Oct 312014
 

[reblogged from JohnnyVoid blog, with thanks]

Richard A. Montoni – the boss of US firm Maximus who will soon be carrying out the despised assessments for sickness and disability benefits – received a salary and compensation package worth over a staggering five million dollars in 2013.

Maximus specialise in

Maximus specialise in outsourced government contracts.  They already run Iain Duncan Smith’s disastrous Work Programme in some parts of the UK, along with a new scheme to harass people on sick leave by declaring them fit to return to work on the back of a short phone call.  As well as operating in the US, Canada and Australia, Maximus also have a welfare-to-work contract with the Saudi Arabian government – where women are segregated in the workplace and forbidden from carrying out many jobs.  From March next year they will take over from Atos running the Work Capability Assessments (WCAs) designed to strip benefits from sick or disabled people.  These crude computer based tests have caused horrifying suffering and led to homelessness, ill health and tragically even suicides as people with serious health conditions are found fit for work and left without enough money to eat or keep the heating on.

Montoni is not the only one benefiting from a huge salary at the expense of tax payers around the world.  Maximus have been criticised in the US after it was revealed their top excecutives received compensation packages of $41,808,585 between 2008 and 2012.  According to Forbes, Montoni himself received a salary and share packages worth $5,136,321 in 2013.  With that kind of money on the table is it any wonder they have the morals of sewer rats?

Montoni is a hands on kind of boss, recently appearing in a DWP press release congratulating himself at swindling the UK government into handing him millions of pounds of our money.  The WCA contract is expected to be worth around half a billion, a chunk of which will end up in his pocket.  Whilst the Government this week attempts to stir up hatred towards asylum seekers fleeing war zones, here they are handing a fortune to some American fucking Dallas   reject who doesn’t even live in the UK.  Hate this smug bastard, because it is the rich who are stealing the world, not the poor.

Share This:

 Posted by at 16:04
Oct 312014
 

Below are ALLFIE’s (Alliance for Inclusive Education) crucial principles for inclusive education. We all agree that education is a fundamental part of life, as such these principles are crucial for disabled children and adults and for their right to be educated in an inclusive enviroment.
DPAC fully supports ALLFIE’s principles and calls for ‘Education not segregation’ for all Deaf and disabled learners.

The principles are:

Diversity enriches and strengthens all communities;

·       All learner’s different learning styles and achievements are equally valued, respected and celebrated by society;
·       All learners to be enabled to fulfil their potential by taking into account individual requirements and needs;
·       Support to be guaranteed and fully resourced across the whole learning experience;
·       All learners need friendship and support from people of their own age.
·       All children and young people to be educated together as equals in their local communities;
·       Inclusive Education is incompatible with segregated provision both within and outside mainstream education;

Education not Segregation

Share This:

Oct 312014
 

Apology notwithstanding, your recent comments vis-à-vis disabled people reveal that, apart from bigotry, yours and your cronies’ attitudes towards disabled people are – surprise, surprise – based on a one-size-fits all world view. To suggest that our labour is worth less than that of a non-disabled person is despicable in the extreme.

Anyone with an ethical or empathetic bone in their body would realise that – as with non-disabled people – we are, despite some similarities, individuals, with individual problems and needs. To illustrate this, allow me to compare myself and my oldest living friend who I met when we were both mature undergraduates (I was 40). We had both taken this path because we had no wish to be consigned to a life of workless, isolated poverty.

At that time, our impairments were ostensibly the same: spinal injuries and osteo-arthritis. However, the individual effects were markedly different which made us complementary, strangely enough. I am 6’ 4” and her head does not reach my chin. As law students, much of our time was spent in the library which alone would have been problematic as I could not reach lower shelves without a great deal of discomfort and difficulty, if at all. She on the other hand struggled to reach higher shelves that, even with her short stature, she would have reached without difficulty had she been non disabled. In addition, we both experienced problems with mobility and fatigue.

Since that time however, our paths, disability-wise, have diverged markedly as both our then-existing disabilities and newer medical problems have taken their toll. She now holds the post of Senior Lecturer, is obliged to arrive at work by 07.30 if she wants a suitable disabled parking space, and despite her physical/medical issues, more work than any two non disabled colleagues. She is often so fatigued when reaching home never less than twelve hours later, that she falls asleep over marking. To suggest that such a person is worth roughly half the salary of a non disabled person is both despicable and delusional.

I, on the other hand, after a brief teaching career during which, at times, I was performing almost the teaching of three full-time colleagues, became so ill that I could no longer work. After several years (while volunteering with a local C.A.B.) of steadily building myself back to the stage where I felt I may be able to take at least a part-time position, I was to undertake a Masters Degree, which took me an extra year due to a near death experience with pneumonia and pneumo-thorax. Since then, my general condition, while it could be defined as stable is by no means work-fit. I keep myself occupied by searching out relevant research resources. However, it is impossible to set deadlines as I cannot say from one day to the next what I would be capable of.

It is long past time when you and people like you realised that we are living on planet Earth in the 21st Century – not some esoteric alternative universe that only you and your cronies have access to where us plebs can be assumed to be clones of one another.

John

Share This:

Oct 302014
 

So finally released is the official news that Maximus take over from the toxic brand of Atos for £500 million. Already there are comparisons with Russell Crow characters, but there’s also an overlooked Maximus who might be more fitting as a parody or comparison. This Maximus comes from the U.S Marvel comics

Maximus was briefly the leader of the Inhumans while his brother, Black Bolt, went into exile, daring not to use his dangerous voice. Maximus believed that the Inhumans were the greater form of life on Earth and he set out to rule them and to destroy humankind to retake the planet.
More on Marvel.com: http://marvel.com/universe/Maximus#ixzz3Hd6bb9Bl

Leader of the inhumans seems much more fitting than the hero reduced to slavery and seeking revenge- can we compare Black Bolt to Atos going into exile too? No, not really, as Maximus are using Atos staff and equipment to continue with the inhuman Work Capability Assessments (WCA), and of course Atos have a whole host of other multi-million Government contracts including PIP-yet another planned disaster, shared with Capita, leaving disabled people stuck on a waiting list for up to a year without any financial support whatsoever. In June 2014 MacMillan identified that those diagnosed with cancer were waiting at least six months for the initial assessment rather than being fast tracked properly, as was the case under the Disability living Allowance.

We can be sure that this didn’t and doesn’t just apply to those with cancer,but those with other terminal illness’ too. The Work and Pensions Committee rightly condemned this, but then we hear nothing more than empty silence. New Labour say it will take 42 years to clear the PIP backlog. But they don’t tell us what they will do about it, which with an election year fast approaching is yet another lost opportunity for the rusty New Labour machinery.

From one toxic brand to another?

Its worth a quick recap on Atos and the WCA contracts. The Atos process contributed to deaths, the Atos process contributed to worsening mental health, Atos’ so called ‘healthcare professionals were ‘trained’ over a period of days, Atos got reports wrong frequently, Atos were subject to TV exposures, the Atos process was condemned internationally, Atos were closely linked Unum insurance sharing the same CEO, Atos declared people fit for work when they were in comas or days before they died. Atos pulled out of their contract saying that those nasty disabled people were being nasty to their staff- a claim which , true to form, they could provide no evidence for.

