May 052016



Barnet Alliance for Public Services (BAPS) is horrified to learn that Capita, which runs services for Barnet council, have cancelled the Freedom Passes for a number of disabled residents, apparently without warning and with no legal basis.

The council temporarily halted further cancellations, pending a review, only when complaints were raised by local bloggers.

BAPS demands that all cancelled passes will be reinstated immediately and Capita’s actions be subject to an independent investigation.



May 042016

The 5th of May is independent living day. We support European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) on #ENILILDAY

What is the European Independent Living Day?

The European Independent Living Day, celebrated on 5 May, is an annual event to raise awareness about the right to Independent Living and its importance for disabled people. It was launched by the European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) in 2014 and each year the Independent Living supporters from many countries celebrate it by staging protests, launching reports, organising exhibitions and other awareness raising activities that target the general public.

What is Independent Living?

ENIL defines Independent Living as the daily demonstration of human rights-based disability policies. Independent living is possible through the combination of various environmental and individual factors that allow disabled people to have control over their own lives. This includes the opportunity to make real choices and decisions regarding where to live, with whom to live and how to live. Services must be available, accessible to all and provided on the basis of equal opportunity, free and informed consent and allowing disabled people flexibility in our daily life. Independent living requires that the built environment, transport and information are accessible, that there is availability of technical aids, access to personal assistance and/or community-based services. It is necessary to point out that independent living is for all disabled persons, regardless of the gender, age and the level of their support needs.

No public money, at any level, should be used to build or renovate institutions for disabled people. Disabled people should be supported to live in the community and not locked away in institutions.

Situation in the UK

We have seen the decimation of independent living. The closure of the Independent Living Fund, the cuts to local authorities, the forthcoming ESA 30% cut to those in the work related activity group from 2017, the change to PIP that has left many without support, cuts to Access to Work, and constant cases of those institutionalised who have died in a series of high profile cases-independent living isn’t working. The gains made by generations before us are being lost. But as disabled people we will continue to fight for independent living throughout Europe.

What you can do to support

You can join the fight by sharing this post, tweeting the hashtag in support, or joining ENIL’s campaign on Facebook

This year, ENIL is encouraging everyone to take a photo with a sign ( download sign here) saying what Independent Living means to you.

You can follow ENIL’s campaign on Facebook at

Photos can also be posted on Twitter with a hashtag ‪#‎ENILILDAY

You can also email your MEPs list here by region

Or tweet them if they’re on twitter

For those that prefer not to use their own photo we have a ready made sign.

You can download the image and add #ENILILDAY to a tweet or Facebook post









Apr 292016

SCOPE announces: “We are reinvigorating the disability movement”  SCOPE for Change.

How dare they!

Here’s the problem: SCOPE is not and has never been a part of any so called ‘disability movement’, whatever that is. It’s a multi-million pound disability charity whose existence demands that disabled people are oppressed, vilified and subjugated. Their sales pitch depends on it-why would they change anything?

There’s a difference between organisations ‘of’ disabled people, which is those led and run by disabled people, and those ‘for’ run by non-disabled people. The ‘for’  organisations rarely, if ever,  include disabled people in any positions of power. Yet, they are arrogant enough to speak for us and claim to know what disabled people want and need. Then they rattle their tins for us and we don’t see a penny.

Imagine that process applied to any other equality group: a set of men speaking exclusively for womens’ issues, white people speaking exclusively for people of colour- Each claiming to know better what those groups need, collecting money on that flawed basis –and keeping it!

SCOPE names itself as a disability charity, but its a corporate entity with an income of £101.1 million in 2015. It has senior staff on £150,000 per year. SCOPE is not and has never been part of any ‘disability movement’, like other charities SCOPE is part of the disability business- its just another parasitic corporate entity.

As things get worse for us, money rolls in to SCOPE from those that don’t understand the grassroots politics of disability. A grass root politics that rejects charity, rejects others speaking on our behalf, rejects the colonisation of disabled people as quazi representatives of the charity corporate business brand.

SCOPE like all the other big disability charities make money from disabled people- the worse the crisis gets for us -the better it is for them: donations soar, their overpaid elite get salary increases and disabled people remain in exactly the same place in society.

We don’t need or want disability charities. We need actions, strong voices critical of government, and mediocre organisations withdrawing from government groups. Groups such as Priti Patel’s apparent ‘task force’ set to advise on ‘support’ for those in the ESA WRAG group who’ll lose £30 a week from April 2017.

How could any group, charity or even user-led organisation even agree to this travesty? SCOPE and others may say they’re doing it to ‘help’, but collapsing into little government clichés doesn’t help-refusing to engage and rejecting the very idea that some disabled people will have 30% of their income removed does.

We’ve seen the lengths big Disability charities like MENCAP will go to keep their MP patrons-patrons who voted for the 30 pound cut to ESA are not being sacked-so whose side are they on? It isn’t ours.

Now SCOPE gather some young disabled people and dare to announce they are ‘reinvigorating the disability movement’ what next? And what types of campaign will these people be directed to?

Remember the awful ‘end the awkward campaign’? A patronizing piece of expensive rubbish brilliantly critiqued by Brain Hilton.

Remember the ILF /DPAC campaign against the ILF Closure? When some from the ILF campaign group insisted on writing to SCOPE to ask them what they were going to do, multi-million pound SCOPE told them it wasn’t in their program and to get in touch with DPAC.

When DPAC protested outside SCOPE’s offices in 2013 SCOPE used it as publicity to tweet they’d had a productive meeting with us!

When SCOPE , bizarrely, decided to celebrate 20 years of the Disability Discrimination Act in 2015 with an exhibition of ‘the disability movement’ we were confused but saw it as a way for them to avoid challenging the decimation of rights today. A decimation that initiated the UN Inquiry by four people from DPAC not by any multi-million charity, remember.

When SCOPE announced closure of residential homes in a newspaper without bothering to tell the residents, it said they were developing independent living. They were losing loss making inconveniences and selling them off.

When SCOPE was exposed by Boycott Workfare for entering the government market for the punitive workfare regime for disabled people in 2012-they claimed it was an ‘isolated incident’, and amazingly claimed to have no idea of compulsion or sanctions for disabled people.

The slogan ‘Rights not charity’ is a stalwart of the disabled people’s movement for a reason. We want human rights, justice, and equality –not charity models that present us as pitiful, vulnerable creatures to be saved by the collecting tin.

The vicious attacks on disabled people by this government, and attacks by new Labour before them,  has not moved SCOPE to do anything other than produce intermittent bland and meaningless media statements.

But they wouldn’t do anything else would they, because they sit at the governments table, enjoy funds from government departments and are doing very well. They’ve done very well since 1952 when they were set up as the Spastics Society. They had an expensive brand change to SCOPE in 1994 because they thought that the Spastics Society just wasn’t modern enough.

They stole our words, our lives, our campaigning terms and put the social model of disability on their website- a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It didn’t wash then and it certainly doesn’t wash now.

Neither SCOPE nor any other multi million pound big Disability Charity speaks or acts for disabled people-we speak and act for ourselves.

For the young campaigners who have unwittingly joined SCOPEs latest public relations/donations campaign, albeit six years into the biggest assault on disabled people’s lives in recent history. If you want to make a change do it with a user-led disability organisation ‘of’ disabled people or set up something your selves.

Please though, above all, read up on the history of the struggles of disabled people to free ourselves from charities incarcerating us in institutions, speaking on our behalf and making millions on our backs-understand the slogan ‘Rights not charity’!

And for SCOPE forget ‘end the awkward’ #endthebullshit because most of us aren’t fooled.


SCOPE still spends 22.4 million on residential ‘care’ for disabled people

Debbie Jolly

Big thanks to Bob for the title


Mar 292016

Please answer all the questions-if you want to say anything more about why you did or didn’t vote for Labour or why you did or didn’t vote for Corbyn – add it as a comment

Mar 282016

 Press release; Pembrokeshire People’s Assembly Against Austerity.

For immediate release 27-03-16.

Crabb Must Go!! Resign Mencap!! – Demonstration at Crabb’s Office in Haverfordwest. Sat, 2nd April. 11AM till 1PM

Pembrokeshire People’s Assembly Against Austerity are organising a demonstration outside Stephen Crabb’s Office for this Saturday 2nd which will take place from 11AM till 1PM. Demonstrators will be demanding that Crabb recognises public opinion and resigns as Pembrokeshire Mencap patron following his recent vote to cut ESA by £30 per for disabled people.

Organisers say that as there has as yet been no statement made by Stephen Crabb’s office, nor Mencap Pembrokeshire indicating that Crabb is to resign as Mencap patron so they feel that they have no other option but to press ahead with the demonstration.

The 38degrees petition calling for Crabb to resign as patron of Mencap Pembs is close to reaching 12,000 signatures. It had already achieved 2000 signatures within its first two days. Notably before Crabb was appointed as DWP secretary.

Jim Scott, the organiser of the petition said; “There is now overwhelming pressure from all quarters for Crabb to resign this post. The Mencap Facebook page (Stackpole Walled Gardens)  has been inundated with comments requesting that Crabb be removed as their patron. A great many people have written and emailed Mencap locally as well as nationally. Many people have even said that they will be withholding their donations until this matter is resolved. The petition continues to grow. Public pressure as well as the efforts of DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) has already forced 4 ESA voting MP’s to resign their patronages of other disability charities as part of DPAC’s on-going campaign aptly named ‘Operation #ToryDump’ . It is just a matter of time now. Crabb simply cannot and will-not get away with voting in Westminster for cuts such as the ESA cut which is a ‘done-deal’ now for Crabb and cannot be ‘undone’ .  Yet then masquerade as some kind of champion for disabled people while back in Pembrokshire, his game is up! These cuts have already caused widespread poverty, destitution, homelessness and many suicides among our most vulnerable and deserving members of society. Crabb, and all other ESA voting MP’s simply have to go.”

Romayne Phoenix, National Co-Chair of The People’s Assembly said; “With Iain Duncan Smith’s resignation and the government forced to backtrack on Osborne’s disastrous budget, there are many more British people now recognising the hypocrisy of having Tory patrons of these disability charities & charities which focus on care. The pressure is on – and Crabb’s appointment looks to have been a mistake made in a hurry that the `Tories will regret for a long time.”

A spokesperson for DPAC said   “The strength of disabled people has been shown over the past few weeks-we will not support any charity or MP who voted for the cuts to ESA. The charities must remove such MPs, if they do not it will be more confirmation for disabled people whos side the charities are really on”

Natalie Bennett – Green Party leader publically signed the 38degrees petition calling for Crabb to resign when visiting Fishguard last week for an anti-cuts debate. Bennett was joined in signing the petition by Alice Hooker Stroud – Wales Green Party leader, Chris Overton – Withybush Hospital campaigner and Kay Dearing of SOS (Save our Sixth Forms Pembrokeshire).

Other MP’s are facing similar pressure including Liam Fox, another Mencap Patron who has had a petition lodged against him to resign as Mencap patron for North Somerset.

Speakers invited to Saturdays demonstration  include, National People’s Assembly Against Austerity, DPAC (disabled People Against cuts) and other local disability groups, Wales Green Party, Plaid Cymru, The Labour Party, The Green Party, Lib-Dems, Plaid for Pride, Welsh Green Pride, TUSC, Left unity,  and many more local campaigners.

Organisers say “This will be a united show of strength demonstrating cross-Party & multi-Campaign support, this will show Crabb and the Charity involved that even just a few weeks from a major election here in Wales, all Parties and campaigns are willing to stand together to show a united front in the face of such injustice. Austerity is ideologically driven and is ruining people’s lives, people are dying out there yet wealth among the richest has doubled in the past 5 years. It doesn’t take a genius to work out what Crabb’s Government is up to, but we need to be united in order to put a stop to it.”

The organisers urge all concerned citizens of Pembrokeshire and elsewhere to attend the demonstration and add their number to those demanding- Crabb must go! They also welcome spokespeople to attend and speak on behalf any other respective organisations who wish to be represented. You can contact them via their Facebook page for more information. (Pembrokeshire People’s Assembly (against austerity)

Protestors will gather shortly before 11AM on Saturday at Crabb’s office, Upper Market St Haverfordwest, SA61 1QA.



Notes to editors;

The speakers list for this event is being constantly updated and can be checked here; (Facebook event page).



Attached showing Sticker and campaign banner picture.

A special sticker has even been created for the event , these stickers are available at;

Crabb the grab resign as mencap Patron

Crabb resign sticker


Mar 202016

SCOPE that well know charity parasite claiming to collect money to enrich our disabled lives welcomes Crabb with a tweet

Something that even the social media person at SCOPE seems to know is that Crabb has replaced IDS as secretary of state.

