Feb 032016
 

Thanks again to Joe Halewood which published today an article with a new defining judgement of the Upper Tribunal on the bedroom tax. In its judgement, the tribunal has decided what is a bedroom.

What it means practically: Joe estimates that this new decision will concern around 150,000 claimants, about 1/3 of all people affected by the bedroom tax.  But what it also means is that each and every single tenant can and should appeal a bedroom tax decision and get their local council to inspect the property to check whether their spare bedroom(s) conform to  the definition given by the Upper Tribunal of a ‘bedroom’.  The idea is not only to get the local council to revise some bedroom decisions, but alsoto clog up the system, to make it unmanageable and too expensive.

Joe’s article is here: https://speye.wordpress.com/2016/03/31/bedroom-tax-the-defining-moment-as-ut-decision-makes-it-history/

It contains an explanation of the Upper Tribunal decision plus a template letter for you to use, and send to your local council.  That is the kind of direct action which can bring down the bedroom tax .

 

This was the original article by Joe Halewoodpublished on the 3rd February 2016.

Many thanks to Joe Halewood (@SpeyeJoe https://speye.wordpress.com/ for another excellent article which is attached below and which he allowed us to republish.What

In a nutshell, the Upper Tribunal has stated that the Housing Benefit Department of your council should have considered all relevant circumstances of any individual case before making a decision. So within one month of receiving your Housing Benefit decision in March 2016, you should send a letter to ask your council to reconsider the decision as you don’t believe all relevant circumstances have been considered in your case. Joe gives you examples in his article of what might not have been considered.  See below.

And if you don’t like the outcome, you can write another letter to your council to say you disagree with their decision and require the matter go to the tribunal.  It is free and it is legal. Follow all the instructions given by Joe Halewood .

Every one has a right of appeal against the decision and they SHOULD use that right.

It does not mean that the decision will be overturned in your case but it is a direct action to get the government to back down from what is an awful and damaging piece of legislation. If everybody or most people affected appeal, the savings brought by the bedroom tax which are already minimal will disappear, and the bedroom tax will become such an expensive policy that it cannot be defended and sustained.

The bedroom tax will eventually go, but we can make happen earlier rather than later.

 

Bedroom Tax – Let’s all cost IDS £1.26 billion per year and get rid

Jeremy Corbyn tweets a story in today’s Mirror which says that the Tories are to spend more in legal fees appealing last weeks Court of Appeal defeat than the ruling would cost them to implement.

corbyn bedroom tax

IDS is prepared to waste taxpayer’s money in spitting out his dummy is the implication and it’s a correct implication.

So is what is good for the goose good for the gander?

When 449,151 bedroom tax households get their new bedroom tax decision notices in March this year, which on average cuts their housing benefit by £795.72 per year then ALL 449,151 could appeal this decision which is their right and if they did then each First-tier Tribunal costs central government £2,800.

The bedroom tax cuts saves government £357.4 million [449,151 x £795.72] yet if everyone appealed the decision then 449,151 bedroom tax appeals will cost government £1.26 billion – or 3.5 times what they wish to save from it.

For every £1 allegedly saved, the government would be spending out £3.50 to defend that decision in simple terms.

Every one has a right of appeal against the decision to impose it and they SHOULD use that right.

It costs nothing to appeal and it would severely damage the policy by a form of lawful direct action.

All it takes is a letter with a signature within one month of receiving the HB decision notice and handed in to your local council’s one stop shop or office.

Sample letter to explain the simplicity of this below.

Include the date and your HB reference number and/or NI number and say as an opening paragraph the following.

Dear sirs,

I request that you reconsider your housing benefit decision dated dd/mm/2016 as I maintain you have not considered all relevant circumstances of my individual case which the Upper Tribunal state you must do as the decision maker in paragraph 54 of the three judge panel in [2014] UKUT 0525 (AAC).

Then you need to say (a) why you maintain a room is NOT a bedroom and then (b) sign it and hand it in.

