Mar 282013
 

Following the publication of research yesterday that shows disabled people are set to lose more than 28 billion through welfare buts by 2015 with some hit by six major cuts at once the Sunday Mirror are looking for people to interview. They want to hear from you if you are:

–         On contribution based Employment and Support allowance Work Related Activity Group

–         In receipt of housing benefit

–         In receipt of low rate DLA

–         Judged to be under-occupying and going to be hit by the Bedroom Tax

If you are happy to speak to a journalist about your situation then please contact Ellen on 07505144371 or email ellenrclifford@btinternet.com as soon as possible as they want to get the story out

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 Posted by at 14:03
Mar 272013
 

An important recent post on Disabled People Against Cuts’ (DPAC) website reveals how the big disability charities once again let down the very people they claim to support by being indifferent at best to the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF).

As the name suggests, the fund is designed to support the most severely disabled people in living independent lives.  In a chilling sign of what was to come, less than two months after this Government weren’t elected it was closed to new applications.  Funding is now being devolved to local councils, who will have no legal duty to maintain the support offered under the scheme.  All ILF claims are planned to end by 2015.

The closure of the fund has met fierce opposition from grassroots campaigners such as Disabled People Against Cuts and Black Triangle.  Documents recently revealed in a high court appeal against the fund’s closure reveal it has been met by little more than apathy from the major disability organisations.

The documents show that the DWP recognise “that upon reassessment by LA’s (Local Authorities) most users are likely to see some reduction in the current funding levels, and there are a group of users with low care needs that may not be eligible for local authority support under current needs thresholds in most LA’s.’”

Despite this – according to the DWP at least – Mencap (highest paid earner £190,000 pa*), The MS Society, and Scope (highest paid earner £140,000) all supported the closure of the scheme, although Scope’s support was weak and they showed ‘concern’.  RNIB (highest paid earner £140,000) disagreed with the closure of the fund, but this disagreement was summed up as ‘weak concern’ by the DWP.  Only Disability Wales and Inclusion Scotland are mentioned as strongly disagreeing with the closure.

Charities will no doubt argue with the DWP’s assessment of their indifference to disabled people’s lives, however for once it seems the department may be telling the truth (stop laughing).  The documents point out:  “none of the largest national disability organisations requested ministerial meetings and many did not submit responses to the consultation. While we have had an increasing number of letters from MPs on users’ behalf, the proposal to close the fund has received almost no attention in the mainstream media.”

DPAC themselves have requested several meetings with ministers over the closure of the fund.  All requests were ignored.

With thanks to the excellent Johnny Void see more brilliance at: http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/author/johnnyvoid/

Follow  on twitter @johnnyvoid

 

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Mar 272013
 

Action for Rail – date for your diary and call out for your stories

On Wednesday 24th April the TUC, Disabled People Against Cuts and Transport for All will be holding a lobby of Parliament from 1.30 – 3.30pm followed by a speak out action at King’s Cross station from 4pm to highlight the impact of railway staff cuts on disabled people. The McNulty Review could lead to over 20,000 job losses including rail guards and staff in ticket offices and on station platforms. The lobby and action will give disabled people the chance to speak out about the importance of customer assistance and rail staff for making rail travel accessible, bringing us together with rail staff who want to be able to give good quality assistance but who are held back by cutbacks and restrictions.

We also need your stories and examples of how staff cutbacks will affect you. Please email mail@dpac.uk.net.

If you will be attending the lobby and have access needs please let us know at mail@dpac.uk.net

 

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Mar 272013
 

Barking and Dagenham Against the Cuts Public Meeting on Benefit Justice – and call out for anyone interested in starting a Barking DPAC

The meeting will be in the Doghouse (ground floor, disabled toilet) at the Spotted Dog (by Barking tube) at 7.30 pm on Wednesday, 17 April. (Leaflets to follow).

George Barrett who is an independent Councillor in Barking and Dagenham and a founder signatory of the national Councillors against the Cuts campaign explains that Barking and Dagenham against the Cuts are currently leafleting  the local jobcentre on workfare, and regard the recent Welfare Reform legislation, (especially the bedrooom tax) as being particularly important campaigns. Further to this, they are exploring the feasibility of setting up a local claimants union, liaising with the Newham Claimants Union who will hopefully be there to explain how their group runs at the meeting on 17th. There is a website bdagainstthecuts.wordpress which carries details of meetings and articles.

George says they welcome anyone who wants to fight to their monthly meetings at the Spotted Dog, at the start of every month and he also hopes to support local disabled people to set up their own local DPAC group.

 

 

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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:

www.barnetalliance.org

Or follow the campaign on twitter: @barnetalliance

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Mar 262013
 

Created and performed by Liz Crow

A 48-hour around-the-clock live performance
Part of the People Like You exhibition
Salisbury Arts Centre & via social media
10 – 12 April 2013, starting 2.00pm

Reflections from the Bed – recorded at SPILL Festival of Performance Nov 2012

Bedside Conversations:

The work, its backdrop, and its politics

Free entry. Duration 40 minutes. With BSL interpretation and live captioning.

Watch online here.

Wed 10 Apr – 2.00pm and 6.00pm
Online and Salisbury Arts Centre

Thu 11 Apr – 12.00pm (Twitter) and 3.15pm
Online and Salisbury Arts Centre

Fri 12 Apr – 10.15am
Online and Salisbury Arts Centre

To attend Bedside Conversations in person, members of the public can sign up at the Salisbury Arts Centre website or phone 01722 321744

BEDDING OUT emerges from the current welfare benefits overhaul, which threatens many with poverty and a propagandist campaign that has seen disability hate crime leap by 50%.

“I wear a public self that is energetic, dynamic and happening,” explains artist-activist Liz Crow. “I am also ill and spend much of life in bed. The private self is neither beautiful nor grownup, it does not win friends or accolades and I conceal it carefully.”

“But for me, along with thousands more, this new system of benefits demands a reversal: my public self implies I don’t need support and must be denied, whilst my private self must be paraded as justification for the state’s support. For months, I have lain low for fear of being penalised, but the performer is beginning to re-emerge. Instead of letting fear determine who I am, I’d rather stare it in the face.” BEDDING OUT is a performance in which I take my private self and make it public, something I have not done in over 30 years. On this stage, for a period of 48 hours, I am performing the other side of my fractured self, my bed-life. Since the public me is so carefully constructed, this will be a kind of un-performing of my self.

“I want to show that what many people see as contradiction – what they call ‘fraud’ – is only the complexity of real life. This is not a work of tragedy, but of in/visibility and complication; a chance to perform my self without façade.

You can participate in BEDDING OUT:

 On Twitter:

Follow @RGPLizCrow and use the #beddingout hashtag to take part in the conversation.

