Sep 132014
 

DPAC has removed our most recent piece on Anthony Kletzander from our website due to a ‘cease and desist’ letter from solicitors representing Nua Healthcare threatening legal action against us for raising awareness of the case. DPAC have published pieces on Anthony and his situation since late 2013. We firmly believe that Anthony’s desire for independent living, instead of institutionalisation should be upheld, as per Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We also believe that we have a duty to raise public awareness on Anthony’s experiences.

We will continue to campaign and to support Anthony, his parents: Linda and Sigi and his chosen advocate Joe Whittaker in any way we can. Anthony’s parents Linda and Sigi kindly agreed to an interview from their home in Ireland. We are grateful for their time and honesty.

Interview
As you may know supportive web sites and grass root disability groups in the UK and Europe received a solicitors ‘cease and desist’ letter regarding talking about Anthony’s circumstances, we can not talk about that specifically, but as Anthony’s parents and his legal guardians-what are your thoughts on:
 
a) the suggestion of the protection Anthony’s ‘confidentially’ :what has Anthony said to you on this, what is it that he wants to say about his circumstances? And as his parents what is it you would like to say?

Anthony repeatedly asks us to get him out of Nua and that he wants independent living in his own home near to his family. We fully support Anthony and take our lead from Anthony. He wants us to do whatever is necessary to help him to get back to independent living

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b) We understand that Anthony’s chosen means of communication has been denied, can you tell us a bit about that?
Despite the fact that Nua were given Speech and Language reports from two Health Service Executive (HSE ) Senior Speech and Language Therapists, Speech and Language report from Central Remedial Clinic Speech Therapist and Marion Stanton communication expert in U.K no staff at Nua are trained up in his communication  Marion offered to come to Ireland (in March 2014) to train Nua staff, but Nua did not invite her over in fact Noel Dunne said on the phone that they would get their own experts.

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2.Anthony lived in his own flat with his own personal assistants for almost 3 years – why do you think it is proving so difficult for Anthony to exercise his right to independent living by living in a place of his own choosing now?
 

Having had independent living from 2010-2012 with Cheshire Ireland where Cheshire took a back seat, we recruited Anthony’s staff with Anthony, put together a schedule which Anthony helped in planning and we negotiated with Dublin City University (DCU) and Anthony attended DCU lectures which is something he always wanted to do. In 2013 Anthony service was given over to Áiseanna Tacaíochta Network (ATN) by HSE with no meaningful negotiations with Anthony or us, no explanation was given. Martin Naughton the Director of ATN carried out the negotiations with Geraldine Murphy HSE Disability Manager. Martin then imposed his staff on Anthony, none of which believed in Anthony’s communication and Anthony’s whole quality of life suffered a great deal under the service of ATN. Martin tried to dictate visiting hours for Anthony, restricted his movement. Basically we had to go to Anthony’s home every evening to take Anthony out as he was effectively under virtual house arrest. Martin also applied to the Dept of Social Protection to have Anthony’s personal disability allowance payment paid into the ATN company. Following Martin’s email we contacted the department objecting and it took about a year to sort out the stoppage of Anthony’s payment due to ATN’s actions.

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3.What does Anthony say to people fighting the campaign to get him independent living?

Anthony continues to ask us to keep the campaign going. He also appeals to us to ask Nua to stop the forced medication on him. Anthony has know Joe (Whittaker) for about 11 years and always asks us to ask Joe to continue the campaign for him.  We always reassure Anthony that Joe and we his parents are continually campaigning and won’t stop until Anthony is released to Independent living. We need to keep repeating this to Anthony to try to help him to survive his time with the Nua institution

4 What efforts have HSE made to discuss Anthony’s wishes for independent living with you and Anthony?
 
Possibilities Plus offered HSE their service to provide Independent Living. Geraldine Murphy has told them that as far as she is concerned the Nua arrangement is permanent.  We continue to write to Sheila Marshall the other Disability Manager involved.

