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
Aug 262013
 

Copy and paste below or download from link-your MP can be found at

   http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/ 

Dear MP,

I am writing as one of your constituents to invite you to attend the launch of the UK Disabled People’s Manifesto: Reclaiming Our Futures on 4th September 5 – 6pm in the House of Commons Committee room 9.

Current government policy on disability is in crisis with disabled people collectively feeling under attack from their own government; research shows that disabled people are being disproportionately impacted by the cuts with those with the most complex levels of support need being hit by austerity nineteen times harder than the average person (‘A Fair Society? How the cuts target disabled people’ by Simon Duffy).

With around 1 in 5 of the population being disabled and many more affected by disability as family, friends and carers or simply as citizens who care about social justice, policy and pledges on disability will be a key concern of many voters as we approach the next election.

Disabled people and our organisations have come together across the UK to develop a UK Disabled People’s manifesto setting out the key principles, demands and commitments that are important to Deaf and disabled people and our allies.

I hope you are able to join us on the 4th to explore what is needed to achieve a society where disabled people can live, work and participate as equal citizens. Copies of the manifesto will be available from Inclusion London (www.inclusion.co.uk or contact ellen.clifford@inclusionlondon.co.uk / 02072373181).

Yours sincerely,

Link to download letter in Word Dear MP

Mar 112013
 

DPAC Logo 3 amendment 1 (Small)  enil logo

11 March 2013 – On 7 March, the Conference of Presidents[1] agreed to place an oral question on the impact of austerity on the living conditions of disabled people on the agenda of the European Parliament.

The question debated and adopted by the Employment and Social Affairs Committee last month, is based on a proposal by the European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) and cooperating European organisations. ENIL welcomes the debate, scheduled to take place in the plenary meeting on 12 March, but notes with regret that the Conference of Presidents missed this opportunity to vote on a Resolution on the same issue. We see this as a clear sign of the lack of understanding by MEPs for the precarious situation of disabled EU citizens brought on by the cuts in public spending.

 The European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) launched the Proposal for a Parliament Resolution in September 2009, when a range of cuts to services and benefits for disabled people was first announced in many Member States. Today, disabled people are feeling the effects of these cuts. Their support to live independently, in the community, is being reduced or taken away and the threat of institutionalisation, or re-institutionalisation, is a reality for many.[2]

 An increasing number of voices in Europe and internationally, including DPAC, are pointing to the disproportionate effect of the financial crisis on disabled people, and warning about the long-term consequences for the entire society. ENIL and DPAC have been working with a number of European and national organisations[3] over the past 18 months, as well as with some MEPs, in order to ensure an adequate response of the European Parliament and the European Commission to austerity measures imposed by the Member States.

 The oral question to the European Commission, which will be debated on Tues 12th March, is an opportunity to get the worsening situation of disabled people in the EU on the political agenda. It is the first step towards a Resolution of the European Parliament, which can ensure that the Member States take concrete steps to reconsider and reverse the measures which are negatively affecting the rights of disabled people. ENIL and DPAC believe that a Parliament Resolution will send a strong signal to the Member States, and will continue campaigning for its adoption in the coming months.

 To support ENIL’s Resolution on the effect of cuts in public spending, please write to your MEP today! Together, we can make MEPs from all political groups aware of the impact of austerity measures on the lives of people they are representing and ask them to take immediate action.  Thank you for your support!

 To follow the debate in the European Parliament on 12 March, please use this link, select ‘Live’ and ‘Current debate’, and then click on the desired language. An estimated starting time will be shown on the website at 16:00 GMT, with the debate likely to take place in the evening.

 Background information

 Text of the oral question 

 Subject: The impact of austerity on the living conditions of people with disabilities  
In the European Union, evidence shows that persons with disabilities, including people with intellectual disabilities, are to a disproportionate degree affected by cuts in public spending and by a resulting loss of support measures – such as personal assistance and direct payments – that are essential if they are to live independently in the community

.1. Austerity policies will lead to an increase in the number of people living in long-term institutional care in many Member States, and to the further social exclusion of persons with disabilities. What steps does the Commission intend to take to remedy and reverse this trend?

2. It is of paramount importance for people with disabilities that austerity measures do not affect primary and daytime care, which, on the contrary, should be expanded further. At the same time, the provision of home care should be enhanced. What concrete steps does the Commission plan to take to encourage the organisation of these community-based services?

3. The EU’s commitments to prevent discrimination when it comes to access to employment and occupation, and to promote the social inclusion of persons with disabilities, are not being met. There is still poor awareness of the enormous potential for improving the integration of disabled people into the labour market, which would also contribute to the employment target set in the framework of EU 2020. What recommendations or good practices can guide the Member States in their efforts to promote the participation of people with disabilities in the society, and in the labour market, and to promote a more sustainable society?

4. Parliament’s resolution of 25 October 2011 on mobility and inclusion of people with disabilities(1) and the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 stress the need for further action in several areas. What steps does the Commission intend to take to implement the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 and to ensure that the EU fulfils its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities?

 

(1) Text adopted P7_TA(2011)0453.

 Click on the links below to:

 Find your MEP

Download Template letter from link below 

http://www.dpac.uk.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/MEP-template-letter.doc

ENIL

–       Information about ENIL’s Campaign against the Cuts

–       Action Toolkit

–       Study of the European Foundation Centre on the impact of austerity measures on people with disabilities

–       Contact: mail@dpac.uk.net

 



[1] The Conference of Presidents consists of the President of Parliament and the chairmen of the political groups (who may arrange to be represented by a member of their group)

[2] For more information, please see Hauben, H. et al. (2012) Assessing the impact of European governments’ austerity plans on the rights of people with disabilities – European report. European Foundation Centre. Available at: http://www.enil.eu/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Austerity-European-Report_FINAL.pdf

[3] AGE Platform Europe, Autism Europe, European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN), European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD), European Disability Forum (EDF), Inclusion Europe, European Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry, Mental Health Europe (MHE), European Foundation Centre (EFC), Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC), UK and Onafhankelijk Leven, Belgium

Feb 252013
 

DPAC has been passed a letter from Ed on WCA/Atos which we’ve been asked to share. While reading please remember that it was New Labour that first contracted Atos and Ed has done some visits to them too- no, not  joining DPAC, or disabled  people in  protests outside Atos offices in direct actions against the 72 deaths a week of those being put through this inhuman regime. But as a kind of badly advised PR exercise. He seems to have stopped that now.

The letter says:

              ‘We appreciate and share the concerns that have been expressed by many charities, disability groups and health care professionals regarding the WCA …’

Would these be the same multi-million big disability charities that sat at the table with Atos in the working groups on the construction of the WCA we wonder? And is Ed really talking about HCPs here? Ed’s  letter continues:

             ‘….and we agree that the government need to move quickly to remedy the problems. A large number of charities and disabled people have reported serious shortcomings with the assessment process and there is clear evidence that the WCA is not working….’

A slight understatement? Then there’s a bit of a disclaimer about previous New Labour government and what they intended for the WCA which was for it to work with applicants ‘fairly, quickly and compassionately’ with ‘appropriate support’.  Ah so no plans to scrap this inhumane disaster and start looking at it all again then? Back to Ed:

           ‘…It is clear, however, that the current Government have been too slow to adapt the Work Capability Assessment in the light of experience, and in view of the much bigger job it is now being asked to do…’

Actually they have been adapting it, mobilising distance for example has been reduced several times to make even more difficult to score those elusive Atos points removing more people from any support. Then we have a paragraph on Professor Malcolm Harrison’s independent reports and lack of progress. Let’s also remember Prof Harrison was sacked/resigned/came to the end of his appointment, apparently after appearing on Panorama citing the disaster of the WCA and Atos. But moving on:

       ‘…We would like to see the Government move much faster-for example in acting on the recommendations made by charities on dealing with mental health problems and fluctuating conditions-and to reduce the current bureaucracy of the current system. Atos healthcare also have questions to answer about the effectiveness of the current assessment process…’

        ‘..We are also very concerned that the scale of the cuts to disability benefits and social care introduced by this Government-which will total 8.6 billion over the parliament-will have a very serious impact on many disabled people..’

Isn’t it over 9 billion?

     ‘…Mr Miliband and the Shadow Frontbench will continue to press the Government on the need to put right the serious problems with the WCA…’

Cheers Ed and let us add that the work of Labour’s John McDonnell, Michael Meacher and others in bringing this Atos horror and the links between Atos and Unum in running ‘Government’ from the inside are much appreciated.

You can download the full letter from link below

 http://www.dpac.uk.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Letter-From-Ed-Milliband-Mp2.jpg

Jul 232012
 

 

Dear Remploy strikers,

 We send our heartfelt support to you for your strike days against the closure of Remploy factories.  Every one of us who is disabled has a right not to have our disability used against us, and that includes the right to a decent job with a living wage. Remploy factories shouldn’t close, and wages should be higher.  Workers organising themselves into unions at Remploy helped get better wages and working conditions.  Closing the factories is an attempt to punish workers with disabilities for having the impudence to organise together.  How dare a government of millionaires tell us our workplaces are too expensive while they give billions to bankers and corporations in subsidies, and bonuses to Remploy management with our tax money?  We are determined to defend everything we’re entitled to and which we (and those who care for and about us) fought hard to get – benefits, decent wages and working conditions, high-quality services, accessible transport and more. 

 The government is criticising “segregated employment” in order to take away what gives us some equity — our hard-won disability concessions based on recognition of the added difficulties and discrimination we face in an inaccessible society.  These include Remploy and the welfare state.  They give huge contracts to companies like Atos to carry out “work capability assessments” in order to justify cutting our benefits.  They want us dead or begging on the street.  Thousands of sick and disabled people found fit for work are having to fight to keep our benefits.  Many of us, reliant on benefits, are refusing workfare – disabled people, mums (many are disabled or looking after disabled children), people of colour, people who have problems with reading and writing.

 We condemn prominent disabled people who claim to represent our best interests, but who are prepared to leave us with no wages at all, as they provide cover for the brutality of the government policy of Remploy factory closures — like Liz Sayce (whose report recommended ending “segregated employment”) and Mike Smith of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (who said on Channel 4 News that closing the factories is in the best interests of disabled people).   Some of these disability ‘leaders’ are happy to take government money for themselves and their own organisations while helping to throw the rest of us out of a job.  Scabs!

 We also condemn disability charities which do the government’s dirty work, running workfare programmes that get them cheap labour, and specialised schemes for sick and disabled people forced into “work-related activity” which is contributing to early deaths. 

 Despite the onslaught, we take courage from your strike and from any victory we are having: at least 40% of appeals against Atos are being won and there is increased support for our demands – the BMA recently voted to end the work capability assessment.  

 All of us are workers, waged and unwaged, campaigning together to defend our rights. As part of the movement against the cuts, we are determined to support each other so we can all win. 

 Keep Remploy!  Keep our benefits!

WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities)  

win@winvisible.org

020 7482 2496

Payday men’s network

payday@paydaynet.org

020 7267 8698

 

Jun 082012
 

The closure of the Remploy factories has ignited a wealth of media attention and strong feeling as well as differences of opinion between disabled people, and Disabled Peoples’ Organisations (DPOs) on the position of disabled Remploy factory workers. The now infamous Sayce report called for closure of the factories in the ironically titled: ‘Getting in, staying in and getting on: disability employment support fit for the future’. This was followed by a consultation exercise in July 2011 to which DPAC responded outlining the impact of the closure of the factories and urging that they remain open.

Since then, DPAC, DPOs, Unions, disabled workers, disabled and non-disabled people have been active on the proposed closures in a number of ways which have been publicised on the DPAC site. DPAC have invited Liz Sayce to comment, but she has not responded to our request.

Most recently the Sayce report has been accused of doing the Governments ‘dirty work’, as elitist and a part of the cuts agenda at the TUC Disabled Peoples’ conference. 

There was overwhelming support at the annual TUC Disabled Workers’ Conference for the campaign to fight the planned closure of the Remploy factories.

The government announced in March that 36 of the 54 remaining Remploy factories across the UK would close by the end of 2012, with the loss of more than 1,500 disabled people’s jobs, while there would be further consultation over the future of the other 18 factories.

The announcement was part of the government’s response to a consultation on last year’s review of employment support by Liz Sayce, chief executive of Disability Rights UK (DR UK).

Sayce called in her report for funds currently used to subsidise the factories to be ploughed into more personalised forms of employment support for disabled people, including the Access to Work (AtW) scheme.

But Mandy Hudson, from the National Union of Teachers, told the conference that the Sayce report had “gone about doing the government’s dirty work”.

And she criticised “the completely cavalier way that Liz Sayce’s report sets adrift a whole set of disabled workers”.

The disabled peer Lord [Colin] Low also criticised Sayce’s report, and said its “highly individualised approach… seems to smack of elitism”.

Read more of the article by John Pring including the Remploy protest outside the offices of DR UK by Remploy workers and UKUncut here  

 Opening up the debate

Since the government announced the closures, some DPOs have backed its plans, arguing that the move was one towards the inclusion of disabled people.

But Tracey Lazard, chief executive of Inclusion London, said:

This is a cut. It isn’t about inclusion. We shouldn’t let the government justify this in the name of inclusion.

She accepted that the disability movement has been divided on whether to support the closures, but she said:

What we need is a dialogue. This is us putting an alternative view forward which hopefully will get a debate going. That’s what we need. Read more

Letter to the Guardian

The publication of a letter against Remploy closures was published in both on-online and print versions of the Guardian on May 10. The letter was composed by Inclusion London, DPAC and unions. Many DPOs and disabled people signed in support of the Remploy workers. The letter was shortened and some names and DPOs were reduced due to space restrictions by the Guardian. This link  will take you to the letter with a link to the original letter’s wording. DPAC will be updating the names and DPOs that were left off the printed and online versions shortly. We asked Liz Sayce to comment, but she did not respond.

However, a response article to the letter was issued by DPO Breakthrough UK claiming that while they agreed with many aspects of our letter they could not join other DPOs in signing it and wanted to open up debate on the Remploy issue.

We agree with opening the debate, and provide a link to the thoughtful piece by disabled activist and comedian Laurence Clark published in the Independent: Remploy Closures: right in theory but where does it leave disabled employees?

Sean McGovern a former Remploy factory worker responded directly to the Breakthrough article

and Les Woodward a GMB convener and worker at the Swansea Remploy factory said of the Breakthrough article:

This article, unfortunately is typical of the “Politically Correct” brigades attitude to Supported Employment and the language they use to try and justify their positions…

Another unfortunate slant of this article is that it totally fails to take into account the effect on the workers themselves or indeed other disabled workers who given the present economic climate would give their eye teeth for a job any job. They would sell their soul for a job in Remploy that can provide skilled work, training and other support that employment in Remploy offers.

 I have said it many times and I will say it a lot more. No-one ever forced a gun to my head to work in Remploy, over the 28 years I have been employed by the Company, I have been free to leave at any time I wanted, just like any other worker in any other workplace.

 Of course whether or not I exercise that choice to leave is dependant not least on economic circumstances that I have found myself in and whether or not the alternative employment was viable in terms of remuneration or terms and conditions. No employment opportunities that can match those that I am on in Remploy have presented themselves as yet.

 No one would disagree with the aspirations of a fully inclusive society, and I for one would absolutely love to see the day when Remploy really was old fashioned and there would be no need for Remploy because we would have a fully inclusive society that caters for everyone. Unfortunately we live in a rather different world which is going further and further away from inclusion and equality of opportunity over the last 18 months or so rather than moving more towards inclusion and equal opportunity. The reason for this is that we are now governed by the rich for the rich and of the rich, while we get poorer and poorer.

 The ultimate shame in all this is that organisations such as the one who authored this article are wittingly or unwittingly collaborating with this Government in implementing cuts in the living standards of some of the very people they purport to support.

 Thanks a million to everyone that signed the letter, we really appreciate it and appreciate the support that you give us.

 Les

 We will provide more responses soon….

Previous pieces from DPAC and others

DPAC has always been transparent in its connections, actions and thoughts on the Remploy closures, which have been published on the DPAC web site, some of which we list here. We also include pieces by other groups

Remploy Closures: no segregated employment translates to unemployment for up to 2000 workers

DPAC Remploy Workers meeting London March 20th

Right to Work Pledges Support for Remploy workers

London meeting unites resistance to Remploy Closures

Furious workers hit out at Boss whose report led to Remploy factories getting the Axe

Demo for Remploy workers April 20th

Independent: Betrayed Disabled Workers protest against Remploy Closures

Fight the Remploy Closures

Remploy Public Meeting Thursday 26th April

Government accused of Hijacking Disability Equality Language to Justify Remploy Closures

The closure of Remploy factories is about cuts and cannot be justified by a misguided language of inclusion in a time when disabled people are facing the worse attacks on their inclusion, human rights and equality in UK history. Disabled people and DPOs need to support the Remploy workers rather than engaging in forms of ideological bullying that refuse to take into account the impacts on disabled peoples’ lives. Nor should they be so arrogant as to suggest that these workers shouldn’t have choice in where they chose to work. Less than 5% of Remploy workers in the last set of closures found alternative jobs, with some committing suicide-is this really something that we want to support for up to 2000 more disabled people under a flimsy Tory rhetoric of inclusion?