IDS is now doing an impersonation of God and the saviour of all  disabled people. He loved us all really and is telling the world how misunderstood he has been-He was always on our side and ‘helping’ us. It’s all as believable as a goldfish riding a unicycle.

SCOPE have been practising being our ‘saviour’ for years. It’s a performance they’ll be polishing up after That Tweet welcoming Crabb.

Crabb voted for the £30 pound cut to ESA WRAG- It could have been worse: welcome Stephen , can we sit at your Government table and have some money please –its very difficult to manage on our income of over 100 million –times are hard.

Of course SCOPE aren’t the only charity supporting those that voted for the £30 cut or keeping  ties with MPs to help them along see DPAC’s #ToryDump for more of them. We know who’s side they’re on and it isn’t ours, despite what they try and tell us.

MENCAP have Crabb as patron too, but don’t seem to want to get rid of him. MENCAP national pass the buck by saying he is patron of a local MENCAP?? Local MENCAP did rattle on about MPs from all walks of life or something incoherent in the week…buck passing at its finest, until a few hours ago when MENCAP national released a statement to ITV gushing their congratulations to Crabb You can join the thousands that have already signed the  the petition for MENCAP to get rid of Crabb HERE

But what about Crabb?

We’ve made a little background list.

-Voted for £30 cut to ESA WRAG

-Supported the introduction of the Bedroom tax

-Supported the introduction of the chaotic and decimating Personal Independence Payments

-Voted against increasing social security payments in line with inflation

-Voted against prolonging social security payments for those with chronic health conditions and disabled people

-Voted for the welfare cap

-Voted to include child benefit in the welfare cap rather than exclude it

-Voted to exclude more people from tax credits

-Supported reduction in corporation tax

-Supported scrapping education maintenance grant

-Supported air strikes in Syria

If that’s not enough, Crabb continues to have links with an organisation that supports some so called ‘gay cure’

Pink News reported that the MP employed interns in his parliamentary office through a scheme organised and funded by Christian Action Research and Education (CARE). CARE has previously sponsored events which refer to gay and bisexual people as “sexually broken” and advocating that they can become “ex-gay”. The organisation has funded internship places for young people to be placed with MPs as researchers or interns.

Addressing the concerns in 2012, Mr Crabb confirmed that he had received interns from the scheme while an MP. However, despite criticism of CARE, he refused to distance himself from the group when asked, The Daily Telegraph reported.

Mr Crabb also reportedly began his political career while an intern for CARE in the 1990s[i].

Crabb also voted against the equality of same sex marriage in 2013

And there’s more…

Expense fiddles

Not underpants this time, but houses. In 2009 Crabb claimed over £8,000 to refurbish his flat, sold it for a huge profit ( paid 68,000 sold for £240,000 ten years later), then flipped his second home expenses to family home. He then claimed £9,300 in stamp duty and £1,325 in mortgage interest.

In 2014 Crabb employed his wife on the public payroll –and we paid for that too

So no DPAC doesn’t welcome Crabb

Let’s  give the last word to his constituents. Here’s what some said on his surgery wall-note the inaccessible office too

“Y do U hate the sick”



Mar 122016

By Ellen Clifford writing in a personal capacity

The majority of the DPAC steering group believes disabled people should vote to stay in the European Union.

Today we publish two pieces. The first, below, outlines a ‘no’ vote perspective, the  other HERE outlines why it should be a ‘yes’ vote to stay in EU on the 23rd June.

No to the EU

With the EU referendum looming in June this year a number of articles have been published debating the left case for a no vote on the EU (1). Here I will seek to summarise some of the key left case arguments as well to as to address the question from a disability perspective. I believe the conclusion drawn by a range of anti-austerity campaigners that the capitalist monolith of the EU cannot be reformed and must be opposed, is equally applicable to Disabled people fighting oppression and the impact of austerity cuts. John Hilary, Executive Director of War on Want writes: “a vote to remain in the EU is automatically a vote for the continuation of austerity and neoliberal capitalist rule” (2).

One point to make from the outset is that breaking with the EU would not impact on the ability of Disabled people in Britain to use the European Convention on Human Rights. At some stage the Tories may try to take Britain out of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights and that is a fight we must be prepared for. However, it is a question that is separate from the membership of the EU.


Austerity and Neoliberalism

As an internationalist, the idea of a no vote on membership of the European Union can at first instinct feel wrong, but a no vote to the EU is not the same as turning away from Disabled people in the member states of the EU. Indeed a no vote is very much in solidarity with Disabled people who have born the brunt of austerity measures imposed on them by the EU in countries such as Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain. Since 2008 spending on disability services in the Irish Republic has been cut by 10% (3) with major cuts in disability-related services also occurring in Greece, Portugal and Spain (4). Bail outs given to Greece came in return for the imposition of austerity on a colossal scale. Health spending was capped at 6% with a quarter of the budget cut over just two years. In Achaia province two thirds of those prescribed drugs said they could not afford to buy them. Major depression more than doubled and suicide attempts grew by a third and yet mental health services were cut to the bone. It is estimated that the number of stillborn babies grew by 21% (5).

There can be no doubting the pressure brought to bear by the EU in imposing it neoliberal agenda. The “Fiscal Contract” signed by most EU member states in March 2012 obliges signatories to change their constitution to ensure balanced budgets under the supervision of the European Commission, an unelected EU body that acts unashamedly in the interests of big business at the expense of social or environmental rights. When the European Central Bank cut off emergency funding to Greek banks, effectively shutting them down and bringing the Greek economy to a halt, the Syriza government felt it had no option but to capitulate to the EU and sign up to a bail out package demanding austerity and privatisation. The EU thus forced through an agreement that over rode the democratic will of the Greek people who had voted against austerity. Just as the Tories have been using the financial crisis to take forward their own ideological agenda, so have EU institutions involved in the Troika (6) been using the debt crisis to impose “structural adjustment programmes” across Europe with the aim of clearing the way for multinational countries to come in and seize public assets.

Anti-austerity campaigners in Europe are clear about the role the EU plays in enforcing austerity, while nevertheless resisting its implementation by their own nation states. It is in the interests of international solidarity and resistance beyond borders to stand with our anti-austerity allies across Europe in saying ‘No’ to the EU.


Fortress Europe

A no vote also stands in solidarity with Disabled people from outside the current borders of the EU. Those borders, enforced by the EU joint border control taskforce Frontex, leave them with no escape from the poverty, wars and terrors created by Western imperialism. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has documented how, whenever human rights clash with the policies of racist exclusion, the EU will always prioritise the latter (7). The creation of “Fortress Europe” has seen unprecedented cooperation between countries in and just outside of the EU. A HRW report explained how in 2009 Italy began forcing migrants from Libya to return there where they would be detained by the authorities. In exchange Italy offered Libya $5 billion over 25 years in infrastructural investment. HRW collected harrowing accounts from migrants held in the detention centres including torture and rape. The EU’s response was to give Libya a further $80 million to build detention centres and strengthen its southern frontier.

Taking a principled stance in opposition to the EU does NOT mean agreeing with or supporting the nationalist, racist arguments of the likes of UKIP, while a yes position also means voting the same way as political undesirables such as Cameron (whose ‘bunch of migrants’ comment marks him as much a vicious racist as UKIP’s Nigel Farage) and Osborne.


The Disintegration of Social Europe

It is very much in the interests of British capital to stay in the EU while pushing ahead regardless with plans to curtail human rights in the UK through the introduction of a British Bill of Rights in place of the Human Rights Act. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) backs continued membership of the European Union (8) – they also dedicate a section of their website to defending the governments Work Programme from which many of its own members extract profits and Maximus UK’s managing director Chris Blackwell is ‘an active member of the CBI and regularly speaks at major events’ (9).

Those in favour of staying in the EU often cite the reforms that came in through the social chapter of the Maastricht agreement in 1992 including parental leave and working hour directives. However the idea that the EU continues to offer some kind of “social Europe” to protect against the ravages of neoliberalism is a myth. The European Central Bank president Mario Draghi said in a 2012 interview that “The European social model has already gone”. Recent years have shown the EU repeatedly undermining trade union rights in favour of business. Employment barrister John Hendy QC has written, “The EU has become a disaster for the collective rights of workers and their unions. It is essential that the international institutions of human rights law be upheld, it is yet more vital that working people and trade unions across Europe achieve the solidarity necessary to prevent the further depredations of the EU” (10).


How should Disabled people vote?

On the question of what is in the best interests of Disabled people in the UK, firstly it is a false division to treat the interests of Disabled people as an entirely separate entity from those of the rest of the 99%. Wider social issues such as workers’ rights and the racist myths used to justify ill treatment of migrants also impact on our lives and are important to us. Secondly the argument that Disabled people in the UK have too much to lose by leaving the EU is insufficiently convincing to justify voting in favour of an institution that acts so clearly in the interests of the 1%, that forces Disabled people to suffer under austerity to keep the bankers’ bonuses piling in and that condemns refugees (many of whom are Disabled or children) to drown in the sea.

With regards to the situation in the UK, where has the EU been in stopping the Tories from their relentless attacks on Disabled people? If we look across Europe we see routine treatment of Disabled people that would be considered unthinkable here, even now following the dramatic regression we have experienced since 2010. An expose by French newspaper Liberation in 2014 revealed the terrible conditions suffered by thousands of Disabled people sent to live in institutions in Belgium (11) while caged beds are still routinely used in areas of Europe (12).

Advances in disability equality and inclusion are not the result of EU policy, they are the product of struggle by Disabled people. Sweden, a country considered for a long time to be a world leader in independent living, did not join the EU until 1994. Demands made by STIL, the Stockholm Co-operative for Independent Living, set up in 1983 and inspired by the Independent Living Movement in California, forced the introduction of Direct Payments, using demonstrations and actions that gave them a “radical reputation” that they “exploited in our dealings with the authorities” (13). In Norway, which is not an EU member, disability benefits are a universal right, while in EU member states including Sweden these are increasingly limited. There is no automatic link between EU membership and higher standards of support and inclusion for Disabled people.

Key successes in the fight against Disabled people’s oppression have not been handed down from EU bodies but won by grassroots Disabled people and our allies. The independent living movement was formed by Disabled people breaking out of residential care; the social model of disability was developed by Disabled socialists; Atos was driven out of the contract running the WCA by Disabled campaigners.

Illusions in the EU are an obstacle to building the movement we need. The force to effect real change lies with the struggle from below and that will remain the case whether the UK is in or out of the EU. However losing the referendum would be a blow to Cameron’s government and the businesses that profit from our misery, and this can help our struggle break new ground.


Reasons to vote No to the EU:

* The EU is negotiating secret trade deals such as the Transatlantic and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the US. TTIP threatens to introduce a new wave of privatisation in key sectors such as health and education. It also seeks to grant foreign investors the right to sue governments for loss of profits resulting from public policy decisions.

* The strict criteria of Economic and Monetary Union limits public sector expenditure and government borrowing. Euro member states now face fines if they fail to enact “implementation law” to cut spending deficits.

* The EU promotes zero hours contracts, casualisation and low pay as part of its structural adjustment programme.

* The EU promotes privatisation. Various EU directives, regulations, policies and the EMU criteria are forcing public services into the private sector. Large parts of the conditions to obtain further “bailout” loans are to sell off public sector institutions.

* The EU seeks to undermine trade union rights. The suspension of trade union collective bargaining is a strict condition of EU “bailouts” in Ireland, Portugal, Romania and Greece. A number of European Court of Justice rulings have found in favour of business over workers’ rights to defend themselves.

* The EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy has allowed the development of armed drones, economic support for the arms trade and an armed European Gendarmarie Force (EGF).

* The EU is the antithesis of democracy. The EU government is the unelected and unaccountable European Commission which legislates and proposes policy to the Councils of Ministers. The European Parliament only has very limited powers of “co-decision” with the Commission.


Further reading


War on Want:

Human Rights Watch:


  1. Choonara, “The EU: A left case for exit”
  2. Slorach, “A Very Capitalist Condition: a history and politics of disability”



  2. The Journal, 15 September 2015. See
  3. I B Portero, “Are there rights in a time of crisis?” Disability and Society, vol 27, no 4 (2012).

  1. J Choonara, “The EU: A Left Case For Exit” (available from
  2. The Troika consists of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Commission and the European Central Bank, two of which are institutions of the EU.



Mar 122016

By Debbie Jolly

The majority of the DPAC steering group believes disabled people should vote to stay in the European Union.

Today we publish two pieces. The one below, outlines why it should be a ‘yes’ vote to stay in EU on the 23rd June. The other HERE outlines the ‘no’ perspective

So what exactly is the EU?

Many criticisms of the European Union are based on a lack of understanding of how its different parts interact. This tends to promote the myth of an unelected and unrepresentative European union with dictates coming from Brussels. In fact the main parts of its headquarters are in Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg.

