Jan 292016
 

Following the winning of two Bedroom Tax cases this week by the grandparents of a young disabled man and the survivor of domestic violence in the Court of Appeal the government announced within hours that it intended to appeal against this decision and has allocated an unlimited amount of our money to defend their totally unjust policies.

You can read the full  so-called justification for this from the so-called minister for disabled people, Justin Torysnake in this link here
Under-occupancy Penalty (28 Jan 2016)
http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2016-01-28a.415.0&s=%22housing+benefit%22#g424.0
“Justin Tomlinson: We are not ignoring the ruling; we are appealing it.
We are doing that because we feel that discretionary housing payment is
the correct way to do it. Reforms take time to come in, as I said
earlier. *Housing benefit* cost £24.4 billion this year. Had we not
brought in reforms, every single one of which was opposed by the Labour
party, it would have cost £26 billion this year.”…..

 

Until this appeal has been heard in the Supreme Court anyone currently appealing against a bedroom tax decision will have their appeal ‘parked’ pending the outcome however in the meantime the government has produced new guidance for anyone affected specifying that their extra costs should be met from a Discretionary Housing Payment.

Bulletin for HB staff HB U1/2016, effective from 28 January 2016

The important point is that this states very clearly that any additional costs incurred in meeting disability related housing needs should be met by a DHP. The bulletin states -:

Court of Appeal judicial review decision concerning the maximum rent (social sector)

  1. Yesterday the judgment of the Court of Appeal was handed down in the joined judicial review cases R v. Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, ex parte Rutherford and R v. Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, ex parte A. The full judgment is available at: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2016/29.html

 

  1. The Court has found that the claimants have suffered discrimination contrary to A14 of the European Convention on Human Rights. However, the Court of Appeal repeated the finding at first instance that the Secretary of State had complied with the Public Sector Equality Duty.

 

  1. The Court has granted the Secretary of State permission to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, and it is the Secretary of State’s intention to appeal.

 

  1. No action needs to be taken by local authorities following this judgment. It has not changed the applicability of the maximum rent (social sector) provisions and no action should be taken to re-assess the Housing Benefit (HB) of claimants in the appellants’ situation.

 

  1. The Department remains of the view that Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) are the appropriate means of protecting HB claimants in the appellants’ circumstances.

 

  1. Provided below are some Q&A to enable you to respond to any enquiries you might receive.

 

Q&A

 

  1. Is the government going to appeal?

 

  1. The Court of Appeal granted permission to appeal and it is the government’s intention to appeal.

 

  1. What does this mean for claimants with panic rooms or a disabled child who requires overnight care?

 

  1. The maximum rent (social sector) must continue to be applied to all claimants as before yesterday’s judgment.

 

  1. As a local authority should we continue to apply the maximum rent (social sector) in these cases?

 

  1. Yes, the legislation underpinning the size criteria remains in force. DHPs remain the appropriate mechanism for providing support where there is an under-occupancy deduction because of a panic room or a bedroom used to accommodate an overnight carer for a disabled child.

 

Applying for and Being refused a DHP

We know that although DHPs should be being made to people this is yet another post-code lottery and whether or not you get one and how long it is for varies from one LA to another.

We know that some LAs take DLA into account as available income when they should not do so.

You can’t appeal against being refused a DHP but you can still challenge it being refused through a Judicial Review. DPAC would encourage anyone who is refused a DHP to seek legal advice with regard to making a legal challenge against being refused and also they should apply again. (It is possible to have more than one JR against refusals at the same time).

 

Why discretionary DHPs are not an adequate replacement for rights

Disabled people need Rights not Charity or Discretionary Payments and access to this right was proven in a previous case relating to Local Housing Payments using right enshrined in article 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights. In particular the arguments used by the solicitor representing Trengrove vs Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council are particularly relevant in arguing this.

http://ukhumanrightsblog.com/2012/05/19/housing-benefit-system-discriminated-against-disabled-people-rules-court-of-appeal/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 Posted by at 20:05
Jan 282016
 

Cameron standing underneath a portion of a sign saying "Cock"Its been a crappy week for top Tories this week. Feel sorry for them ? No, Course Not!