 

Jan 032012
 

DPAC logoTo add your signature please email mail@dpac.uk.net 

07.01.12

 

Thousands of disabled people rely on funding from the Independent Living Fund to enable them to live independently with choice and control over their lives. ILF users have been left shocked and extremely anxious since it was announced in 2010 that it would be closed down by government in 2015. Already closed to new applicants since May 2010 this decision was taken with no evidence of an equality impact assessment having taken place nor any consultation carried out with current and potential beneficiaries of the fund.

 “The Independent Living Fund is a ring fenced resource, for a priority group of disabled people with high support needs that can provide a better lifestyle and outcomes for service users whose full needs would not be met by local authority funding. “ 

The Local Authorities have had their resources severely reduced and therefore now only provide basic personal care. Without this extra funding ILF user’s only options will be placement in residential care or more responsibilities being placed on already over stretched family carers, that’s if the disabled person has family support.

Either option will have huge cost implications to government as residential care costs far more than assisting a disabled person to stay in the community and family carers would have to leave employment and manage on very low Carers Allowance and other benefits.

 Since  2010 the Minister for Disabled people, Maria Miller, has assured users we would be consulted on this issue initially in 2010 then early 2011, but  as users of the ILF fund we have heard little since. Maria Miller issued a speedy statement (5th December) saying that ILF will be discussed in Spring 2012 in context of the reform of the Care and Support system- Yet, ILF is too important to be discussed as a side issue.

 Leaving severely disabled people in such anxiety over their lives is violating our human rights to be involved in decisions that may affect us and indicates a total ignorance of how important this funding is for severely disabled people to live with some quality of life. In addition, ILF users have not received any increase in funds since 2010 meaning they cannot increase pay to P.A.s

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and in particular

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”.

It also says they should be included in things that other people in the community do. Countries, like theUK, who agree to the rights, have to make this happen. Two of the things they must do are:

Make sure that disabled people get the help they need to live in the community, this means things like getting personal assistance

Make sure that disabled people can choose to do things in the community along with other people

Article 4 states; the general obligation on government to consult with disabled people, before not after decisions or policies are changed.

Article 17 states; we are to be treated with inherent dignity

In addition, the United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) states that we have the right to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health and the right to an adequate standard of living. TheUK has a duty to work progressively, to the maximum extent of its available resources, to deliver these rights even in a period of economic downturn.

The changes in the ILF priority system have obvious implications for theUK’s chances of meeting all such obligations, in terms of the resources available to do so as well as in the actual delivery of them e.g. ILF offers disabled people the flexibility to “choose to do things in the community”.

We have heard ministers state that funding disabled people is ‘unsustainable’ yet we see millions of pounds ‘found’ to fund whatever programs the government finds politically appropriate yet not severely disabled people?

We ask that the government continues to provide care and support for those with the most complex needs via the ILF. 

The Independent Living Fund must be retained and reopened to new applicants with adequate funding for this.

It should not be restricted to only those in employment as this means those who cannot sustain paid work, but can contribute to society in others ways, will be unable to participate in their communities, families or faith activities.

 The funding must NOT be given to local authorities; it is meant to meet the needs of severely disabled people which means that there may be more in one region compared to another. Also the LA will use the funding as they wish, it will not be ring fenced, and we suspect it will not be directed appropriately for the particular disabled people it is meant to be.

 We wish to have input into the design of the consultation process and assurances that the 21,000 already in receipt of ILF will be assured of continued funding.

 We the undersigned believe this arbitrary decision to close the ILF without assessing the impact this will have on current and potential users, and without consultation, violates the Human Rights of disabled people who depend on ILF to live.

 Cases that give examples of impact of losing or not getting ILF

 A 55 year old lady has 35 hrs allocated from LA and 36 hrs from ILF per week, if she loses the ILF and the LA does not find funds to continue support she will lose the following aspects of her life; Volunteering, faith activities, visiting grandchildren, unable to get out of home, do her own shopping, no social activities, trapped. She was awarded an MBE by the Queen this year 2011 for her initiatives raising awareness of disability hate crime and helping disabled peoples organisations, all such activities will cease with no ILF funding. She feels her life will have no purpose if she loses the support ILF gives.

 B – “My Son’s care package comes to over £50,000 per year of which the ILF package makes up over £23,000. The Local Authorities “Indicative Budget” maximum level for someone living at home is £31,094 so without ILF his total care package would be slashed by almost 50% and leave it impossible for him to manage to live at home”.e slashed by almost 50% & probably leave it impossible for him to manage to live at home. e slashed by almost 50% & probably leave it impossible for him to manage to live at home.

C –  25 year old man with ILF funding has been able to live independently for 7 years and get a 2:1 in Politics and International Relations plus an MA with merit in Journalism. As part of his degree course he spent almost a year working unpaid as a senior researcher for an MP. He has also worked on a self-employed basis and is now working in the media industry, in spite of being placed in the Support group for ESA previously due to his physical limitations. Without ILF funding none of this would have been possible and he would not be contributing to the economy as he is now doing. He would never have had the chance to go to university like his peers and would no doubt instead be incarcerated and abandoned by society in a residential care home costing the taxpayer much more.

D –  “As half my care package is ILF I would first have no control over my toilet needs, this may result in me being catheterised. I am not unable to get out of bed or in bed myself, nor can I dress myself.  I need support in all personal care needs, including keeping clean etc. I would not be able to attend any meetings when various government and NGOs ask me to be part of their various consultation plans. I would have no control over what time I got up or what time I went to bed therefore I would have no social life whatsoever. When ILF finishes in 2015 I will not have any social life. This will mean I will not be able to visit friends, attend the cinema or theatre, go to my bridge club or attend a primary school to assist children to read.  I will no longer be able to use my car for shopping taking my dog to the woods etc. Having campaigned for the last 26 years this will end as I need support to do this. I regularly attend course on photography and employment issues – these will not be possible without ILF funding.”

E.  “I am 27 years old female, and I currently live in my own flat, with 24 hour PA’s who I have directly employed. I have had various levels of funding from ILF, ever since becoming an adult. It has meant that I was able to live on campus at theUniversity ofWarwick, where I completed a BA in History and an MA in Modern British History. I was then forced to move back to my family home, because I did not have the high level of support that I need, and I have only recently been able to start living independently in the community, with funding from my local authority and ILF.  This amount was not as much as would have previously been the case because a freeze was put on the amount that they, ILF, could contribute to disabled people’s care packages in April last year, before my current care package was agreed. As  a result, I was only entitled to receive the same level of funding that I had been awarded in my previous, much less expensive, care package. This meant that my local authority was put under increased pressure to fund my entire care package, and after the ILF is abolished, it seems very likely that all local authorities will find it difficult to provide care for severely disabled people living in the community. I have had to really fight against my local County Council in order to get funding for my current care package, but what scares me is that although I will always be disabled (and actually, my needs will increase in time), there is no kind of guarantee that I will receive my current care package even past my next review. ”

F.  I am a  44 year old digital artist/editor & film maker, a lot of time is spent travelling to locations for shoots, I can’t imagine how I would manage without ILF which funds a third of my care package.. to lose such vital funding will probably change my life in a way presently I do not want to think about, however, as the government is pushing this legislation through regardless, I have to consider my position. Ultimately I fear that any real & significant control in my life and how I presently choose to live my life will be significantly curtailed. I know in this present political climate, any changes will be presented to the general public in a way that suggests no “significant” change, “the disabled” are worrying needlessly etc, but the reality has to be heard. I will have to make my PA’s redundant, relying on goodwill of friends or volunteers would not be feasible. I would lose control of my life.

H. I am a 40 year old ex archaeologist, living in busyEast London, and it would be impossible to manage if I lost my ILF. This funds 50% of my care package, so the loss of ILF would mean that I would lose my independence. At the moment I live independently and use my ILF to maximise my independence, to access the community, to do voluntary work in three different places. This government has pushed legislation through in a way which challenges human rights. Without ILF I would lose my home and my independence and would be forced to rely on my aged father and sleep on his floor as his house is inaccessible.

 I. I am 39 years old and my ILF contributes roughly 25% to my 24/7 package. It is thanks to the ILF that I have been able to study at University, become involved in voluntary work and, more recently, have been able to hold down a full time job in a disability organisation, helping other people make the most of their care packages. The ILF has allowed me to contribute financially to the economy yet there are many more people who, thanks to the ILF have made contributions to society that are every bit as important, and often times more, than my one contribution. In a time where disabled people are classed as undeserving scroungers it is vital to point out these invaluable contributions and also to not that, without ring-fenced funding that affords people more than survival care we will be forced into a position were we can’t give back to society. I have already seen this in my line of work where people who would have benefited so much from funding from the ILF are just left with a couple of visits a day – literally for “feeding, watering and toileting” – of course there is no willingness by Social service to put that extra little bit in any more, as they know that the ILF won’t be there to part fund! This is a real disgrace. Personally, any negative change to my care package will have not only a severe affect on me, but also on the 6 people that I employ as Personal Assistants. The loss of the ILF really is a return to the dark ages!

 J.  Jane has Downs Syndrome.   In some ways she appears to be quite a capable lady, but has a severe learning disability and also and most importantly has severe health problems which could prove life threatening if not handled immediately and in the correct manor.

Karen has a profound mental and physical impairment.   She is mostly a happy lady but with no means of communication other than her body language.

Jane and Karen’s families have come together with the help of their local learning disability team and have enabled them to live in an apartment together, for the past 4 years, with the care of personal assistants 24/7, employed directly by them using funding from the Independent Living Fund.   The ladies both live very productive and worthwhile lives together accessing activities in the community and interacting with everybody they come into contact with.

This is exactly what the Independent Living Fund was intended for and Jane and Karens lives have improved considerably.   They have a future to look forward to rather than spend the rest of their lives in a care home

Now it appears that the Independent Living Fund is going to be withdrawn at the end of the present parliament, with no promise of anything to replace it with.  How will Jane and Karen continue their lives living independently in the community?

 Signatures at 07.01.12

 ILF Users 39

Alan Robson

Alison Barrett – ILF user, Peer support Coordinator Wiltshire Centre for Independent Living

Anne Novis MBE, ILF user, Trustee UKDPC

Anne Pridmore – ILF user and director ‘Being the Boss’

Anne Whitehurst – ILF user

Andrew Hardy, ILF user

Brian Hilton, ILf user

Cath Gibson, ILF user

Elizabeth Baily – ILF user

Francesca Digiorgio – ILF User

Gabrielle Pepper – ILF user

Glynis Dawes – ILF user

Ian Burnip- ILF user

Henry Langen – ILF user

Jenny Hurst – ILF user

John Evans, OBE-ILF user

Katherine Arienello – ILF user,Comedian

Kevin Caulfield – ILF user

Laurence Clark –  ILF user, Comedian and Writer

Lianne Bayliss – ILF user

Lisa Morrison- ILF user

Liz Carr – ILF user, Comedian and broadcaster

Lucy Trengrove – ILF user

Mark Williams – ILF user and DEF Co Chair

Natalie Meadows – ILF user

Nicki Myers – ILF user

Noor Homayoun – ILF user

Peergawsan Lotun – ILF User

P.J. Banyard MA (cantab) –  ex CEO international Spinal Research trust, ILF user

Penny Pepper – ILF user

Roxanne Homayoun- ILF user

Ruth Bashall – ILF user

Sarah Morrison – ILF user

Sean Mc Govern – ILF user

Shabaaz Mohammed – ILF user

Sue Elsegood – ILF user

Terry Egan – ILF user

Terry Rothwell – ILF user

Trevor Palmer – ILF user and small business owner

 Parents of ILF users – 13

Barbara Horsewood – Mother of ILF user

Kay Raisey

Laura Scott – Mother of two ILF users

Linda Burnip- disabled mother of ILF user

Margaret Jones – Mother of ILF user

Pam Robinson – mother of ILF user

Paul Taylforth – parent of ILF user

Rebecca Trengrove

Rosemary Homayoun

Dr Saddi Chillingworth -Parent of ILF user

Tracey Hattley

Tricia Tsatsoulis

Vincent Lloyd Jones – Father of ILF user

 Disability Organisations – 55

– Access Dorset – CE, Jonathan Waddington-Jones

– AgeUK- Mary Cox

-Alliancefor Inclusive Education – CEO Tara Flood

– Atos Victims Group – Paul Smith

– After Atos ‘Counting the Disabled Back In’ – K. James/J.Knight

– Being the Boss – Sheila Blair

– Black Triangle campaign group –  John McCardale

– BreakthroughUK– Elaine Astley, Policy and Research assistant

– Broken ofBritain- Kaliya Franklin

– Carer Watch – Rosemary O’Neill

– Carmarthenshire Disabled Access group – Chairman F.R. Allen MBE

-ChesterAdult Phab Social Club – Chair Person Lynda Hesketh

– Choices and Rights Coallition – Chair Mark Baggley

-CornerstoneChurchproject – Ann Whitmore

– Different Strokes – Debbie Wilson, Chief Executive

– DisabilityCornwalland Isles of Scilly – Theo Blackmore

– Disability Equality ForumBristol

– Disability Equality LTD –  CEO, Melanie Close

– Disability Hate Crime Network – Coordinator, Stephen Brookes MBE

– Disabilty Wales – Chief Executive, Rhian Davies

– DPAC – Disabled Peoples against the Cuts

– DPAC Islington – Julia Cameron

– DPAC Lambeth, Roger Lewis

– DPAC,Brighton, Jill Goble

– DPAC,Chester-  Lynda Hesketh

– GAD (GreenwichAssociation of Disabled People) – CEO, Joanne Munn

– GreaterManchesterCoalition of Disabled People –  GMCDP, Brian Hilton

– Green Party Trade Union Group – Alan Wheatley Disability Spokesperson

– Hammersmith and Fulham Coalition against Community Care Cuts – HAFCAC

– InclusionLondon- Chair, Kirsten Hearn, CEO Tracey Lizard

– InclusionScotland- Manager, Bill Scott

– Jubilee Sailing Club – CE  Alex Lochrane

– Kensington Centre for Independent Living –  CEO, Theo Harris

-KingstonCarers Network – Director, Kate Dudley

– Limbcare – Gordon McFadden, Chief Officer of Policy, CEO and Chair, Ray Edwards MBE

– IpswichMencap – Chair,  Barbara Thorn
– Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People – CEO, Mark Harrison

– NorthEdinburghFights Back

– National Centre for Independent Living, NCIL –  CEO Sue Bott

– Ouch Too online disabled peoples organisation

– Public and Commercial ServicesUnion(PCS) at the ILF – Branch Secretary, Paul Martin

– Remploy Trade Union National Convener – Les Woodward

– Shaping Our Lives network – Chair, Professor Peter Beresford OBE,BrunelUniversity

– Sisters of Frida, cooperative of disabled women – MD, Maria G Zedda

– Social Work Action NetworkLondon– Dan Morton, Rich Moth Deputy National Convenor

– The Forgotten Heroes – Trustee, Charley Downey

-United KingdomDisabled Peoples Council- UKDPC – CEO, Jaspal Dhani

– VoiceUK– CEO Kathryn Stone OBE C. Dir FLoD

-WalesCampaign for Fair Society – Chair, Paul Swann

-WalesCouncil for the Blind – Director, Phil Stevens

– West Norfolk Disability Information service

– Wheels in Motion,Birmingham- Tracy Veck

– Where’s the Benefit

Wiltshire CIL – Director, Geraldine Bentley

-YorkIndependent Living Network – Lyn Jeffries  

 European/national Disability Organisations/professionals – 6

– European Network of Independent Living (ENIL) –  Exc.Dir.Jamie Boiling

– Expertise Centre Independent Living – Peter Lambreghts

– Independent Living Slovenia – Elena Pecaric

– Kapka Panayotova CIL – Sofia,BULGARIACEO

– YHD – Association for Theory for Theory and culture of Handicapped,Slovenia– Klaudija Poropat President

-Koblenz,Germany– Local Ombudsman, Christian Bayerlein

 Academics – 5

Colin Barnes, Professor of Disability Studies, University ofLeeds

Dr Charlotte Pearson

Jenny Slater, ManchesterMetropolitanUniversity

Professor Peter Beresford OBE,BrunelUniversity

Dr Alison Wilde

 Disabled People – 186

Adam Lotun

Ahmed Bagi

Alan Holdsworth

Alan Wheatley – Disability spokesperson, Green Party Trade Union Group

Alec Middleton

Alex Lochrane – Chief Exec Jubilee Sailing Trust

Alice Wedderburn

Alison Binns – Fundraiser, Different Strokes

Andrew Hubbard

Ann Whitmore -CornerstoneChurchproject

Anne Callanan

Anne Isaac

Anne McDonald

Annie Wiltcher   

13

Barbara Hulme

Barbara Thorn – Chair person Ipswich Mencap

Beverley Rawsthorn

Beverley Smith

Bill Cox

Bill Scott – Manger InclusionScotland

Brian Hilton

Brian Phillips

Bob Williams-Findlay – former Chair of British Council of Disabled People 

9

Caroline Mace

Catherine MacArthur

Charley Downey – Trustee, The Forgotten Heroes

Chris Walsh

Christian Bayerlain – ombudsman

Cindy Albright

Coover Mistry –  member of KCIL

Craig Lundie  

 9

D.H.Kelly

Danka Gordon

Dave Stamp

DavidBridge

David Churchley

David Gillon, Disability Rights Activist and Blogger

Debbie Wilson – CE, Different Strokes

Deborah Williams

Diana Harrison

Debbie Jolly – Co-Founder DPAC and Director Thaedis

Diane Harrison

Dora Kostiuk 

Donna Kelsey

13

Eileen Gambrell – Service Manager, Different Strokes

Elysabeth McCaig-Scot

Elane Heffeman

Eleanor Firman – Composer, teacher and Music Director

Eleanor Lisney – cofounder of DPAC

Ellen Clifford – Sisters of Frida

Elena Pecaric   -YHD Slovenia

Eric Day Equality and Disability LCIL  

7

F.R. Allen MBE

Fred Williams – excluded from ILF

Frieda Van de Poll – Artist

3

Gabriel Pepper

Gail Ward

Gaynor Jenkins

Geraldine Bentley – Director, Wiltshire CIL

George Lamb

GordonAmes

Gordon McFadden – CEO, Limbcare     

7

Helen Sims

Holly Meiszner               

2

Jamie Bolling-executive director ENIL

Jan Turner – excluded from ILF

Jane Heath

Jaspal Dhani – CEO UKDPC

Jean Goodrich

Jennifer Ames

Jenny Morris – author

Jerry Johnson – Finance Manager, Different Strokes

Jill Goble – DPAC,Brighton

Jo Lewis – Fundraising Administrator, Different Strokes

Joanne Hayes

Joanna Munn – CEO, GAD (GreenwichAssociation of Disabled People)

