Debbie

Apr 162014
 

DPAC Press Release: Top Corrie stars Support Save ILF Campaign

For immediate release: 16 April 2014

Coronation Street stars support the ‘Save the Independent Living Fund’ Postcard Campaign.

Stars of Britain’s longest running soap joined disabled people in their campaign to Save the ILF(1).  The fund which provides support funding to almost 20 000 disabled people is to close in June next year the Government announced last month(2). See Facebook campaign page

save ILF LM
Stars such as Bev Callard, who plays Liz McDonald, former Red Dwarf actor Craig Charles who plays Lloyd Mullaney and Jack P Shepard who plays David Platt ans several other stars posed with oversized postcards produced by campaign organisers who include DPAC(3)  (Disabled People Against Cuts), GMCDP (4)(Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People), Inlusion London(5), Equal Lives(6) and others.

Despite having their original decision to close the fund over-turned at the Court of Appeal late last year(7), the Government has re-announced the closure following a new Equalities Analysis(8) – where officials admit levels of support cannot be maintained and some users may end up having to move into Residential Homes to have their support needs met. Funding will be devolved to Local Authorities for 1 year until 2016(9), but not ring fenced, meaning there is no guarantee the money will be spent providing support for users, or indeed any disability services at all.

DPAC member Paddy Murphy said ‘At an annual cost of just over £350m, this isn’t a hugely expensive fund to run. Users receive an average of just £337 a week to maintain their independence. The Government have admitted some will be forced to move into Residential homes, and others won’t get the level of support they receive now – some none at all. Local Authorities are seeing their budgets decimated, and their largest expenditure is on Adult Social Care, they simply won’t be able to afford to meet people’s needs. Disabled People will once again be forced to pay the highest price to fund the bailouts and rescue plans for the banks, which is the underlying justification for the cuts to public services.’

Editors Notes & contact details here mail@dpac.uk.net

END

1.Http://dpac.uk.net/2014/04/save-the-independent-living-fund-postcard-campaign-saveilf/

2. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/future-of-the-independent-living-fund

3. http://dpac.uk.net/

4.http://gmcdp.com/

5.http://www.inclusionlondon.co.uk/

6.http://www.equallives.org.uk/

7.http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/news/2013/november/commission-welcomes-court-of-appeal-decision-overturning-the-abolition-of-the-independent-living-fun/

8.https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-the-independent-living-fund-equality-analysis

9.http://hadag.org.uk/second-closure-of-independent-living-fund-and-our-analysis-of-the-equality-analysis-by-dwp/

Apr 152014
 

Postcard - Front   

Save the Independent Living Fund

Postcard Campaign

Hashtag: #SaveILF

Ways that you can take part:

The “Save The Independent Living Fund” postcard campaign is supported by GMCDP, ALLFIE, DPAC, Inclusion London and Equal Lives.

 

Apr 142014
 

The ‘One Show’ are looking for people who have had or are waiting for a PIP assessment with CAPITA. CAPITA carry out assessments in the midlands, parts of Yorkshire and in Wales only (please see map with postcodes to identify if you are in a CAPITA PIP area).

pip-postcode-map

 

If would be happy to talk about your experiences to Donna a film maker from the One Show in Manchester please read on -talking to Donna does mean you need to appear in the film , but obviously all that can will help get the message out on PIP. Filming will start week beginning 21st April- so please get in touch with Donna immediately-

 

see below for more details and contacts for Donna, and please contact Donna directly with any questions, not DPAC

 

The controversial Personal Independence Payments, brought in last year to replace Disability Living Allowance have been heavily criticised for causing ‘distress and financial difficulties’ to long-term ill and disabled people, due to the long waiting times and differences in the PIP assessment such as the new 20m rule. 

In this film I would like to meet some of the people behind the headlines and the statistics. I want to get across as much information about PIPs – in a clear and visually interesting way– in order to both engage the audience and get the main points across.

We are looking for people case studies of PIP

I would really like to meet some people who have had or are waiting for a PIP assessment, and find out their experience of PIP so far, and how it has affected them and their families everyday lives. The film will hopefully involve two such case studies, as well as a presenter who will be there to meet our case studies and chat to them about PIPs.

 There is a possibility that we would like the case studies experiencing PIPs assessments to get the chance to meet Stephen Duckworth from Capita so they can ask him any questions,  that they might have about PIPs. They would also be able to have a representative from a local  organization with them when they do this as support, if needed.

For this reason, we are currently only looking to feature PIPs Case Studies that have been assessed or are waiting to be assessed by a company called Capita (not Atos case studies). Capita assesses in The Midlands, Wales, and some areas of the north such as Yorkshire.

At this stage, it would just be good to chat to as many people as possible about their experience applying for and being assessed for PIPs, and if you talk to me, you are under no obligation to take part in the programme, and our conversations would be confidential.

If anyone would like to talk to me, please  pass on your  names and numbers to me with a good time to call, or you can get in touch with me on 07774027012 or email me at donna.wood01@bbc.co.uk. I am available at evenings and weekends too!

 Notes on Logistics of filming:

The film will be a short film of around 4 and half minutes long that will be shown on The One Show, in about 3 weeks time (date TBC could be a bit sooner or later than that!).

The film will prerecorded, and then some of the issues raised in the film will be discussed in studio with the presenter. Filming will take place on one day on the week beginning 21st April.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apr 142014
 

Are you interested in challenging the government’s huge increase in court fees?

We need people eligible for legal aid to get in touch with Karen before the 22nd April

Don’t let them get away with it without challenge!

The fee hike – coming in later this month – will affect people bringing a wide range of civil cases, including consumer claims, family cases, personal injury claims, landlord-tenant disputes, and private discrimination cases. It means that only those with deep enough pockets to afford these expensive new fees will be able to take cases to court to uphold and protect their rights.

If you think you might be eligible for Legal Aid and are interested in acting as a claimant in a judicial review challenge to the new fees then please contact me directly karenpassmore@hotmail.com

With your contact details

Thank you, Karen

 

Apr 092014
 

OCAP logo2DPAC_coloured_Logo_2__bigger

Reposted from the OCAP site with thanks

Austerity is Global – so is our resistance!

The Raise the Rates Campaign is excited to announce an Ontario-wide speaking tour this coming May 2014 of Ellen Clifford from Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC) UK.

Who is DPAC: The Cameron Government in the UK has implemented brutal cuts to programs for unemployed and disabled people. This includes a system called the Work Capability Assessment that has been used to deny benefits to thousands of people. Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) is an organization in the UK that has been at the forefront of challenging this situation. It has mobilized disabled people to fight back and formed alliances with community organizations and unions in resisting the austerity measures of the Cameron Government. The hated private company, Atos, that was carrying out the assessments of sick and disabled people has been forced to quit as a result of the powerful resistance DPAC and others have taken up.

Here in Ontario, we also face major attacks. Ontario Works (Welfare) and ODSP (Disability) rates are too low to enable people to pay their rent and eat properly. The Special Diet and Community Start Up have been slashed by the Ontario Liberal government. Under huge pressure from ongoing community action, the Liberals have promised not to merge OW and ODSP but the danger remains that they will bring in a UK style assessment system that would pose a huge threat to disabled people on ODSP. We need to understand what is happening elsewhere and how people are fighting back and winning against the attacks. Austerity is global – but so is our resistance.

From May 4-15th, Ellen Clifford from DPAC will be visiting Toronto, Kitchener, Sudbury, Kingston and Ottawa. She has been campaigning with the disabled people’s movement for 15 years and, since 2011, has sat on the National Steering Committee of DPAC. She is also a member of Unite the Union and works to build solidarity between workers in unions and those forced to live on social benefits.

Details of the tour, with times and places for meetings will be announced soon. Visit: raisetherates.ca for the full schedule & for more information call the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty at (416) 925-6939
Join the Raise the Rates Campaign Today!
Raise the Rates is a campaign to fight poverty by raising social assistance rates in Ontario. Jointly organized by the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP), the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario, Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty (S-CAP), Kingston Coalition Against Poverty (K-CAP), Poverty Makes Us Sick Waterloo Region, Poverty Makes Us Sick Ottawa, OPSEU and other grassroots anti-poverty organizers and trade union allies from across Ontario. We are a growing movement united in fighting for:

• Raise Social Assistance Rates 55%: reverse the cuts, raise the rates!
• Restore Special Diet and Community Start-Up Benefits
• Stop the Attack on Disability Benefits
• Living wage for all: Raise the Minimum wage above poverty wages

 

For more see http://www.ocap.ca/node/1148

Visit: RaisetheRates.ca
https://www.facebook.com/RaiseTheRates
#RaisetheRates

 

Apr 092014
 

There is a meeting for all women who work or volunteer as campaigners or activists on the 7th of May at 6.30. The venue will be fully accessible, and there will be soft drinks and alcohol available.

Last year, the drinks were a great opportunity to meet other women working in the sector, celebrate what we’ve achieved together already and talk about some of the things we’d like to see change in the future. The drinks are for all women working in campaigns: as volunteers, interns, staff, candidates and in governance. If you used to work in campaigns but had a career break, you’d be very welcome to come along too.

For more information, email womenincampaigns@gmail.com. Hannah and Kajal can send you a calendar invite as well, if that’s helpful.

You can also join the event on Facebook if you’d like to – click here to learn more: https://www.facebook.com/events/549037378544558/?fref=ts

If you can’t make it to the drinks but you’d like to stay in touch with the group, there’s a Facebook group you can join here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/161227480731353/

This would be a great opportunity to meet other women working in the campaigns sector from a wide range of organisations.

Apr 082014
 

You can take part by being there in lots of different ways including watching the live-stream, sending us your messages of support, sending us your ideas for what DPAC should focus on in 2014, sending us your questions and comments….and tweeting from our very own DPAC Tweet machine #dpac2014

http://dftr.org.uk/DPAC2014/songbird.php

Apr 072014
 

The Steering Group asks that members support the following motions:

 

Motion 1 – Government honours

This conference recognises that the UK honours system is incompatible with the principles and values that underpin DPAC, honouring as it does the privileged and those who perpetuate the inequalities in our society rather than recognising true social value and justice. Awards that refer to the ‘British Empire’ in their title are particularly offensive to the millions of victims of brutal British imperialism.

This conference agrees that any DPAC member who accepts a Government honour or award through the UK Honours System is ineligible to stand for election to the Steering Group. If the member is already a member of the Steering Group he/she must immediately resign their position.

 

Motion 2 – Discrimination

This conference recognises the dangerous rise of racist and migrant scapegoating. While the main political parties compete to be tough on immigration there is a real danger of UKIP gaining seats in the local and European elections. Immigration is not to blame for austerity or attacks on welfare and DPAC does not tolerate any form of discrimination including on the grounds of gender, sexuality, age, faith, disability, ethnicity or status.

This conference agrees that any DPAC member declaring support for groups or parties who a majority of the Steering Group find to hold discriminatory policies may have their membership terminated by a vote of the Steering Group.

 

Motion 3 – Steering group size

This conference recognises that although there are many ways to be involved in DPAC and all contributions are valued, it is also important to have a broad, diverse and inclusive Steering Group. The constitution currently limits the Steering Group to 8 members elected at conference.

This conference agrees to amend the constitution to increase the maximum number elected at conference to 12.


