Linda

Oct 162014
 

We say Lord Freud should resign after his disgusting comments that disabled people are not worth the minimum wage.

Freud is the architect of the government’s noxious welfare reform programme that is pushing disabled people off benefits and causing untold distress and misery, in too many cases leading to suicides and avoidable deaths.

The policies Freud designed show utter contempt for disabled people. His latest comments made to a Tory councillor at a party conference fringe meeting confirm this.

What kind of a society are we that the lives of disabled people are left in the hands of someone who thinks disabled people have lesser worth and refers to them as stock.

There are 11 million disabled voters plus their families in the UK. Do the Tories think allowing this type of reprehensible comment to be made by one of their senior ministers will encourage any of us to vote for them? If they wish to retain credibility (if they have any that is)and Freud refuses to resign they must sack him immediately.

Join us to demand  Freud resigns or is sacked. Monday October 20th at DWP head office, Caxton House, Tothill Street, 12.30pm til 2.30pm ….. and if you can’t make the Caxton House Protest – you can join the Twitter Protest

 

 Posted by at 14:47
Oct 162014
 

Can you donate 50p to DPAC’s work?

 

We all know the attacks we’re all facing as disabled people and next year in the run up to the General Election we want to make sure that the 11 million disabled people and their families get their voices heard by politicians. But to do that we need money for a battle bus tour, leaflets, and other publicity costs and events. The grant we hoped to get to cover these costs was turned down on the grounds that our campaigning would be ‘too political’ We want to remain too political and ungagged in spite of the gagging laws introduced to silence campaigners by the Condems and to make sure all of our voices are heard.

We’re now left with no other choice but to ask you, our supporters, if you could donate 50p towards our plans for next year so that we can afford to make sure disabled people’s concerns are heard loudly and clearly.

You can donate to us via paypal on our website www.dpac.uk.net or directly via BACs to Disabled People Against Cuts 08-92-99 account number 65454743.

Brief summary of cuts we face.

A recent Demos report from April 2013  ‘Destination Unknown’ shows that hundreds of thousands of disabled people will be hit simultaneously by up to six different welfare cuts. This does not include cuts to care and support funding in addition.

By 2018 disabled people will have lost £28.3 billion of financial support affecting up to 3.7 million disabled people.

The losses come against a backdrop of flat-lining incomes and spiralling costs of living for disabled people, for whom daily life already costs more. At the same time it’s becoming harder for disabled people to be part of the community.

Councils – facing average budget cuts of more than 28% – have been forced to ration social care support leaving as many as 40% of disabled people without help to get up, get washed, get dressed and go out.                   

 Benefit and other attacks.                            

 

  • Scrapping of Incapacity Benefit and failure of Work Capability Assessments.
  • Loss of right to appeal and Mandatory Reconsiderations during which time disabled people are left with no income for an unspecified length of time.
  • Legal Aid and advice and advocacy centre cuts.
  • 1% cap on benefit rises
  • Time limitation for Contributory ESA of WRAG
  • Freezing child benefit
  • Overall Benefit Cap
  • Scrapping of Disability Living Allowance and introduction of Personal Independent Payment
  • Universal Credit
  • Abolition of Independent Living Fund and cuts to social care funding.
  • Bedroom Tax and Changes to Local Housing Allowance.
  • Discretionary Housing Payments only given to 1 in 3 disabled people.
  • Uprating and cuts to Tax Credits
  • Localisation and at least 10% cut for Council Tax Benefit
  • Cuts to Access to Work funding
  • Loss of access to inclusive education.
  • Loss of free bus travel.
  • Reductions in MH services across the board.
  • Growth in Food Bank usage.
  • Increasing Fuel Poverty.

 

 

 

 Posted by at 14:42
Oct 092014
 

You are invited to an open meeting on 23rd October 6pm to 8pm to find out more about the changes to Access to Work and how Deaf and disabled people and interpreters have been opposing these changes and how you can get involved.  

The meeting will be on:

·       23rd October 2014 – 6pm to 8pm

·       Venue: 336 Brixton Road, London SW9 7AA

·       BSL interpreters available – let us know if you have other access needs

·       Refreshments available.

For further details contact Ellen Clifford – Ellen.clifford@inclusionlondon.co.uk – please let Ellen know if you are coming.

 Posted by at 18:08
Oct 092014
 
Potential legal challenge to PIP delays.Anyone who has/is experiencing delays with regard to their PIP application might be able to mount a legal challenge. If you are in this situation and would be willing to speak to a solicitor with regard to making a legal challenge please email us at mail@dpac.uk.netBBC South Today programmeBBC South Today, regional TV News for Hampshire, Dorset, West Sussex and a bit of Surrey still need to find people willing to appear on TV about PIP. They’re looking into what impact the change to Personal Independent Payments has had on people with disabilities in the South  They need a case study for someone who has unsuccessfully applied for PiP – or has had severe delays with their application. Maybe it’s had a financial impact or just been more stressful than the old system. Anyone able to help should contact you could contact Katy Austin on 02380 374540, 07732 986357 or email katy.austin2@bbc.co.uk.

 

 Posted by at 17:05
Oct 022014
 

DPAC have supported Transport for All in campaigning and carrying out numerous protests to make sure that all Crossrail stations will be accessible when it is built. Originally this was not going to be the case but late yesterday evening Transport for All were informed that all of London’s Crossrail stations will now be fully accessible when it opens in 2019.

 

We would all like to thank everyone who wrote letters, attended protests. lobbied and tweeted for an accessible Crossrail. This shows that when we all work together and are willing to get out on the streets as well as campaigning in other ways we can and do change things.

 

 Posted by at 11:51
Aug 182014
 

We’re currently producing a brochure for campaigning work and wanted to include a few examples of how each cut has affected disabled people. We already have examples for most things but if you have been affected by the bedroom tax, council tax reduction changes, or the overall benefit cap, cuts to social care or increased charges for care could you please send us a short email about what has happened to you and how this has affected you to mail@dpac.uk.net

 

Many thanks for help with this.

Linda

 Posted by at 21:01
Aug 052014
 

Permission has now been granted and the second  ILF Court Case will go ahead.

The papers went to a judge today and he has granted both permission and expedition (which means speeding up the usual timetable for the court case). The hearing should be “as soon as possible”, which could mean anything at the moment, as the judges are on holiday and the court has a very bad backlog, but we would hope we will get a trial date for some time in September/October as planned.

On behalf of all ILF recipients we’d like to say a continuing thank you to those involved in taking the case. We know from experience just how gruelling and stressful taking legal challenges can be and we offer our solidarity with you all.

 

 

 Posted by at 19:09
Jul 082014
 
Here is information on making complaints to IPCC
They have  guidance just read the section and you will see link.
Here is link to MPS complaints
You can make individual complaints and also organisational complaints.
Those directly affected by the restriction of medication , food and drink should individually complain.
It will take time for the complaints to be processed so I suggest people do this asap.
If you need help making a complaint they can approach MP, Citizens Advice and some DPOs may assist too.
The MPS has already launched an inquiry into policing at the Westminster demonstration

 Posted by at 18:10
Jul 012014
 

Urgent – Legal Challenge to PIP 20 metre descriptor to be held in Birmingham Administrative Court, Bull Street next week on July 9th and 10th.

 

The solicitors have asked for a room for observers to the case and are waiting for confirmation of that. They would like anyone who can to attend to show how important this case is to disabled people.

 

There will also be a vigil outside the court from 1- 2pm on July 9th. Bring placards, banners and friends and supporters.

 

To get updates on room availability and to check the case will not be affected by strike action on July 10th please email

birminghambenefitjustice@gmail.com

 

 

 

 Posted by at 21:30
Jun 062014
 
Boycott Workfare is a UK-wide campaign to end forced unpaid work for people who receive welfare. Workfare profits the rich by providing free labour, whilst threatening the poor by taking away welfare rights if people refuse to work without a living wage. We are a grassroots campaign, formed in 2010 by people with experience of workfare and those concerned about its impact. We expose and take action against companies and organisations profiting from workfare; encourage organisations to pledge to boycott it; and actively inform people of their rights.

