Debbie Abrahams, Labour’s shadow work and pensions minister has secured an emergency debate about the cuts to PIP tomorrow afternoon. DPAC members will be outside Parliament from 1.30pm to protest the changes to PIP
Meet at Old Palace Yard 1.30pm tomorrow- please get there if you can.
As many of you will know this has been a busy week for DPAC starting on Tuesday with a hastily organised protest in response to the underhand changes to entitlement Penny Morduant and the Tories plan to make to PIP, with support for International Woman’s Day and the Waspi protests on Wednesday, the Womens’ TUC Conference and culminating on Sunday with the DPAC team flying off to Geneva to present both the RoFA shadow report and out own response to the government’s reply to the UN inquiry which found the UK government guilty of the grave and systematic violation of disabled people’s human rights.
As always however while we fight daily to try to uphold and advance our rights we nevertheless end up with some people whining especially on our facebook group about it being a waste of time to protest as it doesn’t make any immediate difference. While that may be correct we wanted to post this response from our very own Vicky Lopez which addresses the reason why continuing to protest is so important and why we need to keep making sure we are seen and heard – even if change and progress are not as immediate as we might all want.
“For me, as long as there are others who are willing and as long as I can then I will continue to protest for what I truly believe in.
The thing is the more people demonstrate, the less the government can ignore our plea when more and more public support us.
One demonstration seldom changes anything. It takes relentless shouting from the rooftops, obstructing traffic and opening peoples eyes in making an abrupt point in their lives that makes them understand what we are going through, why we are protesting and that it is them we fight for too. It can take years as already proven with countless equality changes but at the end of the day changes were made.
For previous causes, lives have been lost at the hands of military and police when they have attempted to prevent demonstrations and riots in chartist’s and suffrage movements and even some being murdered through our old death penalty in particular one man I believe was hanged for treason because he felt strongly in the rights of normal working men to have the right to vote the same as the upper class and authorities wanted to use him as an example to deter further protest. It took tonnes of petitions signed in their millions for all the above mentioned too.
It is proven demonstration has worked for some of the biggest changes in our laws to give equal rights and therefore it is about persistence. If we are willing to keep fighting, the more likely demonstrations give hope to the voiceless that there are people out there willing to fight for their (and our own) lives.
To put it in a picture in mind… imagine its a windy night, you are outside in the dark, no idea where you are and the only useful things you have is a candle and matches/lighter. Everytime you keep struggling with matches or a lighter and even get a flame, it goes out too quickly as the wind keeps blowing before the candle can be lit, the wind blows the flame out. But like parliament, the wind changes and then you find it just took for the wind speed to change and you keeping on persevering like people do with demonstrations, that even the slightest change can give you the opportunity to ignite the candle. Once the candle has a flame, you can use the flame from this to light another candle and this keeps continuing until there is enough lights to find yourself home.
If you give up trying to light the candle then you may have lost your chance of finding your way home… you automatically accept you will be in the dark forever. But then imagine there are other people trying to light their own candles in the same darkness, then you may suddenly notice the light of hope from another candle being lit by someone else. If no one else was trying, there would be no chance of light at all.
If people stop protesting because they don’t believe change will occur, then effectively you are in acceptance of the hell that many of us are facing or about to face. To stop fighting you have let them win automatically. I would rather lose going down fighting and at least say I tried my hardest, then ever accept this and allow myself to be slaughtered without defending myself.
Unity is the key to progress.
Throwing in a bit more history for those doubting how protest can and has changed government majority mindset to change laws and show how a small group grow into a much larger capacity to make that change.
The suffragettes movement started in 1887 started by Millicent Fawcett (NUWS). It was a small group of women all with one common thing they wanted to fight for the womens right to vote. Then the Pankhursts created WSPU not long after that as they felt Fawcett was not driving enough attention as she believed in non-violence whereas Pankhurst’s felt that heavier action was needed to create a stir for the government to take notice. The never ending protests whether peaceful or not started gaining more and more support, making the government restless about it but it took people to be jailed, go on protest by fasting, one throwing herself in front of a horse and dying publicly and many resorting to chaining themselves to fences of important buildings and many arrested and given convictions to do hard labour or prison time when prisons were not as nice as they are today and even assaulted/abused by authorities for trying to defy the law. As we know the law did change, but it took until 1918 to start allowing some women who met certain criteria to vote and the rest is history… My point is this… it took 31 years to fight for a basic human right for a woman to have her say in who she wanted to represent her in government. Think about it… 31 years. A few years more than my current age.
Also there was more recent the Gurkhas Justice Campaign to allow ALL servicemen from the Gurkhas to have automatic right to British citizenship. They protested nonstop for several years and the law was changed in their favour i believe around 2010 (please correct me if wrong).
Mens’ Chartism movement to give all men the vote regardless of income/status started around late 1830s. There was never ending protests countless petitions some with well over 1 million signatures to have the laws changed to give the right for all men to vote with i think 4 particular points inclusive of what was protested and requested from government (i.e. any man over 20, disregard class/income, given a right to secret ballot etc). In 1867 more men were finally given the right to vote (still with very strict criteria) and the following year the Tories were voted out when there was the general election. However, all the points requested were not fulfilled until 1918. From start to complete conclusion requested it took 80 years total.
