Debbie

Aug 192014
 

 

A second court case against the DWP on the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) will take place at the Royal Courts of Justice on the 22nd and 23rd of October. It is expected to last one and half days.

There will be a vigil outside the courts from 12.30 on the 22nd to support the ILF users taking the case and to support our right to independent living as enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities- article 19

Article 19: “Living independently and being included in the community”, states that “disabled people have a right to live in the community; with the support they need and can make choices like other people do”.

Please join with us to show your support!

The closure of the ILF  has obvious implications for the UK’s chances of meeting such obligations. Most importantly for those disabled people who will lose this financial support they will lose any independence and choice in their lives. You can listen to how this vicious attack will affect disabled people at these links.

http://www.dpac.uk.net/2013/02/a-nasty-cut-people-affected-by-the-closure-of-the-independent-l5142/

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMElPk0pq6I

 

We will be posting further updates

 

Aug 182014
 

 

The Rise of The Residential Institutions to segregate Disabled People and the support given by The National Autistic Society.

The National Autistic Society is being sponsored by Nua Health Care, Residential Institutions.

Nua Health Care is the Institution where Anthony Kletzander, a young man with Autism has been incarcerated by Statutory Services in Ireland, since September 2013. Within months of being admitted to this institution Anthony was forced to take anti depressant medication, against his and his parents wishes. Nua Health Care Institution refused to listen to Anthony’s voice. Anthony was admitted, on two separate occasions, to the emergence department of the general hospital after this medical treatment in Nua Health Care Institution.

The “multi-disciplinary” team at Nua Health Care Institution have refused to acknowledge Anthony’s hospitalisation. The professionals use the cloak of confidentiality to hide their oppressive practices, even when Anthony has waived his right to confidentiality in order to expose his treatment by Nua Health Care ” multi-disciplinary” team of professionals.

Nua Health Care institution is increasing the number of similar segregation for disabled disabled people in the United Kingdom. There is a growth of these institutions, which appears to match the increased privatisation of The National Health Service.

Companies like Nua Health Care and The Redwood Extended Care Facility, managed by The Talbot Group are institutions making significant profits from public money. The costings for placing disabled people in these institutions is surrounded in secrecy. Fees of around £200,000 – £ 300,000 per person for full time placement are not unusual. This is in contrast to the Governments ending of financial support for disabled people to live independently.

The National Autistic Society is supporting these segregating institutions and undermining the Rights of disabled people.

There is a massive rise of seductive glossy brochures supported with “all singing and dancing” website, illustrating the “wonderland” offered to disabled people. The marketing describes the “care” from the “multi-disciplinary” teams and the amazing activities available for each individual.

These institutions market their segregation of disabled people as if it was an all inclusive holiday, in far away exotic places. Such descriptions, serve to camouflage, the dangers of segregation and institutionalisation of disabled people away for the society from which they have a right to participate and contribute.

Examples of sponsorship by such institutions to The National Autistic Society is likely to be the tip of a very disturbing iceberg. The Director of The National Autistic Society, Mark Lever, was made aware of Anthony Kletzander’s treatment by The Nua Health Care Institution. Mark Lever, said NAS had carried out ” Due Diligence” and NAS will continue to receive sponsorship from Nua Health Care Institution. The NAS have not been in contact with Anthony or his family to verify his treatment. Such hypocrisy has to be exposed and challenged.

The Professional Autistc Awards Ceremony for The National Autistic Society is taking place, on

Tuesday 3rd March 2015 at the Harrogate International Centre, Harrogate.

A picket line will be formed to expose all participants of the event about hypocrisy of The National Autistic Society.

http://www.autismprofessionalsawards.org.uk/categories.html#team

Please support this campaign by circulating this information to your social media contacts and networks encouraging individuals to boycott the event and join a picket outside on the day.

Further information from a Joe Whittaker

whittakerjoe5@gmail.com

 

 

 

Aug 162014
 

 

(Report from workshop at national meeting of Anti Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice federation)

Fighting Benefit Sanctions

 

The government has a policy  of increasing sanctions to force people off benefits. 

 

More than 800,000 people have been sanctioned in the last year. Referrals to food banks are mainly due to claimants being sanctioned. 

 

Martin Cavanagh is the PCS Group Exec member for civil servants working in the DWP.  The PCS union resolved at their recent conference to oppose both Workfare and Benefit Sanctions. He explained the three central reasons behind the Tories policy of increasing sanctions; Further demonisation of the poor, financial savings for the government, and driving a wedge between claimants and workers. 

 

PCS survey of members working in the DWP revealed that 82% of members felt ‘pressured’ into sanctioning claimants, and 62% said they had made ‘inappropriate’ sanctions decisions. 

 sanctions

The Kirklees Axe The Tax group have used a banner : No Sanction for Claimants! No Targets for Staff! This attracted claimants and some staff to their stall outside a job centre.

 

Roger Lewis speaking for DPAC said that ‘more needed to be done by the PCS.’ But, he insisted, ‘we will not allow the government to divide us. Those working for the DWP alongside claimants have a common interest, we are locked together in a common fight against the Tories.’ 

 

‘More will be done from our union the PCS over the sanctions,’ explained Martin. 

 

‘Advice for claimants on how to challenge sanction decisions has now been agreed between our union, the PCS, Unite the Union Community branches, and campaigners against sanctions. That advice will be issued shortly.’

 

Research has shown that only 1 in 50 claimants who are sanctioned appeal the decision. Of those 90% win their appeal. Forthcoming advice will explain to claimants how they can appeal. 

 

To launch the joint advice and joint campaign, we agreed a day of action against benefit sanctions for Thursday 11th September. 

 

Protests will be organised in every region outside key DWP headquarters or similar high profile government offices.

Fighting Workfare

Public campaigns work! 

 

With just a few protesters the Boycott Workfare actions have ‘shamed’ many employers into withdrawing from the Workfare scheme. Companies and businesses don’t want to be exposed as employing ‘slave’ labour. Only when a company signs up to the Boycott Workfare pledge are they removed for the Boycott Workfare website listing. 

 

Protests outside flagship venues of those companies still in the scheme will continue until the schemes are scrapped.

 

Reblogged with thanks from http://antibedroomtax.org.uk/2013-05-29-04-42-41/latest-news/110-stop-sanctions-11th-sept-day-of-action

 

 

Aug 162014
 

 

Responsible department: Department for Work and Pensions

We are asking for the inequality in the way Personal Independent Payment (PIP) claims are handled to be stopped and for those making transfers from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to PIP to be treated in the same way as fresh claims for PIP.

Currently those making claims for PIP have their payments backdated to date of claim. However those receiving DLA do not get their claim backdated even if a change of circumstance means they are entitled to a higher rate of payment.

Payments are made from date of decision, meaning current delays, which the DWP admit to, mean claimants losing out on several weeks payments, depending on the length of delay and time to process a claim.

This goes against what the DWP themselves have said in response to questions from Susan Elan Jones MP i.e. ‘…the benefit is backdated so NO ONE is left out of pocket’. The current system is in no way equitable and victimises long term disabled people.

There is a petition at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/66447

Also let us know if this has happened to you by emailing : mail@dpac.uk.net

 

 

Aug 152014
 

 

The campaign to save the Independent living Fund (ILF) is now at its most crucial stage, because it involves you.

 

Following the high profile Westminster Abbey sit-in and the tea parties held outside DWP offices, we’re now asking ILF recipients to invite MPs to their homes to show them exactly what the ILF means in reality and why it must be kept.

 

This Summer is a great time to lobby MPs as they’ll be back in their constituencies working hard in the hope of securing votes in the run up to the 2015 General Election.

 

Please take the simple steps in this toolkit and let us know how it goes so we can target politicians and do everything we can together to save the ILF.

 

It includes writing a letter/email to your MP, writing to the local paper, meeting your MP, arguments and briefing and an invitation for your MP to the MP Drop in on 2nd September

 

Independent Living fund Drop in

with BBC Silent Witness actress Liz Carr

2 September 2014; 2 – 4pm; House of Commons Committee Room 19

This drop in session will be a chance for MPs to find out more about the closure of the ILF which currently supports nearly 18,000 disabled people with the highest support needs to live independently in the community, to contribute to society in employment, education, volunteering, as family members, friends and as members of our communities and to build the local economy through employing teams of Personal Assistants.

 

The surgery will be an opportunity to ask questions and to speak to Liz who has been enabled, through support from the ILF, to progress an acting career that has spanned stand-up comedy, presenting for BBC and primetime television.

 

Also in attendance to answer your questions will be an ILF staff representative and a disabled person who missed out on the ILF through its closure to new applicants in 2010 and whose experiences reflect those of many other disabled people now excluded from participating in areas of life that non-disabled people take for granted.

 

The Drop in is being organized by PCS Union, Disabled People Against Cuts and Inclusion London.

 

For more information contact ellen.clifford@inclusionlondon.co.uk or Natasha@pcs.org.uk

 

Click Save-the-ILF-mobilisation to download the full Save ILF Mobilisation Word document

 

 

 

Aug 142014
 

 

Disabled people are more likely than all other groups to be impacted by the cuts to legal aid. The Ministry of Justice conducted an equality impact assessment which concluded “that overall the proposals have the potential to impact a greater proportion of women, BAME people and ill or disabled people.” 1 The assessment found that, whilst 19% of the general population have a long-term illness or are disabled, the figure was 58% of those receiving legal aid for welfare benefit claims. To get legal aid for a discrimination case, disabled people must use a telephone gateway, and there are now only three firms allowed to apply for legal aid for discrimination claims. This has resulted in a massive drop in the number of people getting legal aid for this type of case; in terms of discrimination cases there is a 77% shortfall in the predicted take-up since these restrictions were introduced2.

 

If you have been personally affected . For example have been unable to claim support, had to part claim, or had to represent yourself in court and would be willing to talk about this to a Guardian journalist please contact emma.howard@theguardian.com as soon as possible.

 

It is only by talking about how we are affected that we are able to get these issues out to the public.

 

 

1Reform of Legal Aid in England and Wales: Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) June 2011

http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20111121205348/http:/www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/consultations/legal-aid-reform-eia.pdf, See Table 6, in particular

2See “Civil legal aid – the secret legal service”, a report published by Legal Action Group in September 2013 reviewing the figures for legal aid take-up in the first quarter of 2013-14.

 

Aug 142014
 

 

Has anyone experience of people being denied #ESA in annual review, reinstated on appeal, but refused back payments on technicalities?

