Debbie

Jun 302015
 

 With thanks to Kate B Published on Jun 30, 2015

TRANSCRIPT

00.00 – 00.19

Today is a very, very sad and tragic day and I think some of us are starting to cry up the front here, because this has been a long campaign and it has been so important to so many people because it means so much, but this isn’t the end and I think what last Wednesday showed is that disabled people are strong when we unite with our allies, we fight back and we give them hell.

00.20

Save the ILF!

00.32

Whoa boy, Whoa.
I come in peace with my horse to save the ILF. We are fighting for independent living for disabled people in the UK in 2015. Can you believe that?

No.

We have had enough. The Independent Living Fund closes tomorrow and we are not going away. We are going to fight on.

1.05

The ILF has given me freedom. It has given me indpendence, to live my life the way I choose without being reliant on friends or family. Without being stuck to a regimented regime of getting up in the morning when it suits other people, to go to bed at 9 o’clock, I was 22 and I had to go to bed at nine o’clock, can you imagine. I was told when I could go to the toilet, once a day at one o’clock, if I wasn’t there on time then tough, I’d have to wait until a later call that evening. It’s just not just me, it’s thousands of people out there who are subjected to this.

1.39

This is from Leanne. Hi all, I wish I could be with you all today but unfortunately, I can’t but please know that I am with you all in spirit, this is not the end, it is just the beginning.

1.54

SINGING

2.07

There used to be a time when governments, particularly when the ILF came in when they were able to at least talk about independent living with a straight face and now when they do it’s very much with a forked tongue. When the ILF closes today, it is more than just the closure of a fund. I think it signifies very much the end of an idea and that idea was that society was very much prepared to meet its responsibilities to make sure that equality of opportunity was something more than words. And we took tangible steps like the Independent Living Fund which got people real lives beyond looking out the window and watching the world pass them by.

Jun 302015
 

It is often said that the Queen is special because she has two birthdays. But in fact, there are another 18,000 people who have two birthdays: the day they were born, and the day they received their first ILF payment.

My first ILF birthday was in 1988, when the Independent Living Fund was introduced. For people with high support needs, it was a great birthday, changing our lives overnight: we became part of our communities, went to college, got jobs, made friends, and generally did the things that non-disabled people take for granted. I met Mike and Darren who have become not only my personal assistants but also life-long friends.

ILF was a springboard for a new life, whereas Direct Payments are a safety net. Direct payments help you out of bed in the morning. ILF gave you a reason to do so. My fear is that we are going back to the days without hope or purpose.

In 1964, I became disabled. Not by being involved in an accident or being ill. I became disabled with one simple sentence from a consultant: “Mr and Mrs Punton, I am sorry to have to tell you but your child has got cerebral palsy.” From that moment, society believed that I had no purpose or future and prescribed special school followed by a life sentence in an institution. My parents disagreed, and I remember my Dad saying, “well, it is not rocket science that you shouldn’t let other people govern what you do.” And my Dad should know, because he was a rocket scientist!

But even so, I was still forced to live the life that society prescribed.

Then, in 1988, three things happened. Thirdly, I got my first job. Secondly, I moved into my first flat. Firstly, and probably most importantly, I applied and was accepted for ILF.

Without the first, I am sure the other two would not have been achievable. The ILF changed my life. It gave me access to the wider community of Birmingham and beyond. It allowed me to meet fellow like-minded people who taught me how to see myself in a different light and introduced me to the concept of social justice. It allowed me to work, start my own community interest company, and empower other people. I even stood as a candidate for parliament at the last election. Fortunately, the wisdom of the people prevailed! But because of ILF and the British democratic process, it is possible for me to sit here and speak to you. The question is, will Robert Punton the younger be able to do the same?

ILF has changed our lives, and how we see life. I am desperately sad that the decision of 2010 meant that an opportunity open to all was suddenly closed, which has led to it being labelled elitist. That was not the original intent or purpose.

On the 19th June 2015, we received our final instalments of ILF.  My concern, and the concern of thousands like me, is that come the first of August, the restrictions of the new definition of community care, will not allow me to continue to participate in my community and I will find myself returning to the lifestyle of pre-1988. If you will allow me a bit of poetic licence, I do not wish to return to the shadows of society but want to help light my community.

I would like to finish with a quote from Antoine De Saint-Exupery “The notion of looking on at life has always been hateful to me. What am I if I am not a participant? In order to be, I must participate.”

Please allow me and many like me the opportunity to participate.

 

 

 

Jun 302015
 

Reposted  from www.frameworkinclusion.uk with thanks

Today (30th June 2015) the Independent Living Fund is officially closed at midnight by a heartless Conservative Government –the working concept of independent living is effectively silenced. A fine campaign was, and will continue to be fought by ILF users and Disabled People against Cuts. On the 24th June ILF users and DPAC stormed the parliament in scenes previously unwitnessed in the British Parliament, but the fight began a long time before that day.  The fight for independent living for disabled people has been ongoing for decades; the fight to #saveilf began in 2010 when DPAC asked those affected by the closure to new users to come forward for a court case against the Government.

Disabled people have always had to fight for their human rights and equality. People marvel at the number of demos and direct actions that have been carried out, but its what disabled people have always needed to do. The ILF campaign has been a huge success in alerting the public, the press and TV nationally and internationally to the intense cruelty of a Government who declare they will support those in greatest need and simultaneously close the very efficient ILF which was doing just that. The closure makes no economic sense ILF had running costs of 2% while cash starved local authorities have an average of 16% running costs. On the same day as the closure a #disability confident event was being run in Swansea –this is beyond ironic and highlights the theatre of duplicity that this Government engage in. While ILF users face cuts in support, sometimes of up to 70% or face the fear of being institutionalised, while they face the loss of jobs, staff, PAs, education and life-our Government preaches #disabilityconfident .

We want to pay homage to all those that protested on the streets and online to #saveILF, as many others have said – this is not over- we go on fighting!  We will take back independent living on our terms so that it can never taken from us again- that work begins now.

It is a sad day today, but it also one of pride for the dignity, force and dedication disabled people and our allies have shown in the fight for ILF- the fight for independent living will continue, the continued exposure of what the Conservative Government have done to disabled people will be shouted loud and clear as we join with more and more allies in solidarity against the evil that is being done to us under the myth of austerity -our rage like our strength will grow till the human rights we deserve are ours.

