Apr 212014

DPAC would like to thank everyone for making last week’s (April 12 2014) National Conference such a huge success. There was a huge turnout with over 150 disabled activists from all over the UK including many new DPAC members attending, but just as important there were hundreds of members and supporters beyond the venue taking part through social media – watching the video live-stream, tweeting and sharing comments, views and sending messages of support. This was fantastic work by everyone and a truly inspiring collective effort.

DSC_1030 con

Here’s a brief outline of how it went.

The day was timetabled into sections beginning with practical reports and voting on policy motions. This was followed by two workshop sessions and then a closing session for everyone to feedback on the day. Four workshops were available to choose from in each Workshop session. Detailed reports on these will follow later.

John McDonnell MP, a longstanding friend and supporter of DPAC, gave a rousing opening speech to encourage everyone and remind us of the victories achieved so far. He congratulated disabled people and DPAC for fighting back, along with our sister organisation Black Triangle and WoW Petition initiators

As he finished he mentioned his own recent health condition which he said he felt brought him closer to our movement. Ellen reacted quickly by giving him a DPAC t-shirt and declaring him a full DPAC member to instant applause and cheers.

photo1jm tshirt

The Finance Report showed a healthy state of affairs for the time being thanks to individual donations, t-shirt and badge sales plus grants from the Edge Fund, the Network for Social Change, Trust for London  and the Andrew Wainwright Trust. More fund-raising is necessary going forward.

1. Government Honours
This proposed that any future candidates for the DPAC Steering Group could thwart the network and collective ethos of DPAC if they had received a national honour like an OBE or MBE. The ‘BE’ refers to the imperialist British Empire which is still celebrated despite what we know of the suffering and oppression this caused. The motion conversations also suggested that any media attention would be focused on those with honours and titles, rather than on the collective network ethos that DPAC ascribes to. The motion was put forward as a rejecting of this possibility and that of the honours system more generally. This was defeated.

2. Discrimination
This motion stated DPAC opposition to discrimination on the grounds of gender, sexuality, age, faith, disability, ethnicity or status. It also empowered the Steering Group to terminate the membership of anyone who supported a party which holds discriminatory policies, like UKIP. This motion passed based on an appeals process being put in place

3. Steering Group Size
This motion sought to expand the Steering Group from 8 members to 12 in order to respond to increased activity and maintain a broad, diverse and inclusive profile. This was passed.

Steering Group
There were 11 nominees for the Steering Group. Conference took a vote on whether to vote for accepting all 11 nominees, or vote for them one by one. Conference voted to accept all 11 nominees. The new steering group are currently reviewing co-opted places and will get back to the additional people that applied past the deadline as soon as possible

Steering Group:
Andy Greene
Bob Ellard
Ciara Doyle
Conan Doyle
Debbie Jolly
Eleanor Firman
Ellen Clifford
Linda Burnip
Paula Peters
Roger Lewis
Sabina Lahur

It was highlighted that the working groups are important in taking DPAC forward. The co-chair said she hoped those who did not stand for the Steering Group but were still interested in getting involved would join these as soon as possible.

Finally, a big thank you to the Conference Organising group and Workshop leaders who worked so hard to make this wonderful event a reality.

Links to videos from the day are here with thanks to Occupy for live streaming on the day to make the conference inclusive to all are here

Links to pictures can be found on DPAC flicker here
Thanks to Pete Riches, Szucs Gabriella and Rob Peters

The powerpoint on highlights of the last year can be found DPAC Report
A link to 2013 and some of the things DPAC did is here

See you on the streets!

DPAC www.dpac.uk.net
Twitter: Dis_ppl_protest
Also find us on Facebook with a group and open page under ‘Disabled People against Cuts’

contact: mail@dpac.uk.net


Dec 092013

Our Lives – Equal Lives: Disabled people in Norfolk speak about how personal budgets have transformed their lives and their fears of them being taken away. 

This video forms part of Equal Lives contribution to the Norfolk County Council consultation on the cuts.  The scale of the proposed cuts to adult social care will mean the end of personalisation and will result in disabled people becoming prisoners in their own homes.

Dec 032013

What price independent lives? – launched on the United Nations Day of Disabled People – highlights the combined effect of a range of benefit cuts on disabled people’s incomes and the particular threat this poses to independent living.

Analysis of Habinteg’s detailed tenancy data at a six month point after the introduction of benefit cuts revealed the specific financial hardship faced by disabled tenants as a result of benefit restrictions. It shows that two thirds of tenants affected by the bedroom tax are disabled people.

However the impact of this is deepened when the same people face other benefit cuts and variable policies by local authorities. The result is that the ability for disabled people to pay the additional costs associated with living an independent life is being severely restricted.

Key findings of What price independent lives?:

·         Two-thirds of Habinteg tenants affected by the bedroom tax are disabled people and of these, after six months of the new rules being in place, only a third had been exempted from paying by local authorities.

·         56 per cent of Habinteg tenants living in wheelchair standard properties have not yet been given exempt status from the bedroom tax.

·         Only 15 per cent of tenants who receive Disability Living Allowance (DLA) but live in general needs properties have been given bedroom tax exempt status by their local authority raising concerns that disabled people in this group may be faced with additionally reduced income when tested for eligibility for Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

·         The localised criteria for bedroom tax exemption has created a new postcode lottery for disabled people with an inconsistent and unpredictable approach which varies between local authorities. Such variation reinforces the barriers disabled people face if they want to move, whether for job opportunities or other reasons, and deepens inequality between disabled and non-disabled people.

·         Most tenants adversely affected by the bedroom tax are preparing to “stay and pay” in order to keep their existing property. The chronic shortage of wheelchair standard and accessible properties makes moving to downsize simply not an option.

·         Where local authorities do not agree exempt status, Habinteg is supporting tenants to apply for financial support under the Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) schemes. However, where information is available, it suggests that many disabled people are being refused DHP support. Three out of four case studies in the report have been refused DHPs. Some tenants have been given this support by their local authority while others in similar circumstances have been refused. This inconsistency makes it difficult for housing providers to manage their response and support tenants.

Habinteg is calling for the Government to repeal the bedroom tax, especially in respect of disabled people, review their stance on Universal Credit which will not cover service charging on disability-related adaptations and revise their plans to cut benefit payments under the transfer from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payments.

Habinteg Chief Executive, Paul Gamble, said: “Our report shows clearly the disproportionate impact from combined welfare reform policies on disabled people and highlights the very serious risk that the basic right to an independent life is threatened by the increased financial burden.

“We want the Government to acknowledge, understand and act on the cumulative impact of its welfare cuts agenda on disabled people. We are calling for the repeal of the bedroom tax, especially in respect of disabled people along with other steps to ensure their on-going right to independence and inclusion in their homes and communities.”

Baroness Rosalie Wilkins, Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Disability Group, said: “Habinteg’s new research provides a rallying cry for choice, independence and equality. Independent living is a right not a privilege. The way in which the bedroom tax cuts the incomes of disabled people at a stroke and impinges on their ability to live independently is something that must be challenged.

“I fully endorse Habinteg in their efforts to persuade the government to listen to the evidence, call a halt to the bedroom tax and rethink a welfare benefits programme that is unfairly impacting on disabled people.”

A Habinteg tenant case study from What price independent lives? (who wished to remain anonymous) said: “I can’t begin to explain how stressful this whole process has been. It was a trauma to work out what I was going to do. I kept thinking why would they do this?

“I never believed that moving was an option as the lack of a purpose built one bedroom wheelchair accessible home gave me no choice but to find a way to pay.”

The full report can be found at www.habinteg.org.uk/whatpriceindependentlives

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.





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.




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).




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


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


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


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)


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


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.




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.




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.




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.


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




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
Sep 142013



 You can only be evicted by a Judge and only if:

“It would be reasonable to leave and .. you will able to suggest to the court that it is not reasonable ..” (Official ‘Notice Seeking Possession’ form that the landlord has to send you) 

LOADS OF DEBTS?  Phone Advice Sheffield for free debt counselling on 205 5055


Apply for the Discretionary Housing Payment and Council Tax Hardship Fund by phoning 273 6983 or visit your local Housing Office. If you are refused you can appeal.


Your landlord (the council or a housing association) must carry out the PRE-COURT ACTION PROTOCOL:

–         check if you are vulnerable because of age, illness, mental or physical condition, communication or language problem

–         check to see if you are getting the Housing Benefit you are entitled to

–         tell you where you can get help and advice

–         consider whether the Equalities Act 2010 applies to you

If they do not do this any case  they take to court could be thrown out


Write out all the reasons why it would not be reasonable to evict you:

Make a detailed financial statement showing your income and expenditure proving you cant pay the extra rent and/or council tax because of cuts in your benefit. Disability benefits should be excluded.

Send this to your landlord at the address on the letter where they mention possible eviction

Keep copies to show any advisers you speak to.Get legal advice –see below.

                                                       APPLY FOR LEGAL AID

You can get legal aid if you are on low wages or benefits and at risk of losing your home. You will need proof of income e.g. wage slips or benefit letters for IS/JSA/ESA.

Solicitors who do housing cases:

Howells 7 Castle St, Castle Green S3 BLT tel 249 6666

Sheffield Law Centre Waverley House 10 Joiner St, S3 8GW

Norrie Waite & Slater 9-12 East Parade S1 2ET tel 276 6166

Tell them its about Notice Seeking Possession



–     when its too small e.g. less than 70 sq ft of useable space

–         when its used for another purpose eg. storing medical equipment

–         not fit to be used as a bedroom

If you think the council’s Housing Benefits decision to charge you for having ‘too many bedrooms’ is unfair you can still put in a late Appeal due to wholly exceptional circumstances’ – this should be done within 12 months of the original decision. A HB Tribunal in Fife just decided in favour of  a tenant who appealed. Your reasons could be Official Error or Mistake about a Material Fact. You can get help from an advice centre. Tel 205 5055.


Tell your neighbours, friends and family to get together to form a support group.

Tell us and we will come to court to support you as well. Join our campaign to kick the Bedroom Tax and all the  benefit cuts into the long grass. Contact sheffieldbenefitjustice@gmail.com. Tel 07928766385 or 248 3937 or sheffieldagainstevictions@gmail.com tel 07579203968. Affiliated to the national campaign

Anti Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Federation at antibedroomtax.org.uk. Email benefitjustice@gmail.com


many thanks to Shirley in Shefield for this information

 Posted by at 17:09
Aug 292013

Scope charity says they care about disabled peoples’ rights to access universal services close to their homes as part of their high profile ‘Britain Cares’/ ‘I Care’ campaign.

At the same time Scope is fundraising and asking the state to continue funding their institutionalised and segregated residential and educational services for disabled people.   

Throughout history special residential educational and care institutions have claimed to provide the education and care that disabled people need.  

We are here to dispel the myth of segregated ‘care’ and education services that are provided without our consent.  

do not:

·        Support disabled people’s choice and control over their lives.

·        promote disabled peoples inclusion in their local communities  

·        Support disabled people’s aspirations in education, training and employment.  

·        Support positive relationships between disabled and non-disabled people.  

·        Challenge the unacceptability of disability-related bullying and hate crime.

Scope is one of range of big business disability charities that are funded by the state to provide segregated education and care services at the expense of providing funding for independent living and inclusive education- things that are wanted by disabled people, their organisations and allies to provide proper independent living.

SCOPE supports the full implementation of the UN Convention of Persons with Disabilities that includes disabled peoples’ rights to inclusive education (Article 24) and Independent Living (Article 19).    

If SCOPE truly believes in disabled peoples’ human rights to be included in their local communities then they must stop the patronising caring campaign and be prepared to make fundamental changes to their paternalistic services.   


We dare SCOPE to close their special schools and colleges.

We dare SCOPE to develop alternative services that will support disabled peoples access to mainstream education.

We dare SCOPE to support ALLFIE’s Inclusive Education manifesto demands. 