Join our Twitter-based Bedside Conversation on Thu 11 Apr at noon.

 By text:

Anyone not on Twitter can text us: 07784 899514 and we can upload what they say to Twitter. Typing ‘MySecret’ before the message ensures that their message will be tweeted anonymously.

 Via the web:

Bedding Out will be live streamed throughout the 48 hours here. Bedside Conversations will be live streamed with audio, BSL interpretation and live subtitles.

 Blog

In the run up to the event, Dawn Willis will be blogging about Bedding Out, its backdrop and its politics. Bedding Out Blog can be found here.

 

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Mar 262013
 

Benefit appeals are on the rise….

Sickness benefit appeals up by 70%….

‘Chaos is looming’

Latest statistics from Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) reveal that the DWP’s increasingly controversial Employment & Support Allowance is leading to a massive surge in the numbers of appeals lodged with independent Tribunals.  The Ministry of Justice figures can be read here and confirm that for the period July to September 2012 the number of appeals was up by 69% on the same quarter on the previous year.  Benefit appeals are now accounting for 58% of all cases received for appeals across all Tribunals – an alarming increase.

The Ministry of Justice figures exhibits all the signs of impending chaos with a staggering 813,500 tribunal cases in total; an increase on the previous year when the number had already exceeded three quarters of a million appeal cases.

The number of Employment & Support Allowance appeal receipts is of particular concern, in the year 2011/2012 a total of 181,000 appeals were received by the Tribunals. In the first six months of 2012/2013 the figure has shot up to 133,700 indicating that these appeals alone are well on track to exceed a quarter of a million by year end.

42% of DWP decisions in ESA cases are wrong!

By comparison with the second quarter of 2009/2010 when Employment & Support Allowance (ESA) appeal receipts stood at 29,000 – the same quarter in 2012/2013 has zoomed up to 73,700 – an increase of 44,700.  Of the 53,200 ESA cases cleared at an appeal hearing 22,500 (42%) were found in favour of the claimant.  These figures highlight ongoing problems with the standards of decision – making following Atos ‘Work Capability Assessments’ – the DWP is still making an unacceptably large number of incorrect decisions.  

Total number of benefit appeals now on track to exceed 600,000 by the end of the year!

The total number of benefit appeal cases for 2012/2013 has already reached a wholly unacceptable figure of 308,200 meaning that if the trend continues, and there is every sign it will, the total number of benefit appeals alone will have reached well over 600,000 by the end of the year.

Cases outstanding (all) – 813,800  – chaos!

The total number of benefit appeal case ‘outstanding’ in 2008/2009 was 53,200 in the second quarter and has now more than trebled to 158,700 in the second quarter of 2012/2013.  A comparison with the figures for 2007/2008 when the figure stood at 347,100 shows the numbers have increased to a colossal 813,800 in 2012/2013. the number of employment tribunal cases outstanding as of the second quarter stands at 570,200, benefit cases stand at 158,700 in 2012/2013 and immigration & asylum cases at 41,000 – this is absolute chaos!

Exceeding the warnings given by the judiciary….

In a report issued in February 2012 provided by the Tribunal president  the judiciary gave the following breakdown of benefit appeal cases in the first – tier Tribunal and made the following predictions for increases in the appeal load:

Annual Intake of SSCS Appeals

2008-09 – 242,800

2009-10 – 339,200

2010-11 – 418,500

(forecast)

2011-12 – 421,609

2012-13 – 483,400

2013-14 – 576,700

2014-15 – 644,000

These latest figures show we are well on track to break past the 483,400 forecast for 2012/2013 and exceed the figure given for 2013/2014.  

The full effect of welfare reform changes has yet to hit the fan, the bedroom tax, more ESA cases, JSA sanctions (standing at 700,000), Disability Living Allowance giving way to Personal Independence Payments are all in the line up and will undoubtedly lead to the Tribunal president’s forecast being considerably exceeded.

Government and the DWP has to stop pretending that there is not a perfect storm brewing here, mandatory revision before appeal is only keeping the dispute out of the public’s attention in a pretence that the people who create the problems will somehow fix it.  The DWP is assessing twice as many ESA claimants as it needs to just to claim double its dubious ‘results’.  In reality the vast majority of those who flow off ESA and incapacity benefits are flowing straight back on to them shortly afterwards – government has no other credible explanation as to why after assessing over 2.8 million claimants between 2008 and 2012 the claimant count has barely reduced by little more than 70,000 – it’s derisory and half that achieved by way of reductions under the older incapacity benefits regime.  

The fact is that we were seeing much better reductions under the older incapacity benefits.  Government is using severely disabled claimants to manipulate its figures by its recycling of what can only be the same claimants.  It stands to reason that if vast numbers were really being ‘found fit for work’ the Jobseeker’s Allowance claimant count would have rocketed up to an embarrassingly high level which this government simply cannot afford to show.  

After coming off ESA claimants are being re-directed back on to it by Jobcentres who can clearly see these claimants are no where near ready for the labour markets.

Government’s mismanagement of the ESA reassessment programme:

There’s any number of statistical charts on here which you can muse over all day long.  

In doing so just apply the logic:

(1) We start with 2.6 million on the sick in 2008

(2) Various claims are made by the DWP/media of 75%, 50% and more recently 33% being found ‘fit for work’ 

(3) In 2012 we have 488,000 claimants waiting to be assessed

(4) In 2012 we have a Jobseeker’s Allowance queue that’s hardly grown

(5) By 2012 – 2.7 million have been subjected to Work Capability Assessments

(6) By 2012 – 3.8 million is the total number ‘case loaded’ through ESA

(7) By 2012 we are on track to break all previous appeal records with more hidden from view at the DWP

(8) In 2012 there are twice as many claiming on the sick as there were in 2006 

(9) By 2012 the claimant count for those on the sick has trickled down by a mere 70K, still leaving us with…. 

                              Around 2.6 million ‘on the sick’? 

(10) This wretched scheme is rapidly emerging as an absolute farce which is being used as a vehicle to keep the long term sick numbers down; thus keeping them from the long term ‘economically inactive’ count used by the ONS to work out the numbers said to unemployed. 

They have engineered themselves a clever way of marshalling the unemployment figure to one which is more ‘commensurate’ with the chancellor’s increasingly doubtful claims that we are ‘on the way’ to economic growth.  

With everlasting thanks to the brilliant Nick-

Twitter: @Mylegalforum

See more from Nick at http://ilegal.org.uk/ and below
See ESA Customer’s journey to nowhere

See the ‘journey in to work’

See a discrepancy uncovered

See unemployment is ‘falling’

See turning back the long term incapacity clock to zero

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Mar 252013
 

On Saturday 13th April, UK Uncut will be using civil disobedience in London against a massive wave of cuts that will hit millions of people across the country.