Downing Street, London, UK. 30th June, 2015.  On the day the Independent Living Fund (ILF) closes and organised by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), ILF recipients, campaigners and sympathisers meet outside Downing Street to hand over petitions calling on the Prime Minister to protect disabled people’s right to independent living. Over 25,000 signatures have been collected online supported by videos made by actors of Coronation Street and also during the Graeae Theatre Company’s 2014 UK Tour of The Threepenny Opera. After laying a wreath for the ILF, Schimmel, the battle horse of the Threepenny Opera led a march to the Houses of Parliament to continue the fight for dignity and equality. Last week, DPAC activists clashed with police inside the Houses of Parliament. Pictured:  A RIP ILF wreath was laid outside Downing Street. // Lee Thomas, Flat 47a Park East Building, Bow Quarter, London, E3 2UT. Tel. 07784142973. Email: leepthomas@gmail.com. www.leept.co.uk (0000635435)

Downing Street, London, UK. 30th June, 2015. On the day the Independent Living Fund (ILF) closes and organised by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), ILF recipients, campaigners and sympathisers meet outside Downing Street to hand over petitions calling on the Prime Minister to protect disabled people’s right to independent living. Over 25,000 signatures have been collected online supported by videos made by actors of Coronation Street and also during the Graeae Theatre Company’s 2014 UK Tour of The Threepenny Opera. After laying a wreath for the ILF, Schimmel, the battle horse of the Threepenny Opera led a march to the Houses of Parliament to continue the fight for dignity and equality. Last week, DPAC activists clashed with police inside the Houses of Parliament. Pictured: A RIP ILF wreath was laid outside Downing Street. // Lee Thomas, Flat 47a Park East Building, Bow Quarter, London, E3 2UT. Tel. 07784142973. Email: leepthomas@gmail.com. www.leept.co.uk (0000635435)

Jun 272015
 

We were passed a letter anonymously last week. Atos the company responsible for misery and premature death now wants to help disabled people. Atos still do PIP assessments, and are in part responsible for the long delays, declared unlawful in the courts that have left people without income, food and at risk of losing their homes. This is something they share with Capita.

Yet, Atos will always be remembered for the Work Capability Assessment and ESA travesty. Their staff were filmed admitting that there were targets and saying that the job of assessing was toxic. But Atos were still laughing all the way to bank- After a prolonged campaign by DPAC and others Atos left the WCA contact early and were replaced by Maximus who seem no better.

We thought we’d publish the Atos letter in full , so that those people we receive emails  from who have no money for food, who are being threatened with eviction and whose families have broken up due to the inhumanity of welfare ‘reform’ might apply

No surprise that Atos has sent out its letter as a PDF which is inaccessible for some screen readers , so we copy the main parts here

As you are well aware Atos Healthcare is contracted to assess claimants on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) benefit.

We assess some of our society’s most vulnerable people on a daily basis; and we recognise their hardships and struggles. The environment we work in means that our staff frequently undertake charitable activities for a wide range of causes. In support of this effort Atos Healthcare usually matches their collections. As a result there is a fund available for charitable donation and we are looking at how best to use that to make a positive contribution to supporting and improving the day to day living of vulnerable people.

We would like to support a different selected charity for each six month period. Naturally, as the PIP benefit is intended to support people with long term conditions or disabilities we feel that a disability or condition based charity would be appropriate.

We are aware that you have strong relationships and key contacts within many charities and we would value your opinion and expertise on selecting appropriate charities.

This work is being coordinated by Saleem Jawaid who is passionate about these activities and he would welcome your views on the most effective mechanisms for doing this and any issues that you think we might face. Contact details for Saleem are given at the end of this letter.

Yours Faithfully

For anyone who’d like their ‘hardships and struggles’ recognised by Atos the number is Tel: 0118 914 9500 Ext: 18296 or if you prefer email then its : Saleem.jawaid.external@atos.net

For any disability charity taking money from Atos – we’ll find out and expose you

Rights not Charity!

Atos Open Letter – charity

 

 

Jun 272015
 

Anyone in Suffolk/Norfolk who’s in receipt of ILF, would you be willing to talk about your concerns on the closure of the ILF (Independent Living Fund)

 

I’ve been contacted by Linda Walker Broadcast Journalist from BBC Suffolk who has informed me that :-

“She’s putting together some research ahead of the ILF changes going through on Tuesday.
She’s keen to hear from any of you who have real concerns about the change and how it might impact on you personally. If anyone would be willing to share their story people do contact me on
linda.walker@bbc.co.uk or 01473 340 707.”

 

Solidarity

Martin

Suffolk DPAC

Jun 222015
 

(NB. Those supporting the Bill use terms such as assisted dying and death with dignity to make killing someone / assisting a suicide more palatable.  Those of us opposed to legalizing assisted suicide think it’s important to call it what it is and so we use the term assisted suicide.)

The Assisted Dying Bill is doing the rounds again.  This time Rob Marris, MP for Wolverhampton South is bringing this private members bill to the Commons for a full debate on Friday September 11 2015.  This will be the first time in over 18 years that Commons rather than the Lords have had the chance to vote on this subject so it’s essential that we let our MPs know that we oppose legalising AS.

The best way to do this is to pay your MP a visit before they finish for the summer on the 21st July.  Use this opportunity tell your MP that you oppose this Bill, to find out how they’re going to vote and most importantly, to tell your MP to attend the debate on September 11th  –  and hopefully to vote against it.

An actual meeting with your MP will have the most impact. MPs will see you at a ‘surgery’ (meeting) in their constituency (the area that your MP represents).  Sometimes you have to make an appointment and some MPs will hold drop in sessions.  If there’s a few of you in the same constituency from NDYUK, you could always go together?   Your MP should also be able to make a house call if visiting them would be difficult.

 

If you need to find out who your MP is, just put your postcode into www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/  The parliament.uk website will also help you find your MP’s webpage detailing when they hold constituency surgeries and how to make an appointment to see them.

Remember, an MP has a duty to see their constituents and an MP is meant to represent a constituent’s interests even if they disagree.

NDYUK will have an information sheet available with key points for you to print out and leave with your MP.  Your personal reasons for opposing the legalisation of assisted suicide however, will have the most impact – after all, your local MP is more likely to be concerned about issues that directly affect their constituents.  If your MP is also opposed to the Bill then you could ask them to help with our campaign, to debate against it in the Commons and to publicly speak out against the Bill in the media.

 

Most importantly, whether or not your MP shares your view, ask them to attend the debate and vote on September 11th.

 

Please make an appointment to see your MP before July 21st and if you really cannot visit them, write a letter or at least email them before July 21st.

 

Let us know how it goes, how your MP intends to vote & if you need any more information.  Thanks and good luck!

Jun 192015
 

12.30 – 3.30pm

RMT Head Office at Unity House, 39 Charlton St; London NW1 1JD

 

This meeting will be a chance for local London DPAC groups and members to share information, catch up on current key national DPAC campaigns and agree priorities for our activity over the Summer.

 

The venue is wheelchair accessible and the meeting will be BSL interpreted. Please specify other access needs when booking.

