Mar 122014
 

In 2012 not long after the government passed the welfare reform Act John McDonnell MP warned the House of Commons: ““We now have a disability movement in this country of which we have not seen the equal before: Black Triangle occupied Atos offices in Scotland, DPAC – Disabled People Against Cuts – chained themselves in Trafalgar Square. These people are not going to go away. They will be in our face – and rightly so.” And we have been ever since. With Atos on the run, the bedroom tax on the ropes and the ongoing fight for the Independent Living Fund we are seeing the results of disabled people’s co-ordinated grassroots campaigning.

 
A model of campaigning that responds to the direct lived experience of disabled people is not popular with everyone. Too often it rocks the boat in questioning entrenched positions within the disability sector such as the need to close the Remploy factories at the earliest opportunity whatever the cost and the wisdom of local authority administered social care support. Disabled people have looked beyond disabled people’s organisations and disability ‘professionals’ to gain support for grassroots led disabled people’s campaigns, making alliances with the broader anti cuts movement and the various, often conflicted groups within that, from trade unions to UKUncut.

 
The model has proved successful and disabled people’s protest has succeeded in punching holes in austerity, as the Government and private companies like Atos are strongly aware.  DPAC co-founder Linda Burnip remembers: “Our first protest against ATOS was January 2011 in Triton Square and few people had heard of the WCA or ATOS. Our continued national days of action against ATOS from then on helped very much to change that and bring the atrocities being inflicted on disabled people to the forefront of public awareness. After the DPAC actions against ATOS sponsorship of the paralympic games and the spontaneous booing of Osborne by 80,000 disabled spectators our campaign against ATOS gained international attention. Our early intervention in targeting protests at ATOS recruitment fares has eventually paid off and particularly after Joyce Drummond and Dr. Woods spoke out about their experiences of working for ATOS the WCAs and ATOS are now so toxic that they are unable to recruit enough staff to carry out assessments and the whole system is in melt-down. Any firm considering taking over the ATOS contract should be aware that disabled people will do the same to them as they have done to ATOS.”

 

While the bedroom tax is being held aloft as an example of the effectiveness of framing theory we should not forget that co-ordinated community action put the real pressure on. It may not have changed the government’s mind but the audacity of two wheelchair accessible bus-loads of disabled people turning up at Iain Duncan Smith’s mansion to serve an eviction notice and picnic in the lavish grounds last April set the tone for a determined campaign that has placed disabled people at the centre of community action on estates across the country. Disabled campaigner Robert Punton says, “Disabled people have been at the forefront of both this despicable tax and the resulting campaign. A by-product of the campaign has been that we as a disabled people’s pressure group have come into a working relationship with unions and other community campaigns strengthening everyone’s position and resolve.”

 

The campaign to save the independent living fund (ILF) led by ILF recipients and supported by DPAC and Inclusion London among other disabled people led groups has gained real traction despite the consensus among national charities and disability organisations that transfer to local authorities was the way forwards. Without a grassroots material basis from which to develop, theoretical rights will remain forever in the abstract. Disabled people are experiencing ever diminishing packages of support increasingly delivered on a ‘clean and feed’ model, with a rise in administration by in-house local authority services and prepayment cards. Yet, while, through continuation of the ILF, we have a layer of disabled people who regardless of their level of support need are enabled to enjoy a quality of life and level of choice and control that affords an ordinary life, we prevent a full scale roll back and the loss of aspiration for independent living for disabled people. Kevin Caulfield, disabled activist and Chair of Hammersmith and Fulham Coalition Against Cuts says “The campaign has been really important to draw attention to the government’s suffocation of disabled people’s right to independent living and equality. Every disabled person who needs support should have the right resources to live a full life which is why the ILF should be protected and re-opened so that everyone who needs it can apply. The campaign exposed the light touch of the government in relation to enforcing equality legislation and we can see why they are desperate to restrict disabled people’s access to justice by excluding us from legal aid and the right to take judicial review”.

 

It is interesting that the impact of disabled people’s campaigning at this pivotal point in history is so much better recognised outside the disability sector than within. This is for a number of reasons. Mainstream media bias means that most activity is only communicated through social and independent media and to those already linked in. Then there also seems to be a misperception in some quarters that because disabled people are allying ourselves with mainstream movements that it is not disabled people setting the agenda. This misses some really exciting developments where disabled people are influencing a wider understanding and application in practice of disability equality and inclusion. DPAC activists were for example central to last summer’s anti-fracking protest in Balcombe having worked with Reclaim the Power to build an accessible protest camp and a direct action of which disabled activists were at the forefront.

 

The point is not though to gain recognition, the point is to continue to effect concrete social change. Atos may be looking for an exit strategy but disabled people need abolition of the Work Capability Assessment itself, the bedroom tax may have lost all credibility but disabled people and their families are continuing to build arrears and to suffer under its implementation, the Independent Living Fund may have been at least temporarily saved for those existing recipients but the crisis in social care grows ever more desperate. What we have shown over the last few years is that we do have agency when we co-ordinate and campaign. Now there is more to do.

 

For more information about Disabled People Against Cuts national conference on 12th April 2014 contact dpacfightback@yahoo.co.uk. Please note due to limited capacity places are prioritised for signed up members.

