast to respond to the “danger” we represented not all resources where able to be sent in. This included bags with meds, food and water. As the policy of police under the direction of the Dean of Westminster Abbey was to deny access of said provisions, disabled people where denied food, water and medication.

During the afternoon Armed Response Police Units appeared to mingle within crowd. This raised tensions even further as it was complete over the top policing of a peaceful protest of disabled people standing up to save them from being returned to institutions.

It has been denied that they were there and imagines removed of them from websites. Below is pictorial proof.

Armed Response

As afternoon turned into evening it became apparent that any overnight sleepover in Abbey grounds was impossible, the people within the cordon discussed the best exit strategy. Rightly it was agreed that the ILF users should have the last say. So it was decided that they would be the last group out. However this was countered by the police saying they would arrest everyone left. So after more discussions it was decided to all leave together.

At 9pm everyone left together triumphantly. Yes triumphantly because we had a victory. I say this because we showed the establishment we won’t go away quietly. It was a great publicity coup that brought the public on our side. We proved that we can work with other groups to achieve our collective goal SOCIAL JUSTICE FOR ALL.

On that subject a BIG thank you to our allies Occupy without who none of Saturday’s action would have been possible.

We can claim a moral and physical victory. The institution that loses most face is the Church of England. Their action on Saturday proves they are the Church of England’s establishment not its people.

The fight to Save our ILF continues on 4th July and beyond.

THE FIGHT GOES ON!

by Rob Punton

 Posted by at 11:14
Jun 282014
 

See website at http://www.independentliving-fightback.uk/online/

Disabled people and our allies are taking action over the closure of the Independent Living Fund because this Tory government wants to take away our lives – they want us to go back to the days of being hidden away, trapped in our homes or institutionalised. While the politicians fight with UKIP over who can point the finger at migrants most threateningly we know that the Victorian values with which they justify their brutality come not from overseas but from elitist public schools like Eton (attended by Cameron and co.) and Dulwich College (attended by fake ‘man-of-the-people’ Farage).

We refuse to be fooled by their lies. We are here to point the finger firmly back at them, to make sure that everybody knows what this government is doing to us. There can be no more pretence that ‘we are all in it together’ from a government that is trampling on the rights of disabled people to participate in society as equals.

Disabled people are being targeted by the cuts as part of a wider ideological agenda that seeks to dismantle the welfare state and attack workers in the interests of profit for the 1%. Disabled people are taking action with our allies as part of a united resistance that stands up against the scapegoating of benefit claimants and migrants and against attacks on workers, the unemployed, single mothers, students and pensioners.

When we come together we have the power to make change happen. Fight to win.

See website at http://www.independentliving-fightback.uk/online/


 

Press release

Disabled people occupy Westminster in protest against Government attacks

Disabled people and supporters opposing the closure of the Independent Living Fund (1) have occupied a site opposite Parliament in protest against government attacks on disabled people’s right to live in the community freely and with dignity.

At 4pm a group of around 100 ILF recipients and their supporters moved into a space in the grounds of Westminster Abbey to set up the occupation. Wheelchair users including Silent Witness actor Liz Carr have chained themselves to block the gates shut while an accessible campsite is erected complete with hoists and equipment. Disabled people intend to stay on the site and urge the government to re-open the Independent Living Fund and guarantee disabled people’s right to independent living. A letter has been sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury urging the church not to take action against the protestors.

The ILF is the subject of an ongoing battle between disabled people and the Government. In November 2013 the Court of Appeal quashed the Department for Work and Pension’s decision to close the Fund, citing the “grave detrimental impact” on exiting ILF recipients (2). In March 2014 Minister for Disabled People Mike Penning announced a new decision to close the ILF from June 2015. Under current proposals responsibility for fully meeting the support needs of disabled people will fall to already cash strapped local authorities (3). Since the closure of the ILF to new applicants in December 2010 disabled people who missed out on the Fund are living in isolation and without their basic needs being met.

Kevin Caulfield, an ILF recipient said, “Changes brought in by this government herald the end of independent living for disabled people and the return to a segregated society where disabled people are warehoused away. Ironically at a time when the public is up in arms about abuse in care homes, current government policy will return disabled people to exactly those places where we are most at risk of abuse. Disabled people fought hard over many years to fight our way out of the institutions to live and participate alongside our families and friends. We won’t go back. We will fight back.”

Ellen Clifford from Disabled People Against Cuts (4) who are supporting the occupation said, “The message from the government is that disabled people cost too much. But there’s enough money to bail out the banks or to pay millions to private companies to mess up our welfare system. Last year in the UK the super-rich increased their wealth while disabled people starved to death(5). Austerity is the choice our government of millionaires is making. Investing in a society where disabled people have equal access is the choice that we’re fighting for.”