In April, the bedroom tax, the benefits cap, a new test for disability allowance and cuts to council tax benefit all kick in with devastating effects for people, including more hunger and homelessness.

We will resist these brutal and unnecessary cuts by bringing them home to the ‘architects of austerity’.

Last year we partied outside Nick Clegg’s house. This year another well-known millionaire misery maker, to be revealed on the 13th April, can expect a visit they’d rather not have…

We want to make this a family-friendly and accessible action. There’ll be plenty of activities on the day to keep people entertained and engaged, including bedtime stories for the kids!

***Meet at 11.30pm, Kings Cross station, main concourse, Saturday 13th April***

Look out for the UK Uncut Removals Team at King’s Cross, and bring a topped up Oyster card or travelcard.

We’ll provide travel fares for those who need them.

More details, including accessibility information, will follow soon.

UK Uncut actions are creative and fun. If anyone is nervous or has any questions, please get in touch by emailing ukuncut@gmail.com

Please circulate this among your networks, and see you on the 13th!— 

UK Uncut
Twitter @ukuncut twitter.com/ukuncut

 

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 Posted by at 17:46
Mar 252013
 

A one-day seminar for Young Disabled People and supporters

Saturday 6 April 2013

10:30 am – 14:45 pm, Congress House, Great Russell Street, London WC1S 3LS

 

10:30 Registration and refreshments

11.00 Welcome from Megan Dobney, SERTUC Regional Secretary

 

11.10 Further and Higher Education: the specific challenges facing disabled young people followed by Q&A and discussion

 

Jawanza Ipyana, National Union of Students

11.50 Panel Discussion: Employment, Policy and Good Practice in the workplace

Rob McCraken, CWU Rep

Jonathan Naess, CEO Stand to Reason

 

12.30 Lunch

 

1.15 Question Time: How the Paralympics’ dream was destroyed by the cuts

Tara Flood, Paralympic Gold Medallist and Director of Alliance for Inclusive

Education

Penny Pepper and Roger Lewis, Disabled People Against Cuts

Rob McCracken, CWU workplace Rep

Jawanza Ipyana, NUS Disabled Students’ Committee

 

2.35 Closing remarks from the Chair

2.45 Departure

 

To register email Joanne Adams on JAdams@tuc.org.uk or call 020 7467 1218

Online Signup: http://youngdisabledpeople-eorg.eventbrite.co.uk/

Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/490184461030411/

Twitter account: @sertucyouth

 

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Mar 232013
 

In the court case taken by five disabled people against the proposed closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) , and supported by a campaign led by DPAC and Inclusion London certain documents were used. These documents are mainly correspondence between civil servants at the Government’s Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) and the minister for disabled people: Esther McVey.

These documents were released and declassified after the court case because they had been mentioned in the case. This is a summary of those documents.

Early analysis of responses to the consultation on ILF Closure (undated)

This document gives a breakdown of responses and several points for McVey to take into account. First, the consultation asked:

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.

 

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?

 

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?

 As we see never were questions asked on extending the ILF or keeping it open. In fact question 1 is what is called a ‘leading question’

In the documents DWP tell McVey:

       ‘As we expected with the current challenges facing the care and support system, the majority of ILF users are opposed to closure of the fund, with many doing so on the basis that there could be no guarantee that their current level of funding would be protected in the future’

and….

           ‘A range of smaller national and local disability groups expressed similar concerns with our proposal. Some have been able to support the closures in principle but usually conditional on current user awards being protected as part of ring-fenced funding. The most vocal group has been the relatively new Disabled People against Cuts, DPAC. This group has taken a very strong critical position on a range of DWP policies’.

Yes we have and both Miller (our old mister for disabled people) and McVey refused to meet us and ILF users several times-in fact they didn’t even bother to respond to these requests!

We were very surprised to see this section advising McVey:

           ‘The consultation exercise has been immensely useful and we have been satisfied that we have listened to a collection of views that is representative of all those individuals or organisations that have an interest in or may be impacted by closure and devolution and have considered whether to modify the preferred position set out in the consultation in light of those views’ (emphasis added)

Amazing! Because if most said : keep it open, and if most said people would lose support or enter institutions, including responses from local authorities: what exactly did they listen to?

The documents recognize that ILF users will see a drop in support with some not being eligible for support at all

             ‘We do recognise that upon reassessment by LA’s most users are likely to see some reduction in the current funding levels, and there are a group of users with low care needs that may not be eligible for local authority support under current needs thresholds in most LA’s.’

The cost of closure will be £39 million! One document states that some of this has been achieved by the savings from closing ILF to new users in 2010. But closure cannot be publically defined as value for money-indeed!

        ‘The transfer costs mean that this proposal will cost rather than save money and therefore it cannot be defined as value for money. However the transfer costs are fully affordable’.

Not to ILF users they aren’t!

And wouldn’t £39 million, plus transfer cost be better put into ILF? Of course that’s not what they want to do, in spite of a consultation exercise where the majority appeared to say a resounding NO to closure.

Why did the DWP think it would Easy to Close the ILF?

One of the reasons given that the DWP found it so easy to close the ILF to new users in 2010 was the lack of any objections from the ‘big disability organisations’ which DWP call ‘Major Departmental Stakeholder Responses’ whatever that is.

In terms of the announcement of proposed closure in 2015 it was noted that none of these ‘stakeholders’ had requested a meeting with ministers from Westminster. Basically most had kept quiet, and hadn’t seen the closure of ILF as any big deal. Great support guys!

On this basis the DWP tell McVey in another document around the potential announcement of the closure in 2015

         ‘on the basis of attention shown so far, we do not think this will   receive  significant attention on its own…’

Guess they forgot about that vocal group DPAC and Deaf and Disabled Peoples’ Organisation: Inclusion London, because the closure of the ILF has now received significant attention in the UK and in Europe, at European Parliamentary level through MEPs and at UN level and we’ll make sure this continues.

Neither DPAC nor Inclusion London has the millions for campaigning that the big disability charities have, nor dedicated media, press and campaign teams. But we do have passion, and we do care about what happens to us all as disabled people, and we care what happens to independent living. ILF users taking the case and supporting the case have appeared on TV, on radio and in newspapers to get the message across that ILF is important and this will continue too.

Any journalists that want to know more or run stories can contact: mail@dpac.uk.net

So what did these so called ‘stakeholders’ say in response to the consultation? According to the DWP, there was not enough resistance at all.

