Linda

Jan 292016
 

Following the winning of two Bedroom Tax cases this week by the grandparents of a young disabled man and the survivor of domestic violence in the Court of Appeal the government announced within hours that it intended to appeal against this decision and has allocated an unlimited amount of our money to defend their totally unjust policies.

You can read the full  so-called justification for this from the so-called minister for disabled people, Justin Torysnake in this link here
Under-occupancy Penalty (28 Jan 2016)
http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2016-01-28a.415.0&s=%22housing+benefit%22#g424.0
“Justin Tomlinson: We are not ignoring the ruling; we are appealing it.
We are doing that because we feel that discretionary housing payment is
the correct way to do it. Reforms take time to come in, as I said
earlier. *Housing benefit* cost £24.4 billion this year. Had we not
brought in reforms, every single one of which was opposed by the Labour
party, it would have cost £26 billion this year.”…..

 

Until this appeal has been heard in the Supreme Court anyone currently appealing against a bedroom tax decision will have their appeal ‘parked’ pending the outcome however in the meantime the government has produced new guidance for anyone affected specifying that their extra costs should be met from a Discretionary Housing Payment.

Bulletin for HB staff HB U1/2016, effective from 28 January 2016

The important point is that this states very clearly that any additional costs incurred in meeting disability related housing needs should be met by a DHP. The bulletin states -:

Court of Appeal judicial review decision concerning the maximum rent (social sector)

  1. Yesterday the judgment of the Court of Appeal was handed down in the joined judicial review cases R v. Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, ex parte Rutherford and R v. Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, ex parte A. The full judgment is available at: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2016/29.html

 

  1. The Court has found that the claimants have suffered discrimination contrary to A14 of the European Convention on Human Rights. However, the Court of Appeal repeated the finding at first instance that the Secretary of State had complied with the Public Sector Equality Duty.

 

  1. The Court has granted the Secretary of State permission to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, and it is the Secretary of State’s intention to appeal.

 

  1. No action needs to be taken by local authorities following this judgment. It has not changed the applicability of the maximum rent (social sector) provisions and no action should be taken to re-assess the Housing Benefit (HB) of claimants in the appellants’ situation.

 

  1. The Department remains of the view that Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) are the appropriate means of protecting HB claimants in the appellants’ circumstances.

 

  1. Provided below are some Q&A to enable you to respond to any enquiries you might receive.

 

Q&A

 

  1. Is the government going to appeal?

 

  1. The Court of Appeal granted permission to appeal and it is the government’s intention to appeal.

 

  1. What does this mean for claimants with panic rooms or a disabled child who requires overnight care?

 

  1. The maximum rent (social sector) must continue to be applied to all claimants as before yesterday’s judgment.

 

  1. As a local authority should we continue to apply the maximum rent (social sector) in these cases?

 

  1. Yes, the legislation underpinning the size criteria remains in force. DHPs remain the appropriate mechanism for providing support where there is an under-occupancy deduction because of a panic room or a bedroom used to accommodate an overnight carer for a disabled child.

 

Applying for and Being refused a DHP

We know that although DHPs should be being made to people this is yet another post-code lottery and whether or not you get one and how long it is for varies from one LA to another.

We know that some LAs take DLA into account as available income when they should not do so.

You can’t appeal against being refused a DHP but you can still challenge it being refused through a Judicial Review. DPAC would encourage anyone who is refused a DHP to seek legal advice with regard to making a legal challenge against being refused and also they should apply again. (It is possible to have more than one JR against refusals at the same time).

 

Why discretionary DHPs are not an adequate replacement for rights

Disabled people need Rights not Charity or Discretionary Payments and access to this right was proven in a previous case relating to Local Housing Payments using right enshrined in article 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights. In particular the arguments used by the solicitor representing Trengrove vs Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council are particularly relevant in arguing this.

http://ukhumanrightsblog.com/2012/05/19/housing-benefit-system-discriminated-against-disabled-people-rules-court-of-appeal/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Posted by at 20:05
Jan 252016
 

With thanks for reblog to Johnny Void

https://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2016/01/25/big-disability-rides-to-the-rescue-with-too-little-much-too-late/

Big Disability Rides To The Rescue With Too Little Much Too Late

Posted on January 25, 2016 by johnny void |

In an unprecedented show of absolutely fuck all, members of the Disability Benefits Consortium – which includes some of the UK’s largest disability charities – have written a stern letter to Iain Duncan Smith asking him not to cut disabled people’s benefits.

goofy-on-horse

In the Welfare Reform and Work Bill, due to be debated in the House of Lords next week, plans have been announced to slash some out of work sickness and disability benefits by almost a third.  New claimants in the so-called Work Related Activity Group, meaning people assessed as likely to be fit for work at some point in the future, will receive just over £70 a week – the same amount as those currently on the dole.  People in this group include those with degnerative or progressive diseases such as Multiple Schlerosis, Parkinson’s disease or cancer.  This vicious benefit cut is not being done to save money, but to ‘incentivise’ people to find a job.  It is about as vile as anything that Iain Duncan Smith has done so far, and he’s done a lot.

In response the Disability Benefits Consortium have written a letter, which only half of their members bothered to sign, and which was published in the Daily Mirror over the weekend.  Big fucking deal.

According to their website the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) is a“national coalition of over 60 different charities and other organisations committed to working towards a fair benefits system.”  They include Disability Rights UK, an organisation who have recently been handed a huge contract to work for Maximus – the shady US conglomerate who carry out the despised Work Capability Assessments which will be used to decide which disabled people face a benefit cut under the new rules.  Other charities involved in pretending to defend social security are MIND, RNIB, Leonard Chesire and Mencap – all of whom happily accepted lucrative sub-contracts to run Iain Duncan Smith’s  mandatory Work Programme which disabled people are forced to attend under the threat of vicious benefit sanctions.  Also on the list are the workfare supporting Papworth Trust, along with Age UK who in 2013 were accused of running a ‘workfare warehouse’ in East Sussex.  Citizen’s Advice, who welcomed the introduction of the Claimant Commitment under which unemployed people are forced into pointless jobsearch for 35 hours a week under threat of benefit sanctions, are also included in this fight for a fairer benefits system.

Despite the vast resources possessed by the 60 charities who make up the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC), their website is hosted for free on wordpress.com.  It looks like someone knocked it up on a cheap smartphone during their fag break.  Last year this group of fearless campaigners made a total of 12 posts on their blog – and I thought I was getting slack.  According to the website they have not been arsed to contribute to a government consultation on welfare reform since 2012.

Compare this to the now defunct Disability Works campaign – launched with a glitzy House of Lords reception by many of the DBC charities and used to lobby the government to hand them juicy welfare-to-work contracts and you see the true priority of these organisations.  Money.

The very worst thing that could happen is big disability charities hijacking the fight against welfare reforms, although there is little danger of that.  The fucking awful Hardest Hit demonstration they organised in 2011 was little more then a march to protect disability charity funding, not disabled people’s benefits.  And it’s been downhill ever since.  For every statement released by charities condemning social security cuts a story emerges of them quietly sidling up to the DWP in the hope of lucrative contracts. Until disability charities form a united stance of complete non co-operation with this government then their words mean fuck all when their actions are complicit in destroying the lives of sick and disabled people.Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

And just to illustrate what Johnny means for anyone with any doubts.

Action for Children unions ballot for industrial action in pay dispute

 

High-handed action by bosses over pay at the charity Action for Children has prompted Unite and UNISON to ballot their members for industrial action.

 

The unions said that management intends to impose a one per cent pay award for 2015/16, with no cost of living rise for 40 per cent of the 5,000 strong workforce. They also intend to remove contractual pay increments for new starters, refuse to pay the UK living wage of £8.25 (£9.40 in London) and cut mileage rates.

 

Both unions’ ballots for industrial action short of a strike and/or strike action open on Tuesday 26 January and close on Tuesday 16 February.

 

The charity’s chief executive Sir Tony Hawkhead has refused the unions’ request to involve the conciliation service Acas to resolve the dispute and has stated his intention to impose the pay offer overwhelmingly rejected by the joint union membership in consultative ballots.

 

While squeezing the pay of the workforce, the number of senior executives at the charity earning over £70,000 a year increased from 16 to 21, and there is now an additional member of the management team on £120,000.

 

The unions said that in the last three years Action for Children has made an average surplus (profit) of £5.4m each year, while it would have cost about £2m a year to have given each member of staff a cost of living pay rise in line with inflation.

 

Unite national officer for the not for profit sector Sally Kosky said“What we have here is an all too common case of a profitable organisation, with highly paid executives, unwilling to give a decent pay rise to our members. Average pay of the workforce has fallen in real terms by 52 per cent since 2010/11.

 

“The management is behaving in a high-handed manner trying to bulldoze a wholly inadequate pay offer onto our members and point blank refusing to involve Acas in the dispute. Just because people work for a charity they don’t deserve the prospect of poverty wages.

 

“The organisation has a healthy surplus and some of these reserves should be used to fairly reward its hard-working staff.”

 

UNISON national voluntary sector officer Simon Watson said: “The dedicated staff who work for Action for Children are without doubt its best resource. Every year they help thousands of vulnerable families in communities up and down the country.

 

“Action for Children claims that it is strapped for cash, yet it has managed to find the money to increase the number of its highest paid managers. Meanwhile staff haven’t had a pay rise in six years.

 

“The decision to move to a ballot for action is always a reluctant one, but despite over a year of negotiations, the charity still refuses to see sense. As a result many employees are being forced into extreme hardship. Some are having to use the same food banks as the families they are trying to help. It’s still not too late to prevent action, and we hope the charity uses the coming weeks to think carefully about its next steps.”

 

ENDS

 

For more information please contact:

Unite: Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869

UNISON: Liz Chinchen on 0207 121 5463 or 07778 158175

Some further information on Action for Children’s funding. You can see their charity return here –

 

http://apps.charitycommission.gov.uk/Showcharity/RegisterOfCharities/CharityWithPartB.aspx?RegisteredCharityNumber=1097940&SubsidiaryNumber=0

 

In short they brought in £173,070,000 last year, and spent £159,887,000. That’s a surplus of £13,183,000. And, like the unions say, they make a surplus year on year, often over £10M –

 

http://apps.charitycommission.gov.uk/Showcharity/RegisterOfCharities/FinancialHistory.aspx?RegisteredCharityNumber=1097940&SubsidiaryNumber=0

 

There are many questions that go with these sorts of incomes, including –

 

–       What do they do with the surplus? Is it sitting in a bank somewhere making someone loads of interest?

–       Why are they not spending this surplus – as a charity they are not meant to sit on money, while they are continuing to raise new money from the public.

–       Does the public know they are not spending this money? And if they are not spending it why not? The money is raised to help children, presumably, which is not doing if it is sitting in a bank.

 

To deny their staff the living wage is a scandal.

If we look at the charity sector as a whole this very quickly adds up to unimaginable amounts of money. And yet they’re still opening charity shops and rattling tins

 

 Posted by at 18:22
Jan 212016
 

We need people who would be willing to speak to the press who are in ESA WRAG about the £30 a week cut to funding which is being proposed and how this would affect you.

 

We also need to have anyone living in Supported Housing who will be affected by the cuts to Housing Benefit and the amount allowed being restricted to LHA rates.

 

If you would be willing to help with either of these things please email us at mail@dpac.uk.net

 

 Posted by at 19:44
Jan 092016
 

Are you in the ESA Work-Related Activity Group?

Would you be willing to share your experiences and views on welfare support with a PhD student to develop research in welfare policy and the effects on disabled individuals?

I am looking to conduct 30 minute interviews (face to face or via telephone based on location) with people who are in the Work Related Activity Group of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). All participation will be anonymized.

For further information or to get involved, please contact me at: Jo Brown email: j.brown.6@research.gla.ac.uk

Thank you for taking the time to consider this

 Posted by at 18:34

A Bleak Time for Many DDPOs

 News  Comments Off on A Bleak Time for Many DDPOs
Dec 152015
 
 Disability Wales at risk of closure following funds shake-up
 
Following a Welsh Government funding change, as from the 1st of April 2016, DW will lose 68% of its income after its recent application to the Sustainable Social Services Third Sector Grant Scheme was turned down and risks closure in less than four months’ time.
Rhian Davies, Chief Executive of Disability Wales explains:

 Since 1972 Disability Wales (DW) has received core funding from the Welsh Government’s Department for Health and Social Services to enable it to represent the voice of members with the aim of informing and influencing government policy. It has enabled DW to successfully influence priority issues for members such as Independent Living, Hate Crime and Access to the High Street as well as providing information and support to disabled people’s organisations around Wales.

 Welsh Government decided to replace core funding arrangements to national third sector organisations with a new project based grant scheme called the Sustainable Social Services Third Sector Grant. The narrower focus of this grant aimed at delivery of social care services meant that DW as a rights and equality based umbrella organisation no longer fitted the funding criteria.”

 
Wendy Ashton, Chair of Disability Wales states:
 “Losing the core grant from Welsh Government is a devastating blow particularly at a time when disabled people, who make up one fifth of the Welsh population, are experiencing cuts both to benefits and services.
 In his speech to DW’s Annual Conference on 8 October, the Minister for Health and Social Services Prof Mark Drakeford AM paid tribute to the ‘impact’ which Disability Wales has had on the new Social Services and Well-being Act as well as the ‘exciting projects’ it is delivering including the development of citizen-led co-operatives to support people with managing their Direct Payments.  Disabled people form one fifth of the Welsh population and face higher levels of poverty than any other group of people with protected characteristics, a situation worsening by the day following continued UK government cuts in benefits and services.”
 Simon Green Disabled Activist and Chair of Bridgend Coalition of Disabled People, a member of Disability Wales states:

 Without Disability Wales there will be no national representative pan-impairment, barriers focussed body able to co-ordinate the views of disabled people and their organisations across Wales

 “I think it will have a massive impact not just on Disability Wales but all the groups it represents including Bridgend Coalition of Disabled People.  Bridgend Coalition have benefited from being a member of Disability Wales for many years and if it wasn’t for Disability Wales we probably wouldn’t exist”

 Rhian Davies:

 “DW is in negotiation with Welsh Government regarding a short-term support package whilst a longer term solution is identified.  However, DW requires an urgent response and time is limited as we approach Christmas and the end of the financial year!  After more than 40 years as a national voice DW has less than four months to ensure its survival.  Who will fight for disabled people’s rights if DW is not there?!” 

 Now the future looks uncertain for Caerphilly-based disability rights organisation. 