Atos became a toxic brand long before the hyped ‘pull-out’. Atos were targeted from 2011 onwards by DPAC with protests outside their shiny London headquarters and elsewhere. Atos tried to shut down web sites that said ‘bad’ things about them. In 2012 their sponsorship of the Olympic games ( along with a set of other dubious multi-nationals) led to a 7 day protest by DPAC, a protest that saw angry protesters outside Atos centres across the UK. It was then that national media, often silenced by their owners vested interests broke through. We saw from the first time a trickle of freelancers with a social conscience edge in the Atos issue under the Olympics rubric. We saw the beginnings of a snow ball affect which Atos’ public image never recovered from. Atos were known not as the IT company, but the company that carried out those bogus Work Capability Assessments.

From bad to worse
So what changes with Maximus? First let Maximus be in no doubt that they will get the same treatment as Atos did-disabled people will continue protest and civil disobedience- a name change doesn’t mean a thing. This company knew exactly what they were taking on-but money talks louder than conscience . As already mentioned Maximus take the infrastructure of Atos, its staff , its IT , its tick box assessments. Atos are still gaining. Second, Maximus take private contracts ( paid with public money) to help dismantle what’s left of our ( or anyone else’s) welfare state to force those ‘that can’ on to private insurance scams that may or may not pay out-Unum and co are also laughing all the way to their bankster friends. .

What’s different? Well, Maximus seem worse than Atos- yes you read that correctly. They have a string of law suits in their homeland the good old US of A. In 2014 they said

“We expect that demand for our core health and human services offerings will continue to increase over the next few years, driven by new legislation, austerity measures and increasing caseloads, as governments strive to deliver more services with fewer resources. Legislation, such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the United States as well as other health and welfare reform initiatives abroad, has created increased demand for our services, a trend we expect to continue over the next several years.”

‘Core health and human services offerings’:?. It seems these ‘offerings’ have proved a bit of an expensive minefield. But these days such things are written off to risk if the profits out weigh the pay-offs companies will do what the hell they like. In 2007 Maximus settled a Medicaide card fraud with the Federal Government paying $30.5 million. In 2012 they paid $50,000 in a disability discrimination case. In 2013 it was reported that Maximus has been engaging in ‘improper billing advice’ concerning $3.5 million cost to tax payers (sounds familiar-except here our state dont appear to do much about such things).There’s more, but you get the picture. Final add is that Maximus also like to give lots of money to right wing politicians-ah it gets even clearer.

Looks like we should expect the worst and looks like our unelected Government have managed to surpass themselves, again. The drain on the so-called public purse- that’s tax payers money- is set to rocket again. But beyond financial concerns are what happens now with the WCA? What happens to the backlog? And what happens to disabled people- the news doesn’t look good, as many commentators on social media have already pointed out. However, several things have been missed on social media

All in it together?
While Disability Rights UK (DRUK) were one of the first to get the notice of Maximus taking over from Atos out on their website, they failed to mention how they will be ‘helping’ Maximus. This information is not on their web site. It can be found elsewhere on the Department of Work and Pensions website :

“On top of recruiting additional healthcare professionals, MAXIMUS also plans to make further improvements to people’s experience of an assessment and will seek to continually improve the service they offer. It will increase the number of specialists who conduct assessments, including experts in mental health. They will also spend more time with people before their assessment to fully explain the process and provide Disability Awareness training for all staff through Disability Rights UK”.

Didn’t Atos claim similar things too? There are some who might say DRUK is what is needed. We should ask those people how a so-called user-led disabled peoples’ organisation can, with any integrity, involve themselves in this at all. Its no secret that like Maximus themselves, DRUK would know about the WCA, the Government lies that surround it, the misery caused by it, and why it all chimes together to remove welfare/state support from disabled people-It marks a purposeful intention to further open -up the market for private insurers – is this a mistake on the DWP’s own Government site?

Sadly, we think not. In the latest release DRUK say that they’ve been in discussions with Maximus and no work has yet been agreed- shouldn’t they be categorically denying the association outright?

Yet, DRUK are already ‘in bed’ with big corporations and private insurance companies. After their prior foray with Capita, DRUK now appear to have joined the game of pushing private disability insurance too. They are partnering with 17 big insurance companies to show the difference insurance would make, instead of fighting for the rights of disabled people. That is disabled people who by DRUK’s own admission occupy one of the largest groups in poverty, a poverty level that has been systematically widened and worsened because of this Government’s pursuit of removing welfare.

A few months ago DRUK publicised a new television program calling for disabled volunteers: Seven Families. Seven families will take the same number of families and show the benefits of purchasing private disability insurance. Its not about pushing products says the Income Protection Task Force (?) blurb-its about raising awareness-not since the Guardian published the much criticised info ads for Unum have we seen this sort of ‘stupid public’ approach. Once again , you wont find this on the DRUK web-site it’s been removed. But DRUK’s strap-line of breaking the link between poverty and disability just took on a new meaning

More importantly, under the WCA contract Atos were paid per assessment. Under the PIP contract Atos and Capita are paid a lump sum not depending on the number of assessments- the planned backlog becomes clearer. But what of the Maximus contract -are they paid by assessment or paid a lump sum? What is obvious is that the rounds of assessments and reassessments will continue to persecute disabled people. At intervals they might get a pittance of support, they might need to wait longer for a mandatory reconsideration ( brought in in Oct 2013 to make the process even more difficult and knock people out of the system). The best bet is to forget that you’ve paid state national insurance for all of your working life and go see Unum- and if 99% of disabled people cant afford it tough, because even your own so called disability organisations are telling you this is now the only way.

We want answers and we call on New Labour’s Rachael Reeves and Kate Green to provide them-what will they do with Maximus? What will they do with mandatory reconsideration? What will they do for disabled people? Oh and why should we a) trust them b) vote for them?

For now as The Void suggests: ‘Maximus are the new Atos: destroy Maximus’ and everyone and every organisation involved in or supporting this inhuman regime of the corrupt WCA, until its scrapped completely!

Share This:

Oct 272014
 

On 14th November IDS is to open a ‘Jobs Fair’ at the Chingford Assembly Hall, Station Road, Chingford, E4 7EN

Spread this info to as many people as you know but especially to groups of Unemployed and disabled people. We must ensure that IDS gets a welcome he will not forget!
Join Class War and other groups from 10 am. Class War will be in attendance until 5pm when this ends. Trains from Liverpool Street to Chingford take 26 minutes.
Iain Duncan Smith - Jobs Fair poster

 

Share This:

 Posted by at 18:57
Oct 272014
 

The Government is proposing that their funding for the Welfare Assistance Fund ceases in May 2015.

The Local Government Association has said that if this proposal goes ahead support through the scheme will ‘have to be scaled back or scrapped completely in almost three-quarters of council areas’.

 

Inclusion London believes it is vital that funding for the scheme to continue, so as many organisations as possible need to respond to the consultation.

 

Sign our response or use IL’s as a template

I have drafted a consultation response, which you can welcome to use as a template. If you have examples of  members or services users have been supported by the Welfare Assistance Fund this will strengthen your response.

See draft response HERE

Alternatively you wish can sign up in support of Inclusion London’s response by emailing me saying

I support the response to henrietta.doyle@inclusionlondon.co.uk

 I would also welcome examples of your members/services users that have been supported by the fund to inform our response, all examples will be anonymised

 

Share This:

Oct 272014
 

On Wednesday the DWP select committee is holding its final oral evidence session for its inquiry into Access to Work. Mark Harper, Minister for Disabled People, will be giving evidence.