Apr 072014
 

All nominees will be voted on at the DPAC conference on Saturday 12th April

The current steering group proposes that everyone who has put themselves forward be elected

·         Andy Greene

·         Bob Ellard

·         Ciara Doyle

·         Conan Doyle

·         Debbie Jolly

·         Eleanor Firman

·         Ellen Clifford

·         Linda Burnip

·         Paula Peters

·         Roger Lewis

·         Sabina Lahur

A vote will be taken for members to agree this decision.

Information about all the members who have put themselves forward is below.

Information about the different ways to get involved in the work of DPAC can be found HERE

Andy Greene

I am seeking re-election to the Steering Group.

I’ve been on the SG since the 2011 Conference.

I work freelance, currently for a local DPO in Islington as a Campaign Officer, which enables me to contribute to and promote the work of DPAC. I am not a member of any political party.

I fully support all DPAC principles including rights not charity, and of equal opportunity for all. I believe in DPACs approach to the social model as a real thing to be practised and not just a theory.

I’ve been involved in several DPAC campaigns including fighting welfare reform, the anti-ILF & anti-Remploy closure campaigns. I have been active on a local level in Islington, organising meetings, training & events. I have been involved with DPACs work with the trade union movement including PCS & TUC Disabled Workers Committee.

I have spoken at many regional and national meetings (e.g. TUC DWC Conference, NUS Disabled Students Conference, Boycott Workfare’s Welfare Gathering), and written articles for the website. 

I have worked closely with grassroots activist groups such as UK Uncut, Occupy, Fuel Poverty Action and Reclaim The Power.

I believe disabled people can change the way society is designed and functions by being organised and leading the fight for rights for all. Our history shows us that collective action and taking risks can be effective in this way.

I fully support non-violent Direct Action & peaceful civil disobedience. I would like to see more co-ordinated activities across the country involving local DPACs & others.

 Bob Ellard

I have been working for DPAC doing research and social media work since 2012. During this time I have been able to observe the work the steering group do and have a great deal of admiration for the work done by them.

I believe that as DPAC become more and more successful the steering group workload is only going to increase, and I would like to become a steering group member in order to take on some of this work.

My personal beliefs: 

The current place of disabled people in society is placed in a ‘social ghetto’ where we are seen as Disabled first and People second, if at all.  

I want to live in a society where we are People first, as individuals.

And within that society I want us to be, not disabled people but enabled people. Enabled among other things by full implementation of the UN CRPD, in spirit as well as in word, with all that means in terms of inclusion in all aspects of society.

 I am a Labour Party member and also a member of Unite Community

I support the aims of DPAC.

Ciara Doyle

My name is Ciara, and I would very much like to join the DPAC steering committee and help with the fightback in any way I can.

I have been heavily involved in DPAC in the last couple of years. I have taken part in many direct actions, getting out on the streets and ensuring that we can be seen. I have also spoken on our behalf at a wide range of meetings and campaigns, ensuring that the voice of disabled people is heard. At times, I have also tried to ensure that we get our message across in other ways, writing articles and working to see that publications mention us and our message about disabled people.

I am passionately committed to the social model of disability, and its promotion, and I am also a committed socialist. As chairperson of my local Left Unity branch I help raise our issues on a political stage on an ongoing basis, and as an active trade unionist and rep for my local trade union branch I also work on a daily basis for the rights of disabled people, both as workers and as students.

I am a qualified youth and community worker with more years experience of community organizing than I really want to count! I currently work as a university lecturer working n a department of education where I work in researching, teaching about, and promoting access for students with disabilities, as well as and closely linked to issues of class, race and gender.

For the last few years DPAC has become very central to my life. It is what I think about as I wake in the morning and go to sleep at night – how today can I do something to fight back against this brutal attack on us? I would be delighted if people would vote for me to formally join the steering committee so that I can become as involved as possible on behalf of all disabled people

 

Conan Doyle

Since I joined DPAC in May 2013 I have found it to be an open and supportive community of people who share my beliefs and passions. I feel it is only right that I give something back by offering to share my time and skills with the group in a more official capacity.

In the short time I have been a member, I have been proud to participate in direct actions, but also to contribute to the research and social media communications which help us to get our message across. I am fully committed to the social model of disability, both from an academic perspective, and as a matter of principle.

In terms of more general activism, I have joined anti-fracking protests in Balcombe and London, as well as anti-fascist demonstrations, anti-austerity  and trades union rallies in the City. I am an active member of the South London Peoples’ Assembly.

Having recently attended a 6 day residential training camp on campaigning (www.campaignbootcamp.org) I am keen to put my newly acquired skills to good use within DPAC.

 

Debbie Jolly

I have been involved in critical disability politics and campaigns for over 20 years. I have worked at the local, national and European level for disabled peoples’ rights to independent living. This includes CILs and universities.

Along with Linda, I am a co-founder of DPAC and have spoken and written about the right to independent living in a number of policy areas, also bringing European and University connections to DPAC.

Above all else I want an active critical voice of disabled people to grow from the grassroots to challenge, campaign and protest at the cuts to our dignity and rights; motivating more disabled people to demand change, engage in rights arguments and develop more of our own solutions to our imposed social and economic inequalities. As such, bigger pan disability grass roots organisations led by disabled people and free from any Government ties are crucial in the battle for change- now and in the future.

I am a firm advocate of the social model of disability and will always work from this philosophy. I also believe that we must remember our history as a movement, rather than dismiss it, but that different times require different strategies.

Tasks over the last three years since DPAC began have been varied and have included campaigns, D.As, web, social media, research, DPAC admin, writing, and encouraging and supporting local DPAC groups.

I have no connections with any political parties or groups other than DPAC.

 

Eleanor Firman

I am standing for the DPAC Steering Committee because I believe in the right of everyone to participate fully in society on an equal basis without discrimination and for the past three-four years have been working full time, in voluntary and paid activity as a political campaigner and activist in a number of areas.

My involvement in disability activism is fairly recent – not long after DPAC started and it is through DPAC that my understanding of my own impairments has undergone a steep learning curve. In particular I’ve been following the plans that all the main political parties are considering regarding the future integration of the national health service with social care and mental health systems.

I am committed to the Social Model of Disability and to challenging the way in which this has been cruelly distorted by social policy makers and governments to advance a profiteering agenda at the expense of our health and welfare, our homes – and sadly for some, life itself.

I fear what is happening but the only way I can cope and keep my spirits up is to keep fighting and also learning from others leadership and strength.

Whilst not attending ever demo I was very glad to be able to initiate a Joint Statement by DPAC and Black Triangle objecting to the Labour Party campaign against bedroom tax which promoted workfare sanctions and conditionalities which received over a thousand signatures and was presented in person to Liam Byrne.

I strongly believe I can contribute further to DPAC

1.         Through my experience as a disabled delegate to the UN CEDAW 2013 UK examination (Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) in Geneva with Sisters of Frida disabled women’s cooperative, and also to the European Disability Intergroup forum at the European Parliament (Strasburg).

2.         As a team player willing to listen and learn, as well as take initiative.

3.         Through my organising strengths and skills gained from activism over many years from student politics e.g. as Treasurer of the Students Union for Cambs College of Arts and Technology to various jobs and volunteer roles, e.g. tutor and steering group member of  Haringey Women’s Centre, English as a Second Language Group.

4.         Through my independent research and data banks on policies relating to equalities, housing, taxation and social security.

My main interests are in the Social Model of Disability and also Campaign Actions. I am also interested in the arts and worked as a professional composer until the lack of support and adjustments made it impossible.

I am a committed feminist and socialist and strongly believe a better world is possible if we fight for it.

 

Ellen Clifford

I would like to stand for re-election to the DPAC steering committee. I am passionate about the need for a grassroots campaign led by disabled people to oppose austerity and fight for our communities against the savage attacks taking place.

I have been on the steering group since 2011, initially co-opted and then elected at national conference. Throughout this time I have consistently worked hard and determinedly to develop DPAC and build our campaigns.

Although I work full time on top of the ongoing management of my mental health support needs, I am able to meet the necessary time commitment required of a steering group member. My employment is within London disabled people’s organisations and this provides opportunities to promote DPAC’s work and make wider links.

I am fully committed to all core DPAC principles and values. I consider the defence and promotion of the social model of disability to be a key and important area for us to concentrate our efforts. I fully believe in the principles of equal opportunities and rights not charity. Diversity, access and inclusion are of central importance to everything DPAC does. I have given special attention to making links with and better including people with learning difficulties and the Deaf community in our campaigning.

I am interested in and have been involved in a broad range of areas of DPAC work including:

-           Planning and being involved in the co-ordination of:

o          National, regional and local meetings and events

o          Two weeks of action

o          Two national Benefit justice summits

-           Speaking and giving presentations and interviews on a regular basis

-           Writing articles, web site posts and press releases

-           Liaising with the media

-           Maintaining links with, setting up and supporting local DPAC groups

-           Networking and building solidarity and links with a range of group, campaigns  and unions including the Alliance for Inclusive Education, Unite the Resistance, People’s Assembly, Labour Representation Committee, TUC, PCS union, BFAWU, Unite Against Fascism, Realfare, and many others

-           Some involvement in funding applications

I have been centrally involved in both the Independent Living Fund campaign and the benefit justice/anti-bedroom tax campaign. I am also now supporting the Stop the Changes to Access to Work campaign.

DPAC is a vibrant example of campaigning as a collective and as a united front. In order to continue and build on our successes it is essential we have a steering group who are able to work constructively and respectfully as a team. I hope that I have shown over the past few years that I have the skills and qualities to play a positive role within the ongoing responsibilities of the steering group.

I have been a member of the Socialist Workers’ Party since July 2012.

 

Linda Burnip

I am one of the co-founders of DPAC and have been involved from the first march disabled people fought to lead at the Tory Party Conference in Birmingham in 2010.

I am both a disabled person with a hidden and fluctuating impairment and the mother of a young disabled man with high support needs and this has made me aware of how devastating the cumulative impact of these cuts are for disabled people.

I have always been involved in campaigning for social justice and equality in various ways throughout my life and was involved with Disabled People’s Direct Action Network before the emergence of DPAC.

Growing up in the North East means what you see is what you get and I don’t want to be seen as anyone’s saviour as I’m not. Neither do I in any way want to be seen as a figurehead for DPAC which is a much broader and more important movement than any one particular person.

What I am interested in is giving other disabled people the confidence and skills to fight for themselves and to continue with all of the others who give so much time and energy to DPAC to make us a formidable campaign group with many allies. None of this or our respected reputation would have been possible without the input of many people and I am very grateful to everyone who contributes to our fight back in so many different ways. Without you all none of this would have been possible.

As is often the case with any group that grows in size and impact much of my day-to-day activities now involve a massive range of admin. tasks – I usually have 100-200 emails a day to start off with, requests from journalists for help, heart rending emails from disabled people who have been sanctioned and left with no money, no food and no fuel, plus about 50 requests from people to join our facebook group which all need to be checked out to prevent EDL and UKIP supporters joining. (at least as far as possible).

Added to that Debbie and I tend to co-ordinate passing on requests to provide people to be involved in other events, work with our research team to co-ordinate research, prepare briefing papers and other articles, do social media campaigning, go to various meetings, speak at events outside London, deal with finances and fundraising and any other activities that need to be dealt with on a day-to-day basis.

Between us all we’ve made DPAC very financially viable for at least the next 12- 15months.