 

*ENDS*

Notes to editors 

Disability Wales is the national association of disabled people’s organisations in Wales championing the rights, equality and independence of all disabled people. 
Website: www.disabilitywales.org  twitter: @disabilitywales    facebook: https://www.facebook.com/disabilitywales/?fref=ts       youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/DisabilityWales 

 

*** I’w ryddhau yn syth***
DATGANIAD I’R WASG
 

Dyfodol Anabl

 Posted by at 17:06
Dec 082015
 

Seeing the light…

Introducing Switched On London, a new campaign coalition demanding clean, affordable and democratic energy in the capital through publicly owned energy and supported by DPAC.

www.switchedonlondon.org.uk | @SwitchedOnLDN

The floods in Cumbria are a reminder of how close to home the impacts of climate change are being felt. Three once-in-a-hundred year floods in ten years aren’t an indication of terrible misfortune, but of a new baseline. As leaders and business executives meet in Paris with the outcome uncertain, in London the fight for clean, affordable energy is being taken in a new direction.

In the face of a cartel of energy companies whose turn to renewables is far too slow — and whose profit-hungry business model leaves thousands struggling between heating and eating in the winter — Switched on London is a new campaign launching to build energy democracy in London. We demand that the GLA (Greater London Authority) sets up a new public energy company that works for people, not for profit.

The needs for clean energy and for affordable energy are deeply connected. We have already waited far too long for the private sector to ride to the rescue and deliver renewables.The big energy companies’ commitment to fossil fuels is as profound as their drive to make enormous profits, which have increased ten-fold since 2007. We need to democratise our approach, including people in decisions about their own energy, and giving the public sector the capacity to invest in new sources of clean power and energy efficiency.

In spite of the Tory government’s bizarre attack on the community energy sector, there remain some tools open to the public sector to challenge the dominance of the Big Six. An announcement last year indicated that the Mayor of London had seemed to be using one of these – called ‘Licence Lite’ – to step in to provide a route between public and small-scale energy producers and big consumers such as Transport for London. ‘Licence Lite’ could have given the GLA the chance to break the Big Six’s control over energy supply.

Sources within the GLA this week, however, have revealed that Boris Johnson, far from doing this, has signed off yet another contract with one of the big energy companies themselves, RWE nPower. They will run the scheme, providing billing and administration; tasks they’ve proved singularly bad at in their own business.

This is another blown opportunity by this mayor. After decades of flawed competition and rising prices, over one million Londoners are in fuel poverty, thousands die every year from air pollution, and the commitment to deliver renewable energy is falling short. While major European cities like Munich and Copenhagen are committing to 100% clean power, London is lagging behind. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Switched On London is putting forward a proposal that could help the Greater London Authority become the tap-root of a new energy system in our city. We’re a broad coalition of community organisations, trade unions and NGOs coming together to propose a bold but achievable vision of a very different energy future: one geared around ordinary Londoners, not powerful business executives.

We want a new non-profit company that offers fair, affordable prices, reinvesting in energy efficiency and tackling fuel poverty. By taking public control we could directly drive investment in the 21st century renewable energy sources London needs. With a range of democratic mechanisms – from elected board-members to open borough assemblies and public referenda on important issues – we could truly shift power to people’s hands.

This is a perfectly realistic goal. London could start moving rapidly by divesting its £4.8bn pension pot from fossil fuels. It could launch municipal bonds to fund new clean energy sources, as it did for Crossrail.

Local authorities like Nottingham and Bristol have already taken steps in the direction of public energy along with dozens of cities across Europe. Londoners have had to live with a broken energy system too long, and it’s time to change it.

www.switchedonlondon.org.uk | @SwitchedOnLDN

 

 Posted by at 15:05
Dec 032015
 

A full list of Labour MPs who backed vote for airstrikes in Syria, has been released.

Labour MPS who voted Yes:

Labour

ALEXANDER, Heidi, Ms

AUSTIN, Ian, Mr

BAILEY, Adrian, Mr

BARRON, Kevin, Sir

BECKETT, Margaret,

BENN, Hilary,

BERGER, Luciana, Ms

BLENKINSOP, Tom, Mr

BRADSHAW, Ben,

BRYANT, Chris, Mr

CAMPBELL, Alan,

CHAPMAN, Jenny, Ms

COAKER, Vernon, Mr

COFFEY, Ann, Ms

COOPER, Yvette,

COYLE, Neil, Mr

CREAGH, Mary, Ms

CREASY, Stella, Ms

DANCZUK, Simon, Mr

DAVID, Wayne, Mr

DE PIERO, Gloria, Ms

DOUGHTY, Stephen, Mr

DOWD, Jim, Mr

DUGHER, Michael, Mr

EAGLE, Angela, Ms

EAGLE, Maria, Ms

ELLMAN, Louise, Ms

FIELD, Frank, Rt Hon.

FITZPATRICK, Jim, Mr

FLETCHER, Colleen, Ms

FLINT, Caroline,

HARMAN, Harriet,

HODGE, Margaret,

HOWARTH, George,

HUNT, Tristram, Mr

JARVIS, Dan, Mr

JOHNSON, Alan,

JONES, Graham, Mr

JONES, Helen, Ms

JONES, Kevan, Mr

JONES, Susan Elan, Ms

KENDALL, Liz, Ms

KYLE, Peter, Mr

LESLIE, Chris, Mr

LYNCH, Holly, Ms

MCDONAGH, Siobhain, Ms

MCFADDEN, Pat,

MCGINN, Conor, Mr

MCGOVERN, Alison, Ms

PHILLIPSON, Bridget, Ms

POWELL, Lucy, Ms

REED, Jamie, Mr

REYNOLDS, Emma, Ms

ROBINSON, Geoffrey, Mr

RYAN, Joan, Ms

SMEETH, Ruth, Ms

SMITH, Angela, Ms

SPELLAR, John,

STUART, Gisela, Ms

THOMAS, Gareth, Mr

TURLEY, Anna, Ms

UMUNNA, Chuka, Mr

VAZ, Keith,

WATSON, Tom, Mr

WILSON, Phil, Mr

WOODCOCK, John, Mr

 Posted by at 20:30
Dec 032015
 

DPAC/Public Interest Research Unit study on work-place discrimination: request for information on your experiences.

Do you think that you might have experienced disability discrimination at work?

Did the new £1,250 fee (introduced in July 2013), to take your case to an employment tribunal, put you off making a discrimination claim against the employer?

If so, and you think that you might be prepared to provide more details for DPAC/PIRU’s study, please email rgbharwood@hotmail.com or mail@dpac.uk.net.

Any information you provide will be anonymised, so as to hide your identity.

 Posted by at 19:53
Aug 262015
 

EasyFundraising LogoAs an easy way to make money for DPAC I signed up to easyfundraising.org.uk  so that when people shop on-line if they go via easyfundraiser website then we get money donated to us when they shop. You can also recycle old mobiles and laptops etc and get money donated to us.

You can sign up quickly at this link and please ask others you know to do this as well.

http://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/dpac

RECRUIT SUPPORTERS – The more supporters you get, the more you’ll raise so make sure to share your unique link with all your friends, family and other supporters. It will only take them a minute to sign up and they can start using it straight away.

 

 Posted by at 20:12
Aug 262015
 

DPAC are going to Manchester and the Tory Party Conference 

Our main action will be on Monday October 5th at noon. Meet at Central Library opposite the Midland Hotel, just off St. Peter’s Square 

https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/The+Midland/@53.4772841,-2.2451292,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x487bb1c27381b90b:0xf4daf7

The theme of this event will be

IDS Wanted for Crimes Against Disabled People

A second action together with others will be held on Wednesday October 7th from 9am.  Public meeting point is Albert square outside the Town Hall

https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/Manchester+City+Council/@53.4791675,-2.2443142,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x487bb1c18b1ea

As usual we need donations, but only from those of you who can really afford them, to help pay for people to get to these actions. We have already set aside an amount of £2,000 to help fund our members to get to these events. However with train fares and the need for accessible accommodation that disabled people need this is likely to just be enough to fund 10- 12 people to attend.

If anyone can donate or are union members and could ask their union branch to donate you can pay through paypal or email us at mail@dpac.uk.net for BACS details or details of where to send cheques.

If any DPAC members want to apply for financial support also email us at mail@dpac.uk.net

This will be on a first come first served basis

 

 

 

 Posted by at 19:25
Jul 122015
 

Has your Council taken out or turned off safe street crossings to create a so-called Shared Space? As these are desperately dangerous for people with any and all impairments, Unity Law are now taking action against 5 councils.Please consider joining the action if you have a Shared Space where you live. Unity Law will represent you at absolutely no cost to yourself and the more people and places they have on board the better.

You can contact Chris Fry at Unity Law on 0114 361 0000 or info@unity-law.co.uk

 

 Posted by at 19:49
Jun 012015
 
Are you excited that the election fanfare is over? Are ye of little faith that much will change? Concerned that our human rights are under attack? That the Government’s austerity regime is unnecessary and brutal and will end in tragedy? Do you want to connect, learn from, make commonalities and organise with other people challenging injustice?
 
‘Beyond The Ballot Box!’ – Creative Activism Lab
 
Sunday June 14th 2015 10am-5pm – Saint George’s Town Hall, 236 Cable Street, London E1 0BL, United Kingdom (for all accessibility requirements for the day please get in contact ASAP). Nearest station – Whitechapel or Shadwell
 
Facebook page click here
Twitter – NeverAgainUK 
RSVP to reserve (limited spaces) your space or with any enquiries or if your press – neveragaineverever@gmail.com
 

Keynote speakers so far (more to come)
  • Leah Borromeo – a journalist, filmmaker and erstwhile Space Hijacker 
  • James leadbitter – Award winning mental health activist and artist at ‘The Vacuum Cleaner’
  • Saph Mac – Anti-racist activist, presenter and recent hostess of ‘Beyond UKIP Cabaret’ 
  • John Stewart – Top environmental activist and defeater of Heathrow airports development plans. 
  • Alison Playford – Occupy organiser and member of Disabled People Against Cuts
  • Jewdas Representative – a network of left-wing Jewish activists who campaign against fascism, racism and oppression in all its forms.
  • The Sex Workers’ Opera Representative – a show by local and global Sex Workers through community art and grassroots activism
  • The Rebel Clown Army Representative – an international movement bringing silliness and play into direct action to disempower authorities and shut down evil corporations using tickling tactics, hide and seek in public spaces and police parody fancy dress. 
  • Prison reform activism – our ex-prisoner guest will discuss how he’s made prison reform relevant and interesting for the unconverted. 
With further speakers from Save our Soho and a variety of queer, housing, sex worker, human rights and anti-austerity campaigns.
 

Throughout 2015 there has been an incredible amount of creative grassroots protest against the brutal connected environmental, social, racial, and economic injustice’s and the rise of the far rights politics across Britain. Those targeted by prejudice have come together [Disability, HIV, women’s, migrant right groups and many more] and have created imaginative performance protests (such as ‘The Beyond UKIP’ cabaret) to confront these injustice’s and to create a new world beyond this inequality.

These groups are coming together again for an ‘action-lab’ where we will create a series of actions for the rest of 2015 to let the electoral politicians know that our dreams live far beyond the ballot box.

The day will involve –

  • Learning from a panel of activists from key historical moments of injustice and resistance (speaker list to follow)
  • Strategising a series of actions for the coming year.
  • Facilitate critical thinking about the injustice of the whole system and not just individual causes/campaigns/groups
  • Facilitate unity, solidarity, ongoing networking and linking up of activities through grassroots performance protest and online media.
  • Create a large protest that strengthens movements at the grassroots and encourages resistance to the divide and rule of the mainstream political system.
RSVP to reserve your space or with any enquiries or if your press – neveragaineverever@gmail.com


The training is organised by a range of grassroots social justice movements as part of the ‘Never Nie Wieder – Never Again Ever!’ campaign – A unique memorial-activism programme to pass on the legacy of Holocaust survivors today. See all information at www.neveragainever.org

 

If you can’t make this one there will be another action-lab on July 19th 2015 in central London.

 

 

 Posted by at 19:59
May 252015
 

Independent Living Fund

Frequently Asked Questions for Independent Living Fund ( ILF ) users and other people with High Support Needs

This has been written for people who do not have a legal background. However, any individual who is considering legal action in relation to problems with their support should not rely only on this guide but should seek specialist advice, including legal advice.

These FAQs have been prepared by Kate Whittaker[1] together with DPAC supporters who are ILF users, Inclusion London and Disability Sheffield Centre for Independent Living. Individuals and local groups are welcome to re-use extracts and are free to copy it and send it round by email. If extracts of the paper are used in other publications please state that the content was taken from this guide.

The full document can be downloaded from

http://www.inclusionlondon.co.uk/Independent-Living-Fund

[1] Kate is a consultant solicitor at Scott-Moncrieff & Associates, a national firm of solicitors specialising in community care, public law, mental capacity and other civil liberties work. Scott-Moncrieff & Associates have a franchise with the Legal Aid Agency to provide legal aid work in these areas.  Kate also provides independent legal consultancy and training. She specialises in cases involving disabled adults and children and others who need care and support from public bodies. As well as working as a solicitor Kate works closely with a number of disabled people’s organisations providing advocacy and other services, including Disability Sheffield where she is a trustee.

 Posted by at 20:22
May 192015
 

To be or not to be a vulnerable person?

By Anne Novis

 

I am ‘vulnerable.’

 

This is what the law says as I am a disabled person, a wheelchair user and a person who receives care support.

 

Yet I do not feel I am and I do not feel that treating me as such does justice to who I am as a person or what I experience around hate crime. It certainly does not enable justice through the police or courts.

 

I could go on about my feelings on this, how disempowering it feels, how such a label does not in any way ensure I get the responses I should get when experiencing hostility due to being a disabled person. Suffice to say it’s not a description I find acceptable to be labelled.

 

I, like all of you reading this, can be in vulnerable situations, where someone decides for whatever reason to target us for a crime. They will usually assess their own risk first for any type of crime against anyone. It’s normal. Yet for some reason around disability justice agencies think it becomes an acceptable ‘reason’ in its own right for doing the crime,  a reason that then puts the onus on the disabled person rather then the perpetrator.

 

Yet if someone targets me because I am a  ‘vulnerable’ person is that not hate crime?

 

In my opinion it is if the act is directly about me being a disabled person.

 

Yet statutory agencies find it hard to get their heads around this, they think that if a ‘vulnerable’ person, or adult at risk, is targeted it’s due to no more then that, being ‘vulnerable’.

 

To me whatever term or word is used if someone targets me for that reason then I perceive that as a hate crime or incident.

 

Lets look at this another way, if I dress differently, say as a Goth and I am verbally abused due to my perceived difference, is that hate crime? Some say yes, it is being recognised as a type of hate crime. If I am from a culture, race, religion or have a sexuality that’s perceived as somewhat different from what others may perceive as the norm and then targeted due to that perceived difference then that too is recognised easily as hate crime.

 

Yet for disabled people if we are deemed as ‘vulnerable’ or ‘adults at risk’, and often we are, and targeted for a crime it’s not automatically understood as hate crime.