In the early analysis document those who the DWP define as key stakeholders are broken down and their responses analysed. Below is what DWP said of their ‘Major Departmental Stakeholder Responses’ in the exact words of the DWP to McVey

 Carers UK-Weakly Disagree

-User packages would be reduced placing extra demand on unpaid care

Disability Rights UK-Concerned

-Lack of choice and flexibility under Local Authorities (Las)

-User packages will be reduced

-Poor perception and past support of Las

-Difficult for ILF users to transition easily

 Disability Wales- Strongly Disagree

-users packages would be reduced which could make it impossible to support ILF users in a family environment

-since the 2010 closure of the fund to applicants disabled people have had to start entering residential care.

-believes the government is targeting the disabled for cuts

-LAs could not cope with the additional workload

-Lack of choice, flexibility and dignity for ILF users under LAs

-Do not believe transitional protection will be offered

 Inclusion Scotland-Strongly Disagree

-The proposal would create a postcode lottery of support

-User packages would be reduced

-LA support is budget led rather than needs led

-ILF expertise would be lost

-Lack of choice and flexibility under LAs

 MENCAP-Pragmatic Agreement

-If reforms go ahead they should be about finding a better system, not cutting costs

-Funding should be allocated to LAs as a separate ring fenced funding stream based on current ILF regional spending patterns in which current users enjoy time-limited protection

-need for Government to provide advice and information to all parties

 MS Society- Concerned Agreement

-Consolidation of funding streams would simplify the care system

-The proposal should not be enacted until the impact of current welfare reform is understood

-Lack of choice, flexibility and dignity for ILF users under LAs needs to be addressed

-LAs need as far as possible, to replicate the personalised expertise of ILF

-Representative groups need to be closely involved in the transition design

 RNIB-Weak Concern

-Concerned that closure might lead to a breach of article 19 on UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

-Representative groups must be closely involved in transition design

-Current levels of support must be maintained

 SCOPE-Concerned Weak Agreement

 -Consolidation of funding streams would simplify the care system

-The proposal should not be enacted during current funding constraints

-The mainstream care and support system needs more experience and commitment to independent living to be able to undertake the responsibilities of the ILF

 Spinal Injuries Association-Disagree

 -Funding is likely to disappear into wider LA budgets on transfer

-ILF is more efficient than LAs

 

‘Rights not Charity’ seems very apt as the major charities for disabled people appeared to agree with the closure, after all more institutionalisation of disabled people might benefit them mightn’t it?  Disability Rights UK (DRUK) a so called user-led organisation incorporating, but clearly forgetting the principles of National Centre for Independent Living, did not offer more than ‘concern’.  The Spinal Injuries Association ‘disagreed’ but what this needed was for all to come out and say ‘Strongly Disagree’ as Disability Wales and Inclusion Scotland did.

 Remember that when the charities ask you for money, remember that when those groups that didn’t come out fully against the closure of the ILF say they are on the side of disabled people or are working for disabled people: we believe they can no longer justify either of those statements.

 The DWP told McVey that ‘stakeholders’ (SCOPE, DRUK etc)

‘..have traditionally found it hard to defend the ILF model of funding care..’

‘none of the largest national disability organisations requested ministerial meetings and many did not submit responses to the consultation. While we have had an increasing number of letters from MPs on users’ behalf, the proposal to close the fund has received almost no attention in the mainstream media’ (correspondence to McVey 7th November 2012)

We will work through more of the documents looking at issues on transition, and the DWP’s media strategy which is unsurprisingly at odds with any issues raised by disabled people-you know the stuff Closure of ILF will give ‘choice and control’ , ‘committed to supporting disabled people’ blah, blah, blah.

The big difference here is that it is clear from the documents  that the DWP are perfectly aware that ILF users will lose funding and that their needs won’t be adequately met through the local authority system.

Cuts versus Reform

Finally, the DWP were keen to try and put the message out that the closure of the ILF was not about ‘cuts’ but about ‘reform’ –what’s the difference? They do appear to believe that if they say reform we all think this is a good thing, rather than identifying that everything that comes under the heading of reform is actually another cut.

The documents cannot be clearer: this is a cut

A cut to the dignity, life chances and lives of disabled people-not just those who are currently supported to lead independent lives through ILF , but also those who would have qualified before closure to new applicants in 2010 and all who could benefit from the ILF system in the future

Support ILF users now; support a better future-say no to the closure of the ILF!

 

 

 

 

 

 



[1] Funding for ILF users in Northern Ireland is currently the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Department for Social Development, not the Department for Work and Pensions.

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Mar 212013
 

Campaign from Action for Rail

The 27 March marks the 50th anniversary of the Beeching Report which led to the closure of almost half the rail lines in this country. It was a black day for the railways. We are now facing another major new threat to our railways.
The government, Network Rail and the train operating companies are looking to shed thousands of rail staff that help you with your journey and make your railway safe.
Implementing the recommendations in the McNulty Review, they want to:
* close over half the staffed ticket offices in the country
* remove all non-driver staff from trains
* reduce platform, station and signalling staff
* make big cuts to the number of workers who maintain and upgrade the tracks
We want to put a stop to these plans. We know that the extravagant costs of our fragmented and dysfunctional privatised rail industry need to be cut. But cutting staff that provide a service to passengers is not the way. Surveys show the same thing time and again: passengers want to see staff on their railways. They want help with their journey, with getting the best value ticket, with boarding trains and to feel safe and secure at stations and on trains, particularly at night.
So we’re asking you to email your MP and join us on our day of action on the 27th March, the anniversary of Beeching, to let the government and train operators know that passengers want staff on their trains, at their stations, in their ticket offices and on their tracks.
Ask your MP to tell the government that us passengers want staff on our railways
Find out where we will be out leafleting at stations in your area of the country on Wednesday 27th March

 

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 Posted by at 17:54
Mar 182013
 

Click on link below to add your name.

Joint Statement and Petition by DPAC and Black Triangle Anti-Defamation Campaign in Defence of Disability Rights on the Labour Party Campaign Against the Bedroom Tax

 

 

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Mar 172013
 

If you’re an ILF user and not already part of the ILF campaign group please email us your contact details at mail@dpac.uk.net

 Video from outside courts March 13th thanks to Shaun
 Reel News http://reelnews.co.uk

Dear All,

Firstly – well done us ! Great turn out on Wednesday and despite a new Pope
(!) we got some media coverage which I think we can definitely build on.

Key points from court case:

Regardless of whether we win or not (ruling likely end of April and I think
we have a very good chance) some potentially explosive stuff came out from
internal dwp documents that are now in the public domain namely:

· The dwp think its unlikely that there will be any funding for ilf
users after 2016. It looks like they are thinking of a year’s – non ring
fenced – additional transition money for LA for 2015-16 (to sugar the pill
as the judge put it) but then nothing.
· There is an internal paper that says we have to keep up the narrative that this is about reform not
cuts !
· The dwp estimate the cost of closure and transition to be £39
million!!
· The dwp barrister took an absolutely disgraceful line of defence
trying to say that the closure was not based on money but on desire for
equity between non ilf users and ilf users – ie ILF users have more so we
need to take that away so they are in the same situation as non ilf users.