PCS need to ballot for non-cooperation on workfare and sanctions!

dpac-logo-3-amendment-1-smallblack-trianglebw logoMembers of PCS union work for the DWP and job centres so are involved in the day to day delivery of workfare and sanctions. Members have shown they oppose it by voting for national policy against workfare and sanctions. Now Disabled People Against Cuts, Black Triangle and Boycott Workfare are asking them to use their power to help put a stop to these punitive measures. 

Disabled People Against Cuts, Black Triangle and Boycott Workfare joint statement on PCS Union and non-cooperation:

1. We note that motion A81 that recently passed at the PCS conference makes reference to the PCS Union working with Disabled People Against Cuts and Black Triangle. (1)

2. We note that motions E340-E342 submitted by DWP branches also called for the PCS to work with Boycott Workfare, but that references to Boycott Workfare were dropped by the NEC from motion A81. (1)

3. Black Triangle and Disabled People Against Cuts wish to express their solidarity with Boycott Workfare who we believe have organised a broad based and successful campaign against workfare and sanctions.

4. We note that the legal advice received by the PCS in 2013 accepted that the tactic of non-cooperation could be used as part of a campaign of industrial action consisting of action short of a strike. (2)

5. We note that the PCS currently have a live mandate for industrial action and will be consulting members on 12th June about coordinated strike action. (3)

6. Disabled People Against Cuts, Black Triangle and Boycott Workfare therefore call on the PCS NEC to consult members on adopting a tactic of non-cooperation with workfare and sanctions.

References:

(1) http://www.pcs.org.uk/download.cfm?docid=3FBA9F5E-D8B1-4164-AA1B7CF5C50F3E33
(2) http://www.pcs.org.uk/download.cfm?docid=C20641E2-9DE4-4FFE-8E11590CCB7E0F51 (Motion A533)
(3) http://www.pcs.org.uk/en/news_and_events/pcs_comment/index.cfm/vote-yes-in-pcs-ballot-for-fair-pay

 Posted by at 22:48
Jun 062014
 

PRESS RELEASE – For immediate release

Judicial review launched of repeat DWP decision to close the Independent Living Fund

The Department of Work and Pensions is facing a judicial review challenge by a group of disabled people of the decision of Minister for Disabled People Mike Penning to close the Independent Living Fund (ILF) in June 2015, taken just weeks after the Court of Appeal quashed a previous, almost identical decision as being unlawful.  ILF provides vital support and funding to some 18,000 severely disabled people in the UK to enable them to live independent and fulfilling lives.  To be eligible people must already receive a substantial care package from local authority social services, but ILF funding provides a top-up for those with particularly high support needs. The ILF system was set up in 1988 in recognition of the fact that more severely disabled people are at high risk of social exclusion and face particular barriers to independent living and working, but their needs in this regard were not adequately addressed by council provision with its focus on meeting basic needs.   The claimants, represented by Deighton Pierce Glynn and Scott-Moncrieff & Associates, fear that loss of ILF support would threaten their right to live with dignity, and they may be forced into residential care or lose their ability to participate in work and everyday activities on an equal footing with other people.

The Court of Appeal had ruled in November 2013 that the previous closure decision had breached the public sector equality duty in the Equality Act because the Minister had not been given adequate information to be able to properly assess the practical effect of closure on the particular needs of ILF users and their ability to live independently.

However following the new closure decision announced on 6th March 2014, the DWP admitted that in considering the proposal once again it had not consulted with any organisations or individuals outside of Government. It had not gathered any additional information from local authorities or other sources about what level or type of support former ILF users would receive from social services once the ILF element was removed and how many people would be likely to go into residential care or lose their ability to work or study.

The new legal challenge is on the same basis as the first that once again the Minister had not discharged the public sector equality duty because he did not have adequate information to be able to properly understand what the impact of closure would be on the particular people affected. This made it impossible to properly weigh up the pros and cons of the proposal with the necessary focus on removing disadvantages for disabled people, meeting their needs, increasing participation in public life and advancing equality that the law requires in all decisions by Government.

The Claimants are asking the court to again quash the decision to close the Fund.

Notes

  1. The ILF is a body of the DWP but under the management of independent trustees. Since it was created in 1988 it has helped many thousands of disabled people to live independent lives. It has targeted support at the most severely disabled people in the UK who face the greatest barriers to independent living, and has also played a key role in overseeing social services provision from local authorities for this group of people, to ensure that the combined ILF/local authority support packages meet criteria of promoting independence and inclusion and avoid unnecessary escalation of costs from people being cut off from their communities .  In 2010 the Fund was closed to new applicants because the Government had reduced the amount of money it gave to the Fund.  It is now proposing that the Fund close completely in 2015, leaving users to rely on local authority adult care services.  This is at a time when the funding for local authorities is being dramatically reduced and many authorities are cutting services for disabled people.

 

  1. Further information, including individuals’ stories, on the campaign against the closure of ILF is available at the DPAC website: http://www.dpac.uk.net/.

 

 Posted by at 11:44
Jun 042014
 

DPAC is delighted to extend an open invitation to celebrate Independent Living Day with us on the 4th of July at the ‘Independent Living Tea Party ‘.

The party will begin at 2pm at the DWP, Caxton House in Tothill Street SW1. There will be fun & games, and entertainment; and of course, some civil disobedience.

We have come a long way since the demand for Independent Living was first made nearly 50 years ago. Then, as now, IL was our solution for how society supports disabled people to take our place as equals. For how society addresses inaccessible institutions, structures and process it created, which do more to disable people than their impairments ever could.

There are many strands of Independent Living, and all are under threat. Cuts to:

  • Support funding – such Social Care, the ILF & Disabled Students Allowance;
  • Education – in areas like the wholesale destruction of SEN Statements and the continued segregation of disabled children into ‘special’ schools;
  • Transport – the withdrawal of Taxi-cards, freedom passes and the halting of planned works to make infrastructure more accessible, amongst a host of other cuts combine to make disabled people second-class citizens in society.

But we have fought this fight before – and won. Our Disabled Peoples Organisations, legal gains and the policy victories we have won previously are testament to the power, know how and skills disabled people have to develop solutions to problems created by society.  We must celebrate these achievements and remind ourselves that each of these successes have had to be earned, no-one ever gave them to us without a struggle.

So celebrate with us, or alternatively create your own party. Get together with friends and supporters, and create the kind of vibrant, positive spaces we have always created. Bring the noise – bells, whistles, drums, pots & pans etc. Bring food to share. Bring your enthusiasm.

if you are planning your own party, here are some suggestions:

1) Choose your target –

focus on the important issues locally; support, education, transport etc – its up to you. Identify what you want to celebrate and who represents the biggest threat to that locally. Is it your local council or Uni? Is it a transport provider? Or is it someone else?

2) Tell everyone –

yes, EVERYONE. Media, campaign networks, activists, local people. DONT FORGET TO TELL DPAC so we can list and support your action!

3) Be heard, be seen –

make your event loud and proud. Bring music, choirs, drum, bells, whistles. Remind everyone out there that we won‘t be separated from society, we are society. We won ‘t go quietly.

4) We’re also holding a Twitter Party on the Hashtag
#IL4JULY so that people at the DWP and at other events round the country
can tweet in pictures of their events and we can all join in. Further
details to follow, watch this space.

The famous Boston teaparty led to a revolution against the British government let’s see where our teaparty leads…..