 

Space is limited so please book if you planning to come by emailing: ellen.clifford@inclusionlondon.co.uk

 

 

Agenda

12.30 – 12.45pm Sign in

12.45 – 1pm Welcome and introduction

1 – 2pm Feedback from local DPAC groups and campaigns

2 – 2.30pm Break

2.30 – 3.30pm Priorities and actions

Jun 172015
 

Conference

Tuesday 14 July 2015,

11-4pm,

Hotel Novotel Sheffield Centre,

50 Arundel Gate,

Sheffield, S1 2PR

Now more than ever Disabled people and our organisations and networks need to work together to protect & defend our rights and develop our own voice and policy ideas.

This conference organised by the Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance (ROFA) is inviting representatives from Disabled Peoples Organisations(DPO’s) and networks from across England to meet together to:

  •   Take stock following the election and explore likely implications of new Government policy for disabled people.
  •  Identify our disability equality campaigning priorities for the next year.
  •  Identify the policy issues our movement needs to explore and progress.
  •  Build and strengthen ROFA as a really effective network of grassroots DPOs.

 

The conference will include a keynote speech from Jenny Morris, plenty of time for small group discussion & Networking plus free lunch and refreshments.

To book a place at the conference:

Please email andrew.crooks@disabilitysheffield.org.uk

Or

Phone Andrew tel: 0114 2536752

The venue is fully wheelchair accessible. If you require

BSL interpreters, e note-taker, audio-loop or any other

access arrangements you must email: andrew.crooks@ disabilitysheffield.org.uk

or phone Andrew tel:0114 2536752

by 5pm on Monday 15th June 2015 as we may not be able to meet your access needs after this date

More information about the event, together with an agenda and travel information about getting to the venue will be sent once your booking has been confirmed

Jun 142015
 

While the Labour party still scrambles among the election debris searching for its identity and running focus groups to find out if it should be circa 1990s Bluritte retro Tory in shocking pink, or a Tuesday-an unpleasant creature seems to have emerged from the Wolverhampton dust…

Rob Marris Labour MP for Wolverhampton South West is a bit of an Indiana Jones: ex lumber jack, ex truck driver, traveller, sociologist and solicitor.  He also has a distaste for parked vans. In 2008 he caused £350 worth of damage to a van parked by a bus stop when he jumped on the bonnet because he didn’t like the way it was parked. While other people walked around the van, Rob chose to jump on the bonnet.

Colin Molloy, the district CPS prosecutor, said: “There were two vehicles parked in front of a bus stop with a small gap between them.” Others had walked through the gap but Mr Marris chose not to, Mr Molloy said. “The van was not parked to his liking,” he added. Marris admitted it was an ‘unconventional’ act and accepted a conditional caution. Unconventional is one term: contemptuous violent disregard for others property and person is another.

On the 31st July Rob Marris is hosting The Silence of Suicide. The event blurb says: ‘Strange title you may think … but it is the silence that precedes the ultimate act of those who tragically decide to end their lives’.

So it’s even stranger then, that this is the same Rob Marris who has resurrected the “assisted suicide” or “assisted dying” Bill via some archaic competition in which he was the MP who got to choose a Bill.  By this process, and choice, Marris is the man responsible for reopening the door of Falconer’s state sanctioned killing proposal.  The idea being that a doctor can leave you a lethal cocktail which you can take when he/she leaves the room, or have forced down you when he/she leaves the room-actually there are no safeguards on that unless your home is fully fitted with CCTV. Were there any other Bills he could have sponsored? Yes there were..

LBBill

Marris is a self confessed patron of Wolverhampton Mencap (Rights not Charity by the way Rob) but we’d still imagine he’d spare a thought for the LBBill  (see https://lbbill.wordpress.com/ ). A Bill intended to prevent the abuse, neglect and deaths of people with learning difficulties locked away in institutions often many miles from their families. Marris’ constituents wrote to him asking him to support the important Bill and presented the reasons why he should. But Marris replied that he had his own ideas.

 I already have a couple of ideas, and I’m sorry to disappoint you but the interesting-sounding Bill you suggest is not one of them.

I am a patron of Wolverhampton Mencap, and I can only hope that the problems you delineate are not present at New Cross (no we didn’t understand what that meant either).

Rob Marris

His idea was not to save countless lives, prevent misery and abuse of human rights, but to resurrect the call for death-A call that the majority of Doctors and the BMA rejects.

It’s the van all over again: A contemptuous violent disregard for others property, person and life. Not only will refusing to back the LBbill cost lives, but the dragging back of the assisted killing bill shows a complete contempt for disabled people. A complete ignorance of the circumstances we find ourselves in with social ‘care’ at breaking point, the loss of the ILF, £12.5bn more cuts to come, newspapers screaming scrounger, the rise of hate crime and the collapse of welfare support.

There couldn’t be a more dangerous time to bring back the Bill. But maybe that’s the idea, with little between Labour and the Tories, the shrinking of the state along with the culling of more disabled people through the assisted dying/suicide/killing Bill- it couldn’t be better timed. Why try to right the wrongs in long term hospitals, prevent deaths in long stay institutions, attempt to recognise human rights when people are tied down against their will or force fed psychotic drugs in long stay institutions-they needn’t bother with any of it.

Marris also needn’t bother with the hundreds of disabled adults in Wolverhampton who are Independent Living Fund (ILF) users. Wolverhampton ILF users are set to lose £784,000 when the ILF closes on June 30th and monies transfer to the local authority. At the time of writing Wolverhampton social services have refused to tell the 300 ILF users in Wolverhampton what’s going to happen to their support. Marris doesn’t seem particularly bothered either.

Marris doesn’t care about ILF users, he doesn’t care about the human rights abuses happening in long stay hospitals and institutions. He cares about the horrors of suicide while simultaneously imposing state sanctioned suicide on disabled people.

Ann Whitehurst sums it up

Rob Marris, Labour MP, was number 1 MP on the PMB ballot list and was therefore in a position to save countless disabled people’s lives and prevent thousands from abusive neglect. A number of requests were made for Rob Marris to present the Disabled Peoples Community Inclusion bill, known as LBbill, including one from Bob Williams-Findlay who lives in Marris’ constituency but he declined to sponsor the bill preferring to use his position of being in line-up for ‘private members bill’ to sponsor killing us rather than including us in life.

When have any of these Labour MPs who want us dead ever put forward Assisted Living bill? How many fought for the ILF? How many support people to get decent Care Packages from their social services? Labour fascism”.

Rob Marris we’re bringing a van to Wolverhampton very soon and we don’t think you’re going to like where we’ll be parking it.

