Debbie

Dec 192014
 

#StopChanges2ATW welcome the findings of the Work and Pensions select committee inquiry into Access To Work (ATW) published today.

The 31 recommendations reflect the considerable difficulties Deaf and disabled people have experienced with the scheme since changes were introduced by the Department of Work and Pensions over the past year to what was previously a very effective programme of disability related employment support.

The report says ATW “has the potential to be an extremely effective model, helping to address the substantial gap between the employment rate for disabled people and that of the rest of the population. Where it works well, it transforms the lives of disabled people, many of whom would be unable to work without it.”

Over recent months ATW customers have been driven to crisis through the combination of a disastrous restructure, which they were never consulted over, and the introduction of targets to increase numbers using the scheme without significantly increasing its budget.

As a result an overwhelming number of Deaf and disabled people have been pushed to despair fearing for their futures, with many out of pocket or owing thousands of pounds that they simply don’t have.

#StopChanges2ATW, named this week on Limping Chicken by respected blogger Jen Dodds as campaign of the year, was set up to draw attention to the scale of what was happening. Working with DeafATW and the National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters (NUBSLI) we sought justice for Deaf and disabled people adversely impacted and a reversal of all negative changes.

Although the Work and Pensions inquiry into ATW was originally intended to focus on mental health and learning difficulties, we were delighted that the Select Committee listened to our calls to widen its scope and ensure the inquiry process was made accessible for Deaf BSL users.

We now welcome the findings of the inquiry which support the key concerns from our campaign. The report highlights the DWP’s failure to provide “a satisfactory explanation of how the money saved from the closure or sale of Remploy factories has been used”. It finds that as a result of trying to increase the ATW caseload within an only marginally increased budget, that the DWP is “bearing down on the awards of current service users who happen to require relatively high cost support, to the detriment of meeting their needs effectively.” The report also criticises the “remarkably little published information on Access to Work”, commenting that much of the information needed for the inquirt has had to be pieced together from DWP’s answers to Parliamentary Questions and Freedom of Information requests.

The Committee makes a number of specific recommendations to improve the ATW programme. These include that the DWP be clearer about how its makes decisions, makes its processes more accessible introducing a Video Relay System to allow Deaf BSL users to make contact and improves its disability awareness training for staff.

Dame Anne Begg MP, Chair of the Committee, has called for the DWP to urgently address the impact of the “30 hour rule” and to make a strong case to the HM Treasury for substantial additional funding.

The report also acknowledges NUBSLI, which was set up only this year in response to the  attacks on BSL interpreters’ pay and condition affected through the changes to Access to Work, recommending “that DWP consult the BSL interpreting professions through the Association of Sign Language Interpreters and the National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters.”

#StopChanges2ATW co-founder Geraldine O’Halloran said “The report is promising and is a good result for our campaign. We are delighted the Committee understood the impact of the 30 hour rule and cuts to resources for Deaf BSL users as well as the need for properly qualified and skilled interpreters. ”

Tracey Lazard, CEO of Inclusion London, said: “#StopChanges2ATW and all the campaigners working together to oppose the damaging impact of the changes to Access to Work should be congratulated on getting the Work and Pensions Committee to listen to their concerns. The recommendations from the inquiry strongly reflect the measures that Deaf and disabled people have been calling for.”

One disappointment is that the Committee’s recommendation on employment support for people with mental health support needs does not go far enough. The report acknowledges that whereas “People with physical and sensory impairments have an element of choice in how their Access to Work support is provided; there is currently a lack of choice in Access to Work mental health support”. The recommendation is given that “DWP develop a range of mental health provision” but does not explicitly state that customers with mental health support needs should have a parity of choice with other customers, enabling individuals to identify the support we need to achieve our employment outcomes instead of being restricted to choosing from a pre-designated, albeit longer, menu of set support options.

It also remains to be seen how far if at all the Department for Work and Pensions will follow the report’s recommendations. The key recommendation of the Work and Pensions report on Employment and Support Allowance and the Work Capability Assessment, that “a fundamental redesign of the ESA end-to-end process” was needed, was ignored in the government’s response.

Meanwhile we continue to hear on a daily basis of lives being ruined as ATW packages are driven down, support essential for Deaf and disabled people to stay in their jobs is denied and ATW communication failings persist.

Roger Lewis of Disabled People Against Cuts said”The reality is that Deaf and disabled people are being squeezed from above and below. On the one hand they are stripping away the social security system and labelling us as benefit scroungers, on the other they are pushing us out of the labour market and eroding disability employment support. Lord Freud’s comments about whether disabled people are worth £2 an hour aren’t an anomaly, they represent what this government really thinks about us. ”

One thing we do know is that #StopChanges2ATW will carry on campaigning to hold the government to account for its erosion of ATW and to fight not only for a reversal of the damage done over recent months but beyond that for improvements to the scheme that will widen its reach and enable many more Deaf and disabled people to access their right to employment.

Work and Pensions press release
Download full report here
Reaction from NUBSL
Limping Chicken:

Look out for #StopChanges2ATW on news features throughout the day.

Dec 102014
 

Please Help Us. Save Our Independent Living Fund

We, disabled people, family, friends, supporters and allies, are asking for your help. We are asking you to pledge to keep the Independent Living Fund open to existing applicants, pending a review of Independent Living for all disabled people.

As you may know, on the 8th of December at the High Court, a ruling was given against our challenge to the closure of the ILF [1], and we were not given leave to appeal.

The closure of the ILF effectively signals the end of the right to independent living for disabled people in the UK. Whilst never perfect the ILF represents a model of support that has enabled thousands of disabled people to enjoy meaningfully lives and to contribute to society as equal citizens. 

Since the closure of the Fund to new applicants in December 2010 we have seen disabled people left with their most basic needs unmet and unable to seek employment, to volunteer or go into education or simply even to leave the house.

But we have vowed to fight on against the ILF closure,  disabled people will not be pushed back into the margins of society, we will not go back into the institutions, our place is in the community alongside our family and friends and neighbours and we are fighting to stay.

We ask you to imagine what it will be like, for people who have been enabled  to live a full life, be with friends and family, go out, work, study and enjoy recreation, to have all that taken away, and find themselves trapped inside, all day, every day, with choices over what they do, when and how, removed.

To severely disabled people the Independent Living Fund represents the difference between having an existence, and having a life.

Please Ed, keep our Independent Living Fund open. Keep Our Lives Open. It means the world to us.

References

[1] http://dpac.uk.net/2014/12/disabled-people-vow-to-continue-the-fight-to-save-

to sign as an organisation or individual please go to 

https://docs.google.com/document/d/11ZpbvcgSdYeOciEj9NZtnHFaI-3gGzMvRKLX4RblGTs/edit

or email: mail@dpac.uk.net

deadline for all signatures is 12pm Tues 16th Jan

Background: The Government won a case in the Royal Courts of Justice on Monday 8th December, which made their decision to close the ILF – Independent Living Fund – lawful; and this closure will now go ahead on 30th June next year.
Unless, of course the families, friends, supporters and others stand in solidarity with ILF Users campaign to Save the ILF, and together apply the sort of political power which changes minds and policy. You can do that today by signing the Open Letter to Ed Miliband (full text below), asking him, that should he become Prime Minister in May’s General Election, to keep the Fund open while ordering an independent review into the benefits of a model such as the ILF.
We know that many disabled people will lose some or all of their support, isolating people in their homes – at best. For many more, being institutionalised in residential homes is once again a grim reality. To save on average just over £300 per person. Don’t let this happen. Stand in support with ILF Users in this action, and the many more on-going & to come

Dec 092014
 

John Healey (Wentworth and Dearne) (Lab): What legal costs his Department has incurred in legal proceedings involving disabled people relating to the under-occupancy penalty and the closure of the independent living fund. [906481]

The Minister for Disabled People (Mr Mark Harper): The Government have robustly defended their policies in relation to the closure of the independent living fund and the removal of the spare room subsidy. The total known legal costs to date, in respect of both policies where disability formed part of the grounds of the claim, are £415,000: £236,000 for the ILF and £178,000 for the removal of the spare room subsidy.

John Healey: That is a part answer to a very direct question about the cost to the taxpayers of Government lawyers defending the indefensible—axing the ILF and introducing the hated bedroom tax. Will the Minister not recognise that many severely disabled people flourish with the fund but are now frightened of losing their independence when he shuts it down next year? He might have won the legal case this year, but he has lost the moral and policy arguments, so even at this 11th hour will he rethink the protection available to ILF users?

Mr Harper: No, I will not. I have talked to disability organisations about this matter, and they agree with the Government. More than 1 million people get social care through the mainstream social care system. The Government are not making any savings by moving the ILF to local authorities and devolved Administrations, and we are working closely with each local authority to ensure that the amount of money being transferred at the point of closure next year will be exactly what is needed and what is being spent by the ILF, meaning that disabled people will be protected.

Barbara Keeley (Worsley and Eccles South) (Lab): Some £4.3 billion has been taken out of adult social care budgets over the past four years because of the Government’s cuts. If that funding transfers across, as is planned, it will plug only a very small part of the gap. If they will not rethink this policy, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Wentworth and Dearne (John Healey) just suggested, will Ministers require that the funding be ring-fenced to ensure that 70 people in Salford and 18,000 people across the country with disabilities can look forward to keeping their independence and to this continuing support?

Mr Harper: Of course local government has had to play its part in the savings, but local authorities can make choices. My local authority in Gloucestershire has protected the value of social care because it thinks that protecting older people—[Interruption.] No, my local authority has faced cuts, like all local authorities, but it has chosen to—[Interruption.] If Opposition Members want me to answer their hon. Friend’s question, they should stop yelling. My local authority has prioritised funding for older people and people of working age. Clearly, the hon. Lady’s local authority has made different decisions. If those on her local authority want to ring-fence the money transferred from the ILF, they are absolutely free to do so, so I suggest she take that up with them.


8 Dec 2014 : Column 632

We want to thank John Healey MP for raising these questions

But other questions arise: which disability organisations did Harper speak to and why did they agree with the Government that closing ILF was a good thing for disabled people with high support needs and their employees? Did Harper speak to ILF users?

Watch this space……

Dec 082014
 

Press release from Solicitors involved

Two severely disabled men who use the Independent Living Fund (ILF) today lost their bid to overturn the Government’s decision to close the ILF in June 2015, as the High Court ruled that former Minister for Disabled People Mike Penning had not breached equality laws in making the closure decision earlier this year. The two men had been granted permission for a judicial review of the process leading to Penning’s closure decision, taken just weeks after the Court of Appeal quashed a previous, almost identical decision as being unlawful.

ILF provides vital support and funding to some 17,000 disabled people in the UK to enable them to live independent and fulfilling lives. To be eligible people must already receive a substantial care package from local authority social services, but ILF funding provides a top-up for those with the highest support needs. The ILF system was set up in 1988 to tackle the barriers to independent living and working faced by the most severely disabled people, which were not adequately addressed by council provision with its focus on meeting basic needs. The claimants, represented by Scott-Moncrieff & Associates and Deighton Pierce Glynn, believe that these problems with council provision remain and are getting worse under Government cuts. They fear that loss of ILF support will threaten their right to live with dignity, and they may be forced into residential care or lose their ability to participate in work and everyday activities on an equal footing with other people.

As in the earlier, successful challenge, the claimants argued that the Minister had not been given adequate information to be able to properly assess the practical effect of closure on the particular needs of ILF users and their ability to live independently, or to consider alternatives. The Court of Appeal ruled that this information about impact was essential for the Minister to comply with the Equality Act, which requires the Government to act to positively advance equality of opportunity for disabled people, including meeting needs, removing disadvantages and increasing their participation in public life.