5.Who do you recognise outside the family as closest to Anthony and who has Anthony chosen as an advocate?
Anthony chose Joe Whittaker as his advocate and we keep Anthony informed about the campaign. We Anthony’s parents feel encouraged and very appreciative of Joe’s on going support. We are all grateful that many more people know what is going on and we really appreciate all the support that Anthony is being given by growing numbers of people.

6.Prior to Anthony being institutionalised did Anthony have a history of hospitalisation

No, prior to ATN taking over the management of Anthony service, Anthony was on a strict gluten and dairy free diet. He was not given ANY medication but took natural supplements. When ATN took over Anthony’s service ATN stopped Anthony’s special diet against the advice of the family doctor claiming that they found him to be “often hungry”. This caused Anthony pain and subsequently contributed to his virtual “house arrest”.

7.When did forced medication start for Anthony

Anthony was medication free when he entered Redwood ( a prior institution). However three days after he entered Redwood we got a phone call confirming that Anthony’s crucial special gluten and dairy free diet was not being adhered to by Redwood and that they were giving him medication.

8.Did Anthony have a history of being hospitalised prior to being institutionalised

No. Despite the fact that we gave Redwood Anthony’s GP letter and met with Management when we were told that Anthony was been given medication and that his diet was not adhered to. Anthony was hospitalised by emergency ambulance with seizures for the first time in his life. Tests showed no epilepsy.

9.Did Nua continue with the drugs regime

When Anthony started in Nua he was not drugged according to our information. However in March 2014 Anthony was admitted to hospital by emergency ambulance. Since Anthony started in Nua he has been admitted twice to hospital by emergency ambulance and continues to be medicated.

10.Did Nua give you the list of Anthony’s medication

No despite the fact that we repeatedly asked Nua for the list of Anthony’s medication they refused to give it to us. We finally got the list of medication when our solicitor requested the medication list from HSE when Sheila Marshall, Disability Manager issued the medication to our solicitor so we then had access to this crucial information.

11.How does Anthony spend his weekdays

When Anthony started at Nua we attended a conference explained the significance of training for staff of Anthony’s communication. We also told everyone who attended the meeting from HSE and Nua that Anthony hates farms.  He attends the Nua farm daily where we recently witnessed Anthony shovelling manure into a wheelbarrow in a highly distressed state and being told “good boy keep going”. Anthony is a 26 year old man not a “boy”.

photo anthony

12.How did Anthony appear on your recent visit to him on the Nua farm

When we drove into the car park we could hear Anthony’s anguished sounds and rushed to find him. We were shocked to see him shovelling manure into a heaped wheelbarrow. Anthony’s anguished sounds increased significantly whilst bringing the heaped wheelbarrow down the very steep hill to the lower Nua gardens. We emailed Nua voicing our concerns but received a registered letter from Nua yesterday informing us that Anthony has been returned to the farm as of 8 September 2014 so we continue to worry significantly about Anthony’s health and safety in Nua.

13. What would you say to parents/people in a similar situation to that of Anthony?

We would say never give up. Everyone is entitled to be listened to, no one’s basic human rights should be abused. We would encourage people to speak up if they can.

14.What would you and Anthony say to the people supporting Anthony?
Anthony is continually thanking people for their support which he needs to stay strong. Anthony is particularly grateful to his and our friend Joe Whittaker

Video of Anthony typing thank you to supporters

 

If you can help please contact Anthony’s chosen advocate Joe: whittakerjoe5@gmail.com

Abbreviations

ATN Áiseanna Tacaíochta Network
DCU Dublin City University
DPAC Disabled People against Cuts
HSE Health Service Executive: responsible for the provision of healthcare providing health and personal social services for everyone living in Ireland, with public funds.