Implications for our campaigning:

As I said regardless of the judges decision we need to use the dwp
documentation in our campaign from now on – its explosive evidence that
completely supports our position that this is a) about a cut and b) ilf
users will have their support cut with all the devastating consequences we
have been saying. These documents also reveal just how cynical the dwp have
been ie by admitting they need to pretend its about reform and not cuts.

The dwp ammo we will now have should help us really pile on the pressure
with Cllrs and MPs – both in substance of what’s been revealed ie likely no
funding post 2016 but also how the dwp have gone about this. Given this is a
cut targeted at 20,000 disabled people with highest support needs I think
this could be potentially extremely politically embarrassing – if we play it
right.

I think we also have a real chance to re-start lobbying and campaigning with
Local Authorities: its clear now that the govt intention is to devolve
responsibility to LA’s but not any funding to meet these responsibilities .
Now this is in the open I think we could have a real chance of getting some
LA’s on our side – particularly Lab ones.

Finally, some ILF users have done a great job in getting SCOPE to finally come out in support. We need to continue to put pressure on them because another DWP internal paper mentioned in court said (to paraphrase) we got away with the closure to new applicants in 2010 and the major disability charities are not interested in defending ilf . This should shame them into coming out in support.

Despite how shocking the info revealed in court has been we need to take
heart that we are right: right to campaign to save the ilf and right that
this is about cuts and nothing else.

So we need to start planning our campaign with this new info so we are ready
for decision at end of April.

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 Posted by at 15:20  Tagged with:
Mar 162013
 

Beth was convicted for the crime of voicing dissent to David Cameron’s vicious attack on disabled people. She was fined £745 including costs – more than what she makes in a month. An appeal was raised to help her towards the fine and she has decided to donate the rest to DPAC. Many thanks! Reposted with permission from Beth. p/s Bethan needs to raise money still for her appeal – see how below.

blood on Cameron's hands

March 13th 2013

Today I was found guilty in the Oxford Magistrates’ Court of causing “harassment, alarm and distress” following a peaceful and legal political protest in Witney in December. The judge said “I can think of nothing more alarming than the statement that ‘Cameron has blood on his hands.'” I will continue to say that Cameron has blood on his hands, whenever the opportunity presents itself.

 

30 people have died as a direct result of the government’s ‘welfare reforms’. Thousands have died after being found ‘fit for work’. Over the long term, as more and more is taken away there will be increasing harm and death, including many hidden ones. The fine and costs come to more than I earn in a month, the judge said that on a whole £700 a month of course I’d have no trouble paying it back. After rent, travel to work, food and paying off loans I don’t have money left at the end of the month, and my salary is going down soon, so I’m not sure what will happen next. Except that I’m going to keep saying that Cameron has blood on his hands.

 

Here’s some notes I wrote earlier on what happened:

 

On the 30th November David Cameron was booed as he came on stage to turn on the Witney Christmas Lights. You can watch a very funny video of him(at 5.58) trying to drown out any criticism by awkwardly getting the crowd to cheer everyone from themselves to the Queen here –

 

When there’s some background heckling during the countdown he appeals to the crowd to “come on, shout louder!”Kind of funny. Also, kind of not funny.

 

I find it very weird watching the video, because while this was going on I was being beaten up by the police on the other side of the stage. I have never been so scared. My face was being pushed into the ground, I could feel blood coming from my nose, there was someone putting their whole weight on my back while someone else was stamping on my knees, along with various people grabbing and twisting my limbs. And then the officer on my back moved a knee up onto the back of my neck. Up until then I’d been shouting “I’m not resisting, I’m cooperating,” trying to ask them to stop, but from the moment I felt someone pressing their body weight into the back of my neck I gave up trying to communicate anything to them, I realised the police officers on top of me either couldn’t or wouldn’t hear me. Instead I began begging anyone who was nearby to intervene, to tell them to stop. Images flashed into my mind of what could happen. I was in pain, I couldn’t see what was going on, I was crying and bleeding, I couldn’t properly breathe, and I thought that they might leave me seriously injured. I’ve worked supporting people who’ve badly damaged their necks or back, and I can’t believe that any police officer was taught that kneeling on the back of someone’s neck is every an acceptable thing to do.

 

So that was one of the background sounds that Cameron was trying to drown out with his calls for round after round of applause. One of the things Cameron asked the crowd to cheer was “the Paralympics, that was great.” Well yes, the paralympics was great, but he should remember that his ministers were booed loudly whenever they appeared at paralympic ceremonies, and that it had the least popular sponsor possible, ATOS. The government gave ATOS the contract to kick disabled people off benefits they need to survive, and despite some of its staff quitting on grounds of conscience, they’ve done an admirable job of swiping those benefits away.To rub salt into the wound the government justify their cuts with misleading press releases about what percentage of disabled people they’ve deemed “fit for work.” These are taken up by the press, who spin them still further from reality and stir up public hatred of “scroungers” and “shirkers”. A survey by Inclusion London found that the general public believe that between 50% and 70% of disability claims are fraudulent. The reality is that the fraud rate for disability benefits is 0.5%. [Inclusion London]

 

The words that the government and media are using is the indirect part of their attack on disabled people. Disability hate crime, which ranges from comments in the street through vandalism of motability cars up to imprisonment, torture, rape and murder (yes, in the UK, this happens) is growing.  A Comres study found that 66% of disabled people in September 2011 said they experienced aggression, hostility or name calling compared with 41% in May 2011. That’s a huge increase in a short amount of time. I knew about this through hearing and reading stories about the people who are being affected, I also knew that these stories weren’t being given the front page spreads that ‘scrounger’ stories get. I think it’s important to show that some of us are refusing to buy the rhetoric that would have us scapegoat disabled people. So I held up a placard that said “Cameron has blood on his hands,” and I shouted that “disabled people are dying because of Cameron’s policies.” I didn’t expect that to be a big deal, I only wanted to do my bit to show that we’re not all taken in by the rhetoric that disabled people are ‘scroungers’ and ‘shirkers.’ I didn’t think that it would lead to being beaten up, arrested, held overnight and then taken to court on two ridiculous charges.