However, handing down judgment today Mrs Justice Andrews ruled that a crucial difference between the two decision-making processes was that in the first, the Minister (then Esther McVey) was given an over-optimistic ‘Panglossian’ summary of information about how ILF users would be likely to be affected, whereas in the second the Minister was made fully aware of ‘the inevitable and considerable adverse effect’ that closure would have on disabled people. She concluded that the assumption on which Mr Penning based his decision was that ‘independent living might well be put seriously in peril for … most (or a substantial number of) ILF users’. In the judge’s view that meant that the Minister had clear, unambiguous information on which to weigh up the implications for disability equality, regardless of the exact number of people who would be likely to have to go into residential care or lose their ability to work or study.

The judge emphasised that her decision was not about the rights or wrongs of closure, just whether the Minister knew enough about the likely impact to meet the requirements of a lawful decision-making process. The decision itself was up to him. The judge also declined to rule on whether the closure decision may put the UK in breach of its international legal obligations to advance disabled people’s rights to independent living and equality of opportunity under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

However there is a really significant point arising out of the decision. Essentially the legal challenge was to the process of decision-making and specifically the question of what information the Minister had available to him about the likely impact on disabled people so as to be able to properly exercise the public sector equality duty.  What the judgment highlights is that, in the judge’s view, the Minister clearly believed that the impact of closure on disabled people and their ability to live independently will be really severe, and many or most ILF users will be at risk of losing their ability to work, study or live independently in the community as a result

 

For the purpose of the legal challenge, that meant that (in the judge’s view) the Minister had sufficient information to make a lawful decision – and that was end of story as far as the court’s role went.  But in wider terms it really begs the question of why, in that case, the Minister decided what he did:

 

-          How can it have been justified if he thought the impact would be so severe?

-          What is the benefit of getting rid of this tried and tested system of protection for those people who are most at risk of losing their independence? There has never been any suggestion that it will save money overall – indeed there is evidence that it may cost far more than it saves because of (a) the false economies of people losing good support then getting into crisis and being institutionalised, (b) the ILF system being such good value for money (extremely low running costs as it uses trustees) and (c) the double benefit of the ILF system which not only provides a funding top-up but (crucially) puts leverage on local authorities to put their contribution towards proper independent support packages instead of institutional care.

-          How can  this decision to cause such a negative impact on such a large number of the most severely disabled people in the country be squared with the need for the Government to actively advance equality of opportunity for disabled people, including meeting needs better and increasing participation in public life rather than the other way round?

-          Similarly how can it be squared with international obligations the UK has signed up to such as the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), which stipulates that contracting states must move forwards not back in realising rights such as that under Article 19 – the right to live independently in the community with choices equal to others.

Contact: Solicitors representing the Claimants:

Deighton Pierce Glynn (Louise Whitfield)

Scott-Moncrieff & Associates (Kate Whittaker)

8 Union Street, London SE1 1SZ

Tel: 020 7407 0007

Office 7, 19 Greenwood Place, London NW5 1LB

Tel: 020 7485 5588/ 07954 289595

Notes

  1. The ILF is a body of the Department of Work and Pensions but under the management of independent trustees. Since it was created in 1988 it has helped many thousands of disabled people to live independent lives and be included in the community as full citizens. It has targeted support at the most severely disabled people in the UK who face the greatest barriers to independent living, and has also played a key role in overseeing social services provision from local authorities for this group of people, to ensure that the combined ILF/local authority support packages meet criteria of promoting independence and inclusion and avoid unnecessary escalation of costs through people being institutionalised and cut off from their communities. In 2010 the Fund was closed to new applicants because the Government had reduced the amount of money it gave to the Fund. It is now proposing that the Fund close completely on 30 June 2015, leaving users to rely solely on local authority adult care services.
  1. This is at a time when the funding for local authorities is being dramatically reduced and many authorities are cutting services for disabled people. The Health and Social Care Information Centre states that the total number of people receiving social care services in 2012-13 was 1.3m, down 9% from 2011-12 and down 25% from 2007-08 (HSCIC, Community Care Statistics, Social Services Activity: England 2012-13, Provisional Release, 2013). This is the expected result of the targeting of cuts at local authority funding which will continue until at least 2015-16, suggesting a real-terms cut of nearly 50% in social care provision by that stage.
  1. Following consultation the Scottish government has announced that from 1 July 2015 it will establish a Scottish Independent Living Fund to protect the funding of the 3000+ existing ILF users in Scotland, and will build on the existing system through a £5.5 million investment which will re-open it to new users, ensuring its long-term future: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/scottish-governments-decision-on-a-scottish-independent-living-fund. The Welsh government is currently consulting on options for the future support of ILF users, including setting up a successor body as in Scotland; the consultation is open until 23 December 2014: http://wales.gov.uk/consultations/healthsocialcare/fund/?lang=en.
  1. Further information, including briefing (June 2014) and individuals’ stories, on the campaign against the closure of ILF is available at the Inclusion London website: http://www.inclusionlondon.co.uk/

Dec 082014
 

This morning after weeks of anxious waiting, disabled people and our supporters learned that the high court has found against the latest legal challenge against the government’s decision to close the Independent Living Fund (1). Disabled campaigners vow to continue the fight in every way that we can.

 

The campaign to save the Independent Living Fund has been one of the most high profile among the many battles disabled people are currently fighting against current government policy that is detrimentally impacting on disabled people, with disabled activists occupying Westminster Abbey gardens over the summer (2).

 

In November last year the Court of Appeal quashed the government’s decision to close the ILF with the Court of Appeal judges unanimous in their view that the closure of the fund would have an ‘inevitable and considerable adverse effect which the closure of the fund will have, particularly on those who will as a consequence lose the ability to live independently” (3).

 

On 6th March this year the then Minister for Disabled People Mike Penning retook the decision and announced a new date of June 2015 for permanent closure of the Fund that provides essential support enabling disabled people with the highest support needs to live in the community when the alternative would be residential care (4).

 

In October a second legal challenge was heard in the high court brought by disabled claimants claiming that the Minister had not considered any new information to properly assess the practical effect of closure on the particular needs of ILF users (5). The Department for Work and Pensions mounted a defence based on their assertion that the Minister had adequate information to realise that the independent living of the majority of ILF users will be significantly impacted by the closure of the fund.

 

Tracey Lazard, CEO of Inclusion London said: “The closure of the ILF effectively signals the end of the right to independent living for disabled people in the UK. Whilst never perfect the ILF represents a model of support that has enabled thousands of disabled people to enjoy meaningfully lives and to contribute to society as equal citizens. Since the closure of the Fund to new applicants in December 2010 we have seen disabled people left with their most basic needs unmet and unable to seek employment, to volunteer or go into education or simply even to leave the house.”

Linda Burnip, co-founder of the campaign Disabled people Against Cuts, said: “Regardless of this ruling, disabled people will not be pushed back into the margins of society, we will not go back into the institutions, our place is in the community alongside our family and friends and neighbours and we are fighting to stay”.

 

For more information or to speak to disabled people directly affected by the Independent Living Fund please contact Ellen on 07505144371 or email mail@dpac.uk.net.

 

Notes for editors

1)      For full judgement and press release from solicitors working on the case see: http://www.deightonpierceglynn.co.uk/http://www.scomo.com/

2)      http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jun/28/occupy-westminster-disabled-people-against-cuts

3)      http://dpac.uk.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/522372-ILF-Briefing-Note-06-11-2013.pdf?bb10e9

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

5)      http://dpac.uk.net/2014/06/breaking-news-2nd-court-case-to-challenge-ilf-closure-launched/

 

Nov 262014
 

The Slow Progress On Disabled Peoples’ Rights

by Dominic McDevitt

There has been much said about the issue of Civil Rights for disabled people. Some from the current Coalition Administration between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have sought to infer that the Conservatives were somehow liberators of disabled people and that the Conservative Administration between 1992 and 1997 led the way on disability issues.

The reality is that the Campaign for full and enforceable Civil Rights for Disabled people has a long and turbulent history with many setbacks and disappointments and injustices done along the way. There is much evidence to demonstrate how disabled people have found ourselves “pushed to the back of the queue” when the equalities agenda has been addressed.

In many respects disabled people have at best been treated as an afterthought. The social stigmas around disability and disabled people in society have been deeply engrained and remain stubbornly present to this day.

The law has often been slow to react to issues in society and that is certainly the case when considering disability issues. The “low priority” afforded to disabled people can be seen from the weak and poorly enforced legislation that took the form of the Disabled Persons (Employment) Acts of 1944 and 1958. Following these Statues there was a voluntary register for Disabled People and a quota system established. This quota system was supposed to require employers of 20 or more people to employ a workforce of disabled people to the proportion of 3% of the total workforce.1This legislation lacked an effective enforcement mechanism, and the prejudice and hostility to disabled people in the workplace set the tone for many years and as a result was effectively rendered worthless .

It would seem that the attitude that disabled people were a ‘burden’ and a section of society to be addressed as a ‘problem’, rather than as a section of society with something to offer, and part of the community to be engaged with, was the prevailing one. The patronising and paternalistic attitude has unfortunately been a longstanding undercurrent in the UK and does seem to be resurgent since the arrival of austerity politics.

It is interesting to note that there were several attempts to introduce equality legislation for Disabled People but all of these were prevented from successfully completing the necessary Parliamentary stages to become law. Edwin Shorts and Claire de Than observe in their Book2

Between 1982 and 1994 there were seventeen attempts to reform the law in this area by introducing Bills most of which had cross party support, yet none of them became law. It was only in 1994 that the campaign reached such heights of popularity and publicity that legislation seemed inevitable, with Disabled people mounting protests such as sit ins… ….In 1994 the Government defeated the last of the attempts to legislate by Private Members’ Bill…and introduced a consultation document…”

It would be erroneous to contend that somehow the United Kingdom Government led the way in the field of Disability Rights Law, The United States of America acted considerably sooner and in fact it was their legislation which sought to open up a new frontier and value the contribution made by disabled citizens. The Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) was championed by Senator Edward M Kennedy3 and Senator Tom Harkin4 The Americans With Disabilities Act which was passed by the Senate towards the end of 1989 and signed into Law by the Republican President, George H.W Bush In July of 1990 built on America’s pervious Civil Rights legislation from the 1960’s . Senator Kennedy stated5

Today’s Action by the Senate marks an historic step in the long journey to complete the unfinished business of America and bring full civil rights and fair opportunity to all our citizens. In a sense this legislation is an emancipation proclamation……and America will be a better, fairer, and stronger nation because of it. 43 Million disabled men, women and children will benefit from our action. For too long, they have been invisible…denied opportunity, victimised by prejudice, excluded from everyday activities of society…….Mindless physical barriers and outdated social attitudes have made them second class citizens for too long. Now with this legislation, they will have a fair chance to participate in the Mainstream of American life. This is a proud day in the history of civil rights. It is difficult to believe that this Congress will enact a more far-reaching or more important bill.”

It could be contended that the American legislation embarrassed the Government of the day in the UK into action, after all it should not be forgotten that there had been other Equalities legislation passed in the United Kingdom, to address Race and Gender issues in the 1970’s onwards yet, it was not until the mid-nineties that disability was taken seriously. It is perhaps more accurate to describe the steps taken which led to the passage of the Disability Discrimination Act (1995) as grudgingly done.

Where the Americans blazed the trail the Political establishment in the UK merely followed. A clear example of this can be seen from the fact that the American Law introduced the notion of “Reasonable accommodation”, this is something we can see borrowed in the Disability Discrimination Act (1995) (DDA). The American law was considerably more comprehensive with a far bigger reach than the UK token measure, which had many glaring omissions.

The Disability Discrimination Act contained some massive omissions, such as failing to apply to education. It is worth observing that if a person is denied access to a good quality education, it will be significantly more difficult for that individual to succeed and progress in society. Regrettably it took until 2001 for Education to be properly included in Disability Discrimination legislation, this took the form of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Rights in Education Act (2001).