Please get in touch with Kerry McCarthy MP

email: kerry.mccarthy.mp@parliament.uk 

Twitter:@KerryMP

Facebook:http://www.facebook.com/Kerry4MP 

Kerry McCarthy MP
326a Church Road
St. George
Bristol
BS5 8AJ

phone: 0117 939 9901 (Lines are open from Monday – Friday 10am – 1pm)

MP for East Bristol you can also contact DPAC on : mail@dpac.uk.net

twitter: dis_PPL_protest

 

Aug 142014
 

 

At midday today (August 14), protestors from Reclaim the Power set up camp at Preston New Road, at fracking company Cuadrilla’s proposed drilling site. Approximately 1000 attendees will stay for six days, to take direct action and share skills and knowledge. They do so in support of the local community’s fight against Cuadrilla’s plans to drill for shale gas in Lancashire.[1]

Last year, the Reclaim the Power camp shut down Cuadrilla’s operations in Balcombe, Sussex for a week. The company later announced that they would not frack the site, and the Balcombe community has set up an initiative to supply their area with renewable energy.[2]

 

In 2011, Blackpool experienced earthquakes caused by fracking. Hannah Jones from Reclaim the Power said:

Blackpool is where the fracking industry started in the UK, and this is where it has to stop. Besides the damage it can cause to water and air locally, fracked gas can be as bad for the climate as coal. We need energy that’s sustainable, democratic, and affordable, instead of corporate controlled fossil fuels.”

 

Since August 7th, a group of Lancashire grandmothers, mothers, and children have been occupying the field at Preston New Road – one of Cuadrilla’s proposed drill sites. Local residents handed in a record-breaking 14,000 objections to a council consultation on Cuadrilla’s plans.[3] When asked why the local women are occupying the field, Tina Louise from Lancashire said,

The shale gas industry and Cuadrilla in particular have not acted honestly in their dealings with our community and are not to be trusted with the health and well-being of our children. We do not want them here and so are gathering to make sure we are heard and we are calling others to help us amplify this. As air and water do not recognize county boundaries, the defence is for everybody in the UK.”

[1] Press pack with more detailed camp information available. [2]http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/apr/17/balcombe-fracking-energy-community-renewables[3]http://www.foe.co.uk/news/14000-people-call-frack-free-lancashire

Contacts @nodashforgas
07447 027112
press@nodashforgas.org.uk

 

Aug 112014
 

 

This is an unreported national scandal….

It is only the mainstream media’s failure to bring this state of chaos to the public’s attention which prevents it from being plastered all over the front page of every single national newspaper.

If this was people stuck in NHS waiting listsawaiting their passports, unable to travel by train, stranded abroad,struggling to get money out of cash pointsmarooned in the channel tunnel, affected by adverse weather conditions or by striking public service workers the national newspapers would ensure it was in print for all to see.  

Yet here in the UK we have a crisis of unprecedented proportions as thousands upon thousands wait month upon month to get the benefits to which they are entitled to and hardly a word appears in any of the big hitting papers. The British public are being deceived into believing that government’s welfare reforms are achieving the desired results with no unnecessary human suffering.

The mainstream media has a duty to report the mayhem which exists within the chaotic Department for Work & Pensions and must expose this mass maladministration of thousand of benefit claims.  What makes this all the more deplorable is the victims are by and large thousands of sick and disabled people who desperately need the right amount of cash to live on.  

1 million delayed assessments/decisions, 1.7 million appeals & 1.3 million put through the sanction regime is a collective 4 million exposed to some degree of benefit decision related chaos.  How can 4 million people locked in government backed chaos not be a national chaos?  we could say:
1 million delayed assessments/decisions, 1.7 million appeals and 1.3 million put through the arbitrary sanction regime is a collective 4 million people plunged into chaos by DWP incompetence and IDS arrogance. Why is it not a national scandal and why are the media not talking about the huge waste of money and the terrible human costs of the Welfare reform?

Chaotic Department for Work & Pensions fails to process people’s claims, leaving tens of thousands of claimants destitute & impoverished for months on end…..

On the 23rd June 2014, the then disability minister Mike Penning admitted in Parliament that the number of claimants awaiting an assessment for Employment & Support Allowance had stood stood at a staggering 766,000.
 
 
On the 5th June 2014 the DWP quietly produced statistics relating to the government’s new Personal Independence Payment statistics which showed that from April 2013 to March 2014 out of 349,000 new claims made, just 83,900 had reached the stage where a formal decision had been made on the applicant’s claim – a backlog of 265,100 claims where the claimant hasn’t received one single penny of the benefit for which they have applied. 

Between the two benefits, Employment & Support Allowance and Personal Independence Payments, an eye watering 1,031,100 claimants have yet to receive the legal decision which determines their claim.  It leaves claimants in absolute turmoil and completely unable to access the help they need.

Problems aren’t limited to ESA & PIP assessment chaos

This one million claimants does not include those who have had a decision, but are in embroiled in thousands of disputes with the DWP & Local Authorities over long drawn out battles which need independent determination by one of Her Majesties’ Courts & Service’s Tribunals.  

Since April 2010 no less than 1,698,321 benefit appeals have been lodged with Tribunals, of which 939,100
relate to the Employment & Support Allowance. Nearly 1.7 million benefit appeals is just part of this much bigger chaos. 

In March 2014, 78,347 benefit appeal cases remained outstanding.  In 2012/13 the number of benefit appeals received by formal tribunals was 507,131 against 465,497 cases which had been dealt with.  By 2013/14, whilst the number of appeals had fallen to 401,197 against 545,843 disposals, the fact remains that thousands are still trapped in a chronic backlog of appeal cases which saw 77,931 adjournments and a further 44,021 postponements, collectively accounting for some 22% of all benefit cases.  It’s mayhem on a scale which has spiralled out of control.  The DWP’s answer is to implement restrictive measures to access Tribunals with the introduction of its new ‘mandatory internal review’ procedure; a procedure which has come under fire for causing even further delays with thousands in limbo awaiting decisions.  

One MP in particular stands out, Sheila Gilmore is to be commended for her non stop persistence in calling for government to publish the figures relating to thousands of disputed decisions which are subject to the DWP’s internal review procedure.  Sheila Gilmore MP (with a little help from ilegal) has pressed this issue time and time again.  Following several complaints to the UK Statistics Authority and calling the government to account at several debates which she has called, she got the then disability minister to admit how he would “love the data to be published now, but it is not ready. As soon as it is ready, I will publish it.” - seemingly we will need to wait until the end of the year to see whether Government keeps its word.

Meanwhile, thousands of sick and disabled people await the right decision for months on end, often having to rely on food banks to survive.

On top of the one million awaiting assessments, who knows how many more thousands are stuck in a cruel and heartless system, having to wait week after week for the DWP to resolve their disputes?  - my guess is many thousands await decisions; it’s in the nature of the chaotic epidemic which has broken out in the DWP.  

The chronically stretched Department is quite obviously under resourced to deal with reforms of this magnitude.  The Public and Commercial Services Union are saying, in the wake of staffing cuts within the Department, that the DWPneeds more staff, not less.” 
 

On top of all this, the DWP have been applying sanctions on a level never seen before.  As refute report“Under the new sanctions regime, introduced on the 22nd October 2012, a total of 1.35 million sanction decisions have been made up to June 2013, of which, 580,000 were adverse decisions”.

Local Councils in meltdown 

What few people outside of the benefits system appreciate is how all of these delayed assessments, appeals and sanctions impact upon cash starved Local Authorities.  Councils such as Birmingham are struggling, to put it mildly, to see how they can come up with a budget plan when they know they are expected to make of 28% cuts from central government funding by 2015

1 million delayed assessments, 1.7 million appeals and nearly 600,000 adverse sanctions all have a knock on effect as local councils grapple with revised Housing Benefit awards, Council Tax Support and decide how best to administer limited Discretionary Housing Payment awards.  Every delayed assessment can affects other benefits, sometimes tax credits and the worst nightmare begins when an appeal leads to everything being retrospectively awarded.  It means going through umpteen awards and re – revising them to reflect the new entitlement.  There is also the knock on effect of the bedroom tax, localism of Council Tax support as well as the social fund now being dealt with at Local Authority level.  

Few Council’s will speak out for fear of having their funding cut further or being labelled as ‘inefficient’ when compared against authorities in more prosperous areas where deprivation is less of a problem.   

A national scandal 

The mainstream media is doing no one any favours by glossing over the worsening chaos within the DWP and Local Authorities.  Failing to print a the real story as to the true extent of this crisis doesn’t make the crisis go away, the media owes a duty to the wider public to give way to propaganda and needs to out this scandal for what it is.  

1 million delayed assessments/decisions, 1.7 million appeals & 1.3 million put through the sanction regime is a collective 4 million exposed to some degree of benefit decision related chaos.  How can 4 million people locked in government backed chaos not be a national chaos? 

Government’s answer is something it has the raw nerve to call ‘Universal’ Credit.  By April 2014, the Secretary of State had promised that 1 million claimants would be on the new ‘single streamlined benefit’ system.  He has consistently misled his fellow Parliamentarians and the British public in to believing his flagship benefit system is ‘on track’ to transform the lives of 8 million households.  The reality is that the latest DWP figures confirm how between May 2013 and April 2014 6,960 claimants have made a new Universal Credit claim with 5,880 remaining on benefit - an overall reduction of just 1,080.  As always with the DWP, there’s no indication as to how many of them found work.  

What should worry us all is how the mainstream media, particularly the right wing tabloids, continue to pretend this crisis doesn’t exist. 

Burying this outrageous crisis behind good news is no answer, the media has a duty to tell the truth. They should do so without any sense of allegiance to those who have got these welfare reforms so horribly wrong.

 

With thanks to Nick @Mylegalforum and apologies for tampering a little with the headline

see more from Nick at ilegal.org.uk
 

 

Aug 092014
 

 

Disabled people have been expressing their disquiet at the news that the Independent Living Fund (ILF) will cease to exist in 2015, and that the money will be transferred to Local Authorities. To date, out of the 153 surveyed Local Authorities and from 106 responses, only 10 Local Authorities have said they will ringfence the transferred funds to ILF recipients, which means that in all other areas, ILF recipients face a potential reduction of their care packages. How is it likely to happen?

An interesting article was published this morning by Joe Halewood (@SpeyeJoe): http://speye.wordpress.com/2014/08/09/dhp-dubious-hoodwinking-practices-or-how-ids-pulled-the-woolsack-over-the-courts-eyes/

which shows that 16% (UK average) of Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) allocated by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to Local Authorities to mitigate the impacts of welfare reforms, and specifically of the infamous bedroom tax have been awards unrelated to welfare reforms. See Table 5 and 6 here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/322455/use-of-discretionary-housing-payments-june-2014.pdf

It would be interesting to know what the money was spent on, but more to the point, DWP has twice relied on the DHP argument to win a legal case against claimants challenging the bedroom tax policy, and although DWP’s spokesperson said that the government has put in £345m to mitigate the bedroom tax, the figures shown in the Table 5 and 6 not only disprove this but also show that out of the money disbursed, 16% of the allocated funds have been used for awards totally unrelated to welfare reforms. This shows that disabled people are right to be worried about the future of the transferred ILF funds and about the willingness or unwillingness of Local Authorities to allocate these funds to disabled people who have been assessed as having the greatest needs. The ILF should be retained until assurance is given that these people will not see a reduction in their care packages.