There are many reasons you could give as to why you maintain the room or rooms upon which you have been deducted bedroom tax are not a bedroom and I cover some of these at the end (also in blue.)

The key issue is that you appeal as part of a direct action protest which is lawful and a legitimate form of protest – else you would not have the right to appeal in the first place – and these appeals all going to the tribunal service would cost central government £2,800 each.

All it takes is one letter with a signature.  Your council’s HB department then have to conduct a reconsideration of the decision and say, in writing to you, why they maintain the original decision was correct to impose the bedroom tax.

Then you could email your council’s HB department (this second step does not necessarily need a signature though the first step does, hence a letter) to say you disagree with their decision and require the matter go to the tribunal.

One letter and one email is all it takes.

Is 1 letter and 1 email worth the trouble to potentially save £795.72 per year?  Of course it must be and note many of the 449,151 bedroom tax cases could have very legitimate reasons of appeal.

If EVERYONE appealed which I restate is your absolute right, then this would cause an almighty political stink as well as cost the government much more than they could possibly save.  So what!

The fact such a direct action protest would bring the matter to a head and do to IDS what he is now doing by using taxpayers money to appeal the Court of Appeal decisions which will cost more to appeal than the government gets if it wins – is example the same principle.

Do unto IDS as he is doing unto you!!

____________________

Some valid and arguable reasons why a room is not a bedroom are below and kept deliberately short.

  1. I maintain that 1 room is not a bedroom as it does not conform to the minimum size requirements in order to be a functional bedroom in accordance with Tudor Walters issues as stated in paragraph [55] of the above 3JP case
  2. I maintain that 1 room is not a bedroom as of its unusual design and layout 
  3. I maintain that 1 room is not a bedroom as to put a bed in that room would deny access to a built-in cupboard
  4. I maintain 1 room is not a bedroom as it has no window
  5. I maintain that 1 room is not a bedroom as it is not ventilated in the same way as other bedrooms
  6. I maintain that 1 room is not a bedroom as it is not heated as other bedrooms
  7. I maintain that 1 room is not a bedroom as it is needed for therapeutic other uses.
  8. I maintain that 1 room is not a bedroom as it is not of normal height
  9. I maintain that 1 room has a sloping roof and it not a bedroom

All of the above are very legitimate legal reasons why a room is not a bedroom even if the landlord says it is a bedroom and you only need to add one reason in the original letter and in addition to the opening paragraph as drafted.

There will be and are dozens more reasons that have all been upheld at tribunals or in which the decision has been changed before the matter going to a tribunal.

One such reason which was an example of common sense and good practice was a case where an 8 year old girl and her 5 year old brother were sharing a bedroom which is what the regulations say.  Two children of opposite sexes can share a room if both under 10.

Yet the 8 year old girl started her periods and after discussion and consideration the council bedroom tax decision maker agreed that the girl needed a bedroom of here own which she clearly did.  Note too that the NHS have this on their website:

Most girls start their periods when they’re about 12, but they can start as early as 8, so it’s important to talk to girls from an early age to make sure they’re prepared before the big day.

So we see the NHS admitting that some girls start their period as young as 8 years of age.

Regrettably many councils believe they do not have the discretion to do this and must stick rigidly with 2 children under 10 must share a room for bedroom tax purposes.  However every council decision maker DOES have discretion and they are free to determine in the individual circumstances that the housing need in terms of bedrooms was not 1 for the 8 year old girl and her 5 year old brother, but, as a matter of correctness 2 bedrooms or a bedroom each.

The example above is used because it illustrates what I drafted in the opening paragraph of the letter above in the council decision maker considering all relevant circumstances on a case by case basis which is what paragraph 54 of the legal precedent says.  In discussing what is and is not a bedroom and how decision makers approach that question paragraph [54] says:

We also agree with the Secretary of State that the choice by Parliament of a test using an undefined familiar or ordinary English word supports the view that Parliament intended to allow decision makers to take account of all relevant circumstances on a case by case basis

All relevant circumstances on a case by case basis is discretion for the decision maker and so decision makers – and they are your local councils HB department and no one else – have to consider my points 1 – 9 above and also have to consider the much rarer examples of an 8 year girl starting her periods as I illustrate.