While there are those who would seek to portray the 1995 Act as being an adequate response to the needs and legitimate concerns of disabled people, this is far from the case, in reality it could even be contended that this legislation merely underscored the second-class citizenship imposed on disabled people. It was a weak piece of legislation that bore the hallmarks of tokenism rather than being a herald of new social change, valuing the contribution of disabled people. This legislation could perhaps be described as a rather half-hearted effort. This was because of the ‘built in’ weaknesses at the very heart of the Act some of these were as follows:-

  • The Act only applied to employers that employed 20 or more people. The key point here is that as has been observed above, the law merely required an employer to make “Reasonable adjustment”, why should any employer of any size need an exemption from Acting reasonably?6
  • The Disability Discrimination Act only addressed direct discrimination and created a situation where indirect discrimination could be justified
  • The Act established the “National Disability Council”, which was merely a talking shop, with no enforcement powers apparently based on the flawed contention that attitudinal changes to the deeply engrained prejudice and bigotry towards disabled people could be brought about merely by education of non-disabled people without the need to give disabled people a commission to assist in ensuring the law was taken seriously.

A key area where the 1995 legislation passed by the then Conservative Administration led by John Major, denied parity to disabled people as compared to other groups with Equality legislation on the Statute Book was the failure to provide for an adequate enforcement Commission like the ones which had been created to enforce laws on Race and Gender Discrimination. It is worth noting that the Legislation covering both Race and Gender had been in operation for around 20 years at the time of the Disability Discrimination Act (1995), this in itself serves as a demonstration of how far Disabled people had been left behind, the failure to include an enforcement Commission was a serious setback and one which was bitterly resented by many disabled people. The establishment of the Disability Rights Commission was a key achievement of the Blair Administration.7

In the Debate on the Disability Rights Commission Bill it was clear that there was a great degree of resentment about the fact that the previous Conservative Government had ignored the need for an enforcement mechanism.

Roger Berry, the then MP for Kingswood,8who himself had been a key Sponsor of the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons’) Bill, a Private Members’ Bill ‘talked out’ by the Government in 19949 observed10

One cannot forget entirely the fact that the previous Government were forced to introduce the Disability Discrimination Act in 1995 after years of doing everything imaginable-and even things that I thought were unimaginable to block that legislation… … The then Government established the National Disability Council……… The National Disability Council is the only Government agency that I can recall that campaigned for its own abolition almost from day one. It recognised that we needed a commission….Let no one pretend that we would today be debating the Third Reading of the Disability Rights Commission Bill without a Labour victory at the last general election. We are debating the Bill also because the Government have moved with great speed: they found the legislative time to introduce this legislation within…two years of taking office…”

The long awaited Disability Rights Commission opened to begin the serious task of its enforcement duties in April 2000.

The establishment of an enforcement Commission was far from the only area which needed urgent action one of the steps that was taken in December 1997 was the Establishment of a Disability Rights Taskforce. This body had the task of examining the gaps in protection of the rights of disabled people and making recommendations to the Government relating to changes in the law. 11 The Specific terms of reference in which the Taskforce operated were to:-

Consider how best to secure, comprehensive, enforceable civil rights for disabled people within the context of our wider society and to make recommendations on the role and functions of a Disability Rights Commission… … The Task Force will take full account of the costs as well as the benefits of any proposals, so far as quantifiable and practicable, and in particular ensure that its recommendations for a Disability Rights Commission achieve value for money for the taxpayer”12

The Taskforce was made up of a wide variety of representatives, some of whom were disabled people as well as representatives of Organisations with links to different types of impairment together with Employers organisations and those with links to the Trade Union Movement, representing Employees. The Taskforce final report entitled From Exclusion to Inclusion13 made over 150 recommendations for changes in almost all aspects of life the report made recommendations concerning:-

  • The definition of disability
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Access to Goods, Services and Premises
  • Travel
  • The Environment and Housing
  • Participation in Public Life
  • Local Government, Health and Social Services

It is incorrect to contend that the situation facing disabled people was adequately addressed by the weak legislation passed in 1995, as we have already seen, it lacked an effective enforcement mechanism, and in many areas of life in modern society, left disabled people with little or no protection. We must not forget these were in basic areas where others could take basic rights for granted. Indeed it could be contended that the slow pace of change was in itself an indication of the second-class status afforded to disabled people.

Another factor to bear in mind when considering these issues is the fact that the changes were often phased in so that Employers, Providers of goods and services etc, got time to ‘get used’ to the new obligations placed on them. While it could be contended that this was done so as not to “put off” those who would be affected, it could be contended that the negative ramification of the phased slow approach was the loss of impetus and perhaps, to some degree an inference that disabled people should apologise for seeking to assert their legitimate right to equality which may have sent out a mixed message, that somehow disabled people “didn’t want to put anyone to any trouble” or be a “nuisance” .

It was a flawed argument in the mid 1990’s to contend that the situation could be improved for disabled people simply by education alone with a minimal reliance on law. This seemed to be the view of those who opposed disabled people’s Civil Rights laws14. The danger resulting from such an approach is that the serious nature of the issues at stake can become portrayed as mere “political correctness” and this can do damage which resonates long into the future.

The other great barrier for disabled people has and is, the attitudinal one which holds disabled people back as a result of deeply ingrained prejudice and bigotry that has tainted the approach to disabled people and the issues affecting us for generations. Too often there is a culture of low expectation where disabled people are concerned and a lack of political will to address disability issues because disabled people have and to a large extent continue to be seen as needing a paternalistic and patronising approach where everything done to us, is for our own good . regrettably there has been a failure to acknowledge effectively that the attitudinal barriers weaken the effects of any legal change and alongside this, the simple, yet basic fact that disabled people have the same aspirations as anyone else, has been and still is too easily ignored.

Law alone will not soften the hard bigoted attitudes that often confront disabled people as we seek to assert our rightful place in society as equal citizens. Disabled Peoples Rights needed then, and still need now to be looked at from this perspective also This was an aspect which was not lost on the Disability Rights Taskforce there they observe15 that:-

We welcome the Government’s recognition of the weaknesses in the DDA and its…commitment to comprehensive and enforceable civil rights for disabled people……we felt it was essential attitudes towards disabled people were also changed if we are to make real progress. Changing attitudes should not be left to disability organisations or Government alone. It is a task all in society must share from teachers educating children about the value of diversity to businesses changing the attitudes of employees and customers…”

The then Government issued a formal response to the final report in a document entitled Towards inclusion – Civil Rights for Disabled people Government response to the Disability Rights Taskforce16 This document provided significant progress and eventually led to the Disability Discrimination Act (2005) getting to this point was a little drawn out as it was subject to a draft Bill, the explanation for such a move being the desire to get things right.

From this though, it is clear to see that the vast majority of the improvements in the recognition and enforcement of the Rights of Disabled people happened from the late 1990’s onwards and a significant piece of legislation to close the chasms in the 1995 Act came into effect 10 years after that Act.

Things moved on a stage further when there was recognition that people were encountering discrimination on more than one ground. Firstly there was the establishment of a single Equality commission and then the Equality Act (2010) which sought to codify all the Equality legislation into One Act.

It is also important not to underestimate the impact of the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (2007) while this does not seek to grant new rights it did however seek to make a statement about the basic Rights that Disabled people should have access to. The Handbook for Parliamentarians on the Convention17 states18

…The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is the response

of the international community to the long history of discrimination, exclusion

and dehumanization of persons with disabilities. It is historic and

groundbreaking in many ways, being the fastest negotiated human rights treaty

ever and the first of the twenty-first century. The Convention is the result

of three years of negotiations involving civil society, Governments, national

human rights institutions and international organizations. After adopting

the Convention in the United Nations General Assembly in December 2006,

a record number of countries demonstrated their commitment to respecting

the rights of persons with disabilities by signing the Convention and Optional

Protocol when they opened for signature in March 2007.

The Convention ensures that the world’s largest minority enjoys the same

rights and opportunities as everyone else. It covers the many areas where

persons with disabilities have been discriminated against including access to

justice; participation in political and public life; education; employment; freedom

from torture, exploitation and violence, as well as freedom of movement.

Under the Optional Protocol, individuals of States parties to the Protocol who

allege violations of their rights, and who have exhausted national remedies,

can seek redress from an independent international body.

The Convention is long overdue. It is over 25 years since the 1981

International Year of Disabled Persons brought global attention to the issues

affecting persons with disabilities. …”

It was unfortunate that when the UK Government ratified the Convention in 2009, they made reservation from Article 24 with regard to maintaining segregation in education in certain circumstances, the Reservation stated

 Education – Convention Article 24 Clause 2 (a) and 2 (b)
The United Kingdom reserves the right for disabled children to be educated outside their local community where more appropriate education provision is available elsewhere. Nevertheless, parents of disabled children have the same opportunity as other parents to state a preference for the school at which they wish their child to be educated”
19.

Despite the Reservations made by the UK Government in relation to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (2007), its ratification did send out an important message about the progress that was and had been made in relation to the rights of disabled people. It is fair to say that in the UK, disabled people’s Rights advanced significantly during the period 1997-2010 before the Current Coalition took office. By contrast, since the Coalition took office, we have seen a situation develop where it is more difficult for disabled people to access their rights. While it is not the purpose of this document to set out the litany of attacks on the rights of disabled people, it is hoped that the reader will have gained an appreciation of the fact that Disabled people’s Rights made significant and steady progress which has now been significantly halted and worryingly, perhaps even dismantled.

Disabled People should not have to accept second-class citizenship. The simple reality is that disabled people have the same aspirations as anyone else. No Government, of whatever persuasion should ignore this fact or have difficulty accepting it. Regrettably however, history shows us that they have . What is needed is a commitment and the political will to ensure we do not get returned to the dark days of the past where the negative attitudes to disabled people set the agenda.

What we have seen is that Disabled People have always had a significant battle on our hands for the Rights others can take for granted. It is important that we fight to protect the gains that were slowly and painstakingly made and continue the fight to ensure that disabled people can take our rightful place as full equals in society.

October 2014

1 Often disabled People found themselves pushed into low skilled work and stereotypical roles left to disabled people might be something like Car-Park or Public Toilet Attendant Invariably low skilled or repetitive tasks.

2 Civil Liberties Legal Principles of individual freedom Published by Sweet and Maxwell ( London) (1998) 1st (edition) at p574

3 The then Senior Senator for Massachusetts who held a senior position on very significant United States Senate Committees, as the Youngest Brother of President John F. Kennedy and Attorney General, and later, Senator, Robert F Kennedy, He was a personality who carried significant weight in view of the legacy of the 1960’s and the historic significance of his late Brothers’ Administration (Senator Kennedy held the seat that had been held by his elder Brother who vacated it when he won the 1960 presidential Election and he served for 47 years until his death in August 2009)

4 Senator from Iowa

5 In a Press statement from his Senate Office Dated September 7th 1989.

6 This exemption was dropped gradually by the Labour Government from 20 first to 15 and then eventually abolished

7 The Disability Rights Commission Act was passed in 1999 and became operational in April 2000

8 Mr Berry served as MP for the Constituency of Kingswood between 1992 – 2010

9 Friday March 11th 1994

10 At Column 385 of House of Commons Official Report Parliamentary Debates (Hansard) Vol. 334 No.114 Disability Rights Commission Bill [Lords] (Wednesday 30th June 1999) (Published by HM Stationary Office)

11 The Disability Rights Taskforce was established in December 1997

12 At Paragraph 2 on pps 4-5 of Towards Inclusion the final Report of the Disability Rights Taskforce Published by the Department for Education and Employment London (December 1999)

13 Published by the Department for Education and Employment London (December 1999)

14 The author has in his possession, correspondence from a Conservative MP, for Leicestershire NW in 1994 that seeks to contend that the Bill for Civil Rights for Disabled People, while having noble intentions, would place to much of a cost on the economy and that the measures proposed in the alternative are a step forward.