 

Why not I have to ask?

 

Yes it is easier for criminals to target some disabled people because we may be perceived as ‘less able’ an ‘easy target’ or ‘easily misled’.

 

But what is behind such crime?

 

What is motivating the offence, what language, behaviour, or prejudice?

 

Is it for the victim to just accept they are ‘vulnerable’ or an ‘adult at risk’ and therefore change the way they live?

 

A focus on perceived vulnerability when addressing hostility against disabled people is a distraction from what is really occurring.

 

Looking at why a perpetrator decides to target a disabled person, the context, timing, language is necessary but at the end of the day they have targeted a disabled person for a crime and therefore automatically a presumption that this is more then likely a hate crime needs to be the first thought when recorded and investigated.

 

In the CPS guidance on hostility and vulnerability it states:

‘It can be simpler, more intuitive, to proceed on the basis of vulnerability but an inappropriate focus on vulnerability risks enhancing an already negative image of disabled people as inherently “weak”, “easy targets” and “dependent” requiring society’s protection. Instead, the focus ought to be on enforcing the victim’s right to justice and scrutinising the offender’s behaviour, prejudices and hostility so that the case is properly investigated and prosecuted for what it is.’

Yet how many police officers read this guidance, have any understanding of the types of hostility disabled people experience?

Very few, for the focus is on ‘vulnerability’ rather then Hate Crime, ‘Safeguarding’ rather then prosecution and justice.

Another example is bullying, many of us can be bullied as children in the playground at school, and there are extensive actions in place to address this now.

Yet when a disabled person, an adult, is bullied many think this is just a fact of life, even the disabled person due to the lack of appropriate responses they get when reporting it.

I was told once by a police officer when reporting that I had been verbally abused as a disabled person “What do you expect? You just have to ignore it and toughen up”. A comment I recall from school days.

Yet as adults is it ever acceptable to bully another adult? I think not and again this is a type of hostility against disabled people that needs recognition as disability hate crime for you only have to read a couple of case studies to understand how easily ‘bullying’ can lead to violence, torture or murder of a disabled person.

As victims we are already changing the way we live, some isolate themselves, never go out alone, and are anxious and fearful, find ways to hide themselves from the notice of others for fear of what abuse they may experience. I know because I do this myself at times and hear it from so many disabled people. Focusing on us as ‘vulnerable’ adds another burden upon us, for no matter what I, or others may do, this perception will be a barrier between us and justice.

It frustrates me immensely that in my work advising justice agencies again and again the issue of ‘vulnerability’ becomes a stumbling block in the work on Disability hate crime. Yet another hurdle to be overcome before we as disabled people can rightly get the justice we deserve as fellow human beings.

It is the perpetrators action and behaviour against disabled people that needs more focused attention by police and the courts. Protection comes when we are assured of appropriate policing and justice, they go together, but never should the focus just be on protection, or safeguarding, for we need the police to investigate and understand that just as in other types of hate crime we are being targeted due to being disabled people.

So I am not a ‘vulnerable’ person, I am a human being who has a right to expect police and justice agencies to address my experiences as I perceive them and to also recognise what is really happening rather then accepting hostility against disabled people as something that cannot be changed because being a ‘vulnerable person’ means its to be expected, as though I am somehow at fault, inherently and automatically a lesser being, one who needs ‘protecting’ rather then justice.

The CPS guidance explains it as do I:

‘When the nature of a person’s disability makes it easier for the offender to commit a particular offence, police and prosecutors often focus on the victim being “vulnerable”, an “easy target” and no further thought is given to the issue of hostility.

This approach is wrong.’ (my emphasis)

Then goes onto to explain:

Targeting a particular person to be the victim of an offence, because they are black or gay or disabled is often, but not always, a clear indication of hostility (unfriendliness, ill-will etc) based on race, sexual orientation or disability. Seeing the particular disabled person as an easy target for a particular criminal offence, does not alter this. The victim is still being targeted specifically because of their disability.

And;

‘Prosecutors must therefore explore fully the surrounding context of an offence committed against a disabled person, so that the true nature of the offence can be put before the court. There will be cases in which there is no other reasonable explanation, other than that the offender’s hostility was based on disability. This is particularly so in cases of abuse, violence or other offensive conduct as these offences tend to carry inbuilt within them the demonstration of hostility. For that hostility to be based on disability is but a short evidential step in many cases.

In other cases the question may be asked: what other explanation can there be? Let the defendant give his explanation and let the court decide. Courts are entitled to draw a reasonable inference that hostility based on disability was the whole or partial motivating factor.’

This guidance was produced in consultation with disabled people, we have yet to see it make much difference to the way police respond on the ground ensuring they record, flag, investigate fully so a prosecution could take place. We need to ensure it does make a difference by challenging the perception around perceived vulnerability.

Reference

CPS Guidance on Prosecuting Disability Hate Crime –

Hostility, Vulnerability sections

http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/d_to_g/disability_hate_crime/#a31

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Posted by at 19:41
May 172015
 

If you get care funding from your local council this is often not free and you will have to have a financial assessment to see how much they will ask you to pay towards your care. In order to reduce the amount you have to pay for your care here is a list of Disability Related Expenses which they should disregard as available income, thus reducing the amount they ask you to pay.

These are not costs you can claim for.

This is not an exhaustive list and if there are any glaring omissions please let us know.

On the ILF email group we’ve been chatting about Disability Related Expenditure and I have collated people’s suggestions which have been very helpful.

 

It was suggested that to prove something is a “disability related expenditure”, not an expense that non – disabled people would also have, we could also give the reason why someone says that it is “disability related” e.g you could argue that a food processor is a “disability related” expense if you have an impairment which causes difficulties with chopping fruit/vegetables – by having the food processor it means that you don’t have to rely on another person to help you preparing / making meals. (although this example is useful bear in mind that it could lead to your care funding being reduced if social services decided the food processor meant you didn’t need any other support)

 

You could argue that, as a visually impaired person, you need a large print crossword book, which costs more than a regular crossword book. The difference in price would be the disability related expenditure.

 

A lot of councils will not take transport cost into account because they can’t take the mobility component into account – but if you can demonstrate that your full mobility component goes on the hire of your vehicle, then you can argue that fuel costs are a disability related expenditure as there is no other suitable alternative transport.

 

There are definitely many expenses that people don’t even think of, or expenses that people find hard to justify to the council – so giving a list of expenditure with reasons why they are “disability related” can often swing it.

 

And here are some list

 

Disability related expenditure list

Wheelchair insurance

Community Alarm Electric and gas 30 % ( Heating, Laundry due to arthritis/pain/health)

 

Electrical Gadgets – all of which use more electricity then non-disabled people would need to use

Recliner chair

Mobile – needed for safety reasons

Computer/Broadband – social/voluntary activities /computer equipment (mouse/dropped regularly and needing replacement)

NHS Bed

Stair lifts

Door opener/Intercom/remote control door opener

Two Closimat toilets

Wheel chair charging

Mobile phone charges

Adapted Car – use extra diesel for adaptations i.e. ramp, drivers seat, door openers

Health insurance

 

Replacement Equipment aids Costs
Heat pads

Hot water bottles

Bedding

Cushions

Lap Trays – activities/meals/computer

Pillows

Special mattress

Clothes

Wheel chair covers

Tens Machine – Batteries & Pad

 

PA Costs

– Hand wash

– Alcohol gel

– Toilet roll

– Hot water

– Kettle

– Drinks

– Protective/medical gloves and aprons

– Transport costs in order to escort on public transport

– Breakages

– Holiday costs of taking PA as well – 1 week allowed

 

 Live in Carer potential costs

New Carpet

Electric costs

Gas costs

Laundry
Showers

Bedding

Food

 

Heath/Medical

Travel to GP, Nurse and hospital appointments

Hospital
– Neurology

– Eye Clinic

– Euro gynaecology

– Pain clinic

– Operations

– Chiropody

 

– Antiseptic Creams

 

General Outgoings

Electric

Gas

TV costs

Shopping – internet deliveries (again be careful with this as social services may say you don’t need care to go shopping and point out you need someone to put food away for you anytime within a 2 hour delivery slot).

Food costs and dietary needs including more frequent small meals or meals which may need to be left for people to reheat.

Extra costs of things like clothes and shoes – the difference between cheap ones -from-primark and something-which-actually-works.

Extra washing powder, more expensive washing powders or fabric softeners.

Pet insurance if an assistance dog

Rent above levels paid in benefits

Mortgage payments if property is larger than a non-disabled person would need. ie. room needed for PA or equipment storage

Water rates

Household insurance for appliances relating to impairment

Servicing of any aids or equipment

Wheelchair insurance

Gardening

Decorating

Having to put money aside for future needs eg. repairs to equipment, deposit for Motability vehicle etc ( look at last 2-3 years ).

 

There is advice on the Age UK website, of which this is an extract:

Taking disability-related expenditure into account

If the local authority decides to take into account your disability-related benefits, it must also take into account your disability-related expenditure in the means test.

This is confirmed in Annex C of the statutory guidance where it is stated that you should be allowed to keep enough benefit to pay for necessary disability related expenditure to meet any needs that are not being met by the local authority. A similar requirement is made in the charging regulations.

 

Some local authorities disregard set amounts to take account of disability- related expenditure partly to avoid having to ask questions that might be considered intrusive. The amount that is disregarded varies from authority to authority. However if you consider your disability related costs are greater than this set amount you can ask for a full assessment of your costs.

 

The statutory guidance provides an indicative list of disability-related expenditure examples. It is not possible for the list to be comprehensive as it will vary from person to person. When being assessed to see how much you can pay, you should consider everything you have to buy because of your disability. This could, for example, include:

 

lextra washing, or special washing power and conditioner for delicate skin;

lcommunity alarms (pendant or wrist);
lspecial diet;
lspecial clothing or footwear (or extra wear and tear);

ladditional bedding;
lextra heating costs;
lgardening;
lhousehold maintenance (if you would normally have done it yourself);

lany cleaning (if not part of your care plan);

linternet access;
lany care that social services do not meet;
lbuying and maintaining disability-related equipment; or

Factsheet 46lApril 2015
Paying for care and support at home

22 of 48

lany transport costs (both for essential visits to the doctor or hospital, but also to keep up social contacts).

 

It can be difficult to prove you have extra costs if you have not actually incurred those expenses, for example, if you have not put the heating on for fear of large bills, or are not following a special diet because of the cost. Local authorities should work out an amount considered to be normal expenditure on heating, for example, for your area and type of housing to assist them in their response to if you claim disability-related expenditure in this context, or what you would spend if you weren’t avoiding it out of fear of high expenditure.

 

There may be other costs that should be accepted.

The courts have confirmed that local authorities should not be inflexible but should always consider individual circumstances. For example, an authority should not adopt a blanket policy of refusing to acknowledge any payments made to close relatives, as there may exceptional reasons for a particular arrangement. In one case the local authority was criticised for not properly carrying out an assessment of the person’s disability related expenditure by doing a home visit, and for rejecting some items of expenditure such as swimming lessons and paying the carer to accompany him on holiday. Such costs should be considered if they are reasonable expenditure needed for independent living.’2

http://www.ageuk.org.uk/Documents/EN-GB/Factsheets/FS46_Paying_for_care_and_support_at_home_fcs.pdf?dtrk=true

Additional suggestions

communication aid configuration, mounting , unmounting and charging up

private therapies including massage for either pain relief or anxiety

Dressings for self injury and extra water (OCD)

ready meals when unable to cook

pets – insurance and food – for acompanionship and to feel safe.

 

 

 Posted by at 21:04
May 112015
 

Secret Changes to Motability Grant Making Conditions – People needed for Legal Challenge

Motability have introduced changes to their grant making conditions discriminating against disabled people with the highest support needs who are unable to work for a minimum of 12 hours a week, carry out at least 12 hours voluntary work (which apparently can’t be internet based but has to be outside the home and doesn’t include travelling time), are not in education for at least 12 hours a week and who need specialised adaptations to transfer to drive or drive-from-wheelchair vehicles.

These changes have not been made publicly known or advertised to current customers in any way about who is eligible for a grant and the changes were made without any consultation.

We understand these changes were made from June 1st this year but customers are only being told about them when they enquire about a grant for a replacement vehicle.

The impact of these changes which affects those with the highest and most costly needs are potentially life-changing. It could well prevent people having contact with family (let alone friends) if they live in a rural area with little or no transport, it means anyone who can only travel with equipment like hoists. Oxygen cylinders and other bulky items won’t be able to go anywhere. It also ignores the fact that with other cuts to services people will not be able to ensure they have the physical support from someone else to drive them.

We have sought legal advice to see whether these changes can be challenged as discriminatory and now need to hear from anyone who is or would be affected by these changes in the near future and who would qualify for legal aid. In particular we want to hear from anyone who currently does not have a vehicle and has been refused the right to apply for grant funding.

If you think you might be affected by these changes and are willing to consider taking legal action then please contact us at  mail@dpac.uk.net

http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/motability-face-court-action-discriminatory-new-rules/

 

 Posted by at 20:33
Mar 312015
 

Sign in support of the campaign now! 

Email Henrietta.doyle@inclusionlondon.co.uk with the name of your organisation or as an individual.

Ultimate aim of the campaign

Motability agrees to reverse the changes to eligibility criteria for Motability’s Special Vehicles Fund for Drive-from-Wheelchair/Internal Transfer (DFW/IT) vehicles used by disabled people with complex needs. 

Other aims:

·        Motability agrees to conduct a formal public consultation on the changes, including a face to face meeting with current grant users. Until this consultation is concluded and a consultation response report publicly published the changes should be immediately reversed.

·        Motability agrees to publishes  their equality impact assessment of the changes

·        Motability agrees to publish clear and full information about the changes on their website. 

Why the need for the campaign?

Motability has changed the eligibility criteria for their Special Vehicles Fund (SVF) for Drive-from-Wheelchair/Internal Transfer (DFW/IT) vehicles used by disabled people with complex needs. We believe these changes could destroy the ability to live independently and be included in the community of those affected. 

What are the changes?

From June 2014 ‘a usage test’ was introduced by Motability regarding DFW/IT vehicles.  This test applies to those applying to the SVF first time and current users when renewing their contract (see statement provided by Motability attached). Below is information on how the changes are being implemented in practice.

Current users are telephoned some months in advance of the renewal date of their contract and asked if the vehicle is to support ‘substantive employment, education, volunteer working or to enable the disabled driver to provide vital and sole care to another, for example, a school-age child or children or a disabled loved one who resides with the disabled person.’  About 12 hours a week seems to be considered ‘substantive’. It appears that those that do not fulfil this criterion are no longer eligible for a vehicle.

