Dec 242016
 
A young white male self propelled wheelchair user with blonde hair, wearing a green t-shirt with WAND printed on it is alongside a young black woman in a purple top. They are inside a Christmas grotto and seated opposite of them is Father Christmas. He has a large list in his hands which has ‘wish list’ written on it. Santa is saying to the disabled people: "“So let me get this right – you want a portable care package, self assessment, access standard homes, personal assistants and NOT carers, and the right not to have to go into care if you don’t want to!”"

Reproduced with thanks to Dave Lupton

The DPAC team would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy, peaceful and safe festive season and to provide a brief round-up of what has been happening over the past 12 months.

It has been both a triumphant and tragic year for DPAC, with some of our biggest ever achievements coming to fruition after years of work, but also the loss of some dearly loved and respected friends and colleagues.

Its been a year of continuing struggle against the cuts and other measures that have blighted disabled people’s lives, with steady progress being made. For the first time since 2010, this was the year that Tory MPs started to rebel against further cuts targeted at disabled people. We believe that this is a significant turning point in our struggle. We are still a long way from reversing the cuts that have caused us so much harm but at least we may have prevented further attacks from being made.

All this activity was against a backdrop of the biggest political upheavals in decades, possibly in most people’s lifetimes as the UK voted to leave the EU, the resignation of Cameron, sacking of Osborne and the ushering in of Theresa Mayhem’s chaotic government.

So hear is a month by month account of DPAC’s tumultuous year……


January

WIN! sticker - denotes a successful CampaignJanuary began with Southampton City Council backing down over its proposals to cap social care support awards. The Council terminated the consultation early as a result of the feedback and concerns they received, including those of DPAC and our supporters.

DPAC in solidarity with Junior Doctors during their strikeJanuary also saw the first ever strike action in NHS History by the Junior Drs and DPAC members showed solidarity and support to them by joining them on the picket lines at London hospitals and across the country.

The end of January it saw the Tories have their worst ever week in Parliament with three welfare reform defeats in the House of Lords with the cuts to ESA WRAG Group, bedroom tax, and redefining child poverty and David Cameron getting slagged by all sides for the appalling use of “bunch of migrants” during PMQs on Holocaust Memorial Day


February

Table tennis being played outside of Parliamt to highlight the Ping Pong between the Lords and Coomons over the ESA WRAG CutFebruary saw lobbying of parliament around the Cuts to ESA WRAG Group, with DPAC writing to MPs;  protest outside parliament with table tennis to highlight the ping ponging going on between the House of Lords and House of Commons.

There was also a continuation of DPACs support for striking Junior Doctors with an online campaign for DPAC Supporters to give their own reasons why they supported the strike

February saw the start of the campaign led by MHRN, with DPAC and Boycott Workfare support, about a trial of having DWP Workcoaches in GP Surgeries in Islington, a Labour London Borough. There was a war of words between MHRN and Islington Council Leader, which we reproduced online.

WIN! sticker - denotes a successful CampaignDPAC, Inclusion London and individual ILF Activists had a huge win against the Tory Government, with the news that the government was to provide local authorities with four years of transitional funding for former ILF recipients taking this to the end of the current parliament in 2020.


March

MRRN, DPAC and Boycott Workfare protest in Islington against having Work Coaches in GP Surgeries

MRRN, DPAC and Boycott Workfare protest in Islington against having Work Coaches in GP Surgeries

We supported MHRN and Boycott Workfare with a protest in Islington with a protest called “Treatment for Surgeries, Job Centres for Jobs” to highlight Maximus job coaches based in GP Surgeries in Islington as part of the pilot for the health and work programme, which ended with a roadblock of Old Street Roundabout.

We sent more letters to MPs about the ESA Cut (here) and (here) and then when finally after a hard fought battle in both Commons and Lords, the ESA Cut was finally voted through we took our revenge on some of the MPs that voted for the cut, with Operation #ToryDump.

WIN! sticker - denotes a successful CampaignOperation #ToryDump was a campaign aimed at lobbying disability charities to drop Tory MPs who had voted for the ESA Cut as their Patrons. We had a lot of success with Richmond Aid Dumping Zac Goldsmith as its patron, Kit Malthouse was asked to step down as Patron of Andover MS Society, James Cleverly had to resign as Patron of Advocacy for All, Amber Rudd resigned as Patron of Snowdon Trust and Jo Churchill had to putt out of a Charity event following a petition

 DPAC Members protest outside awaiting Zac Goldsmith (Picture: Paula Peters)

DPAC Members protest outside awaiting Zac Goldsmith (Picture: Paula Peters)

We hadn’t finished bugging Zac either: DPAC ambushed Zac Goldsmith in Croydon and again at Northumberland Park while he was on campaign trial for mayor of London elections to challenge his decision on voting for ESA WRAG Cut, and disrupted his photo shoot with Chancellor George Osborne.

The week ended with IDS resigning and DPAC holding a celebration party to celebrate his demise!

 

 

DPAC and other protest groups occupy the Lobby of Parialment during PMQsBut the biggest protest came at the end of the month when DPAC, Winvisible, MHRN, Occupy London, Unite the Resistance and other groups, occupied the Lobby of Parliament during the last PMQs of the session. We shut down the lobby area inside the Parliament building  and broke into Live BBC TV Coverage of PMQs

WIN! sticker - denotes a successful CampaignWe got massive media coverage for this protest partly due to the commons authorities shutting down the BBC Live broadcast live on air. Here is some of the Media coverage we got from the protest with DPACs Ellen Clifford appearing on the main BBC news bulletin:


April

DPAC Supported local activists occupying a Lambeth LibraryWe began the month by telling the big corporate disability charity Scope to #EndtheBullshit

Miriam Binder of Brighton DPAC did an interview with Radio Free Brighton about Operation Torydump

We supported the Student Nurses Bursary or Bust campaign

And we supported Lambeth library activists occupying Carnegie Library for 10 days, and DPAC gave support and solidarity, joining the Lambeth Library March with the occupiers.

Paula Peters and Ellen Clifford (interpreted by Brigitte Francois) spoke at the People’s Assembly #4demands Rally in London


May

In May DPAC highlighted the European Network for Independent Living (ENIL) Independent Living Day 

We supported the Not Dead Yet UK Protest against the negative portrayal of disabled people in the film Me Before You, with real disabled people ambushing the fake Hollywood disabled people on the red carpet at the premier of the movie.

Video Credit: Eleanor Lisney

DPAC, along with the TUC Disabled Workers Committee organised a quick lunchtime direct action during the TUC Disabled Workers Conference and shut down Tottenham Court Road with a demand of #NoMoreBenefitDeaths.

Video by letmelooktv


June

June saw Doug Paulley’s Case against First Bus go to the Supreme Court which could set a precedent for Mobility Scooters and Wheelchair users to access buses and DPAC supported Transport for All’s protest outside the Supreme Court.

Rick Burgess from Manchester DPAC went to represent us in Ireland at an Anti Austerity Alliance conference to inform them of welfare reform in the UK and what was happening to fight it as the government there had begun proposing some measures (there it all comes under the spin of ‘labour activation’) that appear similar. When they heard of what had gone on in the UK, there was stunned and horrified silence.

The remainder of June was concerned with the build-up to two major protests in July, DPAC’s National Day of Action against PIP and a protest against “Work Cure Therapy” which DPAC were supporting.

June will also be remembered for the shocking murder of MP Jo Cox just before the EU Referendum and a week later UK voting to leave the EU and PM David Cameron’s resignation.


July

July began with the shocking news of the horrific murder of 49 Japanese disabled brothers and sisters in Sagashihara Japan, and DPAC supported the vigil outside the Japanese Embassy in London as disabled people in the UK paid their respects and showed solidarity to the Japanese people.