15 At Paragraph 2 on p4 of Towards Inclusion the final Report of the Disability Rights Taskforce Published by the Department for Education and Employment London (December 1999)

16 Published by the Department for Education and Employment (London) (March 2001)

17 From Exclusion to Equality Realising the Rights of Persons With Disabilities Handbook for Parliamentarians on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its optional Protocol Published by the United Nations (Geneva) (2007)

18 At page III of the forward

Oct 312014
 

Below are ALLFIE’s (Alliance for Inclusive Education) crucial principles for inclusive education. We all agree that education is a fundamental part of life, as such these principles are crucial for disabled children and adults and for their right to be educated in an inclusive enviroment.
DPAC fully supports ALLFIE’s principles and calls for ‘Education not segregation’ for all Deaf and disabled learners.

The principles are:

Diversity enriches and strengthens all communities;

·       All learner’s different learning styles and achievements are equally valued, respected and celebrated by society;
·       All learners to be enabled to fulfil their potential by taking into account individual requirements and needs;
·       Support to be guaranteed and fully resourced across the whole learning experience;
·       All learners need friendship and support from people of their own age.
·       All children and young people to be educated together as equals in their local communities;
·       Inclusive Education is incompatible with segregated provision both within and outside mainstream education;

Education not Segregation

Oct 312014
 

Apology notwithstanding, your recent comments vis-à-vis disabled people reveal that, apart from bigotry, yours and your cronies’ attitudes towards disabled people are – surprise, surprise – based on a one-size-fits all world view. To suggest that our labour is worth less than that of a non-disabled person is despicable in the extreme.

Anyone with an ethical or empathetic bone in their body would realise that – as with non-disabled people – we are, despite some similarities, individuals, with individual problems and needs. To illustrate this, allow me to compare myself and my oldest living friend who I met when we were both mature undergraduates (I was 40). We had both taken this path because we had no wish to be consigned to a life of workless, isolated poverty.

At that time, our impairments were ostensibly the same: spinal injuries and osteo-arthritis. However, the individual effects were markedly different which made us complementary, strangely enough. I am 6’ 4” and her head does not reach my chin. As law students, much of our time was spent in the library which alone would have been problematic as I could not reach lower shelves without a great deal of discomfort and difficulty, if at all. She on the other hand struggled to reach higher shelves that, even with her short stature, she would have reached without difficulty had she been non disabled. In addition, we both experienced problems with mobility and fatigue.

Since that time however, our paths, disability-wise, have diverged markedly as both our then-existing disabilities and newer medical problems have taken their toll. She now holds the post of Senior Lecturer, is obliged to arrive at work by 07.30 if she wants a suitable disabled parking space, and despite her physical/medical issues, more work than any two non disabled colleagues. She is often so fatigued when reaching home never less than twelve hours later, that she falls asleep over marking. To suggest that such a person is worth roughly half the salary of a non disabled person is both despicable and delusional.

I, on the other hand, after a brief teaching career during which, at times, I was performing almost the teaching of three full-time colleagues, became so ill that I could no longer work. After several years (while volunteering with a local C.A.B.) of steadily building myself back to the stage where I felt I may be able to take at least a part-time position, I was to undertake a Masters Degree, which took me an extra year due to a near death experience with pneumonia and pneumo-thorax. Since then, my general condition, while it could be defined as stable is by no means work-fit. I keep myself occupied by searching out relevant research resources. However, it is impossible to set deadlines as I cannot say from one day to the next what I would be capable of.

It is long past time when you and people like you realised that we are living on planet Earth in the 21st Century – not some esoteric alternative universe that only you and your cronies have access to where us plebs can be assumed to be clones of one another.

John

Oct 302014
 

So finally released is the official news that Maximus take over from the toxic brand of Atos for £500 million. Already there are comparisons with Russell Crow characters, but there’s also an overlooked Maximus who might be more fitting as a parody or comparison. This Maximus comes from the U.S Marvel comics

Maximus was briefly the leader of the Inhumans while his brother, Black Bolt, went into exile, daring not to use his dangerous voice. Maximus believed that the Inhumans were the greater form of life on Earth and he set out to rule them and to destroy humankind to retake the planet.
More on Marvel.com: http://marvel.com/universe/Maximus#ixzz3Hd6bb9Bl

Leader of the inhumans seems much more fitting than the hero reduced to slavery and seeking revenge- can we compare Black Bolt to Atos going into exile too? No, not really, as Maximus are using Atos staff and equipment to continue with the inhuman Work Capability Assessments (WCA), and of course Atos have a whole host of other multi-million Government contracts including PIP-yet another planned disaster, shared with Capita, leaving disabled people stuck on a waiting list for up to a year without any financial support whatsoever. In June 2014 MacMillan identified that those diagnosed with cancer were waiting at least six months for the initial assessment rather than being fast tracked properly, as was the case under the Disability living Allowance.

We can be sure that this didn’t and doesn’t just apply to those with cancer,but those with other terminal illness’ too. The Work and Pensions Committee rightly condemned this, but then we hear nothing more than empty silence. New Labour say it will take 42 years to clear the PIP backlog. But they don’t tell us what they will do about it, which with an election year fast approaching is yet another lost opportunity for the rusty New Labour machinery.

From one toxic brand to another?

Its worth a quick recap on Atos and the WCA contracts. The Atos process contributed to deaths, the Atos process contributed to worsening mental health, Atos’ so called ‘healthcare professionals were ‘trained’ over a period of days, Atos got reports wrong frequently, Atos were subject to TV exposures, the Atos process was condemned internationally, Atos were closely linked Unum insurance sharing the same CEO, Atos declared people fit for work when they were in comas or days before they died. Atos pulled out of their contract saying that those nasty disabled people were being nasty to their staff- a claim which , true to form, they could provide no evidence for.

Atos became a toxic brand long before the hyped ‘pull-out’. Atos were targeted from 2011 onwards by DPAC with protests outside their shiny London headquarters and elsewhere. Atos tried to shut down web sites that said ‘bad’ things about them. In 2012 their sponsorship of the Olympic games ( along with a set of other dubious multi-nationals) led to a 7 day protest by DPAC, a protest that saw angry protesters outside Atos centres across the UK. It was then that national media, often silenced by their owners vested interests broke through. We saw from the first time a trickle of freelancers with a social conscience edge in the Atos issue under the Olympics rubric. We saw the beginnings of a snow ball affect which Atos’ public image never recovered from. Atos were known not as the IT company, but the company that carried out those bogus Work Capability Assessments.

From bad to worse
So what changes with Maximus? First let Maximus be in no doubt that they will get the same treatment as Atos did-disabled people will continue protest and civil disobedience- a name change doesn’t mean a thing. This company knew exactly what they were taking on-but money talks louder than conscience . As already mentioned Maximus take the infrastructure of Atos, its staff , its IT , its tick box assessments. Atos are still gaining. Second, Maximus take private contracts ( paid with public money) to help dismantle what’s left of our ( or anyone else’s) welfare state to force those ‘that can’ on to private insurance scams that may or may not pay out-Unum and co are also laughing all the way to their bankster friends. .

What’s different? Well, Maximus seem worse than Atos- yes you read that correctly. They have a string of law suits in their homeland the good old US of A. In 2014 they said

“We expect that demand for our core health and human services offerings will continue to increase over the next few years, driven by new legislation, austerity measures and increasing caseloads, as governments strive to deliver more services with fewer resources. Legislation, such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the United States as well as other health and welfare reform initiatives abroad, has created increased demand for our services, a trend we expect to continue over the next several years.”

‘Core health and human services offerings':?. It seems these ‘offerings’ have proved a bit of an expensive minefield. But these days such things are written off to risk if the profits out weigh the pay-offs companies will do what the hell they like. In 2007 Maximus settled a Medicaide card fraud with the Federal Government paying $30.5 million. In 2012 they paid $50,000 in a disability discrimination case. In 2013 it was reported that Maximus has been engaging in ‘improper billing advice’ concerning $3.5 million cost to tax payers (sounds familiar-except here our state dont appear to do much about such things).There’s more, but you get the picture. Final add is that Maximus also like to give lots of money to right wing politicians-ah it gets even clearer.

Looks like we should expect the worst and looks like our unelected Government have managed to surpass themselves, again. The drain on the so-called public purse- that’s tax payers money- is set to rocket again. But beyond financial concerns are what happens now with the WCA? What happens to the backlog? And what happens to disabled people- the news doesn’t look good, as many commentators on social media have already pointed out. However, several things have been missed on social media

All in it together?
While Disability Rights UK (DRUK) were one of the first to get the notice of Maximus taking over from Atos out on their website, they failed to mention how they will be ‘helping’ Maximus. This information is not on their web site. It can be found elsewhere on the Department of Work and Pensions website :

“On top of recruiting additional healthcare professionals, MAXIMUS also plans to make further improvements to people’s experience of an assessment and will seek to continually improve the service they offer. It will increase the number of specialists who conduct assessments, including experts in mental health. They will also spend more time with people before their assessment to fully explain the process and provide Disability Awareness training for all staff through Disability Rights UK”.

Didn’t Atos claim similar things too? There are some who might say DRUK is what is needed. We should ask those people how a so-called user-led disabled peoples’ organisation can, with any integrity, involve themselves in this at all. Its no secret that like Maximus themselves, DRUK would know about the WCA, the Government lies that surround it, the misery caused by it, and why it all chimes together to remove welfare/state support from disabled people-It marks a purposeful intention to further open -up the market for private insurers – is this a mistake on the DWP’s own Government site?

Sadly, we think not. In the latest release DRUK say that they’ve been in discussions with Maximus and no work has yet been agreed- shouldn’t they be categorically denying the association outright?

Yet, DRUK are already ‘in bed’ with big corporations and private insurance companies. After their prior foray with Capita, DRUK now appear to have joined the game of pushing private disability insurance too. They are partnering with 17 big insurance companies to show the difference insurance would make, instead of fighting for the rights of disabled people. That is disabled people who by DRUK’s own admission occupy one of the largest groups in poverty, a poverty level that has been systematically widened and worsened because of this Government’s pursuit of removing welfare.

A few months ago DRUK publicised a new television program calling for disabled volunteers: Seven Families. Seven families will take the same number of families and show the benefits of purchasing private disability insurance. Its not about pushing products says the Income Protection Task Force (?) blurb-its about raising awareness-not since the Guardian published the much criticised info ads for Unum have we seen this sort of ‘stupid public’ approach. Once again , you wont find this on the DRUK web-site it’s been removed. But DRUK’s strap-line of breaking the link between poverty and disability just took on a new meaning

More importantly, under the WCA contract Atos were paid per assessment. Under the PIP contract Atos and Capita are paid a lump sum not depending on the number of assessments- the planned backlog becomes clearer. But what of the Maximus contract -are they paid by assessment or paid a lump sum? What is obvious is that the rounds of assessments and reassessments will continue to persecute disabled people. At intervals they might get a pittance of support, they might need to wait longer for a mandatory reconsideration ( brought in in Oct 2013 to make the process even more difficult and knock people out of the system). The best bet is to forget that you’ve paid state national insurance for all of your working life and go see Unum- and if 99% of disabled people cant afford it tough, because even your own so called disability organisations are telling you this is now the only way.

We want answers and we call on New Labour’s Rachael Reeves and Kate Green to provide them-what will they do with Maximus? What will they do with mandatory reconsideration? What will they do for disabled people? Oh and why should we a) trust them b) vote for them?

For now as The Void suggests: ‘Maximus are the new Atos: destroy Maximus’ and everyone and every organisation involved in or supporting this inhuman regime of the corrupt WCA, until its scrapped completely!

Oct 272014
 

The Government is proposing that their funding for the Welfare Assistance Fund ceases in May 2015.

The Local Government Association has said that if this proposal goes ahead support through the scheme will ‘have to be scaled back or scrapped completely in almost three-quarters of council areas’.