We are very concerned that disabled people who rely on access to such vehicles will no longer be eligible for grants from the scheme and therefore unable to replace vehicles, which are essential to their independence. These vehicles are often used by disabled people with the highest support needs, who for a range of reasons relating to their impairments, are unable to access public transport because it unavailable or not possible because of pain levels or the need to carry equipment such as hoists or oxygen or a particularly large vehicle as illustrated in the case study below:

Case study

Because of the specialised seating on my wheelchair, it is too large to travel on bus.  Only 3 weeks ago I couldn’t go to hospital Emergency A&E because the ambulances can’t take me!  I was severely dehydrated, they ended up sending a doctor to my home and doing 48-hour IV just because I couldn’t go to hospital.  

There is NO way I am every going to be employed which is depressing enough, I can’t get  voluntary work because I can’t even go and see anyone to consider it (no transport!).  I really am so depressed over these changes. 

These new changes mean I am confined to the distance of my own wheelchair with no access to public transport, and no access to Motability.

The impact

The independence given to disabled people to drive their own vehicle often means they can become involved in their community and do voluntary activities. Without a DFW/IT vehicle many disabled people will be excluded from visits to families and friends and will be unable to take part in any aspects of social, religious, community, wellbeing activities and political life.  In addition these changes will prevent disabled people getting into education, obtaining employment or volunteering unless already involved in these activities and therefore will never fulfil the new criteria for a DFW/IT vehicle.

Motability did not conduct a consultation before implementing these changes and as far as we are aware they did not carry out an Equality Impact Assessment regarding the impact of the change, also there was no public announcement or any information published concerning the changes.   Disabled people only become aware when asked the questions on the telephone. There is still only limited information given by Motability at: http://www.motability.co.uk/understanding-the-scheme/financial-help/eligibility-for-financial-help

Motability administers government funds, yet they seem to be ignoring the Equality act and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities, which states the duty to facilitate:

·        ‘the personal mobility of persons with disabilities in the manner and at the time of their choice’

·        access to ‘quality mobility aids’

·        disabled people’s right to ‘full inclusion and participation in the community’.   

Disabled people’s organisations are acting together with other voluntary sector organisations to ask Motability to reverses the changes to the eligibility criteria for the SVF for DFW/IT vehicles.

What can you do?

·        Sign in support of the campaign by emailing Henrietta.doyle@inclusionlondon.co.uk

·        Sign the petition at: https://www.change.org/p/stop-unfair-and-secret-changes-to-motability-grants#petition-letter   2,500 people  signed in the first 3 weeks!

·        Promote petition, email, Facebook, Twitter etc.

·        Send letter of protest and case examples to Motability.

·        Survey members on their experiences of Motability reviews

·        Contact your local MP, and relevant Ministers

Join the coalition of disabled people’s organisations and voluntary sector organisations supporting the aims of the campaign above, to do this please email Henrietta.doyle@inclusionlondon.co.uk with the name of your organisation. 

Please forward this email to your contacts. 

Many thanks,

Henrietta

Henrietta Doyle

Policy Officer

Mobile: 07703 715091

Direct line (Wednesday’s only) 020 7036 6033

Office Tel: 020 7237 3181, SMS: 0771 839 4687

www: http://www.inclusionlondon.co.uk/

 Posted by at 19:07
Mar 252015
 

A complaint to the United Nations was today launched on behalf of disabled people in the UK whose rights have been breached by the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF). The ILF, which is the subject of an on-going and desperate battle between disabled people and the Department for Work and Pensions (1), is high on the priority list for disabled people deciding how to vote at the forthcoming election. The complaint brought by Inclusion London (2) on behalf of two disabled women, Nicky Baker and Dr Melanie Wilson Jones, alleges that the government has violated Articles 17, 19, 20, 30 and 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), ratified by the UK in 2009 (3).

The Independent Living Fund was set up in 1988 to support disabled people with high support needs to live in the community when the alternative was residential care. Since then it has helped thousands to live active and full lives, contributing to their communities and participating in education, employment and volunteering, family and social life. It is an effective way to provide support with both low cost overheads and extremely high user satisfaction rates (4).

On 13 December 2010 without any consultation or impact assessment, it was announced that the ILF would be closed permanently to new applicants. A ministerial statement was made referring to “informal consultation with disability organisations” but there is no record of this consultation (5). Since then, disabled people who missed out on the Fund have been left without the support they need to take part in day to day life and disabled people’s life chances have dramatically fallen. Meanwhile the government has failed to monitor the impact of the closure.

Nicky Baker, age 30, is a qualified auditor working within a disabled people’s organisation as well as studying part time for a degree. Although eligible for support from the ILF, the Fund was closed the day after she telephoned for an application form. The social care package she receives from her Local Authority does not provide the support she needs to live an independent life, for example to go on dates with her boyfriend without having her parents there or to take part in sufficient training for the high level of powerchair football she reached.

Dr Melanie Wilson Jones received a substantial amount of support including from the ILF after sustaining a brain injury. She made such progress that her needs decreased and thus her support was reduced. However following a road traffic accident in 2011 she sustained a further brain injury requiring someone to be with her constantly. Now unable to get support from the ILF, she is reliant on her husband who works full time and her 16 year old daughter to make up the extra hours of support she needs for evenings and weekends.

Linda Burnip, co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts, who are supporting the challenge, said: “It is the pooling of resources and collective solidarity that has allowed this to happen. We’re grateful to DPAC supporters for their financial support towards travel costs, to the solicitor and barrister who gave their time pro bono, to Inclusion London for their staffing resources and of course to the two disabled women willing to put themselves forward to make a complaint on an issue that affects all disabled people in the UK. Without all of these factors this could never have been brought to fruition.”

Tracey Lazard, CEO of Inclusion London, who authored the complaint said, “The closure of the Independent Living Fund signals the end of independent living for disabled people. It took many years for disabled people to fight their way out of the institutions and to have the same chances as anyone else to live in the community alongside family and friends. At the current time Local Authorities are simply not able to provide the level of social care support required to uphold disabled people’s fundamental human rights”.

Sophie Partridge, a current ILF recipient, said: “The ILF has played a huge part in supporting me to have equal access to an independent adult life and a level playing field alongside non-disabled people. Without the ILF being re-opened to new applicants, I worry that young disabled people will never get the same life chances as I have had.”

Solicitor Louise Whitfield, from law firm Deighton Pearce Glynn, who is representing the complainants said: “From a legal perspective, I cannot see how the UK Government can justify closing the ILF to new applicants with no consultation or consideration of the rights protected under the UN Convention. Under Article 19, those rights include the fundamental right to independent living which has clearly been breached by this decision and I hope that the UN Committee takes appropriate action to recognise these very significant breaches”.

For more information or to speak to either the complainants or other disabled people affected by the closure of the ILF contact: ellen.clifford@inclusionlondon.co.uk or call 07505144371.

Notes for editors:

1) The future of the ILF has been the subject of two legal challenges: the first was won by disabled claimants at the Court of Appeal in November 2013 and the second was lost in the High Court in December 2014. There have been continued protests and direct actions led by disabled people and their supporters since 2010, including in June 2014 the attempted occupation of the grounds of Westminster Abbey.

2) Inclusion London is a pan impairment pan London Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisation (DDPO) which provides policy, campaigning and capacity building support for London DDPOs. Inclusion London promotes disability equality and has been working with the disabled people led campaign Disabled People Against cuts to support ILF recipients in the campaign to keep the ILF open.

3) The UK is signed up to the UNCRPD Optional Protocol. This means that individuals can take complaints to the UN disability committee for breach of the UNCRPD if all domestic avenues have been exhausted. If the committee find the complaint admissible, they will investigate. and produce a set of recommendations for the State in question. One previous complaint was made to the UN disability committee but found inadmissible as the incidents in question which related to employment discrimination occurred before the UK ratified the convention. For more information about the UNCRPD: http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?id=150

For more information about previous uses of the Optional Protocol: http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/TBSearch.aspx?Lang=en&TreatyID=4&DocTypeCategoryID=6

4)

5)

 Posted by at 21:42
Mar 222015
 

Press Release

Anti UKIP campaigners are staging a protest now in the local pub of UKIP leader Nigel Farage in the village of Downe, Kent.

Nigel Farage’s local pub the George & Dragon where he has been pictured many times going for a drink has been invaded by about 80 people protesting against UKIP.

Campaigners include those who have been targeted by UKIP such as migrants, HIV activists, gay people, disabled people and breastfeeding mums.

Protest organiser  said:

UKIP are a con. They pretend to be anti-establishment but this couldn’t be further from the truth. By wrongfully shifting the blame for the economic crisis onto immigrants they have let the bankers off the hook. That is why so many diverse communities have taken our cultures to the heart of where they exist – Nigel Farage’s local pub. We will not succumb to their prejudice. We will create the world we want to live in. A world beyond UKIP.

We sympathise with people who feel alienated with the political system but a vote for UKIP really is the worst thing you could do to protest about the current state of this country.

a social worker from London said:

“The alliance of people here today shows that there are clear targets of UKIPs hate filled agenda. We want to live in a society in which we are all valued and our different contributions, talents and cultures are acknowledged. 

We want politicians to stop using the language of divide and rule, xenophobia, racism and fear and instead speak up to the 99% to challenge the corporate greed and massive inequality that exists in this country and globally”.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

  • Full address of the Pub: George & Dragon, 26 High St, Downe, Orpington, BR6 7UT
  • We have photographers on the protest who will be able to provide photos in the next few hours.

 Posted by at 12:32
Mar 152015
 

The Deaf  community in North Staffordshire region have had all funding  for Hearing Aids withdrawn!
This means  if people can’t pay £ 400, they can’t hear. We need to fight this not just as deaf  community and supporters but as an entire disabled community.
This despicable behaviour is likely to spread to withdrawing funding of equipment and resources for other impairments  too. Please like and share our new dpac page for North Staffordshire and Cheshire East.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/DPAC-North-Staffordshire-and-Cheshire-East/1568667403389619?fref=ts

if you are unable to access Facebook but would like to get involved in this area email us at mail@dpac.uk.net with your contact details which we will pass on.

 

 Posted by at 15:01
Mar 112015
 

I need to acknowledge the use of work produced by Professor Luke Clemens which was provided by Kate Whittaker, of Scott-Moncrieff to us. The full summary produced is here http://www.lukeclements.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/0-Care-Act-notes-updated-2015-02.pdf

 

There are also 2 excellent youtube videos by Professor Clemens on Continuing Health Care and assessing social care needs.

 

Luke Clements lectures

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmFZ5qzvCZE  on CHC

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEwBN873dYE   assessing social care needs

 

 

Background to Care Act 2014

The Care Act 2014 repeals almost all of the principal adult social care statutes. The list of ‘repeals’ is extensive including the National Assistance Act 1948, as well as the Acts and regulations that govern such things as direct payments, charging for social care, assessments (ie the NHS & Community Care Act 1990) and all the Carers Acts. It also replaces FACS criteria with a list of eligible needs.

 

The implementation timetable for the Care Act 2014 has been the subject of significant criticism. The 506 page guidance and 17 sets of regulations weren’t approved until mid-October – leaving local authorities less than 5 months to make major) changes (including training their workforce) before the Act comes into force in April 2015. It is I think fair to sat that many local authority social workers and managers are unlikely to know just what the Care Act entails even once it has replaced existing social care legislation so as disabled people and carers it is probably more important than ever that we know what it says and what our rights are.

 

The Government say this is  ‘the most significant reform of care and support in more than 60 years’ and it also provides a range of new rights for family carers.

The equivalent Welsh legislation (Social Services & Well-being (Wales) Act 2014) is not coming into force until 2016.

 

While the bulk of the Act will come into force in April 2015, the new appeals process and the ‘cap on costs’ provisions aren’t due to come into force until April 2016. A sum of £55.5m was ‘released’ which becomes the ‘Carers and Care Act Implementation Grant.’ aimed at meeting the expected increased potential demand from carers to access their ‘new rights’.

 

Luke Clemens says that “The speed with which the final guidance has been produced has resulted in it having a number of material errors and omissions. One is a section explaining the guidance’s status at law. The draft guidance contained a statement (page 3) that ‘local authorities are required to act under the guidance, which means that they must follow it, unless they can demonstrate sound legal reasons for not doing so’. This obligation stems from section 78 of the 2014 Act – which replicates the current duty (in section 7(1) Local Authority Social Services Act 1970) and means that existing case law concerning Department of Health ‘policy guidance’ will remain relevant under the new legal regime.”

 

The regulations detail specific obligations relating to market oversight / business failure (3 sets of regulations); the assessment of need; eligibility criteria; advocacy; charging; choice of accommodation; deferred payments; personal budgets; direct payments; the NHS interface; delayed hospital discharge; ordinary residence (2 sets of regulations); portability of care packages and cross-border placements; and registers for people with visual impairments. The longest set of regulations concern charging and there are none on some key questions – notably adult safeguarding.

The guidance contains a number of ‘examples’. While these had the potential to be of considerable value, they are disappointing: generally limp and have the predominant outcome that once the person had been pointed in the right direction, there was no need provide them with any local authority support.

 

The Act does not talk of disabled, elderly or of ill people: instead it uses the word ‘adult’ – but this is generally qualified as being an adult ‘in need’ of care and support. The regulations however stipulate that this is an adult who has ‘a physical or mental impairment or illness’. The current community care legislation generally requires that the impairment be both substantial and permanent.

 

Carer

Section 10 defines a carer as someone 18 or over  who provides or intends to provide care for someone but is not contracted to provide the care or providing the care as formal ‘voluntary work’. All ‘carers’ are now eligible for an assessment. This means that many more carers will be eligible for an assessment – for example those who are providing little or no physical or practical care – but providing emotional support This change, coupled with: (a) the abolition of the requirement that carers’ ‘request’ an assessment; and (b) the new ‘duty’ to meet carers assessed needs has the potential to recast radically the legal regime for carers.

 

As with the pre-Care Act law, there is no duty to assess carers who provide their care by virtue of a contract, or as voluntary work (section 10(9)). The guidance addresses the not uncommon situation of a carer who is paid to provide care for the adult (possibly through the use of a direct payment) but is also providing unpaid care for that person. At para 6.17 it advises that in such circumstances ‘the local authority must consider whether to carry out a carer’s assessment for that part of the care they are not providing on a contractual or voluntary basis’.

 

The act also includes provisions for young carers and disabled children.

 

Local Authorities also have far greater duties to provide assessments to eligible persons even those who self-fund, they must provide transparent information to people including how their Resource Allocation System operates, they must provide access to information and to advocacy for those who need it.

 

RAS will be based on the 10 outcomes outlined below with each outcome having a maximum number of points based on how expensive that outcome is to meet. Questions asked about support levels and the need to meet these will produce points for people whereasquestions about informal support which may be in place to help meet needs will remove points but it is also stressed in the Act that any assessment of needs must ignore care provided by informal carers and that such input can only be considered if appropriate and the informal carers are willing to provide such support. (6.64)

 

Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) says that the Care Act is based on a strengths based approach to improve wellbeing and independence and that it looks at what people can do rather than what they can’t do as well as what those around them can do and what the community can do to support them to put off the need for care and support.

