Jul 302016
 

Disabled people in the UK send deepest condolences and solidarity with the families of 19 disabled people killed in Japan on 25th July 2016.The vigil will take place outside the Japanese embassy  101-104 Piccadilly, London W1J 7JT. Starting at 4pn on the 4th August

This vigil has been organised by Eleanor Lisney and Dennis Queen, who have created a facebook event page, which says

“We will mourn for our disabled brothers and sisters murdered at Sagamihara for being disabled.  I suggest that we mourn respectfully for their deaths – we can raise questions on their incarceration elsewhere but we want to deliver our condolences so that we show we care about our disabled brothers and sisters. They do not deserve to die in silence. We do not stereotype and blame Eastern or Japanese culture. eugenics is not a Eastern practice. #disabilitysolidarity #disablistviolence”

Book of Condolence to the 19 disabled people who died in Sagamihara, Japan on 25th July 2016There is also an online book of condolence for people who cannot get to the vigil but wish to pay their respects. This book will be printed and handed into the Japanese embassy during the 4th August vigil. The book was created jointly by DPAC, Inclusion London and People First Advocacy. Please remember when posting to the book, to be respectful and moderate in your comments, as befits the solemn nature of this tragic occasion.

 Posted by at 11:30
Jul 262016
 

Disability & Sex/uality project

Invitation

We are delighted to announce that we are now able to continue the Disability and Sex/uality project that we started in September 2015. This phase of the project will consist of four workshops, each with a different theme. These workshops are for self-identified disabled women who want to create a space to talk about disability, sex and sexuality. It would be ideal if you can attend all the workshops, but if you prefer, you can just come to the ones you want. We would love to see you there!

Please RSVP now for the Disability and Sex/uality meeting on 30 July 2016, 1-5pm, London.

The project

The idea for this project came out of a screening of the documentary AccSex, which showed how a group of disabled women in India experience their sexuality. We at Sisters of Frida, a disabled women’s cooperative, felt the need to create a space where we can safely discuss our sexuality in a supportive and empowering environment.

As disabled women we have a wide range of experiences, positive and negative, around disability, sex and sexuality. Disabled women are sexy, sexual, passionate, loving, caring, desirable, hot, beautiful, strong and much more! Our experiences of sexuality are also affected by different kinds of oppressions such as ableism, racism, sexism, heteronormativity, classism and age.

Themes and dates of the workshops

Workshop 1: Crip Sex, Because We Want It Our Way

In this workshop we will explore what sex means for us as disabled women, non-normative sex, positive self-image, exploring sex alone and sex with others.

Date: Sat 30 July

Time: 12-4pm

Workshop 2: When It Doesn’t Feel Good and It Isn’t Right

In this workshop we will discuss negative experiences and difficulties we have around sex and sexuality, our boundaries, consent, privacy and ableism in relationships.

Date: Sat 27 Aug

Time: 12-4pm

Workshop 3: Disabled Desire: Sexy and Sensual Possibilities

In this workshop we will discuss positive experiences we have and want to have around sex and sexuality, pleasure, and what it means to desire and be desired.

Date: Sat 17 Sept

Time: 11.30-3pm (note the different time!)

Workshop 4: Sex: Getting What You Want and Need

Here we will build on the other workshops, and discuss how to develop confidence and feel empowered to do and want sex differently, challenge internalised oppression and other obstacles, and talk about how to put our desires and needs into practice.

Date: Sat 22 Oct

Time: 12-4pm

Registration

The topics we will discuss can be sensitive. For this reason, please contact us directly to register and discuss participation as this will be a closed meeting: sof.disabilitysexuality@gmail.com. Note that places are limited, please get in touch as soon as possible. Deadline for registration for the first workshop (30 July) is 15 July.

Accessibility and needs

The venue is large and wheelchair accessible. There is an accessible toilet, but without a hoist. There is a kitchen people can use for quiet-time. Please get in touch as soon as possible if you need BSL or if you have other access needs. If you have any concerns or queries about the nature of what might be discussed in the workshop and how it could relate to your experiences, please get in touch. Please note that this is a peer-support group, so we cannot offer professional support.

Other details

Where: New Unity Islington

Address: 277A Upper Street, Islington, London, N1 2TZ

Contact: sof.disabilitysexuality@gmail.com

Deadline for registration: 15 July 2016

Accessibility: please get in touch to discuss your needs as soon as possible

Funded and supported by:

 

 Posted by at 15:11
Jul 262016
 

It’s all about policy

Another day and yet more desperate attempts by Corbyn detractors to try to weaken his formidable base of support. Claims that he is unelectable and that he has no policies just don’t fit the facts. The current bitter battle within the Labour party is all about policy as the right struggle to cling on to a neoliberal agenda that the electorate are increasingly turning against and thwart the development of policies that can deliver the alternative vision of society that underpins support for Jeremy Corbyn.

In the following post Ellen Clifford explores, from a disability perspective, the winning power of left wing policies.


The March 2016 budget was a pivotal moment for both Corbyn’s Labour and George Osborne. Responding to a budget that funded tax breaks for the rich through benefit cuts for disabled people, Corbyn went straight to the heart of the matter, declaring at the dispatch box: “This Budget has unfairness at its very core, paid for by those who can least afford it. The Chancellor could not have made his priorities clearer. While half a million people with disabilities are losing over £1 billion in Personal Independence Payments, corporation tax is being cut and billions handed out in tax cuts to the very wealthy.”1 That week Labour went ahead in the polls for the first time since Corbyn’s election as Labour leader2 and Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State who had driven through the biggest shake up of the welfare state since its creation, unexpectedly and dramatically resigned3. The government made an immediate u-turn on the proposed cut4 and Osborne’s hopes of being the next Prime Minister seemed to lie in tatters5.

The cuts to Personal Independence Payments (PIP) proposed in the budget were only the latest wave in a tsunami of cuts that had been hitting disabled people since 2010. Research by the Centre for Welfare Reform in 2013 showed that disabled people had been impacted by the cuts nine times harder than non-disabled people, with that figure rising to nineteen times harder for people with high support needs accessing social care support6. The range and scale of cuts was unprecedented with disabled people hit in every area of their lives from benefits to social care to education7.

In May 2015 the Tories were then elected with a mandate to take another £12 billion from welfare8. In October 2015 the UK became the first nation state to be investigated for grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s rights9. The world looked on as deaths linked to benefit cuts mounted and still the Tories came after the poorest members of society to pay for the bankers’ financial crisis while the rich got richer10.

Attacks on disabled people and the poorest members of society, explained by IDS after his resignation as “distinctly political rather than in the national economic interest”11, were facilitated by a shameful lack of opposition from Labour prior to Corbyn’s election. This was underpinned by a stark awareness among disabled campaigners that the roots of welfare reform could be traced back to New Labour, not only individual punitive policies such as sanctions, workfare and the Work Capability Assessment but also the narrative of benefit scrounging that has been used to justify benefit cuts and obscure the facts.