Jodie Mickleburgh – Office Manager, Different Strokes

John Hargrave

John Kelly

John James McCardale

John McGovern

John Newman

John W Smith

John Smith – GMCDP

Jonathan Hughes –

Jonathan Lee

Jonathan Toye

Jonathan Waddington-Jones

Judith Bond

Judith McNamara –DisabilityInclusionWorker PembrokeshireCountyCouncil

Julia Cameron – DPAC Islington

Julie kennedy

June Knight

29

Kay Trujillo

Kapka Panayotova-founder/director of CIL Sofia

Karen James

Karen Pointin

Kate Robinson

Kaliya Franklin – Broken ofBritain

Kenneth Hill

Kenny Bee

Kevin James

Kev Towner

Kirsten Hearn – Chair InclusionLondon

Klaudija Poropat-President of YHD Slovenia

13

Laurence Robb – MS Research, and standup4MS.blogspot.com- excluded from ILF

Les Woodward

Lianne Figg

Linda Burnip- co founder of DPAC

Lindsay Lotun

Lisa Egan – disabled daughter of ILF user

Liz Silver

LorraineAyres – Group Development Manager, Different Strokes

LydiaJ. Roe

Lyn Jeffries -YorkIndependent Living Network

Lyn Valentine

Lynda Hesketh– excluded from ILF, Chair Person, Chester Adult Phab Social Club

11

Magg Lauppen

Maria Zedda – Vice Chiar London 2012 disabilities Communities Engagement Group

Marion Lowther –South Walesdevelopment officer, Contact the Elderly

Mark Baggley – Chair, Choices and Rights Coalition

Mark Harrison –  CEO,NorfolkCoalition of Disabled People

Mark Newman

Mark Wilson

Mathew Wheatley

Martin Williams

Martine Miel – Sisters of Frida

Mary Fox

Maureen Vogels – member Black Triangle

Melanie Banton – Executive assistant, Council of Disabled people, Warwickshire andCoventry

Melanie Close – CEO Disability Equality Ltd

Michael Bricknell

Michelle Daley – Disability Equality Trainer

Moira McCall

Moira M Smith

18

Naomi Jacobs

Nirmala.G.Jivan

Neil Fergusan

3

Paul Martin –  PCS at ILF, Branch Secretary

Pat Onions disabled person and carer

Paul Smith – Atos Action group

Paul Swann – Policy Officer Disability Wales

Pauline Latchem

Penny Goring

Peter John Farrington

Peter Lambreghts – Expertise Centre Independent Living

Peter Lockheart

Phil Lockwood

Phil Stevens – Director Wales Council for the Blind

Phillipa Willitts

12

Rachel Huskisson

Ray Edwards MBE – Chair Limbcare

Rhian Davies – Chief executive, Disability Wales

Rhys Handley

Robin Bray- Hurran

Roger Lewis – DPAC Lambeth

Rosena McKeown

Rosemary O’Neil – Carer Watch

Roxanne Faulks – DP services manager, WECIL

Rudi Vogels – member Black Triangle

11

Sarah Coleman – Volunteer coordinator GAD CIL

Sarah Ismail

Sarah Simpson

Sasha Callaghan –  PastPresidentUniversityand CollegeUnion

Sedley Bryden

Sheila Blair

Sophie Partridge

Stacy Hoare

Stephen Brookes MBE – Coordinator DHCN

Stephen Hodgekins

Steve Burge

Steve Grinter – Education Secretary ITGLWFUKoffice

Sue Bott – CEO NCIL

Sue Fortune

Sue Marsh

Svetlana Kotava – Lawyer on Human Rights

15

Tanya Doolin

Tara Flood OBE- CEO, ALFIE

Theo Blackmore – DisabilityCornwalland Isles of Scilly

Theo Harris – CEO, Kensington Centre for Independent Living

Tina Coleman – mental health activist

Tracey Lizard – CEO Inclusion London

Tracey Veck – Wheels in Motion,Birmingham

7

Vicky Ayech

Victor Oliver

Vivienne Heuerman

3

Whalley Gordon

Willow Jacky – Carer and disabled person

Winston Thomas – Carmarthenshire Disabled Access group

3

Zoubeidah Lotun

1

 Family Carers/Personal Assistants – 33

Alicia Walker – PA

Anna Fitzpatrick – PA

Billy Ward – Parent carer

D. Gilligan – Carer

D.Ridley – Carer

Gemma Novis

Henry Bruce – Carer

J. Abdu – Carer

J. McCullough – Carer

J. Robson – Carer

J. Rymell – Carer

Jacqui Armston -PA

Jane Blake – PA

Jean Milne

John R Caley

Jonathan Novis

Kate Dudley – Kingston Carers network

Laura McKenna

Linda Dickenson

Marion Beazley – PA

Michelle Allen – PA

Mike Spinney

Nicole Bilsden – PA

S. O’Neill – Carer

Simone Meiszner

Steffanie Cook – PA

Steven Preace –Carers Circle

Terrine Johnson – PA

Trev Burnip

Veronica Birley

W. Coyle – Carer

Wendy Mortimer – PA

Vin West – unpaid Carer for ILF User and member of Wales Association for Citizen Directed Support

 Other supporters – 21

Amal Jama – OBAC- Supporting the Independence of People with disability.

André Keil

D. McGee

Dan Morton – SWAN

David Robertson Support Worker (Recovery Across Mental Health)

Gordon Eagling

Jo Walker

Jon Staley – Support Worker & Trainer

K. McGee

Kathryn Stone MBE – Director VoiceUK

Keithley Wilkinson – NHS Wales

Linda Lawty – Senior Advocate People FirstCumbria

Linzi Calvert

Lyn Whiteside BSc(hons) SRN

Natalya Dell

Rich Moth – Deputy National Convenor SWAN

Rosita Wilkins

S. Buttress

Shaaba Lotun

Tansy Feltis

Tehya Lotun

 Councillors/officials -2

– Alan Hunt – Access officer, Pembrokeshire County Council

– Cllr Roger Robinson- Camden Council;Chair- Camden Council’s Disability Scrutiny Panel &former CEO-Artsline

 Wales Assembly members -3

– Keith Davies – Assembly member

– Mike Hedges – Assembly Member forSwanseaEast

– Rebecca Evans – Assembly Member for Mid and WestWales

 MPs

Dave Anderson – Labour MP for Blaydon

Jim Sheridan – Labour MP forPaisleyand Refrewshire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dec 062011
 

To add your signature please email mail@dpac.uk.net or linda_burnip@yahoo.co.uk

07.01.12

 Thousands of disabled people rely on funding from the Independent Living Fund to enable them to live independently with choice and control over their lives. ILF users have been left shocked and extremely anxious since it was announced in 2010 that it would be closed down by government in 2015. Already closed to new applicants since May 2010 this decision was taken with no evidence of an equality impact assessment having taken place nor any consultation carried out with current and potential beneficiaries of the fund.

 “The Independent Living Fund is a ring fenced resource, for a priority group of disabled people with high support needs that can provide a better lifestyle and outcomes for service users whose full needs would not be met by local authority funding. “

 The Local Authorities have had their resources severely reduced and therefore now only provide basic personal care. Without this extra funding ILF user’s only options will be placement in residential care or more responsibilities being placed on already over stretched family carers, that’s if the disabled person has family support.

 Either option will have huge cost implications to government as residential care costs far more than assisting a disabled person to stay in the community and family carers would have to leave employment and manage on very low Carers Allowance and other benefits.

 Since  2010 the Minister for Disabled people, Maria Miller, has assured users we would be consulted on this issue initially in 2010 then early 2011, but  as users of the ILF fund we have heard little since. Maria Miller issued a speedy statement (5th December) saying that ILF will be discussed in Spring 2012 in context of the reform of the Care and Support system- Yet, ILF is too important to be discussed as a side issue.

 Leaving severely disabled people in such anxiety over their lives is violating our human rights to be involved in decisions that may affect us and indicates a total ignorance of how important this funding is for severely disabled people to live with some quality of life. In addition, ILF users have not received any increase in funds since 2010 meaning they cannot increase pay to P.A.s

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and in particular

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”.

It also says they should be included in things that other people in the community do. Countries, like theUK, who agree to the rights, have to make this happen. Two of the things they must do are:

Make sure that disabled people get the help they need to live in the community, this means things like getting personal assistance

Make sure that disabled people can choose to do things in the community along with other people

Article 4 states; the general obligation on government to consult with disabled people, before not after decisions or policies are changed.

Article 17 states; we are to be treated with inherent dignity

In addition, the United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) states that we have the right to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health and the right to an adequate standard of living. TheUK has a duty to work progressively, to the maximum extent of its available resources, to deliver these rights even in a period of economic downturn.

The changes in the ILF priority system have obvious implications for theUK’s chances of meeting all such obligations, in terms of the resources available to do so as well as in the actual delivery of them e.g. ILF offers disabled people the flexibility to “choose to do things in the community”.

We have heard ministers state that funding disabled people is ‘unsustainable’ yet we see millions of pounds ‘found’ to fund whatever programs the government finds politically appropriate yet not severely disabled people?

We ask that the government continues to provide care and support for those with the most complex needs via the ILF.

 The Independent Living Fund must be retained and reopened to new applicants with adequate funding for this.

 It should not be restricted to only those in employment as this means those who cannot sustain paid work, but can contribute to society in others ways, will be unable to participate in their communities, families or faith activities.

 The funding must NOT be given to local authorities; it is meant to meet the needs of severely disabled people which means that there may be more in one region compared to another. Also the LA will use the funding as they wish, it will not be ring fenced, and we suspect it will not be directed appropriately for the particular disabled people it is meant to be.

 We wish to have input into the design of the consultation process and assurances that the 21,000 already in receipt of ILF will be assured of continued funding.

 We the undersigned believe this arbitrary decision to close the ILF without assessing the impact this will have on current and potential users, and without consultation, violates the Human Rights of disabled people who depend on ILF to live.

 Cases that give examples of impact of losing or not getting ILF

 A 55 year old lady has 35 hrs allocated from LA and 36 hrs from ILF per week, if she loses the ILF and the LA does not find funds to continue support she will lose the following aspects of her life; Volunteering, faith activities, visiting grandchildren, unable to get out of home, do her own shopping, no social activities, trapped. She was awarded an MBE by the Queen this year 2011 for her initiatives raising awareness of disability hate crime and helping disabled peoples organisations, all such activities will cease with no ILF funding. She feels her life will have no purpose if she loses the support ILF gives.

 B – “My Son’s care package comes to over £50,000 per year of which the ILF package makes up over £23,000. The Local Authorities “Indicative Budget” maximum level for someone living at home is £31,094 so without ILF his total care package would be slashed by almost 50% and leave it impossible for him to manage to live at home”.e slashed by almost 50% & probably leave it impossible for him to manage to live at home. e slashed by almost 50% & probably leave it impossible for him to manage to live at home.

C –  25 year old man with ILF funding has been able to live independently for 7 years and get a 2:1 in Politics and International Relations plus an MA with merit in Journalism. As part of his degree course he spent almost a year working unpaid as a senior researcher for an MP. He has also worked on a self-employed basis and is now working in the media industry, in spite of being placed in the Support group for ESA previously due to his physical limitations. Without ILF funding none of this would have been possible and he would not be contributing to the economy as he is now doing. He would never have had the chance to go to university like his peers and would no doubt instead be incarcerated and abandoned by society in a residential care home costing the taxpayer much more.

D –  “As half my care package is ILF I would first have no control over my toilet needs, this may result in me being catheterised. I am not unable to get out of bed or in bed myself, nor can I dress myself.  I need support in all personal care needs, including keeping clean etc. I would not be able to attend any meetings when various government and NGOs ask me to be part of their various consultation plans. I would have no control over what time I got up or what time I went to bed therefore I would have no social life whatsoever. When ILF finishes in 2015 I will not have any social life. This will mean I will not be able to visit friends, attend the cinema or theatre, go to my bridge club or attend a primary school to assist children to read.  I will no longer be able to use my car for shopping taking my dog to the woods etc. Having campaigned for the last 26 years this will end as I need support to do this. I regularly attend course on photography and employment issues – these will not be possible without ILF funding.”

E.  “I am 27 years old female, and I currently live in my own flat, with 24 hour PA’s who I have directly employed. I have had various levels of funding from ILF, ever since becoming an adult. It has meant that I was able to live on campus at theUniversity ofWarwick, where I completed a BA in History and an MA in Modern British History. I was then forced to move back to my family home, because I did not have the high level of support that I need, and I have only recently been able to start living independently in the community, with funding from my local authority and ILF.  This amount was not as much as would have previously been the case because a freeze was put on the amount that they, ILF, could contribute to disabled people’s care packages in April last year, before my current care package was agreed. As  a result, I was only entitled to receive the same level of funding that I had been awarded in my previous, much less expensive, care package. This meant that my local authority was put under increased pressure to fund my entire care package, and after the ILF is abolished, it seems very likely that all local authorities will find it difficult to provide care for severely disabled people living in the community. I have had to really fight against my local County Council in order to get funding for my current care package, but what scares me is that although I will always be disabled (and actually, my needs will increase in time), there is no kind of guarantee that I will receive my current care package even past my next review. ”

F.  I am a  44 year old digital artist/editor & film maker, a lot of time is spent travelling to locations for shoots, I can’t imagine how I would manage without ILF which funds a third of my care package.. to lose such vital funding will probably change my life in a way presently I do not want to think about, however, as the government is pushing this legislation through regardless, I have to consider my position. Ultimately I fear that any real & significant control in my life and how I presently choose to live my life will be significantly curtailed. I know in this present political climate, any changes will be presented to the general public in a way that suggests no “significant” change, “the disabled” are worrying needlessly etc, but the reality has to be heard. I will have to make my PA’s redundant, relying on goodwill of friends or volunteers would not be feasible. I would lose control of my life.

H. I am a 40 year old ex archaeologist, living in busyEast London, and it would be impossible to manage if I lost my ILF. This funds 50% of my care package, so the loss of ILF would mean that I would lose my independence. At the moment I live independently and use my ILF to maximise my independence, to access the community, to do voluntary work in three different places. This government has pushed legislation through in a way which challenges human rights. Without ILF I would lose my home and my independence and would be forced to rely on my aged father and sleep on his floor as his house is inaccessible.

 I. I am 39 years old and my ILF contributes roughly 25% to my 24/7 package. It is thanks to the ILF that I have been able to study at University, become involved in voluntary work and, more recently, have been able to hold down a full time job in a disability organisation, helping other people make the most of their care packages. The ILF has allowed me to contribute financially to the economy yet there are many more people who, thanks to the ILF have made contributions to society that are every bit as important, and often times more, than my one contribution. In a time where disabled people are classed as undeserving scroungers it is vital to point out these invaluable contributions and also to not that, without ring-fenced funding that affords people more than survival care we will be forced into a position were we can’t give back to society. I have already seen this in my line of work where people who would have benefited so much from funding from the ILF are just left with a couple of visits a day – literally for “feeding, watering and toileting” – of course there is no willingness by Social service to put that extra little bit in any more, as they know that the ILF won’t be there to part fund! This is a real disgrace. Personally, any negative change to my care package will have not only a severe affect on me, but also on the 6 people that I employ as Personal Assistants. The loss of the ILF really is a return to the dark ages!

 J.  Jane has Downs Syndrome.   In some ways she appears to be quite a capable lady, but has a severe learning disability and also and most importantly has severe health problems which could prove life threatening if not handled immediately and in the correct manor.

Karen has a profound mental and physical disability.   She is mostly a happy lady but with no means of communication other than her body language.

Jane and Karen’s families have come together with the help of their local learning disability team and have enabled them to live in an apartment together, for the past 4 years, with the care of personal assistants 24/7, employed directly by them using funding from the Independent Living Fund.   The ladies both live very productive and worthwhile lives together accessing activities in the community and interacting with everybody they come into contact with.

This is exactly what the Independent Living Fund was intended for and Jane and Karens lives have improved considerably.   They have a future to look forward to rather than spend the rest of their lives in a care home

Now it appears that the Independent Living Fund is going to be withdrawn at the end of the present parliament, with no promise of anything to replace it with.  How will Jane and Karen continue their lives living independently in the community?