We dare SCOPE to close residential institutions and develop real independent living alternatives for disabled people

We dare SCOPE to stop all segregated services such as day care to enact the full inclusion of disabled people

We dare SCOPE to stop claiming that they work ‘with’ disabled people while they continue to gain service contracts from local authorities when there are active user-led disabled organisations in that area.

It’s not only Scope but all the other disability big charities who claim to support disabled peoples human rights that must be challenged and be prepared to dare to do what disabled people want: a right to be supported, to be educated, and to live in their local communities, free from the possibility of state sanctioned institutionalisation.    

Please join DPAC’s Reclaiming Our Futures campaign….. We Launch the ‘I Dare’ Campaign against Segregation and the Removal of our Rights online campaign on the 3rd Sept

disabled extremist i dare

With thanks to Ania for pic

‘I Dare’ Day 3rd Sept

This is not just about SCOPE but all those other big disability charities Leonard  Cheshire, MENCAP, MIND you name them- they all do it-they all claim to speak in our name. Add to this, this Government and we ‘dare’ to campaign against it all.

Sept 3rd is DPAC ‘s ‘I Dare’ day, a day of online action on twitter and Facebook , with a few surprises too.

We want to see people tweeting and spreading the word across social media against all those that try to take our rights away – that segregate us, that say they speak for us-we want to show them that we dare to fight back.

Flood twitter and Facebook with ‘I dare’ messages –here’s some we made earlier…..

I dare campaign


#I dare: speak up and campaign for independent living and to save ILF

#I dare: speak out about the lost of support for disabled people

#I dare: speak out on the increasing suicides and premature deaths from Atos assessments

#I dare: speak out on the increasing number of disabled people left without food because of cuts

#I dare: to tell the truth about what is happening in this country to disabled people under this Government

#I dare: to say that its not ‘care’ disabled people want, but the right to make our own choices

#I dare: to say I want rights not charity

#Britain dares #I dare #We dare

Inclusive Education NOT segregated Education for Disabled children and young people

#I dare to experience mainstream education!

# I dare the Govt to implement the education related recommendations in the EHRC Hate Crime reports – what are they afraid of!

#I dare the government to give disabled people choice of mainstream provision – what have they got to lose other than a few quid invested in segregated ed!

And why not send an ‘I dare’ Picture to SCOPE to let them know what you think http://www.britaincares.co.uk/ show them #Britain Dares, better send us a copy too at: mail@dpac.uk.net






Aug 262013

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


Dear MP,

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

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

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

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

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

Yours sincerely,

Link to download letter in Word Dear MP

Aug 222013

Updated video of the excellent Condemn Love DPAC’s Anti-Atos song -with massive thanks once more to Kevin Robins for all his work on this. See Kevin perform live at Piss on Pity 31st August-part of the DPAC Reclaiming our Futures week of action.

Also watch this space for more news on how to download Condem Love and contribute to DPAC


Con-Dem Love!

They’re screwing up my mind , wasting my time
Keeping up the pressure on this heart of mine
They’ve got a real obsession , egos out of hand
Out to make a make a killing from their “welfare” scam.

This is Con-Dem love, Con-Dem love, Con-Dem love ,
Condemn .. … Con-Dem love.

Laid my cards on the table told their GP straight
Depressions biting hard and that’s hard to take
I showed him the scars on my arms where I’d cut
He looked me in the eye and said you’re “working fit”

This is Con-Dem love, Con-Dem love, Con-Dem love
They’re going to show you what they’re made of.

On a circle of emotion on the treadmill again
They took away my social, can’t pay the rent
What can do, so ill, I can’t fight,
I toss and turn I stay awake all night
Darkened thoughts are haunting me
I’m so afraid of this reality

This is Con-Dem love, Con-Dem love, Con-Dem love
They’re going to show you what they’re made of.

Sitting in a corner — with the lights switched off
This no win situation’s lost
Can’t make no plans for you or for me
There’s no reason to go on you see .

This is Con-Dem love, Con-Dem love, Con-Dem love
They’re going to show you what they’re made of.
They’re going to show you what they’re made of

They’re screwing up my mind, wasting my time
Keeping up the pressure on this heart of mine
They’ve got real obsession, egos out of hand
Out to make a make a killing from their “welfare” scam.

They’re screwing up my mind , taking away my life x 3

©  Robins/Clark

If you would like to know more about DPAC or make a contribution to our work please visit our website www.dpac.uk.net or email: mail@dpac.uk.net or twitter: @Dis_PPL_Protest *Special thanks to all including Rob Livingstone and Simon Gomery for some of the excellent artwork contribution on this video.


Jun 302013

University of London Union, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HY

This meeting will be a chance for

– Local DPAC groups to share information and experiences and to network

– Find out more about and feed into the Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations Manifesto

– Feed into the planning of this year’s DPAC Week of Action and Freedom Drive


The venue is wheelchair accessible and BSL will be provided.


To RSVP or for other access enquiries please contact Ellen ellen.clifford@inclusionlondon.co.uk or 07505144371


Many thanks to Inclusion London and to University of London Union for their support and facilities for this meeting.

Jun 032013

As more and more people are finding that they go from hours to minutes of support from their local authorities, as ILF users are threatened with being passed into a local authority system that cannot serve the aims of independent living, and as independent living is becoming more of a mirage every day, despite article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons (UNCRPD) – we look at Angela’s story. Angela contacted DPAC several months ago when it was clear that her local authority were carrying out practices that appeared to be against protocol -legal representation was found. However, this could not stop the real threats to the reduction of Angela’s support or to her right to independent living:

Angela’s Story
I’m 28 years old – but if they take away my social care it’ll be the end of my life.

I’m disabled but I want to enjoy life the way any other young woman can.  I have two volunteer jobs.

 Now they’re threatening to take this support away – leaving me isolated at home, forcing me to go to bed at 9.30 every night, not even able to go to the toilet.

I did a degree in psychology and criminal behaviour. It was interesting but nothing like CSI! During one of the seminars, I met a representative from Headway, the spinal brain injury charity and I’ve been volunteering there for the last two and a half years. I won Luton’s Volunteer of the Year Award last year.

I’m constantly looking for paid work. I don’t sit around watching TV, I never have, I don’t believe in that. I would love to get a paid job. I have tried. I’ve been for interviews for customer services and as a support worker. Even though we are supposed to have equal opportunities, people still look at my wheelchair.

I was hit by a car when I was two. I have a spinal brain injury which has affected my left side. I can’t walk because I have no balance, so I use an electric chair.

When I turned 18, Social Services helped me find a place to live and be independent. Social care gave me total freedom to get up, go to bed, go to the toilet and settle into my new home and life. With decent social care I’ve been able to do whatever I want. I can go out and enjoy life the way any other young woman can. I have two volunteer jobs, and I can go shopping and see my friends.

Suddenly, out of the blue recently they’ve tried to cut my care from 20 hours a day down to three. I was shocked, upset and angry. I tried to negotiate with the woman at the Council and was told “life’s not perfect for anyone”.  I don’t expect it to be perfect – I want to have a life like any young woman.

I’d have no freedom. I’d have to be in bed at 9.30pm and get up at 7.30am, with no way to go to the toilet in the night either. My carer wouldn’t have time to cook me fresh food (microwaved horsemeat lasagne here I come!).

Imagine living this life for the next 50 years. If I was stuck with that forever, I would give up and lose my passion for living. I would find a way to end my life.

What I’m asking for isn’t unreasonable. I just want flexibility and freedom and a little support. I’m not asking for the world. But I do want dignity and I do want freedom. If I wasn’t in this wheelchair I would have those things, so why shouldn’t I.

What’s worse is it isn’t just me. It isn’t just about reducing how much support people get. They’re taking away all support for some disabled people. Every disabled person who needs support should get it – this is about the basic dignity and freedom to live our lives.

The government has what they call a spending review coming up – it’s when George Osborne decides: How will he spend our money? What do we care about as a country?

Will you sign the petition I’ve started and send George Osborne a message loud and clear that we want adequate support for disabled people to live independently?    They spent more than a billion pounds just on the Olympics village where the athletes stayed last year, surely they can put at least that much into social support for us? We only have a few weeks!
Angela Murray

Petition: http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/george-osborne-save-social-care-let-me-and-all-disabled-people-live-with-freedom-and-dignity

Please sign the petition and write to us at mail@dpac.uk.net with your stories. We are also looking for stories from people who were stopped from applying for Independent Living Fund support in 2010 when the Coalition closed it to new applicants.

This is not just about ‘care’ it is about independent living, the right to independent living and support for all. It is about the UK breaking its own signed commitment to the UNCRPD. It is about the impact on real lives like Angela’s. It is fundamentally wrong!

DPAC is continually gathering evidence of the impacts of the cuts, their effects on independent living and quality of life for disabled people and those with long term health issues. Unlike some other organisations we are keen to bring this Government to task through every route we can, including the legal system.



May 162013

This Code of practice for transition reviews of those in receipt of ILF funding has been drawn up by ILF, ADASS and LGA.  It seems fairly meaningless so there is no surprise there.

Transfer Review Programme Code of practice
Purpose of the code of practice
Following engagement with local authorities in England and disabled people and their organisations, the Independent Living Fund (ILF), the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), and the Local Government Association (LGA) have co-produced this code in order to promote best practice to support the effective transfer of ILF users to sole local authority support from April 2015.
The code aims to maximise the success of the transfer review programme and enhance the customer journey throughout transition by providing key principles to underpin partnership working.
Key principles
1. Commitment to personalisation, inclusion, and choice and control
Throughout the process all parties will seek to demonstrate a commitment to the underlying principles of personalisation. There will be a high level commitment to maintaining choice and control, as well as maintaining users’ independent living outcomes.
All parties will ensure that users and their representatives are fully involved in transitional planning, and will take account of the views and requirements of users and their families/representatives in the preparation and implementation of the transfer of support.
2. Working in partnership
It is essential that the ILF and local authorities collaborate and work in partnership throughout the transfer programme to ensure that the necessary plans and structures are in place to fully support users up to and beyond 2015.
All parties will be committed to working towards and meeting relevant deadlines so as to guarantee that the programme is fully completed by 31 March 2015.
3. Open communication
Throughout the programme there needs to be continuous and open communication, providing relevant information that is shared in a timely manner. All parties should ensure that users are kept informed of plans that impact on their future. It is important that users have a clear awareness and understanding of what the transfer will mean for them.
4. Designated support
In order to facilitate the management of the programme, the ILF and local authorities will have place a named point of contact to manage relations between the ILF and each local authority, for both operational and corporate liaison. There should be a clear delineation of responsibility and accountability in running the programme both within the ILF and with local authorities.
5. Commitment to joint reviews
To aid the transfer process the ILF and local authorities will collaborate and participate in the joint transfer review programme, using a person centred assessment to identify how independent living outcomes can continue to be met.
In addition the programme will need to identify and inform users of what they will need to do prior to April 2015 to ensure that their eligible support continues to be met.
To aid in this process the ILF will seek consent prior to the initiation of the transfer review programme from all group 1 users to pass on information to local authorities. This will facilitate the collaboration between the ILF and local authorities and enable full participation in the programme by local authorities.
6. Advice and advocacy
Local authorities should where possible ensure that there is sufficient provision of, and clear signposting towards, independent advocacy and support. The ILF and local authorities will work together to share information on support available for users in order to effectively signpost people to this.
7. Personal budgets
The transfer to local authorities will be an opportunity to promote the take up of personal budgets. ILF users currently receive cash payments directly from the fund to pay for their support and the expectation is that they will continue to be able to exercise choice and control over how their care is provided. Users should be informed of what options and support are available locally.
8. Provision from April 2015
Transitional arrangements need to be in place from 1 April 2015 which enable users to plan for and manage any change in their support. The arrangement of a period of phased transition being provided that supports the protection of independent living outcomes is one of the issues for consideration during this transition period.
We believe that it is essential that before the end of the transfer programme all ILF users and their representatives have a clear understanding of how their eligible support needs will be met immediately following the transfer.
Any change to support arrangements made by the local authority should take into account the impact upon care providers making certain that the user is able to meet legal and contractual obligations where provision is reduced or replaced. In particular this includes redundancy payments and notice periods.
9. Data sharing
Any transfer of information needs to ensure that no person who has expressed a wish to receive support after April 2015 is unaccounted for.
The ILF will need to monitor the transfer of information to the relevant authorities. When information is transferred to local authorities there will need to be in place a mechanism to acknowledge the receipt of this information. All parties will ensure that appropriate measures are in place to transfer and protect sensitive information in compliance with data protection legislation.
10.Monitoring and evaluation
The ILF and local authorities will work in conjunction to ensure that there is a system in place to evaluate the effectiveness and progress of the programme. Any evaluation will naturally engage the opinions of users and their representatives.
Each party will have in place a clear process for managing complaints about decisions taken as a result of reviews. In addition the ILF and Local authorities should work in conjunction to resolve any concerns raised and provide a rapid resolution of any issues that arise.
7 May 2013

We also have this equally meaningless response to an FOI request for further information about what funding will be available. To summarise there is NO information which seems to be available to inform people what will happen.


