Reclaim the Power Summer Camp- August 16th-21st
Now moved to Balcombe, Sussex
The coalition of climate, anti-austerity and fuel poverty activists who were planning on returning to West Burton power station for the Reclaim The Power action camp  in August have decided to switch location to Balcombe, where the Sussex community is currently resisting exploratory drilling by Cuadrilla.
The Reclaim the Power camp – now taking place in Balcombe from August 16-21 – will bring together a wide range of groups and individuals from across environmental, economic and social justice networks to discuss ideas, strengthen links, and share skills in direct action and civil disobedience to take action against the Cuadrilla site. Participating groups include UKUncut, Occupy, Disabled People Against Cuts, Greater London Pensioners Association and Fuel Poverty Action.
Workshop Saturday August 17th 11am ‘Considering the Cuts’ with contributions from
Occupy – Peter Dombi
DPAC – Andy Greene
UK Uncut – Lizzi Wagner/Tim Street
Plan C – Tim Gillibrand
More information about the camp and other activities available at
Hard-surface pathways through the camp with access to all communal areas and activities,
Accessible toilet facilities,
Accessible cooking facilities,
Wheelchair/scooter/equipment charging points,
BSL interpreters (by arrangement only),
and more.West Burton is the first of up to 40 new gas fired power stations that are currently being planned. This Dash for Gas is not just bad news for the climate – profit-driven gas extraction is forcing people into poverty right now. Politicians are pandering to tax-dodging energy companies who are getting ever richer and pushing their prices ever higher, forcing more and more people to choose between heating and eating. 7,200 people died last winter in the UK because of fuel poverty.As jobs, support and services disappear, more and more disabled people will become more isolated at home. The rising cost of living, including energy prices; will impact on the conditions we becoming isolated in. Being able to heat your home, maintain your personal well being and eat healthily will depend on a regular supply of energy. Disabled people are already twice as likely to live in poverty as non-disabled people, and fuel poverty will affect many thousands of disabled people. EDF and the other ‘Big Six’ energy companies are profiting from our misery.We want a sustainable energy system that prioritises people, not profit.
Last October, 21 environmental activists shut down West Burton power station for a week in protest at the government’s Dash for Gas. With your help, including a solidarity petition signed by 64,000 people – they fought off EDF’s attempt to sue them for £5 million.
And now we’re going back.
This summer, from 16th-20th August, over 1000 people will gather on the doorstep of the power station for a camp – including workshops and action planning – and a mass action. With your help, we will shut down the Dash for Gas, and forge strong links between economic and environmental justice in the minds of the public.
You are invited to be part of this exciting. Get in touch with DPAC at email@example.com and let us know the following:
What days you would like to come (you can choose to come for as long or as short as you like)?
Do you have any access requirements (travel, accommodation, cooking, information, participation in meetings/workshops/skill-shares/actions etc)?
Do you have any mobility/communication/technical aids which require recharging (what are they, what are the amp/voltage details on the charger)?
Will you be coming with a PA?
Do you have and legal observer skills or accredited medical training (Registered Nurse, St Johns Ambulance etc) you are willing to contribute?
Anything else we need to know or do, or anything you need to know or have, to enable you to take part on your own terms? (As earlier we will make every effort to do everything we can, but we will be in camp-site, in a field and some barriers just may be beyond us – that doesn’t mean don’t ask, we will investigate every possible solution before ruling anything out).
If you want to Reclaim the Power, there are loads of ways that you can help out and get involved:
- Share this callout with your friends and networks
- Actively encourage everyone to come
- Promote Reclaim the Power through your social media channels (#ReclaimThePower, @NoDashForGas). Our Facebook event is attinyurl.com/reclaimthepower
- Invite us to speak at one of your meetings – just email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Would you like to run a workshop at the camp? Again, just email us to let us know what you’d like to do (email@example.com)
- Would you like to be involved in organising the camp? We will be having a national gathering in London on the 4th August at which you would be welcome – just email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Action for Rail Burton-Upon-Trent
Wednesday July 3rd 1500-1730
@ Burton Station
Highlighting the effects Rail Cuts will have on Disabled and Older Passengers
Peter Pinkney RMT Presient
Paul Walker RMT National Executive Midlands
Ken Usher RMT Regional Officer
Jon Wheale Burton’s Labour Parliamentary candidate in 2015
Disabled People Against The Cuts
RMT UNITE TSSA ASLEF TUC DPAC BURTON LABOUR
Protest on Rail Policy Brings Political Turmoil to Small Town
Action For Rail is a campaign group set up by the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and its rail affiliated unions as a direct response to the governments proposals to cut up to 20 000 staff across the rail network. The campaign involves leafleting passengers at railway stations across the country informing them of the governments proposals and the affects they will have on their journeys. Within the leaflet there is a section for the passenger to fill in and send off to their respective local MP.
The government plans to close hundreds of ticket offices across the country and reducing the opening hours at even more. These ticket offices are likely to be replace by ticket vending machines a move that would have a devastating impact on disabled passengers, elderly passengers or anyone who needs help and support with a very complex system. There is also plans to cut platform staff, track maintenance and signalling staff, on train none driver staff and even the frightening prospect of driver only operations. In 1963 Dr Beeching took away railway lines and stations. In the present day this government is taking away the background the very people that make the service. Not only is this an attack on peoples jobs it is an attack on a important service which so many people rely on every day.