Lets hope this is only their worst week… so far.. and that worse is yet to come.


IDS wailing "It's not fair"

Go on then, fistpump that, ya bastard

BIG defeat in the Lords for IDS on cutting support for people in the ESA WRAG  –http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/jan/27/lords-defeat-tories-esa

Another BIG defeat in the Lords for IDS on “redefining” Child Poverty  –http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/government-loses-vote-to-keep-child-poverty-numbers-secret-a6833156.html

A third defeat in court on the Bedroom Tax – http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/calls-iain-duncan-smith-quit-7258854

Just about as innapropriate as it gets, Cameron uses the phrase "Bunch of Migrants" referring to refugees - on Holocaust Memorial

Just about as innapropriate as it gets, Cameron uses the phrase “Bunch of Migrants” referring to refugees – on Holocaust Memorial Day

Cameron getting slagged for saying bunch of migrants on Holocaust Memorial day – shocking even his own backbenchers – http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/watch-the-moment-david-cameron-silences-his-own-mps-with-bunch-of-migrants-comment-a6837291.html. Showing disrespect to Holocaust Memorial Day is about one of the biggest blunders a politician can make. Most politicians that is, don’t forget that this is the man who is reported to have had sexual relations with a dead pig.

Artist Taxi Driver’s View of this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4pJpf10rNc&feature=share

 Trade Union Bill got defeated in Wales- http://www.pcs.org.uk/en/news_and_events/pcs_comment/pcs_comment.cfm/blow-for-tory-tu-bill-as-welsh-assembly-votes-to-block-it

Government climbdown on Housing Benefit cuts –  http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/policy/welfare-reform/supported-housing-wins-one-year-rent-cut-exemption/7013708.article

Gideon looking like he's sat on a puddle of cold cat-vomit

Gideon looking like he’s sat on a puddle of cold cat-vomit

Osborne’s Google Tax Deal may be illegal EU claims – http://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/jan/28/google-tax-deal-eu-commissioner-investigation

Today the Government have scrapped yet another of Graylings plans the two tier duty contracts which would help to get rid of around 1000 firms. https://twitter.com/justallianceuk/status/692717562329702400
Jeremy "I don't give a shit, I'm very very rich"

Jeremy “I don’t give a shit, I’m very very rich”

 

Minister says he’s not received UN report on Saudi Arabia despite holding copy of UN report on Saudi Arabia http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/minister-says-hes-not-received-un-report-on-saudi-arabia-despite-holding-copy-of-un-report-on-saudi-a6838991.html

Jeremy Hunt commits contempt of court – although let off and allowed to get away with it. But it shows how stupid he seems to be http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/jeremy-hunt-ordered-to-delete-highly-inappropriate-tweet-over-manslaughter-trial-of-frances-a6838816.html

And to cap it all off – Michael Gove announces legal aid U-turns https://www.politicshome.com/home-affairs/articles/story/michael-gove-announces-legal-aid-u-turns
And finally …… as a bonus – not new, but very very funny …… a video of Jeremy Hunt being followed by a sousaphone player.! Go on, you know you want to…..

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 Posted by at 21:20
Jan 252016
 

With thanks for reblog to Johnny Void

https://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2016/01/25/big-disability-rides-to-the-rescue-with-too-little-much-too-late/

Big Disability Rides To The Rescue With Too Little Much Too Late

Posted on January 25, 2016 by johnny void |

In an unprecedented show of absolutely fuck all, members of the Disability Benefits Consortium – which includes some of the UK’s largest disability charities – have written a stern letter to Iain Duncan Smith asking him not to cut disabled people’s benefits.

goofy-on-horse

In the Welfare Reform and Work Bill, due to be debated in the House of Lords next week, plans have been announced to slash some out of work sickness and disability benefits by almost a third.  New claimants in the so-called Work Related Activity Group, meaning people assessed as likely to be fit for work at some point in the future, will receive just over £70 a week – the same amount as those currently on the dole.  People in this group include those with degnerative or progressive diseases such as Multiple Schlerosis, Parkinson’s disease or cancer.  This vicious benefit cut is not being done to save money, but to ‘incentivise’ people to find a job.  It is about as vile as anything that Iain Duncan Smith has done so far, and he’s done a lot.