Mar 072014
 

photoThe Tory Government’s callous decision to continue with the closure of the Independent Living Fund, announced today by Mike Penning represents a further ideologically driven attack on the quality of life of all but the richest UK citizens.

For those people who rely on the fund for their care and support, the prospect of the devolution of such care to Local Authority adult care provision is harrowing indeed.

One ILF recipient, Mary Laver, made a video about what her life would be like without the ILF. You can see it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLPA96k1oaE

What is most illustrative about this video, to me, is not her condition as presented in the video, nor the fact that a woman like Mary could not possibly have been an Olympic Torch Bearer without the help of the fund, but a single sentence she uttered after watching the video of herself in the Houses of Parliament last November. It spoke volumes. She said “I never realized how disabled I am until I saw that.”

Another, perhaps better known ILF recipient is actor and comedian Liz Carr who plays Clarissa Mullery in BBC’s Silent Witness. She says  “The closure of the Independent Living Fund will inevitably lead to the erosion of  independence, inclusion and freedom for disabled people who have high levels of need.  I am one of the 18,000 people in the UK who receive support from the ILF and it is this funding to pay people to do the things I physically can’t do which enables me to get up in the morning, work and have the same kinds of opportunities as everyone else.  I don’t think I’m being overdramatic when I say that today’s news is devastating to those of us whose lives and existence owes a great deal to the Independent Living Fund.  How can already strapped for cash Local authorities take up the slack when the Fund closes in the summer of 2015?  How many of us are going to lose our independence as residential care provides a more cost effective option?  A future without the ILF is terrifying.”

Merry Cross of DPAC and Left Unity says that the decision is “the worst example of the hypocysy asnd lies that Cameron has come out with since he took office in 2010, claiming that he would be protecting ‘the poorest, the most vulnerable, the elderly, the frail’. The intention is to destroy Local Authorities as part of the privatisation agenda. I can’t think of a single reason why any disabled person would be reassured by that statement at the end of the press release that the government “‘want to make sure that disabled people are given the support that allows them to fulfil their potential’” and I can’t think of a single reason why any disabled person would feel anything other than terror and horror. I’d say the governmentt commitment to disabled people is as shallow as its commitment to the pockets of its rich friends is deep.”

That is the truth at the heart of the matter. Withdrawing this lifeline from those of us who need it is sentencing us to a life inside the sterilized walls of a local authority Care Home, or imprisonment within the no less confining walls of our own homes, granted “care” in such meager doses as to deny us the dignity of choosing our own time of rising, sleeping, eating or even the voluntary usage of such necessities as the toilet.

The Court of Appeal found the decision of the Tory Government to close the Independent Living Fund unlawful last November on the grounds that the duty of the government to promote equality had been neglected. The judges found that the DWP had failed to fulfil its duty, under section 149 of the Equality Act 2010, to have “due regard” to the need to promote equality of opportunity between disabled and non-disabled people in its decision to close the fund. It was found that briefings given to then disability minister Esther McVey by officials did not adequately make clear “the potentially very grave impact” the closure of the ILF could have on service users and that whereas responses to the consultation indicated that “independent living might well be put seriously in jeopardy for a large number of people”, this was not conveyed to the minister in clear terms.

To callously strip disabled people of their most basic freedoms cannot by any reasonable person be considered a promotion of equality.

We would thus urge persons of conscience, politicians, and organizations concerned with any and all human rights to join us in the condemnation of this policy and to support the next steps in challenging the manifest sadism of a government bent on imposing destitution and despair on the populace.

Campaigners will continue to fight the closure. DPAC’s Ellen Clifford said, “The fight continues. We are seeing the impact of the closure on 2010 and how local authority support is failing to meet the needs and rights of disabled people under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The strength and resolve of grassroots disabled people got us this far and we are not giving up now. This has never just been about protecting support for existing ILF recipients, however important that certainly is, but it is also about the fundamental right to independent living for all disabled people.”

Article by Conan Doyle

Photo from Rockinpaddy touring with Graeae’s Threepenny Opera

 
Mar 032013
 

Through support from the Independent Living Fund my step son John is able to enjoy a much more independent way of life, than would otherwise be possible. He can at the moment, go out & access his local community and feel part of society and valued as a person. He is a young man of 30 who wants to continue to live at home and have the best possible chance of some Independence in his life. His mother has been able to set up her own small florist’s market business because the support John receives through the ILF means she does not have to support him full time.

 

The support John receives now through the ILF is working for him and for our family.

 

John stays with me now every weekend from 3pm on Friday to 9pm on Monday, which allows Evonne to work the market and to go to the wholesalers too. I also go over several evenings and mornings to bath and shower John. Because of the ILF John gets to do social things he wouldn’t otherwise be able to. John has complex physical and learning support needs and is not able to work but there are many things he loves to do. I take him to a club night every week where he meets like- minded friends for an evening out. He loves to go to the theatre or cinema most weekends and out shopping too. When the weather is suitable we often go out for drives to the seaside which John loves, and also go bowling amongst other social activities. John also likes to take holidays in the UK on holiday sites which have entertainment and wheelchair access caravans. Again the ILF means that I can take him on these and we went away for 3 short breaks last year which he just wouldn’t get to do with a cre package funded solely by the Local Authority.