The StopChanges2ATW campaign will be attending the evidence session as observers and then holding a rally in Old Palace Yard to protest against changes to Access to Work that are driving Deaf and disabled people out of employment and undermining our employability.

Speakers will include Jenny Sealey, artistic director of Graeae Theatre Company, Geraldine O’Halloran, Inclusion London and co-founder of StopChanges2ATW, Nicky Evans, branch secretary of the National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters, David Buxton CEO of the British Deaf Association and Teresa Pearce MP.

For more information contact:

For more information about the changes to Access to Work and how they are impacting on Deaf and disabled people go to:

http://stopchanges2atw.wordpress.com/

http://dpac.uk.net/2014/10/what-the-f-is-going-on-with-access-to-work-join-the-stopchanges2atw-campaign/

http://www.deafatw.com/

http://www.inclusionlondon.co.uk/ATW-ILs-%20and%20stop-changes2atw-respond-to-call-for-evidence

 

Share This:

Oct 272014
 

DWP PARLIAMENTARY SELECT COMMITTEE FINAL EVIDENCE SESSION ON ACCESS TO WORK INQUIRY.

WHEN: Wednesday, 29th October 2014.

TIME: 9.30 a.m.

GIVING EVIDENCE: Mark Harper MP, Minister for Disabled People.

Colin Stewart, Work Services Director.

WHERE: Wilson Room, Portcullis House, Bridge Street, London, SW1A 2LW

Please note, BSL sign interpreter will be provided in the public gallery of the Wilson Room.

TV Channels to watch the session on, BBC Parliament and Democracy live, BBC Parliament recording will include BSL sign interpretation of the session, or you can watch on the internet www.parliament.uk click on what’s on, click on select committee, scroll down to DWP select committee and click on video if watching via computer or laptop.

HOW TO GET THERE: nearest underground station is Westminster, step free access is on Jubilee Line, accessible lift to ticket hall, then accessible lift to street level.

Buses that stop nearest to Parliament are, 3, 11, 12, 24, 53, 87, 88, 148, 159, and 211.

Please allow extra time to get to Portcullis House as security level is set at Severe, wheelchair access entrance is located at the front of the building in the middle, press the wheelchair symbol, and go through security, then to the reception desk and ask for Wilson Room, (a member of staff will escort you to the lift and the floor of where the Wilson Room is located.)

The final session of the Access to Work Inquiry will include the following:

To explore the Government’s position on a range of issues highlighted during the inquiry.

Potential for substantially increased funding of AtW in line with the recommendations of the Sayce Review.

DWP’s general approach to the administration of the scheme, including its approach to self employment and entrepreneurship.

Specific administrative issues including paper based application and invoicing processes and the recently introduced call centre system.

The clarity, transparency and consistency of the award decision making and review processes.

The level of disability awareness of DWP Staff administrating the scheme.

The guidance on funding for support workers.

Referral routes into the workplace, mental health support services and AtW employer cost sharing arrangements.

Share This:

 Posted by at 10:50
Oct 262014
 

 

New Putney Debates

Disabled Women’s right to Occupy!

Feminism, disability and activism

Interviews with Ruth Bashall (Stay Safe East), long-time activist and front line work on disability hate crime and violence against women, and others to be confirmed. Chaired by Eleanor Lisney, founding member of Sisters of Frida.
With Michelle Daley & Martine Miel (Sisters of Frida) and Janet Price (DaDaFest).

Questions on feminist perspectives on issues of sexuality, disability, and social justice – disability and sexuality, queer crip politics, race, violence against women, the right for disabled women to occupy a safe space on their intersectional issues

Please let us know your access needs.

Venue: Friend’s House, 173-177 Euston Rd, London NW1 2BJ
31st Oct , 7 – 9.30 pm
(https://www.eventbrite.com/e/disabled-womens-right-to-occupy-tickets-13856072887)

There will be a stall from the Feminist Library

sof logo       sure safelogo


 

Share This:

Oct 242014
 

War and Impairment:
The Social Consequences of Disablement
Launch: Tuesday 18 November,
UNITE HQ, 128 Theobalds road, London, WC1X 8TN
Blue badge parking in side streets – Boswell Street and Old Gloucester Street
Sign interpreted event.
6–8pm. Must RSVP: rlrieser@gmail.com 07715420727
For more info see; http://ukdhm.org/

Share This:

Oct 232014
 

There are a lot of activists who don’t like petitions. They don’t sign them. They don’t share them. They look down on them as not being worthwhile.

And quite often they are right. Most petitions are a waste of time and energy. But just occasionally one petition will take off and it will change the world, just a little bit.

A case in point is this petition – Hold an inquiry into benefit sanctions that killed my brother

After 211,778 signed this petition the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee have taken up the case and launched an inquiry :-

Here is the press release from Change.org and an article in the Mirror about it


 

MPs set to hold benefit sanctions inquiry following 200K petition after ex soldier died when his Jobseekers’ Allowance was stopped

More than 211,000 people signed a Change.org petition started by Gill Thompson calling for an inquiry into benefit sanctions after her diabetic David Clapson, 59, was found dead in his home.

Gill’s three-month campaign called for an independent inquiry into benefit sanctions – which refers to occasions that money is withheld from claimants if they fail to meet the terms agreed.

The Department for Work and Pensions cross-party select committee has now agreed and its inquiry into benefit sanctions is due to start early next year. It is expected to be completed shortly before the General Election 2015.

David from Stevenage who worked for 29 years had his £71.70 weekly allowance stopped and died three weeks later. When his body was found by a friend, his electricity card was out of credit meaning the fridge where he kept the insulin he used to treat his diabetes was not working.

He died from diabetic ketoacidosis three weeks after his benefits were stopped caused by not taking insulin. A coroner found that when David died there was no food in his stomach.

Gill, 57, from London welcomes the decision to hold an inquiry. She said: “I’m still getting my head around the announcement. It’s still so overwhelming. When I started the petition I didn’t know what would happen.

“It’s wasn’t just for David. Nothing can replace him but the one thing I thought I could do was to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.

“I’m not normally a campaigner and David wasn’t someone who liked being made a fuss of, but sometimes in life there are certain things you have to do – and starting this petition was one of them.

“I am so glad I did it now. I hope through this investigation lessons will be learnt. People turn to the state when they are in need – that is what the system is for – a safety net for hard working people like my brother when they need a bit of support.”

Debbie Abraham’s MP for East Oldham and Saddleworth has been calling on the DWP select committee to hold an inquiry into “inappropriate use” of benefit sanctions since November last year.

Mrs Abraham’s who is a member of the Work and Pensions Select Committee said:

“Gill has shown great courage in the wake of her brother’s appalling death to take on this cruel government and its inhuman policy of targeting vulnerable people who are reliant on social security.

“The huge response to Gill’s Change.org petition with more than 200K signatures is proof that the British public will not stand by and do nothing when they see vulnerable people suffering.”

“The government has done everything it can to avoid having this inquiry. There is increasing evidence of the negative effects of social security sanctions on some of the most vulnerable in society, which shows that their so-called welfare reforms don’t work. This is a government that doesn’t give a damn about ordinary people.