 

Underpinning principles (section 1)

The consultation process leading to the drafting of the legislation resulted in demands that the Act be underpinned by a coherent set of guiding principles (rather like those that apply in relation to the Mental Capacity Act 2005, s1). The Act does not have such a set of principles – instead it contains a general duty to promote the ‘well-being’ of individuals (ie adults and carers). The duty applies to local authorities and their staff when exercising ‘any function’ under Part 1 of the Act (ie sections 1-80).

 

Well-being

Well-being is so widely defined that there was a risk that it would prove to be of little practical application and is fairly meaningless. Clemens says   however the guidance goes a considerable way to dispelling this fear.

 

‘Well-being’ includes personal dignity, physical and mental health and emotional well-being; protection from abuse and neglect; control over day-to-day life; participation in work, education, training or recreation; social and economic well-being; domestic, family and personal relationships; suitability of living accommodation; and ‘the individual’s contribution to society’.

 

The emphasis on the importance of ‘control’ has been seen as a cause for concern by some commentators: in many respects the inclusion of ‘control’ can be seen as a further manifestation of the ‘responsibilization’ agenda. Despite the Law Commission’s comments, ‘choice’ does not appear as a well-being principle.

When discharging any obligation under the Act, the local authority must ‘have regard to’—

 the individual’s views, wishes, feelings and beliefs;

 the need to prevent/ delay the development of needs for care and support;

 the need to make decisions that are not based on stereotyping individuals;

 the importance of individual’s participating as fully as possible in relevant decisions (including provision to them of necessary information and support);

 the importance of achieving a ‘balance between the individual’s wellbeing and that of any friends or relatives who are involved in caring for the individual’;

 the need to protect people from abuse and neglect;

 the need to ensure that restrictions on individual rights /freedoms be kept to the minimum necessary.

 

A criticism made of the ‘well-being’ obligation and the above list in particular – concerns the failure to include an explicit reference to the right to ‘independent living’ – ie as protected by Article 19 UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The guidance, however, goes a good way to addressing this omission, stating that (para 1.19):

 

The wellbeing principle is intended to cover the key components of independent living, as expressed in the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (in particular, Article 19 of the Convention). Supporting people to live as independently as possible, for as long as possible, is a guiding principle of the Care Act.

 

Such an express statement is of considerable value – not least because the courts and Ombudsmen have shown a surprising willingness to have regard to the Convention in recent judgments / reports.

 

Well-being is defined as including being protected from ‘abuse and neglect’ (s1(2)(c)) and the guidance gives emphasis to this stating that ‘it is not possible to promote wellbeing without establishing a basic foundation where people are safe and their care and support is on a secure footing’ (para 1.26). The problem, as is noted below, is that although the eligibility criteria lists ‘being able to make use of the adult’s home safely’ as an outcome – this in itself does not (on one interpretation) trigger the safeguarding duty as the adult would also have to demonstrate an inability in relation to another ‘outcome’: being an elderly ill person unable to keep herself safe – is not without more, sufficient to instigate the safeguarding duty.

 

Bits of particular interest to us

 

Services / care and support responses (section 8)

Under the current legal regime the object of a community care / carers assessment is to determine (among other things) whether there is a need for ‘services’. The community care statutes provide exhaustive lists of services that can be provided and the Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000 provides a generalised statement as to what a carer’s ‘service’ might be. The Care Act repeals these statutes and (in keeping with its ‘outcomes’ rhetoric) avoids referring to the word ‘service’ when describing what may be provided to meet a person’s needs. Instead, section 8(1) contains an illustrative list of what may be ‘provided’ to an adult in need or carer – namely:

  1. a) accommodation in a care home or in premises of some other type;
  2. b) care and support at home or in the community;
  3. c) counselling, advocacy and other types of social work;
  4. d) goods and facilities;
  5. e) information and advice.

The absence of such things as ‘adaptations’ ‘travel’; and ‘holidays’ (which are specifically cited in the current law) was considered problematical by the Select Committee and in response to a question it asked the Department of Health, received confirmation that the Department considered that these services did fall within the ambit of the list.The Committee expressed the hope that the subsequent guidance would ‘make clear that the list is not intended to limit the ways in which a local authority might meet any eligible needs or agreed outcomes, removing any possible ambiguity on that point’ (para 170). Unfortunately the guidance does not make this sufficiently clear.

Support such as home adaptations, equipment and transport is often vital to enable ‘adults in need’ to live independently in the community. The facilitation / provision of suitable adaptations / equipment requires explicit guidance, given that the overlap of responsibilities between housing and social services authorities will remain (with such support being capable of being delivered under both the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 and the Care Act 2014).  The guidance fails to reiterate and build on the current guidance on this question.

 

Section 8(2) slips out of the ‘outcomes’ mode and gives examples of the ways need may be met which include the ‘service’ word – namely:

(a) by arranging for a person other than it to provide a service;

(b) by itself providing a service;

(c) by making direct payments.

 

Local authorities will be able to charge (under section 14) for the costs that they incur in providing care and support (under section 8) to meet the ‘needs’ of individuals – ie carers as well as elderly ill and disabled people. The question arises therefore as to whether local authorities will start charging for support such as advocacy, social work and information (and indeed how ‘social work’ is to be defined). The question is all the more pressing since local authorities will be able to delegate assessments (and most of their other functions) to independent sector organisations (section 79 – see below). In answer to a specific question on this point, the Minister (Norman Lamb) stated that these provisions do ‘not give a power to local authorities to charge for carrying out a needs or carer’s assessment in any circumstances’.

 

Assessment of adults in need (section 9)

The Act, the regulations and the guidance create important and welcome obligations on local authorities in relation to the advocacy and safeguarding needs of individuals

identified during the assessment and care planning processes.

 

The duty in the Care Act to assess adults in need is closely aligned to the existing duty (under s47 NHS and Community Care Act 1990). As with the current law, the duty is triggered by the appearance of need and arises regardless of the ‘level’ of those needs or the person’s financial resources (it applies, as now, to self-funders). The assessment must have specific regard to the well-being criteria (ie section 1(2) above) and must involve the adult and any carer. It is difficult to see how this can be achieved without a face to face assessment (unless the adult agrees this is not necessary) however para 6.28 of the guidance states that:

Where appropriate, an assessment may be carried out over the phone or online. In adopting such approaches, local authorities should consider whether the proposed means of carrying out the assessment poses any challenges or risks for certain groups, particularly when assuring itself that it has fulfilled its duties around safeguarding, independent advocacy, and assessing mental capacity.

There appears to be a downgrading (or at least a welcome acceptance of reality) of the value of ‘supported self-assessments’. Rhetorically they have promoted the unrealistic notion of disabled people identifying their own needs and mapping out their support – with a social worker giving gentle guidance and the benefit of her or his wisdom. In reality they have too often been the posting of a Self Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) to the person in need and then running the ticked boxes through a Resource Allocation System (RAS): highly impersonalised and designed to reduce care costs: to ‘lower expectations’. The guidance requires individuals who are able and willing to undertake a supported self-assessment be offered one (para 6.44) but that: (a) the local authority must assure itself that it ‘is an accurate reflection of the person’s needs’ (para 6.3); and (b) that regardless of what the individual may think ‘the final decision regarding eligibility will rest with the local authority’ (para 6.53).

The guidance gives useful emphasis to the need for assessors to be ‘appropriately trained’, but also states that registered ‘social workers and occupational therapists can provide important support and may be involved in complex assessments which indicate a wide range of needs, risks and strengths that may require a coordinated response from a variety of statutory and community services’ (para 6.7). In so doing the implication is that for non-complex cases social workers may not be necessary. The general (and welcome) tenor of the guidance is, however, that assessors must be ‘appropriately trained’. Para 6.88, for example states that if an ‘assessor does not have the knowledge of a particular condition or circumstance, they must consult someone who has relevant expertise’ and at para 6.86 it requires that:

assessors undergo regular, up-to-date training on an ongoing basis. The training must be appropriate to the assessment, both the format of assessment and the condition(s) and circumstances of the person being assessed. They must also have the skills and knowledge to carry out an assessment of needs that relate to a specific condition or circumstances requiring expert insight, for example when assessing an individual who has autism, learning disabilities, mental health needs or dementia.

The guidance requires that assessments be ‘person-centred, involving the individual and any carer that the adult has, or any other person they might want involved ‘ (para 6.9) and that they must ‘establish the total extent of needs’ (para 6.10). Local authorities are also required to ‘provide in advance, and in accessible format, the list of questions to be covered in the assessment’ (para 6.38).

 

Carer support ignored

The ‘eligibility criteria’ regulations make explicit that the decision about whether an adult has eligible needs, is made on the basis that it does not take into account any support that is being provided by third parties (ie carers): ‘instead, where a person receives support from a carer, this will be taken into account during the development of the care and support plan.’ This important point is addressed in the guidance, which at chapter 6 (Assessment and eligibility) states:

 

6.15 During the assessment, local authorities must consider all of the adult’s care and support needs, regardless of any support being provided by a carer. Where the adult has a carer, information on the care that they are providing can be captured during assessment, but it must not influence the eligibility determination.

 

This approach is restated in the care and support planning section of the guidance (para 10.26) which requires that authorities ‘must identify, during the assessment process, those needs which are being met by a carer at that time, and determine whether those needs would be eligible’.

Section 10(5) requires that assessments must take into account the extent to which the carer is ‘willing, and is likely to continue to be willing’ to provide care. The guidance at para 2.48 that ‘authorities ‘should not assume that others are willing or able to take up caring roles’ echoes earlier guidance – for example the original 1990 policy guidance to the Community Care reforms61 and guidance to the Carers (Recognition & Services) Act 1995.62

 

The nature and setting of the assessment

The guidance advises that to enable individuals to prepare for their assessment, they should be provided in advance (in an accessible format) with the list of questions to be covered in the assessment (para 6.38). At the same time the authority must consider if the individual may have ‘substantial difficulty’ in being involved in the assessment process and if so consider the need for independent advocacy (para 6.23). At the conclusion of the assessment the local authority must ‘ensure that it is an accurate and complete reflection of the person’s needs’ (para 6.46) – which must presumably mean sharing a draft and getting it agreed (or details of what is not agreed) – since a copy of the assessment must then be given to the carer / adult in need (para 6.98).The duty to endeavour to reach agreement at this stage is not however explicit – unlike the requirement in para 10.83, that authorities ‘must take all reasonable steps to reach agreement with the person for whom the plan is being prepared’.

Individuals must be ‘at the heart’ of their assessments and in the case of an adult ‘in need’ the authority ‘must also involve any carer the person has (which may be more than one carer)’.

 

Advocacy support

The Act, regulations and guidance make specific provision for advocates to be provided where a person has ‘substantial difficulty’ in being actively involved with the planning process. Less is said concerning the needs of those who don’t have such a difficulty – but nevertheless feel the need for support from friends or advocates.

 

Eligibility criteria (section 13)

Where an assessment identifies that an individual has needs for care / support then the authority must decide if these needs are sufficient to meet the eligibility criteria. The pre-Care Act legislation contains no reference to ‘eligibility criteria’: locating them instead in guidance (commonly referred to as FACS). The Care Act places eligibility criteria in a statutory footing (section 13) with the detail being spelled out in the regulations– which contain separate criteria for adults in need and for carers. Whether this change of status – or indeed the significant changes to the criteria themselves – will result in material change in practice is difficult to predict. Research suggests that for both carers and disabled / older people, the content of national criteria is less influential than ‘social work attitudes’ and local interpretations of the national criteria.

 

Adults in need eligibility criteria

For adults in need, the Care Act criteria have many similarities to the FACS guidance: the most obvious change is the absence of ‘bands’ (the ‘critical’, ‘substantial’, ‘moderate’ ‘low’ bands in FACS).

 

Under the new eligibility scheme, adults in need must satisfy three requirements:

 

(1) their needs must be the result of a physical or mental impairment or illness;

(2) as a result they must be unable to achieve two or more specified outcomes; and

(3) as a consequence, there is (or there is likely to be) a significant impact on their well-being.

 

In this process – a key word is ‘significant’ and it is one that also appears in the carers eligibility criteria. The guidance avoids a precise definition of what ‘significant’ means – para 6.110 stating that it is to have its ‘everyday meaning – but then adding that authorities must consider whether the adult’s needs and their consequent inability to achieve the relevant outcomes will have an important, consequential effect on their daily lives, their independence and their wellbeing’ (para 6.110) – and that:

‘Needs may affect different people differently, because what is important to the individual’s wellbeing may not be the same in all cases. Circumstances which create a significant impact on the wellbeing of one individual may not have the same effect on another’ (para 6.111).

 

Inevitably it would appear to follow that, as with the FACS criteria, the eligibility determination will continue to be subjective and made on the basis of the assessor’s professional opinion. The ‘inherently subjective’ nature of this process led a number of commentators, including the LGA and ADASS, to suggest that the draft eligibility criteria (published in June 2014) placed the threshold of entitlement closer to the ‘moderate’ band in FACS than the ‘substantial’ band. The final (ie revised) criteria appear to be ‘tighter’ – most noticeably requiring that the person is ‘unable to achieve two or more specified outcomes’. However, in this context, regulation 3 defines ‘unable’ in expansive terms: a person is to be deemed ‘unable’ if he or she:

(a) is unable to achieve it without assistance;

(b) is able to achieve it without assistance but doing so causes the adult significant pain, distress or anxiety;

(c) is able to achieve it without assistance but doing so endangers or is likely to endanger the health or safety of the adult, or of others; or

(d) is able to achieve it without assistance but takes significantly longer than would normally be expected.

The broad definition of inability to achieve – has also led commentators to suggest that even in this final formulation, the eligibility remain more generous than under the FACS guidance.

 

Regulation 2 details ‘outcomes’ as being:

(a) managing and maintaining nutrition;

(b) maintaining personal hygiene;

(c) managing toilet needs;

(d) being appropriately clothed;

(e) being able to make use of the adult’s home safely;

(f) maintaining a habitable home environment;

(g) developing and maintaining family or other personal relationships;

(h) accessing and engaging in work, training, education or volunteering; Care

(i) making use of necessary facilities or services in the local community including public transport, and recreational facilities or services; and

(j) carrying out any caring responsibilities the adult has for a child.

 

Para 6.107 of the guidance provides examples of how local authorities should consider each of the above outcomes – while emphasising that the guidance does not constitute an exhaustive list of examples.