 Posted by at 18:39
May 022013

On 1st May the local Times (Hendon and Finchley, Barnet and Potters Bar, Edgeware and Mill Hill) newspaper published a Headline on the Barnet case taken by Maria Nash against the Capita contract for the privatisation of Barnet local authority services.  It said:

“One Barnet campaigner Maria Nash handed more taxpayer funding to continue High Court fight”

 This was a scandalous and pejorative statement written by the chief reporter Chris Hewitt. Even the local Times may be Tory Blue , but such headlines are surely an insult to balanced reporting everywhere. Nowhere did this piece state what the problems with the outsourcing would be, nowhere did it state the facts of the issue, or the problems outsourcing of council services had brought previously. Instead preferring to deal with sensationalist vitriol on an exercise of democracy, in an era where democracy is harder and harder to find. The piece went on to say:

‘A campaigner fighting Barnet Council’s multi-million pound outsourcing scheme has been granted more taxpayer funding to continue her legal battle…Following a three-day hearing in March, which cost the taxpayer more than £500,000…’

The piece can be seen in full at the link below


 What this is really about

Well this could be about tax payers money in bailing out yet another private company, should the worst happen and Capita do take over services. It will leave the people of Barnet in a worse position than now with social care provision, cut backs and based on Capita’s previous form : increasing debts. DPAC applauds Maria Nash and Barnet Alliance for Public Services (BAPS).  As we have previously  said:

“DPAC fully supports the campaign to oppose the privatisation of public services in Barnet.

What is happening in Barnet is important to everyone because Barnet is only just the beginning and if this is allowed to happen in one area it could happen anywhere.

Disabled people have fought long and hard for public sector duties to promote our rights, and privatisation will cynically evade responsibilities towards equality and inclusion.

Where private companies are squeezing profit out of already under funded services the result can only be sub standard services. For disabled people who rely on services that means people’s lives on the line.

Disabled people have seen the care that private companies have for us from our experiences with the Work Capability Assessment where they compete for contracts to profit out of pushing disabled people into poverty.

In Banstead last week a disabled older woman unable to leave her bed died after her outsourced care agency was shut down and she was left completely without the support her life depended on.

Selling Barnet public services to Capita will mean more tragic stories and less accountability. It must be opposed.

We ask you to complain to the writer of the piece and to the newspaper itself.

Chief reporter
Chris Hewett
07824 530136
chewett@london.newsquest.co.uk @TimesChewit1987

Group editor
Martin Buhagiar
mbuhagiar@london.newsquest.co.uk @TimesIndyEditor

Letters to the Editor



Letters should be as short as possible and will be considered for publication only if accompanied by your name and address (anonymity can be requested). Letters may appear in print and online, where Newsquest’s internet policy applies.

May be we could send Chris and co some real facts on Barnet too- see the brilliant video below


Read BAPs press release


Or read what Phillip Rackham says


Finally please support BAPs at





May 012013

The latest Work Capability Assessment figures released by the DWP yesterday (30th May 2013) attracted little of the usual fanfare which usually sounds as they trumpet the results. Perhaps they’re getting nervous with an increasing number of rebuttals over their use of statistics appearing in the press of late?

Or perhaps on this occasion they simply didn’t have too much which they wanted to shout about?

I think it’s a mixture of both.

Amongst other things the DWP’s latest Quarterly figure release’ for June – August 2012 reveals:

52% of new Employment & Support Allowance were entitled to the allowance after assessment

73% of claimants having undergone conversion from their incapacity benefit claims had qualified for Employment & Support Allowance with 38% ending up in the Work Related Activity group and 35% in the Support Group.

It’s all a far cry from the days when not so longer ago the media fuelled almost certainly by the DWP were saying 75% of claimants were skivers.

Closed claims

After being heavily criticised in a number of media articles over drawing unsubstantiated conclusions as to why 878,300 (A figure which in itself was wrong) claimants had closed their claims before being assessed, the DWP appears to mitigate its incorrect assumptions by drawing a reference to a further report ‘Unsuccessful Employment and Support Allowance claims – qualitative research. I’d encourage those following the reassessment programme to give it a close read, not least because it was prepared some time ago back in 2011 and relates to findings drawn from a survey across only 952 individuals and a further sample of just 60 claimants. It’s a meagre number of claimants upon which to draw any conclusions when looking at the many thousands who have, for a variety of unknown reasons, closed their claims prior to being assessed.

The report concludes

“An important reason why ESA claims in this sample were withdrawn or closed before they were fully assessed
was because the person recovered and either returned to work, or claimed a benefit more appropriate to their

Before accepting the conclusion, I’d look at the report and the sample size of those surveyed.

What’s missing?

A complete reference to any of the results of the claimants who have been assessed following their initial assessment is missing from the report although the information is to be found in the tables.  These are often omitted but should be included.  If you look at the accompanying tables which the report if linked to you you will see that there is a total case load of no less than 958,300 from which 340,300 claimants were placed in the Work Related Activity Group since October 2008, far fewer are found fit for work in the group with 215,100 from October 2008 to August 2012.  Both of these groups will have a propensity to appeal, some claimants may for instance at the initial assessment have been placed in the Support Group but after being assessed again may be put in the Work Related Activity Group – creating a number who will appeal.

Of these assessed in the ‘reassessed following initial assessment’ group, 78% were entitled to ESA in June, 79% in July and 79% in August 2012 – a sizeable increase when compared with the 73% cumulative total relating to the entire period from October 2008 to August 2012.  I fail to understand why so little attention is drawn to a cohort of close to a million claimants who have been ‘repeat’ assessed in this group since the programme started .

The quarterly comparison 

When comparing the overall figures for all three cohorts (new claims, claims reassessed following initial claim and ib/ESA conversions) between May 2012 and August 2012

To date total

Increase/decrease on figure to May 2012 

Per month average over quarter

Numbers assessed WCA




Work Related
Activity Group placements




Support Group




Fit for work findings




Closed claims before assessment




Cases still in progress




Overall case load




Case load

What these figures, taken across ALL claimants involved in the assessment programme, show is that the DWP ‘case load’ increased by 485,100 over the period from June 2012 to August 2012.  The case load isn’t the number of claimants, it is the number of claim interventions made by DWP officials as part of their case load, it can be divided in to cases where an outcome has been recorded in which case the claimant will be placed in the Support Group, Work Related Activity Group or found ‘Fit for Work’.

Of the cases which have not been assessed, the claimant’s case can ‘still be in progress’ (this is not the same as the assessment phase data) or could be closed without assessment.

With usual thanks to the brilliant Nick of My Legal twitter @Mylegalforum

For a detailed breakdown up to August 2012 see Nick’s detailed work at


Apr 212013

this is taken from kittyjoneswordpress.com and we hope it will be useful for people to know about.

Courageous Scottish nurse Joyce Drummond, who made a heartfelt apology to Atos assessment victims, has submitted evidence to the Scottish Parliament Select Committee on Welfare Reform.
I have a correspondence with Joyce, who was the subject of this article: www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/nurse-makes-heartfelt-apology-after-1340838

Joyce has submitted evidence to the Scottish Parliament Select Committee on Welfare reform, which she forwarded to me this morning. I have edited where needed, and added to the text to make it easier to read. I’ve included the contents from Joyce’s notes in full.

I knew nothing about Atos when I joined, and left as soon as I realised that there was no way to fight from the inside.
I carried out Incapacity Benefit assessments, these were the forerunner to ESA assessments. I stated at my interview for the job that I believed in social inclusion and social justice.

I went for 4 weeks training in England. The training did not prepare me for what I was expected to do in real life.

The forms that are completed prior to assessment, I have recently found out, are opened by Royal Mail Staff. They are then sent for “scrutiny” where nurses decide whether or not a face to face assessment is required. I was not involved in this and do not know what criteria are used.

It is made clear throughout training and working that we are not nurses- we are disability analysts. Also, we do not carry out ‘medical assessments’ – we carry out ‘functional assessments’. We did not even need a diagnosis to carry out assessments. I had reservations around consent, as we were expected to assess patients – sorry, we didn’t have patients, we had ‘claimants’- who appeared to be under the influence of alcohol or other substances.

We were also consistently told that we did not make benefit decisions. The final decision was made by a DWP decision maker with no medical qualification. If our assessment was overturned at appeal we never knew about it. There was no accountability for assessments overruled.
Assessment starts on the day of your appointment with the HCP reading the form you complete when you applied for benefit. Remember that every single question you are asked is designed to justify ending your claim for ESA and passing you as “fit for work”. That is what Atos are contracted to do by the Government. This is not a genuine assessment, but rather, an opportunity for the DWP to take away your financial support, which you are entitled to.Things that are noted are :-

Did you complete the form yourself
Is the handwriting legible
Are the contents coherent.

These observations are already used in assessing your hand function, your cognitive state and concentration. Next under observation:-
Do the things you have written add up.
Does your medication support your diagnosis.
What tests you have had to confirm diagnosis. For example a diagnosis of sciatica is not accepted unless diagnosed by MRI scan.
Do you have supporting medical evidence from GP or consultants. If you do, it shows that you are able to organise getting this information.

This is also a hidden cost to the NHS. I believe that if ATOS request information there is a charge levied by GP’s. However claimants are expected to source medical evidence themselves. It uses valuable NHS time for medical staff to write supporting statements.
There were no hidden cameras, at least in Glasgow, to watch people arriving for assessment or sitting in waiting room. This may not be true in other areas.

When the HCP has read your form they input some data into the computer system. The assessment properly begins when they call your name in the waiting room. At this point they assess:-
Did you hear your name being called
Did you rise from your chair unaided, did the chair have arms or not
Were you accompanied – this addresses you’re ability to go out alone.
Were you reading a paper while waiting- looks at your concentration.
Did you walk to the assessment room unaided, did you use aids correctly. Did you navigate any obstacles safely- assessing sight.
The HCP will shake your hand when inroducing herself- are you trembling, sweating- signs of anxiety. Again note the constant scrutiny. The HCP will often ask on way to waiting room:-

How long you’ve been waiting- assessing ability to sit- both physically, and looking at your mental state.
How did you get here today- ability to drive, use public transport.
Assessment begins by listing medical conditions/complaints. For each complaint you will be asked:-

How long have you had it, have you seen a specialist
Have you had any tests, what treatments have you had
What’s your current treatment. Have you had any other specialist input eg. physiotherapy, CPN.