 

Sep 122014
 

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

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

Speakers:

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

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

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

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

 Posted by at 23:29
Sep 102014
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sample IMR Determination (Upheld Denial) Letter, Page 1

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

By Anita Bellows, with thanks to assistance of George Berger

 Posted by at 22:03
Sep 062014
 

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

£7bn will be delivered to workers

• £7bn will be delivered to the government

• £4bn will be delivered to employers

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

You can read the ERSA’s press release here

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

The glitzy promotion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All that glistens is not gold 

Amidst all the good news is reality.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 Posted by at 15:45
Sep 022014
 

Equal Lives Press Release 02/09/2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

About Equal Lives

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

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

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

Support for vulnerable adults and juveniles detained in police custody

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

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

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

 

 Posted by at 18:58
Aug 262014
 

Thursday 11th September 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Aug 162014
 

 

Responsible department: Department for Work and Pensions

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Aug 142014
 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

Jul 242014
 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The WCA is wrong, and it needs to be abolished

Signed

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

By Paula Peters

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

Some pictures of the Vigil today have been posted here

We will publish some more shortly

 Posted by at 19:46
Jul 082014
 
Here is information on making complaints to IPCC
They have  guidance just read the section and you will see link.
Here is link to MPS complaints
You can make individual complaints and also organisational complaints.
Those directly affected by the restriction of medication , food and drink should individually complain.
It will take time for the complaints to be processed so I suggest people do this asap.
If you need help making a complaint they can approach MP, Citizens Advice and some DPOs may assist too.
The MPS has already launched an inquiry into policing at the Westminster demonstration
 Posted by at 18:10
Jul 082014
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Table: Employment Support Allowance Sanction Decisions, by Month

Employment Support Allowance Sanction Decisions, by Month

 

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

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

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

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

by Anita Bellows

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Banner Picture With MHRN and DPAC logos plus title

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

Save the Independent Living Fund #SaveILF

Save the ILF Comic Page 1


Save the ILF Comic Page 2


Save the ILF Comic Page 3


Save the ILF Comic Page 4


Save the ILF Comic Page 5


Save the ILF Comic Page 6


Save the ILF Comic Page 7


Reproduced with thanks to Lucie Kinchen @ Drawn Out Thinking

 

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

Twitter: @dis_ppl_protest

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

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

For press contacts email mail@dpac.uk.net

 

 Posted by at 22:00
Jul 022014
 

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



Early Day Motion 197

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

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

You can view EDM197 here.

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

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

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

 Posted by at 15:46
Jul 012014
 

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

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


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

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


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

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

Mark Dunk,
Unite the Resistance steering group
& Unite member

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

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

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

There have been videos posted on Youtube:

 

 


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

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

 The Government don’t get that

The Church clearly don’t get that

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

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

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

 


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

And some of the Blog posts

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

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

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

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

…. and don’t forget

We don’t do Marches,

We don’t do Speeches,

We do Direct Action…… and Picnics!

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

 Posted by at 11:15
Jul 012014
 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Line of Police bravely protecting Westminster Abbey from ILF users

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More police

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

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

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

Armed Response

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

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

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

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

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

THE FIGHT GOES ON!

by Rob Punton

 Posted by at 11:14
Jun 282014
 

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

Press release

Disabled people occupy Westminster in protest against Government attacks

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

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

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

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

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

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


Notes for editors

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

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

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

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

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

 Posted by at 16:06
Jun 262014
 

Join Sheffield #DPAC outside courts on 7th July

sheffielddpac

A peaceful direct action by disabled people and older people at Sheffield train station against South Yorkshire Transport for revoking free travel from March 31st has been marred once more by aggressive police actions. There have been peaceful direct actions since April.

Sixty protesters took part on 23rd June two were arrested and a blind freedom rider was knocked about falling on top of an activist in a wheelchair. George and Tony who were arrested are in court in Sheffield on 7th July.

Jen Dunstan, of Sheffield Disabled People Against the Cuts, told the Star: “Dozens of elderly and disabled people have been left with bruising. Some have cuts where their skin has broken from being pushed and shoved.

“A placid and calm gentleman was roughly manhandled. I am angry and shocked. The police are meant to protect elderly people.”

A Sheffield Star reporter was also warned to stop filming or he would be arrested under ‘anti terrorism laws’ by railway staff.

