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

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

 

References
(1) United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; http://www.un.org/disabilities/convention/conventionfull.shtml
(2) Green Party motion to full council on Independent Living Fund is now available on the Council website – it is motion a, under agenda item 10 – and will be the first motion debated
(3) House of Commons Library Standard Note on the Independent Living Fund is available here; http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/research/briefing-papers/SN05633/independent-living-fund
UK is first country to face UN enquiry into disability rights violations
(5) Most councils will not ring fence ILF resources
Further Information on
Tony Dyer (named as Green Party candidate in Bristol South)
Rob Telford, Green Party councillor for Ashley Ward
 Posted by at 14:02
Aug 162014
 

 

Responsible department: Department for Work and Pensions

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Aug 152014
 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Independent Living fund Drop in

with BBC Silent Witness actress Liz Carr

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

Aug 142014
 

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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 012014
 

Urgent – Legal Challenge to PIP 20 metre descriptor to be held in Birmingham Administrative Court, Bull Street next week on July 9th and 10th.

 

The solicitors have asked for a room for observers to the case and are waiting for confirmation of that. They would like anyone who can to attend to show how important this case is to disabled people.

 

There will also be a vigil outside the court from 1- 2pm on July 9th. Bring placards, banners and friends and supporters.

 

To get updates on room availability and to check the case will not be affected by strike action on July 10th please email

birminghambenefitjustice@gmail.com

 

 

 

 Posted by at 21:30
Jun 132014
 

Get your MP to the House of Commons Debate!

Wednesday 18th June 11am

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

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

The fight for the ILF is far from over.

Where will your MP be during the ILF Debate?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 Posted by at 16:15
Jun 032014
 

 

Who 2 Vote 4 As part of DPAC’s Who 2 Vote 4 campaign Anita Bellows delves in to the history files, to examine who made the decision to move Incapacity Benefit Claimants onto ESA and the warnings that were made about that at the time.


Even before the full reassessment of Incapacity Benefits claimants was in full swing, academics predicted a disaster with 600,000 claimants forced off Incapacity Benefits, particularly for those living in regions of high unemployment.

A Guardian article refers to a study undertaken in 2011 by the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research of Sheffield Hallam University (CRESR)  which showed that it was possible to anticipate the dire consequences of IB reassessments and of the ESA regime which relied on a tougher test, but which was already known at the time to be flawed: the Work Capability Assessment.

But the CRESR was not the first, and certainly not the only opponent to the IB migration, and to raise doubts about IB reassessment, the Work Capability Assessment, and the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) regime.

As early as May 2010, the Social Security Advisory Committee, the House of Lords Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee, and the House of Lords all separately warned first the Labour government and then the Coalition government of the potential negative impacts on disability benefit claimants if the IB reassessments went ahead, especially with a tougher test and a standard of assessment which was “not always good enough, especially for people with mental health and cognitive difficulties”.

Both governments decided to ignore these warnings and to go ahead, even before knowing the findings and recommendations of the first review of the WCA.

Background to the reassessment of  existing Incapacity Benefit claimants

Employment and Support Allowance did not initially affect existing claimants of incapacity benefits, but the Labour Government made it clear from the outset that existing claimants would be reassessed for ESA.

Budget 2008 [para 4.5] announced that all existing Incapacity Benefit claimants would be required to take the Work Capability Assessment from April 2013.

March 2010 regulations

Regulations laid before Parliament by the Labour Government on 29 March 2010 provided for the “migration” of the remaining incapacity benefits claimants customers to ESA between October 2010 and March 2014, provided they satisfied the Work Capability Assessment.

The draft regulations were subject to full scrutiny by the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC), who published its report in March 2010 with the response of the government.

March 2010 Social Security Advisory Committee’s report

The Committee believed that the migration arrangements in the draft regulations could not be implemented without the risk of operational stress and adverse impacts on significant numbers of vulnerable people before adding: “In our view, the Department should not embark upon the proposed migration until the well-documented problems with current ESA processes and procedures (including those with the WCA) have been resolved, any changes to the Pathways programme have been implemented and bedded-in, and improvements have been made to the support available for JSA claimants with a health condition or disability”.

The Committee raised also several concerns:

  • Lack of a solid evidence base for the decision to migrate or the proposed migration arrangements.
  • Underestimation by DWP of the support required by this group of claimants, in terms of both their participation in a more active benefit regime and the support required to move them closer to the labour market.
  • ESA evaluation for new claimants is not planned to be completed until 2011, by which time the proposed migration arrangements will have commenced.

And the Committee recommended that the migration to ESA did not proceed to the current timetable but waits until:

  • a stronger evidence base on what works and whether ESA is achieving its aims is available
  • the new regime for claimants with a health condition or disability (as an outcome of the Pathways review) has bedded down
  • DWP’s review of the WCA is complete, recommendations have been considered and any necessary changes have been made
  • demand-side approaches to stimulating the labour market have begun to have a positive impact on local demand for labour, particularly in areas with a high concentration of IB claimants.

And in case the migration did proceed as planned the Committee made several recommendations, notably that the quality of the WCA should be improved, particularly for claimants with mental health problems and cognitive and learning difficulties, and that Incapacity benefits claimants currently exempt from the PCA should be automatically treated as meeting the conditions for the ESA Support Group.

March 2010 Government’s response

In its response in the same document, Point 141, the Labour Government rejected the Committee’s call to alter the timetable for migration, but took on board some of the Committee’s concerns and undertook to continue to engage with “stakeholders” as the migration proceeded, stating:

“The Government has carefully considered the Committee’s concerns in relation to the ESA transitional Regulations and their wider concerns about the migration programme. However, for the reasons outlined in this response it does not accept the Committee’s recommendation that migration should not continue to the current timetable. The Government considers the migration of existing incapacity benefits customers to be a key element of welfare reform and one that will greatly benefit customers at a time when support to get back to work is urgently needed. The Government does not believe it would be right or fair to delay this support for customers who have been without it for too long already”.

June 2010 House of Lords Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee’s report

In June 2010, after the General election, the House of Lords Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee published a report which echoed the concerns voiced by the SSAC about whether there would be sufficient support for these groups of claimants, and the lack of evidence on how ESA was working for new claimants, notably that the Committee, from the limited evidence they have seen thought that a

“major project with a potential impact on the lives of some of the most vulnerable in the community is being conducted in a rather ad hoc fashion. The second phase is being rolled out before the first has been evaluated and although better information will be sought on the outcomes, the Department’s intended course of action, and evidence to support it, all seem rather vague”

It voices also concerns about the capacity of only 20 Benefit centres to absorb and process the transition of 10,000 cases per week, the arrangements put into place by DWP for Job centres, as “many of the customers will have special needs”, and the quality of the Work Capability Assessment.

The Committee also asked DWP what percentage of those ESA claimants sent down the JSA route obtained work, and what happened to the 30% who moved off benefits, to which DWP replied that the Department did not hold the information centrally, but that it intended “to carry out a qualitative piece of in-depth research on unsuccessful ESA claimants who do not qualify for ESA, have their claim closed, or withdraw their claim”.

One report was published in 2011 [para 4.4.2] in which DWP acknowledged that it knew nothing about ESA claimants found fit for work, and not claiming JSA.

July 2010 House of Lords’s debate to motion

The House of Lords then debated a motion to take note of the Merits Committee’s report on 20 July 2010 which criticised the reassessment of existing IB claimants, the WCA and the ESA regime and which quoted Professor Gregg, the architect of the sanctions regime in the two most recent Welfare Reform Acts as saying: “To start moving people who may have been on incapacity benefit for years straight onto jobseeker’s allowance is ridiculous. Before wading into the stock, the system has to be right“.

To which Lord Freud answered by providing reassurance that everything was fine and under control, and that even this year in March (2010), “a DWP-led review of the work capability assessment found that generally it is accurately identifying individuals for the right support”.


The General Election is one year away and the choice is likely to be between the two main parties.

  • Both of them were alerted in 2010 to the risks people claiming incapacity benefits could be exposed to, if IB reassessments went ahead.
  • Both parties knew there was a real capacity gap in Job centres and Benefit centres to deal with the number estimated by DWP to be found fit for work.
  • Both parties were warned about the issues already plaguing the Work Capability Assessment.
  • Both parties chose to ignore these warnings and to proceed with a flawed reassessment process.

While the Conservative party, through Iain Duncan Smith, and the various Ministers for Disabled People has shown itself to be indifferent to the plight of people who need support because they cannot work, the Labour party should not be let off the hook.

Would Labour have done things differently? Maybe, but the fact is we don’t know, and while they were in power, they did not show any willingness to protect these groups of people from harm.

Before being trusted again, the Labour party has to acknowledge its errors of the past and make concrete proposals to put things right.

The ball is in their court.

 

 Posted by at 16:19
May 182014
 

Disabled people have long been oppressed by professionals saying they’re acting in our ‘best interests’ as an excuse to maintain their own interests. One of the latest is their ‘take’ on facilitated communication, used by many across the world to express their voice if they do not have speech. FC is the use of a keyboard on which the user types what they want to say see the great piece written by the brilliant Quiet Riot

FC device being used to buy ice cream

communication board in hand doing ordinary things like buying an ice cream. This does not require a “transition plan” or “a service delivery audit” Or a specialist training programme to create a team of ” Whippy Therapist”

Some claim FC is incorrect and shouldn’t be used. DPAC fundamentally disagrees and fully supports FC. But, of course keeping people voiceless is much more profitable for ‘professionals’, charities and other groups whose livelihoods and/or donations often depend on our oppression and on keeping us powerless and silent. This has been evident throughout disabled peoples’ history.

Imagine the loss of contracts, work they get to psycho – analyse us. The lesser need for speech therapists, researchers, psychologists, service providers and academics,and the drop in donations to pay top salaries to their charity directors if we develop our own challenging voices-of course its in their interests to deny any method that empowers our voice if it renders them obsolete!

All those denying our voices through which ever means we chose to express them are violating our human rights as set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons (UNCRPD) which argues we have a right to use any method we chose for communication including FC and that this should be respected and accepted. But in the so called disability business (i.e those who make money from us and from maintaining our oppression) profit speaks louder than human rights.

Please see below to find out how this can happen when the vested interests of ‘professional power attempts to overturn human rights…….

The ISAAC attack on the Communication used by Increasing numbers of Disabled People.

The International Society of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC) released a “Position Statement” on facilitated communication (FC) on 23rd April 2014 to its international membership.

Along with theposition statement on FC, ISAAC finally issued the identities of the ad hoc committee, who were selected to deliver the statement. The majority of the committee had publicly condemned FC prior to joining the committee. Therefore, the condemnation of FC following their deliberations was the expected outcome.