The HCP will use lack of specialist input/ hospital admissions to justify assessing your condition as less severe. Medications will be listed and it will be noted if they prescribed or bought. Dates will be checked on boxes to assess compliance with dosage and treatment regime. Any allergies or side-effects should be noted.
A brief note is made of how you feel each condition affects your life
A brief social history will be taken – who you live with, if have you stairs in your house or outside to your house.
Employment history taken – asking when you last worked, what you worked as, reason for leaving employment.
Typical Day – this is the part of the assessment where how you function on a day to day basis is used to justify the HCP decisions. Anything you say here is where you are most likely to fail your assessment. Along side this, the HCP records their observations.
Starting with your sleep pattern, questions are asked around your ability to function.

Lower limb problems- ability to mobilise to shops, around the house, drive, use public transport, dress, shower.
Upper limb- ability to wash, dress, cook, shop, complete ESA form
Vision- did you manage to navigate safely to assessment room.
Hearing- did you hear your name being called in waiting room.
Speech- could the HCP understand you at assessment.
Continence- do you describe incontinence NOT CONTROLLED by pads, medication. Do you mention it’s effects on your life when describing your typical day.
Consciousness- Do you suffer seizures- with loss of continence, possible injury, witnessed, or uncontrolled diabetes.
HCP observations include- how far did you walk to examination room, did you remove your coat independently, did you handle medications without difficulty, did you bend to pick up handbag.
Formal examination consists of simple movements to assess limited function.Things HCP also looks out for:-

Are you well presented, hair done, make-up, eyebrows waxed.
Do you have any pets – this can be linked with ability to bend to feed and walk.
Do you look after someone else – parent or carer- if you do this will be taken as evidence of functioning
Any training, voluntary work, socialising will be used as evidence of functioning.

This is not a comprehensive list, but gives you an idea of how seemingly innocent questions are used to justify HCP decisions.
Mental Health
Learning tasks- Can you use phone, computer, washing machine.
Hazards- Can you safely make tea, if claiming accidents- must have had emergency services eg fire service. Near miss accidents do not count.

Personal Actions
Can you wash, dress, gather evidence for assessment
Manage bills.

Observations made by HCP – appearance and presentation
Coping with assessment interview, abnormal thoughts, hallucinations, confusion.
Coping with change – ability to attend assessment, attend GP or hospital appointments, shopping and socialising.

More HCP observations:-
Appearance, eye contact, rapport, any signs/symptoms that are abnormal mood/thoughts/perceptions. Suicidal thoughts.
Coping with social engagement/appropriateness of behaviour – any inappropriate behaviour must have involved police
Ability to attend assessment, engage with assessor, behave appropriately.
Again this is not an exhaustive list, merely examples.
There are some “special cases”. Off the top of my head, exemptions from assessment include – terminal illness, intravenous chemotherapy treatment and danger to self or others if found fit to work (Regulation 29.)

At present to qualify for ESA you need to score 15 points. This can be a combination of scores from physical and mental health descriptors.
To qualify for the support group you must score 15 points in one section.
As long as you are claiming income – based ESA then your award can be renewed at each assessment, if you gain 15 points.

Contribution ESA lasts for 1 year only, unless you are in the support group. After 1 year in the support group, you may only get income based ESA if your household income is below a certain threshold. It makes no difference how long you have previously paid National Insurance.

For clarity, as far as I know in the real world, doctors carry out medical assessments, nurses carry out nursing assessments and physios carry out physiotherapy assessments. In the world of Atos, each of these separate professions are employed as disability analysts, carrying out functional assessments.
Nurses are employable for these posts if they have been qualified for at least 3 years, are registered to practice with the NMC, and have basic computer skills.
My interview consisted of-
Face to face interview with medical director and nurse team leader.
A written paper assessing a scenario, in my case someone with back pain
A 10 minute basic computer test.
In order to be approved as disability analyst I had to complete 4 weeks Atos disability training, reach a certain standard of assessment reports- as decided by audit of all cases seen (don’t know what criteria was) and finally approval to carry out WCA assessments from the Secretary for Work and Pensions.
In my opinion the money given to Atos and spent on tribunals should be given to NHS GPs. They are best placed to make assessments regarding patients work capability. They have access to all medical reports, past history, specialist input and know their patients. My concern would be what criteria the DWP would impose on GPs risking the doctor/patient relationship. GPs already assess patients for “fit notes”, which have to be submitted to DWP during assessment phase of ESA.

While I worked at Atos, sessional medical staff were being paid £40 per assessment, as far as I am aware. I have no idea of wages of permanent medical staff. Nurses were on a salary, which based on 10 assessments a day (Atos target) equalled around £10 per assessment. These are approximate figures but may give a clue as to why Atos are employing nurses rather than doctors.

Further information:-

Special exemptions from the 15 points criteria: Regulations 29 and 35.

Questions you may be asked at assessment: dwpexamination forum

How to deal with Benefits medical examinations: A Useful Guide to Benefit Claimants when up against ATOS Doctors

More support and helpful advice here: How to deal with Benefits medical examinations

Previous related article: After Atos

List of conditions judged suitable for assessment by neuro trained nurses/any health care profession: –
Prolapsed intervertebral disc
Lumbar nerve root compression
Slipped disc
Lumbar spondylosis
Lumbar spondylolisthesis
Lumbar spondylolysis
Cauda equina syndrome
Spinal stenosis
Peripheral neuropathy
Drop foot
Meralgia paraesthetica
Cervical spondylosis
Cervical nerve root compression
Nerve entrapment syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Trapped nerve
Brachial plexus injury
Essential Tremor

List of conditions judged by the DWP and Atos Healthcare as suitable only for assessment by doctors:-
Head injury with neuro sequelae
Brain haemorrhage
Sub Arachnoid Haemorrhage
Brain tumour
Acoustic Neuroma
Multiple Sclerosis
Motor Neurone Disease
Parkinson’s disease
Bulbar Palsy
Myasthenia Gravis
Muscular Dystrophy
Guillain-Barre Syndrome
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Spina bifida
Fits (secondary to brain tumour)
Learning difficulties (with physical problems)
Bells Palsy
Trigeminal Neuralgia
Huntington’s Chorea
Huntington’s Disease


 Posted by at 17:24
Apr 092013

Please be aware that ILF users in Northern Ireland have set up their own group to ensure that user input is included in the decision making process.  The independent NI ILF user group have already begun to liaise with local politicians and Health Trusts/Social Care Board and will be holding user consultations during May 2013 to develop some proposed solutions regarding ILF in Northern Ireland.

If you would like to get involved or just give your input and be kept up to date on the latest developments please to contact them on : ilf_users_ni@hotmail.co.uk “.

Mar 272013

phillipDisabled activists are at the forefront of the campaign in Barnet to stop the sell off of public services to private companies. Barnet Alliance for Public Services (BAPS) brings together a wide section of the community to fight privatisation. Last week Maria Nash was in the high court taking a legal challenge against Barnet Council’s failure to adequately consult or pay due regard to the impact of outsourcing Council services to Capita for a period of ten years. On Saturday 20th March disabled campaigners led the ‘Barnet Spring’ march (ironically through a blizzard of snow).

Philip Rackham, Chair of Barnet Centre for Independent Living, is a key member of the campaign and sat through the three day court hearing in support of Maria.

Why do think campaigning is important?

I’m a fighter. I was abused mentally, emotionally, physically by my Mum. She told me she wished I’d never been born. I used to think am I worth it? But I know I am now. I got away from my Mum and I’ve had my own flat for eleven years. I was married for five years to Suzy. When we got together her Mum didn’t think I could look after her but I did. I used to carry her up the steps to her flat. She died and I miss her like anything. But I keep fighting.

Why did you get involved with BAPS?

I’ve lived in Barnet all my life. Cuts put disabled people down. They’re trying to cut my care package. That’s not right. I sat through the court case. It was difficult, I found it heavy. I have learning difficulties see? But you have to do it. If you don’t fight back, you don’t get anywhere.

Tell us something about yourself

I’m a joker. How many seconds in a year? Twelve: second of January, second of February, second of March…


To find out more about BAPS go to:


Or follow the campaign on twitter: @barnetalliance

Feb 162013

Not all local authorities bothered to respond to the consultation over the future of the Independent Living Fund but here are links to the responses of most of those who did reply


Local authority responses to ILF consultation





Anglesey, Conwy,Flintshire & Wrexham Joint response http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134567/response/326222/attach/html/2/ILF%20Response%20North%20Wales%20LA%20s%20Oct%202012.doc.html


Argyll & Bute  http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134707/response/324073/attach/html/3/Argyll%20and%20Bute%20Council%20Response%20ILF%20Final%202012.doc.html


Barking & Dagenham http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133081/response/330461/attach/html/3/ILF%20Consultation%20Response.docx.html


Barnsley http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134244/response/327015/attach/3/img%20X31113918%200001.pdf


Birmingham http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133990/response/331269/attach/html/3/FOI%207763%20reply.pdf.html


Blaenau Gwent http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_149#incoming-325185


Brighton & Hove http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133594/response/331709/attach/html/3/RESPONSE%20TO%20ILF%20REVIEW.DOC.doc.html


Bournemouth http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133767/response/329417/attach/html/3/ILF%20response.docx.html


Buckinghamshire http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/137363/response/331429/attach/html/3/FINAL%20Clarification%20letter%2013.11.12.pdf.html


Bury http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_68#incoming-321716


Caerphilly http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134557/response/328904/attach/html/4/03.CCBC%20response%20to%20consultation.doc.html





Cheshire East http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133425/response/330439/attach/html/2/20121022ResToBrady.doc.html


Cheshire West & Chester http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133426/response/329618/attach/html/2/ILFCONSULTATION.docx.html


Croydon http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133178/response/331452/attach/html/4/Response%20F%20CRT%202012%202205.doc.html


Coventry http://moderngov.coventry.gov.uk/documents/s4779/Responses%20to%20Government%20Consultations.pdf


Cornwall http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133772/response/328476/attach/html/3/IAR%20245927%20FOI%20EIR%20Response%20Template%20NO%20Exemptions%20Applied.doc.html


Cumbria http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133561/response/326948/attach/html/3/2012%2010%2031%20Disclosure.doc.html


Denbighshire http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134568/response/324469/attach/html/2/Response.pdf.html


Devon http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133959/response/324802/attach/html/3/Information%20Request%2003195.pdf.html





Dorset http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133961/response/323544/attach/html/2/ILF%20draft%20consultation.pdf.html





Dumfries & Galloway



Durham http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133401/response/322132/attach/html/4/ILF%20consultation.pdf.html


Ealing http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133179/response/329882/attach/html/4/17102012%20ADASS%20Agenda%20Item%203%20ILF.Appx%201.pdf.html


East Dunbartonshire http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134712/response/324687/attach/html/2/ILF%20FINAL%20RESPONSE%20SEP%2024TH%202012.doc.html



East Riding of Yorkshire http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134251/response/333084/attach/html/3/EEF90461233811E2A672B51576002175.doc.html


East Renfrewshire



East Sussex http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133597/response/333253/attach/html/3/1751%20ILF%20letter%20final%201.pdf.html


Edinburgh http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134721/response/332950/attach/html/3/CEC%20response%20on%20Future%20of%20ILF%2010%2010%2012.pdf.html


Essex http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133065/response/329347/attach/html/3/ASC%20IG%20025700%20Final%20Response%20Appendix%201.pdf.html


Falkirk http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134723/response/332393/attach/html/5/FC%20Response%20to%20ILF%20Consultation%20October%202012.doc.html


Flintshire http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134569/response/325743/attach/html/3/FCC%20ILF%20Consultation%20Oct%202012.doc.html


Gateshead http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_55#incoming-324658


Glasgow http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134725/response/331701/attach/html/3/Brady%20D131112L%20FOI%205.doc.htmlhttp://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134725/response/331701/attach/html/3/Brady%20D131112L%20FOI%205.doc.html


Hammersmith & Fulham http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133211/response/326346/attach/html/3/Response%20to%20consultation.doc.html


Hampshire http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133743/response/333637/attach/3/FOI%205422%20Taylforth%20Formal%20Response%202012%2011%2020%20HF000003887806.pdf


