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:
ALLFIE’s February Briefing and call for action
We need your stories about disabled children and young people’s experience of attending residential special schools and colleges. We are responding to The Lenehan review of experiences and outcomes in residential special schools and colleges.
Posted by: Alliance for Inclusive Education in DDPO news on 16 February 2017
Please see ALLFIE’s latest campaigns briefing: ALLFIE’s February 2017 Campaign Briefing – No.53
CALL FOR ACTION:
Responding to The Lenehan review of experiences and outcomes in residential special schools and colleges
We need your stories about disabled children and young people’s experience of attending residential special schools and colleges.
We are also interested in hearing from disabled children and young people and parents who have been pressurised by their local authority (or resisted the pressure) to consider a residential special school or college placement.
Does your local authority have a residential school or college placement policy that we should know about?
Please contact us if you can help us – we need your response by Deadline 1st March 2017. For further information please see our briefing.
Please contact me if you would like more information.
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
Unite Community (Coventry and Warwickshire Branch) along with co-sponsor UCU and supporting organisations Peoples Assembly and Coventry Recovery Centre will be screening the film I Daniel Blake.
Our aim is to raise awareness of the sanctions regime in the benefits system and to highlight the desperation and indignity that this imposes on thousands of people in Britain today.
The theatre will open at 18.00 and we advise that you be seated by 18.05 The film will start at 18.15 and lasts for 1 hour 40 minutes.
After the film there will be a question and answer session in the theatre led by the director of the film Ken Loach, which everyone watching the film is invited to. The Q&A session will last approximately 1 hour.
DATE AND TIME
Wed 22 February 2017
18:00 – 21:00 GMT
The Goldstein Lecture Theatre
Alan Berry Room
Coventry University, Jordan
There are limited numbers of tickets available. To book tickets and advise on access needs please email us at email@example.com
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…
Blakeway Productions is making a Channel 4 programme looking at the impact that the new benefit cap will have on households. We are keen to speak to people who have been told that they will be capped. At this stage it would be for an initial chat which wouldn’t mean definitely being included in the programme.
Call or text Bethan for more information on: 07786 901026
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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: email@example.com
Progressive Dreams Meet Neoliberal Realities
Up until now, the concept of Basic Income (BI) has enjoyed a greater history of being proposed than of being implemented. We may well be approaching a period, however, when this changes. The Ontario Government is holding consultations on setting up a BI pilot project. The Legislature in another Canadian Province, Prince Edward Island, has agreed to test out a version of BI. Pilot projects are also impending in Finland, the Netherlands and Scotland.
Basic Income has been suggested in an exceptionally wide range of forms, often with completely different objectives in mind. In fact, we can draw a line between the models that are concerned with improving lives and raising living standards and those that are focused on intensifying the capacity for capitalist exploitation. Among those in the ‘progressive’ category there is considerable diversity. There’s the ‘universal demogrant’ that provides an income to everyone and the concept of a ‘negative income tax’ involving some level of means test. BI proposals come from liberal quarters that are responsibly redistributive, reduce poverty and inequality and ease up on bureaucratic intrusion. The above mentioned proposal for an Ontario pilot project would be part of this camp. Then there are the models that have more radical, transformative objectives in mind. These suggest that BI could be used to take from employers the power of economic coercion itself by severing the link between work and income. Often such ideas are tied to the notion of preparing for sweeping technological displacement and a ‘workless future’ by providing secure, adequate and unconditional income. Given the vast extent to which forms of unpaid labour are performed by women in this society, it is hardly surprising that there are also feminist arguments for BI.
I have to say that the one really common thread that I see running through all of the notions of a progressive BI is that they pay great attention to explaining how nice their systems would be but give little if any thought to the concrete prospects of implementation. Before looking further at these deficiencies and proposing an alternative approach, it might be useful to consider more seriously the neoliberal version that is hanging like a sword over all our heads.
The deeply reactionary ideas of Charles Murray have extended to some very sinister proposals for BI. There are two basic elements that shape his system. Firstly, the universal payment, after the compulsory purchase of private health insurance, is set at the dreadfully low amount of $10,000 a year. Secondly, he is utterly insistent that all other systems of provision must be dismantled as a BI is put in place. Canada’s right wing Fraser Institute, recently used its blog to stress the same points as Murray, making clear that the level of provision must not interfere with the supply of low waged workers.
If governments today, as they intensify the neoliberal agenda, are starting to consider the possibilities of BI, I see three factors at work. Firstly, there is the not unimportant issue of legitimacy. Particularly because they are being provided with a generous amount of ‘progressive’ cover, they are able to present their deliberations on BI as a responsible weighing of the common good. The Ontario Liberals stand out as international champions in this regard. Their BI pilot project consultations, have enabled them to put in place yet another round of fake dialogue, with the empty promise of a “better way” diverting attention as they push people even deeper into poverty. The World Bank and the IMF have been worrying out loud about the backlash against their austerity agenda and its devastating impacts. That IMF economists are themselves musing about BI, is perhaps significant in this regard. It advances their agenda but can be dressed up to look progressive. It may be the best thing for the institutions of global capitalism since the myth of ‘poverty reduction’.
