Jul 242014
 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The WCA is wrong, and it needs to be abolished

Signed

Andy Greene, Disabled People Against Cuts
Annie Howard, Disabled People Against Cuts
Bob Ellard, Disabled People Against Cuts
Debbie Jolly, Disabled People Against Cuts
Denise McKenna, Mental Health Resistance Network
Jane Bence, #NewApproach
Eleanor Firman, Disabled People Against Cuts
Ellen Clifford, Disabled People Against Cuts
Gail Ward, Disabled People Against Cuts
John James McArdle, Black Triangle Campaign
Katy Marchant, Disabled People Against Cuts
Linda Burnip, Disabled People Against Cuts
Michelle Maher, WOWPetition
Nick Dilworth, #NewApproach
Pat Onions, Pats Petition
Paula Peters, Disabled People Against Cuts
Rick Burgess, #NewApproach
Roger Lewis, Disabled People Against Cuts
Rosemary O’Neil, Carerwatch
Roy Bard, Disabled People Against Cuts
Wayne Blackburn, #NewApproach
 
 Posted by at 14:47
Jul 202014
 

Rob prepared this statement for the recent Disability Rights UK conference (18th July) He was not allowed to give his statement- we publish it here so people can understand why all voices should be heard and listened to.

The Fight for Our Lives

 My name is Robert Punton I am a disabled person and an Independent Living Fund (ILF) recipient I come here today to oppose Disability Rights UK stance on the closing of the ILF.

I have been a disabled activist for over 30 years both in a paid and unpaid capacity.  The money I have received through ILF funding has in no small part enabled me to achieve this, I have employed the same two guys as my Personal Assistants Mike Orme and Darren Harrison for over 25 years and now I am employing their son Daryl Harrison-Orme in the same capacity.  If the closure goes ahead this puts our partnership (family) in serious jeopardy.

I make no bones about the fact that as a person with high support needs without this extra funding I would be languishing in a Scope home or one run by some other likeminded establishment.  In saying this I am not in anyway denigrating the lives of anyone living there but I much prefer my lifestyle and will fight to my last breathe to save it.  Make no mistake everyone using ILF is in the same boat and none of us want to sink.

I am a member of DPAC and Co Director in Community Navigator Services with Clenton Farquharson MBE and Jack Nicholas it is a Community Interest Company we all identify as disabled; we aim to build capacity within communities to allow them to participate within society to their fullest n need or want.  We all agree the closure of ILF will severely destroy the advances that disabled people that achieved in last 3 decades.

Disability Rights UK and Simon Stevens advocate that when they close ILF it will make it a level plain field when they pass on funds to local authorities and everyone will be treated equally, equality only works when you use the highest possible denominator, in other words no one wants to be treated like their neighbour if they are being treated badly.  The term we like to use now is fighting for social justice for all, hence wanting the best standard of living (in this case support plans) for everyone.

Simon Stevens and his supports say that the ILF has made users of their scheme elitists in their communities.  I can’t argue that this may be perceived in that light. However, I would argue this two-tier system in society cannot be blamed on the independent living fund or its users; it was the Conservative government who closed the ILF in 2010 under the guidance of Maria (Killer) Miller, and in doing so cut off thousands of possible or probable new users of ILF, Con-Demning them to the level of substandard support given by most Local Authorities.

This substandard support shows the priority most local governments, and therefore National Government accord to people requiring high support – they are more than willing to leaving wallowing in our own shit!

Anyone following the campaign to SAVE the ILF led by DPAC and Inclusion London must know that we the major goal is to reopen the ILF to all people who fit their criteria.  In doing so raising the standard of those people’s support.  We believe this is the only solution not butchering the funding  of the so called “lucky” ones it in all honesty won’t help anyone.

I would love to know where the advocates of this Don’t Save ILF think the monies to raise everyone’ standards of support will come from. The money release from ILF we be swallowed up by incompetent politicians looking after their powerful votes, not us the people they view as worth less. In Authorities like Birmingham who have amassed debts of £600m you think the money given up by ILF will not even make a drip in their ocean of debt.

While I disagree with Simon’s argument I support his right to voice his opinion.  However, it is an understatement to say I am flabbergasted to hear Disability Rights UK supports this argument.  I thought you represented disabled people not the establishment!

What really exasperates me though is that we never learn from our mistakes.  Once more we are doing the governments work for them fighting between ourselves while they sit back laughing at us.  We must stop fighting and work together to defeat the Con-Dem coalition

I will finish with message to the camp supporting shut ILF.  If you can’t support don’t fight us.