In response the Disability Benefits Consortium have written a letter, which only half of their members bothered to sign, and which was published in the Daily Mirror over the weekend.  Big fucking deal.

According to their website the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) is a“national coalition of over 60 different charities and other organisations committed to working towards a fair benefits system.”  They include Disability Rights UK, an organisation who have recently been handed a huge contract to work for Maximus – the shady US conglomerate who carry out the despised Work Capability Assessments which will be used to decide which disabled people face a benefit cut under the new rules.  Other charities involved in pretending to defend social security are MIND, RNIB, Leonard Chesire and Mencap – all of whom happily accepted lucrative sub-contracts to run Iain Duncan Smith’s  mandatory Work Programme which disabled people are forced to attend under the threat of vicious benefit sanctions.  Also on the list are the workfare supporting Papworth Trust, along with Age UK who in 2013 were accused of running a ‘workfare warehouse’ in East Sussex.  Citizen’s Advice, who welcomed the introduction of the Claimant Commitment under which unemployed people are forced into pointless jobsearch for 35 hours a week under threat of benefit sanctions, are also included in this fight for a fairer benefits system.

Despite the vast resources possessed by the 60 charities who make up the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC), their website is hosted for free on wordpress.com.  It looks like someone knocked it up on a cheap smartphone during their fag break.  Last year this group of fearless campaigners made a total of 12 posts on their blog – and I thought I was getting slack.  According to the website they have not been arsed to contribute to a government consultation on welfare reform since 2012.

Compare this to the now defunct Disability Works campaign – launched with a glitzy House of Lords reception by many of the DBC charities and used to lobby the government to hand them juicy welfare-to-work contracts and you see the true priority of these organisations.  Money.

The very worst thing that could happen is big disability charities hijacking the fight against welfare reforms, although there is little danger of that.  The fucking awful Hardest Hit demonstration they organised in 2011 was little more then a march to protect disability charity funding, not disabled people’s benefits.  And it’s been downhill ever since.  For every statement released by charities condemning social security cuts a story emerges of them quietly sidling up to the DWP in the hope of lucrative contracts. Until disability charities form a united stance of complete non co-operation with this government then their words mean fuck all when their actions are complicit in destroying the lives of sick and disabled people.Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

And just to illustrate what Johnny means for anyone with any doubts.

Action for Children unions ballot for industrial action in pay dispute

 

High-handed action by bosses over pay at the charity Action for Children has prompted Unite and UNISON to ballot their members for industrial action.

 

The unions said that management intends to impose a one per cent pay award for 2015/16, with no cost of living rise for 40 per cent of the 5,000 strong workforce. They also intend to remove contractual pay increments for new starters, refuse to pay the UK living wage of £8.25 (£9.40 in London) and cut mileage rates.

 

Both unions’ ballots for industrial action short of a strike and/or strike action open on Tuesday 26 January and close on Tuesday 16 February.

 

The charity’s chief executive Sir Tony Hawkhead has refused the unions’ request to involve the conciliation service Acas to resolve the dispute and has stated his intention to impose the pay offer overwhelmingly rejected by the joint union membership in consultative ballots.

 

While squeezing the pay of the workforce, the number of senior executives at the charity earning over £70,000 a year increased from 16 to 21, and there is now an additional member of the management team on £120,000.

 

The unions said that in the last three years Action for Children has made an average surplus (profit) of £5.4m each year, while it would have cost about £2m a year to have given each member of staff a cost of living pay rise in line with inflation.

 

Unite national officer for the not for profit sector Sally Kosky said“What we have here is an all too common case of a profitable organisation, with highly paid executives, unwilling to give a decent pay rise to our members. Average pay of the workforce has fallen in real terms by 52 per cent since 2010/11.

