Jan 312015
 

Esther McVey, having brought misery to millions, firstly as a breakfast TV presenter, and then as a Tory Government Minister, is heading for a special sort of misery and embarrassment of her own (with thanks to Joe Halewood (@SpeyeJoe) for spotting this:


Its rare for a sitting government minister to be unseated at a general election, very very rare, but when it happens to a Tory, its worth savouring.

But when it is likely to happen to a Tory Minister as Nasty, cruel, unscrupulous, and hated as Esther McVile, the very prospect of it should be shared to enjoy by all.

Even the Tories must hate Esther, otherwise why would they leave her in a seat where her majority is only 2436 !

We are so looking forward to saying “Bye Bye Esther, it wasn’t nice knowing you.

Look out for further news of our exciting countrywide Revenge Tour coming soon.

 

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 Posted by at 22:49
Jan 312015
 

See http://www.autismprofessionalsawards.org.uk

Supporters of Anthony Kletzander will gather at 6.0 pm outside the Royal Hall, Harrogate.

Nua Healthcare is the institution where Anthony Kletzander is incarcerated and abused.

http://dpac.uk.net/2015/01/anthonykletzander-when-managers-of-residential-institutions-call-abuse-care/

Nua sponsored the National Autistic Society Professional Autism Awards for Clinical Excellence in 2014.

Supporters of Anthony brought an end to Nua sponsorship, for the 2015 awards.

NAS/NUA relationship continues. http://www.businessandleadership.com/business/item/40507-nua-healthcare-stands-out-I

This is despite Nua Healthcare (UK) failing Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspections. Nua have since de registered their provision with CQC.

http://www.cqc.org.uk/location/1-679471140 and http://www.cqc.org.uk/provider/1-631787360

NAS continue to give NUA  “Autism Accreditation”. NUA continue to abuse  Anthony Kletzander a young man with Autism.

Nua deny Anthony’s right to his communication.

Nua, deny Anthony’s right to be free from antipsychotic medication (Anthony has been subjected to emergency hospitalisation on two occasions whist in the “care” of Nua. Prior to Anthony being institutionalised he was free from any medical complications he had no history of epilepsy, now he is on several medications.

Nua, deny Anthony right to be free from forced unpaid Farm Labour

Nua, deny Anthony’s right to independent living

Noel Dunne, general manager of Nua wrote to the families of all people within Nua, he used the NAS accreditation and “stamp of approval” to reassure families that Nua is a safe place for people with Autism. This letter followed when an Irish television programme RTE, exposed abuse, with
hidden cameras, in another Irish institution, Aras Attracta,  http://youtu.be/RydAoa-7ePU

The RTE programme had a similar impact to the BBC, Panorama programme Winterbourne View in the UK 2011.

Irish Institutions for disabled people are under serious scrutiny from the mass media and general public in Ireland.

It is hypocritical of The National Autistic Society to award professionals for Autism practice, whilst they retain “an active silence”s at the abuse of Anthony Kletzander, a young man with Autism.

Anthony’s support group will be organising a peaceful protest outside the Awards ceremony at 6pm on the evening of 3rd March 2015, Royal Hall, Harrogate to inform people attending this event of the abuse of Anthony by Nua and hypocrisy of NAS.

Anthony’s mother will travel from Dublin, to take part in the protest, alongside friends and supporters. Linda Kletzander will be describing the impact the Nua abuse is having on Anthony and the whole family and her shock at the active silence of NAS

If you intend to join the protest please contact Joe Whittaker ( Whittakerjoe5@gmail.com ) to collect details or visit the facebook events page https://www.facebook.com/events/1557496471159771/

If you can’t make the protest but still want to support, you could make a donation to Anthony’s legal fund: https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/0tLga?utm_campaign=story-update&utm_medium=email&utm_source=01-2015

Posted on behalf of:
Joe Whittaker
Whittakerjoe5@gmail.com

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 Posted by at 21:35
Jan 302015
 

You might remember that in November 2014, we published an article about ESA claimants being required by Job centre Plus offices to attend work focussed interviews under threat of benefits being withdrawn if they did not attend.  According to the DWP Webpage, it is very clear that claimants in the Support Group don’t have to attend any interviews:  “You don’t have to go to interviews, but you can ask to talk to a personal adviser. “

At the time, we launched a call for evidence  in order to see whether the practice was widespread or confined to some areas and to find ways to stop this. You will find the testimonies we gathered at the end of the article, and they show very clearly how much people were upset by these letters and frightened by the threat of sanctions.

But it seems that DWP has started again sending letters to claimants in the Support Group, just over 2 months after being informed by them that they were in the Support Group.

So we are going to ask you again to come forward if you are in the ESA Support Group and have been contacted by your Jobcentre to attend an interview, especially but not exclusively if it it the second time within a few months. Please email us at mail@dpac.uk.net and we will get back to you.

We will never disclose your name or personal information without your permission, but we may use your case (after your name and all personal details have been securely removed) to campaign against this. If you say no to this, we will not use the information in any way, and your information will still help us to understand what is happening.

 

Testimonies of ESA Support Group Claimants who have been called in for Work Focussed Interviews

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 Posted by at 18:14
Jan 292015
 

Legal Challenge re-PIP claims

We are aware that many disabled people are having problems with the way the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) system works, and many people are having to wait a really long time for an assessment or decision. We know some people are waiting months, which is unacceptable.

If you are planning to apply for PIP, or have applied and are currently waiting for an assessment or decision, we can put you in touch with some solicitors who may be able to provide you with some free assistance which may speed up your claim where there is a delay. If you would like to find out about this please email us at mail@dpac.uk.net

Legal Challenge re- Sanctions

We are also looking for  ESA claimants who have been sanctioned, or threatened with a sanction, because they have not been able to undertake work related activity for some reason which is connected with their disability. For example, the claimant cannot attend training because their mental health problem prevents them from travelling or from working in a group of people they do not know. In such a case, we could argue that the DWP should make reasonable adjustments such as providing them with training via the internet or providing them with means of travel to training as appropriate.

The best time for a case to start is probably at the point when a sanction has been threatened and before it is imposed, but get in touch if your benefit has been reduced as well.

We also hope that the question of the lawfulness of sanctions can be looked at as well but need some individual cases first.

If you are interested in getting involved with either of these cases please contact us at mail@dpac.uk.net

 

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 Posted by at 13:08
Jan 282015
 

While Labour profess to support fully the right to live independently for disabled people we are now in a situation following plans to close the Independent Living Fund where England is left as the only UK country which will not have it’s own form of a fund to continue to support the additional funding requirements of those who have high support needs.

For any political party to say they want disabled people to have the same rights, choices and chances as any other citizen rings hollow without a commitment to keep in place even if on a temporary basis the funding necessary for this to happen.

The Labour Party’s official response to many people who have contacted them with regard to supporting keeping the ILF open has outlined a number of points which we would like to address.

1) The “inconsistencies” in delivery which you mention were the result of unequal take up between different local authorities  and was symptomatic of the failings of local authority administered social care support. As a national model of service delivery the ILF is far more successful and cost effective than local authority administered social care. The latest ILF annual report records a user satisfaction rating of 97%. Overheads for the ILF come in at just 2 % of the budget in comparison with an average of 16% for local authorities. It is in fact a model of service delivery that should be built upon rather than shut down. We understand that provisions in the Care Act are aimed at reducing inconsistencies between local authorities, nevertheless the inconsistencies you cite as a problem of the ILF are many times worse in the current system upon which ILF users will now be solely reliant as a result of the closure.

2) You also state that ‘ we understand the Fund is already being wound down, and staff numbers are already reducing’. This maybe correct but it is equally the case that there is very little being done in terms of winding down the ILF that could not very quickly be undone, even after actual closure of the ILF. This information has been provided by ILF staff and a former strategic director at ILF and  has been shared with Labour’s shadow DWP team by PCS union and others. This means that if a Labour government were to be elected in May 2015 it will very much be Labour’s decision to go ahead with closure in June.

3) In turn that brings us onto the fact that should Labour be elected to government next May it is they who will be in power and responsible for the UK’s failure to protect disabled people’s human rights under the UNCRPD, and it is they who will be deemed responsible for the continuing grave and systematic violation of those rights when the UN investigation into the UK takes place after the election. We believe this would cause unnecessary and easily avoidable  embarrassment to a newly elected labour government with international repercussions.