I am not aligned to any political party and resigned from the Labour Party after they allowed the invasion of Iraq.

 

Paula Peters

My name is Paula Peters, am a disability rights activist living in south London.  Am a member of DPAC, co chair of Bromley/Croydon local DPAC Group, Unite Community Member, Member of Mental Health Resistance Network, Member of Bromley Mental Health Forum (Deaf and disabled people’s organisation), have a seat on the adult services stakeholder committee in Bromley, am a member of Save our Local Hospitals Campaign (NHS Campaigns), and I am also a member of Bromley Trades Council.

 

I am very hardworking and active both locally and nationally, I am one of the members of the admin team for DPAC on the face book group and page, do a lot of research and networking and represent DPAC at various meetings, demonstrations, and conferences.  I work well within the DPAC team and various campaigns and Trades Union movement, and treat everyone with respect, and courtesy and work alongside many activists within dpac and other campaign groups with a wide range of impairments.

I correspond regularly with the dpac team by writing written reports and feed back by e mail from all events, conferences and protests that I represent DPAC at.

I work very closely with the mental health resistance network on the work capability assessment for mental health claimants judicial review, this case has been going for over two years, and assisted and continue to support the MHRN as they launch SolidariTEA a Southwark community activist project that will link all local campaigns together and empower members of the community to get involved in the fight back of resistance against the coalition government.

I believe in the social model of disability, and believe that disabled people should be involved in designing and shaping the services they use both in the community where they live and nationally by lobbying parliamentarians and local councillors in the community, I am one of the co founders of the Community Options Involvement Network, a project that involves mental health survivors with lived experience to be involved in speaking at local meetings with the mental health trust, commissioning services, and other agencies and shaping the services we use so that we can live in the community as independently as possible with equal rights. Community Options now has two involvement projects in Tower Hamlets and in Bromley. I have been involved with the mental health survivor involvement network locally in Bromley for over 20 years. 

I have worked alongside the TSSA and RMT unions and Transport for ALL, on the Hands Off London Transport and Action for Rail Campaigns in the fight for worker’s jobs on the London Underground and Station Staff jobs as well as equal access to the public transport network which is something I feel very strongly about as this is vital for our impendence as disabled people to travel independently and as safely as possible, and its vital that we support and campaign with the transport unions for their fight for jobs as the loss of jobs affect all of us who use the public transport network and puts all of society at risk with the cuts to staff jobs.

I am one of the founder members of the save our local hospital campaign for Bexley Bromley and Greenwich, and lead the Lewisham Hospital March in November 2012.  I believe passionately in the NHS and equal access to services and am a member of my local health watch in Bromley, and work very closely with Keep our NHS Public Campaign and have linked in with various Hospital Campaigns throughout the UK and health watch organisations.

I work across a wide range of campaigns and many have linked into the vital work that DPAC do.  In the past year, I represented DPAC at the Disability Working Group at the TSSA National Conference, Bromley Trades Council, Social Worker’s Action Network, Fuel Poverty Action Group, Lewisham Hospital Campaign and the Campaign for Benefit Justice.

I bought the following affiliations to DPAC:

·         TSSA Union.

·         TSSA SE Metro and London Branch.

·         Bromley Trades Council.

·         Euston Branch of the RMT.

·         Older Feminist Network.

 

I spoke at a Medway anti cuts meeting last March, and empowered local disabled residents to set up the Medway DPAC local group.  I was very humbled to help local disability activists set up their local group and was invited to launch their group in September 2013.  I as co chair of Bromley/Croydon dpac work very closely with the Croydon Dpac group and Bromley and Croydon have often worked together on joint campaigns across the two boroughs, including bedroom tax campaigns and council budget setting meetings and local transport for all campaigns.

 

Roger Lewis

I am standing for re-election to the DPAC Steering Committee.

I have been on the National Steering Committee for almost four years.

During this time I have been an active member of the Committee.

In particular, I have several decades experience working as an activist in the Trade Union movement and I have been able to bring this experience into DPAC’s work with both local trade unions and their national bodies. I have recently lead for DPAC on putting together the Hands Off London Transport, HOLT, campaign to build a public campaign linked to the strike action taken by the RMT and TSSA unions. This work is continuing and I am working to highlight the serious effects the cuts proposals will mean for Disabled People.

I have worked to maintain our links with the National and Local Peoples Assemblies despite the significant difficulties and differences we have had with them. I have spoken on behalf of DPAC at many of the meetings including both National Assemblies.

 

I was central in setting up the National Anti Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Federation and have been an activist member for DPAC on the National Steering Committee.

I am a member for DPAC on the Unite the Resistance Steering Committee.

I speak to the national and independent press and media on behalf of DPAC, at meetings and demonstrations across the country.

I have been a consistent organiser and participant in many of our Direct Actions.

I have been involved in policy discussions and initiatives such as over broadening support for the Disabled Peoples Manifesto.

Over the last year I have been working with a group of young people, school and college students, who were impressed by DPAC and what we do and invited us to assist them build an organisation of their own. I brought them to our Direct Action at the BBC and last year’s week of action and they joined our protest at the Department of Education. I am continuing to work with them and we are currently exploring how issues around mental health and wellbeing concern them.

I am a dedicated activist and defender of the Social Model of Disability and a Socialist and long standing member of the Socialist Workers Party.

I believe I have a lot to bring to the work we still have to do and would like your support for this nomination to remain on the National Committee.

 

Sabina Lahur

I have been a Disability Activist for many years. I was a member of the National Peoples First Organisation as an active member. I was also involved in my local PF organisation and have spoken on national TV and at meetings including big meetings of over 500 people.

I am currently leading for DPAC in South London, where I live, in building support for the Save Lambeth College Campaign. The college supports many disabled students and I was a student there myself. I speak for the campaign at their meetings and rallies, petition with them and take part in the campaign organising meetings.

I am active in my local Anti Bedroom Tax campaign.

I support DPAC and speak at meetings in London and have also taken part in big national demonstrations like in Manchester where I was there for DPAC.

I would like the opportunity to be a part of DPAC’s National Committee as I believe I have a lot to bring to the work we do and I am a good representative and spokesperson for people with Learning Difficulties.

           

 

 

Apr 072014
 

DPAC_coloured_Logo_2__biggerWe are very much looking forward to seeing everyone who can come to our national conference on Saturday but it is also important that those of you who can’t get there in person are able to take part. There are a number of ways you can do this:

  • Send messages of support and your ideas for what DPAC should focus on over the next year to mail@dpac.uk.net or @dis_ppl_protest.These will be put up on the graffiti wall at the conference and included in the notes from the day.
  • Watch the conference live on:

http://bambuser.com/channel/OccupyLondon and http://bambuser.com/channel/DPAC

  • Live tweet your questions and contributions to @dis_ppl_protest

  Or email: mail@dpac.uk.net

 The program for the day is at DPAC Conference 2014 Saturday 12th April – Conference Programme

Apr 052014
 

Defend Independent Living Rights

 Stop the Closure of the Independent Living Fund

 Stop Disability Cuts

 The European Network on Independent Living is calling on disabled people’s organisations across Europe to mobilise together on or near Monday 5 May 2014 through events, lobbying and protests to oppose the deep and ongoing cuts affecting disability services and benefits.

 As disabled Independent Living Fund users, close family members and allies campaigning to defend independent living rights and stop the Fund’s closure, we urge disabled people’s organisations and the broader disability movement in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to actively support this important day.

 Even small events and public activities will help to raise awareness and act as a focal point for those who want to work together to oppose cuts to services and benefits, including the proposed closure of the Independent Living Fund in fifteen months.

 It is vital that we also use this opportunity to reflect and learn from the mistakes associated with the public service reforms of a decade ago and the policies of ‘welfare reform’ and ‘personalisation’, including the use of ‘tick-box’ processes such as the Work Capability Assessment and the Resource Allocation Systems in social care to replace the individual and detailed assessment of need.

 The fear of a ‘demographic time-bomb’ associated with growing numbers of older disabled people in their eighties and nineties, creating an age imbalance in a static or falling population, has been used to justify the raising of the pension age and the way pensions are calculated, the erosion and privatisation of the ‘welfare state’, cuts to health and social care, changes to the benefits systems, and latterly ‘austerity’.

 But a growing population associated with increasing birth rates and the immigration of young adults, improved productivity and the greater fitness and activity levels of older people means the ‘demographic time-bomb’ in Britain may be a myth.

 The political climate that has undermined independent living and disability rights, and is using positive ideas such as ‘direct payments’ and ‘individualised funding’ as vehicles for shifting financial responsibility for meeting social care needs from the state to the individual needs to be challenged.

 We should no longer ignore the needs of the tens of thousands of children who are compelled by their family circumstances to be ‘young carers’ or the four hundred thousand disabled people confined to residential care or the way new concepts such as ‘prevention’, ‘reablement’ and ‘recovery’ are used to deny hundreds of thousands of disabled people the services they need.

 Those who argue disabled people have been ‘liberated’ and the welfare state is ‘broken’ are wrong, and only do so in pursuit of a very negative agenda associated with privatisation and greater inequality between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’. The same people have been passive while the Independent Living Fund has been dismissed as ‘anachronistic’ and ‘paternalistic’, and the experience and wishes of the Fund’s users and their families ignored.

 The disabled people’s movement across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland has a proud history of campaigning for independent living rights, but the gains of a generation ago for disabled people of working age are now under threat, as are the social opportunities pursued by many disabled people with complex conditions.

 The innovations of the ‘independent living movement’ such as the ‘personal assistance’ approach, specialised information and training, and the self-assessment of personal needs have been marginalised. While our organisations and projects have struggled financially since the millennium, tens of millions of pounds have flowed towards those who supported the development of ‘personalisation’ and its ‘evidence base’.

 But what is perhaps worst of all is many of those severely disabled people who have assumed the demanding responsibility of organising and managing their own complex personal assistance support, and do so fifty-two weeks a year without any financial rewards, are defined as being ‘economically inactive’.

 A jigsaw of social equality has been slowly constructed since the end of slavery and the emergence of the Chartists through the right to vote, women’s suffrage, universal healthcare, the legalisation of same-sex relationships, reproductive rights for women, equal pay legislation, and the outlawing of racism and homophobia.

 Limited advances in tackling disability and age discrimination are now being reversed, with the statutory right to an individual assessment of need by local councils being replaced. Local authorities are to be given the power to restrict a disabled person’s rights or freedom of action in pursuit of a legal duty to prevent or reduce a person’s need for social care services or personal assistance.

 Social equality for all will never be achieved unless the needs of disabled children and adults are acknowledged, assessed and met as of right, and those children and young people compelled into a caring role within their family because of a lack of social services support are freed from this and allowed to develop socially in the same way as their peers. But this would require an unparalleled redistribution of wealth, and the redrawing of our society’s social priorities.

 We believe disabled people of all ages should: have the right to live in the community free of the threat of segregation; be supported to stay healthy, safe and free of distress; and be freed from the harsh means-tests that are a feature of social care. Young disabled people in particular should be supported to pursue their dreams and aspirations free of the social barriers and discrimination that impeded many in the past. And because of the vital social role played by full-time family carers, they should be paid a social wage of at least fifty percent of the average wage of a skilled worker.

 Our movement has a collective responsibility to defend the gains we have made, and renew its commitment to campaign for full civil and human rights for all disabled people and their families.