Yes i know some on both sides of this debate may feel disheartened at the prospect of gaining full rights through 80 years but we already have in our advantage, guidelines within the equality act, the recent UN report as well, as a starter of ammunition to use in our favour and slowly slowly more are taking notice the more we speak up about it.
We now have online petitions, internet and social media on our side that many previous campaigns didn’t have.
These are only a few examples of protest impact where laws have been totally overturned as a result of relentless protest. No, change doesn’t happen overnight. I brought up the above 3 examples above, as i felt they were relevant to fighting for equality. It shows it takes time and can take many years and much of that is to do with continually raising awareness and keeping the issue fresh in the public’s mind as well and to make it relevant to those who are still ignorant of this fight and also to change the views of even a few MPs who are willing to listen and speak on our behalf then it starts the ball rolling.
Of course every government is going to produce a report on itself saying it’s doing great and everything is going just fine – especially our much loathed Tory Government.
However there is also a supposedly independent monitoring body for the UK who also produce a shadow report. In our case this is the Equalities and Human Rights Commission plus the devolved equivalents for Scotland and Northern Ireland. But they’re also funded by the government and of course this is also the same Equality and Human Rights Commission (keep thinking about the name) who recently sacked 12 workers by email giving them 24 hours to clear their desks and leave after years of service. 9 of those sacked in this appalling way are BME and 6 are also disabled people.
And perhaps unbelievably although sadly true one of the disabled workers has had their powered wheelchair taken away from them by EHRC who claim as it was provided by Access to Work funding so it belongs to them and not the person who needs to use it.
So the upshot of all this is that DPAC along with our allies Inclusion London and Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance (RoFA) went ahead and wrote our own Independent Shadow Report – we had no invite from the government to do this and we certainly got no money from the government for it, but we wanted this job done properly.
Its important that the UN Committee gets to see an un-varnished, full, detailed account of the effects of UK government attacked on disabled people. And we had no confidence that the semi-official bodies were willing or even able to produce one.
So our small team of researchers and writers at DPAC, Inclusion London and Rofa got together and we did our own.
It has already been submitted to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and this week, on Monday, representatives from DPAC, IL and Rofa will be joining the EHRC and Druk representatives in the UN in Geneva to present our reports to the committee.
You can see the DPAC/IL/RoFA submissions to the committee here:
Protest in Wymondham this Friday 3rd March, 12 – 1.30pm. We will assemble at the Market Cross, Market Place, Wymondham, NR18 0AX and will make our way to George Freeman’s constituency office where his surgeries are held. Protest organised by Equal Lives
We need to let him know the strength of feeling about his comments and let him know that we won’t accept more cuts to PIP or any other welfare benefit for disabled people.
Mark Hartrison, CEO of Equal Lives said:
‘His comments about disability are crass and ignorant and belong in the last century. I suggest George reads the UN Inquiry judgement on the grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s rights by his Government and then implements the recommendations. This Government is continuing with the failed austerity policies of the Coalition which targeted disabled people for the harshest treatment. I really don’t understand why disabled people are being singled in this way for more cuts to our independence and living standards. What happened to this Governments commitment only made last year that cuts to PIP would not go ahead and there would be no more welfare cuts?’
We will be producing a flyer for the event which will be circulated ASAP.
If you are a constituent of George Freeman please try and fix an appointment to see him at his surgery this Friday morning.
If you or someone you know living in Southampton has had their social care package from Southampton City Council cut in the most recent round of reassessments, we would like to hear from you.You can contact us by email at email@example.com
Southampton City Council drafted in Capita to help deal with a backlog of assessments for care packages. Leaked emails suggest that staff who work for Capita are given financial incentives to reduce people’s care packages without assessment. To date 1 in 5 people have had their care packages reduced but none have had an increase, in spite of the increase in the National Minimum Wage (as employers disabled people now have to pay their PAs). This is contrary to the Care Act of 2014. DPAC held a protest against Southampton City Council on Wednesday 15th February 2017.
The protest was organised by Southampton DPAC with support from national DPAC
See the news item with an interview with DPAC’s Ellen Clifford on BBC South Today on 15th Feb:
We started off 2016 campaigning against Southampton Councils plans to cap social care packages having invested £12 million into a ‘super’ care home. These actions were abandoned by Southampton council due to pressure brought by DPAC at the time and because they were legally questionable.
Camden Momentum and WinVisible (women with visible & invisible disabilities) are hosting this community screening, with speakers from Disabled People Against Cuts, and Gill Thompson (anti-sanctions campaigner on behalf of her brother David Clapson) followed by discussion. This comes after the moving and well attended vigil held 25 January for Lawrence Bond, the Camden man who tragically collapsed and died after leaving Kentish Town Jobcentre, having been found “fit for work” by Maximus and the DWP. Ken Loach, John McDonnell MP (Shadow Chancellor) and Debbie Abrahams MP, came and spoke at the vigil. Ken Loach’s film is crucial viewing and the showing will bring people together to resist the benefit cuts and sanctions which have killed thousands of people and cause misery and destitution on a massive scale. We’ll discuss how we can oppose the latest disability benefit cut due in April.