Rob is on twitter @WSW_Labour why not let him know what you think

 

 

 

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/labour/2076906/Labour-MP-Rob-Marris-cautioned-for-damaging-van.html

https://lbbill.wordpress.com/

http://www.changepeople.org/blog-and-news/justice-for-laughing-boy-a-new-bill-for-parliament/

http://www.robmarris.net/the_silence_of_suicide

http://www.expressandstar.com/news/2015/06/10/fears-over-780000-disability-benefits-in-wolverhampton-council-change/

 

 

 

Jun 132015
 

Ref: ESA50 forms

13.06.15

Dear Maximus,

DPAC has become aware of a number of serious issues in relation to the ESA50 form.  In fact, the evidence received seems so extreme as to be almost unbelievable but a pattern has started to emerge.

For example, this month, a benefit claimant has been refused ESA (and a mandatory reconsideration upheld the decision), based on an assessment, but also based on an ESA50 form which 2 years earlier contributed to the same decision. But 2 years ago, the ESA decision was found to be flawed and overturned by a tribunal. Still, the same ESA50 form was used again this time by Maximus and the claimant has for a second time appealed the decision. But of course, this time, he has had to wait for the Mandatory Reconsideration outcome on no income before being allowed to lodge an appeal.

Another claimant was awarded ESA 2 years ago on the basis of the ESA50 he submitted, and was not required to undergo a face to face Work Capability Assesssment. But this month he has been asked to attend a WCA with Maximus without having to submit a new ESA50.  So assuming that Maximus is again using the same earlier ESA50 form to assess his capability for work, it should lead to the same conclusion that a face to face WCA is not needed to decide that he is entitled to ESA.

This does not make sense, and disabled people deserve much better than this.

While Maximus has shown itself to be fairly accomodating and prepared to accept more recent ESA50s and a reasonable deadline for completing the form when requested by claimants, that is just not good enough. Claimants should not have to argue their individual case in order that Maximus fulfill their contractual requirement for the issuing of ESA50 forms, nor should they have to negotiate a deadline for completing and submitting the form when DWP has decided that 4 weeks are necessary to do so.

The WCA is desperately flawed and badly failing many claimants, as shown by the recent story of a woman who was found fit for work although she has Parkinsons disease and a brain tumour, http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/woman-parkinsons-brain-tumour-ruled-5822041, which is why DPAC has repeatedly called for it to be scrapped, but in the meantime claimants deserve to be treated fairly, consistently and lawfully in their dealings with Maximus.

DWP’s argument for reassessing claimants endlessly is that medical conditions can vary, which makes the re-use of a 2 year old form unjustifiable, and this has been criticised by tribunals which have had to decide on these cases.  Likewise, claimants who are given less than 4 weeks to complete their ESA50 forms are placed at a substantial disavantage compared to claimants who benefited from 4 weeks to do so.

DPAC is demanding that Maximus and DWP ensure that every claimant is issued with an ESA50 before each WCA and is given 4 weeks to submit it. DPAC is also demanding that Maximus require claimants to attend a face to face Work Capability Assessment only after consideration of a recent or up-to-date ESA50

Anything less would be unacceptable and probably unlawful.

We look forward to your comments,

Yours sincerely

Disabled People against Cuts (DPAC)

Jun 102015
 

Update we’re asking people to bring incontinence pads with them if they can tomoro-you’ll find out why on the day

Organised by the People’s Assembly

 

DPAC, Deaf campaigners and NUBSLI (National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters) will be marching together on 20th June. We want to make our block as colourful and lively as possible to get across the message loud and clear that we will fight the attacks against us being carried out in the name of austerity loudly and proudly. We are not going away! Disabled activist Liz Carr will also be speaking on the platform at the end of the march.

 

For anyone wishing to join the DPAC block for the long march, this block will meet on Walbrook which is opposite Cannon Street station. Meet from noon for start of march at 1.30pm.

 

There will also be a static protest opposite Downing Street which will feed into the DPAC block as it passes for a short march to Parliament Square.

 

Access information for the 20th can be found here:http://www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/access_info_20jun

 

Jun 102015
 

Campaign against introduction of psychological therapies into Job Centres

MARCH ON STREATHAM JOB CENTRE – FRIDAY 26TH JUNE, 1.30 pm

MEETING POINT: STREATHAM MEMORIAL GARDENS, STREATHAM HIGH ROAD/ STREATHAM COMMON NORTH, LONDON SW16

STREATHAM JOB CENTRE PLUS: CROWN HOUSE, STATION APPROACH, LONDON SW16  6HW

* A pilot project to bring CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) into Job Centres starts at Streatham Job Centre Plus in June 2015.

* In the same month, Lambeth “Living Well Hub” for Community Mental Health Services is due to open in the same building.

*Mental Health Resistance Network is unhappy with these developments which are part of the government’s brutal “back to work” agenda.

*Mental Health Resistance Network has called a demonstration which will march on Streatham Job Centre on Friday 26th June.

*Mental Health Resistance Network is circulating an open letter to relevant individuals, charities and professional organisations stating our position and asking them to join us in our condemnation for these developments.

 

The text of the open letter is as follows:

Mental Health Resistance Network is organising a demonstration to take place at Streatham Job Centre Plus on Friday 26th June 2015, protesting against the opening there of Lambeth’s principal community mental  health centre  (“Living Well Network Hub”) the following Monday.

Streatham Job Centre also, from June 2015, hosts the first pilot of the DWP’s scheme to provide psychological therapies – specifically Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – at Job Centres for people suspected of having mental health problems. This is the first of ten pilot schemes in advance of a national project planned to begin in January 2016.

We are calling on you/ your organisation to state your position on these issues, and we hope join us in our condemnation of these developments.

As mental health service users, we are extremely unhappy with these developments. We deplore the government’s brutal “back to work” agenda, which is a front for cutting disabled welfare benefits for the most vulnerable. Mental health service users are understandably terrified of Job Centres and the threat of losing their benefits through Sanctions, or degrading and unfit-for-purpose Work Capability Assessments. With the main point of access to Community Mental Health services in Lambeth on the 3rd floor of a Job Centre, many of us will feel too frightened to ask for the help and services we need, and lose contact with services altogether.

Mental health service users are already reporting higher levels of fear, anxiety and anguish as a result of the increasingly difficult welfare benefits system, which is linked to an increasing rate of suicides. This situation will be exacerbated by the new developments.

We should not be put under pressure to look for work unless we feel capable. The competitive, profit-driven and exploitative nature of the modern workplace is not suitable for people whose mental health is fragile. But the location of the Network Hub at Streatham Job Centre put us under such pressure if we try to use mental health services.

Experts agree that CBT does not work for everyone; that psychological therapies are ineffective if they are forced on people; and that they need to take place in safe, unthreatening environments. We do not think making people have CBT at Job Centres will make anyone magically “fit for work.” We are concerned that people will be Sanctioned (i.e. have their benefits stopped) if they do not co-operate with this “therapy” either out of principle or because they are not well enough. “BACK TO WORK THERAPY” IS NO THERAPY AT ALL!