 

 

Jul 202014
 

Rob prepared this statement for the recent Disability Rights UK conference (18th July) He was not allowed to give his statement- we publish it here so people can understand why all voices should be heard and listened to.

The Fight for Our Lives

 My name is Robert Punton I am a disabled person and an Independent Living Fund (ILF) recipient I come here today to oppose Disability Rights UK stance on the closing of the ILF.

I have been a disabled activist for over 30 years both in a paid and unpaid capacity.  The money I have received through ILF funding has in no small part enabled me to achieve this, I have employed the same two guys as my Personal Assistants Mike Orme and Darren Harrison for over 25 years and now I am employing their son Daryl Harrison-Orme in the same capacity.  If the closure goes ahead this puts our partnership (family) in serious jeopardy.

I make no bones about the fact that as a person with high support needs without this extra funding I would be languishing in a Scope home or one run by some other likeminded establishment.  In saying this I am not in anyway denigrating the lives of anyone living there but I much prefer my lifestyle and will fight to my last breathe to save it.  Make no mistake everyone using ILF is in the same boat and none of us want to sink.

I am a member of DPAC and Co Director in Community Navigator Services with Clenton Farquharson MBE and Jack Nicholas it is a Community Interest Company we all identify as disabled; we aim to build capacity within communities to allow them to participate within society to their fullest n need or want.  We all agree the closure of ILF will severely destroy the advances that disabled people that achieved in last 3 decades.

Disability Rights UK and Simon Stevens advocate that when they close ILF it will make it a level plain field when they pass on funds to local authorities and everyone will be treated equally, equality only works when you use the highest possible denominator, in other words no one wants to be treated like their neighbour if they are being treated badly.  The term we like to use now is fighting for social justice for all, hence wanting the best standard of living (in this case support plans) for everyone.

Simon Stevens and his supports say that the ILF has made users of their scheme elitists in their communities.  I can’t argue that this may be perceived in that light. However, I would argue this two-tier system in society cannot be blamed on the independent living fund or its users; it was the Conservative government who closed the ILF in 2010 under the guidance of Maria (Killer) Miller, and in doing so cut off thousands of possible or probable new users of ILF, Con-Demning them to the level of substandard support given by most Local Authorities.

This substandard support shows the priority most local governments, and therefore National Government accord to people requiring high support – they are more than willing to leaving wallowing in our own shit!

Anyone following the campaign to SAVE the ILF led by DPAC and Inclusion London must know that we the major goal is to reopen the ILF to all people who fit their criteria.  In doing so raising the standard of those people’s support.  We believe this is the only solution not butchering the funding  of the so called “lucky” ones it in all honesty won’t help anyone.

I would love to know where the advocates of this Don’t Save ILF think the monies to raise everyone’ standards of support will come from. The money release from ILF we be swallowed up by incompetent politicians looking after their powerful votes, not us the people they view as worth less. In Authorities like Birmingham who have amassed debts of £600m you think the money given up by ILF will not even make a drip in their ocean of debt.

While I disagree with Simon’s argument I support his right to voice his opinion.  However, it is an understatement to say I am flabbergasted to hear Disability Rights UK supports this argument.  I thought you represented disabled people not the establishment!

What really exasperates me though is that we never learn from our mistakes.  Once more we are doing the governments work for them fighting between ourselves while they sit back laughing at us.  We must stop fighting and work together to defeat the Con-Dem coalition

I will finish with message to the camp supporting shut ILF.  If you can’t support don’t fight us.

Today we fight for our lives, if we lose today there will be no Tomorrow just an eternity of marginalisation and isolation either trapped our own homes or corralled in Care(less) Homes run by unscrupulous privateers only interested in profit not people

 

Thank you for listening  I hope you hear me!

 

see also: http://dpac.uk.net/2014/07/disability-rights-uk-independent-living-or-new-visions-in-neo-liberalism/

 

Jul 172014
 

DPAC have had an odd kind of non-relationship with DRUK. We’ve disagreed about many things. For example, DPAC is for saving ILF, DRUK’s Sue Bott suggests this is something we should probably forget about, and that ‘Whilst the ILF has benefited many disabled people, claims that it has been at the forefront of independent living are a little exaggerated’[1]. This is not the view of ILF users. See their stories, their lives, their experiences  It is amazing that anyone can believe that passing ILF to local authorities who already say that without ring-fenced funding many ILF users will lose support and/or be institutionalised is something we need to accept while we all get together to talk about ‘new visions’.

 

The DRUK conference dedicated to a ‘new vision’ for independent living is also a confusing affair, not only are they embracing Simon Steven’s approach[2] ( He who accused DPAC of murdering disabled people and was dropped from Leonard Cheshire’s sponsor program because of his outright abuse to other disabled people[3]), but one of their advertised partners for this conference are Craegmoor .

 

Craegmoor are part of the Priory Group owned by Avent International which is a US Equity Company- changing times you may say-and you’re right. Maybe that’s what these new visions are about: capitalising on the market, private equity companies taking public money, and disability organisations getting in on the act- maybe neo-liberalism rather than disabled peoples’ rights and equality now make up ‘new visions’ of independent living

 

Craegmoor ‘s target market are those labelled with autism, learning difficulties and mental health issues. They take 85% of their funds from public funds[4]. Craegmoor’s  web site boasts of its residential homes:

We provide understanding and support for people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health problems in a variety of settings based on the individual’s abilities and needs. Our nationwide residential care services support people to develop the skills they need to live as independently as possible’.

 

Wait, since when were residential homes part of independent living? Weren’t these the very oppressions that early activists fought to get out of, and current activists (and ILF users) are fighting to stay out of?

 

Their brochure[5] goes further:

Craegmoor is part of the Priory Group of Companies. From education to hospitals, care homes and secure facilities, the Priory Group of Companies offers individually tailored, multidisciplinary treatment programmes for those with complex educational needs or requiring acute, long-term and respite mental healthcare’.

 

Treatment programs? Not sounding very independent living or social model. As well as residential homes, secure ‘hospitals’ and segregated schools. It all sounds very daunting.

 

But there’s much more on the Priory group of companies too which is even less palatable concerning cover-ups and abuse. Until July 2013 Phillip Scott was Chief Executive if the name isnt familiar, he was also the Chief Executive for Southern Cross. Itself a subject of inquiry on institutional abuse and 19 unexplained deaths[6] Craegmor say they transform lives, but in what way?

 

In May 2013 there was Melling Acres, ‘where inspectors reported major concerns about the care and welfare of its seven residents – care plans were poor, with scant information about physical health needs, there were limited activities and a lack of advocacy to enable people to express concerns about their care’. In September 2012 ‘following an anonymous tip, inspectors found residents at risk of abuse in Lammas Lodge, a home for young adults. There were not enough staff and what staff there were, inspectors found, were not properly trained to meet residents’ complex needs. There were six major areas of concern, including care and welfare, medication and safeguarding. The home, which was warned it must improve or face closure, has since been given a clean bill of health by the regulators’. Both homes were registered under Parkcare Homes’ so neither Priory or Craegmoor got the fall-out despite ownership[7].

 

This was not the case in 2012 when concerned relatives hid CCTV cameras in the room of Highbank hospital in Bury Manchester to reveal abuse by staff[8], not so with the Bentley Court home in Wolverhampton suspended by the council for what it called ‘safeguarding issues’ in 2010, a council that stopped sending those with dementia to Bentley Court[9], and not so in 2012 when what was described as the ‘Priory mental hospital’ in Windes on Bennet Lane was closed due to not meeting 10 standards of Government quality and safety including: Patients not being fully protected from the risk of abuse and their privacy, dignity and independence not being respected, staff not receiving necessary training, a lack of systems to assess and monitor the quality of the service provided, care plans did not always cover patients’ needs. There were also reports of patients attempting to escape during supervised visits into Widnes town centre[10].

 

So as said definitely NOT independent living.

 

In 2004 the then CEO of the Priory group Chai Patel said ‘My view is, if there is ever a conflict that involves choosing between care and profit, then we should not be involved in that environment,’[11] Given the examples above it seems profit is the defining factor.

 

It didn’t take long to find this information, it didn’t take long to realise that these are not the partners who should be with any organisation claiming to support independent living, even ‘new visions’. So maybe the question that needs to be asked is what exactly do DRUK support?

 

There are a few clues, in a recent blog piece by DRUK (dated 16th July) mentioning a very good Guardian piece by independent living activist John Evans[12], an ILF user, the last paragraph says: ‘Sue Bott, Director of Policy and Development at Disability Rights UK, has written a new blog which also discusses the role of the ILF but proposes that disabled people should concentrate their campaigning towards achieving a single integrated system that assesses people’s needs and allocates assistance and support based on the outcomes people could achieve in their communities and contribute to society’.

 

John Evans says everything we need to know-we have a vision for independent living and we already have a model forged by international independent living activists. There is nothing wrong with that model. There is no reason to stop fighting for it, abandon it or develop ‘visions’ or hallucinations of lesser systems in which we divide disabled people by perceived contributions to society-all disabled people are of value, all deserve to be supported. It is the ILF model that needs to be built upon and expanded to all-something that promotes real independent living.

 

The fact that a so-called user led organisation is putting forward anything different with the spectra of institutionalisation added to the mix is a tragic condemnation of all that disability activists have ever worked and fought for. We are appalled that DRUK are willing to sacrifice disabled people’s futures in this way and sadly can only assume this is to ensure on-going funding from the government.

follow @dis_ppl_protest for more

If you want to email DRUK you can do so by emailing:  liz.sayce@disabilityrightsuk.org

 

[1] http://disabilityrightsuk.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/we-need-new-vision-for-independent.html

[2] http://disabilityrightsuk.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/we-need-new-vision-for-independent.html

 

[3] http://davidg-flatout.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/inclusion-forgotten-ambition-lost-i.html?spref=tw

[4] http://www.craegmoor.co.uk/library/files/Craegmoor%20Locations%20&%20Services%20Brochure(1).pdf

[5] http://www.craegmoor.co.uk/library/files/Craegmoor%20Locations%20&%20Services%20Brochure(1).pdf

[6] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24581693

[7] http://beastrabban.wordpress.com/2013/07/20/private-eye-on-failure-of-care-at-more-care-hospitals-owned-by-american-private-equity-firms/

 

[8] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2227229/Nurses-quizzed-police-abusing-patient-Priory-Hospital-concerned-family-hid-secret-camera-room.html

 

[9] http://www.expressandstar.com/news/2010/01/15/elderly-will-no-longer-be-sent-to-care-home/

 

[10] http://www.runcornandwidnesweeklynews.co.uk/news/health/failed-priory-mental-hospital-widnes-5875608

 

[11] http://www.managementtoday.co.uk/news/432103/Man-Priory/?DCMP=ILC-SEARCH

 

[12] http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jul/16/independent-living-fund-closure-disabled-people-residential-care

Jul 112014
 

Disability activists! For New Statesman, I’m looking at the ups and the downs of using social media – Twitter, Facebook, personal blogs – for disability (and long-term sick) campaigns.