Here’s a quick rundown of its main parts and what they do so we’re clear about how each of the member countries are represented and how the parliament works by individuals in each of the member countries electing members of the European Parliament:

European Commission-Commissioners are made up of a representative from each member country. Also where new laws are proposed

European Parliament-elected members of the European Parliament (MEPS), elected for each of the 28 member countries. The Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats and the Group of the European’s Peoples Party have consistently pulled in 50-70% of votes[1] . It’s the Parliament of elected MEPs that vote on the laws proposed by the commission

Council of the European Union-where government representatives of the 28 member countries/states have their say on the political direction of the union and their stake in it. For example Cameron’s latest ‘deal’ for an emergency brake on in work benefits for so called migrants was done here[2].

European Court of Justice-The 28 Judges come from each of the member states. As its name suggests it is a court of justice regarding member countries squabbles or issues where member countries are not fulfilling the rights of citizenship. They also take cases of discrimination and have established issues such as equal pay and combated issues around the forced institutionalisation of disabled people[3]

So the different parts of the EU and its parliament are representative of each of its member states and MEPs are elected by the people. The electoral system uses proportional representation -as opposed to the British first past the post system that allowed the Tories to govern again in Britain.

The right wing media mouthpieces such as the Express and Mail have been at the fore front of anti-European rhetoric.   So that issues such as free movement in Europe that allowed those in war torn countries to try and seek a decent peaceful existence ( more on that later), the working time directive and other social gains are always ignored, misconstrued or demonised.

Social policy gains from the EU: what has EU ever done for us?

While some on the left cite the EU or European Parliament social gains, social charters and key treaties, taking resistance, development and co-operation as the route to build on the social gains-the Eurosceptic left charge the EU with being a capitalist monolith that cannot be reformed, so let’s throw it all away.

We need to ask ourselves if we do that: what are the consequences? Will we really fair better under ‘Tory Boys Limited’?  They and Thatcher before them sought to limit or block every improvement in employee rights and social rights put forward by the EU. Let’s look in brief at some of the social gains that being part of the European Union gave us in employment protection against ‘the bosses’.


-Maternity and Paternity leave criteria, protection against workplace dismissal due to pregnancy

-Protection of employment if business is transferred or sold (TUPE)

-Protection from workplace discrimination re gender, disability, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age

-Working time directive: rules on paid leave, holidays, working breaks, no more than a 48 hour working week (UK has an opt out option between employers and employees on this one , of course)

-Employment contracts and information they must contain for any employee

-Protection against less favourable treatment for part-time workers compared to full time workers, no right of employer to transfer someone from part-time to full time or vice versa without employee agreement

-Health and safety regulations in work

-Data protection on employees’ information and data protection issues more widely

And before we hear any cries of Europe imposing nasty equality and protection and undermining member countries sovereign whatever, please note that member countries can and did tinker around the edges. For example, whether paternity leave was paid or not. For more detail see reference[4] .

If we leave the EU these protections for workers will no longer be applicable and the current government would be all too happy to remove them. In fact Cameron wanted part of his recent EU deal to deal with the ‘red tape’ of these employment rights

Disability: why disabled people would be better in Europe than out

The European Union also have a wealth of social policy on gender issues and other equality issues. Here I’ll focus on disability issues

Non discrimination: as previously covered a variety of non discrimination measures to protect disabled people is written into treaties, directives and strategies at the European level on goods and services, access and independent living

Non discrimination by association: The principle of not discriminating because of association (e.g partner, child, parent etc) with a disabled person came via Europe through a European Court of Justice case and was written into the UK Equality Act 2010[5]

Forced institutionalisation: The European court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights has overseen many cases on forced institutionalization by member countries this is in line with commission signing up to the UNCRPD and its own EU Disability Strategy. As such precedents have been made to prevent both forced institutionalisation and combat conditions within institutions. This does not mean that all situations across European member states are now perfect, but that individuals and NGOs have other routes as well as their national government/national legal system to challenge human rights abuses against disabled people and disabled children at the European level.

European Social Funds: The EU provides millions of euros in social funds to NGOs/local authorities/regions/universities in its 28 member states to combat poverty, to promote and enact independent living, to challenge injustice and to remove institutions. It has also provided much needed regeneration in many areas as well as educational and project funds around human rights. These funds would be removed from disabled people and from communities if we leave. The Tory government will not replace them.

Misuse of social funds by member states: while social funds are meant to increase access to independent living and disabled people being part of the community with adequate support, i.e. the closure of large institutions, some member state governments have been misusing such funds to build smaller institutions. These issues are now being dealt with by the commission-and the point is: what Europe is accused of is often in reality a failing of a member state, but it is often wrongly blamed on the European Union itself.

Access and EU Accessibility Act: the UK enjoys comparatively good access in relation with some other European countries, but harmonization is important across the EU to serve all disabled people. The recent EU accessibility Act builds on other directives from the EU to improve access and harmonize the social gains disabled people fought for. Most countries have regulations on ramps and buildings, although these are not always adhered to. The EU can strengthen these gains and has provided more in line with their EU Disability Strategy

Transport-EU rules on accessible vehicles standards and provision of assistance on all forms of public transport, including planes meant that those countries that did not provide this can now be taken through the courts

Public web sites –must adhere to EU rules on accessibility

The list below shows new products and services that must be accessible to all impairment groups

-computers and operating systems;

– ATMs; ticketing and check-in machines;

– smartphones;

– TV equipment related to digital television services;

– telephony services and related equipment;

– audiovisual media services (AVMS) and related equipment;

– air, bus, rail and waterborne passenger transport services;

–  banking services;


– e-commerce.

For example the EU access directive means that:

ATMs will provide sockets for headphones with the support of audio instructions. Keyboards will provide tactual clues. ATMs will also have visual alerts (blinking lights) in addition to audible signals to indicate where the cards need to be introduced or where the money comes out.

Booking and travel: accessibility requirements of the Directive will allow disabled passengers to be able to book their tickets on the transport companies’ websites or directly via accessible ticketing machines. For example, a blind person will be able to use voice or tactual interfaces to interact with the ticketing machines and also to get information about the schedule of his/her journey. Deaf and hard of hearing persons will get information about the changes in the schedule of their train/bus journeys in real time in text format, complementing the oral announcements[6].

The European Parliament also has a disability intergroup made up of MEPs with an interest in protecting and extending the rights of disabled people, a disability strategy focused on independent living and equal rights and a whole set of different groups looking at issues such as de-institutionalisation.

Disabled people and European NGOs are the ones that fight for disability rights, but being in the EU  can help extend those rights and also help fund our battles. While we in the UK may know we have a significant battle, other countries have significant battles too in terms of access, attitudes, being part of the community, and poor financial support for the extra costs of disability-pulling out of the EU means rejecting our disabled European friends and significantly weakening our own fight too.

The closure of the ILF (independent Living Fund) has been covered and protested by MEPs and by European NGOs in a way that would not have been possible if we were not members of the EU. The additional 4 years of funds for ex ILF users were not given because the government wanted to be generous, but because of the campaigns around the ILF-a campaign that was supported by those in Europe.

The European Court of Human Rights is separate from the EU. It was set up to take cases under the European Convention on Human Rights and its members are the signatories to the convention. The Tory government plans for a British Bill of Rights might mean that the European Court of Human Rights and the European Convention become irrelevant. It’s also much more likely that we’ll lose the European Convention rights if we pull out of the EU which will mean we lose the European Court of Justice and the court of Human Rights in one swoop. We need both.

Myths and misunderstandings

The previous piece arguing for a vote to leave the EU because disabled people would be better off  raised a number of points that need to be clarified.

1.’ it is a false division to treat the interests of Disabled people as a distinct entity separate from the rest of the 99%’ It isn’t when the piece is on a disabled peoples’ campaign group’s site, disabled people are a distinct entity in that many of our rights are not met as they should be, as such we need to examine why remaining in the EU can aid and increase those rights, not just for us as an Island, but in solidarity with disabled people across Europe and beyond

  1. The EU ‘forces disabled people to suffer under austerity’, no it doesn’t national governments do. Is it nations (or member states) that chose their austerity measures and chose its targets? Nations do both not the EU. Nations do both whether they’ve been bailed out by the EU/IMF (international Monetary Fund)/member states money or not. For example Ireland was not directed by the EU (or any other parties to the bail out) to specifically cut disability spending by 10% any more than Ireland was directed by the EU not to sign or ratify the UNCRPD[7]. It’s the same case for other ‘bail out’ countries. The false conflation between the EU and its member state actions are misleading
  2. The EU is ‘an institution that condemns refugees (many of whom are Disabled or children) to drown in the sea’. The EU’s Schengen treaty of free movement across European borders is the thing that allowed people to escape war torn or other types of country within or outside the EU. It was a Tory dictate that rescues wouldn’t happen. They claimed it would just ‘encourage more to come’-so a national government that refused rescues and funds[8]. The EU is not responsible for refugees having their cash and valuables confiscated either, but national governments- Denmark[9] followed by Germany and Switzerland[10]. Again, the false conflation between the EU and its member state actions/inactions are misleading
  3. ‘Sweden, a country considered for a long time to be a world leader in independent living, did not join the EU until 1994. Demands made by STIL, the Stockholm Co-operative for Independent Living, set up in 1983 and inspired by the Independent Living Movement in California, forced the introduction of Direct Payments, using demonstrations and actions that gave them a “radical reputation” that they “exploited in our dealings with the authorities”. In Norway, which is not an EU member, disability benefits are a universal right, while in EU member states including Sweden these are increasingly limited’ STIL is a great model for independent living in Sweden, there are many around Europe and in the European Economic Area (EEA) including ULOBA in Norway. However, Norway has also seen reductions in support. They, like STIL and inspired by STIL, have fought a long battle to develop direct payments and gained a personal assistance law in 2014[11], Sweden had personal assistance law much sooner. This is not about being part of the European Union or not- it’s about the context, histories and cultures of individual countries. It should also be noted that that other member countries of the EU are not seeing reductions in disability financial support in particular those in Eastern Europe-again we cannot conflate what happens with a single issue on a national basis and claim that it’s the EU’s fault/not the EU’s fault, issues including those connected with disability, are much more complex.

Voting to leave the EU will protect us against TTIP??

No it won’t. Leaving the EU will not mean that we suddenly cease trading with other parts of Europe-we will still import/export and trading will continue. It’s likely that if we do leave we will take a position similar to Norway and be part of the single market or European Economic Area. We will still be subject to TTIP whether we’re in or out. If we’re out we can’t be in the fight to change aspects of TTIP through the European parliament or with other member countries such as France or Greece[12] who want to veto aspects of TTIP. National governments do have a say in TTIP contrary to some of the media’s claims.

If we’re out the current government might also see the need to create their version of TTIP too, given their appetite for cuts of all kinds and an abject lack of responsibility for any standards concerning our health or well-being this would prove to be an even bigger nightmare. Cameron’s extreme pro TTIP stance[13] show this is highly likely. ‘Red Tape’ and safety would be swept away and even more deregulation and privatization will follow. While we remain in the EU we are protected by the ‘precautionary principle’. The precautionary principle protects public health, the environment and food –stuffs. The Lisbon treaty states

“Union policy on the environment shall aim at a high level of protection taking into account the diversity of situations in the various regions of the Union. It shall be based on the precautionary principle and on the principles that preventive action should be taken, that environmental damage should as a priority be rectified at source and that the polluter should pay”[14]

From 2006 these protections went beyond the environmental to products, additives, food stuffs, genetically modified food stuffs, and the disposal of waste[15]

If we leave the EU we’ll lose the protections we have, still be subject to TTIP and more than likely need to watch as the Tories create their own version of TTIP that will rocket their extreme unregulated privatization and love of the free market beyond even their wildest dreams as they rip the last vestiges of the NHS to its final defeat- don’t let it happen

UK vs EU on Google, tax avoidance and regulation

The Google tax deal proved once more that the Westminster government and Osborn will do little but tinker around the edges in relation to unpaid tax by multinationals and large companies. They’re just not interested in changing the British owned tax havens, or bringing corporate  tax avoiders to account-worse they’re quite happy to make sweetheart deals with the likes of Google and co. while they cut disability support and other social support while claiming austerity.

The Common Consolidated Corporate Tax base (CCCTB) from the EU could change everything. The European Tax commissioner Moscovici told MEPs that he wanted to make 2016 “the year of tax reform”, with the EU’s CCCTB at the centre of his plans. “We have a serious problem with tax avoidance and lack of transparency. Too many people have looked the other way”. He claimed the string of global tax scandals and the anger from the public can be used to bring those member countries currently against such measures in line[16].