“Latest figures show that there are now more people in working families who are living in poverty than in workless and retired families combined.”


So come on you armchair activists – and you street activists – Get Signing and Sharing – petitions can change the world – just a little bit.

Here’s one that is close to DPACs heart to be getting on with https://www.change.org/p/enda-kenny-t-d-enda-kenny-and-hse-stop-the-abuse-of-anthony-kletzander-in-ireland

Please sign it and share it. you never know – you might be changing the world, just a little bit, again. We’d be very grateful if you do.

 

Share This:

 Posted by at 13:30
Oct 222014
 

Today was the first day of two days of a second court case against the DWP against the closure of the Independent Living Fund. Messages of support poured in. Many people turned out to support the vigil. The Strand was later blocked , as Kate Belgrave said : blocking roads is not extreme, cutting care is. There was wide support from Inclusion London, Norfolk and Suffolk DPAC local DPACs, the Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People, Transport for All, Winvisable, PCS Union, the TUC, Ros Wyne Jones Real Lives at the Daily Mirror, OCAP  and from as far as Toronto Canada where a simultaneous vigil was held. John McDonnell MP a great supporter of DPAC also came to speak.

Many messages of support came through some of which are below.

“@Dis_PPL_Protest good luck today! Amazing work being done in the face of such powerful opposition :)”
“Let’s hope justice prevails to counter rabidly cruel government”
“Best of luck and so many thanks to all at #ILF court case”
“many thanks for time and effort to all involved”
“Sending support from Toronto to London today. Disabled lives are worth it. #SaveILF @Dis_PPL_Protest pic.twitter.com/90YJEt7bL4”
“vigil at the RCJ supporting the campaign to #SaveILF”
“Good luck. You are courageous. The world is watching”.
“Good to see the likes of @Dis_PPL_Protest taking up the incentive to challenge the Govt on the ILF, much needed support lacking from orgs.”
.”@johnmcdonnellMP speaking in solidarity at #saveilf vigil today at Royal Courts of Justice”
“Shoutout to the awesome campaigners the #saveilf campaign, outside the Royal Courts of Justice today”
“Grateful thanks to @Dis_PPL_Protest & all who are fighting so hard to #SaveILF, ILF support for the disabled means having a life to LIVE”
“The TUC general council sends its solidarity and support for the Group fighting against the closure of the ILF in the High Court. Sean”
“All best wishes from WinVisible for ILF case – sorry we can’t make it but thinking of you all there. Claire”

Also check out some great media pieces
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/20/disabled-lord-freud-austerity
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/tory-bid-cut-lifeline-profoundly-4477839

Thanks to everyone for making this such a success on the streets and on social media! We’re back at court tomorrow -maybe we’ll see Freud joining us too

(left to right) - Mark from PCS Union who is equalities officer London. John McDonnell MP Andrew Lee, People First.

(left to right) – Mark from PCS Union who is equalities officer, London.
John McDonnell MP
Andrew Lee, People First.

Andrew Lee, People first.

Andrew Lee, People first.

John McDonnell MP Linda Burnip, co founder of DPAC

John McDonnell MP
Linda Burnip, co founder of DPAC

(left to right) - Linda Jack liberal left, Liberial Democrats.  John McDonnell MP Andrew Lee, People First.

(left to right) –
Linda Jack liberal left, Liberial Democrats.
John McDonnell MP
Andrew Lee, People First.

Natasha  Burgess, Campaign and policy officer PCS Union, London.  John McDonnell MP Linda Burnip, DPAC Mark, eqaulities rep PCS London.

Natasha Burgess, Campaign and policy officer PCS Union, London.
John McDonnell MP
Linda Burnip, DPAC
Mark, eqaulities rep PCS London.


DPAC protestors showing solidarity and support with ILF activists with Linda Jack and John McDonnell MP

DPAC protestors showing solidarity and support with ILF activists with Linda Jack and John McDonnell MP

DPAC protestors showing solidarity and support with ILF activists with Linda Jack and John McDonnell MP

DPAC protestors showing solidarity and support with ILF activists with Linda Jack and John McDonnell MP

DPAC protestors showing solidarity and support with ILF activists with Linda Jack and John McDonnell MP

DPAC protestors showing solidarity and support with ILF activists with Linda Jack and John McDonnell MP

DPAC protestors showing solidarity and support with ILF activists with Linda Jack and John McDonnell MP

DPAC protestors showing solidarity and support with ILF activists with Linda Jack and John McDonnell MP

John Kelly outside royal courts of justice London.

John Kelly outside royal courts of justice London.

(Left to Right) Jenny Hurst.  Paula Peters DPAC

(Left to Right)
Jenny Hurst.
Paula Peters DPAC

Jenny Hurst with save ILF campaign postcard

Jenny Hurst with save ILF campaign postcard

B0jMETCIgAARSsL B0jQrHmIcAA-0Sp
B0jMETCIgAARSsL B0jQW-6IYAAtank
B0jTz8mIIAEyIJH B0jW8KSCAAI3L2M
B0jwp9ZCQAAxVcI B0jwr7UCQAEVkS_
B0jwtJTCEAAAP3o B0jYK5uIEAAYqQu
10354169_725881680798687_6051529399852839286_n 10384118_725880527465469_6775580639279853354_n
B0iyF5YIEAEaR9O B0j7OAoCIAA1cn3
B0jae-fIIAAHp5q B0jeA8DCAAA6lKI
B0jGoH3IcAAuJtn B0jKBevIYAEMw6H
B0jmC2lIAAMared B0jIuK-CIAAMAti
B0jH-etCAAAc1W3  IMG_5439

Share This:

Oct 212014
 

More and more people are asking what is happening with Access to Work, the programme that supports Deaf and disabled people to get into and stay in employment, as changes are making it harder and harder to use. Despite the government’s well publicised extra investment in the scheme Access to Work’s clear direction of travel is to cut individual packages, with the result that the employability of Deaf and disabled people is being seriously undermined.

When the Tories closed the Remploy factories in 2011-2012 they said there was no place for segregated workplaces in modern society and the money used to fund the factories would be better spent supporting Deaf and disabled people to get into and stay in mainstream employment through the Access to Work programme.

Over the past year, with the factory closures out of the way, changes introduced to the AtW programme have decreased eligibility, brought considerable distress and uncertainty to customers who had previously and successfully used the programme for many years, pushed Deaf and disabled people out of jobs and left others fearing for their futures.

It is difficult to summarise all the changes: AtW is awarded on a discretionary ‘case by case’ basis and the programme has always denied the existence of any blanket rules for particular impairment groups. What we have seen emerging are some clear patterns around the cutting of packages, lack of information and hostility to AtW customers alongside growing inefficiency and cuts to AtW service delivery.

The first clear pattern emerged with respect to Deaf customers who suddenly found themselves labelled as ‘fraudsters’. Individuals contacting AtW advisers, in some cases advisers they had had for many years were greeted with a completely different and hostile attitude. They were told ‘there are high levels of Access to Work fraud in the Deaf community’. Changes brought in including the notorious ’30 hour rule’, requiring Deaf customers using more than 30 hours of BSL interpreters per week to employ a salaried interpreter, have literally left Deaf people unable to continue in their jobs.  The government has sought to justify what it is doing by pointing the finger at interpreters, blaming them for ‘costing too much’, meanwhile undermining what is a highly skilled and important profession.