 

As noted above, the regulations and guidance are unequivocal concerning the input of carers: this must be ignored during the assessment process of the adult and during the determination of eligibility. As the guidance states (para 6.119):

The eligibility determination must be made based on the adult’s needs and how these impact on their wellbeing. Authorities must only take consideration of whether the adult has a carer, or what needs may be met by a carer after the eligibility determination when a care and support plan is prepared. The determination must be based solely on the adult’s needs and if an adult does have a carer, the care they are providing will be taken into account when considering whether the needs must be met.

 

The pre-Care Act rule – that the eligibility criteria can be sidestepped for people whose needs are urgent is carried forward into the new regime (section 19(3)). The guidance advises that where ‘an individual with urgent needs approaches or is referred to the local authority [it] should provide an immediate response and meet the individuals care and support needs’ and it then provides as an example, ‘where an individual’s condition deteriorates rapidly or they have an accident, they will need a swift response to ensure their needs are met’ (para 6.26).

 

Funding panels

Many local authorities use ‘panels’ of various types (sometimes termed ‘allocation panels’, ‘funding panels’ or ‘purchasing panels’) as a means of rationing services. The legality of the way that some of these panels operate is open to question – creating as they do, an additional non-statutory hurdle for people in need and their carers. The 2014 Act makes no change to this situation and so the concerns raised by the courts and the Joint Committee on Human Rights concerning the legality of such ‘panels’ overruling social work recommendations will remain relevant. The Local Government Ombudsman has also expressed similar misgivings. In a 2005 report, for example, he held that where an assessment has been carried out, a purchasing panel (and by implication a manager) cannot override the judgment of the assessor without providing clear reasons for doing so.

Due regard should be taken to the use of approval panels in both the timeliness and bureaucracy of the planning and sign-off process. In some cases, panels may be an appropriate governance mechanism to sign-off large or unique personal budget allocations and/or plans. Where used, panels should be appropriately skilled and trained, and local authorities should refrain from creating or using panels that seek to amend planning decisions, micro-manage the planning process or are in place purely for financial reasons. …

 

Duty /power to provide care & support for adults /carers (section 18 – 20)

The duty on local authorities to meet the eligible needs of disabled, elderly and ill people is retained and widened by the Care Act. The pre-2014 legislation contains no duty to meet carers’ eligible needs (just a power)85 nor (in general) does the pre-2014 legislation create a duty to meet the needs of ‘self-funders’ (ie people whose savings are above the capital limit – currently £23,750). Both these limitations are removed by the 2014 Act. Where an individual’s needs (ie a carer or an ‘adult in need’) meet the eligibility criteria then there will be a duty to ensure their care and support needs are addressed. The only stipulation being that they are ordinarily resident in the local authority’s area (as at present) and that if their assets are above the financial limit, that they ‘ask the authority’ to meet their needs. Until April 2014 the right of self-funder’s to require the local authority to meet their care needs will only extend to non-care home settings.

Even if a self funder with eligible needs does not ask the local authority to meet their needs – the local authority will (once the ‘cap on care costs’ comes into force in 2016) be under a duty to provide them with a statement (an ‘independent personal budget’ ) detailing what the cost would be to the local authority of meeting their needs – since this notional budget will count towards the ‘cap’.

 

Care & support plans (section 25-26)

The assessment process involves identifying ‘needs’ and then determining which of these (if any) are ‘eligible needs’. This stage is then followed by the development of a care and support plan that explains how the eligible needs will be met. These stages are two sides of an equation: on one side there are the eligible needs that have to be met and on the other are the details of how this will be done. In order that the individual can determine whether their assessed needs are fully addressed in the care plan, the guidance requires that they ‘must be given a record of their needs or carer’s assessment’ (para 6.98) and also their final care plan (para 10.87).

 

Needs versus ‘outcomes’

The Act seeks to distinguish ‘needs’ from ‘outcomes’. This chimes with the views of many commentators who consider that the ‘social model’ approach requires a ‘focus on outcomes’ rather than personal ‘needs’. There is much to be said for this, but there are dangers too.

On the positive side outcomes aim to identify the person’s ‘aspirations, goals and priorities’. The theory is that if the assessment focuses on these issues it will break free from the shackles of thought processes tied to existing service models – thinking about ‘what services are available’. Once the person ‘in need’ / carer have been helped to explain what they would like happen in their lives – then they (with the support of the authority) can seek to develop a care and support plan designed to enable these things to be achieved. The theory is that this process leads to better and sometimes more imaginative solutions.

On the negative side, however, there is evidence that the emphasis on outcomes is rhetorical rather than of substance (a criticism also made of many local authority ‘personalisation’ programmes). Much of the research concerning outcomes focused assessments identifies the importance of avoiding prescriptive ‘tick box’ questionnaires and of the need for a strong human relationships with assessors who have the skills and time to enable this approach to succeed. Local authorities are however moving to greater standardisation, more prescriptive assessment forms, less skilled / trained workforces with ever higher caseloads. increasing disconnect between what service users say and related evidence, and the thinking of government and policy-makers and what they seem to be doing.

 

A further reason for caution lies in the very ambiguity as to what constitutes an ‘outcome’. Just as some disabled people have historically been told that their asserted ‘need’ is merely a ‘want’ – some are now being told that their ‘need’ is no longer relevant – it is the ‘outcome’ that counts (and the local authority then proceed to tell them what this is). Not infrequently there is a pedantic circularity to the distinction – and one that should be confronted. Outcomes arise out of needs, which stem from impairments – so, for example, the regulations (when dealing with the criteria for an adult in need’) state that because of a person’s needs, a statutory ‘outcome’ could be ‘managing toilet needs’. The guidance (para 6.107) then explains how local authorities should consider each statutory ‘outcome’ for the purposes of determining eligibility – and in relation to ‘managing toilet needs’ it states that this requires a consideration of their ‘ability to access and use a toilet and manage their toilet needs.’ It would appear to follow that a ‘need’ to get to the toilet is only a ‘need’ but a need to mange my toilet needs’ is an outcome.

It is at this stage one asks whether the well-being requirement – that the authority starts from the ‘assumption that the individual is best-placed to judge the individual’s well-being’ (section 1(3)) – extends to accepting that the individual is best placed to say what they want to be able to do (their outcome) and to do so in their own terms – including using the language of need?

 

Provided the potential for casuistry in the ‘outcomes versus needs’ analysis is avoided, there is much to welcome in having a statutory list of ‘outcomes / needs’ – particularly as the guidance (para 6.107) states that this does ‘not constitute an exhaustive list) when determining the adult’s eligibility for care and support’.

 

Care and support planning – principles

Section 25 details what must be in every care and support plan (ie for a carer or an adult ‘in need’) and this duty is analysed in the guidance (para 10.36). The requirements include:

 the needs identified by the assessment;

 whether, and to what extent, the needs meet the eligibility criteria;

 the needs that the authority is going to meet, and how it intends to do so;

 for a person needing care, for which of the desired outcomes care and support could be relevant;

 for a carer, the outcomes the carer wishes to achieve, and their wishes around providing care, work, education and recreation where support could be relevant;

 

the personal budget …;

 information and advice on what can be done to reduce the needs in question, and to prevent or delay the development of needs in the future;

 where needs are being met via a direct payment … , the needs to be met via the direct payment and the amount and frequency of the payments.

The effect of section 25 is that the current requirements for care and support plans will continue – but they now become statutory rather than requirements of Department of Health guidance. Existing case law concerning care plans will remain relevant – particularly so, given that it places great emphasis on the importance of local authorities following guidance. (which will now be the detail in the 2014 guidance). In R v Islington LBC ex p Rixon (1997) it was held that central importance of a care plan was described as: the means by which the local authority assembles the relevant information and applies it to the statutory ends, and hence affords good evidence to any inquirer of the due discharge of its statutory duties.

In R (J) v Caerphilly CBC it was held that care plans must ‘set out the operational objectives with sufficient detail – including detail of the “how, who, what and when” – to enable the care plan itself to be used as a means of checking whether or not those objectives are being met’. A 2014 Ombudsman’s report held (in similar terms) that an assessment must be more than merely a descriptive document: it must spell out with precision what the needs are, what the impact of the disability is on the carer(s) and whether the disabled person and the carers needs can be met and can continue to be met into the future. The assessment must result in a care plan that identifies the needs, what is to be done about these needs, by whom and when. If a direct payment is made, it must specify precisely what need these payments are intended to meet, why this level of payment is considered appropriate, or what outcome this will result in.

 

The most significant difference under the new regime is that every such plan for an ‘adult’ must have a ‘personal budget’ offered. (s25(1)(e) ). Since most local authorities already do this – it will probably make little practical difference.

 

The 2014 guidance requires that the person being assessed must be ‘genuinely involved and influential throughout the planning process and that: ‘it should be made clear that the plan ‘belongs’ to the person it is intended for, with the local authority role to ensure the production and sign-off of the plan to ensure that it is appropriate to meet the identified needs (para 10.2). The care and support plan ‘must take into consideration the individual’s preferences’ (para 10.21).

The duty to meet eligible needs is not discharged just because a person has another entitlement to a different service which could meet those needs, but which they are not availing themselves of. The needs remain ‘unmet’ (and so the local authority under a duty to meet them) until those needs are actually met by the relevant service bring provided or arranged.

 

Personal budgets

Section 26 states that the amount of an adult’s personal budget is ‘the cost to the local authority of meeting those of the adult’s needs which it is required or decides to meet’. The guidance states at para 11.10 that:

The personal budget must always be an amount sufficient to meet the person’s care and support needs, and must include the cost to the local authority of meeting the person’s needs which the local authority is under a duty to meet, or has exercised its power to do so. This overall cost must then be broken down into the amount the person must pay, following the financial assessment, and the remainder of the budget that the authority will pay.

It follows from the above, that a personal budget may include an amount attributable to support that the local authority funds as a ‘discretion’ (ie support that it considers is needed – but which does not meet the eligibility criteria). Since the amount that an individual pays for their care will be added (from April 2016) to their ‘Dilnot taxi meter’ – towards their ‘cap on costs’ – the guidance needs to make clear whether the charges for discretionary services are included for ‘cap on costs’ purposes. If these charges do not count – then there is an obvious temptation for local authorities to include them in the plan as a discretionary support.

The expectation is that (for non-self funders) the personal budget will change as the care and support planning process progresses. At the start of the planning process it will be an ‘indicative amount’ shared with the person, and anybody else involved, with ‘final amount of the personal budget confirmed through this process’ (para 11.7). This means there is no need for an authority to use a Resource Allocation System (RAS) to generate a figure at the commencement of the process – an authority might have (for example) a simple set of ‘bands’. Research suggests that most RAS generate incorrect figures which have serious defects – not least their complexity and the rigidity with which some local authorities then apply them. In support of this approach the guidance advises that ‘complex RAS models of allocation may not work for all client groups’ (para 11.23) and that ‘regardless of the process used, the most important principles in setting the personal budget are transparency, timeliness and sufficiency’ (para 11.24).

The guidance (para 11.7) states that ‘Everyone whose needs are met by the local authority … must receive a personal budget as part of the care and support plan.

 

Direct Payments (sections 31-33)

The new legislation provides for an almost identical ‘direct payments’ regime as at present and the detail (as with the current system) is to be found in the regulations and the guidance. The only significant change is that direct payments will be available for residential care placements. This change is expected to come into force in April 2016 and pilots in 18 local authority areas are currently underway.

 

 

The relevance of local authority financial difficulties

Para 10.27 of the guidance makes clear that the current law concerning the relevance of a local authority’s financial position remains (as first detailed in the Gloucestershire judgment) namely that although authorities can ‘take into account reasonable consideration’ of their finances, they ‘must comply’ with their legal obligations. A local authority’s finances are relevant when it decides how to meet the eligible needs of an individual ‘but not whether those needs are met’. The guidance goes on to stress that authorities ‘should not set arbitrary upper limits on the costs [they are] willing to pay to meet needs through certain routes’ – although they may: take decisions on a case-by-case basis which weigh up the total costs of different potential options for meeting needs, and include the cost as a relevant factor in deciding between suitable alternative options for meeting needs. This does not mean choosing the cheapest option; but the one which delivers the outcomes desired for the best value. (para 10.27)

 

Sign off and copies of care plans

The ‘sign off of a plan should only occur once the authority has taken ‘all reasonable steps to reach agreement with the person for whom the plan is being prepared’ and ‘any third party involved in the preparation of the plan’ and this ‘agreement should be recorded and a copy placed within the plan’ (para 10.83). If the plan is not agreed then the authority should ‘state the reasons for this and the steps which must be taken to ensure that the plan is signed-off’ (para 10.86).

The Act also requires that a copy of the care and support plan be given to the adult in need / carer (and anyone else they request) (section 25(9) and (10)) and the guidance at para 10.87 makes clear that the copy must be ‘in a format that is accessible to the person for whom the plan is intended’ and copies should also be given to any independent advocate involved. Many care and support plans are computer generated and incomprehensible to all but the initiated. The requirement that the copies be ‘in a format that is accessible’ must require that this practice ends and plain English, jargon free plans are provided to those who require them.

 

And some of the rest

Prevention (section 2)

Local authorities will be under a general duty to provide a range of preventative services that they ‘consider’ will:

(a) contribute towards preventing or delaying the development by adults in its area of needs for care and support;

(b) contribute towards preventing or delaying the development by carers in its area of needs for support;

(c) reduce the needs for care and support of adults in its area;

(d) reduce the needs for support of carers in its area.

 

Charging and preventative services

The current requirement that intermediate care and reablement must be provided without charge is carried into the new regime. While it will continue to be a time-limited service, the guidance advises that ‘where it is provided beyond six weeks, local authorities should consider continuing to provide it free of charge beyond six weeks in such circumstances’ (para 2.61).

Where a local authority decides to charge for preventative services the guidance advices that it is ‘vital to ensure affordability’ and that it balances the ‘affordability and viability … with the likely impact of charging on the uptake’ – and that this be considered individually as well as at general policy levels.

 

Integration with the NHS (section 3)

Section 3 places a duty on local authorities to promote integration with health provision where it would—

(a) promote the well-being of adults with needs & carers in its area; or

(b) contribute to the prevention of the development of needs in adults / carers; or

(c) improve the quality of care for adults / carers, provided

This will include joint working in relation to the better Care Fund.

 

Information (section 4)

Local authorities will have an enhanced duty to provide adults in need / carers with information about care and support arrangements, including:- how the care system operates; the care and support choices they have (including the choice of providers); how to access this support and how to raise safeguarding concerns. The information duty will also include how to access independent financial advice – which will be of considerable relevance given the choices ‘self-funders’ will have to make under the new regime – particularly with regard to the ‘cap on care cost’ reforms.

The guidance explains that authorities ‘must establish and maintain a service for providing people with information and advice relating to care and support’ (para 3.11); that this must be provided for a variety of different formats; that the ‘duty in the Care Act will not be met through the use of digital channels alone’ and that the mix of provision will be expected to include ‘face-to-face contact’ (para 3.29).