Additionally, we are concerned that this amounts to an extension of the coercive powers of the 1983 Mental Health Act amended 2007. Whereas at present people can only be forced into “treatment” under in-patient Sections of this Act or by Community Treatment Orders, making welfare benefits and by extension housing conditional on agreeing to psychological treatment broadens the principle of compulsion.

We condemn the involvement of  IAPTS in this attempt to make people undergo “therapy” at Job Centres, which we believe goes against professional ethics. We are also unhappy that psychiatrists, occupational therapists, nurses, social workers and other mental health professionals are also expected to work at Streatham Job Centre, again compromising their professional ethics, and we call on individual staff and collective agencies representing them to publicly oppose this development.

For more information contact:

mentalhealthresistancenetwork@gmail.com

 

Jun 092015
 

In an article published on 5th June the Daily Mail reported that two sign language interpreters had defrauded the Department of Work and Pensions

(DWP) via the Access to Work scheme.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3112470/1million-sign-language-fraudsters-guilty-scamming-taxpayer-pay-luxury-holidays-claiming-work-21-hours-day.html

The story misrepresents the hundreds of professionals who provide an essential service and take an average of seven years to train.

The National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters (NUBSLI) have checked the names of the individuals involved and can confirm that neither of the two individuals being charged were members. Whilst we believe Angela Poole may have been registered as a British Sign Language (BSL)/English interpreter, George Taylor was not.

Prior to any allegations of fraud being made, BSL/English Interpreters/translators have been calling for Access to Work to improve their processes and communicate how both professionals and Deaf people could safeguard against fraud. These concerns were raised due to the large numbers of unregulated agencies being used by the DWP.  The DWPs failure to monitor agencies is clear. Whilst NUBSLI remain outraged by the behaviour of the two individuals involved, important questions need to be asked of the DWP.

The #ScrapTheFramework campaign (http://www.nubsli.com/our-work/scrap-the-framework.php) was recently established to oppose the governments bid to establish a national framework for interpreting and translating. The initial drafts of the framework did not provide adequate safeguarding or a requirement for interpreters to be registered. Agencies have the potential to use unqualified people and charge extortionate amounts whilst driving down the fees paid to properly regulated qualified interpreters and translators.

The article in the Daily Mail was a direct attack on both BSL/English interpreters/translators and members of the Deaf community. With the government pushing ahead with caps and changes to the Access to Work scheme that will see Deaf and disabled people struggle to keep their jobs (for more information go to: https://stopchanges2atw.wordpress.com), and the Crown Commercial Services are trying to establish a framework to drive down interpreters fees, the timing of this article is no coincidence.

NUBSLI will be meeting the new Minister in July to explain more about the BSL/English interpreting profession and the importance of only using registered fully qualified or trainee interpreters. They will also take the opportunity to remind government rely on BSL interpreters to fulfil their basic statutory duties to Deaf BSL users.

 

Jun 052015
 

The Save The ILF Campaign & DPAC are asking all ILF Users and supporters to join us in a final lobby of MP’s on:

 

Wednesday 24th June

From 11a.m

Public Lobby, Houses of Parliament

 

The ILF in England will close on 30th June (Scotland, Wales & NI have decided to continue with funding their own ILF’s).  This will be the final opportunity to lobby our national public repesentativites to repeal the decision before the Fund is shut. From the 1st July all responsibility for the Fund will be in the hands of local Councils.

 

Councils will receive funding for 1 year, with no obligation to spend that money on Social Care for those users. Many Councils have already had to make savage cuts to disabled people’s care budgets because of the scale of cuts to their own budgets. The shrinking of eligibility criteria, the introduction of 15 minute care visits and drastic increase in charges for Social Care have massively reduced many disabled peoples ability to take a full part in society; with less than 4 in 10 people who need support getting any at all – never mind the right support to live independently.

 

Disabled people have a right to live independently in the community under article 19 of the UN Covention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The closure of this fund is a direct breach of this right – and we must fight to defend it – and all of our rights. Disabled people have fought many battles over many decades for equality and inclusion and the ILF is fundamental to those ideas. Without an ILF local Councils have already recognised that people will have to be institutionalised in homes in order for Councils to be able to guarantee any basic level of care.

 

We must resist this . We cannot allow disabled people to be imprisoned for the crimes of the bankers and the financial elites. We must stand together to end these rights abuses – and call for this decision to be repealed and the ILF re-opened to all.

 

So please join the lobby. Bring families, friends, co-workers, neighbours, supporters and allies. Ask to lobby your local MP (information and guidance available on the day) and tell them that the closure of the ILF is unacceptable.

Experience from previous lobbies have shown us that getting into and out of the Houses of Parliament can take a while, especially when there are large numbers of wheelchair users/disabled people. Please make sure you bring whatever you need to be comfortable while waiting. This could include water, meds, snacks etc.

May 242015
 

posted from http://refuted.org.uk/rights/support/

@refuted with thanks

There are reports that Jobcentres are refusing to allow people attending Jobcentre appointments to be accompanied by representatives, including family members or friends.

Below is a draft letter based upon DWP policy on ‘Working with representatives‘ and a DWP FOI response about being accompanied at Jobcentre appointments.

If you have a health or disability related reason for needing to be accompanied at a Jobcentre, you can also add to the draft letter below something like:

‘I am making this request to be accompanied and supported at the Jobcentre under the Equality Act as a reasonable adjustment, due to my health and or disability related needs’

It is recommended to attach a copy of the DWP FOI response:https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/taking_support_to_jobcentre_appo#incoming-486014 to your letter.

—– draft letter——-

Dear Jobcentre Plus,

RE: Support at Jobcentre appointments

I am writing to advise that I want my representative [name of supporter/organisation] to attend Jobcentre appointments with me for support and act upon my behalf with regards my benefit claim(s).

This request is in accordance with your own ‘Working with representatives‘ policy, which can be viewed at:https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/355740/working-with-representatives.pdf

Attached is a letter from the DWP [Your Ref: 634] that gives a summary of your ‘Working with representatives’ policy, which confirms I can have a representative “accompany” me at Jobcentre appointments, for sake of clarification your policy says a representative can be:

– advice or welfare rights organisations
– professionals such as social workers, community nurses or doctors
– family members or friends

Yours faithfully

—-end——

Notes: When possible it is highly recommended to make a formal request, to be accompanied at a Jobcentre appointment, in advance. You could do so by phoneor email, or at an actual Jobcentre appointment and follow up the request with a letter, including a copy of the FOI response:https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/taking_support_to_jobcentre_appo#incoming-486014.