The Protesters have the full support of DPAC

Temporary pay pal account for the freedom ride campaign fund. 
Please donate suggested donation of £ 2 if you wish to support and * only * if you can afford it HERE

Support Sheffield DPAC on Facebook HERE

contact: dpacsheffield@gmail.com

See video and you decide what form of justice is being used….

Jun 242014
 

A peaceful direct action by disabled people and older people at Sheffield train station against South Yorkshire Transport for revoking free travel from March 31st has been marred once more by aggressive police actions.  There have been peaceful direct actions since April.

Sixty protesters took part yesterday (23rd June) two were arrested and a blind freedom rider was knocked about falling on top of an activist in a wheelchair.  George and Tony who were arrested are in court in Sheffield on 7th July.

David Kirkham (UKUncut Sheffield) said in April:

“SYPTE say they can no longer afford concessionary travel for disabled people and older people on South Yorkshire trains. These concessions are a lifeline for people in South Yorkshire, one of the most deprived areas of the country with the lowest average income. People rely on the concessions to get to work, reach medical appointments and to travel to places of education. The claim that concessions are unaffordable on trains in South Yorkshire sits ill with the fact that the chief operator of trains in South Yorkshire, Northern Rail, made £40.1m profit on the back of inflation busting fare rises, according to latest available figures (4) Northern Rail are also part owned by Serco and Dutch national rail operator Abellio; Serco received billions in public subsidy each year (5) for government contracts and have also been accused of defrauding the taxpayer over their prison contracts. A company that already makes huge profits on the back of profiteering from the tax payer and shifting profits out of the country to The Netherlands, which refuses to disclose how much public money goes into the pockets of shareholders and directors has a hard time convincing people it cannot afford to allow people for whom its trains are a vital lifeline to travel on them for free.”

People from across South Yorkshire have been taking direct action to overturn the decision by South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive to remove the right to free travel for all concession holders on South Yorkshire trains; the legality of this decision is currently being challenged in the courts.

DPAC sends solidarity to the protesters and to George Arthur and Tony Nuttall. There will be a locally based fund raiser for any fines. Please see video where five police in explicitly hold down one protester despite his lack of resistance.

Jun 232014
 

We want to congratulate the Peoples Assembly and all who joined the successful demo in London on the 21st June.

Over the weekend various accounts have surfaced on social media in relation to DPAC and the event. We would like to clarify that the DPAC steering group have not released any prior statements nor spoken to any bloggers on this issue

 We are posting below the key points of a statement sent by the DPAC steering group to Peoples Assembly organisers on the 9th June in which we raised particular issues -to date we have not received a response or acknowledgement.

“Whilst we welcome the calling of a demonstration bringing
together anti-austerity campaigns with union members, DPAC is unable to support with fundraising for access. We are at full
capacity fundraising for our own activities-   We are disappointed that access has still not been mainstreamed within the Peoples’ Assembly infrastructure.

We do not consider it appropriate that access should be sidelined and delegated out  to DPAC rather than mainstreamed with the Peoples’ Assembly. The equipment needed to ensure inclusion is neither an optional consumer choice nor a charity need.

With regard to the participation of DPAC members in the themed  block, ‘Welfare not Warfare’ (or Housing and Social Security) our position is that as a grassroots campaign not a top-down bureaucratic organisation, we cannot tell our members where to march. Some of us feel it recreates the
segregation and containment of disabled people of which there
is a long and painful history. It also denies the productive
contribution many of our members undertake despite many
barriers, which viciously impact our work roles and pay
levels.

For all our members who do wish to march in the Welfare-themed block they may find their non-disabled friends and allies drawn away to the other sections, reducing the social-ness of this occasion. Whilst everyone will to some extent be faced with the same decision of where to march, for disabled people  this kind of division and exclusion from social participation is painfully routine.

The rationale that the blocks graphically depict the different
sections of society / areas of social life affected by
austerity has not been thought through from the perspective of disabled people. If a signal is to be sent that all sections
of society oppose austerity and are prepared to organize in a
disciplined way shoulder to shoulder then attention must be paid to making solidarity with disabled peoples’ struggle against victimization and exclusion a reality, and not just pay lip service to it or treat us as objects. Nobody would dream of proposing a block of Black and Minority Ethnic  people flanked by white blocks, so why are disabled people to be herded together?