 

If the ILF were to close completely John would lose almost 50% of his care package: his care package comes to £52,580 per annum in total, of which £23,376 is made up of ILF payments. He has been scored in the highest funding band on the Local Authority’s Resource Allocation System, but their highest indicative budget would only provide care up to a cost of £31,094 for someone living at home. This would mean he could not be looked after at home and would almost certainly need to go into residential care.

 

Local Authorities and social workers are already cracking under the pressure from cuts and increased caseloads. The British Association of Social workers have been reported as having to revise their own code of ethics because of unmanageable caseloads. These are the Local Authorities and social workers that the government say should be responsible for handling even more case management and care packages if the ILF is allowed to close.

 

We know from personal experience that Local Authorities are cutting care packages back as far as they can under budget pressures and how hard you have to fight to keep what you need even with Independent Living funding in place.  The last time we had a review the social workers tried to cut quite a bit from their part of the package and admitted this was due to budget pressures and nothing to do with what John’s actual care needs are. We put up a strong resistance to this. I saw a solicitor for legal advice and let the social workers know I was doing this. We still however felt pressured to accept a small decrease in his sitting service from Crossroads which was reduced from 10 hrs a week to 5. We were told that if we accepted this the review panel would be more likely to agree not to carry out the other reductions they were trying to enforce on us including reducing John’s day centre care from 5 days to 3, his respite care from 42 days to 28, and to stopping his transport to the day centre altogether which we did successfully resist.

 

The closure of the ILF will have a devastating impact on our whole family. We know that the hours of support funded by the ILF will not be maintained by the Local Authority. John’s ILF package consists of 37 hours per week and I am John’s sole Personal Assistant, so as well as John losing a lot of his Independence I too would be losing my employment which will be a big loss to the family. Evonne, John’s mother, would be forced into making a decision as to whether John could stay at home as he wants to or whether he would have to go into residential care. If he stayed at home she would have to pack in her business as there is no way that she would be able to devote the amount of time needed to keep that running if she is forced into a position of having to stay at home looking after John. She often works until the early hours of the morning preparing and making up flower arrangements and is then back in the market by 8am and sometimes earlier. She isn’t getting any younger and the long term stress & fatigue of looking after John has started to take its toll. Things get harder as disabled people and their families get older and it is more not less care & support that is needed.

 

My Step Son of course is far from being alone, the ILF currently helps over 18,000 people with high support needs, both to access work placements in some cases, and in all cases to access support and the community in a way in which they would never be able to if it is allowed to close. It is called the Independent Living fund for a reason, it allows severely disabled people to live more independent lives than they would otherwise be able to do.

 

The Independence and quality of life that John enjoys because of his ILF award will all be taken away if the ILF closes and it will be a total disaster for him, Evonne & myself too. I would like to say the Government don’t realise that this will be a complete disaster for disabled people, their families and carers, but I’m afraid I think they do know this…..they just dont care!!

 

 

 

 

Mar 012013
 

In the count-down to the ILF court case on 13th March we will be publishing on a daily basis individual stories from disabled people affected by the closure of this essential source of independent living support.

This follows the powerful testimonies recorded by journalist Kate Belgrave and published by the Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/feb/27/closing-independent-living-fund-disabled-care

Please circulate the links to the stories and use the tools in the campaigns pack to promote the Independent Living Fund campaign as widely as possible.

Our first story is from Mary Laver.

Olympic Torch Relay 041My love affair with the Independent Living Fund (ILF) started over 25 years ago, – I was just 40 and I am now 65, – when it came into my life, a life that I was existing not living.

Within 12 months of becoming crippled with Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of 40 I was unable to leave my bed and this remained the case for the next 2 years.

I found myself in a position where I could not bear weight on my legs or feet, and my arms very quickly bent making it impossible to get out of my bed and into my powered wheelchair.  My care from social services was very basic at 2 hours per day. All but 2 of my friends deserted me.  I watched the seasons change by the reflection in a picture I had on the wall opposite my bed, which by this time, was now in my lounge.

Life was very grim until my social worker told me about the ILF; my love affair was to begin.

Being introduced to the ILF was not easy, my social worker had to fill in a long and complicated form and then we just had to wait for the verdict, yes or no to me getting the ILF, which was a long time coming. Meanwhile I decided to sell my house and buy a bungalow, which I did from my bed, and by the time the ILF was confirmed, the sale had gone through and I was on the move to my new home and my new life with my ILF.

I will not bore you with all the life changes over the past 25 years thanks to the ILF, but I will jump straight to 15th June 2012 at 5.03 pm Newbridge Street, Newcastle and a crowed eagerly awaiting the Olympic Torch to approach because that was the date, time and place that I was to have the greatest honor of my whole life, I was to carry the Olympic Torch in recognition of my charity work.  The list is long and you can Google me to find out more, but highlights are I drove my power chair from Lands End to John O’Groats making it into the Guinness Book of Records, which I did for the Royal British Legion, I have spent for the past 22 years, two weeks each year selling poppies, I have been pushed in my manual chair to raise monies for various charities in 16 Great North Runs. The list goes on and none of this would have happened without ILF.