Some of London’s finest DJs did a benefit night for DPAC, known as “Beats Against Cuts”

Beats against Cuts Promo Image

 

We published “Winning From The Left” by Ellen Clifford, in which she explores, from a disability perspective, the winning power of left wing policies

DPAC took part in the Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance conference in Sheffield in the middle of the month

National Day of Action Against PIP - the action in Central LondonDPAC held a national day of action against PIP on 13th July with 15 local actions taking place across the UK to highlight the appalling loss of disabled people’s Motability vehicles and loss of support after assessments, cumulating in a big central London action supported by DPAC, Winvisible and MHRN where Capita HQ, DWP HQ, and roads around parliament were shut down.

The second resignation of the year happened with Stephen Crabb (or was it really David Brent, we were never quite sure) when Crabb/Brent resigned following a grubby sex-text scandal. He’d been in the job for such short a time and had done so little, DPAC didn’t even bother to comment, let alone celebrate his departure. We did however produce some memes to welcome in his replacement Damien “The Omen” Green

A new meme from Brian Hilton to welcome the new Work and Pensions Minister, Damien "The Omen" Green

A new meme from Brian Hilton to welcome the new Work and Pensions Minister, Damien “The Omen” Green


August

Nothing happened during the month of August, no protests, no twitterstorms, no ambushes of top politicians. Not a dicky-bird, nowt, nothing, nada.

Tumbleweed denoting nothing happeningBut if the government thought we had all given up or gone on holiday they were very wrong! DPAC might be a nuisance when we’re active, but when we go quiet, that spells even bigger trouble on the horizon, and we we back in September with a full on Week of Action.


September

Rights Not Games LogoSeptember saw the Paralympic Games in Rio Brazil, sponsored by ATOS. DPAC highlighted the appalling cuts to services  and the tragic human impact of the cuts on disabled people with our Week of Action entitled #RightsNotGames.

The week started on Sunday 4th September with “A Very Disobedient Exhibition” at Tate Modern, in which a pop-up exhibition of  disabled people’s art appeared, as if out of nowhere at Tate Modern in London.
Tate modern had not invited nor had they expected this exhibition within their gallery. This exhibition and protest was organised, created and enacted by disabled people as part of the week of action organised by DPAC supported by PCS Culture Sector.

Art4Rgihts "A Very Disobedient Exhibition" at Tate Modern.

Art4Rgihts “A Very Disobedient Exhibition” at Tate Modern. Photo Credit: Unknown.

John McDonnell MP (Shadow Chancellor Labour Party) & Jonathan Bartley (Co-Leader of the Green Party ) at the Launch of the One Year On after ILF Closure Report. Photo Credit,Brian Hilton

Monday 5th saw the launch Inclusion London’s “One Year On” report about the effects of the closure of the Independent Living Fund, to which MPs and activists were present to see the report unvieled, including some harrowing personal testimony on what life is now like for some former ILF recipients.

Following the launch of the report, DPAC and ILF Activists took to the streets for some street theatre protests in Whitehall

Video Credit: Occupy News Network

Tuesday 6th was our National Day of Action with 17 protests happening all over the country from the Isle of Wight to Glasgow.

The following video is from the Bromley protest:

Video Credit: LetMeLookTV

Wednesday 7th saw the main central London protest of the week of action.  It was timed to coincide with Prime Ministers Questions, and a A 90′ long banner reading “No More Benefit Deaths” hung from the embankment opposite Parliament during Prime Ministers Questions and was visible to the MPs inside.
Following the banner drop DPAC and allied activists shut down Westminster Bridge for over two hours.

A 90foot long banner reading "No More Benefit Deaths" hung from the embankment opposite Parliament during Prime Ministers Questions and was visible to the MPs inside

Photo Credit: LetMeLookTV

Screenshot of the LiveProtestToolWednesday Evening into Thursday 8th was a 24 hour online protest, which saw the launch of an experimental Live online Protest format, a twitterstorm and our first ever facebook protest activity.

 

Saturday of the Week of Action consisted  of DPAC hosting an International Conference with activists from around the world coming to show solidarity and discuss how to build the global resistance. The one day conference brought together perspectives and allies in the fight against austerity and neo-liberalism from the UK, Europe and Canada to look at geographic resistance and independent living. Speakers include John Clarke (Canada), Antonois Rellas (Greece), Catriona Kenny (Ireland), Kapka Panayotova (Bulgaria), The ak MoB (Germany) and John McDonnell Shadow Chancellor.

To end the week of action on Saturday evening and Sunday 11th there was the opening of “Assisted Suicide, the Musical by by writer/actor/activist Liz Carr which was being performed at the Southbank Centre in London.

We also published our “Guide to Disabled People, for Non-Disabled People” during the week of action, so that it could be shared amongst the Paralympic coverage online, in order to raise awareness in the general population about disabled people and the social model


October

Tory Party Conference Bullshit Bingo made conference week just a little more bearable

Tory Party Conference Bullshit Bingo made conference week just a little more bearable

October brought the Tory Party Conference in Birmingham and along with it DPACs campaign to Toxify the Tory Party in revenge for all they have done to us. As well as protests in Brum during the conference, we organised a Social Media protest during the week to invade coverage of the conference on the hashtag #CPC16.  And to make the week a little less doomladen with all the Tory Conference speeches, we invited people on social media to play Tory Party Conference Bullshit Bingo

October saw the launch of the Tory Government consultation of the Disability Green Paper and naturally, we had a lot to say about it

We released our video “DPAC’s Top 5 Most Appalling Sanctions” to show just how arbitrary and absurd, not to mention harmful sanctions are.

At the very end of October, we joined MHRN’s protest against Mind Charity and Tom Pollard, their national and campaign policy advisor being seconded to the DWP! DPAC and MHRN were there to see him off from MIND and offer him a bag of silver coins.


November

Our campaign to get the cut to people in the ESA Wrag reversed continued with more lobbying of MPs on this issue and a campaign on twitter to change MPs minds over the cut, there was also a video, by Jason Batchelor for DPAC to raise awareness of the battle to prevent the cut happening and telling why DPAC are continuing to try to get the cut reversed

WIN! sticker - denotes a successful CampaignBut the biggest moment of the year came with the publication of the UNCRPD report which found the UK guilty of grave and systematic human rights violations against disabled people. And how hard the government worked to see this report was hidden and not highlighted when they leaked the story to the Sunday Mirror forcing the UN to publish it just before the US election. However we have the report now and as the UN has said it is unprecedented in history – the very first time any country has been found guilty in this way. Predictably the government rejected the report findings and refused to implement any of the 11 recommendations made in the report.

So the focus of our campaigning into the next year will now move to forcing the government to implement the recommendations, more news on this in the coming weeks.

The original complaint to the UN Committee was made by DPAC, we had been working in the background on this since 2013, you can read more of the story of how the Inquiry came about in this 2015 article.

But at a time that we would have been celebrating a massive victory, we lost  our co-founder, friend, advocate  and leading light in our movement, Debbie Jolly.

Debbie Jolly, photo by Pete Riches

Debbie Jolly, photo by Pete Riches

Debbie made disability rights the focus of her life’s work. She was one of the key people in putting in instigating the UNCRPD investigation into the UK Government’s treatment of disabled people. Debbie was one of the co-founders of DPAC in 2010, and remained an important member of the organisation, helping to shape it into the campaigning force it is today.

As a tribute to Debbie, DPAC, along with Black Triangle and individual campaigners gathered for a memorial and protest outside the houses of parliament  to highlight the grave and systematic violations of disabled people under the UNCRPD.

 


December

NUBSLI and DPAC protesting against cuts that jeopardise the sustainability of BSL interpreting

NUBSLI and DPAC protesting against cuts that jeopardise the sustainability of BSL interpreting. Photo Credit @NUBSLI

December and the end of 2016 saw the Boycott of Language Line with a protest organised by NUBSLI  and supported by DPAC, to highlight language line being awarded NHS contracts outside their Canary Wharf Offices.