 The ‘European Independent Living Day’ is an opportunity we should not waste.

 Abi Vanes, sister of ILF user

Aine Young, family of ILF user

Alma Lunt

Andy Greene, Islington Disabled People Against Cuts

Angela Mountstephens, sister and carer of an ILF user

Ann Walawalkar, parent of an ILF user

Anne Novis MBE

Anne Pridmore, ILF user and Director of ‘Being the Boss’

Anne Rae, Chair of Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People

Ann Rainey, ILF user

Anne Whitehurst, ILF user

Anita Bellows

Ashleigh Myatt, personal assistant

Bill Riddall, Centre for Independent Living Northern Ireland

Brian Glaves, family carer and husband of ILF user

Brian Hilton, ILF user

Bob Ellard, member of Disabled People Against Cuts

Brenda Bayliss, mother of an ILF user

Caroline Kelly

Caroline Martin, mother of an ILF user

Cath Gibson, ILF user

Charles Rainey, brother and carer of an ILF user

Christine Pickthall, ILF user

Christine Squires, ILF user

Christine Stringer, parent of an ILF user

Clare Palmer, mother of an ILF user

Colin Griffiths, ILF user

Colm Murphy, family of an ILF user

David Vanes, brother-in-law of ILF user

Debbie Domb, ILF user

Debbie Jolly, co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts and Board member of the European Network on Independent Living

Dessie Allen, brother of ILF user

Dolores Hannigan, ILF user

Ellen Clifford, Disabled People Against Cuts

Emma Dakin, ILF user

Fred Bayliss, father of ILF user

Gabriel Pepper, ILF user

Helen Brown, personal assistant

Ian Atkinson, Gateshead Access Panel

Ian Kenny, ILF user

Jacqui Armston, personal assistant

James Corker, carer of ILF user

Jan Turner, Project Manager of ‘Being the Boss’

Jean Allen, mother of ILF user

Jean Glaves, ILF user

Jenny Hurst, ILF user

Joe Whittaker

John Aspinall, ILF user

John Buckley, parent of an ILF user

John Gilliland, father of ILF user

John Kelly, ILF user

Juliet Marlow, ILF user since 1991

Kieran Coffey, ILF user

Kieran McCarthy M.L.A. Strangford (Northern Ireland)

Kieran Walawalkar, ILF user

Kristine Cope

Laura McCrum, ILF user

Lianne Bayliss, ILF user

Linda Burnip, parent of an ILF user and co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts

Lise Marron, ILF user

Mandy Dexter, personal assistant

Margaret Coffey, mother and carer of ILF user

Maria Nash, ILF user

Marie Thompson, sister of ILF user

Mark Williams, ILF user

Michael Bayliss, brother of ILF user

Michelle Allen, personal assistant

Mick Hutchins, ILF user

Neil Bayliss, brother of ILF user

Niqi Rainey, sister-in-law and carer of an ILF user

Paul Taylforth, step-father and carer of ILF user

Paula Peters, Disabled People Against Cuts

Peter Coffey, father and carer of ILF user

Peter Steele

Philomena McCrory, Centre for Independent Living Northern Ireland

Rahel Geffen – CEO Disability Action in Islington

Richard Parker, ILF user since 1991

Rob Punton, ILF user, Community Navigator Services and Disabled People Against Cuts

Robert Allen, ILF user

Ronnie Allen, brother of ILF user

Rosemary Kelly, ILF user

Rosemary O’Neill, CarerWatch

Roxanne Homayoun, ILF user

Sam Whalley

Sean O’Hare, ILF user

Sophie Partridge, ILF user

Stuart Bracking, ILF user

Sue Lovett, English Campaign for a Fair Society

Surojit Walawalkar, parent of an ILF user

Theresa Murphy, family of an ILF user

Tracey Lazard, Chief Executive of Inclusion London

Ursula Corker MBE, carer of ILF user

Valerie McCarthy, sister and carer of an ILF user

Vin West, parent and carer

Wendy Mortimer, personal assistant

 

Apr 042014
 

We’ve had a great response to bookings for the DPAC conference on Sat 12th April in London, but places are now running out. Please email:  dpacfightback@yahoo.co.uk

with your details, number of places needed and any access needs.

12th April 2014 – 11am until 5pm

London Met University, Tower Building, 166 – 220 Holloway Road, London, N7 8DP

Since we started in October 2010 Disabled People Against Cuts has been at the forefront of the fight against austerity. With Atos on the run, and the bedroom tax on the ropes we are seeing the results of hard campaigning. But there is much more to do to ensure disabled people’s rights to live independently and with an adequate income.


The national conference is a chance for DPAC members to come together, to share experiences and discuss your ideas for moving forwards.


DPAC are working hard to bring to conference a surprise guest, a person who, if anyone has, has been the catalyst for the re-emergence of disability activism in the last few years, someone DPAC has enjoyed a close relationship with from visiting him at home to donating underpants to supporting his select committee appearances.


Workshops will look at: -  Where Now for the Independent Living Fund campaign,  – Developing a Social Model of Distress,  – Winning the Argument,  – Disability, Art and Protest,  – Building a National Network of Disabled People’s Organisations and Direct Action practical skills among others.

 Please note places are limited so priority will be given to DPAC members. For information about joining please contact mail@dpac.uk.net

The venue is wheelchair accessible. BSL and a note taker will be provided. For access information go to: http://www.disabledgo.com/access-guide/islington-council/london-metropolitan-university-tower-building

For access queries including booking parking please contact DPACfightback@yahoo.co.uk
To book places or for more information please contact DPACfightback@yahoo.co.uk

 

 

 

Apr 032014
 

For those of us that can’t be there at the demo on Friday at 11.00. We must support Focus E15!

Yet another example of the misery and inhumanity heaped on ordinary working-class people, women and children by the anti-welfarism agenda. An agenda that is taking and blighting lives, an agenda that sees people without any right to decent housing for their children, and ripped from their families and friends by a program of social cleansing.

Our silence is complicity and agreement- our support shows we will not accept this!

Please tweet from here http://dftr.org.uk/FocusE15

What the Newham Mothers say:

We have been told we will not be offered council housing but that we will be offered private rented accommodation from accredited landlords outside of London in places like Hastings, Birmingham and Manchester. If we refuse this offer, we will be classed as making ourselves intentionally homeless and face temporary accommodation with little protection from eviction and no guarantee of a long-term solution from the council. Also if we chose to rent privately we are not entitled to get sufficient help with deposits which we cannot afford ourselves.

We want secure and suitable housing for mothers in east London!

‘This life is stressful I understand why people take their lives. Even more stressful if we’re young. We want to work or study, we’re not lazy, we don’t want to be on benefits forever, and we want to raise our children ourselves. Children need stability, moving is traumatic, for anyone, especially children.’

‘Our children need to know their grandparents, their cousins, their families.’

‘I have stopped looking for places as I have been rejected so many times’

‘You’re not tearing us apart from our families….we are fighters’

Sign the petition here: http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/robin-wales-no-eviction-from-focus-e15-suitable-permanent-social-housing-in-london-not-in-the-private-rented-sector-and-all-discussions-and-negotiations-to-be-held-with-all-the-affected-mothers-present

To read more on Focus E15 see links

http://www.opendemocracy.net/opensecurity/kate-belgrave/focus-e15-young-mothers-struggle-for-universal-housing

http://falseeconomy.org.uk/blog/young-mothers-occupy-newham-council-to-fight-for-social-housing-for-all-foc

http://uclu.org/policy/up1321/focus-e15-mothers

http://anticuts.com/2014/03/19/current-struggles-focus-e15-mothers/

 

 

Apr 022014
 

We are pleased that the DPAC research team’s submission to the Work and Pensions Committee has been accepted and published. We especially want to thank Anita Bellows and Bob Ellard for all their hard work on this.

Great to see submissions from our sister organisation Black Triangle, our allies, Inclusion London, WoW, Nick and Carer Watch.

We are disappointed that no formal national organisation of disabled people claiming to be run and organised by disabled people based in England appears to have submitted any text on this important issue.

The link to see all submissions is http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/work-and-pensions-committee/inquiries/parliament-2010/esa-wca-inq-2014/?type=Written#pnlPublicationFilter

You need to scroll down the page.

We reproduce DPAC’s submission below for ease of reading

Written evidence submitted by Disabled People against Cuts (WCA0152)

 

Who we are:

DPAC is a grass roots campaign body. It was formed by a group of disabled people after the first mass protest against the austerity cuts and their impact on disabled people held on the 3rd October in Birmingham 2010, England. It was led by disabled people under the name of The Disabled Peoples’ Protest. DPAC has over 12,000 members and supporters and works with many anti-cuts groups, Universities, Disabled Peoples’ Organizations, and Unions

Introduction

1.    This document contains the Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) submission to the Work and Pensions Committee call for evidence on ESA and WCA dated 21/3/14

2.    This submission contains a number of areas of ESA and WCA that we believe demonstrate why the ESA system is fundamentally flawed both in concept and implementation and should be scrapped with immediate effect.

3.    All of the statistical claims made in this document have links provided to verifiable sources

 

WCA Descriptors

 

4.   The WCA descriptors are the criteria used to assess whether a claimant has limited capability for work, in other words whether a claimant falls within the eligibility criteria for claiming ESA, or not.

5.   The descriptors define a set of functions related to work tasks, which, if the claimant can perform to an adequate standard, the claimant is considered able to perform some paid work and therefore not eligible to receive the ESA Benefit.

6.   However we believe that the criteria for ESA eligibility are disingenuous. They take into account only functional ability, NOT the ability to hold down a job in practical terms.

7.   They do not consider such issues as:

·  Is the claimant able to work for suitable number of hours a week

·  Is the claimant able to travel a reasonable distance to and from  a job, consistently, every day.

·  Is the claimant robust enough to hold down a job, without taking an unreasonable amount of sick leave

·  The cumulative effects of physical stress on claimants with physical health conditions which induce fatigue symptons

·  The cumulative effects of mental/emotional stress on claimants with mental health conditions

·  The physical/emotional/mental stress of seeking a job

8.   Nor does it consider what physical discomfort or pain, or emotional or mental pain the claimant may encounter while employed.

9.    The WCA does not represent a finding on whether or not the claimant is employable or whether the claimant will be able to find work.

 

The ‘Gap’ between ESA and JSA Criteria

 

10.               While the WCA is commonly called a “fit for work” test, it does not actually test whether a claimant is fit for (ie capable of doing) work.

11.               The WCA tests whether claimants have the ability to perform certain limited work related functions as defined by the WCA Descriptors

12.              Whereas the criteria  for eligibility for the alternative benefit Jobseekers Allowance include the clauses that a claimant must be:

·                        be able and available for work

·                        be actively seeking work

13.              Thus is stands to reason that there are many who will be found ineligible for ESA but not able to meet the practical requirements being able to find and hold down a job and are thus ineligible for both benefits.

14.We do not know how many claimants have found themselves in this position, as the government do not monitor this, and provide no statistics from which we can exptrapolate or estimate a number, but we believe that there will be a significant number of Disabled claimants who fall into this trap and are denied income from either ESA or JSA .

 

Health Care Professionals performing the WCA

 

15.              The majority of Healthcare Professionals that perform Work Capability Assessments on claimants are Nurses, Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists, with a lesser number of Doctors and “Mental Function Champions”

16.              While we do not dispute that these Health Care Professionals are qualified and have experience as Nurses, Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, etc, we do dispute that this is sufficent to judge a persons’ capability to work, given the panopoly of condition types that any Healthcare professional will be required to assess.