Labour’s failure to take a stand against welfare reform under the Coalition government was perceived by many disabled people as abandonment. The impact of this approach on the outcome of the 2015 General Election is unquantified but we know it cost Labour votes. Campaigning journalist Ros Wynne Jones comments that, “In the run up to the 2015 election, a fear of unelectability made the front bench position on welfare at times so highly confused it almost triangulated itself out of existence.”

Meanwhile other parties capitalised on Labour’s failure to stand up for disabled people. The SNP, UKIP and the Greens all took votes from Labour by making straightforward commitments to disabled voters on issues we had been lobbying for since 201012. All were issues where the central concern was no more avoidable harm, indignity and suffering for disabled people. They were also areas where the fiscal policy was questionable and taxpayers’ money was arguably not being used in the best way. On all these issues both Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell took a principled stance in supporting disabled people in defiance of their party line.

Labour’s misdirection on welfare made Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader inevitable. It is a grim and frustrating chapter in Labour’s history but one which evidences the kind of society most people want to live in as well as pointing to an alternative policy direction with the potential to win from the left.

The development of welfare reform under New Labour

When Rachel Reeves was quoted in the Guardian just two months before the General Election as saying: “We are not the party of people on benefits. We don’t want to be seen, and we’re not, the party to represent those out of work”13, it was the final straw for many disabled voters. Reeves claimed she was taken out of context but to those living day to day at the sharp end of benefit cuts there was no context that could justify words with such a clear message of rejection. People out of work enduring rampant stigmatisation as benefit cheats and scroungers desperately wanted a party that would defend them. Here was a dismissal not only of their votes but also of their plight. One disabled campaigner wrote a resignation letter to his local CLP. While stressing that “every member” of his local party had afforded him “nothing but friendship, respect and camaraderie” he explained: “As someone who claims benefits only because they cannot work, I feel personally betrayed and insulted by that statement and I now feel that I am unwelcome within the UK Labour party.”14

As a backdrop to Labour’s failure to challenge the right-wing narrative of a broken welfare system dominated by fraud, disabled people were very aware that the most dangerous aspects of welfare reform all had roots in New Labour. The Tories had accelerated without first piloting the roll out of the notorious Work Capability Assessment (WCA) which tested eligibility for the Incapacity Benefit replacement Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). However the WCA was developed under New Labour as part of an approach to welfare reform that included punitive measures such as sanctions and workfare, constant re-assessments for eligibility and the involvement of private companies15. Understanding this background is essential for understanding the strength of mistrust disabled voters felt towards Labour under the Coalition government. It also highlights the fundamental flaws behind welfare reform and what an alternative approach to social security could look like.

The aim of welfare reform whether under the Tories or New Labour was quite simply to reduce claimant numbers to keep spending down. The targets for reduction set by successive governments far exceeded levels of benefit fraud or error16 and could only be achieved by redefining who is and isn’t eligible. To this end New Labour adopted the practices of UnumProvident, a private insurance company with a reputation in the US for running “disability denial factories”. By 2005, after many successful legal cases throughout the USA, the California Department of Insurance Commissioner, John Garamendi, stated: “Unum Provident is an outlaw company. It is a company that has operated in an illegal fashion for years…”17. A Unum internal report from 2005 boasts that UK government policy is “to a large extent being driven by our thinking”18. The 2006 Welfare reform bill was underpinned by the same methodology as informed the work of Unum, one where, as Jonathan Rutherford explains, “work is abstracted from the material conditions of paid employment and inequality”19. This approach to disability locates the problem within the individual and is diametrically opposed to the social model of disability as championed by the Disabled People’s Rights Movement which argues that societal barriers are what create unequal life chances20. The result was a Work Capability Assessment designed to move disabled people off benefits irrespective of the concrete barriers they face to accessing the world of work, disregarding diagnosis, prognosis or limited life expectancy. Meanwhile Unum pushed ahead with marketing its Income Protection Insurance in Britain21.

A key characteristic of welfare reform developed under New Labour and escalated by the Tories was the opening up of public finance to private companies. ‘Reducing Dependency, Increasing Opportunity’, the March 2007 review of the future for welfare to work commissioned by New Labour from former banker Lord Freud commented that “The fiscal prize is considerable’. The core of his proposal was that government targets could be achieved by bringing in the private sector on long-term outcome-based contracts22. Writing in 2007, Rutherford concluded that “New Labour’s politics of welfare reform has sub-ordinated concern for the sick and disabled to the creation of a new kind of market state.” Freud’s role as the architect of welfare reform was assured after shifting allegiance to the Tories. A peerage later he was made Minister for Welfare Reform, a position he continues to hold.

The scapegoating of benefit claimants used as a deadly smoke screen for benefit cuts was a tactic tried and tested under New Labour. The study ‘Benefits Stigma Britain’ analysing media coverage from 1995 – 2011 finds peaks of stigmatisation in the late 1990s and 2008 before growing exponentially under the Coalition from 2010 -11. It was under New Labour that ‘benefit scrounging’ as opposed to fraud emerged as the dominant theme within negative media stories23. Public perceptions of welfare became widely distorted as a result. Research commissioned by the disability organisation Inclusion London in 2011 found members of the public under the impression that levels of disability benefit fraud were as high as 70%, with the true figure being no more than 0.5%24. This left a wide playing field for the right wing media whose demonisation of benefit claimants reached hysterical levels25 under the Coalition government and has been linked to increasing levels of hostility and harassment towards disabled people26.

The failure of welfare reform

The human cost of welfare reform has been terrible. Alongside a handful of well-published deaths and suicides linked to benefit cuts27 is a much wider picture of suffering and avoidable harm. A study by academics from Liverpool and Oxford universities published in 2015 found that reassessments for Incapacity Benefit from 2010 – 2013 were associated with an extra 590 suicides, 279,000 additional cases of self-reported mental health problems and the prescribing of a further 752,000 anti-depressant28. Disability News Service continues to press for the release of information from 49 ‘peer reviews’ undertaken into suicides and complex cases linked to benefit cuts which the DWP has so far successfully blocked29. With fresh cuts to Employment and Support Allowance voted through in the Welfare Reform and Work bill we can expect further tragedies.

Human suffering aside, welfare reform as a tax-funded government policy has been an utter disaster. Contracts with private companies, central to the success of Freud’s vision, have proved wasteful and inefficient, costing more than they save30 as assessments are overturned at appeal following costly tribunals and as the DWP has to invest extra to clear backlogs resulting from under-performance. A study by the National Audit Office published in January 2016 found that over the next three years 1.6 billion will be handed to private contractors to carry out disability assessments. Savings in benefit payments resulting from the tests are projected at less than a billion by 202031. Over the summer of 2015, face to face assessment targets were falling short by 20,000 per month while backlogs of hundreds of thousands of claimants were leaving disabled people without access to full payments for more than six months. Forecast reductions in spending on disability benefits have failed to materialise. In October 2014 the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecast spend on disability benefits between 2015 and 2019 would be 55.9 billion. By March 2016 this forecasted spend had grown to 66.4 billion.