A particularly nasty move has been the introduction of retrospective decision making experienced by both Deaf and disabled people who have had their packages cut with the cuts being backdated after support costs have already been incurred. This situation has been compounded by the fact that has review notices are no longer sent out warning AtW customers when their packages are due for renewal which easily leads to people not realising their packages have ended. Deaf and disabled people have been left owing thousands of pounds and has left interpreters and support workers owed thousands of pounds, causing considerable hardship and distress.

Successful appeals against changes to packages have been made but many people do not realise they have a right to appeal or how they would go about making a complaint. Others are too worried about losing the rest of their package to make a fuss. This is where the website DeafAtW has been invaluable, providing information and support on how to challenge decisions.

There is a growing level of misinformation, confusion and chaos coming from AtW itself as a result of a restructuring that has seen a dramatic reduction in the numbers of contact centres and outsourcing. AtW invoices remain unpaid from months and months ago because the addresses of the payment centres changed but customers weren’t told. Meanwhile application backlogs have amassed. Given that Deaf and disabled people often cannot start a job until their AtW package is in place, yet can only make an application after an employment start date has been confirmed, this has presumably Deaf and disabled people unable to take up job offers.

Money pledged by this government for the Access to Work budget has yet to appear. This was highlighted at the Work and Pension Select Committee oral evidence session when Remploy confirmed that the £80million per year “saved” from the closure of the factories hadn’t materialised in AtW support. There was also an additional £17million that hasn’t appeared. These two amounts would mean the AtW budget should have doubled in the past four years, yet cuts are being made.

For a government that claims its welfare reform measures are all about supporting more people into employment, the changes to Access to Work appear counter-productive.

Moreover, in a time of austerity, changes to the programme represent a cutting back of a scheme that actually makes money for the state: the Sayce report found that for every pound invested in Access to Work, £1.48 is recouped by the Treasury.

But for anyone familiar with Tory welfare policies none of this comes as a surprise. Ill-thought through ideologically driven policies are seeking to reduce ‘dependency’ and dismantle the welfare state, removing social security from those that need it and creating situations that will end up costing more.

While the Tories describe AtW as a ‘benefit’ and a dependency and fail to understand it as an investment, campaigners have beaten back some of the attacks. AtW eventually conceded that it was not realistic to expect employers to contribute the on costs for salaried interpreters under the 30 hour rule. In May the Minster for Disabled People announced a review into the 30 hour rule and the DWP Select Committee Inquiry agreed not only to take evidence on how changes were impacting on Deaf people but also extended the deadline for submissions whereas originally the inquiry had been intended to focus on employment support for people with mental health support needs and learning difficulties. Individual decisions have also been revised in the face of continued campaigning and challenges.

More is needed though. We have yet to hear the outcome of the Minister’s review. Meanwhile we are hearing of cuts to AtW packages impacting ever wider, putting jobs at risk and pushing Deaf and disabled people out of employment. We need to step up our campaign to make sure information is available and accessible and people know what to do if they are impacted by the changes, to fight for the employment rights of Deaf and disabled people and to protect the terms and conditions of BSL interpreters and ensure we are not divided.

StopChanges2ATW campaign open meeting – Thursday 23rd October 2014, 6 – 7.30pm, 336 Brixton Road, London, SW9 7AA.

For more information read StopChanges2ATW and Inclusion London’s submissions to the DWP select committee inquiry: http://www.inclusionlondon.co.uk/ATW-ILs-%20and%20stop-changes2atw-respond-to-call-for-evidence

Share This:

Oct 212014
 
London #OccupyDemocracy protestors retake Parliament Square despite up to 30 arrests this morning
  • Despite 20-30 arrests of peaceful pro-democracy protestors earlier this morning
  • Green member of the House of Lords, Baroness Jenny Jones arrested
  • John McDonnell MP writes to Metropolitan Police condemning the action
London #occupydemocracy protestors are trying to reoccupy Parliament Square, despite police attempting to violently crush the protest – which is calling for urgent reforms to our bankrupt democracy – by arresting 20-30 people and removing all equipment and personal items at 11am this morning. Notably Baroness Jenny Jones of Moulescoomb was amongst the arrestees, until she was dearrested once the Police realised who she was. Donnachadh McCarthy, the whistleblowing former Deputy Chair of the Liberal Democrats and author of The Prostitute State was also arrested.
In attempting to retake the Square, the protestors say that they are resolute and refuse to be silenced by the ongoing physical and emotional torment that the Metropolitan Police and the Heritage Wardens have been putting them through, at the behest of the GLA and the Government.
The #occupydemocracy occupation, which has so far seen thousands of prople supporting them in their call for real democracy across its 4 days on Parliament Square, with around 50-150 occupying the Square overnights, is demanding reforms to our democratic process so that it serves the public interest, rather than the interests of corporations, banks and a tiny wealthy elite.
Speaking about the arrests and events this morning, Labour MP John McDonnell who came quickly to observe said: “I have contacted the Metropolitan Police Commission to condem the disproportionately large number of police officers used to break up what was simply a group of largely young people who wish to use the venue of Parliament square for a time limited period to engage in political discussion. It’s what we call democracy.”
Baroness Jenny Jones of Moulescoomb who was quickly on the scene was herself arrested until police realised who she was. She said: “I have never been arrested before and I didn’t expect it now. It was rough and I’m very shaken up. I am proud to say that my first arrest was in support of Occupy London, Occupy Democracy and everything they stand for.”
Shortly before he was arrested, Dan Ashman, now in a cell in Charing Cross Police station said: “This is not democracy, nothing is transparent. We’ve got secret trade deals like TTIP threatening our democracy, fracking going ahead without our consent, NHS privatisation and rapidly increasing inequality. Nobody voted for any of this. We need to stand up and fight for the things that matter. We need to be allowed to speak, say what we want, where we want. Democracy needs to be real democracy, not in name but in how we practice it. We have been oppressed and silenced this morning.”
“We had Yasmin on her 21st birthday, she was the last to be arrested. She chose to spend her birthday standing up for her rights to protest. She’s now spending her birthday in the cells.”
“Is this what democracy looks like?”
At time of going to press, #occupydemocracy supporters who had not been arrested made their way to Charing Cross and Paddington police stations to offer support.
Complaints about Police behaviour can be made by calling +44 (0) 20 7230 1212, whether you saw the scenes in person or in videos, whether you live in the UK or abroad.

Share This:

 Posted by at 19:43
Oct 212014
 

Some more pictures from the wonderfully creative Brian Hilton on the Save the ILF Court Vigil on the 22nd and 23rd October you can read more about the Vigil here

 

Disabled People's fight to stop the governments destruction of the ILF is returning to the High Courts 22nd & 23rd October Solidarity with Disabled People, Join the Vigil outside the High Courts on 22nd and 23rd October

 

Challenge the Governments Descision to close the iLF - join the Vigil on 22nd 23rd October

 

Challenge the Governments Descision to close the iLF - join the Vigil on 22nd 23rd October Challenge the Governments Descision to close the iLF - join the Vigil on 22nd 23rd October

Share This:

 Posted by at 16:30
Oct 212014
 

Independent Living Fund (ILF) users and DPAC have led the campaign to #save ILF since 2011. In 2010 the ILF was closed to new applicants. DPAC tried to get some people to challenge this through the courts. We didn’t succeed. We were just starting up then-no other disability organisation made a move, in fact there were odd noises coming from some of them that seemed to suggest that ILF had had its day, in line with the Government rhetoric. Even today few organisations with the exception of Inclusion London have been consistent in supporting ILF users with the message that the loss of ILF will affect everyone.