In summary, the most important issue and for me the quickest way to get rid of the bedroom tax is if all 449,151 households who are currently affected write 1 letter and then insist in 1 email their council refers their individual case to tribunal to cost the government £2,800 or so.

Do unto IDS as he is doing unto you!

 Posted by at 19:41
Jan 292016
 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Q&A

 

  1. Is the government going to appeal?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Applying for and Being refused a DHP

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

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

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

 

Why discretionary DHPs are not an adequate replacement for rights

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Posted by at 20:05
Jan 032015
 

Different forms of Government Propaganda began and ended the year. We saw delays, backlogs, more cuts, more campaigns and direct actions. We reproduce some of the DPAC actions, research and call outs from 2014. Highlights included the Westminster Abbey Occupation against the closure of ILF as part of the #saveilf campaign, lowlights included the court case that arrived at the decision that Penning had taken appropriate process into account by saying that ILF users could be entitled to less under local authorities. Chaos with the DWP, PIP, ESA was compounded by misinformation, dodgy stats , backlogs and increasing sanctions. The brilliant Hammersmith and Fulham Coalition against Cuts achieved the abolition of ‘care’ charges by their local authority-proving it can be done. Esther McVey was awarded Scrooge of the year. DPAC was threatened with legal action for our support of the Anthony Kletzander campaign -in response we increased the campaign, and the relationship in the propaganda against disabled people between the DWP and the Mail was finally exposed

News that the UNCRPD Committee had initiated its first ever inquiry into grave and systematic violations of the UN Convention against the UK identified how far our disability rights and independent living had been eroded by the Coalition-although the Mail didnt seem to like it much

Our constant court cases against the DWP continued, and we have more lined up for this year too- yes, we could be talking to you Motability!

We look forward to 2015 and a change in the regime that has seen the poor grow poorer, while the richest grew richer. A year in which we launch Who2vote4? and the DPAC revenge tour. We will continue to fight for #saveilf with an event on 6th Jan at the House of Commons and an online twitter event.

For an excellent review of the fight against cuts from 2010-2014 please download From Cuts to Resistance and if you want a count down to the election , then the DPAC downloadable calender can help

Here’s to a better year in 2015 with thanks to all our members and supporters. Keep up with news in 2015 by subscribing to posts through our website www.dpac.uk.net or follow us on twitter @Dis_ppl_protest

Some selected actions of DPAC in 2014

January saw the posting of a call for those who were waiting for PIP due to backlogs. This post has received over 40,000 views,shares and many comments. The situation has now been described as a backlog that , at the current rate , could take 42 years to clear. For those claiming ‘reforms’ are working have a look to see that they are not: http://dpac.uk.net/2014/01/have-you-waited-months-for-a-pip-assessment/ and let’s not forget the backlog in ESA either-in short complete chaos for disabled people.

In ‘Austerity Street: the real impacts’ we reproduced some of the stories we had received from those left without cash and homes via sanctions, delays and backlogs. This was in response to Love Production’s poverty porn , Benefits Street, part of the media’s continued demonization regime -the campaign incorporated a twitter fest against the format of biased programming. We supported our partners in Canada Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty (SCAP) and Ontario Coalition Aginst Poverty (OCAP). In an international campaign against increasing homelessness. Austerity is global. We supported Boycott workfare against CAPITA cashing in on poverty.