Whilst we welcome Labour’s goal of trying to ensure in the longer term that those currently supported by the Independent Living Fund can realise rights to live independently and with dignity, the ‘whole person care’ through which Labour intends to deliver on this goal is at this stage only a proposal and any benefits resulting from it are a long way off. Moreover, as respected experts in the field such as Professor Pat Thane have pointed out, the current system is simply not functioning at the necessary level. Relying on the integration of health and social care as a solution to the crisis in social care is thus an irresponsible gamble to take with people’s lives.

Since the closure to new applicants in December 2010 disabled people who missed out on the ILF have suffered dramatically worse outcomes than existing ILF recipients with equivalent support needs. We have provided Kate Green with a number of case studies showing the reality of independent living for disabled people who would have been eligible for ILF but are now only receiving LA social care support. We are not just talking about disabled people no longer being able to go to work, or ever have a holiday or go to university, we are talking about people unable to leave their homes, left without access to food or water, unable to wash more than a couple of times per week.

Whilst the intention of issuing guidelines to local authorities is well meaning, it is unrealistic within the current climate to see these securing the futures of existing ILF recipients. Cash strapped local authorities are very aware of the dangers of setting precedents for providing levels and types of social care support to some individuals and not for others. An LA could easily consider itself to have more to risk by following than not following the guidelines. In order to ensure equity between all adult service users they may well feel they have no choice but to level down.

In the short term we are asking that the ILF be retained as the only way to realistically guarantee protection for existing recipients. Disabled people are aware that this is not a big ask: the ILF represents a relatively small amount of money; the ILF will not be wound down beyond easy repair before May 2015.

The alternative is that disabled people’s right to independent living will be wiped out, potentially for generations. Once a people lose choice and control over their lives, disempowerment sets in and rights that have been smashed aside over-night can only be won back over a long and hard road.

As it stands, if Labour are elected in May 2015, the final nail in the coffin of disabled people’s right to independent living as it currently exists will be hammered in under a Labour government. It does not have to be like this. The Labour Party has a golden opportunity to make a principled stand in support of disabled people and our rights to equality, inclusion and equality by supporting the continuation of ILF. Disabled people are mobilizing and campaigning across the UK, through initiatives like Operation Disabled Vote. A  principled stand by Labour on the ILF ahead of the General Election would be welcomed by the 12.2 million disabled people in the UK, our families, friends and supporters.

What you can do to help

We’re therefore asking people to email or tweet to Labour to say that England must not be the only UK country without an Independent Living Fund and that we know and have shown them the evidence that it is not too late to keep an ILF in England as well as in other UK countries. If Labour want disabled people’s votes then they must give an assurance that in the short term at least they will keep the ILF open until such time as something better can be put in place.

You can email Iain McNicoll, general secretary of the Labour Party at onenationpolitics@labour.org.uk

Ed Miliband at ed.miliband.mp@parliament.uk

And Kate Green at kate.green.2nd@parliament.uk

Or you can tweet them @IainMcnicol

@ed_miliband

@kategreenSU

Please also contact your Prospective Parliamentary Candidates and let us know what replies you get.

 

 

 

 

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 Posted by at 20:53
Jan 282015
 

DWP today published a ‘Statistical Ad-hoc’ document for PIP plus the first Review of PIP following its implementation.

 

Notable in the statistics release is the discrepancy between the number of new claims referred to the assessment provider (523,000) and the total number of new claims registered (625,000). DWP gives the the 3 following reasons to explain this discrepancy:

  • some claims have either been received recently and are still with the claimant for completion and return of Part 2 information and evidence;
  • or the claimant may have chosen to withdraw their claim;
  • or the department has disallowed the claim before it was referred to the assessment providers (due to failure of basic eligibility criteria or non return of the Part 2 information within the time limit).

The third reason is important.  From the PIP review, many claimants have experienced difficulties in understanding the questions or filling in the form.  The PIP reviewer notes that although the claimant has one calendar month to return this form to DWP, they can ask for an extension if reasonably required.  It seems that when requested, DWP is only prepared to give a 2 week extension, but this extension can make the difference between a claim being accepted or disallowed. He also notes that: ‘At discussion groups, many claimants were unaware of the flexibility to request an extension where there is good reason’.

 

It is vitally important that PIP claimants are aware that they have the opportunity to ask for an extension if they cannot manage to fill in the form within the time limit, if they have good reasons to do so.

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/398595/pip-ad-hoc-statistics-new-claims.pdf

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/387981/pip-assessment-first-independent-review.pdf

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 Posted by at 18:54
Jan 272015
 

Disabled activists today stood outside 10 Downing Street and the Houses of Parliament to remember the disabled victims of the Nazi Holocaust on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. The protest-vigil also stood to highlight current injustices such as the approximate 1,300 people who died with 6 weeks of their work capability assessment. 
Disabled activists today stood outside 10 Downing Street and the Houses of Parliament to remember the disabled victims of the Nazi Holocaust on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. The protest-vigil also stood to highlight current injustices such as the approximate 1,300 people who died with 6 weeks of their work capability assessment.

‘Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC) (2), ‘Black Triangle Campaign’ (3) and Never Again Ever!’ (4) held a banner with the words ‘Arbeit Macht Frei – “work sets you free”  1,300 people died within 6 weeks of going through work capability assessment. The Nazis believed that human beings only have value if they can work and bring economic benefit for the ‘community’. Those who were too sick, weak or disabled to work were murdered immediately, and fit members of persecuted groups such as Jews, Roma, Communists, and LGBTQI people, were deliberately worked to death. As Yehuda Bauer said, “I come from a people who gave the world Ten Commandments. After the Holocaust I believe there should be three more: Thou shalt not be a victim. Thou shalt not be a perpetrator and thou shalt never, never, be a bystander.” 

Dan Glass from ‘Never Again Ever!’ whose four grandparents were Holocaust survivors from Poland and Germany said – “In the spirit of Kiddush Hashem – that’s what our protest is about today.’ By opposing the ‘othering’, scapegoating and marginalisation of disabled people who are being oppressed and persecuted in the name of neoliberal cuts and austerity in today’s Britain we believe that we are honouring the memories of all who perished. We stand in solidarity and together we say loud and clear to this generation “Never Again Ever!”

Andy Greene on the steering group for ‘Disabled People Against the Cuts’ said – “This quiet and respectful protest-vigil joined descendants of the Nazi Holocaust with our community to remember all those have died in genocides around the world and as the result of so-called ethnic cleansing; and organise for human rights for everyone today. We demand a legal Right to Independent Living and Self-Determination (7). The vigil is to highlight the ideologies and policies that create the preconditions for genocide: discrimination and othering of minorities, the devaluing of human lives, the belief that the needs of the individual should be subjugated to the priorities of the state.” 

Ruth Barnett, Holocaust survivor and activist with ‘Never Again Ever!’ said – “As a former Kindertransport child rescued by Britain from almost certain death at the hands of the Nazis, I stand up for and speak out for all peoples who have suffered persecution that has not been brought to justice. It grieves me that there is so much focus on the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII and the Holocaust while the centenary of the Ottoman Genocide also this year is being overlooked. There is evidence to suggest that the Holocaust might have been prevented if impunity for it had not been created by failure to bring that previous genocide to justice and closure.”

Dan Glass said “So many groups were persecuted and murdered by the Nazi’s. It is essential that we remember them all. Nobody owns the discussion around the Holocaust – but we all own the responsibility to take action today to highlight discrimination  and persecution wherever it happens. My grandparents experience instilled in me that grave injustice exists in the world. Therefore its my duty to them and others to facilitate discussion and action in making sure we challenge oppression everywhere we see it. We believe that ‘Memorialisation without action is part of the problem’.” 

John McArdle from Black Triangle said – “Without a hint of irony Ian Duncan Smith has used the words ‘Work Sets you free’ to justify his so-called welfare reforms.” (8)

Without a hint of irony Ian Duncan Smith has used the words 'Work Sets you free' to justify his so-called welfare reforms.