17.              The range of condition types that an HCP will be presented with include:

·                        Stable Physical Conditions

·                        Fluctuating Physical Conditions

·                        Mental Health Conditions (ranging from mild to extremely severe)

·                        Behavioral Conditions

·                        Cognitive Conditions

·                        Learning Conditions

·                        Autism Spectrum Disorders

·                        Degenerative Conditions

·                        Physical Conditions where the claimant is expected to return to full health

·                        Terminal Conditions

18.              In addition it is not uncommon for claimants to simultaneously have multiple condition types such as a mental and physical health condition.

 

WCA and mental health

 

19.              From the start, the descriptors were recognised as inadequate at capturing the level and the complexity of mental illnesses, and the problems faced by claimants in making a claim or an appeal were already recognised by Judge Martin in his 2008-2009 Report:

20.              ‘Mental health issues are a continuing source of problems in terms of making claims and assessing the impact of mental health issues on disability. In some cases mental health issues were not fully addressed or given due weight’.

21.              Following Professor Harrington’s recommendations, DWP accepted to amend the descriptors to better capture mental health issues and to introduce Atos Mental Function Champions in each assessment Centre to ‘spread best practice amongst Atos healthcare professionals in mental, intellectual and cognitive.  Although it has led to an increase of claimants with mental health issues being awarded ESA, and especially being placed in the Support Group, the statistics tell a different story. 

22.              Official DWP figures confirm that in the 2008 quarter from June to August, two months before Employment & Support Allowance was introduced, 153,050 claimants took up a claim for incapacity benefits, around a third of them (56,730) on the grounds of mental and behavioural problems. 

23.              By the end of the November 2012 quarter, the number of claimants taking up or being transferred on to Employment & Support Allowance had spiralled to 316,950 claims with nearly 140,000 of them (135,990) making a claim on the grounds of mental and behavioural problems – nearly 3 times as many as four years previously, but also representing a higher proportion in the total number of claims (44% against 37%). 

24.In the November 2012 quarter, 25,950 of the claimants who took up a claim ESA on mental health grounds had been on the allowance on one or more previous occasions. These figures show a perpetual cycle of claimants and reclaiming, those with mental health problems being by far the most susceptible to making a re-claim.

ESA claimants with mental illness are disproportionally sanctioned

25.              The latest DWP statistics on Employment and Support Allowance published in January 2014 show in Table 7 the Outcomes at initial functional assessment split into International Classification of Diseases.

26.              The total number of ESA claimants is 834,500 (WRAG 467,400 + SG 367,100), of which 339,200 (WRAG 193,100 + SG 146,100) of them fall under the Category ‘Mental and behavioural disorders’. It means that this group of claimants accounts for 40% of all illnesses, but because 193,100 (57%) have been placed in the WRAG, proportionally, this group is already more exposed to sanctions than any other groups. 

27.              A recent response to a FOI request confirms that claimants with mental health issues are not only sanctioned disproportionally, but also exposed twice to more sanctions and hit harder than any other groups.

28.Even before the introduction of the stricter sanction regime, there were already a higher number of claimants with mental health issues being sanctioned. But the latest figures disclosed show that 5,940 claimants with mental health issues were sanctioned out of 10,210 ESA sanctioned claimants (58%) in 2013. 

29.              The figure in 2012 was 54% when these claimants only account for 40% of all illnesses.  Since October 2011, on average the rate of sanctions for claimants with mental and behavioural conditions has been exactly one third (33%) higher than for other claimants, as the graph shows[1].

index

 

30.              This is a trend, for which the Citizens Advice Bureau had already provided anecdoctal evidence,

31.              ‘Bureau experience is that vulnerable clients (e.g. those with mental health problems or minor learning difficulties) are disproportionately sanctioned.’ (http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/citizens_advice_bureaux_foodbank_survey) but which is now confirmed by DWP statistics.

32.              This has to be seen in the context of the number of people with mental health issues placed onto the Work Programme. The latest Work Programme statistics (20th March 2014) show that this group constitutes the majority of ESA claimants on the Work Programme (65%), although as noted previously they account for only 40% of illnesses.

33.              Not only are a disproportionate number being placed in the WRAG, but an additional disproportionate number are being put onto the Work Programme, compared with ESA claimants with other illnesses or disabilities. The job outcomes for this group, as shown by the latest statistics, are very poor: only 4,2% of the 131,480 claimants referred to the programme in this group have a job outcome.

34.              Not only is the WCA failing people with mental health issues by putting a disproportionate number of them in the WRAG on a shorter prognosis, and a disproportionate number of them onto the Work Programme, resulting in very poor job outcomes, but it also seems that because of the nature of their illnesses, they are the claimants having most difficulty adhering to the conditionality regime, or that they are seen by Job Centre staff as easy targets for sanctions as documented by the CAB, leading to a disproportionate number of them being sanctioned when compared to other ESA claimants.

35.              Ultimately, they would be the very people whose health is likely to worsen as a result of the failings of the WCA and of the consequences of having been put into the WRAG. 

 

WCA Appeals

36.              The latest figures published by Her Majesties’ Courts & Tribunals Service in March 2014 show a dramatic reduction in the number of Social Security & Child Support appeals lodged directly with Tribunals. This is the result of the introduction of ‘Mandatory Reconsiderations’ which is a DWP internal dispute resolution process, aimed at reducing the number of appeals directly lodged with Tribunals.

37.              These Mandatory Reconsiderations have had a substantial effect on the number of appeals lodged against an ESA decision. Only 32,969 ESA appeals were received between October and December 2013 compared with 111,817 in the first quarter of 2013/2014 and 76,456 in the second quarter.

38.              The number of ESA appeals ‘cleared at hearings’ in the third quarter of 2013/14 has significantly increased with 83,202 being heard, of which 45% were in the claimant’s favour. This is the highest success rate for claimants ever recorded. This compares with 58,276 in the same quarter of 2012/2013 when the success rate was 42%.  The overall number of cleared ESA Tribunal hearings in 2012/2013 was 224,375 with an average success rate of 43%.  

39.              The drastic reduction in the number of appeals lodged directly with Tribunals makes it even more urgent for the government to publish statistics on the number of ESA decisions which have been overturned in claimants’favour through mandatory reconsiderations.

40.Benefit claimants are the only group to be denied direct access to a Tribunal and therefore to Justice, although the fees introduced for Employment Tribunals also had the effect of substantially reducing the number of claims
 

WCA and Legal Aid

 

41.              On 1 April 2013, the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act(‘LASPO’) came into effect.

42.              Clause 15 of Part 2 of Schedule 1 of this Act excludes all welfare benefit issues.

43.              Welfare benefit cases no longer qualify for advice or assistance under the Legal Help scheme, not even for initial advice to identify justiciable issues under social security law, or to provide a triage role to steer cases away from tribunal and ensure that benefit claims are processed correctly.

44.              The Government’s view is that as these are matters of ‘administrative justice’ issues in which decision making, adjudication and dispute resolution systems are accessible to claimants acting on their own, and that given the underlying issues are financial, they should be of minimal priority for public funding.

45.              The government also says that legal aid is:

46.              “still available for civil legal services provided in relation to an appeal on a point of law to the Upper Tribunal, the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court relating to a benefit, allowance, payment, credit or pension” (Point 157)

47.              But as Judge Robert Martin points out in his response to the Ministry of Justice Consultation Paper on Legal Aid (page 8, paragraph 40):

48.              ‘An appeal against the tribunal’s decision in a welfare benefits case lies to the Upper Tribunal but only for error of law ….. These limitations of further “appeal” are often not appreciated by parties without Legal Help, who may fruitlessly seek to appeal further simply because dissatisfied with the outcome’

49.              Although the government says that claimants can represent themselves, at a time when the UK’s social security system faces arguably the biggest upheaval since the introduction of the Welfare State, the Government should have recognised that the need for advice on welfare benefits has never been greater.

50.              It should also have recognised the complexity of the benefit changes affecting disabled people.

51.              Disabled people make up a disproportionate proportion of 58 per cent of those who receive legal aid for welfare benefits cases.

52.              The Government’s own Equalities Impact Assessment (page 64, paragraph 7.36) notes that:

53.              the proposals have the potential to disproportionately affect female clients, BAME clients, and ill or disabled people, when compared with the population. This is as a result of those groups being overrepresented as users of civil legal aid services’. 

54.              The removal of Legal Aid for benefit claimants needs to be seen in the context of cuts to legal aid funding with £320m cut from the annual £2bn legal aid budget and the closures of 100 of Citizen Advice Bureau offices which used to support the most people with access to legal advice and representation. 

55.According to the government’s own assessment, around 600,000 people will lose access to advice and legal representation, when CAB advisers estimate the success rate at ESA appeal where someone receives specialist CAB advice and is represented is around 80 per cent.

WCA Mandatory Reconsideration

 

56.              In October 2013, DWP has introduced changes to the appeals system; a claimant wishing to appeal a fit for work decision will no longer be able to submit their appeal to DWP, which would lodge the appeal with HMCTS (tribunals) on behalf of the claimant. 

57.              There will now be a first step known as Mandatory Reconsiderationwhich is an internal DWP process.

58.              This has serious implications for claimants:

59.              As admitted in the government response, there are no timescale for completion of the Mandatory Reconsideration process, as shown in the response to this Freedom of Information Request

60.              If someone’s claim has been disallowed completely, they will not receive payment pending Mandatory Reconsideration as was the case previously when somebody was allowed to appeal the same decision. DWP is suggesting that claimants should claim other benefits, such as Jobseeker’s Allowance, but there is evidence that some people are being refused JSA on the basis that they cannot, because of health issues fulfill all the conditions attached to this benefit.  

61.              If DWP refuses to Reconsider the case, the claimant will not be allowed to proceed to appeal

62.              There is absolutely no indication or evidence that the UK government has taken any steps whatsover to reduce the stress or anxiety inherent in the Work Capability Assessment for benefit claimants.

63.              The WCA is inherently stressful for claimants, because of the uncertainty of such a notoriously unreliable system where there are frequent media reports of incorrect decisions. Claimants are forced to wait long durations trapped in a bureaucracy that shows no compassion, not knowing if they will be judged “fit for work” and required to seek work, whether or not their medical condition makes that possible.

64.              Claimants are understandably fearful that their benefits will be stopped, at the end of a process that they have no control over.

65.              This is particularly harmful to claimants with Mental Health Conditions, especially those in the class of anxiety disorders as described in DSM-IV   .

66.The following media articles give anecdotal evidence of the stress and anxiey caused by undergoing the Work Capability Assessment, in addition, video testimony is given in this evidence session to the Scottish Parliament on the WCA

 

21 March 2014

 

 


[1]                            This graph was compiled by Dr David Webster, Honorary Senior Research Fellow, Urban Studies, University of Glasgow, based on the figures released by DWP.

Also please note that DPAC has over 20,000 members and supporters and an outreach of over 45,000 disabled people

 

Apr 022014
 

It strikes me that not enough mention is being made of the important victory in the Court of Appeal in the case of [2013] EWCA Civ 1565 Case No: C3/2013/1626/SSTRF IN THE COURT OF APPEAL (CIVIL DIVISION) ON APPEAL FROM THE UPPER TRIBUNAL ADMINISTRATIVE APPEALS CHAMBER) Mr Justice Charles sitting with Upper Tribunal Judges Jacobs and Lane Case Nos. JR/2638 & 2639/2012 CO/2385/2012.