How useful have you found social media in furthering your campaigns? In what ways?

What are the downsides? Have you ever been criticised for being an ‘armchair activist’ or received “If you can tweet/blog, you can work” type accusations?

 Disabled and long-term sick campaigners have used social networks to great ends. I would love to put together something that genuinely reflects your experiences. You can get me on francesryan.journalism@gmail.com.

Thank you.

Jun 282014
 

The leadership of the Church of England showed themselves to have the morals of sewer rats today after hundreds of police were drafted in to prevent a peaceful protest by disabled campaigners.

westminister2download westminsterabbey-protest2

A protest was taking place in the grounds of Westminster Abbey, where Disabled People Against Cuts, backed by Occupy and UK Uncut, intended to establish a camp for independent living to highlight the shameful decision by the current Government to close the Independent Living Fund (ILF).  Whilst many people were able to enter the grounds of the Abbey, with several disabled activists taking control of the gates, they were soon joined by hundreds of police.

Whilst the protest was being established a letter was presented to the church explaining the reason for the disruption.  This was completely ignored by the Dean of Westminster, John Hall, who instead of meeting with the protesters, or even giving a statement, cowered inside and allowed the police to carry out his dirty work.  At the time I left two people had been arrested, for reasons which are currently unclear.  Over 200 police kettled the 60 or so protesters, which included many severely disabled people who use the ILF themselves.  Police refused to allow any food or drink for those inside the Abbey grounds, and even prevented a severely disabled person’s personal assistant from entering the kettle.

At one point, so desperate were the police to arrest someone for nothing,  they charged into the crowd causing people to fall onto several wheelchair users.  Such was the sudden aggression of police it is a miracle no-one was severely injured although unconfirmed reports suggest one disabled person did have to receive treatment after this assault.  Police also attempted to remove access ramps for wheelchairs users to prevent them from being able to peacefully protest in the Abbey grounds.  Equipment was damaged and police prevented the planned disabled toilet and other infra-structures to be created which would have led to a safe event.  Throughout the afternoon all those inside the grounds remained at risk of violent arrest, and in fact, as you read this, that might be happening.

The protest was held on private property, meaning that the church leadership were happy for all of this to take place.  At any point the Dean of Westminster could have ordered police to stand down, yet he chose to allow this abuse to continue unchecked throughout  the afternoon.  Hundreds of people contacted him on twitter demanding the protest be allowed to continue without this police harassment.  The Dean ignored all of them.

Throughout the afternoon all attempts at negotiation with the church leadership were rebuffed.  Instead the Dean of Westminster let the boots and fists of the ever willing London Met do his talking for him.

Whilst no-one expects anything less from the police, who have a history of attacking and injuring disabled protesters, the action, or inaction of the church leadership is a fucking disgrace.  The Dean of Westminster would rather disabled people are abused, kettled, assaulted and kept without food or water than allow a creative protest against vicious cuts which are likely to lead to some people being forced to live in institutions.

The latest news is that those inside the Abbey grounds are currently meeting to decide what to do next.  With no word from the Church then staying could mean mass arrests in the ground of the Abbey.  Whatever the occupiers decide you can show support by telling Westminster Abbey @wabbey and the Dean of Westminster @deanwestminster exactly what you think.  After today’s shameful behaviour he must be hoping that the existence of hell really is just something liars use to scare children with.

 

Then come and join next Friday’s Independence Day demonstration outside the DWP and make it the biggest protest yet to show that no-one is going to be frightened away from fighting to save the ILF.

For the latest news follow @Dis_PPL_Protest on twitter or visit their website at:  http://dpac.uk.net/

Read the statement from DPAC on the reason for the protest:http://www.independentliving-fightback.uk/online/

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

 

Reposted from Johnny Void with thanks the protesters had no option but to leave the site-more soon-many thanks to the Abbey for protecting their interests and their income from tourists, over arguing in solidarity for justice for disabled people #saveilf  

Jun 262014
 

Join Sheffield #DPAC outside courts on 7th July

sheffielddpac

A peaceful direct action by disabled people and older people at Sheffield train station against South Yorkshire Transport for revoking free travel from March 31st has been marred once more by aggressive police actions. There have been peaceful direct actions since April.

Sixty protesters took part on 23rd June two were arrested and a blind freedom rider was knocked about falling on top of an activist in a wheelchair. George and Tony who were arrested are in court in Sheffield on 7th July.

Jen Dunstan, of Sheffield Disabled People Against the Cuts, told the Star: “Dozens of elderly and disabled people have been left with bruising. Some have cuts where their skin has broken from being pushed and shoved.

“A placid and calm gentleman was roughly manhandled. I am angry and shocked. The police are meant to protect elderly people.”

A Sheffield Star reporter was also warned to stop filming or he would be arrested under ‘anti terrorism laws’ by railway staff.

The Protesters have the full support of DPAC

Temporary pay pal account for the freedom ride campaign fund. 
Please donate suggested donation of £ 2 if you wish to support and * only * if you can afford it HERE

Support Sheffield DPAC on Facebook HERE

contact: dpacsheffield@gmail.com

See video and you decide what form of justice is being used….

Jun 242014
 

A peaceful direct action by disabled people and older people at Sheffield train station against South Yorkshire Transport for revoking free travel from March 31st has been marred once more by aggressive police actions.  There have been peaceful direct actions since April.

Sixty protesters took part yesterday (23rd June) two were arrested and a blind freedom rider was knocked about falling on top of an activist in a wheelchair.  George and Tony who were arrested are in court in Sheffield on 7th July.

David Kirkham (UKUncut Sheffield) said in April:

“SYPTE say they can no longer afford concessionary travel for disabled people and older people on South Yorkshire trains. These concessions are a lifeline for people in South Yorkshire, one of the most deprived areas of the country with the lowest average income. People rely on the concessions to get to work, reach medical appointments and to travel to places of education. The claim that concessions are unaffordable on trains in South Yorkshire sits ill with the fact that the chief operator of trains in South Yorkshire, Northern Rail, made £40.1m profit on the back of inflation busting fare rises, according to latest available figures (4) Northern Rail are also part owned by Serco and Dutch national rail operator Abellio; Serco received billions in public subsidy each year (5) for government contracts and have also been accused of defrauding the taxpayer over their prison contracts. A company that already makes huge profits on the back of profiteering from the tax payer and shifting profits out of the country to The Netherlands, which refuses to disclose how much public money goes into the pockets of shareholders and directors has a hard time convincing people it cannot afford to allow people for whom its trains are a vital lifeline to travel on them for free.”

People from across South Yorkshire have been taking direct action to overturn the decision by South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive to remove the right to free travel for all concession holders on South Yorkshire trains; the legality of this decision is currently being challenged in the courts.

DPAC sends solidarity to the protesters and to George Arthur and Tony Nuttall. There will be a locally based fund raiser for any fines. Please see video where five police in explicitly hold down one protester despite his lack of resistance.

Jun 232014
 

We want to congratulate the Peoples Assembly and all who joined the successful demo in London on the 21st June.

Over the weekend various accounts have surfaced on social media in relation to DPAC and the event. We would like to clarify that the DPAC steering group have not released any prior statements nor spoken to any bloggers on this issue

 We are posting below the key points of a statement sent by the DPAC steering group to Peoples Assembly organisers on the 9th June in which we raised particular issues -to date we have not received a response or acknowledgement.

“Whilst we welcome the calling of a demonstration bringing
together anti-austerity campaigns with union members, DPAC is unable to support with fundraising for access. We are at full
capacity fundraising for our own activities-   We are disappointed that access has still not been mainstreamed within the Peoples’ Assembly infrastructure.

We do not consider it appropriate that access should be sidelined and delegated out  to DPAC rather than mainstreamed with the Peoples’ Assembly. The equipment needed to ensure inclusion is neither an optional consumer choice nor a charity need.

With regard to the participation of DPAC members in the themed  block, ‘Welfare not Warfare’ (or Housing and Social Security) our position is that as a grassroots campaign not a top-down bureaucratic organisation, we cannot tell our members where to march. Some of us feel it recreates the
segregation and containment of disabled people of which there
is a long and painful history. It also denies the productive
contribution many of our members undertake despite many
barriers, which viciously impact our work roles and pay
levels.

For all our members who do wish to march in the Welfare-themed block they may find their non-disabled friends and allies drawn away to the other sections, reducing the social-ness of this occasion. Whilst everyone will to some extent be faced with the same decision of where to march, for disabled people  this kind of division and exclusion from social participation is painfully routine.

The rationale that the blocks graphically depict the different
sections of society / areas of social life affected by
austerity has not been thought through from the perspective of disabled people. If a signal is to be sent that all sections
of society oppose austerity and are prepared to organize in a
disciplined way shoulder to shoulder then attention must be paid to making solidarity with disabled peoples’ struggle against victimization and exclusion a reality, and not just pay lip service to it or treat us as objects. Nobody would dream of proposing a block of Black and Minority Ethnic  people flanked by white blocks, so why are disabled people to be herded together?

(DPAC Steering Group sent to Peoples Assembly organisers 9th June)

 We had decided to keep this statement a private matter between DPAC and the Peoples Assembly. However due to the continuing comments and misinterpretations on social media we have no option but to go public with this to counter some of the unhelpful assumptions that are being made.

 We look forward to working constructively with the Peoples Assembly in the future and appreciate that some limited attempt at access was provided on the 21st.

 However, until the costs of meeting access needs are recognised as a vital and non-negotiable cost by all event organisers disabled people will remain marginalised and excluded. The key issue for all events including the 21st June is that access should be mainstreamed from the beginning – not added as an afterthought

 

 

Jun 192014
 

The ILF has transformed People’s lives.  The Independent Living Fund does what it says on the tin – it liberates people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to, to live independently.  It lets them make choices about how they live – things we often take for granted: when to get up or go to bed, what and when to eat.  It allows them to work, to be active in the community and to live in their own homes.

 

I challenge the Minister today to guarantee that those currently in receipt of ILF won’t become less independent as a result of his decision to close it in June 2015. Because that’s what people fear.  That’s what they are frightened of.  They fear losing their jobs, losing those staff they employ to support them and losing their independence.  They fear being forced out of their homes and into institutions.