(1) Leading doctors protest at ‘cruel’ disability assessments – Letter – http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/2013/05/05/leading-doctors-protest-at-cruel-disability-assessments-letter/

(2) DPAC is a campaign network of and for disabled people, campaigning for the rights and equality of all disabled people as defined under the UNCRPD. www.dpac.uk.net

(3) Black Triangle established to galvanise opposition to the current vicious attack on the fundamental human rights of disabled people by Government using “Work Capability Assessments” to re-classify sick and disabled individuals as “fit forwork” www.blacktrianglecampaign.org

(4) ‘Never Again Ever!’ is a campaign led by grandchildren of those affected by the Holocaust and their allies, to reflect on how we can stop genocide from happening to anyone ever again – in 2015 – the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII. www.neveragaineverever.org

(5) ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ explanation – http://goeurope.about.com/od/munich/ss/dachau-concentration-camp_2.htm

(6) Weblink to the 1300 deaths claim – http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jan/18/after-hated-atos-quits-will-maximus-make-work-assessments-less-arduous

(7) UK Disabled People’s Manifesto – Reclaiming Our Futures – http://www.inclusionlondon.co.uk/domains/inclusionlondon.co.uk/local/media/downloads/UK_Disabled_People__s_Manifesto___Reclaiming_Our_Futures.pdf

(8) Does getting tough on the unemployed work? – http://www.theguardian.com/society/2010/jun/16/lawrence-mead-tough-us-welfare-unemployed

 

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 Posted by at 18:07
Jan 272015
 

DR UKs new training contract

26 January 2015

Disability Rights UK provides training to improve accessibility of assessments

Disability Rights UK has decided to accept the contract to deliver a training programme for Maximus health professionals on disability equality.

The Disability Rights UK Board discussed this at length before deciding to do this work. DR UK believes that the Work Capability Assessment needs radical overhaul: it is simply not fit for purpose. It is often experienced as punitive, it has no validity (there is no link between the points system and whether someone can or cannot work) – and the way it has been delivered is far too often inaccessible, disrespectful and distressing.

DR UK campaigns against the sanctions regime – see http://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/news/2015/january/disability-rights-uk-impact-sanctions, against the failing Work Programme http://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/news/2013/october/liz-sayce-criticises-non-work-programme – and for a radically changed system.

At the same time literally millions of people are going through these assessments. All main political parties envisage some form of assessment in the future.

The Board decided that it was therefore in the interests of disabled people that the health professionals undertaking the assessments should be trained by well qualified disabled people so they better understand the lives of disabled people and those living with long-term and fluctuating conditions; the barriers we face; and the requirements of legislation and good practice for equality and accessibility.

We’ll also be providing materials for health care professionals and others so they have a resource for reference after they have undertaken the training.

This contract was agreed on the strict  and clear understanding that DR UK will continue to campaign on the WCA and its delivery. We will tell it how it is and have signed a ‘no gagging’ clause.

DR UK offers training and consultancy to many organisations in order to improve disabled people’s experience. Recent examples include the Quakers, Sainsburys, NHS Employers and the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

Any surplus made from this work will go into providing independent information and advice to disabled people. Last year over a million disabled people accessed our information on issues from PIP to Access to Work.

– See more at: http://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/news/2015/january/dr-uks-new-training-contract#sthash.782901fD.dpuf

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 Posted by at 16:33
Jan 262015
 

Please share this this post widely to help us get wide coverage of #saveilf on facebook and twitter

Ed Miliband's comments on the ILF on 26th Jan still leave us none the wiser as to what Labour intend to do about the ILF

Ed Miliband’s comments on the ILF on 26th Jan still leave us none the wiser as to what Labour intend to do about the ILF


update

We’re waiting for confirmation from a VERY silent Labour  party after tweets by  2 Labour party candidates stating not
once, but in the case of Trudie McGuiness 3 times  that she heard Ed  promised to save ILF.
Meanwhile we have the transcript of what he said and we still can’t manage to decide if he said he’d save ILF or that he wouldn’t. Your guess is as good as ours but do let us know what you think?

Possibly at some time in the near future the Labour party will be able to enlighten us all.

Ed transcript:

“First of all we said to the government they should not get rid of the independent living fund in the way they are doing. What they are doing is getting rid of it and passing it down to the local authorities, passing that money down to the local authorities.

So, firstly they should not be getting rid of the Independent living fund. And we’ve said that if it does go to the local authorities that budget has got to be protected.

We’ve got to find ways of protecting that money for some of the most vulnerable disabled people, some of whom I’ve met and who are saying “this is a terrible situation what’s happening to the independent living fund”.

Secondly, we’ve got to stop the assault on disabled people in relation to the medical tests that are going on and have fair and proper medical tests when it comes to the medical system.

{audience member – inaudible] Well you are right sir. We’ve got to sort out the way that these medical tests work. And we’ve said we are going to reform what is called the work capability assessment so that it gives a proper deal to disabled people.

Last thing I’ll say to you is this. We’ve got to actually enforce the law when it comes to disabled people. Because there are lots and lots of disabled people who want to work, want to actually go out and be part of the working population and can’t because they are not getting the help to do it.”

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Jan 242015
 
DPAC #SaveILF Lobby at House of Commons. Jubilee Room, hosted by Caroline Lucas

DPAC #SaveILF Lobby at House of Commons. Jubilee Room, hosted by Caroline Lucas MP

At a lobby held on 6th January Independent Living Fund recipients called on MPs from all political parties to save the ILF. Caroline Lucas MP who sponsored the lobby told the meeting that her party the Greens are fully behind the call to keep and re open the ILF.

Tracey Lazard, CEO of Inclusion London said: “The Independent Living Fund (ILF) was set up to enable disabled people with the highest support needs to live in independently in the community. The fund has transformed the lives of generation of disabled people who otherwise would have been shut away in residential care .The shameful plan to close the ILF will have a devastating impact on ILF users. With social services funding cut by 26% and a further £10 billion of cuts to Local Authority in the pipeline the closure of the fund will leave ILF users facing a future back in institutions or living without the independence, choice and control that most non disabled people take for granted. The commitment by the Green Party to keep the ILF open will be welcome by disabled people across this land as a rare moment when a party turns the rhetoric of fairness and justice into a policy and action that stands up for disabled people who have been so disproportionately hit by austerity cuts”

The lobby also heard from the SNP how the Scottish government will not only be keeping but also investing money in setting up a Scotland ILF open to new applicants. Welsh and Irish politicians from the SDLP and Plaid Cymru also pledged their party’s support.

Read Caroline Lucas’ article for the Independent newspaper on the closure of the ILF here:
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/scrapping-the-independent-living-fund-would-devastate-thousands-9992591.html?origin=internalSearch

Watch footage from the lobby on 6th January here: http://dpac.uk.net/2015/01/pictures-and-video-from-the-saveilf-lobby-of-parliament-and-whitehall-roadblock/

For the latest on the ILF situation in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (with thanks to Brian Hilton from GMCDP)

Wales: The Welsh Government consultation on the future arrangements for the ILF ended on the 23rd December with the preferred options seem to be either setting up a successor to the ILF or creating up a new Independent Living Scheme in Wales. Regardless of which option is chosen, there is a commitment that any future arrangements will be underpinned by the Welsh Governments “Framework for Action on Independent Living“.

Northern Ireland: Health Minister Jim Wells has confirmed that the ILF will be retained in Northern Ireland. Further details are still be announced and so far all we have is what was reported last week in the Derry Daily newspaper.

Scotland: The latest update from Learning Disability Alliance Scotland, states that Self Directed Support Scotland will be hosting the Scottish ILF Development Manager who will report to the newly formed project board and that an additional £5.5 million will be made available foe new ILF applications.

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 Posted by at 22:47
Jan 242015
 

From the Leigh Day Website

The Department of Work and Pensions has agreed to publish their guidance on the Access to Work Scheme (AtW) after receiving a letter before claim from the law firm Leigh Day. The DWP have also confirmed that revised guidance is being produced and published, which they hope to commence by 30 March 2015.Lawyers acting on behalf of the campaign group ‘Stop Changes to Access to Work’, highlighted in a letter before claim that the DWP had acted unlawfully in having no officially published guidance for the scheme, thus meaning that potential claimants did not know the criteria for eligibility or the rules that would be applied to their claims, claimants were also unaware when changes were made to the guidance and the nature of those changes.

The Access to Work Scheme is delivered by the DWP through Jobcentre Plus and is designed to help people with disabilities to overcome work related obstacles. This includes the provision of grants that fund practical support for people with a disability to start working, to stay in work, to start a business, or to become self-employed.