The EU isn’t just gunning for companies like Google and Apple through its digital tax[17] on tax avoidance and ‘hiding’ multi billion profits. The EU has already secured regulation on mobile phone companies’ exorbitant roaming charges through a vote by MEPs to scrap them. As anyone unfortunate enough to have needed to use their mobile phone in Europe will tell you there are charges for the calls/texts out and receiving calls, and additional costs for internet on top of any service agreement or credit. The extra charges have been reduced and will be removed completely by 2017[18]due to EU membership

Do those agreeing with Brexit ‘want to have their cake and eat it’?

A report by the High Pay Centre Think Tank ( a think tank monitoring excessive high pay and inequality)  shows that some may. While many agreed with measures of the EU to tackle inequality and improve rights few knew that such measures originated from the EU, were on the EU remit to tackle or were in danger if we leave the EU.

The findings suggest that UK workers are unaware that their working conditions could be dramatically affected by plans to re-negotiate the terms of Britain’s EU membership. Influential eurosceptics have argued that the reform of laws guaranteeing workers’ rights should be a priority for any re-negotiation[19].

While there is widespread support for the workers rights, just 25% of those polled were aware of the fact that these came from the EU.

The polling also found that:

70% of respondents supported the EU bankers’ bonus cap, limiting bankers’ bonuses to twice their annual salary

59% support a European-wide corporation tax floor, whereby European countries agree not  to reduce tax on big companies below a certain level

60% support a wealth tax on the richest EU citizens, such as that proposed by the French economist Thomas Piketty in his best-selling book ‘Capital in the 21st Century’

66% support a European wide pay cap, limiting the pay of company executives to a fixed multiple of their lowest paid employee.

So should we stay or should we go?

The EU referendum has been couched in right wing Eurosceptic terms of ‘stopping migrants’, regaining the sovereignty of the punitive ‘empire’ of centuries past, or left wing Eurosceptic terms of leaving an unaccountable capitalist monolith. Ian Duncan Smith has recently bizarrely announced that Europe is ‘a security threat’ while Boris Johnson sees Eurosceptism as the ticket to becoming the next Prime Minister[20].

Such rhetoric may be entertaining or rage inducing, but it obscures the facts and it stops us focusing on what a UK outside the EU will look like.

A vote to leave the EU is a vote to accelerate the Tory machine in cutting more social rights. A vote to leave will push us into even greater inequality; a vote to leave will push further forward with relentless privatisation and corporate tax avoidance, a vote to leave will erase standards on drinking water, clean air, safe food and a lot more, a vote to leave will erase social gains and rights, and a vote to leave will have every UKIPper and racist feeling supremely justified in their insufferable xenophobia.

Yes, the EU can be improved, but we can’t do that from outside. The last EU referendum was in Greece-they voted to stay. Yanis Varoufakis ex Greek finance minister thinks that the UK should stay in the EU too. Asked how the anti -austerity and equality proponents should focus discontent, he suggests a new pan European movement

‘..because the only way of changing Europe is to do this by a groundswell that rises throughout Europe. Otherwise the protest vote manifesting itself in Greece, Spain, the UK, Portugal, if it is not synchronised everywhere, will eventually dissipate, leaving behind it nothing but the bitterness and insecurity’[21].

Let’s create that groundswell-say yes to the EU-say no to Tory Boys Limited





















[14]  Consolidated Version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union article 191, paragraph 2


[15] Recuerda, Miguel A. (2006). “Risk and Reason in the European Union Law”. European Food and Feed Law Review 5.


[17] See 15






Mar 112016


Extracts from speech by Richard Howitt

 “British Disabled People Are Stronger In Europe.” Speech by Richard Howitt MEP, Co-President of the European Parliament’s All-Party Disability Rights Group 11 March 2016.


So far the European Referendum debate has been dominated – at least in the airwaves – by discussion of Treaties, trade agreements, legal competences.


These are all very important.


But ultimately they are important because of their impact on people in Britain.

And today I want to talk about how people are better off with Britain in Europe.


And in particular how British disabled people are stronger with Britain remaining in the European Union.


I used to work in the Disability Movement before going in to politics and as Vice-Chair and now again Chair of the All-Party Disability Rights Group of MEPs during all my time in the European Parliament, I still see myself as an activist.


I have often told the story about how I was motivated to stand for the European Parliament by being part of a European project where we brought British and Dutch profoundly deaf people together. At first, differences in sign language meant they couldn’t communicate. But within 15 minutes they had spontaneously found a way of doing so – very effectively.


It taught me a lesson about pulling barriers down and how people benefit by doing so.

People with disabilities will always campaign to pull down barriers.


In the European referendum, the Disability Movement should campaign against erecting new barriers.


When I was elected, let me also remind you that there was no provision for Europe to be able to pass legislation for disabled people.


And we campaigned successfully to change that, in what is now known as Article 19.


Why did we do that?


Because discrimination does not stop at borders.


In all the talk of ‘free movement’, what about the right of a wheelchair user to move freely to visit another European country?


The great moves that have been made in accessible tourism. The spirit that Britain brought to hosting the Paralympics.


That’s the same spirit I – as a British politician – take to upholding rights of access and of participation for people with disabilities in the European Union.


And what are some of our achievements by doing so?


Non-discrimination in the right to work for disabled people in all European countries.


Access requirements – never enough but very significant compared with the past – for lifts in public buildings, for web accessibility, now in all major transport modes.


Today, on the table, a European-wide general Accessibility Act.


A ban on all new funding going towards segregating, institutionalisation of people with disabilities, particularly important for people with learning disabilities amongst others.


In addition, the legal exemption from EU state aid rules to allow public authorities to directly contract, provides an important boost for people with disabilities to set up and run their own social enterprises.


Like ‘Norfolk Industries’ in which a group of a group of blind employees produce and sell animal bedding based in Norwich and a computer recycling and repair company ‘Reboot’ formed from a group of people with Aspergers – both from my own East of England constituency.


People in Britain with rare diseases, too few for effective treatments to be developed, have benefitted from European Research programmes being able to do so, when the greater numbers experiencing the same disability are put together across all 28 countries of the EU.


International copyright rules have been established which allow blind people to continue to benefit from talking books and newspapers.


Those who campaign to leave the European Union say Britain could pass these laws on our own.


But disabled people should consider: do you believe that this or any British Government would tear up all these rights and then one-by-one draw up new laws to reinstate them?


Don’t politicians always delay things or water them down?


And what those who would leave the European Union won’t tell you is that this European social legislation is a minimum standard, and there is already a specific rule that says European Union countries can go further?


If there really was such political will in Britain to go even further for the rights of people with disabilities – why hasn’t Britain done so already?


The truth is that the minimum floor of rights created in Europe has actually pulled up standards for all.


And remaining in Europe will see that gradual process of improvement continue in to the future.


Indeed there are examples where British politicians have been tempted to act against or remove rights or benefits for disabled people, which have been and are being prevented by these minimum standards of European law.


The European Non-Discrimination in Employment law meant Britain’s Disability Discrimination Act had to be extended to small businesses too, which had not previously been the case.


British Sign Language only became an official language in the United Kingdom, following years of resistance, after a declaration in the European Parliament of which I was proud to be a co-signatory.


The position of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission in the United Kingdom which has been under a barrage of criticism, is protected by the requirements of an ‘indeoendent body’ laid down in the EU non-discrimination directives.


British disabled people are stronger in Europe.


And although I am deeply sad at the abolition of the Independent Living Fund here in Britain, it is worth remembering that the whole concepts of independent living, personal assistance and personal budgets were pioneered in Europe by the Scandinavian countries and can be said to have been imported to Britain from there.


I believe remaining in the EU to be important for keeping the whole concept of ‘independent living’ itself alive.


The lesson for disabled people is that while they may not be truly independent, our country is. This very example shows social security laws – like the vast majority of areas affecting our national life – remain determined at Westminster.


But there is a lesson as well to EU ‘leave’ campaigners, from the experience of people with disabilities.


We all strive for independence. But sometimes a recognition of inter-dependence is important too. Cooperating with others can be a better route to maximising our own interests and welfare, working for and not against them.


Now the last big argument of the EU ‘leave’ campaign is that there is somehow a better alternative outside the European Union.


Could that be true for disabled people?


Just last month I helped host a visit to Brussels by organisations of disabled people from Asia, Africa and Latin America. They didn’t think it was better for them and their countries to create links to Britain if we left the European Union.


Indeed for them, life was better in the European Union and they had come to Brussels to learn from and copy our ways of working.


Add to that the campaign I and so many people have been integrally involved in, over the last decade, to successfully get agreement of a United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.


I know how European diplomacy played a vital role in winning support for the convention.  And it is now the first ever UN human rights convention to which the European Union as an institution has become a signatory.  Implementation of the convention is improving the lives of disabled people in Europe and in the rest of the world.


Europe wasn’t an impediment to achieving this, it was a powerful tool.


Britain in Europe does look out in to the world and is not held back from doing so.


Europe is a stepping stone, which helps us on our journey and prevents us from falling in the water.


Britain within the European Union is more influential in the world and the world is better off because of it.


Now my mention of human rights does cause me to explain that Eurosceptics deliberately confuse the Court of Justice for EU law with the European Court of Human Rights, which is nothing to do with the European Union.


Nevertheless, when the EU ‘leave’ campaign rails against the powers of the European Court, they should remember the landmark cases where disabled people’s human rights have been upheld.


Like the person with mental health [issues] who won a right to review his detention in a psychiatric hospital, the parents who challenged a hospital decision to put a ‘do not resuscitate’ notice on their severely disabled child or the woman who’d had a stroke who challenged her local authority for cutting her care package to a level which deprived her a minimum level of dignity.


It is a good not a bad thing that ‘the state’ can itself be challenged under the rule of law on such important issues of deprivation of liberty, cruel and degrading treatment and the right to life itself.


And in today’s economy of austerity, where rationing and denial of services has become the norm, never discount the fact that the economic prosperity which comes from Britain’s membership of the European Union is vital, if we are fund the public services which many disabled people believe should be theirs of right…


In the Disability Movement.


We want to pull down barriers not erect them.


We recognise discrimination does not stop at borders.


We want to protect Europe’s very significant achievements for people with disabilities, prevent others from being taken away and provide a platform for the further improvements of the future.


We know we can be independent and inter-dependent at one and the same time.


We know that there is no easy, better alternative – indeed the wider world becomes a better place if we remain in, than if we leave.


Above all, the EU referendum is about people and I have argued that British disabled people are stronger in Europe.


This is a call for people with disabilities themselves to vote in the referendum, to vote for Britain to remain in the EU and – in doing so – to vote for better lives for all disabled people in Britain and across Europe.




Richard Howitt MEP is Member of the European Parliament for the East of England and Co-President of the European Parliament All-Party Disability Rights Group of MEPs.











Feb 282016

We are hearing more and more from people who are not getting decisions on #WCA or #PIP outcomes in writing, but by phone. It is your statutory right to have decisions in writing.

This applies to a decision declaring you are fit for work, in the support group or in the Work related activity group.

It is important to have these decisions in writing to challenge decisions, complete a mandatory reconsideration ( where you disagree with a decision and want it looked at again) or to head off the ever growing bullying of the #DWP and Job Centre Plus who are calling those in the support group for work focused interviews and claiming these are mandatory- they are not.

We also want to stress again that any calls should be recorded or time noted and person’s name taken and that all documents or written communication should be sent by recorded post or email, where you will have a copy

Please pass on any incidents or problems you may have had in any of these areas to

Feb 022016

I have been in receipt of Disability Living Allowance since 2000, and have had to reclaim every five years. As such I was sent a DLA reclaim pack prior to my claim coming to an end on the 23rd of June 2014. Initially I thought I had been sent the wrong form and checked that I was to complete the DLA reclaim form and not the new Personal Independence Payment.


For various reasons known to many of us the form took so much time to complete. Filling bits out here and there made even more difficult for me due to dyslexia. I spent hours trying to track down an electronic copy to fill in and eventually ended up scanning pages into my computer manually.


I finally finished the form and sent it off with every bit of medical evidence I had including a letter of support from my GP and waited.


At the beginning of August I opened my post box to see the dreaded brown envelope and my immediate thought was that it was a reassessment for ESA. It wasn’t it was a letter from DWP DLA Blackpool informing me that I was not entitled to claim DLA however my claim could be ‘treated as a new claim for PIP’.


Obviously confused by this I rang the DWP and asked for an explanation to be told that as the reclaim form had arrived at their office 6 days after the end of my claim I had fallen outside of the reclaim period and my DLA had ended on the 23rd of June. However, the information provided was enough for the claim to be treated as a claim for PIP and that I should wait for the PIP Unit to get in touch with me.