The ISAAC ad hoc committee used flawed methodologies, collected biased data to support an unexplained hypothesis and cited highly selective references to create a spurious position statement on FC.

However, most significantly the committee refused to consult with disabled people who use FC. ISAAC had identified just one disabled person who was a member of this committee but this person did not use FC.

The remainder of the committee were Speech Therapists, Researchers, Psychologists, and Academics. There was no representation of people using the communication they were writing a “position statement” on. Such oppressive practice has no place in an organisation established supposedly to support a persons right to communication.

Rosemary Crossley (the founder of FC) alongside many disabled people using FC, had made many, well received presentations to large audiences at ISAAC events. Now following the work of the ad hoc committee FC, as a method of communication for increasing numbers of disabled people, has been dismissed as invalid.

This outcome appears to have been contrived to protect the power of professionals and academics whilst ignoring the rights of communication for disabled people using FC .

ISAAC have not established committees to create position statements on other alternative means of communication accepted within ISAAC ; Picture Exchange Communication System.(PECS), Rapid Prompt Method (RPM). This is another indication of the deliberate attempt to isolate and devalue FC by a group of professionals and academics whose status and “expertise” is seriously challenged by the authentic voice of disabled people.

Such an approach by ISAAC management requires the subjugation and acquiescence of disabled people and is an abuse of professional power.

This abuse of power and from professionals is being seriously challenged by large numbers of disabled people and their allies. Similar resistance to protect academic vested interests was used to stop the introduction of sign language and Braille and it took major struggle from Deaf and Blind people with their allies to overcome such oppressive practice.

ISAAC and it’s associated chapters state that:

The International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC) works to improve the lives of children and adults who use AAC. (Augmentative and Alternative Communication). ISAACs vision is that AAC will be ! recognized, valued and used throughout the world. ISAACs mission is to promote the best possible communication for people with complex communication needs.

 By dismissing a valued means of communication ISAAC management are devaluing hundreds of their members and in doing so fundamentally undermine the ISAAC  mission statement.

This position statement has given a licence to “hate speech” about FC which cannot go unchallenged. The ISAAC committee have excluded a section of their own membership because they use FC. I invite members of ISAAC to demonstrate their protest at such an abuse of power and an abuse of thousands of disabled people around the world.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (and women) to do nothing” Edmund Burke.

 Adam Barrett

BA (Hons), PGCE, MEd, FC Trainer.

 

May 132014
 

I went to the Work and Pensions Select Committee meeting in Newcastle today at the Newcastle FC in the Bobby  Moncur  Suite. Access to the building was fine although parking was a fair distance from stadium, but the best they could get. Signers and induction loop were available. I enquired with Sheila Gilmore MP the terms of reference for the meeting.

Dame Anne Begg opened the meeting which was to gather information from people on personal ESA/WCA experiences only. The meeting was well attended by individuals and also charities with case studies which were presented to the committee in report form. The horrors I listened to made me cry openly which is pretty hard I can tell you, as I’m not one for showing my emotions in public or private easily, and those who know me personally know this to be the case. The committee were also struggling to remain composed.  The committee had come to Newcastle because it had the highest complaints across the entire system, so decided a one off trip to hear from people was appropriate.

Many cases of failure were given and it was brought up time and again of fabricated reports, people being humiliated by HCP’s which we have known about for years. Many cases of suicide were mentioned , many cases of where the claimant was terminally ill yet denied what they were rightfully entitled to in their time of need and that documentation from GP’s /consultants were being ignored as ‘they know better’.

I mentioned the fear of ‘brown envelope syndrome’ and that disabled peoples’ voices were not felt to be heard and our human rights were being abused on a daily basis. I called the WCA a ‘wicked regime’ which has targets even if they deny so, and is cost cutting exercise and nothing more. I also brought up as did others the fact most people would work if they could but many cannot, as getting through a day by day basis was as much as many could cope with. I also asked where the jobs were for those  who wish to work and why those meant to help like Shaw Trust/Action for the Blind were also vilified by claimants for failures when they are supposed to help? Whether they could help as the claimants’ impairments mean that employers wont take  them on  so they are abandoned to their own devices.

It was mentioned frequently during the meeting about JCP disability advisors being no use and they also, didn’t understand conditions either; often bullying the claimant into jobs they can’t perform, and that education for those who needed to gain skills was being denied .

Decision Makers are trained by ATOS I found out today  so that is a conflict of interest  which I found disgusting  given the level of control they have over peoples’ lives and the  cumulative impact on a disabled person’s well being. I mentioned that this model used is flawed and didn’t take into account those with fluctuating conditions and the cost of tribunals and re-assessments of those with long term progressive illnesses , was a waste of taxpayers’ money unless changes had occurred .

I explained how we are demonised and treated as liars and criminals when, in actual fact all we are, is disabled or have a long term health condition. I asked why shouldn’t we be afforded the same rights as non-disabled people such as holidays which we have to save for, or have a pet , or go to the supermarket without the fear of being seen as a potential fraudster, when actual fraud was 0.8% including deptartmental error. I brought it up that many claimants have had support needs, financial and other, refused saying it wasn’t available.

On a lighter note the committee  were understanding, listening and attentive and genuinely DO CARE  and were encouraged by the turnout and assured us that those who sent in personal  stories were not being ignored by them and that they were ploughing through each and every one of them, but they would encourage any further submissions of case studies by groups or individuals.

I have to say I found today harrowing as much as I do daily on facebook the horror stories that people are suffering. It has to stop!

 

 Posted by at 21:17
May 072014
 

Another Tory cut targeting disabled people

On Monday last week, Tory Universities and Science Minister David Willetts announced plans to ‘modernise’ the Disabled Students’ Allowances [DSAs] for higher education students from England. What he really means is another Tory cut.

DSAs are grants which pay for disability-related support for students. Since their introduction in 1990, DSAs have helped thousands more working class disabled students get to university who would otherwise have been unable to afford it, and to get the extra support they need when there.  In 2011-12, DSAs provided over £125 million of additional support for over 53,000 full-time undergraduate higher education students. Individual grants can be for several thousand pounds, including specialist equipment and tutorial support.

The report says that students with specific learning difficulties  such as dyslexia & dyspraxia “will continue to receive support through DSAs where their support needs are considered to be more complex”.  This means that students judged to have less complex needs will no longer be eligible.  The government will “no longer pay for standard specification computers”, using evidence from a report from Endsleigh Insurance conducted by the NUS which claims “almost all students now own or have access to a computer.” But even if this were true, the government’s own website says disabled people are less likely to own an internet-enabled computer or use a public terminal.*

The report says the government wants to “rebalance responsibilities between government funding and institutional support.”   This move to make universities pay for the additional support needs of disabled students might seem fair.  After all, universities rake in huge amounts from student fees. But it’s unlikely to work out like that.  Richer universities can afford to pay (as can richer parents), but the huge squeeze on Higher Education funding means others will try not to. Most students can’t afford to go to court to force them to cough up. So all this will lead to disabled students dropping out of their courses because they can’t get the support they need, and that less disabled students from poorer backgrounds get to university at all.

Willetts says the changes will ensure support is provided “where it is needed the most.” This argument has been used to justify other benefits cuts, and on each occasion it has led in practice to actually removing support from most who need it. That’s why we need to expose and resist DSA changes as cuts helping the Tories to make education something only the rich can afford.

Roddy Slorach

*Office for Disability Issues – see http://odi.dwp.gov.uk/odi-projects/digital-inclusion.php

NUS blasts David Willetts over changes to disabled students’ support

David Willetts is “arrogant and out of touch” in seeking “unfair” cuts to disabled students’ funding, according to the National Union of Students.

7 APRIL 2014 | BY JOHN MORGAN http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/news/nus-blasts-david-willetts-over-changes-to-disabled-students-support/2012501.article

Mr Willetts, the universities and science minister, says today in a written ministerial statement that he wants to “modernise” the Disabled Students’ Allowance.

The NUS said dyslexic students needing support for computer equipment to aid their studies would lose out, and warned the costs of specialist accommodation for disabled students may not be met by DSA.

The changes “look to rebalance responsibilities between government funding and institutional support,” Mr Willetts says in his statement.

Times Higher Education reported last week that the level of support offered to some disabled students varies widely between different universities.

DSA can pay for assistance including specialist equipment such as computer software; non-medical helpers, like a note-taker or reader; or extra travel costs. The maximum funding per student is £5,161 for specialist equipment (for the whole of a course), £20,520 for the non-medical helper allowance (per year) and £1,724 for a general allowance (per year).

Total government funding for DSA, the level of which varies from year to year depending on claims, came to £125 million in 2011-12, covering over 53,000 full-time undergraduates. The government said that in 2008-09, funding came to £91.7 million, covering 40,600 students.

Mr Willetts identifies a number of key changes in his announcement. The government will only pay “for higher specification or higher cost computers where a student needs one solely by virtue of their disability,” he says. The government is “changing our approach to the funding of a number of computer equipment, software and consumable items through DSAs that have become funded as ‘standard’ to most students,” he adds.

Students with specific learning difficulties will continue to receive support through DSAs where their support needs “are considered to be more complex,” Mr Willetts says. The government will only fund “the most specialist Non-Medical Help. The additional costs of specialist accommodation will no longer be met by DSAs, other than in exceptional circumstances.”

And the government will “define disability in relation to the definition provided by the Equality Act 2010, for the purposes of receiving DSAs”.

The changes, which would apply from September 2015, are subject to an Equality Impact Assessment, which assesses policies to make sure they do not unfairly disadvantage minority groups.

Hannah Paterson, NUS Disabled Students’ Officer, said: “The prospect of deeply unfair cuts to support for disabled students should concern us all. It is arrogant and out of touch to assume that disabled students can access ‘basic’ equipment or that universities will accept the new responsibilities ministers are seeking to place on them.”

john.morgan@tsleducation.com

 

 

 

 

 Posted by at 13:34
Apr 192014
 

“You have to love your own baby becos everone says they are a nusance”

 Sally age 8

I have come to recognise another truism! – If you are a parent of a disabled child. The school will give whatever support, you believe, is necessary for your child – as long as it matches with what the school is prepared to offer.If you want something different ,You! “The parent”  who is typically the mother, become “A problem” . The more articulate you are the more you are seen as “bloody awkward”.Colourful labelsgrow, the more you persist : “too pushy”, “in denial”, “neurotic”, “deranged”,”obsessed”, “too emotional”, “irrational” “naive” are a few of the polite names given to parents.