 

Inclusion London believes it is vital that funding for the scheme to continue, so as many organisations as possible need to respond to the consultation.

 

Sign our response or use IL’s as a template

I have drafted a consultation response, which you can welcome to use as a template. If you have examples of  members or services users have been supported by the Welfare Assistance Fund this will strengthen your response.

See draft response HERE

Alternatively you wish can sign up in support of Inclusion London’s response by emailing me saying

I support the response to henrietta.doyle@inclusionlondon.co.uk

 I would also welcome examples of your members/services users that have been supported by the fund to inform our response, all examples will be anonymised

 

Oct 262014
 

 

New Putney Debates

Disabled Women’s right to Occupy!

Feminism, disability and activism

Interviews with Ruth Bashall (Stay Safe East), long-time activist and front line work on disability hate crime and violence against women, and others to be confirmed. Chaired by Eleanor Lisney, founding member of Sisters of Frida.
With Michelle Daley & Martine Miel (Sisters of Frida) and Janet Price (DaDaFest).

Questions on feminist perspectives on issues of sexuality, disability, and social justice – disability and sexuality, queer crip politics, race, violence against women, the right for disabled women to occupy a safe space on their intersectional issues

Please let us know your access needs.

Venue: Friend’s House, 173-177 Euston Rd, London NW1 2BJ
31st Oct , 7 – 9.30 pm
(https://www.eventbrite.com/e/disabled-womens-right-to-occupy-tickets-13856072887)

There will be a stall from the Feminist Library

sof logo       sure safelogo


 

Oct 222014
 

Today was the first day of two days of a second court case against the DWP against the closure of the Independent Living Fund. Messages of support poured in. Many people turned out to support the vigil. The Strand was later blocked , as Kate Belgrave said : blocking roads is not extreme, cutting care is. There was wide support from Inclusion London, Norfolk and Suffolk DPAC local DPACs, the Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People, Transport for All, Winvisable, PCS Union, the TUC, Ros Wyne Jones Real Lives at the Daily Mirror, OCAP  and from as far as Toronto Canada where a simultaneous vigil was held. John McDonnell MP a great supporter of DPAC also came to speak.

Many messages of support came through some of which are below.

“@Dis_PPL_Protest good luck today! Amazing work being done in the face of such powerful opposition :)”
“Let’s hope justice prevails to counter rabidly cruel government”
“Best of luck and so many thanks to all at #ILF court case”
“many thanks for time and effort to all involved”
“Sending support from Toronto to London today. Disabled lives are worth it. #SaveILF @Dis_PPL_Protest pic.twitter.com/90YJEt7bL4″
“vigil at the RCJ supporting the campaign to #SaveILF”
“Good luck. You are courageous. The world is watching”.
“Good to see the likes of @Dis_PPL_Protest taking up the incentive to challenge the Govt on the ILF, much needed support lacking from orgs.”
.”@johnmcdonnellMP speaking in solidarity at #saveilf vigil today at Royal Courts of Justice”
“Shoutout to the awesome campaigners the #saveilf campaign, outside the Royal Courts of Justice today”
“Grateful thanks to @Dis_PPL_Protest & all who are fighting so hard to #SaveILF, ILF support for the disabled means having a life to LIVE”
“The TUC general council sends its solidarity and support for the Group fighting against the closure of the ILF in the High Court. Sean”
“All best wishes from WinVisible for ILF case – sorry we can’t make it but thinking of you all there. Claire”

Also check out some great media pieces
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/20/disabled-lord-freud-austerity
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/tory-bid-cut-lifeline-profoundly-4477839

Thanks to everyone for making this such a success on the streets and on social media! We’re back at court tomorrow -maybe we’ll see Freud joining us too

(left to right) - Mark from PCS Union who is equalities officer London. John McDonnell MP Andrew Lee, People First.

(left to right) – Mark from PCS Union who is equalities officer, London.
John McDonnell MP
Andrew Lee, People First.

Andrew Lee, People first.

Andrew Lee, People first.

John McDonnell MP Linda Burnip, co founder of DPAC

John McDonnell MP
Linda Burnip, co founder of DPAC

(left to right) - Linda Jack liberal left, Liberial Democrats.  John McDonnell MP Andrew Lee, People First.

(left to right) -
Linda Jack liberal left, Liberial Democrats.
John McDonnell MP
Andrew Lee, People First.

Natasha  Burgess, Campaign and policy officer PCS Union, London.  John McDonnell MP Linda Burnip, DPAC Mark, eqaulities rep PCS London.

Natasha Burgess, Campaign and policy officer PCS Union, London.
John McDonnell MP
Linda Burnip, DPAC
Mark, eqaulities rep PCS London.


DPAC protestors showing solidarity and support with ILF activists with Linda Jack and John McDonnell MP

DPAC protestors showing solidarity and support with ILF activists with Linda Jack and John McDonnell MP

DPAC protestors showing solidarity and support with ILF activists with Linda Jack and John McDonnell MP

DPAC protestors showing solidarity and support with ILF activists with Linda Jack and John McDonnell MP

DPAC protestors showing solidarity and support with ILF activists with Linda Jack and John McDonnell MP

DPAC protestors showing solidarity and support with ILF activists with Linda Jack and John McDonnell MP

DPAC protestors showing solidarity and support with ILF activists with Linda Jack and John McDonnell MP

DPAC protestors showing solidarity and support with ILF activists with Linda Jack and John McDonnell MP

John Kelly outside royal courts of justice London.

John Kelly outside royal courts of justice London.

(Left to Right) Jenny Hurst.  Paula Peters DPAC

(Left to Right)
Jenny Hurst.
Paula Peters DPAC

Jenny Hurst with save ILF campaign postcard

Jenny Hurst with save ILF campaign postcard

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B0jMETCIgAARSsL B0jQW-6IYAAtank
B0jTz8mIIAEyIJH B0jW8KSCAAI3L2M
B0jwp9ZCQAAxVcI B0jwr7UCQAEVkS_
B0jwtJTCEAAAP3o B0jYK5uIEAAYqQu
10354169_725881680798687_6051529399852839286_n 10384118_725880527465469_6775580639279853354_n
B0iyF5YIEAEaR9O B0j7OAoCIAA1cn3
B0jae-fIIAAHp5q B0jeA8DCAAA6lKI
B0jGoH3IcAAuJtn B0jKBevIYAEMw6H
B0jmC2lIAAMared B0jIuK-CIAAMAti
B0jH-etCAAAc1W3  IMG_5439

Oct 212014
 

Independent Living Fund (ILF) users and DPAC have led the campaign to #save ILF since 2011. In 2010 the ILF was closed to new applicants. DPAC tried to get some people to challenge this through the courts. We didn’t succeed. We were just starting up then-no other disability organisation made a move, in fact there were odd noises coming from some of them that seemed to suggest that ILF had had its day, in line with the Government rhetoric. Even today few organisations with the exception of Inclusion London have been consistent in supporting ILF users with the message that the loss of ILF will affect everyone.

So did local authorities manage to cover those potential new applicants who were no longer eligible for ILF. Did they support independent living or so called ‘choice and control’? Of course not! The funds were not matched, and their support continues to be cut because of central Governments 28 billion cuts to local authorities. As Kate Belgrave said in 2012 “This Cheshire woman, who was also in the substantial needs band, had run out of care hours on the day that I visited. I found her alone in her home lying next to a sick bucket. Who honestly thinks that the future holds local authority safety nets?” The latest film below attests that things have become worse, not better

We’re all in it together – aren’t we? from Moore Lavan Films on Vimeo.

DPAC continually receive emails from people who find their care hours slashed or completely removed-they can move from substantial to ineligible in a very short space of time. The cry that ‘choice and control’ will prevail can only be seen as the last vestiges of misguided hope by those who work on this thing called ‘co-production’ with Government departments- surely they cant really believe what they are saying anymore- the carnage is all around us. The fact that the Care Act replaces the term ‘independent living’ with the bizarre term ‘well-being’ (despite the best efforts of Inclusion London to stop it) shows how the notion of co-production has made fools of us all. The fact is that if ILF funds do move to the black hole of local authorities without being ring-fenced on the expected date of full closure of ILF in June 2015-we all lose.

ILF users took the Government to court in 2012/2013 They lost, they appealed and they won. John Pring reported ‘They [the court] ruled that Esther McVey, the former minister for disabled people, breached the Equality Act’s public sector equality duty, which required her to have “due regard” to the need to eliminate discrimination and advance equality of opportunity for disabled people’. There was also a plea from Stuart Brackling ( one of the plaintiffs) that a ILF task force of ILF users be set up to discuss issues with Government- a plea that has also been put to Labour’s shadow disability minister Kate Green by ILF users. But we haven’t seen it materialise. Disability Rights UK (DRUK) suggested something similar, but their task force seemed to be DRUK itself. After DRUK’s Independent Living conference sponsored by Creagmoor where the issue of ILF was raised only by angry delegates amazed that ILF was no where to be seen in the program of an independent living conference-we’re really not sure what to expect anymore.

Of course after the first court case the DWP did an equality impact assessment that said people weren’t guaranteed the same amounts or support, that some may end up with no support, and that it was business as usual.

A new court challenge is being held on 22nd and 23rd October with a vigil on the 22nd at 12.30. If we don’t fight this, then we, our children and their children will continue to be subject to limited levels of support based around a ‘clean and feed’ model, or no support at all-if you don’t want that then please join us. Support the ILF users and support your future too.

We need to show all political parties that they have got this very wrong. As Jenny Morris says ‘Unanswered question(still): What’s your plan for these people whose lives we apparently can’t afford?’

Oct 192014
 

Solidarity to our DPAC members and all in Parliament Square fighting oppression! DPAC fully supports Occupy-go and support them too…
Update: London police torment #OccupyDemocracy protestors on Parliament Square
Overnight in Parliament Square, #OccupyDemocracy protestors aiming to draw attention to the growing democratic deficit in the UK, have been enduring systematic torment from the Metropolitan Police and Heritage Wardens, who have been zealously enforcing new restrictions on the right to protest and assembly in the Square (Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011).
The reaction of the Police and the State to the #OccupyDemocracy protest is in complete juxtaposition to David Cameron’s recent comments regarding the Occupy Central pro-democracy demonstrations in Kong Kong, when he said that “rights and freedoms, including those of person, of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of travel, of movement, and, indeed, of strike … These are important freedoms … which, most of all, we should stand up for.” [1]
Timeline of #OccupyDemocracy
5pm Friday 17 October – Occupation begins on Parliament Square with an overnight vigil to mark the UN Day for the Eradication of Poverty with speakers from groups including War on Want, Fuel Poverty Action and Reverend Dr Keith Hebden (author of Seeking Justice: The Radical Compassion of Jesus). Throughout the night protestors’ right to assemble and protest were contravened – with protestors not being allowed to rest and being forced onto the pavement.
Daytime Saturday 18 October – Protestors support the TUC March.
7-10pm Saturday 18 October – Scuffles instigated by police against protestors as Heritage Wardens instruct that the protestors should be removed. Police kettle the protestors. Two protestors are assaulted, several personal items removed. Banners calling for “Real Democracy Now!” and a small, battery-powered sound system – used by speakers such as Green Party leader Natalie Bennett and Labour MP John McDonnell to address the crowd – were all confiscated by the police. Later witnesses say that journalists and photographers were denied access to the protest by the police and removed from the Square. At around 10pm the police back off.
2am Sunday 19 October – Whilst protestors try to rest police arrest attempts were made with further harassment of the group who were huddled together in the mud. Police also confiscated cardboard that protestors had been using to keep warm. One protestor, a 24 year old woman from Manchester, reported that she was not permitted to lean against her own bag as it was camping equipment. Another woman, 65, has an air mattress literally pulled from under her, casting her to the ground.
7am Sunday 19 October – Things calm until 7am when the police entered the gathered crowd to remove printed materials including banners, hand held signs and a flag displaying a rainbow and the word ‘Peace’. A woman had the occupation’s Safer Spaces sign ripped from her hands as she shouted ‘No’ – this sign set out the ground rules for behaviour to ensure every individual feels safe, comfortable and welcome.
10.30am Sunday 19 October – Another protestor arrested – police allege that he cut a piece of string.
Upcoming – Sundays’ theme is “taming the power of finance” featuring speakers and workshops from UK Uncut, Tax Justice Network, New Economics Foundation and the Robin Hood Tax campaign.
On Monday the focus is on the attacks on our public services including NHS privatisation and cuts in welfare benefits.
Details of planned events for the rest of the week at the #occupydemocracy protest can be found at http://occupydemocracy.org.uk/.
The protest, organised by #OccupyDemocracy – a group that grew out of Occupy London – is demanding reforms to our democratic process so that it serves the public interest, rather than the interests of corporations, banks and a tiny wealthy elite.
Alison Playford from #OccupyDemocracy said: “The way the State has responded to our protest with this political policing just shows how frightened the elite are of a new movement pushing for radical democratic reform.”
Amongst the flurry of support coming in via social media, support includes:
Labour MP John McDonnell who also spoke at the protest said:
“When politicians and parties ignore them, people have no other option but to take direct action. Occupy Democracy is a way people can have their voice heard.”
Donnachadh McCarthy, the whistleblowing former Deputy Chair of the Liberal Democrats and author of The Prostitute State who also spoke yesterday said:
“Our political parties have been hijacked by the corporate lobbying classes, our media perverted by a handful of extreme right-wing billionaires, our tax system plundered by the tax-haven elite and our think-tanks, schools and universities increasingly corporately manipulated. Britain is no longer a democracy but a Prostitute State, which is reflected by the rise of UKIP. We desperately need a 21st Century Great Democratic Reform Act to re-gain our democracy for the sake of social and political justice and the very future of our planet’s ecosystems.”
Notes
1. http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/10/15/uk-hongkong-china-britain-idUKKCN0I41C620141015