I asked for a Decision Maker to look at the decision again and was again told over the phone that my DLA had ended but the claim would be ‘treated as a claim for PIP’ and again to wait. The DM also suggested I might want to contact my MP about this issue, something I have never had a DM say to me or others I know.


I duly contacted my MP, to be honest in a bit of panic as I had been using my DLA to cover the £20.00 shortfall in my Housing Benefit as a result of the Bedroom Tax. My only relief was that I could never afford to use the mobility allowance for a Motability car and so at least I didn’t have my car removed. Although finding the money to keep it on the road I knew was going to be very difficult.
I explained what had happened and asked for someone to get back to me as soon as possible. Two weeks passed so I emailed again, this time even more stressed and panicked. Another week went by so I emailed again this time not so polite and deferential.


Finally, I got a response but to my previous email not the stroppy one and so felt even more stressed that I had not exactly made myself likable to a woman I was asking to help me. So immediately emailed again to apologise.


What followed was a series of emails between me and the person in her office who was tasked with ‘Welfare Problems’ arguing over where PIP was being rolled out and to whom, the understanding of various Regulations and Statutory Instruments (pretty much a pissing contest) which yet again impacted on my growing stress levels.

I really didn’t expect when I got in touch with my MP I would know more than the person I was dealing with and so ended my communication with her office with a ‘I thought you might be able to help; I now realise I was barking up the wrong tree’.


Apparently when you do this some people’s ego goes into overdrive, I was mistakenly copied into emails between my MP and the person ‘dealing’ with my case. In which he stressed again and again ‘I am right!!!’. I got one last email from my MP a short one liner “I am sure he is right, sorry”’ At that point I didn’t know who to be angrier with the DWP or my MP’s office who thought it was more important to be right than actually help a constituent.


By this point over a month had passed since my DLA reclaim had been rejected, financially things were getting very tight. I had to borrow some money to pay for the car tax was worried about winter because my home has rotting window frames and an inefficient heating system. I was starting to think that I would just have to give in and make a fresh claim for PIP and forget about the weeks I had already been waiting, which was little comfort as daily there were reports about how badly PIP was rolling out and the massive backlog of claims to be processed.


Despite trying and trying to get through to speak to someone at PIP the phone was either engaged or I was placed in a queue which I couldn’t afford to be stuck in on a mobile phone.


I checked my emails to see yet another email from my MP’s office where he detailed what he thought the issues were with the reclaim. After reading it I realised that right from the beginning he hadn’t actually grasped what my problem was and was just giving me general information. I explained again and also apologised for being abrupt but that this situation was having a very real impact on my health


I was graciously forgiven and then told how amazing my MP is and what a good job she does working with disabled people and that he himself had been congratulated for his breadth of knowledge on the subject at a parliamentary meeting. I bit my tongue because I realised even if my MP was of no use it was better for the DWP to think that an MP was involved in my case the hope being that they wouldn’t mess me about any more than they already had.


I managed to get through to someone in the PIP Unit who told me that the information about being ‘treated as a PIP’ claim was correct and that she would get someone to contact me urgently to explain the process and let me know what the progress of my claim was.


Three weeks went by and the promised urgent phone call hadn’t materialised. I contacted the Unit again only this time to be told the exact opposite of what I had been told previously. My stress and frustration at this point was going through the roof so asked to speak to a manager. I was put through to a Manager who officiously told me that both the letter and information received about the claim being treated as a PIP claim was incorrect and that the letter I had received hadn’t been ‘worded properly’ and he advised me to contact the New Claims department of PIP to request a claim form.


I was stunned, and again not my finest hour but I do remember saying rather forcefully that if he thought I was going forget about weeks of waiting he had another thing coming and did he enjoy earning a wage deliberately misinforming people and making their lives even more complicated and stressful than it already was. Again emailed the MP’s office to update them on this new contact. Then went for a drive to try and just get away from thinking about it and calm down. It was really hard not to feel that this wasn’t a deliberate tactic of the government to make it as difficult and as stressful as possible to dissuade people from claiming Social Security. The news was getting worse regarding the PIP roll out and peoples experience of it.

I then managed to track down what ‘treated as a claim for PIP’ meant.


SI 2013/380 – Interchange with claims for other benefits 


S25 (4) Where it appears that a person who has made a claim for disability living allowance or attendance allowance is not entitled to it but may be entitled to personal independence payment, the Secretary of State may treat any such claim alternatively, or in addition, as a claim for personal independence payment. 


(5) In determining whether the Secretary of State should treat a claim as made alternatively, or in addition to another claim (“the original claim”) under this regulation the Secretary of State must treat the alternative or additional claim, whenever made, as having been made at the same time as the original claim. 


Universal Credit, Personal Independence Payment, Job Seekers Allowance and Employment Support Allowance (Claims and Payments) Regulations 2013.


I sent this to my MP’s office and said that given this information could they please contact the DWP urgently and ask them what the status of my claim was. Which they finally did and on the 19th of September 2014 I finally found out that yes my DLA claim had lapsed due to it reaching the DWP 6 days late but my claim was being treated as a claim for PIP and would be backdated to the date of claim (for DLA).

They went on to apologise to my MP for the lateness of their response and gave an excuse as to why there had been a delay in dealing with my claim but nowhere did they express any acknowledgment to me and nor did my MP think it was worth pointing it out.


That was the last contact I had with my MP’s office, she had been little to no help, had increased my stress and anxiety and forgot to delete my address on an email thread where she had asked if her staff member could ‘bear getting in touch with me’. I had to spoon feed this person what the issue was and track down the Statutory Instrument that related to treating one claim as a claim for different benefit. The only thing I couldn’t do is make the DWP treat me with the same respect that they treated my MP.


I then waited till February 2015 for a Disability Assessor to come out to my home and assess me, then waited again for the outcome. It was an extremely hard winter my car broke down, I couldn’t’ afford to heat my home and my diet was the worst it has ever been.


In April I got fed up of waiting so rang for an update to be told that a decision had been made and money was in my bank. I had not been awarded the mobility component, the thing that I needed. So asked them to resend the original decision letter as well as an explanation has to how the Decision Maker had reached that decision.


I got that letter at the end of May the next day I got another brown envelope through the post informing me that after a Mandatory Reconsideration the decision remained the same! A Reconsideration I hadn’t asked for, but had impressed on the person I had last spoken to that I needed to have sight of the original decision and reasons because time was running out for me to decide whether or not to ask for a Mandatory Reconsideration and gather any further evidence I could in support of my claim.


I can only assume that someone at the DWP realised that my claim had been a cock up from start to finish and were covering their backs. I was at an extremely low point emotionally and mentally and so took the decision to not pursue it to appeal or even to argue about the fact that I hadn’t asked for an MR. I felt too deep into a Kafka nightmare to be able to do anything other than accept what I had been awarded.


My PIP claim from start to finish took 42 weeks, 42 weeks of hell that I never ever want to revisit. Even writing this has brought back some of the anger and frustration I felt at the time.


Do I regret not questioning the mandatory reconsideration or pursuing it to Appeal? Yes, I absolutely do, my car has finally reached the point of no return and my health has progressively worsened. I’m waiting for a neurosurgical consult and another MRI, being without a car has had a huge impact on my ability to take care of myself in terms of shopping, engage with anyone outside my home and getting to GP and Hospital appointments is now a major mission of planning and physical effort which I cannot sustain. So yes I do regret it but then again at the time I don’t know if I would have had the strength to have pursued it to the end and I suppose at least I am in receipt of the Living Allowance which provides enough of a cushion to start this whole sorry process all over again.

By Toni

Jan 222016

Another call for evidence that has been hidden under the radar

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

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

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

Or send your evidence to to inform Inclusion London’s evidence.

More information is available at:






Jan 192016

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

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


Help us mobilise thousands to Stop Trident

Why are we doing this?

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

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

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

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



DPAC supports Stop Trident


Jan 152016

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

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

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

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

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

If you don’t fancy that, there’s

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

‘reporting, writing repair requests’

and a possibly illuminating combination of

‘understanding how the housing sector works and problem solving’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lambeth are setting a dangerous local precedent

Let us know if your council has a similar scheme at

See here for useful information on discretionary housing payments

Original Get set go letter page 1 


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

[2] ‘A “work first” approach will be taken that will encourage these households to avoid the bedroom tax altogether by getting into work’ p.3 2014

Get set go promo leaflet –


Dec 222015

Would you be willing to take part in a focus group to discuss these experiences?

My name is Rosa Morris and I am doing research on:

changes over time in the way the government defines ‘disability’ for the purposes of employment-related disability benefits how this definition compares with disabled people’s lived experiences.

As part of the research I want to find out about:

disabled people’s experiences of the Work Capability Assessment how well they think the WCA reflects and understands their experience of impairment and disability.

I am a disabled person myself with experience of applying for Incapacity Benefit and Employment and Support Allowance. I hope this research will give a greater voice to disabled people and their experiences.


First focus group looking for disabled people to take part on Wednesday 27th January 2016, 2-4pm


Second focus group Wednesday 3rd February 2016, 2-4pm


I am particularly keen to include the experiences of people with mental health difficulties in the research, in order to explore:

  • people’s experiences of the Work Capability Assessment
  • how well they think the WCA reflects and understands their experiences.


Both meetings will be at at 336 Brixton Road, London SW9 7AA.

All travel and access expenses will be reimbursed – please contact me if you have any access requirements to be able to take part.

All participants’ details will be kept anonymous. You will be able to withdraw your consent at any time before or during the focus group and for up to 3 months after participation. All focus group participants will be asked to respect other participants’ confidentiality.

If you are interested in taking part and/or would like to speak to me, in confidence, to find out more information please email me at

Thanks very much for reading this.








Nov 082015

by Bob Williams Findlay

It’s often said that history only remembers the victors. Recently, the Equality and Human Rights Commission produced a video to, and I quote, “Celebrate twenty years since the passing of the Disability Discrimination Act in 1995.” For disabled people who were involved in the struggle to have the inequalities we face acknowledged and addressed, I doubt there are many of us who will be putting the flags out or popping champagne corks in celebration of the Act itself.

The bulk of us who were actively involved remain true to the belief that the passing of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) was a significant defeat for disabled people and the struggle against social oppression. This is not to say the passing of the DDA had no positive impact upon disabled people’s lives or had no influence on social change, it did, but acknowledging this shouldn’t detract us from recognising the fact the DDA restricted our progress, was of limited use to disabled people and was never likely to challenge the status quo.

It is impossible to produce a balance sheet of the DDA’s true impact because all kinds of external factors operate to mask the truth. It can be argued that the overall struggle for anti-discrimination legislation and specific actions such as the Campaign for Accessible Transport were more instrumental in bringing about organic social change. Over the last twenty years the whole of society has radically changed, and how disabled people have been both seen and treated have been part of that process whether that’s been via Tony Blair’s “rights and responsibilities” agenda or the neoliberal business case for ‘including disabled people’.

To fully appreciate our position on the DDA it is necessary to strip away the sugar coated presentation of this historic piece of legislation in order to reveal how the collective voice of disabled people and their many allies were silenced by acts of betrayal and brute force. The real story isn’t really about the twenty years since the passing of this piecemeal, ineffectual and oppressive Act, but rather it is about how the Civil Rights Bill and the ideas contained within it were buried both physically and politically by those who felt threatened by the potential impact it would’ve had on society.

The aim here is not to romanticise the campaign for full civil and human rights for disabled people, but instead to recall the major events that led up to the Tories introducing their own Disability Discrimination Bill in order to head off the Private Member’s Bill on Civil Rights Bill and why the passing of the DDA should be viewed as a significant and negative watershed in our emancipation struggle. Neither is it possible to critique the nature or merits of the Disabled People’s Movements campaign, although there’ll be signposts to various opinions on it.

Over the last twenty years we have seen various ‘interpretations’ of the struggle for our emancipation and many of these place tremendous emphasis on the fact that legislation was adopted to give disabled people ‘rights’. Here is a lengthy quotation from one such interpretation:

‘The Disabled People’s ‘Rights Now!’ campaign had a rich and diverse membership, including representation from many trade unions. It encompassed direct action, mass lobbies of parliament, petitions and awareness-raising campaigns to support civil rights for disabled people, and the issue was raised in Parliament on 14 separate occasions. The campaign won over a number of MPs and Peers, including Alf Morris, Roger Berry, Tom Clarke and Harry Barnes, who provided much needed political support and sponsored various Disabled People’s Civil Rights Private Members Bills.

The campaign reached a turning point in 1994 when the Conservative Government and the then Minister for Disabled People Nicholas Scott were found to have misled Parliament by stating that the cost of implementing civil rights legislation for disabled people would be greater than the sum previously calculated by civil servants.