 

The rhetoric from schools and education authorities promoting partnership, between parents and professionals is common. This laudable aim, if realised,could save a great deal of pain and heartache for all concerned. The ultimate goal for most parents is for their child to feel safe welcomed and a belonging to the school. This is “gold dust” one parent said. Initially parents will “bend over backwards” to keep on the “good side of school” they are motivated by the desire to make this goal a reality for their child to experience. However, because there currently exists an unequal distribution of power and authority between parents and professionals the potential for “partnership” is only likely to happen when parents conforms to the plans of professionals.

 

After twenty five years being with parents advocating for their disabled child, I have not met a parent who had wanted conflict with the school. It is however, the professional who has the responsibility to change what they are doing to ensure the child can feel safe welcome and belongs to the school.A consequence of seeing the parent as a problem is that it is a distraction from supporting the child. There is a shift to devaluing and marginalising the parent ,which generates a struggle that can continue for weeks, months and sometimes years.

 

One mother said:

 

“They (the professionals) made me a monster. At first, I was totally compliant with everything they told me about my son. I would have balanced on my head if they wanted me to . Then I realised they lied to me and started bullying me- now professionals are having to manage the monster they created.”

 

The very act of questioning the practice of a school or an authority by a parent can result in unleashing of an assault that can leave the parent exhausted. The struggle increases if the parent challenges more than one statutory service and therefore multiple professionals. Such a position can overwhelm parents, with formal letters, procedures , phone calls ,e-mails, and now texts. The communications often contains implied threats or advice encouraging the parent to simply accept that which is being offered by professionals, even when they know this will go against what the parents believe is not in the interests of their child.

 

Does this mean that parents are always right and professionals wrong about a child’s support requirements? Such an assertion would be absurd. However, when a parent lacks confidence in the support provided by the school or when they are unable to influence the schooling experience for their child,when parents  witness their child is disrespected, denied important opportunities, with no friendships the parent is likely to be propelled into demanding change. When a parent is forced to take such an exposed yet principled position, they will be subject to scrutiny and interrogation, by a number of professionals who will hold a different position, at a case conference or annual review. Whilst such formal settings are routine for professionals for parents they can be traumatic.

If individual professionals were subjected to the same degree of scrutiny and interrogation before a panel of critical parents they would, quite rightly, be calling upon their professional associations to represent their position.

 

The professional in a protracted dispute with a parent will have access to supports throughout the process : they have time away from work, they can hand over to another colleagues, they can have someone to type letters,make phone calls, arrange meetings, they get travelling expenses, they get time off in lieu if they work beyond contracted hours, they can even move to another job whilst in the middle of a serious dispute with a family, and they receive a salary- Professionals have protection from a school or system culture, where professionals will protect each otherkeeping internal disagreements behind closed doors, allowing them to present a united front.No such accommodations are available to parents engaged in the same protracted dispute not of their initiation. When the professional decision is made it becomes bizarrely impenetrable. Parents are patronisingly encouraged to follow the ” Complaints Procedures” if they are “‘unhappy” with the decision. This would be another professional procedure that can take months, with little expectation of changing the original decision.

 

Being a parent who is knowledgeable about the education system,aware of legislation and particular policies, is not a  guarantee that your child will get the support you believe to be  appropriate for your child. Being the “Parent” you can be positioned so that your contributions are devalued if they differs from professionals ” in charge” because it is they who the system invests the authority. A mother of a disabled child, who was extremely knowledgeable and articulate about the complexities of her child’s support requirements, she was aware of different teaching methods,  how to differentiate curriculum, adapt resourcesfor particular children. This woman wasfamiliar with the range of external agencies able to enhance the support available in school. In addition she was familiar with internal workings of thelocal education authority, where her child attended school. This mother started her professional career as a teacher in the same authority, served eight years as a special educational needs co-ordinator(SENCO), followed by seven years as a deputy head teacher, finally taking on the roleof education advisor. But now she was positioned as a “parent” again she was asking for something different from that which the school was prepared to offer. She was described as being “too involved” and “too emotional” and no longer “objective” This mother was forced into a conflict with the professionals, from the authority she had served as a senior educationist.

 

How can such exhausting disputes be minimised? Professionals have to learn to listen and listen then listen again first to the child and the parent advocating for their child.

 

The professionals will have had training, they may well have many qualifications, they can have much knowledge about a particular impairment and yet know nothing about the support requirements of Heathar who may have that particular impairment. Professionals can only support Heathar effectively if they are able to develop a relationship with Heathar. The parent, advocating for their child can be a valuable introduction to Heathar.

 

If professionals ask questions, to which they don’t already assume the answer they are more likely to develop a meaningful understanding with the child and learn about the child. When  a person is genuinely listened too, good relationship happen. This is far more likely to lead to the parent having confidence in the actions of the professionals who are there to serve their child. Professional can also build on a good relationship with the parent when they don’t:

 

Tell ​a parent their child is not the only one in the school!

 

Tell a parent the school does not have the resources to support their child!

 

Tell a parent that support to their child – will result in support being removed from other children.

 

Tell a parent that you are an extremely busy person!

 

Tell a parent that you are an expert in this type of condition, when referring to their child.

 

Tell a parentthe date and time of a meeting without first checking on their availability.

 

Tell a parent to come to a meeting on their own

 

Tell a parent you have to leave their meeting early because you have an important                       appointment to attend.

 

Tell the parents of an important decision, just before you go on school holidays.

 

Give the parent a patronising smile and nod of your head, when you totally disagree with them.

 

George Bernard Shaw suggested that it was the reasonable person who adapts themselves to the world as it exists. However, it is the unreasonable person who persists in adapting the world to accommodate a different way of thinking. GBS concluded, that all progress depends upon the “unreasonable” person orthe ” bloody awkward” parent?

 

Joe Whittaker

April 2014.

 Posted by at 19:22
Apr 192014
 

 SAVE THE NHS.

Come and learn about why the NHS is under threat and how you can join the fight to save it.

PUBLIC MEETING.

Tuesday 13th Mary 2014 at 7.30 pm to 9.30 pm

HG Wells Centre.

Off St Mark’s Road (Off Masons Hill/High Street)

BROMLEY

Kent.

BR2 9HG.

Speakers:  Dr Bob Gill General Practitioner Welling.

Linda Kurcher – Expert on US/EU Trade Agreement.

Professor Allyson Pollock – Expert on Private Finance Initiative (PFI)

Transport:

Buses:  61,208, 320, 336, 358, 402.

Nearest Rail Station.  Bromley South ( from central london, Catford, Orpington.  This station is fully accessible with a accessible lift to street level at this station)

 

Greenwich & Bexley, Bromley, Lewisham trades councils present Banner Theatre with Burning Issue commemorating the miners’ strike £10 (£5) 7pm Saturday 10 May http://lewishamtradescouncil.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/come-and-address-burning-issue_22.html or contact tony.reay@gmail.com07903 755 074

 Posted by at 18:22
Apr 182014
 

We read with interest the piece in the Independent by Rachel Reeves and Kate Green regarding Labour’s response to the Work Capability Assessment [1]

Labour should realise that disabled people are deeply distrustful of any Labour reform of a Work Capability Assessment system, which Labour introduced in the Welfare Act of 2007 with the stated aim of removing 1 million claimants from the benefit system [3].

Our position has been and will be that the Work Capability Assessment is deeply flawed in its basic concept, not just in terms of the details of its delivery, and inclusion in the workplace for disabled people cannot simply be achieved by a ‘back to work’ test.

manifesto

In the Reclaiming Our Futures, Disabled People’s Manifesto [4], we state that a priority demand from government is that:

A comprehensive and strategic plan of action is developed with disabled people and our organisations to tackle the discrimination and exclusion disabled people face in work and employment including: increasing quality and range of personalised support available to disabled people, strengthening disabled employees rights and tackling employer discrimination and poor practice

Other key demands include that:

Economic productivity must not be the only measure of people’s worth and value, volunteering offers as much value to society as paid employment. While we recognise that volunteering can offer additional skills, it should not be the default option for disabled people because of our exclusion from paid work

There must be policy and media recognition that there will always be disabled people who are unable or too ill to work. These individuals must be supported by a publically funded system. They should not be penalised or demonised as they are currently.

For true inclusion in the workplace for disabled people a wider approach is necessary including but not limited to:

• Will Labour commit to the restoration of Disabled Student’s Allowance,
• Will Labour commit to the restoration of the Independent Living Fund,
• Will Labour commit to the extension of Access to Work (AtW) to include unpaid voluntary positions,
• Will Labour commit to the reversal of the reduction of people who currently receive DLA, but will not receive PIP and also lose their Motability access,
• Will Labour commit to the reinstatement of the requirement for councils to produce equality schemes on employment and access
• Will Labour commit to the provision of accessible transport.
• Will Labour commit to the reinstatement of “day one” protection from unfair dismissal in employment law
• Will Labour commit to the provision of Employment Tribunals enforcing mandatory organisation-wide measures on preventing disability discrimination
• Will Labour commit to the provision that all government contracts, at a national, regional and local level, are only awarded to companies that are fulfilling measurable equality targets for the employment of disabled people

(for further points see reference 2)

These currently are some of the barriers to inclusion in the workplace for disabled people, and they will not be fixed by simply amending the WCA. The issue must be seen within the context of the wider interconnected system of barriers in place. It must be seen in terms of what a large majority of disabled people have already identified as key problems.

In terms of inclusion we also need from Labour, a recognition that for many disabled people to be able to work there has to be a nationally transportable social care system with a guarantee that people would keep the same levels of funding wherever they needed to move to work.

We need recognition that there is an onus on government and employers to fully accept the spirit of the Equality Act 2010 [4] with its requirement to the opening of work opportunity to disabled people. Without this, no “fit for work test” aimed at cutting disability benefits will make any impact whatsoever on the numbers of disabled people who can attain and sustain employment.

We also need from Labour a stronger recognition that there are many disabled people who cannot enter the work place and should not have to live in fear of being pressured into doing so.

There is much that the article leaves out and that leaves us with a number of serious concerns and questions.

While we are not yet prepared to endorse in any way Labour’s new approach to the Work Capability Assessment, we do see the article by Rachel Reeves and Kate Green as a helpful starting point for discussions on the future of inclusion of disabled people, who want and are able to work, in the workplace and we would welcome an opportunity to meet with them and discuss this further. We would like meet with Kate Green and Rachel Reeves to ask the following questions:

1. Will Labour commit to stop spending public money on private
contractors and return any assessments of disabled people back to GPs
with medical evidence taken into account as well as give a commitment to
look at the barriers to work for disabled people who can and want to
work (in line with the social model of disability)?