Through the excellent work of Nick Dilworth we exposed more BBC media double dealing and the fact that they weren’t publicizing the 88% success rates of those claiming ESA and asked ‘Are the DWP failing apart at every level? When a freedom of information response incorrectly claimed that PIP was subjected to sanctions. In another they claimed that the cap would be cut for those without children, both were incorrect. With Inclusion London we campaigned against the Care Act’s exclusion of ‘independent living’ and DPAC also  joined Hands off London Transport against ticket office closures, as well as regional Rail protests

February We joined  the many direct actions against the removal of legal aid. Raquel Rolnik ‘s report on the bedroom tax is published and recommends immediate suspension of the bedroom tax. The Government’s response is to accuse her of giving sacrifices to Marx and telling her to ‘sort out her own country’. We republish the excellent ‘Why the rise of UKIP is dangerous for disabled people’ and receive the usual abuse from Kippers proving the point. DPAC, Black Triangle and Wow publish a joint statement on Atos exit strategy , calling again for an end to the WCA. We expose how 9 out of 10 sanctions are dismissed when challenged

March More direct actions against proposed cuts in legal aid for judicial review.We publish ‘Punching Holes in Austerity’ an insightful analysis of DPAC and direct actions. DPAC supports #stopchanges2A2W against punitive changes in Access to Work. We publish an update on Anthony Kletzander and questions for HSE in Ireland with ENIL , a story of human rights abuse in Dublin, Ireland, a stand that we would later find invoked a threat of legal action against one of our co-founders.

DPAC joins protests against DWP and ATOS country wide. Protests that were reminiscent of the very first DPAC protests against Atos carried out by DPAC from 2011 onwards, culminating in the 2012 DPAC Atos games that saw Atos tarnished forever. DPAC leads direct actions and online protests against the despised disability Con-fident, leading to the highest number of tweets and retweets ever, exposing the scheme as no more than a Government gloss while they were cutting access to work and removing the means for disabled people to work. We produce a critical analysis of Pennings impact assessment regarding ILF. We reproduce the piece by John Pring asking ‘Where was your MP during the Wow Debate’

April The brilliant Ellen Clifford travels to Canada to embark on a successful speaking tour with raise the rates. We hold a well attended DPAC Grassroots Fightback conference. DPAC, Inclusion London, Equal Lives and the Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People promote the #saveilf postcard campaignTop Corrie stars support the postcard campaign to #saveilf.  DPAC supports Lifeworks and protests against cuts to mental health support. DPAC gives its response to Labour on reform of WCA

 May DPAC releases its research documents for download. DPAC and ILF users block the DWP in protest. We learn that disabled students allowances are now under threat of cuts. DPAC publishes a powerful piece by one of our readers that sums up many peoples’ feelings: ‘I’ll never forgive or forget what this Government has done to me and thousands of others‘. We pay homage to the strength of Quiet Riot, celebrate the #dpactour and the success of the Freedom Riders.

June The Independent Living Fund’s Birthday protest happens in June with lots of action outside the DWP. We see JSA benefit sanctions sky rocket under the coalition Government. More actions happen to fight the bedroom tax.

We publish a piece by Angela 28 on how ‘care’ support has been threatened and why that threatens independent living and rights– legal representation was found for many people, but we were aware that this was happening to many more people through emails to dpac mail. Unlike some organisations we attempt to challenge these instances and reject the rhetoric that there is more ‘choice and control’ for disabled people.

At the end of June DPAC with UKUNCUT, and Occupy carry out a daring occupation of Westminster Abbey , after months of planning to highlight the #saveilf campaign. There were 3 police to every protester , and while we had no support from the dear old church , messages of support and publicity poured in

 July We publish a joint statement in response to the Work and Pensions Committee on the WCA from DPAC, Black Triangle, the Mental Health Resistance Network, Pats petition, Wow and New Approach in which we again say the WCA should be scrapped.

An ILF user makes a plea to Disability Rights UK (DRUK) on ILF after he was denied the right to speak at their independent living conference. DRUK did not feel the need to offer any response.  In Disability Rights UK : independent Living or new visions in Neo-Liberalism we ask why the DRUK ‘independent living ‘ conference was sponsored by an organisation running institutions, segregated schooling and ‘hospitals for those with mental health issues. We also launched a highly successful twitter campaign asking the same questions, again DRUK did not feel they owed disabled people any response to this outrage.