The failure to reduce disability benefit spending is a consequence of the fact that there simply aren’t the vast numbers of people claiming disability benefits as a lifestyle choice when they could be working that were assumed. The myth of inter-generational worklessness has been successfully repudiated32 while the evidence base for a recent study claiming scientific proof that the benefits system is creating a generation of ‘work resistant personalities’ was so flawed that right wing commentators had to issue subsequent apologies for praiseworthy reviews33. The logic of welfare reform is to reduce claimant numbers but if those claimants genuinely need to be on benefits the result is avoidable harm to disabled people while wasting taxpayers’ money on intensive regimes of assessments. The failings of the welfare reform programme have been deliberately concealed from public view by misinformation. Time and again Iain Duncan Smith was called before the UK Statistics Authority and reprimanded for misleading use of statistics34. His departure from Work and Pensions was linked by some commentators to the fact his department was running out of excuses not to make public a number of presumably damning reports on the progress of Universal Credit35.

Labour and welfare reform under the Coalition government

The scale of the welfare reform programme failure was well documented and apparent under the Coalition government yet Labour refused to challenge the dominant narrative that welfare reform was necessary and commit to policy pledges that could have restored the confidence of disabled voters. The calculation seemed to be that election in 2015 rested on pandering to public misperceptions and scapegoating of benefit claimants. In his 2011 party conference speech, Liam Byrne, then shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, stated that: “many people on the door step at the last election felt that too often we were for shirkers not workers”36. Meanwhile on the ground the brutal realities of welfare reform and the flawed WCA were beginning to hit. The message to disabled people was not to look to Labour for support.

Labour’s election strategy centred around not being seen as soft on welfare while avoiding spending commitments that could be used to question their economic competence. Individual pledges by Labour to end the contract with Atos to run the WCA or abolish the bedroom tax if elected did not go far enough37. Nor could those suffering under the realities of welfare reform wait for Labour to get elected. Campaigners effectively chased Atos out of their contract before 2015 while Labour councils up and down the country continued to implement the hated bedroom tax. Only a handful of Labour MPs including Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Michael Meacher stood with disabled campaigners at a memorial service for the victims of welfare reform under a banner calling for the abolition of the WCA38, while Labour’s 2015 disability mini-manifesto went no further than committing to “overhaul”, but nevertheless retain, the WCA39. Labour’s position on the Independent Living Fund became farcical with their own Parliamentary Candidates in utter confusion as Miliband attempted to criticise the government for its decision to close the Fund while insisting Labour would not retain it if elected40.

Journalist Dr Frances Ryan says, “It became very difficult for Labour to fully support disabled people without rejecting the wider dominant political narrative of the election that being an economically viable party meant (or at least appearing) to be ‘tough on welfare’. With the Conservatives promising 12 billion worth of so-called necessary cuts to social climate the very climate that meant Labour needed to be the party for disabled people ultimately stopped them from being it.”

Other parties were less hesitant about adopting policies in defence of the rights and well-being of disabled people. In a BBC televised referendum debate Alistair Darling referred only once to “people with disabilities” and only because he was asked a question specifically about disability benefits while managing to focus most of his response on the need to have a strong economy. Salmond by contrast deliberately mentioned disabled people eight times, referring to them as victims of austerity41. In the run up to the General Election individual disabled people were contacting Disabled People Against Cuts to ask if the SNP could stand in England. On both sides of the border, disabled campaigners were interested in the policy pledges the SNP were prepared to commit to that Labour continued to shun. The Independent Living Fund, a source of support for disabled people with high support needs enabling them to live in the community when the alternative was residential care, was one key example of this. Whereas Labour maintained its position “not to keep the ILF” if elected, the SNP committed not only to ring fence funding for existing ILF recipients but to re-open a Scottish ILF for new users42.

In England meanwhile activity by the UK Independence Party indicated a deliberate and systematic targeting of disabled people’s votes. UKIP appointed a disabled spokesperson, Star Etheridge, who had herself undergone a WCA43 and all trace of UKIP’s 2010 welfare policies, where benefit claimants were described as “an underclass of parasitic scrounger”, was removed from the internet44. Debbie Jolly co-founder of DPAC explains: “As a campaign DPAC is opposed to all forms of discrimination and scapegoating. As such we never welcomed support from UKIP despite their adoption of policies including the scrapping of the WCA and saving the ILF. In the run up to the election we had to maintain constant vigilance over UKIP supporters infiltrating disabled people’s campaign groups on social media. Our own members would regularly contact us having been caught up by UKIP’s promises of protecting benefits for disabled people. It was a real problem. Although the Green party also made positive commitments to disabled people in England, UKIP had so much more of the media as well as a very well organised grassroots campaign.” When Russell Brand alluded to this problem on BBC Question Time, a disabled audience member was ready to immediately jump in to counter that Farage supposedly had an unblemished record on disability45. The disability vote was clearly valued by UKIP as a core part of their election strategy.

Even after Labour’s defeat at the polls in May 2015, it took Corbyn’s election as leader to correct the misguided approach to welfare and disability that had alienated so many disabled voters. Ignoring overwhelming evidence to the contrary, elements within the party concluded election failure was linked to not being “tough enough” on welfare. In the Fabian Society’s offensively titled publication ‘Never Again’46, Will Straw suggests that Ed Miliband’s mistake was not to adopt as “the centrepiece of his entire campaign” the mantra that it is “wrong to be idle on benefits when you can work”. In a vote on the hated Welfare Reform and Work bill in July 2015, 184 Labour MPs under acting leader Harriet Harman followed the party line in abstaining. Among the 48 MPs who rebelled were Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, who announced in the debate: “I would swim through vomit to vote against the bill”47. Less than two months later Jeremy Corbyn was elected as leader of the Labour party. Linda Burnip, co-founder of DPAC says, only a small handful of Labour MPs seemed to genuinely support our vital work, amongst them Jeremy Corbyn.” Debbie Jolly adds: “The constant aping of the Tories by the Blairites in search of an election win was a complete disaster in 2015 for people like me who would never ever vote Tory.”

An online poll conducted by DPAC found that 78% (580 out of 740) of respondents felt Labour had failed to give the commitments disabled people needed before the 2015 General Election. 60% of respondents (309 out of 508) said they had voted for Labour in the GE and another 60% (433 out of 712) said they had voted for Corbyn to be Labour leader48. A number of comments were left by individuals explaining that although they support Corbyn they had not participated in the leadership election because their allegiance is now with either the Green party or the SNP as a result of what they see as better commitments on disability. A number also mentioned distrust of the Parliamentary Labour Party citing, as one comment deftly put it, “the Labstain debacle”49. DPAC national committee member Bob Ellard says, “Disabled people are a highly politicised, well informed cohort of society who demand much from politicians and use our votes not through tribal loyalty but to the party that offers us the best deal.”

Disabled campaigners are clear about how policies since 2010 have actively retrogressed disabled people’s rights and what an alternative would look like on issues touching all areas of our lives including social security but also independent living, social care and inclusive education50. Before Corbyn’s election as leader it was however made clear to us that Labour felt they had more to lose than to gain by listening to us. Sean McGovern, disability councillor of the TUC General Council says: “Running up to the 2015 general election Labour had ample opportunity to promote some progressive disability policies… Instead Labour decided to sit on its hands on all these issues. By doing so, in my view, they alienated themselves from a large swathe of voters – disabled people and their supporters… When Corbyn decided to run for the leadership of the Labour party with John McDonnell at his side disabled people knew they had a prospective leadership team who understood disabled people and their issues. Two people who understand the social model of disability.”