(DPAC Steering Group sent to Peoples Assembly organisers 9th June)

 We had decided to keep this statement a private matter between DPAC and the Peoples Assembly. However due to the continuing comments and misinterpretations on social media we have no option but to go public with this to counter some of the unhelpful assumptions that are being made.

 We look forward to working constructively with the Peoples Assembly in the future and appreciate that some limited attempt at access was provided on the 21st.

 However, until the costs of meeting access needs are recognised as a vital and non-negotiable cost by all event organisers disabled people will remain marginalised and excluded. The key issue for all events including the 21st June is that access should be mainstreamed from the beginning – not added as an afterthought

 

 

Jun 172014
 

DWP ministers said only 9% of ESA decisions were wrong.  Our research reveals the DWP have been quoting from figures which state 151,800 appeals have succeeded.  Our evidence shows the true figure to be at least 567,634 – casting serious doubt over 43% of 1,302,200 ‘fit for work’ decisions. 
 

ilegal Press Release – 16th June 2013


DWP’s internal figures reveal a much higher number of successful ESA appeals than have been made publicly available.

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DWP reply on 13 June 2014 to a Freedom of Information Act request made as part of an investigation in to DWP figures relating to the controversial Work Capability Assessment by ilegal.org.uk has revealed that of 1,287,323 ESA appeals, at least 567,634 claimants have had the original DWP decision overturned in their favour.

Government’s key defence of the assessments has been that around 9% of all decisions are incorrect.  The most controversial of which are those where a claimant is found fit for work.  DWP figures (for new claims) show that betweenOctober 2008 and September 2013 a total of 1,306,200 fit for work decisions have been made.

It is with considerable disappointment noted that the DWP’s latest publicly available statistics confirm that only 151,800 successful appeals have been recorded out of a total of 410,400 appeals (for new claimants only).  Our investigations reveal evidence of three times as many appeals being ‘internally recorded’ of which
567,634 have been successful.  The DWP have revealed to us figures which show nearly quarter of a million internal reconsiderations have led to decisions on new ESA claims being overturned in favour of the claimant; we have added these to figures from HMCTS tribunals which provides us with a much higher figure than the DWP seems to be prepared to admit to in their publicly available figures.

Our intensive research into the assessment of claimants for the DWP’s Employment & Support Allowance (ESA) has, following a freedom of information request to the DWP, provided one of the final pieces of the jigsaw needed to unpick the Department’s overly complicated statistics. We now have the final clue which has enabled us to identify that no less than 567,634 ESA claimants have in fact had their initial ESA refusals overturned in their favour.

It is a startling revelation that the government department has apparently been keeping a lid on a set of statistics that clearly shows between May 2010 and June 2013 no less than 820,356 decisions were looked at again by the DWP after claimants had been assessed by the controversial private contractors Atos Healthcare. These ‘internal’ statistics show that a very substantial 232,782 (28.5%) decisions were then subsequently overturned in the claimant’s favour.

What makes this all the worse is that these reconsideration statistics come on top of separate figures that show us that of those claimants who did not have the decisions overturned in their favour by the DWP, 817,102 went on to appeal to tribunals arranged by Her Majesties’ Courts & Tribunals Service where a further 332,607 were then overturned in the claimant’s favour by the tribunal.

These figures completely negate all of the DWP’s claims that it is getting the majority of its decisions right

These figures completely negate all of the DWP’s claims that it is getting the majority of its decisions right. Government ministers in conjunction with the DWP’s Press office have been telling us that a million claimants have been found fit for work whereas these figures show that in reality this is only a small part of the true story and that huge numbers have gone on to successfully appeal decisions which were wrong.