DPAC highlights more chaos at the DWP on appeals and sanctions. John McDonnell launches an Early Day Motion to #saveilf. Positive updates and actions on the WCA court case regarding mental health claimants by the Mental Health Resistance Network. We ask that people write to IDS to raise issues happening regarding mental health.

August Rethink calls people with mental health issues a ‘disease burden’ Mental Health Resistance Network respond to the outrage. We call for a stop to discrimination for those transferring from DLA to PIP who do not get backdated paymentsDPAC continues to support anti-fracking protests with Reclaim the power.

We republish the excellent Nick Dilworth’s piece on how the media are ignoring what’s happening to disabled people http://dpac.uk.net/2014/08/a-national-scandal-4-million-people-face-chaos-in-this-country-and-are-ignored-by-the-media/

ILF user John Kelly speaks to BBC on the impacts of the potential loss of ILF. We ask what happens when ILF funds are not ring fenced to local authorities

September sees a national day of Protest against sanctions, bedroom tax and benefit caps.

The fantastic Brian Hilton produces a set of pics for party conference season on #saveilf. DPAC crash the Tory Party Conference via a successful tweet attack and in person. We do the same to Labour.

We publish The Great Farago: UKIP sleight of hand and receive more abuse from Kippers, Richard Howitt Labour MEP quotes the piece and receives even more abuse.

New short film launched with the Daily Mirror on ILF.

The first inkling that the DWP are wrongly asking those in the ESA support group to attend work focused interviews comes to our notice.

DPAC is threatened with legal action for supporting Anthony Kletzander and publicising the abuse of his human rights in Ireland, our response is to publish an interview with Anthony’s parents  on the injustice Anthony and his family have endured.

October We reblog the excellent Johnny Void piece on the boss of Maximus http://dpac.uk.net/2014/10/meet-richard-a-montoni-the-five-million-dollar-maximus-boss-here-to-fleece-the-uks-benefits-system/.

We publish an open letter to Freud who declared that disabled people can work for less than minimum wage. DPAC and Occupy pay another visit to the DWP Caxton House building for ‘Freud must go!’ protest

In Secrets and Lies :maximus the new leader of the inhumans we ask why Disability Rights UK have agreed to a) be part of the Maximus testing process on the WCA and b) why they’ve teamed up with Unum and other insurance companies to develop a TV program showing how much better off disabled people will be if they take out private insurance- with user-led disability organisations like these we dont need enemies.

ILF users return to court to challenge the DWP on ILF. A successful #saveilf vigil happens with road blocks, many messages of support and some great pics.

Welfare assistance fund is next under threat of closure. Campaign to save it is launched.

November The Final Litchfield Review shows that the WCA should be scrapped.

One of our favourite reports of the year : IDS is chased around a building to drown out shouts of murderer at Ipswich- congratulations to the local dpac group for that one!

We ask people to come forward to launch a legal challenge on cuts to the disabled student allowance

£86 million goes missing from Pudsley’s children in need account BBC to blame for mislaying -complainants are actually advised to write to Pudsley via his BBC email

DWP increase attacks on disabled benefit recipients with claims they can harress them off benefits. We put out an urgent call-out http://dpac.uk.net/2014/11/urgent-people-awaiting-wca-assessments-particularly-in-birmingham-please-read/

Work Providers A4E are exposed again in relation to ESA and workfare. The Rev Paul Nicolson wins in court against council tax. Class War’s continuing protests against ‘poor doors’ get to the authorities who make arrests- and Boris is burnt. Meanwhile DPAC discovers Motability’s sneaky backdoor changes to individuals needing to be in work to qualify for support http://dpac.uk.net/2014/11/motability-and-the-deserving-and-undeserving-charity-not-rights/

December ILF users lose court case on ILF but its not over.