 Signatures at 07.01.12

 ILF Users 39

Alan Robson

Alison Barrett – ILF user, Peer support Coordinator Wiltshire Centre for Independent Living

Anne Novis MBE, ILF user, Trustee UKDPC

Anne Pridmore – ILF user and director ‘Being the Boss’

Anne Whitehurst – ILF user

Andrew Hardy, ILF user

Brian Hilton, ILf user

Cath Gibson, ILF user

Elizabeth Baily – ILF user

Francesca Digiorgio – ILF User

Gabrielle Pepper – ILF user

Glynis Dawes – ILF user

Ian Burnip- ILF user

Henry Langen – ILF user

Jenny Hurst – ILF user

John Evans, OBE-ILF user

Katherine Arienello – ILF user,Comedian

Kevin Caulfield – ILF user

Laurence Clark –  ILF user, Comedian and Writer

Lianne Bayliss – ILF user

Lisa Morrison- ILF user

Liz Carr – ILF user, Comedian and broadcaster

Lucy Trengrove – ILF user

Mark Williams – ILF user and DEF Co Chair

Natalie Meadows – ILF user

Nicki Myers – ILF user

Noor Homayoun – ILF user

Peergawsan Lotun – ILF User

P.J. Banyard MA (cantab) –  ex CEO international Spinal Research trust, ILF user

Penny Pepper – ILF user

Roxanne Homayoun- ILF user

Ruth Bashall – ILF user

Sarah Morrison – ILF user

Sean Mc Govern – ILF user

Shabaaz Mohammed – ILF user

Sue Elsegood – ILF user

Terry Egan – ILF user

Terry Rothwell – ILF user

Trevor Palmer – ILF user and small business owner

 Parents of ILF users – 13

Barbara Horsewood – Mother of ILF user

Kay Raisey

Laura Scott – Mother of two ILF users

Linda Burnip- disabled mother of ILF user

Margaret Jones – Mother of ILF user

Pam Robinson – mother of ILF user

Paul Taylforth – parent of ILF user

Rebecca Trengrove

Rosemary Homayoun

Dr Saddi Chillingworth -Parent of ILF user

Tracey Hattley

Tricia Tsatsoulis

Vincent Lloyd Jones – Father of ILF user

 Disability Organisations – 55

– Access Dorset – CE, Jonathan Waddington-Jones

– AgeUK- Mary Cox

-Alliancefor Inclusive Education – CEO Tara Flood

– Atos Victims Group – Paul Smith

– After Atos ‘Counting the Disabled Back In’ – K. James/J.Knight

– Being the Boss – Sheila Blair

– Black Triangle campaign group –  John McCardale

– BreakthroughUK– Elaine Astley, Policy and Research assistant

– Broken ofBritain- Kaliya Franklin

– Carer Watch – Rosemary O’Neill

– Carmarthenshire Disabled Access group – Chairman F.R. Allen MBE

-ChesterAdult Phab Social Club – Chair Person Lynda Hesketh

– Choices and Rights Coallition – Chair Mark Baggley

-CornerstoneChurchproject – Ann Whitmore

– Different Strokes – Debbie Wilson, Chief Executive

– DisabilityCornwalland Isles of Scilly – Theo Blackmore

– Disability Equality ForumBristol

– Disability Equality LTD –  CEO, Melanie Close

– Disability Hate Crime Network – Coordinator, Stephen Brookes MBE

– Disabilty Wales – Chief Executive, Rhian Davies

– DPAC – Disabled Peoples against the Cuts

– DPAC Islington – Julia Cameron

– DPAC Lambeth, Roger Lewis

– DPAC,Brighton, Jill Goble

– DPAC,Chester-  Lynda Hesketh

– GAD (GreenwichAssociation of Disabled People) – CEO, Joanne Munn

– GreaterManchesterCoalition of Disabled People –  GMCDP, Brian Hilton

– Green Party Trade Union Group – Alan Wheatley Disability Spokesperson

– Hammersmith and Fulham Coalition against Community Care Cuts – HAFCAC

– InclusionLondon- Chair, Kirsten Hearn, CEO Tracey Lizard

– InclusionScotland- Manager, Bill Scott

– Jubilee Sailing Club – CE  Alex Lochrane

– Kensington Centre for Independent Living –  CEO, Theo Harris

-KingstonCarers Network – Director, Kate Dudley

– Limbcare – Gordon McFadden, Chief Officer of Policy, CEO and Chair, Ray Edwards MBE

– IpswichMencap – Chair,  Barbara Thorn
– Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People – CEO, Mark Harrison

– NorthEdinburghFights Back

– National Centre for Independent Living, NCIL –  CEO Sue Bott

– Ouch Too online disabled peoples organisation

– Public and Commercial ServicesUnion(PCS) at the ILF – Branch Secretary, Paul Martin

– Remploy Trade Union National Convener – Les Woodward

– Shaping Our Lives network – Chair, Professor Peter Beresford OBE,BrunelUniversity

– Sisters of Frida, cooperative of disabled women – MD, Maria G Zedda

– Social Work Action NetworkLondon– Dan Morton, Rich Moth Deputy National Convenor

– The Forgotten Heroes – Trustee, Charley Downey

-United KingdomDisabled Peoples Council- UKDPC – CEO, Jaspal Dhani

– VoiceUK– CEO Kathryn Stone OBE C. Dir FLoD

-WalesCampaign for Fair Society – Chair, Paul Swann

-WalesCouncil for the Blind – Director, Phil Stevens

– West Norfolk Disability Information service

– Wheels in Motion,Birmingham- Tracy Veck

– Where’s the Benefit

Wiltshire CIL – Director, Geraldine Bentley

-YorkIndependent Living Network – Lyn Jeffries  

 European/national Disability Organisations/professionals – 6

– European Network of Independent Living (ENIL) –  Exc.Dir.Jamie Boiling

– Expertise Centre Independent Living – Peter Lambreghts

– Independent Living Slovenia – Elena Pecaric

– Kapka Panayotova CIL – Sofia,BULGARIACEO

– YHD – Association for Theory for Theory and culture of Handicapped,Slovenia– Klaudija Poropat President

-Koblenz,Germany– Local Ombudsman, Christian Bayerlein

 Academics – 5

Colin Barnes, Professor of Disability Studies, University ofLeeds

Dr Charlotte Pearson

Jenny Slater, ManchesterMetropolitanUniversity

Professor Peter Beresford OBE,BrunelUniversity

Dr Alison Wilde

 Disabled People – 186

Adam Lotun

Ahmed Bagi

Alan Holdsworth

Alan Wheatley – Disability spokesperson, Green Party Trade Union Group

Alec Middleton

Alex Lochrane – Chief Exec Jubilee Sailing Trust

Alice Wedderburn

Alison Binns – Fundraiser, Different Strokes

Andrew Hubbard

Ann Whitmore -CornerstoneChurchproject

Anne Callanan

Anne Isaac

Anne McDonald

Annie Wiltcher   

13

Barbara Hulme

Barbara Thorn – Chair person Ipswich Mencap

Beverley Rawsthorn

Beverley Smith

Bill Cox

Bill Scott – Manger InclusionScotland

Brian Hilton

Brian Phillips

Bob Williams-Findlay – former Chair of British Council of Disabled People 

9

Caroline Mace

Catherine MacArthur

Charley Downey – Trustee, The Forgotten Heroes

Chris Walsh

Christian Bayerlain – ombudsman

Cindy Albright

Coover Mistry –  member of KCIL

Craig Lundie  

 9

D.H.Kelly

Danka Gordon

Dave Stamp

DavidBridge

David Churchley

David Gillon, Disability Rights Activist and Blogger

Debbie Wilson – CE, Different Strokes

Deborah Williams

Diana Harrison

Debbie Jolly – Co-Founder DPAC and Director Thaedis

Diane Harrison

Dora Kostiuk 

Donna Kelsey

13

Eileen Gambrell – Service Manager, Different Strokes

Elysabeth McCaig-Scot

Elane Heffeman

Eleanor Firman – Composer, teacher and Music Director

Eleanor Lisney – cofounder of DPAC

Ellen Clifford – Sisters of Frida

Elena Pecaric   -YHD Slovenia

Eric Day Equality and Disability LCIL  

7

F.R. Allen MBE

Fred Williams – excluded from ILF

Frieda Van de Poll – Artist

3

Gabriel Pepper

Gail Ward

Gaynor Jenkins

Geraldine Bentley – Director, Wiltshire CIL

George Lamb

GordonAmes

Gordon McFadden – CEO, Limbcare     

7

Helen Sims

Holly Meiszner               

2

Jamie Bolling-executive director ENIL

Jan Turner – excluded from ILF

Jane Heath

Jaspal Dhani – CEO UKDPC

Jean Goodrich

Jennifer Ames

Jenny Morris – author

Jerry Johnson – Finance Manager, Different Strokes

Jill Goble – DPAC,Brighton

Jo Lewis – Fundraising Administrator, Different Strokes

Joanne Hayes

Joanna Munn – CEO, GAD (GreenwichAssociation of Disabled People)

Jodie Mickleburgh – Office Manager, Different Strokes

John Hargrave

John Kelly

John James McCardale

John McGovern

John Newman

John W Smith

John Smith – GMCDP

Jonathan Hughes –

Jonathan Lee

Jonathan Toye

Jonathan Waddington-Jones

Judith Bond

Judith McNamara –DisabilityInclusionWorker PembrokeshireCountyCouncil

Julia Cameron – DPAC Islington

Julie kennedy

June Knight

29

Kay Trujillo

Kapka Panayotova-founder/director of CIL Sofia

Karen James

Karen Pointin

Kate Robinson

Kaliya Franklin – Broken ofBritain

Kenneth Hill

Kenny Bee

Kevin James

Kev Towner

Kirsten Hearn – Chair InclusionLondon

Klaudija Poropat-President of YHD Slovenia

13

Laurence Robb – MS Research, and standup4MS.blogspot.com- excluded from ILF

Les Woodward

Lianne Figg

Linda Burnip- co founder of DPAC

Lindsay Lotun

Lisa Egan – disabled daughter of ILF user

Liz Silver

LorraineAyres – Group Development Manager, Different Strokes

LydiaJ. Roe

Lyn Jeffries -YorkIndependent Living Network

Lyn Valentine

Lynda Hesketh– excluded from ILF, Chair Person, Chester Adult Phab Social Club

11

Magg Lauppen

Maria Zedda – Vice Chiar London 2012 disabilities Communities Engagement Group

Marion Lowther –South Walesdevelopment officer, Contact the Elderly

Mark Baggley – Chair, Choices and Rights Coalition

Mark Harrison –  CEO,NorfolkCoalition of Disabled People

Mark Newman

Mark Wilson

Mathew Wheatley

Martin Williams

Martine Miel – Sisters of Frida

Mary Fox

Maureen Vogels – member Black Triangle

Melanie Banton – Executive assistant, Council of Disabled people, Warwickshire andCoventry

Melanie Close – CEO Disability Equality Ltd

Michael Bricknell

Michelle Daley – Disability Equality Trainer

Moira McCall

Moira M Smith

18

Naomi Jacobs

Nirmala.G.Jivan

Neil Fergusan

3

Paul Martin –  PCS at ILF, Branch Secretary

Pat Onions disabled person and carer

Paul Smith – Atos Action group

Paul Swann – Policy Officer Disability Wales

Pauline Latchem

Penny Goring

Peter John Farrington

Peter Lambreghts – Expertise Centre Independent Living

Peter Lockheart

Phil Lockwood

Phil Stevens – Director Wales Council for the Blind

Phillipa Willitts

12

Rachel Huskisson

Ray Edwards MBE – Chair Limbcare

Rhian Davies – Chief executive, Disability Wales

Rhys Handley

Robin Bray- Hurran

Roger Lewis – DPAC Lambeth

Rosena McKeown

Rosemary O’Neil – Carer Watch

Roxanne Faulks – DP services manager, WECIL

Rudi Vogels – member Black Triangle

11

Sarah Coleman – Volunteer coordinator GAD CIL

Sarah Ismail

Sarah Simpson

Sasha Callaghan –  PastPresidentUniversityand CollegeUnion

Sedley Bryden

Sheila Blair

Sophie Partridge

Stacy Hoare

Stephen Brookes MBE – Coordinator DHCN

Stephen Hodgekins

Steve Burge

Steve Grinter – Education Secretary ITGLWFUKoffice

Sue Bott – CEO NCIL

Sue Fortune

Sue Marsh

Svetlana Kotava – Lawyer on Human Rights

15

Tanya Doolin

Tara Flood OBE- CEO, ALFIE

Theo Blackmore – DisabilityCornwalland Isles of Scilly

Theo Harris – CEO, Kensington Centre for Independent Living

Tina Coleman – mental health activist

Tracey Lizard – CEO Inclusion London

Tracey Veck – Wheels in Motion,Birmingham

7

Vicky Ayech

Victor Oliver

Vivienne Heuerman

3

Whalley Gordon

Willow Jacky – Carer and disabled person

Winston Thomas – Carmarthenshire Disabled Access group

3

Zoubeidah Lotun

1

 Family Carers/Personal Assistants – 33

Alicia Walker – PA

Anna Fitzpatrick – PA

Billy Ward – Parent carer

D. Gilligan – Carer

D.Ridley – Carer

Gemma Novis

Henry Bruce – Carer

J. Abdu – Carer

J. McCullough – Carer

J. Robson – Carer

J. Rymell – Carer

Jacqui Armston -PA

Jane Blake – PA

Jean Milne

John R Caley

Jonathan Novis

Kate Dudley – Kingston Carers network

Laura McKenna

Linda Dickenson

Marion Beazley – PA

Michelle Allen – PA

Mike Spinney

Nicole Bilsden – PA

S. O’Neill – Carer

Simone Meiszner

Steffanie Cook – PA

Steven Preace –Carers Circle

Terrine Johnson – PA

Trev Burnip

Veronica Birley

W. Coyle – Carer

Wendy Mortimer – PA

Vin West – unpaid Carer for ILF User and member of Wales Association for Citizen Directed Support

 Other supporters – 21

Amal Jama – OBAC- Supporting the Independence of People with disability.

André Keil

D. McGee

Dan Morton – SWAN

David Robertson Support Worker (Recovery Across Mental Health)

Gordon Eagling

Jo Walker

Jon Staley – Support Worker & Trainer

K. McGee

Kathryn Stone MBE – Director VoiceUK

Keithley Wilkinson – NHS Wales

Linda Lawty – Senior Advocate People FirstCumbria

Linzi Calvert

Lyn Whiteside BSc(hons) SRN

Natalya Dell

Rich Moth – Deputy National Convenor SWAN

Rosita Wilkins

S. Buttress

Shaaba Lotun

Tansy Feltis

Tehya Lotun

 Councillors/officials -2

– Alan Hunt – Access officer, Pembrokeshire County Council

– Cllr Roger Robinson- Camden Council;Chair- Camden Council’s Disability Scrutiny Panel &former CEO-Artsline

 Wales Assembly members -3

– Keith Davies – Assembly member

– Mike Hedges – Assembly Member forSwanseaEast

– Rebecca Evans – Assembly Member for Mid and WestWales

 MPs

Dave Anderson – Labour MP for Blaydon

Jim Sheridan – Labour MP forPaisleyand Refrewshire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nov 272011
 

The following is a letter of complaint to BBC led by Mad Pride and supported by the other signatories

We are writing to complain about a lack of balance in the BBC’s coverage and programming in relation to the government’s proposals for welfare reforms and benefits, and their implications.

Disabled people, unwaged carers, trade unions, low-paid workers and unemployed people have raised serious concerns about ‘mandatory work’ programmes that force people on benefits to work without pay. These pose a direct threat to the basic minimum wage, restrictions on working hours  and rules on unfair dismissal, and therefore to the pay and conditions of people in paid work. These implications have not even been mentioned, let alone been properly aired.

Instead we have a torrent of programmes aimed at stigmatising and demonising benefit claimants by highlighting benefit fraud, especially for incapacity benefit (“Britain on the Fiddle”, Panorama 3 November) and the ‘feckless’ who supposedly don’t want to work.  An impact of this wholly disproportionate misrepresentation of claimants as frauds and scroungers by some sections of the media has been cited as a direct cause of a reported increase in assaults and other abuse on disabled people, and to appearances parallel The Department of Work and Pensions own  propensity for distortion, itself criticised for the way it has released misleading figures and statistics that have been used to feed this biased propaganda.

Reality here is for the best part skewed by the BBC. Rates of fraud for disability benefits are the lowest – 0.3% to 1.9% — and are insignificant compared to the low amounts people are expected to live on, and the billions in underclaimed benefits.  People who can work should be entitled to a reasonable living wage and decent and safe working conditions.
http://statistics.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd2/fem/fem_oct09_sep10.pdf

Many disabled people are not able to work. Many fear they will be wrongly ruled ‘fit for work’ by the revised ‘work capability assessment’ that has been much criticised. And for the many made unemployed through no fault of their own by the effects of the economic downturn – or passed over to unemployment benefit via assessment! –  they now face being forced into ‘mandatory’ work with no pay.

Our very real and legitimate concerns are not being aired. We have not been given an opportunity to make ourselves heard and understood.

Is it right that the BBC is part of this propaganda? Should a publicly-funded body engage in what is tantamount to the promotion of hate crime?