Within their letter before claim Leigh Day also addressed issues relating to the ‘30 hour rule’, which they described as an example of the ‘apparently inconsistent, unlawful and opaque’ way the AtW scheme has been applied by the DWP.

In June 2011, the guidance of AtW was changed so that those receiving over 30 hours of assistance from a support worker could only claim for this on the basis of an annual salary of up to £30,000, rather than for an hourly rate of an agency worker.

The ’30 hour rule’ was suspended in May 2014 as the AtW underwent review over a three month period.

As there was previously no published guidance any updates made to the 30-hour rule were unknown, leaving the public unaware of the current and future status of the ruling.

Lawyers at Leigh Day requested in their letter that the DWP revisited the AtW grants of all those affected by the ’30 hour rule’ and reinstated the funding that they were entitled to prior to its implementation.

However, the DWP responded by saying that they felt it was not appropriate to review every case which was subject to the 30 hour rule.

Ugo Hayter, a solicitor in the Human Rights department at Leigh Day who is representing the ‘Stop Changes to Access to Work’ group, said: “We welcome the Department of Work and Pension’s decision to publish their current guidance as well as their revised guidance in March 2015.

“Their previous failure to publish this vital  information meant that public access to this was denied, which we believe was unlawful.

“We now urge for the issues raised in relation to the ‘30 hour rule’ to be re-considered as many people had their support by the Access to Work scheme arbitrarily cut or suspended through this rule, which put their employment and businesses at risk. We believe that this requires a full investigation and for action to be taken to reverse any outstanding cases where the 30 hour rule is still being applied.”

Ellen Clifford, on behalf of Stop Changes to Access to Work, said: “We are pleased by this victory and welcome the DWP announcing that they will publish guidance. This is a first step in the right direction in solving the numerous issues with the Access to Work scheme.

“However, the weaknesses in DWP’s administration of the programme are still prevalent, this is putting AtW users’ employment and their businesses at serious risk.

“We hope that the DWP will consult and communicate with AtW users;  make consistent and lawful decisions and take urgent steps to reinstate the funding to which users were entitled prior to the imposition of the 30-rule.”

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 Posted by at 22:08
Jan 232015
 

New research reveals that charities and other voluntary groups are often absent from campaigns to tackle the root causes of poverty. A report released today shows that voluntary groups, especially those under contract to government, face threats to remain silent about their experiences and many are fearful to speak out in case they lose their funding or face other sanctions.

The findings show a climate of fear and threats to free speech. They follow on the tails of a Charity Commission investigation into Oxfam after the charity warned of the “relentless rise of food poverty” in the UK [http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-30546517 19.12.14]. The Commission’s investigation was instigated
after a complaint against Oxfam by Tory MP, Conor Burns. It adds to fears raised by the ex-Bishop of Oxford, Richard Harries, who said this week that charities and campaign groups have been “frightened” into curtailing their public work by the new Lobbying Act [http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-30935367
22.01.15].

The report, Voluntary Services and Campaigning in Austerity UK: Saying Less and Doing More, is written by Dr Mike Aiken, a specialist in the voluntary sector and is published by the National Coalition for Independent Action (NCIA), a network of people working in the voluntary sector.
http://www.independentaction.net/2015/01/23/campaigning-in-the-spotlight/

The NCIA report states that “voluntary services are confronted by implicit, or explicit, pressures to ‘say less and do more’; they face gagging clauses in contracts which threaten to stop them advocating and campaigning; the provisions in the so-called Lobbying Act, passed in January 2014, create an atmosphere in which it is difficult to speak out”.

The research highlights the attempts to muzzle charities and shows who is refusing to stay silent:

A voluntary organisation engaged in welfare services faced “subtle and menacing” bullying on more than one occasion from significant political figures to “do” and not “say”’·
Voluntary groups under contract can be obliged to keep information or observations secret even when insights from their day-to-day work might help improve the service or conditions for local communities and individuals facing poverty and destitution.

Charities which undertake significant government contracting work devote few funds to campaigning. In the case of Shelter this appeared to be less than 10% of its income.

Despite attempts to silence voluntary groups, some still speak out (eg Trussell Trust), refuse to take government money (eg. World Development Movement) and join with campaigners to right wrongs (eg. Keep Volunteering Voluntary, a campaign against workfare). One such charity speaks plainly: “it is a democratic country…we are saying what we see…we have evidence…it’s is about being courageous and speaking out…. so you can put things right”

The report suggests that the situation for charities is getting worse just at the point when it needs to get better – in order to give a voice to those most affected by austerity. It notes that the injunction to silence the knowledgeable voluntary organisation from talking about its experiences would be quite at home in any totalitarian regime that seeks to crush independent or divergent voices.

The report concludes that funding can, and does, act as a brake on the ability to campaign and asks: if the campaigning role is stifled who will provide the evidence to those in positions of power to effect changes; and who will support disadvantaged communities to have their own voice? It predicts that if this trend continues voluntary organisations look set to be ‘saying less’ in austerity UK.

Mike Aiken said today, “Charities have played an active role in a democratic society and this can be understood as their responsibility and ethical duty. Their voice needs to be heard and amplified, to provide a vital ingredient of evidence and to speak with authority and legitimacy to policy makers and civil servants – enabling the voice and experience of the most disadvantaged to be heard in the corridors of power and by other citizens.”

Penny Waterhouse, a Director of NCIA, said “This research shows that some voluntary groups can, and do, speak out for a better world – if they are brave and think of their beneficiaries instead  of their organisational interests and professional status. But why, in Britain, does civil society need to be brave to  exercise freedom of speech? It’s a bad, and dangerous,  state of affairs. NCIA calls on voluntary services to  exercise their civil liberties and join with activists and campaigners to advocate forcefully on behalf of their beneficiaries.”

The report is one of 17  reports published by NCIA as part of their Inquiry  into the Future of Voluntary Services.

The report, Voluntary Services and Campaigning in Austerity UK: Saying Less and Doing More, can be read at:  http://www.independentaction.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Say-less-do-more-final.pdf  (PDF).

 

Mike Aiken, the report’s author, has led research on community development, advocacy and community participation for over 15 years. He has published articles and book chapters on social enterprises, civil society and advocacy. He has undertaken research at the Open University and lectured at the University of Sussex. He has been a member of the Voluntary Sector Studies Network for 10 years and a committee member for four years;
he currently co-edits the practice section of the Voluntary Sector Review. Over the last ten years Mike has been an invited speaker at academic and practitioner
events from Germany and Poland to Japan and Mexico. Previously he worked at Community Matters, Save the Children and Development Trusts Association. He remains active in Latin American affairs and local community action in Brighton.
For more information, please contact Symon Hill on 07920 037 719 or penny@independentaction.net

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 Posted by at 19:15
Jan 232015
 

See Information about the Day of Action on Social Media here

Cartoon Maximus - Same Circus - Different Clowns by Phil Evans

Cartoon: Maximarse – Same Circus – Different Clowns by Phil Evans. You can more of his work on his Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/PhillEvansIllustration

Planning for the Day of Action to Welcome Maximarse to their new role as assessors for the cruel and hateful WCA is taking shape, and we now have actions planned or in planning for:

Aberdeen, Balham, Bournemouth, Bradford, Brighton, Cardiff, Croydon, Dundee, Ealing, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hull, Inverness, Ipswich, Leeds, Leicester,  Lincoln,  Manchester,  Norwich, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Reading, Sheffield, Sunderland, Toronto, Truro, Wrexham and Maximus HQ in central London.

If you can get to one of these protests – great ! You can see details of each event list below. If you would like to contact the organisers of any of the actions beforehand – mail us on mail@dpac.uk.net and we will be able to put you in contact with them.

Keep an eye on this page – we will keep it updated with locations all over the UK where actions are planned, and details of new actions are coming in to DPAC central thick and fast so keep an eye out for updates.

If there isn’t a protest where you live – why not organise one? – we can help you with advice, leaflet designs, placard designs and put you in contact with local groups near to you, if you are interested email us on mail@dpac.uk.net

If you can’t make a protest, we are going to have a social media day of action as well. Details of that will be going up on this website in the near future.

Finally, at the end of this post, we have included an instructional video on how to organise a DPAC protest that we think everyone should see.