 

“The management is behaving in a high-handed manner trying to bulldoze a wholly inadequate pay offer onto our members and point blank refusing to involve Acas in the dispute. Just because people work for a charity they don’t deserve the prospect of poverty wages.

 

“The organisation has a healthy surplus and some of these reserves should be used to fairly reward its hard-working staff.”

 

UNISON national voluntary sector officer Simon Watson said: “The dedicated staff who work for Action for Children are without doubt its best resource. Every year they help thousands of vulnerable families in communities up and down the country.

 

“Action for Children claims that it is strapped for cash, yet it has managed to find the money to increase the number of its highest paid managers. Meanwhile staff haven’t had a pay rise in six years.

 

“The decision to move to a ballot for action is always a reluctant one, but despite over a year of negotiations, the charity still refuses to see sense. As a result many employees are being forced into extreme hardship. Some are having to use the same food banks as the families they are trying to help. It’s still not too late to prevent action, and we hope the charity uses the coming weeks to think carefully about its next steps.”

 

ENDS

 

For more information please contact:

Unite: Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869

UNISON: Liz Chinchen on 0207 121 5463 or 07778 158175

Some further information on Action for Children’s funding. You can see their charity return here –

 

http://apps.charitycommission.gov.uk/Showcharity/RegisterOfCharities/CharityWithPartB.aspx?RegisteredCharityNumber=1097940&SubsidiaryNumber=0

 

In short they brought in £173,070,000 last year, and spent £159,887,000. That’s a surplus of £13,183,000. And, like the unions say, they make a surplus year on year, often over £10M –

 

http://apps.charitycommission.gov.uk/Showcharity/RegisterOfCharities/FinancialHistory.aspx?RegisteredCharityNumber=1097940&SubsidiaryNumber=0

 

There are many questions that go with these sorts of incomes, including –

 

–       What do they do with the surplus? Is it sitting in a bank somewhere making someone loads of interest?

–       Why are they not spending this surplus – as a charity they are not meant to sit on money, while they are continuing to raise new money from the public.

–       Does the public know they are not spending this money? And if they are not spending it why not? The money is raised to help children, presumably, which is not doing if it is sitting in a bank.

 

To deny their staff the living wage is a scandal.

If we look at the charity sector as a whole this very quickly adds up to unimaginable amounts of money. And yet they’re still opening charity shops and rattling tins

 

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 Posted by at 18:22
Jan 252016
 

 

Dear Members of the House of Lords

A number of letters from Lord Freud have come to the attention of DPAC, some sent as part of the briefing to peers about Welfare Reform (namely Welfare Reform and Work Bill Policy Brief addendum Clauses 13 & 14 http://data.parliament.uk/DepositedPapers/Files/DEP2015-1009/151203_Peers_Briefing_Addendum_-_Clauses_13_and_14.pdf ) and others responding to the Lords’ questions  and concerns.  DPAC feels that some issues were not fully addressed and wishes to add its contributions to Monday’s debate.

2 issues are being dealt with

1) The rationale for cutting ESA benefit in the WRAG, as providing an incentive for work, when DWP own statistics show that claimants have been wrongly assessed and placed in the wrong group with a too short prognosis. Evidence is provided

2) Suicide of benefit claimants. Although a causal link between claiming benefit and suicides would be too difficult to establish at this stage, 2 coroners wrote Preventable Deaths Reports stating that being found fit for work and losing benefits was the trigger in 2 cases of suicides. DWP also recognised implicitly this link in a 2012 internal memo

 

Regarding the Document Welfare Reform and Work Bill Policy Brief addendum Clauses 13 & 14

Explanation of the 1% figure used in the policy note

Although only 17,000 of the 477,000 claimants left the benefit between March and May 2015, which is lower than expected, and the claims also longer than expected (average of 2 years), the explanation for these small numbers can be found in the following section, which deals with the rationale for cutting disability benefits for claimants in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG)