The BBC’s charter says it must show proper balance in its reporting and programming and should not be politically biased. It seems to us that there has been no proper balance and that the programmes aired show a political bias to promote and defend the government’s welfare reform, while hiding the views of those who will be directly affected by them.

We insist on our right to have our concerns properly heard and we demand the right to a full and effective ‘right to reply’ to help to counter the weight of the prejudicial propaganda put out by the BBC.

Disabled benefit claimants, unwaged carers and unemployed people are also licence payers, and we have as much right as people who are in paid employment to have a say in the content and conduct of the BBC.

We look forward to a response to start a process by which BBC Directors and programme makers can redress this current bias as soon as possible. This is a matter of urgent concern for thousands of people who have been barely managing to survive and are now faced with destitution or worse.

Claire Glasman- WinVisible
Ellen Cifford – Disabled People Against the Cuts
Joanna Long – Boycott Workfare
Dave Skull -Mad Pride
Johnny Void -Benefit Claimants Fight Back
Andy Greene – Islington Disabled People Against the Cuts
Paul Smith – Atos Vic tims Group
Richard Rieser- Co-ordinator UK Disability History Month
Warren Clarke – Boycott Workfare

The response received from the BBC goes as follows –

We have received a wide range of feedback about this programme and feel it is worth highlighting that considerable correspondence to us has been generated by online lobby activity. Bearing in mind the pressure on resources, the response below strives to address the majority of concerns raised but we apologise in advance if not all of the specific points you have mentioned have been answered in the manner you prefer. Please be assured we have raised your concerns with the programme and have done our best to issue a substantive response.

Panorama’s ‘Britain on the Fiddle’ looked at a number of issues surrounding public sector fraud, including benefit fraud, the nature and extent of the unlawful subletting of council properties, the issue of identity fraud and the misuse of blue badges. The programme also followed the work of some local authority fraud investigators and by doing so revealed how time consuming and costly inquiries into suspected fraud can be.

The programme made it clear that fraud effectively takes money from all of us, especially those in genuine need. On benefit fraud, including incapacity benefit specifically, the programme stressed that most people on benefits really need them and don’t cheat the system.

Far from concentrating on the economically deprived, the programme featured, for example, the case of a man claiming benefits to pay for a council flat whilst owning and running a pub business many miles away – travelling between both destinations in a luxury car.

Furthermore, the film featured fraud investigators tackling the misuse of blue badges. Many people have since written to Panorama to express their gratitude to the programme for highlighting the problem which causes them distress and much inconvenience.

We don’t agree that the cases featured in our film were extreme or were not broadly indicative of instances of benefit fraud. That is not the experience of the local authority fraud investigators who were kind enough to allow us to film their work. Dr Mark Button, from the Centre for Counter Fraud Studies said in the programme:

“I think a lot of organisations are not realistic about the levels of fraud that they face because in any organisation there are large levels of fraud that are undetected. So if they rely on detected levels of fraud they are not getting the picture of the levels of fraud within their organisation.”

Emphasising this, it is important to note that just recently the Audit Commission released its most up to date figures for detected fraud against local government which explains that these figures are only the tip of a very large iceberg.

We believe the programme explored a subject which is clearly in the public interest and did so in a fair and impartial manner.

Thanks again for taking the time to contact us.
Kind Regards
BBC Complaints

Nov 012011
 

At the beginning of the conference on 29th October a number of apologies were given, one of which was Maria Miller MP (Minister for Disabled People).

She sent a quite lengthy response that said very little to decline her invitation and a number of points she raised provided much amusement to the people who attended the conference.

She started by saying that “the Government is fully committed to enabling disabled people to have the same opportunities and choices as non-disabled people”. As you can imagine that caused a stir in the room straightaway.

She then went on to say “over the past year I have made it a personal priority to regularly meet with disabled people, their families and the organisations that represent them.” She spoke about organisations that “are already working closely with the government to help shape welfare reforms”.

To view the full letter that was received, follow the link below –

Maria MillerMP Letter pg 1Maria Miller letter pg 2 (PDF)

Oct 142011
 

Mike Higgins kindly allowed us to re post his letter here – first published on the DISABILITY-RESEARCH@JISCMAIL.AC.UK listserv.

An anonymous and perhaps facetious call out today was made for DIAL staff across the UK to attend the Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC) annual conference at the end of October and, as the old comedy series had it: “take it from here”. For a less cryptic clue, e-mail me off-list.

Cynics like me will of course say “I told you so”. Spookily enough, SCOPE (yet again) appears to have hoodwinked a section of our movement controlled by Disabled People, stolen its clothes, money, reputation, good will and status (or as SCOPE would have it: it’s ‘branding’). Lock, stock and both barrels, SCOPE hijacked the DIAL network a couple of years ago, subsuming it within SCOPE’s monopoly. This meant that  with a couple of chews, a gulp,  swallow and suppressed burp, SCOPE could enhance its pretension to be part of the Disabled People’s Movement.

In-line with its providing space for window dressing (such as the project led by Andy Rickell and others) and the subsequent office space it gave to Disability LIB, SCOPE has ended its short-term whoring with DIAL. Having slept with DIAL, it is now administering the morning after pill to the DIAL network. Closing down DIAL’s national office and sacking all of DIAL’s nationally employed staff as of next month, November 2011, is just one of the ways in which SCOPE is ensuring that any established expertise in network support for Disabled Peoples’ Organisations is expunged.

SCOPE has abolished the national trustee body for DIAL and is instead imposing a SCOPE-appointed (i.e. unelected) steering group with responsibility for SCOPE dis-information services. As part of its declared ‘regionalisation’, SCOPE nationally is appointing a top-heavy management structure with an emphasis upon recruiting people with backgrounds in health and social care services (rather than in the Disabled People’s Movement). Staff at a national level within DIAL, including many disabled staff, are apparently surplus to requirements. The new ‘regionalised’ version of SCOPE will in reality compete directly with DIAL groups for funding. As we know from all too bitter experience, SCOPE has the power and resources to play dirty and win contracts away from local Disabled People’s Organisations. It seems to me at least extremely likely that this will happen as part of the latest moves by SCOPE  – thinly veiled as ‘restructuring’ – to silence and suppress the only self-organised groups to be associated with it.

Just in case you’re thinking, is this about money? The answer from SCOPE is ‘no’. Of course it is! It is about taking money from Disabled People’s Organisations. It is not however about a cash shortage within SCOPE, according to their own official propaganda about this ‘change’.

Please circulate this information to anyone you know who is involved with a DIAL group so that their network can discuss openly how to respond to this predictable attack upon its integrity and viability. I personally am not involved with DIAL UK (or SCOPE) but would hope that as a minimum the DIAL network will decide to dissociate itself from SCOPE and refuse to lend it any further credibility, publicising this decision as widely as possible. Whilst DIAL UK national staff are under strict instructions from their erstwhile employer not to share information about the attempted back door abolition by SCOPE of the DIAL UK network, I am under no such restrictions or constraints. The National DIAL office has also made it clear that whilst SCOPE is attempting to tie their hands, they will not avoid answering direct questions put to them by interested parties. Those who want the inside track on these developments could therefore call the national office directly to discuss strategy for resisting these attacks on telephone:             01302 310 123      .

This is also perhaps a chance for a timely reminder to those in bed with SCOPE, through for example such networks as the Disability Benefits Consortium and other public campaigns, that the hardest hit appear to include SCOPE’s disabled staff, a number of whom are being made redundant. In passing, didn’t something similar happen to Leonard Cheshire’s latest pretend network of User-Led forra about a year ago when they also sacked a swathe of Disabled People?

I would say that Disabled People’s Organisations need (again) publicly to dissociate themselves from SCOPE and the latest in its long and chequered series of attacks on our Movement. SCOPE continues to pretend to be a friend of Disabled People’s Organisations as part of its long-term cynical endeavour to plan the decimation of organisations run and controlled by Disabled People and their replacement with a consortium of unaccountable charity businesses in their own image, like Sue Ryder and Leonard Cheshire et al.

I will leave it to others to formulate demands and a strategy as regards dealing with the immediate fallout from this latest debacle, as I am proudly ignorant of the internal workings, structures and mechanisms for putting pressure onto SCOPE. Suffice to say, from my perspective as an activist, this latest news simply reinforces the vital need to rebuild our Movement from the grass roots up (for the avoidance of doubt, I mean the Disabled Peoples’ Movement of organisations run and controlled by Disabled People) perhaps starting with the excellent example being set by DPAC.

Best wishes,

Mike Higgins (in a personal capacity)

Sep 282011
 

cross posted from: National Protest Against Benefit Cuts

Dr Michael ChamberlainChairman, BMJ (British Medical Journal) Group Board

Andrea Spyropoulos, President, Royal College of Nursing

Dear Dr Chamberlain and Andrea Spyropoulos,

Re: Atos Healthcare and parent company Atos Origin

As sick and disabled people, carers and other concerned people, including professionals, we are writing to you to urge the Royal College of Nursing and BMJ Group to immediately end your relationship with Atos, including stopping any advertising of Atos jobs or Atos the company on your websites, and not having Atos at the RCN Bulletin Jobs Fair 13-14 September, or the BMJ recruitment fair 30 September to 1 October 2011 in London.

As you know, Atos currently has a £100m a year contract with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to carry out examinations for disability benefits.

We are outraged that Atos is profiting from denying those of us who are sick or disabled, the benefits we need to survive and maintain our level of health.  In May, at the protest outside Atos headquarters, a number of people spoke about our experiences of the examination, being denied benefit and having to appeal to get it back.  One woman testified that her brother, who had severe depression, committed suicide after being cut off.  See:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/video/2011/may/11/disability-protest-atos-origin-video

The media have exposed more of the dire consequences of Atos’ decisions.  In February, the Daily Mirror highlighted the case of a Derbyshire man with a heart condition, found fit for work, who had to go through tribunal to appeal, then was awarded Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) but died of a heart attack the day before his next Atos exam was due.

Channel 4 News report on 27 July 2011 acknowledged what thousands have been saying: it interviewed the heartbroken partner of a critically ill man whom Atos denied his entitlement on grounds that he was ‘fit for work’ – he died less than three months later. How many more people have died following such cruel and callous treatment?  The coverage was prompted by a Parliamentary report from the Work and Pensions Committee of MPs, in which they criticised Atos.  Atos the powerful multinational has taken vindictive action against disabled people and carers’ websites where it is criticised, getting sites closed down which isolated people rely on for support.

In August, the Guardian reported that 12 Atos doctors are under investigation by the General Medical Council for improper conduct. The article referred to numerous previous cases and investigations by other bodies.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/aug/13/atos-doctors-improper-conduct-disability

A nurse in Scotland was so shocked at Atos’s behaviour that she blew the whistle on them.  She said that people with serious lung diseases were found fit for work as long as they could sit in front of a computer, and that parents who attend with their children are automatically found fit for work.  And Atos is investigating staff, one a nurse, who used their Facebook pages to insult people as “parasitic wankers” and “down and outs”.

According to DWP figures, only 6% of those who have been assessed are placed in the Support Group of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) which exempts them from the work conditions now attached to benefit.  (This 6% includes claimants whom the DWP has already exempted from the Atos examination because their condition is so serious.)  http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/workingage/esa_wca/esa_wca_27072010.pdf

The Royal College of Psychiatrists and many others have strongly criticised the devastating effect the Atos exam and cuts have had on patients. http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/may/31/incapacity-benefit-cuts-mental-health

GP Margaret McCartney, writing in the BMJ, has questioned the ethics of doctors performing assessments without access to patients’ medical records, and the lack of specialist knowledge of physiotherapists and general nurses employed by Atos. (BMJ 2011; 342:d599. Full article attached.)

Since 1995, when medical assessments for incapacity benefit were privatised and taken out of public services, standards have steadily declined.  But Atos has brought this to a new low.  While none of the work tests deserve to be called a “medical” as they have no basis in patient welfare, since Atos started carrying out the ESA tests in 2008, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people with severe illness and disability being assessed as fit for work and denied benefits.

This has been clear for some time.  In 2009, ‘Who’s Cheating Who?’, a BBC Scotland documentary, highlighted the plight of June Mitchell who applied for sickness benefit.  When examined by Atos, she complained of breathlessness and feeling tired.  She was scored zero points and found fit for work.  She went back to her GP, was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and died shortly afterwards.

Doctors’ and nurses’ ethics are being corrupted by Atos’ offers of higher salaries and daytime reduced work hours.  Some doctors have tried to argue that their duty to patients does not apply when assessing benefit claimants on behalf of Atos.  But the General Medical Council has upheld that doctors are always bound by this duty whether seeing patients, employees (when assessing occupational health), benefit and insurance claimants, athletes, among others (see attached response from the Standards & Fitness to Practise Directorate).

As doctors and nurses are enticed into privatisation, and cases of criminal negligence and even murder in hospitals and care homes hit the headlines, patients and their loved ones are increasingly speaking out against the indifference and cruelty they face at the hands of those paid to protect them.

Claimants rightly fear that most Atos assessors are uncaring and prejudiced – they work to targets which have nothing to do with patients’ individual health needs or with the realities of the job market which sick and disabled people are being thrown into.  The stress of the Atos examinations has hastened deaths and caused a number of people to commit suicide.  For many others, it is exacerbating their already fragile health condition.

Atos kills.  Medical professionals who lend it credibility give it a licence to kill.  We call on the BMJ Group and RCN to end all association with Atos, and on doctors and nurses to defend patients and uphold our welfare.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Benefit Claimants Fightback notowelfarecuts@yahoo.co.uk

Black Triangle info@blacktrianglecampaign.org

Defend Welfare network

Disabled People Against Cuts mail@dpac.uk.net

WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities)

And: (full list of signatories at 27 September 2011):

Niki Adams, Legal Action for Women

Peter Ambrose, Visiting Professor in Housing and Health, University of Brighton

Cristel Amiss, Black Women’s Rape Action Project

Arts Against Cuts

Kate Atherton, UK Uncut

Professor Peter Beresford OBE, Brunel University and Chair, Shaping Our Lives

Sue Bott, Director, National Centre for Independent Living

Brighton & Hove TUC Unemployed Workers Centre

Brighton Disabled People Against Cuts

Linda Burnip, Debbie Jolly, Eleanor Lisney, Disabled People Against Cuts (UK)

Sara Callaway, Women of Colour in the Global Women’s Strike

Julia Cameron, Islington Disabled People Against Cuts

Dr Stephen M Carty, GP, Edinburgh

Roderick Cobley, Chair, London Autistic Rights Movement (personal capacity)

Dr Jillian Creasy, GP, Green Party councillor for Central ward, Sheffield

Liz Crow, Roaring Girl Productions

Dr Paul A. Darke, Outside Centre

Rhian Davies, Chief Executive, Disability Wales (and Rhyan Berrigan, Tania Bhutto – member, Maggie Hayes – intern, Paul Swann – policy officer, Independent Living)

Nyami Enyako, Rehabilitation Officer with Visually Impaired People,  Sensory Services, London Borough of Lambeth

Kirsten Forkert, University and College Union (personal capacity)

Mat Fraser, actor and writer

Glasgow Coalition of Resistance

Claire Glasman, WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities)

Anat Greenstein, Research Institute of Health and Social Change,  Manchester Metropolitan University

Helmut Heib, National Union of Teachers (personal capacity)

Dr Marion Hersh, University of Glasgow

Sarah Hitchings, Lewes Stop The Cuts

Cat Hobbs, Oxford Save Our Services

Islington Poverty Action Group

Michael Kalmanovitz, Payday men’s network

Michael Lavalette, National Convenor, Social Work Action Network

Jill Leigh, BA, CQSW., Dip Counselling.