 

 Posted by at 18:56
Jun 042014
 

Disabled people’s experiences needed

Please send me short descriptions of disabled people’s experience on 3 employment related issues.   I can tidy the case studies up and make sure they are anonymous so you don’t need to spend too much time writing them up –  I just need proof of the points I’m making!  See details below:

·       If you have examples of Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or Employment Support Allowance (ESA) claimants where the loss of £40/50 will have a serious impact on the ability to pay for food and other essentials please let me know. There’s a consultation on the increase of ‘waiting days’ for Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or Employment Support Allowance (ESA).  Claimants will lose, on average, £40 or £50 respectively.  More information is at: http://ssac.independent.gov.uk/news/press-releases/23-05-14.pdf http://ssac.independent.gov.uk/consultations/

·       I also need examples of disabled people that have experienced difficulties either obtaining or maintaining Access to work e.g. cuts in their budget etc., changes to BSL interpreters conditions for the Access to work inquiry at: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/work-and-pensions-committee/inquiries/parliament-2010/access-to-work/

·       Lastly I would welcome recent examples (i.e. from beginning of Sept 2013) of difficulties caused by the WCA/ESA including issues around difficulties in paying bills due to benefit delays as above as well inaccurate assessments, lack of mental health champions or recording equipment or any other issues for the 5th and final review of the Work Capability assessment (to be announced shortly, see information below).   

 

Henrietta  Doyle

Policy Officer

Inclusion London

 

henrietta.doyle@inclusionlondon.co.uk

www.inclusionlondon.co.uk

Twitter: @inclusionlondon

 

 Posted by at 13:59

Ask Your Local Councillors and others to sign up to Save ILF Statement

 News  Comments Off on Ask Your Local Councillors and others to sign up to Save ILF Statement
May 282014
 

Our Next Move ? We can Lobby Our Councillors

Please ask your local Borough and County Councillors and others to sign up to Save ILF Statement:

Here is a template letter to use (and the statement is below it):


Dear

I am/we are writing to ask you to support disabled people and their families by signing up the attached statement and confirming your opposition to the closure of the Independent living Fund.

The Independent Living Fund was established in 1988 to provide funding to help disabled people with high support needs live an independent life in the community rather than in residential care.

Under current government proposals the ILF will close and full responsibility for meeting the social care support needs of disabled people in receipt of ILF will transfer to Local Authorities. However, The government have allocated some transition funding to LAs in 2015-16. However, this is not ring-fenced and there is no indication whatsoever that there will be any additional funding given to LA’s to enable them to maintain the levels of support ILF users currently receive.

Given the huge cuts to LAs and social care, the lack of specific funding from the government to maintain ILF levels of support will in all likelihood mean significant cuts in this essential support to disabled people with the highest support needs.

The government’s original decision to close the ILF was quashed by the Court of Appeal in November 2013. However, in March the Minister for Disabled People, Mike Penning, announced that the government have retaken their decision to close the Fund from June 2015.

Research has shown that disabled people with the highest level of support need are being hit by cutbacks 19 times harder than the average person in the UK. The closure of the ILF is part of this disproportionate targeting of disabled people.

The end of the ILF effectively means an end to the right to independent living for disabled people. Most people don’t want to see disabled people sent back to the institutions and the return of segregation.

We are calling on everyone who wants to live in a diverse and inclusive society where disabled people have the opportunity for equal participation to give their support to our campaign to save the ILF.

Please confirm if you are happy to sign up to the attached statement.

I look forward to your response.

 

 


Save the Independent Living Fund Statement

The planned closure in June 2015 of the Independent Living Fund is an unjustified attack on those disabled people with the highest support needs, which if unchallenged will result in disabled people becoming prisoners in their own homes or forced into residential care against their wishes. The Independent Living Fund is a model of support that works, giving disabled people choice and control over their own lives, enabling them to enjoy fulfilling lives and contribute to their communities while running on relatively low overheads and providing employment.

At a time of increasing pressure on and crisis in social care the government should be expanding not closing the ILF.  Disabled people and their families need a clear and vocal message of support from our elected leaders on this matter.

We support the demands of the Save the ILF campaign that:

 1. The ILF should not only be retained for existing recipients but re-opened to new applicants as the Scottish government have committed to.

2. That an independent living task force should be set up co-produced with ILF users, to review independent living and specifically the ILF to identify how to best develop independent living support, building on the successful and cost effective model of ILF provision.

3.. At the very minimum the ILF funding should be ring-fenced for the care and support of those with the highest needs when funding is transferred to Local Authorities and devolved administrations.”


 send names and contact details of all signatories to ellen.clifford@inclusionlondon.co.uk or to mail@dpac.uk.net

 Posted by at 21:47
May 162014
 

Emoji  Inspiration for everyone
 
 
From The Guardian. “Power to the people: a happy ending to peaceful protest in South Yorkshire

When transport chiefs in South Yorkshire decided to axe free rail travel for elderly and disabled passengers on 1 April, angry passengers decided to fight back – by turning up en masse for busy services and trying to board trains without paying. Declan Lloyd reports.”


Read the full piece here:
http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/the-northerner/2014/may/16/freedom-rides-south-yorkshire-victory
 

 Posted by at 21:26
May 132014
 

I went to the Work and Pensions Select Committee meeting in Newcastle today at the Newcastle FC in the Bobby  Moncur  Suite. Access to the building was fine although parking was a fair distance from stadium, but the best they could get. Signers and induction loop were available. I enquired with Sheila Gilmore MP the terms of reference for the meeting.

Dame Anne Begg opened the meeting which was to gather information from people on personal ESA/WCA experiences only. The meeting was well attended by individuals and also charities with case studies which were presented to the committee in report form. The horrors I listened to made me cry openly which is pretty hard I can tell you, as I’m not one for showing my emotions in public or private easily, and those who know me personally know this to be the case. The committee were also struggling to remain composed.  The committee had come to Newcastle because it had the highest complaints across the entire system, so decided a one off trip to hear from people was appropriate.

Many cases of failure were given and it was brought up time and again of fabricated reports, people being humiliated by HCP’s which we have known about for years. Many cases of suicide were mentioned , many cases of where the claimant was terminally ill yet denied what they were rightfully entitled to in their time of need and that documentation from GP’s /consultants were being ignored as ‘they know better’.

I mentioned the fear of ‘brown envelope syndrome’ and that disabled peoples’ voices were not felt to be heard and our human rights were being abused on a daily basis. I called the WCA a ‘wicked regime’ which has targets even if they deny so, and is cost cutting exercise and nothing more. I also brought up as did others the fact most people would work if they could but many cannot, as getting through a day by day basis was as much as many could cope with. I also asked where the jobs were for those  who wish to work and why those meant to help like Shaw Trust/Action for the Blind were also vilified by claimants for failures when they are supposed to help? Whether they could help as the claimants’ impairments mean that employers wont take  them on  so they are abandoned to their own devices.

It was mentioned frequently during the meeting about JCP disability advisors being no use and they also, didn’t understand conditions either; often bullying the claimant into jobs they can’t perform, and that education for those who needed to gain skills was being denied .

Decision Makers are trained by ATOS I found out today  so that is a conflict of interest  which I found disgusting  given the level of control they have over peoples’ lives and the  cumulative impact on a disabled person’s well being. I mentioned that this model used is flawed and didn’t take into account those with fluctuating conditions and the cost of tribunals and re-assessments of those with long term progressive illnesses , was a waste of taxpayers’ money unless changes had occurred .

I explained how we are demonised and treated as liars and criminals when, in actual fact all we are, is disabled or have a long term health condition. I asked why shouldn’t we be afforded the same rights as non-disabled people such as holidays which we have to save for, or have a pet , or go to the supermarket without the fear of being seen as a potential fraudster, when actual fraud was 0.8% including deptartmental error. I brought it up that many claimants have had support needs, financial and other, refused saying it wasn’t available.

On a lighter note the committee  were understanding, listening and attentive and genuinely DO CARE  and were encouraged by the turnout and assured us that those who sent in personal  stories were not being ignored by them and that they were ploughing through each and every one of them, but they would encourage any further submissions of case studies by groups or individuals.