In the East Staffordshire Town of Burton-Upon-Trent Action For Rail held its first protest at the towns railway station in December 2012. Burton is a station that will be hit by the governments proposals. So Last December members of the Burton branch of the Rail Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) joined forces with anti cuts campaigners and members of the local Labour party to protest against the governments pans. . After the protest the local Conservative MP Andrew Griffiths wrote to the managing director of East Midlands Trains the company that runs the station at Burton to ask for reassurances that the ticket office at Burton was not threatened with closure. The RMT had suggested that Burton ticket office was threatened with closure based on previous example and stated that if it was not going to close completely then the opening hours would be reduced. EMT’s managing director David Horne gave the campaign a minor victor by confirming that the ticket office would not close. However he dismissed Action For Rail as making ‘spurious accusations based upon a union assertion.’ This was backed up by the MP who suggested that Action for Rail was using ‘scare tactics in order to score cheap political points.’ He then had the arrogance to suggest that those involved should come forward and apologies. Since then the campaign has been involved in several rounds of sparing with the local MP. Action For Rail has pointed out to him that the campaign is based on opposing the facts of the governments rail policy and is only informing the public of the threats they cause as well as campaigning for the preservation of rail workers jobs. Mr Griffiths has refused to recognise that it is government policy to cut up to 20 000 rail workers jobs and has also refused to accept that to broken rails on the East Coast Mainline of over five inches are a direct results of cuts to track maintenance staff. Since then Action for Rail have returned to Burton on the campaigns national day of action on March 27th. Members of the RMT again linked up with political activists, the local Labour Party including the parliamentary Candidate in 2015 and the highly popular last Labour MP who retired from politics in 2010. They again mentioned with evidence outlined by the TUC and even the governments own legislation that Burton was set to have the opening hours of its ticket office reduced as well as all other cuts that are to be made. Neither EMT or the MP have made any further comment.
It is for that reason that an impromptu protest on July 3rd has been called to try and bring about a response. The aim is to make the protest as big as possible in order to show the MP and EMT that the public are on our side and it is hoped that the more people at the protest the more likely it is to get a response. The protest will be taking place on Wednesday July 3rd from 3pm. In attendance will be.
Paul Walker RMT National Executive Midlands
Peter Pinkney RMT President (subject to availability)
Ken Usher RMT Midlands Regional Officer
Jon Wheele (Labour) Parliamentary Candidate in 2015 (subject to availability)
Local Labour Party Members and councillors
Bill Upton RMT Burton branch secretary
Members of Disabled People Against The Cuts
William Walker (NUS) Anti Cuts campaigner and left wing political activist and Historian. Un-official political officer for Burton branch of the RMT
I would like to express my personal thanks to the RMT president and Disabled people Against The Cuts who are both coming from London for this event.
Solidarity to you all
Boycott Workfare outside Policy Exchange after “ruining” their event
In return for supporting the passage of a retrospective law to steal £130 million from claimants who were illegally sanctioned, the Labour party were promised by the government that there would be an independent investigation into the sanction process. Of course, we expect little from an investigation that came at the price of justice for claimants. With no space for claimants to actually submit their concerns and experiences, the views of claimants will be not be represented.
With your help, Boycott Workfare would like to highlight the devastating impact that benefit sanctions are having on people’s lives. Collecting together your experiences of benefit sanctions we will be putting together a sanctions zine. Email us your words, however many or few you want to use. Things you may want to include may be:
- the length of the sanction
- the ‘reason’ the Job Centre gave for imposing the sanction and how they told you this ‘reason’
- how it affected your life, including its impact on your physical and mental health, your family and friendships
- how you coped during this time
- and how you are doing now e.g. still claiming JSA, stopped signing on, signing on to a different benefit, stress/worry about further sanctions etc.
- perhaps you have not been sanctioned, but have been bullied and threatened with sanctions
Email us at email@example.com
Feel free also to submit drawings and get in touch if you have any other ideas or suggestions. We also welcome submissions from those who are indirectly affected by benefit sanctions, such as welfare activists, welfare advisors and those involved in the Civil Service Rank and File Network.
We look forward to reading your submissions!
some ILF users have had letters asking for permission for their details to be passed onto their local authorities. This seems to be some group 2 users as well as group 1 users although who has had these letters seems rather random.
This is a draft reply that has been sent in response to the request which you might also want to use.
As you know, a judicial review of the legality of the consultation about the future of the ILF was held in March. Whilst the judge ruled that the consultation had not been unlawful, an appeal is being prepared and is likely to be heard. Hence, I do not feel it would be appropriate to accelerate the transfer process to local authorities until the future of the ILF has been decided in the courts.
Furthermore, in the event the ILF does close and myself and other clients need to seek funding from a Local Authority, I’m really quite capable of approaching them myself and sharing my details with them at a time and situation that I judge to be appropriate. To this end, I may ask for my details to be passed on to my Local Authority at a later date but not now.
IN JUNE THE INDEPENDENT LIVING FUND IS 25 YEARS OLD.
The ILF has been invaluable to enable disabled people to live independently now without even any vote in parliament or any discussion the Butchers of Benefits have announced it will close from 2015 with no replacement funding for more than 12 months maximum. Many local authorities have said this will result in disabled people being forced back into institutions or left to rot in their own homes without adequate levels of support.
On June 10th we’re going to have a birthday celebration with some others including hopefully a magician, street theatre, and cake plus lots of birthday cards to go to our DWP ministers.