 

Since December there has been a little more attention slowly coming to focus on the horrific way that this government is treating disabled people. MP Micheal Meacher told the House of Commons that Cameron has blood on his hands (he didn’t get arrested). We’ve heard more about how the bedroom tax is going to hit disabled people. But still, there’s very little media coverage of the disability campaigners who are also in court today, in London, challenging the cut of the Independent Living Fund, which will force people into residential homes? We had a huge amount of coverage of one large family getting one large council house. Where are the front page stories about the far more common experiences of people who are losing their independence, their ability to meet their basic needs, even their houses? Where are the front page stories about the people who have killed themselves, seeing no other option as the support they need is pulled away from under them? There are now 30 cases listed on the website Calum’s List, a memorial site for those who have died because of the welfare reforms, either through suicide or through ill health and hardship. Aren’t any of those 30 people as newsworthy as one large family getting a large house? We must do what the mainstream media will not, and resist the government’s attempt to divide and rule.

 

We can listen to the voices of the people who know what’s going on, the people on the frontline of the cuts, and share them with our friends – Calum’s List is hard reading, but important. It lists the deaths caused directly by welfare reform. dpac.uk.net – Disabled People Against Cuts campaign tirelessly, provide an endless amount of information and analysis, and receive hardly any media coverage, or even the recognition they deserve from the wider anti-cuts movement – the Black Triangle Campaign tells it just how it is, read their about page, read some of their blog posts, and you get a sense of just how violent the government’s two-pronged attack on disabled people is, and how dangerous it is for the rest of society to stay silent.

Continue to donate money for her appeal at the Bright Green website

 

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Mar 162013
 

Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit

Urgent Bulletin

Department for Work and Pensions, Caxton House, Tothill Street, London, SW1H 9NA

http://www.dwp.gov.uk/local-authority-staff/housing-benefit/

HB/CTB U2/2013                                                  12 March 2013

Contact Queries about the

  • bulletin in general, contact

housing.benefitenquiries@dwp.gsi.gov.uk

 

distribution of this bulletin, contact

housing.corredspondenceandPQs@dwp.gsi.gov.uk

 

Who should read All Housing Benefit (HB) and Council Tax Benefit (CTB) staff
Action For information

Court of Appeal judgement: Burnip, Trengove and Gorry

1        We advised you in HB/CTB circular A6/2012 on 1 August 2012 (http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/a6-2012.pdf) that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has applied for permission to appeal this decision to the Supreme Court.

2        The Court of Appeal judgment on 15 May 2012 unanimously held that in the cases of Burnip, Trengove and Gorry the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) size criteria discriminated unlawfully against the three appellants on grounds of disability, by not including provision to meet their need for an additional room.

3        The Housing Benefit Regulations were amended independently of the court case (Burnip and Trengove) and the changes came into effect in April 2011. This change allowed an extra bedroom where the claimant, the claimant’s partner or both, need and receive overnight care and require a bedroom for the carer’s use.

4        For children with severe disabilities where they are unable to share a bedroom (Gorry), the department chose to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court on the grounds that the use of the size criteria was not discriminatory or in any case could be justified.

5        The Secretary of State has today clarified the position regarding disabled children and has decided not to pursue the appeal further.

6        This means that from the date of the Court of Appeal judgment on 15 May 2012, local authorities (LAs) should allow an extra bedroom for children who are unable to share because of their severe disabilities following the guidelines as set out in paragraphs 7 to 10 below.

7        When a claimant says that their children are unable to share a bedroom, it will be for LAs to satisfy themselves that this is the case, for example, a claim is likely to be supported by medical evidence and many children are likely to be in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for their medical condition. In addition LAs must consider not only the nature and severity of the disability, but also the nature and frequency of care required during the night, and the extent and regularity of the disturbance to the sleep of the child who would normally be required to share the bedroom. In all cases this will come down to a matter of judgement on facts of each individual case. 

8        It should be noted that the judgment does not provide for an extra bedroom in other circumstances, for example, where the claimant is one of a couple who is unable to share a bedroom or where an extra room is required for equipment connected with their disability.

9        LAs were previously advised that as a result of the Court of Appeal judgment they could suspend part of the award which allowed for the extra room. For any cases where the LA has suspended for this reason, the suspension can now be lifted and the claimant notified of the revised decision. Arrears must also be paid as appropriate.

10   The Court of Appeal judgment is now considered to be case law and as such LAs are legally bound to apply the judgment.

11   The judgment applies to both the LHA size criteria and the reduction of the spare room subsidy which applies from 1 April 2013.

Crown Copyright 2013

Recipients may freely reproduce this bulletin.

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 Posted by at 21:03
Mar 152013
 

Independent Living Fund users are severely disabled people who often along with their immediate kin lead difficult and emotionally punishing lives. While this partly arises from the reality of their impairments, social factors such as exclusion, discrimination and prejudice are equally as important. The adoption of social model definitions of impairment and disability in the Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People strategy acknowledged the importance at a government level of the need to challenge this unequal treatment, and not just rely on the blunt tool of weak anti-discrimination legislation.

Independent Living Fund users are also some of the most inspirational members of our society. Despite their impairments, many have forged social roles as parents, workers, activists, volunteers, artists, care-givers, writers, thinkers, travellers and so on that would not have been thought possible even a generation ago. Thousands have for twenty years organised and run complex care packages far cheaper than any private company or public service can manage. At the level of protection, the Independent Living Fund has helped to keep thousands of people with severe learning difficulties together with their families or supported them to live in the community. The Fund also helps many with difficult progressive impairments to continue to live in the community over the long-term when their lives would otherwise be shortened by the lower standards of care found in nursing homes. Only those of us whose impairments mean we are constantly on a knife edge between life and death can truly understand this point.

Severely disabled people need a gentle, compassionate and humane approach from the public bodies tasked with meeting their needs and safeguarding them. This is the opposite to what we have witnessed from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) before, during and after their ‘consultation’ on the future of the Fund. While the number of Independent Living Fund users is small relative to the general population, what happens to them matters. A failure to provide for their needs can result in significant levels of discomfort, pain and emotional distress. Also, anyone of Britain’s sixty million citizens can become severely disabled at any point in their lives. A slip, accident, virus or negligence by a stranger can result in a level of impairment that requires support from the state that only multi-millionaires could otherwise afford to meet.

Independent Living Fund users deserve an opportunity to engage in an upfront debate about their future and that of other severely disabled people before far reaching political decisions are taken and enacted. We do not deserve the contempt shown towards us by the DWP and their brothers-in-arms at the Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services. We are human beings that deserve equity with our disabled and non-disabled peers and the social opportunities that any average person takes for granted is their right.

We live in a country that for all its faults has an amazing national health service that keeps many of us alive for decades longer than would have been the case two generations ago, and a society accessible enough to allow most of us to live socially active lives that give us the emotional reserves to manage the rigours of our impairments and the challenges arising from the social obstacles we face. Respect us and learn from our experience, approach and successes to prepare our society for the demographic challenges ahead. To do otherwise will not only be unjust but socially irresponsible.