I have to say I found today harrowing as much as I do daily on facebook the horror stories that people are suffering. It has to stop!

 

 Posted by at 21:17
May 072014
 

Another Tory cut targeting disabled people

On Monday last week, Tory Universities and Science Minister David Willetts announced plans to ‘modernise’ the Disabled Students’ Allowances [DSAs] for higher education students from England. What he really means is another Tory cut.

DSAs are grants which pay for disability-related support for students. Since their introduction in 1990, DSAs have helped thousands more working class disabled students get to university who would otherwise have been unable to afford it, and to get the extra support they need when there.  In 2011-12, DSAs provided over £125 million of additional support for over 53,000 full-time undergraduate higher education students. Individual grants can be for several thousand pounds, including specialist equipment and tutorial support.

The report says that students with specific learning difficulties  such as dyslexia & dyspraxia “will continue to receive support through DSAs where their support needs are considered to be more complex”.  This means that students judged to have less complex needs will no longer be eligible.  The government will “no longer pay for standard specification computers”, using evidence from a report from Endsleigh Insurance conducted by the NUS which claims “almost all students now own or have access to a computer.” But even if this were true, the government’s own website says disabled people are less likely to own an internet-enabled computer or use a public terminal.*

The report says the government wants to “rebalance responsibilities between government funding and institutional support.”   This move to make universities pay for the additional support needs of disabled students might seem fair.  After all, universities rake in huge amounts from student fees. But it’s unlikely to work out like that.  Richer universities can afford to pay (as can richer parents), but the huge squeeze on Higher Education funding means others will try not to. Most students can’t afford to go to court to force them to cough up. So all this will lead to disabled students dropping out of their courses because they can’t get the support they need, and that less disabled students from poorer backgrounds get to university at all.

Willetts says the changes will ensure support is provided “where it is needed the most.” This argument has been used to justify other benefits cuts, and on each occasion it has led in practice to actually removing support from most who need it. That’s why we need to expose and resist DSA changes as cuts helping the Tories to make education something only the rich can afford.

Roddy Slorach

*Office for Disability Issues – see http://odi.dwp.gov.uk/odi-projects/digital-inclusion.php

NUS blasts David Willetts over changes to disabled students’ support

David Willetts is “arrogant and out of touch” in seeking “unfair” cuts to disabled students’ funding, according to the National Union of Students.

7 APRIL 2014 | BY JOHN MORGAN http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/news/nus-blasts-david-willetts-over-changes-to-disabled-students-support/2012501.article

Mr Willetts, the universities and science minister, says today in a written ministerial statement that he wants to “modernise” the Disabled Students’ Allowance.

The NUS said dyslexic students needing support for computer equipment to aid their studies would lose out, and warned the costs of specialist accommodation for disabled students may not be met by DSA.

The changes “look to rebalance responsibilities between government funding and institutional support,” Mr Willetts says in his statement.

Times Higher Education reported last week that the level of support offered to some disabled students varies widely between different universities.

DSA can pay for assistance including specialist equipment such as computer software; non-medical helpers, like a note-taker or reader; or extra travel costs. The maximum funding per student is £5,161 for specialist equipment (for the whole of a course), £20,520 for the non-medical helper allowance (per year) and £1,724 for a general allowance (per year).

Total government funding for DSA, the level of which varies from year to year depending on claims, came to £125 million in 2011-12, covering over 53,000 full-time undergraduates. The government said that in 2008-09, funding came to £91.7 million, covering 40,600 students.

Mr Willetts identifies a number of key changes in his announcement. The government will only pay “for higher specification or higher cost computers where a student needs one solely by virtue of their disability,” he says. The government is “changing our approach to the funding of a number of computer equipment, software and consumable items through DSAs that have become funded as ‘standard’ to most students,” he adds.

Students with specific learning difficulties will continue to receive support through DSAs where their support needs “are considered to be more complex,” Mr Willetts says. The government will only fund “the most specialist Non-Medical Help. The additional costs of specialist accommodation will no longer be met by DSAs, other than in exceptional circumstances.”

And the government will “define disability in relation to the definition provided by the Equality Act 2010, for the purposes of receiving DSAs”.

The changes, which would apply from September 2015, are subject to an Equality Impact Assessment, which assesses policies to make sure they do not unfairly disadvantage minority groups.

Hannah Paterson, NUS Disabled Students’ Officer, said: “The prospect of deeply unfair cuts to support for disabled students should concern us all. It is arrogant and out of touch to assume that disabled students can access ‘basic’ equipment or that universities will accept the new responsibilities ministers are seeking to place on them.”

john.morgan@tsleducation.com

 

 

 

 

 Posted by at 13:34
Apr 192014
 

“You have to love your own baby becos everone says they are a nusance”

 Sally age 8

I have come to recognise another truism! – If you are a parent of a disabled child. The school will give whatever support, you believe, is necessary for your child – as long as it matches with what the school is prepared to offer.If you want something different ,You! “The parent”  who is typically the mother, become “A problem” . The more articulate you are the more you are seen as “bloody awkward”.Colourful labelsgrow, the more you persist : “too pushy”, “in denial”, “neurotic”, “deranged”,”obsessed”, “too emotional”, “irrational” “naive” are a few of the polite names given to parents.

 

The rhetoric from schools and education authorities promoting partnership, between parents and professionals is common. This laudable aim, if realised,could save a great deal of pain and heartache for all concerned. The ultimate goal for most parents is for their child to feel safe welcomed and a belonging to the school. This is “gold dust” one parent said. Initially parents will “bend over backwards” to keep on the “good side of school” they are motivated by the desire to make this goal a reality for their child to experience. However, because there currently exists an unequal distribution of power and authority between parents and professionals the potential for “partnership” is only likely to happen when parents conforms to the plans of professionals.

 

After twenty five years being with parents advocating for their disabled child, I have not met a parent who had wanted conflict with the school. It is however, the professional who has the responsibility to change what they are doing to ensure the child can feel safe welcome and belongs to the school.A consequence of seeing the parent as a problem is that it is a distraction from supporting the child. There is a shift to devaluing and marginalising the parent ,which generates a struggle that can continue for weeks, months and sometimes years.

 

One mother said:

 

“They (the professionals) made me a monster. At first, I was totally compliant with everything they told me about my son. I would have balanced on my head if they wanted me to . Then I realised they lied to me and started bullying me- now professionals are having to manage the monster they created.”

 

The very act of questioning the practice of a school or an authority by a parent can result in unleashing of an assault that can leave the parent exhausted. The struggle increases if the parent challenges more than one statutory service and therefore multiple professionals. Such a position can overwhelm parents, with formal letters, procedures , phone calls ,e-mails, and now texts. The communications often contains implied threats or advice encouraging the parent to simply accept that which is being offered by professionals, even when they know this will go against what the parents believe is not in the interests of their child.

 

Does this mean that parents are always right and professionals wrong about a child’s support requirements? Such an assertion would be absurd. However, when a parent lacks confidence in the support provided by the school or when they are unable to influence the schooling experience for their child,when parents  witness their child is disrespected, denied important opportunities, with no friendships the parent is likely to be propelled into demanding change. When a parent is forced to take such an exposed yet principled position, they will be subject to scrutiny and interrogation, by a number of professionals who will hold a different position, at a case conference or annual review. Whilst such formal settings are routine for professionals for parents they can be traumatic.

If individual professionals were subjected to the same degree of scrutiny and interrogation before a panel of critical parents they would, quite rightly, be calling upon their professional associations to represent their position.

 

The professional in a protracted dispute with a parent will have access to supports throughout the process : they have time away from work, they can hand over to another colleagues, they can have someone to type letters,make phone calls, arrange meetings, they get travelling expenses, they get time off in lieu if they work beyond contracted hours, they can even move to another job whilst in the middle of a serious dispute with a family, and they receive a salary- Professionals have protection from a school or system culture, where professionals will protect each otherkeeping internal disagreements behind closed doors, allowing them to present a united front.No such accommodations are available to parents engaged in the same protracted dispute not of their initiation. When the professional decision is made it becomes bizarrely impenetrable. Parents are patronisingly encouraged to follow the ” Complaints Procedures” if they are “‘unhappy” with the decision. This would be another professional procedure that can take months, with little expectation of changing the original decision.