We’re all meeting up between 1.30 pm and 2pm at Deans Yard, SW1P 3PA which is at the back of Westminster Abbey (ie the side that isn’t opposite House of Commons).
Nearest accessible tube is Westminster and for other travel information contact Transport for All http://www.transportforall.org.uk/
Hope to see you all there. Feel free to drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if you can come to this. Bring friends, banners, and noise plus cakes if you can.
|Reply to this email to comment on this p|
Government plans to permanently shut the Independent Living Fund are a concern for all disabled people and to everyone who cares about inclusion and social justice in the UK. The ILF was set up to support disabled people with the highest level of support need to live independently in the community regardless of their level of support need and when the alternative was residential care. The end of the ILF without adequate alternative support provision signals the end of the right to independent living for disabled people and a breach of Article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled People.
The ILF has been shut to new applicants since December 2010 and thousands of disabled people must therefore have missed out on support needed to enjoy full and meaningful lives. At both central and local government levels no information has been recorded to monitor the impact of this and to measure any potential breach of Article 19.
Inclusion London and Disabled People Against Cuts are asking for individual disabled people to come forward if you think you would have been eligible to apply to the ILF before it was shut at the end of 2010. It is important that information is recorded from the UK about any threat to disabled people’s fundamental rights and freedoms and will give disabled people in the UK the chance to invoke international protection of our rights.
If you are happy to share your story, information the support you get (or don’t get) and the impact this has on your life then please contact email@example.com or phone 020 7036 6032.
This Code of practice for transition reviews of those in receipt of ILF funding has been drawn up by ILF, ADASS and LGA. It seems fairly meaningless so there is no surprise there.
Transfer Review Programme Code of practice
Purpose of the code of practice
Following engagement with local authorities in England and disabled people and their organisations, the Independent Living Fund (ILF), the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), and the Local Government Association (LGA) have co-produced this code in order to promote best practice to support the effective transfer of ILF users to sole local authority support from April 2015.
The code aims to maximise the success of the transfer review programme and enhance the customer journey throughout transition by providing key principles to underpin partnership working.
1. Commitment to personalisation, inclusion, and choice and control
Throughout the process all parties will seek to demonstrate a commitment to the underlying principles of personalisation. There will be a high level commitment to maintaining choice and control, as well as maintaining users’ independent living outcomes.
All parties will ensure that users and their representatives are fully involved in transitional planning, and will take account of the views and requirements of users and their families/representatives in the preparation and implementation of the transfer of support.
2. Working in partnership
It is essential that the ILF and local authorities collaborate and work in partnership throughout the transfer programme to ensure that the necessary plans and structures are in place to fully support users up to and beyond 2015.
All parties will be committed to working towards and meeting relevant deadlines so as to guarantee that the programme is fully completed by 31 March 2015.
3. Open communication
Throughout the programme there needs to be continuous and open communication, providing relevant information that is shared in a timely manner. All parties should ensure that users are kept informed of plans that impact on their future. It is important that users have a clear awareness and understanding of what the transfer will mean for them.
4. Designated support
In order to facilitate the management of the programme, the ILF and local authorities will have place a named point of contact to manage relations between the ILF and each local authority, for both operational and corporate liaison. There should be a clear delineation of responsibility and accountability in running the programme both within the ILF and with local authorities.
5. Commitment to joint reviews
To aid the transfer process the ILF and local authorities will collaborate and participate in the joint transfer review programme, using a person centred assessment to identify how independent living outcomes can continue to be met.
In addition the programme will need to identify and inform users of what they will need to do prior to April 2015 to ensure that their eligible support continues to be met.
To aid in this process the ILF will seek consent prior to the initiation of the transfer review programme from all group 1 users to pass on information to local authorities. This will facilitate the collaboration between the ILF and local authorities and enable full participation in the programme by local authorities.
6. Advice and advocacy
Local authorities should where possible ensure that there is sufficient provision of, and clear signposting towards, independent advocacy and support. The ILF and local authorities will work together to share information on support available for users in order to effectively signpost people to this.
7. Personal budgets
The transfer to local authorities will be an opportunity to promote the take up of personal budgets. ILF users currently receive cash payments directly from the fund to pay for their support and the expectation is that they will continue to be able to exercise choice and control over how their care is provided. Users should be informed of what options and support are available locally.
8. Provision from April 2015
Transitional arrangements need to be in place from 1 April 2015 which enable users to plan for and manage any change in their support. The arrangement of a period of phased transition being provided that supports the protection of independent living outcomes is one of the issues for consideration during this transition period.
We believe that it is essential that before the end of the transfer programme all ILF users and their representatives have a clear understanding of how their eligible support needs will be met immediately following the transfer.
Any change to support arrangements made by the local authority should take into account the impact upon care providers making certain that the user is able to meet legal and contractual obligations where provision is reduced or replaced. In particular this includes redundancy payments and notice periods.
9. Data sharing
Any transfer of information needs to ensure that no person who has expressed a wish to receive support after April 2015 is unaccounted for.
The ILF will need to monitor the transfer of information to the relevant authorities. When information is transferred to local authorities there will need to be in place a mechanism to acknowledge the receipt of this information. All parties will ensure that appropriate measures are in place to transfer and protect sensitive information in compliance with data protection legislation.
10.Monitoring and evaluation
The ILF and local authorities will work in conjunction to ensure that there is a system in place to evaluate the effectiveness and progress of the programme. Any evaluation will naturally engage the opinions of users and their representatives.