 

May 202015
 

If you have been sanctioned for not engaging in work related activity or threatened with a sanction while on employment support allowance-we want to hear from you for a potential legal challenge. Please email us at: mail@dpac.uk.net

We all know what sanctions do to people; we all know that sanctions have led to needless, avoidable and unforgivable deaths.  With sanctions for those on employment support allowance increasing (up 25%), with 50,000 of those sanctions imposed for not engaging in a work related activity with some affecting mental health users- Its beyond time to act against this outrage

For those facing sanctions we also provide some practical info from @refuted below.

All info is up to date although stats are now out of date

http://refuted.org.uk/2014/08/06/sanctionstips/

With many thanks to refuted for the info

 

May 162015
 

We are looking for a case study we could meet and film in the London area about the Universal Credit & Sanctions. TF1 is the leading broadcaster in France and its prime time news programme attracts on average 8 million viewers a day and broadcasts to some 500,000 Britons currently living in France. TF1 broadcasts globally to the French speaking world (Belgium, Luxembourg, Monaco, Switzerland and North African countries).

Please get in touch with DPAC if you can help at: mail@dpac.uk.net

 

May 082015
 

The devastating results show an electoral system in disarray and a Britain at odds with its own best interests. While Scotland and SNP came out firmly against austerity and Westminster politics resulting in them sweeping the board, Labour counted on middle England and left the base of its roots. Today disabled people, the unemployed, the low paid, the old, and children face more uncertainty and fear. Yet, in this election we have also seen new smaller parties rise up, these parties are going to get stronger. The political landscape is changing, not as fast as we would like, but its changing.

There were some good points McVey lost her seat, Farage resigned. The Lib Dems were almost wiped out, and Clegg has gone as leader. This is without doubt a comment on their collusion with Tories as they took a lot of Labour voters in the 2010 election. The polls were staggeringly wrong, with the first sign of this unbelievable result coming in the exit polls last night.

But disabled people are proud and strong, we will not give up. DPAC will increase its fight, its protests and improve its methods, because now we’re at war, fighting for our lives and futures. The Tories now have to back up their ‘growing economy’ myth, the right wing press will continue to be challenged with more alternatives and social media becoming the commentary that people trust. The much publicised UN inquiry will focus on the Tories and we will show the devastation and erosion of rights that the Tories have caused to an international platform. We can’t give up, but must fight harder, until every hardship, every death and every misery has been exposed and accounted for. It’s not the end-this is a new beginning-and we’re ready but we need all disabled people and our allies to stand firm and fight back even harder than you have done in the last five years. Apathy is not an option any of us can now afford

Apr 042015
 
Occupy Democracy will be returning in full force to occupy Parliament Square from the 1st to the 10th of May – during the General Election :)

On each of the TEN DAYS of this occupation there will be a DIRECT ACTION… and we need your ideas and energy included to ensure that the election period is truly spectacular!

All levels of experience are welcome – you don’t have to have taken part in direct action before to participate and get your voice heard. Everyone will be encouraged and supported to work within their own limits and at their own pace within a diverse group.

Want the voice of your campaign amplified during the election period?
Want to protest about corrupt politicians and lack of real democracy?
Want to highlight alternatives?
Show people the beauty of the future world we can create together?

No matter which protest, action group or issue you are interested in/working on, tackling the state of our democracy is crucial to getting your aims fulfilled and the needs of your community met.

Join Occupy Democracy over the election period in ensuring that the people’s voices are REALLY heard as the country goes to the polls. We  need as many disabled people involved  as  possible

Where: SOAS, room TBC (central London)

When: Sunday 12th April 11am – 5pm

Join the Facebook event for the action planing day https://www.facebook.com/events/877584405638513/

Mar 242015
 

Beyond – UKIP Cabaret

Dear gang. hope your so well. If anyone has received any
abusive messages / death threats please email leavethegaydonkeysalone@gmail.com
with all documentation and testimonials.

Ive got an interview with the police this evening.

We have amazing lawyers to support us too. Everything will
be passed on.

All part of the package. Please look after each other and
don’t get disheartened this is how bullies work.

Let me know anything I can do

Lots of love,  X

Pictures of the ‘terrifying’ UKIP Cabaret below

fake breast feeding in public, but not in a corner as Farage suggests

fake breast feeding in public, but not in a corner as Farage suggests

Terrifying scenes in the street

Terrifying scenes in the street

Maybe more terrifying were these on Facebook 


Facebook threats, similar were posted on twitter

Mar 172015
 

We ‘ve had increasing numbers of emails from those in the ESA support group facing constant harassment from local job centres. Harassment takes the form of letters and phone calls ‘inviting’ people to work focused interviews, chats with job coaches or other ‘helpers’. Another type of ‘invite’ suggests that the job centre need to check you’re getting the right amount of benefit they advise you to take in bank statements and other documents. Often these letters and phone calls wrongly state that your benefits are at risk if you do not attend. All such interviews are voluntary according to the regulations, not mandatory. Its sounds like a scam warning from some dodgy company doesnt it, but this is the DWP Job Centre, supposedly public servants, causing anxiety and misery.

We have reproduced two template letters to use if these scams happen to you -with thanks to John Slater

Your Name

Address 1

Address 2

County

Post Code

Name JCP Manager

Address 1

Address 2

County Post Code

Date

Ref: NINO

Dear JCP Manager   I received your letter of <insert date> stating that you have arranged a work‐focused interview for me on <insert date> at <insert time> without my knowledge or consent.

The DWP is aware that I have been placed in the Support Group for Employment and Support Allowance and therefore exempt from activity of this nature. S.19 of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 specifically forbids the Secretary of State from imposing any work‐related requirements on anyone allocated to the support group.

This letter has caused me considerable distress and has exacerbated my illness. Should the DWP persist in sending me further letters of a similar nature I can only conclude that it does so knowing that it will cause me alarm or distress. Such actions are a criminal offence under section 2 of the protection from Harassment Act 1997 and I retain the right to make a criminal complaint to the police.

As the DWP is acting contrary to the Welfare Reform Act 2012 please regard this letter as notification to cease and desist all such activities immediately.

I will not be attending the work‐focused interview and in doing so I will not be placing my entitlement to ESA at risk. Any suggestion by the DWP to the contrary will be considered harassment.

I remind the DWP that I will continue to comply with all lawful requirements in respect of my ongoing claim for ESA.

Yours sincerely

A. N. Other

Your Name

Address 1

Address 2

County

Post Code

Name JCP Manager

Address 1

Address 2

County Post Code

Date

Ref: NINO

Dear JCP Manager

I received your letter of <insert date> stating that you have arranged an interview for, without my knowledge or consent, on <insert date> at <insert time> because my circumstances may have changed and the DWP need to ensure my payments are correct.