Today we fight for our lives, if we lose today there will be no Tomorrow just an eternity of marginalisation and isolation either trapped our own homes or corralled in Care(less) Homes run by unscrupulous privateers only interested in profit not people

 

Thank you for listening  I hope you hear me!

 

see also: http://dpac.uk.net/2014/07/disability-rights-uk-independent-living-or-new-visions-in-neo-liberalism/

 

Jul 192014
 

This video on youtube seems to suggest that it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nR_sLy_8B-8 (watch from 1hr and 4 minutes in)

This video is taken from a proceedings of a recent conference on the UNCRPD in Galway in June this year

The conference session is entitled:

Monitoring the CRPD — the Work of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

And the person speaking is Gabor Gombos Adjunct Professor at NALSAR Law University, India and at NUI Galway

We have isolated the relevant clip of the video and posted it below:-

 

Here is a transcript of the video:

 "The primary mandate of the treaty bodies is this country review, which is mandated by
 the treaty itself. Now under several treaties including the CRPD, there are optional protocols
 which give additional mandates to the treaty body. In the case of the optional protocol
 to the CRPD one of the additional mandates is inquiry procedure."
 "The inquiry procedure is basically about grave and systemic violations of human rights in
 the country. Where the issue has been raised and the government did not really make effective
 actions to fix the situation, it is a very high threshold thing; the violations should
 really be grave and very systemic."
 "And it cannot be based on gossip. An inquiry procedure against a country has a very, very
 high profile internationally also, it should be established and the procedure is highly
 confidential until the outcome, the end of the procedure."
 "The committee has not completed an inquiry procedure yet, but the committee started its
 first inquiry procedure against the United Kingdom, I wanted to share this with you,
 this is a public piece of information. Nothing else about the inquiry procedure is public,
 okay?"
 "So we only know that the United Kingdom has the privilege to be made accountable through
 an inquiry procedure by the CRPD committee regarding grave and systemic violations of
 persons with disabilities in the United Kingdom. We'll see, I'm really curious what will happen
 and what this inquiry procedure is about."
 "Again civil society does play an enormous role in this. Typically an inquiry procedure
 is initiated by civil society organisations; it's a highly confidential procedure as I
 told you and it's a very dynamic procedure, the treaty body can delegate some of its members
 to visit the country and meet NGOs, meet governments and enters into a dialogue with them."

So it seems there is a quiet investigation into the violations by the UK government of the rights of disabled people. As said in the video, the inquiry procedure is not triggered by gossip but by very serious human rights violations corroborated by facts and statistics.

If true, this is what disabled people have been waiting for a very long time: a genuine, thorough and independent investigation of the retrogression of disabled people’s rights and of what they had to suffer for the past 4 years .

We sincerely hope that it is true.

 Posted by at 18:21
Jul 172014
 

DPAC have had an odd kind of non-relationship with DRUK. We’ve disagreed about many things. For example, DPAC is for saving ILF, DRUK’s Sue Bott suggests this is something we should probably forget about, and that ‘Whilst the ILF has benefited many disabled people, claims that it has been at the forefront of independent living are a little exaggerated’[1]. This is not the view of ILF users. See their stories, their lives, their experiences  It is amazing that anyone can believe that passing ILF to local authorities who already say that without ring-fenced funding many ILF users will lose support and/or be institutionalised is something we need to accept while we all get together to talk about ‘new visions’.

 

The DRUK conference dedicated to a ‘new vision’ for independent living is also a confusing affair, not only are they embracing Simon Steven’s approach[2] ( He who accused DPAC of murdering disabled people and was dropped from Leonard Cheshire’s sponsor program because of his outright abuse to other disabled people[3]), but one of their advertised partners for this conference are Craegmoor .

 

Craegmoor are part of the Priory Group owned by Avent International which is a US Equity Company- changing times you may say-and you’re right. Maybe that’s what these new visions are about: capitalising on the market, private equity companies taking public money, and disability organisations getting in on the act- maybe neo-liberalism rather than disabled peoples’ rights and equality now make up ‘new visions’ of independent living

 

Craegmoor ‘s target market are those labelled with autism, learning difficulties and mental health issues. They take 85% of their funds from public funds[4]. Craegmoor’s  web site boasts of its residential homes:

We provide understanding and support for people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health problems in a variety of settings based on the individual’s abilities and needs. Our nationwide residential care services support people to develop the skills they need to live as independently as possible’.

 

Wait, since when were residential homes part of independent living? Weren’t these the very oppressions that early activists fought to get out of, and current activists (and ILF users) are fighting to stay out of?