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 Posted by at 19:41
Mar 152013
 

You tell us! Add your voice to the online discussions… TODAY!

http://www.worldwewant2015.org/enable

Log-in or register: http://www.worldwewant2015.org/register

Languages:

English: http://www.worldwewant2015.org/node/315485
French: http://www.worldwewant2015.org/node/318849
Spanish: http://www.worldwewant2015.org/node/319255
Russian: http://www.worldwewant2015.org/node/319372
Chinese: http://www.worldwewant2015.org/node/319398
Arabic: http://www.worldwewant2015.org/node/315334
Portuguese: http://www.worldwewant2015.org/node/319249

On 23 September 2013, the United Nations General Assembly will hold a High-level Meeting on disability and development, under theme “The way forward: a disability-inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond”, at UN Headquarters in New York.

To ensure that the post-2015 agenda is inclusive of disability, an online consultation has begun on 8 March and will continue until 28 March.

Tell us what you think and share your perspectives on:

CHALLENGES to including persons with disabilities?
What WORKS?
Good IDEAS?
ROLE of Governments, UN, NGOs, academics, private sector?

Your concerns and ideas will be help in preparing for the outcome document for the UN High-level Meeting on 23 September 2013.

Also, invite your friends, colleagues and networks to join in this discussion!

Warm regards,

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and UNICEF in collaboration with the United Nations Partnership to promote the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNPRPD)

Contact: enable@worldwewant2015.org

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 Posted by at 16:55
Mar 142013
 

Benefits Justice Summit 9th March 2013, London

The start of Benefits Justice Summit


Benefit justice summit Winvisible


Benefit justice summit – Mental Health Network


Benefit Summit – Using the law to fight the cuts – Wendy Pettifer 1/2


Benefit Summit – Using the law to fight the cuts – Wendy Pettifer 2/2


Benefit Summit – Using the law to fight the cuts – Liz Davies 1/2


Benefit Summit – Using the law to fight the cuts – Liz Davies 2/2


Benefit Justice Summit – Closing session – Action plan part 1


Benefit justice summit – Building campaigns locally Part 1


Benefit justice summit – Building campaigns locally Part 2


Benefit summit – Tenants Federation


Benefit summit – Food & Allied Workers Union


Benefit summit – Pensioners Association


Benefit Summit – Single Mother’s Self-Defence

From the live streaming


Benefit Justice Campaign Summit 09/03/13


Benefit Justice Campaign Summit Part 2. 09/03/13

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Mar 132013
 

Natassia and Petrell’s Story

Natassia and Petrell’s Story

Natassia is a 21year old young woman who lives at home with her parents in South Norwood, Croydon. She wants to live an independent life with choice and control over what she does and who she does it with. Her support package from the local Council is £175 per week. This is not enough to cover the support she needs yet the Council are refusing to raise it, giving her mother the only alternative of sending her to live in residential care.

Natassia has Cerebral Palsy and requires assistance with washing, dressing,***** She wants to be active and to enjoy social networks and get of the house so she uses her budget to pay to go to a day centre of her choice in South Croydon three days a week. This costs £141 and leaves little left in the budget for meeting her needs for the rest of the week. The Council say if it is too expensive from her budget she should choose to go somewhere else but other day centres in the area are full of older people who Natassia doesn’t relate to and aren’t appropriate. The cost of getting out of the house three times a week then means that there isn’t enough money left in the budget to pay for personal assistants to support Natassia get up, washed and dressed and her parents have to rise at 4.30am to do this. They are happy to do this on the weekend but they find it too much every day of the week.

The Council says that if this is a problem, Natassia should be sent into residential care.

This is despite the fact that residential care would be more expensive than raising the level of the personal budget Natassia receives, costing £225 in rent before any costs for support and personal care.

The family home has been adapted so it is accessible and meets Natassia’s needs. It is where she wants to live.

Had the Independent Living Fund been open Natassia could have applied for support to meet her full range of needs, to receive personal assistance support that allowed her to live with her family while allowing them to live their own lives while still being able to maintain her social networks and to be part of the community.

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Mar 122013
 

VIGIL to support the ONE BARNET legal challenge

Tuesday 19th March, 9.30am

Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand, London, WC2A 2ll.

Please join us outside the Royal Courts of Justice to show solidarity and support with disabled Barnet resident Maria Nash who is challenging Barnet Council’s decision to outsource a large group of public services without properly consulting Barnet residents.

Barnet Council is effectively selling off their public services to Capita, a private company in a single contract for a minimum of 10 years, putting the quality of services at risk as profit becomes the over-riding priority. Under the proposals customer services will for example be delivered from call centres in other parts of the UK that won’t have local knowledge or connections. There are many concerns about the impact on the local economy, about risks that the promised savings will not materialise leading to further cuts to services, about the ability of the council to accurately and properly monitor services once outsourced, and about the loss of democracy the entire procedure represents.

We are already seeing the failure of the One Barnet programme as staff working with disabled people through the ‘Your Choice Barnet’ trading company are having their terms and conditions slashed because the enterprise has not delivered the profits it was forecast to. This is what happens when profit is put before people yet Barnet Council is pressing ahead with its plans.

What is happening in Barnet is important to all of us because where Barnet leads in selling off our services other local authorities will follow.

For more information about what is happening in Barnet go to: http://barnetalliance.org/

For information about the vigil please contact: barnetalliance4publicservices@gmail.com                            07534-407703

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Mar 122013
 

Jenny’s Story

Before I was referred for funding from the Independent Living Fund I lived without having my most basic needs met, spending hours unable to have a drink or go the toilet, without dignity and without any quality of life, existing between TV and hospital.

I received a package of 4 hours a day, one hour for getting me up, showered and breakfasted, one hour for house work and lunch, one hour for supper and one hour to do the “put to bed”. In between times I couldn’t get a drink or use the toilet- let alone do anything meaningful with my life. I even had one of the care workers bring her husband or (male) neighbour along as she was unable to get me in and out the bath by herself! I thought this was normal! I whiled away my days watching TV or falling asleep due to boredom. I used to be got up at 9 and put to bed at 9. I couldn’t even do shopping as it was quicker for the care worker to do it alone. I spent weeks at a time in hospital going from one health crisis to the next.
A chance meeting with a social care researcher led to me hearing of disabled people using “indirect” budgets to employ their own PAs. I was reassessed and awarded a 24/7 package partly funded by the ILF. I recruited a team of PAs who enabled me to actually have a life!