In 1995, the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) became law and although it was a watered-down version of what disabled people wanted, it was nevertheless a huge victory for the Rights Now! campaign.’ (Aspis, 2011:3)

There are many aspects of this account that needs to be placed in a wider context and, as a consequence, it can then be viewed differently. Let’s begin by looking at important historical moments as a backdrop to the Rights Now campaign. Barnes and Oliver remind us that:

…the move by disabled people to form their own organisations…
fostered a growing collective consciousness amongst disabled people…. [which] began a process of reformulating the problems of disability, shifting the focus away from the functional limitations of impaired individuals towards contemporary social organisation with its plethora of disabling barriers. It also set in train a political divergence between organisations for the disabled and organisations of disabled people. (Barnes and Oliver,1991: 4)

The political divergence spoken about here between organisations for the disabled (sic) and organisations of disabled people permeates right through the history of the struggle for anti-discrimination legislation and beyond. Significantly, Barnes and Oliver go on to say:

Many of the traditional organisations for the disabled had advised the government that discrimination was not a problem for disabled people and that legislation was unnecessary. Yet in 1979, the Silver Jubilee Access Committee drew attention to a number of ‘blatant acts of discrimination against disabled people. The official committee which investigated the allegations was unequivocal in its findings: discrimination against disabled people was widespread and legislation was essential. (Barnes and Oliver,1991: 5)

Ian Bynoe picks up the story when he writes:

….1992 marks the tenth anniversary of the publication of the Report of the Committee on Restrictions against Disabled People
(CORAD).This is the only report on disability and discrimination ever to have been received by a UK government. It found discrimination to be commonplace in the experience of disabled people and recommended anti-discrimination legislation. Its
proposals were dismissed by the government of the day and there has since been no evidence of a change of mind to revive hopes that the CORAD proposals might be implemented. (Bynoe, 1991: 1)

For the record the CORAD committee defined discrimination as: ‘the unjustifiable withholding whether intentional or not, of some service, facility or opportunity from a disabled person because of that person’s disability’ (Large, 1982:7)

The stark reality is that since the early 1980s there were no less than fourteen attempts to introduce anti-discrimination legislation via Private Members Bills largely introduced, but not exclusively, by backbench Labour MPs. Not only did each fail, they nearly all followed a similar pattern where in Parliament the Tory spokesperson would state that, ‘there was nothing but good will towards the disabled’, and of course, ‘education was better than legislation’ if any problems were to exist. On the other hand, the supporters of the various bills would mainly focus upon employment issues. Meanwhile outside of Parliament there was the ritualised farce of the big disability charities shipping in bus loads of disabled people to parade around Parliament Square before sending them home again.

Barnes and Oliver inform us that:

The formation of Voluntary Organisations for Anti-
Discrimination Legislation (VOADL) was a sign that many organisations for the disabled had been converted to views articulated by disabled people themselves. However, there
remain, perhaps inevitably, significant differences between the
philanthropic and liberationist elements of the disability lobby.
(Barnes and Oliver,1991: 5)

Those of us who were involved with VOADL and later, Rights Now, might take issue with the view that the “for” organisations were actually ‘converted’ to the views held by disabled people. Their practice then and since would cast a long shadow over this assumption. An alternative view is that for a long time disabled people’s organisations were only granted observer status within VOADL however the growing momentum behind the British Council for Disabled People’s campaign for anti-discrimination legislation (ADL), began to shift both the focus and the exercising of power and so this ‘conversion’ by the charities had more to do with their fear of being outflanked by BCODP than [it did to] any serious commitment to disability politics.

John Evans provides us with information on BCODP’s campaign when he says:

It was 1991 when BCODP (British Council of Disabled People) which is the national, representative and democratic organisation of disabled people in the UK launched its ADL campaign as its future main objective. (Evans, 1996: 2)

There are two important points raised here. Firstly, the fact BCODP made this their main campaign has been debated off and on within the Disabled People’s Movement ever since and it’s an issue that continues to divide opinion. This article isn’t the place to unpack the issues, however, the significance of the decision will be returned to later. Secondly, a major contribution to the launch of BCODP’s ADL campaign was the publishing of commissioned research undertaken by Colin Barnes into discrimination against disabled people in the UK. Evans points out that “Discrimination and Disabled People in Britain” was so comprehensive ‘…. it provided more than enough evidence supporting the whole case for ADL and it became a very useful tool in the campaign and a symbol for empowerment and inspiration. It was the first authoritative piece of research done in this area and was carried out by disabled researchers and disabled experts.’ (Evans, 1996: 2)

The momentum generated by BCODP’s campaign and the emergence of the Disability Action Network (DAN) made VOADL look staid and stuffy. As mentioned previously the differences between the philanthropic and liberationist elements of the disability lobby became increasingly marked. The Executive Committee of BCODP recommended that VOADL had a make-over and with a bloodless coup, Rights Now was launched under the stewardship of the Disabled People’s Movement. John Evans again broadly captures the period between 1992 and 1994 when he writes:

Direct action no doubt heightened the profile for the need for civil rights legislation in the eyes of the general public and did a lot to shake up the politicians complacency on the issue but it could never be enough by itself. Without the lobbying of parliament and meetings with politicians putting forward constructive arguments based on available evidence of discrimination and seeking their support the cause would have been lost. Any changes in the law have to be done through Parliament so you have to get some politicians fighting for your cause. At the same time disabled experts and lawyers have to work alongside other lawyers and politicians in writing up the Bill. This work was co-ordinated by a group called the Rights Now…. which was a coalition of about 50 disability organisations and charities who were formed to work together to help bring about ADL. (Evans, 1996: 3)

Two central features mark the difference between VOADL and Rights Now. Disabled people drove the agenda and increased the public profile of the ADL campaign, but at the same time worked directly with members of parliament to put together the Civil Rights Bill. Many of us believe that this displacement of the ‘big six’ disability charities resulted in them watering down their commitment to full and comprehensive legislation and a growing willingness to accept compromise as the price of regaining their power position over disabled people. This watershed moment sees the birth of what has subsequently become ‘Janus politics’ – where the charities look back towards the radical language and concepts from the Disabled People’s Movement, but actually creates ‘new meaning’ which transforms them into tools which then help maintain their status. For example, the concepts ‘independent living’ and ‘choices and rights’ now employed by organisations such as Scope and Disability Rights UK are a million miles from their original meaning.

Mike Oliver noted that:

Speaker after speaker from non-representative organisations for disabled people claimed the social model as their own in the Trafalgar Square demonstrations of 1994. Additionally, the Disability Rights Commission established in 1997 by the New Labour Government declares that it is guided in everything it does by the social model of disability. (Oliver, 2004: 28)

Caroline Gooding and Bob Findlay advised the opposition parties on behalf of Rights Now, including writing a briefing paper on the social model and the definition of disability. Once in power New Labour set up a Disability Task Force, but this body steadfastly declined to change the traditional definition of disability to one in keeping with the social model.

Stepping back a little, the first test for the new wave militancy and Parliamentary campaigning came when Harry Barnes tried to push through the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill.

Ian Parker, in an article called ‘SPITTING ON CHARITY’ which appeared in the Independent, wrote:

In May 1994, however, a private member’s bill, the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill, was killed messily by the Government, and the minister for disabled people, Nicholas Scott, eventually had to resign. (Parker, 2011: unpaged)
This caused an outcry and came about because as Parker acknowledged:

Last year – another Great Leap Forward – the civil rights argument was won. At some point, legislation may follow. (Parker, 2011: unpaged)

Parliament was finally ready to pass ADL, but the Tories and big business weren’t prepared to see the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill go through. As Lorraine Gradwell states, ‘… the Tory government were so concerned about the increasing popularity of anti discrimination legislation that they brought forward this fudge of a compromise’.(2015)

Their only course of action was to head off our Bill by introducing the weaker Disability Discrimination Bill led by William Hague. This was eventually passed into law twenty years ago as the Disability Discrimination Act.

What followed was a two horse handicapped chase. Roger Berry picked up the gauntlet and re-introduced the Civil Rights Bill, but Hague had the advantage of proposing a Bill supported by the Conservative John Major government. It was under these conditions that the ‘big six’ charities made their move.

Parker reports:
Thanks to his position at the head of a fairly well-funded “for” organisation, and thanks to his support for incremental methods, and thanks to his recent claim to see some (flawed) virtue in the Government’s Disability Discrimination Bill, Massie is regarded with great hostility by many “fundamentalists”. Rachel Hurst, a radical with a sharp political sense, says, “Our voice has been shut out by the established charities. Some staff at Radar I’ve got more time for than I can say. [But] I wouldn’t mind shooting the man at the top. He is an Uncle Tom, Mr Massie… He actually doesn’t care a toss about the rights of disabled people.” (Parker, 2011: unpaged)
Evans also recalls in 1996 that:

The DDA took only 6 months from beginning to end in becoming law.

Unfortunately the DDA was flawed from the start as being a weak piece of legislation which was unenforceable and was considered a drop in the ocean, as it was certainly not going to protect disabled people from the many forms of discrimination which existed. It outraged the disability movement because it denied them the fully comprehensive civil rights legislation which they had worked so hard campaigning for and consequently they refused to have anything to do with it. (Evans, 1996: 4)

Perhaps even more forcibly Marian Corker wrote in ‘The UK Disability Discrimination Act – disabling language, justifying inequitable social participation’:

What has been ‘achieved’ is a legal instrument that has variously been described as ‘confusing, contorted and unsatisfactory’ (Gooding 1996); ‘a dissembling law not an enabling statute’ (Doyle 1997: 78); and ‘one of the most ill-conceived pieces of legislation ever to reach the statute books’ (Corker 1998: 115). This is the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) (Corker, 2000)

She went on to say:

However, there is little doubt that the DDA represents a muddled combination of prohibition, justifiable discrimination and reasonable adjustment that can themselves act as a barrier to claimants who may be ‘isolated, possibly ill-informed and under-resourced’ (Gooding 1996: 6). Further, because the DDA legally justifies direct discrimination on the grounds of ‘disability’ in what Gooding (1996: 6) describes as ‘dangerously vague’ terms, and fails to incorporate a notion of the indirect discrimination experienced by disabled people, it seems an ineffective legal instrument for tackling the institutionalised oppression of disabled people. (Corker, 2000)

The DDA, unlike the Civil Rights Bill, wasn’t designed to tackle the institutionalised oppression of disabled people. Any hope of repealing and replacing the DDA with the Civil Rights Bill when New Labour came to power was quickly dashed. First, Labour’s Tom Clarke refuted BCODP’s claim that Labour in opposition had promised to do just that. Second, the Task Force already mentioned was hand-picked with more radical elements of the Disabled People’s Movement blacklisted throughout Labour’s terms in office. Margaret Hodge in 2000 when Minister for Disabled People, instructed the BBC to ‘edit out’ criticism of the DDA in its Disabled Century TV program. Third, Labour looked towards the new ‘Disability Movement’ driven by the charities and DPOs willing to buy into Blair’s ‘Third Way’ and the neoliberal market economy. Finally, it was New Labour who brought in Atos to hound sick and disabled people.

So, when we’re told the DDA was a victory, what does this mean? There has been a paradoxical development; just at the moment when inadequate legal rights were established for disabled people, the movement for emancipation was outflanked by the big disability charities and made an outcast by successive governments. Since 1995 the Disabled People’s Movement has gone into decline. Internal division and criticism followed the defeat of the Civil Rights Bill, with senior disabled activists accusing BCODP of ‘putting all its eggs in one basket’ by having ‘legislation’ as its prime focus and failing to cultivate grassroots structures and organisation.

Does this look like a victory? Merely getting legal recognition that disabled people have limited rights not to be discriminated against? Are they saying we should be celebrating being granted crumbs from their table? In 2005 the Public Interest Research Unit reported, ‘Ten years of the Disability Discrimination Act: Anniversary research indicates qualified failure.’

The DDA gave individual rights, but simply asked for employers and service providers to behave ‘reasonably’. The last five years in particular has witnessed savage attacks on both disabled people’s rights, services and lifestyles. A reverse of disabled people’s fortunes added to by the threat of legalised ‘assisted suicide’ is the reality, not this empty rhetoric of ‘equal citizenship’. Disabled people have been silenced and sidelined for the majority of the last twenty years apart from piecemeal changes in the social environment and attempts at tokenistic ‘inclusion’ here and there.

Now the whitewash begins. We see video clips from the Equality and Human Rights Commission and Scope on 20 years of the DDA, producing ‘false history’ via safe narratives and the worst of all, the Heritage Lottery Fund supporting Leonard Cheshire’s empire to write ‘disability history’ (sic). Ellis’s piece for the HLF on the DDA is another example of revisionism with a dash of criticism thrown in.