The DWP is aware that I have been placed in the Support Group for Employment and Support Allowance and therefore exempt from any work‐related activity. S.19 of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 specifically forbids the Secretary of State from imposing any work‐related requirements on anyone allocated to the support group.  It also makes no provision for people allocated to the Support Group to be summoned to attend random benefit interviews.

On the .GOV website the DWP states:

You’ll then be placed in 1 of 2 groups if you’re entitled to ESA:

work‐related activity group, where you’ll have regular interviews with an adviser

support group, where you don’t have interviews

In fact the DWP has the Benefit Centre network that contains benefit integrity centres and performance measurement to undertake this type of review by appropriately qualified officers. Therefore, this interview appears to be incompatible with the DWP own processes.

In respect of payments the DWP knows that I am in the Support Group and the amount I am in receipt of. Therefore, it can easily determine if this amount is correct without recourse to a face to face review.

To the best of my knowledge my circumstances have not changed. If the DWP has evidence to the contrary please address them to me in writing as I find the benefit system far too complex and distressing to deal with on the telephone or face to face. I also rely on extensive support from other people when dealing with the DWP.

This letter has caused me considerable distress and has exacerbated my illness. Given that the proposed review is incompatible with the DWP own business processes and published guidance I can only assume that its purpose is to cause me alarm or distress.  Should the DWP persist in sending me further letters of a similar nature I can only conclude that it does so with the same intent. Such actions are a criminal offence under section 2 of the protection from Harassment Act 1997 and I retain the right to make a criminal complaint to the police.

Please regard this letter as notification to cease and desist all such activities immediately.

I will not be attending the interview and in doing so I will not be placing my entitlement to ESA at risk. Any suggestion by the DWP to the contrary will be considered harassment.

I remind the DWP that I will continue to comply with all lawful requirements in respect of my ongoing claim for ESA.

Yours sincerely

A. N. Other

Templates can also be downloaded at the links below

Correct Detail or Support Invite Reply Template (1)

WFI reply template

Mar 162015
 

Who 2 Vote 4 Logo

The UNCRPD and our human and civil rights must be fully implemented, promoted and enforced.

Disabled people are affected by the cuts 9 times more than everybody else. The most severely disabled people are affected by the cuts 19 times more than everybody else. This discrimination against disabled people must end.

Disabled people are affected by the cuts 9 times more than everybody else. The most severely disabled people are affected by the cuts 19 times more than everybody else. This discrimination against disabled people must end.

Manifesto Pledges we are seeking from Parties

A Legal Right to Independent Living and Self-Determination:

The creation of a specific independent living law: a legal right that fully enacts and enforces, as domestic law, the UNCRPD incorporating the 12 pillars of independent living as its key goals and ensures provision of independent living support is free at the point of need and paid from general taxation.

There should be a single nationally transportable social care system and an end to localism and the current postcode lottery that exists. Funding for care should return to a 4 tier rather then a 2 tier system with low and moderate needs being met for all as well as substantial and critical.

Stop the closure of the cost effective Independent Living Fund (ILF) and set up an Independent living task force, co-produced with ILF users, to review independent living and specifically the Independent Living Fund in order to identify how best to improve, develop and extend independent living support building on the successful model of ILF provision.

Legislation to end 15 minute home care visits and any move to replace face-to-face visits with telecare options.

An end to zero hour contracts for home care staff.

Serious changes should be made to how family carers are better supported both financially and practically.

Access to Health and Support Services: NHS funding must be protected and all forms of privatisation of our NHS should end with immediate effect.

Funding for mental health services including crisis teams should be protected and where necessary increased to former and safer levels. There should be an end of rationing of primary MH care services and treatment tailored to needs.

More funding investment is needed for children’s adolescent mental health services.

GP and nurse training should include compulsory training on mental health conditions and treatment.

There must be changes made to the Mental Capacity Act which is failing people it is supposed to protect. The Best Interests concept means that substitute decision making has become the default position rather than supporting people who are disabled or have Learning Difficulties to make their own decisions.

Welfare Support : There must be a publicly run welfare system and an end to paying private firms massive amounts of public money to carry out disability assessments badly. Instead that money should be invested into providing decent, liveable benefit levels.

An end to the Work Capability Assessment which is too flawed to amend.

An immediate end to benefit sanctions which have led to deaths and increasing poverty. Ensure that there is no conditionality of JSA or ESA WRAG on seeking treatments and no linkage with treatment and receipt of benefits.

Engagement with any back to work services must be optional for all claimants.

An end to replacing Disability Living Allowance with Personal Independence Payments which even now is in complete chaos.

A total rethink on any move to Universal Credit and instead serious consideration to be given working with disabled people and DPOs to a move to a single system of welfare support based on the concept of a disabled person’s citizens income.

Policy recognition that there will always be disabled people who are unable or too ill to work. These individuals must be supported by a publically funded system.

Housing: A strategic and sustained programme of building social housing to the standards of universal design and accessibility is carried out.

An end to bedroom tax and the Benefit Cap.

Until there are adequate levels of social housing available an increase in LHA rates to fully reflect the real costs of housing to meet the needs of disabled people and disabled children.

Access, Inclusion and taking part in society: The creation of legal status for British Sign Language, and disabled people’s access on an equal basis with others to the physical environment, to transportation, justice, family life, the arts, to accessible information and all forms of information technology.

Enact and maintain a fully accessible public transport system with free transport available for disabled people.

Fully Inclusive Education: Education is the key to creating an inclusive society. This can only be achieved by having one fully inclusive mainstream education system, funded by the state. Without inclusive education you will not get an inclusive society

Planned cuts to Disabled Students’ Allowance should be reversed

All Disabled People have a right to Work and get a Job:

A comprehensive plan of action is developed with disabled people and our organisations to tackle the discrimination and exclusion disabled people face in work and employment.

Access to Work (AtW) must be extended to include unpaid voluntary positions and recent changes that limit and reduce the support provided through AtW should be reversed.

The recently introduced (August 2013) fees for taking an employer to Employment Tribunal must be repealed.

Ensure that all government contracts, at a national, regional and local level, are only awarded to companies that are fulfilling measurable targets for the employment of disabled people.

Access to Justice: All legal aid changes must be repealed and disabled people’s rights to access justice must be restored.

Disability Hate Crime laws and sentencing must be strengthened.

Reversal of the watering down of disabled people’s rights with the move from DDA to the Equality Act.

Restoration of funding for advice advocacy services such as CABs.

Legislation to prevent assisted dying.

Local Authority Statutory Services: There must be no redefining of Local Authority Statutory Services to reduce their obligations even further.