2. Will Labour commit to a time and date to talk with DPAC, My Legal,
the Mental Health Resistance Network, Black Triangle, Deaf activists,
those with learning difficulties ( with an outreach of ½ a million
disabled people) to listen to the views of the largest network of grass
roots disabled people on the WCA and ESA?

3. If Labour are committed to scrapping the WCA when will Deaf and
disabled people, and those with mental health issues have sight of the
detail of any alternative Labour is proposing?

4. If Labour accepts the harm, devastation and premature deaths that have
been an outcome of the WCA why have they chosen to suspend their
prospective parliamentary candidate for St Austell and Newquay, Deborah
Hopkins for speaking out in public about the harm caused by the WCA.

5. Will Labour address the disproportionate harm that the WCA and
sanctions on ESA and JSA are causing to all disabled people, in
particular those with mental health issues and learning difficulties?

6. We along with many others insisted that a centralised Independent Living Fund
for Scotland be established and it has been done. They have also promised to re-open ILF to new users, with a commitment of additional funds and recognition of its importance to independent living and obligations to article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Why has the Labour
Party not promised to re-establish it south of the border?

Many of the Statements included in this response are taken from the UK Disabled Peoples’ Reclaiming our Futures Manifesto and are endorsed by a UK network of disabled people and Deaf and Disabled Peoples Organisations, including: ALLFIE, Inclusion London, Equal Lives, DPAC, Inclusion Scotland, Disability Wales and the TUC Disabled Workers Committee [2], who between them reach several million disabled voters.
References
1. How Labour would reform the Work Capability Assessment http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/how-labour-would-reform-the-work-capability-assessment-9265479.html
2. The Reclaiming Our Futures, Disabled People’s Manifesto http://disability-studies.leeds.ac.uk/files/library/UK-Disabled-People-s-Manifesto-Reclaiming-Our-Futures.pdf
3. The Green Paper: The new deal for welfare: Empowering people to work. 2006 http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://dwp.gov.uk/docs/a-new-deal-for-welfare-empowering-people-to-work-full-document.pdf
4. Equality Act 2010 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/contents

 

Mar 312014
 

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

At the fountain, Canal Walk, Swindon Town Centre

10.30 am on April 5th

We will have leaflets to distribute and banners.

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

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

 Posted by at 17:44
Feb 172014
 

Many disabled people feel that none of the main political parties represent us: while the Condems are inflicting an unprecedented level of attack on disabled people’s rights and entitlements, we remember that it was New Labour who introduced Atos and the Work Capability Assessment and, much as Labour now tries to distance itself from the Blair and Brown years,they are failing to take a strong stand in defence of the welfare state. 

As things become ever more desperate for disabled people pushed into poverty and destitution, with independent living under greater and greater threat, people are searching for a way to escape the onslaught. One thing that is certain in these uncertain times is that UKIP is not the answer.

UKIP have undeniably rattled and inflicted defeats on the government. They have also succeeded in capturing the imagination of substantial sections of the electorate, pulling support away from the Tories. They are however nothing but bad news for disabled people.

UKIP has clearly been linked to racist, homophobic and disabilist attitudes. In December 2013 a UKIP county council candidate was investigated for advocating compulsory abortion of foetuses with spina bifida and Down’s Syndrome. Examples of racist attitudes displayed by UKIP members are too widespread to be disregarded as anomalies. The rise of a party linked so clearly to anti-equalities and intolerance of diversity is not something disabled people can afford to celebrate even when it does weaken the Tories.  

There does appear to have been a concerted effort by UKIP to reach out to disabled people’s groups to offer support and thereby contribute to building its own base. This does not mean that UKIP supports the principles of disability equality and independent living. Its policies are reactive, opportunistic and bigoted. Its focus on immigration is divisive, having the effect of shifting all the main political parties to the right, while diverting attention from the real issues, from the dismantling of the welfare state, the privatisation of the NHS and the attack on workers’ rights. They might succeed in blocking votes for the Condems but they are also holding back the development of a wider political consciousness that would actively fight for disabled people’s rights.

After the raft of benefit changes and cuts brought in from 1st April 2013 we saw real media attention focusing on welfare and a growing awareness among members of the public not yet personally affected by the cuts about the impact on disabled people – in spite of the lies and misrepresentations from Iain Duncan Smith. The rise of UKIP and their success in the elections has distracted the focus away from government attacks on the poorest and disabled members of society. Increasingly the problems caused by austerity are being blamed on government being soft on immigration instead of holding all political parties to account for the consequences of neoliberalism. 

Reposted from May 2013

Please also see Unite against Fascism web http://uaf.org.uk/

Stand up to UKIP http://standuptoukip.org/

Unite against fascism 22nd March event across Europe http://uaf.org.uk/?attachment_id=3472

All of which DPAC fully support

Jan 262014
 

As if we hadn’t had enough benefit bashing via Channel 4 with their highly dubious misrepresentation of everyone on benefits as accurately represented by the carefully selected participants of Benefit Street, it seems the BBC has joined the fray in their highly misleading (and factually wrong) headlines informing us: ‘Million sickness benefit applicants ‘fit for work’.’

I completely agree with Mike Sivier of Vox Political who accuses the “BBC of being a mouthpiece for the Tory party”, he’s wisely encouraging people to write in and complain.  It’s good advice to those who are incensed by the right wing media’s continual portrayal of everyone on benefits as low life scum.

So you know what you have to do; complain in your droves!

What the BBC won’t tell you is that over 5 million of you have been subjected to the humiliating & Support Allowance regime in terms of original claims, reassessments and transfers from existing benefits.  Whilst the overall claimant count hovers around 2.5 million, lightning has a nasty habit of striking more than once and thousands of you will have been repeatedly struck by the absolute chaos which surrounds the DWP’s handling of this particular benefit.  So hopefully there should be no shortage of complaints to the BBC.

But before doing so, I would encourage you to get ‘clued up’ on the facts which the BBC (and no doubt the papers which will follow) make no attempt to explain, as with so many of these reports they only give you half the story (well in this case considerably less) ……

For some extraordinary reason the DWP and media have an almost obsession with ‘new claims’ for the dreaded Employment & Support Allowance.  On nearly every statistical release the accent is principally on new claims, it’s not hard to understand why; they invariably provide the public with more sensationalist headlines over ‘millions being found fit for work or ‘closing their claims without an assessment’ (by the awful Atos ‘Healthcare’ who conduct the controversial examinations under £100 million contracts with the DWP).

Here’s what they don’t tell you….

Over 2.3 million cases are being left out of the BBC’s figures
leaving out claimant success rates of up to 88%.

Why leave out 88% claimant success rates?

Searching for Facts vs. Fiction - Magnifying Glass


In excess of 2.3 million incapacity benefit cases (each one yielding a result) being tested under the much stricter ‘Employment & Support Allowance’ regime and those who are ‘examined’ on a second, third or even fourth occasion are being completely left out of the figures.

Had the BBC fully reported the facts, they would have had to go in to the nasty truth which gets in the way of a good story.  They could have told you all how in the six months between October 2012 and May 2013 an average of 83% of 1,078,200 incapacity claimants were passing their assessments and 88% of those 1,332,300 ‘repeatedly assessed’ were re-qualifying for the allowance.

But the Beeb buried the good news.

Instead they chose to home in only new claimants who score a lower ‘pass’ rate at what the DWP incorrectly cite as an ‘initial’ assessment’.  The BBC cites an average of 32% of ‘new applicants’ being found ‘fit for work’ between 2008 and 2013.  I’m not sure where the BBC get the figure from as it’s more correctly an average of 46% for new claimants being found ‘fit for work’ with 54% qualifying for the allowance following assessment.  The figure rises to 60% when we look at the last six months to May 2013, I’ll come back to my reservations over these figures later on in this thread.

The BBC headlines are meaningless unless considered with the context of all the available facts.  It just looks like more of the same propaganda aimed at making us think people are coming off benefits and back in the work market.


Why doesn’t the BBC challenge the bigger picture? 

 

nick chart


Don’t they possess a calculator?


Let me show you what everyone out there seems to be missing, you’ll need to follow something which sadly seems too challenging for the BBC….

The BBC article tells us that very close to 2 million people have come off the sick either as a result of being found ‘fit for work’ or ‘closing their claims before being assessed’.   The clear intention of the BBC is to infer 2 million people should not have been claiming the sick and should instead be in the labour market, meaning either looking for work or in work.

The DWP tables for October 2008 to May 2013 tells us that the figure for ALL claimants found fit for work is in fact
1,453,400 and the numbers closing their claims amounts to 1,298,400 making a grand total of……


2,751,800 allegedly ready for labour market

Why didn’t the BBC give us the figure for ALL claimants?

I’d suggest; because they knew it would open up a can of worms for a government which they continually support with misleading articles when it comes to reporting on those ‘on the sick’.

Given that the above figures relate to the entire time the ESA assessment programme has been running (since 2008) it is is necessary to align the ESA figures with the time the Coalition has been in power.  This enables us to analyse how many (of ALL ESA claimants) have been found either ‘fit for work’ or who have ‘closed their claims before assessment’ since May 2010 to May 2013. The latest DWP figures available is (it will be even higher now):

1,856,100 allegedly ready for labour market
under Coalition

This infers that the Coalition has found 1.85 million claimants ready and able to enter the labour market.  Claimants in this position would generally claim Jobseeker’s Allowance or attempt to find work, (some will however neither claim or work). When it comes to work bear in mind that the Coalition claim to have found ‘1 million extra jobs’, it’s not enough to give everyone seemingly ‘coming off the sick’ a position in employment – it’s 856,100 short.

But remember, it’s NOT just the sick who are looking for work, we also need to consider other working age groups as others will potentially have to position themselves towards the labour market after coming off working age benefits, we also need to consider how many of our 1.85 million may perhaps claim another working age benefit.  The way we do is to check the DWP cumulative figures for ALL working age benefits and make a comparison between May 2010 and May 2013.