Provide evidence review of work incentives

Lord Freud quotes 2 sentences from a 2005 OECD report which looks at In-Work Benefits (rather than out of work benefits), and which never mentions disabled people or disability. From these 2 sentences, Lord Freud extrapolates the report’s findings to disabled people.
It would have been better to use the 2014 OECD report Connecting People with Jobs: Activation Policies in the United Kingdom which looks at the Work Programme (WP) and specifically at the WP’s poor work outcomes for New ESA Claimants.
https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=L9sGBAAAQBAJ&pg=PA72&lpg=PA72&dq=ex+ib+claiming+jsa&source=bl&ots=FmZ1pYubMx&sig=OVVelJOGG0v_k_B6Vb_jSnx7BWA&hl=fr&sa=X&ei=3eegVainAcTiUbnIkOgF&ved=0CFMQ6AEwBg#v=snippet&q=prognosis&f=false

 

Apart from recommending improved interventions by providers, the report suggests that ‘an improved WCA process may help better identified claimants where a 3-6 months prognosis is justified, thus increasing the average health level of this group’ (page 214).

In other terms, what the OECD report says is that New ESA Claimants, who for the purpose of the WP are split into 2 groups (one group with a 12 month prognosis and the other excluding 12 month prognosis), have been wrongly assessed as to their readiness to work.

 

This is supported by DWP’s own statistics.

A FOI request made in February 2015 shows that 483,900 ESA claimants with progressive conditions have been placed in the WRAG

Of these 483,900 claimants, 1,200 were suffering from Multiple Sclerosis

Progressive condition ESA in WRAG

2 further FOI requests were made regarding these claimants with Multiple Sclerosis

The first, made in December 2015, asks for the total number of these claimants placed in the WRAG between October 2008 and March 2015 and their prognosis: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/303706/response/746743/attach/3/FOI%202015%204905%20Response.pdf

2600 MS

As can be seen, 2,600 claimants with MS were placed in the WRAG, of whom 1,800 had a prognosis up to 12 months, and would have been referred to the WP.

The second FOI request, also made in December 2015, asked how many of the 2,600 claimants with a Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis placed in the Work Related Activity Group were found fit for work at repeat assessment https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/307910/response/757874/attach/3/FOI%202015%205230%20Response.pdf

The DWP’s response is 100 claimants

100 MS found FFW

So between October 2008 and June 2015, only 100 claimants with MS were found fit for work at repeat assessment, although they had been placed in the WRAG, 900 of them with a 3-6 months prognosis. These 1,800 claimants, with a prognosis up to 12 months, represents 5.5%, which is in line with the performance of the WP for New ESA Claimants.

It is likely that most claimants would have subsquently been moved into the Support Group, where they should have been placed at initial assessment if they had been correctly assessed. This question was asked of DWP, through a FOI request, to which it did not respond. But it shows that the WCA is failing to properly assess claimants’ capacity for work, and that in the WRAG there are people who have very severe illnesses or disabilities. These are the people who from next year are expected to survive on the same income as JSA claimants, without recognition of the extra costs (transport, heating, diet etc.) associated with disability.

Benefits in UK are considered by the Council of Europe as being among the lowest in Europe http://hudoc.esc.coe.int/eng#{“fulltext”:[“united kingdom”],”ESCDcCreator”:[“European Committee of Social Rights”],”ESCDcLanguage”:[“ENG”],”ESCStateParty”:[“GBR”],”ESCDcIdentifier”:[“XX-2/def/GBR/12/1/EN”]}

‘The Committee holds that even if the minimum levels of short term and long term incapacity benefits, state pension and job seeker’s allowance may satisfy the requirements of the European Code of Social Security, they are manifestly inadequate in the meaning of Article 12§1 of the Charter as they fall below 40% of the Eurostat median equivalised income.’

So following Lord Freud’s reasoning that low benefits help to move benefit claimants into work, the UK should have the highest number of disabled people moving into work. This is not the case. The government is exploiting the failings of the WCA against disabled people to justify cutting their benefits.

 

Suicides linked to claiming benefit

Another letter was written by Lord Freud in December 2015, in response to concerns expressed by Lord Beecham about a recent research linking the WCA to suicides. http://data.parliament.uk/DepositedPapers/Files/DEP2015-1009/151222_Lord_Freud_letter_following_9_Dec_Committee.pdf

DPAC recognises, as does Lord Freud, that ‘suicide is a tragic and complex issue’. Lord Freud concludes ‘Whilst any death is extremely distressing for the family no causal link whatsoever can be made between the likelihood of dying and the fact that someone is claiming benefits’.