Reblogged with thanks to Occupy http://occupydemocracy.org.uk/2014/10/19/update-london-police-torment-occupydemocracy-protestors-on-parliament-square/
Twitter: @OccupyLondon

Oct 142014
 

A very interesting piece of information has come to light, which shows that Capita, which relies in part on contracted staff to deliver the PIP contract, has doubled the incentives offered to their staff, supposedly in order to clear the backlog which has accumulated since the introduction of PIP. As can be seen in the document below, a contracted HP can earn up to £6,300 a month for 21 assessments, after the report is completed. The target does not seem to be stretching it, as it represents 1 assessment per working day. Even if paying this whopping sum, Capita is still bound a make a profit.

see: www.trainedtodo.co.uk/Home

Capita graphic

New Incentive Payment Scheme
To further incentivise performance we have recently launched a NEW performance incentive scheme that runs from 1st August 2014 to 30th September 2014. The rate for completed and closed reports will be doubled for this period.

*New Incentivised Pay Rate for DWP Approved & Unapproved Contract Disability Assessors
Incentive Period 1st Aug 2014 to 30th Sept 2014
1 – 8 assessments        £160 per report
(£80 from 1st Oct 14)

9 – 14 assessments      £200 per report
(£100 from 1st Oct 14)
15 – 20 assessments    £240 per report
(£120 from 1st Oct 14)
21 assessments +        £300 per report
(£150 from 1st Oct 14)
* For DWP ‘Approved’ Disability Assessors
Approved is defined as achieving 4 consecutive Grade A reports following training.
Help where it really matters
Our overriding objective when carrying out each and every PIP assessment is to ensure an informed, fair and equitable decision is reached for the claimant and the DWP. Find out more
Latest jobs
We are currently recruiting Disability Assessors and Clinical Trainers for all areas across Central England and Wales

CONTRACT ROLES: New Incentive Period Pay Rate!

*£160 – £300 per completed and closed report
New Incentive Period 1st Aug 2014 to 30th Sept 2014

Reverting to £80 – £150 per quality completed report from 1st Oct to 30th Nov 2014
PERMANENT ROLES: New Incentive Payment

£300 for each case completed and closed above the monthly volume target. Incentive period is from 1st Aug 2014 to 30th Sept 2014

Reverting to £150 from 1st Oct 2014 to 30th Nov 2014

Salary: £32k plus 23 days holiday, contributory pension scheme and flexible benefits.

 

 

Oct 142014
 

9am-10am, Thursday16th October: Outside AIT (Asylum and Immigration Tribunal), Piccadilly Exchange, Piccadilly Plaza (top of Mosley Street just before Piccadilly Gardens), Manchester M1 4AH

“The asylum process feels like a slow poison that is taking away my zest for life” – Manjeet Kaur

Disabled human rights campaigner Manjeet Kaur, who is resisting Home Office attempts to evict her onto the streets, is to appeal against the decision to withdraw her housing support.

Trade unionists, disability and equal rights activists, and other campaigners will join the lobby in support of Manjeet outside the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal in Manchester from 9am-10am next Thursday, October 16th.

Manjeet, who is Chair of RAPAR, appeared on national television news last year to counter new anti migrant policies announced by Home Secretary Theresa May at the 2013 Conservative Party Conference.

Since she sought asylum in the UK more than three years ago, Manjeet has been a tireless campaigner for human rights and worked with the UK Disabled People’s Council to highlight injustices faced by disabled people seeking asylum

She was told she must leave the accommodation in Whalley Range, where she has lived since 2011, by today (Thursday, October 9th) at the latest. The unsigned and unaddressed hand delivered letter from Serco, which runs asylum housing in the North West on behalf of the Home Office, said:“Should you refuse to leave the property on this date, we will have no choice but to take legal action to evict you.”

Manjeet, who is from Afghanistan and has used a wheelchair since she was eight years old, recently lodged a claim with the Court of Appeal on the grounds that the High Court has failed to engage with the facts of her asylum case.

Currently, the Home Office are examining her latest appeal. Manjeet’s solicitor Gary McIndoe, of Latitude Law, explains: “In our view, successive judges have failed to address the core issues of the case – Manjeet’s nationality, the harm she suffered in the past and the practicality of removing her to India…”

A spokesperson for RAPAR said: “Manjeet is facing eviction from her home because her asylum case is deemed by the Home Office to be at an end. Yet, in the view of her lawyers, successive judges have failed to examine the core issues of her case. It seems that the Home Office is prepared to evict a disabled woman who uses a wheelchair onto the streets when the facts of her asylum case have not been properly considered.”

Manjeet added: “As a disabled asylum seeker with various health issues and hospital appointments, I feel I am living on the edge. I will be made destitute with a limited ability to survive on the streets. Is this something the state allows to happen in the society that we live in?

“The asylum process feels like a slow poison that is taking away my zest for life.”

Sharon Hooley, of DAN (Direct Action Network for Disabled People) will be one of the speakers at the lobby outside the tribunal next Thursday.

Commenting on Manjeet’s case, Sharon said: “We say this is a ‘civilised country’ yet it seems perfectly acceptable to demonise, discriminate, alienate and rob disabled people of their basic human needs.
“Since becoming disabled in the past six years, I never thought I would see such pure hatred and lack of humanity towards people like myself. So I’m shouting out for all those who have been made invisible to our society. I ask you all to open your eyes and ears and see the truth about what is happening right in front of you.”

For more information, please contact: Kathleen Grant 07758386208/ kath.northernstories@googlemail.com

Background notes
Manjeet Kaur, who lives in Whalley Range, came to the UK in March, a month after the disappearance of her husband Amitt Bhatt – a journalist and Kashmir human rights activist who was threatened and attacked because of his anti government articles and books. In the past, Amitt has spoken on the same human rights platform as Jemima Khan.

Manjeet fled to the UK because she was beaten twice and threatened with rape and murder by people who were looking for her husband. She uses a wheelchair due to paralysis caused by polio and the injuries she sustained during the beatings have worsened her condition.

Manjeet was born and lived in Afghanistan until the death of her father, a doctor in Kabul. Since her husband disappeared, Manjeet has no-one to care for her in India but she has relatives in England who can support her. Earlier this year, Manjeet’s husband finally escaped to the UK and immediately claimed asylum.

Details of Manjeet’s case can also be found on the RAPAR website http://www.rapar.org.uk/keep-manjeet-safe-in-the-uk.html

reblogged from RAPAR with thanks

Sep 292014
 

School children will face Jobcentre harassment from the age of 15 whilst claimants thought to have drug and alcohol problems will be paid benefits on smart cards if the Tories win the next election said Iain Duncan Smith in his speech to the party’s conference today.

ids-slug-e1397647313855
18-21 year old who cannot find a job are to be placed on permanent workfare, whilst further caps on Housing Benefits will see yet more cities become unaffordable for anyone currently unable to work – whether this is through sickness, disability, high unemployment or having young children to care for.  And if this wasn’t enough then benefits are to be frozen for two years, meaning a real term cut in the incomes of the UK’s poorest people, whether they are in or out of work.
The smart cards will be for people Iain Duncan Smith thinks have fallen into a “damaging spiral” and are spending all their money on drugs, alcohol and gambling.  Whilst details so far are scant, it seems likely to be similar to the Australian Basics Card which aims to control how benefit recipients spend their money.  The scheme has already proved hugely expensive and has led to people unable to shop at cheaper stores such as Aldi, who government officials say do not meet the “set criteria”.  Predictably Basics Cards have not prevented claimants buying drugs, alcohol or tobacco.  In the UK it is likely to stop people who have genuine problems with drugs or alcohol from seeking treatment in case the Jobcentre find out.  It is a stupid idea, as unworkable as it is callous.  You can see why it would appeal to a nasty fucking idiot like Iain Duncan Smith.
Permanent workfare for 18-21 year old is equally draconian, and equally unworkable – so unworkable that it was actually first announced in George Osborne’s Autumn Statement last year and then never implemented.  Already there isn’t enough workfare to go round, and with resistance to workfare showing no signs of dying down, there will be few community organisatins willing to take part in such an explitative programme.  Meanwhile sending Jobcentre busybodies to harass schoolchildren when they should be studying for their GCSE’s and aren’t likely to be looking for a job or eligible for benefits for two or three years seems little more than a waste of everybody’s time.
With Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms unravelling in all directions and poverty not seen in generations returning to haunt the UK, there was nothing in his conference speech to suggest he has learnt anything from his failure.  The scary thing is, he thinks he is doing a wonderful job – even still pretending that Universal Credit will eventually be rolled out across the country.  Yet across the UK millions of people are facing a Winter where they will face the bleak choice between heating or eating and many will not be able to afford either.
It is horrifying that the Tories seem to think they can win an election by making poor people poorer.  Perhaps more fightening is that the Labour Party have eagerly embraced this vile competion to attack and scapegoat those with nothing.  Whoever wins the next election it will be down to us – unemployed claimants, disabled people, parents and low waged precarious workers – to fight these bastards.  It will be the struggle that defines the neo-liberal age as capitalism rub rampant drives people into the the ground in the name of making more profit for the rich.  We must continue to fight, and we must win.

This blog has no sources of funding so here’s a quick reminder that you can help ensure it continues by making a donation.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

re-posted on September 29, 2014 by DPAC written by johnny void with thanks

Sep 272014
 

First ever protest at Tory conference Oct 2010 under the name of Disabled Peoples’ Protest, before the name Disabled People against Cuts (DPAC) was chosen.

DPAC protest pic

see links

Disabled People make History

First call out for first protest

The British Library began archiving the DPAC site from 2011 so know that all on this site will stand as an historical testament of this governments actions towards disabled people and what they are doing to the lives of  millions-we will not give up fighting!