Alison Playford from Occupy London, who are also supporting the action said, ““The devastation currently being visited upon disabled people in Britain is not the result of a broken system. The economic system works as intended – to exploit and punish the 99% while increasing the wealth and power of the 1%. The system that is attacking disabled people is the same system that is attacking migrants and low paid workers. It is the same system that caused the economic crisis and is destroying our natural environment. Members of the Occupy movement are taking action alongside Disabled People Against Cuts because we stand with all those who are building a society that services the wellbeing of people and the planet, not the accumulation of profit.”


Notes for editors

1) The Independent Living Fund was set up in 1988 to support disabled people with the highest support needs to live independently in the community.

2) http://www.internaldpac.org.uk/DPACClone/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/522372-ILF-Briefing-Note-06-11-2013.pdf?381f66

3) http://www.internaldpac.org.uk/DPACClone/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/ILF-briefing-13-June-2014.pdf?d2895a

4) Disabled People Against Cuts was set up in 2010 to oppose the disproportionate impact of the cuts on disabled people. Research by the Centre for Social Reform has shown that disabled people with the highest levels of support need are being hit nineteen times harder than the average person. http://www.centreforwelfarereform.org/library/by-date/ten-attacks-on-disabled-peoples-rights.html

5) http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/feb/28/man-starved-to-death-after-benefits-cut

 Posted by at 16:06
Jun 132014
 

Watch and share this great song and video about the ILF campaign by Rockin Paddy

If the video player doesn’t appear on this page, you can view the video on youtube – here: The Battle of Whitehall Continues…..#SaveTheILF

Commentary on the Youtube page by Rockin Paddy

This is the story of the campaign to Save the Independent Living Fund, a fund which supports disabled people to live independent lives.

The video includes people I love, admire, work with, play with & I am friends with. It also includes people who I don’t know but who have joined the battle through the postcard campaign to change the governments decision to Save The ILF (or at least its principles). We won our High Court Case in November, taking on a big government by proving to be right, they were not listening or taking into consideration the impact of their decision which would have a negative impact on our lives. The government have gone against that judgement and so we must fight on with a new strength.

Historically we have not been the loudest of protesters, or great in number. We have protested and been successful and proud but hopefully this video suggests we are growing & getting louder, we are not going to give up and stay passive or quite.

We definitely need allies and supporters, as together we are strong and as proved we are right in fighting a just cause which is not at the detriment to any other human being. This issue is about us all.

We can win again for a fair, inclusive society in which disabled & non disabled people can learn, play, work and live together with dignity & equality…….A bit idealistic, I agree, but we do have to be passionate & rise for what we believe.

I/we? have smelt/felt these freedoms in small life experiences to know that they can exist work and be a reality.

This video has images used in the facebook “save The ILF Postcard Campaign” which can be found here, my thanks to Brian Hilton: https://www.facebook.com/ILFpostcard/…

So that’s one thing you could do, get the postcard via the facebook campaign page, take a piccy, post it on fb/send the card to your MP (if you are outside the UK your picture becomes just as important as it represents, support & solidarity).

The postcard is just one aspect of the battle. There is a legal battle, there are demos to join in the future debates and much more. The biggest thing we can all do is to share this message so the voice gets louder & becomes heard and ultimately acted upon…so as widely as you can share, tell, tweet, like it, poke it, knock it on. Even to one person (or more) who doesn’t know, but might be interested!

The video includes “the Battle of Whitehall” video and takes us upto June 2014.

I guess its good to let everyone know we fight on and it is very much a case of “to be continued…..”

Enjoy the video.

#SaveTheILF

Credits (also in film) DAN Action, Keith Armstrong, London, 1995

Threepenny Opera UK Tour, 2014
SaveTheILF Demo Caxton House, London, 2014
ILF Postcard Campaign many & growing, now!
The Battle of Whitehall Recorded in 2000
by The Big Red Bambino Band
Film Produced by Rockinpaddy.com

 Posted by at 22:39
Jun 132014
 

Get your MP to the House of Commons Debate!

Wednesday 18th June 11am

The future of the Independent Living Fund will be debated in the House of Commons for the first time this Wednesday 18th June from 11 – 11.30am.

We need to make sure as many MPs know it’s happening and will be there prepared to stand up for the ILF and the future of independent living support for disabled people.

The fight for the ILF is far from over.

Where will your MP be during the ILF Debate?