John McDonnell said thatI, Daniel Blakeis one of the most moving films he’d seen, and was very pleased to team up with Ken Loach to urge people to go and watch it.
The recent revelation that a Trident missile test had to be aborted after the missile veered off course towards Florida highlights the continuing danger nuclear weapons pose to the world. Coupled with the many erratic statements from President Donald Trump, the time has come for international action to eliminate nuclear weapons everywhere.
The United Nations is starting to negotiate a nuclear weapons ban treaty at the end of March. This presents an opportunity to end the threat of nuclear annihilation and for the nine countries that have nuclear weapons to join the international consensus in favour of scrapping them.
Please join us in Parliament on Wednesday 1 March to tell your MP that the government must play a constructive role at the UN. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never spoken to your MP before, experts will be on hand to give you support and guide you through the process.
Update: Following interventions from several DPOs including DPAC, DRUK has agreed to recall and amend their report and we will be examining the changes closely. Watch this space……..
DPAC have previously had a few skirmishes with the hilariously named Disability Rights UK. DRUK are one of the big corporate disability charities that collect money from the public under the guise of championing disabled people.
To start with, our problem with charity for disabled people is we think it shouldn’t be necessary at all- we need equal rights, not charity handouts. DPAC’s slogan is “Rights Not Charity”.
But our particular problem with DRUK, is they advertise themselves as a charity for disability rights, while also taking money from this government with it’s horrendous welfare reforms, cuts to social care and attacks on just about every sphere of disabled people’s lives. DRUK also take money from private companies like Maximus to deliver “Disability Awareness Training” to its WCA assessors. And yet these people claim to stand up for disabled people’s rights?
You can see some examples of our previous battles with DRUK at the end of this post.
But this time they really have taken the biscuit. They’ve not only taken the biscuit, they’ve dunked it in our coffee, dropped the soggy bit on the carpet, taken another biscuit, and scoffed it.
DRUK are one of the lead organisations who have been paid by the government to do a report on the state of disabled people’s lives in the UK. This report is going to be submitted to the UN disability committee later this year. Its something called the “Shadow Report”.
Basically Britain signed up to the UN treaty called the UN Charter for Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and every few years the government gets reviewed by the UN on progress towards implementing the treaty. So the government submits a report about that and it also pays non-government organisations to submit a Shadow Report to give their side of the story.
Its meant to prevent the government just giving a glossy everything’s fine report, and its meant to give a critical counter-balance to that as well.
So the government gave a wad of dosh to the Equality and Human Rights commission, who skim some off the top and gave a smaller wad of dosh to DRUK, Inclusion Scotland and Disability Wales to write a shadow report.
The shadow report from DRUK & Co got released at the end of January and we had a look at it. OK its critical of the government in many areas, but one of the first things we looked at was what they said about one of the most important issues facing disabled people right now, the deaths of benefit claimants due to welfare reforms.
We looked, we searched – and the report contained nothing about it at all.
And then after asking around and doing a little digging, we discovered that the submission made by Inclusion Scotland to go into the report DID include evidence of deaths of claimants due welfare reform.
So we naturally wanted to know what happened to the vital evidence that was submitted by Inclusion Scotland but didn’t appear in the final report.
The answer came back that the evidence about claimant deaths had “accidentally been edited out” during final changes to the report. To say that we at DPAC were angry about this is an understatement.
We have written to Liz Sayce, CEO of DRUK to demand that they recall their report and put Inclusion Scotland’s evidence back into the report, here is the email we sent yesterday:
While we agree that DRUK should make the final decision about what is included in their CRPD shadow submission, like Inclusion Scotland DPAC are also very concerned that during editing of DRUK’s shadow report a vital section relating to claimant deaths and links between those and WCAs was omitted.
While we understand this was accidental and are sure you would never intentionally be so offensive to the memory of thousands of deceased disabled people we feel nevertheless that it is essential you recall the version of this report that was submitted in error and re-submit it with the additional information on the horrific impact on social security claimants the UK government’s welfare reforms to date has had on social security claimants.
On behalf of DPAC Steering Group
This morning we had a reply,
Thank you very much for your email. We support the inquiry done last year and the Committee’s conclusions and are acutely aware of the impact of sanctions and cuts on disabled people. Our shadow report is a joint report from Disability Wales, Inclusion Scotland and Disability Rights UK so Rhian from Disability Wales, Sally from Inclusion Scotland and I are agreeing next steps and will get back to you asap.
Liz Sayce OBE
CEO Disability Rights UK
We’ll keep you posted on what they decide, but if you want to tell DRUK to recall their Shadow Report and include information about claimant deaths, you can tweet them on @DisRightsUK or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
A whistleblower from inside Capita has told Disability News Service (DNS) that Capita has been piling pressure on its team of social workers – while paying them more than £1,000 a week – to cut social care spending, on the orders of Southampton City Council. You can read the full DNS Article here
Southampton DPAC have convened this protest to shame both councillors and contractors. All DPAC members and allies that can get there are urged to go. This might be Southampton but it could be happening across the country soon and we need to demonstrate our willingness fightback here.