Lesbian Bi Trans Queer in the Global Women’s Strike

Lewisham Anti-Cuts Alliance

Phil Lockwood, Information Co-ordinator & Webmaster, Black Triangle

London Coalition Against Poverty

Nina López, Global Women’s Strike

Adam Lotun, Disability Risk Management & Reasonable Adjustments,               Consultant, Workplace Disability Adjustments

Marie Lynam, Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group

Nushra Mansuri, British Association of Social Workers

John McArdle, Black Triangle Anti-Defamation Campaign In Defence of        Disability Rights

Gillian McDonald, RMN, NHS Lothian

John McDonnell MP

Denise McKenna, Mental Health Resistance Network

Ronan McNern, Queer Resistance

Cari Mitchell, English Collective of Prostitutes

Dan Morton, Social Work Action Network ( London )

Stella Mpaka, All African Women’s Group

Rev Paul Nicolson, Chair, Zacchaeus 2000 Trust

Notts Save Our Services — http://nottssos.org.uk

Notts Uncut

Nurses Against Atos

Andrew Osborne, Cambridgeshire Against the Cuts

Anna Owens, secretary, PCS Revenue & Customs branch committee

Redhill Coalition Against Cuts

Ian Sandeman, DLA Help Group

Bill Scott, Manager, Inclusion Scotland (personal capacity)

Dave Sherry, Secretary, UNITE Scottish Housing Branch

Dr Ron Singer, president, Medical Practitioners’ Union, the doctors’ section of UNITE

Dave Skull, South East London Mad Pride

Kim Sparrow, Single Mothers’ Self-Defence

Phil Stevens, Director, Wales Council for the Blind (representing over 63 separate visual impairment groups providing support and assistance to visually impaired people – including list below**)

Russell Stronach, co-Chair, Autistic Rights Movement UK

Peter Tatchell, Peter Tatchell Foundation

The Cuts Won’t Work

Pip Tindall, Brighton Benefits Campaign

Johnny Void, Benefit Claimants Fightback

Welfare Action Hackney

Vin West, Secretary, Arfon Access Group

Alan Wheatley, Green Party TU Group Disability Spokesperson

Alison Wilde, Bangor University

Rick Wilson, Community Lives Consortium, Wales (personal capacity)

Dr Sarah Woodin, University of Leeds (personal capacity)

Dr Felicity de Zulueta, Emeritus Consultant Psychiatrist in Psychotherapy at the SLaM NHS Foundation Trust and Hon. Senior Lecturer in Traumatic Studies at KCL

**Amman Valley Blind Society, Ammanford Blind Society, Bridgevis, Brynamman Blind Society, Carmarthen Area Blind Society, Carmarthenshire County Blind Society, Ceredigion Association for the Blind, Cwmamman Blind Society, In-Sight, Llandeilo Blind Society, Llandovery & District Blind Association, Llandybie Blind Society, Llanelli Blind Society, LOOK, Merthyr Tydfil Institute for the Blind, Monmouth Visually Impaired Club, Mynydd Mawr Blind Society, North Wales Welsh Cassette Service, Partially Sighted Society, Pembrokeshire Blind Society, Radnorshire Association for the Blind, Rhondda Blind Society, Rhuddlan Borough Talking Newspaper, South Wales Talking Magazine Association, Vision Support, Visual Impairment Breconshire, Visual Impairment West Glamorgan, Visually Impaired Merthyr Tydfil, Visually Impaired Children Taking Action

Cc

Hamish Meldrum, Chairman of the British Medical Association dwestaway@bma.org.uk

Dr Brian Keighley, BMJ Deputy Chairman, Scottish Council BMAWales@bma.org.uk
Northern Ireland BMANorthernIreland@bma.org.uk
BMJ press dept:  edickinson@bmjgroup.com

Margaret McCartney GP margaret@margaretmccartney.com

Jane O’Brien, Assistant Director of Standards, General Medical Council  jobrien@gmc-uk.org

REFERENCES

http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.d1155.full/reply#bmj_el_251102

Response from the General Medical Council

·         Jane O’Brien, Assistant Director, Standards & Fitness to Practise Directorate

General Medical Council, 350 Euston Road , London , NW1 3JN

“Edward Cooper is mistaken that the principle of making the care of your patients your first concern does not apply to doctors when they are assessing benefits claimants on behalf of ATOS. Our guidance is for all doctors and in the guidance we use the term ‘patient’ to refer to anyone whom doctors test, treat or assess in their professional capacity as a doctor. This includes amongst others, employees, benefits and insurance claimants, and athletes.

“The first duty of all doctors is ‘to make the care of your patient your first concern’. But that is not the only duty doctors must observe. Being open and honest and acting with integrity is also an essential part of medical professionalism. Good Medical Practice provides guidance, not a set of rules, so doctors must use their judgement to apply the duties and principles defined in our guidance to the various situations they face as a doctor, whether or not they routinely see patients in a therapeutic or any other role.

Dishonesty in writing reports cannot be justified by reference to the first duty of doctors. Further advice on disclosing information for employment, insurance and similar purposes can be found here: http://www.gmc- uk.org/Confidentiality_disclosing_info_insurance_2009.pdf_27493823.pdf

Competing interests: None declared

Published 7 March 2011

http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.d599.full.html?ijkey=1MHG4NxT0uJX4Lq&keytype=ref

BMJ 2011; 342:d599 doi: 10.1136/bmj.d599 (Published 2 February 2011)

Cite this as: BMJ 2011; 342:d599

·         Feature

·         Medical Work Assessments

Well enough to work?

1.       Margaret McCartney, general practitioner Glasgow

1.       margaret@margaretmccartney.com

Increasing numbers of people previously deemed medically unfit to work are being taken off state benefits after assessments by a doctor. Margaret McCartney investigates the ethics and fairness of the system

A medical degree can open all sorts of doors. One is the brown and tinted glass entrance of the Atos Healthcare offices in Glasgow , where I checked that my name was on the list held by the security guard at the desk. This recruitment evening was for doctors, nurses, and physiotherapists interested in working with this French information technology firm, which is subcontracted to the Department for Work and Pensions to provide work capability assessments.

In November last year Atos announced a three year extension to its contract with the department, worth £300m (€350m; $480m), to “support the UK government’s welfare reform agenda.”1 Atos is the sole contractor, and the medical reports it generates are used to make decisions about eligibility for employment and support allowance. This benefit, which has been replacing incapacity benefit and income support since 2008, is paid to people who are medically unfit to work because of illness or disability. The weekly allowance, once the claim has been verified with an assessment of capability, is worth up to £96.85. The government estimates that 2.5 million UK citizens receive sickness benefits at an annual cost of around £12.6bn to the taxpayer.2

A quick glance at internet discussion forums suggests widespread dissatisfaction from people who have been assessed. The adverts for Atos, however, consist of smiling, badged professionals saying, “Getting home on time has become part of my daily routine.”1 The lack of on-call duties and the 9-5 office hours were also the major advantage plugged at the evening, where nurses and doctors working for Atos helped to promote joining the company.

Isolated view

But what are the ethical issues in performing disability assessments in this way, separate from the NHS and without access to patients’ full medical records? Atos was awarded the assessment contract in 2005 and claims that its reports are “evidence based, clearly presented, legible and fully justified.”3 Are medical assessments accurate enough to make major decisions about people’s ability to work? And is Atos the best company to do them?

The message from the recruitment evening was quite clear. We were told:

“You are not in a typical caring role. This isn’t about diagnosing.” And: “We don’t call them patients . . . We call them claimants.”

Training is provided for each type of benefit examination. Its length, we were told, depends on experience but is generally up to five days of classroom training, followed by sessions accompanied by a trainer that are audited afterwards.

Full time doctors can earn £54 000 as basic salary plus various benefits including private healthcare. Sessional doctors work a minimum of four sessions a week and are paid “per item”— £35.16 for an incapacity benefit examination and £51.37 for non-domiciliary disability living allowance (DLA) examination, for example . The application forms for sessional doctors state that “10 DLA domiciliary visits cases per week would earn £40 211.60 per annum. Five LCWRA/ LCW [limited capacity for work related activity/limited capacity for work] cases per session, for six sessions per week, would earn £62 883.60 per annum.”

Throughput is a clear focus. The average morning or afternoon session should consist of five assessments, and it was made clear at the recruitment evening that clinicians who did not achieve this regularly would be picked up quickly on audit trails and speed of work addressed.

Nurses and physiotherapists do effectively the same job as doctors in the centres, but do not see people with neurological conditions such as stroke or multiple sclerosis. Otherwise people are seen on a first come, first served basis. One nurse in the audience asked about training in mental health, as she had had little training in this area and would not feel competent to assess it in a fitness for work setting. The reply was that health professionals were “very thoroughly assessed” at interview for their abilities; however, general nurses were often taken on and given training. Is a relatively short training course thereafter enough to ensure the assessments are medically accurate and fair?

Duty of care

Atos chose not to be interviewed by the BMJ , although the Department for Work and Pensions referred me to the organisation for questions about recruitment, training, and audit that it couldn’t answer.

However, from the recruitment evening it was clear that the medical examination consisted of a computerised form to be filled in by choosing drop down statements and justifying them. For example, you could say “able to walk with ease” if you witnessed this or the patient told you this.

The professional role of the doctor is very different from that in the typical NHS. Paul Nicholson, chair of the BMA Occupational Medicine Committee, says that working in this environment brings specific difficulties.

“Notwithstanding a contractual obligation to provide a report to a government department, I still have a professional duty of care to the patient and to make the care of the patient my first concern.”

The Faculty of Occupational Medicine publication Good Occupational Medical Practice reinforces the General Medical Council’s position that, good medical care “must include adequately assessing the patient’s conditions, taking account of the history (including the symptoms, and psychological and social factors), the patient’s views, and where necessary examining the patient; providing or arranging advice, investigations or treatment where necessary; referring a patient to another practitioner, when this is in the patient’s best interests.”4

In other words, it expects doctors to adhere to the same professional conduct as they would in any other role.

Does it work?

So is the current method of assessment fit for purpose? There is a queue of people who think not. The Citizens Advice Bureau Scotland , in a report last year, noted “the vast majority of complaints and advice queries stem from the Work Capability Assessment.”5 This includes both the result of the assessment as well as the manner in which it was carried out, it said. “Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) is extremely concerned that many clients are being found fit for work in their Work Capability Assessment despite often having severe illnesses and/or disabilities. Our evidence has highlighted the cases of many clients with serious health conditions who have been found fit for work, including those with Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, terminal cancer, bipolar disorder, heart failure, strokes, severe depression, and agoraphobia.”

The report noted that under the previous incapacity benefit system, 37% of claimants were being found fit for work, whereas work capability assessments are finding 66% fit to work. It also gave examples where advice from people’s general practitioners that they were not fit to work was disregarded. The report found that clients often “felt hurried in their assessment and that the healthcare professional was ignoring the answers they were providing to the questions in the assessment. There was a general feeling that the assessor made little eye contact with the claimant and spent most of the assessment entering information into their laptop.” This tallies with the recruitment evening, when it was made clear that efficiency with entering details into the computer system was a stipulation of employment.

The Department for Work and Pensions says, in response, that “It’s unfair to suggest that the system isn’t working.” However, published statistics of the 600 000 new claims for employment and support allowance from October 2008 to May 2010, show that 39% were assessed as fit for work. Around a third of these people appealed this decision, 40% of whom won.6 The department says, “If a decision is overturned at appeal, it does not necessarily mean that the original decision was inaccurate—often, customers produce new evidence to their appeal.” However, this doesn’t really deal with the problem that the healthcare professionals doing the assessments are not, therefore, forwarding sufficient evidence to enable reliable decisions.

At the meeting, I asked how it was possible to know the variation in symptoms that a patient may have during a one-off assessment. I was told that this could be “difficult” but this “wasn’t an occupational health service.” Instead, it was a “functional assessment.” Despite being told that the decision to award benefits or not rested with a layperson within the work and pensions department, the reports were often referred to as “judgments” where making decisions may be “not always clear cut . . . but as long as you can say, on balance.” For example, you could watch someone walking into the room and ask how he or she got to the assessment centre in order to judge mobility. One assessment, which initially reported a woman was fit to work, reported as evidence that her mental health was reasonable that she “did not appear to be trembling . . . sweating . . . or make rocking movements.”7

Other countries rely more on general practitioner assessments of fitness to work. For example, in the Republic of Ireland , general practitioners mainly certify patients and a doctor acting for the Department of Social Protection reviews around 12% of cases as a control mechanism. In Sweden , a certificate from your general practitioner does not automatically entitle you to sickness pay. However, the certificate asks for a description of how illness affects work capacity and a time frame. Just 3.5% of claims are turned down, and about 10% of these are overturned at appeal.

So what is the optimal system? Malcolm Harrington, emeritus professor of occupational health at the University of Birmingham , reviewed the work capability assessment system last year8 and is currently writing a second review. He wrote: “The pathway for the claimant through Jobcentre Plus is impersonal, mechanistic and lacking in clarity. The assessment of work capability undertaken for the DWP by Atos Healthcare suffers from similar procedural problems. In addition, some conditions are more subjective and evidently more difficult to assess. As a result some of the descriptors may not adequately reflect the full impact of such conditions on the individual’s capability for work. The final decision on assigning the claimant to one of the three categories theoretically rests with the Decision Maker at Jobcentre Plus but, in practice, the Atos assessment dominates the whole procedure. This imbalance needs correcting.”

His view is that “the Jobcentre Plus Decision Makers do not in practice make decisions, but instead they typically ‘rubber stamp’ the advice provided through the Atos assessment.” The Citizens Advice Bureau shares this view and says it wants “better accuracy” in reports. But how can this be achieved when funding is devolved to Atos with no routine access to detailed specialist or general practice based information and opinion? Professor Harrington says this “results in the Atos assessment driving the whole process, rather than being seen in its proper context as part of the process.” And so, as things stand, how sure can Atos doctors be that they doing their professional duty?

Notes

Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d599

Footnotes

·         Competing interests: The author has completed the unified competing interest form at www.icmje.org/coi_disclosure.pdf (available on request from her) and declares no support from any organisation for the submitted work; no financial relationships with any organisation that might have an interest in the submitted work in the previous three years; and no other relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work.

·         Provenance and peer review: Commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.

References

1.     www.atosorigin.com/en-us/Newsroom/en-us/Press_Releases/2010/2010_11_16_05.htm.

2.     www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/public-accounts-committee/news/committee-of-public-accounts-support-to-incapacity-benefits-claimants-through-pathways-to-work-/.

3.     www.uk.atosorigin.com/NR/rdonlyres/57A2ACB1-CF8D-4414-9157-FBFE1E586957/0/AO_AD_CaseStudy_EBM.pdf.

4.     www.facoccmed.ac.uk/library/docs/p_gomp2010.pdf.

5.     www.cas.org.uk/Resources/CAS/Migrated Resources/Documents/CR Work capability assessment.

6.     http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/workingage/esa_wca/esa_wca_25012011.pdf.

7.     www.mind.org.uk/news/3166_new_benefit_test_will_fail_to_spot_illness_and_disability.

8.     www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/wca-review-2010.pdf.

Sep 172011
 

I recently learned that the Welfare Reform Bill – which is currently being debated in the House of Lords – was having the debate moved to a smaller not so disabled accessible committee room.

Concerned about this I e-mailed the members of the House of Lords (some of whom are themselves disabled) – about getting the debate back in the House of Lords where disabled Lords and disabled members of the public would have access to debating or viewing the proceedings.

Thinking on – it occurred to me that surely the minister for disabled people (Maria Miller mp) would be concerned that disabled people were not being able to access a bill that affects them substantially and directly and also surely it is her job to ensure disabled access – no matter what the bill.

Thus I e-mailed Maria Miller at  maria.miller.mp@parliament.uk with this

‘Dear Ms Miller

As minister for disabled I would like for you to ensure that the debate concerning the welfare reform bill remains accessible to the disabled many of whom will be hugely affected by the changes suggested within it.

Please read this blog.

http://thebrokenofbritain.blogspot.com/2011/09/urgent-appeal-for-action-now.html

As a representative of the disabled community I am sure you would want us to have equal access – thank you for your help with this.

Kind Regards’

the reply I received was

‘Maria Miller MP

Basingstoke

Thank you for your email, if you live within the parliamentary constituency of Basingstoke please make sure your message contains

Full name

Address, including Postcode

Day time telephone number

If you are contacting me in my capacity as Minister for Disabled People please resend your email to

ministers@dwp.gsi.gov.uk’

and then later

‘Thank you for your email to Maria Miller MP. As the issues you raise relate to Maria’s responsibilities as Minister at the Department for Work and Pensions, I have forwarded your email to her Ministerial Office for attention. The email address to use for future reference is ministers@dwp.gsi.gov.uk
Kind regards
Anastasia’
I then received a generic response from the dwp!
Now how on earth and why on earth is a minister for disabilities job/post within the dwp? and is it not her job to ensure disabled access for all at the Houses of Parliament?
The reply I got from the dwp, which does not address the point I raised regarding disabled access – but just goes on to wibble about ministers being too busy to reply – that this fits into their remit and a wibble about how all the changes in the WRB are good for the sick and disabled and carers are all great for us!!! lol!! I wish!
The only results I can draw from this correspondence is that the minister for disabled people is not a minister for disabled people at all – but a dwp minister and that there is no minister for disabled people – not even for those disabled people in The House of Lords!!!
Cross posted with thanks from Twisted News
Sep 122011
 

The following letter has been sent to Atos Healthcare. Copies have also been sent to The Guardian, The Independent, The Morning Star, The Times, The Financial Times, Newsweek & the Daily Mail. It is written in response to Atos Healthcare’s misuse of the libel laws in a bid to silence their many many critics, especially those who have spoken openly about their bad experiences of the Work Capability Assessment.

The original post Atos objected to can be found at
http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2011/02/15/atos-mach-frei-atos-origin-team-up-with-gas-chamber-firm/

AN OPEN LETTER TO ATOS HEALTHCARE

Lisa Coleman
General Manager for the DWP Contracts
Atos Healthcare
4 Triton Square
Regent’s Place
London, NW1 3HG

Dear Ms Coleman,

We the undersigned individuals and groups are seriously concerned by the fact that Atos Healthcare, the provider of the Work Capability Assessment for sickness benefits, has threatened legal action against the Internet hosting companies of three websites which circulated letters from sickness benefit claimants – ‘Carerwatch’, ‘After Atos’ and ‘Atos Register of Shame’ (now relaunched as ‘A### the Truth’).

These websites have given members of society who are often isolated and have traditionally found it difficult to take joint action, the chance to come together and share their experiences. We find it unacceptable that a large IT company, which receives £100m per year for their assessment of claimants, has deployed their legal department against individuals or small organisations who dared to circulate people’s comments and concerns about their treatment at Atos’ hands.

As acknowledged by both the recent Harrington Report and the Work and Pensions Select Committee, the Work Capability Assessment implemented by Atos Healthcare was found to be mechanistic and Atos’ ‘medical reports’ far too often did not reflect circumstances and discussions that had taken place during the assessments (Harrington Report, pp. 40-41). In addition, ESA claimants have now been told that twelve doctors working for Atos face being struck off for improper conduct, and other members of Atos’ staff are under investigation over allegations of obscene criticism of benefit claimants.