 

Being a parent who is knowledgeable about the education system,aware of legislation and particular policies, is not a  guarantee that your child will get the support you believe to be  appropriate for your child. Being the “Parent” you can be positioned so that your contributions are devalued if they differs from professionals ” in charge” because it is they who the system invests the authority. A mother of a disabled child, who was extremely knowledgeable and articulate about the complexities of her child’s support requirements, she was aware of different teaching methods,  how to differentiate curriculum, adapt resourcesfor particular children. This woman wasfamiliar with the range of external agencies able to enhance the support available in school. In addition she was familiar with internal workings of thelocal education authority, where her child attended school. This mother started her professional career as a teacher in the same authority, served eight years as a special educational needs co-ordinator(SENCO), followed by seven years as a deputy head teacher, finally taking on the roleof education advisor. But now she was positioned as a “parent” again she was asking for something different from that which the school was prepared to offer. She was described as being “too involved” and “too emotional” and no longer “objective” This mother was forced into a conflict with the professionals, from the authority she had served as a senior educationist.

 

How can such exhausting disputes be minimised? Professionals have to learn to listen and listen then listen again first to the child and the parent advocating for their child.

 

The professionals will have had training, they may well have many qualifications, they can have much knowledge about a particular impairment and yet know nothing about the support requirements of Heathar who may have that particular impairment. Professionals can only support Heathar effectively if they are able to develop a relationship with Heathar. The parent, advocating for their child can be a valuable introduction to Heathar.

 

If professionals ask questions, to which they don’t already assume the answer they are more likely to develop a meaningful understanding with the child and learn about the child. When  a person is genuinely listened too, good relationship happen. This is far more likely to lead to the parent having confidence in the actions of the professionals who are there to serve their child. Professional can also build on a good relationship with the parent when they don’t:

 

Tell ​a parent their child is not the only one in the school!

 

Tell a parent the school does not have the resources to support their child!

 

Tell a parent that support to their child – will result in support being removed from other children.

 

Tell a parent that you are an extremely busy person!

 

Tell a parent that you are an expert in this type of condition, when referring to their child.

 

Tell a parentthe date and time of a meeting without first checking on their availability.

 

Tell a parent to come to a meeting on their own

 

Tell a parent you have to leave their meeting early because you have an important                       appointment to attend.

 

Tell the parents of an important decision, just before you go on school holidays.

 

Give the parent a patronising smile and nod of your head, when you totally disagree with them.

 

George Bernard Shaw suggested that it was the reasonable person who adapts themselves to the world as it exists. However, it is the unreasonable person who persists in adapting the world to accommodate a different way of thinking. GBS concluded, that all progress depends upon the “unreasonable” person orthe ” bloody awkward” parent?

 

Joe Whittaker

April 2014.

 Posted by at 19:22
Apr 192014
 

 SAVE THE NHS.

Come and learn about why the NHS is under threat and how you can join the fight to save it.

PUBLIC MEETING.

Tuesday 13th Mary 2014 at 7.30 pm to 9.30 pm

HG Wells Centre.

Off St Mark’s Road (Off Masons Hill/High Street)

BROMLEY

Kent.

BR2 9HG.

Speakers:  Dr Bob Gill General Practitioner Welling.

Linda Kurcher – Expert on US/EU Trade Agreement.

Professor Allyson Pollock – Expert on Private Finance Initiative (PFI)

Transport:

Buses:  61,208, 320, 336, 358, 402.

Nearest Rail Station.  Bromley South ( from central london, Catford, Orpington.  This station is fully accessible with a accessible lift to street level at this station)

 

Greenwich & Bexley, Bromley, Lewisham trades councils present Banner Theatre with Burning Issue commemorating the miners’ strike £10 (£5) 7pm Saturday 10 May http://lewishamtradescouncil.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/come-and-address-burning-issue_22.html or contact tony.reay@gmail.com07903 755 074

 Posted by at 18:22
Apr 042014
 

Dozens of young people with learning difficulties and their families have hit out at a decision to slash foundation learning courses for pupils with profound or moderate learning difficulties – from five days a week to three at One, formerly known as Suffolk One, in Ipswich. the link to the article in the East Anglian Daily Times is below.

Suffolk DPAC will be working with them to try to prevent this as the only other alternatives for their education are at special school sixth forms.

http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/ipswich_angry_parents_claim_education_of_children_with_learning_difficulties_will_be_damaged_after_one_cuts_foundation_courses_1_3478573#sharinganchor

As we know segregated classes within mainstream settings do not count as inclusive education. But neither does the forced placement of disabled learners in fully segregated settings of so called special schools, colleges, universities or any other learning environment. DPAC opposes both!

We refer all to our allies ALLFIE (The Alliance for Inclusive Education) for a better understanding of what inclusive education means and how it can be achieved-DPAC strongly supports Inclusive education as a fundamental principle of independent living and as the only way to achieve full equality and inclusion for all disabled people.

Please see the ALLFIE web site for more informaion on inclusive education and get involved in their campaigns

http://www.allfie.org.uk/

also please see the valuable comment from Joe Whittaker below

 

 

Mar 312014
 

Bedroom Tax demo in Swindon in conjunction with the  Swindon Tenants Campaign Group, on 5th April as part of a national campaign.

At the fountain, Canal Walk, Swindon Town Centre

10.30 am on April 5th

We will have leaflets to distribute and banners.

We also have a project collecting peoples stories about ATOS injustice in Swindon. We will be arranging a meeting with our MPs to present our concerns. People can join the face book group or email SPA  peoplesassemblyswindon@gmx.co.uk or phone 01793 522824 if they would like to be a part of this. All information will be treated with strict confidentiality.

https://www.facebook.com/SwindonAtosProject?ref=ts&fref=ts

 Posted by at 17:44
Mar 302014
 

As British Gas owners annouce their profits, we announce that we will be targetting the British Gas AGM

Centrica, owners of British Gas, today revealed their profits had dipped slightly to £2.7bn. British Gas profits from their customers was announced to be £571,000,000 – that’s £571m of pure profit made at a time when over 10,000 people died last winter from cold homes, when 20% of households are in debt to their supplier, when about 1 in 4 people are making the “choice” between heating or eating. Centrica wanted sympathy and asked that hostilities towards them and the energy sector must end.

We don’t agree.

Centrica talk about wanting an ‘end to hostilities’ and it’s an appropriate way of looking at the situation of millions of people in fuel poverty today. People in fuel poverty do feel like there’s a war against them, they do feel attacked by a company which breaks into their homes to install unwanted and expensive Prepayment meters, with prices that are so violently high that they’re forced top chose between heating and eating. We all feel abused by a company that makes £7million profit per day but sees it fit to raise prices by 9.2% and let people freeze to death in their homes. The communities in Lancashire which have clearly said NO to fracking feel violated by Centrica going for shale Gas, with all it’s associated risks to health, wellbeing and environment, at a time when we need to be slashing our carbon emissions and going for renewable, sustainable energy.

We think the way to ‘cease hostilities’ as Rick Haythornthwaite, the newly appointed Chairman of Centrica puts it, is to end the profiteering of energy companies like Centrica. Energy is not a game. Warm, damp and mould free homes are not a privilege for the rich. They should be a minimum standard that everyone should have access to. Over 70% of the British public want to see energy back in public hands. Centrica need to wake up and smell the coffee – the days of a for-profit energy market in the UK are numbered.