So did local authorities manage to cover those potential new applicants who were no longer eligible for ILF. Did they support independent living or so called ‘choice and control’? Of course not! The funds were not matched, and their support continues to be cut because of central Governments 28 billion cuts to local authorities. As Kate Belgrave said in 2012 “This Cheshire woman, who was also in the substantial needs band, had run out of care hours on the day that I visited. I found her alone in her home lying next to a sick bucket. Who honestly thinks that the future holds local authority safety nets?” The latest film below attests that things have become worse, not better

We’re all in it together – aren’t we? from Moore Lavan Films on Vimeo.

DPAC continually receive emails from people who find their care hours slashed or completely removed-they can move from substantial to ineligible in a very short space of time. The cry that ‘choice and control’ will prevail can only be seen as the last vestiges of misguided hope by those who work on this thing called ‘co-production’ with Government departments- surely they cant really believe what they are saying anymore- the carnage is all around us. The fact that the Care Act replaces the term ‘independent living’ with the bizarre term ‘well-being’ (despite the best efforts of Inclusion London to stop it) shows how the notion of co-production has made fools of us all. The fact is that if ILF funds do move to the black hole of local authorities without being ring-fenced on the expected date of full closure of ILF in June 2015-we all lose.

ILF users took the Government to court in 2012/2013 They lost, they appealed and they won. John Pring reported ‘They [the court] ruled that Esther McVey, the former minister for disabled people, breached the Equality Act’s public sector equality duty, which required her to have “due regard” to the need to eliminate discrimination and advance equality of opportunity for disabled people’. There was also a plea from Stuart Brackling ( one of the plaintiffs) that a ILF task force of ILF users be set up to discuss issues with Government- a plea that has also been put to Labour’s shadow disability minister Kate Green by ILF users. But we haven’t seen it materialise. Disability Rights UK (DRUK) suggested something similar, but their task force seemed to be DRUK itself. After DRUK’s Independent Living conference sponsored by Creagmoor where the issue of ILF was raised only by angry delegates amazed that ILF was no where to be seen in the program of an independent living conference-we’re really not sure what to expect anymore.

Of course after the first court case the DWP did an equality impact assessment that said people weren’t guaranteed the same amounts or support, that some may end up with no support, and that it was business as usual.

A new court challenge is being held on 22nd and 23rd October with a vigil on the 22nd at 12.30. If we don’t fight this, then we, our children and their children will continue to be subject to limited levels of support based around a ‘clean and feed’ model, or no support at all-if you don’t want that then please join us. Support the ILF users and support your future too.

We need to show all political parties that they have got this very wrong. As Jenny Morris says ‘Unanswered question(still): What’s your plan for these people whose lives we apparently can’t afford?’

Share This:

Oct 212014
 

[Reblogged from Johnny Void Blog, with thanks]

dwp-benefit-fraudWith the amount of money lost to fraud and error in the benefit system reaching record highs under this Government, the DWP has issued a call for people to grass up their nieghbours if they suspect them of low level benefit fraud, or even going on holiday.

The latest boringly predictable campaign is not aimed at high level organised fraud, such as people setting up fake identities to claim benefits.  Neither is it aimed at landlords picking up Housing Benefit cheques long after tenants have departed, or exploitative employers paying cash to cut down on their National Insurance bill – or even dodge the minimum wage.  It is not just a fraction of a parcentage of claimants who benefit from working cash in hand, but often the latte slurping middle classes who are quite happy to look the other way if it gets them a cheap builder.

Instead this campaign is aimed at struggling single parents who might have a partner staying a few times or week, or sick or disabled people whose condition has improved slightly.  Or even people on benefits taking a short break away from home.  According to the department a range of “television and radio adverts, posters, letters and Facebook ads ” have been produced warning claimants they face jail for failing to report a change in cirumstances.   This new campaign is not about saving money, it is about ensuring claimants lead a life of misery and fear.

At the heart of the new campaign is the Benefit Fraud Hotline.  This is the telephone line that people can ring anonymously to stich up their neighbours, ex-partners or anyone else they may have taken a dislike to.  Barely any prosecutions result from these calls and the vast majority are simply malicious.  There are no consequences for those making false allegations.  And there  should be.  Anyone who rings this hotline for any reason other than to grass up a Tory councillor  is a filthy fucking scab who should be shunned by their communities.

The rules on benefit fraud are breath-takingly complex.  There is no clear information on when you should declare yourself fit for work and end a claim for sickness or disability benefits.  A single parent who has a partner staying a few nights a week may or may not be breaking the law, and might only find out themselves when they are threatened with prosecution for having a shag.  If someone on the dole is offered fifty quid to clear someone’s garden they are  expected to immediately report that to the Jobcentre – throwing their claim into chaos and ensuring they will barely see a penny for their work.  Yet these people, scraping by to survive, are now seen as the worst kind of criminals and splashed across the front pages.

Of course when the well off commit benefit fraud there is no such outrage.  HMRC recently sent out letters to 30,000 high earning parents warning them they need to contact them to ensure they aren’t receiving too much child benefit.  They were supposed to have done this nearly two years ago.  A couple with two children will have scammed around £3000 that they are not entitled so far.  But no-one seems to really care.

The difference in language is staggering.  Reported in thisismoney.co.uk a Treasury spokesperson said: ‘These letters are simply designed to help taxpayers get their returns right by raising awareness of the High Income Child Benefit Charge (HICBC), and to remind customers who file under self assessment of the importance of including HICBC on their return.” 

Compare this to the comments made by the DWP about people  who are poor falsely claiming benefits: “At the Department for Work and Pensions we’re determined not to let benefit cheats get away with it. The majority of claimants are honest, so why should everyone else pay the price? We’re using all the resources available to track down cheats and make them face the consequences. … People who are caught deliberately withholding information needed for their benefit claim are benefit cheats.  They could face a range of consequences for their actions. For example:  …   serving a prison sentence”

There really are one set of laws for the poor, and very different laws for the rich.

Share This:

 Posted by at 14:40
Oct 202014
 

Thank you  to all of you who tweeted with us today – we had #FreudMustGo trending on twitter during the whole protest!!

See some of the twitterstorm here http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/10/20/lord-freud-must-go-protests_n_6013480.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

With thanks to Yannis Mendez for this video
And thank you to Occupy London for livestreaming today and for recording this:

Some photos of the protest:

B0aHW2SIMAA_jDR.jpg:large B0Y1jDiCEAAfykf.png:large B0Y3lr7CUAATYqR
B0Y5O5gIAAAMK_n.jpg:large B0ZJ7lnCUAAJdW9 B0aYIChIgAE3vRu.jpg:large
B0ahtxuIAAAhrrc IMG_5361 IMG_5393
IMG_5366 IMG_5368 IMG_5365
IMG_5371 IMG_5387 IMG_5367
IMG_5398 IMG_5374 IMG_5389

Share This:

 Posted by at 22:19
Oct 192014
 

Monday, October 20th 12.30pm-2.30pm DWP headquarters, Caxton House, Tothill Street, London, SW1H 9NA

Photo opportunity

As Labour politicians call for the resignation of Lord Freud disabled activists will be visiting the office of the totally discredited DWP minister to demand that he resigns or is sacked.