This is replicated copy and paste of a DWP table:

Quarter     

Total

JSA

Incap
/ESA


Lone parents


Carers     

Other
Income Based    


Disabled      

Bereaved

May-10

Aug-10

Nov-10

Feb-11

May-11

Aug-11

Nov-11

Feb-12

May-12

Aug-12

Nov-12

Feb-13

May-13

5,747.83  
5,744.64

5,685.60

5,765.34

5,709.55

5,802.82

5,778.16

5,881.70

5,753.88

5,708.22

5,636.79

5,695.38

5,541.49

1,354.62

1,349.71

1,328.91

1,438.67

1,404.14

1,482.86

1,478.43

1,589.64

1,484.07

1,471.07

1,443.54

1,514.37

1,371.62

2,613.10

2,606.61

2,586.42

2,578.66

2,570.22

2,582.18

2,575.60

2,557.68

2,528.14

2,517.07

2,499.96

2,475.67

2,456.47

679.15

672.35

648.3

613.78

595.4

595.29

581.62

584.17

577.08

545.24

510.06

504.89

499.73

430.23

439.43

445.44

450.42

456.06

465.99

470.96

477.15

486.94

495.71

504.13

513.61

523.64

192.19

191.38

192.03

191.76

187.18

180.08

174.91

169.11

164.96

159.9

156.01

151.26

147.79

390.81

396.81

399.38

406.31

411.01

413.11

413.84

420.7

429.51

437.17

442.2

454.31

460.53

87.74

88.36

85.11

85.75

85.55

83.3

82.79

83.25

83.17

82.06

80.89

81.26

81.7

Now let’s look at the difference within the same working age benefits by comparing 2010 against 2013….


Total

JSA


Incap/
ESA


Lone
Parents

Carers

Other
income
based

Disabled

Bereaved


Difference
between
2010
& 2013 >

 -206,340     

+17,000     

-156,630   

-179,420  

+93,410   

-44,400  

+69,720 

-6,040

These revealing figures show how the claimant count has risen or fallen in terms of actual claimant numbers recorded by the DWP unlike the ONS figures who collate the data using a ‘labour market survey’.

That’s how the ONS can provide more up to date figures than the DWP, the DWP work at a much slower pace and can only count claimants up to May 2013.  None the less the DWP claimant count is the one which most accurately informs us how many claimants are within the DWP system.

What we can see from these figures is this:

The numbers on JSA has actually increased by 17,000

The numbers on incapacity / ESA has fallen by 156,630

There are 179,420 fewer lone parents

93,410 more people are carers

Other income based claims are down by 44,400

The DWP aren’t too clear over their definition of ‘disabled’ within the claimant count

And finally, Bereavement claims are down by 6,040

The total reduction in ALL the main working age claims is 206,340 under the Coalition


Remember these are the actual claimant count figures derived from the DWP and therefore hard for anyone to refute, they are designated a reliable National statistic and are not based on surveys but on an actual measure of those claiming benefits.

So what conclusions can we draw



From the facts since May 2010?

Well, despite what the BBC tell you about nearly 2 million being identified as ready to hit the labour markets, the reality is they have under-quoted the overall figure, it’s actually 1,856,100 found either ‘fit for work’ or having ‘closed their claims before assessment’.  There’s no way 1.8 million claimants have somehow magically disappeared from the incapacity claim count (including ESA) because the DWP’s own figures confirm the overall numbers have only reduced by 156,630 since May 2010; it’s all there in black and white.

The BBC have failed to look at whether the numbers being found fit for work or closing their claims has materially made any difference to the claimant count; in short there is very little impact upon the overall numbers of claimants.

The Government’s claims to have found ‘1 million extra jobs’ are pretty meaningless too.

A Daily Telegraph article uncovered a study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development in Jan 2010 revealed that 1.31 million people were made redundant during the pre-2010 recession.  The DWP were processing an astonishing 6.2 million fresh claims for jobseeker’s allowance between April 2008 and November 2009.  It highlights how the claimant count is far from a static number, each month thousands of claimants come on and off all benefits. The Telegraph article reveals that on Jobseeker’s Allowance alone in December 2009 ” over 350,000 – left unemployment benefit in a single month.”

Similarly, many thousands of claimants leave Employment & Support Allowance each month, the quarterly figures for May 2013 amount to 153,360 coming off benefit, some 175,810 came off other incapacity benefits in the same quarter, the number of claimants coming off Income Support amounted to 150,130 Add the whole lot together and you can see how ‘1 million extra jobs’ isn’t going to go far. What we really need to know is how long these jobs last and exactly which groups of people are filling them.

What the BBC fails to address in their meaningless drivel over 1 million being found ‘fit for work’ and a further 1 million closing their claim before assessment is what happens to these claimants afterwards.

Let’s also not forget the massive numbers of job losses in the public sector under the coalition, the GMB Union claim that over 631,000 job losses have been dished out under the Coalition.

We also have, according to Thomson Reuters a 1.1 million increase in the population aged 16 and over , what few people realise is that when the number of people in the labour market increases, exactly the same number of unemployed will result in a reduction in the unemployment level simply because it’s a smaller percentage of a bigger number. There are all kinds of factors which factor in to an increase in the working age population, not least that fewer people can afford to retire as well as changes in the age at which people can retire.

So there you have it, the BBC headlines are very much a ‘non story’ without all the peripheral facts which they so conveniently omit to mention.

In my next post, I’ll explain what closing a claim without an assessment really means, I’ll then go on and explain why the DWP’s latest work assessment figures continued to be riddled with flaws.

with great thanks to the excellent Nick for agreeing DPAC can repost-for more see: http://legalaidandme.proboards.com/thread/7258/serious-flaws-governments-statistics?page=11&scrollTo=21055

 

Follow Nick on Twitter: @Mylegalforum



 

Jan 072014
 

Independent Living & The Care Bill 2013 – help make this Bill better for disabled people 

The Care Bill going through Parliament this January 2014 will shape social care for years to come yet the Bill currently does not include any mention of independent living and fails to address key concerns like independent advocacy and funding of social care. 

The Care Bill is being discussed by MPs from 9 January till early February, during this time changes can be made to the Bill to improve it. We know you are extremely busy but please take the time to get in contact with your MP to ask them put forward amendments to the Care Bill to ensure independent living is at the heart of this important piece of legislation and also encourage your service users and members to contact their MPs as well.

We have received some great news – Liz Kendall, the Shadow Care Minister has put forward important changes to the Bill suggested by Inclusion London and supported by DPAC regarding choice and independent living, for discussion by the Care Bill’s Scrutiny Committee! Pressure from your MP now will help these amendments to be accepted in the House of Commons.

Detailed below is all the information you need to lobby your MP. It won’t take that long and your input could make all the difference.

How to lobby your MP

  1. 1.   Email or write to your MP. 

Find out who is your local MP at: http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/

Their contact details are available at: http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/

Send the attached letter to your MP, feel free to change the letter to reflect your / their circumstances.

  1. Tweet:
    Service users / members can tweet about any responses to their letters or meetings, which will keep interest in the Care Bill alive. Use your own twitter account or email your tweet to henrietta.doyle@inclusionlondon.co.uk who will tweet it for you.
  1. Attend your MP’s surgery or ask for a home visit.
    Information about your MP’s surgeries times and venues is available at:http://wiki.openrightsgroup.org/wiki/London_MP_Surgeries

Home visits:  If you are not able to attend your MP’s surgery because of your impairment you should ask for a home visit.

  1. DDPOs you can organise a meeting between your MP and your members and users about the Care Bill.

For information on how to contact your MP go to: http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/ 

We know you are extremely busy but please take the time to get in touch with your MP. This is a vitally important piece of legislation that will have a huge impact on disabled people’s lives now and in the future. We can make this Bill better.

Many thanks to Inclusion London for putting together this campaign pack for people to use. Further information on the Care Bill is available to read at   http://www.inclusionlondon.co.uk/ 

Template Letter for individuals

 

Dear   Add the name of your MP,

I am writing to you regarding the Care Bill which is in currently being discussed by MPs.

The Care Bill has been described as a once in a life time opportunity to tackle the social care crisis which is impacting on my life. I am asking for your support to propose the amendments to the Care Bill below, to ensure that I am given the support I need for my independent living. 

Independent living for disabled people

As a disabled person I have the right to the same opportunities, choices and rights as other citizens. I want to get a job, build a career and have an education and to take part in community and public life.  I wish to decide when I go bed, what I eat and to live in my home with people I choose to live with, I also want to be able to leave my home to go out and about – go shopping, go to see a band. I would like the opportunity to be a parent and friend, have a family and social life. All these elements are included in independent living for disabled people.  Independent living is being able to contribute, participate and be included.

Funding

Social care is in crisis resulting in more and more disabled people going without the essential support they need. This situation is likely to continue because the Care Bill does not tackle the fundamental issue of funding for social care. I have not got large savings and do not own my house, so I will not benefit from the Government’s funding reforms.  I would like care and support to be funded so it supports me to lead an independent life of participation, inclusion, dignity and equality. To achieve this I believe it should be funded out of National Insurance contributions/general taxation and free at the point of need like the NHS, this would ensure I get the care I need for independent living in the future.

Amendments to Care Bill

I would be grateful if you could put forward the amendments below to the Scrutiny Committee or to the House of Commons when the Bill reaches Report stage, to try and ensure that independent living for disabled people becomes a reality. All the amendments are highlighted in bold:

1. Amendment to: Clause 1 ‘Promoting individual well-being’ 

Can you please propose the following amendments to the definition of ‘well-being’ and to the General responsibilities of local authorities:

1 Promoting individual well-being and independent living

(1) The general duty of a local authority, in exercising a function under this Part in the case of an individual, is to promote that individual’s well-being, independence and inclusion as equal and valued citizens and members of the community.

(a) That duties under independent living promote the wider definition of independent living as expressed in the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

(See Inclusion London’ paper attached for all the amendments to this clause). 

2. Advocacy

It is very important that disabled people are provided with independent advocacy right through the process of obtaining and maintaining care and support.

It is important because independent advocacy enables disabled people to participate in the assessment and review process but also enable disabled people to give direct feedback about the quality of services, which will help prevent on-going abuse of disabled people in the future. Therefore we ask you to put forward the following amendments to three clauses, (see wording in bold)

Clause 5.Promoting diversity and quality in provision of service:

A local authority must have regard to —

(c)      the need to offer and provide an independent advocate to enable service user feedback to improve the quality of services  

Clause 9.  Assessment of adults need for care and support:

A local authority, in carrying out a needs assessment, has

(d)     A duty to offer and provide an independent advocate to the adult to enable full participation in all needs assessments and reviews

Clause 42.   Enquiry by local authority:

(2)The local authority must-

(a)     Offer and provide an independent advocate to an adult who is experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect to enable them to give evidence and participate fully in the enquiry. 

3. Amendment to Clause 9 ‘Assessment of an adult’s needs for care and support’

The assessment is the key gateway to care and support so it is important that disabled people, who are expert in their own needs, should be at the core of the assessment process. Can you please propose the following that:

  • All care assessments reflect the rights to independent living and choice encompassed in the UNCRDP.  Also that all care and support assessments should be a person centred process. 