Event summary: Lush Cosmetics will be holding an international meeting for its staff, key invitees, and a range of bloggers, fans, and the public. We expect an audience at the event of around 2000, and a lot more through our online and streaming content – at our last event we ended up with a global online audience of 27million!
Our aim is to create an engaging, interactive and uplifting event that focuses on inspiring people to get involved in the issues being addressed through education and sharing of solutions. We also want tocelebrate the hard work of grassroots organisations such as yourselves in making things better.
Event dates Wednesday 8th February 12-6pm Thursday 9th February 12-6pm
On the 8th at 11.30 am John Kelly will be singing known and loved disability protest songs and on the 9th, Penny Pepper and Mary Ellen are performing at 3.30pm
Join Us for a special screening with Ken Loach of his award winning film “I Daniel Blake”.
Tuesday 28th February, at the Pheonix Cinema, 52 High Road, East Finchley, London, N2 9PJ.
Admission Free, (there will be a bucket collection for DPAC) arrive at 5.45 to collect tickets, Film Starts at 6.15pm, after the film there will be a Q&A with Ken Loach and Paula Peters from DPAC, interviewed by Aditya Chakraborty
DPAC wish to express thanks to John Burgess for organising this event, and to Barnet Unison for paying for the venue, to Ken Loach for coming to speak and Aditya Chakraborrty (senior economics commentator for the Guardian) for coming to interview Ken and Paula
We are publishing the complete set of DPAC Submissions and government responses to the UNCRPD Comittee that DPAC used to initiate the inquiry into grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s human rights by the UK government
You can see the chronology of events in the process in this document , which puts the document given below into context of the whole process.
You can also view all of DPACs research documents and some from Reclaiming Our |Futures Alliance (of which DPAC is a part) documents on the Research Page on this site
(Click the headings below to jump to that section)
This is the new “must have” accessory in 2017 for the properly turned out street activist. Tastefully designed in shades of lurid green, it features Damian Green in a scene from “The Omen” with the caption “The Tories, more frightening that fiction”.
It costs a quid plus 78p postage. The quid will go to DPAC campaign funds and the 78p will go towards buying the newly privatised Royal Mail bosses a new private plane probably, but we can’t do anything about that.
The DPAC team would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy, peaceful and safe festive season and to provide a brief round-up of what has been happening over the past 12 months.
It has been both a triumphant and tragic year for DPAC, with some of our biggest ever achievements coming to fruition after years of work, but also the loss of some dearly loved and respected friends and colleagues.
Its been a year of continuing struggle against the cuts and other measures that have blighted disabled people’s lives, with steady progress being made. For the first time since 2010, this was the year that Tory MPs started to rebel against further cuts targeted at disabled people. We believe that this is a significant turning point in our struggle. We are still a long way from reversing the cuts that have caused us so much harm but at least we may have prevented further attacks from being made.
All this activity was against a backdrop of the biggest political upheavals in decades, possibly in most people’s lifetimes as the UK voted to leave the EU, the resignation of Cameron, sacking of Osborne and the ushering in of Theresa Mayhem’s chaotic government.
So hear is a month by month account of DPAC’s tumultuous year……
January began with Southampton City Council backing down over its proposals to cap social care support awards. The Council terminated the consultation early as a result of the feedback and concerns they received, including those of DPAC and our supporters.
January also saw the first ever strike action in NHS History by the Junior Drs and DPAC members showed solidarity and support to them by joining them on the picket lines at London hospitals and across the country.
The end of January it saw the Tories have their worst ever week in Parliament with three welfare reform defeats in the House of Lords with the cuts to ESA WRAG Group, bedroom tax, and redefining child poverty and David Cameron getting slagged by all sides for the appalling use of “bunch of migrants” during PMQs on Holocaust Memorial Day
February saw lobbying of parliament around the Cuts to ESA WRAG Group, with DPAC writing to MPs; protest outside parliament with table tennis to highlight the ping ponging going on between the House of Lords and House of Commons.
February saw the start of the campaign led by MHRN, with DPAC and Boycott Workfare support, about a trial of having DWP Workcoaches in GP Surgeries in Islington, a Labour London Borough. There was a war of words between MHRN and Islington Council Leader, which we reproduced online.
DPAC, Inclusion London and individual ILF Activists had a huge win against the Tory Government, with the news that the government was to provide local authorities with four years of transitional funding for former ILF recipients taking this to the end of the current parliament in 2020.
MRRN, DPAC and Boycott Workfare protest in Islington against having Work Coaches in GP Surgeries
We supported MHRN and Boycott Workfare with a protest in Islington with a protest called “Treatment for Surgeries, Job Centres for Jobs” to highlight Maximus job coaches based in GP Surgeries in Islington as part of the pilot for the health and work programme, which ended with a roadblock of Old Street Roundabout.