My life does not all revolve around good works. My ILF also enables me to go out for long walks with my two much loved Jack Russell’s, Jack and Molly. My ILF enables me to visit places of interest, to have the freedom to do what I want, when I want, with whom I want.  I also use the ILF time for my carer to take me to my hospital and doctor’s appointments.

In all to sum up I would say I lead a life full of challenges and wonderful experiences mixed up with the odd boring moments.

But if I am divorced from my ILF I will be living a life of hell in my beautiful bungalow. My beloved dogs will have to find a new home. My social life will disappear.

How do I know this?

I know because I have seen what my care package would look like without the ILF contribution. Per day, I would receive support for a carer to sleepover, then 1 hour support for lunch, and 1 hour for tea. Per week would be added 7 hours for social activities, 90 minutes for shopping, 45 minutes for housework and 20 minutes ironing, plus 2 support slots of 15 minutes each for showering.

With nothing but a Local Authority care package I  would have a future of nothing more than sitting in my wheelchair from quarter to eight in the morning until half past ten at night with only two breaks, at lunch time and at tea time.  Without support to go to the toilet between visits from a care assistant I would be wet, so when the care assistant did come for the hour lunch time and tea time would need to be taken to clean me. I would also get a sandwich, a hot drink and be toileted. At tea time instead of a sandwich I would get a warmed up meal, which would have to be a microwave meal because no time would be allowed in my support package for cooking.

By the time the night staff came on at ten, I would be wet again and need to be washed and changed as well as been given a hot drink and put to bed at half past ten.

Being left wet for so many hours every day would lead to open pressure sores which would need to be treated by a nurse on a regular basis.

My day would be nothing more than me sitting in a wet pad, just being fed and watered, no Jack and Molly to keep me company, and above all no freedom to do anything I wish. My home will be my prison.

Oh except for my 7 hours of social care per week. Well with that I could use it to have one day out of the house per week or I could add 1 hour per day to my lunch or tea time call to make it less rushed.

Being very dramatic, there is a pond at the bottom of my garden and if I were to finally mentally snap, unable to take any more of this appalling care, it would only take a few minutes and all my problems, and that of the government, will be sorted… Or I could get someone to leave my gate open- I cannot do that myself- and a short metro ride would see me on a short pier where I could take a long walk…

The other alternative would be a care home.  Would the people who are taking my ILF away care to live in a care home? The pond seems more inviting.

So there you have it, my love affair with the ILF.  I will fight with every breath in my body to keep this affair going on.

 

 

 

Feb 242013
 
Tuesday 26 February, 6pm
Croydon Town Hall
 
On 25 February Croydon Council will agree their budget for 2013-2014 which will include cuts across services for disabled and older residents adding up to£10 million coming at a time when disabled people are already being impoverished and left without essential income and support through national cuts to benefits and entitlements.
The detailed budget setting recommendations from Cabinet on 10th December (attached) contain much that was left out of the flimsy online consultation and much that is worrying including efficiency savings (read ‘cuts’) to an already over stretched voluntary sector and more effective use (read ‘reductions’) to care packages when disabled residents are already being told if they can’t cope on the support they currently get they will have to go into residential care.
We are very concerned that on top of year on year reductions by Croydon, and the huge central government cuts to disability-related benefits and entitlements, these cuts represent a further attack on the quality of life of disabled people. The cuts are adding injury to injury, and mean yet more pain for disabled people in Croydon.
Feb 162013
 

11am at ULU, Malet Street,
London WC1E 7HY

With workshops on • welfare reforms causing poverty, debt and
homelessness • how we can oppose them • building mass resistance
• Link up and build the campaign locally and nationally

The Campaign for Benefit Justice is uniting all those opposed to
devastating benefit cuts / By linking up we can challenge the
Government’s divide and rule tactics and unite the 99% of people
hit by these cuts / Bringing together disabled people, tenants,
unemployed , trade unions, students, pensioners, single parents
and others to oppose benefit cuts.

Download summit flyer and details for how to book your place here: benefit-justice-summit_A5_4pp (2)

Feb 162013
 

Protesters brought traffic at Whitehall to a stand still following a ‘speak out’ organised by Fuel Poverty Action and Supported by Disabled People Against Cuts and Greater London Pensioners Association to highlight the injustice of rocketing fuel bills at a time when benefit changes, cutbacks and low wages are pushing growing numbers of people into poverty. Meanwhile the Big Six Energy companies, in bed with government, have increased their profit margins 700%. The action followed protests earlier in the week in Edinburgh, and Haringey while Southwark Pensioners held a ‘warm up’ in the Royal Festival Hall.

http://fuelpovertyaction.org.uk/2013/02/16/whitehall-road-block-brings-traffic-to-a-standstill-outside-dept-of-energy-climate-change/

Read about the fuel robbers: http://fuelpovertyaction.org.uk/stop-the-great-fuel-robbery/490-2/

Read the Independent’s article ahead of today’s protest: http://www.independent.co.uk/money/spend-save/anger-at-decc-as-fuel-poverty-hits-millions-8497485.html

Below – MarmiteRay of ‘The Undateables’ fame speaks out against the Great Fuel Robbery:

tn

 

Feb 112013
 

Reposted from the New Statesman

Owen Jones caused a bit of a stir this week, when after it was revealed that he had won the Political Book Awards Young Writer of the Year award, he announced he would be giving his £3,000 prize money (donated by Lord Ashcroft) away – half to Lisa Forbes, Labour candidate in Peterborough, and half to the Disabled People Against Cuts.