Halton Borough Council http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_72#incoming-323442


Hartlepool http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_56#incoming-327676





Hertfordshire http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133067/response/321758/attach/html/6/Herts%20ILF%20final%20response%201%2010%2012%202.pdf.html



Hounslow http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133217/response/322483/attach/html/4/Submitted%20LBH%20response%2010%2010%2012.pdf.html


Hull http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_139


Inverclyde http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134727/response/324516/attach/html/3/Consultation%20Response.doc.html


Islington http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133218/response/324586/attach/html/3/ILFConsultationResponse%20IslingtonOct2012.pdf.html


Kensington & Chelsea http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_39#incoming-330104


Kent http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133745/response/322389/attach/html/3/The%20future%20of%20the%20ILF%20consultation%20response%20Oct%202012.pdf.html


Kirkless http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_140#incoming-331317


Lancashire (






Leicestershire http://www.leicsfoi.org.uk/disclosureLogMonth.asp?year_value=2012&month_value=10#rn3803


Manchester http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133567/response/331151/attach/html/2/ASC8Z6BR5%20ILF%20respnse.doc.html


Medway http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_94#incoming-332110


Middlesbrough  http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133406/response/323469/attach/html/4/TAYLFORTH%20P%202923.3%20ATT.doc.html


Midlothian http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134728/response/333568/attach/html/3/F4276%20MID%20ILF%20response.doc.html



Milton Keynes http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_95#incoming-324054


Moray http://www.moray.gov.uk/downloads/file83404.pdf


Newcastle http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133408/response/325991/attach/html/4/Final%20ILF%20consultation%20response%20Oct%202012.pdf.html



North Ayrshire http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134730/response/334293/attach/html/2/10052%2012%20Consultation%20Response%20ILF.doc.html


North Tyneside Council http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133409/response/322730/attach/html/4/ILF%20response.docx.html


North Yorkshire http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_144#incoming-323851


Nottinghamshire  http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/132919/response/324055/attach/html/2/ILF%20consultation%20questions%20responses%20NottsCC.doc.html


Oldham http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_76#incoming-322916





Pembrokeshire http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134589/response/330598/attach/html/4/3286%20Brady%20Info.doc.html


Poole http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133974/response/329013/attach/html/6/FOI%20615%20reply.pdf.html


Portsmouth http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_97#incoming-327297


Powys http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_163#incoming-327163



Renfrewshire http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134984/response/334480/attach/html/3/Taylforth%20Paul%20ILF%20Response%20FOI%20Response.pdf.html


Rhondda http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134591/response/334118/attach/html/2/RCT%20ILF%20Consulatation%20Response.doc.html


Rochdale http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133572/response/332520/attach/html/3/TF%20Response.doc.html


Richmond upon Thames http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133263/response/326232/attach/html/3/13604%201.pdf.html


Rotherham http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_145#incoming-331784


Salford http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133573/response/333490/attach/html/2/Consultation%20document.docx.pdf.html





Solihull http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134005/response/323740/attach/html/3/ILF%20Consultation%20Response%20oct12.doc.html









South Lanarkshire






Stockton on Tees



Stoke on Trent



St Helens






Vale of Glamorgan












West Lothian



West Sussex

























 Posted by at 17:16
Feb 162013

Dear_______________________ MP,

I am writing to urge you to defend disabled people’s right to independent living which is under threat from the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF), a source of essential support enabling disabled people with the highest support needs to live in the community.

The closure of the ILF will mean for me….


On 18th December 2012 the government announced its decision to permanently close the ILF following its closure to new applicants since December 2010. The announcement followed a consultation that was flawed and which ignored the views of disabled people and disabled people’s organisations as well as a number of other organisations and Local Authorities.

Government plans to merge the ILF with mainstream care and support will result in a greatly reduced quality of life for disabled people and for some will mean being forced into residential care against their wishes. This will prevent disabled people from full inclusion and participation in the community, as anticipated by Article 19 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The Government’s decision not to put in place any ring-fencing for the support for current ILF recipients when responsibilities are transferred to local authorities and devolved administrations will inevitably lead to a loss of support as local authorities raised in their consultation responses and have a devastating impact on disabled adults who have been supported by the ILF to lead active and full lives.

I would ask you to sign Early Day Motion 651 and to call on the Government to review this regressive step and to look instead at ways of expanding the Independent Living Fund to provide needs-based support to all adults in the UK who require it.

In order to protect disabled people’s right to live with choice and control over their lives and with dignity we need the Independent Living Fund.

Yours sincerely,

 Download Template letter by clicking following link: ILF template letter

 Posted by at 17:12
Nov 212012


A          NAME 

The group’s name is Disabled People Against Cuts 


–          To campaign as Disabled People Against Cuts on all issues which undermine our disability rights according to the UNCRPD

–          To provide disabled people and the wider public information about disability rights and the impact of government cuts.

–          To campaign with other communities which are also affected by cuts such as trade unions and other grassroots groups so as to pool resources for solidarity while maintaining a distinct voice for disabled people

–          To facilitate the setting up of local DPAC groups which may only call themselves and be considered to be a DPAC group if they adopt the same aims and objectives as DPAC nationally.

–          All  work will be underpinned by the social model of disability and the principle of  ‘Rights not Charity.’

C          POWERS

In order to carry out the objects, the Steering Group has the power to : –

(1)               raise funds, receive grants and donations

(2)               buy or sell property, take on leases and employ staff

(3)               co-operate with and support other groups with similar purposes

(4)               do anything else which is necessary to achieve the aims and objectives of the group.


Local DPACs shall abide by the aims, policies and objectives of DPAC

They shall operate in a way that is transparent and accountable by

1)     Sharing local minutes of meetings

2)     Advising the steering group of potential actions so that they may be publicised on the DPAC web site 

3)      Making it clear that they operate on a local level in all documentation by stating the name of their local group 

4)     Being responsible for their own fundraising for local meetings, access needs, campaigns in a manner approved by the DPAC steering group

5)     The steering group has the right to remove the title ‘DPAC’ from any local group that in its majority decision has contravened the aims and objectives of DPAC.

6)     The steering group are in no way responsible for any acts which members may commit at any time or in any place, although they can rescind an individual or group’s membership of DPAC as outlined below if this is deemed appropriate by a majority of the steering group. 

E            MEMBERSHIP 

1)      Any disabled person, group, local DPAC,Union, or DPO who supports the purposes and aims of the group can join DPAC. Only disabled people will have full membership and voting rights. Groups, DPOs, Unions’ Disabled members sections, and Local DPACs will have one vote each dependent on them having at least 75% disabled people at decision making levels.

2)     Non-disabled allies will be granted associate membership without voting rights.

3) The maximum financial liability of any member will be £1.


1)     Providing adequate funding is available the AGM must be held every year, with 28 days notice given to all members telling them what is on the agenda.

2)     There must be at least 5 members present at the AGM.

3)     The Steering Group shall present the annual report and accounts.

4)     At the AGM members shall elect up to 8 steering group members who will serve for a minimum period of 12 months.

5)     Other members will be consulted about agenda items as appropriate using electronic means. This is by way of a reasonable adjustment to be as inclusive as possible.

6)      Every member has one vote. Each DPO, DPAC, and other groups entitled to vote shall also have one vote only although their individual members can also vote themselves.


1)     Only disabled people fully committed to the social model of disability, aims and values of DPAC may stand for election to the steering group.

2)     Any member may put themselves forward for election as a Steering Group member at least 2 weeks before the AGM.

3) To ensure that the Steering Group has an adequate range of people   with different Impairments, and skills needed by DPAC applicants must first be accepted by a majority of the current Steering Group.

4) To ensure the Steering Group is fully representative no more than 2 members from any single organisation, group or political party shall be entitled to be a member. The Steering Group will also try to ensure that there is an adequate geographical spread of members represented on the steering group.

5) The Steering group shall hold at least 3 meetings each year.  Decisions can be made by the Steering Group members if at least 3   are present at such a meeting or by internet consultation of Steering Group members.

7)     During the year, the Steering group may appoint up to 4 extra members on to the Steering Group.

8)     Where a decision needs to be made immediately the Steering Group have devolved such power to make decisions to 2 available members of the Steering group . Any such decisions should reflect the views of the majority of the steering group. Other than in these exceptional circumstances the majority decisions made by the Steering Group should be upheld by all of its members. 

9)      The Steering group may make reasonable additional rules for the proper conduct and management of the group.

10)  All Steering Group meetings can be attended by any member.

11)  A steering group member shall cease to hold office if he or she:

–          Stops being a member of the group

–          Resigns as a Steering Group member by notice to the group (but only if at least three members will remain in office when the notice is to take effect).

–          Subject to appeal is found guilty of breaking the constitution or seriously violating the agreed policy, aims and values of DPAC. 

H          MONEY

!) A bank account will be set up for DPAC.

2) All cheques must be signed by 2 steering group members.

3) Funds cannot be used to pay steering group members except to refund legitimate expenses. 


1)      Special General Meetings may be called by the steering group for the following reasons.  All members must be given 14 days notice and told what change is proposed.

–          Changing the Constitution – The constitution may be changed by a two -thirds majority of members present and voting at a Special General Meeting.

–          Emergency Special General Meetings – to allow the members to decide on important issues , such as withholding a membership.

–          Winding up – the group may be wound up by a two- thirds majority of members present and voting at a Special General Meeting.  Any money or property remaining after payment of debts must be given to a group with similar purposes. 



This constitution was adopted on  28/10/2011 at DPAC’s national conference.








 Posted by at 13:28
Nov 182012

98.4% said that they would prefer the WCA to be recorded

Almost 70% were not aware that they could ask for a recording. The lack of any mention of recording of the WCA in the Atos literature helped the ‘lack of demand’ issue.

For those that had asked for a recording but were refused one almost half 40% were not given a reason for the refusal of the remainder: nearly a quarter (24.5%) were simply told they were not allowed a recording, 20% were told the machines were broken and the remainder were told Atos staff did not like recordings.

Of those refused a recording 65% were told they must attend their appointment without recording or be classified as a ‘no show’. While 23% were not aware that a recording would not be carried out until they arrived at the assessment centre where they faced the choice of returning home and risking loss of benefits or staying and going through the assessment without recording.

74% said that it was difficult for them to travel to the assessment centre, we heard from those who were sent for assessments away from their closest centre with complicated travel routes

Almost half (47.5%) were not aware that they could ask for a home assessment, of those that did and asked for a home assessment none believed they received a satisfactory response to the refusal to grant a home assessment

64% of those that said their doctors were told not to provide written support said this was because of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)

Some respondents said that the DWP had written to their doctors to tell them not to issue ‘fit notes’ or written support, others that doctors resented such directives and would supply these based on their expertise and knowledge of the individual.

The survey drew 733 responses. It asks questions that were not asked in the Harrington review, questions on issues of recording, access, doctors input and the apparent increasing influence of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on doctors’.  As such it represents the first evidence based research report on these issues.

The responses contribute to a growing list of criticisms on the experiences of the WCA, welfare reform/cuts and their impacts on the lives of disabled people. It also adds to the growing list of criticism against Atos the company contracted by the Government to carry out assessments, at the cost of 1.10 million pounds per year. Significant concerns are being raised on the financial cost of appeals against Atos WCA decisions, currently running at 60-80 million per year[1], but it is the human cost of suicides and premature deaths rising from 32 per week to 73[ii] a week of those undergoing this process that represents a larger cost. It is a UK outrage that these assessments continue.

The survey responses show the tricks, barriers and bullying tactics used to prevent audio recordings. How difficult home assessments are and how centres, access and travel are made problematic and the ways that doctors input is being ignored and appears to be increasingly directed by the Department for Work and Pensions. The survey is a collection of the ways people are being driven to crisis point, and worse by a system with no clear public accountability. (See also 76% entitled to support after appeal figures and appeals increase by 40%)

DPAC, Black Triangle, and Social Welfare Union, along with the British Medical Association and a growing number of organisations and MPs condemn the WCA and call for its immediate end. We hope the contents of this report will help those who fail to understand why these calls are being made to begin to understand why this is the only justifiable option.