An alternative approach – winning from the left

Policies that protect disabled people are not just something disabled people and our families care about. Most people do not want to live in a deeply unequal society where disadvantage is punished and are in favour of a social security system that provides a safety net for those that need. A TUC survey published in 2013 found that support for welfare reform was based on widespread public ignorance. The survey also showed that when members of the public were given accurate information about how the welfare budget is spent their attitudes changed51. Such facts were decidedly missing from the welfare narrative communicated by all three main political parties under the Coalition government. Politicians play a crucial role in the shaping of public perceptions on welfare because such a large percentage of media coverage on the subject is policy focused. Opposition to the scapegoating of benefit claimants as presented by the SNP and the Green party was not only the principled stand Labour should have taken but could also have exposed the realities of welfare reform to the wider public much earlier.

Where politicians take a lead in opposing the austerity narrative and necessity of welfare reform they can influence public opinion. Throughout late 2015 and early 2016 Labour showed strong opposition to cuts to Employment and Support Allowance proposed in the Welfare Reform and Work bill, supporting the Lords in two rebellions against the measure to reduce the incomes of disabled people in the Work Related Activity Group by £30 per week. A survey conducted by Populus in January found just 6% of the public thought the government’s disability benefit reforms would make Britain a better place52. A popular name and shame campaign of Tory MPs who had voted in favour of the ESA cut led to a number of disability organisations very publicly ‘sacking’ patrons including London mayoral hopeful Zac Goldsmith53. A YouGov poll after the March 2016 budget found that 70% of the public believed that the PIP cuts were the “wrong priority”54.

This was the background to Iain Duncan Smith’s opportunistic decision to deal Osborne and Cameron a blow in language borrowed from the left as the Tories imploded over Europe. In a resignation letter that questioned whether “enough [had] been done to ensure ‘we are all in this together'”, IDS described “the latest changes to benefits for the disabled” as “a compromise too far” and their context “within a Budget that benefits higher earning taxpayers” as indefensible55. He went even further in an astonishing interview on the Andrew Marr show, publicly stating what both the mainstream media and pre-Corbyn Labour had been too afraid to name, that is, the ideological rather than economic basis of austerity. Disabled campaigners looked on in incredulity as this man who had steadfastly denied the impacts of welfare reform for close to six years expressed concern that the government was “hurting the most vulnerable” and that the proposed PIP cut “looks like we see this as a pot of money, that doesn’t matter because they don’t vote for you”.56 Tracey Lazard, CEO of Inclusion London, says, “Disabled people have known all along what IDS made public in his resignation, that we have borne the brunt of disproportionate, indefensible and ideological cuts. We hope these revelations will embolden Labour to finally stand up for us and they need to; they have their work cut out to regain our trust and our votes.”

In the aftermath of the Tories’ March 2016 budget disaster there are efforts across the political spectrum to appear to prioritise the well-being of disabled people. Every time a government minister speaks the dubious amounts they are claiming to spend on disability seems to increase by billions57. A mail out by the Labour campaigns team dated 26 March 2016 encouraged supporters to back Sadiq Khan’s bid to be mayor pointing out that unlike his rival Zac Goldsmith, Khan voted against the March 2016 budget that proposed to take money off disabled people58.

If this new found interest in disability is to be anything more than just the latest stick with which to beat the Tories, there needs to be some fundamental shifts in understanding and approach towards disability at a wider policy level within the Labour party. IDS may be gone with disability thrown momentarily into the spotlight but policies that unfairly target disabled people such as the bedroom tax, sanctions, the WCA and tightened eligibility for PIP are still in place and there is worse yet to come. At the time of writing disabled campaigners wait apprehensively for the government’s long expected health and employment white paper. This is likely to extend conditionality while tying medical and therapeutic services to targets for moving claimants off benefits and into employment. Pilots funded by the DWP are already underway in a number of local authority areas with Labour councils disregarding the potential impact in taking forward such an ideologically driven approach to welfare59. In other areas of disabled people’s lives, the increasing social care budget shortfall is having a devastating impact with disabled people who rely on social care support denied basic human rights while plans to fully academise education threatens to increase discrimination against disabled learners.

Disabled people’s rights need defending as never before but this can only be done by challenging the dominant narrative of austerity and the model of disability which underpins welfare reform at its most fundamental level. We need alternative policies grounded in an accurate understanding of the needs and realities of disabled people’s lives. Just because many disabled people want to work does not mean that they can or will find suitable employment no matter how hard they try. Welfare reform has failed because it seeks to impose top down policy targets that can only be achieved by redefining disability: reducing claimant numbers is not something that can be achieved by simply wishing away disability and impairment. Whereas prejudice and negative attitudes towards disabled people are socially constructed, the material conditions of disabled people’s lives present concrete barriers embedded in the complex inter-relationship between disability and capitalism. Locating the problem within the individual as the model underpinning welfare reform does, ignores the socio-economic factors that create inequality. These forces are bigger than any one person can overcome. The result is an approach that punishes the individual claimant for circumstances beyond their control. What is needed is an alternative approach that understands how conditions such as the intensification of work and growth of insecure and low paid employment are not only making employment harder to reach for disabled people but also increasing incidences of illness and impairment through the effects of stress and in-work poverty.

There is also a need for a much better understanding of the oppression of disabled people and of disability as an equalities issue. Labour’s failure to make the commitments to disabled people that were needed before the 2015 General Election resulted from the way our issues were viewed at a policy level primarily through the prism of spending commitments. Voters on the other hand understood the attacks on disabled people being waged by the Tories as a human rights issue. Labour’s lack of opposition represented an affront to basic principles of social justice and fairness. There is one anecdote that beautifully encapsulates the situation in the run up to the General Election. In a meeting with members of the shadow DWP team member, Sean McGovern challenged Labour’s position on closing the Independent Living Fund. Kate Green, then shadow minister for disabled people commented that the ILF closure only affected around 16,500 people. Sean retorted: “It’s called solidarity. It’s one of the building blocks of socialism”. Those campaigning to save the Independent Living Fund were fighting for those 16,500 individuals but also, crucially for the equalities principle that everyone, regardless of impairment, should have the right to live in the community alongside family and friends.

Most people want to live in a society where those who cannot participate in the labour market are supported by a safety net that affords a standard of life consistent with a person’s human rights. Most people want to live in a society where everyone regardless of impairment has the same chances to participate, contribute and be valued. That is why the Tories have had to actively conceal the true impact of their policies behind rhetoric that claims they will always protect the “most vulnerable”60. Traditionally exclusion and powerlessness have led to a lack of wider awareness and the marginalisation of disabled people’s issues and interests. Under austerity we have been brought to the forefront, not only of the attacks but also to resistance against the cuts. A statement given by the campaign UKUncut for the 2014 publication ‘From Cuts…to Resistance” says, “DPAC have pushed the anti cuts movement to be bolder and more inclusive in its protests. DPAC has shown that those hit the hardest will hit back the hardest.”61 This relationship with the broader anti austerity movement has given our issues an unprecedented political profile on the left. However support for disabled people is also a cross-cutting issue able to capture the wider popular indignation against rising inequality, as indicated by the experience of DPAC activist Paula Peters. When traveling on the London Underground Paula was recognised by a fellow commuter from press coverage of a protest during events in March 2016 and given a hero’s response by the whole train carriage. She explains, “I ended up going seven extra stops in the wrong direction as the passengers wanted more details about DPAC, the details of the DPAC website and how they could support us….I think the tide is turning.”