There was a twitterstorm for International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3rd, where we used social media to tell the world what this government had been doing to disabled people in the UK

There was more lobbying of MPs to highlight the appalling use of sanctions against claimants on JSA, ESA and Universal Credit with the Public Accounts Select Committee hearing into Benefit Sanctions.

And in a surprise move we saw the resignation of Lord Freud as Minister for Welfare Reform since 2010 and previously an advisor to the Labour government on the hated Work Capability Assessment. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

And then once again, tragedy struck as we heard of the death of Robert Dellar. Robert was one of those people who never sought publicity but behind the scenes, he worked tirelessly and was and influential and well respected as a campaigner for mental health survivors. Robert was one of the founders of Mad Pride in the UK and an inspiration for the setting up of Mental Health Resistance Network. Robert leaves a partner and many friends in the campaigning community for whom the world will be less  of a place without him.

DPAC And MHRN protest at the Transforming Mential Health Conference

DPAC And MHRN protest at the Transforming Mental Health Conference. Photo: Paula Peters

Also in December a picture of DPAC supporters has featured on the lids of LUSH charity pot hand and body cream lids. The monies raised from the sale of this will go to groups fighting for social justice and systemic change around the world.

DPAC took part in the MHRN Protest at the “Transforming Mental Health” Conference, in London. One of the Keynote speakers at the conference was  Paul Farmer, CEO of Mind.

WIN! sticker - denotes a successful CampaignAnd then finally we ended the year as we began with a victory when we shamed Islington Council into providing an adequate care package for disabled tenant Alex. Alex had fought the council for 18months trying to get safe accessible accommodation, with no result, when we published the case with a video on the blog and asked you to tweet to the council to shame them into action. Within just a few days, magically an appropriate funding package was agreed so that Alex could finally have a decent, safe and accessible place to live. It just goes to show that collective action in the age of social media can be used as a power for good against intransigent authority.


Throughout the year people have spoken for DPAC at meetings around the country and it is brilliant to be able to email someone and ask them to speak as far away as Bournemouth or Bridgewater. Within London demand for us to provide speakers has led to us adding Vicky and Nicola to the team. They both made their excellent debut speeches recently.

As always we’ve continued to provide valuable advice and peer support to hundreds if not thousands of people with many success stories.

Our on-line presence on social media is omnipresent and another valuable campaigning tool. We’ve organised many twitter storms and have trended on twitter numerous times.

We now have about 35 local groups some of which are still small but others that are now well established and taking part in regular protests including in Glasgow, Sheffield, Manchester, Norfolk and Suffolk.


Thank you

Thank you to our allies, Black Triangle Campaign, Mental Health Resistance Network, Winvisible, Ontario Coalition Against PovertyBoycott Workfare, Sisters Uncut, UK Uncut and so many other groups and individuals, who turn out to campaign side by side with us.

Thank you to all the people who have donated their time and effort to help with research, specialist advice, graphics, video making, banner making, and so many activities far too numerous to list, that make DPAC happen. In this post we have mentioned by name many of the people who have worked for DPAC over the year, and in addition we particularly wish to thank Miriam Binder, Brian Hilton, Nick Dilworth, Rick Burgess, John McArdle, Gail Ward, Kate Belgrave, Jason Batchelor, John Slater, Rupert Harwood, Sally Kumo,  but we could not list everyone and others prefer to remain anonymous, but you know who you are, and we thank you for your contribution.

Thank you to all the people and affiliated organisations who gave money donations to DPAC, both big and small, we really do appreciate every donation you make, to enable us to keep taking the fight to the government for change for the better.

Thank you to all the people who have read, commented, tweeted, shared our blog, helping to spread information and awareness.

But most of all thank you to all our members and supporters. Its your support and goodwill that lifts us up, keeps us going and carries us onward. We couldn’t do this without you.

The DPAC Steering Group, December 2016
Anita Bellows
Linda Burnip
Ellen Clifford
Bob Ellard
Andy Greene
Roger Lewis
Paula Peters

[Text by Paula, Linda and Bob]


Looking forward into 2017….

As for next year we need you all to contact your MPs and ask them to come along to our meeting in parliament to launch the UN report. We also need any of you who can to come along as well.

Guilty of grave and systematic violations – What next after the UN disability inquiry? Briefing and Discussion
The meeting is January 24th 2-4pm in the Wilson Room, Portcullis House.

On 7 November 2016 the United Nations published the findings from a UK inquiry carried out by their disability committee under Article 6 of the Optional Protocol of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The inquiry was triggered by extensive evidence submitted to the UN over a number of years by ordinary people concerned by the impact of UK government policy on Disabled people. It is the first time a state has ever been investigated in this way and the UK is now the first state in the world of whom the UN has found reliable evidence of grave and systematic violations of Disabled people’s rights.

The inquiry report was published alongside the UK government response to the findings, rejecting all eleven of the UN recommendations.

Critics of the inquiry point to discrimination and the terrible living conditions to which Disabled people in other parts of the world are subject. However, by ratifying the CRPD, the UK government signed up to the progressive realisation of social and economic rights. The UN inquiry investigated and found evidence of systematic and serious retrogression of Disabled people’s rights due to welfare reform. This supports concerns raised separately by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the UN Special Rapporteurs on Housing, Disabilities, Poverty and Food.

This meeting will provide a brief introduction to what the CRPD is, the inquiry process and how it was triggered and provide an over-view of the report and its recommendations, as well as raising the question of what next.

 


You can read previous DPAC Reviews of the year here:

 

 Posted by at 11:37
Dec 232016
 

It’s difficult if not impossible to adequately define the outcomes of Brexit for anyone living in the UK let alone for disabled people. The result where a small minority of the electorate voted to leave the EU has so far caused massive political turmoil but no concrete proposals as the new unelected Prime Minister, Teresa May, thrashes around wildly clutching at straws.

What is certain is that the promise of an extra £350 million a week for our National Health Service has not and will not be forthcoming. In fact this promise promoted widely by the Leave campaigners in the Tory Party and a reason why many UK citizens were conned into voting to leave turns out to have been an outright lie.

Many of the more deluded disabled people who also voted to leave did so simply because they wanted to punish David Cameron the then Tory Prime Minister who was stupid enough to call a referendum in the first place. Having resigned first as Prime Minister and then a little later as a Member of Parliament I’m sure the multi-millionaire Cameron is indeed ‘suffering’. What is certain that disabled people will.

As soon as the outcome of the referendum was known Cameron together with a whole host of Leave politicians turned their backs on guiding the UK through the Brexit process – no doubt so they don’t get blamed for the ensuing disaster.

The devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland do not want to leave the EU and in the case of Northern Ireland the Good Friday agreement and peace process means that there must be a parliamentary vote if Northern Ireland is to leave the EU.  There is also a legal challenge to seek a parliamentary vote on Brexit as the outcome of the referendum is advisory only. So chaos reigns as the UK population dangle precipitously in limbo.

As well as months spent focussed on the referendum campaign, the immediate aftermath was an election for a new Tory Party Leader and a second internal party election to try to remove the previously democratically elected Labour Party leader. During these many months of political bat and ball and trips around the country by various politicians the rights of disabled people have largely been forgotten especially by the media. Serious campaigning has been put back months as the political focus has been firmly placed elsewhere.

On a plus point the fascist party UKIP which very much led the Brexit campaign on an anti-immigration stance have also fallen into disarray and appear on the verge of oblivion. There have already been several elections for a new leader with none of them being successful in finding someone who stayed more than a couple of weeks. As the old British saying goes “every cloud has a silver lining”

What is certain for the UK is that Brexit has led to a massive  increase in race-related hate crime and there is no doubt those who perpetrate these crimes feel their actions are vindicated by the vote to leave. Xenophobia is rampant in parts of the country fuelled by some of the media as well as the Brexit campaign rhetoric. Disability hate crime has been rising year on year since 2010 in part thanks once again to the media-fuelled ‘useless eater’ and scrounger propaganda. For disabled people as well as those perceived to not be British hatred and abuse is only likely to increase in the post-Brexit frenzy that currently pervades the country.