We sent more letters to MPs about the ESA Cut (here) and (here) and then when finally after a hard fought battle in both Commons and Lords, the ESA Cut was finally voted through we took our revenge on some of the MPs that voted for the cut, with Operation #ToryDump.
DPAC Members protest outside awaiting Zac Goldsmith (Picture: Paula Peters)
We hadn’t finished bugging Zac either: DPAC ambushed Zac Goldsmith in Croydon and again at Northumberland Park while he was on campaign trial for mayor of London elections to challenge his decision on voting for ESA WRAG Cut, and disrupted his photo shoot with Chancellor George Osborne.
The week ended with IDS resigning and DPAC holding a celebration party to celebrate his demise!
We got massive media coverage for this protest partly due to the commons authorities shutting down the BBC Live broadcast live on air. Here is some of the Media coverage we got from the protest with DPACs Ellen Clifford appearing on the main BBC news bulletin:
We began the month by telling the big corporate disability charity Scope to #EndtheBullshit
DPAC, along with the TUC Disabled Workers Committee organised a quick lunchtime direct action during the TUC Disabled Workers Conference and shut down Tottenham Court Road with a demand of #NoMoreBenefitDeaths.
Rick Burgess from Manchester DPAC went to represent us in Ireland at an Anti Austerity Alliance conference to inform them of welfare reform in the UK and what was happening to fight it as the government there had begun proposing some measures (there it all comes under the spin of ‘labour activation’) that appear similar. When they heard of what had gone on in the UK, there was stunned and horrified silence.
The remainder of June was concerned with the build-up to two major protests in July, DPAC’s National Day of Action against PIP and a protest against “Work Cure Therapy” which DPAC were supporting.
June will also be remembered for the shocking murder of MP Jo Cox just before the EU Referendum and a week later UK voting to leave the EU and PM David Cameron’s resignation.
DPAC held a national day of action against PIP on 13th July with 15 local actions taking place across the UK to highlight the appalling loss of disabled people’s Motability vehicles and loss of support after assessments, cumulating in a big central London action supported by DPAC, Winvisible and MHRN where Capita HQ, DWP HQ, and roads around parliament were shut down.
The second resignation of the year happened with Stephen Crabb (or was it really David Brent, we were never quite sure) when Crabb/Brent resigned following a grubby sex-text scandal. He’d been in the job for such short a time and had done so little, DPAC didn’t even bother to comment, let alone celebrate his departure. We did however produce some memes to welcome in his replacement Damien “The Omen” Green
A new meme from Brian Hilton to welcome the new Work and Pensions Minister, Damien “The Omen” Green
Nothing happened during the month of August, no protests, no twitterstorms, no ambushes of top politicians. Not a dicky-bird, nowt, nothing, nada.
But if the government thought we had all given up or gone on holiday they were very wrong! DPAC might be a nuisance when we’re active, but when we go quiet, that spells even bigger trouble on the horizon, and we we back in September with a full on Week of Action.
September saw the Paralympic Games in Rio Brazil, sponsored by ATOS. DPAC highlighted the appalling cuts to services and the tragic human impact of the cuts on disabled people with our Week of Action entitled #RightsNotGames.
Wednesday 7th saw the main central London protest of the week of action. It was timed to coincide with Prime Ministers Questions, and a A 90′ long banner reading “No More Benefit Deaths” hung from the embankment opposite Parliament during Prime Ministers Questions and was visible to the MPs inside.
Following the banner drop DPAC and allied activists shut down Westminster Bridge for over two hours.
Photo Credit: LetMeLookTV
Wednesday Evening into Thursday 8th was a 24 hour online protest, which saw the launch of an experimental Live online Protest format, a twitterstorm and our first ever facebook protest activity.
Saturday of the Week of Action consisted of DPAC hosting an International Conference with activists from around the world coming to show solidarity and discuss how to build the global resistance. The one day conference brought together perspectives and allies in the fight against austerity and neo-liberalism from the UK, Europe and Canada to look at geographic resistance and independent living. Speakers include John Clarke (Canada), Antonois Rellas (Greece), Catriona Kenny (Ireland), Kapka Panayotova (Bulgaria), The ak MoB (Germany) and John McDonnell Shadow Chancellor.
To end the week of action on Saturday evening and Sunday 11th there was the opening of “Assisted Suicide, the Musical by by writer/actor/activist Liz Carr which was being performed at the Southbank Centre in London.
We also published our “Guide to Disabled People, for Non-Disabled People” during the week of action, so that it could be shared amongst the Paralympic coverage online, in order to raise awareness in the general population about disabled people and the social model
Tory Party Conference Bullshit Bingo made conference week just a little more bearable
October brought the Tory Party Conference in Birmingham and along with it DPACs campaign to Toxify the Tory Party in revenge for all they have done to us. As well as protests in Brum during the conference, we organised a Social Media protest during the week to invade coverage of the conference on the hashtag #CPC16. And to make the week a little less doomladen with all the Tory Conference speeches, we invited people on social media to play Tory Party Conference Bullshit Bingo
But at a time that we would have been celebrating a massive victory, we lost our co-founder, friend, advocate and leading light in our movement, Debbie Jolly.