He tweeted:

Chuffed to win Young Writer of the Year Award at #PBAwards. Given the £3,000 prize is from Lord Ashcroft I’ll be donating it to causes (1/3)

Half to the brilliant @LisaForbes_ campaign against right-wing Tory caricature @SJacksonMP. Lord Ashcroft money well-spent #PBAwards (2/3)

The other half to @dis_ppl_protest who are campaigning for disabled people who are being battered by Tory cuts #PBAwards (3/3)

Thanks to Jones, Tory mega-donor Lord Ashcroft’s money is going to be funding a Labour parliamentary candidate and a group of activists who vehemently oppose the actions of the Conservative politicians in the coalition. When he came up on stage to present another award, Lord Ashcroft attempted to have a pop at Jones in return, and delivered an unconvincing comeback.

Feb 102013
 

Benefit Cuts opposition grows as MPs and union leaders back

Union leaders and MPs are publicly backing tenants and campaigners against Benefit cuts which they say ‘must stop’.

The leaders of Britains largest trade unions are lining up in a joint call to action, with Defend Council Housing, Disabled People Against Cuts and others. They say debt, hunger and homelessness will get worse if ‘vicious’ cuts to Council tax, Disability and housing benefits including the Bedroom Tax go ahead. ‘People receiving benefits did not cause the banking and economic crisis and we do not accept them being scapegoated to pay for it.’ A joint letter published today, is signed by Len McCluskey leader of Britain’s biggest trade union Unite, and by Mark Serwotka of the PCS trade union representing Benefits workers and other civil servants.

Four MPs also back the call for a Benefits Summit on 9 March, bringing together campaigns and organisations to step up opposition. Today’s letter says:

Cuts in benefit are an unjust attack on the poor and they must stop.

People are already being driven into debt, hunger and homelessness. From April millions more will be hit by the Bedroom tax, cuts in council tax benefit, ending Disability Living Allowance and further vicious cuts.

In one of the richest countries in the world, the rise of food banks, destitution and poverty is not acceptable. People receiving benefits did not cause the banking and economic crisis and we do not accept them being scapegoated to pay for it.

The Campaign for Benefit Justice has called a summit event on 9 March in central London, bringing together tenants, disabled people, trade unions, the unpaid and the low paid as one national voice to end the war on the poor. All who support us should contact Benefit Justice via info@defendouncilhousing.org.uk or mail@dpac.uk.net

Collecting unpaid corporate tax, capping private rents, insulating, repairing and greening homes and building 100,000 first-class council homes would be a sane and just way to raise funds, build for growth and cut bills and rents.

It is signed by:

Eileen Short Defend Council Housing

Linda Burnip Disabled People Against Cuts

Michael Bradley Right to Work Campaign

Len McCluskey General Secretary Unite the Union

Mark Serwotka General Secretary PCS union

Dave Anderson MP

John McDonnell MP

Austin Mitchell MP

Caroline Lucas MP

Jane Aitchison (PCS) Unite the Resistance joint Secretary

Richard Buckwell Chair Ashfield UNISON Branch & East Midlands member of UNISON’s national Housing Forum

Glyn Robbins (UNITE member)

Dot Gibson National Pensioners Convention general secretary

Claire Glasman WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities)

Kim Sparrow Single Mothers Self-Defence

John Davies Leeds Hands off our Homes

Dr Stuart Hodkinson Lecturer School of Geography University of Leeds

Shirley Frost Sheffield Defend Council Housing, Campaign for Benefits Justice, and UNITE Community Members branch Sheffield

Imelda Messenger Hackney tenant, Street Properties

Further information from DCH chair, Eileen Short (07432 098440)

To stop getting DCH press releases reply with UNSUBSCRIBE in subject.

For background information on the demand for investment in council housing and who supports the campaign see www.defendcouncilhousing.org.uk

Nov 262012
 

George Osborne

  •  An action organised by Fuel Poverty Action, Disabled People Against Cuts and the Greater London Pensioners’ Association. Other organisations taking part include Single Mothers’ Self-Defence, Southwark Pensioners’ Action Group and WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities).
  • Meet Thursday 29th November at 11am outside the main entrance to the Treasury on Horse Guards Road, SW1A 2HQ, opposite St James’s Park (nearest accessible tube station, Westminster).
  • Speak out against cold homes, mammoth fuel bills and winter deaths! Demand that George Osborne lets us into The Toasty Treasury to keep warm!  
  • Bring placards, banners, blankets, flasks and hot water bottles! 

 

This week, the government will publish its controversial Energy Bill. What it’s hoping we won’t notice is that, on Thursday November 29th – the likely date of the Bill’s first reading – the human cost of its destructive energy policies will be revealed as figures on last year’s winter deaths are announced. Disabled people, as well as pensioners, mothers, children and others in low-income households will be among the worst affected.
Fuel poverty disproportionately affects disabled people, who are twice as likely to live in poverty as non-disabled people. Disabled people need to spend more on energy as they are more likely to spend time indoors with fewer opportunities to go out and access community facilities to keep warm. Some impairments are aggravated by cold, requiring homes to be heated at higher temperatures to avoid illness and hospital admissions.