Since Brexit as well the value of the pound has slumped which has already led to an increase in price for even essential daily items including for some the #Marmitegate tragedy where the price of Marmite has already risen in some cases by 12.5 % in shops.

Price increases for food and other essential items is likely to pose a particular problems for disabled people and others in receipt of UK Social Security payments as there is an austerity-led freeze on the amount of benefits which will be paid until at least 2020. The UK already has some of the lowest rates for out-of-work benefit payments in the EU so starting from a very low base rate the value of payments will fall even further as exchange rates fall.

On top of this fall in the value of the pound and freeze on increases in social security payments early in November an austerity-led cap on the total overall amount of benefit payments per household will result in massive reductions of £3,000 less per annum being paid to claimants. Many of those affected by this drastic cut will be disabled although other disabled people will be exempt from this cut.

From next April 2017 disabled people who make a new claim for Employment and Support Allowance and who are found not to be fit for work but able to undertake Work Related Activity which involved forcibly being made to jump though inappropriate and unacceptable hoops to continue being entitled to payments will also see their weekly income cut drastically by one-third. All of these changes will as already said be taking place at the same time the value of the pound falls against other currencies. Needless to say fuel prices are also continuing to rise and the number of UK residents on low incomes who have to choose between eating and heating because they can’t afford both continues to rise.

As disabled people and others wait for the mythical 35 million a day that we’re apparently saving by leaving the EU to be redeployed to help fund our National Health Service as promised we find our Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt putting in place plans to drastically reduce both the number of hospitals – down from 9 to 5 in London – and health service funding elsewhere in the UK through the implementation of Sustainability and Transformation Plans. This is very definitely not what Brexit promised for our health service. Hunt has also further undermined our NHS by stating that we want British only doctors in the near future in spite of the fact that around one-third of doctors currently are from other EU countries.

For disabled people who need personal assistance to live and take part in society Brexit is also bad news. Many people employ care workers/personal assistants from EU countries and now not only does the fall in the value of the pound affect the exchange value of wages paid but on a longer term basis no-one, neither the employers or the employees, have any idea about a future right to work here when the UK leaves the EU. It could of course be years before any more is known.

Workers rights generally are very much an unknown quantity at the moment as well. Teresa May has said the Conservatives want to protect those in place yet many people are on insecure zero hours contracts with no legal protections. The introduction of fees for Employment Tribunal hearings has also negatively affected worker’s rights to challenge unfair dismissals. All of these issues regarding employment rights continue to disproportionately affect disabled workers and the fear that once EU constraints on our employment laws are removed is causing major concerns for those disabled people who are in work.

For disabled people not in work the ending of Workfare and Work Choice schemes funded by the European Social Fund can really only be seen as positive. Neither of these schemes worked well in finding disabled people suitable or sustainable employment opportunities.

Workfare schemes in particular have been likened to unpaid slave labour which they were since claimants were forced to work for no pay under threat of having their benefits removed if they did not. Having said that there were a number of locally EU funded schemes to help disabled and other people into work which have worked well and for which there will now be no further EU funding available.

In other areas of life shared by disabled and non-disabled people the loss of European funding from the Social Fund, from the Common Agricultural Policy and from Regional Development grants will nevertheless be grossly detrimental to the overall standards of living and is likely to have a further negative trickle down impact on food prices. The idea that these funding streams will be replaced by our own government’s spending is laughable given their ongoing austerity agenda and determination to replace Trident nuclear weapons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Posted by at 17:49
Dec 182016
 

Thanks to Jamie Kelsey Fry (@jamiekelseyfry) – editor of New Internationalist – who got DPAC and disabled people’s issues into BBC Radio London during his newspaper review this morning (Sunday Dec 18th)

He spent a lot of his time on the show talking about DPAC, social care, the UN Inquiry and lack of Accessible Rail Transport on Southern Rail.

You can listen (from 18 mins in) here: http://bbc.in/2gYPCK6

Come on BBC let’s have more people challenging the government’s narrative on your programmes.

Tweet to @nikkibedi and @bbcradiolondon or contact the facebook page https://www.facebook.com/BBCRadioLondon/

 Posted by at 14:07
Dec 162016
 
Our Allies in Canada, OCAP, marching through a blizzard fighting to save the lives of homeless people in Toronto

Our Allies in Canada, OCAP, marching through a blizzard fighting to save the lives of homeless people in Toronto

Winters in Toronto are brutal, down to tens of degrees below zero, but that hasn’t stopped Toronto’s political elite from making people homeless and cutting back on support services and even worse, cutting back on emergency shelters for homeless people.

Toronto’s remaining homeless shelters are bursting at the seams.

In a city that drips with wealth, homeless people are left to die on the streets or face conditions of brutal overcrowding that denies them basic dignity and jeopardizes their health.

All summer long shelters have been packed, and now as head into winter, there is a real risk that even survival spaces like the Warming Centres and volunteer-run Out of the Cold programs won’t be able handle the overflow.

The City must stop cutting shelter beds in the city centre, and open new spaces now if we are to avoid tragedies this winter.

See the film that documents the crisis, be outraged at what the Toronto authorities are doing and then help to bring pressure on those authorities to do something (see what you can do at the end of this page).

Our Allies in Toronto, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) marched through the streets in Toronto last night to demand the opening of more shelter space for the homeless just as a blizzard hit. It was brutally cold.

The situation is really urgent. A homeless man was brought to a hospital last night suffering from exposure but survived. However, we are racing to try and prevent deaths from happening.
What can you do to help?
  • If you use Twitter, send the Mayor of Toronto @JohnTory  a message. Tell him that the homelessness crisis in his city is getting international attention. Tell him that people in the UK are outraged that in such a wealthy place he lets homeless people die through political neglect.
  • Please Sign and Share this petition https://www.change.org/p/mayor-tory-open-the-armouries-for-shelter
  • If you use facebook, go to the OCAP Facebook Page and send them a message of support

 

 Posted by at 22:19
Dec 162016
 
Bridges Not Walls Logo

Bridges Not Walls LogoOn 20th January 2017 Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America.

That day, together, we will drop banners from bridges across the country to send a simple, hopeful and unmistakable message. We will build bridges, not walls, to a peaceful and just world rid of oppression and hatred.

“Let us build bridges rather than barriers, openness rather than walls. Rather than borders, let us look at distant horizons together in a spirit of acceptance, helpfulness, cooperation, peace, kindness and especially love.” –Martin Luther King

DPAC are a supporter of this action. See the facebook page for more details

 Join a local action or set one up at a bridge near you: http://bridgesnotwalls.uk/

Support this action on social media

Download the picture at the top right of this post (right-click and save the file) then use it as your Twitter and Facebook avatar picture from now until the 20th Jan 2017. And share the website http://bridgesnotwalls.uk/ using the hashtag #bridgesnotwalls

 Posted by at 14:34
Dec 142016
 

The last WCA figures have been released by DWP, https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/esa-outcomes-of-work-capability-assessments-including-mandatory-reconsiderations-and-appeals-december-2016

These figures show clearly that the number of people placed in the Support Group has dramatically dropped (from 61 % in November 2014 to 32% in June 2016 ), while the number of people found fit for work keeps increasing (from 23% in November 2014 to 48% in June 2016). The number of people placed in the Work Related Activity Group is also increasing, albeit not as dramatically. (Table 2a )

A figure which is also worth looking at is the percentage of overturned ESA decisions through Mandatory Reconsiderations (MR).  The first recorded figures in March 2014 show that almost 70% of ESA decisions were overturned through MR. In October 2016, this figure has dropped to just over 12%. (Table 14)

At the same time, the number of appeals has increased and the success rate for claimants is 58%.