Those of us who lived and fought through the 1980s and 1990s see no cause to celebrate. Politically, we were defeated in 1995; our slogan, “Nothing About Us, Without Us”, has still to be realised. Although the last twenty years has been an uphill struggle to keep the fight for emancipation alive, we are seeing yet again a new wave of determination among disabled people; people who believe in freedom and social justice. These green shoots are what we should be celebrating today, not the results of the falsification of history written by our oppressors and shameful or misguided collaborators.


Aspis, S. (2011:3) Campaigns in Action – Disabled People’s struggle for Equality

Barnes, C. and Oliver, M. (1991) ‘DISCRIMINATION, DISABILITY AND WELFARE: FROM NEEDS TO RIGHTS’ in Bynoe, I. et al.,
Equal Rights for Disabled People: A Case for a new law – IPPR.

Bynoe, I. (1991) THE CASE FOR ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LEGISLATION in Bynoe, I. et al., Equal Rights for Disabled People: A Case for a new law – IPPR.

Large, P., (1982) Report of the Committee on Restrictions
Against Disabled People


Oliver, M. (2004) ‘The Social Model in Action: if I had a hammer’, in Implementing the Social Model of Disability: Theory and Research edited by Colin Barnes and Geof Mercer (2004); Leeds: The Disability Press, pp. 18-31

Parker, I. (2011) ‘SPITTING ON CHARITY’ from the Independent,

Gradwell, L. (2015) Comment on her Facebook page, 4th November.

Corker, M. (2000) ‘The UK Disability Discrimination Act – disabling language, justifying inequitable social participation’, in: The 10tk Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, edited by Anita Silvers and Leslie Francis, Routledge

Additional material used as research:

Corker, M. (1998) Deaf and Disabled or Deafness Disabled? Buckingham: Open University Press

Doyle, B. (1997) Enabling legislation or dissembling law? -The Disability Discrimination Act 1995. Modern Law Review, 64

Gooding, C. (1996) Blackstone’s guide to the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, London: Blackstone, in association with RADAR

Public Interest Research Unit (2005) ‘Ten years of the Disability Discrimination Act: Anniversary research indicates qualified failure’

Ellis, L. (2015) ’20 Years of the DDA’, Heritage Lottery Fund

Sep 122015

Below is a response to Tomlison’s piece in Able magazine published earlier this week

The Minister for the Disabled People says:

“We should do everything we can to give people the dignity of a job, the opportunity to achieve their career aspirations and the security of a pay cheque. The focus should always be on what a person can do, giving them every opportunity to fulfil their potential. No-one should be written off to a life on disability benefits and it should always pay to work.”

The ‘help’ I have received to get work has been pitiful. I was on Incapacity Benefit due to degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis – there is no cure, I won’t get better. I am in constant pain and have mobility problems. However, I was found ‘Fit For Work’ and now receive Job Seekers’ Allowance. I am £30 per week less well off, I can no longer afford taxis when I need them, can no longer afford better quality food, can no longer afford to pay my heating bills so spent the early (cold) part of this year with the heating off. This new-found poverty has impacted directly on my physical and mental health. 

I now have to attend the Work Programme five days per week to ‘Job Search’. I am constantly exhausted, constantly in pain. After eight months on the Work Programme I have had no practical help in finding employment, unskilled and ignorant ‘advisers’ have in fact hindered my efforts. Their suggestions on how to get back to work have been risible and amateur. They have ignored my qualifications and experience and attempted to force me into unpaid work in completely inappropriate fields. Being subject to a hostile sanctions regime has had an impact on my blood pressure and I now suffer from stress and insomnia. Despite many hours of searching for work in the areas I have been mandated to search by the Job Centre, I have had no replies to my letters and CV – in EIGHT MONTHS. 

Clearly, your definitions of ‘dignity’ ‘opportunity’ and ‘security’ come from a different dictionary than mine. I cannot afford new clothing, new shoes and I cannot even afford to put credit on my phone. My household is sliding into debt fast. I am dreading the winter. On the Work Programme I am in the company of many, many others in exactly my situation. They, too, are still disabled and unemployed months or even years after being declared ‘Fit For Work’. The only dignity we have is in our shared experience and defiance of your government’s attacks on us. 

Minister, in short, disabled people can well do without your ‘help’ in finding us work. 

Samantha Shelley



Sep 082015

We have received lots of emails from the UK, Europe and internationally asking us about the UNCRPD inquiry what it really means and what DPAC actually did. We set out the main questions and answers below:

What is the UNCRPD?

UNCRPD stands for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Convention includes a set of Articles or points on the rights of disabled people.  You can see the full text HERE

The Westminster Parliament signed up to respect those rights included in the convention, they also ratified the Optional Protocol 8th June 2009. The Optional Protocol is a very important route for people to challenge any violation of rights by governments or authorities against the UNCRPD


What does the UK ratifying the UNCRPD Optional Protocol mean?

It means that the UK (state party) accepted the competence of the UNCRPD committee to conduct inquiries into the violation of the articles of the UNCRPD. So while anyone in any country can challenge governments through the UNCRPD –an inquiry by the UNCRPD committee can only be conducted under the Optional Protocol and only if that country (or state party) has ratified it. DPAC used the Optional Protocol to initiate the current inquiry into the UK because we saw violations of the rights enshrined in the UNCRPD and that disabled peoples’ rights were going backwards (retrogression of rights)


How was the inquiry initiated?

DPAC initiated the UNCRPD Inquiry using Article 6 of the Optional Protocol meaning that a formal process was carried out by DPAC to submit complaints and submissions. This process meant that documents needed to be written in a particular way with attention to specific Articles within the UNCRPD and that strong evidence needed to be framed accordingly. The use of the UNCRPD Optional Protocol is always a formal process with strict guidelines. It’s not something that people can do by accident or by sending through lists of media articles.


Is the UK inquiry really the first of its kind ever?

Yes, it is the first of its kind against a state party through Article 6 of the Optional Protocol, although inquiries have been conducted for individual complaints previously in other countries this is the first to be against a state party for grave and systematic violations. Also it’s useful to note that individual complaints to the UNCRPD must have first exhausted all domestic channels. That is they need to have exhausted the countries court mechanisms before making a complaint to the UNCRPD.


When did DPAC start doing this?

DPAC first contacted the UNCRPD in 2012. DPAC made it first submission to the UNCRPD committee in 2013 to attempt to initiate the process of inquiry, since then we have been providing further reports and submissions. We had to prove to the committee that there were grave (severe) and systematic (continuous and built into system of welfare ‘reform’ policies) violations (breaking) of rights enshrined in the UNCRPD. We also had to provide strong evidence of retrogression for the inquiry process to happen.


Does the government know about the inquiry?

Yes, they were given official notice of the inquiry in January 2014. They had also made their own submissions to the inquiry process attacking evidence that DPAC had put forward from 2013. However, the UNCRPD committee accepted DPAC’s evidence which is why the inquiry is happening. The devolved governments of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are also aware. However the most punitive policies come from Westminster and the Westminster government. The UK as a whole is treated as a state party under the UNCRPD


Who wrote the submissions and produced the evidence for the inquiry?

Three of us wrote the submissions: Debbie Jolly, Linda Burnip and Anita Bellows. We are grateful for the additional input and guidance of Nick Dilworth, Louise Whitfield, Dr David Webster and a person who wishes to remain anonymous who provided excellent admin and other support throughout.


Why didn’t DPAC tell people about the UNCRPD inquiry sooner?

We were told we must keep everything confidential or the inquiry would be halted. We didn’t want that to happen because we knew the inquiry was needed. It was only after the Scottish Herald produced the full details that we decided we needed to step in to stop some of the misconceptions and misunderstandings that were starting around the inquiry.


Early Press stories said that it was the Just Fair report that started the inquiry…

DPAC had also submitted evidence to the 2014 Just Fair report. But this report dealt with a different convention which was the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) People that submit reports under other conventions do not automatically somehow initiate an inquiry-it was quoted in early press pieces that the Just Fair report had somehow kick started an Inquiry by the UNCRPD. But this kind of thing just does not happen if you write a report on one convention ( there are several), it doesn’t suddenly set off a process on another Convention such as the CRPD or any other, despite its wealth of evidence or importance-formal processes need to be followed to initiate an inquiry, as we said earlier.

The Daily Mail has been attacking the inquiry process and says the UNCRPD people are meddling…

What else can we expect from the Mail? As we said the government have been aware of this process since 2013 so the inquiry is no surprise to them. The UK signed up to the UNCRPD and is therefore bound by its contents. There are processes and procedures that the UNCRPD committee must follow and that the government must follow which result in official procedural cooperation between the two. We also saw with the 2013 visit from Raquel Rolink (on the ‘bedroom tax’) that the Mail quoted MPs who said she had come uninvited to ‘interfere’ along with some more colourful accusations against her- again because of international procedures and protocols no person from any UN committee can come to the UK without government knowledge or acceptance first-again the Mail lied and inflamed the proper process of accountability.

Lots of people have written, blogged and raised the issues facing disabled people don’t they deserve credit?

Of course, lots of people have been fighting in lots of different ways and everyone deserves credit for raising the issues consistently-it’s something we must all keep doing

What does DPAC think will be gained through the inquiry?

Because it’s the first of its kind we can’t say –unfortunately we don’t think that things will suddenly return to the way they were in 2009. We don’t want people to think that the inquiry will solve everything because that would be creating false hope. We need to be realistic but also positive-what is happening is that the Conservatives are finally being held to account for their actions

We also hope that the publication and knowledge of the inquiry will aid other countries affected by austerity/ low levels of support to disabled people and the widespread disproportionate impacts on disabled people’s human rights.

We hope it will be of use in bringing other Governments (State Parties) to account through the use of the UNCRPD Optional Protocol. We would like it to provide hope and assistance to active grassroots organisations, where traditional disability organisations and big disability charities fail to act for fear of Government reprisals and/or funding cuts.

DPAC refuses any funds that limit our independence and we always will-we will also fight this and any other government where they destroy disabled peoples’ rights through punitive cuts, policies or actions





Aug 302015
The IDS Files - The Truth is Out There

Dangerous, Murderous and Wrong: his links with Extremist Far Right Groups

Duncan Smith claimed he didn’t know the difference between right wing and left wing when evidence proved he was working with some far right wing groups and individuals. He knew perfectly well, of course.So if we think of Jeremy Corbyn as left wing, or the recent media accusation of ‘hard left’ -a man for social justice, redistribution, equality, human rights, and anti-austerity-we get the idea that the opposite of this: social injustice, greater wealth for the elite, inequality, removal of human rights, and punitive austerity would be right wing or ‘hard right’ even-but extremist far right is different again.

We can be forgiven for any confusion caused by the supposed left wing Labour Party’s apparent right wing purge on left wing Corbyn voters in the Labour leadership election. This is apparently named ‘operation ice-pick’-because an ice pick was used to murder left wing Trotsky in Mexico by left wing Stalinists (there are also different unhelpful shades and fractions of this left and right wing thing).

If we add misinformation and misdirection by media and politicians we can also be forgiven for moving on to something else like thinking the multinationals and global bankers do inhuman things and own nation states along with IMF and the World Bank anyway.

And speaking of those who do inhuman things let’s get back to IDS and his activities. We’ve seen them in the past few days as it has risen to start preaching its vile lies once more. These issues are well documented on the DPAC website and elsewhere.

We now need to add DWP policies that instruct DWP call centre workers to hold up a coloured card if they’re on the phone with someone who they suspect might be suicidal because of murderous DWP policies, removal of one third of Employment and Support Allowance from those in the Work Related Activity group from April 2017, increase in ESA sanctions by 30%, continuous harassment of those on ESA by Job Centres, deaths of x number of innocent people due to DWP policies, unexplained hysterical laughter and reactions in debates on the punitive bedroom tax and increases in homelessness, growth of foodbanks and increases in starvation levels, and most recently the bizarre behaviour in Osbourne’s emergency budget-the list goes on and on.

We thought it was time to reproduce another list-an evidence list of IDS’ far right extremist affiliations –this does go back to a time when he clearly had less control of the media, but given his murderous actions over the past years who can doubt that he has done anything but got worse?

With thanks to The Klaxon

In 1995,  Duncan Smith was one of a few Tory MPs who met with senior figures of the racist and anti-semitic French National Front in Westminster. Le Pen’s deputy, Bruno Gollnisch MEP, later said Duncan Smith and other Tory MPs they met were “sympathetic” to their views:

“I came to meet members of the Conservative Party sympathetic to our views… I met Duncan Smith and others in their offices and later we got together for less formal talks in a bar somewhere in the Parliament building.“

The vice-president of Duncan Smith’s leadership campaign team in Wales was Edgar Griffin – the father of then BNP leader Nick Griffin. Edgar later said the reason he was not a member of the BNP was because it was “too moderate” for him – unlike the Tory Party. And unlike Duncan Smith too presumably.