DPAC launches an Open letter to Ed, Kate and Rachel on ILF– we’re still waiting for a response

Hammersmith and Fulham abolish home ‘care’ charges, showing it can be done. Congratulations for a great campaign to the excellent Kevin Caulfield and Debbie Domb and all at Hammersmith and Fulham Coalition against Cuts

Esther McVey is named scrooge of the year, which we though was a little too kind to the creature

Unsurprisingly the Work and Pensions report slammed the Government ‘mismanagament of Access to Work – the stop the changes to Access to Work campaign continues.

Questions are asked on the Government costs in fighting against disabled peoples’equality

The link between the DWP and the Mail propaganda is finally nailed and exposed as the DWP is caught out http://dpac.uk.net/2014/12/dwp-caught-giving-disability-propaganda-to-daily-mail/

Dec 092014
 

John Healey (Wentworth and Dearne) (Lab): What legal costs his Department has incurred in legal proceedings involving disabled people relating to the under-occupancy penalty and the closure of the independent living fund. [906481]

The Minister for Disabled People (Mr Mark Harper): The Government have robustly defended their policies in relation to the closure of the independent living fund and the removal of the spare room subsidy. The total known legal costs to date, in respect of both policies where disability formed part of the grounds of the claim, are £415,000: £236,000 for the ILF and £178,000 for the removal of the spare room subsidy.

John Healey: That is a part answer to a very direct question about the cost to the taxpayers of Government lawyers defending the indefensible—axing the ILF and introducing the hated bedroom tax. Will the Minister not recognise that many severely disabled people flourish with the fund but are now frightened of losing their independence when he shuts it down next year? He might have won the legal case this year, but he has lost the moral and policy arguments, so even at this 11th hour will he rethink the protection available to ILF users?

Mr Harper: No, I will not. I have talked to disability organisations about this matter, and they agree with the Government. More than 1 million people get social care through the mainstream social care system. The Government are not making any savings by moving the ILF to local authorities and devolved Administrations, and we are working closely with each local authority to ensure that the amount of money being transferred at the point of closure next year will be exactly what is needed and what is being spent by the ILF, meaning that disabled people will be protected.

Barbara Keeley (Worsley and Eccles South) (Lab): Some £4.3 billion has been taken out of adult social care budgets over the past four years because of the Government’s cuts. If that funding transfers across, as is planned, it will plug only a very small part of the gap. If they will not rethink this policy, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Wentworth and Dearne (John Healey) just suggested, will Ministers require that the funding be ring-fenced to ensure that 70 people in Salford and 18,000 people across the country with disabilities can look forward to keeping their independence and to this continuing support?

Mr Harper: Of course local government has had to play its part in the savings, but local authorities can make choices. My local authority in Gloucestershire has protected the value of social care because it thinks that protecting older people—[Interruption.] No, my local authority has faced cuts, like all local authorities, but it has chosen to—[Interruption.] If Opposition Members want me to answer their hon. Friend’s question, they should stop yelling. My local authority has prioritised funding for older people and people of working age. Clearly, the hon. Lady’s local authority has made different decisions. If those on her local authority want to ring-fence the money transferred from the ILF, they are absolutely free to do so, so I suggest she take that up with them.


8 Dec 2014 : Column 632

We want to thank John Healey MP for raising these questions

But other questions arise: which disability organisations did Harper speak to and why did they agree with the Government that closing ILF was a good thing for disabled people with high support needs and their employees? Did Harper speak to ILF users?

Watch this space……

Sep 272014
 

First ever protest at Tory conference Oct 2010 under the name of Disabled Peoples’ Protest, before the name Disabled People against Cuts (DPAC) was chosen.

DPAC protest pic

see links

Disabled People make History

First call out for first protest

The British Library began archiving the DPAC site from 2011 so know that all on this site will stand as an historical testament of this governments actions towards disabled people and what they are doing to the lives of  millions-we will not give up fighting!