Another concerning figure is the drop in the number of claimants placed in the Support Group on the grounds of physical or mental risk (from 11.4% in January 2015 to 2.0% in March 2016). These are the people who could use Regulations 29 and 35, on the grounds there would be a substantial risk to their health or someone else’s health if they were found to be capable of work-related activities.  But DWP changed the guidance, which accounts for less people qualifying for the Support Group, although DWP did not change the regulations. For an explanation of how the guidance was changed by DWP, see this excellent article:  https://inews.co.uk/essentials/news/politics/government-rule-change-shuts-thousands-disability-benefits/

To conclude, it can be said confidently that MRs are not an independent process like an appeal in a tribunal can be. Like sanctions, they are under the influence of the Secretary of State, and will respond to pressures to reduce the claimant count. It is clear that MRs are an additional step in the process of challenging an ESA decision, specifically introduced to discourage claimants from appealing.

Claimants have no other choice than asking for MR, as they cannot appeal until they receive a MR notice. But they should be aware that their chances of success are slim, and should be prepared to go to appeal. It is harsh as people are already struggling with their health condition(s) and the financial implications of having to live on social security, but people should not take a negative MR result as the end to the claim and they have a much higher chance of success at appeal

But claimants need to be well prepared and have all the documents they need to be ready for their appeals. It seems that getting an assessor’s report or other helpful documents depends very much on DWP staff’s willingness, and some claimants never get to see these reports, or too late after the MR was conducted.

What you can do:

Ask for a MR and ask for the assessor’s report at the same time.

You can access an example of form here to request a MR here: https://equallives.org.uk/info-and-advice/welfare-and-benefits/challenging-decisions-when-youre-unhappy/

At the same time, you should make a Subject Access Request (SAR) to DWP.

What follows has been prepared by John Slater. (@AmateurFOI on Twitter).  John’s contributions are always been very technical, but it is often on technicalities that DWP win their case

His document ESA Work Capability Assessment Information Held by the DWP explains what a SAR is, and what are the 3 very useful documents for an appeal which can be obtained from DWP. You can see what ESA85a, ESA58 and LT54 (DMACR) forms look like by clicking on the inserted links.

There is also a link to a form to make a Subject Access Request for these 3 documents How to request the information from the DWP

The idea is to help you prepare for an appeal at an early stage, ideally at the same time as the request for a MR. While you are unlikely to get these documents in time for the MR (DWP must provide you with the information you requested (as long as they hold it) within a maximum of 40 calendar days), you should get them in time to prepare your appeal.

 

 

ESA Work Capability Assessment Information Held by the DWP

 

Introduction

When you have been through a Work Capability Assessment (“WCA”) it isn’t always as straight forward as it should be to get information about the outcome from the DWP as it should be.

 

Whether you need the information for a Mandatory Reconsideration (“MR”), a Tribunal Appeal or just for your own records you are legally entitled to it. There have been stories of DWP staff telling people that they “don’t need the information” or it’s “not usual for them to have it”. This is irrelevant and frankly none of their business. If the DWP holds information about you, you are legally entitled to have a copy (with few very specific exceptions).

 

What Information Am I Allowed to Have?

Section 7 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (“DPA”) means that are all entitled to:

 

  • to be told whether any personal data is being processed;
  • be given a description of the personal data, the reasons it is being processed, and whether it will be given to any other organisations or people;
  • be given a copy of the information comprising the data; and given details of the source of the data (where this is available).

 

This means that when requested the DWP must provide you with a copy of all the information it holds about you and what it does with it. It also needs your consent to have obtained and processed that information in the first place. This is usually obtained when you sign an application form from any welfare benefits such as the ESA.

 

The technical term used to describe the method of obtaining any personal information held by an organisation is called making a “Subject Access Request” or SAR. The Information Commissioner’s (“ICO”) website provides helpful guidance about this aimed at members of the public and organisations such as the DWP. Links to both types of guidance are provided below.

 

Guidance for the Public

https://ico.org.uk/for-the-public/personal-information/

 

Guidance for Organisations

https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-data-protection/principle-6-rights/subject-access-request/

 

 

The DPA means that any organisation, including the DWP, must provide you with the information you requested (as long as they hold it) within a maximum of 40 calendar days. The ICO is clear that the DWP “must respond to a subject access request promptly and in any event within 40 calendar days of receiving it.”

 

The DWP provides a form (see link below) that it would like people to use when make a SAR. You are not obliged to complete and use this form in order to submit a SAR to the DWP.

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dwp-request-for-personal-information

 

I have reservations about this form as it is easy to limit the scope of your SAR without realising when completing it.

 

The ICO provides a very helpful template and explanation at the link ‘Guidance for the Public’ above.

 

 

What information about my WCA should I ask for?

You could simply ask the DWP for all the information that it holds about you but that could slow down your request and give you a lot of paper to sort through. In respect of a WCA I think there are 3 key documents:

  1. ESA85 – Medical Report (produced by the person that carried out your WCA)
  2. ESA56 – Worksheet for the WCA (used by the DWP when making the decision based on the ESA85)
  3. LT54 (DMACR) – A record of the decision made and the relevant law (e.g. ESA regulations)

 

ESA85 – Medical Report

People who have gone through a WCA may already be familiar with this report. It is produced by the healthcare professional that carried out your WCA. It is the evidence used by DWP decision makers (“DM”) to decide if you are entitled to ESA and if so if you should be placed in the Work-Related Activity Group (“WRAG”) or the Support Group (“SG”).

If it is decided that a WCA is not required, then the report produced will be an ESA85a.

You can see a copy of a blank ESA85a here V2_ESA85a – ESA Medical Report No WCA

 

 

ESA56 – Worksheet for the WCA

This is a form that people who know about the ESA85/ESA85a probably won’t be familiar with. It appears to document the decision taken by the DM. Page 2 is particularly interesting as it provides a table where the scores for the descriptors (the tests used to determine eligibility) of the HCP and DM are compared against your own. This might be useful if you are requesting a MR or appealing a decision.

 

You can see a copy of a blank ESA56 here [http://dpac.uk.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/ESA56-Worksheet-for-the-WCA-Copy.pdf].

 

LT54 (DMACR)

Just like the ESA56 people probably won’t be familiar with this form. It appears to be a summary of the DM decision and lists the relevant law (e.g. which ESA regulations apply to this particular case). It states on the form that the DM must:

 

Include details of any award, disallowance, disqualification, offsets or overpayment. Give the reasons for the decision, including law and supporting evidence as appropriate.”

 

This could be particularly useful if you are requesting a MR or appealing a decision as you will know how the DM make their decision and how they interpreted the evidence before them.

 

You can see a copy of a blank LT54 (DMACR) here [http://dpac.uk.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/DWP-ESA-Form-LT54-DMACR-Copy.pdf].

 

Conclusion

If you want to request copies of the 3 documents discussed above I’ve produced a template request forms [How to request the information from the DWP ] that you can use. As explained earlier you don’t have to use the DWP request form but it does make sense to follow their process of submitting your request to your nearest JCP office.

 

You don’t need to send your request by the expensive Royal Mail “Signed For Service”. However, to make sure you have proof that you sent your request I suggest you do the following:

 

  • Keep a copy of your request document.
  • Scan or take a photograph of the envelope you used and make sure the address and correct amount of postage is shown (i.e. the correct stamp is attached).
  • Obtain proof of postage from the post office (this is free).

 

If you have this information it makes it much harder for the DWP to claim that your request didn’t arrive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Posted by at 14:41
Dec 132016
 

(for those who do not know already, John Burgess is Branch Secretary Barnet UNISON and a longstanding supporter of DPAC)

Text below by a friend of John Burgess


Who needs to apologise to whom as we approach the dates for the hearing on UNISONgate?  I have read this apology by John which he made recently and published on Facebook and his Blog.