A Tory Party far-right wing fringe organisation called the Swinton Circle also supported Duncan Smith in his successful bid to lead the Tory Party. The Swinton Circle is led by former National Front activist Alan Harvey and has close ties to pro-apartheid far-right South African groups such as the Springbok Club.

Iain Duncan Smith’s historic links to the far-right”, by Tom Pride,  13 June 2014


Duncan Smith denies ‘right wing’ tag”,  BBC News, 30 August 2001


Iain Duncan Smith campaign aide Edgar Griffin lifted the phone – and damned himself in five brief words.

“British National Party,” he told The Mirror. “Good afternoon.”

It was confirmation that the man listed as a vice president in hardliner Mr Duncan Smith’s campaign for the Tory leadership was an activist for the extreme group.

Even worse, he is father of BNP leader and convicted racist Nick Griffin. His wife, Jean, is a BNP secretary and stood for the group in the general election.

In his talk with The Mirror Mr Griffin agreed that Mr Duncan Smith was an “extreme right winger” and claimed Tories were ready to join the BNP “in droves” if rival Ken Clarke won the leadership contest.

Above is from a record of a Mirror article which is no longer available on the Mirror website – “Duncan Smith and the Far Right: British National Party.. Good afternoon“, Oonagh Blackman, 24 August 2001

At the following link the far-right South African Springbok group backs IDS’s leadership bid: Springbok Cyber Newsletter, August 2001 edition, 12 August 2001

And if anyone thinks the Tories now manage their affiliations better, or the media better see: ‘senior Conservatives in spotlight over speeches to vile right wing fringe group’ from last year

For IDS the continuing loss of innocent lives due to his punitive policies and tougher standards in the WCA speak for themselves: IDS is Dangerous, Murderous and Wrong!

by Debbie Jolly

Aug 282015

Since the publication of the Sayce Report (2011), employment support for Deaf and Disabled people and in particular, Access to Work, has been under attack. The last coalition government and the current Tory government, seem determined to change Access to Work from being one of this countries “best kept secret”, to a scheme that no longer meets need, is discriminatory to those with high support needs and causes misery to Deaf and disabled people’s lives. Our lives. Rather than support us into work, the scheme has become a barrier and has resulted in both job losses and demotion.


Iain Duncan Smith recently announced that he wants to “get disabled people back into work”, yet the support that we need is being cut.


Just last week yet another person was forced out of work by the changes to the Access to Work programme:


We’ve had enough!


Join us on Saturday the 26th September and march for Access to Work. We will be meeting at Old Palace Yard at 12pm and marching to Number 10 Downing Street, where we will deliver our petition. Please help us by signing and sharing this as widely as possible.


For more information about the march see:


Aug 272015

DWP has at last published the mortality statistics for the ESA group. It will take time to analyse them, but what they show is that the WCA is not fit for purpose.  2500 people have died after being found fit for work. Another 7,200 people died after being placed in the WRAG, the group for disabled people who can do ‘some work’, another 7540 died waiting to be assessed

But these figures do not tell the whole story. They ignore the suffering of disabled people who survived, being found fit for work but unable to claim JSA because they cannot meet the conditionality of the benefit. The suffering of 3000 disabled people sanctioned every month, and who cannot compensate for their loss of income, because they were found unfit to work, and they are.

The suffering and the humiliation of disabled people who have to prove their impairment/long term health issues over and over again to DWP staff who don’t believe them. The suffering of disabled people being portrayed as scroungers by the media. This suffering cannot be captured by statistics.

Under the last Labour government, the aim was to force 1 million disabled people out of benefits and into work. Almost 10 years later, the aim is the same, while in a meantime a Coalition minister recognised that people on disability benefits were ‘sicker’ than they thought.

And those in the middle group, who would expect before too long to be mandated to the Work Programme, have proved to be sicker and further from the workplace than we expected. So it will take far more time than we predicted for them to be ready to make a return to work

This has not changed. Some people will never get better and need long term support. To pretend that they can do ‘some work’ is disingenuous, as no employer is prepared to offer ‘some work’ to disabled people.

People died because of the welfare reforms, but others suffered and still suffer. Let’s not forget any of them

The figures released by the DWP will need to be looked at carefully before any further conclusions can be drawn from them, and we will be doing just that, and will report back when we have done that. You can see the release of data for yourself here:

Aug 252015

Re-posted from johnny void with thanks

Incapacity Benefit for new claimants will go, replaced by Employment and Support Allowance with the emphasis on what a person with a physical or mental health condition can do, rather than what they can’t.


Peter Hain, Labour Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, 2007


We need a system focussed on what a claimant can do and the support they’ll need – and not just on what they can’t do.


Iain Duncan Smith, Conservative Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, 2015


It’s just the same old shit, over and over again, whichever bunch of bastards is in charge.  The above two comments were made almost a decade apart and in that period the number of people claiming out of work sickness benefits has barely changed.  And why would it?  In any society there will be some people who cannot work due to illness or disability and as the pension age gets ever higher then that number as a percentage of the workforce will grow.


There is nothing unusual or unexpected about this.  Whoever you are reading this, one day you will get sick and then you will die.  If you are lucky this will not happen until you have reached retirement.  If not then you will be helped on your way to an early grave by politicians desperate to cover up for their failure to provide enough jobs by blaming unemployed, sick and disabled people for unemployment.


Iain Duncan Smith’s speech yesterday was a masterclass in this deception, but everything he said has been said before.  So out of ideas is the Secretary of State that he is now misrepresenting the entire process for claiming sickness benefits – pretending it is a binary system which “decides that you are either capable of work or you are not”.  This is simply an outright lie and he knows it.  Currently claimants are assessed as being fit for work, unable to work, or placed in the Work Related Activity Group which means capable of some work, or of being able to work in the future.  In the recent budget George Osborne declared that this group is to be scrapped, creating precisely the binary system that Iain Duncan Smith says he opposes.  Perhaps he hopes we won’t notice.  Perhaps even he hasn’t noticed.


The UK does not spend significantly more on out of work sickness and disability benefits than other comparable economies.  According to the OECD we spend a fraction more than Poland as a percentage of GDP on ‘incapacity’ – and less than Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Israel, Belgium. Luxembourg, Iceland, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland and the Netherlands.  It is true as Iain Duncan Smith said yesterday that the UK spends more than France, Germany and Japan.  In humane society this would be a source of pride.  Or at least it would be until you found out that Germany spends over three times as much on unemployment benefits whilst France and Japan – where the retirement age is lower – both spend almost double what the UK spends on pensions.  And the incapacity spending figures by the way come from 2011, before most of Iain Duncan Smith’s benefit cuts had been implemented.


Only an astonishing degree of self-delusion could explain Iain Duncan Smith’s latest belief that more workfare, more assessments, and more benefit cuts will magically cure those unable to work because of illness.  But then he is deluded.  That’s why he could claim yesterday that  “The Work Programme is … the most successful back to work programme we’ve ever seen.”  That’s the Work Programme that has seen less sick and disabled people enter employment than it was estimated would have done if the scheme hadn’t existed.  Hundreds of millions of pounds spent on making things worse.  This is what Iain Duncan Smith calls a success.


Rarely, if ever, has such a fucking idiot been given so much power over so many people’s futures.   If the human cost were not so great then the best response would be to point and laugh.  But we can’t do that, not as millions of lives are destroyed.  If society means anything at all it means looking after each other and that means driving Iain Duncan Smith back into the sewer he crawled from before he can do anymore damage.  No-one should stand idly by now.  We need to be relentless as he is, to wake up every day with one thought on our minds – to destroy Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms before they destroy us.


Follow JV on twitter @johnnyvoid

See more at:



Aug 032015

– Urgent Action for DDPOs and Disabled Rights Campaigners to oppose the legalisation of Assisted Suicide

Book NOW for Assisted Dying bill briefing session and media training -13 August

The Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance is calling on Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations (DDPOs) and individual Disabled Rights campaigners and supporters to join Not Dead Yet UK in speaking out about the dangers that the legalisation of assisted suicide poses to Disabled people.

There are currently two bills to legalise assisted suicide before Parliament. Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying bill had its First Reading in the House of Lords on 4 June and Rob Marris’ Assisted Dying No.2 Bill had its first reading in the House of Commons on 24 June. Marris’ bill will have its Second Reading debate in the House of Commons on 11 September when Parliament returns from its Summer recess. For the first time in years MPs will get to vote on this highly controversial subject.

There are many different ways you can be involved but one important ask is for DDPOs to sign up to the ROFA statement opposing legalisation.

Inclusion London is also running an Assisted Dying bill  briefing session and media training workshop facilitated by Liz Carr from the Not Dead Yet campaign on Thursday 13th August at 336 Brixton Road, SW9 7AA.

The day is open to representatives and members from national as well as London Disabled People’s Organisations and campaigns. For more information visit the Inclusion London website  or

To read more about the Assisted Dying bills, the issues surrounding the legalisation of assisted suicide and ways you can be involved in the campaign see the Inclusion London ( and DPAC ( websites.



Aug 012015

We have all been disappointed over the last few days by the case of the disappearing DWP ESA Sanctions leaflet-first it was there, then it was gone.  The DWP link tells us that the leaflet is coming soon, but what happened to the original?

A few of us had seen the leaflet before it was removed and noted that the DWP were using photos and examples, apparently in an effort to appear humane ( stop laughing).

One of the examples: Sarah’s story, happily tells of her being sanctioned for two weeks because she didn’t see the value of completing her CV as ordered by the DWP Job Centre goons. Sarah is almost in raptures as she recounts how she’s learned her lesson and recognises the error of her wilful ways-she’s grateful for losing 2 weeks of her ESA and for being sanctioned- the moral is: its good to be punished and put on the right path by potential starvation when you’ve already been told you’re not fit for work after a dehumanising assessment by Maximus .  See excerpt from original leaflet below

sarah's story

But there was a problem which the DWP seems to have recognised- no, not that ESA is about being unfit for work-but that smiling Sarah with her remarkable tale of the kindly people at the job centre probably doesn’t exist other than as a stock photo. Here she is again, this time as a cover girl for the despised Universal Credit ‘standing out from the crowd’ at

We are quite used to this kind of behaviour from the Daily Mail who use actors to pose as ‘benefit scroungers’ for their readers

but then there isn’t that much difference between the lies of the Mail and the lies of the DWP is there? See DPAC’s DWP caught giving disability propaganda to Daily Mail

Naturally DPAC has the original DWP ESA Sanctions leaflet which also features the story of Zac. It can be downloaded at the link employment-and-support-allowance-sanctions

We’d appreciate word of any sightings of Zac in TV ads, magazines or other DWP propaganda in the meantime you might like to follow Steven Preece’s Freedom of Information request on this.

..and remember DWP we’re watching you….



With thanks to Anita Bellows, Rik B and Steven Preece

Jul 282015

We are seeing continuous cuts to local authorities affecting social ‘care’ and everyone’s independence. Today we look at whats been happening in Derby by reblogging pieces sent to us by DPAC Derby.

A council that is cutting funding to adult social care is “complicit in murder” and could face a legal challenge, campaigners said.

Derbyshire County Council has to shave £11m this year from the £206m it spends on services to older, vulnerable and people with disabilities.

It includes changing who is eligible for care, increasing contributions and charging for transport.

Campaigners said they are looking into the possibility of a judicial review.

The Labour-led council’s cabinet approved the plans at a meeting on Tuesday, blaming the reduced grant from government.

Disability campaigners, who said councillors refused to look them in the eye, claimed a small victory when the council opted to investigate if reserves could be used to delay some of the changes

The changes will include:

  • Raising the threshold for who can receive care, meaning only people who have “substantial needs” will be eligible
  • Increasing the financial contribution made towards care and support, including users with more than £50,000 capital paying 100%
  • Introducing a £5 daily fee for transport to day care and other activities

Councillor Clare Neill, cabinet member for adult social care, said: “For adult social care, my share of [the cuts] is £65m over three to four years.

“This year, I’ve got to cut £11m from my budget – clearly I can only spend the money I’ve got.”

Poverty line

But campaigners said it disproportionately affected people with disabilities and that the consultation was flawed, which they said potentially gave them grounds for a judicial review.

Gary Matthews, Derbyshire representative of Disabled People Against Cuts, said: “The council’s own report says people will be unsafe at home, there will be more accidents at home because of a lack of care and people’s health will deteriorate.

“This will put an extra stress on the NHS. Some people believe the council is complicit in murder.”

He added that the introduction of charges will force many disabled people in to poverty.

Campaigners have 12 weeks to apply for a judicial review.

( BBC 18th June 2015)

See also

on £45 million cuts from budget