 

Their brochure[5] goes further:

Craegmoor is part of the Priory Group of Companies. From education to hospitals, care homes and secure facilities, the Priory Group of Companies offers individually tailored, multidisciplinary treatment programmes for those with complex educational needs or requiring acute, long-term and respite mental healthcare’.

 

Treatment programs? Not sounding very independent living or social model. As well as residential homes, secure ‘hospitals’ and segregated schools. It all sounds very daunting.

 

But there’s much more on the Priory group of companies too which is even less palatable concerning cover-ups and abuse. Until July 2013 Phillip Scott was Chief Executive if the name isnt familiar, he was also the Chief Executive for Southern Cross. Itself a subject of inquiry on institutional abuse and 19 unexplained deaths[6] Craegmor say they transform lives, but in what way?

 

In May 2013 there was Melling Acres, ‘where inspectors reported major concerns about the care and welfare of its seven residents – care plans were poor, with scant information about physical health needs, there were limited activities and a lack of advocacy to enable people to express concerns about their care’. In September 2012 ‘following an anonymous tip, inspectors found residents at risk of abuse in Lammas Lodge, a home for young adults. There were not enough staff and what staff there were, inspectors found, were not properly trained to meet residents’ complex needs. There were six major areas of concern, including care and welfare, medication and safeguarding. The home, which was warned it must improve or face closure, has since been given a clean bill of health by the regulators’. Both homes were registered under Parkcare Homes’ so neither Priory or Craegmoor got the fall-out despite ownership[7].

 

This was not the case in 2012 when concerned relatives hid CCTV cameras in the room of Highbank hospital in Bury Manchester to reveal abuse by staff[8], not so with the Bentley Court home in Wolverhampton suspended by the council for what it called ‘safeguarding issues’ in 2010, a council that stopped sending those with dementia to Bentley Court[9], and not so in 2012 when what was described as the ‘Priory mental hospital’ in Windes on Bennet Lane was closed due to not meeting 10 standards of Government quality and safety including: Patients not being fully protected from the risk of abuse and their privacy, dignity and independence not being respected, staff not receiving necessary training, a lack of systems to assess and monitor the quality of the service provided, care plans did not always cover patients’ needs. There were also reports of patients attempting to escape during supervised visits into Widnes town centre[10].

 

So as said definitely NOT independent living.

 

In 2004 the then CEO of the Priory group Chai Patel said ‘My view is, if there is ever a conflict that involves choosing between care and profit, then we should not be involved in that environment,’[11] Given the examples above it seems profit is the defining factor.

 

It didn’t take long to find this information, it didn’t take long to realise that these are not the partners who should be with any organisation claiming to support independent living, even ‘new visions’. So maybe the question that needs to be asked is what exactly do DRUK support?

 

There are a few clues, in a recent blog piece by DRUK (dated 16th July) mentioning a very good Guardian piece by independent living activist John Evans[12], an ILF user, the last paragraph says: ‘Sue Bott, Director of Policy and Development at Disability Rights UK, has written a new blog which also discusses the role of the ILF but proposes that disabled people should concentrate their campaigning towards achieving a single integrated system that assesses people’s needs and allocates assistance and support based on the outcomes people could achieve in their communities and contribute to society’.

 

John Evans says everything we need to know-we have a vision for independent living and we already have a model forged by international independent living activists. There is nothing wrong with that model. There is no reason to stop fighting for it, abandon it or develop ‘visions’ or hallucinations of lesser systems in which we divide disabled people by perceived contributions to society-all disabled people are of value, all deserve to be supported. It is the ILF model that needs to be built upon and expanded to all-something that promotes real independent living.

 

The fact that a so-called user led organisation is putting forward anything different with the spectra of institutionalisation added to the mix is a tragic condemnation of all that disability activists have ever worked and fought for. We are appalled that DRUK are willing to sacrifice disabled people’s futures in this way and sadly can only assume this is to ensure on-going funding from the government.

follow @dis_ppl_protest for more

If you want to email DRUK you can do so by emailing:  liz.sayce@disabilityrightsuk.org

 

[1] http://disabilityrightsuk.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/we-need-new-vision-for-independent.html

[2] http://disabilityrightsuk.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/we-need-new-vision-for-independent.html

 

[3] http://davidg-flatout.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/inclusion-forgotten-ambition-lost-i.html?spref=tw

[4] http://www.craegmoor.co.uk/library/files/Craegmoor%20Locations%20&%20Services%20Brochure(1).pdf