 

The Minister may say he’s passing the monies and responsibility to Local Authorities but this will not ease their fear.  And he is rather naïve if he thinks that absolves him from his responsibilities for this decision.  I’m afraid he can’t get away with devolving responsibility and blame for the consequences of his decision to others.  That’s why I ask him for these guarantees today.  For a start Disabled People Against Cuts calculate the current annual cost of support at around £288 million yet the government only identified £262 million to transfer to local authorities.   And it gives no reassurances that this money will be ring fenced to be spent only on supporting disabled people to live independently rather than absorbed into broader council budgets.

 

According to SCOPE £2.68 billion has been cut from adult social care budgets in the last 3 years alone, equating to 20 per cent of net spending.  This is happening at a time when the numbers of working-age disabled people needing care is projected to rise by 9.2% from 2010 to 2020.  In a recent survey 40% of disabled people reported that social care services already fail to meet their basic needs like washing, dressing or getting out of the house.  And 47% of respondents said that the services they receive do not enable them to take part in community life.

 

So it’s not surprising that people are desperately worried about their future.

The worry is that continued underfunding of social care will mean the care system will simply not be able to support disabled people to live independently.  The lack of reference to ‘independent living’ under the definition of the ‘well-being principle’ in the Care Bill which local authorities will need to take into account when providing care further fuels this anxiety.

 

And it’s not just people in receipt of ILF who are worried – it’s their friends, their carers and their families too.  The cases of two of my constituents illustrate this well.

 

 

Ashley Harrison is a Scunthorpe United fan like me cheering on the Iron at Glanford Park. At 10 months old he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.  He will turn 30 this year.  Ashley has lived in his own bungalow since 2006.  The ILF allows him to employ his own team of carers.  Ashley is an inspirational man, a fighter but he is worried that the control over his future is being taken away from him.

 

His mother says:

 

‘The closure of the ILF would be nothing less than devastating for us as a family. Since Ashley was awarded his ILF allowance the whole family’s lives have changed for the better. ILF understands Ashley’s needs and always do everything they can to constantly improve Ashley’s life and enable him to live independently.

As a family naturally all we have ever wanted is the best for Ashley, which the ILF has helped us achieve. The ILF has always seemed to be the leading and positive force at meetings ensuring that social services match and meet Ashley’s needs. Without the ILF we all face a very uncertain future. The uncertainty that Ashley faced in his early years prior to receiving his ILF award have been daunting, frustrating and of course a constant battle with social services.

The alleged “smooth transfer” over to social services is already proving to be nothing of the sort.  Each and every meeting we hold (which are incredibly frequent) leave us having to justify Ashley’s needs as a disabled person.  The assessments they ask us to complete are totally unsuitable for the severely disabled.

All of the disabled people living independently with the help of ILF are living their lives to the full. The fear is that if ILF closes these people will lose their human rights and dignity to live their lives as they should.

As a mother who’s fought the last 30 years for Ashley to have the life he wants and of course deserves, I dread to think what the next generation of disabled people will have to endure without the positive support of the ILF.

I beg you to listen to myself as a mother of a disabled son and also listen to all those disabled voices who deserve to be heard.

Give each and every person the ability to live and achieve their dreams just as you and I can.

The Paralympics just proves how amazing disabled people can be!!!’

 

 

Jon Clayton is also in receipt of ILF.  Like Ashley he has carers whom he employs who understand his disability.  His sister writes

 

‘My brother Jon is quadriplegic having been involved in an accident which was not his fault at the age of 18. He is now 54. 

He is one of life’s truly inspirational people; an accomplished mouth artist – a gift he only knew he had after his life changing accident-  living independently in his own home. He freely gives his time mentoring other disabled persons, helping them come to terms with another life. A life without limbs. A life without walking.


He has always sought to live as normal a life as possible. Having gone through marriage, divorce, being a step father, losing a partner.

He is both ordinary and extraordinary.

He relies heavily on his full time carers. Carers who he personally has ensured are trained to an appropriate and exceptional level to look after a person with specific and defined needs. One false move and he could (and has) spent 18 months bed bound with a pressure sore at the expense of some ill trained nurse.


His carers are trusted to ensure and give a high level of care, entrusted with the most personal of tasks from catheter changing, toileting, dressing etc.  This has been part of Jon’s life since his accident. Something he has taken on with humour and dignity.

If the ILF is removed Jon will be unable to live independently. Being able to engage in what you and I would consider a normal life. He will be unable to travel, have holidays, visit family, visit friends. 

The ILF has enabled independence. Given life, where life seemed over.

I would therefore urge you to do all you can to prevent this life enabling function – the ILF – from being eroded’

 

A fundamental concern for Jon, Ashley and others is whether they will be able to employ their specialist staff in the future.  North Lincolnshire Council’s responded to this question on 9th June 2014:

 

‘We appreciate this situation may cause you concern as an existing Independent Living Fund customer and would wish to reduce any worry or anxiety you may have.

 

Allocation of future monies will be based on your updated assessment and support plan and on future Local Authority funding so at this stage we cannot give any specific guidance on the amount of monies that you may receive from us or cannot give guarantees on the future employment status of any Personal Assistants you may currently employ.’

 

As you can imagine such ‘reassurance’ only serves to heighten anxieties and build mistrust!

 

So I return to my central question – will the government guarantee that Ashley Jon and all those currently in receipt of ILF will not lose their independence as a result of their decision to close it.  A decision I believe is aimed at saving money but might end up costing more in other budget areas such as health.  A better way forward would be for government to engage with ILF recipients learn from their experience and find ways of shaping future services that are cost effective but continue to deliver true independence.

 

As Disabled People Against Cuts points out for the 17,500 people in receipt of ILF ‘the closure of the Fund will have a devastating impact on the lives on these individuals and their families.  It also has a much wider significance because at the heart of this is the fundamental question of disabled people’s place in society: do we want a society that keeps its disabled citizens out of sight, prisoners in their own homes or locked away in institutions, surviving not living or do we want a society that enables disabled people to participate, contribute and enjoy the opportunities, choice and control that non-disabled people take for granted?’

Or in Mahatma Ghandi’s words “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.”

 

People like Jon and Ashley are not weak but strong.  The ILF gives them independence and liberates their strengths. Now is the opportunity for the Minister to guarantee their future independence will not be compromised by the closure of the ILF.

 

http://www.nicdakin.com/ilfspeech.html

 

DPAC would like to thank Nic and all the supportive MPs at the adjournment debate on ILF on 18th June 2014

 

See the ILF debate at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/democracylive/house-of-commons-27884690

 

 

Jun 182014
 

Derbyshire Anti Cuts campaigners witnessed the Disgraceful move by Labour-controlled Derbyshire County Council Cabinet yesterday voting through cuts and charges to adult social care services that Derbyshire disabled people rely on.

 

Derbyshire Anti Cuts campaigners were at Derbyshire County Council headquarters, County Hall, Matlock yesterday June 17th 2014 supporting disabled people from Derbyshire Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC).

 

Their spokesman, the brilliant Gary Matthews,  other disabled people and allies challenged council leader Cllr Anne Western, Cllr Andy Botham and Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, Cllr Clare Neill on the steps leading in to County Hall yesterday and then submitted questions in the Cabinet meeting itself raising the alarm that if these cuts and charges were voted through today, then councillors would in effect be complicit in the victimisation and persecution of Derbyshire’s disabled people and their families.

 

Good luck to Derbyshire DPAC in sorting out a legal challenge to this victimisation and persecution.

 

We say SHAME on Labour controlled Derbyshire County Council for being complicit accomplices to the Con Dem robbery of Derbyshire people’s rightful money and to the victimisation and persecution of disabled people and those with long term health issues.

 

Gary Matthews from DPAC handed out leaflets with the following text on to all councillors and people who attended the protest and the council meeting:

 

“Think before you vote!”

 

The report to the Derbyshire County Council Cabinet being voted on this morning is a very depressing document. We believe that the three recommendations are an attack on disabled people across Derbyshire.

 

Increasing the eligibility threshold for those who need support will impact seriously on the daily lives of disabled people.

 

We are talking about not just cuts, but life and death issues.

The report admits that there will be more accidents at home and people will no longer be safe if their care is cut.It also predicts worsening personal health for those deprived of care in the future.

 

The proposals on co-funding (paying for care) and on charging £5 for transport trips will drive hundreds of disabled people into poverty.

30% of disabled people already live in poverty and this will just add to it.

The report does not have a proper equality impact report and the consultation process was highly defective.

 

We attended a two hour meeting yesterday (June 16th 2014) with Cllr Clare Neill where we put our concerns.

We told her in straight terms what the effects on our disabled community would be.

We asked her to advise the Labour cabinet to delay these cuts for 12 months and lead a campaign against the Coalition cuts together with trade unions and disabled peoples groups.

 

We are fed up with hearing the Labour mantra and excuse that there is no alternative.

 

We have now given the Labour cabinet a clear alternative.If they ignore this, they will only have themselves to blame.

Will they act as agents to Eric Pickles and force through these cuts, or will they stand alongside disabled people and oppose all cuts.

 

“We believe that cuts in welfare benefits and in essential adult care services amount to nothing more than crimes against humanity”.

 

Gary Matthews

Email: matthews354@btinternet.com

 

Where injustice becomes the law, resistance becomes necessary.

 

An injustice to one is an injustice to all.

 

They say cut back, we say FIGHT BACK

 

Liz Potter on behalf of Derbyshire Anti Cuts Campaign in solidarity with Derbyshire Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC).

 

http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/Disabled-campaigners-stage-protest-cuts-adult/story-21248190-detail/story.html

 

 

Jun 172014
 

DWP ministers said only 9% of ESA decisions were wrong.  Our research reveals the DWP have been quoting from figures which state 151,800 appeals have succeeded.  Our evidence shows the true figure to be at least 567,634 – casting serious doubt over 43% of 1,302,200 ‘fit for work’ decisions. 
 

ilegal Press Release – 16th June 2013


DWP’s internal figures reveal a much higher number of successful ESA appeals than have been made publicly available.

article-2520639-19FD00E400000578-512_634x330

DWP reply on 13 June 2014 to a Freedom of Information Act request made as part of an investigation in to DWP figures relating to the controversial Work Capability Assessment by ilegal.org.uk has revealed that of 1,287,323 ESA appeals, at least 567,634 claimants have had the original DWP decision overturned in their favour.

Government’s key defence of the assessments has been that around 9% of all decisions are incorrect.  The most controversial of which are those where a claimant is found fit for work.  DWP figures (for new claims) show that betweenOctober 2008 and September 2013 a total of 1,306,200 fit for work decisions have been made.

It is with considerable disappointment noted that the DWP’s latest publicly available statistics confirm that only 151,800 successful appeals have been recorded out of a total of 410,400 appeals (for new claimants only).  Our investigations reveal evidence of three times as many appeals being ‘internally recorded’ of which
567,634 have been successful.  The DWP have revealed to us figures which show nearly quarter of a million internal reconsiderations have led to decisions on new ESA claims being overturned in favour of the claimant; we have added these to figures from HMCTS tribunals which provides us with a much higher figure than the DWP seems to be prepared to admit to in their publicly available figures.