Debbie Jolly, photo by Pete Riches
Debbie made disability rights the focus of her life’s work. She was one of the key people in putting in instigating the UNCRPD investigation into the UK Government’s treatment of disabled people. Debbie was one of the co-founders of DPAC in 2010, and remained an important member of the organisation, helping to shape it into the campaigning force it is today.
NUBSLI and DPAC protesting against cuts that jeopardise the sustainability of BSL interpreting. Photo Credit @NUBSLI
December and the end of 2016 saw the Boycott of Language Line with a protest organised by NUBSLI and supported by DPAC, to highlight language line being awarded NHS contracts outside their Canary Wharf Offices.
There was more lobbying of MPs to highlight the appalling use of sanctions against claimants on JSA, ESA and Universal Credit with the Public Accounts Select Committee hearing into Benefit Sanctions.
And in a surprise move we saw the resignation of Lord Freud as Minister for Welfare Reform since 2010 and previously an advisor to the Labour government on the hated Work Capability Assessment. Good riddance to bad rubbish.
And then once again, tragedy struck as we heard of the death of Robert Dellar. Robert was one of those people who never sought publicity but behind the scenes, he worked tirelessly and was and influential and well respected as a campaigner for mental health survivors. Robert was one of the founders of Mad Pride in the UK and an inspiration for the setting up of Mental Health Resistance Network. Robert leaves a partner and many friends in the campaigning community for whom the world will be less of a place without him.
DPAC And MHRN protest at the Transforming Mental Health Conference. Photo: Paula Peters
And then finally we ended the year as we began with a victory when we shamed Islington Council into providing an adequate care package for disabled tenant Alex. Alex had fought the council for 18months trying to get safe accessible accommodation, with no result, when we published the case with a video on the blog and asked you to tweet to the council to shame them into action. Within just a few days, magically an appropriate funding package was agreed so that Alex could finally have a decent, safe and accessible place to live. It just goes to show that collective action in the age of social media can be used as a power for good against intransigent authority.
Throughout the year people have spoken for DPAC at meetings around the country and it is brilliant to be able to email someone and ask them to speak as far away as Bournemouth or Bridgewater. Within London demand for us to provide speakers has led to us adding Vicky and Nicola to the team. They both made their excellent debut speeches recently.
As always we’ve continued to provide valuable advice and peer support to hundreds if not thousands of people with many success stories.
Our on-line presence on social media is omnipresent and another valuable campaigning tool. We’ve organised many twitter storms and have trended on twitter numerous times.
We now have about 35 local groups some of which are still small but others that are now well established and taking part in regular protests including in Glasgow, Sheffield, Manchester, Norfolk and Suffolk.
Thank you to all the people who have donated their time and effort to help with research, specialist advice, graphics, video making, banner making, and so many activities far too numerous to list, that make DPAC happen. In this post we have mentioned by name many of the people who have worked for DPAC over the year, and in addition we particularly wish to thank Miriam Binder, Brian Hilton, Nick Dilworth, Rick Burgess, John McArdle, Gail Ward, Kate Belgrave, Jason Batchelor, John Slater, Rupert Harwood, Sally Kumo, but we could not list everyone and others prefer to remain anonymous, but you know who you are, and we thank you for your contribution.
Thank you to all the people and affiliated organisations who gave money donations to DPAC, both big and small, we really do appreciate every donation you make, to enable us to keep taking the fight to the government for change for the better.
Thank you to all the people who have read, commented, tweeted, shared our blog, helping to spread information and awareness.
But most of all thank you to all our members and supporters. Its your support and goodwill that lifts us up, keeps us going and carries us onward. We couldn’t do this without you.
The DPAC Steering Group, December 2016
[Text by Paula, Linda and Bob]
Looking forward into 2017….
As for next year we need you all to contact your MPs and ask them to come along to our meeting in parliament to launch the UN report. We also need any of you who can to come along as well.
Guilty of grave and systematic violations – What next after the UN disability inquiry? Briefing and Discussion
The meeting is January 24th 2-4pm in the Wilson Room, Portcullis House.
On 7 November 2016 the United Nations published the findings from a UK inquiry carried out by their disability committee under Article 6 of the Optional Protocol of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The inquiry was triggered by extensive evidence submitted to the UN over a number of years by ordinary people concerned by the impact of UK government policy on Disabled people. It is the first time a state has ever been investigated in this way and the UK is now the first state in the world of whom the UN has found reliable evidence of grave and systematic violations of Disabled people’s rights.
The inquiry report was published alongside the UK government response to the findings, rejecting all eleven of the UN recommendations.
Critics of the inquiry point to discrimination and the terrible living conditions to which Disabled people in other parts of the world are subject. However, by ratifying the CRPD, the UK government signed up to the progressive realisation of social and economic rights. The UN inquiry investigated and found evidence of systematic and serious retrogression of Disabled people’s rights due to welfare reform. This supports concerns raised separately by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the UN Special Rapporteurs on Housing, Disabilities, Poverty and Food.