It is very difficult in these circumstances to establish a causal link between the likelihood of dying and claiming benefits, but 2 Coroners wrote Preventable Future Deaths Reports explicitly linking the fact that the 2 persons who committed suicide had been found fit for work and lost their benefits.

The 1st report in 2010  speaks specifically of a ‘trigger’:

Stephen Carre

The above letter was addressed to Yvette Cooper, the then Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, and coincided with the election. So the Coalition government would have inherited this letter, but no follow up was ever given to it (as is supposed to happen within 56 days), and the coroner’s recommendations were implemented a few years later after several WCA reviews

 

The second report in January 2014 also states that being found fit for work was the trigger for suicide.

Michael O'Sullivan

.

Many other coroners have cited the WCA and WCA outcomes as contributing factors in ESA claimant suicides, although they have not gone as far as writing a Preventable Deaths Report.

And DWP implicitly recognised this link in an internal memo written in 2012 by Job Centre Plus senior managers (attached), when DWP started a new round of assessments called ESA (c), making decisions on revised benefit entitlement. Within one month of this new programme of reassessments, DWP encountered its first suicide attempt by an ESA claimant who had just been told that his benefits had been stopped

JCP suicide warning

Finally, it has come to light that DWP has conducted 49 peer reviews into claimant’s suicides. Although DWP refuses to disclose anything about these peer reviews, their Terms of Reference indicate that they only ascertain whether the right procedures were followed.

A freedom of information request made in May 2015 reveals that 10 of the 49 peer reviewed claimants who committed suicide, had been sanctioned, which represents 1 in 5. https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/252562/response/650114/attach/2/VTR501%20Bellows.pdf

10 in 49 were sanctioned

A responsible and accountable government would want to immediately open a public inquiry into suicides linked to the Welfare Reform.

DPAC thanks you in advance for taking the time to read this submission, which will hopefully inform Monday’s debate.

Yours sincerely,

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC)

NB: some links need to be copied rather than clicked on

 

 

 

 

 

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 Posted by at 12:40
Jan 232016
 

Job coaches in GP Surgeries? No! We call on GPs to ‪#‎DoNoHarm.

Support the protest online!


Friday 4th March 3pm-5pm

Main Protest Twitterstorm at the same time as the Street Protest

See more details here

 

 

Please support by using the template letter (amend as you wish) to send to your MP and your Doctor.

(Click on links Template Letter to your MP and Template letter to your doctor  to download)

and if you can …..

Join DPAC, Boycott Workfare, Mental Health Resistance Network on

4 March, 3pm at the City Road Surgery, 190-196 City Road, London EC1V 2QH.

See the Facebook Event Page for more details

and please support the Thunderclap – timed to go off just as the protest begins

 

 

Job coaches in surgeries? We call on GPs to ‪#‎DoNoHarm‬. Join Boycott Workfare, DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) and Mental Health Resistance Network on 4 March, 3pm at the City Road Surgery.
See also :

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 Posted by at 21:23
Jan 222016
 

Another call for evidence that has been hidden under the radar

The Public Accounts Committee are inviting evidence to the inquiry on contracted out health and disability assessments (i.e Maximus, Atos and Capita).

If you or someone you know has had an assessment for Employment Support Allowance (ESA), Personal Independence Payments (PIP) or a Work Capability Assessment, the Committee would like to hear about your experience.

The deadline for written submissions is 10am on Thursday 28 January 2016. Alternatively you can tweet your comments to @CommonsPAC on Twitter with the hastag #disability.

Or send your evidence to Henrietta.doyle@inclusionlondon.co.uk to inform Inclusion London’s evidence.

More information is available at:

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/public-accounts-committee/inquiries/parliament-2015/contracted-out-health-disability-assessments-15-16/

 

 

 

 

 

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 Posted by at 18:12
Jan 212016
 

We need people who would be willing to speak to the press who are in ESA WRAG about the £30 a week cut to funding which is being proposed and how this would affect you.