Each party will have in place a clear process for managing complaints about decisions taken as a result of reviews. In addition the ILF and Local authorities should work in conjunction to resolve any concerns raised and provide a rapid resolution of any issues that arise.
7 May 2013
We also have this equally meaningless response to an FOI request for further information about what funding will be available. To summarise there is NO information which seems to be available to inform people what will happen.
Statement re Collin Brewer remarks
Such views have no place in local government. These remarks represent the personal views of Councillor Brewer who does not speak for the Council or the people of Cornwall.”
Leader of the Liberal Democrat group
Leader of the Independent group
Leader of the Conservative group
Leader of the Labour group
Leader of UKIP group
Leader of Mebyon Kernow
Following the Government’s abolition of Standards for England in 2012 and changes to the Code of Conduct regime the options available to the Council when a breach of the Code of Conduct is found have been limited. There is no longer the ability to suspend Councillors. The Council has never been able to disqualify Councillors in response to Code of Conduct complaints. In this case the Monitoring Officer found that there had been a breach of the Code of Conduct and determined that the only appropriate and proportionate sanction he could impose was to require Councillor Brewer to issue a formal apology. Mr Brewer was notified of this in November 2012 and subsequently wrote to the complainant apologising unreservedly for his remarks.
The Council does not have the power to stop anyone standing for election. Both the qualifications for candidates and the reasons why an individual could be disqualified from standing for election are clearly set out in legislation. The reasons for disqualification include being employed by the Council or holding a politically restricted post, being declared bankrupt or being sentenced to at least 3 months imprisonment during the previous 5 years. As none of the criteria for disqualification apply to Mr Brewer he was entitled to stand for election to Cornwall Council and was subsequently chosen by local voters to represent the Wadebridge East electoral division.
The Council is committed to ensuring that all staff and Members receive appropriate training in equality and diversity issues. Equality and diversity training is mandatory for all paid staff and we staged specific workshops for all Members during the first week of their induction programme. Further training, on-going workshops and awareness sessions will also be available throughout the four year life of this Council.
We have sent the following complaint about what we consider to be the incitement to hatred by Cornish councillor Colin Brewer.
In Wadebridge East, Colin Brewer has been re-elected, despite his earlier remarks about the need to kill disabled children because they cost too much. It seems voters may have accepted his apology. His comments had already sent shivers down the backs of all disabled people who knew about it – particularly, of course, those of us born with our impairments.
We have to our collective horror, however, now learnt from Disability News Service, whose reporter John Pring interviewed Mr. Brewer extensively, that far from realizing the error of his ways, Mr. Brewer has been emboldened to repeat and elaborate on his murderous and chilling views. We quote from the article posted on May 10th 2013 (http://disabilitynewsservice.com/2013/05/colin-brewer-there-is-a-good-argument-for-killing-some-disabled-babies/) “In the interview, Brewer repeatedly indicated that he believed there was a good argument for killing some disabled babies with high support needs, because of the cost of providing them with services.”
The contempt with which he views perhaps all human beings is revealed in this quote from the same article “People are not on this earth for very long. My main concern is planning and environmental [issues] and landscape. In that context, people are just transient. I have heard of terrific amounts of money being spent on specific individuals.” But as far as disabled humans are concerned, Mr. Brewer made it clear that he considers us no better than animals, saying about farmers “If they have a misshapen lamb, they get rid of it. They get rid of it. Bang!”
We could go on; Mr. Brewer certainly did, making it very clear that we were not worth society’s efforts and clearly having no idea whatsoever of the contribution we make to society.
Early on in Nazi Germany, a poster appeared with a disabled man sitting down looking unhappy, and a ‘doctor’ behind him. The poster told the public how much this disabled man was supposed to be costing them. From there, the gas chambers were trialed on disabled people first. http://www.oddee.com/_media/imgs/articles/a55_euthanasia.jpg
We believe Mr. Brewer’s comments reveal that he is not fit to hold any public office whatsoever. How can you be a public servant, whilst advocating exterminating sections of the public who have done no wrong whatsoever? Our understanding is that public service standards should debar him forthwith and we ask that you rapidly address this.
DPAC, Black Triangle campaign, Boycott Workfare and Brighton Benefits campaign will all be supporting CSRF members when they protest against the refusal to allow motions to discuss an ending to the benefit sanctions regime at the PCS conference on May 21st.
While we appreciate the legal complexities behind anti-trade union legislation several branches wanted to move motions to at least discuss how the sanctions regime might be legally hampered or ended.
DPAC is not supporting or are in any way involved with a die-in being planned to take place at the same time. Further as those involved with this die-in have said they do not want to be involved with non-disabled people we feel this is a divisive and unproductive attitude.
Demand action on benefit sanctions – PCS conference rally
The Brighton Centre, 12.30-14.30, Tuesday 21 May
Bring flags and banners
What councils don’t tell you about the enforcement of council tax.
Millions of people who do not pay the council tax now will be charged 8.5% to 30% from the 1st April. Millions will not be able to afford it; councils knew that when they made those irrational decisions.
Councils will not tell you;
1. That they have the discretion to write off the tax for vulnerable and impoverished people under clause 10 (1) 13A (1) of the Local Government Finance Act 2012. It is necessary for the council tax benefit claimant to write a letter to the council setting out their financial circumstances, all debts, and all relevant information such as health/disability. Payment of the bedroom tax, rent due to the overall benefit tax and the rent due to the housing benefit tax would be relevant.