See Kate Belgrave’s excellent piece on DPAC’s recent Westminster Abbey protest

Browse the DPAC archives and DPAC on Flickr for more DPAC actions over the years

see local DPAC contact and facebook groups HERE

Happy Birthday DPAC and thanks to all who have helped make DPAC what it is

Sep 272014
 

by Linda Burnip

Shortly before the June budget statement from George Osborne in 2010 myself and others attended a training course on the UNCRPD and how it could be used to advance disabled people’s human rights run by Rachel Hurst from Disability Awareness in Action.

It was a pleasant weekend in a posh hotel with lots of free food but then came the budget announcement and it seemed that more needed to be done to protect disabled people’s human rights then sitting comfortably in a hotel. Disabled People’s Protest was born and we decided that disabled people should lead the march against the Tories at their conference in Birmingham in 2010. The police tried to stop us of course as we are all so vulnerable and they feared for our safety but we mustered complaints from around the world against this and they were forced to allow us to do that.

There were about 150+ disabled people who marched or wheeled at the front of a 7,000 strong protest in the pouring rain plus more taking part in a static protest in Chamberlain Square. Our slogan was Cuts Kill and of course we were accused by some of scaremongering but sadly we have since been proven right. Cuts are continuing to kill disabled people almost on a daily basis, malnutrition is rife in the 7th richest country in the world and diseases related to poverty are returning such as scurvy and rickets. This is an obscene public health emergency yet sanctions and the use of food banks continue to increase and poverty and deprivation worsen.

Over the last 4 years it seems like more and more attacks against disabled people have kept happening, our rights have been systematically stripped away and every aspect of our lives are under threat as the Tory killing machine continues to unfurl more and deeper cuts.

But we have achieved much and most of all we’ve shown that disabled people can fight back and will fight back, we are not the easy push over that Iain Duncan Smith and his party henchmen thought we would be. The much hated ATOS is on its way out and not even the nastiest of alternative corporations seems willing to even bid for the WCA contract to replace them. We’ve successfully made ATOS and Capita such toxic brands that they cannot recruit staff.

We’ve taken and supported court cases both to challenge the WCA and to save the ILF putting legal barriers in the way of this unelected government. We’ve had many street protests and carried out numerous direct actions and lobbied parliament and continued to speak at meetings and educate people about access needs and the consequences of cuts.

This year we’re celebrating our 4th birthday back where we started at the Tory Party conference in Birmingham and the Tories may well get an unexpected surprise at conference this time too

As well as that we’re launching our non-party political (due to the transparency of lobbying bill another aspect of the Tories trying to stifle dissent against themselves as they know there is so much) campaign Who2 Vote4 so you’ll be seeing this logo around a lot from now on.

Who2Vote4 Logo
We will be seeking to influence policies which affect disabled people and to get political parties to commit themselves to reversing the cuts we’ve all faced in the past 4 years.

We want you to let us know what is important to you as well. Please post on the blog or email us at mail@dpac.uk.net to tell us what you think we should be asking of our politicians.

More news about our planned activities in the run up to the General Election coming soon.

Sep 272014
 

by Andy Greene

‘Look into my eyes, deep into my eyes’ the Great Farago will mean no matter what he says to the Circus of Fools that is the UKIP Conference this weekend. As he tries to pull off his latest conjuring trick on the nation: ‘We are the alternative to the status quo’.

Honestly, Nigel, give it up man. We can see the strings. As we all know, magic works best when punters are distracted by the banter from seeing what’s really going on. In this case, the banter is offensive, divisive and harmful. The great feat Farago is trying to pull off is to get you and me to believe that UKIP are alternative to the failed political institutions and systems Westminster has to offer.

They aren’t any kind of alternative. Oh yes, they’ve improved the patter. Yes, Nigel has a pint. Yes, many of them talk about the issues facing working class people across the country in a way that resonates with working class people. But those are their greatest tricks. The ones they’ve been stood in front of the mirror practising for 2 decades. But, look up their sleeves.

Because a vote for UKIP is a vote for the status quo. And worse. Much, much worse. You see what Nigel is offering – himself – as an alternative to the public school educated, bankster loving, gravy-train riding establishment is – wait for it; a gravy-train riding, publicly school educated ex-bankster! Oh and if you think ‘well, that’s just one dude, not a whole party'; then think again. Today, the Mirror tells us that over 90% of UKIP funding comes from disillusioned ex-Tory funders. Their first MP is likely to come from the by-election in Clacton – brought about by the defection of former sitting Tory MP Douglas Carswell.

Hardly the ‘alternative to the same old tired parties’ they espouse on their various national and local party websites. More a case of the more things change, the more they stay the same.

And what of UKIP’s position on disability issues? Many disabled people don’t feel the mainstream parties have anything positive to offer amidst ideas such as work camps for long-term unemployed and disabled jobseekers, assisted suicide bills, IDS laughing his way through disability debates if he can even be bothered to stay at all and Labour determined to be ‘tough on welfare’.

When disabled people are desperately searching for someone to represent their interests against the onslaught of attacks it is not surprising that some have turned to UKIP for an answer.

But UKIP aren’t anything but bad news for disabled people.

Without a credible policy to their name (don’t take my word for it, Nigel called UKIP 2010 election policies ‘rubbish’, and their Head of Policy described them as ‘junk’), we are left with examining what they say and do in public to know their what position is on the 11 million disabled people in the UK.

‘Disabled children are a burden on the state and should be aborted as a foetus’ said Geoffrey Clark. Yes, cuddly old Geoffrey was suspended eventually, and probably loves kittens – but the fact that he thought he was in an environment where this would be deemed acceptable speaks volumes.

‘Are you Richard III?’ perma-fuckup Godfrey Bloom asked a disabled debater (I say asked, he actually interrupted the debater mid-flow) to a disabled person who happened to have a different point of view to him. Presumably, Godfrey would’ve preferred them to be kept at home, keeping the ‘sluts’ company (his word, not mine).

‘Because you are registered disabled, you will not be able to stand as a full UKIP candidate’ went the response to someone who applied to stand on behalf of the party at a previous election.

Then there’s the chilling notion of ‘supporting congregate communities for people with learning disabilities’. ‘Congregate communities?’ What, like special homes? Maybe we would call them something exciting like, camps? Maybe they should wear a special badge, just so we can identify campers? I dunno, maybe something simple like a black triangle? What could possibly go wrong?

So not only do UKIP not offer an alternative to the status quo, the attitudes their representatives show towards disabled people are even worse than anything anyone other than the most out of touch Tory councillor would dare publicly express.

Of course they will be on their best behaviour in the run up to the election. And the media will behave like a kindly uncle at Christmas patting them on the head as if its the greatest trick they’ve ever seen.

So it’s important that those of us who can see past the smoke and mirrors shout loud and expose Farago for the trickster he is.

That’s why DPAC will be marching in Doncaster this weekend, to stand up to UKIP, stand up to racism, homophobia, sexism and disabilism, to say we won’t let our communities be divided by millionaires in disguise, we will stand united and fight for a real alternative, one that UKIP definitely doesn’t offer

UKIP Tories

See also from May http://dpac.uk.net/2013/05/why-the-rise-of-ukip-is-dangerous-for-disabled-people/

and yes we know labour now say they will abolish the bedroom tax, they hadnt at the time this was written

References

http://metro.co.uk/2012/12/19/all-disabled-babies-should-be-aborted-claims-ukip-candidate-3322519/

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/12/18/ukip-geoffrey-clark-compulsory-disability-abortion-_n_2322798.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2250114/UKIP-candidate-sparks-outrage-calling-compulsory-abortion-foetus-Downs-syndrome-spina-bifida.html

http://blog.ukipwatch.org/2005/01/ukip-scandal.html

http://www.lewes.co.uk/forum/post/ContUKIP_got_em_on_the_run/140952

Sep 242014
 

I am a journalist with BBC Radio Wales.  I’m currently researching a half-hour programme looking at people’s experience of the process of applying for PIP for broadcast towards the end of October.

I’m particularly keen to hear from people who have found delays in the assessment and decision-making processes who would be prepared to share their experiences through a pre-recorded radio interview over the next month or so.

I hope that you are able to help.  Please get back to me if you need any more information.

 

Regards,

Andy Fry

Series Producer, “Eye on Wales”, BBC Radio Wales

Work/Gwaith:    029 2032 2406 or 029 2032 3763

*       Room E1102, Broadcasting House, Llandaff, Cardiff CF5 2YQ

*       Ystafell E1102, Y Ganolfan Ddarlledu, Llandaf, Caerdydd CF5 2YQ

8       mailto:andy.fry@bbc.co.uk

 

Sep 162014
 

Sign petition by clicking here

Wording of petition

Enda Kenny and HSE stop the human rights abuse of Anthony Kletzander in Ireland

Anthony was an active member of our local community and well known by the people in Raheny. He was actively involved in his local church, library, and a gym member for years. He attended university, dined in the local universities and public places and enjoyed regular visits from his parents, three younger siblings, grandfather and extended relatives. For 3 years Anthony had independent living with personal assistants to support him living in a home of his own near his family and friends. He was living the life he wanted to live, as any man in his twenties.

In 2013 HSE refused to continue to support him in Independent Living in a home of his own, for reasons that they will not share with us. Anthony was forced into institutional care and residential homes: initially Redwood in Co. Meath Ireland and then being transported by Nua HealthCare in Co Kildare Ireland, over 150 kilometres round trip from the family home to a unit in Nua Health Care. Last week Nua moved Anthony to another Nua unit against our wishes so Anthony has been re homed three times in the past year causing serious damage to Anthony. We his parents only learnt that Anthony had been rehomed in the Nua service when his mother and a friend went to visit him at his original Nua unit or “house”. This human rights abuse is totally unacceptable. He is now socially isolated from his family and local community.

Although Anthony has been institutionalised for almost a year, due to the fact that staff are not trained up in Anthony’s communication Anthony is unable to make any phone contact with us whatsoever and Nua staff do not bother phoning us. We found a company to train staff in Anthony’s communication, but that offer was ignored. So Anthony remains effectively silenced. Because our visit is 150 km round trip we spend every minute of every day worrying about his health and safety.

Anthony is becoming more and more fearful and has been in hospital three times by emergency ambulance times because of treatment at the residential homes/institutions. He tells us to tell the institution to stop giving him the medication ( he was medication free before being institutionalised but is now being forced medication against his and us his parents wishes, Nua are fully aware of our objections) . He asks us constantly to get him out so he can have his own life through independent living again, and be close to the people he loves. We all want him back under the care of our family GP of more than 8 years who genuinely cares about the health and safety of our son Anthony.

An organisation in Dublin has offered to arrange support for Anthony live in a home of his own again, and live independently, but HSE refuse to discuss this option-despite it being what Anthony wants and despite having an organisation ready to offer the support to make this happen.

Hearing Anthony constantly asking that he be returned to Independent Living, to live near to his family, who he does not see often enough-to be released from institutionalisation is heart breaking for us as a family to hear. We have always listened and been led by Anthony and we feel extremely helpless in helping Anthony to live the life he chooses. To be constantly knocked back by the HSE and the institutions is extremely difficult for us.

The petition is for Enda Kenny and HSE to call an open meeting to discuss returning Anthony to the life he wants. The meeting should take place before the end of October 2014. The meeting should be attended by the support organisation offering to support Anthony, by Anthony ( with his communication aid), his family, Anthony’s chosen advocate Joe Whittaker, and the press. The meeting will be to discuss the arrangements to return Anthony to independent living, to his family and his community to allow him to resume his life, as any 26 year old man.

Linda Kletzander (Mother)

Joe Whittaker (Advocate)

HSE and assorted want to shut this whole thing up-dont let them-instead show them that this story will not be buried or silenced. Human rights abuse must always be exposed

see also: DPAC threatened with legal action for supporting Anthony Kletzander: parents interview

 

 

Sep 152014
 

Statement on Bristol Green Group’s motion on the future of the Independent Living Fund 16 September 2014.