[5] http://www.craegmoor.co.uk/library/files/Craegmoor%20Locations%20&%20Services%20Brochure(1).pdf

[6] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24581693

[7] http://beastrabban.wordpress.com/2013/07/20/private-eye-on-failure-of-care-at-more-care-hospitals-owned-by-american-private-equity-firms/

 

[8] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2227229/Nurses-quizzed-police-abusing-patient-Priory-Hospital-concerned-family-hid-secret-camera-room.html

 

[9] http://www.expressandstar.com/news/2010/01/15/elderly-will-no-longer-be-sent-to-care-home/

 

[10] http://www.runcornandwidnesweeklynews.co.uk/news/health/failed-priory-mental-hospital-widnes-5875608

 

[11] http://www.managementtoday.co.uk/news/432103/Man-Priory/?DCMP=ILC-SEARCH

 

[12] http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jul/16/independent-living-fund-closure-disabled-people-residential-care

Jul 112014
 

Disability activists! For New Statesman, I’m looking at the ups and the downs of using social media – Twitter, Facebook, personal blogs – for disability (and long-term sick) campaigns.

How useful have you found social media in furthering your campaigns? In what ways?

What are the downsides? Have you ever been criticised for being an ‘armchair activist’ or received “If you can tweet/blog, you can work” type accusations?

 Disabled and long-term sick campaigners have used social networks to great ends. I would love to put together something that genuinely reflects your experiences. You can get me on francesryan.journalism@gmail.com.

Thank you.

Jul 082014
 

By Paula Peters

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

Some pictures of the Vigil today have been posted here

We will publish some more shortly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Table: Employment Support Allowance Sanction Decisions, by Month

Employment Support Allowance Sanction Decisions, by Month

 

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

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

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

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

by Anita Bellows

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Banner Picture With MHRN and DPAC logos plus title

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

 Posted by at 22:41
Jul 032014
 

 Hello comrades 

ALLFIE  (the Alliance for Inclusive Education) would like to put together some short and snappy videos on disabled peoples experiences of having Disabled Students Allowance and the impact it has had in helping them benefit from higher education on our lovely website – 

In particular we would like to focus on inclusion and participation whilst recognising that for some disabled students having the DSA means the potential of getting higher grades or getting a qualification whilst studying at university.  Also it be great to hear how DSA has supported disabled students who benefited from higher education even if they have not ‘passed’ their course.  

We would like to interview disabled people (young and old!) who  are thinking twice about going to university as a result of Government’s DSA reforms.

If anyone wants to know more about the DSA reforms please follow the link – http://www.allfie.org.uk/   Please scroll down to ALLIFE’s june briefing. 

If you are going to be around for the ILF tea party on Friday  – please let me know as I will have a small video camera to do the interview with.    I will be wearing an ALLFIE teashirt.     If you want to have a chat please ring me on 0207 737 6030 during Tuesday and Thursday.

 See u there, Simone Aspis.

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

Save the Independent Living Fund #SaveILF

Save the ILF Comic Page 1


Save the ILF Comic Page 2


Save the ILF Comic Page 3


Save the ILF Comic Page 4


Save the ILF Comic Page 5


Save the ILF Comic Page 6


Save the ILF Comic Page 7


Reproduced with thanks to Lucie Kinchen @ Drawn Out Thinking

 

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

Twitter: @dis_ppl_protest

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

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

For press contacts email mail@dpac.uk.net

 

 Posted by at 22:00
Jul 022014
 

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



Early Day Motion 197

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

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

You can view EDM197 here.

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

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

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

 Posted by at 15:46
Jul 012014
 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

birminghambenefitjustice@gmail.com

 

 

 

 Posted by at 21:30
Jul 012014
 

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

http://dpac.uk.net/2014/06/july-4th-our-independent-living-day-party-and-picnic-london-and-around-the-country/


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

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


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

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

Mark Dunk,
Unite the Resistance steering group
& Unite member

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

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

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

There have been videos posted on Youtube:

 

 


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

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

 The Government don’t get that

The Church clearly don’t get that

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

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

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

 


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

And some of the Blog posts

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

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

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

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

…. and don’t forget

We don’t do Marches,

We don’t do Speeches,

We do Direct Action…… and Picnics!

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

 Posted by at 11:15
Jul 012014
 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Line of Police bravely protecting Westminster Abbey from ILF users

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More police

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

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

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

Armed Response

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

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

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

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

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

THE FIGHT GOES ON!

by Rob Punton

 Posted by at 11:14