We would just like to add that the Day of Action is aimed at the objective of ending the Work Capability Assessments and destroying the credibility of Maximus which should be relatively easy to do given their appalling track record. We do not want these protests to give Maximus or their new employee, Sue Marsh, an opportunity to accuse us of attacking their poor staff as ATOS falsely claimed.

Logos for DPAC, New Approach, Black Triangle and Mental Health Resistance Network** Stop Press **  UKUncut will be joining with us to take part in the Day of Action against Maximus

*** Stop Stop Press ** We have been informed that our friends and allies in Canada, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty will be holding a solidarity action with us against Maximus Offices in Toronto – details of this to follow


MASS DAY OF ACTION AGAINST MAXIMUS! 2ND MARCH 2015.

Protest

Location

Time(s)

Events Page

Aberdeen

Details to be announced

Balham

Irene House, 218 Balham High Road, Balham, London, SW12 9BX

10.30 Am – 12noon

https://facebook.com/events/921882261178305/

Bournemouth

Details to be announced

Bradford

Bradford City Centre, Wool Exchange Buildings, 22 Bank Street, Bradford, BD1 1PR

8.30 am to 10.30 am

https://www.facebook.com/events/1589908967913041/

Brighton

West Lees House, 21-35 Dyke Road, Brighton, BN1 3GD, (North End of the Clock Tower, Next to Old Job Centre.)

1pm

https://www.facebook.com/events/1542104427509/

Cardiff

Run by DAN Cmyru

Block 2, Government Buildings, St Agnes Road, Gabalfa, Cardiff, CF14 4YJ.

1 -4 pm

https://www.facebook.com/events/1541199339470550/

Croydon

Stephenson House, 2 Cherry Orchard Road, Croydon, CR0 6BA

10 am – 6pm.

https://www.facebook.com/events/641182419342826/

Dundee

Details to be announced

Ealing

Medical Assessment Centre/Ealing Job Centre, 86-92 Uxbridge Road, West Ealing London W13 8RA

9 am -10.30 am

https://www.facebook.com/events/876381712418630/

Edinburgh

Argyle House, 3 Lady Lawson Street, Edinburgh, EH3 9SJ

1pm-3pm

https://www.facebook.com/events/334127460115256/

Glasgow

Corunna House, 29 Cadogan Street, Glasgow, G2 7RD

12.30 -2 pm

https://www.facebook.com/events/1429430507348206/

Hull

Job Centre Plus, Hill Britannia House, 2 Ferensway, Hull HU2 8NF

(Organised by Hull People’s Assembly)

1pm to 2 pm

https://www.facebook.com/events/1508382406051019/

Inverness

Details to be announced

Ipswich

Medical Assessment Centre, St. Felix House, Silent Street, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP1 1TF.

1 pm onwards.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1513102252288548/

Leeds

Leeds Briggate LS1 6NP (meet near the Bodyshop)

12 noon until 2 pm

https://www.facebook.com/events/369677073211238/

Leicester

1st Floor, Rytland Centre, Halford Street, Leicester, LE1 1TQ

https://www.facebook.com/events/522105471264765/

Lincoln

Medical Assessment Centre, Viking House, 98 Newland

1 pm onwards

https://www.facebook.com/events178533808358604/

London Central Maximus HQ

Maximus HQ Level 1, Queen Anne’s Gate, London, SW1H 9BU

1 – 5 pm

https://www.facebook.com/events/771842739517758/

Manchester

Albert Bridge House, Bridge Street, Manchester, M60 9AT

12 noon until 4 pm

https://www.facebook.com/events/346833825508275/

Norwich

St Mary’s House, Duke St, Norwich. NR3 1QA

1pm

TBA

Portsmouth

Medical Assessment Centre, Wingfield House, 316-334 Commercial Road, Portsmouth PO1 4TA

1 pm until 5 pm

http://www.facebook.com/events/1609767919257826/

Plymouth

Argosy house, longfield road, plympton, plymouth, PL6 8LS

12 noon until 3 pm

https://www.facebook.com/events/951081494902471/

Reading

St Mary’s Butts, Reading, RG1 2LG

11 am – 1 pm

https://www.facebook.com/events/1404292959867177/

Sheffield

Medical Assessment Centre, 1 Hartshead Square, Sheffield, S1 2FD.

1- 3 pm (meet first at 12.30 pm at City centre)

https://facebook.com/events/1526799147602672/

Sunderland

Sunderland Job Centre, 60-66 John Street, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear SR1 1QT

11 am-1pm

Toronto

Details to be announced

4pm UK time

Truro

Pydar House, Pydar Street, Truro, Cornwall, TR1 2XD (the current WCA Assessment Centre)

After a while spent there protest will move on to  Truro City Centre  outside the JobCentre Plus

12 noon until 2 pm

https://www.facebook.com/events/1002956276384446/

Wrexham

Medical Assessment Centre, Ty Maelor, 15-17 Grosvenor Road, Wrexham LL11 1BW

1pm – 3pm

https://www.facebook.com/events/519696384836975/


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 Posted by at 17:38
Jan 232015
 

The exposure of physical and emotional abuse by staff against disabled people at Aras Attracta, a residential institution, was secretly filmed by RTE in the Republic of Ireland, there was a public outcry. A similar Panorama programme in the UK, over three years ago where abuse of disabled people by staff at Winterbourne View Institution was also secretly filmed.

Both were truly horrible programmes to watch and reflected very badly on residential “Care” in both UK and Ireland. I suspect they are not the only Countries where institutional abuse happens. The general public in Ireland and UK were collectively stunned and outraged at what they had witnessed on public television.

It is however, a truism for the growing number of advocates of Independent Living that ” residential settings” for disabled people is inherently flawed and do not “care” about the individuals within them. Governments around the globe, publicly encourage, well supported Independent living, which is the preference for increasing numbers of disabled people, their families and the society in which they live, as a valued approach for disabled people to make their contributions to their communities.

The letter from Nua Healthcare.

The letter below was sent to families of people resident in Nua Healthcare by The Chief Operating Manager, Mr Noel Dunne, seeking to reassure people, after that dreadful abuse was exposed on RTE , that all was wonderful and carefully monitored in Nua Healthcare Institution.

Nua Healthcare do not call their Residences, “institutions ” they prefer to use the term ” Low Density Housing” The website brochure for Nua Healthcare appears like an All Inclusive Holiday in some exotic location.

http://www.nuahealthcare.ie

It is important for all the supporters of Anthony Kletzander, that the reassurances from Noel Dunne at Nua Healthcare institution are littered with hypocrisy and untruths. Mr Dunne, rightly condemns the abuse seen by millions on TV he is however, rather economical with the truth when it comes to Anthony Kletzander, institutionalised in Nua Healthcare since December 2013.

The letter below from Noel Dunne,Chief Operations Manager for Nua Healthcare is copied below. The comments in bold italics are from Joe Whittaker friend and advocate of Anthony Kletzander.

I believe that if a person uses social media to expose injustice, the person exposing that injustice has to take responsibility for their actions. This is why I have give my home contact details to the solicitors of Nua Healthcare Institution, when they threatened me with legal action several months ago. I again invite them to do so if they believe I have written any untruths, I have made, about the treatment of Anthony Kletzander in Nua Healthcare Institution.

Date of letter 18 Dec 2014

Re: RTE Prime Time, 9th December 2014 – Aras Attracta

Dear Mr and Mrs ,

Further to a recent RTE Primetime television programme which reported on sustained abuse towards the residents of Aras Attracta, a HSE facility in Swinford, Co Mayo, I wish to outline the following facts and reassure you of our good name and reputation as an agency synonymous with quality person-centred services.

Anthony Kletzander is incarcerated in Nua Healthcare, his parents were told directly by Mr Noel Dunne, when Anthony was admitted after institutional abuse at Redwood,Starmullen, on 19th December 2012.

” if you report any issue to the press about Nua , Anthony is out of here”

( comments from Joe Whittaker Anthony’s friend and advocate)

Based on my knowledge of our service and further supported by my ongoing house visits and meetings with frontline staff, it is my firm belief that Nua Healthcare continues to deliver the highest quality of service within each of our registered houses.

Anthony was admitted to emergency hospital on two occasions, from Nua Institution, following antipsychotic medication and “poor care” Both these emergency admissions, were never explained or discussed with the parents of Anthony.