2. That the bottom line is the income left after rent and council tax needed for food, fuel, clothes, transport and other necessities; that has to be a reasonable amount if councils (and jobcentres) abide by the Wednesbury Principles as required by law and endorsed by coalition ministers.
3.That page 9 of the National Standards for Enforcement Agents, published by the Ministry of Justice in 2012, sets out a procedure for bailiffs to return vulnerable cases from the door step to all creditors, including councils for council tax and courts for fines. A change of circumstances since the debt, fine or council tax arrears were incurred is another reason for applying page 9 procedure.
4. That Ministers from the DWP, the DCLG and the MOJ all stated during the passage of the Acts of Parliament, which are creating such misery, how concerned they were for vulnerable people; see their statements as recorded in Hansard in the attached file. Councils and Jobcentres should be reminded that is the coalitions policy; even though crocodile’s tears come to mind.
The details are on the TAP website on this PDF
Man Jailed After Comments Made In Atos Assessment
Steve Topley is a 49 year old father with multiple serious health problemswho was required to attend a Work Capability Assessment with the notorious IT firm Atos – the company responsible for stripping benefits from hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled people. During the process Mr Topley made some comments about someone not present at the assessment. His family say these comments were misunderstood and were in response to questions from the assessor about his personal life.
These comments led to Atos staff calling the police and Mr Topley was asked to attend Queens Medical Centre (QMC) in Nottingham. When he refused to do so he was arrested. At QMC he was de-arrested and received a mental health assessment but no reason was found to detain him under the mental health act. He was then re-arrested and taken in handcuffs to Nottingham police station where he was later charged.
He has now been refused bail twice in closed courts which his family were not permitted to attend. His sister Gina Topley, who says the family are being kept in the dark about the legal process, has said:
“My brother has not been given any opportunity to speak and give his side of the story to a judge and he was not offered an appropriate adult to accompany him when he was arrested.”
His family have not been allowed to visit him in prison and have raised concerns that his medication may not be being administered properly. Mr Topley will face another appearance in a closed court tomorrow (Friday 26th April) and there are major fears that he will be remanded once again pending psychiatric reports.
His family and supporters have called a demonstration outside the court tomorrow calling for his immediate release.
Meet outside Nottingham Crown Court on Friday 26th April from 9.30-11.00am – please help spread the word. For more details and the latest news visit:http://freestevetopley.wordpress.com/
reposeted from Johnnyvoidwordpress – twitter @johnnyvoid
this is taken from kittyjoneswordpress.com and we hope it will be useful for people to know about.
Courageous Scottish nurse Joyce Drummond, who made a heartfelt apology to Atos assessment victims, has submitted evidence to the Scottish Parliament Select Committee on Welfare Reform.
I have a correspondence with Joyce, who was the subject of this article: www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/nurse-makes-heartfelt-apology-after-1340838
Joyce has submitted evidence to the Scottish Parliament Select Committee on Welfare reform, which she forwarded to me this morning. I have edited where needed, and added to the text to make it easier to read. I’ve included the contents from Joyce’s notes in full.
I knew nothing about Atos when I joined, and left as soon as I realised that there was no way to fight from the inside.
I carried out Incapacity Benefit assessments, these were the forerunner to ESA assessments. I stated at my interview for the job that I believed in social inclusion and social justice.
I went for 4 weeks training in England. The training did not prepare me for what I was expected to do in real life.
The forms that are completed prior to assessment, I have recently found out, are opened by Royal Mail Staff. They are then sent for “scrutiny” where nurses decide whether or not a face to face assessment is required. I was not involved in this and do not know what criteria are used.
It is made clear throughout training and working that we are not nurses- we are disability analysts. Also, we do not carry out ‘medical assessments’ – we carry out ‘functional assessments’. We did not even need a diagnosis to carry out assessments. I had reservations around consent, as we were expected to assess patients – sorry, we didn’t have patients, we had ‘claimants’- who appeared to be under the influence of alcohol or other substances.
We were also consistently told that we did not make benefit decisions. The final decision was made by a DWP decision maker with no medical qualification. If our assessment was overturned at appeal we never knew about it. There was no accountability for assessments overruled.
Assessment starts on the day of your appointment with the HCP reading the form you complete when you applied for benefit. Remember that every single question you are asked is designed to justify ending your claim for ESA and passing you as “fit for work”. That is what Atos are contracted to do by the Government. This is not a genuine assessment, but rather, an opportunity for the DWP to take away your financial support, which you are entitled to.Things that are noted are :-
Did you complete the form yourself
Is the handwriting legible
Are the contents coherent.
These observations are already used in assessing your hand function, your cognitive state and concentration. Next under observation:-
Do the things you have written add up.
Does your medication support your diagnosis.
What tests you have had to confirm diagnosis. For example a diagnosis of sciatica is not accepted unless diagnosed by MRI scan.
Do you have supporting medical evidence from GP or consultants. If you do, it shows that you are able to organise getting this information.
This is also a hidden cost to the NHS. I believe that if ATOS request information there is a charge levied by GP’s. However claimants are expected to source medical evidence themselves. It uses valuable NHS time for medical staff to write supporting statements.
There were no hidden cameras, at least in Glasgow, to watch people arriving for assessment or sitting in waiting room. This may not be true in other areas.