1 http://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2016-03-16/debates/16031632000002/BudgetResolutionsAndEconomicSituation

3 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-35848891

4 http://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2016-03-21/debates/16032113000001/Welfare#contribution-16032116000064

5 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3501124/Iain-Duncan-Smith-insists-bombshell-resignation-not-personal-savaging-George-Osborne-making-Government-unfair-working-poor.html

6 http://www.centreforwelfarereform.org/library/type/pdfs/a-fair-society1.html

7 Resrach commissioned by the Guardian in 2013 estimated that disabled people would be hit by welfare cuts of up to £28 billion over five years

8 http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/election-2015-conservatives-confirm-plans-for-12-billion-welfare-cuts/

9 http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/oct/20/un-inquiry-uk-disability-rights-violations-cprd-welfare-cuts

10 The 2015 Sunday Times Rich List found that the combined wealth of the 1,000 richest men and women in Britain has more than doubled in the last ten years: http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/public/richlist/

11 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-35848891

12 The Green party made saving the Independent Living Fund one of their key pledges to disabled people: http://dpac.uk.net/2015/01/green-party-would-save-the-independent-living-fund/

13 http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/mar/17/labour-vows-to-reduce-reliance-on-food-banks-if-it-comes-to-power

14 He later rejoined the Labour party and supported Jeremy Corbyn’s bid to become Labour Party leader

15 The 2008 white paper introduced by James Purnell ‘Raising Expectations and Increasing Support: Reforming Welfare for the Future’ was supported by the Conservatives then in opposition who claimed it was near identical to their own welfare policies published the preceding January. Chris Grayling’s criticism was that there were too many pilots.

16 DWP figures for 2010/11 showed benefit fraud for DLA at 0.5%. In June 2010 Osborne announced plans to cut expenditure on Disability Living Allowance by 20%. https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/fraud-and-error-in-the-benefit-systemhttps://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/248096/0061.pdf

17 http://www.centreforwelfarereform.org/library/by-az/from-the-british-welfare-state.html

18 http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/unum-bragged-about-driving-government-thinking-on-incapacity-benefit-reform/

19 Rutherford, Jonathan (Summer 2007). “New labour, the market state, and the end of welfare”. Soundings, issue: Politics and markets (Lawrence & Wishart) 36: 40–55.http://www.midmoors.co.uk/Unum/unum_in_uk.pdf

20 A Tale of two Models: Disabled People vs Unum, Atos, Government and Disability CharitiesDebbie Jolly

http://disability-studies.leeds.ac.uk/files/library/A-Tale-of-two-Models-Leeds1.pdf

21 The influence of private insurance on UK welfare reforms – Mo Stewarthttp://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/01/20/the-influence-of-private-insurance-on-uk-welfare-reforms-mo-stewart/

22 Reducing dependency, increasing opportunity – Freud report http://base-uk.org/knowledge/reducing-dependency-increasing-opportunity-freud-report

23 https://www.turn2us.org.uk/T2UWebsite/media/Documents/Benefits-Stigma-in-Britain.pdf

24 Bad News for Disabled People: How the Newspapers are Reporting Disability. Strathclyde Centre for Disability Research and Glasgow Media Unit,http://www.gla.ac.uk/media/media_214917_en.pdf

25 “Vile product of Welfare UK” screamed the Daily Mail headline on 3 Aril 2013 in relation to Mick Philpott’s conviction for deliberately starting a fire that led to the deaths of six of his children.

26 http://www.theguardian.com/society/2012/aug/14/disability-hate-crime-benefit-scrounger-abuse

27 There have been a number of cases publicised by the media including Stephanie Bottrill, David Clapson and Michael O’Sullivan to name a few.http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-22500009

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/09/david-clapson-benefit-sanctions-death-government-policies

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/sep/21/fit-for-work-assessment-was-trigger-for-suicide-coroner-says

28 D Barr et al: ‘First, do no harm’: are disability assessments associated with adverse trends in mental health? A longitudinal ecological study http://jech.bmj.com/content/early/2015/10/26/jech-2015-206209.abstract

29 http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/dwp-secrecy-over-benefit-related-suicides/

32 https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/are-cultures-worklessness-passed-down-generations

33 The Adam Smith Institute had to add a later disclaimer to their review of Adam Smith’s The Welfare Trait, noting “a number of surprisingly basic errors in the data analyses underpinning parts of [the book].”https://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2016/03/10/what-an-embarrassment-basic-errors-exposed-in-adam-perkins-benefits-bashing-book/

34 http://dpac.uk.net/2013/06/lies-damn-ids-and-statistics/#sthash.ocpBFtDt.dpuf

35 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/iain-duncan-smith-lost-court-battle-to-suppress-publication-of-potentially-embarrassing-dwp-memos-a6940881.html

36 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/labour/8790389/Labour-Party-Conference-Liam-Byrnes-speech-in-full.html

37 DPAC organised a protest in Birmingham on 12 March 2015 when Ed Miliband and th shadow cabinet visited to tell them “This is not good enough”: http://dpac.uk.net/2015/02/ed-miliband-in-birmingham-march-14th/

38 ’10,000 cuts and counting’ was held in parliament Square on 27 September 2015 organised by Occupy London, DPAC and the WOW Campaign.

39 http://www.labour.org.uk/blog/entry/a-better-future-for-disabled-people-manifesto

40 http://dpac.uk.net/2015/01/ed-miliband-promises-labour-will-saveilf/

41 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-28929057

42 http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Scottish-Independent-Living-Fund-b69.aspx

43 http://www.ukipessex.org/?p=1200

44 https://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/ukips-disappearing-welfare-policy-claimants-are-a-parasitic-underclass-of-scroungers-says-party/

45 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2RSKJC-ugk

46 ‘Never Again’ is a slogan used by anti-fascists to refer to the Holocaust. Never Again: Lessons from Labour’s key seats: Sally Keeble, Will Straw

https://www.fabians.org.uk/publications/never-again-lessons-from-labours-key-seats/

47 http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm150720/debtext/150720-0003.htm

48 http://dpac.uk.net/2016/03/30-second-dpac-poll/

49 Referring to the vote on the Welfare Reform and Work bill in July 2015 when Labour’s party line was to abstain as mentioned in the paragraph above.