4. Amendment to Clause 13 ‘The eligibility criteria’

The government has announced that the national eligibility threshold is to be set at ‘Substantial’. This means support will only be provided at a very late stage when disabled people’s health, wellbeing and independence has deteriorated badly. Can you please propose an amendment so that:

  • The eligibility threshold for care is set at ‘moderate’ to ensure that disabled people are able to receive the support needed to maintain and sustain health, wellbeing and independence

5. Independent Living Fund (no existing clause)

The impact on the independent living of disabled people with high support needs if the Independent Living Fund (ILF) closes in 2015 will be devastating. I would be grateful if you can propose a new clause to ensure there is:

  • A duty on local authorities to provide equivalent support as provided by the ILF that ensures independent living in the community on an on-going basis. 
  • Set up an Independent living task force, co-produced with ILF users, to review independent living and specifically the Independent Living Fund in order to identify how best to improve, develop and extend independent living support building on the successful model of ILF provision. 

5. Amendment to ‘Continuity of care and support when an adult moves’ – Clause 37 ‘Notification, assessment etc

I believe I should have the same freedom to move home as non-disabled people i.e. without the fear that my care package will be removed or reduced. I urge you to propose and amendment so there is a duty to:

  • Ensure the new care package provided by the receiving authority must be equivalent to the existing care package, provided by the first authority.  

Together these amendments will help make the Care Bill better for disabled people and help make independent living a reality for me and other disabled people.

Can you please let me know what action you will take and what amendments you will be proposing and supporting.

Yours sincerely,

 

 

 

 

 Posted by at 16:36
Jan 072014
 

We promised to update everyone about the outcome of this case where our ally Citizen Smart was charged and in court for singing anti-Tory songs.

 

http://www.internaldpac.org.uk/DPACClone/2014/01/anti-tory-songs-now-illegal/

 

Yesterday was the day of the court case but the case has still not been heard. Our understanding of the events are the court had difficulty trying to video-record proceedings so there wasn’t enough time to hear the case and the trial has been postponed again. We will let people know how this farce is progressing when we get more news.

 Posted by at 15:37
Dec 112013
 

report back from DPAc member who went along to see what Mike Penning the minister for disabled people had to say to the select parliamentary committee on ILF, PIP and WCA.

Anne Begg, said, can you please tell us what you are going to decide with the future of the ILF, as 22,000 severely disabled people do not know what the future holds for this fund, and the future is so uncertain for them, in light of the appeal that the claimaints won, has the minister made a decision on the future of the fund, if to close it in 2015 or re design it?

Mike Penning said, I have read the decision from the courts and I will not be appealing the decision, I totally accept it.  I have not read the submission report as it has not been delivered to me, therefore i cannot make a decision when I have not have the report delivered to me.  When a decision has been made all 22,000 claimaints in receipt of ILF will be communicated to (his words) and there is the money to let them know what the outcome of my decision will be.

He was told by Anne Begg, you are causing high anxiety and stress to some of the most severely disabled in society, surely you can tell them something to put their minds at rest?  He said no, I cant and I wont as I have not read the report and as there is a court case around this, I do not want another court case on top, when the decision has been made on the ILF, all claimants will be notified.

It then went to PIP, Jason Feeney the operations director for PIP was also present as a witness,  the PIP stats for new claimants will be released tomorrow.  So far, 30,000 new claimants have been through PIP, and 15,000 claims were turned down, 1 in 7 claimants were denied PIP denial rate is at 50 per cent.   He plans to release in Jan/Feb 2014 the next regions to see the roll out of PIP, this will be done in stages.  The mandatory re assessment is set for October 2015 to finish in October 2017.  They plan to assess 155,000 a quarter, will be on budget and on time.

Penning plans to introduce the PIP form in PDF format over time, but is worried about security issues around this at the moment.

With the Atos contract for PIP in the areas where Atos have PIP there are financial clauses in the contract where PIP do not meet there contract targets, He said, Atos are in it to make money “well, we all knew that didnt we?”  The HCP are still receiving training to make sure the system works well, and understand there are delays with claimants, (we are now called “customers”) are experiencing at present, hence the staged roll out as they want to get it right.

Mr Penning, said, if claimants submitted enough supported evidence 17 per cent of people will not need a face to face assessment, and people with visual, hearing, and communication impairments can have an appointee speak on the phone to the PIP office on their behalf.  He said, in regards to the questionnaire where there is a four week turn around to get it back to the assessment centre, it can be extended to four weeks, but, then the claim will end.

In regards terminal conditions, they are working setting up in each region and benefit office a terminal office department so that people who have a terminal illness will have their claims done and completed with in 7 days.

October 2015 for mandatory re assessments stays for current DLA recipients, there will be no more delays.

With regards Dr Paul Litchfield, his fourth wca review will be published tomorrow thursday 12the dec, along with the new claimant pip stats.

There was not the time to discuss the WCA and Mr Penning has been asked to come back to the commitee in the new year, and bring Dr Pritchard along as a witness to discuss the 4th review.

Anne Begg said she would e mail when the date of the call back for the W.C.A is.

The WCA will be heard on 19th feb, so well done to wow.

Martin and me represented dpac for this today, and the two of us faced three armed police at gun point in the corridor outside the committee room, at the end of the meeting Mike Penning was surrounded by armed police and taken up the corridor while we were watched carefully.  Don’t know what they thought we were going to do.

I think we are rattling them big time, and the security level for all buildings has been raised to substantial as well.

 

 

 Posted by at 20:29
Dec 112013
 

For the past few months we at Disabled People Against Cuts have been receiving emails daily from disabled people and disabled parents with children who are being left without any food or any money for heating. They have had their benefits sanctioned and all money taken away from them for a period of between 2 weeks and 3 months. Disabled people who have never committed any crimes in their lives are being forced into shoplifting simply to be able to eat themselves or to feed their children.

The reasons they are being sanctioned are pathetic, looking for too many jobs, being late to sign on because they were at an interview for a job, having to help a pregnant partner before coming out and being 5 minutes late. Imagine being left utterly destitute in this way by a gang of uncaring, heartless millionaire politicians who think being starved will ‘encourage’ you to find one of the non-existent jobs. It is hard to believe that in a country which is still one of the richest in the world people are being deliberately and callously left to starve and freeze.

Surely democracy, if it exists, depends on government of the people by consensus rather than by the use of force or fear which is tyranny. Yet this week’s appearances by government ministers in front of the DWP select committee only highlights that no such consensus exists in the UK today.

And what of our own minister for disabled people – Mike Penning aka Machine Gun Mike and that DWP henchman Iain Duncan Smith. When the mere thought of being in the same room as a small group of disabled people exercising their democratic right to attend a select committee hearing drives DWP ministers to resort to mass protection by police guards heavily armed with machine guns pointed towards disabled spectators while they waited in the corridor to go into the rooms and after they came out of the meeting I think it is fair for all citizens to ask just what has this government become. Certainly they really cannot be viewed as democratic or legitimate in any way. Neither can they use the excuse that such ‘vulnerable’ people as us are in any way a threat to them – or are we? We are large in numbers and most of us are allowed to vote in elections.

One disabled woman who was there said

“we are being treated like terrorists because we are disabled people –  disgusting!”

and another said

“ A very disturbing sight to se an MP having guns pointed at 3 unarmed people in wheelchairs and about 8 other disabled people and carers who came peacefully to exercise their democratic right to sit in on a hearing.”

As if being threatened with a machine gun was not enough disabled people legitimately attending meetings in the House of Commons are now regularly being subjected to more and more ridiculous security checks. Yesterday when I attended the BIHR charter launch I was forced to remove not only my watch but the quite ordinary belt from my trousers so it could be scanned. What exactly could be hidden in a belt I have no idea and can only assume this was done to cause me to be humiliated. Needless to say I wasn’t I was simply left wondering how disabled people being treated in such ways could possibly equate to the UK government being viewed as ‘good’ on upholding human rights in other parts of the world.

However I won’t dwell further on that as the subject is fraught with problems if we start to remember the Blair years, Guatanamo, and other abuses carried out in the name of democracy.

I simply want to reiterate that the very fact that DWP ministers felt the need to be protected from us and to be hidden away behind machinegun carrying police in this way simply illustrates how successful we have been with our campaigning so far. Shame on them all.

See also this FOI request to DWP about the incident on Monday which was made by someone not known to DPAC.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/work_pensions_committee_machine

11 December 2013

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

My questions refer to security processes surrounding the Work &
Pensions meeting held on 9th December 2013 at 16:30 in the Wilson
room.

According to multiple witnesses (members of the public, mainly
physically or mentally disabled) who arrived to observe the above
meeting, they were initially met by standard airport and court type
security, metal detectors, belongings checked, they were frisked –
all pretty much what I would expect.

The public area was off camera (although some public members did
appear in view of the camera to find their seats and I did witness
one electric wheelchair user briefly on camera.

However the witnesses stated something rather disturbing which
wasn’t seen on camera which could explain their unusual silence
throughout the proceedings. There were several policemen or
security guards with machine guns, not pointed down, instead
pointing TOWARDS the public area throughout this meeting.

My questions are as follows:

1. Who from the DWP asked for these guards with machine guns to be
present?

2. Who from the DWP asked for these guards to keep their machine
guns pointed toward the public area?

3. Please provide the report which deemed it necessary to have
guards with machine guns pointed toward the public during this
meeting.

My fourth question is only for if you’re unable to answer any one
of the above questions.

4. Please specify the Government department I should send this FoI
request to if you don’t hold the above information on any question
I ask above.

(For public reference, the meeting can be watched here although the
public area and the guards with machine guns are off camera:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqJoGMKI… )

Yours faithfully,

 

 

 Posted by at 19:37
Dec 092013
 

Frances Ryan, a journalist for The Guardian and New Statesman, is looking fo disabled people and those with a long term health condition willing to share their experiences of food poverty: both how we’re being affected by it and ways you’re dealing with it.  

Due to being a disabled person, have you had difficulty accessing out-of-home help like food banks? 

Have you been unable to buy food due to benefit changes? 

Have you had to rely on other ways to find food when you couldn’t afford to buy it? e.g. scavenging, skipping etc.

Has your impairment/long term illness worsened due to malnutrition?
Any experiences you think are relevant and you’d be willing to share, please get in touch on frances.ryan18@btinternet.com. Thank you. (Please email rather than write in the comments below as I wouldn’t want to miss your input.)
We think that it is important for people who have no idea what is happening to some of us to hear the truth so if you are willing to share your details with Frances we hope this will help let people know how disabled people, young children and others who have been sanctioned for bizarre reasons such as looking for too many jobs are being left to starve in the UK today due to the policies of the Condem government.