One person said:

If I filled a benefit claim form in and deliberately lied, misled with my answers and omitted information / events relevant to my claim with the view to gain financially – I would have my ass hauled into court on charges of benefit fraud. The DWP and ATOS are doing exactly those things with the farce they call an assessment and are both gaining financially by, dare I say, producing fraudulent reports when assessing peoples eligibility for benefit. I suggest people pool together, write statements describing their experience with ATOS and the assessment, highlight the discrepancies between what was said / happened in the assessment and what was written into the report .. and when enough statements are gathered, hand them to the top cop in the country and demand they launch an investigation into the activities of both ATOS and the DWP on the grounds of fraudulent behaviour.

From the quotes and responses to our survey the comment is entirely valid.

Download the report in WORD by clicking this link: final wca surveydpac

Download the report in PDF by clicking this link: final-wca-surveydpac-1


Oct 152012



Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) and Local Government Association (LGA) response to the consultation on the Future of the Independent Living Fund


The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) represents Directors of Adult Social Services in Councils inEngland. As well as having statutory responsibilities for the commissioning and provision of social care, ADASS members often also share a number of responsibilities for the commissioning and provision of housing, leisure, library, culture, arts, community services and increasingly, Children’s Social Care within their Councils.

The Local Government Association (LGA) is here to support, promote and improve local government.

We will fight local government’s corner and support councils through challenging times, focusing our efforts where we can have real impact. We will be bold, ambitious, and support councils to make a difference, deliver and be trusted.

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Key Messages 

ADASS and the LGA welcome the opportunity to contribute to this consultation on the future of the independent living fund. Since the Ministerial announcement in December 2010 about the closure of the ILF to new applicants, ADASS and the LGA have engaged extensively – with the Minister, with DWP colleagues and colleagues from the ILF – in discussions about the future of the fund and this proposal to close the fund in 2015, transferring the care and support responsibilities to Local Authorities. In that sense, we have made a significant contribution to shaping this consultation document and the key issues to be addressed. The views of ADASS and the LGA on the key issues have already been shared in these discussions, but for the purposes of this response are grouped into comments around the five consultation questions as below.

Consultation questions

Question 1

Do you agree with the Government’s proposal that the care and support needs of current ILF users should be met within the mainstream care and support systems, with funding devolved to local government in England and the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales? This would mean the closure of the ILF in 2015.

 We agree that at a time of considerable examination of the social care  system and finance it is opportune to review the existence of a parallel stand-alone  scheme, especially in the light of uneven distribution of the funding across the  country (ADASS dealing with England, LGA dealing with England and Wales).  However we would also wish to note the tremendous value placed upon the scheme by the body of users, and the sense of independence experienced. Councils’ approach to personal budgets is based on engendering the same sense of choice and control.

The devolution of funding into Local Authority (LA) social care budgets clearly has  the merit of bringing two funding streams together, and having all the resulting  adult social care funding allocated more equitably through the same system. Given  the uneven distribution of the ILF budget, it will be important in the first instance  to base the transfer of funds in each LA area upon the commitments to service users  in that area. This is important to protect those people during the transitional period, and to avoid an inappropriate scenario of financial winners and losers across the LA  system.

As time passes, as people’s needs are reviewed and as pre-2015 ILF funding completely  loses any identity within people’s personal budgets, it may be appropriate to consider a  move towards a formula-based distribution of this element of the social care funding, in order to reach an equitable spread of these resources as a new generation of service users and carers are supported within social care services.

Question 2

What are the key challenges that ILF users would face in moving from joint ILF/Local Authority to sole Local Authority funding of their care and support needs? How can any impacts be mitigated? 

The biggest issue for existing users will be the transition from financial support for social care based on combined LA and ILF funding  (or ILF alone for a small number of Group 1 users) into the Fair Access to Care Services (FACS) criteria-based system alone, and the different eligibility thresholds which apply.

The majority of existing ILF recipients will have had a contribution from the Local Authority at least at the current threshold of £568 per week, topped up significantly by the ILF contribution following an ILF assessment. The limits of any LA care package are determined by the FACS criteria, which in a clear majority of LAs are set at the upper need levels of Critical and Substantial. The ILF assessment is not constrained by the FACS criteria, and allocates a significantly higher level of funding in most cases.

As ILF recipients transfer into the LA system in 2015, and are subsequently reviewed against the FACS criteria, the value of the personal budget calculated through the Resource Allocation System (RAS) will generally be at a lower level than the initial ILF/LA budget.

The mitigation of such re-assessments will be determined locally, and LAs may decide whether they wish to exercise discretion in offering periods of protection, or a phased move towards the new personal budget calculated by the RAS. However, LAs will need to balance such arrangements with considerations of equity in resource allocation.

It is likely that there will be a range of mitigations, such as exploring other forms of support, other community resources or more cost-effective ways of providing services, which will be explored through the personal support planning of care arrangements with individuals.

We believe it is crucial that any decisions on the future of ILF must be clearly communicated to ILF users. 

Question 3

What impact would the closure of the ILF have on Local Authorities and the provision of care and support services more widely? How could any impacts be mitigated? 

The key issue is that growth in the number of ILF recipients was capped following the Ministerial announcement in December 2010, and therefore so was the growth in ILF funding, which supported LA social care budgets in managing the demographic growth in pressures.

The obvious mitigation is compensatory growth in the government support for adult social care services, but this has to be addressed through the wider debate consequent to Dilnot and the Care and Support White Paper.  Resolving what will be done both on funding for Dilnot, and funding for the current system, must be done as a matter of urgency.

A determined effort to transfer NHS resources from the acute sector into community health and social care services in the community is an essential component of this strategy, to develop further support for services? such as prevention services and long-term conditions.  

Question 4

What are the specific challenges in relation to Group 1 users? How can the Government ensure this group are able to access the full range of Local Authority care and support services for which they are eligible? 

Many of the Group 1 users will have had some contact with LA assessment services, and a significant number may have had none, so these groups of recipients will face the challenges described at Q2 above plus the additional challenges of a resource allocation system alongside a very different set of eligibility criteria from those which were around in 1993.

The mitigation for this has to be as described above, but with additional information about, and preparation for, the new care management system in which they will be eventually reviewed and supported. 

Question 5

How can DWP, the ILF and Local Authorities best continue to work with ILF users between now and 2015? How can the ILF best work with individual Local Authorities if the decision to close the ILF is taken? 

DWP/ILF and LAs will principally have a role to engage with ILF users following the consultation and the government response up to the period of transition in 2015, interpreting and preparing for regulations about the transition as they are developed. We would be keen to work with colleagues in determining an engagement strategy ahead of the government’s response being published.

One of the key contributions the ILF can make to this transition is to engage with local authorities about the issues which are likely to face the ILF recipients living within their areas and for whose total personal budgets they will become responsible.

At an individual level, ILF teams working with LA colleagues will be able to identify whether there will be any particular transitional issues or challenges for people, and what mitigation strategies might be engaged.

At the whole authority level, it may be possible to work on estimates of the amount of ILF resource which is committed to support which falls outside the local FACS criteria.


As noted above, we have engaged continuously with DWP and ILF on the future of the fund and in preparing for consultation.  We will continue to support this joint approach through to 2015 and the implementation of whatever mechanisms for funding transfer and individuals’ transition into the new arrangements emerge.



 Posted by at 12:56
Sep 242012

Many thanks to Inclusion London for helping put this document together . Please let us know at mail@dpac.uk.net if you have difficulty accessing this on-line survey please.

Save the ILF – respond to government’s ILF consultation and encourage any other ILF users to respond too! 

Save the Independent Living Fund (ILF) and with it the quality of life, dignity and independence of disabled people with the highest support needs    

Deadline for responses to the consultation: 10 October 2012 

There are just 5 consultations questions, which we have set out below as provided in the consultation document. 

Inclusion London have also set out the key messages, below, which we think the government must hear. To make responding easier we have given a ‘suggested response’ to each question, which you can adapt to suit your own opinions and circumstances.  We have also provided an paper to give background information on the ILF, government proposals and the content of consultation document, which is attached.  

It is also important respond to DRUK’s survey as they will use your responses in their submission, please go to:  www.surveymonkey.com/s/independentlivingfund.

More information about the survey is available at: http://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/ilfsurvey.htp

This closes at the end of September.

Responding to the government consultation

You can respond online at: https://interactive.dwp.gov.uk/?page_id=3737  or by email at:  ilf.consultation@dwp.gsi.gov.uk

or by post at:

ILF Consultation Team
Ground Floor
Caxton House
Tothill Street

The consultation documents are available at:  http://www.dwp.gov.uk/consultations/2012/future-of-ilf.shtml

Your response needs to reach the ILF consultation team by 10 October 2012.  

The key messages are:

·         I disagree with how the consultation has been conducted.

·         Funding of the ILF should be discussed in the wider context of funding for care and support as whole.

·        Save the ILF because it works! For instance the ILF:

ü enables disabled people with the highest support needs to have real choice and control over their lives and in doing so contribute to, and take part in, society

ü is key to disabled people maintaining independence, social networks, health and well-being avoiding more expensive interventions at a later stage.

ü creates jobs – many personal assistance jobs are created by the ILF

The ILF also provides:

ü a needs- led (rather than budget led) independent approach to support

ü an in-depth expertise on independent living issues

ü portability of support packages without reassessment, so I can move to another area taking my care package with me, if I wish to.

ü minimum overheads and bureaucracy, so the ILF is easy to contact and less expensive to run compared to Local Authorities (ILF’s overheads are approximately 4% compared to 16% for L.A. social care services).

ü a national eligibility criterion

Potential impact of the transfer of ILF functions to Local Authorities

Without additional or replacement ring fenced funding to maintain ILF support packages the impact on mainstream LA social care funding will mean:

o   L.As will have little choice but to limit my social care support, denying me the ability to maintain a decent, healthy and active life.

o   My support package is likely to be dramatically cut on transfer to the L.A. as a result I will go without basic support, far less choice and control than I currently experience.

o   It will also mean that I will then be faced with two alternatives; staying at home without adequate support, which will put my health and wellbeing at risk, or I will be forced to move into residential care, as a result I will lose my independence, autonomy and inclusion in the community and put me at risk of abuse that has already been experienced by disabled people. 

Below are the 5 consultation questions, with the introduction given in the consultation document, followed by Inclusion London’s suggested response, please adapt the response to your own circumstances, as it is much more likely to influence government if you include your own experience:

5 Consultation questions

1.           If the ILF is closed in 2015, Local Authorities will continue to have a duty to assess the care and support needs of those disabled 16,309 Group 2 users who are already jointly funded by local authorities and the 1,737 Group 1 users who receive some local authority care and support; and will be required to assess the needs of those ILF users who do not currently have a relationship with their local authority.

Question 1Do you agree with the Government’s proposal that the care and support needs of current ILF users should be met within the mainstream care and support system, with funding devolved to local government in England and the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales?[1] This would mean the closure of the ILF in 2015.v Suggested response The consultation process:

I am concerned that the government has only put forward one option in this consultation i.e. to close the ILF and pass ILF responsibilities to Local Authorities:

·        I do not understand why the government is suggesting this. Also there is not enough details for me to comment on the proposals, other than highlight the concerns raised below.

·        If the government is able to explain clearly why they are intending to pass responsibilities for the ILF to local authorities I would be happy to comment, if I had more time to do so.

·        No other options have been proposed and the consultation has not asked respondees for other options.

·        Only small numbers of ILF users were able to attend the consultation events. This is not an open or thorough consultation.

I completely disagree with the way the consultation has been conducted.