50 https://www.inclusionlondon.org.uk/campaigns-and-policy/facts-and-information/equality-and-human-rights/evidence-of-breaches-of-disabled-peoples-rights-under-the-un-convention-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities/

51 https://www.tuc.org.uk/social-issues/child-poverty/welfare-and-benefits/tax-credits/support-benefit-cuts-dependenthttps://yougov.co.uk/publicopinion/archive/6453/

52 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/disabled-cuts-esa-wrag-vote-house-of-lords-poll-iain-duncan-smith-dwp-a6837426.html

53 http://www.richmondaid.org.uk/2016/03/zac-goldsmith-patron-of-richmond-aid-resigns-over-esa-benefit-cuts-press-release/

54 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/disability-benefit-cuts-pip-poll-george-osborne-wrong-support-uturn-a6938736.html

55 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-35848891

56 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntKf3HtVNxs

57 In his Financial Statement on 16 March 2016 Osborne announced: “the disability budget will still rise by more than £1 billion, and we will be spending more in real terms supporting disabled people than at any point under the last Labour Government”. (https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2016-03-16/debates/16031632000001/FinancialStatement). On 21 March 2016 in his first speech as Secretary of state for Work and Pensions Stephen Crabb told the Chamber: “Our reforms have seen support for disabled people increase. In the previous Parliament, spending rose by £3 billion. We are now, rightly, spending about £50 billion on benefits alone to support people with disabilities and health conditions.” (https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2016-03-21/debates/16032113000001/Welfare#contribution-16032116000064.) Owen Smith responded that: “The independent Institute for Fiscal Studies confirmed last week that spending on PIP and DLA is falling in real terms by 3%, or £500 million. In fact, if we take into account all disabled benefits, as the House of Commons Library has done, in analysis for the Labour party to be released later today, we see that spending has fallen by 6%, in contrast with the 60% increase in spending on disabled people that we saw under the last Labour Government—6% down under the Tories.” (https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2016-03-21/debates/16032113000001/Welfare#contribution-16032116000064).

58 The email could not mention the ESA cut which Zac Goldsmith had voted in fvour of and which led to calls for his resignation as a charity patron because Khan chose not to vote against this cut either, instead absenting himself. The email also confused the ESA and the PIP cuts which added to the impression that some people within Labour were new to the idea they should care about disability benefits.

59 http://dpac.uk.net/2016/02/why-were-opposed-to-jobs-on-prescription-donoharm/

60 In his 200 Conservative Party conference speech David Cameron promised: “People who are sick, who are vulnerable, the elderly – I want you to know we will always look after you.”http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/david-cameron/8046342/David-Camerons-Conservative-conference-speech-in-full.html

61 https://www.inclusionlondon.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/from_cuts_to_resistance_websmall.pdf

 Posted by at 14:44
Jul 212016
 

Press release from Black Triangle Campaign and Scottish Unemployed Workers Network

Dr Tony Cox was today sentenced to 150 hours community service at 0945 this morning at Dundee Sheriff Court after being convicted of threatening behaviour towards employees of MAXIMUS Inc who carry out DWP Work Capability Assessments on disabled people on behalf of the British Government.

Dr Cox will be appealing against conviction and sentence.

John McArdle of Scottish disability rights campaign Black Triangle said:

“We allege that the conviction and sentence of Dr Tony Cox is a miscarriage of justice. Tony Cox is being martyred for reaching out to vulnerable people with physical and/ or mental impairments in distress – whose fundamental human right it is to be accompanied to these notorious work capability assessments by a person of their choosing.

“Black Triangle believes that the Sheriff Court has erred in its findings, which appear on the face of it not to have been made out by the prosecution to the required standard of proof which is  “beyond a reasonable doubt” in criminal cases. In stating that the court “preferred” the heresay evidence of the Maximus employees over the corroboration of witnesses in Dr Cox’s defence, it appears to us at that the conviction is unsafe as a decision on Tony’s culpability seems to have been made on the standard of proof applicable to civil cases: “the balance of probabilities. At most, we believe a verdict of “not proven” would have been the only option available to the crown.

“We will be supporting Dr Cox in his appeal and are confident that Tony will be exonerated once the evidence has been reviewed at appeal.”

 

 

 Posted by at 17:26
Jul 192016
 

4th August at 10:00–13:00

Tottenham Magistrates’ Court, Lordship Lane, N17 6RT

Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/798880996880694/

Reverend Paul Nicholson writes:

“I am refusing to pay the council tax as an act of civil disobedience against laws passed by national and local government which are damaging the health and well being of residents who claim benefits in Haringey, and throughout the UK.

I have been summoned to a liability order hearing at Tottenham Magistrates Court. I am saying that Haringey council uses a careless interpretation of strict regulations, which does not give due regard to the dire circumstances or health of vulnerable residents, when setting the level of council tax enforcement costs, and which they are awarded “blind” by magistrates 1000s at a time and over 20,000 times a year. “

Read more at the Taxpayers Against Poverty website

Taxpayers against Poverty are on facebook https://www.facebook.com/Taxpayers-Against-Poverty-299911526728884/ and Twitter: @taxpayers_a_p

 Posted by at 22:17
Jul 172016
 
Reproduced from the DWP Website

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has commissioned Paul Gray to undertake the second Independent Review of how the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment is working, as required by Section 89 of the Welfare Reform Act 2012.
This call for evidence will be one of several methods used to gather information. Evidence submitted will be used to inform a final independent report which will be laid before Parliament.

About this call for evidence

Who this call for evidence is aimed at

This call for evidence is aimed at organisations and individuals who have information that is relevant to how the PIP assessment is operating both for new claims and Disability Living Allowance (DLA) reassessment claims. This includes claims made under the Special Rules for terminally ill people.
We are interested in everyone’s views, so please provide as much evidence as you can on the questions asked in this document. We know that people and organisations will have different levels of experience in the PIP process so do not feel you have to answer questions that are not relevant to you, for example where you do not have personal experience.

Purpose of the call for evidence

This call for evidence will be used to inform the Independent Reviewer’s conclusions. The Independent Reviewer will then make recommendations to the Secretary of State, which will be laid before Parliament in the form of a report to which the Government will produce a response.

Scope of the call for evidence

This consultation applies to England, Wales and Scotland.

Duration of the call for evidence

The call for evidence period begins on Monday 11th July 2016 and runs until Friday 16th September 2016 at 5pm.

How to respond

You can respond via the online form
If you are unable to use the online form, please use one of the following methods:
Email: pip.independentreview@dwp.gsi.gov.uk
Post: PIP Independent Review Team, Department for Work and Pensions, Floor 4
Caxton House, Tothill Street, London, SW1H 9NA
Please ensure your response reaches us by 5pm on Friday 16th September 2016.
We will acknowledge your response. Please note the PIP Independent Review Team cannot respond to individual customer queries about their PIP claim.

Accessible formats

This call for evidence is available in a range of formats, including large print, Easy Read, audio, British Sign Language (BSL), Braille, large print, audio cassettes, CDs and BSL DVDs.
To request these formats, please contact:
Email: pip.independentreview@dwp.gsi.gov.uk
Post: PIP Independent Review Team, Department for Work and Pensions, Floor 4
Caxton House, Tothill Street, London, SW1H 9NA

Queries about the call for evidence

Please direct any queries about this call for evidence to:
Post: PIP Independent Review Team, Department for Work and Pensions, Floor 4
Caxton House, Tothill Street, London, SW1H 9NA
Email: pip.independentreview@dwp.gsi.gov.uk
 Posted by at 21:26
Jul 172016
 
Jeremy Corbyn standing shoulder to shoulder with PCS and DPAC members at the High Court while we were trying to save the Independent Living Fund

Tuesday 19th July, 6-8pm, Unite the Union, Unite House, 128 Theobalds Road, WC1X 7TN (Nearest Tube Holborn) Speakers: John McDonnell MP (Shadow Chancellor) Paula Peters (DPAC) Sean McGovern (TUC Disability Councillor) Geraldine O’Halloran (StopChenges2AtW) Claire Glasman (Winvisible) more tbc….Jeremy Corbyn has been shoulder to shoulder with us for years.