Atos Healthcare has given assurances that the shortcomings identified by the Harrington Report are being addressed. Yet many claimants are still experiencing the distress of poor and rushed medical assessments based on Atos Healthcare’s computer programme.

Amid growing concern that Atos Healthcare is failing to raise its methods and professionalism to acceptable standards, the company is now attempting to silence those claimants and their small organisations who have had the courage to speak up. At a time when we see that major corporations such as News International are able to use the threat of legal action to hide their wrongdoings, it is important that Atos’ actions are brought to account.

It is also the case that government bodies are unable to sue for libel. Atos’ argument is that they are taking legal action to protect their business reputation, but in this case they are performing the work of the DWP, and receiving public money for doing it.

For these reasons, we ask that Atos withdraw all threats of libel action, that they publicly guarantee that they will not in future use the libel laws to close down criticism of their practices, and that they make a public apology to those individuals and websites which they have tried to silence.

Yours truly

Brighton Benefits Campaign
Brighton & Hove TUC Unemployed Centre
Caroline Lucas MP
Amanda Sebestyen Writer
Paul Smith Atos Victims Group
Holly Smith (President) Brighton and Hove Trades Union Council
Brighton Keep Our NHS Public
Brighton Stop the Cuts Coalition
Brighton Disabled People Against Cuts
Ipswich Unemployed Action
Disabled People Against Cuts
False Economy
Southampton United for Pensions and Public Services
National Coalition for Independent Action
Redhill Coalition Against Cuts
Lewes Stop the Cuts
Art Uncut
DLA Help Group
The Broken of Britain
WinVisible (Women With Visible and Invisible Disabilities)
Suffolk Coalition for Public Services
Queer Resistance
Newport Trades Union Council
Cornwall Anti Cuts Alliance
Cornwall Disabled People Against Cuts
Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group

cross posted from Brighton Benefits Campaign

Sep 112011
 

On September 13th the Welfare Reform bill passes to the House of Lords for debate and to be voted on. This bill is based upon the ‘Universal Credit: Welfare that Works’ white paper that puts forward the Condem’s proposals for reforming welfare to work incentives, to simplify the benefit system and to tackle administrative complexity.

In short it seeks to destroy the welfare state as we know it and in many cases slash benefit claims to the point where increased poverty and homelessness will result.

DPAC say that Disabled People and Disabled Children should not pay the price for welfare reform. Please email as many Lords as you can. This needs to be done now or very soon so please take a few moments to do this if at all possible.

A full list of Lords email addresses can be found here or at this blog

Dear Lords,

We are writing to express our concern over numerous aspects of the current Welfare Reform proposals which you are now being asked to consider and vote on. Many of these measures will adversely affect the lives of disabled people and children and will in many cases remove disabled people’s rights supposedly guaranteed under the UN Convention of Rights of Persons with Disabilities. If passed as they are many of these changes will result in widespread increases in poverty and homelessness.

A number of our concerns include the introduction of Personal Independence Payments to replace Disability Living Allowance with a stated aim of reducing the number of claimants by 20% when the fraud rate for DLA is according to DWP figures only 0.5% and the social security advisory committee have said they can see no reason for the changes. Re-testing of claimants regularly although their conditions will never change will be a further waste of public money and will merely add another test for disabled people to fear.

The proposed removal of the Mobility component of Disability Living Allowance from all residents of care homes, resulting in a fall in their incomes of 66% and leaving them with only £22 a week for all extra expenses will cause genuine distress  for many residents as well as in most cases removing from them a right to family life. Many disabled people living in residential homes use this component to pay for either a mobility aid such as a wheelchair or to pay travel costs to see family and friends. One care home resident tells us that he has to pay his home 65p per mile to travel anywhere although the home is paid over £1,000 per week for his care and the drivers are volunteers. This is typical and without mobility allowance many disabled people will effectively become prisoners.

The proposed abolition of the Independent Living Fund coupled with the reduction of local authority funding will result in massive numbers of disabled people losing their right to live independently in total contradiction to the UNCRPD which was ratified by the UK government. This fund should not be scrapped without an adequate and ring-fenced alternative being put in place. In other countries where similar moves have been made the costs to the state increased as large numbers of disabled people ended up being admitted to hospital for lengthy periods of time. This proposal in particular will be disastrous for disabled people’s rights.

Restricting the amount of Housing Benefit entitlement to social housing tenants whose homes are larger then they are deemed to need is ill thought out as many disabled people have had costly adaptations made to their homes which they would lose if forced to move. There is also a massive lack of accessible properties available anyhow thus making it almost impossible for disabled people to find alternative accommodation. Further for anyone with a visual impairment or a learning disability it is often vital for them to remain in surroundings that they are familiar with and to maintain contact with medical and other professionals who know them well.

Another potential problem with housing is that the bill will link Local Housing Allowance rates to CPI index, which excludes housing costs. Already with the changes to LHA made it is becoming increasingly difficult for disabled people who have additional housing needs eg. to use a wheelchair, or have non-resident carers to find accommodation they can afford in the private rented sector.

Limiting of Employment and Support payments to 12 months for those in the Work Related Activity Group seem particularly illogical as disabled people’s impairments are not likely to go away and may in fact deteriorate. It ignores the effects of chronic, fluctuating conditions such as MS, ME, inflammatory bowel diseases etc.

In addition, the universal credit and welfare reform will bring in ‘a commitment’ for those who fail to ‘apply themselves’ to proper work seeking activities to tougher sanctions. Once again this will not address the complexity of employment related barriers that disabled people face, even if they really are ‘fit for work’. Cuts to Access to Work funding will put in place additional barriers to disabled people in trying to secure employment.

Caps on the total amount of benefit any claimant can get, for both housing needs and living expenses. The suggested total amount is £500 per week regardless of family size, or costs of housing. Ian Duncan Smith says this is to ensure that work pays however it totally ignores the multiple barriers that disabled people face in entering and remaining in the job market, and the fact that many families with disabled children are forced to give up work to care for them due to the lack of adequate alternatives.

Many families with disabled children will face a cut to the financial support they receive. The new system will result in these children losing up to £1400 per year The Government estimates that 100,000 disabled children would lose out under this change.

The reforms suggest that all claims should be processed via the internet which is not accessible for many disabled people. What alternatives are being proposed for those who do not have or cannot access this method of claiming.

We hope that you will ensure these issues are fully addressed before you vote on this bill, the future of disabled people now lies in your hands.

Yours faithfully,

(fill in your name and address)


Sep 052011
 

New developments! Please read
Great news on the ESA Amendment! at George Potter’s blog.

DPAC is calling upon all members to write to the Lib Dems to build support for a motion being put forward at their annual conference on September 17th about fundamental changes to the Employment and Support Allowance assessment system.

The Lib Dem motion, to be proposed by Liberal Youth, will make five key demands including calling for:

–       a clearer assessment process,

–       greater accuracy in assessment, particularly for those with fluctuating conditions,

–       ensuring disabled people get the support they need

–       all claimants on appeal to be given access to adequate representation

–       a less stressful assessment process

An amendment to the motion put forward by George Potter relates to the difficulties currently faced by disabled people placed in the Work Related Activity Group, many of whom have fluctuating conditions which may vary widely from day to day, who face the ongoing  threat of having their benefits sanctioned if they fail to fully comply with conditions imposed on them regardless of how difficult this may be for them.

Lib Dem Youth believe that the government will listen if the motion is passed.

DPAC would ask its members to contact your Lib Dem MPs, MEPs, councillors and peers to urge them to vote in favour of the motion. You can find their contact details at www.parliament.uk If your MP is not a Lib Dem then please write instead to Nick Clegg, deputy prime minister and Simon Hughes, deputy leader of the Lib Dems who it is very important to influence.

Nick Clegg, deputy PM, Cabinet Office, 70, Whitehall, London, SW1A 2AS or nick.clegg@cabinet-office.x.gsi.gov.uk

Simon Hughes, deputy leader Lib Dems, Lib Dem head office, 4,Cowley Street, London, SW1P 3NB or info@libdems.org.uk

Please send us copies of any letters you do send and we would also like to hear what responses you receive.

You can use this template letter: template letter

Jul 092011
 

Published letter by The Scotsman on the Elaine McDonald case

We are writing to express our concern about the implications for Scottish disabled people of the UK Supreme Court decision in the case of Ms Elaine McDonald (the retired Scottish Ballet dancer) v Kensington & Chelsea Council (your report, 7 July).In reaching their decision the judges on the UK Supreme Court have done a grave disservice both to the concept of human rights for disabled people and the reputation of the British judiciary.

The local authority had re-assessed Ms McDonald’s needs in a blatant attempt to save money. After having a stroke, Ms McDonald had acquired an impairment which meant she needed to go to the toilet two or three times each night. She did this through using a commode with the assistance of a personal care assistant paid for by the local authority. The local authority, in re-assessing her, decided that, instead of being assisted to her commode, she would be put in incontinence pads overnight. Ms McDonald, though she had a need to go to the toilet, was not incontinent and asserted that this amounted to cruel and inhumane treatment that robbed her of her dignity and thus breached her rights under article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

No-one should need reminding that their Lord Justices had previously decided that prisoners in Scotland had been robbed of their human rights by being required to do the toilet in front of other prisoners and then slop out. Yet they chose to set aside Ms McDonald’s immense distress and emotional horror at being required to lie in her own faeces and urine for up to ten hours at a time and substituted their own view that being put in incontinence pads preserved her dignity and privacy! If the law believes that, the law is an ass.

As Lady Hale pointed out in her dissenting opinion a local authority could, on the authority of this decision, not only take away night-time support to assist elderly and disabled people in going to the toilet but could also withdraw day support for toilet needs. The “bean counters” in local authorities and within government must be rubbing their hands in glee, for they have been given the green light to reduce services to inhumane levels with no thought given to the human rights of disabled people.

Was Alex Salmond right that lawyers and judges have lost contact with the values we wish to see embodied in our justice system? Do they really hold that disabled people should have fewer human rights than murderers and rapists? Their lordships have brought the Supreme Court into total disrepute.

Bill Scott, Inclusion Scotland;

Jim Elder-Woodward, Independent Living in Scotland Project;

Keith Robertson, Scottish Disability Equality Forum;

Etienne D’Aboville, Glasgow Centre for Inclusive Living;

Tressa Burke, Glasgow Disability Alliance;

Florence Garabedian, Lothian Centre for Inclusive Living

Published by The Scotsman

Jun 022011
 

An open letter to the Minister for Disabled People, Maria Miller, from the Acting Chair of the United Kingdom Disabled Peoples Council, Julie Newman.

Source: UKDPC website

Dear Minister,

I have just seen the BBC Panorama investigation into the abuse that was inflicted upon residents of a privately run ‘hospital’, Winterbourne View Hospital for People with Learning Difficulties. It was with horror that I watched the investigation unfold, and the systematic bullying and assaults that were inflicted by the staff members.

Aside from the appalling treatment that was portrayed, there were interviews with the Regional Director of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) responsible for that area and it was clear from these that the CQC is unfit for purpose. I was shocked to hear of the lapses that had occurred on the part of the CQC after the situation had been reported to them on more than one occasion by a former member of staff. It is unthinkable that this was not progressed and acted on to ensure that such treatment was stopped and the perpetrators brought to justice.

The CQC were portrayed as inept and incapable of responding fully to the questions that were directed to them about the events at Winterbourne View, and it is clear from this that similar situations will currently be occurring across the country. In the body of the Draft UK Initial Report on the UNCRDP, paragraph 119, the CQC is referred to as the independent regulator with powers of enforcement, and as such they carry a duty of care. While it was stated by the CQC that mistakes had been made, there was no indication of how they had been investigated and what actions followed. Although the details of criminal investigations would be respected as confidential, there was no stated revision of practice or operational review to ensure this could not be repeated. UKDPC would like to know what measures will be taken to address these questions.

The damage that has been inflicted on the recipients of this ‘care’ will be immeasurable in relation to their future wellbeing. Systematic abuse and stated ‘torture’ is documented as leading to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and this is not recorded as being diminished in People with Learning Difficulties; indeed, it may be exacerbated. As a former mental health professional myself, I can assure you that the long-term effects of the abuse on the Winterbourne residents will not be remedied by simply rehousing them without specialist intervention.

The programme was not clear about what support was made available at the time. Nor do there appear to be any national guidelines about what support should be put in place following the discovery of such barbaric treatment, despite this being far from the first time that abuse on this level has been uncovered within a residential care setting. UKDPC would like to know what measures have been put into place for the residents to have access to appropriate support, and what plans there are for national guidance for future situations?

We would also like to know why the Expert Inspectors – people with learning difficulties and direct experience of social care – who had been trained under the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) have not been retained and their employment in undertaking inspections has not been extended. The CSCI Experts by Experience groups clearly identified that disabled people would not disclose the reality of their lives within residential care unless they could speak directly to other disabled people about these. The Panorama programme also illustrates the fact that, even when disabled people do disclose abuse, many professionals and family members fail to believe them and take appropriate action.

Article 15 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People states that disabled people should not be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. These rights are also enshrined in the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Panorama programme clearly showed that the Convention was being breached on a daily basis at Winterbourne View.

The Draft UK Initial Report paragraphs 134 and 135 state clearly that disabled people have the rights to exercise choice and control to live independently. It speaks in some detail of how this is exercised and how involvement in the development and design of services are key elements towards inclusion in society.

Additionally, Article 19 of the CRDP supports the rights of people to live independently in the community, and as you are aware the UK has ratified this without reservation. This does not exclude People with Learning Difficulties. Within the body of the BBC programme, an expert in the field stated there was no reason why the people featured could not live within the community with appropriate support. These locked wards and ‘hospitals’ have no place in our modern day society.

However, local authorities are actually appearing to opt for more placements into ‘residential care’ settings which are very similar in role and function to the institutions of old. These places are deemed attractive in relation to budget balancing, as they are funded through the NHS not local authorities due to institutions such as Winterbourne View being categorised as ‘hospitals’. UKDPC strongly urges the Minister to initiate an immediate review and to consult actively with disabled people’s organisations to move towards the closure of these institutions as quickly as possible.

I look forward to hearing from you shortly.

Yours sincerely,

Julie Newman, Acting Chair, UKDPC

May 312011
 

News about Steve Cram as Atos Origin 2012 ambassador

Disabled people are extremely angry with Steve Cram for accepting the post of ‘ambassador’ for big business privatisers Atos Origin in their capacity as IT partner for the London 2012 Olympics.

(from Les Woodward, Remploy Trade Union National Convenor )

DPAC wrote the letter below to Mr Cram to ask him politely to reconsider his position.

Sent to info@cram-alert.co.uk and
Steve Cram’s agent: info@missionsports.co.uk

Dear Mr Cram

With all the charity work you do and the fact that you have been involved with the paralympics,we find it very surprising that you have made the decision to be ambassador for any part of ATOS.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/feb/23/government-reform-disability-benefits please read this article.

You may or may not be aware that people all over the country have been and continuing to campaign against Atos for the horrendous work they are doing against disabled people.

http://www.dpac.uk.net/2011/05/national-week-of-action-against-atos-origin-some-reports/

They were campaigning against ATOS healthcare, part of ATOS origin, and the barbaric WCA tests they carry out on the sick and disabled and the notorious tick box LIMA computer system used by them for ascertaining people as fit for work or not.

And It may interest you to know that many Disabled People Organisations, disability groups, Medical Professionals, Scholars & Academics, Independent Inquiries & Commissions have made clear in unequivocal public statements that the Work Capability Assessment in it’s current guise is “NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE” but is willingly administered by ATOS Heathcare

To give you an idea of the type of experience disabled people go through at an Atos assessment, have a read of this website-
http://dwpexamination.wordpress.com/examining-atos/

Please withdraw your support for them and speak to any disabled people’s organisations to find out what the disabled community, charities and the CAB think regarding this company.

Please WITHDRAW YOUR SUPPORT for this company and if you could, publicise why!

Bearing in mind the increasingly voluble and angry voices of disabled people and their allies, we wonder if being an ambassador to Atos is worth the disappointment of the public and loss of the reputation you would have built over the years.

Thank you for considering this petition,

Yours sincerely
Disabled People Against Cuts

http://www.dpac.uk.net

——————————

The campaign is at Virtual Gherkin

the facebook campaign

Steve Cram’s Facebook page:

May 222011
 

Merry kindly gave us permission to share her letter to her MP Rob Wilson urging him to support Jeremy Corbyn’s  Early Day Motion.

If you do not know who your MP is – here s a link to Find your MP.

To: robwilsonmp@parliament.uk
Sent: Sat, 21 May 2011 14:06
Subject: disabled people

Hi Rob,

I have just retired,gratefully, it must be said.  But as you know, I am disabled and I’m thoroughly disturbed by the many different ways that life has become harder for disabled people in general and those who work – or try to – in particular.
I have been dependent on Access to Work for many years now.  First they helped me with a special office chair; then I needed a driver and eventually I needed a PA/driver.  Whilst A2W was never perfect, it provided help without which work would have become impossible.  With it, I think I made a small but important contribution to society via my role as a social care inspector.  I am hugely concerned to hear that A2W is facing a cutback in resources.  It is already so hard for most of us to secure employment … but of course when we do, the Treasury benefits because we then pay taxes.
Please support Jeremy Corbyn’s Early Day Motion.  I would also ask you to read the information accumulating about the suffering caused by Atos’s assessments of those claiming Incapacity Benefit (etc).  You can’t be satisfied with the idea that they are causing suicides.  And surely you must take heed of the many voices (including a variety of professional organisations) criticising Atos.  This process MUST be improved dramatically – or scrapped, before it does any more harm.
Yours,
Merry Wahogo
————
More info about
May 122011
 

We are publishing this letter exceptionally in conjunction with this week’s protest against the poverty pimps to show an example of the impact of benefit cuts and assessments such as those of Atos could have on disabled people and their families – the added anxiety, stress and anguish . We have been given permission to publish this anonymously.