Our intensive research into the assessment of claimants for the DWP’s Employment & Support Allowance (ESA) has, following a freedom of information request to the DWP, provided one of the final pieces of the jigsaw needed to unpick the Department’s overly complicated statistics. We now have the final clue which has enabled us to identify that no less than 567,634 ESA claimants have in fact had their initial ESA refusals overturned in their favour.

It is a startling revelation that the government department has apparently been keeping a lid on a set of statistics that clearly shows between May 2010 and June 2013 no less than 820,356 decisions were looked at again by the DWP after claimants had been assessed by the controversial private contractors Atos Healthcare. These ‘internal’ statistics show that a very substantial 232,782 (28.5%) decisions were then subsequently overturned in the claimant’s favour.

What makes this all the worse is that these reconsideration statistics come on top of separate figures that show us that of those claimants who did not have the decisions overturned in their favour by the DWP, 817,102 went on to appeal to tribunals arranged by Her Majesties’ Courts & Tribunals Service where a further 332,607 were then overturned in the claimant’s favour by the tribunal.

These figures completely negate all of the DWP’s claims that it is getting the majority of its decisions right

These figures completely negate all of the DWP’s claims that it is getting the majority of its decisions right. Government ministers in conjunction with the DWP’s Press office have been telling us that a million claimants have been found fit for work whereas these figures show that in reality this is only a small part of the true story and that huge numbers have gone on to successfully appeal decisions which were wrong.

These new figures highlight the dubious practice of using the unchallenged assessment results, which only encourage media sensationalisation, with headlines such as those appearing in the Daily Express in July 2011 stating that ’75% on sickness benefits were faking’. The same article goes on to say that out of ‘…2.6 million on the sick, 1.9 million could work’ before receiving an endorsement from the Prime Minister with an assurance that his government was “producing a much better system where we put people through their paces and say that if you can work, you should work”.

DWP and Ministers know the truth, they just aren’t telling anyone

These figures have been available to the DWP and its ministers since April 2010 from their ‘Decision Making & Appeals Case Recorder (DMACR) – ESA Management Information Statistics’. The DWP confirms this to be unpublished information which is for internal department information only, yet our research notes that the Right Hon Chris Grayling was using the same information in answer to Parliamentary questions on the 10th January 2012. 

We question then why the DWP has consistently ‘over promoted’ only the results of Work Capability Assessments relating to ‘initial’ decisions (including the opinions of Atos Healthcare in the absence of a statutory DWP decision) when it could instead have come clean and declared how hundreds of thousands of their incorrect decisions have since been overturned in favour of the person appealing.

These revelations seriously undermine the DWP’s contention that the initial Work Capability Assessment outcomes are a valid measure of the claimant’s ability to work. The DWP has consistently defended its assessments by giving an impression that only a relatively low number of decisions have been overturned whereas the reality is that well over half a million have resulted in a successful outcome for the claimant.

And this DOES NOT include the 712,000 people awaiting assessments BEFORE they can appeal

This news must have come as cause for grave concern when considered in the light of a recent revelation by DWP Minister Mike Penning which revealed that in addition to the figures we have highlighted, a further 712,000 Employment & Support Allowance claimants are awaiting assessments without which they cannot yet appeal.

This hugely unacceptable backlog of cases means people with disabling medical conditions are left hanging for months and months on a basic allowance way below what they are entitled to. This is leaving hundreds of thousands deprived of the support they require and means having to scrape by on money which is wholly insufficient to meet their needs due to disability and illness. It also means many claimants affected by severe and complex mental health conditions are facing prolonged torment as they wait month upon month for their decision to be overturned before they can even lodge an appeal.

Face up to reality: it doesn’t work. Scrap the WCA

These findings add considerably to the pleas of disabled groups all over the country to scrap the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) and to find a better way to assess their needs.

It is simply appalling that the DWP, along with Ministers and other government spokespeople appear to be feeding the media with misleading statistics that are unrepresentative of the real story and instead encourage headlines vilifying the disabled and the genuinely ill. These figures clearly show the DWP has evidence in their possession which shows how in far too many cases the decisions it is making are dead wrong and they know they’re dead wrong.

Editorial notes

Please contact the author of this article Nick Dilworth for verification of any of the figures quoted.  We welcome sharing our findings on social media and allow this information to be produced providing credit is given to the
i-legal website with links to the article produced.

We apologise for the slight delay in publishing this release.  This was due to a need to align the figures to ones recently produced by the DWP in their Work Capability Assessment figures released on the 12th June 2014 which relate to the most recent statistics up to September 2013.

A full supporting explanatory memorandum will be published very shortly.

The Reconsideration statistics relate to new ESA claimants only (excluding incapacity benefit to ESA conversion cases) whereas HMCTS figures refer to all ESA claimants.  It is our contention that had the DWP supplied all of the information we had requested, the figures for reconsiderations would have been considerably higher.

We acknowledge that not all appeals will be against fit for work findings for new claimants but given the DWP’s emphasis on this claimant cohort and the lack of information to the contrary we are of the contention that other appeals relating to claimants being moved from the Work Related Activity Group to Support Group are likely to be of a much lower volume and more likely to be contained within the cohort relating to incapacity benefit/ESA assessment.

We would like to express our thanks to Anita Bellows an i-legal member for her cooperation and for making the freedom of information request upon our guidance and our thanks extend to the DPAC organisation with whom Anita is also a member.

http://ilegal.org.uk/thread/8640/release-staggering-numbers-overturned-secrecy?page=1&scrollTo=21759

with thanks as ever to Nick  @Mylegalforum

May 252014
 

From the Independent newspaper 9th April 1995 with thanks to Steve G- A lot has changed and a lot has stayed the same:

Disabled people aren’t going to take it any more: for today’s new militants, patient progress is not enough. They chain wheelchairs to buses, court arrest, scorn their gradualist brethren as “Tiny Tims” – and “piss on pity”

On a freezing morning two weeks ago, 20 or 30 disabled people met outside Parliament to protest. One man was blind, most of the others used wheelchairs. They spoke to Japanese television reporters and were photographed by teenage tourists from France and Germany. And they explained their unswerving opposition to the Government’s Disability Discrimination Bill – which was that day starting its Report Stage in the House of Commons. With the wind rushing across Westminster Bridge, the protesters made their way from Parliament Square to Downing Street, where the ambition was to present John Major with the means to provide a ramp to his residence: cement, a cement mixer, a shovel. Or rather, the ambition was to have these items photographed by the press. A demonstration organiser – a wheelchair user – kept in touch with his office and with the media by mobile telephone, but also kept up the cry: “What do we want? Civil rights! When do we want them? Now!”

Stuck into the cement mixer was a life-size, floppy model of John Major. And on its lapel was a badge that might have been taken wrongly by the shivering spectators – it might have been thought a satirical prcis of Mr Major’s position on disability. But the badge carried one of the rallying cries of the organisation that had set up this demonstration: the badge said, “Piss On Pity”.

Things are happening in the world of disability that never used to happen. There used to be charities called the Royal this and the Royal that, and there used to be Jimmy Savile, and bring-and-buys, and hard-won concessions from British Rail or Parliament – a ramp here, a statute there. Now, although the old system is still partly in place, and still bringing improvements to people’s lives, it has to seek an accommodation with a new, modern, radical politics: press stunts, mobile telephones, Piss On Pity badges, anger. (If you want to check the radicals’ progress against other liberation movements, it is useful to note that the word “crip” – like “nigger” and “queer” before it – is already being put to work by at least some of those once oppressed by it.)

But any accommodation – between the old and the new, between the organisations “for” disabled people, and those clearly “of” – has not yet been made, which leaves room for conflict. Today, inside the politics of disabled people (not – it is generally agreed – “the disabled”, not “people with disabilities”, not “the differently-abled”) there are bitter interdenominational battles, there are left and right wings, vanguards and rear-guards. Today, a conversation with a person who works at the political end of disability issues is likely to feature quick and robust abuse of a man or woman in the same business – someone is an “Uncle Tom” – or, better, a “Tiny Tim” – or “a sound bite expert” – or just “an arsehole”. Disabled politics are in something of a heightened state, and this is because the question has not yet been settled: which will work best – patience or impatience?

ALAN HOLDSWORTH, who is impatient, is a leading light – if not exactly the leader – of the Disabled People’s Direct Action Network (DAN). DAN is the most radical, visible, publicity-accruing part of Britain’s disability movement, and it was DAN that was responsible for the event at Westminster.

Holdsworth lives in a comfortable, cluttered suburban house in Wood Green, north London. Although he uses a wheelchair over longer distances and during demonstrations, he walks to open his own door: a big, muscly, long- haired, youngish man. He unclicks a leg brace after he has sat down. He will not tell me the nature of his disability – the cause of his impairment – because, he says, that would then get stuck to his name in my article: and that would be no less unsound, he says, than attaching a woman’s name to the colour of her hair. “So no comment. We’re trying to move the press off that. It would be `Alan Holdsworth, polio victim’. They’d know that before they knew anything else.”

Holdsworth speaks with the well-practised passion – turbo-charged, now and then, with hyperbole – of any other single-issue campaigner. (“What’s the difference between the treatment of disabled people in Britain, and apartheid?” he asks me. He sees none.) His slogans are “Piss On Pity”, and “We Will Ride” and “Rights Not Charity”; Jimmy Savile is a “patronising old git”. Other campaigns will follow, but DAN’s immediate stated ambition is to end the discrimination represented by inaccessible transport – DAN has a banner that reads: “To boldly go where all others have gone before”. If you ask Holdsworth what he wants, he says: “All new buses accessible by law by a certain date, all buses under 15 years old accessible by the next refit, all national coaches and buses accessible within seven years … the Tube within 15 years…” Critics have alleged that the “disabled lobby” is in an impossible hurry. But even Alan Holdsworth is not absurdly unrealistic: he is impatient to see change, but he seems more impatient to see change started; for this is he would be willing to go to prison.

And here disability politics divides. Holdsworth has no time for the old “for” organisations that have seemed willing to wait. Indeed, Holdsworth sells a T-shirt that is specifically scornful of the long-established and relatively conservative umbrella group Radar (the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation). The T-shirt reads “Rights Not Radar”. Holdsworth says: “I got a letter from Bert Massie [director of Radar], saying, `I thought we were working together, is this thing really helpful?’ I haven’t written back, it’s not a priority for me, but when I do I’ll say, `Dear Bert, it sold 40 shirts; and that means that two people can get to one of our actions. If he wants to put `Fuck Alan Holdsworth’ on a T-shirt and it gets two people to an action, I don’t mind.”