You can download the judgement here and read about what it means here. I also consider that an important investigation called ‘Who benefits?’ in to the ‘The benefits assessment and death of Ms DE’ by Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland which you can refer to here has a relevance to the tragic consequences of what can go wrong if the right decision is not made for lack of obtaining the right evidence.

It is of paramount importance that anyone with mental health problems who is facing having to complete an ESA50 or who has had a decision which the DWP say does not qualify them for Employment & Support Allowance (particularly if it involves a transfer from older incapacity benefits) seeks specialist help from an experienced welfare benefit specialist.

Regrettably we cannot deal with cases on an individual basis on this forum, but if you have a question about the procedure then by all means ask one on this thread and I’ll do my best to answer it in due course.

An important part of the Court’s finding is the recognition of the following:

“Decision-makers should actively consider the need to seek further documentary evidence in every claimant’s case. The final decision must be justified where this is not sought.”

“41. Given the unique circumstances of their condition, particular care should be taken when the claimant has a mental, intellectual or cognitive condition as these individuals may lack insight into the effects of their condition on their day-to-day functioning.”

The drastic consequences of not seeking further medical evidence are clearly outlined in the report in to the death of a claimant allegedly affected by the Work Capability Assessment.

Fundamentally the Court of Appeal recognised the many instances where claimants may not disclose details of a mental health problem to the DWP or their contracted healthcare professional of their own accord.  The difficulties are summarised in the judgement as follows:

31. From that detailed evidence, the Upper Tribunal identified the following particular problems which MHPs as a group face, whilst recognising that the extent to which any particular MHP will suffer from these problems will vary.

“(i) In terms of filling out a form, seeking additional evidence and answering questions, claimants with [mental
health problems] as a class have the following problems and difficulties because of their [mental health problems],
some of which overlap:

a) insufficient appreciation of their condition to answer questions on the ESA50 correctly without help,

b) failure to self-report because of lack of insight into their condition,

c) inability to self-report because of difficulties with social interaction and expression,

d) inability to self-report because they are confused by their symptoms,

e) inability because of their condition to describe its effects properly,

f) difficulty in concentrating and in understanding the questions asked,

g) unwillingness to self-report because of shame or fear of discrimination,

h) failure to understand the need for additional evidence because of cognitive difficulties,

i) problems with self-motivation because of anxiety and depression which may prevent them approaching professionals for help and assistance,

j) false expectation that conditions will be understood without them needing additional help, and

k) lack of understanding that professionals named in the form will not automatically be contacted in the assessment process.

ii) in terms of further aspects of the process for the determination of their entitlement to ESA, claimants with
MHPs as a class have or have to face the following problems and difficulties because of their MHPs:

a) particular conditions (e.g. agoraphobia and panic attacks and autism spectrum disorder) make attending and/or travelling to a face-to-face assessment difficult,

b) finding the process itself intimidating and stressful, and, in some cases, that having a long-lasting negative effect on their condition,

c) a desire to understate conditions,

d) the masking of health problems as physical problems,

e) dealing with assessors who have little or no experience of mental health problems,

f) the difficulties of identifying many symptoms of a condition and its impact on what a person needs without proper training and knowledge,

g) the lack of time during a short assessment to identify a person’s needs,

h) fluctuation in condition, and

i) scepticism about the condition.”

32. It is important to note that these problems fall into two categories, although they overlap. Some of these difficulties go to the adverse experience which might be felt because of what, from the vantage point of some MHPs, will be perceived to be stressful, embarrassing or confusing features of the process, in particular the completion of the questionnaire and the face to face interview. Other difficulties lead to the decision maker having inadequate or even false information about the nature and extent of the illness thereby increasing the risk that a false functional assessment will be made which in turn may jeopardise the right to an ESA. I will call these “adverse experiences” and “outcome effects” respectively.

My note

Whilst the judgement places an emphasis on the DWP seeking further medical evidence in mental health cases, the reality is that in many cases the DWP fails to do so.  In the investigative report in to the death to which I have referred it appears for instance that the claimant’s doctor was not contacted and asked to complete what is called an ESA 113 report.

There is nothing to prevent a claimant when completing the ESA 50, especially when assisted by someone, to point out that they specifically want the DWP to obtain further medical evidence from their own doctor or clinicians.  A claimant could for instance write something along the following lines:

“I have severe mental health problems and find it impossible to describe them in this form.  Please ensure that you contact my doctor (or other named clinician) and ask them for full details of my mental health problems.  I believe this is necessary to make a proper decision on my claim.”

In long term claims it may also be relevant to state:

“You already hold details of my long term mental health problems and I am asking you to make sure these are made fully available to the decision – maker who is looking at my claim.  I believe these details to be very relevant to getting the full picture and vital to a correct decision being made.”

In Incapacity Benefit cases where you have been asked to undergo an assessment for Employment & Support Allowance, the following may be relevant (most claims have now now been ‘migrated’ according to the DWP).
 

When you receive the ESA 50, make an appointment to speak with your doctor either by phone or at the surgery.  This is particularly important where you have not seen your doctor for some time.  Tell your doctor you are being reassessed and ask for a review of the time since you were last seen by the doctor.  This allows you to update your doctor and tell him or her of any problems you have faced since you were last seen, it also means the doctor is better equipped to comment if the DWP contacts them.  It also makes it possible for you to bring matters to the attention of your doctor over which they may be unaware.  You could for instance talk to them about declining levels of social confidence and any fears you have about meeting people or facing certain situations.

The reason this is important is because in incapacity benefit to ESA cases, no medical certificate is required at the commencement of the ‘conversion phase’.  You only need a medical certificate if the DWP assesses you and finds you fit for work and you want to appeal.   The rules are different to new claims for ESA where medical certificates are required at the very start of your claim in the ‘assessment phase’.  In migration cases the ‘prompt’ to speak with your doctor about a certificate only arises once you have already been assessed.

Claimants who have been refused ESA in cases where mental health was relevant (even if the DWP did not know of this) and no attempt was made to obtain further medical evidence by the DWP should consider an appeal.

There will be more on this in subsequent posts.

With thanks to the brilliant nick at http://ilegal.org.uk

Please follow on twitter: @Mylegalforum

Mar 282014
 

DPAC supports the organisers of phase 2 of demos against ATOS and DWP.

Please see national Face book page for those organising in your area

https://www.facebook.com/ATOSNationalDemo?fref=ts

ATOS may have run away from the WCA contract, but they have plenty more contracts funded by public money from this unelected Government, including the disastrous PIP contract, in which people have been waiting for up to 10-12 months to obtain support. The DWP continue to oversee the round of cuts impacting on disabled people leaving them destitute or dead, sanctions are at an all time high.

Show them we’ve had enough-see you there…..

 

Mar 282014
 

NAPO, a member of Justice Alliance are striking on the 31st March and 1st April. London Criminal Courts Solicitors Association and Justice Alliance will join their protest on 1 April 2014. The protest will take place outside Westminster at 2.15 and then march to the MoJ at 3.30 where a birthday card will be delivered to Chris Grayling and we will sing an ‘alternative’ rendition of Happy Birthday.

Happy birthday to you
You want justice for the few
No more justice for the many
Only justice for you

http://www.savelegalaid.co.uk/justicealliance

twitter: @justallianceuk

image justice alliance

Mar 272014
 

This article is reproduced from our allies Black Triangle Campaign blog “The leadership of the British Medical Association is ‘complicit in the suicides of Britain’s disabled people’”
BMA

 

Edinburgh, Thursday 27th March 2014

By Alan Wylie

Arguably the most hated company in Britain, Atos Healthcare is the multinational corporation that carries out the Tory Government’s ‘Work Capability Assessments’ (WCA) on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions. This computer-based, tick-box ‘functional assessment’ is supposed to determine if a sick and disabled person is ‘fit for work’ or if they meet the criteria for any sickness benefit.

The assessments are so inadequate that, according to the mental health charity Mind, in Oxford 90% of those who have been found ‘fit for work’ have had their decisions overturned when they have appealed with the help of an advocate. This figure is replicated throughout the UK. Even when unrepresented decisions are overturned in 40% of cases.

 

Protesters demonstrate in London yesterday against Atos's role in benefit assessments

Protesters demonstrate in London in June 2012 against Atos’ role in benefit assessments

The DWP’s own statistics reveal that in 2011 alone 10,600 people died within six weeks of being found fit for work by Atos and another 2,200 died before their assessment was complete. 1300 of these were classified as having had limited capability for work and had been placed in the ‘Work Related Activity Group’ (WRAG).

The Government has since refused to publish statistics for 2012/13 having rejected a Freedom of Information request submitted by Mike Sivier of the Vox Political blog on the grounds that is was ‘vexatious‘.

Mr. Sivier has since lodged an appeal with the Information Commissioner with the help of a solicitor specialising in human rights: What we should be clear on is that this Government has a lot to hide.

Atos Healthcare’s reputation now stands in ruins. The company is completely discredited and it’s name now so toxic that earlier this month they rebranded themselves under the new name of “OHAssist”.

This reminds me of a phrase my mother used to say: “You can polish a turd but it will always be a turd.”

The company is now attempting to run away with its tail between its legs, confirming in February that it is seeking to end its contract to assess whether benefits claimants are fit to work, citing unsubstantiated ‘death threats‘ to its staff. They can run, they may rebrand – but their infamy will plague them for as long as our collective memories last in this country.

Cartoon by Martin Rowson for The Black Triangle Campaign

Cartoon by Martin Rowson for The Black Triangle Campaign

 

Perversely, the company was awarded the tender to act as assessors for the new Personal Independence Payment (the replacement of the now abolished Disability Living Allowance) under the OHAssist name and only last week they were directly accused by members of the Commons public accounts committee of lying in their bid to secure the contract.

Already it has been widely reported that terminally ill people are now going for months without the benefit they are entitled to owing to ‘delays’ in getting an assessment and the charity Scope estimates that up to 600,000 disabled people are set to lose their entitlement to disability living allowance, owing to the new, much harsher criteria.

The word “henchmen” is the word which immediately comes to mind when thinking about Atos, If you’ve ever wondered where Osborne’s “savings” are coming from, look no further: Atos cuts – disabled people bleed.

In June 2012 Britain’s Doctors overwhelmingly backed a motion at the BMA’s annual conference submitted by the Scottish-based Black Triangle Campaign through their Medical Advisor Dr Stephen Carty stating that Atos’s assessments were “inadequate” and had “little regard to the nature or complexity of the needs of long-term sick and disabled persons”. The motion went on to demand that the tests be ‘scrapped with immediate effect to be replaced by a rigorous and safe system that does not cause avoidable harm’ to sick and/or disabled people.

The vote was a huge victory for the Black Triangle Campaign’s activists and gave hope to hundreds of thousands of people at the brutal receiving end of this fascist-like disability assessment regime.

Regrettably since then, sick and/or disabled people have felt badly let down by the inaction of the BMA’s leadership who they say have in reality done little to give effect to the wishes of the union’s membership.