Now its our chance to be shoulder to shoulder with him.

And please sign our open letter : Deaf and Disabled People in Support of Jeremy Corbyn

Watch the video:

The event was :
Tuesday 19th July, 6-8pm, Unite the Union, Unite House, 128 Theobalds Road, WC1X 7TN (Nearest Tube Holborn)

At the event, the speakers were:

John McDonnell MP (Shadow Chancellor)
Paula Peters (DPAC)
Sean McGovern (TUC Disability Councillor)
Geraldine O’Halloran (StopChenges2AtW)
Claire Glasman
more tbc….

Standing with Corybyn BSL video courtesy of Emily Smith

Since 2010 Deaf and disabled people have been targeted for cuts and seen hard won rights and freedoms pulled away whilst the rich got richer – UK is now the first nation state to be investigated for grave and systematic violation of Disabled people’s rights under the UNCRPD. Through all this, while the rest of Labour were competing with the Tories on who could be the toughest on welfare, Jeremy and John stood with us and opposed the cuts.

See also Jeremy Corbyn: the ONLY Labour Leadership candidate with a record of support for DPAC

Jeremy Corbyn Speaking at the 10,000 cuts memorial to those who died due to the Work Capability Assessment

Jeremy Corbyn Speaking at the 10,000 cuts memorial to those who died due to the Work Capability Assessment

Jeremy Corbyn has been standing shoulder to shoulder with us for years. Now its our turn to stand shoulder to shoulder with him.

Jeremy Corbyn has been standing shoulder to shoulder with us for years. Now its our turn to stand shoulder to shoulder with him.

Jeremy Corbyn standing shoulder to shoulder with PCS and DPAC members at the High Court while we were trying to save the Independent Living Fund

Jeremy Corbyn standing shoulder to shoulder with PCS and DPAC members at the High Court while we were trying to save the Independent Living Fund

 Posted by at 17:31
Jul 152016
 

Dear DPAC,

Congratulations for all your great actions. I’m writing as part of a researcher/activist group called Debt Resistance UK to let you know of a possible way for challenging austerity cuts on local authority level.

For the last two years, we’ve been researching local authorities’ lending from banks and found out is that hundreds of councils across Scotland, England and Wales have taken out risky and expensive loans called LOBOs. They are very problematic:

–      Interest rates are up to 3 times higher than if councils borrowed from the Treasury

–      Some LOBOs include derivatives, and councils are not allowed to gamble with taxpayer money. Some are also tied to LIBOR that has been rigged

–      There are conflicts of interest between councils’ financial advisers and brokers of the loans

You can find more information on our website. But in short, we do not believe LOBOs are in the interests of residents of local authorities that have taken them out. This is why we campaign for residents to challenge them, and use the issue to challenge the narrative that cuts are necessary.

The Audit Commission Act enables anyone interested to inspect local authorities’ accounts during a 30 working day period, called the ‘period for the exercise of public rights.’ Councils will advertise on their website that the accounts and related documents are available to inspect – in most councils, it is now.

As a resident, you have two options for filing an objection to what you don’t believe to be in the public interest. You can:

–      Request a public interest report in writing, detailing why you are objecting to LOBOs (More details here)

–      Request the council’s auditor to take the legality of the loans to the high court. This is potentially a more powerful route, as you can appeal the auditor’s decision if they don’t take the matter forward (More information here)

We have supported residents in two London boroughs to file objections to their councils’ accounts and are happy to help if you’d like to object to your council’s LOBOs.

In solidarity,

 

 

 Posted by at 19:13
Jul 142016
 

This action was called by DPAC, Mental Health Resistance Network and Winvisible – Women with visible and invisible disabilities

Click on the links below to go directly to the pictures for each place (you may need to wait a second or two for the images to show). Apologies if your protest isn’t shown yet – there is more material still to add so please check back

Berkshire

Berkshire DPAC

Birmingham

West Midlands DPAC

Brighton

Brighton DPAC & Brighton Benefits Campaign

Edinburgh

Black Triangle Campaign &

Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty

Glasgow

Glasgow DPAC And Black Triangle Campaign

Ipswich

Suffolk DPAC

Liverpool

Merseyside TUC & Merseyside DPAC

 

London

DPAC, MHRN and Winvisible

Manchester

Manchester DPAC

 

Norwich

Norfolk DPAC

Sheffield

Sheffield DPAC

 

Southampton

Southampton DPAC

Vauxhall

Mental Health Resistance Network and WinVisible


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Berkshire


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Birmingham


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Brighton

Brighton DPAC at Crown House PIP Assessment Centre. Poster reads Enable Us Don't Disable Us

Brighton DPAC at Crown House PIP Assessment Centre. Poster reads Enable Us Don’t Disable Us

Banner reading No More Welfare Reforms with prior impact assessment. Disability is not a crime! Compassion is not a Weakness. No More Suicides, Care is Not a Dirty Word, No More Bloodletting for Idealogicial Austerity

Banner reading No More Welfare Reforms with prior impact assessment. Disability is not a crime! Compassion is not a Weakness. No More Suicides, Care is Not a Dirty Word, No More Bloodletting for Idealogicial Austerity

Fantastic Banner from the BHIG Group

Fantastic Banner from the BHIG Group

Road Blocked in Brighton on the way to Churchill Square

Road Blocked in Brighton on the way to Churchill Square

Road Block!

Road Block!

Protest moves to the shopping area at Churchill Square

Protest moves to the shopping area at Churchill Square

Photo Credit: Penny Shaughnessy


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Edinburgh


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Glasgow


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Ipswich

Morning Interview by BBC Radio Suffolk of Martin Tolley of Suffolk DPAC about the days protest.