These new figures highlight the dubious practice of using the unchallenged assessment results, which only encourage media sensationalisation, with headlines such as those appearing in the Daily Express in July 2011 stating that ‘75% on sickness benefits were faking’. The same article goes on to say that out of ‘…2.6 million on the sick, 1.9 million could work’ before receiving an endorsement from the Prime Minister with an assurance that his government was “producing a much better system where we put people through their paces and say that if you can work, you should work”.

DWP and Ministers know the truth, they just aren’t telling anyone

These figures have been available to the DWP and its ministers since April 2010 from their ‘Decision Making & Appeals Case Recorder (DMACR) – ESA Management Information Statistics’. The DWP confirms this to be unpublished information which is for internal department information only, yet our research notes that the Right Hon Chris Grayling was using the same information in answer to Parliamentary questions on the 10th January 2012. 

We question then why the DWP has consistently ‘over promoted’ only the results of Work Capability Assessments relating to ‘initial’ decisions (including the opinions of Atos Healthcare in the absence of a statutory DWP decision) when it could instead have come clean and declared how hundreds of thousands of their incorrect decisions have since been overturned in favour of the person appealing.

These revelations seriously undermine the DWP’s contention that the initial Work Capability Assessment outcomes are a valid measure of the claimant’s ability to work. The DWP has consistently defended its assessments by giving an impression that only a relatively low number of decisions have been overturned whereas the reality is that well over half a million have resulted in a successful outcome for the claimant.

And this DOES NOT include the 712,000 people awaiting assessments BEFORE they can appeal

This news must have come as cause for grave concern when considered in the light of a recent revelation by DWP Minister Mike Penning which revealed that in addition to the figures we have highlighted, a further 712,000 Employment & Support Allowance claimants are awaiting assessments without which they cannot yet appeal.

This hugely unacceptable backlog of cases means people with disabling medical conditions are left hanging for months and months on a basic allowance way below what they are entitled to. This is leaving hundreds of thousands deprived of the support they require and means having to scrape by on money which is wholly insufficient to meet their needs due to disability and illness. It also means many claimants affected by severe and complex mental health conditions are facing prolonged torment as they wait month upon month for their decision to be overturned before they can even lodge an appeal.

Face up to reality: it doesn’t work. Scrap the WCA

These findings add considerably to the pleas of disabled groups all over the country to scrap the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) and to find a better way to assess their needs.

It is simply appalling that the DWP, along with Ministers and other government spokespeople appear to be feeding the media with misleading statistics that are unrepresentative of the real story and instead encourage headlines vilifying the disabled and the genuinely ill. These figures clearly show the DWP has evidence in their possession which shows how in far too many cases the decisions it is making are dead wrong and they know they’re dead wrong.

Editorial notes

Please contact the author of this article Nick Dilworth for verification of any of the figures quoted.  We welcome sharing our findings on social media and allow this information to be produced providing credit is given to the
i-legal website with links to the article produced.

We apologise for the slight delay in publishing this release.  This was due to a need to align the figures to ones recently produced by the DWP in their Work Capability Assessment figures released on the 12th June 2014 which relate to the most recent statistics up to September 2013.

A full supporting explanatory memorandum will be published very shortly.

The Reconsideration statistics relate to new ESA claimants only (excluding incapacity benefit to ESA conversion cases) whereas HMCTS figures refer to all ESA claimants.  It is our contention that had the DWP supplied all of the information we had requested, the figures for reconsiderations would have been considerably higher.

We acknowledge that not all appeals will be against fit for work findings for new claimants but given the DWP’s emphasis on this claimant cohort and the lack of information to the contrary we are of the contention that other appeals relating to claimants being moved from the Work Related Activity Group to Support Group are likely to be of a much lower volume and more likely to be contained within the cohort relating to incapacity benefit/ESA assessment.

We would like to express our thanks to Anita Bellows an i-legal member for her cooperation and for making the freedom of information request upon our guidance and our thanks extend to the DPAC organisation with whom Anita is also a member.

http://ilegal.org.uk/thread/8640/release-staggering-numbers-overturned-secrecy?page=1&scrollTo=21759

with thanks as ever to Nick  @Mylegalforum

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