In his living-room, Holdsworth gently interrupts his young daughter’s Pingu video to play a compilation tape of news coverage of DAN actions: the demonstrations at Parliament, the chainings to buses, the giant letter delivered to Downing Street last summer – the gestures that have suddenly become a part of the British political landscape. Now and then he corrects the screen – “Victoria Scott wasn’t a `protest leader’!” – or he remembers: “That was a slick demo, that was great fun…” Holdsworth’s daughter echoes the marchers on the tape. “What do we want?” she says. “Civil rights! When do we want them? Now!” Then her concentration wanders: “What do we want?” she says, “Pingu!”

It depends a little on definitions, but it seems that the history of disabled direct action goes back no further than the late Eighties. There were demonstrations before then, but no concerted efforts to break the law – and none of today’s focused, flamboyant, therapeutic, photogenic gestures. In 1989, Holdsworth and others protested in Chesterfield against the decision to pedestrianise the town centre without making allowance for cars with disabled orange badges. In that action, disabled people parked, were given tickets, and refused to pay the fines. Either this event, or one of the actions carried out at around the same time by the Campaign for Accessible Transport (CAT) can probably be regarded as the start of disabled direct action in this country.

In 1990, Holdsworth and colleagues targeted the ITV Telethon, by then a decade old. “It was showing disabled people leading horrible lives,” he says, “very tragic – `Isn’t it a shame?’, all that – getting the public to pity us rather than feel angry, with us, for the situation we were in.” Holdsworth started ringing disabled friends, proposing some sort of demonstration, and he was taken aback by the vehemence of the response. “I thought, well, this is going to work, people are so angry about it. That was the explosion in direct action terms.” Five hundred people turned up to demonstrate at the LWT studios on the South Bank. “That was the Great Leap Forward,” says another disabled man on the demonstration, Michael Oliver. “It was a street party, but we won all the arguments.” The next Telethon, which drew 2,000 demonstrators, was the last.

The direct action movement now had momentum. DAN was officially formed, and, since then, has made its presence felt at the Christchurch by-election in 1993, at the Tate Gallery in London, at Kenneth Clarke’s surgery, at Harrods… Last spring, DAN held an action at Leeds City railway station. “The local authority had spent £40,000 on disabled people. But what they’d done is build a garden at the end of the platform, which was being opened by Jimmy Savile, who is one of the most hated figures in the movement. A hated figure. He drew at least half the people to the demo – because it was him who was opening the garden. So we all went down there, a little farty garden. We camped on it. We just covered it with wheelchair-users.”

In his office in his front room, Holdsworth laughs, and flicks a cigarette butt out of the window. His daughter comes in with a small globe and asks where we are.

DISABLED direct action – and “Piss on Pity” – are part of a broader British disability “movement” that has still not come of age. It is a movement whose history is written differently depending on what position you take in the current debate – the debate between “ofs” and “fors”; most ofs would not regard the fors as any part of their history. Michael Oliver, quoted above, is a radical, the Professor of Disability Studies at Greenwich University; he passes over the histories of the grand old “for” institutions, “the dead hand of charity”, and concentrates instead on such milestones as members of the National League of the Blind and Disabled taking their place in the Jarrow March.

But, as Oliver acknowledges, much of this history is unwritten, unclaimed. The modern disability movement is too young to have done what other liberation movements have done – restore lost heroes, find Mary Wollstonecrafts and Nat Turners. And besides its youth, the movement has a problem those other movements never had: “Not that long ago,” says one activist, “if you had spina bifida you died two hours after birth; it’s hard to get much of a reputation in two hours.”

In Oliver’s view, the modern disability movement grew out the prosperity of the Sixties, and the failure of disabled people, among other disadvantaged groups, to share in that prosperity. In the Seventies and Eighties, as feminism, anti-racism, gay rights, animal rights began to find a place in national politics, disabled people started to understand their plight in political terms. Disabled people began to “come out”: this is a metaphor used fairly commonly in the movement. Oliver’s own experience is a useful guide: son of working-class parents, he broke his neck in a holiday camp swimming-pool as a teenager; he spent a year at Stoke Mandeville. In 1972, now a wheelchair user, he started a sociology degree at the University of Kent. “I became involved in student politics and other radical left organisations. But I hadn’t become part of disability politics. I thought the Socialist revolution was going to solve everybody’s problems.”

As a postgraduate, Oliver started to consider how hopelessly flawed most thinking and writing on disability was – it was produced by able-bodied academics working on the assumption that illness and disability were the same thing. Oliver “came out” academically. It dawned on him that there was a sociology of disability to be constructed; he could study himself. Twenty years on, Oliver can take much credit for setting the academic agenda. His great contribution to disability studies has been in getting the “social model” of disability understood as a serious challenge to the medical model. That is to say: in the medical model, a man in a wheelchair cannot get where he wants to get because his body is not up to it. The social model acknowledges that the man has an “impairment”, but sees the obstacle as the cause of disablement. “The fact that I have polio,” one disabled man told me, in classic social model fashion, “is nothing to do with the fact that there are 17 steps to the Town Hall. It’s the 17 steps to the Town Hall that I see as the problem.” This does not mean – except, perhaps, in the minds of those who are stratospherically extreme – that Ben Nevis should be wheelchair-accessible, but it does aim to put the ball back in the court of those whose job it is to organise the world – and its buildings and its transport.

It was against this background – and the examples of other single-issue political movements and of America’s disability politics – that the disability movement began to take shape in Britain. Institutions were established; individuals came out.

For example: Adam Thomas is a young man – dark glasses and headscarf, a former interior designer – who has to use a wheelchair following a motorcycle accident 15 years ago. Right up until last year, he was in a state that might be called denial. “I denied that I was being segregated. I blocked the fact that I couldn’t get into certain buildings.” The turning point was the kindness of his best friend, who told Thomas that, obviously, he wouldn’t move into anything but a ground-floor flat. Thomas, while touched, was struck for the first time how other friends had not done the same. And last year, for the first time, Thomas became aware of the “movement”. As soon as he was aware of it, he became a part of it. This is now his life.

Another example: Eddy Hardy is 29, a Liverpool-born artist with a fashion- beard. He uses a wheelchair, and is now active in DAN. “I’ve had my impairment from birth. It was only about six years ago that I came to accept my identity as a disabled person. I didn’t particularly like disabled people. But one day I was watching the TV news, and it was these militant crips in the road in the USA. I thought, yeah, I can have some of that.”

A DECADE ahead of DAN’s direct action, the first real institutional sign of the disability movement’s arrival in Britain was the setting up of an umbrella organisation – the British Council of Organisations of Disabled People (BCODP) – in 1981. It was democratic, it was run by disabled people, it subscribed to the social model. It started with six affiliate members, and it is a sign of widespread individual comings out that it now has more than 100 affiliates – mostly local coalitions of disabled people. BCODP regards itself as having very little in common with, say, Radar, Mind, Mencap, RNIB, Cheshire Homes. “There is a degree of antagonism,” says Richard Wood, Executive Director of BCODP. “There is bound to be, isn’t there? Because traditional power bases are now being threatened by disabled people.”

To some in the old guard, BCODP unfairly underestimates the changes that are now taking place and that have already taken place in the traditional organisations. (The RNID has just appointed its first-ever deaf chief executive, for example, and the Spastics Society, under pressure from disabled people, has changed its name to Scope.) And more conservative disabled campaigners argue that the radical position unfairly underplays those institutions and techniques that – in a process that may now look painfully gradual – have so improved the lives of disabled people since the Sixties. “Improved by 100 per cent – improved attitudes, awareness,” says Sir Peter Large, an influential disabled man of an earlier generation, who has sat on many committees, helped draft legislation, argued with MPs. He talks of mobility allowance, attendance allowance: “These have benefited millions… BCODP have done very little in practical terms.” According to Sir Peter, the radicals are wrong to neglect the significance of, say, Alf Morris’s Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act of 1970: “He put disabled people on the map. He really started the whole move to improve things.” Piss on Pity? “I know exactly what they mean, but if you go up to an MP with that on I don’t think he’s or she’s likely to be warm to you – if they’re not already interested. But I know exactly what they mean.”

Bert Massie, who runs Radar, and is a wheelchair user, is a bte noir of the radicals. You get the impression of a man who accepted a job as a charity worker but who has found himself, suddenly, a politician. “In the past,” he says, “there was a greater acceptance of an incremental approach. People never rowed about disability.” The effect of the “fundamentalists”, he accepts, has been partly good. “I don’t know,” he says, “how Radar would have evolved if there hadn’t been fundamentalist pressure…” But he says that Radar cannot run too far ahead of its constituents. While the stereotype of a disabled person is probably a middle-aged man in a wheelchair, the most representative type, in truth, would be a elderly woman with arthritis, who might feel – along with many other of Britain’s 6.5 million disabled people – that she has little in common with, say, the members of DAN. There are disabled people, says Massie, who don’t regard themselves as disabled; there are disabled people who are Conservatives: “I’ve had people in here saying, wouldn’t it be better if you abolished social security, and had disabled people sponsored by private companies.”

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.”

THIS, today, is the kind of observation one disability worker tends to make of another. But in this newly complex and sometimes hostile world of disabled politics, there is a miraculous and rather precarious piece of common ground – it’s a coalition called Rights Now! At Rights Now!, weapons are left at the door, and most of the important disabled organisations – both “of” and “for” – meet to promote civil rights legislation. Last year – another Great Leap Forward – the civil rights argument was won. At some point, legislation may follow.

The battle has been for legislation that, like its racial and sexual equivalents, would outlaw discrimination against disabled people (in employment, education, transport). The cost of implementing such a law has always been at the heart of resistance to it, but the Government’s figure of £17bn over five years has been widely disputed, and it has been shown how similar legislation in the USA has not, in fact, been as alarming to small businesses as was feared. The conversion of disabled people into employees and into more promiscuous consumers has had its economic benefits.

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. But before his resignation in July, it became known that Scott had a daughter called Victoria Scott – young, non-disabled – who works for Radar. And, to the delight of the media, she was happy to give interviews on the subject of her father’s political shortcomings. To a great extent, it was due to this well-reported Antigone sub-plot that discrimination against disabled people became something of a hot media issue last year – the subject, for example, of a supportive Sun editorial. And because the press was now interested, demonstrations held by disabled people were widely reported. “I’d been trying get some coverage,” says one campaigner, “I was ringing the TV – the Big Breakfast, whatever – they weren’t interested. When the Vicky Scott story broke, they were ringing us.”

The penny seemed to drop. “People saw it,” says Rachel Hurst, “as a civil rights movement. Not just those poor sods can’t get on the bus.” Thanks to the failure of a bill about civil rights, the idea of disabled civil rights seemed to take hold. You could feel an earlier model of pity and passivity slipping away. MPs began to get many more letters and have disabled issues raised more frequently at surgeries. Consciousnesses were raised, not only among able-bodied people (“people with abilities” as one disabled radical has mockingly put it) but among sceptical disabled people who had remained politically “in” ; demonstrations swelled in numbers; individual (rather than institutional) membership of Rights Now! increased eight- fold in one year. And it was a mark of what had happened that articles scornful of “the disabled lobby” started to appear in national newspapers and magazines: as most campaigners would want it, sympathy – pity – had been removed from the equation.