Yet again Lord Freud showed his contempt for disabled people when he supported the view of Conservative councillor David Scott who suggested that disabled people should work for £2 per hour as they were not worth more and disclosed the illegal ways he was supporting this already.

Freud is the architect of the government’s noxious welfare reform programme that is pushing disabled people off benefits and causing untold distress and misery, in too many cases leading to suicides and avoidable deaths.
What kind of a society are we that the lives of disabled people are left in the hands of someone who thinks disabled people have lesser worth and refers to them as stock.
DPAC supporter Paula Peters said “ we are not stock, we are human beings and as disabled people we are worth the very best that life has to offer which is not to work for £2 per hour. We should have the same rights as everyone else, decent access to health care, social care, in the work place, education, and the right to live as independently as possible with the right support just living our lives, and I know only this, I will fight for that right until there is nothing left inside me for that.”

A co-founder of DPAC added “Freud must go together with any other politician who shares his views that disabled people are worth less than others. This type of view is only one of the reasons why the UK is the first country in the world being investigated for grave and systematic violations of our human rights by the United Nations [1]. That is something this government should be totally ashamed about.“
Ends
Notes to Editor

[1] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2735958/UN-sparks-fury-launching-human-rights-investigation-Britain-s-treatment-disabled.html

Join in the protest at Caxton House, Tothill St London, tomorrow Monday 20th October at 12.30 or if you can’t get there you can take part in the protest on Twitter

 

Share This:

 Posted by at 15:46
Oct 192014
 

DPAC is protesting on Monday 20th October at 12.30 against Lord Freud’s suggestion that some disabled people are not worth the full wage but could be paid £2 per hour.

Lord Freud’s defenders have been quick to say that what Lord Freud meant is that the state would top the £2 up.

Following is what Lord Freud answered to a question of David Scott and what followed.

Can you spot when Lord Freud ever mentioned topping up the £2?

We can’t.

“...You make a really good point about the disabled. Now I had not thought through, and we have not got a system for, you know, kind of going below the Minimum Wage.

“But we do have… You know, Universal Credit is really useful for people with the fluctuating conditions who can do some work – go up and down – because they can earn and get…and get, you know, bolstered through Universal Credit, and they can move that amount up and down.

“Now, there is a small…there is a group, and I know exactly who you mean, where actually as you say they’re not worth the full wage and actually I’m going to go and think about that particular issue, whether there is something we can do nationally, and without distorting the whole thing, which actually if someone wants to work for £2 an hour, and it’s working can we actually…”

Scott: “They particularly want to work because it does add so much to their lives…”

Freud: “Yes.”

Scott:  “…being able to do something. And actually being employed in a job actually gives them so much self-esteem, but nobody is willing to pay that Minimum Wage. And then we’re supporting them massively financially, but we also want them to work, for their own self-esteem and everything else.”

Join in the protest at Caxton House, Tothill St London, tomorrow Monday 20th October at 12.30 or if you can’t get there you can take part in the protest on Twitter

http://www.politicshome.com/uk/article/106454/lord_freud_%E2%80%93_disabled_people_and_the_minimum_wage.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/lord-freud-tory-welfare-minister-accused-of-claiming-disabled-people-are-not-worth-the-minimum-wage-9796062.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

defenders said he was compassionate and wanted the state to top up the £2. Where does he say that?

Share This:

 Posted by at 14:55
Oct 192014
 

Solidarity to our DPAC members and all in Parliament Square fighting oppression! DPAC fully supports Occupy-go and support them too…
Update: London police torment #OccupyDemocracy protestors on Parliament Square
Overnight in Parliament Square, #OccupyDemocracy protestors aiming to draw attention to the growing democratic deficit in the UK, have been enduring systematic torment from the Metropolitan Police and Heritage Wardens, who have been zealously enforcing new restrictions on the right to protest and assembly in the Square (Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011).
The reaction of the Police and the State to the #OccupyDemocracy protest is in complete juxtaposition to David Cameron’s recent comments regarding the Occupy Central pro-democracy demonstrations in Kong Kong, when he said that “rights and freedoms, including those of person, of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of travel, of movement, and, indeed, of strike … These are important freedoms … which, most of all, we should stand up for.” [1]
Timeline of #OccupyDemocracy
5pm Friday 17 October – Occupation begins on Parliament Square with an overnight vigil to mark the UN Day for the Eradication of Poverty with speakers from groups including War on Want, Fuel Poverty Action and Reverend Dr Keith Hebden (author of Seeking Justice: The Radical Compassion of Jesus). Throughout the night protestors’ right to assemble and protest were contravened – with protestors not being allowed to rest and being forced onto the pavement.
Daytime Saturday 18 October – Protestors support the TUC March.
7-10pm Saturday 18 October – Scuffles instigated by police against protestors as Heritage Wardens instruct that the protestors should be removed. Police kettle the protestors. Two protestors are assaulted, several personal items removed. Banners calling for “Real Democracy Now!” and a small, battery-powered sound system – used by speakers such as Green Party leader Natalie Bennett and Labour MP John McDonnell to address the crowd – were all confiscated by the police. Later witnesses say that journalists and photographers were denied access to the protest by the police and removed from the Square. At around 10pm the police back off.
2am Sunday 19 October – Whilst protestors try to rest police arrest attempts were made with further harassment of the group who were huddled together in the mud. Police also confiscated cardboard that protestors had been using to keep warm. One protestor, a 24 year old woman from Manchester, reported that she was not permitted to lean against her own bag as it was camping equipment. Another woman, 65, has an air mattress literally pulled from under her, casting her to the ground.
7am Sunday 19 October – Things calm until 7am when the police entered the gathered crowd to remove printed materials including banners, hand held signs and a flag displaying a rainbow and the word ‘Peace’. A woman had the occupation’s Safer Spaces sign ripped from her hands as she shouted ‘No’ – this sign set out the ground rules for behaviour to ensure every individual feels safe, comfortable and welcome.
10.30am Sunday 19 October – Another protestor arrested – police allege that he cut a piece of string.
Upcoming – Sundays’ theme is “taming the power of finance” featuring speakers and workshops from UK Uncut, Tax Justice Network, New Economics Foundation and the Robin Hood Tax campaign.
On Monday the focus is on the attacks on our public services including NHS privatisation and cuts in welfare benefits.
Details of planned events for the rest of the week at the #occupydemocracy protest can be found at http://occupydemocracy.org.uk/.
The protest, organised by #OccupyDemocracy – a group that grew out of Occupy London – is demanding reforms to our democratic process so that it serves the public interest, rather than the interests of corporations, banks and a tiny wealthy elite.
Alison Playford from #OccupyDemocracy said: “The way the State has responded to our protest with this political policing just shows how frightened the elite are of a new movement pushing for radical democratic reform.”
Amongst the flurry of support coming in via social media, support includes:
Labour MP John McDonnell who also spoke at the protest said:
“When politicians and parties ignore them, people have no other option but to take direct action. Occupy Democracy is a way people can have their voice heard.”
Donnachadh McCarthy, the whistleblowing former Deputy Chair of the Liberal Democrats and author of The Prostitute State who also spoke yesterday said:
“Our political parties have been hijacked by the corporate lobbying classes, our media perverted by a handful of extreme right-wing billionaires, our tax system plundered by the tax-haven elite and our think-tanks, schools and universities increasingly corporately manipulated. Britain is no longer a democracy but a Prostitute State, which is reflected by the rise of UKIP. We desperately need a 21st Century Great Democratic Reform Act to re-gain our democracy for the sake of social and political justice and the very future of our planet’s ecosystems.”
Notes
1. http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/10/15/uk-hongkong-china-britain-idUKKCN0I41C620141015