When asked to explain his apology I’ve noticed John has replied once with this (on facebook):  “For legal reasons I am unable to make any comment on this matter.

This is not how he usually speaks. It stands in complete contrast with the way he speaks about the actions of our employer.

When he’s been asked by others, “have you been gagged?”, again his response is: “For legal reasons I am unable to make any comment on this matter.

What I do know is that he is now desperately trying to raise money.  Whilst John will not comment on why, I smell a stinking rat as do many others.  The question everyone is asking is, “Is UNISON asking John to pay compensation?”  I guess the only people who know the answer are UNISON and John. 


As a trade union member I’d like to know if unison is using members’ money to take legal action against a grassroots rep.

In the meantime I have three requests to make of those in the trade union movement:
1. Please send message of support and solidarity to John Burgess to his facebook page or to me and I’ll pass them on. [or add them as comments to this page and DPAC will pass them on]
2. Please share the facebook posts with others
3. If you can spare some money (and I know this time of the year it is not the best time to ask) you can donate money to help John – details here:
If you wish to donate then please write a cheque to: For William Morris Society and post it to c/o 34 Pioneer House, 46 Britannia Street, London WC1X 9JH.
Alternatively do a bank transfer to: For William Morris Society (Holborn and St Pancras); sort code 60-04-24; acc. no.86807331; NatWest Camden Town Branch, 168 Camden Town High Street, London NW1 0NW,

For those who want to come to the Certification Officer hearing the dates are 19,20,21 December 10am each morning. See here for details:
 
 
Please let the Certification Officer know if you want to come into the hearing (they are public) so that they can make arrangements for the numbers (details are on the same page as above),
 Posted by at 22:46
Dec 132016
 
The LUSH Charity Pot design for DPAC

The LUSH Charity Pot design for DPAC

The ethical cosmetics company Lush have featured DPAC on their latest Charity Pot products.

Lush have been a long time supporter of DPAC and we at DPAC wish to thank Lush giving their support to us in this way.

Funds raised from the sale of the charity pot will be distributed by Lush to grass roots organisations working on animal protection, human rights and environmental issues around the world.

While DPAC won’t directly receive funding from the sale of the pots (although DPAC have received funds from Lush in the past), just as importantly, if not more so, it will raise awareness amongst Lush customers of DPAC and disabled people’s struggle for human and civil rights.

A bit about Lush Charity Pots

[Text from the Lush website]

100% of the retail price paid by customers buying the product (minus the VAT, which has to go to the Government) is given away to fund grassroots organisations working on animal protection, human rights and environmental issues around the world. We prefer to fund smaller organisations, especially those who have limited resources and fnd it diffcult to find funding elsewhere. We offer funding from £100 to £10,000 to grassroots groups that need help to make a positive difference to our world. Our charitable giving is not a marketing exercise, and we ask nothing back from the groups we fund. We just want to help those who work tirelessly to make the world a better place, and who play a useful part in the movement to create change. (you can read more about Charity Post here)

What do DPAC do with our funding?

All of the funds DPAC receive are from donations from individuals and non-governmental organisations. DPAC do not accept funding from political parties.

All of the funds raised to DPAC go straight into campaigning and awareness raising. DPAC do not have any paid staff or premises. All DPAC work is performed by volunteers who give their time and effort for free.

DPAC Funds go to such things as funding legal challenges, getting materials and equipment that we use for protest actions, printing costs for leaflets and banners, expenses for keeping the website running and for paying travel expenses and when necessary accommodation costs for activists who need to travel to take part in DPAC activities.

 

 

 Posted by at 15:17
Dec 112016
 

** Update 13/12/16 ** Since publishing this information, we have had a few reports that the phone numbers below do not connect or that they forward onto lines which charge. So please be aware of this. If you do use the numbers let us know via the comments below the article what you find.

Current list of DWP 0800 telephone numbers that claimants can use to call the DWP for free from a mobile.

  • 0800220674 NISSA Benefit Enquiry Line for AA, DLA, Carer’s Allowance & Carer’s Credit (this number redirects to other numbers for some benefits – these might be paid numbers)
  • 0800991234 Pension Credit Application Line – TPS
  • 08000224250 Customer First Line
  • 08000556688 JCP First Contact New Claims
  • 08007314811 PDCS TPS Pension Credit
  • 08007317898 PDCS TPS State Pension New Claims
  • 08009172222 PIP New Claims Service Line

[Thanks to @Imajsaclaimant for checking these numbers]

List of abbreviations:

  • TPS The Pension Service
  • PDCS Pensions, Disability &Carers Service
  • MOPR Method of Payment Reform

RESIST SANCTIONS!

  • If they make a sanction referral against you, act immediately
  • Submit a written statement about why you should not be sanctioned
  • Insist on a meeting with the manager of the Jobcentre (or the workfare provider) to argue the sanction referral be withdrawn
  • If the sanction referral is clearly unjustified, make an official complaint.
  • Claim Hardship Payments from the Jobcentre
  • Inform Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit so these benefits continue 
  • If your sanction is confirmed ask for a written statement of reasons
  • Write to ask for a mandatory reconsideration of the decision by the DWP
  • If this fails, appeal against the decision to an independent tribunal
  • Seek solidarity from us and others – consider a demo at the Jobcentre or workfare provider if they are not listening to you

LET’S ACT TOGETHER AND MAKE SANCTIONS UNWORKABLE


WAITED AGES TO GET HOUSING BENEFIT?

Don’t put up with it. If your claim hasn’t been sorted out two weeks after you have given all the information needed, then the Council are legally obliged to make you regular interim payments of Housing Benefit.

This applies to private tenants and housing association tenants. For Council tenants, where the Council are paying the Housing Benefit direct to their own Housing Department, the Council are legally obliged to pay Housing Benefit within 14 days, or if that is not reasonably practicable, as soon as possible after that. An interim payment is a temporary payment of Housing Benefit which is paid regularly, like normal Housing Benefit, until they work out your claim. The law says the council must pay you an amount which it considers reasonable. (An interim payment is sometimes also called a “payment on account”.)

WHAT TO DO?

How do you get an interim payment?

  1. Make sure that you have given the Council all the info necessary for them to sort out your claim. It may help to speed things up if you submit a letter requesting an interim payment with your original housing benefit claim form. But if you have not done that don’t worry.
  2. Check that 2 weeks have passed since you gave the Council all the info they needed.
  3. Ring them up, and tell them that by law they have to either sort out your claim immediately, or make you an interim payment immediately. The Housing Benefit Regulations 2006, in particular Regulation 93(1), says they must do this.

Interim payments are NOT discretionary. According to the law they must be paid if the circumstances described in 1) and 2) apply.

  1. If they still won’t pay, say you will make a complaint to the ombudsman about Council maladministration unless they pay you. (You can do this by contacting the local government ombudsman 0300 061 0614 PO BOX 4771 Coventry CV4 0EH email www.lgo.org.uk/make-a-complaint/fact-sheetts-/benefits-and-tax .The ombudsman has the power to make a recommendation that compensation be paid in cases where there has been maladministration.
  2. If they still won’t budge you can demand a meeting with the manager, to which you should go with a friend/adviser to insist that you are paid. If they refuse to give you an appointment ask for the supervisor/manager and insist on your right to an appointment. If they are still being unreasonable you could ring the Housing Benefit Performance Manager to ask for an appointment
  3. If can also be useful to contact councillors who have the ultimate responsibility for Housing Benefit. The councillor responsible for Housing Benefit is the convenor of the Finance and Resources Committee. You could also contact your local councillor, ring the Council Info Centre to find out who they are.
  4. Getting your MP or MSP to write on your behalf can also be useful, this generally results in your case being “escalated” and looked at by a more senior official.
 Posted by at 22:44
Dec 082016
 

[with thanks to Tony Collins and Campaign for Change for permission to repost]

Capita’s share price has fallen to a new 10-year low today (8 December 2016) after chief executive Andy Parker warned that “near-term headwinds” would hit trading performance in the first half of 2017.