 

We also need to have anyone living in Supported Housing who will be affected by the cuts to Housing Benefit and the amount allowed being restricted to LHA rates.

 

If you would be willing to help with either of these things please email us at mail@dpac.uk.net

 

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 Posted by at 19:44
Jan 192016
 

Assemble 12 noon • Saturday 27 February 2016 • Location Central London • Meeting point to be announced

March to Trafalgar Square Rally with contributions from a range of political & celebrity speakers

 

Help us mobilise thousands to Stop Trident

Why are we doing this?

CND is calling a national demonstration to protest against Britain’s nuclear weapons system: Trident.

The majority of the British people, including the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and other parliamentary party leaders, oppose nuclear weapons. They are weapons of mass destruction that can kill millions. They don’t keep us safe and they divert resources from essential spending.

Join us to say No to government plans to buy a new system at a cost of over £100 billion. Parliament will be voting on this in 2016. So this is urgent – we can’t delay.

Let’s get the message out loud and clear: we don’t want Trident and we don’t want a new Trident.

Resources

Transport

DPAC supports Stop Trident

 

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 Posted by at 15:16
Jan 152016
 

Having problems paying the punitive bedroom tax and live in Lambeth? Work for them for free[1] for 3 months and all will be solved.  Lambeth sent out a series of letters last year under the heading of ‘Get set Go’. The letters announced:

‘an exciting opportunity in a scheme run by the Welfare Solutions and Estate Pride Team’

Lucky recipients were asked to choose from three different ‘volunteer opportunities’

Option one was Resident Surveys: basically tramping about in all weathers asking people on ‘selected estates’ what they think of particular community issues-This happens in pairs, presumably so they can protect one another from all the different kinds of vitriol ‘the community’ might have about the lack of services via cuts and the inflated salaries of Lambeth council directors. But hey, Lambeth are convinced that by doing the work of their paid employees for nothing, you can gain great skills. The letter gushes that such skills include:

‘dealing with the public in a customer service role, capturing information and gain[ing] insight into community engagement’

If you don’t fancy that, there’s

Option two: Estate inspections: This is about delivering services (stop laughing) and involves being mentored by trained (presumably paid, but who knows anymore) Lambeth council staff. On this one, the new found skills include

‘reporting, writing repair requests’

and a possibly illuminating combination of

‘understanding how the housing sector works and problem solving’

Last but not least is doing a bit of gardening for Lambeths ‘less able residents’. In three months this clearing of weeds/gardening apparently provides a number of wonderments including:

‘gaining horticultural/maintenance, creative and project management experience’.

They leave out getting the odd cup of tea, maybe they just couldn’t agree on any specifically ridiculous wording for potential quasi-skill set, for example: to professional tea taster or to the development of professional tea buyer which would include exciting travel opportunities to pick the best leaves for brand name teas, gaining exceptional skills in quality control and financial exploitation for a multinational corporate body.

In addition to all this there’s the obligatory CV writing workshops, interview techniques etc. But also the completely stunning and baffling:

‘customer service functional Maths & English and IT skills training’

(and yes, I can see several errors and oddities in that line too, but never mind)

In return for this bewildering array of nonsense -your bedroom tax gets erased for 3 months:

‘You will receive financial support to assist with the effect of the social sector size criteria (bedroom tax) through monthly rent adjustments to cover your shortfall for the 3 month duration’

So if it’s possible to give monthly rent adjustments to cover shortfalls: why can’t they just do that for everyone?

Why do people need to work for 3 months on Lambeth’s bizarre version of local workfare?  And of equal importance -are Lambeth in breach of the Equality Act? Even if a disabled person wanted to take part in this sham none of the options seem particularly accessible. Lambeth announced in 2014 that they would tackle the issue of bedroom tax with what they called a ‘work first’ approach[2].