Join Fuel Poverty Action, the Greater London Pensioners’ Association, Disabled People Against Cuts and others in fighting back. Over the past week, we’ve asked people across the country which Cold Homes Killer they want to target. The votes are now in and we can reveal that the target of our winter deaths action will be…THE TREASURY, home to George Osborne. We can’t afford to heat our homes, so we’ll be demanding that George Osborne lets us into The Toasty Treasury to keep warm.
We’re targeting George Osborne and The Treasury because they are directly responsible for deaths from cold homes. This is due, firstly, to their cuts to crucial lifelines like benefits, council housing and the Winter Fuel Allowance.
George Osborne and The Treasury are also responsible for winter deaths because of their role in secret Tory plots to lock us into decades of dependence on dirty and expensive gas power. While the Tories and media blame green energy, in fact, two-thirds of last year’s energy bill increases were due to the rising cost of gas. Meanwhile, the cost of renewable energy is quickly coming down.
We need to invest rapidly in renewable energy to bring down bills and avert the dangers of climate change, which is also a killer. Why is the government allowing the Big Six energy companies – British Gas (Centrica), EDF, E.ON, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE –  to push the cost of investment in new energy onto our energy bills, while their profits soar to record highs? The answer: the government are in bed with the energy companies and are prioritising their profits over our lives.
Join us in demanding no more cuts, no more dirty and expensive gas, no more mammoth fuel bills and no more winter deaths. Our alternative: let’s reclaim power through community-controlled renewable energy, distributed on the basis of need not private profit.  
Spread the word on Facebook, event here.
We are attempting to secure funds to subsidise people’s travel to the event. If you are in need of subsidised travel, please let us know in advance via the contact details below and we will try our best to help you.
If your group would like to publically support this event, please let us know.
Contact us:
Tel: 07586 482 157


Dec 302011
 

PCS Left Unity National Committee

DEFEND PENSIONS – ESCALATE ACTION TO DEFEND THE WELFARE STATE

Friends Meeting House

(opp. Euston Station) 7th January 2012 11am – 4pm

Mark Serwotka carrying DPAC banner

Mark Serwotka carrying DPAC banner

Speakers:

Mark Serwotka PCS General Secretary

John McDonnell MP

Kevin Courtney DGS NUT (personal capacity)

Roger Bannister UNISON NEC (personal capacity)

Mark Campbell UCU NEC (personal capacity)

Zita Holbourne BARAC

Kevin Donnelly Unite United Left

For more details click here…

Nov 262011
 

As part of December’s month of festive action against Atos and the benefit cuts, disabled people, benefit claimants and supporters will be demonstrating outside the Paralympic Goal Ball test event being held at the Olympic Park in Stratford on Saturday 3rd December from 2pm.

Atos are the French IT firm responsible for carrying out the government’s Work Capability Assessment which has led to tens of thousands of sick and disabled people being forced into poverty after being stripped of essential benefits.  Despite the process being dubbed unfit for purpose and an increasing number of suicides due to the stressful and vicious health testing regime, this form of assessment is to be extended to everyone on some form of disability or health related benefit.

When not bullying disabled people Atos are also the official IT partners of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.  Join us to ensure that Atos do not receive one ounce of positive publicity from this role, as they champion their support for disabled athletes with one hand whilst destroying the lives of of disabled and sick benefit claimants with the other.

On December 3rd, International Disabled People’s Day, protesters will be gathering outside the entrance of the Olympic Park in Stratford at the Paralympic Goalball test event.  Join us from 2pm and let’s show the world what Atos really think about disabled people.

Bring banners, placards, noise!

Travel to Stratford station (DLR, Central/Jubilee Lines, London Overground) and then follow the indications to the Olympic Park entrance via Westfield Stratford City shopping centre. The route from the station to the entrance of the Olympic Park is approximately 600 metres.

A Real Victorian Christmas Party and Picnic at Triton Square

Friday 16th December – 2pm
Triton Square , London NW1

Join us at the home of poverty pimps Atos for a Christmas Party to celebrate the continuing struggle against disability deniers Atos.

As part of the month of festive action against Atos and the benefit cuts, disabled people, benefit claimants and supporters will be visiting French IT company Atos’ gleaming corporate headquarters to celebrate the real Victorian Christmas being inflicted on hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled people this Christmas.

As Atos CEO Keith Wilman tucks into his organic tax-payer funded Christmas turkey, hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled will be spending Christmas terrified a letter from his company may land on their doorstep demanding that they attend one of Atos’ notorious ‘Work Capability Assessments’.  These flawed tests have led to tens of thousands of sick and disabled people being forced into poverty after being stripped of essential benefits.

Despite the process being dubbed unfit for purpose and an increasing number of suicides, due to the stressful and vicious health testing regime, this form of assessment is to be extended to everyone on some form of disability or health related benefit.

Join us on Friday 16th December at 2pm as we continue the struggle against the unending war on benefit claimants and disabled people.  We will not pay for their crisis.