The second element of BI that I think is of interest to the architects of neoliberalism is that it can fine tune economic coercion as they create an ever more elastic workforce based on the most precarious forms of employment. The income support systems that emerged out of the Poor Law tradition, stressed intense restrictions and moral policing. Along with horribly inadequate benefit levels, this has been very useful in driving people into low waged work to an unprecedented extent. It may, however, be time to rethink this to a degree. If people are moving between poverty wages and poverty level benefits more frequently in a precarious job market, perhaps they can be more effectively prodded into the worst jobs with less intrusive benefit systems. A less rule bound delivery of poverty income, that gives people a chance of retaining their housing, may be needed to keep them job ready. Linked to this, of course, is the huge boost to the employers of a BI system that constitutes a form of wage top up. Provided the payment is meagre, it will not impede the flow of low paid workers but it will mean that their employers receive a subsidy that absolves them from having to pay living wages or come under pressure to increase the amount they do provide.
Thirdly, the great advantage of neoliberal BI is that the inadequate and dwindling payment it provides turns those who receive it into customers in the marketplace. In my opinion, BI would be far from the best way to strengthen the social infrastructure at any time but in the context of an intensifying agenda of austerity and privatization, it is a recipe for disaster. It’s really about the commodification of social provision. Your payment may actually be less conditional and somewhat larger but, as you shop through the privatized remains of the social infrastructure, with inadequate means and very few rights, you are dramatically worse off. That, in my view, is what is being prepared by those who will actually implement a system of BI and the hopes and wishes to the contrary of its progressive advocates don’t count for very much.
I said previously that proposals for redistributive or transformative models of BI are generally marked by a tendency to focus on the desirability of what is being advanced while paying much less attention to actual prospects for implementation. I’ve yet to see, quite bluntly, any serious attempt to assess what stands in the way of a progressive BI and what can be done to bring it into existence. It simply isn’t enough to explain how just and fair a given model would be if it could be adopted. In order to credibly advance BI as the solution, there are some questions that must be settled.
Firstly, income support systems came into being because, while employers welcome an oversupply of labour and the desperation that comes with it as something that boosts their bargaining power, the total abandonment of the jobless creates social unrest. Some measure of income support, provided as a reluctant concession, has proved to be necessary. However, the systems of provision that have been put in place have always been as inadequate as possible so as to undermine employer strength as little as possible. A widely delivered or even universal adequate payment would greatly tilt that balance back the other way. What reason is there to think that this is likely to be implemented?
Secondly, over the last several decades, concessions made during the post war years have been taken back. Trade unions have been weakened, workers’ rights undermined and low waged work has increased considerably. The degrading of income support systems has been central to creating the climate of desperation needed to achieve this. Not only have benefits for the unemployed been attacked but other systems, especially for disabled people have been undermined so as to generate a scramble for the worst jobs. This has led to a shift in the balance of forces in society and we are fighting a largely defensive struggle. Given this very unfavourable situation, in which unions and movements are not in the ascendancy, how can it be supposed that those profiting from the present situation are likely to accept a measure of redistributive social reform that is at least as sweeping as anything put in place during the post war boom? What is the plan to make this happen?
Thirdly, as right wing governments and political parties directly linked to the most reactionary business interests consider BI and set up pilot projects that provide meagre payments and focus on how to ensure people on social benefits become low waged workers, what reason is there to imagine that a progressive BI, rather than the neoliberal variant, is being cooked up?
Regardless of these issues, it is sometimes asserted that an adequate system of provision must be put in place simply because we are moving toward a “workless future.” In such a society, it is suggested, masses of people who have been displaced will have to be provided for and the capitalists will have to think like Elon Musk, of Tesla Motors and support BI because it is the only sensible and rational solution. To imagine such responsible provision for the future is to place undue faith in a system based on the making of profit. If they won’t stop building pipelines in the face of environmental catastrophe, there’s little reason to expect them to worry too much about sensible solutions to technological displacement. There simply is no post-capitalist capitalism and no social policy innovation that is going to bring it about.
At a recent panel on Basic Income that I spoke at, the moderator posed a challenge. She accepted that BI might not be a way forward but asked, if that were so, what “bold vision” could be advanced in its place. It’s a fair question but a realistic appraisal of what we are up against is still obligatory, even if that has some sobering aspects to it. The great problem that we have is that the neoliberal years have done a lot of damage. The level of exploitation has been increased and working class movements have been weakened. While what we demand and aspire to is very important, the bigger question is what we can win. What’s disturbing about the left wing turn to BI is that is seems to think there is a social policy end run around the realities of neoliberalism and the need to resist it. There is no such thing.
British Labour Party and BI
With very good reason, there has been considerable excitement internationally around the Jeremy Corbyn leadership in the British Labour Party. His close ally, Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, has been paying some attention to adopting BI, as part of a platform that would express a break with the austerity consensus. McDonnell, from a position on the left of a major social democratic party, raises the possibility of a ‘best case scenario’ for progressive BI. For that very reason, the question is posed of whether the ‘bold vision’ I spoke of should be framed around the universal payment concept or devoted to other objectives.
Basic Income, when all is said and done, is a vision for nothing more than the means to be a customer in an unjust society that decides what is for sale.”
In my opinion, if we are to consider goals we set and demands we put forward in the face of neoliberalism, that are based on the needs of workers and communities and create the conditions for challenging capitalism itself, we sell ourselves well short if we settle for something so limited and inherently conservative as the universal payment. BI, when all is said and done, is a vision for nothing more than the means to be a customer in an unjust society that decides what is for sale. How much bolder and more meaningful to fight for free, massively expanded and fully accessible systems of healthcare and public transportation? How much better to focus on the creation of social housing and try to expand it so that, not only the poorest, but most working class people enjoy its benefits? There is universal child care and vast array of important community services to pay attention to. Moreover, we can work to wrest as much power as possible out of the hands of the mandarins of state bureaucracy and fight to increase the control working class people exercise over the public services they rely on. When it comes to existing systems of income support, we should not for a moment accept their poverty level benefits, bureaucratic intrusion and forms of moral policing steeped in racism and sexism. There is a fight to be taken forward for living income, full entitlement and programs that meet the real needs of unemployed, poor and disabled people, as opposed to the present ‘rituals of degradation’ they embody. At every point, let’s try to ensure that these expanded services are not paid for by other working class people but by forcing the corporations, banks and those who own them to pay by increasing their tax burden and imposing levies on their wealth.
The struggle to expand and improve public services would have to, of course, be linked to workers’ struggles for living wages, workplace rights and real compensation for injured workers. Beyond this, let’s challenge as much as we can the ‘business decisions’ that deplete resources, pollute and threaten us with ecological disaster.
I am suggesting that our movements need to challenge, rather than come to terms with, the neoliberal order and the capitalist system that has produced it. For all its claims to be a sweeping measure, the notion of progressive BI is a futile attempt to make peace with that system. In reality, even that compromise is not available. The model of BI that governments are working on in their social policy laboratories will not ‘end the tyranny of the labour market’ but render it more dreadful. The agenda of austerity and privatization requires a system of income support that renders people as powerless and desperate as possible in the face of exploitation and that won’t change if it is relabelled as ‘Basic Income’. •
John Clarke is an organizer with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP).
|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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
It is with great sadness that we have to tell you one of our co-founders, Debbie Jolly has died following a short hospital stay. As disabled people everywhere we’ve lost a friend and advocate and a fighter for our movement.
Debbie has played a hugely influential part in the development of DPAC since 2010 and she and I have worked together virtually every day since dealing with the day-to-day things that needed to be done to make DPAC the successful campaign group we have become.
Debbie was one of the main people involved in initiating the UN inquiry into the UK’s grave and systematic violation of disabled people’s human rights which will be a lasting testimony to her life and work.
Debbie was a warrior and tireless campaigner for disabled people’s human rights and most of all she never wanted to be hailed as a heroine or praised by others for the work that she did.
All of the steering group and our allies from Black Triangle campaign are in deep shock and I have felt very lost in the past few weeks without Debbie to support me and be by my side. Many thanks to those who have responded to my requests for help during this time.
However we know Debbie would want us to gather ourselves together and fight on so we are asking that people join us in her memory to protest next Wednesday, November 16th at parliament. Meet Old Palace Yard at 5.30 pm highlight the damning findings of the UN report.
We will also now use all means at our disposal to toxify the Tory “brand” so thoroughly that they will be remembered for generations as the party that perpetrated grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s human and civil rights and we will not rest until this government is no more than a terrible part of our history.
Linda and all of the DPAC steering group
Following the receipt of several requests for support from people which included phrases such as “my benefits have been cut because we give too much money to immigrants” or “if we didn’t waste so much money on food aid our benefits wouldn’t be cut” this is just a quick reminder to everyone that DPAC campaign from a non-racist, non-homophobic, non-sexist position.
We do not agree with hate fuelled rhetoric against any group of people, pedalled by the likes of the Daily Mail and Express, and do not support the divisions into ‘them’ and ‘us’ which allow the government to weaken any joint fight back against attacks to claimants and others.
Neither do we support the scapegoating of migrants and refugees
If you do hold a racist, homophobic, ageist, or sexist viewpoint please seek support elsewhere. We’re sure your local UKIP branch would be happy to welcome you.