The DWP’s own 2015 report  said that three quarters of those effected by the bedroom tax were going without food and/or heat while just 1 in 9 of those affected had been able to move home to a smaller property. We know it’s much more difficult for disabled people to move home due to completed adaptations to their homes and local family and friends networks.

We also know that those in receipt of housing benefit are increasingly those in work on low pay and in insecure work, which is compounded by the increases in the cost of living. Another fact that seems to have escaped Lambeth:

‘A “work first” approach will be taken that will encourage these households to avoid the bedroom tax altogether by getting into work’2

Surely, the only correct thing to do is to scrap this punitive tax that persecutes those with the least- Lambeth council show they can do it for 3 months-or to work at local levels to alleviate the inhuman impacts of bedroom tax on local individuals, families and children?

No, Lambeth chose to  devise ‘work first’ workfare schemes to add further persecution and provide them with  labour at the equivalent  of a x pounds a week , reducing their own employment costs, driving down wages, and denying real paid jobs in the process.

If anyone thinks that this is a useful initiative, think again: how long before this turns to 30 or 40 hours per week, how long before dwindling ‘services’ need to be exchanged for work in a ‘work first’ local agenda?  What happens to those who can’t work because of chronic ill health, or impairment, and those that need additional support?

Lambeth are setting a dangerous local precedent

Let us know if your council has a similar scheme at mail@dpac.uk.net

See here for useful information on discretionary housing payments

Original Get set go letter page 1 

Notes

[1] Bedroom tax is applied to those in social housing where the amount of net rent covered by housing benefit is reduced by 14% for one spare bedroom and 25% if you have two or more bedrooms. Housing benefit is paid to those in work and out of work. The bedroom tax does not apply to those in so called private housing. http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/housing_benefit_and_local_housing_allowance/changes_to_housing_benefit/bedroom_tax

[2] ‘A “work first” approach will be taken that will encourage these households to avoid the bedroom tax altogether by getting into work’ p.3 2014 http://moderngov.lambeth.gov.uk/documents/s71133/For%20info%20A%20Welfare%20Reform%20Report.pdf

Get set go promo leaflet http://www.roupellpark.co.uk/sites/default/files/Lambeth%20Get%20Set%20Go%20poster.pdf –

 

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 Posted by at 18:24
Jan 122016
 

We are pleased to be able to let people know that Southampton City Council appear to have backed down over proposals to cap social care support awards as part of their budget savings.

Disabled residents of Southampton alerted DPAC before Christmas to the Council’s consultation on proposals which would have forced Disabled people with high support needs out of their homes and into residential care. The consultation was being conducted as part of Southampton City’s budget setting process in a move to cut costs. Meanwhile the Council are investing twelve million in a new ‘super care home’.
(http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/tag/southampton-city-council/)

The proposals sparked a national outcry against measures which experts judged to be legally questionable.
(http://www.communitycare.co.uk/2015/12/17/councils-personal-budget-limit-risks-legal-challenge/)

This morning Southampton residents received a letter telling them that the consultation has been terminated early as a result of the considerable volume of feedback and concerns received. The letter stated that the Council is looking to “use the feedback… to develop a fresh proposal about how we set personal budgets for all adult social care users”. They expect this new proposal to be sent out in early February.

Thank you to everyone who contacted Southampton Council with concerns and who took action to support Disabled Southampton residents to fight their plans.

DPAC will continue to monitor the situation in Southampton and await with interest the new proposal. We would urge social care users in all areas to check what proposals your Councils are putting forward as part of the budget setting process which is happening now, and if you see anything that concerns you, like the Southampton proposals, let us know using mail@dpac.uk.net.

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 Posted by at 23:02
Jan 092016
 

Are you in the ESA Work-Related Activity Group?

Would you be willing to share your experiences and views on welfare support with a PhD student to develop research in welfare policy and the effects on disabled individuals?

I am looking to conduct 30 minute interviews (face to face or via telephone based on location) with people who are in the Work Related Activity Group of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). All participation will be anonymized.

For further information or to get involved, please contact me at: Jo Brown email: j.brown.6@research.gla.ac.uk

Thank you for taking the time to consider this

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 Posted by at 18:34