 

Bristol Disability Equality Forum (BDEF) support Bristol Green group’s motion on the future of the Independent Living Fund (ILF.)

 

Having led local campaigning and held discussions with representatives across all the major parties within Bristol, we call on our Mayor to support this motion. This is an opportunity for our city to support the rights of it’s Disabled citizens to live independent lives.

 

The ILF has made it possible for thousands of Disabled people with high support needs to live in their own homes, contribute to family and community life and to take part in work and education. The closure of the ILF will have a drastic impact on these Disabled people, their family members and communities.

 

The ILF has supported a diverse group of Disabled people, including people with learning difficulties, and also autistic people.  The ILF has made it possible for people to live at home with their families and with the support of their choice. Bristol is in the shadow of Winterbourne View, so the alternative is never far from our thoughts.

 

The threat of living an isolated existence, or being forced into residential care, is very real for ILF recipients in Bristol, many of whom are Forum members. There are also many other Disabled people who have been denied this vital support, since the ILF was closed to new applicants in 2010.

 

This all has come at a time when Disabled people have already been hit the hardest by welfare reform, cuts to services and combined impact of austerity measures.  It is for these reasons that we view the closure of the ILF as part of a wider agenda that affects all Disabled people.

 

The closure of the ILF will shift responsibility to local councils, placing already cash-strapped authorities under more financial pressure.  This will increase the risk of councils failing to meet their public duties, resulting in legal challenges and further appeals.

 

The ILF has created thousands of jobs and meant that central government  funding is spent and re-invested locally. The ILF is one of the most cost effective public sector schemes1, with just 2% spent on administration much less than local councils. The satisfaction ‘user rate’ for the ILF is over 97%2.

The Government accept that the ILF is more flexible than the services provided by some councils. The government have also stated that most current ILF recipients will face changes to support or reduction in funding.3

 

Closing the ILF is also likely to result in an increase in spending in the long-term, as result of reduced health and wellbeing and increased pressure on more expensive services.

 

Government has claimed that developments such as Direct Payments, Personal Budgets and new duties on councils under the Care Act mean that the ILF is no longer needed. This ignores the evidence of Disabled people and organisations with direct experience of both systems. The Government has not prevented the care and support ‘post-code lottery’. These developments have not reduced the variation and disparity between local councils, both in how direct payments can be used and in the services available.

 

We feel strongly that the success of this Government funded, centrally administered scheme that is ring-fenced for those that need it most, should be built upon. This should happen by re-opening and expanding the ILF, with Disabled people playing a central role in decision making.

However, as proposed in the motion, should the ILF close, ring-fencing of funds from central government and the full involvement of Disabled people in all parts of the process is essential. This is needed to ensure our rights to independence, to live in the community, to choices equal to others and access to a range of services.

As Disabled people we want to do the ordinary things in life that many take for granted, to live and not just exist.

 


References

 

1 & 2. ILF Annual Report and Accounts 2013 – 2014

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/321510/ilf-ara-2013-14.pdf

 

  1. 3.Equality Impact Analysis ‘Closure of the Independent Living Fund with transfer of responsibility and funding to local authorities inEngland and the devolved administrations in Scotland and ’ DWP 2014:

 ‘It is almost certain that closure of the ILF will mean that the majority of users will face changes to the way their support is delivered, including the real possibility of a reduction to the funding they currently receive. This is because the ILF funds some aspects of care that some local authorities do not and may also provide different levels of flexibility in the use of such funding.’

 

Notes

 

Bristol Disability Equality Forum (BDEF) is an organisation of Disabled people, open all that identify as Disabled people, regardless of impairment in Bristol area. We develop projects and campaign to increase Disabled people’s inclusion, influence, equality and access to services.

 

The BDEF ILF Action Group was formed after a conference on the future of the held in Bristol in September 2013. The conference was organised by the BDEF, working alongside West of England Centre for Inclusive Living (WECIL) ILF and Council staff. Disabled people at the conference decided to form their own group, in order to campaign, share information and ensure direct involvement in any developments relating to the ILF.

 

For further information, please contact Laura Welti, BDEF Manager or Mark Williams, BDEF Co-Chair.

 

Bristol Disability Equality Forum Main Office:

 

E-mail:       bristoldef@gmail.com

Tel:             0117 914 0528.

Web:          www.bristoldef.org.uk

 

BDEF ILF Action Group:

 

E-mail:       ilf.bristoldef@gmail.com

Text:           07867 690 422

 

Sep 132014
 

DPAC has removed our most recent piece on Anthony Kletzander from our website due to a ‘cease and desist’ letter from solicitors representing Nua Healthcare threatening legal action against us for raising awareness of the case. DPAC have published pieces on Anthony and his situation since late 2013. We firmly believe that Anthony’s desire for independent living, instead of institutionalisation should be upheld, as per Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We also believe that we have a duty to raise public awareness on Anthony’s experiences.

We will continue to campaign and to support Anthony, his parents: Linda and Sigi and his chosen advocate Joe Whittaker in any way we can. Anthony’s parents Linda and Sigi kindly agreed to an interview from their home in Ireland. We are grateful for their time and honesty.

Interview
As you may know supportive web sites and grass root disability groups in the UK and Europe received a solicitors ‘cease and desist’ letter regarding talking about Anthony’s circumstances, we can not talk about that specifically, but as Anthony’s parents and his legal guardians-what are your thoughts on:
 
a) the suggestion of the protection Anthony’s ‘confidentially’ :what has Anthony said to you on this, what is it that he wants to say about his circumstances? And as his parents what is it you would like to say?

Anthony repeatedly asks us to get him out of Nua and that he wants independent living in his own home near to his family. We fully support Anthony and take our lead from Anthony. He wants us to do whatever is necessary to help him to get back to independent living

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b) We understand that Anthony’s chosen means of communication has been denied, can you tell us a bit about that?
Despite the fact that Nua were given Speech and Language reports from two Health Service Executive (HSE ) Senior Speech and Language Therapists, Speech and Language report from Central Remedial Clinic Speech Therapist and Marion Stanton communication expert in U.K no staff at Nua are trained up in his communication  Marion offered to come to Ireland (in March 2014) to train Nua staff, but Nua did not invite her over in fact Noel Dunne said on the phone that they would get their own experts.

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2.Anthony lived in his own flat with his own personal assistants for almost 3 years – why do you think it is proving so difficult for Anthony to exercise his right to independent living by living in a place of his own choosing now?
 

Having had independent living from 2010-2012 with Cheshire Ireland where Cheshire took a back seat, we recruited Anthony’s staff with Anthony, put together a schedule which Anthony helped in planning and we negotiated with Dublin City University (DCU) and Anthony attended DCU lectures which is something he always wanted to do. In 2013 Anthony service was given over to Áiseanna Tacaíochta Network (ATN) by HSE with no meaningful negotiations with Anthony or us, no explanation was given. Martin Naughton the Director of ATN carried out the negotiations with Geraldine Murphy HSE Disability Manager. Martin then imposed his staff on Anthony, none of which believed in Anthony’s communication and Anthony’s whole quality of life suffered a great deal under the service of ATN. Martin tried to dictate visiting hours for Anthony, restricted his movement. Basically we had to go to Anthony’s home every evening to take Anthony out as he was effectively under virtual house arrest. Martin also applied to the Dept of Social Protection to have Anthony’s personal disability allowance payment paid into the ATN company. Following Martin’s email we contacted the department objecting and it took about a year to sort out the stoppage of Anthony’s payment due to ATN’s actions.

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3.What does Anthony say to people fighting the campaign to get him independent living?

Anthony continues to ask us to keep the campaign going. He also appeals to us to ask Nua to stop the forced medication on him. Anthony has know Joe (Whittaker) for about 11 years and always asks us to ask Joe to continue the campaign for him.  We always reassure Anthony that Joe and we his parents are continually campaigning and won’t stop until Anthony is released to Independent living. We need to keep repeating this to Anthony to try to help him to survive his time with the Nua institution

4 What efforts have HSE made to discuss Anthony’s wishes for independent living with you and Anthony?
 
Possibilities Plus offered HSE their service to provide Independent Living. Geraldine Murphy has told them that as far as she is concerned the Nua arrangement is permanent.  We continue to write to Sheila Marshall the other Disability Manager involved.

5.Who do you recognise outside the family as closest to Anthony and who has Anthony chosen as an advocate?
Anthony chose Joe Whittaker as his advocate and we keep Anthony informed about the campaign. We Anthony’s parents feel encouraged and very appreciative of Joe’s on going support. We are all grateful that many more people know what is going on and we really appreciate all the support that Anthony is being given by growing numbers of people.

6.Prior to Anthony being institutionalised did Anthony have a history of hospitalisation

No, prior to ATN taking over the management of Anthony service, Anthony was on a strict gluten and dairy free diet. He was not given ANY medication but took natural supplements. When ATN took over Anthony’s service ATN stopped Anthony’s special diet against the advice of the family doctor claiming that they found him to be “often hungry”. This caused Anthony pain and subsequently contributed to his virtual “house arrest”.

7.When did forced medication start for Anthony

Anthony was medication free when he entered Redwood ( a prior institution). However three days after he entered Redwood we got a phone call confirming that Anthony’s crucial special gluten and dairy free diet was not being adhered to by Redwood and that they were giving him medication.

8.Did Anthony have a history of being hospitalised prior to being institutionalised

No. Despite the fact that we gave Redwood Anthony’s GP letter and met with Management when we were told that Anthony was been given medication and that his diet was not adhered to. Anthony was hospitalised by emergency ambulance with seizures for the first time in his life. Tests showed no epilepsy.

9.Did Nua continue with the drugs regime

When Anthony started in Nua he was not drugged according to our information. However in March 2014 Anthony was admitted to hospital by emergency ambulance. Since Anthony started in Nua he has been admitted twice to hospital by emergency ambulance and continues to be medicated.

10.Did Nua give you the list of Anthony’s medication

No despite the fact that we repeatedly asked Nua for the list of Anthony’s medication they refused to give it to us. We finally got the list of medication when our solicitor requested the medication list from HSE when Sheila Marshall, Disability Manager issued the medication to our solicitor so we then had access to this crucial information.

11.How does Anthony spend his weekdays

When Anthony started at Nua we attended a conference explained the significance of training for staff of Anthony’s communication. We also told everyone who attended the meeting from HSE and Nua that Anthony hates farms.  He attends the Nua farm daily where we recently witnessed Anthony shovelling manure into a wheelbarrow in a highly distressed state and being told “good boy keep going”. Anthony is a 26 year old man not a “boy”.

photo anthony

12.How did Anthony appear on your recent visit to him on the Nua farm

When we drove into the car park we could hear Anthony’s anguished sounds and rushed to find him. We were shocked to see him shovelling manure into a heaped wheelbarrow. Anthony’s anguished sounds increased significantly whilst bringing the heaped wheelbarrow down the very steep hill to the lower Nua gardens. We emailed Nua voicing our concerns but received a registered letter from Nua yesterday informing us that Anthony has been returned to the farm as of 8 September 2014 so we continue to worry significantly about Anthony’s health and safety in Nua.

13. What would you say to parents/people in a similar situation to that of Anthony?

We would say never give up. Everyone is entitled to be listened to, no one’s basic human rights should be abused. We would encourage people to speak up if they can.

14.What would you and Anthony say to the people supporting Anthony?
Anthony is continually thanking people for their support which he needs to stay strong. Anthony is particularly grateful to his and our friend Joe Whittaker

Video of Anthony typing thank you to supporters

Sign the Petition to stop this here

If you can help please contact Anthony’s chosen advocate Joe: whittakerjoe5@gmail.com

Abbreviations

ATN Áiseanna Tacaíochta Network
DCU Dublin City University
DPAC Disabled People against Cuts
HSE Health Service Executive: responsible for the provision of healthcare providing health and personal social services for everyone living in Ireland, with public funds.

 

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