 

 Posted by at 20:31
Dec 022013
 

Last Saturday was the founding conference of Left Unity attended by many DPAC activists and other disabled people. There were access glitches galore, yes…but it was a historic moment for a political party to be kicked off with so many disabled people in attendance as members and a couple speaking too. 

What went right was that the website asked people signing up to let us know if they had any access needs. Very few did, but we responded to them, providing documents on a memory stick for example – and in some cases went above and beyond, providing many large print copies of the conference documents.  The venue was basically wheelchair accessible and had a hearing loop and over 1,900 people viewed the livestreaming at some point during the day. We know this was important to disabled members who simply couldn’t travel. Organisers ensured that the chair and speakers were at floor level so that disabled people could speak. Posters around the venue showed disabled people, including a Disabled People Against Cuts demo.

So it’s true that lots went wrong! I’m not going to list it all here (others have already done so). I had failed to get the start time put back, though I did try. But the whole point of having a registration desk dedicated to disabled people was so that if they arrived with just a few minutes to go to 10 o’clock, or even after, their registration could be speeded through.

Some people ignored reserved seat notices and there were no announcements to the effect that those who needed the hearing loop needed to be in the first few rows…mainly because those of us who could have done that were still tied up on registration desks. Worst of all, a number of factors meant there were no access breaks although they’d been promised in writing and that was dire, there’s no getting round it.

But having been there from the beginning, I have seen the tremendous amount of work that went into making it as good as we could (at breakneck speed) and the genuine determination of everyone involved to keep getting better.  I have seen that we have managed to keep at bay those who would have wrecked the whole project so that they could empire build.

We have an immensely strong group of disabled people already (I believe it may be the largest of all the caucuses so far) so it CAN only get better.  It is a very difficult process. Most of us have never been able to be involved in mainstream politics before and so find it difficult to take the right initiative at the right time. And of course most non-disabled people have an equal mountain to climb in terms of understanding the social model and supporting us. But it has started and it will continue.

And what did we achieve? Well, the UK has a new broad left party truly there to represent working class people, not just owning classes and the ridiculously wealthy.  We will have at least 50% women on all national and regional bodies. We will be fighting capitalism (no I’m not sure how yet!) and campaigning alongside working class people in general and trades unions in particular, for a much more inclusive and just society, which respects our environment too.

If you are a member of Left Unity, do join us at ludisabledpeople@lists.riseup.net

 Posted by at 13:18
Nov 152013
 

Don’t forget to come to the action on November 26th to protest against Fuel Poverty. meet 11.30 am at Liverpool Street station. Also here are Fuel Poverty Action’s tips to help you keep as warm as possible this winter.

Fuel Poverty Top Tips

Fuel Poverty Action has produced some resources copied below to help people keep warm. Please download and share them wherever they can be of use.

If you have stories about how disabled people are being affected by fuel poverty that you are happy to share please or would like to get involved in campaigning against the effects of fuel poverty on disabled people please contact Ellen on 07505 144371 or ellenrclifford@btinternet.com.

 

  • SOME TIPS ON HOW TO BRING DOWN YOUR FUEL BILLS
  • STRUGGLING WITH HIGH FUEL BILLS?
  • TEN THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU WERE ENTITLED TO FROM YOUR ENERGY SUPPLIER….

 

SOME TIPS ON HOW TO BRING DOWN YOUR FUEL BILLS

Produced by Fuel Poverty Action

fuelpovertyaction.org.uk | Twitter: @FuelPovAction | Facebook: Fuel Poverty Action

1.            Switch supplier

Consider switching your energy supplier, or switching your tariff from your current supplier. An easy way to do this is through consumer rights advocates uswitch. You can find the cheapest deal through uswitch online at www.uswitch.com or by telephone on 0808 178 3492.

2.            Warm Homes Discount

This is a discount of £120 off your annual energy bill. People who get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit are the core group that is eligible, receiving the discount from the government automatically. But the energy suppliers also have broader schemes for other people, each with slightly different criteria. Contact your supplier to find out whether you qualify.

3.            Insulation

•             Insulating your home is an important way to save money on your bills. Several of the energy companies offer free insulation schemes. Get in touch with your supplier to find out if you could qualify.

•             The government’s ‘Warm Front’ scheme also offers free grants to people to fund insulation and other home efficiency measures, including loft insulation, draughtproofing, cavity wall insulation and more. The government have just broadened the eligibility criteria for Warm Front- whether or not you’re eligible depends on which benefits you receive. To find out if you qualify, go to http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Environmentandgreenerliving/Energyandwatersaving/DG_10018661, call the Warm Front advice line on 0800 316 2805 or contact your local Citizens’ Advice Bureau. NB the Warm Front scheme expires at the end of October 2012 so apply as soon as possible!

•             You can try out DIY insulation-measures: insulate cold walls on the inside with special insulating wallpaper, available from DIY stores.

 

4.            Draughts

•             Fill the gap between the floor and the bottom of the wall with draught excluder strip (buy this from the DIY store) or, if you can’t get hold of it, strips of rag or rolled newspaper.

•             Fill up gaps in the floorboards with ‘plastic wood’ filler that you can buy from a DIY store or sawdust mixed with glue.

•             Buy an inside letter-box flap from a DIY store to stop draughts getting in through your letter box. Or make your own with a cloth bag fixed around the inside of the letter-box (with a hole in the bottom to retrieve the post!)

•             Fit draught excluder strips round doors and windows.

5.            Don’t overheat your homes

•             If you have gas central heating, use your room thermostat to control the heating so that you have temperatures of 18°C in most areas and 21°C in the living room.

•             Turn your heating off in the summer.

•             Set your central heating timer to switch the heating off half an hour before you leave the house or go to bed (if it’s warm enough to sleep without heating.)

•             Don’t heat rooms that you’re not using – turn the thermostats in these rooms off, and keep the doors closed.

•             Service your boiler every year – this will increase the efficiency of your heating system.

 

6.            Keep doors/windows closed

Keep doors and windows closed when you are heating your home. When you need to ventilate, for example when cooking or bathing and the room gets steamed up, close the kitchen/bathroom door so the rest of the house does not cool down and moisture does not spread and cause condensation.

7.            Think about your curtains!

•             Close your curtains at dusk to stop heat escaping through the windows.

•             Don’t let curtains overhang radiators as this funnels heat out of the room via the glass.

•             Don’t put heavy furniture, such as sofas, in front of radiators as this traps warmth and stops it from circulating round the room.

•             Open your curtains during daylight to get the heat from the sun.

8.            Hot water…

•             Take short showers not baths. Showering uses about two-fifths of the amount of hot water needed for a bath. This saves about £45 per year.

•             Don’t overheat your water. Setting the hot water cylinder thermostat to 60°C is adequate for bathing and washing.

•             Repair dripping taps and make sure taps are turned off properly.

•             Use the plug to save on hot water.

9.            Electical Applicances…

•             Buy energy efficient appliances. An energy label must, by law, be shown for most electrical appliances, with ‘A’ rated appliances the most efficient and ‘G’ rated the least efficient.

•             Turn appliances off at the socket.

10.          Cooking

•             When boiling the kettle, only boil the water that you need to use. This will save you around £25 per year.

•             Cooking with gas or in the microwave is cheaper than an electric cooker.

•             You can save on gas by cooking two or more things at once in the oven and by putting lids on saucepans.

11.          Washing…

•             Washing at 30 degrees means less money spent heating the water in the washing machine.

•             Make sure you wash full loads of clothes if possible.

•             Use the economy setting on your washing machine if you have one.

•             Tumble dryers use a lot of energy. If possible. dry clothes outside or on drying racks.

12.          Lighting…

•             Use low-energy light bulbs.

•             Make sure you turn lights off when they’re not being used.

 

 

STRUGGLING WITH HIGH FUEL BILLS?

A short guide to government schemes that could help you out…

Produced by Fuel Poverty Action.

 

The government offers several schemes that can help you with heating your home and bringing down your bills. This guide has been made to help you work out what you’re entitled to. You can find all the info online at direct.gov.uk. See the end of this guide for a full list of useful contact details.

 

There are four different government schemes to be aware of:

 

a) Warm Homes Discount Scheme – page 1-2. (Only available for older people)

b) Cold Weather Payments – page 2. (Only available if you live an area that has just experienced seven consecutive days of very cold weather).

c) Winter Fuel Payments – page 3-4. (Only available for older people)

d) Warm Front Scheme – page 4-5. (For those on low-incomes living in homes that are poorly insulated and/or do not have a properly funcitoning heating system).

 

 

WARM HOMES DISCOUNT SCHEME

The Warm Homes Discount Scheme helps some pensioners with their energy bills. In winter 2012/2013, the scheme will give those who qualify a £130 discount from their energy bills.

 

The scheme applies to pensioners who receive pension credit, which is an income-related benefit to top up a state pension. Pension credit is made up of two separate parts: Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit. You might receive just one of these or both. If you’re not sure whether you receive pension credit or which parts you receive, or if you do not already receive it but want to find out if you are entitled, call the pension credit helpline on 0800 99 1234 or visit http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Pensionsandretirementplanning/PensionCredit/

 

If you are under 80 years old, You are entitled to this discount if :

 

a) You receive the Guarantee Credit aspect of Pension Credit

AND

b) You DO NOT receive the Savings Credit aspect of Pension credit.

AND

c) Your name, or your partner’s name is on your electricity bill.

AND

d) You get your electricity from one of the following energy suppliers: Atlantic, British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, Equipower, Equigas, Manweb, M&S Energy, npower, Sainsbury’s Energy, Scottish Gas, Scottish Hydro, ScottishPower, Southern Electric, SSE, Swalec and Utility Warehouse.

 

If you are over 80 years old, you are entitled to this discount if:

 

a) You receive the Guarantee Credit aspect of Pension Credit (if you are over 80, you can receive the discount even if you receive Savings Credit as well)

AND

b) Your name, or your partner’s name is on your electricity bill.

AND

c) You get your electricity from one of the following energy suppliers: Atlantic, British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, Equipower, Equigas, Manweb, M&S Energy, npower, Sainsbury’s Energy, Scottish Gas, Scottish Hydro, ScottishPower, Southern Electric, SSE, Swalec and Utility Warehouse.

 

If you meet the conditions above you do not need to do anything now to get your discount in 2012/2013. The Government will write to all those potentially eligible for the discount in autumn 2012.