When the HCP has read your form they input some data into the computer system. The assessment properly begins when they call your name in the waiting room. At this point they assess:-
Did you hear your name being called
Did you rise from your chair unaided, did the chair have arms or not
Were you accompanied – this addresses you’re ability to go out alone.
Were you reading a paper while waiting- looks at your concentration.
Did you walk to the assessment room unaided, did you use aids correctly. Did you navigate any obstacles safely- assessing sight.
The HCP will shake your hand when inroducing herself- are you trembling, sweating- signs of anxiety. Again note the constant scrutiny. The HCP will often ask on way to waiting room:-
How long you’ve been waiting- assessing ability to sit- both physically, and looking at your mental state.
How did you get here today- ability to drive, use public transport.
Assessment begins by listing medical conditions/complaints. For each complaint you will be asked:-
How long have you had it, have you seen a specialist
Have you had any tests, what treatments have you had
What’s your current treatment. Have you had any other specialist input eg. physiotherapy, CPN.
The HCP will use lack of specialist input/ hospital admissions to justify assessing your condition as less severe. Medications will be listed and it will be noted if they prescribed or bought. Dates will be checked on boxes to assess compliance with dosage and treatment regime. Any allergies or side-effects should be noted.
A brief note is made of how you feel each condition affects your life
A brief social history will be taken – who you live with, if have you stairs in your house or outside to your house.
Employment history taken – asking when you last worked, what you worked as, reason for leaving employment.
Typical Day – this is the part of the assessment where how you function on a day to day basis is used to justify the HCP decisions. Anything you say here is where you are most likely to fail your assessment. Along side this, the HCP records their observations.
Starting with your sleep pattern, questions are asked around your ability to function.
Lower limb problems- ability to mobilise to shops, around the house, drive, use public transport, dress, shower.
Upper limb- ability to wash, dress, cook, shop, complete ESA form
Vision- did you manage to navigate safely to assessment room.
Hearing- did you hear your name being called in waiting room.
Speech- could the HCP understand you at assessment.
Continence- do you describe incontinence NOT CONTROLLED by pads, medication. Do you mention it’s effects on your life when describing your typical day.
Consciousness- Do you suffer seizures- with loss of continence, possible injury, witnessed, or uncontrolled diabetes.
HCP observations include- how far did you walk to examination room, did you remove your coat independently, did you handle medications without difficulty, did you bend to pick up handbag.
Formal examination consists of simple movements to assess limited function.Things HCP also looks out for:-
Are you well presented, hair done, make-up, eyebrows waxed.
Do you have any pets – this can be linked with ability to bend to feed and walk.
Do you look after someone else – parent or carer- if you do this will be taken as evidence of functioning
Any training, voluntary work, socialising will be used as evidence of functioning.
This is not a comprehensive list, but gives you an idea of how seemingly innocent questions are used to justify HCP decisions.
Learning tasks- Can you use phone, computer, washing machine.
Hazards- Can you safely make tea, if claiming accidents- must have had emergency services eg fire service. Near miss accidents do not count.
Can you wash, dress, gather evidence for assessment
Observations made by HCP – appearance and presentation
Coping with assessment interview, abnormal thoughts, hallucinations, confusion.
Coping with change – ability to attend assessment, attend GP or hospital appointments, shopping and socialising.
More HCP observations:-
Appearance, eye contact, rapport, any signs/symptoms that are abnormal mood/thoughts/perceptions. Suicidal thoughts.
Coping with social engagement/appropriateness of behaviour – any inappropriate behaviour must have involved police
Ability to attend assessment, engage with assessor, behave appropriately.
Again this is not an exhaustive list, merely examples.
There are some “special cases”. Off the top of my head, exemptions from assessment include – terminal illness, intravenous chemotherapy treatment and danger to self or others if found fit to work (Regulation 29.)
At present to qualify for ESA you need to score 15 points. This can be a combination of scores from physical and mental health descriptors.
To qualify for the support group you must score 15 points in one section.
As long as you are claiming income – based ESA then your award can be renewed at each assessment, if you gain 15 points.
Contribution ESA lasts for 1 year only, unless you are in the support group. After 1 year in the support group, you may only get income based ESA if your household income is below a certain threshold. It makes no difference how long you have previously paid National Insurance.
For clarity, as far as I know in the real world, doctors carry out medical assessments, nurses carry out nursing assessments and physios carry out physiotherapy assessments. In the world of Atos, each of these separate professions are employed as disability analysts, carrying out functional assessments.
Nurses are employable for these posts if they have been qualified for at least 3 years, are registered to practice with the NMC, and have basic computer skills.
My interview consisted of-
Face to face interview with medical director and nurse team leader.
A written paper assessing a scenario, in my case someone with back pain
A 10 minute basic computer test.
In order to be approved as disability analyst I had to complete 4 weeks Atos disability training, reach a certain standard of assessment reports- as decided by audit of all cases seen (don’t know what criteria was) and finally approval to carry out WCA assessments from the Secretary for Work and Pensions.
In my opinion the money given to Atos and spent on tribunals should be given to NHS GPs. They are best placed to make assessments regarding patients work capability. They have access to all medical reports, past history, specialist input and know their patients. My concern would be what criteria the DWP would impose on GPs risking the doctor/patient relationship. GPs already assess patients for “fit notes”, which have to be submitted to DWP during assessment phase of ESA.