The antipsychotic medication was against Anthony’s wishes, and the express wishes of his parents. Mr Noel Dunne ignored the express concerns of Anthony and his parents.

Anthony’s parents had informed Mr Dunne of the dangers for Anthony subject to certain drugs. It was deeply disturbing for the family that they were refused access to the medication given to Anthony by Nua senior Staff. Mr and Mrs Kletzander had to serve a solicitors letter, to Nua to get the list of the medicine and dosage administered to Anthony.

(from Joe Whittaker Anthony’s The friend and advocate)

Most recently, Nua Healthcare underwent an intermediate review of its autism services. This review was conducted independently through the National Autistic Society, who subsequently reported sustained good practices within our services.

The National Autistic Society (UK) accepted sponsorship from Nua Institution for The Professional Autism Awards in 2014. After, concerns in relation to Anthony Kletzander, The National Autistic Society (UK) ended the sponsorship from The National Autistic Society for the 2015 Professional Autism Awards. (Joe Whittaker Anthony’s friend and advocate)

Throughout 2014, we also facilitated inspection across the majority of our registered disability houses by HIQUA, the authority responsible for driving quality, safety and accountability in residential services for children, older people and people with disabilities in Ireland. As a matter of public record, we demonstrated that our services are delivered to the highest standards.

The inspections carried out in Nua Healthcare Institutions in UK by The Care Quality Commission, a National inspection body, Mr Noel Dunne is the named person responsible for provision. This provision failed to maintain standards in important areas.(from Joe Whittaker Anthony’s friend and advocate)

Full report available on Google : Care Quality Commission UK. Search for Nua Healthcare UK.

http://www.cqc.org.uk/location/1-679471140

As I watched the RTE Primetime report my own immediate reaction was to feel disgust, sadness and shame. I could not believe people who had been placed in a position of trust for another’s safety and well-being could break that trust in this most appalling and disrespectful way.

Mr Noel Dunne, ‘People in Glass Houses should not throw stones’ (from Joe Whittaker Anthony’s friend and advocate)

Anthony’s friends, who made a specific and a first visit from Holland, to see Anthony, were not allowed on Nua Healthcare premises. They were not allowed to see Anthony’s room at Nua. They were told only next of kin were allowed on Nua Institution premises. Such are the concerns expressed to Anthony by Mr Dunne.

(from Joe Whittaker Anthony’s friend and advocate)

Although I am confident in our services and each of the staff within it, I assure you that we will not become complacent.

Anthony’s advocate and supporters will never be complacent about the abuse Anthony experiences at Nua Healthcare Institution. (From Joe Whittaker Anthony’s friend and advocate)

We will maintain zero tolerance of abuse in any of its forms and we will never forget our responsibilities to the men, women and children who avail of our service and for whom we are most privileged to support and care for.

Mr Noel Dunne

1. Why does Nua give Anthony drugs against his wishes?

2. Why do you ignore and deny Anthony’s means of Communication?

3. Why did you force Anthony to work on Nua Farm UNPAID, which he hates?

4. Why do you refuse to support Anthony’s right to live independently?

Should you wish to discuss any concerns, please contact any member of our senior management team. Finally, should you wish to visit our services and or discuss any aspect of it, please feel free to make that request and we will certainly facilitate it.

We invite Mr Noel Dunne to publicly debate with Anthony and his supporters about residential Abuse in all its forms at Nua Healthcare Institution ? (from Joe Whittaker Anthony’s friend and advocate)

Thanks you for your continued commitment to our service and for trusting us to provide services for you family member.

Yours sincerely,

Noel Dunne (signed)

Chief Operating Officer

This article will appear on National and International blogs that support the rights of disabled people to live independently, free from Institutional care.

Joe Whittaker

friend and advocate for Anthony Kletzander.

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 Posted by at 16:42
Jan 222015
 

There is an urgent need to speak to people who were at the Westminster Abbey action on 28th June last year, and did any of the following:

  • Took notes on the day (particularly if they cover both before police came, and afterwards);
  • Were asked to give any kind of formal statement (this could include any stop and search, or being required to give details such as name and address) by police;
  • Have still or video images of the event (again, particularly if these cover both before and after police came);
  • If you were refused passage through the police cordon (particularly what reasons were given for this by police).

If any of these apply to you, please get in touch by emailing – mail@dpac.uk.net.
Thanks in advance for your support.

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 Posted by at 12:54
Jan 192015
 

Reblogged from Johnny Void, with the usual thanks

Centre for Health and Disability Assessments - The logo likely to be used on the paperwork for the Work Capability Assessment

The logo likely to be used on the paperwork for the Work Capability Assessment

Maximus – the US based firm brought in to replace Atos to carry out benefit assessments – will hide their corporate identity behind a hastily erected front company in an attempt to avoid damage to their brand The Guardian revealed yesterday.

According to the paper, the company will not use its logo on letters sent to claimants facing the notorious Work Capability Assessment, instead using a neutral name such as “The Centre for Health and Disability Assessment”.  In fact this company has been up and running since June 2014, suspiciously several months before it was announced that Maximus would be taking over the contract from Atos.  The Guardian should probably have known this, because they are currently running an advertisement for a Social Media Manager for the new company on the recruitment part of their website.

The company was established by senior Maximus directors Leslie Wolf and William Smith and is based in the their offices in East Sussex..  Already they are using this fake ID to recruit Functional Assessors and other staff to work on the new contract with the DWP as they desperately attempt to find enough healthcare professionals who are nasty enough to take on the role.

The suffering caused by the Work Capability Assessment is well documented with an ever growing list of tragic deaths linked to the process.  Despite this Maximus claim that the press coverage of Atos and their shambolic handling of the assessments has been “unjustifiably negative” and that in future people should blame the government if they don’t like what Maximus does.   This incidentally was exactly the same line Atos used when they whined about people complaining about them.  The idea that it is perfectly possible to hold governments responsible for the shitty things they do, and equally condemn the vile shitbags who profit from them, never seems to have occurred to this mercenary bunch of vultures.

It looks like Maximus are also using the same medical recruitment firm that Atos used to hire staff.  Any healthcare professional considering working for these bastards should remember the words of a former Atos disability analyst:

“The job was making me sick …. It’s against my principles to treat people with long term illnesses in such a disgusting way, so I had to give it up.

“People go into those interviews and talk openly to you because you are a nurse and they trust you.

“Then your skills are used against them, to take away their benefits and destroy their lives.

“I can’t be a part of that.”

Join the Day of Action Against Maximus called by Disabled People Against Cuts on March 2nd.

Maximus Day of Action 2nd March A5 leaflet front and back 06

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 Posted by at 23:56
Jan 182015
 

Information copied from Parliament Website Work and Pensions Committee


 

The Work and Pensions Select Committee announces the second of three oral evidence sessions for its inquiry into benefit sanctions policy beyond the Oakley Review.

You can watch the Session live on Parliament TV or on BBC Parliament Channel

Witnesses

Wednesday 21 January 2014, Grimond Room, Portcullis House

At 9.30am

  • Alison Garnham, Chief Executive, Child Poverty Action Group
  • Lois Race, Service Manager, Derbyshire County Council
  • Dr Kayleigh Garthwaite, Durham University
  • Fiona Weir, Chief Executive Officer, Gingerbread

At 10.30am

  • Ben Robinson, Head of Policy, Community Links
  • Steve Hughes, Head of Economic and Social Policy, Policy Exchange
  • Mark Serwotka, General Secretary, and Helen Flanagan, Vice-President DWP, Public and Commercial Services Union
  • Professor David Stuckler, University of Oxford

Purpose of the session

The session explores:

  • The local authority perspective, including the potential impacts of sanctioning on local welfare assistance provision
  • The potential health impacts of sanctioning, particularly in relation to ESA claimants
  • The application of conditionality and sanctions to single parent claimants
  • Jobcentre Plus (JCP) staff and managers’ attitudes and approaches to conditionality and sanctioning; the impact of JCP benefit off-flow targets and sanctioning rates
  • The destinations of sanctioned claimants
  • Possible reforms and alternatives to the current sanctioning system

Further information

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 Posted by at 21:04
Jan 182015
 

Reblogged from Johnny Void with thanks
Graph - ESA Stats - outcome of initial functional assessment by date of claim start

Shadow Minister for Disabled People Kate Green has pledged to return the despised Work Capability Assessment (WCA) back to its “original purpose” raising fears that gains made by capaigners over the last few years could be lost as Labour attempt to rehabilitate the despised tests for sickness or disability benefits.