 

NB Several energy suppliers offer Warm Homes Discounts to a broader range of people beyond pensioners. To find out whether you could qualify, contact your energy supplier.

 

 

COLD WEATHER PAYMENTS

If there is a period of very cold weather in your area you may be able to get a Cold Weather Payment. A period of very cold weather is classed as when the temperature is an average of zero degrees Celsius or below over seven consecutive days in a row. The value of the payment is £25 for each seven consecutive days of cold weather.

 

You don’t need to apply for a cold weather payment – if you’re entitled, you will automatically receive this.

 

To receive a payment, you have to receive certain benefiits:

 

– If you get Pension Credit, you will usually receive a Cold Weather payment.

 

– If you receive Income Support or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, you will get Cold Weather Payments if you also have any of the following:

a) a disability or pensioner premium included in your benefit

b) a child who is disabled

c) Child Tax Credit that includes a disability or severe disability element

d) a child under five living with you

 

– If you receive income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), you will usually receive Cold Weather Payments if you also have any of the following:

a) the support or work-related component of ESA

b) a severe or enhanced disability premium included in your benefit

c) a pensioner premium included in you rbenefit

d) a child who is disabled

e) Child Tax Credit that includes a disability or severe disability element

f) A child under five living you you

 

If you think you are entitled to a Cold Weather Payment but have not received one within 14 working days of a very cold period, then contact your local pension centre or Jobcentre Plus.

 

 

WINTER FUEL PAYMENTS

The Winter Fuel Payment is paid to all households with an occupant aged over 60. The amount a household is entitled to depends upon  your personal situation, but is between £100 and £300 per winter. The payment is paid regardless of your income and you can get it if you’re still working or claiming a benefit.

 

Your household will receive this payment in winter 2012/2013 if you (or someone else living in your house) were born on or before 5 July 1951 and NONE of the following applies for the week of 17-23 September 2012:

 

– you were in hospital for more than 52 weeks previously, getting free treatment as an inpatient

– you were in custody serving a court sentence

– you were subject to immigration control and did not qualify for help from the Department for Work and Pensions

– you lived in a care home, an independent hospital or Ilford Park Polish Resettlement Home (and had done so for the previous 12 weeks or more) and you were on Pension Credit, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance

– you move to another European Economic Area country or Switzerland and didn’t qualify before you moved.

 

If you are eligible for a Winter Fuel Payment and receive any of the following, then you do not need to claim and will be paid automatically:

 

–             State Pension

–             Employment and Support Allowance

–             Income Support

–             Jobseeker’s Allowance

–             Pension Credit

–             Attendance Allowance

–             Bereavement Benefit

–             Carer’s Allowance

–             Disability Living Allowance

–             Graduated Retirement Benefit

–             Incapacity Benefit

–             Industrial Injuries Benefits

–             Severe Disablement Allowance

–             War Pension

–             Widow’s Benefit

 

If you do not receive any of the above benefits but you are eligible for a Winter Fuel Payment, then you need to claim. You can do this by downloading a claim form online at http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Pensionsandretirementplanning/Benefits/BenefitsInRetirement/DG_198331  or by requesting a claim form by calling 0845 9 15 15. If you need to claim, make sure that you have sent your claim form in to arrive on or before September 21 to get your payment before Christmas.

 

 

WARM FRONT SCHEME

The Warm Front scheme provides heating and insulation improvements to households on certain income-related benefits that are having problem with their house’s insulation and/or heating system. The scheme can provide improvements of up to £6000.

 

NB: The Warm Front Scheme is due to expire at the end of 2012, so apply for a grant as soon as possible!

 

Grants are available for improvements such as:

•             loft insulation

•             draughtproofing

•             cavity wall insulation

•             hot water tank insulation

•             gas, electric, liquid petroleum gas or oil heating

•             glass-fronted fire – the Warm Front scheme can convert your solid-fuel open fire to a glass-fronted fire

You won’t have to pay anything as long as the work doesn’t cost more than the grant available. If the cost of the work is more than the grant available you’ll have to make a contribution to enable work to go ahead. Work will not start without making sure you are willing and able to pay the difference.

 

The first condition of being eligible for a Warm Front grant is that you must live in a property that you own or rent that is poorly insulated and/or without a working central heating system.

 

Secondly, to qualify, you must receive one or more of the following benefits:

 

1. Pension Credit (Guaranteed Credit and/or Savings Credit)

 

2. Income Support or Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance with any of the following:

•             Parental responsibility for a child under 16 who ordinarily resides with that person, or a child that is 16 or over but under 20 and in full time education.

•             Child Tax Credit (which must include a disability or severe disability element for a child or young person)

•             Disabled Child Premium

•             Disability Premium (enhanced disability or severe disability element premium)

•             Pensioner Premium (higher pensioner premium or enhanced pensioner premium)

 

3. Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA IR) that includes a work related activity or support component.

 

4. Child Tax Credit with an income of £15,860 or less.

 

5. Working Tax Credit with an income of £15,860 or less and any of the following:

•             parental responsibility for a child under 16 who ordinarily resides with that person. (16 or over but under 20 and in full time education)

•             disabled worker element

•             severe disability element

•             are aged 60 years or over

 

If you are eligible for a grant, then you need to apply. You can apply online at http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Environmentandgreenerliving/Energyandwatersaving/Energygrants/DG_10018661, or apply over the phone by calling 0800 316 2805.

If your application form is succesful, you will then be visited by a Warm Front surveyor, who will measure the energy efficiency of your home. The surveyor will then make recommendations on which energy efficiency improvements are most appropriate for your home. The surveyor may find that the energy efficiency of your home is above the threshold required to benefit from the scheme. If this is the case you will not be provided with any recommendations and you will be left with details of where else you may be able to get energy advice and help. However, if the surveyor finds that the energy efficiency of your home is below the required threshold, you will receive a grant.

USEFUL CONTACT INFO.

Government advice: www.direct.gov.uk

Home Heat Helpline: useful advice service for people struggling with fuel bills. Find this online at http://www.homeheathelpline.org.uk/  or ring their free advice line on 0800 33 66 99.

Citizens’ Advice Bureau: find advice online and search for your local advice centre at http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/ or call 08444 111 444.

Energy Supplier helplines:

British Gas: 0800 072 8629

EDF: 0800 096 9966

EON: 0345 301 4875

RWEnpower: 0800 073 3000

Scottish and Southern Electricity: 0845 026 0658

Scottish Power: 0845 026 0658

This guide was produced by Fuel Poverty Action. Fuel Poverty Action are a group of people fed up with high fuel bills, rising energy company profits, government cuts, negligent landlords and dirty, polluting forms of energy. We believe that everyone has the right to affordable, clean energy and warm, affordable and secure housing. We aim to support community action to defend these rights. Get in touch with us if you’d like to find out more.

Email: fuelpovertyaction@gmail.com

Website: fuelpovertyaction.org.uk

Twitter: @FuelPovAction

Facebook: Fuel Poverty Action

 

 

TEN THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU WERE ENTITLED TO FROM YOUR ENERGY SUPPLIER….

Produced by Fuel Poverty Action

 

1) Get compensation for wasted time

You don’t have to wait in all day for a meter reader or engineer. If your energy firm needs to visit you at home, you are entitled to a two-hour appointment slot – and, should they not turn up, you are entitled to compensation of £22 for a gas or electricity appointment or £44 for both.

 

2) Know the backdate limit

If you have had your bills recalculated because of a mistake by the energy provider, there is a limit to how much they can ask you to pay up. If your usage has been underestimated, the supplier can backdate your bills for only up to 12 months. However, to avoid even a year’s worth of charges, get into the habit of providing regular meter readings to ensure you always pay the right amount.

 

3) Know your rights with price rises

If your energy provider is putting up its prices, it is required to give you 30 days’ notice and cannot implement the increase if you tell it within 15 working days that you’re leaving. And despite what the name suggests, those on fixed-rate tariffs cannot be charged an exit penalty if they switch within this time.

 

4) Payments for power cuts

If consumers lose power, they can claim compensation for power cuts from their energy distributor, rather than the supplier. If your power is out for more than 18 hours you are entitled to £54, and £27 for each additional 12 hours without power. Similarly, those who have four or more power cuts lasting three hours or more in a year should receive £54. To get your refund, contact your energy provider.

 

5) Get extra help

Pensioners and people who are disabled or chronically ill can get extra help through their supplier’s Priority Services Register. This includes free quarterly meter readings, bills in large print or Braille or bills sent to a friend or relative, and a free annual gas safety check for those in receipt of means-tested benefits.

 

6) Know the switching timetable

If you switch energy supplier in order to ensure that you are on the most competitive tariff, it should take no longer than five weeks from start to finish. This includes the two-week cooling-off period and three weeks for the switch. Keep in mind that suppliers have also committed to make switching hassle-free, so if there are any problems it is their responsibility to sort it out, not the customer’s.

 

7) Compensation for being misled

If you have had your energy supply switched to another provider without your permission, you are entitled to compensation of £250. You are also entitled to compensation if you can prove you were deliberately misled by a sales person.

 

8) Know where to get help with debt

If you get into debt, your supplier must agree repayments that are affordable for you. Some suppliers, such as British Gas, EDF and npower, also have trust funds that can help you to settle debts or other essential costs.

9) Find free insulation

Loft insulation can save you an average of £120 on your annual energy bill, but costs as much as £300 to install. Many suppliers will offer free loft and cavity wall insulation with cash incentives. For instance, E.On and EDF are offering incentives of £100 and £200 respectively to those on low incomes who register for free insulation. Contact your supplier to find out, or check out the deals that other suppliers are offering…

 

10) Remember your cooling-off period

Have you switched your tariff only to have a cheaper one launched just days later? Or maybe you felt pressurised or put on the spot by a telesales agent? Not to worry, it is not too late to change your mind. All consumers who switch energy supplier are entitled to a 14-day cooling-off period during which they can switch back without incurring any charges.

 

 

 Posted by at 18:06
Nov 012013
 

We have just heard that the judgement on the ILF case will be made on Wednesday morning (6 November) at 9.45 am in court 63.  We will not know the decision until then

Our ILF solicitors are advising people that it would be good to be at the Royal courts of Justice on Wednesday for the judgement .  They are contacting the press and will be putting together a press release to hand out on Wednesday morning.  The hearing will only last a couple of minutes as there will be no legal submissions, just the court staff handing over the written judgment and someone reading out the court order.

We appreciate this is really short notice and that many of you will not be able to get to court but if you can that will be great!

We will be giving more info out on Monday.

 Posted by at 17:36
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