This meeting will provide a brief introduction to what the CRPD is, the inquiry process and how it was triggered and provide an over-view of the report and its recommendations, as well as raising the question of what next.
You can read previous DPAC Reviews of the year here:
Thanks to Jamie Kelsey Fry (@jamiekelseyfry) – editor of New Internationalist – who got DPAC and disabled people’s issues into BBC Radio London during his newspaper review this morning (Sunday Dec 18th)
He spent a lot of his time on the show talking about DPAC, social care, the UN Inquiry and lack of Accessible Rail Transport on Southern Rail.
Our Allies in Canada, OCAP, marching through a blizzard fighting to save the lives of homeless people in Toronto
Winters in Toronto are brutal, down to tens of degrees below zero, but that hasn’t stopped Toronto’s political elite from making people homeless and cutting back on support services and even worse, cutting back on emergency shelters for homeless people.
Toronto’s remaining homeless shelters are bursting at the seams.
In a city that drips with wealth, homeless people are left to die on the streets or face conditions of brutal overcrowding that denies them basic dignity and jeopardizes their health.
All summer long shelters have been packed, and now as head into winter, there is a real risk that even survival spaces like the Warming Centres and volunteer-run Out of the Cold programs won’t be able handle the overflow.
The City must stop cutting shelter beds in the city centre, and open new spaces now if we are to avoid tragedies this winter.
See the film that documents the crisis, be outraged at what the Toronto authorities are doing and then help to bring pressure on those authorities to do something (see what you can do at the end of this page).
Our Allies in Toronto,Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) marched through the streets in Toronto last night to demand the opening of more shelter space for the homeless just as a blizzard hit. It was brutally cold.
The situation is really urgent. A homeless man was brought to a hospital last night suffering from exposure but survived. However, we are racing to try and prevent deaths from happening.
What can you do to help?
If you use Twitter, send the Mayor of Toronto @JohnTorya message. Tell him that the homelessness crisis in his city is getting international attention. Tell him that people in the UK are outraged that in such a wealthy place he lets homeless people die through political neglect.
On 20th January 2017 Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America.
That day, together, we will drop banners from bridges across the country to send a simple, hopeful and unmistakable message. We will build bridges, not walls, to a peaceful and just world rid of oppression and hatred.
“Let us build bridges rather than barriers, openness rather than walls. Rather than borders, let us look at distant horizons together in a spirit of acceptance, helpfulness, cooperation, peace, kindness and especially love.” –Martin Luther King
DPAC are a supporter of this action. See the facebook page for more details
Download the picture at the top right of this post (right-click and save the file) then use it as your Twitter and Facebook avatar picture from now until the 20th Jan 2017. And share the website http://bridgesnotwalls.uk/ using the hashtag #bridgesnotwalls
(for those who do not know already, John Burgess is Branch Secretary Barnet UNISON and a longstanding supporter of DPAC)
Text below by a friend of John Burgess
Who needs to apologise to whom as we approach the dates for the hearing on UNISONgate? I have read this apology by John which he made recently and published on Facebook and his Blog.
When asked to explain his apology I’ve noticed John has replied once with this (on facebook): “For legal reasons I am unable to make any comment on this matter.”
This is not how he usually speaks. It stands in complete contrast with the way he speaks about the actions of our employer.
When he’s been asked by others, “have you been gagged?”, again his response is: “For legal reasons I am unable to make any comment on this matter.”
What I do know is that he is now desperately trying to raise money. Whilst John will not comment on why, I smell a stinking rat as do many others. The question everyone is asking is, “Is UNISON asking John to pay compensation?” I guess the only people who know the answer are UNISON and John.
As a trade union member I’d like to know if unison is using members’ money to take legal action against a grassroots rep.
In the meantime I have three requests to make of those in the trade union movement:
1. Please send message of support and solidarity to John Burgess to his facebook page or to me and I’ll pass them on. [or add them as comments to this page and DPAC will pass them on]
2. Please share the facebook posts with others
3. If you can spare some money (and I know this time of the year it is not the best time to ask) you can donate money to help John – details here:
If you wish to donate then please write a cheque to: For William Morris Society and post it to c/o 34 Pioneer House, 46 Britannia Street, London WC1X 9JH.
Alternatively do a bank transfer to: For William Morris Society (Holborn and St Pancras); sort code 60-04-24; acc. no.86807331; NatWest Camden Town Branch, 168 Camden Town High Street, London NW1 0NW,
For those who want to come to the Certification Officer hearing the dates are 19,20,21 December 10am each morning. See here for details:
Lush have been a long time supporter of DPAC and we at DPAC wish to thank Lush giving their support to us in this way.
Funds raised from the sale of the charity pot will be distributed by Lush to grass roots organisations working on animal protection, human rights and environmental issues around the world.
While DPAC won’t directly receive funding from the sale of the pots (although DPAC have received funds from Lush in the past), just as importantly, if not more so, it will raise awareness amongst Lush customers of DPAC and disabled people’s struggle for human and civil rights.