In March the Minister for Disabled People announced a new decision to permanently close the ILF in June 2015 following a ruling by the Court of Appeal in November 2013 which quashed the Government’s previous decision to close.
Last week ILF recipients launched a fresh legal challenge which you can read about here

Meanwhile #SaveILF supporters have been busy contacting their local councillors and MPs collecting sign ups to the campaign statement and spreading the word with the brilliant ILF postcard campaign: www.facebook.com/ILFpostcard

One supportive MP Nic Dakin MP for Scunthorpe has managed to get a debate on the future of the Independent Living Fund for this Wednesday 18th June 11 – 11.30am.

Whilst it is only half an hour, it is the first time the ILF and the fundamental question of the removal of disabled people’s right to independent living which its closure represents, has had a debate in Parliament.

This is an opportunity to make sure politicians know what the ILF is and why it is so important.

We need to take urgent action to write to our MPs, urging them to attend the debate, telling them why it matters and most importantly sharing your stories and experiences that show why we need not only to keep the ILF open but to reopen it to new applicants.

You can find your MPs email address and post address here.

Here is a briefing about the ILF you can download and send them as an attachment. ILF briefing 13 June 2014  (just click on the link)

If they can do it in Scotland, why not here?


 Posted by at 16:15
Jun 122014
 

Victory! Minister finally promises action over Norwich disabled assessment centre with no disabled access

Mark Harrison, CEO Equal Lives, with other protesters outside the Atos assessment centre at St Mary’s House. Picture: Denise Bradley

Mark Harrison, CEO Equal Lives, with other protesters outside the Atos assessment centre at St Mary’s House. Picture: Denise Bradley

Annabelle Dickson and Kim Briscoe, Political Editor Thursday, June 12, 2014 9:04 AM

A spectacular u-turn which will see a Norwich disability assessment centre with no disabled access finally moved after a two-and-a-half-year campaign has been hailed a victory for common sense.

Disabilities minister Mike Penning has finally admitted the situation is “wholly unacceptable”, and said he would be taking action to leave St Mary’s House in Duke Street as soon as possible.

It marks a complete turn in the uncompromising rhetoric with officials dismissing concerns, claiming that it was meeting its obligations.

The move should put an end to the long journeys being endured by people with debilitating illnesses and severe mobility problems to centres as far afield as Ipswich, King’s Lynn and even Nottingham.

Many people have been forced to travel by taxpayer-funded taxis, or in some cases told to find their own way on public transport, for assessments many miles away.

Minister of State for Disabled People Mike Penning said: “It is wholly unacceptable to be turning claimants away for assessments which is why I’m taking action to exit St Mary’s House as soon as we possibly can. I will be working with my fellow MPs in Norfolk to find an alternative centre that fits our requirements.”

Marion Fallon, who spoke out after she was sent a map and told to find her own way 45 miles to Ipswich despite being in constant pain and only able to walk with a stick, said that she had mixed feelings about the promise.

She said that she was angry that it had taken so long for ministers to listen, but also vindicated.

But she is likely to still have to go to Ipswich as her appointment is later this month.

Until a new building is found claimants with mobility problems will continue to be offered either a home visit or an appointment at an alternative assessment centre.

Mark Harrison, chief executive of Norfolk’s Equal Lives disability campaigning group, said: “It shows that disabled people have won a victory, but it’s just a victory for common sense and why has it taken two-and-a-half years?

“The bigger question that needs to addressed is the failing minister Iain Duncan Smith and the failing DWP.

“The Work Capability Assessments are cruel and degrading and ATOS are still assessing people as fit to work who are dying before they are able to get their benefits.”

Norwich MP Chloe Smith, who met the minister along with fellow Norwich MP Simon Wright and South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon, said: “We explained that this was totally unacceptable for some of our most vulnerable constituents, and it needed to be addressed. It seemed perfectly obvious that sending people to Ipswich by taxi or other means is not sensible.”

Mr Bacon said: “Mike is very sensible and he took one look at it and realised that it was unacceptable and decided that it had to be fixed.”

Today campaigners welcomed the news, but questioned why it had taken the DWP so long to agree to find another venue.

The DWP is tied into a 20-year private finance initiative which is behind all the accommodation used for assessments around the country.

Mr Bacon said that he hoped it would not cost the department too much to find a new building.

But said: “Whoever allowed this to happen should not be involved in government anymore.”

Mr Wright also welcomed the news, adding: “The minister was extremely supportive. Having reviewed the evidence presented to him by the MPs he came to the conclusion that the current arragements were not fit for purpose.”

 

 

Now to on to scrapping the Work Capability Assessments and PIP!

 

Sack Iain Duncan Smith now!

 Posted by at 12:14
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