The company’s share price of 513p at lunchtime today was 9% down on yesterday’s close.  A year ago it was around 1200p.

It’s the lowest price since July 2006.

The “headwinds” warning may cause some customers, particularly officials and ruling councillors in some local councils, to wonder whether their arrangements with Capita for outsourcing “transformations” and future IT-related investments will be affected.

Capita announced today that it intends to dispose of the majority of the Capita Asset Services division and a small number of other businesses which no longer fit Capita s core business strategy.

It says these actions will consolidate Capita’ s position as the UK’ s leading provider of customer and business process management services, while underpinning the company’ s balance sheet.

Chief executive Andy Parker said: ” We are committed to delivering good returns to shareholders, supported by a strong capital structure and a clear growth strategy. In recent months, we have reviewed our management structure, operating model, business portfolio and our leverage to ensure we are in the strongest position to support future profitable growth.

” In November, we announced changes to our management and business structure and today we are announcing our intention to sell the majority of our Capita Asset Services division and a small number of other businesses.

“We have also commenced a programme of cost reduction and investments to position the Company strongly for renewed future growth. Together, these actions will create a leaner Capita, focused on its core strengths and with a much stronger balance sheet.

” I am confident that the markets Capita addresses offer long-term structural growth. We are however currently facing some near-term headwinds, which continue to make 2016 a challenging year and will affect trading performance in the first half of 2017.

“Our long-term contracts provide us with good revenue visibility across the year and the structural and cost reduction actions we are taking now will support progress in the second half of 2017 and into 2018. We therefore currently expect a similar trading performance to 2016 in the full-year 2017.”

Capita expects revenue to be around £4.8bn and underlying profit before tax to be “at least” £515m, excluding the cost of restructuring, for the full-year to December 2016.

The company had previously forecast underlying full-year pre-tax profits to be between £535m and £555m.

” Our new divisions are now fully aligned to the markets in which they operate and the divisional sales teams are working seamlessly with the central major sales team to better address these markets and fuel greater organic growth in 2018 and beyond.

” The decisive steps we have recently taken and those we are announcing today make us a more resilient business, committed to generating organic growth, maintaining and then growing our dividend and delivering sustained value for shareholders. ”

He added, “The headwinds we have faced in the second half of 2016 will affect trading performance in the first half of 2017.

” Our long-term contracts provide us with good revenue visibility across the year and the structural and cost reduction actions we are taking now will support progress in the second half of 2017 and into 2018.

” We therefore currently expect a similar trading performance to 2016 in the full-year 2017. Our average cost of debt in 2017 will continue to rise as a result of the rolling off of our interest rate swaps.”

Its pipeline of work remains well below what it was earlier in the year, at £3.8bn today compared with £5.1bn in July.

Capita has a number of problem contracts which have yet to be fully resolved.

The Telegraph quotes Parker as saying today that he had put a £50m programme of cost reductions in place in order to stem some of the losses.

The firm’s IT Enterprise Services division has been particularly weak in the last three months, leading the company to make “extensive” management and structural changes. It has reduced its 78,000 staff by almost 3% and moved some services to India.

Parker told Reuters, “There’s been a fallaway in what we would call discretionary spend, like training and (providing) employee benefits. People are delaying making decisions on implementing technology, so there is a whole host of things going on.”

Today’s lowered profit forecast follows a profits warning in September that full-year underlying pre-tax profits would be £535m to £555m for 2016, instead of a previously forecast £614m.

*Update: Capita’s share price closed the day down 4.29% at 539.79p.

Record one-day fall in Capita’s share price – will customers care?

 Posted by at 22:33
Dec 082016
 

[Reblogged from  Mental Health Resistance Network with thanks ]

Today is the Transforming Mental Health Conference in London

One of the Keynote speakers at the “Transforming Mental Health Conference” is Paul Farmer, CEO of Mind and Chair of the Mental Health Taskforce. This is the same Paul Farmer who lied to us when he told us that Mind would not be taking any contracts from the DWP.  And the same Paul Farmer who thought it was OK to second his policy chief at Mind, Tom Pollard to the DWP, to help them find new and creative ways to bully people in mental distress into low paid insecure and exploitative work.

And it is the same Paul Farmer who, as Chair of the Mental Health Taskforce released the “Five Year Forward View for Mental Health” report advocating the “Work Cure” enabling the DWP Policy that will attempt to place faux-‘therapists’ in Jobcentres to brainwash claimants into some sort of happy clappy state of mind, that subsumes their whole existence into the sole purpose of finding a soul destroying, insecure, exploitative job, and thus saving the government a few more pounds to spend on bombing other countries, vanity projects or tax cuts for people like Paul Farmer.

Never mind the fear, harm and suicides that this “work cure” rubbish is causing, Farmer is clearly onto a good thing pushing the “Work Cure”.

So that’s why MHRN and Allies are out in front of the conference handing out this leaflet to delegates as they go in.


Mental Health Resistance Network Logo8 December 2016

Dear ‘Transforming Mental Health’ Delegate,

Mind hopes to become a specialist Jobcentre as

Paul Farmer peddles the Work Cure lie through his Mental Health Taskforce

Work is a part of life that most of us have participated in and many have benefited from. Since the National Insurance Act of 1946 people who are unable to work for health reasons have received an income. We have all paid into this state run insurance scheme; we still do.

The Tory government is dismantling the welfare state, but then you know that, don’t you? People with mental health problems who are dependent on disability benefits have been thrown into turmoil. Some have killed themselves, many have become homeless or had to use food banks. Everyone who depends on these benefits lives in a constant state of fear, anxiety and insecurity.

The withdrawal of welfare benefits from disabled people was initially justified on the grounds that most claimants were ‘swinging the lead’ even though, according to the government’s own figures, benefit fraud was, at most, only 0.7%.

After six and a half years of cruel benefit cuts, the government has cut through flesh and muscle and has reached bone. No one now believes the benefit fraud lie so the government has constructed a new lie: work will cure us or, to put it another way, ‘Arbeit macht frei’. This lie was ratified by the Mental Health Taskforce and is based on biased, 10 year old evidence provided by the DWP and researched by the insurance company, Unum, who has obvious vested interests in the dismantling of the welfare state.

People with the most severe mental health problems can now expect to be subjected to pressure to return to work. We all know that work does not cure such problems and that even if it did, there are not enough jobs to go round. But do you care that it could possibly kill us?

National Mind is out for itself. In a bid for its own survival and to corner the market in getting people with severe and enduring mental health problems off of benefits, Mind plans to bid for DWP contracts to push this group of people into precarious jobs or endless job searches. This is a soft target now we know that conditionality is set to be applied to receipt of benefits for even those with the most severe problems.

Every service that once provided support for people with mental health problems is fast becoming an extension of the DWP. We don’t need more Jobcentres, they cannot treat our mental distress; we need mental health services that are independent of the political ideology that promotes dismantling the welfare state.

There is no gentle way of bullying people in mental distress into work. Mind says it would ‘only… go on to bid for contracts for local Minds to deliver that align with our values and that do not involve mandating and/or sanctioning people with mental health problems.’ Where has Mind been for the past six years?! Has it heard nothing about the brutality of the benefits system since it has been ‘reformed’? Does Mind care? Is Mind planning to dupe people into looking for work under the pretext of providing mental health care?

Many current benefit claimants have worked in the past and we know what we are able to cope with. Most people with mental health issues tell establishment figures that they want to work. Given the levels of vilification of people who are not working, it would be surprising if they were to say otherwise. However, the majority add that they are not well enough to work but that will not stop the DWP from bullying, sanctioning and harassing them. If we do find work, far from it setting us free, we can expect low paid, insecure jobs with a place in the line to the foodbank. Shockingly, Mind wants a piece of this pie.