100% of the retail price paid by customers buying the product (minus the VAT, which has to go to the Government) is given away to fund grassroots organisations working on animal protection, human rights and environmental issues around the world. We prefer to fund smaller organisations, especially those who have limited resources and fnd it diffcult to find funding elsewhere. We offer funding from £100 to £10,000 to grassroots groups that need help to make a positive difference to our world. Our charitable giving is not a marketing exercise, and we ask nothing back from the groups we fund. We just want to help those who work tirelessly to make the world a better place, and who play a useful part in the movement to create change. (you can read more about Charity Post here)
What do DPAC do with our funding?
All of the funds DPAC receive are from donations from individuals and non-governmental organisations. DPAC do not accept funding from political parties.
All of the funds raised to DPAC go straight into campaigning and awareness raising. DPAC do not have any paid staff or premises. All DPAC work is performed by volunteers who give their time and effort for free.
DPAC Funds go to such things as funding legal challenges, getting materials and equipment that we use for protest actions, printing costs for leaflets and banners, expenses for keeping the website running and for paying travel expenses and when necessary accommodation costs for activists who need to travel to take part in DPAC activities.
** Update 13/12/16 ** Since publishing this information, we have had a few reports that the phone numbers below do not connect or that they forward onto lines which charge. So please be aware of this. If you do use the numbers let us know via the comments below the article what you find.
Current list of DWP 0800 telephone numbers that claimants can use to call the DWP for free from a mobile.
0800220674 NISSA Benefit Enquiry Line for AA, DLA, Carer’s Allowance & Carer’s Credit (this number redirects to other numbers for some benefits – these might be paid numbers)
0800991234 Pension Credit Application Line – TPS
08000224250 Customer First Line
08000556688 JCP First Contact New Claims
08007314811 PDCS TPS Pension Credit
08007317898 PDCS TPS State Pension New Claims
08009172222 PIP New Claims Service Line
[Thanks to @Imajsaclaimant for checking these numbers]
List of abbreviations:
TPS The Pension Service
PDCS Pensions, Disability &Carers Service
MOPR Method of Payment Reform
If they make a sanction referral against you, act immediately
Submit a written statement about why you should not be sanctioned
Insist on a meeting with the manager of the Jobcentre (or the workfare provider) to argue the sanction referral be withdrawn
If the sanction referral is clearly unjustified, make an official complaint.
Claim Hardship Payments from the Jobcentre
Inform Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit so these benefits continue
If your sanction is confirmed ask for a written statement of reasons
Write to ask for a mandatory reconsideration of the decision by the DWP
If this fails, appeal against the decision to an independent tribunal
Seek solidarity from us and others – consider a demo at the Jobcentre or workfare provider if they are not listening to you
LET’S ACT TOGETHER AND MAKE SANCTIONS UNWORKABLE
WAITED AGES TO GET HOUSING BENEFIT?
Don’t put up with it. If your claim hasn’t been sorted out two weeks after you have given all the information needed, then the Council are legally obliged to make you regular interim payments of Housing Benefit.
This applies to private tenants and housing association tenants. For Council tenants, where the Council are paying the Housing Benefit direct to their own Housing Department, the Council are legally obliged to pay Housing Benefit within 14 days, or if that is not reasonably practicable, as soon as possible after that. An interim payment is a temporary payment of Housing Benefit which is paid regularly, like normal Housing Benefit, until they work out your claim. The law says the council must pay you an amount which it considers reasonable. (An interim payment is sometimes also called a “payment on account”.)
WHAT TO DO?
How do you get an interim payment?
Make sure that you have given the Council all the info necessary for them to sort out your claim. It may help to speed things up if you submit a letter requesting an interim payment with your original housing benefit claim form. But if you have not done that don’t worry.
Check that 2 weeks have passed since you gave the Council all the info they needed.
Ring them up, and tell them that by law they have to either sort out your claim immediately, or make you an interim payment immediately. The Housing Benefit Regulations 2006, in particular Regulation 93(1), says they must do this.
Interim payments are NOT discretionary. According to the law they must be paid if the circumstances described in 1) and 2) apply.
If they still won’t pay, say you will make a complaint to the ombudsman about Council maladministration unless they pay you. (You can do this by contacting the local government ombudsman 0300 061 0614 PO BOX 4771 Coventry CV4 0EH email www.lgo.org.uk/make-a-complaint/fact-sheetts-/benefits-and-tax .The ombudsman has the power to make a recommendation that compensation be paid in cases where there has been maladministration.
If they still won’t budge you can demand a meeting with the manager, to which you should go with a friend/adviser to insist that you are paid. If they refuse to give you an appointment ask for the supervisor/manager and insist on your right to an appointment. If they are still being unreasonable you could ring the Housing Benefit Performance Manager to ask for an appointment
If can also be useful to contact councillors who have the ultimate responsibility for Housing Benefit. The councillor responsible for Housing Benefit is the convenor of the Finance and Resources Committee. You could also contact your local councillor, ring the Council Info Centre to find out who they are.
Getting your MP or MSP to write on your behalf can also be useful, this generally results in your case being “escalated” and looked at by a more senior official.