Reblogged with thanks to Occupy http://occupydemocracy.org.uk/2014/10/19/update-london-police-torment-occupydemocracy-protestors-on-parliament-square/
Twitter: @OccupyLondon

Share This:

Oct 192014
 

Here are some pictures of DPAC members taking part in the 18th October “Britain Needs a Payrise” TUC Demo

IMG_5284 IMG_5331 IMG_5312 IMG_5343 IMG_5328IMG_5289IMG_5303IMG_5277

Share This:

 Posted by at 10:16
Oct 162014
 

 Defend the Right to Protest National Conference 

“WE DO NOT CONSENT”

Sunday 16th November, 11am til late, SOAS

 

Dear DPAC

 

I am writing to invite your organisation to Defend the Right to Protest’s annual conference “We Do Not Consent” – a one day conference to discuss how we tackle the criminalisation of protest, state violence and injustice in a climate of austerity, rising racism and inequality.

 

It takes place in the context of a continued assault on civil liberties, including recent threats by the Tories to withdraw from the ECHR and introduce new “extremism disruption orders.” It follows the stream of revelations about police corruption and under cover policing, repeated attacks on the right to protest and the ongoing scandal of deaths in police custody.

 

We hope the day will provide a forum to address these issues and for groups and organisations campaigning over these questions to make links and  build support. 

 

We are still finalising the timetable but there are already a great range of people and campaigns involved – see:http://www.defendtherighttoprotest.org/we-do-not-consent-defend-the-right-to-protest-conference-2014/

There will be sessions on cover cops and the secret state, protest policing, deaths in custody, racism and the fight for justice; universities, know your rights, international solidarity and more to be announced.

We wish we had more time and space for many more speakers and campaigns – but from 11am – 5.30pm plenaries and forums will provide lots of scope for participation from the floor.

From 6pm to 11pm there will be film, music and refreshments! 

We are also dedicating a room to campaign stalls – if you would like to book a space email info@defendtherighttoprotest.org 

We really hope you can come, and also help us to make this an event a hub of debate, experience sharing and organising. Get in touch if you have ideas or suggestions for the day and spread the word to your friends colleagues and supporters. 

More information and updates can be found on the DtRtP website here: http://www.defendtherighttoprotest.org/we-do-not-consent-defend-the-right-to-protest-conference-2014/

We also have a Facebook page for the conference: https://www.facebook.com/events/284372698418778/  

Text for email circulars and websites is also included below. 

We hope to see you there!

Best wishes

Hannah Dee  & Susan Matthews

Defend the Right to Protest

WE DO NOT CONSENT:  Defend the Right to Protest Conference 2014

Sunday November 16th, 11am till late 

SOAS, Thornhaugh Street, WC1H 0XG London

Get updates on the FB event page

A one day conference to discuss how we tackle state violence and injustice in a climate of austerity, rising racism and inequality.

Speakers include: Helen Steel McLibel defendant & Spies out of Our Lives, Rob Evans author Undercover, Carole DugganMerrick Badger#Campaign Opposing Police Violence, Susan Alexander mother Azelle RodneyOwen Jones author The Establishment, Jules Carey lawyer who represented Ian Tomlinson’s family, Dave Smith Blacklist Support Group, John McDonnell MPJenny Jones GLAFidel Santigi Fully Focused, Hamja Ahsan Free Talha Ahsan Campaign, Nina PowerSheila Coleman Hillsborough Justice Campaign, Stephen Graham Cities Under Siege,  Matt Foot legal aid lawyer of the year 2013, Kevin Blowe NETPOL, Hannah Dee DtRtP Chair, Marcia Rigg sister Sean Rigg, Simon Pook defence lawyer representing fracking protesters, Areeb Ullah KCLSU VP Education, Raj Chada lawyer representing Fortnum Mason, Critical Mass, Dale Farm, Rachel Harger paralegal police actions, Robert Reiner Emeritus Professor of Criminology LSE, Waquas Tufail Northern Police Monitoring Project, Mike Jackson Lesbians & Gays Support the Miners

Workshops and plenaries include under cover cops and the secret state, protest policing, deaths in custody, racism and the fight for justice; austerity and the assault on civil liberties, neoliberalism & the police, know your rights, international solidarity and more to be announced.

Conference 11am-5.30pm – plenaries and workshops 

6pm -7pm Screening of Burn, Ken Fero ’s new film with Q and A

Plus food, drink and music – special guests tba till late.

Tickets £3 unwaged, £5 waged, £10 solidarity (suggested donation)

Book herehttp://www.defendtherighttoprotest.org/national-conference/

Fb eventhttps://www.facebook.com/events/284372698418778/ 

Tickets £3 unwaged, £5 waged, £10 solidarity (suggested donation)

 

Share This:

 Posted by at 21:25
Oct 162014
 

Speakers: Robert Punton, Disabled People Against Cuts; Tanya Murat, Southwark Benefit Justice Campaign; E15 mother and PCS union speakers tbc

> Despite unmissable evidence and growing public awareness of the detrimental impact on the poorest and disabled members of our communities by punitive measures such as sanctions, benefit assessments and capping, all main political parties are still committed to being ‘tough’ on welfare and sticking to Tory spending plans. Whoever is elected in 2015, things are set to get even worse for communities already struggling under the weight of arrears, debts and falling incomes. The occupation of the Carpenters’ Estate by the Focus E15 mothers in Newham shows that resistance is also growing and developing. This workshop will explore how trade unionists and community groups can work together to expose the truth about welfare reform and to fightback.

The meeting will take place as part of the Unite the Resistance conference. For more information and to book a place go to: http://uniteresist.org/

Share This:

Oct 162014
 

Saturday 29th November 2014
2 – 3.45pm
82 Tanners Hill, SE8 4PN.

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) was set up by disabled people in 2010 to speak up against cutbacks and changes to benefits. The cuts have hit disabled people hard in a way that is not fair. Disabled people have been hit by one cut on top of another, for example:
– cuts to groups and services we use
– scrapping Disability Living Allowance and replacing it with Personal Independence Payments
– Work Capability Assessments run by Atos
– closing the Independent Living Fund
– attacks on inclusive education

Disabled people have been fighting back against what the government is doing. We have forced them to make some changes to their plans.

DPAC is still protesting at a national level. There are also now local DPAC groups set up in different areas across the country.

Disabled people in Lewisham think it would be a good idea to set up a Lewisham DPAC. The group will be led by disabled people but allies are welcome to support and be part of our campaign.

Come along to our launch meeting on 29th November to find out more and have your say about why you think we need a Lewisham DPAC and what we should campaign on.

Please RSVP if you are planning to come letting us know any access requirements.

For more information or to RSVP contact:

Email – ellenrclifford@btinternet.com

Text –  07505144371

Phone – 0207237 3181

Share This: