Thanks to everyone who contacted us about this possible challenge. The solicitors have spoken initially to a number of people and are now able to try to seek a barrister’s opinion. If you haven’t been contacted yet then it may be after that opinion is available that you may be for witness statements to add to the case.
We’ll keep everyone informed of what’s happening as soon as we can.
Stop benefit sanctions
National Day of Action Against Sanctions
Benefit sanctions must be fought against
These sanctions are cruel and handed out for ridiculous reasons such as:
- Arriving minutes late to a meeting
- Not applying for jobs when waiting to start a new job!
- Missing an appointment on the day of the funeral of a close family member.
This has to stop.
- Share your story – we are looking for people who have been sanctioned to tell their story.
- We want to show the reality and impact on people’s lives – show your support – share on Twitter and Facebook #No2Sanctions
JOIN US – Thursday 30 MarchPlease join an event near you on Thursday 30 March to stop benefit sanctions in your community.
We will continue to add new actions on a regular basis, so please check back.
For further information please email your Unite community cordinator (see below).
London & Eastern – David Condliffe
Herts and Beds Branch: Luton, Jobcentre, Guilford Street – 12.00 noon.
Contact: Rachel Holmes, Branch Secretary – Email: RedR8chel@hotmail.com | Mobile: 07526282356.
Kilburn Jobcentre – 12.00 to 1.00 pm.
South East – Kelly Tomlinson
North East, Yorkshire & Humberside – John Coan
North West – Sheila Coleman
Wirral Community Branch has created a Thunderclap:
Bridgwater Jobcentre: 11.00 to 1.00 pm
Bridgwater High Street, next to Admiral Blake: 11.00 to 1.00 pm
Film | I, Daniel Blake – 7.00 to 9.30 pm
Venue: Somerset Film @ The Engine Room, 50-52 High St, Bridgwater TA6 3BL Phone: 01278 433187. £3 standard ticket but if people can afford more there is a solidarity ticket at £10.
For more information visit: http://www.somersetfilm.com/diary/?action=evrplusegister&event_id=147
We will also be raising money for Bridgwater food bank.
Wales – Mary Williams
– See more at: http://www.unitetheunion.org/growing-our-union/communitymembership/day-of-action-against-sanctions/#sthash.jVbfpy3m.dpuf
Please sign up and share GMCDP’s Thundeclap in support of its Disability Manifesto. Can we get the Greater Manchester mayoral candidates to sign up to our Disability manifesto? Hopefully with your help we can! #DisabilityManifestoGM
It’s easy to do, just click on this link:
About the Manifesto:
Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People has developed a Disability Manifesto in the run up to the election of the new Greater Manchester Mayor.
The manifesto concentrates on the areas of power and influence that new mayor will have. Topics include Independent Living, Housing, Inclusive Further Education and Skills Sector, Transport and Disability Hate Crime
The manifesto has been developed in collaboration with our membership and other local Disabled People’s Organisations.
The manifesto has been sent to all the mayoral candidates and we are urging them to work with and for disabled people by signing up to the manifesto.
Read our manifesto:
The Government has responded to the petition you signed – “Force the government to act on the eleven recommendations of the UNCRPD report”.
This Government engaged fully with the inquiry process. However, we strongly reject the findings and believe that the core intentions of many of the recommendations are already being fulfilled.
This Government engaged fully with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Convention) inquiry process. In their report, the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Committee) expressed appreciation for our support throughout the process, which included facilitating a visit to the UK and providing written evidence on numerous occasions.
On receipt of the report, we considered the findings alongside our own evidence. In making this comparison, it was clear that there were individual facts in the report that were incorrect. Additionally, the report failed to place the reforms investigated in the wider context of improvements made and the support available. For example, in discussing Article 27 ‘Work and Employment’, the report barely mentions the raft of work-related support available to disabled people and therefore presents a highly partial view.
The UK supported the development of the Convention and was among the first countries to sign it in 2007. Our approach to disability equality, which focuses on inclusion and mainstreaming (with additional support provided as necessary) and on involving disabled people in decision-making, is very much aligned with the Convention. The report itself recognised that “at a national level, it appears that the welfare system together with a social and health care system provide a solid base for the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities and that the system has allowed persons with disabilities to achieve an acceptable level of autonomy and
DWP E-Petitions Response independence”. It also recognised measures to reinforce choice and control in the UK through the increased personalisation and localisation of services.
This Government considered the recommendations made by the Committee. Many of the recommendations promote approaches and actions that we already take, such as actively engaging disabled people in policy design and delivery. Others promote actions that the UK Government has already identified as areas for improvement; the Government response sets out some of the work being done across the UK to ensure progress in these areas, such as increasing the accessibility of information and tackling negative attitudes towards disabled people. Several recommendations are prescriptive in nature, sighting specific methodologies that should be implemented. The UK is committed to meeting its obligations of progressing towards the full participation and inclusion of disabled people in all aspects of life on an equal basis. However, how we ensure this progression remains for the UK Government, and the wider parliament, to decide.
The UK is a strong parliamentary democracy, where the voices and opinions of disabled people are represented and listened to, and disabled people’s rights are respected, promoted and upheld. It is also a world leader in disability issues. We are proud of the work we do to support people with disabilities and health conditions, both domestically and abroad. And we believe that the core intentions of the recommendations are already incorporated into UK policies and practices, and delivered in a way that fits with the values and structures particular to the UK.
However, we do recognise that there is more to do to meet the Convention’s ambition of full participation and inclusion, and this Government is committed to continuing progress towards this. Taking employment as an example, our aspiration is for disabled people to get the same opportunities as others to find work while ensuring that people who cannot work because of a disability or health condition receive the support they need. That is why this Government is committed to, and working towards, halving the disability employment gap. The ‘Improving Lives’ Green Paper seeks views on how to ensure that health and welfare systems support people who can work with better opportunities to stay in employment, while protecting people who can’t work, with a view to meeting the Government’s ambition.
This Government champions work because of its power to transform people’s lives. We strongly believe that, though welfare provides necessary social protection, it is not the only way to help disabled people live independent, inclusive lives in which they can fulfil their potential. Implementing the Convention articles requires more than higher welfare payments. It requires society-wide shifts in attitudes and behaviours, innovative approaches to health provision, and concerted efforts to break down persistent barriers preventing disabled people from living independently, working, and enjoying full inclusion in their communities. This Government remains committed to working across government and sectors to ensure that these changes take place, supporting disabled people in the UK to fully participate in all aspects of life on an equal basis.
Department for Work and Pensions
Click this link to view the response online:
The Petitions Committee will take a look at this petition and its response. They can press the government for action and gather evidence. If this petition reaches 100,000 signatures, the Committee will consider it for a debate.
The Committee is made up of 11 MPs, from political parties in government and in opposition. It is entirely independent of the Government. Find out more about the Committee: https://petition.parliament.uk/help#petitions-committee
The Petitions team
UK Government and Parliament
Details of the Protest in Southampton & Online
This letter has come from the leader of the council.
I appreciate that some of you prefer to demonstrate against the Labour Council rather than the Tory government. But if you are going to do this please have the decent thing and contact us and check whether the thing you are demonstrating against is true. I know we are in the era of ‘alternative’ truth and ‘false news but we do expect you to know better.
1. The Care act came in in April last year and requires us to complete annual reviews of all those in receipt of a care package. This created an additional burden on our already stretched social workers. It was proposed and approved that the Council employ through Capita additional social workers to carry out these reviews.
2. No instruction was issued with regard to the outcome of these reviews. No incentive was given to Capita to save money we simply wanted the reviews done.
3. Capita were unable to recruit enough Social workers to complete the work and an offer was made to the ones they had to work some weekends for an extra payment (£200).
4. The vast majority of these reviews (all of which were carried out by fully qualified and registered social workers) lead to no change. Some were adjusted to change the way a service was delivered using modern technologies and these have lead to a saving to the Council. A saving that means less jobs will be cut this year and less other services reduced.
5. An appeals process exists with these assessments’ which has been used by precisely zero clients.
6. As part of our arrangement with Capita we are gradually taking over this work with our in house team working alongside Capita employees. We expect in due course to take over all these reviews.
These are the facts – so please tell me what you are demonstrating about.
So if those are the facts why do the leaked emails say – either the Labour council leader has no idea about what is happening in Southampton or -well – or he’s just downright lying. Take your pick.
1) From Sue Thomas, sent 15/9/16
The cavalry is on the way!!!
Have just heard from Adam Tait we have 3 new colleagues joining us on Monday, pulling the stops out to make sure they can ‘hit the road’ with you with the minim delay.
Adam is also suggesting some incentives for the Team. He is well aware of some of the difficulties we have had, and that you are giving me the best performance you are able.
But, now we need MORE!! The suggestions below are cut & paste from Adams e-mail to me.
FROM ADAM’S E-MAIL
I’m not sure how weekend working might go down with the existing team (as a one off) but if we included these days we have an extra 4 days available for eight of the team people and two available for 11 of the team until we have TIB on 27th September. I would suggest we offer an extra incentive if any of the team are prepared to work these weekends or part of…. starting this weekend. It’s short notice but if we paid their existing rate at time and half or double time you may get some take up? I’m not sure if we would need to report these days within the MI suite but that’s not my call. An alternative might be payment of increased hours worked in the week. Again as a one off.
In addition, as the next week or so is so critical I am happy to roll out an extra incentive scheme at the earliest point whereby if a person manages to improve their performance by x% from the previous 4 week average they receive a £y bonus. 10% = £100, 20% = £200 etc. This can be measured across both productivity levels and the savings achieved. If one person improves their productivity by 20% and savings by 20% they receive a £400 bonus.
AGREED WEEK-END RATE TIME & HALF
PLEASE READ CAREFULLY AND CONTACT ME NO LATER THAN 5PM WITH YOUR RESPONSE (EVEN IF YIOU ARE NOT INTERESTED) THIS IS NOT A LONG TERM COMMITMENT – IT’S EMERGENCY FIRST AID TO ENSURE OUR SURVIVAL!!!!
If you want to discuss with me you’ve got my numbers.
Regards – Sue
Sue Thomas – Lead Practitioner,
Capita Review Team,
Adult Social Care,
Southampton City Council,
Southampton SO14 7LY
2) From Sue Thomas, 8 November 2016:
Another late night last night – Conference Call. Followed by several hours ‘bashing my brains’ for answers.
PLEASE READ CAREFULLY – THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT
As you know our Productivity and the Financial Efficiencies we are making are under great scrutiny.
Looking at all the figures in the Reports last night it was very clear that both Productivity and Efficiencies have fallen dramatically.
The senior managers who are leading this transformation want to know why it appears we are failing to realise the results in service delivery and savings they anticipated
By commissioning this Project. They in turn are being asked to explain to Councillors of SCC.
Issues such as changes to the Team, Reduced size of Team, Annual Leave, Bank Holidays etc. have all been taken into account but things still don’t add up.
I have stressed how hard you are all working – but we don’t appear to be getting the results we had during the Pilots.
As I said at the Team Meeting yesterday I think it may be about the ways in which we are working – IF IT’S NOT ABOUT HARD WORK, IT MUST BE ABOUT SMART WORK!!!
I HAVE PUT MY NECK ON ‘THE CHOPPING BLOCK’ – YOU HAVE PRODUCED THE RESULTS BEFORE, I KNOW YOU CAN AND I BELIEVE YOU WILL DELIVER THE RESULTS REQUIRED.
NOW I HAVE TO PUT MY MONEY WHERE MY MOUTH IS – PLEASE HELP ME!!!!!!
- BE ASSERTIVE WHEN MAKING APPOINTMENTS – SCC ARE REQUITRED BY LAW TO COMPLETE THESE ASSESSMENTS/REVIEWS (NEW LEGISLATION 2014)
- AS MANY VISITS AS POSSIBLE BEGINNING OF THE WEEK – WEDNESDAY PM – RECORDING
- CASE ‘OPEN’ DAY OF VISIT – MINIMISES DAYS CASE LEFT OPEN (ASSUMING INACTIVE/UNPRODUCTIVE)
- CLOSE WHEN ANY REFERRALS HAVE BEEN MADE (MAX 2 DAYS)
- L.D WILL TAKE A LITTLE LONGER – THIS IS RECOGNISED BY ALL.
- 15 min. CALL OUT!! TELECARE –IN!!
- ASSESS NEED NOT WANT.
- ACTIVELY ENCOURAGE DIRECT PAYMENTS
- CAREFUL ATTENTION WHEN RECORDING WORK SHEETS, YOUR WORK SHEETS INFORM THE WEEKLY REPORTS FOR THE DECISION MAKERS – DON’T SHOOT YOURSELF IN THE FEET!!
- THE WORK SHEET IS CHANGING THIS WEEK PLEASE TAKE EXTRA CARE.
THINK ABOUT ASSET BASED ASSESSMENT, FOR THOSE OF YOU NOT FAMILIAR I WILL BE SENDING INFORMATION.
We don’t have very much time to turn this situation around. if we can’t/don’t do it all the hard work you have put in so far will have been for nothing.
Not to put too fine a point on things WE ARE ALL ON THE WAY HOME.
I AM NOT ASKING YOU TO STAND BEHIND, ME I’M ASKING YOU TO STAND BESIDE ME SO WE CAN BRING THIS PROJECT TO A SUCCESSFUL (FOR ALL OF US!!) CONCLUSION TOGETHER.
Regards – Sue
Sue Thomas – Project Lead Practitioner,
Capita Review Team,
Adult Social Care,
Southampton City Council,
Southampton SO14 7LY
DPAC’s response to Simon:
- Capita offered their staff bonuses of up to £400 to cut people’s packages (Capita said that this was never introduced but they haven’t denied that they made the offer).
- Capita’s freelance social workers were paid more than £1,000 a week (after tax) and put up in three-star hotels while they were encouraged to cut people’s packages.
- The emails clearly show that they were asked by the council to produce savings (ie cuts).
- The Council Leader says “. Some were adjusted to change the way a service was delivered using modern technologies and these have lead to a saving to the Council.” We do not believe Telecare is an acceptable alternative to human support and nor are packs of incontinence pads. If the council leader thinks the following email from a Capita manager is acceptable, then he should be ashamed of himself and needs to resign: The manager suggested an “extra incentive” for the team if they could improve on their previous “performance” and suggested that the bonus “can be measured across both productivity levels and the savings achieved. If one person improves their productivity by 20 per cent and savings by 20 per cent they receive a £400 bonus.” The council never commented on the ‘extra incentive’ email, we can’t think why not.
- Does he also think the other email that was sent by capita to their team is acceptable? “The senior managers [from the council] who are leading this transformation want to know why it appears we are failing to realise the results in service delivery and savings they anticipated by commissioning this project. They in turn are being asked to explain to Councillors of SCC [Southampton City Council].”
- Another thing to note is that the whistle-blower said that it was the service-users with no support networks to advocate on their behalf with the council who were often the ones who were having their packages cut. This might explain why there have not been any appeals (if that’s true).
- I suspect that, if you take away the care packages that included residential care (which are almost impossible to cut), the proportion of direct payments packages that were cut is significant.
- I notice the council leader says that ‘No incentive was given to Capita to save money’. That doesn’t mean that they didn’t tell Capita that they wanted them to save money (which they did). My understanding is that Capita knew they would lose the contract if they didn’t make those savings. That seems like an incentive to me…
A brief look at Stephen Duckworth’s career. He’s being nominated for another honour and details of where to send any recommendations re-Stephen’s honour are at the end of this outline of his work with New Deal for disabled people, Serco, Capita and now the Shaw Trust. He is also an advisor for the new Work and Health unit. Please feel free to respond as you see fit.
Why Britain should expect more from the disabled for their own good, by the paralysed doctor in charge of assessing benefits claims
Stephen Duckworth: ‘The new disability benefit is enabling’. The new head of Capita’s personal independence payments says disabled people must be central to the process
Stephen Duckworth OBE, PhD, MSc, LRCP, MRCS, FDSRCS
Berkeley House, Rectory Hill, West Tytherley, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP5 1NF
Results orientated and innovative strategic thinker with sound independent judgement. Leader with exceptional interpersonal skills combined with the ability and a willingness to influence, challenge and probe. Keen analytical mind that revels in new concepts. Strong national and international connections with the UN, WHO, International Labour Organisation, World Bank and International Disability Alliance. Personal values driven by integrity and ethical standards combined with a strong sense of fun.
2015 – Shaw Trust: Chair, Programme Board – Rehabilitation International Global Congress on Disability and Inclusion, Edinburgh 2016. This attracted over 1000 people from 68 countries with 200 speakers and 7 Ministers. Currently working with Ministers in China and India having previously developed a new approach to disruptive innovation that has now become known as frugal innovation allowing ideas from low income countries to be adopted by higher income countries.
2014 – Capita, Director – Disability Assessment Services
2012 – 2014 Managing Director – Health & Disability Assessment Service covering Wales, the Midlands and Northern Ireland with job based in London
2012–2012 Strategic Development Director – responsible for the company’s relationship with the Heart of Government.
2011-2012 Director, Serco Institute that aims to foster the development of sustainable public service markets through an outward-facing programme of research and communication.
2010-2011 Strategic Development Director, Serco Welfare to Work, supporting a 45 strong business development team to secure £210 million of business (Work Programme) to help disadvantaged people return to work.
2009-2010 Director West Midlands Flexible New Deal, Welfare to Work. Responsible for £20 million annual contract supporting over 5,000 long-term unemployed jobseekers to return to sustainable employment.
- Adviser to the Minister for Disabled People supporting the establishment of the Joint Work and Health Unit (2016 – ongoing)
- Association Member BUPA (2015 – ongoing)
- Commissioner – Commission on Assisted Dying Chaired by Lord Faulkner (2010 – 2011)
- Board Member Olympic Delivery Authority £9.2 billion budget Board Champion for Equality and Diversity, Chair Health, Safety and Environment Committee (2006 – 2012).
- Board Member National Quality Board Chaired by David Nicholson DoH (2009 – 2010).
- NED Business Link in London (2009-2010)
- External Member – Disability Equality Delivery Board Chaired by Sue Owen, Director General, DWP working across government departments to achieve Equality for Disabled People by 2025 (2009 – 2012)
- Adviser to the Secretary of the State, Minister for Welfare Reform and Minister for Disabled People (2005-7) to initiate the restructuring of the employment service provision for disabled people.
- NED – Route2Mobility Ltd a FSA regulated company providing ethical finance to disabled customers (2003 -2009).
- Member of the Council of the University of Southampton (1999-2007)
1999-2004 Initiated and designed and Award Winning New Deal for Disabled People return to work programme – The Gateway Partnership and developed a Project Lead Recruitment Process in partnership with the Employers Forum on Disability and Centrica. Continue to lead organic growth to establish a business with a turnover in excess of £2 million.
reblogged from Transport for All (mostly)
Wheelchair-user Doug Paulley had successfully sued First Bus Group in 2013 after he had been denied access to one of their buses because a bus driver didn’t enforce priority in the wheelchair space and a buggy owner refused to make room for him. But this decision was overturned by the Appeal Court in November 2014. The Supreme Court will now give their verdict on Wednesday.
My name is Clemence Fourton, I am a French PhD student working on the social and political effects of the 2008 crisis in the UK.
As part of my PhD, I am conducting a survey on political participation in the UK since the 2008 crisis. The survey is designed to understand the way in which people have been campaigning since the 2008 crisis.
It focuses on 7 anti-cuts groups: Black Activists Rising Against the Cuts, Disabled People Against the Cuts, Queer Resistance, Queers Against the Cuts, Sisters Uncut, Women Against the Cuts, UK Uncut.
I would therefore be extremely grateful if you could share this message with people who have, at some point, been involved, even very briefly, in DPAC.
The survey will take about half an hour to complete. Answers are anonymous, and I will only use them for research purposes.
If you have any question about the survey, feel free to contact me on my email address (email@example.com).
The link to the survey: https://goo.gl/forms/thebEYIv4Us6Hqyp1
Thank you very much for your time!
Clémence Fourton – PhD student in British Studies at Université de Poitiers, France
If anyone is willing to help with either of these requests please contact the relevant person directly.
Loss of Motability Vehicles
I’m a TV producer based in Southampton looking into PIP and Motability. I’m looking for someone to film who is having to hand back a car and would like to speak to people who might be affected by this especially anyone willing to be filmed when their car is removed.
Feel free to circulate this email.
Assistant Editor Inside Out South
BBC South, Havelock Road, Southampton, SO14 7PU – 07740 732402
Removal of Benefits from people
My name is Jemma and I am a Producer making a BBC Three documentary with Stephen Manderson, also known as Professor Green, exploring the issue of families raising children with low incomes across the UK. I came across your campaign group in my research and I am hoping you may be able to help. Stephen Manderson, grew up in Hackney and is an award winning rap artist and documentary filmmaker. The film we are making follows on from the success of his recent BBC Three documentaries: ‘Suicide and Me’ about his personal experience of losing his father to suicide and ‘Hidden and Homeless’. In this new documentary, Professor Green will set out to understand the experience of families facing hardship in the UK. As an important part of Stephen’s journey we would like to speak to families with children who feel their benefits status or payments shifted at a time when they were unwell or vulnerable. I completely appreciate the sensitivities around this area as many have lost loved ones which is heart breaking and I understand even more so where they feel they have been let down by the benefits system. I would like to open up a conversation with you at DPAC to see if you may be able to help us reach out to families who might be open to having an initial chat about their experiences with the DWP? If you would like any further information please do not hesitate to contact me on the below numbers or via email. I very much look forward to hearing from you.
Jemma Gander Producer The Garden One America Street London SE1 0NE T: +44 (0) 20 7620 6734 F: +44 (0) 20 7620 6724 M: + 44 (0) 784 000 3976 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
|My name is Helen and I am a Trainee Clinical Psychologist from Lancaster University. I am conducting research as part of my doctoral thesis about the psychological impact of benefits sanctions following the Work Capability Assessment process and what impact this had, if any, on peoples’ mental health and outlook. I’m involved with Pyschs Against Austerity who DPAC and MHRN both work closely with.
If you have a diagnosed mental health condition? Have you experienced the Work Capability Assessment? Have your benefits been sanctioned because of this assessment? .
The purpose of this research is to understand the psychological impact of benefits sanctions following the Work Capability Assessment process and what impact this had, if any, on your mental health and outlook. If you would like to take part in the study, you would be invited to be interviewed to discuss these experiences for around one hour. . It would be useful for this to be in the North West but I am willing to travel if necessary. I can also help with any travel costs people have up to £20.
If you would like to take part or would like more information, please email the principal researcher, Helen McGauley, email email@example.com Please share this with anyone else who you think might be interested in taking part. Thanking you in advance, Helen McGauley
It’s difficult if not impossible to adequately define the outcomes of Brexit for anyone living in the UK let alone for disabled people. The result where a small minority of the electorate voted to leave the EU has so far caused massive political turmoil but no concrete proposals as the new unelected Prime Minister, Teresa May, thrashes around wildly clutching at straws.
What is certain is that the promise of an extra £350 million a week for our National Health Service has not and will not be forthcoming. In fact this promise promoted widely by the Leave campaigners in the Tory Party and a reason why many UK citizens were conned into voting to leave turns out to have been an outright lie.
Many of the more deluded disabled people who also voted to leave did so simply because they wanted to punish David Cameron the then Tory Prime Minister who was stupid enough to call a referendum in the first place. Having resigned first as Prime Minister and then a little later as a Member of Parliament I’m sure the multi-millionaire Cameron is indeed ‘suffering’. What is certain that disabled people will.
As soon as the outcome of the referendum was known Cameron together with a whole host of Leave politicians turned their backs on guiding the UK through the Brexit process – no doubt so they don’t get blamed for the ensuing disaster.
The devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland do not want to leave the EU and in the case of Northern Ireland the Good Friday agreement and peace process means that there must be a parliamentary vote if Northern Ireland is to leave the EU. There is also a legal challenge to seek a parliamentary vote on Brexit as the outcome of the referendum is advisory only. So chaos reigns as the UK population dangle precipitously in limbo.
As well as months spent focussed on the referendum campaign, the immediate aftermath was an election for a new Tory Party Leader and a second internal party election to try to remove the previously democratically elected Labour Party leader. During these many months of political bat and ball and trips around the country by various politicians the rights of disabled people have largely been forgotten especially by the media. Serious campaigning has been put back months as the political focus has been firmly placed elsewhere.
On a plus point the fascist party UKIP which very much led the Brexit campaign on an anti-immigration stance have also fallen into disarray and appear on the verge of oblivion. There have already been several elections for a new leader with none of them being successful in finding someone who stayed more than a couple of weeks. As the old British saying goes “every cloud has a silver lining”
What is certain for the UK is that Brexit has led to a massive increase in race-related hate crime and there is no doubt those who perpetrate these crimes feel their actions are vindicated by the vote to leave. Xenophobia is rampant in parts of the country fuelled by some of the media as well as the Brexit campaign rhetoric. Disability hate crime has been rising year on year since 2010 in part thanks once again to the media-fuelled ‘useless eater’ and scrounger propaganda. For disabled people as well as those perceived to not be British hatred and abuse is only likely to increase in the post-Brexit frenzy that currently pervades the country.
Since Brexit as well the value of the pound has slumped which has already led to an increase in price for even essential daily items including for some the #Marmitegate tragedy where the price of Marmite has already risen in some cases by 12.5 % in shops.
Price increases for food and other essential items is likely to pose a particular problems for disabled people and others in receipt of UK Social Security payments as there is an austerity-led freeze on the amount of benefits which will be paid until at least 2020. The UK already has some of the lowest rates for out-of-work benefit payments in the EU so starting from a very low base rate the value of payments will fall even further as exchange rates fall.
On top of this fall in the value of the pound and freeze on increases in social security payments early in November an austerity-led cap on the total overall amount of benefit payments per household will result in massive reductions of £3,000 less per annum being paid to claimants. Many of those affected by this drastic cut will be disabled although other disabled people will be exempt from this cut.
From next April 2017 disabled people who make a new claim for Employment and Support Allowance and who are found not to be fit for work but able to undertake Work Related Activity which involved forcibly being made to jump though inappropriate and unacceptable hoops to continue being entitled to payments will also see their weekly income cut drastically by one-third. All of these changes will as already said be taking place at the same time the value of the pound falls against other currencies. Needless to say fuel prices are also continuing to rise and the number of UK residents on low incomes who have to choose between eating and heating because they can’t afford both continues to rise.
As disabled people and others wait for the mythical 35 million a day that we’re apparently saving by leaving the EU to be redeployed to help fund our National Health Service as promised we find our Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt putting in place plans to drastically reduce both the number of hospitals – down from 9 to 5 in London – and health service funding elsewhere in the UK through the implementation of Sustainability and Transformation Plans. This is very definitely not what Brexit promised for our health service. Hunt has also further undermined our NHS by stating that we want British only doctors in the near future in spite of the fact that around one-third of doctors currently are from other EU countries.
For disabled people who need personal assistance to live and take part in society Brexit is also bad news. Many people employ care workers/personal assistants from EU countries and now not only does the fall in the value of the pound affect the exchange value of wages paid but on a longer term basis no-one, neither the employers or the employees, have any idea about a future right to work here when the UK leaves the EU. It could of course be years before any more is known.
Workers rights generally are very much an unknown quantity at the moment as well. Teresa May has said the Conservatives want to protect those in place yet many people are on insecure zero hours contracts with no legal protections. The introduction of fees for Employment Tribunal hearings has also negatively affected worker’s rights to challenge unfair dismissals. All of these issues regarding employment rights continue to disproportionately affect disabled workers and the fear that once EU constraints on our employment laws are removed is causing major concerns for those disabled people who are in work.
For disabled people not in work the ending of Workfare and Work Choice schemes funded by the European Social Fund can really only be seen as positive. Neither of these schemes worked well in finding disabled people suitable or sustainable employment opportunities.
Workfare schemes in particular have been likened to unpaid slave labour which they were since claimants were forced to work for no pay under threat of having their benefits removed if they did not. Having said that there were a number of locally EU funded schemes to help disabled and other people into work which have worked well and for which there will now be no further EU funding available.
In other areas of life shared by disabled and non-disabled people the loss of European funding from the Social Fund, from the Common Agricultural Policy and from Regional Development grants will nevertheless be grossly detrimental to the overall standards of living and is likely to have a further negative trickle down impact on food prices. The idea that these funding streams will be replaced by our own government’s spending is laughable given their ongoing austerity agenda and determination to replace Trident nuclear weapons.
Have your say on fewer buses and the need for more changes in central london
Transport for London are currently consulting on reducing the frequency of buses in Central London and changing the route, and terminus of others. This is bad news for disabled people due to the lack of alternative accessible transport options in the city.
Many journeys across London already require disabled people to change buses, however adjustments to the line of route, and shortening of the routes will make bus changes, and lengthy waits in the dark, cold and rain far more likely. Routes like 73 from Stoke Newington to Victoria and 390 Archway to Victoria are examples of routes that would be affected by these changes.
In particular, getting from Euston and Kings Cross to parts of London where there is no accessible tube service is a major issue and in zones 1 and 2 – much more difficult.
Transport for London are justifying this planned change as they claim more people are using the tube. This is not an option for disabled people as only 15% of Central London tube stations have step-free access and often not to all lines/directions. Central London stations which still do not have step-free access include numerous major hubs such as Bond Street, Oxford Circus, Leicester Square, Covent Garden, Tottenham Court Road, Vauxhall, Victoria, Euston, and Charring Cross.
Further, despite promises from TfL and the Mayor of London, that the closure of ticket offices would improve services for disabled travellers up to October 2016 the number of lifts being out of service due to staff shortages increased by a massive 118% compared to the previous year. In some cases lifts were closed for 20 hours.
TFL state in their consultation that the opening of the Elizabeth line (Crossrail) will reduce the need for buses. However, given the issues with acceptable levels of staffing at existing stations to provide lifts, and the fact that Crossrail will not be level from the platform to the train, requiring a bridging ramp, can disabled people trust that they will be able to access the new line’s services?
On top of all of that there are often planned closures of lifts for maintenance work lasting months and with no alternative usable tube stations nearby.
In most areas of central London Blue Badges cannot be used so disabled drivers are unable to park there. For those in work with a Motability vehicle who might need to travel into central London for work by taxi due to the lack of parking available this too is no longer an option as Access to Work will no longer provide taxis for those who have a Motability vehicle – not even so they can work.
At peak time, buses are often delayed due to traffic, or are so full that drivers refuse to allow wheelchair users onboard, meaning commutes are harder, longer and more arduous for disabled people.
These proposals risk causing disabled people more difficulties accessing the community, their places of work, and will reduce their ability to undertake leisure activities.
Benefit sanctions – Disabled people’s experiences
Have you experienced a benefit sanction? If so I would be very grateful if you could let me know what happened to you by sending your experiences to Henrietta.firstname.lastname@example.org by 6 December.
I’m sending in evidence to a select committee inquiry and you experience will help inform our response.
Information about the benefit sanction inquiry is at:
On 17th November the House passed a cross party motion to delay and review the proposed implementation of the ESA Cut of £29/week to new claimants of the ESA Work Related Activity Group.
Disabled People Against Cuts are campaigning to have this cut cancelled but today we are asking you as MPs to lobby the Chancellor to postpone the proposed ESA cut until we know the details of the support on offer, and whether this support compensates adequately the loss of £29 per week for claimants in the WRAG.
Please consider the following points
- The ESA cut is worth £450m per year[i]. The employment support for claimants in the WRAG is only £60 to £100 million a year[ii] while the Work Programme received £500-£600 million each year[iii]. This represents a huge reduction in support for disabled people to gain work.
- This employment support will not benefit claimants who cannot and will not be able to work who are misplaced into the WRAG. These are people with progressive illnesses (1/3 of these claimants are initially placed in the WRAG)[iv], claimants given a 2 year+ prognosis (defined by DWP as unlikely to work again)[v], or claimants wrongly placed in the WRAG, who after Mandatory Reconsiderations or appeals move onto the Support Group[vi].
- This same group of claimants will not benefit from the flexible support fund, a discretionary fund, which provides local support for costs, related to getting into work, such as travel to and from training and travel costs when in work, for the reasons mentioned above.
- Extension of hardship fund to new groups. The hardship fund is notoriously hard to access, because of very strict eligibility rules (claimants have to be almost destitute to be entitled), and the payments are also modest, discretionary, and of a temporary nature. Most importantly, payments will become recoverable under Universal Credit, driving more claimants into debt[vii]. Evidence also shows that these payments are not advertised by jobcentres and that their take-up is very low[viii]
- Deals with third parties to help with expenditure not directly related to employment: broadband costs, phone charges, energy costs and insurance. That could be the only scheme likely to benefit the type of claimants we mentioned.
The Minister for Disabled People has given assurance that these schemes will fully compensate for the loss of the payments for new claimants[ix], but because of the flaws in the Work Capability Assessment, the claimants in the WRAG who need the most support because they are unable to work, and have no prospect of moving into work ever again will be the most severely penalised.
We already know that a third of ESA recipients are running a budget deficit[x], and that 49% of disabled people rely on credit cards or loans to pay for everyday items such as food and clothing[xi]. This ESA cut is the last thing they need.
For an ongoing legal challenge we urgently need to hear from anyone whose direct payment rates haven’t increased for years and who use agency carers and have been told by the agency that they can’t fully meet their needs because the hourly rate is not high enough.
We will need to pass contact details onto the solicitor dealing with this case so please could you add a phone number. You can email us at email@example.com
The first ever DPAC protest in October 2010 saw campaigners march through Birmingham in the pouring rain. We were drenched, soggy, and our wonderful banner that co-founder Tina Hogg had made was destroyed by the deluge.
And once again November 16th 2016 we gathered in the pouring rain to pay tribute to the life and work of another co-founder Debbie Jolly and also to demand that the Tories act on the 11 recommendations in the report released last week proving the grave and systematic violation of our human rights by their actions.
Thanks to all who came and stayed in spite of the rain and cold. Thank you also to all those who were unable to but sent good wishes. Thanks also to all of you who have made a donation to DPAC as requested by her family instead of sending cards and flowers. Thanks also to all of you who would but can’t afford to. Part of the things Debbie wanted and fought for were a sustainable income for all disabled people.
In the afternoon Labour had tried to force through a vote against the loss of £30 a week from those in ESA WRAG which failed by a tiny number of votes. John McDonnell also paid tribute to Debbie “On a solemn note, I wish to send my condolences to the family and friends of Debbie Jolly. Some Members may have known Debbie, who was a disability campaigner. Over the years, she provided briefings for many Members of the House of Commons and, through Disabled People Against Cuts, was involved in many of the various lobbies of Parliament. She passed away last week, and I would like to send our condolences to her family and all her friends. We all hoped she would survive long enough at least to see this debate. I pay tribute to her for the work she did.“
And here is the full debate link https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2016-11-16/debates/B8A1178A-8DFD-4609-89C9-80735DE4FC17/AutumnStatementDistributionalAnalysisUniversalCreditAndESA
Somewhat unbelievably the Tory Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work (Penny Mordaunt) also said “May I associate myself with the sentiments expressed by the shadow Chancellor about the late Debbie Jolly? She was a noted researcher and sociologist, as well as a tireless campaigner. I am sure that our comments will be just two of the many tributes that will be paid to her.” Well what can you say apart from they’ll jump on any bandwagon if they think it’ll benefit them.
A moving tribute to Debbie by Disability News Service http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/debbie-jolly-a-force-for-good-and-a-passionate-social-model-advocate/
And a great round up of the protest by Steve Topple
Plus articles from the Morning Star
Please sign and share this petition to try to get a debate in parliament about the UN inquiry and all 11 recommendations to be implemented. It needs 100,000 signatories to be considered.
Credit for photos goes to Nicola Jeffrey
Youth and Student CND oppose DSA cuts- Join us!
November 24th 18.30 – 21.00 at Student Central, Malet Street, WC1E 7HY – ticketed event available through facebook page
Whilst most students are no strangers to debt and cuts enforced by the Conservative’s austerity policy, one group of students is being hit much harder- £30 million harder. Disabled people make up around 10% of students in the UK and a recent survey (‘The Pound in your Pocket’, NUS) found that 59% of disabled respondents agreed that they had worried about not having enough money. 55% had seriously considered leaving their course. 53% felt that they had little control over their financial situation. And this was before the cuts to Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs). This academic year, disabled students will be £30 million poorer than previous years, with recent figures suggesting 70,000 students will be effected.
The importance of the DSAs are obvious- reports have shown that students receiving DSA are more likely to finish their course than students who do not, as well as being more likely to reach a first or upper class second honours degree. For thousands of students, having access to laptops, voice recorders, screen readers and other assistive technologies is essential to their studies. However, students starting university this year will have to face the cuts to DSAs meaning that if they require this technology, these will not be funded. So what options remain for a disabled student? Either spending their student loan, meant for rent and daily life, on essential technology, or do without, at a risk to their studies. Less than one in three disabled students agreed that they were able to concentrate on their studies without worrying about finances, so buying a laptop upfront for many is unimaginable and simply not an option. Even as a non-disabled student, I’m no stranger to worrying about my finances, and I can’t begin to imagine this extra stress on top of the workload of a university degree.
How does the government justify the vicious cuts to vulnerable students? To save £30million, at the detriment of 70,000 individuals and their aspirations. The statement from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skill claims ‘the changes will ensure DSAs provide support where it is needed the most’, by asking universities to foot the bill for other items deemed unessential. With universities fees already rising above £9,250 and most universities being notoriously stingy, its questionable how exactly this will work. Meanwhile, our Prime Minister believes it would be ‘sheer madness’ to not spend £205 billion on our country’s nuclear weapons system…
Proposed cuts have of course been met by fierce backlash from disabled activists and the NUS in the past, with the government delaying proposed cuts in 2014, and this will continue. Youth and Student CND opposes all cuts to DSA, and believes no one should face hurdles to education. We’re happy to have the support of DPAC for our upcoming rally ‘No War! No Austerity!’ this month, featuring John McDonnell, Larry Sanders, Tariq Ali and Kate Hudson, as well as speakers from NUS, Stop the War and Cut the Rent. We’re hoping this will be an opportunity for different campaigns to unite so please do come along!
By Ellie Kinney
No War! No Austerity!: https://www.facebook.com/events/1788763484693004/
YSCND: https://www.facebook.com/yscnd/ and @youthstudentcnd
On 28th October, Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People (GMCDP) were contacted by the office of Debbie Abrahams, the Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, and invited to provide a key speaker for the launch of the Labour Party Disability Equality Roadshow on November 11th 2016.
The Labour Party said they wanted
“to ensure that we listen directly to the views of disabled people on a wide range of issues as we begin to develop Labour’s policies for the next election. We hoped to have brief introductory speeches from Jeremy Corbyn, Debbie and yourself, before breaking out into smaller groups to discuss policy themes, drawn from the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.”
The invitation cited GMCDPs “promotion of a rights-based approach to disability, extensive experience of campaigning to assert the rights of disabled people” and we, of course, were pleased to accept.
Two of the major issues that have been important to disabled people, we said, are Independent Living and Assisted Suicide, and we would like to talk about them. This seemed to worry our contact, who said that Labour had not got a formal policy position on the future funding of the ILF and he was concerned that this might be a difficult issue for Jeremy Corbyn and Debbie Abrahams to respond to if this was brought up. We explained that this was broader than the ILF and we wouldn’t be looking to put anyone on the spot, or expecting any commitment from Labour about this on the day.
Despite such reassurances from ourselves the Office of Debbie Abrahams has now withdrawn its invitation to GMCDP to provide a speaker. Although we will still attend, we are immensely disappointed.We have been a part of – and are linked into – disabled people’s organisations and networks and have offered to speak on two of the most serious matters facing disabled people today. We are astounded that the Labour Party does not want to hear us. Because of this we have decided to make our views available widely and are posting this message on our website. Please circulate it as widely as possible, so that the Labour Party knows just how important these matters are.
Please see below the speech we intended to deliver. Please circulate it as widely as possible, so that the Labour Party knows just how important these matters are.
Firstly I would like to thank Jeremy, Debbie and the Labour Party for inviting GMCDP to speak today at the launch of your Disability Equality Roadshow. Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People have no political affiliations, we have worked with past governments, Labour and Tory alike. We have also protested against both parties.
However, we are now living through an unprecedented period of sustained attacks on disabled people; the services we receive, the support we require and our very right to exist. You will no doubt have read the UN report published on Monday that state austerity policies ‘amount to violations of disabled people’s rights’. I mention this just so you don’t think that disabled people are making all this up.
We face inequality it all aspects of our lives, whether it be transport, housing, education or employment. Employment is a prime example of where we face inequalities at every level, from recruitment, retention, promotion and dismissal. To compound these difficulties the employment support programme Access To Work is being cut. Yes that’s right its being cut! At a time when we should be investing in support, the government is making cuts to this programme. This is impacting particularly upon Deaf People who require British Sign Language interpreters within the work place. If we want to see Deaf lawyers, Deaf teachers and Deaf members of parliament, cutting support is not the way to go about it!
However, for GMCDP and for disabled people’s organisations in the UK, there are two issues that are of greatest concern, two issues that we want to reach out to Labour on.
2 Independent Living
Firstly, the principals of Independent Living for disabled people are being dismantled. The Independent Living Fund has gone. It was established to support disabled people with the highest support needs to live independently within the community rather than locked away in residential care, and the government scrapped it! Jeremy knows this because unlike the majority of politicians who shrugged their shoulders and walked away, Jeremy stood with us outside the Court of Appeals in the cold and stood up for us in parliament and campaigned for the retention of the ILF.
So what has the closure of the ILF meant for disabled people? It’s meant that some disabled people are having their care support cut in half, some disabled people told to wear incontinence pads at night, despite the fact they are not incontinent. Southampton CCG are saying that anyone needing more than 8 hours care support a day now face the threat of going into residential care. Here in Greater Manchester, Rochdale council is planning cuts to its Learning Disability Services by moving some people who have existing tenancies into residential care.
What we need is a national, needs-led system, independent of local authorities to administer independent living support, free at point of delivery and paid for through taxation. This system should build on the learning from the Independent Living Fund and be a key strategic mechanism for ensuring Disabled people’s rights under the UNCRPD are fully and consistently realised across the country.
3 Assisted Suicide
The other big issue, the scariest issue, the most misunderstood and misreported issue is disabled people’s opposition to the legalisation of Assisted Suicide.
At times it feels to us that we are fighting a pincer movement.
On the one side we have austerity and the narrative that has been spun by successive governments that disabled people have had it too easy for too long, that we are bleeding the county dry and that we are unsustainable and an unacceptable expense (I thought that was the banks, but apparently not). There was the punitive introduction of Workfare, the bedroom tax, cuts to Disabled Students Allowance, cuts disguised as reforms to ESA, DLA which are relentless and ongoing.
On the other side we have repeated attempts to introduce Assisted Suicide legislation. Let us be clear that GMCDP, DPAC, Inclusion London and all the other major UK disabled people’s organisations or disability charities strongly oppose any attempt to introduce any Assisted Suicide legislation. At a time when we are facing massive cuts to services and benefits, we need support to live, not assistance to die. It is not only disabled people who oppose Assisted Suicide. The British Medical Association and Royal Colleges of Physicians, GPs and Surgeons and The Association for Palliative Medicine are all opposed to changing the law in relation to Assisted Suicide.
Despite this, supporters of Assisted Suicide claim that disabled people’s opposition to Assisted Suicide isn’t relevant as any such legislation would only apply to people who are terminally ill with less than six months to live and that safeguards would be put in place to protect the vulnerable (I think that means people like me). Well our concerns are relevant because we have the evidence from countries like Belgium, Holland and parts of the USA where Assisted Suicide is already lawful. In almost all cases there has been some kind of ‘mission creep’ on the criteria of who is eligible. It’s follows a similar pattern. At first it is limited to those with ‘less than six months to live’, then is extend to those in ‘chronic pain’ and eventually encompasses those found to be experiencing ‘unbearable suffering’. All such criteria is subjective and ultimately divides society into those deemed worthy to live and those deemed not worthy of life. So we vehemently oppose legislation that would give the state the power to end our lives through fear and coercion and then sold to us as ‘choice’.
Imagine the power we could harness if all those, either for or against Assisted Suicide could instead turn their energies to fighting for better palliative care for all. Fight for a better funded NHS and a social care system that enables people to maintain their choice, control and dignity. Not being able to wipe your own bum, or hold a spoon or dress yourself are not reasons to kill people or lock them away in residential care or withdraw their support so they become prisoners in their own homes.
So we are asking the Labour leadership to talk to disabled people’s organisations about Independent Living and about our opposition to Assisted Suicide. Today is a great start but if you want your policies to be the policies that disabled people support, that disabled people endorse and ultimately vote for, then there must be an ongoing dialogue. So here’s our contact details not just GMCDP but our sister organisations, Not Dead Yet UK, the Alliance for Inclusive Education and the other organisations I have already mentioned. Work with us. You provide the tea and coffee and we’ll bring the biscuits.
Today Damien Green announced a consultation into the Work Capability Assessment a toxic and lethal test of disabled peoples’ ability to work. DPAC have consistently called for this to be completely scrapped as in spite of numerous attempts to reform the tick box computer tests they are still not fit for purpose. How many times do you keep trying to fix the unfixable?
It comes as no surprise either that Disability Charities welcome the changes which are being consulted on – why wouldn’t they after all there’s likely to be lots of financial pickings for them from the further misery of disabled claimants. Already Tom Pollard previously Campaign and Policy Manager for MIND has taken his thirty pieces of silver and moved to work for the DWP.
Overview and what these changes might mean
Now like Lord Freud the banker who wrote the guidelines for welfare reform for New Labour in 3 weeks and without any previous experience of our social security system Damien Green today has said “In the long run there is nothing more expensive than saying to someone, ‘Here’s a benefit you can have for the rest of your life…” Not that I’m sure what he means by that since this does not happen and disabled people face continuous repeat assessments to ensure they haven’t grown back any limbs or had a miraculous cure.
The consultation announced today places an emphasis on getting all disabled people back into work as fast as possible on the false assumption that working in a zero hours or low paid dead end jobs may somehow improve people’s health outcomes. Green seems to particularly single out forcing people with Mental Health and Musculoskeletal conditions back into work as fast as possible for as long as possible. Musculoskeletal conditions include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.
This is against a background of massive cuts to MH services to help those with a MH condition receive the support they need. Added to which there are caps to the Access to Work budget , social care funding has been slashed, to access train services in many cases disabled people have to book 24 or 48 hours in advance, Disabled Students’ Allowance has been cut making it more difficult if not impossible for young disabled people to gain qualifications, and people are being forced to give up work as they lose entitlement to PIP and their Motability vehicles are taken away.
Further between 2011 and 2015 the number of Jobcentres employing a full-time advisor to help disabled people navigate the support system and find employment fell by over 60 per cent from 226 to just 90, with reductions in every recorded year.
Does Damien really not understand that without the right support services in place disabled people even if they want to cannot work? Is it really too complex for politicians to grasp that support services must be available to allow disabled people to work if they want to and feel able to. Do they really not understand that for some disabled people working is not and never will be an option?
And what of employers? of course they’re queuing up to retain and employ disabled people and all workplaces are accessible as we all know. The much lauded Disability Confident campaign resulted in a whopping 40 private firms signing up in 3 years.
But not just Damien also Jeremy Hunt, the much trusted health secretary also suggests getting people back to work had major health benefits. He is reported to say that as it cost £7bn a year to treat long-term health conditions that kept people out of work, and employment could be a part of recovery.
Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, said “People in work generally have better health.” Something that I would have thought is obvious as people not in work often have long term health conditions or impairments which prevent them from working. Thus an utterly meaningless statement if ever I’ve heard one.
One particularly worrying statement is “No one wants a system where people are written off and forced to spend long periods of time on benefits when, actually, with the right support they could be getting back into work.” Which we feel means they plan to scrap the Support group.
This would certainly fit in with the announcement on October 1st when Damien Green announced there would be an end to repeat WCA assessments for people with permanent or progressive conditions. There was little detail on the announcement with more questions being raised that answers given (such as which conditions would be excluded from repeat assessments) The DWP promised to release guidelines to clarify exactly what this change means – to date no such clarification has appeared.
My Challenge to Damien Green and why these proposals are a crock of ****
Dear Damien find an employer for this person. I know having to work as well as survive will help her wellbeing. Please note Damien at the moment she has no money to feed herself or her family due to the barbaric and flawed WCA assessment.
“I am writing this email as I feel desperate and alone after I had a phone call today saying I scored 0 points on my esa assessment. I don’t know where to turn or what to do.
I will start from the beginning. From being young I have had hip disabilities and went through many many operations between the ages of 12 and 19. In my early twenties I broke my left hip 4 times. Also in my early 20’s my spine started to deteriorate and to date I have had 3 emergency operations to try to correct this. During one operation I was left with that much damage and scar tissue I have loss of feeling and severe foot drop in my left foot.
Due to my hip problems I have arthritis in both hips and I am awaiting hip replacements in both hips. Due to my left femur being broken 4 times it is no longer straight meaning the hip replacement surgery will be very difficult which is why my surgeon is trying to leave it as long as possible as the surgery could end very badly.
I have suffered with chronic pain all my life but have always worked until earlier this year when I had my contract ended by work as I was no longer fit to do my job due to my disabilities. This is when I started claiming ESA.
Recently I have had major changes to my health leaving me doubly incontinent. I have to self catheterise twice daily. I am experiencing that much pain I am taking copious amounts of medication including morphine every 3 hours. My mobility is very restricted and my partner has had to give up work to care for me. I can’t cook, clean, go to the shop. My emotional and mental health is suffering terribly and I am on anti depressant medication.
I attended my ESA assessment last week and the decision maker telephoned me today telling me that I had not scored any points at all during the assessment and my benefits have been stopped.
Because my partner has come out of work our tax credits claim was ended and we have had to re apply meaning we are not receiving any money from tax credits at the moment. The only money we had support us and our two children was the ESA payments of £72 per week and £36 per week child benefit.
When the advisor phoned me with the news today I broke down in the phone. I feel as though I am on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I can not go to work as I am too unwell. I spend a lot of my time feeling sleepy and not with it due to my medication, I can not control my bowels, I am in constant severe pain, my mobility is limited, my bladder does not empty itself so I have to self catheterise, I have short term memory loss and confusion due to medication, the list is endless. As the rent is now not being paid and with our previous arrears which I was paying off before this I am terrified my kids are going to lose their home. I can’t put food in the cupboards, gas and electric on. I feel hopeless and desperate.
I don’t know how this works. I have always worked I am not trying to get anything under false pretences. If I could work I would. I have lost my independence and I feel that the DWP are taking away my dignity along with it by making me beg to be able to live.
I am unsure why I have sent you this email but I don’t know where to turn. I am so sorry if this makes no sense. ”
What you can do
Write or email Damien to let him know what you think
firstname.lastname@example.org or Caxton House, 12, Tothill Street, London,SW1H
also please respond to the consulation
Full consultation here
take part in consultation here
The Sustainability and Transformation Plans
Reblogged from National Health Action Party with thanks.
Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) – the biggest threat to the NHS since the Coalition’s Health & Social Care Act (2012)
The STP programme was launched in December 2015.
It splits England into 44 areas called ‘Footprints’ which will be the basis for how the NHS will be run in future. They are taking the ‘N’ out of the NHS.
This is designed to drive forward the 5 Year Forward View. It takes as its central point that there will never be funding for the NHS at any point in the future sufficient to fund it to current levels of service. On this basis the NHS will be reduced. Jeremy Hunt has said it will be on a ’10 year diet’.
This dismantling emphasises ‘out of hospital care’ using technology to replace face-to-face contact and moving people out of hospitals into community care. But funding for social care and public health have both been savagely cut.
Among other things the STPs rely on reducing the number of A&Es, selling ‘surplus’ land and assets to fund the STPs themselves and changing the skills mix of NHS staff. This means that people will no longer see doctors as a matter of course. The new system is based around patients using vouchers and personal health budgets, a form of ‘self-pay’.
In 2013 we had 140 full A&E hospitals in England. When the STPs are complete there will only be between 40 and 70 left.
According to the STPs, to make the NHS affordable and sustainable we, the public, must get used to longer ambulance journeys for emergency care, longer waiting times for treatment and the possibility of paying extra to be seen by a doctor. And we must learn to look after ourselves. This was planned in 2013, but shelved until after the 2015 election as being ‘politically sensitive’. In other words, the Tories knew they would have lost the election. THE PLANS SHOULD HAVE BEEN IN PLACE BY JUNE 30th 2016., but were delayed as so few of the ‘footprints’ could achieve it.
To sign a petition and find out what else you can do to stop this destruction of our NHS visit http://nhap.org/the-biggest-attack-on-the-nhs/
Or sign the petition here https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-the-plans-to-dismantle-our-nhs
I’m Martyn and I sit on the NUS (National Union of Students) Disabled Students Committee.
This Wednesday (26th October) from 1pm, we will be launching a new campaign where we will be fighting the high prescription costs that the NHS has been charging over the last few years. While this area of work will mainly be focusing on students, we will also be looking at the impact that these prescription costs have on the general public as well as fighting the charges to either have them scrapped or heavily reduced.
The current cost of an NHS prescription is £8.40; and in the last five years alone medication costs have increased over £1. When you are on no or a limited income, this is a charge that is not needed and can result in an even greater financial pressure for us to just maintain a basic level of health. Furthermore it is bad enough when you have to pay this once, but when you have to pay this every month for several items the cost soon mounts up. Add on other costs such as optical and dental charges and this annual total can be too much for people on a decent income to afford, let alone disabled people.
Even though there are some financial options for saving money such as pre-payment certificates, this is still not enough. Similarly a few of us are lucky to be exempt from these charges for a variety of reasons, however the majority of us don’t qualify for this. With the increasing cuts that the government are placing on us, this is becoming even harder to get.
As such, we are launching and running the cut prescription costs campaign and it will be great if as many of you can support us as much as you can. From 1pm this Wednesday, it would be amazing if you could take to social media using the hashtag #freeprescriptions to both promote the campaign and share your experiences of prescription costs and having an impairment. There will also be further information coming shortly on the different things that we will be doing and working on in order to fight the prescription charges and have them cut. This will also be an indirect fight at the cuts that the government have been imposing on people like us who are disabled. Again, it will be great if you could support us and get involved with it. The more people there are, the stronger we can be and the more likely it is that we will win.
Furthermore, on November 19th, NUS and UCU will be marching through London against many different issues that we are facing. Disabled people’s issues such as these will be at the forefront of the demo. For further information, see NUS National Demo on Facebook or Google search it.
If anyone has any questions, wants more information or wants to be kept in the loop with what we are doing, feel free to drop me an email at: M.Brown18@uni.brighton.ac.uk
Our website is http://www.prescriptionchargescoalition.org.uk/
I will be keeping DPAC notified of everything that we are doing so that you don’t miss out on this campaign including any information and so that you can get involved with what we are doing.
I hope that many of you can get involved in some way. It will be amazing if you can take to social media from Wednesday at 1pm of promote our campaign AND share your experiences!
As some of you will know there were changes in Blue Badge entitlement as a result of the introduction of PIP which meant that anyone who could walk regardless of other impairments such as Autism, MH or visual impairment were no longer able to qualify for a Blue Badge.
This change affected one of our supporters whose son had previously been entitled to a Blue Badge for around 30 years and the Local Authority involved refused to renew their badge when it ran out earlier this year. The result of that has been that the person became virtually housebound as he frequently had meltdowns and his PAs needed to be able to get him into the car quickly.
We referred this person to one of the solicitors we often work with Louise Whitfield of Deighton Pierce Glynn and we are delighted to report a very successful outcome.
Not only have the Local Authority backed down and renewed the Blue Badge but even without the case having to go to court The Department for Transport have agreed to carry out a review of the entire Blue Badge policy and its approach towards people with “non-physical disabilities.
The DfT have said: “I can confirm that the review process has now begun internally. The Department’s Blue Badge policy team is undertaking the review. They intend to involve the Department for Work & Pensions, Department for Health, lawyers, local authorities, DPTAC, disability organisations and mental health experts.
They will look at how the scheme works for people with non-physical disabilities, with a view to ensuring that equalities issues are addressed and that the scheme continues to be sustainable for disabled people. Following the initial work, a public consultation is likely. Local authorities are also likely to need fresh guidance. It is not possible to give timescales at this stage but further information on the review will be provided in due course.”
For those who were able to come to our conference on September 10th I’m sure you all remember the absolutely harrowing video from Greece which was shown of disabled children being bound into cots and beds. For anyone who missed it you can see it again here
In a solidarity action with our OCAP allies in Toronto we plan to deliver a letter to the Greek Embassy in the UK. (below) demanding changes in Greece and human rights for disabled people there.
Meet Wednesday, October 5th at 10.30am outside the embassy at 1A Holland Park, London, W11 3TP
For those of you not able to attend in person please join in on twitter #GreeceSolidarity and tweet to @GreeceinUK or email email@example.com using the below as a template.
Dear Mr. : This letter is being hand delivered by a delegation from Disabled People Against Cuts. We are here in solidarity with the Emancipation Movement of People with Disabilities: Zero Tolerance in Greece. In November of last year, they occupied a centre for disabled children and young adults in the town of Lechaina and exposed conditions of neglect and cruelty that clearly constituted an abuse of their human rights. This went to lengths of prolonged confinement in tiny spaces and the tying down of children to their beds round the clock. You may be aware that Human Rights Watch has taken up this matter and spoken in the clearest terms on the enormity of the abuses involved. You may also be aware that the horrors being perpetrated at the Lechaina centre are simply the tip of the iceberg. It is estimated that eighty five such centres are operating throughout Greece and that a huge and appalling abuse of the rights of disabled people is being perpetrated. Your Country is, of course, facing an externally imposed agenda of the most brutal austerity. Regrettably, your Government has decided to accept the logic of this agenda and embrace the infamous notion that ‘there is no alternative.’ With regard to the disgusting treatment of these disabled children, we wish to convey to Mr. Tsipras and his colleagues that an alternative must be found and the obscene warehousing of human beings that has been exposed here must come to an end. DPAC wishes to join with the Emancipation Movement of People with Disabilities: Zero Tolerance, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty and with many others internationally in demanding decent, adequate and humane conditions and services for these children and all disabled people in Greece. Thank you for your attention to this matter and we await your response. Yours truly, Ellen Clifford on behalf of the DPAC steering group
Please submit evidence to this enquiry by October 21st if you use care and support or Personal Assistants or are a parent of someone who uses these services. It is important that individuals let the rapporteur know what has happened since the closure of the ILF both to new applicants in 2010 and to all in 2015 and due to the cuts to Local Authority funding.
Questionnaire on the “provision of support to persons with disabilities” – Call for submissions
The Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, Ms. Catalina Devandas-Aguilar, is currently preparing a study, to be presented at the 34th session of the Human Rights Council in March 2017, on the provision of support to persons with disabilities.
The Special Rapporteur welcomes inputs, in accessible formats (Word), in English, French, Russian or Spanish, from Member States, international and regional organizations, UN agencies, funds and programmes, organizations of and for persons with disabilities, civil society, national human rights institutions and other national independent mechanisms designated or established to monitor the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, disability or equality Ombudspersons, scholars, research institutions and policy think tanks, private sector businesses and networks, community movements, and private individuals, to provide information on the provision of support to persons with disabilities.
Submissions should be sent by e-mail to the address firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 21 October 2016. Concise responses are encouraged, inclusive of relevant attachments where available.
Kindly indicate if you have any objections with regard to your reply being posted on this website.
Questionnaire on the provision of support to persons with disabilities
- Please provide information on the following services that are available for persons with disabilities in your country, including data on their coverage, geographic distribution and delivery arrangements, funding and sustainability, challenges and shortcoming in their implementation:
- Personal assistance;
- In-home, residential and community support;
- Support in decision-making, including peer support; and
- Communication support, including support for augmentative and alternative communication.
- Please explain how persons with disabilities can access information about the existing services referred to in question one, including referral procedures, eligibility criteria and application requirements.
- Please elaborate on how these services respond to the specific needs of persons with disabilities throughout their life cycle (infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood and older age) and how is service delivery ensured in the transition periods between life cycle stages.
- Please provide information on the number of certified sign language interpreters and deafblind interpreters available in your country.
- Please provide information on the existence of any partnership between State institutions and private service providers (e.g., non-governmental organizations, for-profit service providers) for the provision of support to persons with disabilities.
- Please describe to what extent and how are persons with disabilities and their representative organizations involved in the design, planning, implementation and evaluation of support services.
- Please provide any other relevant information and statistics (including surveys, censuses, administrative data, reports, and studies) related to the provision of support to persons with disabilities in your country.