Dear Eleanor Lisney,

RE: Disabled people against cuts.

I am writing in support of your campaign against government cuts to disability.

After reading the article in the Guardian 9th May “Job centre staff get guide on handling suicide threats” I really felt I needed to get in touch and tell you about the experiences we have had with the Job Centre.

My family has a history of mental health problems, I have a sister who suffers from psychosis and bipolar and I have spent the last ten years trying to help her. Until recently no one in our family was aware that another sister had also developed this awful condition.

My younger sister’s illness developed quickly and over the year she had gone from being a bright 32 year old professional to a withdrawn and paranoid, scared person. She had moved house during this time and had also lost her job. During this time we could not find out where she lived. When she did contact by email asking for help, we were shocked to find that she had no electricity in her flat, and had been surviving on Weetabix and water for 6 months because she had been refused benefits.

It was very obvious from her condition that she was very ill and hadn’t eaten for many weeks.  We later learnt that her self-imposed seclusion was because she had felt that everyone was conspiring to have a committed to a mental institute. We learnt that she had attended the job centre on a number of occasions asking for help and had also asked her doctor for a sick note but was refused. In her desperation she became frantic, the doctor then phoned the police and said she would commit her under the mental health act.  She was held for a night in a prison cell because of an argument over a sick note. The doctor was fully aware that she was mentally ill but had refused to provide a sick note to her! But instead was using the law to section her under the mental health act, why?  My sister is generally a very shy and sensitive person and because of this experience she became extremely paranoid, it was so severe she never went out after this.

During all this time, no one from the family was told about her condition and when we found her she was severely paranoid and very scared to open her door to us. She phoned the police to say that she didn’t want us to visit her and the police sent us away with a caution. This was heart breaking for us since we could see she needed urgent help. Nothing can describe the feeling of being told that by law you are not allowed to help someone if they did not wish it.  Even though, I am sure the police were fully aware of her record and could see that she was very vulnerable because her flat was mouldy and flooded and she had a burst pipe that she couldn’t afford to fix and she was painfully thin.

I believe that the doctor in charge of her care was negligent because she did not provide her with a sick note, even though she thought her sick enough to be committed to a prison cell under the mental health act. If the doctor had looked into the family medical records they would have seen that we have a history of mental illness in the family. Additionally, the doctor did not contact anyone in her family or help her with her condition by providing her with a sick note. Her illness was being exasperated by the fact that she had no food and electricity at home and that she was being dealt with very insensitively by the job centre. It is very sad that up until her death, my sister felt hounded and traumatized by the fact that she was imprisoned. She was afraid that it would happen again, so she hid her illness very well from others and very rarely ventured outside her home. She only attended the job centre when she was over her mania, which was cyclical and without a sick note no-one at the job centre would believe she was ill enough not to work.

With a little more time we managed to get her to see another doctor, she was prescribed anti psychotic drugs but she still had no income and was going to lose her home. My sister is very independent and strong willed. She was up until her illness a very successful programmer and had always earned her own way through life. The loss of her job brought on by her illness was not something she would admit too easily, and the shock of being imprisoned was something she never got over.

In September 2010 we received a phone call from the foreign office in Portugal telling us that our little sister had committed suicide. She had boarded a flight the day before for Oporto with the intention of ending her life. She tried to take an overdose and then jumped from the hotel balcony. She was alone when she died and no one from the family had been able to reach her.

I have always thought that the UK system of welfare was a lifeline that the neediest were able to access easily. But with our experience we found that the cold and bureaucratic way that people are now being dealt with is really too cruel especially for those suffering from mental breakdown.  Knowing whether someone has a mental condition cannot be easily judged from a job centre application form or within a few days of a claim.  The immediate stance taken by the job centre is that anyone applying for welfare through sickness is obviously lying. Mental illness takes months to diagnose, this is not taken into account by the job centre.

After her funeral, we were left to tidy her affairs and give her belongings to charity (as per her wishes written in a suicide note).  It was very heart breaking that the very same day of learning of her death; she had a letter arrive claiming that her appeal for benefits had been accepted. It is sad no see how far the UK government want to push people in order to cut costs. The compassion has left the welfare system and we are left with a very harsh ‘conservative’ system.

Thank you for highlighting the case of many people who are going to be side lined because of the new government measures.

I would hate for anyone else to have to go through what we have been put through over the last few months.

Feb 192011
 

protest poster

To Brendan Barber, TUC General Secretary

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) believe it is imperative that disabled and older people are afforded the opportunity to support the TUC ‘March for the Alternative’ demonstration on 26 March in central London. At the latest count it was found that disabled people were facing fourteen separate attacks against our lives and living standards as a result of the Coalition government’s policies. What we are witnessing is our human rights, supposedly guaranteed under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled People, being violated by regressive and draconian cuts to benefit and care funding. Increasing numbers of disabled people are being driven to contemplate suicide; with others actually going the whole way. Members of our community are living in daily terror that they will become further scapegoated, demonised and subjected to hate crime violence.

Against this backdrop DPAC demand the right to be fully included in this march and rally as our non-disabled peers would take for granted. As it currently stand the initial planning for the March is creating unnecessary disabling barriers which will both exclude and marginalise disabled people’s ability to participate. So far however the TUC have not responded to any requests from us for support for accessible transport to attend the march and now we have been told that the TUC have agreed (for anyone who can access coaches) that the coach dropping off point will be at Wembley or some other outlying part of London.

As I am sure you are aware the London underground system is one of the least accessible in the world, only one wheelchair is allowed on each bus at any one time, and disabled people cannot afford to pay extra travel costs from an outlying suburb to reach the centre of London. To agree to this as a dropping off point will therefore exclude us from exercising our right to protest.

It is possible to park in central London without bringing London to a grinding halt. When 2 million marched against the invasion of Iraq in 2003, coaches were parked all around Hyde Park and there were no major problems with people arriving or departing from this historic demonstration. Further we are certain that there must be at least 500 or more tourist coaches entering London on any day which does not seem to cause any traffic problems at all.

We have also asked TUC to organise with the police for us to have a static protest in central London for those unable to march but so far have had no response regarding this. We were able to do this very successfully with forward planning at the Tory Party conference protest in Birmingham.

Further we would wish to be kept updated with details of where the march will be going so that we can check its accessibility for our members with a range of impairments.

Both disabled Trade Unionists and other disabled people who attended The People’s Convention last Saturday asked conference to support a motion that the TUC march would be fully inclusive to all disabled people and that all of the required reasonable adjustments would be put in place by yourselves to fully include all of us.

We are willing to work with you to ensure that our full inclusion can be achieved and to assist you in any way practicable. We look forward to your response which we will pass onto disabled people.

We are still waiting for a response!

Feb 012011
 

Dear  Margaret Curran,

We are writing to you as an organisation of disabled people concerned with what seems to be a sustained, unjustified and vicious attack against disabled people.

As shadow minister for disabled people we seek reassurances from you that you will support disabled people to be able to continue to live independently in the community and that you will work to prevent more and more disabled people being thrust even further into poverty.

We feel that these aims are fully in line with the United Nations Convention of Rights of  Persons with Disabilities which has been ratified by the UK government.

Our main concerns are

•    there should be a continuing commitment to provide the additional financial support disabled people need to meet the extra costs of their disability provided through Disability Living Allowance. We note with grave concern plans by the coalition government to arbitrarily remove one in five DLA claimants and that even for those disabled people who currently have been awarded DLA for life there will now be an expensive, unnecessary, and bureaucratic reassessments.

•    Plans to remove the mobility component of DLA from 80,000 disabled people living in residential care homes can only be described as heartless and as you are aware will deny disabled people their convention rights to a family life. Removing this benefit amounts to a reduction in income for residents of 60%. We would also like the government to explain to us what will happen to those disabled people who use this money to purchase decent wheelchairs that meet their needs. Will anyone who has the mobility component removed from them also have their wheelchairs repossessed?

•    Of particular concern in relation to independent living is the loss of funding from the Independent Living Fund which will be removed from 21,000 of the most severely disabled people by 2015 in spite of the fact that the coalition government promised they would protect this group of disabled people from cuts. Together with the unprecedented reductions to social services budgets this will result in independent living being impossible. In Warwickshire it is estimated that one-third of disabled people will lose their entitlement to free care, yet since only substantial and critical care needs are met these will be disabled people with the highest care needs. Failure to provide the care such people need is ultimately likely to result in them instead needing more complex and expensive health care. The admission of disabled people into inappropriate residential care due to lack of funding for independent living would further be much more expensive for the state to provide than to continue to adequately fund care in the community through the Independent Living Fund and social care provision.

It is totally unacceptable to us that any disabled person as is now the case in Kensington and Chelsea should be refused night-time care and instead be issued with incontinence pads and waterproof sheets. This is a total and utter abuse of disabled people’s right s and dignity.

•    The continuing lack of transportability of care packages across county boundaries further makes it virtually impossible for disabled people to move, either to seek employment, to find more suitable, or even cheaper accommodation or to move nearer to family and friends who may be able to offer support. We would therefore welcome a commitment from you to support a national care service where an individual care package would be easily transportable.

•    While we welcome some of the moves to help disabled people who are able to seek work to find suitable employment we remain concerned that there are no real mechanisms in place to remove any of the considerable barriers disabled people face in being able to find and keep employment. Certainly the recent cuts to Access to Work funding will in no way contribute to facilitating getting more disabled people into sustainable employment.

Moving 1 million disabled people from Incapacity Benefit onto JSA in the midst of a recession and rising unemployment predicted in both public and private sectors while doing nothing to remove any of the barriers that exist and prevent disabled people gaining work is unacceptable to us. For most disabled people Incapacity Benefit is a contributory benefit which they are entitled to through having paid National Insurance contributions whilst working.

We are further very concerned that no consideration seems to have been given to how fluctuating impairments can effect disabled individuals and that they may as a result of this find themseleves subjected to having their benefits sanctioned if they are unable to meet the conditions imposed on them in seeking work. While we welcome any support we therefore feel that sanctions should not be used against disabled people.

The emphasis on ‘working’ means the needs of those disabled people who will never be able to work are not being fully met. The considerable input from disabled people into the voluntary sector is further ignored.
Heavily criticised ESA assessments which ignore GP and consultant views are earning Atos healthcare £100 million a year, how can this amount of money be justified?

•    Already 30% of disabled people live in poverty yet the bulk of the plans outlined by the coalition government in relation to Housing Benefits will exacerbate these levels of poverty further.

There is a continuing dire shortage of accessible social housing throughout the UK with one in four disabled people living in properties they are unable to get into and out of.

In Stratford-on-Avon constituency there is such a shortage of social housing that people are helped to rent in the private sector yet the reduction of Local Housing Allowance to the 30th percentile rent from October 2011 will mean that poverty amongst disabled people renting in this sector will soar, as is the case elsewhere in the country. In many London boroughs the waiting list for social housing is over 10 years.

Further no consideration is given to the difficulties faced by disabled people in finding suitable accommodation to meet a range of needs. For example a wheelchair user may need a larger and therefore more expensive property to meet their needs, someone with a visual impairment would find moving elsewhere very difficult, anyone with a learning disability may take several years to learn to find their way around an area and needs to have continuity of care and support.

All of these additional difficulties mean that for disabled people it is impossible to move to the cheapest properties in an area. Since disabled people are more likely to suffer disability hate crime living in the most deprived areas of towns and cities these actions are also likely to result in an increase in such crimes. Yet another breach of human rights under UNCRPD.

The plans to remove disabled people from social housing that is larger then their current needs dictate from 2013 is flawed. From a financial point of view since many disabled people who are currently living in a social housing property with an extra bedroom have had extensive adaptations made which in order for them to be able to continue living independently would then need to be done and funded yet again if they are forced to move by Housing Benefit being restricted to a one bedroom rate.

Further plans to extend the single room rate to anyone under 35 years of age unless they are in receipt of the higher or middle rate of DLA will affect many younger disabled people with Mental Health conditions, neuro-diverse conditions, and learning difficulties, Precisely those disabled people who need secure accommodation with a reasonable level of privacy. These cuts according to a recent DWP select committee report will result in a difference of an average £47 a week between the HB rates for a one bedroom flat compared to a room in multiple occupancy.

The same DWP select committee has expressed concerns over plans to reduce Housing Benefit for claimants who are out of work for over 12 months. As the select committee point out it is not until you have been out of work for 12 months that people are able to even try to access additional support to find work. Given the additional and substantial barriers that disabled people face in finding work at all this proposed change will impact very badly on them.

The coalition government have said that they have increased the amount of money available through Discretionary Housing Payments to help with such costs however a report by the Mayor of London shows that demand for DHPs will be 4 times higher than the extra amount of money made available to claimants, Further many councils do not pay DHPs for longer then 13-26 weeks and there is no right of appeal against being refused one.

We would be happy to brief you further on any of these issues and would like to leave you to consider a message from one of our members.

“Yes you, and you and you, all of you who stand by and say nothing or encourage such vicious and undeserving attacks are just as responsible for what is happening.

Those who stand by and allow this are equivalent to those who stood by when disabled people and Jews were targeted by the Nazi’s for annihilation.

Too harsh for you?

Its our lives we are fighting for, our very lives, some have already killed themselves due to what is happening, many more are considering it.

Will you stand by?”

Anne Novis MBE

We look forward to receiving your response which we will publish for our members.

Linda Burnip
DPAC

mail@dpac.uk.net

Historically, disabled people have been excluded from or marginalised within mainstream social activities. As a result we are often viewed as passive and dependent receivers of charity and services. Disabled people believe we have a right to self-determination and therefore need to take the leading role in decisions that directly affect our lives. This is why we insist on there being

“Nothing about us without us”.

Growing evidence
Disabled people are providing growing evidence that councils across the country are cutting the support they need to live independently. A disabled man in Dudley said the council had been cutting people’s support after moving them from direct payments to personal budgets. He said: “People who were on direct payments and are now on personal budgets are talking about a 33 to 50 per cent cut, but probably closer to 50 per cent. That is based on what a lot of disabled people are telling us.

In another urban borough, a disabled man, David has been given a package of four hours a week over four visits, plus one night visit a week. Another man in the same borough with a similar level of support need, who died earlier this year, had been receiving 24-hour support. David’s partner said she was told by a social worker: “If it had been so many months earlier he would have got it [24-hour care], but they have cut the packages and at the moment this is what we can offer…because of the cuts.”

A manager working for the borough’s centre for independent living said: “ It is looking like it is going backwards from community care. It could be that people will be going into nursing homes.”

Disabled people in the London borough of Brent say they have also been told by their council that they will have their hours halved from next November. She said “They are scared, they are really scared. They don’t know what is going to happen.”

Anthony from Camden faces a range of environmental barriers which mean that he needs someone available to support him 24 hours per day whereas his local authority alleges that he can manage with just 11 hours per day support.  When he was at university he was able to get the kind of support he needs, whereas now his local authority are effectively telling him to “cope” in an unsafe and highly restrictive environment.

Meanwhile, the Coalition on Charging has pointed to evidence that disabled and older people and carers are being hit disproportionately by spending cuts in local authorities, with some councils planning to restrict access to support and raise service charges.

30 September 2010 News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

Meanwhile we are hearing of more and more disabled people who are thinking of killing themselves because they feel that their lives will no longer be worth living.

“I am in receipt of DLA, without which I could not survive. I have severe allergies, home bound, mostly bedridden.  I have carers, and have to pay for extra hours not subsidized by social services. My utility bills are extremely high, and I have to contribute to the rent, which is not met by housing benefits. I also suffer from malnutrition!! Being chronically ill is costly, being depending on carers for everything.
Cutting DLA would mean, that I have to find housing within the Housing Allowance which is much much lower than rental market. There are pockets of housing, in undesirable areas, with mould and cockroaches, and no amenities, no lift, or if on the ground floor, simply not safe.
I could go on and on, about the misery it would cause, to remove DLA.
It would lead to a slow death painful death. Worth adding here, I have spoken to many in my situation, who are discussing mass suicide, rather than suffer more health miseries, for which there are no cures! They are not depressed, but pragmatic about what awaits all of us.” October 11, 2010

“I am disabled with both physical and mental health problems. For months now, I have been worried sick about all the benefit cuts due to happen, wondering how I will live and survive and sinking further and further into depression so severe, I am one of those who feels suicide would be the only way out.

Having heard David Cameron’s speak about protecting the sick, old and vulnerable, I could feel my jaw drop to the floor in sheer disbelief at the lies coming out of his mouth. Not only am I worried about meeting my bills, the medical re-assessments despite being awarded DLA indefinately, but I have now after 7yrs of having direct payments been told I must pay £200 per month towards my care. The government are now doing a complete u-turn and as mentioned above, this will kill people.”

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