THE FRIDAY night before last, DAN’s “Piss on Pity” mugs were selling fast in a rather overlit bar in the centre of Cardiff. After two days of a three-day series of actions in the city, DAN members had hired a room to have a drink, to contemplate the previous days’ events (an action each day, six arrests, the first ever actual charges, some fairly thorough TV coverage), and to consider the Big Action the next day, when they were hitting the bus station.

By 9pm the bar was filled with disabled people, full of solidarity and good humour and Carling Black Label. Inevitably, perhaps, DAN members are disproportionately young, articulate, mobile; although one regular protester, Sharon Mace, lies on a kind of horizontal wheelchair. (It is one of the brakes on the direct action movement that many people cannot get to actions, and once there, they cannot just sleep on someone’s floor – as they would have done, say, on a CND demonstration; the accessible hotel in a town is likely to be the most expensive.) In the bar, there was talk of “hip crips” and “crips with chips”. There were several radical- left cropped hair cuts (worn with the standard, tipped-back wool hats), there were copies of Militant on the tables (DAN’s treasurer, among others, is a Militant member). People who had never met before this week were testing new friendships by the use of exaggerated abuse, or hands left on shoulders. There was something of a chair-jam at the bar. A woman who imports the handcuffs that DAN members use to attach themselves to buses and trains was describing the problems she has with HM Customs and Excise. This is disabled politics at its most uncompromising, its most underground and – although this is not quite the point – at its grooviest.

As much as anger, the bar in Cardiff seemed full of people’s extraordinary sense of their own place at the start of a political process; people seemed light-headed not only with lager, but with the thought of making history. A DAN action – there have been about 60 – has an effect on several levels: it draws press attention to a particular, local issue; it keeps disabled civil rights on the agenda; it projects, through the media, images of disabled people looking rather less than pitiful or vulnerable; and for those on the action, it can be an experience of almost overwhelming personal empowerment. “There are disabled people,” says Eddy Hardy, “who watch us on TV and think [with disapproval]: `Oh God.’ But for every five or six of them, there’s one going, `Yes!’, thinking about it for the first time, coming out.” Once out, once on the street, “The feeling of pride and power is unbelievable. We’re told we’re weak; but today we stopped the traffic. We had an effect. It’s amazing… Today, I was lifted by the police, and everybody, all the others, were waiting for me. And cheering. And for a moment you’re a hero of the movement.” He checks himself. “But we’re all heroes. All heroes.”

In the bar in Cardiff, there was a lot of talk about pride (“We have our own culture”), a commodity which has been at the heart of other liberation movements, but you might have thought it was less accessible to disabled people. How far can you take the idea of disability pride if you would not wish your child, say, to have the same impairment as yourself? In more conservative disabled circles, people tend to say that a disabled child “would be no tragedy at all”. But in DAN, there are those who go the whole way: “If I have any kids,” says Hardy, “I hope they’re disabled. Then they’ll be militant bastards like me. If they’re crips, they’re going to learn what handcuffs are…”

The next day, shortly before he was arrested for his part in blocking Cardiff’s bus station, and inconveniencing its many passengers, Eddy Hardy joined the chant of 100 disabled people: “We’re DAN, you’re trapped, get used to it.” !

Link: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/spitting-on-charity-1614885.html

Where are they now?

Alan Holdsworth aka Johnny Crescendo still active in the US

Sharon Mace changed her name to Rowen Jade became chair of Equality 2025 rumoured to have helped in the DANing of Equality 2025, died in 2010

Richard Wood now an uncompromising disability consultant last we heard

Rachel Hurst founded Disability Awareness in Action and also worked to make significant changes with DPI and the UN,  retired

Mike Oliver retired, spoke at last Disability History month on independent living, writes for Disability Now 

RADAR-Now part of Disability Rights UK ( DRUK) merged with National Centre for Independent Living and Disability Alliance in 2012, thanks to NCIL promotes itself as an ‘of’ disabled people organisation. It also runs the All Parliamentary Party Group (APPG) and Disability Action Alliance an off shoot from the Disability Strategy

Bert Massey previously chair of the Disability Rights Committee, most recently chair of Labour’s Disability Taskforce commissioned by Liam Byrne MP. The taskforce also included Roger Berry, Neil Crowther, Agnes Fletcher, Kaliya Franklin and Ian Greaves

BCODP became UKDPC

Disability Discrimination Act replaced by the Equality Act (2010) became more diluted when the Condems removed Economic and Social impacts. Condems failed to have it removed as what they called  ‘red tape’

Mind, Mencap, RNIB, Cheshire Homes and SCOPE still going and still speaking for us

“Rights Not Charity” more relevant now than ever

Jimmy Saville- we all know what happened there

Let us know the ones we’ve missed

 

May 182014
 

Disabled people have long been oppressed by professionals saying they’re acting in our ‘best interests’ as an excuse to maintain their own interests. One of the latest is their ‘take’ on facilitated communication, used by many across the world to express their voice if they do not have speech. FC is the use of a keyboard on which the user types what they want to say see the great piece written by the brilliant Quiet Riot

FC device being used to buy ice cream

communication board in hand doing ordinary things like buying an ice cream. This does not require a “transition plan” or “a service delivery audit” Or a specialist training programme to create a team of ” Whippy Therapist”

Some claim FC is incorrect and shouldn’t be used. DPAC fundamentally disagrees and fully supports FC. But, of course keeping people voiceless is much more profitable for ‘professionals’, charities and other groups whose livelihoods and/or donations often depend on our oppression and on keeping us powerless and silent. This has been evident throughout disabled peoples’ history.

Imagine the loss of contracts, work they get to psycho – analyse us. The lesser need for speech therapists, researchers, psychologists, service providers and academics,and the drop in donations to pay top salaries to their charity directors if we develop our own challenging voices-of course its in their interests to deny any method that empowers our voice if it renders them obsolete!

All those denying our voices through which ever means we chose to express them are violating our human rights as set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons (UNCRPD) which argues we have a right to use any method we chose for communication including FC and that this should be respected and accepted. But in the so called disability business (i.e those who make money from us and from maintaining our oppression) profit speaks louder than human rights.

Please see below to find out how this can happen when the vested interests of ‘professional power attempts to overturn human rights…….

The ISAAC attack on the Communication used by Increasing numbers of Disabled People.

The International Society of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC) released a “Position Statement” on facilitated communication (FC) on 23rd April 2014 to its international membership.

Along with theposition statement on FC, ISAAC finally issued the identities of the ad hoc committee, who were selected to deliver the statement. The majority of the committee had publicly condemned FC prior to joining the committee. Therefore, the condemnation of FC following their deliberations was the expected outcome.

The ISAAC ad hoc committee used flawed methodologies, collected biased data to support an unexplained hypothesis and cited highly selective references to create a spurious position statement on FC.

However, most significantly the committee refused to consult with disabled people who use FC. ISAAC had identified just one disabled person who was a member of this committee but this person did not use FC.

The remainder of the committee were Speech Therapists, Researchers, Psychologists, and Academics. There was no representation of people using the communication they were writing a “position statement” on. Such oppressive practice has no place in an organisation established supposedly to support a persons right to communication.

Rosemary Crossley (the founder of FC) alongside many disabled people using FC, had made many, well received presentations to large audiences at ISAAC events. Now following the work of the ad hoc committee FC, as a method of communication for increasing numbers of disabled people, has been dismissed as invalid.

This outcome appears to have been contrived to protect the power of professionals and academics whilst ignoring the rights of communication for disabled people using FC .

ISAAC have not established committees to create position statements on other alternative means of communication accepted within ISAAC ; Picture Exchange Communication System.(PECS), Rapid Prompt Method (RPM). This is another indication of the deliberate attempt to isolate and devalue FC by a group of professionals and academics whose status and “expertise” is seriously challenged by the authentic voice of disabled people.

Such an approach by ISAAC management requires the subjugation and acquiescence of disabled people and is an abuse of professional power.

This abuse of power and from professionals is being seriously challenged by large numbers of disabled people and their allies. Similar resistance to protect academic vested interests was used to stop the introduction of sign language and Braille and it took major struggle from Deaf and Blind people with their allies to overcome such oppressive practice.

ISAAC and it’s associated chapters state that:

The International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC) works to improve the lives of children and adults who use AAC. (Augmentative and Alternative Communication). ISAACs vision is that AAC will be ! recognized, valued and used throughout the world. ISAACs mission is to promote the best possible communication for people with complex communication needs.

 By dismissing a valued means of communication ISAAC management are devaluing hundreds of their members and in doing so fundamentally undermine the ISAAC  mission statement.

This position statement has given a licence to “hate speech” about FC which cannot go unchallenged. The ISAAC committee have excluded a section of their own membership because they use FC. I invite members of ISAAC to demonstrate their protest at such an abuse of power and an abuse of thousands of disabled people around the world.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (and women) to do nothing” Edmund Burke.

 Adam Barrett

BA (Hons), PGCE, MEd, FC Trainer.

 

May 182014
 

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If you’ve been following this on twitter and face book, you’ll know what a great success the first international #dpactour has been. The excellent Ellen Clifford of DPAC travelled to Canada at the invitation of John Clarke of Ontario Coalition against Poverty (OCAP).

John and OCAP have been great allies to DPAC, supporting us since 2012 ATOS Games protests, and DPAC was happy to return that support. We want to thank all for inviting us to share the knowledge of #dpac campaigns and actions, and the history of the unelected coalition Government’s appalling treatment and stripping of rights from disabled people.

The terrifying model of the coalition is spreading with punitive, harmful and potentially murderous regimes being taken up by other Tories at international and European levels. Canada have an election coming up and already plans similar to those carried out in Britain are starting to take shape. The Canadian people wanted to hear from #dpac on how they could increase campaigns and what was happening here to disabled people. Ellen and John did a tour letting people know what could be done, what has been done and how to fight it.

Remember: #internationalsolidarity, ‘fight to win’, ‘austerity is global so is our resistance’

With thanks to everyone involved we reproduce below some pictures from the #dpactour- more on the #dpactour to come..so watch this space

 

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May 162014
 

We are asking all local council candidates to pledge their support for developing inclusive education practice if elected onto the council.

For DPAC members not standing, we want your local council candidates to pledge their support for inclusive education practice.

We would like to have a photo of candidate with his or her party rosette, name, borough and ward and a sentence or two on why she or he is supporting ALLFIE’s manifesto demands.

We would like to aim for every candidate to offer his or her support for inclusion.

Please follow link: http://www.allfie.org.uk/pages/work/manifesto.html

Send photos to simone.aspis@allfie.org.uk

 

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