We will be targeting British Gas as a symbol of everything that’s wrong with our energy system. We will be holding a mass protest this May at their AGM in London. We will be joined by those hardest hit by fuel poverty and we will be calling on the government to bring our energy back into public, democratic ownership and to invest massively in renewable, community owned energy. We want to see an end to winter deaths and sickness from fuel poverty. We want to see an end to the ‘Poverty Premium’ faced by millions in this country forced into dependency on payday lenders, sky-high rents, ‘kettle packs’ at foodbanks and extortionate pre-payment meters. Enough is enough. It’s time to end the cold homes casino and callous profiteering of companies like British Gas. Rick Haythornwaite: stop punishing us and profiteering from us. Until you do there will be no end to the pain, distress and anger that people all over the country feel precisely as a result of yours and the other Big Six’s insatiable lust for profit. No justice, No peace.

http://fuelpovertyaction.org.uk/2014/02/20/as-british-gas-owners-annouce-their-profits-we-announce-that-we-will-be-targetting-the-british-gas-agm/

 Posted by at 12:47
Mar 162014
 

ILF- DWP equality analysis relating to the closure of the fund

Press release

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/future-of-the-independent-living-fund

 

Ministerial Statement

http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-vote-office/March_2014/6th-March/18.DWP-AligningSocialCareSystem.pdf

 

Full Equality analysis

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/287236/closure-of-ilf-equality-analysis.pdf

 

Throughout this document the numbered paragraphs in italics are the wording used by the government in their equality analysis.

 

In spite of the Court of Appeal ruling on November 6th 2013 quashing the government’s decision to close the Independent Living Fund to current users the government have again announced the closure of the fund from June 2015. This decision will negatively affect the UN convention rights of disabled people particularly in relation to articles 19, 24 and 27.

 

In relation to the new equality analysis the government made to try to meet its duties under the Equality Act 2010 they admit that going ahead with the closure of the ILF will lead to a regression of disabled people’s rights as outlined in UNCRPD.

 

That is in spite of them being a signatory to the convention which commits the UK to ensure the progressive realisation of disabled people’s rights to live independently in the community and be able to take part in society on an equal basis to non-disabled people.

 

The cost of the ILF is currently a mere £320 million which is a miniscule amount of overall public spending.

 

Within the equality analysis the government have also implied that ILF can be replaced by Disabled Students Allowance or Access to Work funding which is  either duplicitous in explaining the use of Disabled Students Allowance and Access to Work funding or shows a total ignorance about what these funding streams can actually be used for.

 

Articles 4, 19, 24 and 27 have been breached and in particular the three parts of Article 19 which recognise the equal right of all disabled people to live in the community, with choices equal to others, the need to take effective and appropriate measures to facilitate full enjoyment by disabled people of this right and their full inclusion and participation in the community.

 

The general obligations in Article 4 of the UNCRPD, Article 4(2) of which states that parties to the Convention should undertake measures with a view to progressively achieving the full realisation of the rights of disabled people.

Article 24 – education – ensure persons with disabilities are not excluded from the general education system on the basis of disability; and

 

Article 27 – work and employment – safeguard and promote the realisation of the right to work and promote employment opportunities

 

Overview of analysis

The government make clear that the changes being outlined will only apply to England and not the whole of the UK as the devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be able to make their own decisions about ongoing care and support funding for their residents.

 

Perhaps most importantly in reaching their decision and carrying out this equality analysis the government have only looked at the immediate transition period when one years non-ring fenced funding only will be devolved to local councils and not to the longer term impact of closure of the fund when there will be no additional devolved funding available to local authorities.

 

The 2013 Spending Review allocated a total of £262.3m to be transferred to local authorities in England and to devolved governments in Scotland and Wales in 2015-16 (funding for Northern Ireland is already a matter for the Northern Ireland administration).

 

They have not in any way considered or evaluated the impact of closure of ILF once this transition funding ends in 2016.

 

The government say they have based this second decision on evidence gathered during the consultation on the future of the ILF undertaken in 2012, along with further representations made to them since the consultation closed. However they give no information about what that evidence is, where or how it was collected or whether it involved any input from disabled people themselves. (point 12)

They then say at point 14 that the government is fully committed to supporting independent living through personalisation and localisation of care and support. This drive to push care and support funding for independent living onto local authorities is happening against the backdrop of the same government being found by the Council of Europe in March 2014 to have made such savage cuts to local government funding that the UK is in breach of its international obligations and official rapporteurs for the Council of Europe have found funding levels inadequate and too low to provide essential public services including health, social and elderly care. This findings of this report have been supported by the Conservative councillor and previously leader of Kensington and Chelsea council, Sir Merrick Cockell, who is now chairman of the Local Government Association. [1]

In addition the Care Bill if passed will restrict eligibility to care funding to substantial and critical only. The analysis says at this point – from April 2015 – that everyone will have a right to a personal budget but in later paragraphs of the equality analysis contradicts this entirely.

The government say that there is no doubt that the ILF continues to play a very important role in the lives of its users However they were the ones that created inequity in the system when they closed the fund to new users that since they closed the fund to new applicants in 2010. This has meant some disabled people are unable to access the fund.

They continue to say that closing the ILF and transferring the funding to local authorities in England and to the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales would enable them to use all the funding available for adult social care to support disabled people in a more consistent, effective and equitable way, within a cohesive mainstream system. Yet they refuse completely to consider any type of ring-fencing of that funding which means none of it has to be used to fund social care at all. With extensive cuts to social care and a system in crisis these platitudes are not credible. They further ignore the fact that any inequities in the system result from their decision to close ILF to new users from 2010.

Impact of Closing ILF identified by the government’s equality analysis.

The government say closure of the ILF will have a direct effect on disabled people, and in particular, those disabled people who are current users of the ILF. Two conditions are predominant among ILF users: severe learning disabilities and cerebral palsy (33% and 16% respectively).

Government admit that closure of the ILF will affect a disproportionate number of people with learning disabilities. However, they say there is no available evidence that would enable them to assess whether those with learning disabilities would be more significantly affected or affected in a different way when compared with users with other conditions.

33.The government say the ILF has undoubtedly played a significant role in supporting its users to live independently in their own homes, to access educational and employment opportunities and to participate actively in their communities. Closure of the ILF and the fact that the funding transferred to local authorities and the devolved administrations will not be ring-fenced in respect of current ILF users or disabled people more generally, has generated concern that ILF users will, as a result of reductions or changes to their current care and support arrangements, be denied opportunities they now have to participate fully in society.

This is clearly a regressive step and represents a grave and systematic violation of disabled people’s UNCRPD rights in relation to articles  4(2), 19, 24 and 27.

36.The government say that in the consultation disabled people’s concerns were linked to worries about care packages being reduced and disabled people being unable to achieve the same outcomes as they have with the ILF.

The equality analysis says this is most likely because the ILF provides greater flexibility in the use of funding than most local authorities. It is almost certain that closure of the ILF will mean that the majority of users will face changes to the way their support is delivered, including the real possibility of a reduction to the funding they currently receive. This is because the ILF funds some aspects of care that some local authorities do not and may also provide different levels of flexibility in the use of such funding.

37.The statement says loss of ILF funding could mean that current ILF users will have to make different choices about their daily lives. For example, this might be because they will no longer be able to employ a personal assistant. (37)  but the government fail to explore exactly what that would mean for disabled people and say simply the extent to which this will occur is impossible to calculate, given the variety of conditions and differences in local provision.

Thus in the equality analysis the government itself says that there is a real possibility of a reduction in funding, in less flexibility about what is funded and that choice and control over how people live their lives will be lost.

38.Another common concern raised by disabled people in the consultation was about inability to access social activities, voluntary work or employment either because of reductions in the number of care hours funded, or because the local authority would fund attendance a day centre rather than pay for a personal assistant to accompany people to activities of their choice.