Granted, they have tussled with intransigent DWP ministers and officials who clearly have no intention of doing anything that might jeopardise their primary aim of kicking as many people off benefit and into destitution as necessary in order to “pay down the deficit” as sacrificial lambs on the altar of austerity, but nothing more.

BMA HouseWorse still, many Local Medical Committees (LMCs) – local associations of GPs – have appallingly mounted a ‘Just Say No‘ campaign instructing GP surgeries all over the UK to refuse patients further medical evidence in support of their benefit applications and appeals to the Tribunal Service.

The two main reasons given justify their unconscionable stance is that such work is outwith the duties doctors are required to perform as part of their contract with the DWP and that they are swamped with so many requests that they interfere with the core work of doctoring.

One of the functions of the doctors’ regulatory and disciplinary body, the General Medical Council (GMC), is to set the standards of professional and ethical conduct that all practising doctors in the UK must abide by. The chief guidance is contained in a document entitled ‘Good Medical Practice‘ which clearly states that :

‘… a doctor must (overriding duty or principle) take prompt action if he feels that patient safety is or may be seriously compromised by inadequate … policies or systems.’

Consistent with this and the fact that the WCA incontrovertibly compromises patient safety Black Triangle argues that doctors have an overriding duty in these cases to intervene to prevent catastrophic harm to their patients and to do so independently of any government interference or agreement, if required.

They have furthermore pioneered a simple and effective way for doctors to fulfil their duty of care which has been adopted by dozens of practices belonging to the Deprivation Interest Group in Scotland, the Lothian Area Health Board and the Glasgow Local Medical Committee district.

Dr Carty, who practises in Leith on the north side of Edinburgh has helped over thirty of his patients to gain exemption under the “exceptional circumstances” rule ESA regulations 29 and 35. In these cases, he has effectively informed the DWP that in his clinical judgment he believes that were his patient to be found ‘fit for work’ or to have ‘limited capability for work’ (i.e. placed in the WRAG) there would be a ‘substantial risk of harm to the physical or mental health of either the patient or to others around them’. He does this using one side of an A4 sheet of paper justifiying his declaration by stating clearly his clinical reasoning based on his patients’ diagnoses. He has said that in almost every case the DWP have not resisted his evidence and a great deal of suffering and tragedy has thereby been avoided.

The Black Triangle Campaign has one simple demand.

It isn’t the world that they are asking for.

They are not asking GPs to act as gatekeepers to the benefits system.

They stress that the judgment call as to whether or not to invoke these regulations must be left entirely at the professional discretion of the clinical practitioner.

BMA caring for patients and supporting the actionThey fully recognise that a GP may not feel qualified in every case to decide upon a person’s suitability for work as they are not trained Occupational Health experts.

Their simple demand is that the BMA issues an advisory to their members informing them of the existence of these regulations and how to apply them in cases where a GP has a grave concern for the safety and well-being of their patient facing the Atos assessment regime in order to prevent avoidable harm from the outset. They argue that in most cases where the regulations are invoked the clinical condition of the patient in question will be so severe that the judgment call will be an absolute ‘no-brainer’.

The method they have pioneered for making it takes up little more time for the doctor than it would to write out a prescription and in the end will result in fewer acute admissions to hospital and generally dealing with the adverse impact on the patient’s health with the fallout that inevitably follows as the knock-on effect of a wrongful decision by DWP-Atos.

wowv2g-300x272On the 10th December last year, after two solid years of lobbying, Black Triangle led a meeting with Dr John Canning of the BMA’s General Practice Committee who travelled up from London and Dr. Dean Marshall of BMA Scotland at BMA House in Edinburgh. Also in attendance was Bill Scott, Manager of Inclusion Scotland and representatives of the PCS Union from London and Glasgow who are desperate to find a moral and ethical solution to prevent the catastrophic consequences of wrongful decisions their members witness every day as administrators of the system.

They say that at that meeting it was agreed that the campaign would submit their materials to the BMA delegation which would then be discussed at BMA Council with a view to issuing a cascading advisory to all 55,000 GPs in the UK.

That was nearly four months ago and Black Triangle now believes that they have been stonewalled and strongly suspect that they have met with stubborn resistance within the ranks of the BMA’s hierarchy in London.

McArdle says:

“In advance of the historic Commons debate – the first one in history ever to be secured by disabled people themselves after raising over 104,000 signatures on the War on Welfare Petition (The ‘WoWpetition’) on 27th February, the BMA put out a briefing document that merely recognised what we all know and stated that they look forward to working with the DWP to address the issues giving better feedback to the department at the outset of the process on the ESA113 (the so-called ‘fit note’ – actually the old sick note). This does not adequately address the issue of flagging up substantial risk because the ESA113 is only rarely requested by the DWP and is returned on time in less than 37% of cases.”

An article in GP Online published the day before the WoWpetition debate reports the BMA as warning that ‘GPs are not occupational health specialists and are unable to make the judgments required’ to provide appropriate medical evidence.

The article reported that ‘Although GPs are not under a contractual obligation to provide this evidence directly to patients, these requests (for evidence) place GPs in a difficult position that can potentially compromise the doctor-patient relationship,’ warning that the requests were taking up limited GP appointment time ‘inappropriately’.

McArdle continues:

Mark Wood R.I.P.

Mark Wood R.I.P.

“Recently we witnessed the case of Mark Wood, a man with severe and enduring psychiatric illness starve himself to death following a fit for work decision by DWP-Atos in Oxford. We have no doubt in our minds whatsoever that had Mark’s GP been given the necessary information and tools with which to effectively flag up risk in this case by the BMA this appalling tragedy could have been averted. We are now in close contact with Mark’s sister who has joined together with us in campaigning to see to it this this never happens again.”

“We are sincerely grateful to the grassroots support of the BMA’s membership who have supported us from the outset in demanding an immediate end to this cruel and barbaric disability assessment regime with immediate effect.

DPAC LOGO“However, the members and steering group of the Black Triangle Campaign and allies in our sister organisation Disabled People Against Cuts together with Mark’s sister stand united in protest and condemnation of the unacceptable quiescence on the part of BMA Council in continuing to fail to address this issue robustly.

“We have done all we can as disabled people. We have mobilised and galvanised opinion among grassroots GPs, Consultants, trade unions and campaigners from across civil society.

“It is now time for the BMA to stand up and show true leadership in defence of sick and/or disabled people. In our view the leadership is acting completely out of step with the clearly stated wishes of their membership who support us in bringing down this whole putrid edifice.

“As sure as night follows day, many more tragedies such as that of Mark Wood will continue to occur as a result of this inaction.

“We call upon them now to issue, with immediate effect, a substantial risk advisory to all their members to equip them with the tools to ensure that such barbarity is stopped and that there will be no more deaths such as Mark’s on their watch.

“Not to do so is in our view to be complicit in the deaths of innocent people whose only crime is to have the misfortune to be sick and/or disabled.

“History will not hold them guiltless.”

McArdle finishes by quoting the holocaust scholar, Yehuda Bauer who said:

Professor Yehuda Bauer

Professor Yehuda Bauer

“I come from a people who gave the Ten Commandments to the world. Time has come to strengthen them by three additional ones, which we ought to adopt and commit ourselves to: thou shall not be a perpetrator; thou shall not be a victim; and thou shall never, but never, be a bystander.”

“The BMA cannot wash its hands and abdicate from their moral responsibilities. It must act now without any further delay.”

Of all the professions, British society places the medical profession upon the commanding heights of moral authority. Standing by and allowing patients’ health to be damaged risks a severe fracturing the public’s high esteem for our Doctors.

They must take action now. 

Dr Eugene (Eugeniusz) Lazowski, Poland's Schindler

Dr Eugene (Eugeniusz) Lazowski, Poland’s Schindler

Their position as passive bystanders witnessing this carnage at the hands of an inhumane and outright nasty Government is no longer tenable. 

Black Triangle’s demand is not only a simple one and easy to achieve: It is an astoundingly reasonable one.

For the sake of us all, I hope and pray along with Black Triangle that just for this once, power listens to reason in this case and that the BMA leadership’s inaction does not translate to infamy when in future people ask “what did the British medical profession do to put a stop to it?”

 

Alan Wyllie is the Creator of PoliticsUK, a founding member of the No2BedroomTax Campaign and is an ’Ambassador’ for the Labour for Independence Campaign

Woman killed herself over benefits cut, says mental health watchdog: Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland finds that woman took her own life after assessor docked benefits by 30%  26 March 2014

The Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland has recently conducted an investigation around the new benefits system. 

‘We investigated the case of a woman who tragically took her own life in December 2011. She had recently had a work capability assessment following which the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) decided her benefits were going to be reduced. She was on incapacity benefit and was told she would not be able to be transferred to Employment and Support Allowance so would receive Jobseekers allowance …’

http://www.mwcscot.org.uk/about-us/latest-news/our-latest-investigation-is-now-available/

Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland Investigation Report: Who benefits? The benefits assessment and death of Ms DE

We have received a response from the DWP in relation to our recommendations and we have made comments on their response:

Social security: a cap designed to confuse ~ Policy lazily lumps all benefit costs together, irrespective of whether they reflect mismanagement or answer genuine need

Mar 252014
 

Also see How to get your voice heard in Parliament

This new guide takes you through the Parliamentary process and details how Z2K – an organisation providing practical help for vulnerable debtors – tried to influence the outcome of the Welfare Reform Bill so that the legislation took into account the needs of their client group, which may be useful for your members. 

 

Plain English briefings on judicial review reform

 PLP  has developed Plain English briefings on judicial review reform Judicial review is the legal mechanism by which unfair and unlawful decisions made by public bodies can be challenged. Claims can be brought by individuals or groups who are affected by the decision. Examples of the kinds of decisions that may be subject to judicial review are:

  • Decisions by local authorities to close down libraries, hospitals, care homes,  advice centres or disabled people’s services
  • Decisions by the Department of Health to limit the availability of particular types of medical treatment, such as new cancer drugs
  • Decisions by the police or CPS not to investigate or prosecute allegations of domestic abuse, sexual assault or forced marriage

The Public Law Project  has developed plain English briefings about judicial review.  The briefings are available at: http://www.publiclawproject.org.uk/news/36/plp-briefs-parliamentarians-and-csoeys-on-judicial-review-reforms?dm_i=679,2AOUM,C758CV,8BSAZ,1

This work was funded by Trust for London and other independent funders.

More information about the Public Law Project is available at: http://www.publiclawproject.org.uk/

Please share widely.

Mar 252014
 

On Saturday 29th March there will be a march and rally from Eccles to Meadowbrook Hospital to protest against mental health cuts. 

·         Save Mental Health Services in Salford are organising the event on behalf of mental health campaigners in Bolton, Salford and Trafford, where the local NHS trust, Greater Manchester West Mental Health Trust, is planning to reduce the number of beds by 20% over the next two years.  The demo is timed to coincide with the end of their consultation on 30th March.  Eccles was chosen as the location because it is equidistant from the three towns.

·         The UK has lost 1700 mental health beds over the last three years; a further reduction locally will make it more likely that admissions will have to be made to units a considerable distance away, and often to private hospitals.  This makes impossible for friends and family to visit, delaying the patient’s recovery.  It also costs the NHS, as private beds can cost up to £4000 a week.  Manchester Mental Health Trust which has already made similar reductions in capacity recently had 38 patients being treated outside of area.

·         The trust claim that by closing wards they can extend cover to support care in the community but this will not be appropriate in many cases and staffing calculations suggest home visits will be of extremely short duration.