Bring scabies, TB, rickets, begging bowls and child labour*.  Peelers not invited.

*Also banners, placards, food to share, leaflets, noise.

Atos are based at Triton Square , less than five minutes walk from Warren Street and Great Portland Street tube stations and less than ten minutes from Euston.

Main Month of Action event page: http://www.facebook.com/events/122853381158514/

Jul 042011
 
hand palm with words'hands off'

hands off our services...

Hands Off Our Care and Support Services, Our Benefits, and Our Futures!

Rally of Birmingham City Council Meeting

5.00pm Tuesday 5 July 2011

Outside Council House, Victoria Square

It is becoming increasingly clear that those who will be hardest hit by austerity cuts are those with least money and resources  –disabled people, mental health service users, carers, older people and those on benefits. In Birmingham the council plans to cut £33.2m from support and care services by raising eligibility thresholds. This will mean five thousand people in the city losing vital support. Cuts include the closure of six older people’s residential homes, increased charges for personal care, and the loss of skilled care workers as services become increasingly reliant on lower paid casual staff. A recent Panorama on the abuse of disabled residents at the Castlebeck unit showed the horrific results of providing social care on the cheap through privatised companies. Yet now the council is also proposing to privatise social work services using social enterprises. This will mean social work is turned into a business and workers forced to compete for contracts.

In addition many of those affected by cuts, disabled people and those with severe and terminal medical conditions, are also being forced to undergo  ‘work capability assessments’ and declared fit for work by the hated multinational Atos Origin which will profit from an outsourced £300 million government contract. This system has already led several claimants to commit suicide.

However, care service users and social and care workers are increasingly questioning why they should pay for a crisis caused not by them but by bankers. And so care staff and their unions in Birmingham are joining forces with disabled people to save our services and campaign against these discriminatory cuts.

In May a High Court judge ruled Birmingham council’s plans were unlawful under the Disability Discrimination Act and these cutback plans were put on hold. This is a fantastic victory but will only be the start of the fight back necessary. To build on this campaigners from Disabled People Against Cuts, Birmingham City Unison,  West Midlands Social Work Action Network, Right to Work campaign and Birmingham Against the Cuts have launched a joint campaign.

unison logoThere will be a month of action in July against austerity measures in Birmingham to coincide with the first UK monitoring report of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Activities will include a lobby of the first full council meeting since the election at 5pm on 5th July in Victoria Square and a public meeting on

20th July at the Unite (TGWU) Offices, 211 Broad Street from right to work logo630pm

We invite you to join us in demanding better public services for service users and those working in them not more cuts and marketisation.

Later in July, there will be a public meeting of all five sponsoring organisations (DPAC, SWAN, RtoW, Birmingham UNISON, and BATC). This will take place as follows

Hands Off Our Care and Support Services, Our Benefits and Our Futures Public Meeting

6.00pm Tuesday 20 July 2011
Transport House Broad Street, Birmingham

The five sponsoring groups are preparing a detailed pamphlet setting out the range of threats to services and benefits for disabled people, from council cuts in services, the privatisation of Social Work, to the cuts in benefits and the new medical assessment process. This will be published at the end of July.

Email us on mail@dpac.uk.net if you would like to take an active part in our campaign.

Jul 012011
 

Steven Sumpter‘s speech for DPAC at the Birmingham rally:

Disabled People Against Cuts stands today in unity with public sector workers and their unions against discriminatory cuts to our education, care and support services.

With such savage, rapid and all-encompassing cutbacks taking place, disabled people’s rights are being pushed back decades.  In education, disabled children will be pushed towards segregated special schools as funding for inclusive education is cut and more Academies set up with their tendency to discriminate against disabled pupils, with the effect that disabled people will not have educational opportunities and will remain marginalised and disempowered. And disabled people also face job losses through cuts to the public sector which employs hundreds of thousands of disabled people across the country.

Here in Birmingham, the Council plans to cut £33.2 million from its care and support budget. 5000 disabled and older people will lose vital services as charges for personal care go up, skilled support workers are made redundant and social work services are privatised. The latest proposal to raise the eligibility threshold still further has been temporarily stopped by a court case but the Council is planning to start its consultation process all over again and to continue to push through changes which will see a further 4000 disabled and older people lose services. Many will have their support provided by the lowest bidder as the Council plans to privatise all jobs in adult care.  Organisations which once defended the rights of disabled people in Birmingham have been reduced –there were once 3 main disabled people’s organisations ,  only one is left with reduced capacity and funding. Cuts to disabled people are felt across the local economy. Cut hours to paid support workers  means wider job cuts and losses to family income.

Birmingham City Council says that its new service offer “is based on the idea that the vast majority of people can use their own resources and skills to care for themselves.”  But independent living is not about disabled people doing things for ourselves, it is about receiving the support we need in order to have the same life chances as other people and to take part in life equally and with dignity. What they are getting at by this “use their own resources”, what they really mean, what they want disabled people to do, is to use our emotional resources to come to accept what they want us to believe is our lot in life, to accept that although there is money for wars and weapons, there is money to make the rich even richer, there is money for chief executive and directors salaries, there is no money for us, no money for as many incontinence pads as we need in a day, no money for personal assistance for us to shower or go out, no money for support to stop us going into crisis; we are meant to accept our lot in life that is to sit in our own piss and shit and dirt for hours and days on end, our lot to stay trapped indoors, isolated and alone, or our lot to lose our homes altogether. It is patronising, offensive and plain wrong to assume that if you take away our support services we will suddenly “make an effort” and find we could have been doing things for ourselves all along.