Real and Effective Co-Production with user-led Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations across the UK: Ensure meaningful, well-resourced and accessible co-production with disabled people and their organisations at local, regional and national levels on all issues affecting us.

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC)

www.dpac.uk.net

mail@dpac.uk.net

@dis_ppl_protest

The above come from the UK Disabled Peoples Manifesto

Full manifesto, summary of manifesto and Easy Read versions are available in both PDF and Word version.

UK Disabled People’s Manifesto – Reclaiming Our Futures. PDF

Download Easy Read versions below

Easy Read versionas are below in both PDF and Word versions.

UK disabled people’s manifesto – Easy Read. PDF

Mar 162015
 

Who 2 Vote 4 Logo

The current situation now is that England will be the only UK nation which no longer has an ILF as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have pledged to open replacement ILF funds so this will lead to what can only be described as the biggest postcode lottery ever. If you are fortunate enough to live in a devolved nation then you will still be eligible for this additional funding but if you are unfortunate enough to live in England then you won’t be.

Obviously it may seem to those who have no real experience of the way the care system operates that it makes sense to devolve all funding to local authorities even if it will not be ring-fenced either to current recipients or even to the adult social care budget however ILF funding covers essential support for independent living which local authority care will not. (even with the introduction of the new care Act from April this year).

Labour says it strongly agrees that independent living is crucial to ensuring that disabled people have the same rights, choices and chances as any other citizen. They tabled an amendment during the Committee Stage of the Care Bill which would have enshrined in law the right of disabled people to live independently. Unsurprisingly the government chose to vote against and defeat this amendment. Ed Miliband has said recently Labour also opposed the government’s plans for closure of the Independent Living Fund in the absence of a comprehensive strategy for a system of social care that protects people’s ability to live independently. Yet in spite of this if Labour is elected in May it will be a Labour government that allows the ILF to close.

Kate Green/You have said “it’s not Labour’s position to retain the ILF “

We have asked Labour to commit to keeping the ILF open for current recipients even if only in the short term until something better can replace it so that a generation of disabled people do not lose the right to continue to live independently in the community.

The Labour front bench have said they will allow the ILF to close because there is a real opportunity to develop a sustainable model of provision for the most severely disabled people within the integrated health and social care landscape that Andy Burnham and Liz Kendall have been articulating rather than continuing with a standalone fund. These proposals are based on a report by the Oldham Commission which clearly states that it will take the 5 years of a new parliament and an extra £10 billion of funding to achieve these changes. In the meantime there will be no protection for disabled people in England who need their needs funding now and not at some date far into the future. For them any new integrated care system will simply be too late to help. Moreover, as respected experts in the field such as Professor Pat Thane have pointed out, the current system is simply not functioning at the necessary level. Relying on the integration of health and social care as a solution to the crisis in social care is thus an irresponsible gamble to take with people’s lives.

In the original ILF consultation over 50% of local authorities said that the loss of ILF was likely to lead to disabled people having to move from the community back into Care homes, something that is not only morally wrong but which will cost Local Authorities, who by 2015 will have had social care budgets cut by £8 billion, or by about 33%, considerably more.

Already since 2008 over 90,000 disabled people or 1 in 6 have lost their care and support for independent living.

While it is true that the fund is now being wound down, and staff numbers are already reducing it is not true that it is too late for Labour to commit to keeping the ILF open in England as well as will be the case in other parts of the UK. PCS and a former manager at ILF have both given the Labour front bench detailed reasons of why this is the case.

As the devolved funding will not be ring-fenced in any way to either individuals or adult social care budgets Ed Miliband has said that Labour will put in place guidance for Local Authorities to encourage them to meet the needs of severely disabled people in their areas but this will not be mandatory and we have no reason to believe that cash strapped councils will have either the political will nor the financial ability to implement such guidance. They are very aware of the dangers of setting precedents for providing levels and types of social care support to some individuals and not for others. A Local Authority could easily consider itself to have more to risk by following than not following the guidelines. In order to ensure equity between all adult service users they may well feel they have no choice but to level down..

As emerged from formerly undisclosed documents from DWP during one of the court cases the devolved funding for ILF recipients is only in place until April 2016 and no additional funding was requested beyond that date by DWP. What will happen to the real people stuck in the middle of this chaos then has not been addressed by any political party.

Further Labour also cite “inconsistencies” in delivery as a reason to remove the right to live independently from severely disabled people but these are the result of unequal take up between different local authorities  and is symptomatic of the failings of local authority administered social care support. As a national model of service delivery the ILF is far more successful and cost effective than local authority administered social care. The latest ILF annual report records a user satisfaction rating of 97%. Overheads for the ILF come in at just 2 % of the budget in comparison with an average of 16% for local authorities. It is in fact a model of service delivery that should be built upon rather than shut down. We understand that provisions in the Care Act are aimed at reducing inconsistencies between local authorities, nevertheless the inconsistencies Labour cite as a problem of the ILF are many times worse in the current system upon which ILF users will now be solely reliant as a result of the closure.

Since the closure to new applicants in December 2010 disabled people who missed out on the ILF have suffered dramatically worse outcomes than existing ILF recipients with equivalent support needs. We have provided Kate Green with a number of case studies showing the reality of independent living for disabled people who would have been eligible for ILF but are now only receiving LA social care support. We are not just talking about disabled people no longer being able to go to work, or ever have a holiday or go to university, we are talking about people unable to leave their homes, left without access to food or water, unable to go to the toilet and unable to wash more than a couple of times per week. We know there is also an urgent need to address this inequity, so do not believe that the right answer is to level everyone down to the lowest levels of support.

In the short term we are asking that the ILF be retained as the only way to realistically guarantee protection for existing recipients. Disabled people are aware that this is not a big ask: the ILF represents a relatively small amount of money – only £32 million and the ILF will not be wound down beyond easy repair before May 2015.

Moving on from these moral aspects of retaining the ILF the political situation now is that the Labour Party is the only main opposition party unwilling to commit to keeping the ILF open if elected. We find it very difficult to understand why Labour continues to take this position and not avail themselves of the support of the 12million plus disabled voters,and their families and friends

WE’RE LOOKING FOR ANTI-AUSTERITY VOLUNTEERS!

 News  Comments Off on WE’RE LOOKING FOR ANTI-AUSTERITY VOLUNTEERS!
Mar 142015
 

Central London
4-hour shifts on dates between 30 March and 9 April

For more information please contact Jessie[at]roaring-girl[dot]com.

Figures (www.wearefigures.co.uk) is setting out to make visible the human cost of austerity and urge action against it.Using excavated raw river mud and taking up residence on the streets and foreshore of central London, artist-activist Liz Crow will sculpt 650 small human figures, each one representing an individual at the sharp end of austerity. Their number echoes the 650 constituencies throughout which the effects of austerity are felt%2