41.The equality analysis shows this is likely to have an adverse, detrimental and regressive effect on ILF users because of monetary reductions in the amount of support a person receives and because of changes in how that support is delivered. In its joint response to the consultation, the Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Care stated that;

“As ILF recipients transfer into the LA system in 2015, and are subsequently reviewed against the [local authority assessment] criteria, the value of the personal budget calculated through the Resource Allocation System will generally be at a lower level than the initial ILF/LA budget.”

45.While it is accepted that closure of the ILF will mean monetary changes to the value of the support ILF users receive under the current arrangements, the crucial point for users will be what outcomes they are able to achieve rather than the money that they personally receive through a direct payment.

The equality assessment says any reductions in the value of care packages will not necessarily undermine those outcomes, local authorities currently offer users both care services and direct payments to meet their needs. Therefore, whilst the closure of the ILF may mean that users receive less money through a direct payment, this may be offset by more care services being paid for directly.

This directly contradicts what the government say with regard to the increasing use of personal budgets in the Care Bill. Provision of direct services is not the same as having a personal budget and being given choice and control over what you want to purchase. So at the same time that they are arguing local authorities will increasingly use personal budgets to meet disabled people’s desired outcomes they also say more direct services will be provided.

54.The 2,800 group 1 users who may have care and support needs that are defined as moderate or low under local authority assessment criteria, will not continue to receive funding. In practice, this could mean the loss of a carer or personal assistant as currently funded by their ILF award.

This impact is impossible to quantify given the variety of health conditions and disabilities and variations in local provision.

 

48.The position for Group 2 users is different, as these users are already required to be in receipt of a minimum amount of local authority funding in order to meet the ILF eligibility criteria. For the vast majority of all users this minimum contribution is now £340 a week. The requirement to have this level of local authority funding means that it is reasonable to assume that Group 2 users have support needs that would be defined as ‘substantial ‘ or ‘critical’ under local authority assessment criteria. Yet Local authority funding for around 34 hours care falls far short of the 24 hour support which most Group 2 ILF users need to be able to live independently and take part in the community and other activities.

49.There are a number of existing or planned features within the local authority system which are likely to mitigate the effect of closure of the ILF on the outcomes individual users achieve and, as a result, on the potential impact on their ability to live independently or to exercise control over their lives.

52. In some cases ILF users have indicated that they consider the impact would be severe. It is simply not possible to quantify accurately how the closure of the ILF would impact on individual care and support packages or how any funding cuts would translate into the loss of independence or reduce choice and control over their daily lives.

70.A number of those responding to the consultation expressed fears about having to enter residential care and, as a result, would no longer have any choice around their place of residence. As stated above, the government argue it is simply not possible to quantify to what extent this is likely to be a consequence of closing the ILF.

DWP claim that they closely monitor the impact of changes to policy but have repeatedly said throughout the equality assessment that there is not enough information to say what the outcome of closure of ILF will be. They have failed to take steps to monitor any aspect of the closure of ILF, for example they could have monitored the impact of closing ILF to new applicants from 2010 or to assess the effects of care package cuts on individual ILF users. They could have asked LA’s to produce accurate figures of what they would fund at the joint reviews. This would have given DWP would precise figures of what wouldn’t be funded and illustrated clearly what the impact of closing ILF would be for users. However it seems that DWP did not want this to be known and therefore did not collect this data when they had the opportunity to.

 

71.Data from the Department of Health shows that the overall number of adults of working age in residential care (in England) is not increasing. The total number of working age people in residential care has been falling since 2008-09, but the proportion of all social care users in residential care has been rising (due to greater falls in the number of people receiving other forms of care). Although there has been no discernible change in the general trends around residential care since the ILF was closed to new users in 2010, this data needs to be treated with caution due to the relatively small number of people who may have been eligible for the ILF (had it not been closed to new users). The data does not therefore necessarily indicate that 2010 changes have not had an effect on trends in residential care.

If the proportion of disabled people receiving social care funding but in residential care is rising overall this is an  indication that fewer disabled people are living in the community with the support they need to be included in society and to have choice and control over their lives.

61.A small number of the approximately 2000 plus people who responded to the 2012 consultation on the future of the ILF, and who expressed concern about changes to current care packages, explained how this would affect their lives in practice. Nevertheless, those who did provide further detail explained how they believed this would impact on their ability to live in their own or family home, on their educational or employment status or aspirations, and on their ability to access social or other community-based activities.

62 In addition to those users who expressed fears about having to move into residential care, referenced above after paragraph 40, a number of users stated that with the support of ILF-funded personal assistants they had been able to access higher education and enter employment. Their concern was that they would be unable to continue in higher education or employment if the overall level of support was reduced. As a consequence they would be disadvantaged as the opportunities that had been afforded to them would be reduced.

70.The government say that it is not possible to quantify to what extent disabled people are likely to end up in residential care due to closing the ILF.

63.It is accepted that, with direct payments from the ILF many users have been enabled to access a range of educational, employment and social opportunities. However, the ILF’s primary function is simply to make cash payments to enable them to purchase services, most commonly, the employment of a personal assistant or carer.

64.It is not possible to accurately quantify the impact of closing the ILF on individuals for both Group 2 users and those Group 1 users who meet their local authority’s minimum eligibility criteria. This would involve making speculative or predictive assessments that, for example, compare ILF recipients with other disabled people who do not have ILF support; or comparing what individual ILF users receive now with what they could get from 2015 onwards. In this case onwards only refers to until 2016 when any transitional funding to local authorities will end. This issue as previously stated has been totally ignored and no attempt to address it has been made.

Since ILF has been closed to new users since 2010 why have no attempts been made to collect data which would allow DWP to make some accurate forecast of the impact?

 Access to education and Work

68.For disabled people who want to pursue higher education, there are a range of Disabled Student Allowances available. These are payable in addition to other sources of student finance and the amount payable is based on individual needs rather than income. Eligible students can get help with the costs of specialist equipment, non-medical helpers, extra travel costs associated with a person’s disability and a range of other additional costs.

However without the support from ILF none of these DSAs allow a disabled person to undertake study as none of them provide the support needed to meet personal or social care needs.

69.For disabled people with more complex needs which cannot be met by local authorities, there is also a range of specialist disability employment provision, including Access to Work, Work Choice and Residential Training.

Again in the case of Access to Work funding personal needs cannot be met from this funding.

Opportunity to work and study –“Through support from the Independent living Fund I have been enabled to go back to University and to enter employment, firstly through casual work as an “expert by experience” for the Care Quality Commission and to then go on to get my first full-time job in 20 years….. I am worried for the day that my 42 hours funded by the ILF disappear …..(and I am) no longer able to pay for the support I need to lead the meaningful life I currently enjoy thanks to the ILF.”

 “I am an active member of the Disabled People’s movement, which includes being co-Chair of the [a local disability equality forum] that advises [local council] on its disability policies and supports local disabled people. I am also a school governor of a local infants school, and I am involved with [local university] in the training of social work students and medical students. I am able to do all this because of the support of the ILF to pay for personal assistance. However, without this funding I would either be trapped in my own home, or worse institutionalised in a care home.”

78.As already discussed in this document while the ILF has allowed users the opportunity to participate in public life, or in any other activity in which participation by disabled people is disproportionately low, and in doing so, inadvertently fostering relationships and helping to combat prejudice and promote understanding, there are a number of other initiatives which are expressly levelled at addressing these criteria. What these are however remains a mystery as the government have misconstrued what Disabled Students Allowance, and Access to Work funding can actually be used for and already said in their equality analysis that when ILF is transferred to local authorities the levels of care and support funding people get will be reduced.

89.The ILF user base is comparatively young when considered in the overall context of the adult care and support system, where 67% of service users are 65 and over, compared to 9% of ILF users. The majority of ILF users are between 26 and 55 (68%).

 

In the absence of any adequate monitoring of the outcomes for disabled people generally and in particular the absence of any monitoring of outcomes for disabled people unable to access ILF funding since it was closed to new applicants it is interesting to note that the ILF user age range starts at 26 in these figures.