 

Duty to promote effective high quality providers (section 5)

The Act (fleshed out by three sets of regulations36) contains a range of provisions designed to address the ‘supply side’ problems of the social care market – ie (a) the problem of large providers collapsing (such as Southern Cross failure in 2011); and (b) the increasing belief that the quality of services is generally poor and deteriorating. These provisions include ‘market oversight’ arrangements involving the Care Quality Commission (CQC) – amongst others (ss 53 – 57 Care Act 2014) and a temporary duty on social services to intervene if a particular provider ‘fails’ (ss 48-52). In July 2014 the Public Accounts Committee was of the view that the CQC (which will monitor the top 40 – 50 providers) lacked ‘the skills to undertake this expanded level of monitoring’.

Regulations38 have now been issued to provide for eleven fundamental standards39 of safety and quality that should always be met by providers of health and social care and draft CQC guidance.

Section 5 places a duty on local authorities to promote an efficient /

Workforce issues

The social care workforce has been a direct victim of local authority pressure on providers to reduce their fees. The guidance stresses the importance of authorities ‘fostering a workforce which underpins the market’ (para 4.21) and encouraging (by for example providing funding – para 4.29) ‘training and development’. Local authorities when commissioning services must assure themselves that their fee levels do not (among other things) compromise the service provider’s ability to: (1) ‘meet the statutory obligations to pay at least minimum wages; (2) ‘provide effective training and development of staff’ (para 4.31); and (3) pay remuneration that is:

at least sufficient to comply with the national minimum wage legislation for hourly pay or equivalent salary. This will include appropriate remuneration for any time spent travelling between appointments (para 4.30).

The guidance advises that where a provider has previously been in breach of national minimum wage legislation it should in general be excluded from the tendering process (para 4.102).

 

Delegation (section 79)

Local authorities will be able to delegate all of their functions under the Act – with few exceptions (eg safeguarding (sections 42 – 47) and charging (section 14)). Section 79(6) makes it clear that ultimate responsibility in such cases will still rest with the local authority (any acts /omissions by the delegated body will be treated as done / omitted to be done by the local authority). A series of pilots have run since 2011 to explore the potential for delegation: these have been small scale and almost all have been third sector not for profit organisations. Section 79 opens up the possibility of full scale delegation of quite a different order and might be contemplated by local authorities facing a steep rise in their assessment / care planning obligations resulting from their new duties to carers and to self funders. In anticipation of these reforms all English local authorities have been given power to delegate virtually all of their adult social services powers.

covered in the assessment’ (para 6.38).

 

Review of care & support plans (aka annual harassment)

Section 27(1) of the 2014 Act places a general requirement for local authorities to keep under review care and support plans (as well as when a reasonable request by the adult in need or a carer and section 27(4) requires that if they believe that that circumstances have changed materially, then they must undertake a further needs or carer’s assessment and revise the plan accordingly. The guidance creates an expectation that the care and support plans will reviewed ‘no later than every 12 months, although a light-touch review should be considered 6-8 weeks after the plan and personal budget have been signed off’ (para 10.42 – and see also para 13.32).

The guidance requires that reviews (like assessments) must be person-centred, accessible and proportionate: must involve the ‘person needing care and also the carer where feasible’ (para 13.2) and their purpose is ‘identify if the person’s needs (or any other circumstances) have changed’ (para 13.4). Very welcome is the note in the guidance that the ‘review must not be used as a mechanism to arbitrarily reduce the level of a person’s personal budget’ (para 13.4). Reviews should not be ‘overly-complex or bureaucratic’ and should cover the specified matters – which ‘should be communicated to the person before the review process begins’ para 13.12). These include: whether the person’s needs / circumstances have changed; what parts of the plan are working / not working / need changing; have the outcomes identified in the plan been achieved and are there any new outcomes they want to meet; is the person’s personal budget adequate and is there a need to change the way it is managed / paid; are there material changes in the person’s support networks which might impact negatively or positively on the plan; have any changes occurred which could give rise to a risk of abuse or neglect; and is the person, carer, independent advocate satisfied with the plan?

 

Charging (section 14)

As noted, local authorities will be able to charge for the cost they incur in providing social care support services. Under the pre-Care Act law, there was a duty to charge for residential care services and a power to charge for non-residential care (including carers’ services). The 2014 Act repeals the previous law and section 14 gives authorities the power (but not a duty) to charge. In the short term it is unlikely that there will be material changes to local authority charging policies – although reference to the well-established Charging for Residential Accommodation Guidance (CRAG) will change as this is repealed – but it is replicated in large measure by the Care and Support (Charging and Assessment of Resources) Regulations and the guidance (including Annexes B, C, D and E).

 

The guidance states (para 8.2) that a single set of principles will condition local authority approaches to charging, namely:

 ensure that people are not charged more than it is reasonably practicable for them to pay;

 be comprehensive, to reduce variation in the way people are assessed and charged;

 be clear and transparent, so people know what they will be charged;

 promote wellbeing, social inclusion, and support the vision of personalisation, independence, choice and control;

 support carers to look after their own health and wellbeing and to care effectively and safely;

 be person-focused, reflecting the variety of care and caring journeys and the variety of options available to meet their needs;

 apply the charging rules equally so those with similar needs or services are treated the same and minimise anomalies between different care settings;

 encourage and enable those who wish to stay in or take up employment, education or training or plan for the future costs of meeting their needs to do so; and

 be sustainable for local authorities in the long-term.

 

Welcome as is the requirement that ‘people are not charged more than it is reasonably practicable for them to pay’ this represents (for people receiving non-residential care support) a dilution of their legal rights. At present the prohibition is contained in the statute and so is only capable of being removed by Parliament (whereas guidance can be re-written on Ministerial whim).

One problem with the approach of applying ‘the charging rules equally so those with similar needs or services are treated the same’ is that local authorities may start charging carers for services. The guidance anticipates this problem – but in a relatively ‘limp’ section seeks to argue that charging carers is not inevitable stating (para 8.50):

Local authorities are not required to charge a carer for support. …. a local authority should consider how it wishes to express the way it values carers within its local community as partners in care, and recognise the significant contribution carers make. … Local authorities should consider carefully the likely impact of any charges on carers, particularly in terms of their willingness and ability to continue their caring responsibilities.

 

Continuity of care (portability) (sections 37-38)

The Act prescribes the way local authorities transfer responsibility for the care and support of an adult – when she or he moves from one local authority area to another. It does this by attempting to embed ‘good practice’ (ie what should happen) into legislation. The problem is that there are no sanctions if either the first or second local authority fails to act properly – and so (as now) an individual would have to make a complaint/ go to the Ombudsman if a problem occurs.

Sections 37 – 38 are replete with detailed procedural obligations – but in essence they provide that where a local authority (the 1st local authority) is providing135 care and support for an adult and another authority (the 2nd authority) is notified that the adult intends to move into their area (and it is satisfied that the intention is genuine) then it must (among other things) undertake an assessment of the adult’s needs (and those of any carers he or she may have). If the assessment(s) have not been completed by the time the adult actually moves, then the second authority must meet the needs identified by the 1st authority (until its assessment is complete).

Chapter 20 of the guidance fleshes out how the process should operate – but signally fails to deal with what will happen when a person moves and the second local authority fails to act properly – for example by failing to fund the person’s needs to the same level as the first authority until it has completed its assessment. The guidance should have cautioned against the first authority stopping the funding in such cases – but it does not.

 

Ordinary Residence (section 39 – 41)

The existing law concerning the determination of a person’s ‘ordinary residence’ continues under the new legislation – with one major change.

The case law concerning the notion of ‘ordinary residence’ will remain applicable – ie that it refers to a person’s ‘abode in a particular place … adopted voluntarily and for settled purposes … whether of short or long duration’.As with the current law there are two significant ‘deeming’ rules – and it is in relation to the second of these that the material change is made.

The first deeming rule (now found in section 39(5)) concerns adults in NHS accommodation: such people are deemed to be ordinarily resident in the area in which they were immediately before they entered the NHS accommodation / ambulance.

The second deeming rule concerns adults whose accommodation is arranged by a local authority in the area of another local authority. At present this is restricted to cases where a local authority arranges accommodation in a registered care home. The legislation extends this rule to include not only care home accommodation, but also shared lives scheme accommodation and supported living accommodation. Local authority responsibility only attaches if the care and support ‘can be met only’ in the specified accommodation and the accommodation is in England (section 39(1)).

Para 19.31 of the guidance explains that:

Need should be judged to “only be able to be met” through a specified type of accommodation

 

in the specified accommodation and the accommodation is in England (section 39(1)).

Para 19.31 of the guidance explains that:

Need should be judged to “only be able to be met” through a specified type of accommodation where the local authority has made this decision following an assessment and a care and support planning process involving the person. Decisions on how needs are to be met, made in the latter process and recorded in the care and support plan, should evidence that needs can only be met in that manner. The local authority must have assessed those needs in order to make such a decision – the “deeming” principle therefore does not apply to cases where a person arranges their own accommodation and the local authority does not meet their needs.

Responsibility will however continue even if the person moves between different specified types of accommodation in another (or more than one other) area and it will also exist where the person takes a direct payment and arranges their own care (see paras 19.32 – 19.34).

 

Safeguarding (sections 42 – 47))

The Act places on a statutory footing some of the safeguarding obligations that are at present, only located in the guidance (principally the ‘No Secrets’ guidance) – for example the duty to make enquiries / decide what action should to be taken.

Section 42 contains the duty to make enquiries if adult with care & support needs:

  • is experiencing, or is at risk of abuse of neglect; and
  • is unable to protect him/herself against the abuse / neglect.

 

The Act does not explain what is meant by ‘abuse’ – save to specify that it includes financial abuse which is broadly defined – eg including putting the adult ‘under pressure in relation to money or other property’ and/or the adult ‘having money or other property misused’.

The Act provides no new powers to protect adults from abuse – merely ‘process’ obligations (eg to have a Safeguarding Board; to undertake investigations and to require individuals to provide information etc). The Welsh Act provides a power of entry – to enable social services to gain access and to speak with a person suspected of being abused – and the Scottish Act contains (in addition) a power of removal. Not only are such powers absent from the English Act, the existing National Assistance Act 1948 section 47 power to remove, is repealed.

 

Independent advocacy (section 67)

Section 67 of the Act and the regulations place a duty on local authorities to arrange independent advocacy if the authority considers that: (1) an individual would experience ‘substantial difficulty’ in participating in (amongst other things) their assessment and / or the preparation of their care and support plan; and (2) there is no one appropriate available to support and represent the person’s wishes. As the guidance states at para 7.4:

Local authorities must arrange an independent advocate to facilitate the involvement of a person in their assessment, in the preparation of their care and support plan and in the review of their care plan, as well as in safeguarding enquiries and SARs [Safeguarding Adults Reviews] if two conditions are met. That if an independent advocate were not provided then the person would have substantial difficulty in being fully involved in these processes and second, there is no appropriate individual available to support and represent the person’s wishes who is not paid or professionally engaged in providing care or treatment to the person or their carer. The role of the independent advocate is to support and represent the person and to facilitate their involvement in the key processes and interactions with the local authority and other organisations as required for the safeguarding enquiry or SAR.

The guidance explains that a person experiences ‘substantial difficulty’ when this exists in relation to any one of four areas – namely (para by 6.33):

understanding the information provided; retaining the information; using or weighing up the information as part of the process of being involved; and communicating the person’s views, wishes or feelings. Where a person has substantial difficulty in any of these four areas, then they need assistance.

s117 Mental Health Act 1983 (section 74)

Currently ‘’after-care services’ are not defined by the 1983 Act. The Care Act inserts a new subsection (5) into the 1983 Act to limit services to those:

(a) ‘arising from or related to the mental disorder’ and

(b) reducing the risk of a deterioration of the person’s mental condition (ie that may require re-admission).

The Act confirms that ordinary residence for the purposes of s117 is determined by where a person was based immediately before they were detained and gives the Secretary of State power to resolve ordinary residence disputes. It also inserts a new ‘s117A’ that provides for regulations to introduce a limited ‘choice of accommodation’ for persons subject to s117.

 Posted by at 21:25
Jan 292015
 

Legal Challenge re-PIP claims

We are aware that many disabled people are having problems with the way the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) system works, and many people are having to wait a really long time for an assessment or decision. We know some people are waiting months, which is unacceptable.

If you are planning to apply for PIP, or have applied and are currently waiting for an assessment or decision, we can put you in touch with some solicitors who may be able to provide you with some free assistance which may speed up your claim where there is a delay. If you would like to find out about this please email us at mail@dpac.uk.net

Legal Challenge re- Sanctions

We are also looking for  ESA claimants who have been sanctioned, or threatened with a sanction, because they have not been able to undertake work related activity for some reason which is connected with their disability. For example, the claimant cannot attend training because their mental health problem prevents them from travelling or from working in a group of people they do not know. In such a case, we could argue that the DWP should make reasonable adjustments such as providing them with training via the internet or providing them with means of travel to training as appropriate.

The best time for a case to start is probably at the point when a sanction has been threatened and before it is imposed, but get in touch if your benefit has been reduced as well.

We also hope that the question of the lawfulness of sanctions can be looked at as well but need some individual cases first.

If you are interested in getting involved with either of these cases please contact us at mail@dpac.uk.net

 

 Posted by at 13:08
Jan 282015
 

While Labour profess to support fully the right to live independently for disabled people we are now in a situation following plans to close the Independent Living Fund where England is left as the only UK country which will not have it’s own form of a fund to continue to support the additional funding requirements of those who have high support needs.

For any political party to say they want disabled people to have the same rights, choices and chances as any other citizen rings hollow without a commitment to keep in place even if on a temporary basis the funding necessary for this to happen.

The Labour Party’s official response to many people who have contacted them with regard to supporting keeping the ILF open has outlined a number of points which we would like to address.

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

2) You also state that ‘ we understand the Fund is already being wound down, and staff numbers are already reducing’. This maybe correct but it is equally the case that there is very little being done in terms of winding down the ILF that could not very quickly be undone, even after actual closure of the ILF. This information has been provided by ILF staff and a former strategic director at ILF and  has been shared with Labour’s shadow DWP team by PCS union and others. This means that if a Labour government were to be elected in May 2015 it will very much be Labour’s decision to go ahead with closure in June.

3) In turn that brings us onto the fact that should Labour be elected to government next May it is they who will be in power and responsible for the UK’s failure to protect disabled people’s human rights under the UNCRPD, and it is they who will be deemed responsible for the continuing grave and systematic violation of those rights when the UN investigation into the UK takes place after the election. We believe this would cause unnecessary and easily avoidable  embarrassment to a newly elected labour government with international repercussions.