 

Through support from the Independent living Fund I have been enabled to go back to University and to enter employment, firstly through casual work as an “expert by experience” for the Care Quality Commission and to then go on to get my first full-time job in 20 years (as a Personal Budget Coordinator – the job of my dreams and my hobby to boot!).

 

I am paying into the system in 2 ways – as a Trustee of a charity – and as an economically active tax payer, thanks to my paid work. Additionally, 7 other people are economically active through their employment as my Personal Assistants.

 

In terms of saving money to the state you can also count on the fingers of one hand the number of hospital stays I have had since receiving ILF funding – and all but one of those stays were planned.

My ILF pays for a quarter of my care package – essentially 42 hours a week- and roughly the same amount of time that I spend at work, in education or taking part in leisure activities.

I can’t bear to think of a return to life without these opportunities.

Unfortunately in my job I see many people who are suffering the dreary lifestyle that I had once had as they have missed the chance to apply for ILF funding. One client says that she feels she is treated “worse than a dog – at least dogs get taken for a walk every day” – as she spends all but a couple of hours a week in bed. She doesn’t have a package flexible enough to have someone around to help her back to bed when her muscles no longer allow her to maintain her position in her wheelchair. The hour that she can spend in her chair, while the care worker is doing housework, she drives from room to room like a caged animal “just to make sure the other rooms are still there”!

I have no doubt that ILF funding would have made her life much, much better.

I am worried for the day that my 42 hours funded by the ILF disappear and I resort to driving from room to room, no longer able to pay for the support I need to lead the meaningful life I currently enjoy thanks to the ILF.

 

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Mar 112013
 

 

DPAC Logo 3 amendment 1 (Small) IL logo

 

VIGIL TO SAVE THE INDEPENDENT LIVING FUND

AND OUR RIGHT TO INDEPENDENT LIVING

March 13th 2013 – from 12.30pm

Outside front entrance Royal Courts of Justice, the Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Speakers: Linda Burnip (DPAC co-founder), Tracey Lazard, (CEO Inclusion London)

Writers/performers Sophie Partridge and Penny Pepper to read from their new script highlighting the impact of the ILF closure

Six disabled people who receive support funded by the Independent Living Fund (ILF) will take on the DWP in the High Court on 13th and 14th March to challenge the government consultation which proposed to close it.

The ILF was set up in 1988 to support disabled people with the highest levels of support need to live in the community. Since then it has helped thousands to live active and full lives.

The government decision to close the Independent Living Fund and instead devolve responsibility to local authorities follows a consultation that disabled people claim is unlawful.

Whereas support received through the ILF has transformed thousands of lives, local authorities are not able to provide the same level or range of support through their current systems. With central funding to local authorities being cut this can only get worse.

Join us to show support and solidarity to those disabled people taking the legal challenge on an issue that is importance to everyone who cares about social justice and the rights of disabled people to live independently, equally and with dignity.

Speakers will include Linda Burnip, co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts, Tracey Lazard, Chief executive of Inclusion London and many disabled people who are personally affected by the closure of the Independent Living Fund. Writer/performers and ILF users Sophie Partridge and Penny Pepper will read from their new script developed to highlight the importance of the Fund.

You can listen to how this vicious attack will affect disabled people at these links:

http://www.dpac.uk.net/2013/02/a-nasty-cut-people-affected-by-the-closure-of-the-independent-l5142/

For more information about the vigil contact: mail@dpac.uk.net

Attached information about the location of the High Courts and about accessible toilets in the area.

 Map courts

 Royal Courts of Justice

Strand,

London WC2A 2LL

 Travel: the tube stations around the Royal Courts are not accessible (nearest accessible tubes are Westminster and London Bridge and both are a bus journey away).

Please check www.tfl.gov.uk for more travel information

 Accessible toilets around the royal courts:

–         There is an accessible toilet outside Embankment tube station and inside Charing Cross station.

–         There are toilets opposite the Royal Courts but these are not accessible

–         There are also accessible toilets inside the Royal Courts themselves – see page 10 of this booklet: http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/courts/rcj/facilities-and-access/Facilitiesservicesleaflet2011.pdf

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Mar 112013
 

DPAC Logo 3 amendment 1 (Small)  enil logo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Background information

 Text of the oral question 

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

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

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

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

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

 

(1) Text adopted P7_TA(2011)0453.

 Click on the links below to:

 Find your MEP

Download Template letter from link below 

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

ENIL

–       Information about ENIL’s Campaign against the Cuts

–       Action Toolkit

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

–       Contact: mail@dpac.uk.net

 



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

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

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

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Mar 112013
 

Kevin’s story


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Mar 102013
 
  Time for your ESA assessment?

Not for 78,000 claimants
– waiting over a year!

Only the other week we had the DWP recklessly fuelling the tabloids over its absurd claims that 15,000 Disability claimants (most of whom were pensioners and children) were seemingly breaking a leg to get their claims in before the dreaded new Personal Capability Assessment comes in to being this April for new claiments; the DWP neglected to make sure the media told everyone how the figures they were quoting were months out of date!

When challenged over the figures the DWP advocate that you should ‘dig deep’ and look beyond their damaging headlines.  When you do so it’s interesting to see what you turf up – the utterly chaotic Employment & Support Allowance ‘reassessment of the sick’ programme goes from bad to worse as it is revealed (upon digging deeper in to their figures) that thousands upon thousands of claimants remain ‘stuck’ in what the DWP term the ‘assessment phase’ of an allowance which seems to be getting its claimants no support at all in to employment.  

Read more about the DWP’s ‘customer journey to nowhere’  The DWP’s most up to date figures for May 2012 (the figures for August 2012 are apparently ‘delayed’) show that an astonishing 455,860 claimants are either waiting for their Work Capability Assessment to be completed or waiting for an appeal against a decision they believe to be wrong.  What is totally unacceptable is how a programme which is meant to be helping people back to work is seeing no less than 77,820 claimants waiting a year or more for their assessment or appeal to lead to any kind of proper decision! – in nearly 30,000 cases it’s over 2 years!

This is nothing short of a National outrage which the mainstream media have a duty to publish.

Here’s the official DWP figures…. 

Assessment Phase  

Total 

Up to 3 months 

3 to 6 months 

6 months to 1 year  

1 to 2 years

2 to 5 years

May 2012

455,860

157,940

122,180

97,910

49,040

28,780

February 2012

424,170

166,230

107,930

81,460

44,740

23,810

Change (+/-) +31,390 

– 8,290

+ 14,250

+ 16,450

+ 4,300

+ 4,970

 
 

DWPs ESA Process in Chaos?

You can check them against the official DWP tables here….

DWP figures for May 2012

DWP figures for February 2012

With thanks to the brilliant Nick at Mylegal for more from Nick see http://ilegal.org.uk/

Twitter: @Mylegalforum

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