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Liverpool


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London

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Manchester


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Norwich


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Sheffield


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Southampton

Southampton DPAC and Unite Commuunity Protests at BBC Radio Solent

Photo Credit: David Smith


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Vauxhall

Vauxhall Action Photos - credit Peter Marshall #1

Vauxhall Action Photos – day of Action against PIP – Roy from MHRN holding a Cuts Kill Banner

Vauxhall Action Photos - credit Peter Marshall #2

Protest outside the Vauxhall Assessment Centre

As well as protesting about PIP and other cuts to disability social security payments, the protesters felt the need - quite rightfully - of making a statement against the racism that has infected our society

As well as protesting about PIP and other cuts to disability social security payments, the protesters felt the need – quite rightfully – of making a statement against the racism that has infected our society

Vauxhall Action Photos - credit Peter Marshall #1 Banner listing the names of people who have died due to Welfare cuts

A poignant banner listing the names of some of the people who have died due to welfare cuts

Vauxhall Action Photos - credit Peter Marshall #4 Gill Thompson talking about the sanctions that killed her brother David Clapson

Gill Thompson talking about the sanctions that killed her brother David Clapson

Photo Credits: Peter Marshall

 Posted by at 17:19
Jul 052016
 
Beats against Cuts Flyer

Beats against Cuts Flyer
CHILLI FRIED PRESENTS

BEATS AGAINST CUTS

London’s Finest DJs Line-Up to Raise funds for Disabled People Against Cuts
Tuesday 26 July at 8pm – 1am
Bedroom Bar
62 Rivington St, EC2A 3 London, United Kingdom
Facebook Event Page

£5 in advance,  £7 on the door

 

The legendary Jon More of Coldcut and Ninja Tunes fame headlines an all star DJ night to raise funds for Disabled People Against  Cuts, a national campaigning organisation of disabled people.

At a time when the British Government is under investigation by the United Nations for violating the rights of its disabled citizans, DJ and promoter Jamie Renton hosts a big party for a vital cause.

Hip-hop, global beats, tropical sounds, reggae, jazz, Bollywood, funk and more!


On the Decks:
JON MORE (COLDCUT/NINJA TUNES)
https://ninjatune.net/

MADERA VERDE (MI-SOUL RADIO)
http://www.bonanzamusic.com/

DJ RITU (KUCH KUCH)
http://www.djritu.com/

CAL JADER (MOVIMIENTOS)
http://www.movimientos.org.uk/

GERRY LYSEIGHT (MAMBISTA)
https://gerrylyseight.wordpress.com/

DJ DEBBIE (RESONANCE FM)
http://www.outerglobe.co.uk/

NOAH PRIDDLE (LONDON SOUND ACADEMY/WORLD VILLAGE PROJECT)
https://www.mixcloud.com/noah-priddle/

GORDON WEDDERBURN (GW JAZZ / RADAR RADIO)
http://www.facebook.com/GWJazz

& YOUR HOST
JAMIE RENTON (CHILLI FRIED/SOULCLECTICA/SHOUT COLLECTIVE)
(+ MORE NAMES TO FOLLOW)

http://dpac.uk.net/
www.chillifried.com

 Posted by at 15:04
Jul 022016
 

We are looking for people in Northern Ireland who are interested in forming a DPAC group. We have had a few enquiries about this so are doing a call-out to make sure all who are interested can be included

If you are interested please contact us by email at mail@dpac.uk.net

 Posted by at 12:23
Jul 012016
 

[Reblogged from Boycott Workfare, with thanks]

In-Work Conditionality trial notification letter

In-Work Conditionality trial notification letter

Are you a claimant who has been harassed under ‘in-work conditionality’? If you have been earning equal to or above the ‘administrative threshold’ of £338.43 a month for a single claimant and £541.02 a month for a couple, then you should NOT have been subjected to work-related requirements from February 2015. And you are entitled to claim compensation. This briefing from Housing Systems contains information on how to do this, including template letters.

So you should claim compensation if you:

  • Are earning equal or above the administrative threshold
  • Have been sanctioned
  • Ended a Universal Credit claim while still entitled
  • Suffered costs and stress as a result of mistaken work-related requirements
  • Are not on the in-work conditionality ‘randomised control trial’ pilot scheme (see below).

While the government’s expanded conditionality aims eventually to punish those earning less than 35x the national minimum wage per week, this has not been fully implemented. Many DWP staff have jumped the gun in their zeal to get more sanctioning in. These amendments to the Universal Credit regulations state that sanctions for those earning over the administrative threshold should not be applied from February 2015 onwards, as outlined in point 3 of these DWP  regulations.

Crucial advice for working claimants: claiming compensation 2As Universal Credit expands and more working claimants are included (32.5% of UC claimants in November 2015), the damning reports come in: workers sanctioned for going on holiday; a worker on a zero-hours contract doing a full week of nights sanctioned for not doing 35 hours of job search in the day. It appears that many DWP minions believe that claimants are not entitled to sleep or enjoy time with friends or families.

In a recent Guardian article a working claimant says he felt ‘criminalised’ as soon as he walked in the Job Centre. So he may have the opportunity to put the DWP in the ‘dock’ instead – as will many others. This post reveals how two claimants lost their jobs due to DWP interference. They could have good cause to take the DWP to the cleaners for loss of earnings and extensive damages.

If you are a worker earning at the administrative threshold or above who is about to claim UC, be on guard against work coaches – or ‘work roaches’ as the Unemployment Movement Forum puts it  – eager to slap on the conditionality. They shall not pass!

Crucial advice for working claimants: claiming compensation 1

how comforting

RCT conditionality & other pilots

Be aware that this non-conditionality above the administrative threshold does not apply to many of those selected for the in-work pilots that began in April 2015. The pilot initially applied to ten job centres, and it was extended to a further 80 job centres in December 2015.

If you’ve been put on the pilot scheme, please get in touch with Boycott Workfare or your local claimants group. Any information will stay anonymous. Disabled People Against Cuts has commented on the conduct and secrecy surrounding these trials, and included in their post is a list of quashed freedom of information requests. While this will be challenged, we can’t rely on FOIs alone – we need to expose this scheme through our own networks.

 

One theme that emerges from recent experience is the ignorance and wilfully cruel behaviour of the work coaches, who are now mooted as a ‘new kind of civil servant’ by the Select Committee on Work and Pensions in its report In-work Progression in Universal Credit. This document calls for more ‘training’, but ignores the fact these abuses flow from a system set up to ensnare and punish claimants. This grand government experiment has already wrecked havoc with peoples’ livelihoods and homes: for example, in questions directed to Priti Patel, Neil Coyle MP refers to a “Southwark trial” that resulted in 100% of its survivors facing rent arrears.

If the administrative threshold does not apply to you for any reason, make sure any working time (paid or voluntary) is subtracted from your work preparation requirements. We’ve received reports of work roaches (or perhaps we should compare them to a much more predatory insect) abusing all guidelines. (For the detail on this, see paragraph 5 of the DWP regulations and page 4 of the Housing Systems briefing.)

We intend to publish further advice on how whittle down work preparation requirements. We are also seeking advice on whether tort law (interference of a third party in a contract) can be used to defend working claimants and how DWP actions could be violating data protection rights, the EU working time directive (which after the EU referendum might be in question) and various health and safety regulations.

Make or break

Meanwhile, the government and workfare industry sees in-work conditionality as the make-or-break element of Universal Credit. It is also a tangle of dodgy and contradictory regulation from start to finish. Under these circumstances, unemployed and low-paid workers need to join together and bring it down. All unions need to attack this regime and all sanctions – and that includes the union representing DWP workers, who are likely to end up sanctioning each other in a set-up worthy of a Monty Python sketch. For further thoughts on this, see our previous post Sanctions Centre: Open All Hours?

Some have suggested that in-work conditionality will be “political dynamite” or the regime’s “Poll Tax moment“. We can’t say for sure at this point. However, if we stand up for ourselves and target the system’s weak points we can bring that moment closer.

 Posted by at 16:33