Whilst we welcome Labour’s goal of trying to ensure in the longer term that those currently supported by the Independent Living Fund can realise rights to live independently and with dignity, the ‘whole person care’ through which Labour intends to deliver on this goal is at this stage only a proposal and any benefits resulting from it are a long way off. Moreover, as respected experts in the field such as Professor Pat Thane have pointed out, the current system is simply not functioning at the necessary level. Relying on the integration of health and social care as a solution to the crisis in social care is thus an irresponsible gamble to take with people’s lives.

Since the closure to new applicants in December 2010 disabled people who missed out on the ILF have suffered dramatically worse outcomes than existing ILF recipients with equivalent support needs. We have provided Kate Green with a number of case studies showing the reality of independent living for disabled people who would have been eligible for ILF but are now only receiving LA social care support. We are not just talking about disabled people no longer being able to go to work, or ever have a holiday or go to university, we are talking about people unable to leave their homes, left without access to food or water, unable to wash more than a couple of times per week.

Whilst the intention of issuing guidelines to local authorities is well meaning, it is unrealistic within the current climate to see these securing the futures of existing ILF recipients. Cash strapped local authorities are very aware of the dangers of setting precedents for providing levels and types of social care support to some individuals and not for others. An LA could easily consider itself to have more to risk by following than not following the guidelines. In order to ensure equity between all adult service users they may well feel they have no choice but to level down.

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

The alternative is that disabled people’s right to independent living will be wiped out, potentially for generations. Once a people lose choice and control over their lives, disempowerment sets in and rights that have been smashed aside over-night can only be won back over a long and hard road.

As it stands, if Labour are elected in May 2015, the final nail in the coffin of disabled people’s right to independent living as it currently exists will be hammered in under a Labour government. It does not have to be like this. The Labour Party has a golden opportunity to make a principled stand in support of disabled people and our rights to equality, inclusion and equality by supporting the continuation of ILF. Disabled people are mobilizing and campaigning across the UK, through initiatives like Operation Disabled Vote. A  principled stand by Labour on the ILF ahead of the General Election would be welcomed by the 12.2 million disabled people in the UK, our families, friends and supporters.

What you can do to help

We’re therefore asking people to email or tweet to Labour to say that England must not be the only UK country without an Independent Living Fund and that we know and have shown them the evidence that it is not too late to keep an ILF in England as well as in other UK countries. If Labour want disabled people’s votes then they must give an assurance that in the short term at least they will keep the ILF open until such time as something better can be put in place.

You can email Iain McNicoll, general secretary of the Labour Party at onenationpolitics@labour.org.uk

Ed Miliband at ed.miliband.mp@parliament.uk

And Kate Green at kate.green.2nd@parliament.uk

Or you can tweet them @IainMcnicol

@ed_miliband

@kategreenSU

Please also contact your Prospective Parliamentary Candidates and let us know what replies you get.

 

 

 

 

 Posted by at 20:53
Jan 112015
 

http://www.luton-dunstable.co.uk/pictures/GALLERY-8203-100-march-Luton-justice-protest/pictures-25838488-detail/pictures.html

OVER 100 people marched through Luton today (Sunday) in protest against Bedfordshire Police.

Representatives from Justice 4 Leon, Justice 4 Faruk Ali and Justice 4 Mayah, who have united as the group Luton 4 Justice, were joined by campaigners for Slough man Habib ‘Paps’ Ullah, who died in police custody in 2008.

The group marched from Nadeem Plaza to Luton Police Station at 1pm, which was closed during the protest, where speeches were given by campaigners.

The group had dispersed by 3pm.

Dhobir Ali, brother of Faruk Ali, said: “Today is a start of a long journey, with a lot of struggles ahead.

“We have a lot of questions left unanswered, such as the progress of the misconduct hearing and whether they will release the footage.

“We want to work with the police, but we also want there to be transparency.”

When asked what the next step for Luton 4 Justice was, Livery Louise of the Justice 4 Leon campaign said: “The next step after this is the Ferguson USA to UK tour where a Reverend central to the protests of the Michael Brown case is coming down to speak on a panel, which we hope will raise awareness even further and increase community cohesion.”

Read more: http://www.luton-dunstable.co.uk/pictures/GALLERY-8203-100-march-Luton-justice-protest/pictures-25838488-detail/pictures.html#ixzz3OXakZK61

Report back from Mandy a DPAC supporter who attended the event together with Andy Greene who spoke on behalf of DPAC

Strange that I should be in respite care, when the march was due to take place. My life is full of these anomalies. I consider being part of the protest as party of my therapy. It is import for people to feel valued and involved in important things. It doesn’t get much more important than the right to justice and that means justice for all.

I wasn’t aware that the march would be taking place until last Wednesday. However, there was enough time to liaise with Linda and Andy and to have some clue of where the march was to start.

After a few minor blips, I met Andy and Jim at Luton train station and we took a slow pootle to Nazeem Plaza

It was nice to have people to go along with especially all I really knew was that some people had died, either in police custody or due to negligence of other people (and a system that seems to serve itself…make that does serve itself).

When we got to the rendezvous point, I became aware that 2 adults and a child had died and  Faruk Ali a man with autism had been assaulted twice by police outside his home. The families had got no justice for their loved one. I am sure many people are aware of the ‘corruption’ that makes for our justice system but I was horrified, particularly, by the plight of Mayah. A young girl and the abuse her family members received, not just when Mayah was in hospital but since they have been trying to get those accountable to be made accountable. Having said that, all life is precious and the lives of the 3 people, taken too soon, unnecessarily, and the way public servants have lied, covered up the truth and put the families through hell upset and angered me. Gave me more resolve, when I was marching because it felt the only right thing for me to do.
During the march, I became detached from Andy and Jim. These things happen when I get caught up in what is going on. I felt a strong sense of solidarity and pride in being part of the march and having a booming voice came in really handy as we (as a collective) chanted the names of those who had died and yelled “Our Streets” in response to the question “Whose Streets?”.

The names of those we were marching for: Leon Briggs, Papa Mullah, Farouk Ali and Baby Mayah. It is important to remember these people and also to remember that if this is what has happened in Luton, similar miscarriages of justice (deaths in police custody and assaults of disabled people) must be happening all over this country.

The march ended at Luton Police Station, where family members (of the victims), community leaders and DPAC’s Andy gave speeches. Was well impressed by Andy. Blimey, he can give it some and fair play to him. He did DPAC and all disabled people proud.

I was very much touched by Mayah’s uncle. I nearly cried, hearing how Mayah died and how brutally her family members, including Mayah’s mother, were treated by the police. I know this sounds a bit biased but as a mother I can only imagine (and how awful that imagery is) what it would be like if that had been my daughter and I was being manhandled by policemen.

Before some of us, who had marched, went off for free soup at Ruby’s. {The owner, very kindly, made soup for all who took part} somebody (from some news channel or other) thrust a microphone at me, asking me why I attended the march. Bottom line, because the justice system should serve everyone and serve everyone properly.

 

 Posted by at 19:06
Jan 112015
 

as you may have seen Mark Harper may have deliberately misled parliament and said that disabled people’s organisations have told him his government are right to close the independent Living Fund and devolve non-ring fenced funding to Local Authorities. Following DWPs response to an FOI we have now written to those disability charities it seems Mark Harper claims have supported this decision to ask them if they did agree with the government.

The charities concerned are DRUK,  Mencap, MIND, RNIB, Action on Hearing Loss, Leonard Cheshire Disability and SCOPE.

Many thanks to John Pring and his Disability News Service for also working on this issue.

http://disabilitynewsservice.com/2015/01/independent-living-fund-ministers-unbelievable-failure-prove-commons-boast/

Dear CEO,

A published statement in parliament made in December last year has left Mark Harper the minister for disabled people facing accusations that he misled parliament over the level of support for the government’s decision to close the Independent Living Fund (ILF).
Mark Harper told MPs that he had “talked to disability organisations about this matter, and they agree with the
government” that the ILF should be closed and non-ring-fenced funding passed instead to local authorities.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm141208/debtext/141208-0001.htm#1412082000005
Having now received a response to a Freedom of Information request about this matter the Minister for Disabled People’s Private Office has confirmed that the Minister does meet regularly with a large number of disability organisations including a regular monthly meeting with the Disability Charities Consortium – an informal coalition of seven disability charities; Action on Hearing Loss, Disability Rights UK, Leonard Cheshire Disability, Mencap, Mind, RNIB and Scope – and attendance at the Fulfilling Potential Forum.

We know that those attending the Fulfilling Potential Forum have not agreed with the government’s plans to close the ILF and refusal to ring-fence the money.

We also feel it is unlikely, but not impossible, that you as one of the CEOs of the Disability Charities Consortium have agreed with this stance but before we pursue this matter further we would like you to confirm to us whether you have in meetings with Mark Harper agreed with the government’s position that the ILF should be closed and non ring-fenced funding devolved to local authorities.

We have posted this on our website and will add your responses to us as and when we receive them.

Linda Burnip

Disabled People Against Cuts

Responses

Linda
Disability Rights UK has never  agreed with government to ILF closure.
We have not agreed with government on closure or transfer.

On ring-fencing we campaigned in 2014 on the lack of ring-fencing by many local authorities, after we did a Freedom of Information request to find out what local authorities were doing – this was on national media.

See our statement and these FoI  findings at: http://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/news/2014/august/most-councils-will-not-ringfence-ilf-resources

We will be doing a further Freedom of Information request shortly to sustain pressure

Best wishes

Liz

Dear Linda

I am currently chair of Disabilities Charities Consortium.

Disabilities Charities Consortium CEOs have met once with Mark Harper, on 14 October 2014. It was an introductory meeting at which we discussed the DCC’s priorities in the run-up to the general election and shared our joint policy platform (see attached document) and invited the Minister to outline his priorities up until May 2015.

There was a brief discussion about independent living at the meeting, which focused on social care funding and legislative reforms. The meeting did not include any discussion of the Independent Living Fund.

The Disabilities Charities Consortium does not have an agreed joint position on the ILF. Our positioning document (attached) calls for Government to reaffirm its commitment to independent living and put in place the mechanisms to deliver this. By the end of the next Parliament, all recipients of state-funded care must have the option to live independently, including being supported in their own home or in a supported living setting.

With regard to Action on Hearing Loss, we have not had any conversation with the Minister for Disabled People about the Independent Living Fund.

With best wishes

Paul

Paul Breckell
Chief Executive
Action on Hearing Loss

Dear Linda,

Thank you for your recent messages to Clare Pelham with regard the Independent Living Fund.

In addition to the clarification that I know has been sent on behalf of the DCC group, I can confirm that we have had two recent meetings with Mark Harper MP, the introductory meeting between the Minister and the CEOs of the Disability Charities Consortium on 14 October, and an individual meeting on 27 November. We did not discuss the ILF at either of these meetings. In addition, over the last year we have specifically called for the ILF to be retained.

Yours,

Andy Cole 

Director of Corporate Affairs
Leonard Cheshire Disability

Dear Linda,

Thank you for your email regarding the comment that the Minister for Disabled People made in Parliament in December 2014 about the Independent Living Fund.

Scope has held two meetings with Mark Harper as the Minister for Disabled People – the first in September 2014 and the second in January 2015.  The agenda of neither of these meetings included a specific item on the Independent Living Fund.

We have always been clear that our position on ILF is as set out below.

As you know, in our response to the Government’s 2012 consultation entitled ‘The Future of the Independent Living Fund’ (available here:https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/the-future-of-the-independent-living-fund-ilf), Scope stated that ‘Whilst it may be reasonable to consider bringing the Independent Living Fund (ILF) into the mainstream care and support system at some point in the future, Scope is strongly opposed to closing the fund to existing users at this present time’ and that “the core issue of funding for all care and support services needs to be addressed before any potential consideration of closure of the ILF to existing users”.

Since then, Scope has been consistent and clear that we are very concerned about the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) because it is likely to lead to fewer disabled people being able to live independently and because those basic conditions for any movement of the fund into the mainstream care system have not been met. Our most recent position statement on the closure of the Fund can be found here: http://www.scope.org.uk/Scope-responds-lawfulness-closure-Independent-Living-Fund.

The Disabilities Charities Consortium has met once with Mark Harper, on 14 October 2014. It was an introductory meeting at which we discussed the DCC’s priorities in the run-up to the general election and shared our joint policy platform and invited the Minister to outline his priorities up until May 2015.   There was a brief discussion about independent living at the meeting, which focused on social care funding and legislative reforms. The meeting did not include any discussion of the Independent Living Fund.

The Disabilities Charities Consortium does not have an agreed joint position on the ILF. Our positioning document calls for Government to reaffirm its commitment to independent living and put in place the mechanisms to deliver this. By the end of the next Parliament, all recipients of state-funded care must have the option to live independently, including being supported in their own home or in a supported living setting.

I hope this answers your query in full, and please do not hesitate to contact me again if you have any other questions.

Best wishes,

Richard Hawkes

SCOPE

Thank you for your email and giving us an opportunity to respond to what the government has said.

As you’ll see from the attached response to the original ILF consultation, which we submitted in October 2012, we called, amongst other things,  for a ring-fenced budget allocation, if the ILF were to be closed. We then set out the different developments we wanted to see across Wales and Northern Ireland, were the ILF to close, to ensure a proper funding settlement for the devolved administrations. We believe that the lack of ringfencing is a very serious issue, which the government has not recognised.

In particular, I would draw your attention to the following from our response:

“Mencap urges the Government to transfer the funding from the ILF to local authorities in the form of a ring fenced specific grant. Otherwise it would be highly likely that local authorities will use the ILF funding to meet other gaps in spending. Furthermore Mencap calls upon the Government to take urgent action to address the funding crisis within adult social care. ”

You may also know that we are a member of the Care and Support Alliance, along with over 70 other organisations, campaigning together for a significant increase in funding for social care.

As a member of the Disabilities Charities Consortium, we have met once with Mark Harper, on 14 October last year- our first meeting with him after he took up the new role. It was an introductory meeting at which we discussed the DCC’s priorities in the run-up to the general election and the Minister’s priorities up until May. There was a brief discussion about independent living at the meeting, which focussed on social care funding and the Care Act. The meeting did not include any discussion of the Independent Living Fund.

The Disabilities Charities Consortium, of which Mencap is a member, does not have an agreed joint position on the ILF. Our joint policy document, which we use to guide our work together, calls for Government to reaffirm its commitment to independent living and put in place the mechanisms to deliver this so that by the end of the next Parliament, all users of state-funded care services have the option to live independently, including being supported in their own home or in a supported living setting.

I hope this is helpful, and welcome you placing responses on your website, so disabled people and their families can see the position that we and other charities have taken.

Jan Tegelles

Mencap

 

 

 

 Posted by at 18:05