Her comments were made at a union meeting late last year and were filmed by  Kate Belgrave who has made the video available to Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC).  According to Green, Labour will: “make sure that the work capability assessment is returned to its original purpose of being the first step in the process to diagnose and identify what sort of support somebody who could work at some point would need to have in order to enable them work, and so we will give every single person who goes through the work capability assessment, at the end of their assessment, a statement of how their condition or impairment impacts on their capacity to work.”

Labour introduced the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) in 2008 with the ‘original purpose’ of stripping out of work benefits from over a third of sick and disabled people.  Speaking to Parliament about the reforms in 2006, the Labour Secretary of State for the Department for Work and Pensions John Hutton said: “I believe that if we take the measures that I have outlined … we can get 1 million people off incapacity benefit within a decade. In doing so, we could ultimately save up to £7 billion a year for taxpayers. That should be the scale of our ambition.”

Whilst the tests were first introduced for new claimants only, in the 2008 budget (PDF para 4.5) Labour announced that all claimants on Incapacity Benefit would be re-assessed from April 2010.  All Iain Duncan Smith did, after the Tory Party weren’t elected in May 2010, was to continue the work begun by Labour.

The contract to carry out the shoddy tick-box style assessments was handed to the little known French IT firm Atos Origin, a company who had previously sponsored events at the Labour Party conference.  Atos were tasked with dividing claimants on sickness or disability benefits into three groups – those unable to work who were placed in the Support Group, those who might be able to do some work at some point in the future – the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) – and those who the company judged ‘fit for work’.

The results have been horrifying as people with serious health conditions have been forced off benefits after a brief computer based test ignored medical opinion to find them able to work.  Many in the WRAG group have faced benefit sanctions after being unable to carry out DWP mandated ‘Work Related Activity’ such as endless job search, compulsory training and even workfare.  The assessments have even become too much for Atos to stomach and following fierce campaigning by disabled people the company announced last year that they would be ending their contract with the government early.

The introduction of the Work Capability Assessment was based on the tabloid myth that hundreds of thousands of people were faking their health conditions  and were really able to work.  This lie took hold despite the UK not having significantly more people unable to work due to sickness or disability then other comparable economies.  Yet still the abuse persisted from politicians of all parties.  In 2011 Ed Miliband even attempted to blame benefit claimants for the financial crisis claiming many of those unable to work were “ripping off society”.

On the ground however a very different picture was emerging.  As early as March 2010 Citizens Advice published a damning report (PDF) backed by disability charities revealing the horrific suffering the WCA was causing.  It turned out that most people were not lying about their health condition after all and tragic stories began appearing in the media of poverty, homelessness, ill health and even suicides linked to the new sickness benefit regime.  Huge numbers of decisions made by Atos and the DWP to remove benefits were being over-turned at appeal.  Protests against the process began to spread throughout the UK.  And slowly, the number of people found fit for work, began to fall (as can be seen in the above graph which represents new claims, not re-assessments).

Just as significantly, the percentage of people placed in the Support Group – meaning they are not expected to look for work at all – has risen sixfold between the last period of the Labour adminstration and the most recent figures.  Of course this – combined with a huge backlog of cases as Atos struggled to find enough healthcare professionals nasty enough to carry out the assessments – has meant that the number of people entitled to sickness and disability benefits is back on the rise, and rightly so.   The job of new contractors, US based outsourcing firm Maximus, will be to reverse this trend.

Labour have promised to tinker with the WCA but have no plans to scrap it.  As DPAC rightly point out, Kate Green’s comments suggest those in the Support Group could soon be in the firing line and face pressure to look for work.  Last year Ed Miliband endorsed a think tank report which suggested the removal of the WRAG group for under 25s who would instead face workfare and their benefits being reduced to the same level as those unemployed.  Maximus, who will be taking over from Atos in March this year, have recently employed a former Labour special advisor alongside a prominent Labour blogger on a huge salary to manage ‘customer relations’.  Bill Gunnyeon, the DWP Civil Servant who oversaw the introduction of the WCA under the Labour government, has also recently been employed by the company.

Anyone who thinks that things might get better for sick and disabled claimants if the Tories are voted out this May could yet be in for a horrifying surprise.  Because if history is anything to go by, then under a Labour administration, things could get a lot worse.

Join the Day of Action against Maximus called by Disabled People Against Cuts on March 2nd.

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 Posted by at 20:56
Jan 182015
 

Calling all disabled people in Lambeth.

Come to an open meeting of the Lambeth Pan Disability Forum on Monday 9 February 2015 from 2 – 4pm at ‘We are 336’, 336 Brixton Road, SW9 7AA.

For more information contact RLewis@Lambeth.gov.uk

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 Posted by at 14:34
Jan 182015
 

SUPPORT PEOPLE, HEALTH, JOBS
Scrap Trident and BAN all Nuclear Weapons!

After the 2015 general election a final decision will be made on replacing Trident nuclear weapons systems. We have to send a clear message to M.Ps: Trident must be scrapped not replaced. That is why D.P.A.C. needs to be present at this protest, says DPAC activist Sam Brackenbury.

The government wants to sign contracts for us to be a nuclear power the NEXT 40 YEARS, we have to stop this madness or 100 billion pounds will be waisted… How many disabled people could be helped with this money ???

South Africa used to be a nuclear power, since the end of Aparthied, it has decomissioned its nuclear weapons so it can be done.

Lets oppose Nuclear Power in all its forms!

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Jan 162015
 

15 Jan 2015 — The Health Service Executive ( HSE ) continue to deny Anthony’s Human Rights, whilst paying €1000 per day, from the public purse, to fund private institutional abuse.

Anthony’s struggle for Independent living has been rejected by HSE, yet again.

Following an official mediation process. The details of that process are subject to a confidentiality agreement, which all participants signed.

I can however, disclose that a legally binding agreement, that evolved within that mediation process, signed by both parties: that HSE would provide a written response to Anthony’s family on 7th January 2015, was broken by HSE, who decided to give their bizarre verdict one week later on 14th January 2015.

In addition the HSE Area Manager signed an agreement prior to the mediation that HSE would cover All costs and expenses of the mediation. HSE subsequently reneged on this agreement, by refusing to pay the travelling and subsistent expenses for people supporting Anthony.

Area Manager of HSE gave no explanation.

The actions of HSE has demonstrated yet again the contempt and lack of integrity of a senior HSE manager, for due process and their disreputable behaviour in refusing to abide by their signed agreement, to cover all costs of mediation.

The HSE have also demonstrated a total disregard to Anthony by choosing to accept the voice of highly paid professionals, whilst refusing to accept Anthony’s own voice, and his preferences ,which have been consistently supported by his parents, who continue call for independent living.

The struggle for Anthony’s right to independent living will continue.

HSE have previously incarcerated Anthony in Redwood Institution, for three months assessment. during this time Anthony was abused, by highly paid professionals, by using anti-psychotic medication and refusing Anthony his right to attend His own case conference. Redwood has recently been exposed in the media following a detailed External Inspection Report, where there were major failings in Redwood to maintain acceptable standards of care for the residents.

The Redwood Inspection Report: http://hiqa.ie/system/files/inspectionreports/2433-27-September-2014.pdfn

Redwood was the centre we complained about to Senior Managers at HSE, during Anthony’s incarceration. The HSE managers stated that Redwood was a “Centre of Excellence”, with a highly expert multi disciplinary team, such language is used to camouflage abusive practice. It was one of those very same HSE senior nursing managers, who was part of the abuse of Anthony at Redwood, and making the same grandiose, statements about Nua Residential Healthcare institution. Nua healthcare in UK have had similar inspection failings in the UK reported by the Care Quality Commission. ( CQC)

http://www.cqc.org.uk/location/1-679471140

HSE continue to pay Nua Healthcare Institution a reported fee of €1000 per DAY to incarcerate Anthony. ( Nua and HSE refuse to disclose the exact figure, which I am informed could be a great deal more)

Anthony’s incarceration in a private residential institution, illustrates the
hypocrisy of HSE in Ireland, who publicly advocate “independent and community based living” for disabled people, when in fact they are colluding with Private institutions and handing over large sums of money from the public purse to institutionalise and segregate disabled people, from their local community.