·         Since the demonstration was called mental health community care workers employed by Salford City Council have been ear-marked for redundancy as part of a wave of budget cuts.  Service users thus face a double whammy – there will be less support to prevent hospital admissions and if an admission is necessary there will be fewer hospital beds.  Redundancy notices have not yet been issued but if they are employees will be ballotted for industrial action. 

·         There will be a rally at Eccles Cross at 12.30 pm, with speakers from all three areas, including service users, carers, trade unionists and health campaigners.  The march will move off at 1.00 pm and proceed through the pedestrian precinct, along Wellington Road, Gilda Brook Road, and along Eccles Old Road, past Salford Royal Infirmary, and down Stott Lane to a rally at Meadowbrook at approx. 2.15 pm.

·         Organisations supporting the march include:

o   UNISON Greater Manchester West Mental Health Trust (Karen Reissman 07972 120451)

o   Salford against Cuts (Kevin Corran 07971 495597)

o   Save Mental Health Services in Salford (Jill Royle 07914 893653)

o   United Service Users Committee (Steve Cullen 07941 400870)

o   Greater Manchester Keep Our NHS Public  (Hugh Caffrey 07769 611320)

Mar 242014
 

#Disability CON-fident

Another Con about us without us-but we can be there and let Penning and others know what a Con #Disability CON-fident is.

 

Lets take over the tweet stream with some facts on what this Government is doing, from cutting Access to Work to imposing work programs that don’t work- so much CON rhetoric and no useful actions. They might CON some but they don’t CON us

Join in the twitter storm from 9.30 am 25th March till 1.30, publicise Boycott Work fare’s week of action, the Deaf campaign against cuts in Access to Work, Why the Work Program only works for the private companies paid with public money and much, much more….

 

Go to http://dftr.org.uk/DisabilityCON-fident and join us

Let’s tweet this CON out

 

 Program

Hilton London Canary Wharf Hotel, South Quay, Marsh Wall, London E14 9SH

Schedule:

08:15Guests arrival and registration – Tea/Coffee

09:15Introduction and Domestics

Simon Minty

09:30Highlight Video of the National Conference from July 2013 to be played

09:35Keynote speaker

Mike Penning – Minister of State for Disabled People

09:45Keynote speaker

Ashok Vaswani – CEO Retail and Business Banking, Barclays

09:55Case study

Stuart Roe

10:05Case study

Beverly Tew – Action for Blind People

10:15Case Study

Hilary Farmiloe – Instructability National Project Manager

Vanessa Daobry – Administrator at Aspire

Andy Kelly – Fitness First Regional Manager

10:25Discussion and Preparation for Ask the Expert Session

10:30Case study

David Burdus – Director of Burdus Ltd

10:40Coffee Break

11:00Keynote Speaker

Simon Weston OBE

11:25Ask the Expert Session

John Beasley – Access to Work, Department for Work and Pensions

Terry Waldron – Co-chair of Barclays internal disability network ‘Reach’

Tracey Abbott – Special Recruitment Advisor, Business Disability Forum

Kate Headley – Co-Founder and Development Director, the Clear Company

Dawn Milman-Hurst – Founder/ Owner, Equal Approach

12:10Make a pledge

Fiona Kilpatrick, Department for Work and Pensions

12:25Closing Speech

Mark McLane, Managing Director, Diversity and Inclusion – Barclays

12:30Wrap Up Session

Simon Minty

12:40Performance – “As I am”

Oscar Bell (Student Kidderminster College)

Jordan Statham (Student Glasshouse College)

12:45Networking lunch

13:30Conference Close

 

Mar 242014
 

This is an account we received of the continuous damage the regimes of Government do, on an individual basis and on a family basis-while the private companies lap up millions in public money. The impacts of failed systems are more and more destructive, making no sense at all. 

My son is 23 years old and lives with us. He has a serotonin deficiency which makes it difficult for him to sleep normally like other people. So he will go for days without sleep and then crash without warning and then nothing we can do to rouse him.

It’s always been a problem but it got worse when he was 15 due to severe depression and the fact that he had a number of traumatic incidents including saving sister from being kicked & hit by a rock at school, being hit with a half brick on way home from school and  punched in the face by someone he only knew vaguely. Then there were 2 muggings, one of which involved him going to police station and identifying assailants etc but he didn’t go to court as assailants pleaded guilty. Left him with traumatic stress syndrome.

So where previously he struggled to college he gave up and now spends months at a time in his room. Sometimes I don’t speak to him for weeks. Just leave messages on his computer. Some of his behaviour is quite odd but can’t get him psychiatrically evaluated as they say he is not in crisis and he won’t go there. They did manage an assessment over 18 months and found he was depressed and suffering from depression plus his neurologist has written letter to DWP about my son’s physical problems. 

Progress until Atos and back to work scheme

Things were beginning to go well. Under the neurologist they had worked out a strategy of treatment including a light box and drug treatment. That’s when ATOS struck. They had to try twice to find my son actually awake. We told ‘assessor’ all his problems but they moved him onto a back to work scheme. I wrote a letter to DWP and said there is no way that my son could guarantee to make any appointment. His treatment had just started and involved him adjusting gradually to a more normal sleep pattern which could take over a year to do. Forcing him to go to set appointment would destroy the treatment strategy. 

We went to CAB and we appealed against the decision. We had to wait a year before they even replied. Meanwhile the appointment letters kept coming. He made the first one at Job Centre. Seemed very positive and hope of training on some online course. Son was handed over to this other group SERCO but was told that they would take into account his sleeping difficulty. After several missed appointments he made a Serco appointment. The added problem of him going, as well as sleeping problems, meant that he wouldn’t travel on his own to the appointment, as he had panic attacks. The stress of whole thing was beginning to tell on all of us too. 

Treatment abandoned, appeal abandoned 

My son’s treatment regime had to be abandoned due to all these appointment letters phone calls coming. He missed the appointment. I would have to phone and explain why. They would send another appointment and the whole cycle went on for months. It was making me ill as well as my son.  Then we were sent a piece of paper to sign to say Richard had seen them. I took it to CAB and asked should he sign it as he had only seen them once in six months. I was told he had seen them even if it was only once so my son signed it and they moved him to new group and new building. All the stress and failure of never making a meeting made my son sink back into the depression. 

So he moved onto next group. There has been no help for him getting online courses. They wouldn’t talk to him online. He won’t use phone as it often brings on panic attacks. So he goes for several months and this time doesn’t make any appointments.

He is more withdrawn than ever and even misses seeing Neurologist.

Finally the DWP reply about appeal and say there will be meeting within six weeks. I go to CAB to prepare case but Son takes off in panic to Friend. I didn’t know exactly where although I knew he was safe and got messages from him re emails. CAB says we can’t continue without Son so we withdraw appeal and son comes back home.

 

Increasing problems, but Serco still drawing the cash 

His behaviour is now more and more erratic. He talks of laundry baskets attacking him and pinning him in corner. I set up appointment with GP but last minute he is asleep. SERCO then say he has passed through 2nd stage and is on 3rd stage. They set up an appointment for him to go to workshops. He hasn’t made one yet. The pressure of letters and phone calls start again but I have stopped answering them or phoning to cancel as my own health means frequent doctor appointments and clinic appointments and can’t keep up with SERCO too. I went to ATOS and actually passed as too sick to work. I do have chronic ME, a cataract and severe chest problems and was nearing 60 but hasn’t stopped ATOS re friends of mine. Probably the stress re my son helped as I was pretty shattered with it all and all my own hospital tests.

                                                     

Son has taken off once again to the friend. The letters are piling up. I suppose I should tell SERCO he is gone as he has been away for over a month. I think whole thing is a scam as no way has he progressed and he hasn’t had any useful help. If they were legit they would have referred him back to DWP and he probably would have had his money stopped. However if I go to DWP or police they could argue that sons flight off to friend means he isn’t meeting terms re benefit and possibly even accusing him of fraud. CAB says we need psychiatric evaluation of son. GP is unwilling to send someone to our home when Son is there & Mental Health people say he is not a danger to himself or others. If he has to talk to authorities he will probably leave forever and I will lose all contact with him. So at moment I know even SERCO will have to claim he has finished course eventually and then we will have to challenge them. We will be asked why we didn’t challenge before and Son will go into hiding.

It’s just a case of waiting for axe to fall…..       

 

 

 

Mar 232014
 

Fit for Work or Survival of the Fittest? We need to Act Now to make our Voices Heard!

How can we restore dignity to disabled Welfare Benefits?

Market Hall, Assembly Rooms, Chesterfield Sat 29th 11am-4pm

Speakers

Richard Exell-TUC

Kate Green -MP Shadow minister of State for Equalities

Debbie Jolly -DPAC

Sue Marsh- Spartacus

Plus Dead Earnest Theatre Company

Food available

Ring or text Colin on 0787 387999

For info/access requirements

Unite Community membership

Welfare poster 2014

Mar 162014
 
Thursday 20th march the public accounts committee is meeting to discuss personal independence payments (PIP), the vice president of Atos and Capita are going to be in attendance as witnesses.
 
Meeting will take place room 15 palace of westminster 9.45 am spread the word on this atos and capita in the same room…. we need a presence at this one!

Mar 142014
 

Jenny Sealey has agreed to become the spokesperson and face of the Stop Changes to Access to Work campaign.

cropped-cropped-atw1-e13845513016702

STOP CHANGES TO ACCESS TO WORK

#stopchanges2atw

Jenny is the Artistic Director of the Graeae Theatre and co-directed the London 2012 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony. Having such a high profile job, and with the government still making reference to the Paralympic legacy, you might expect that she would have escaped the 30 hour guidance. This is not the case. Jenny, like every other Access to Work user, is having to fight for the support she needs to do her job.

 You can expect to see and hear a lot more from Jenny and our campaign very soon!


Video transcript:

I just want to talk about Access to Work without that provision, I couldn’t do my job, it’s fundamental to being Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Graeae Theatre. Access to Work is amazing, it’s so brilliant to have that, when we were doing the Paralympics, I had a team of 14 or 15 fully highly qualified interpreters working amongst, I think there were 10 deaf people, plus me, and I had my own core team of three. Without that skill, that knowledge and everything, we would never, ever have been able to do such a glorious Paralympics and for all those deaf people to have full and equal access.

What I need in my job is so varied, I go from rehearsals, to budget meetings, to board meetings, to networking, working in schools, it’s so varied so I’m very, very aware, I carefully pick which interpreters I need for which jobs and to be forced to have one interpreter, just in the office… That’s giving me just one voice, one interpretation, all the way through my working life… That’s not going to work for someone like me, and there’s many, many other deaf people that I know, that same style will not work for them either. My interpreters need to be cast, I suppose, in the same way that I cast my plays… So I have the right person for my budget meetings, you know, an interpreter that knows and understands finance… I have the right interpreter when I’m working in schools that understands the school environment… I want, I need, and have to be allowed choice, and that is the same for other deaf people. Also, we need to have fully qualified high spec interpreters, not, you know, a baby CSW… Because… That’s wrong, and that means we’re not getting full and equal access, so… please, please, we have to have choice, skill, and qualified interpreters… We need that.

For more see: http://stopchanges2atw.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/announcing-our-spokesperson-and-face-of-the-campaign/

Sign petition: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-changes-to-access-to-work

 

 

 

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