While I worked at Atos, sessional medical staff were being paid £40 per assessment, as far as I am aware. I have no idea of wages of permanent medical staff. Nurses were on a salary, which based on 10 assessments a day (Atos target) equalled around £10 per assessment. These are approximate figures but may give a clue as to why Atos are employing nurses rather than doctors.
Special exemptions from the 15 points criteria: Regulations 29 and 35.
Questions you may be asked at assessment: dwpexamination forum
How to deal with Benefits medical examinations: A Useful Guide to Benefit Claimants when up against ATOS Doctors
More support and helpful advice here: How to deal with Benefits medical examinations
Previous related article: After Atos
List of conditions judged suitable for assessment by neuro trained nurses/any health care profession: -
Prolapsed intervertebral disc
Lumbar nerve root compression
Cauda equina syndrome
Cervical nerve root compression
Nerve entrapment syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Brachial plexus injury
List of conditions judged by the DWP and Atos Healthcare as suitable only for assessment by doctors:-
Head injury with neuro sequelae
Sub Arachnoid Haemorrhage
Motor Neurone Disease
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Fits (secondary to brain tumour)
Learning difficulties (with physical problems)
This week it’s been reported that a coroner has found that a 51 year old man has taken his own life after worrying about how he would survive after his benefits were stopped. Meanwhile, Betty Stevenson, chair of Edinburgh Tenants Federation, has said the bedroom tax would have a “terrible effect” on people with mental illness, which could lead to a spike in suicides.
I’m researching this and wider ideas of the impact of cuts on people with mental health problems for my New Statesman column.
Have the cuts had a serious effect on your mental health? This can be either if you had existing mental health problems (and they have worsened, for instance) or if they have since developed.
This is clearly a very sensitive topic but one, with your help, I hope to highlight. (If needed, stories can be given anonymously with no names being published.)
Please get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org (rather than leaving a message here as I would not want to miss anything). Many thanks, Frances Ryan.
Disabled activists are occupying the front garden of IDS millionaire’s mansion in Buckinghamshire.
An eviction notice has been pinned to his door.
Speakers are listing the Tory assaults on disabled people and the poor.
Pictures to follow shortly
Link to live coverage on UKUNCUT on twitter
The campaign against the Bedroom Tax and other benefit cut is gathering strength and anger after 1 April. 50+ protests round the country on 30 March drew up to 26,000 people see Mirror report and BBC report
As Ministers stoop to new depths in trying to stigmatise people claiming benefits, Benefit Justice is helping to build united protests and campaigns locally and nationally, linking disabled peoples organisations, tenants, trade union, Workfare and other groups and campaigners.
Haringay (North London) 1,000 Mothers march
15 April – details below
20 April Further Bedroom Tax protests are planned including: Cardiff, Corby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Kidderminster, Manchester, Plymouth, Redcar (more are likely so please check locally)
11 May Benefit Justice Summit2 at Central Hall Westminster
With Welsh Tenants Federation, Billy Hayes (CWU), John McDonnell MP, DCH, DPAC, Unite and PCS unions and Bedroom Tax/Benefit campaigns from across England, Scotland and Wales. Sign up now: benefitjustice.wordpress.com and see leaflet here
See report of Benefit Justice summit 9 March at benefitjustice.wordpress.com
Please get in touch if you want more info or to pass on news and suggestions
On Saturday 13th April, UK Uncut will be using civil disobedience in London against a massive wave of cuts that will hit millions of people across the country.
In April, the bedroom tax, the benefits cap, a new test for disability allowance and cuts to council tax benefit all kick in with devastating effects for people, including more hunger and homelessness.
We will resist these brutal and unnecessary cuts by bringing them home to the ‘architects of austerity’.
Last year we partied outside Nick Clegg’s house. This year another well-known millionaire misery maker, to be revealed on the 13th April, can expect a visit they’d rather not have…
We want to make this a family-friendly and accessible action. There’ll be plenty of activities on the day to keep people entertained and engaged, including bedtime stories for the kids!
***Meet at 11.30pm, Kings Cross station, main concourse, Saturday 13th April***
Look out for the UK Uncut Removals Team at King’s Cross, and bring a topped up Oyster card or travelcard.
We’ll provide travel fares for those who need them.
More details, including accessibility information, will follow soon.
UK Uncut actions are creative and fun. If anyone is nervous or has any questions, please get in touch by emailing email@example.com
Please circulate this among your networks, and see you on the 13th!–
The 27 March marks the 50th anniversary of the Beeching Report which led to the closure of almost half the rail lines in this country. It was a black day for the railways. We are now facing another major new threat to our railways.
The government, Network Rail and the train operating companies are looking to shed thousands of rail staff that help you with your journey and make your railway safe.
Implementing the recommendations in the McNulty Review, they want to:
* close over half the staffed ticket offices in the country
* remove all non-driver staff from trains
* reduce platform, station and signalling staff
* make big cuts to the number of workers who maintain and upgrade the tracks
We want to put a stop to these plans. We know that the extravagant costs of our fragmented and dysfunctional privatised rail industry need to be cut. But cutting staff that provide a service to passengers is not the way. Surveys show the same thing time and again: passengers want to see staff on their railways. They want help with their journey, with getting the best value ticket, with boarding trains and to feel safe and secure at stations and on trains, particularly at night.
So we’re asking you to email your MP and join us on our day of action on the 27th March, the anniversary of Beeching, to let the government and train operators know that passengers want staff on their trains, at their stations, in their ticket offices and on their tracks.