No Impact Equality Assessment:

It is appalling that the government did not do an equality impact assessment on the closure of the ILF before this consultation. Many of the difficulties with the government’s proposal to pass responsibilities to Local Authorities would have been highlighted at an earlier stage, if an impact assessment had been carried out and government proposals amended in response.

Future of ILF

I am totally against the closure of the ILF and I believe that the ILF should be saved because it works! For instance the ILF:

ü Gives me real choice and control over my life and enables me contribute to, and take part in, society.

ü It is key to my independence, social networks, health and well-being, avoiding more expensive treatment or care at a later stage.

ü The ILF creates jobs – many personal assistance jobs are created by the ILF

The ILF also provides:

ü a needs- led (rather than budget led) independent approach to support

ü an in-depth expertise on independent living issues

ü portability of support packages without reassessment, so I can move to another area taking my care package with me, if I wish to.

ü minimum overheads and bureaucracy; I find the ILF is easy to contact, also it is less expensive to run compared to Local Authorities, (ILF’s overheads are approximately 4% compared to 16% for Local Authorities (L.As) social care services).

ü a national eligibility criterion

I believe the ILF should not be abolished but that it should remain and its role developed further.


Question 2What are the key challenges that ILF users would face in moving from joint ILF/Local Authority to sole Local Authority funding of their care and support needs? How can any impacts be mitigated?v Suggested response:My independence, choice and control will be threatened if funding is solely provided by my Local Authority.

My Local Authority’s (LA’s) budget is over stretched, in response it has already cut disabled people’s care in my area to a bare minimum. It is likely that my ILF funding will be cut in a similar way when responsibilities are transferred to Local Authorities.

Without additional ringfenced funding for LA’s to maintain ILF users support packages I fear that my support will be severely reduced. I will then be faced with two alternatives; staying at home without adequate support, putting my health and wellbeing at risk, or I will be forced to move into residential care, which will stop me from being involved in my local community and could put me at risk of abuse, that has already been experienced by disabled people.


Question 3What impact would the closure of the ILF have on Local Authorities and the provision of care and support services more widely? How could any impacts be mitigated?v Suggested response:I am concerned that the government is seeking to decide the future of the ILF before a decision on how social care and support will be funded in the future  has been taken. The future of ILF should be included in this overarching decision.

I believe that funding for care and support should be provided out of general taxation, the same as funding for the NHS is.

I do not believe that Local Authorities will have the capability or capacity  to take on the responsibilities of the ILF, for instance:


·        Many social services staff due not have the necessary knowledge of disabled people with high support needs to provide an ILF ‘needs-led’ type of assessment and review.

·        Assessments and reviews should be needs led rather than budget led. However, I do not think this will be possible due to the pressure of austerity cuts on LA budgets, unless additional, ring fenced funding for ILF users is put in place.


·        Local Authority’s will have little choice but to raise FACS eligibility criteria to critical needs only, thereby denying the vast majority of disabled people the support they need to maintain decent, healthy and active lives

·        Local Authority staff are being cut due to austerity cuts, there is unlikely to be enough staff to take on the additional ILF responsibilities.

·        My local Deaf and disabled people’s organisation is currently struggling to withstand funding cuts and may not be available to provide the necessary support and advocacy with assessments and reviews.

2.           We know that the closure of the ILF would be more difficult for those Group 1 users who are not currently receiving any Local Authority funding, and who in some cases have little experience of the mainstream care and support system. It is important that those users engage with the local authority care and support services for which they are eligible.

Question 4What are the specific challenges in relation to Group 1 users? How can the Government ensure this group are able to access the full range of Local Authority care and support services for which they are eligible?v Suggested response:The Government must ensure that the same level of funding as provided by the ILF continues for Group 1 users, as well as all other ILF users.  The Government should ensure this funding is ringfenced. Without this commitment to provide the same level of ringfenced funding Group 1’s, as well as all other ILF user’s, independence, choice and control will be threatened, with Group 1’s independence the most severely jeopardised.

The Government must ensure that a needs led, not budget led assessment and review is put in place, as mentioned above.

3.           The Government remains committed to funding current ILF care packages until 2015. But we know that it will take some time to manage the move to sole local authority funding. It would be necessary to start such a process well in advance of 2015. This consultation is only the start of a process of working with users, Local Authorities and the Governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Question 5How can DWP, the ILF and Local Authorities best continue to work with ILF users between now and 2015? How can the ILF best work with individual Local Authorities if the decision to close the ILF is taken?v Suggested response:·        ILF users and Deaf and disabled people’s user led organisations should be well represented on any working party/committee, which produces proposals put forward by the government on the back of the consultation.

·        Government must be transparent about the responses to this consultation and indicate the numbers of those that were for and against the proposal to pass responsibilities to the Local Authorities.

·        Government must carry out a full Equality Impact Assessment (EIA). The content of the EIA should be guided by ILF users and Deaf and disabled people’s user led organisations.


Many thanks for your time to help Save the ILF.



 Posted by at 15:18

The Austerity War and the impoverishment of disabled people Chris Edwards

 All Posts, News, Resources, Welfare reforms  Comments Off on The Austerity War and the impoverishment of disabled people Chris Edwards
Sep 212012

The Austerity War and the impoverishment of disabled people

Chris Edwards[1], 3 September, 2012


 Executive summary

1. The aims of the study

2. Disabled people in the UK – who are they and what are their incomes?

3. The effects of the Austerity Package on income groups  

4. Are disabled people suffering greater losses than non-disabled people within each income group?

5.  The financial crisis of 2007/08 and ensuing depression

6. The public sector deficit, the 2010 General Election and the Coalition Government

7. The Austerity Package announcements

8. The components of the Austerity Package

9. The Austerity Package causes recession

10. The Austerity Package is not even cutting the deficit  

11. But there are alternatives    

12. Are we all in this together? The hypocrisy of the Coalition Government

13. The cuts are counter-productive

14. The Austerity War and the need for action

Appendix 1 The Austerity Package – the planned cuts

Appendix 2 The cuts in disability benefits and the job prospects for disabled people



But today we have involved ourselves in a colossal muddle, having blundered in the control of a delicate machine, the working of which we do not understand, The result is that our possibilities of wealth may run to waste for a time – perhaps for a long time”  (Keynes, 1930)

 Executive summary

Sections 1 and 2

  • This report studies the effects of the Austerity Package of the Coalition Government on disabled people
  • The government has refused to do such a study, that is to estimate the cumulative impact of the cuts on disabled people, claiming that it is too complex
  • This study has been carried out by me, an economist who was not initially familiar with the statistical sources. Imagine what a team of specialists from the Treasury or Department for Work and Pensions could have done!
  • But the fact that I have done such a study shows that the government was afraid that it would show that those households receiving disability benefits are suffering much greater losses in income and benefits-in-kind as a result of the Austerity Package than households in general
  • People with impairments should have a higher income to enable them to play an active and fulfilling role in society and to prevent them from being disabled. Instead the official statistics show that households where someone is disabled are poorer on average than households where no-one is disabled, and this 16% gap is greater in the UK than the 12% gap in the rich, OECD countries as a whole
  • More households where someone is disabled are living in poverty (with an income less than 60% of the social median) than households where no-one is disabled   

Sections 3 and 4 and appendices 1 and 2

  • The Austerity Package analysed here consists of  cuts in cash benefits, increases in taxes (most notably VAT) and cuts in benefits-in-kind (cuts in local government , education, health and other Departmental Expenditure) amounting tom £69 billion over the four years from 2011-12 through 2014-15. The government has announced further cuts of £25 billion in the two years 2015-16 and 2016-17 but has not yet given the details. And so this report looks at the £69 billion of cuts planned through to April 2015, the last month of the next General Election  
  • This has been a depressing study for me to carry out because the biggest burden by far of the Austerity Package falls on the poorest households. The estimated loss for the poorest fifth of households amounts to £2,600 over the four years which, as a percentage of their initial cash income plus benefits-in-kind is 10%. This percentage loss is two and a half times as big as the loss on the richest fifth of households. So to say, as the government has, that ‘we are all in this together’ is a lie   
  • Far from being all in it together, the government has not discouraged lies in the tabloid press about disabled people being fit to work but who avoid doing so. The result is that disability hate crimes have reported to a have reached a record high in England and Wales in recent months.
  • It is true that fewer disabled people of working age are working than non-disabled people. But survey after survey shows that disabled people want to work more but can’t get the jobs and it is the lack of jobs that cause disability rather than the reverse. And it needs to be repeated time and again that disability benefit fraud is tiny. Official errors and unclaimed benefits are both higher.     
  • Cuts in disability benefits were announced in 2010 and were reinforced by the Welfare Reform Act which the government forced through the House of Lords in 2012. The government is notoriously re-assessing disabled people for work through the Work Capability Assessment (WCA). This and the French company, ATOS, running it under a £500 million contract have been strongly criticised by independent experts. Two recent TV programmes both found that the WCA was declaring people fit to work who clearly were not fit to work and it has been reported that the appeals system is gridlocked with 40% of appeals by claimants succeeding.
  • The cuts to disability benefits are estimated to total £9 billion over the four years, about a third of the total paid in 2009-10. This means that the poorest  fifth of the 2.7 million households receiving disability benefits will lose 16% of their cash income plus benefits-in-kind over the four years. This percentage loss is four times as big as the loss for the richest fifth of households

Sections 5 to 10

  • What is even worse is that the Austerity Package is not working. In the Great Depression of the 1930s, it took five years for national output to get back to pre-recession levels. The Coalition Government is mis-managing an economy where national output is likely to take eight years to get back to the level of 2007.
  • The Austerity Package is taking government consumption out of the economy at a time when personal consumption is flatlining as the private sector attempts to cut its accumulated debt. To cut government expenditure at such a time is the politics of the madhouse as Paul Krugman has argued in this recent book, End this Depression Now.
  • The government has been throwing money at the problem through Quantitative Easing (QE) but no-one is spending it on goods and services. It may have pushed up the prices of shares and bonds and property but it of little use in stimulating output. According to the Bank of England, 40% of the gains from QE have accrued to the richest 5% of households.
  • Since the financial crisis of 2007-08, the British government has channelled £1.2 trillion to the financial sector in the form of bailouts, loans and guarantees and yet the economy continues to stagnate. This is the madness of King (as Governor of the Bank of England) and George (Osborne, as Chancellor of the Exchequer)
  • It is clear that the Labour Governments of Blair and Brown were incompetent in not regulating the banking sector. But the accusation that Labour let spending run out of control before the recession to not stack up. The deficit grew rapidly because of the banking crash and expenditures undertaken to counter the recession.
  • The stated aim of the Coalition government when it came to power in 2010 was to eliminate the budget deficit (11% of GDP in 2009) by 2015. For from doing so, the underlying budget deficit was higher in the first half of 2012 than in the first half of 2011. In July 2012, David Cameron was reported as saying that “I don’t see a time when difficult spending choices are going to go away”
  • The annual cost of the Austerity Package in terms of lost output is running at about £250 billion or almost £10,000 per household  

Sections 11 to 14

  • But there are alternatives to the Austerity Package which are set out in section 11. Broadly these consist of taxing the rich more heavily and introducing a financial transactions tax and spending half the proceeds.  At present the richest fifth of households pay less tax than the poorest fifth so taxing the rich would be equitable. It would also be efficient since it would close the deficit while stimulating demand since at the margin the rich spend little on domestic goods and services.
  • The government says that ‘we are all in this together’. At present, this is clearly nonsense. The poorest sections of society and in particular disabled people are bearing the biggest burden of the cuts
  • This is a government of the rich (mostly men) serving the (short-term) interests of the rich. The fees for the private schools attended by many if not most members of the Cabinet are greater than the average annual income of UK households.
  • The Manifesto of the Conservative Party for the 2010 election promised no cut in the disability allowance. In 2002, Iain Duncan Smith, then then leader of the Conservative party sought to rebrand the Tories as the party for the vulnerable. He is now the Coalition’s Work and Pensions Secretary and it is under his watch that the cuts in disability benefits are taking place.      
  • The Austerity Package is an Austerity War and leading to the impoverishment of disabled people. All the advances that disabled people have made over the period since 1945 are being reversed. The Austerity Package must be opposed

1. The aims of the study

This report studies the effect of the Austerity Package of the Coalition Government on disabled people[2].  There are five ways in which the real incomes of people can be cut. One is by a cut in real wages; the second is by being sacked and becoming unemployed; the third is by a rise in taxes; the fourth by a cut in cash benefits; the fifth is by a cut in benefits-in-kind through cuts in government spending on health, education and other support services.