This is about public institutions squandering public money to fund private greed at the expense of disabled people. This morally corrupt relationship has to be exposed and ended.

We need your continued support to purse this important campaign to free Anthony.

The HSE continue to threaten Court action against the family.

I will continue to work independently for Anthony, as his friend and advocate exposing the abuse of Anthony at Nua Institution and question the connivance of HSE to allow this abuse to continue.

I present The Health Service Executive, in Ireland, their team of solicitors, Nua Healthcare Institution, Redwood Extended Care Institution with an invitation, if they believe, I have made any inaccurate statement/s in relation to the abuse of Anthony Kletzander, whilst in NUA or Redwood, they have my contact details and they should take any legal proceedings against me they consider appropriate. I am willing to be subjected to questioning in the Irish Courts.

I also invite staff working past or present, in Nua Healthcare Institution and Redwood Extended Care Institution, to contact me, in confidence, to share any concerns they may have about institutional life of disabled people.

To all of those supporters of Anthony please distribute this information far and wide to your friends and networks concerned about such abuse.

I desperately need your contributions to pay for legal support, to stop the abuse of Anthony Kletzander. Every £1 will help. You can donate via this link https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/0tLga/tw/247RT2

In addition if you know of other example of abuse in residential care, let us find a way to expose it and stop it.

Thank you,
Joe Whittaker
whittakerjoe5@gmail.com
Friend and Advocate with Anthony Kletzander.

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 Posted by at 13:19
Jan 152015
 

Reblogged from Johnny Void with thanks
Maximus Male Only Job Advert in SaudiIn Saudi Arabia – where Maximus operate welfare-to-work style schemes for the government – gay, lesbian and transgender people can face punishments ranging from flogging, to imprisonment and even execution.  Women are forbidden from carrying out many jobs, and workplaces operate under strict gender segregation.  The regime’s Saudization programme means that companies in the private sector who employ non-Saudi nationals may be charged a fee or even prohibited from carrying out government contracts.

Yet on their website Maximus Gulf claim to be an equal opportunity employer who recruit people without regard to “race, color, gender, age, religious beliefs, national origin, disability, sexual orientation”.  This is of course a lie, as this advertisement for a Business Manager with the company – asking for a male candidate and Saudi nationals only – clearly demonstrates.  It is not the only job vacancy with the company that appears to specify gender requirements, and this is hardly surprising since Maximus themselves quite happily operate a segregated workforce in the country.

Which shows just what a breath-taking fucking hypocrite their UK Marketing Director @mariodunn1 is when he tweets things like this:

Mario Dunn Tweet

It seems that Sue Marsh is not the only one prepared to throw away deeply held  principles when a big fat Maximus cheque lands on the doorstep.

Join the Day of Action against Maximus called by Disabled People Against Cuts on March 2nd.

Maximus Day of Action 2nd March A5 leaflet front and back 06

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 Posted by at 23:17
Jan 152015
 

Reblogged from Johnny Void, with thanks

Tweet posted by Mario Dunn Maximus Marketing Manager Called The NUS Student Wankers And Described A Guardian Contributor As Cretinous

Believe it or not the above tweet referring to the NUS as student wankers was posted by Mario Dunn, the Communications & Marketing Director for Maximus – the company taking over from Atos to carry out the despised assessments for sickness and disability benefits.

Dunn is a former special advisor to the Labour Party who worked at the Department of Health between 2005-2010.  Now he is responsible for “all aspects of communications, stakeholder engagement, marketing and brand management” for Maximus but still has the time to have tantrums on twitter – usually in defence of the crimes of the Israeli government.  He is also passionate in his support of Tony Blair, calling a piece which mildy criticised the former Prime Minister ‘cretinous’.  His choice of language perhaps reveals the truth about attitudes towards disabled people at Maximus.

Dunn will be working with Bill Gunnyeon the former DWP chief medical adviser who it was revealed this week will also now be working for Maximus.  He will join former Atos medical director Professor Michael O’Donnell who joined Maximus last year and who previously worked for UNUM, the insurance company who boasted about ‘driving government thinking’ on reforms to sickness and disability benefits.

Maximus have claimed they will be different to Atos.  So far they look exactly the fucking same.

Join the Day of Action Against Maximus on March 2nd – please spread the word – facebook page now up.

Maximus Day of Action 2nd March A5 leaflet front and back 06

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 Posted by at 14:48
Jan 132015
 

NDY graphic

Press Release: 12th January 2015 @ 13:00
__________________________________________________

“NOT IN OUR NAME”
Terminally ill and disabled people speak out against the Assisted Dying Bill ahead of their protest outside the House of Lords on Friday, 16th January 2015.

NYD posters

Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill will be debated in the House of Lords on Friday, 16th January 2015. Members of Not Dead Yet UK and others, will protest against the Bill outside the Houses of Parliament. They will carry pictures and statements from 80 terminally ill and disabled individuals whose conditions prevent them from travelling to London or sitting outside in cold weather.

Celebrity supporters of the Bill are well known already but politicians need to hear and value the opinions of people living with terminal illnesses and severe disabilities. We oppose any change in the law on assisted suicide because we fear it will put lives at risk. We do not accept that safeguards proposed in the Bill are adequate.

Not Dead Yet UK firmly believes that terminally ill and disabled people need the full protection of the law, especially at times when they, their families and friends may be fearful of the future. That is why we oppose the Assisted Dying Bill.

Sian Vasey, a Not Dead Yet UK member, said, “When people ask to be assisted to die, this is often in isolation and before everything possible has been done to alleviate their situation in terms of medical, social and emotional support. Fears for the future are the most common reasons for a person to request assisted suicide”.

Photo opportunity

Date: Friday, 16th January 2015

Time: 10:00AM – 1:00 PM

Venue: Old Palace Yard (opposite the House of Lords)

Sign up to the Thunderclap on twitter or facebook  https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/21181-opposing-an-assisted-dying-law

Notes to Editors:

  1. Not Dead Yet UK is a campaigning network of disabled people founded in 2006 to oppose legislation on assisted dying for disabled and terminally ill people.

  2. NDY UK is an international ally to Not Dead Yet, USA http://www.notdeadyet.org/

  3. Not Dead Yet UK promotes equality for disabled people in a secular context; it is not faith centred or allied to any organised religion. Its supporters come from all sections of the community. Its guiding principles are to value the lives of terminally ill and disabled people and oppose assisted suicide.

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 Posted by at 12:15
Jan 122015
 

Shown below is a video clip of Shadow Minister for Disabled People Kate Green speaking at the SERTUC disabled workers’ network meeting 30 October 2014, filmed and passed to us by Kate Belgrave

In this clip Kate is saying (from 1.23 in the video)  “We are going to make sure that the work capability assessment is returned to its original purpose of being the first step in the process to diagnose and identify what sort of support somebody who could work at some point would need to have in order to enable them work, and so we will give every single person who goes through the work capability assessment, at the end of their assessment, a statement of how their condition or impairment impacts on their capacity to work. That will refocus the assessment into the right mindset, how to situate (? unclear) your capability for work. It will also, we hope, empower the individual, because that statement will be yours to take to your employer or your work programme provider or training provider and say ‘this is is what I have to contend with. How can we work together to build the support that I need.'”

Our very serious questions to Kate Green are:

  1. Will this be the policy of any incoming Labour Government?
  2. There is no recognition in this statements that people in the Support Group are not able to work, as judged by the already harsh WCA regime, do you really mean that the support group no longer has any meaning?
  3. When you say “everybody going through a Work Capability Assessment”, do you mean this to include (among others):
    1. Claimants with terminal conditions who do not have long left to live
    2. Claimants with severe mental health conditions who are at risk of suicide, or harming themselves or others
    3. Claimants with severe learning difficulties or cognitive impairments
    4. Claimants with high support needs, who will no longer receive ILF funding?
  4. Does Labour intend that the support group will no longer exist for people judged unable to work?

We are extremely concerned about this statement and we call on Kate Green to clarify what these words mean and respond to our questions listed above.

We will publish in full her response on this blog

 

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 Posted by at 11:16