 

93.DWP is committed to monitoring the impact of all its policies. We will therefore be developing plans for monitoring the actual impact of the closure of the ILF on those groups who share protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010, and in particular on former users of the ILF and disabled people more generally.

Why haven’t they been monitoring what’s happened from 2010?

Why haven’t they been collecting data from the joint transitional reviews on what Local Authorities would fund after 2016?

What plans do they have to monitor what local authorities do with the devolved ILF funding they get for 2015-16?

Why do they not already have plans in place for monitoring the actual impact rather then their rather wishy-washy “we can’t tell what the impact will be” attitude?

39. A significant number of users did provide more detailed testimony to show how they believed their ability to live independently and to participate fully in society would be compromised.

Examples of ILF user concerns of a loss of independence and control over daily life

“If the ILF were to close completely (he) would lose almost 50% of his care package: He has been scored in the highest funding band on the Local Authority’s Resource Allocation System, but their highest indicative budget would only provide care up to a (limit) for someone living at home. This would mean he could not be looked after at home and would almost certainly need to go into residential care”.

“Before I had ILF my parents who both work full time had to help me with the most basic of tasks (getting undressed, eating dinner, assistance getting to bathroom during the night) making me feel like a burden to my own family. My social life hit a stand still as I was unable to go out and meet friends as I was too unwell to really leave the house.”

“….people like me will end up sitting alone looking out of the window for most of the day unable to even go to the toilet. Until now, despite being severely disabled…..and unable to walk or use my hands or arms, I’ve been able to live a fulfilling life.…. [without the ILF] I will be imprisoned at home, and will even have to give up my dogs…”

“…With no ILF and no ring-fencing of money my son’s budget will either be reduced so much that it no longer adequately covers his needs and he will end up with unacceptably substandard care. Or he will end up having to go into residential care which would also not be acceptable to him.”

Before I was introduced to the ILF I was looked after by the local authority. I had no life at all, just a horrible existence. I didn’t get out of bed for months at a time. I was not encouraged to take part in life with the children. My care was extremely basic – to be kept clean, fed and medicated”

“Without the ILF funding I would either be left to rot in a home or be dead. My support worker and carers are my lifeline; with this funding I am able to live my life. Should this funding be cut, I can honestly say I would not last long in the community. Obviously should I end up in a home, then the money the government are wanting to save…would have to be paid out for my home fees….”

“ILF allows me to do, as closely as possible, what normal human beings do. I do not do ‘activities’ or ‘access the community’ – I go out for a drive, for a picnic, to visit people, the kind of things ‘real’ people do.”

 

 

 Posted by at 20:34
Mar 092014
 

We told MPs we’d be watching to see who went to the WOW debate in parliament so we’re gratfeul to John Pring for permission to reproduce this article which shows how few MPs were there and outlines various excuses.

News story by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

8 th Mar 2014

MPs’ excuses for missing ‘historic’ debate lack the WOW factor

By john pring

The low turnout by MPs in for the WOW petition will damage efforts to persuade the public to engage with politics and politicians, according to the campaign’s organisers.

Backbench MPs agreed to hold the debate – which focused on the need to assess the overall impact of the government’s welfare reforms on disabled people, and calls to scrap the “fitness for work” test – after more than 100,000 people added their names to an e-petition created by the War On Welfare (WOW) campaign.

It was the first time that disabled people had secured a debate in the main Commons chamber on an agenda they had chosen themselves.

But there was frustration at the low turnout among MPs, particularly on the government benches.

Disability News Service (DNS) tried this week to contact some of the MPs who hold positions on disability-related all-party parliamentary groups to ask why so many of them stayed away from the WOW debate.

A spokesman for Robert Buckland, the Conservative MP and chair of the all-party autism group, said he had attended instead the speech given in parliament by the German chancellor, Angela Merkel.

Her speech finished by 12.45pm, while the WOW debate continued until 2.30pm.

Buckland’s spokesman said the MP “then had childcare issues back at home so had to return to the constituency quite early”.

He said: “He has a long-standing interest in disability issues. He had an interest in the topic but unfortunately just because of his diary on the day was unable to attend.”

John Woodcock, the Labour vice-chair of the all-party group on young disabled people, said he had been attending a foreign policy conference in Sussex, but he insisted that he remained “really committed to working closely with disabled people and campaigning organisations on furthering this agenda”.

Paul Burstow, the Liberal Democrat former care services minister, had meetings with ministers about the care bill, and then chaired a meeting of the CentreForum Mental Health Commission.

A spokeswoman for Burstow said he had “a particularly busy day last Thursday, otherwise I am pretty certain he would have gone to that debate. He was literally in and out of meetings.”

Annette Brooke, the Liberal Democrat MP and vice-chair of the autism all-party group, was unable to attend the WOW debate because she was in her Mid Dorset and North Poole constituency, but her spokeswoman said she had been “very active recently in her role on autism”.

She said: “Unfortunately with backbench debates on Thursday, MPs are sometimes not able to participate in debates which they are really keen to speak in as they have to head back to the constituency.”

But the Labour MP Russell Brown, secretary of the autism group, who attended part of the debate but was not able to speak due to other parliamentary commitments, said that party whips will have made clear to MPs that they are supposed to be working in parliament throughout most of Thursdays, at least until mid-afternoon.

He said: “You shouldn’t make arrangements for constituency business when you know… that you should be in parliament.”

He said it was “not a reasonable excuse to say it is a long-standing engagement”, although parliamentary-related business, such as a constituency visit from a government minister, was probably an acceptable excuse.

Sir Malcolm Bruce, the Liberal Democrat chair of the all-party deafness group, was unable to attend the debate because of a ministerial visit to his Gordon constituency in Scotland.

But Charlotte Leslie, treasurer of the autism group and Conservative MP for BristolNorth West, said she had had “back-to-back meetings and then had to make it back to the constituency in the early afternoon for constituency commitments”.

She said: “As I am sure you know, an MP’s diary can get booked up many months in advance.

“We do not get notice of debate dates until a couple of weeks in advance, and it is not always possible to rearrange several hours of meetings, since many people have made huge efforts and re-arranged their own schedules to be able to make the date to see me.”

But she said she had read some of the WOW debate online.

The disabled Conservative MP Paul Maynard was unable to attend the debate because as parliamentary private secretary to the Cabinet Office minister for government policy, Oliver Letwin, he had to attend two sessions of the deregulation bill committee.

Other MPs who hold positions on disability-related all-party groups, and who apparently failed to attend the WOW petition debate, and have so far failed to respond to DNS enquiries, include Conservatives Chris Skidmore, Stephen Phillips, Sir Peter Bottomley and James Morris, Labour MPs Tom Clarke, Rosie Cooper, Jonathan Reynolds and Robert Flello, and the disabled Liberal Democrat Stephen Lloyd.

In all, 21 Labour MPs spoke in the debate (8.2 per cent of the parliamentary party), five Conservative MPs (1.7 per cent), two Liberal Democrats (3.6 per cent), one of the six MPs from the SNP (16.7 per cent), the only Green MP, Caroline Lucas, but none of the three MPs from Plaid Cymru.

Rick Burgess, a co-founder of the WOW campaign, said: “MPs constantly say they want people to engage with politics. We engaged with politics and look how few of them engaged with us!

“We did what they asked. We did the petition, we engaged with them. On the day, it didn’t feel like we were welcome.”

Ian Jones, another co-founder of the WOW campaign, said his MP, Theresa May, had said she could not attend the debate because of her ministerial responsibilities as home secretary.

But he said she and other MPs should have attended the debate because it was “an historical event”, the first time that disabled activists had secured a debate in the main Commons chamber.

He said: “To have any respect for the e-petition system, when people actually get together and get the 100,000 signatures, the MPs should take it seriously and debate it.

“It just seemed to me that the Tories were just paying lip service.”

6 March 2014

 

 Posted by at 15:45