In this report I analyse the third, fourth and fifth of these. As far as I know, this is the only study carried out on the effects of the cuts on disabled people looking at the changes in taxes, the cuts in cash benefits and the cuts in benefits-in-kind through cuts in other government expenditure.

Certainly there is no government study of these effects on disabled people. In May 2012, I wrote to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) asking if the Government had estimated, or were planning to estimate the cumulative effect of planned reforms on disabled people. The reply was a quoted response to a Parliamentary Question on the issue. I was told that In Parliament, the Secretary of State had said;

“The government is limited in what cumulative analysis is possible because of the complexity of the modelling required and the amount of detailed information on individuals and families that is required to estimate the interactions of a number of different policy changes. In addition the Government’s programme of welfare reform will not be fully implemented until 2017/18 and many policy details are still to be worked through. Equality Impact Assessments are however carried out for individual policies where there is a requirement” (email to me from the DWP dated May 3 2012)   

And so, the government argues, the analysis is too difficult. As I write this report, a group of disability campaigners have launched a petition “to stop and review the cuts to benefits and services which are falling disproportionately on disabled people, their carers and families”. As of August 24 2012, more than 42,000 people had signed the petition[3]   

As I say, in this report I have analysed the effects on disabled people of changes in taxes, cuts in cash benefits and of cuts in benefits-in-kind.  There are three steps in this analysis.

The first step is to look at the income distribution of households in the UK in five groups or quintiles. In other words, the 26 million households are divided into five income groups or quintiles, each of just over 5 million.  This step distinguishes between households in which someone is disabled and households in which no-one is disabled. The households in which someone is disabled are further split into those receiving disability benefits and those not receiving disability benefits. The information for this step comes from the annual survey published by the DWP and entitled “Households Below Average Incomes”.

The second step is to analyse the effects of the Austerity Package on the five income groups of households. As far as the changes in taxes and benefits are concerned, I have used the studies published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS). In most of their studies, the IFS looks at the effects of changes in taxes and benefits on different income groups. The IFS groups households into ten income groups or deciles and examines the effects of the changes in taxes and benefits on these deciles. However because I have income distribution data for disabled people only by quintiles, I have collapsed the IFS data into quintiles of households.

Occasionally the IFS carries out a study on particular groups of households across the income groups, an example being a study entitled “The Impact of Austerity Measures on Households with Children”. The report’s author was James Browne and it was published in January 2012 (Browne, January 2012). But the IFS has not carried out a specific study of the effects of changes in taxes and cuts in cash benefits on disabled people.

Nor has the IFS carried out a study of cuts in benefits-in-kind and so it does not include all the changes in public expenditure in its analysis. This is a major omission given that just under 70% of the planned austerity package (to be implemented up to 2014-15) consists of cuts in spending on public services. About 26% is planned to be cuts in cash benefits and a little over 4% consists of net changes in direct and indirect taxes.

The next question is; How do we allocate the spending on public services (such as local government, health, education, etc) between income groups?  Here public service spending is allocated across income groups according to the size of the household and the households’ relative use of the services, the latter derived from various surveys.  O’Dea and Preston of the IFS have warned of the dangers of this approach arguing that cost is not the same as the value to the user (see O’Dea and Preston, October 2010). However my answer to this is; given the importance of public expenditure to the welfare of households and given the importance of changes in spending on services compared to changes in taxes and cash benefits, it is surely a mistake not to attempt to measure the impact of the cuts in benefits-in-kind.  Otherwise we are looking at only a few trees in the forest.

Fortunately for me an analysis of the distribution of, and cuts in government service expenditure has been carried out by Howard Reed of Landman Economics and he has kindly provided me with the figures on the distribution of benefits-in-kind and the cuts in these services by quintile group.    

The third step is to measure the effects of the cuts in benefits and increase in taxes on those households receiving disability benefits. The source for this is the annual analysis of the Office of National Statistics entitled “Effects of Taxes and Benefits on Household Income”.

I do not pretend that the analysis is precise. It could doubtless be improved. It has been a difficult study to carry out. But the fact that I have achieved as much as I have reveals the dishonesty of the Government when it says that a cumulative impact assessment of the cuts on disabled people is ‘too difficult’. It is clear to me that the Government is afraid of revealing the vicious effects of the cuts on those households receiving disability benefits. I have carried out this study alone. Imagine what could have been done by a team of people from the Treasury or  from the Department for Work and Pensions.  

As I say, it has been a very difficult study to carry out. It has also been depressing – for two reasons. First because digging out the information has been difficult since I was not, initially, familiar with all the surveys and sources. The second reason for getting depressed was because as I began to collect the information, it painted such a harsh picture.  The cuts are hitting disabled people (arguably the most vulnerable section of society) very hard indeed. Indeed this is probably the hardest hit of any group in society.

But not only has the exercise been depressing. It has also made me angry since the whole Austerity Package exercise is so stupid and unnecessary. I feel the same anger as is reflected in End this Depression Now, the book published earlier this year and written by Paul Krugman, the Nobel prize-winner (Krugman 2012).   

The next few sections of this report look at who the disabled people are, how many of them there are and how the Austerity Package (the cuts in benefits, rise in taxes and cuts in benefits-in-kind) is affecting those households receiving disability benefits. Then I set out the historical context of the Austerity Package, its component parts and why the policy is not only vicious but also counter-productive. The final sections look at the hypocrisy of the Coalition Government, sets out alternative policies and the need for action to implement alternative policies.   

Download full report

Sep 062012

We have put together a list of resources- please contact us if you know of others that would be useful to add

DPAC receive a large number of requests for advice and information on cuts and the WCA . We cannot give advice, but direct to web resources that we know.

We also have a DPAC Facebook page which includes many people struggling with issues of ESA, Atos assessments and DWP failures –it acts as an advice forum from those that may have been through the issues you might be experiencing it’s at https://www.facebook.com/groups/DPAC2011/418279398228320/?notif_t=group_activity

Useful web sites




http://www.citizensadvice.co.uk/en/  Northern Ireland

http://www.cas.org.uk/cta/find-your-local-cab Scotland

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Diol1/DoItOnline/DoItOnlineByCategory/DG_067277 Find your local CAB

WCA: how to prepare



WCA Appeals: what you need to do


Free legal assistance list with thanks to Inclusion London

Bar Pro Bono Unit

Who are they?

A charity that helps to find pro bono legal assistance from volunteer barristers for individuals and organisations who cannot afford to pay and who cannot obtain public funding (legal aid).

What do they do?

The Unit matches barristers prepared to undertake pro bono work with those who need their help. The office itself does not give advice.

The volunteer barristers can provide advice, representation and help at mediation; representation in any court/tribunal; give legal advice on any subject; and draft documents such as skeleton arguments.

How do you access the service?

  • They cannot accept applications unless they come via a referrer (generally, an advice agency such as the CAB or a Law Centre, or a local MP)
  • Visit the website www.barprobono.org.uk
  • For more information if you are an individual needing help Click Here
  • Submit a query via contact form Click Here

Community Legal Advice

Who are they?

A free and confidential advice service in England and Wales paid for by legal aid.

What do they do?

Provide free help or legal advice over the phone. They can help with family, debt, housing, employment, education, welfare benefits and tax credits problems.

They will check to see if you are eligible for legal aid and put you in touch with a specialist legal adviser, or refer you to other agencies of you do not qualify for their services.
Has a free translation service available in 170 languages.

How do you access the service?

  • Telephone 0845 345 4 345 (Open Monday to Friday 9.00 am to 8.00 pm. Saturday 9.00 am to 12.30 pm. Calls cost 4p per minute from a BT landline; cost from mobiles will be more)
  • Request a call back 

               -Via online form Click Here

               -Text ‘legalaid’ then your name to 80010 (Call back within 24 hours)

Disability Law Service

Who are they?

A national charity run by disabled people, which specialises in free legal advice and information for disabled people, their families and carers.

What do they do?

They provide free legal advice and representation (e.g. in complaints, using the Ombudsman, tribunals and courts), specialising in Welfare Benefits; Community Care; Disability Discrimination in Employment, Access to Goods and Services; and using the Equality Duty to challenge public authorities.
They run a free legal advice line, open Mon-Friday, 10am–5pm, with an answering machine service for out of hours calls.
They run an Employment Law drop in at their office in Tower Hamlets, where a member of their legal team will assess whether you are financially eligible for legal aid under the Legal Services Commissions (LSC) Legal Help scheme.
They also have factsheets available to download on key areas of the law, such as Community Care; education; employment; goods and services; and welfare benefits. The factsheets are available for download in different formats – regular, large print, text only and audio file.
They commit to responding to telephone enquiries within 24 hours, and written enquiries within 7-10 days.

How do you access the service?

Free Representation Unit (FRU)

Who are they?

A charity that provides free legal representation for the public 
and advocacy experience for junior lawyers.

What do they do?

Provide legal advice, case preparation and advocacy in employment tribunals (and appeals from decisions of the employment tribunals); social security appeals in the first-tier tribunal (and appeals from such decisions); and criminal injury compensation cases.

How do you access the service?

  • *Do not accept cases directly from members of the public – all cases must come through a referral agency. For a list of referral agencies, Click Here
  • Visit the website www.thefru.org.uk


Who are they?

A charity that works with law firms and legal professionals to involve them in delivering pro bono work.

What do they do?

Aim to provide free legal help to those who cannot afford to pay for it and who are unable to access legal aid.

Services to individuals include free Legal Advice Clinics, free mediation to settle disputes out of court, and free casework assistance if you need more than one-off advice.

Who are they for?


How do you access the service?


Who are they?

A charity that run a website for the promotion of pro bono legal work.

What do they do?

Act as a resource for news andinformation about pro bono work for individuals, advice workers and lawyers wishing to offer help.

How do you access the service?

RAD Legal Services:   BSL

Who are they?

A dedicated legal advice service for Deaf BSL users provided by the Royal Association of Deaf People (RAD).

What do they do?

RAD Legal Services currently has three projects: a Discrimination Advice project, a Webcam Advice Project and a Money Advice Service project.
Discrimination Advice gives free specialist legal advice on discrimination issues in the areas of employment, housing, education and goods, facilities and services.  This is provided by a Deaf solicitor, and can be delivered face to face, via webcam, email, telephone or instant messaging software.
Webcam Advice is the BSL version of the Community Legal Advice Helpline, and is available free of charge to people eligible for legal aid in the areas of welfare benefits, debt, housing and employment.  As well as webcam, they can also provide advice via instant messaging software such as Windows Live Messenger, ooVoo, etc.
Money Advice Service has a qualified Money Adviser giving free, clear and ‘jargon-free’ Money Advice money advice to D/deaf and hard of hearing people who live in the South East. The Service covers the savings and investments; borrowings (credit cards, loans and mortgages); retirement planning and pensions; redundancy; tax and tax credits; insurance; debt; starting a family; and budgeting.

How do you access the service?

Other links

Advice Guide

Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) online advice resource.

Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB)

The website of the national advice agency, including Search for your nearest CAB.

Law Centres Federation

The umbrella organisation that supports and promotes UK Law Centres. For a list of London’s Law Centres, visit

Legal Adviser Finder

Find legal advisers or solicitors near you

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Download the list of Legal firms: Public Law Specialists

Download list of Legal Firms: Community Care specialists


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