DPAC will be lobbying the full Council meeting on July 5th at 5pm and having a public meeting on July 20th at the UNITE office on Broad Street to which anyone concerned about cuts to care services is invited.

More photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/disabledpeopleprotest/sets/72157626962085905/
Report and photos at the Birmingham Post http://www.birminghampost.net/news/west-midlands-news/2011/06/30/5-000-striking-public-sector-workers-gather-for-rally-in-birmingham-65233-28973270/

Apr 262011
 

Right to Work Fight the cutsDPAC logo

Millions are set to be affected by savage cuts to housing, disability, sickness and welfare benefits. Disabled people, those with long term illness, the unemployed, single parents, carers the low waged, part time students, volunteers, homeless people and college students are all likely to see a devastating drop in disposable income with many slipping even further below the poverty line.

Thursday 12th May, 7pm

Speakers: the solicitor from Irwin Mitchell who has just won a case preventing Birmingham City Council changing eligibility criteria for care funding, Linda Burnip, Disabled People Against Cuts; Michael Bradley, Right to Work

Unison offices, 19th floor McClaren Tower, Priory Queensway. B4 7NN

Friday  13th, May, 12 noon

Outside Waterstones bookshop opposite bull statue in Bullring centre join us for leafleting and street theatre ‘ The Computer Says NO’ an adaptation of a Brighton Benefit Campaign play.

Demo at the Daily Mail 14th April

Demo at the Daily Mail 14th April

Apr 182011
 
"Atos don't give a toss" placard

"Atos don't give a toss"

On the last Day of Action Against Benefit Cuts protests, actions and demonstrations were organised in Dundee, Edinburgh, Westminster, Leeds, Liverpool, Bristol, Newcastle, Brighton, Glasgow, Poole, Burnley, Islington, Kensington, Cardiff, Poole and Truro.  This time we’ve got all week!

Disability activists, claimant groups and anti-cuts campaigners have called a week of action against poverty pimps Atos Origin beginning on Monday 9th May with a picnic and party in Triton Square*, home of their head office, at 2pm.

Atos Origin have just begun a £300 million contract by the Con-dem Government to carry out ‘work capability assessments’ on all of those claiming Incapacity Benefit.

It is claimed assessments are to test what people can do rather than what they can’t. The real purpose is to strip benefits from as many people as possible.

This testing system has already led to people with terminal illnesses and severe medical conditions being declared fit for work and having benefits cut. GP’s are ignored in favour of decisions made by Atos Origin’s computer.

Plans announced for the scrapping of Disability Living Allowance have also revealed that this intrusive testing is likely to be extended to everyone on some form of disability or health related benefit.

To date around 40% of appeals against Atos Origin’s decisions have been successful.

On the 24th January claimants from around the country demonstrated outside Atos Origins premises, with many choosing to close for the day rather than face their ‘clients’. We call on all groups around the UK to take action against these parasites who have been dubbed ‘the racial purity and euthanasia arm of the DWP’

A list of Atos Origin’s corporate offices and testing centres can be found via: http://benefitclaimantsfightback.wordpress.com/2011/04/15/national-week-of-action-against-atos-origin-begins-monday-9th-may/

If you are holding an event, protest or action in your home town please add details on the wall below to have your event added to this page and the website. Alternatively contact us at: notowelfarecuts@yahoo.co.uk

*Triton Square is on the North side of Euston Road, just over the road from Warren Street tube and less than five minutes from Euston/Euston Square or Great Portland Street tube stations.

facebook event at: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=121624627914913

Supporting groups (please contact us to be added to the list)

Supported by:

o Armchair Army
o Anti-Benefit Cuts Glasgow
o Black Triangle Anti-Defamation Campaign
o Brighton Benefits Campaign
o Cardiff’s Unemployed Daytime Disco
o Carer Watch
o Carer Watch fb page
o Crippen – Disabled Cartoonist
o Diary of a Benefit Scrounger
o Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC)
o Dundee Unemployed Workers
o East Lancs Right to Work
o Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty (ECAP)
o Free London Listings
o Goldsmiths in Occupation
o Haringey Solidarity Group
o Ipswich Unemployed Action
o Islington Deaf and Disabled People Against Cuts (IDPAC)
o Islington Hands Off Our Public Services (IHOOPS)
o Islington Poverty Action
o Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group
o Lancaster and Morecambe Against the Cuts
o London Coalition Against Poverty (LCAP)
o London Foodbank
o Mad Pride
o Medway Against The Cuts
o Mental Health Resistance Network
o Norfolk Community Action Group
o Nottingham Claimants’ Union
o Nuneaton Against Benefit Cuts
o Oxford Save Our Services
o Squattastic
o Tyneside Claimants Union
o Welfare Action Hackney
o Welfare Rights 4 u (UK)
o Work Programme & Flexible New Deal Scandal
o World Homeless Day

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