Mental Health Resistance Network is committed to making the toxicity of Mind’s plans apparent to everyone who uses Mind services. We will not rest until the name of Mind is known about in the same way as Atos is known, as an abuser of people in mental distress.

Here is our promise. As much as Mind abuses us, we will work towards seeing Paul Farmer sacked and Mind brought to its knees. Just as Mind hopes to leave us open to bullying and harassment, we intend to find ways of sanctioning Mind for its betrayal of people in mental distress.

Mind wants to believe the lies. You might want to believe the lies too. We plan to expose Mind and the lies it peddles.

Yours sincerely,

Mental Health Resistance Network

http://mentalhealthresistance.org/

 Posted by at 08:40
Dec 062016
 

Victory!

After 18 months of getting nowhere with care funding or a CHC referral, after our tweeting to shame Islington council, overnight Alex’s care funding was agreed and they were referred to CHC as well.

Thank you to everyone who took part in this campaign by emailing and tweeting to Islington Council. This just goes to show that when we take collective action we can win our battles for individual people to get the rights that should be theirs by default.

The larger battles over welfare reform and independent living take longer but the principle is the same, when we take strong collective action, we can bring about positive change.


Alex is severely disabled. They are bedbound 90% of the time, unable to use their hands or feet, and have life threatening hemiplegic migraines, which cause: stroke-like symptoms, paralysis, seizures, slurring, loss of consciousness, and can lead to coma and death. They are in excruciating pain, suffer asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and have gait abnormalities in their hands and feet.

Islington Council’s Occupational Therapy assessed Alex and referred them for a ground-floor, wheelchair-accessible flat in the local area for their support network and GP catchment area. The OT also referred Alex for an electric wheelchair.

Islington Council refuse to give Alex’s rehousing a Category A priority (which is intended for “households where a member of the household has an immediately life-threatening or progressive condition which is seriously affected by their current accommodation.”)

As of December 2016, Alex has spent 7/8 months fighting the council over rehousing and 18 months fighting social services for DPS care.

This video shows the severe problems Alex has leaving and accessing their flat as this involves a hallway and three flights of stairs.

 

 Posted by at 18:27
Dec 022016
 

We have had signs recently that the DWP are getting up to their old tricks and trying to get people in the ESA Support Group to attend a “back to work” interview at their Jobcentre.

According to the DWP Webpage, if you are in the Support Group you You don’t have to go to [back to work] interviews, but you can ask to talk to a personal adviser. “, which means that they cannot require you to attend, and they can’t stop your money if you don’t go.

We are going to look closely at this and do whatever we can to get this stopped, but in order to do that we first need to gather information about how widespread this is, which areas it is happening in and how long it has been going on.

So we are asking for people to come forward if you are in the ESA Support Group and have been contacted by your Jobcentre to attend a back to work interview, we would really like to hear from you.

If you have had one of these letters please fill in the form below – we will always keep your name and email address confidential unless you give us your permission to disclose it

Important note: There is another sort of interview in which you are asked to take along bank statements and documents to prove your identity – you do have to attend this sort of interview. We advise that you take a friend or relative along with you.

 

 Posted by at 16:51
Dec 022016
 
 
Saturday 3rd December is a the UN International Day of Disabled People, and also a local/national day of action to stop NHS “Sustainability and Transformation Plans”.
 
Called Secret Theft Plans, or Slash Trash and Plunder by campaigners, STPs are the biggest attack on the NHS that the public – and most NHS staff- have never heard of.
 
They aim to strip around £25.5bn spending out of the NHS, that would be needed to maintain the current level of provision up to 2020/21
 
They violate the core NHS principle that treatments are freely and equally available to all who have a clinical need for them.
 
Under instructions from the Tory government’s quango NHS England, 44 of them started this year across the whole of England.
 
Please do whatever you can, wherever you are, to tell the public and NHS staff about what these Plans mean for the NHS – because the powers that be are doing everything they can to keep them secret.
 
Because if people knew about them, there would be an uproar.
 
STPs aim to create categories of the “deserving” and “undeserving” ill, and restrict access to treatments for the “undeserving” ill – people with long term health problems whose chronic ailments are deemed to be the result of lifestyle choices.
 
They aim to strip around £25.5bn spending out of the NHS, that would be needed to maintain the current level of provision up to 2020/21
 
STPs ignore the fact that these long term conditions are strongly associated with poverty, deprivation and the environmental degradation that is worst in low income neighbourhoods – and that tackling these issues is needed in order to improve public health.
 
Instead, STPs extend to the NHS the principles of conditionality and sanctions that already apply to Universal Credit (and the benefits it replaces).
 
Through “employment is a health solution” measures, STPs tie the NHS into the DWP’s health and work programme, due to come into effect in April 2017, which will target people with mental health condition and other long term conditions to get back to the work place.
 
The Darlington, Tees, Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby STP says: “Lifestyle, early identification and intervention” measures, to be introduced in 2017-2019 include “Support for primary care to manage worklessness and support people with Long Term Conditions back into employment.”
 
Community mental health teams are using the “employment is a health solution” buzzwords. STPs will act on  the mental health task force report [https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Mental-Health-Taskforce-FYFVfinal] that was prepared with the involvement of Mind – whose  chief executive lied to service-users and other disabled activists who protested about his charity’s close links with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). http://dpac.uk.net/2016/11/letter-from-mhrn-to-150-local-mind-charities-now-is-the-time-to-change-your-mind/
 
This is the thin end of the wedge for an under-the-radar transformation of the NHS into a copy of the US medicare system for people who can’t afford or are too poorly to get private health insurance.
 
This new STP NHS is designed to provide a restricted range of “care models” for cherry -picked patients that are the most cost-effective to treat.
 
It hides behind the euphemism “place-based care”:  private-public partnerships are being set up to deliver pre-determined healthcare for a defined population, in a specific area, on a per capita budget.
 
The STPs will hugely increase NHS privatisation – with the associated waste of NHS public funding on contracting and legal fees, the extraction of profit for shareholders, widespread tax dodging by private health companies, poorer terms and conditions for staff, the potential for fraud and corruption and the undermining of the publicly owned and run NHS, as it loses income that is diverted to private companies.
 
STPs are the government’s plan to loot the NHS.
 
Please put some spanners in the STP works, cause an uproar and make our elected representatives stand up for us and our NHS.
 
NHS campaigners need to take a leaf or two out of DPAC’s book and make sure they are both vocal and visual.
 
You can find Stop STP campaign materials and information here:
 
Stop the Sustainability and Transformation Plans facebook page
@STPAgonyAunt on twitter
 
While this is a one day protest the campaigning continues so write to your MP and Lobby your local councilors to make STP plans for your area public. Don’t allow our NHS to be wiped out in secrecy.
 Posted by at 15:23
Dec 012016
 
 
LanguageLine Boycott 
NUBSLI (the National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters) are boycotting NHS contracts won by LangaugeLine Solutions. This agency, that calls deaf people “hearing impaired” and describe BSL as “a visual means of communicating using gestures, facial expression, and body language”, has won NHS contracts in Sheffield, London and the Midlands by putting in a bid at below market rates and is imposing cuts of a third on the rates paid to interpreters and reducing bookings by 1 hour.
It is impossible to provide a high quality and safe service if you are constantly clock watching. Deaf people, often need information to be repeated after they leave an appointment to make sure everything has been understood or will need support in accessing the pharmacy. Appointments aren’t always over when you leave the consulting room. That extra level of care and support from
Interpreters will go if they are being pushed to get to the next appointment.
The way in which home carers are being pressured to take more bookings for less money is the way Interpreting is headed if we don’t put a stop to these cuts. This isn’t about money for interpreters. This is about deaf people’s access to Heath care
Please sign and share our petition: 
 Posted by at 11:00