Ask your MP to tell the government that us passengers want staff on our railways
Find out where we will be out leafleting at stations in your area of the country on Wednesday 27th March
If you’re an ILF user and not already part of the ILF campaign group please email us your contact details at firstname.lastname@example.org
Video from outside courts March 13th thanks to Shaun
Reel News http://reelnews.co.uk
Firstly – well done us ! Great turn out on Wednesday and despite a new Pope
(!) we got some media coverage which I think we can definitely build on.
Key points from court case:
Regardless of whether we win or not (ruling likely end of April and I think
we have a very good chance) some potentially explosive stuff came out from
internal dwp documents that are now in the public domain namely:
· The dwp think its unlikely that there will be any funding for ilf
users after 2016. It looks like they are thinking of a year’s – non ring
fenced – additional transition money for LA for 2015-16 (to sugar the pill
as the judge put it) but then nothing.
· There is an internal paper that says we have to keep up the narrative that this is about reform not
· The dwp estimate the cost of closure and transition to be £39
· The dwp barrister took an absolutely disgraceful line of defence
trying to say that the closure was not based on money but on desire for
equity between non ilf users and ilf users – ie ILF users have more so we
need to take that away so they are in the same situation as non ilf users.
Implications for our campaigning:
As I said regardless of the judges decision we need to use the dwp
documentation in our campaign from now on – its explosive evidence that
completely supports our position that this is a) about a cut and b) ilf
users will have their support cut with all the devastating consequences we
have been saying. These documents also reveal just how cynical the dwp have
been ie by admitting they need to pretend its about reform and not cuts.
The dwp ammo we will now have should help us really pile on the pressure
with Cllrs and MPs – both in substance of what’s been revealed ie likely no
funding post 2016 but also how the dwp have gone about this. Given this is a
cut targeted at 20,000 disabled people with highest support needs I think
this could be potentially extremely politically embarrassing – if we play it
I think we also have a real chance to re-start lobbying and campaigning with
Local Authorities: its clear now that the govt intention is to devolve
responsibility to LA’s but not any funding to meet these responsibilities .
Now this is in the open I think we could have a real chance of getting some
LA’s on our side – particularly Lab ones.
Finally, some ILF users have done a great job in getting SCOPE to finally come out in support. We need to continue to put pressure on them because another DWP internal paper mentioned in court said (to paraphrase) we got away with the closure to new applicants in 2010 and the major disability charities are not interested in defending ilf . This should shame them into coming out in support.
Despite how shocking the info revealed in court has been we need to take
heart that we are right: right to campaign to save the ilf and right that
this is about cuts and nothing else.
So we need to start planning our campaign with this new info so we are ready
for decision at end of April.
Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit
Department for Work and Pensions, Caxton House, Tothill Street, London, SW1H 9NA
HB/CTB U2/2013 12 March 2013
|Contact||Queries about the
distribution of this bulletin, contact
|Who should read||All Housing Benefit (HB) and Council Tax Benefit (CTB) staff|
Court of Appeal judgement: Burnip, Trengove and Gorry
1 We advised you in HB/CTB circular A6/2012 on 1 August 2012 (http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/a6-2012.pdf) that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has applied for permission to appeal this decision to the Supreme Court.
2 The Court of Appeal judgment on 15 May 2012 unanimously held that in the cases of Burnip, Trengove and Gorry the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) size criteria discriminated unlawfully against the three appellants on grounds of disability, by not including provision to meet their need for an additional room.
3 The Housing Benefit Regulations were amended independently of the court case (Burnip and Trengove) and the changes came into effect in April 2011. This change allowed an extra bedroom where the claimant, the claimant’s partner or both, need and receive overnight care and require a bedroom for the carer’s use.
4 For children with severe disabilities where they are unable to share a bedroom (Gorry), the department chose to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court on the grounds that the use of the size criteria was not discriminatory or in any case could be justified.
5 The Secretary of State has today clarified the position regarding disabled children and has decided not to pursue the appeal further.
6 This means that from the date of the Court of Appeal judgment on 15 May 2012, local authorities (LAs) should allow an extra bedroom for children who are unable to share because of their severe disabilities following the guidelines as set out in paragraphs 7 to 10 below.
7 When a claimant says that their children are unable to share a bedroom, it will be for LAs to satisfy themselves that this is the case, for example, a claim is likely to be supported by medical evidence and many children are likely to be in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for their medical condition. In addition LAs must consider not only the nature and severity of the disability, but also the nature and frequency of care required during the night, and the extent and regularity of the disturbance to the sleep of the child who would normally be required to share the bedroom. In all cases this will come down to a matter of judgement on facts of each individual case.
8 It should be noted that the judgment does not provide for an extra bedroom in other circumstances, for example, where the claimant is one of a couple who is unable to share a bedroom or where an extra room is required for equipment connected with their disability.
9 LAs were previously advised that as a result of the Court of Appeal judgment they could suspend part of the award which allowed for the extra room. For any cases where the LA has suspended for this reason, the suspension can now be lifted and the claimant notified of the revised decision. Arrears must also be paid as appropriate.
10 The Court of Appeal judgment is now considered to be case law and as such LAs are legally bound to apply the judgment.
11 The judgment applies to both the LHA size criteria and the reduction of the spare room subsidy which applies from 1 April 2013.
Crown Copyright 2013
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