See Kate Belgrave’s excellent piece on DPAC’s recent Westminster Abbey protest

Browse the DPAC archives and DPAC on Flickr for more DPAC actions over the years

see local DPAC contact and facebook groups HERE

Happy Birthday DPAC and thanks to all who have helped make DPAC what it is

Sep 082014
 

Tory welfare reform is in crisis. Last week 70 Conservative MPs ignored a three line whip and stayed away from Westminster for the vote on Andrew George’s bedroom tax bill. Protests have beaten back government attacks on benefits but we need to keep fighting to see off the hated bedroom tax once and for all and to stand up against sanctions, which remain a vicious plank in the government’s punitive policies, whose use is rocketing and which are still supported by Labour in Parliament.

Join protests happening in the areas below or hold your own. Send pictures and updates to benefitjustice@gmail.com and/or mail@dpac.uk.net.

 

Barnet

9.00am: Jobcentre Granta House 1 Western Rd London N22 6UH. Go to Barnet Housing Action Group on facebook for more information.

 

Birmingham

12 noon: Broad Street Job Centre, Centennial House,100 Broad St, B15 1AU.

1.15pm: Centenary Square, Broad Street.

Sandk123456@aol.com

 

Huddersfield

12 noon: Upper Head Row, Huddersfield, HD1 2JL. (near main entrance to bus station) juneholmes@btopenworld.com

 

Leeds

12 – 2pm: Street meeting on benefits and sanctions: Briggate, LS1 6JX (near the Body Shop). ellenrobottom@hotmail.com

 

London

11am Old Palace Yard Westminster SW1P 3JY
and 1pm DWP HQ Tothill St SW1
(Southwark Benefit Justice Campaign will be meeting 10.30am outside Metropolitan Tabernacle opposite Elephant and Castle tube station to go up to Parliament)
Anti-Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Gig: Starring: THE WICKED VENETIANS + PARVA HINTON + SEBASTIAN MELMOTH + MYLAS: New Cross Inn, 323 New Cross Road London SE14 6AS: http://newcrossinn.com/?p=1&m=09&y=2014

Milton Keynes

12 noon – 1pm outside Milton Keynes Jobcentre Plus, Midsummer Blvd, MK9 3BN. E.kate.hunter@googlemail.com

 

FRIDAY 12th SEPTEMBER

 

Brighton

11am: Brighton station forecourt: brightonbenefitscampaign@gmail.com
Witney

Paupers Picnic outside David Cameron’s Witney Conservatives event at Witney Lakes with tax-dodging, expenses-grabbing MP Nadim Zahawi. Coaches leave Oxford at 5.30pm. For more info contact: mail:dpac.uk.net

Aug 262014
 

Thursday 11th September 2014

End Bedroom Tax; No Sanctions for Claimants – No Targets for Staff

On 11th September the Anti-Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Campaign is holding a day of protest: say no to claimant sanctions, bedroom tax and benefit cuts

Government attacks on benefits mean hunger, debt and fear. Ex-soldier David Clapson died hungry and destitute after his benefits were stopped, the latest in a string of deaths and suicides related to sanctions and benefit cuts.  The overwhelming majority of referrals to food banks are due to  claimants being sanctioned.

Sanctions cutting benefits of disabled people on Employment and Support Allowance, rose by nearly 580 percent between March 2013 and March 2014, and total sanctions rose to over a million last year, from 100,000 in 2010 (DWP figures).
PCS union is supporting the 11 September protests.  Research by PCS members working in the DWP revealed that 82% of members felt ‘pressured’ into sanctioning claimants, and 62% said they had made ‘inappropriate’ sanctions decisions.Protests have forced Government to promise changes: see Review report. But sanctions remain a vicious plank of the Government’s punitive welfare reforms, and are still supported by Labour in parliament.

Join us on one of protests below or organise your own.  Demand an end to the Bedroom Tax and link it to the slogan: ‘No sanctions for claimants, No targets for staff’. Build links with local PCS members – contacts for local PCS in DWP and PCS regions.The Bedroom Tax is almost dead – we will demand MPs kill it now  and up the pressure to beat the sanctions regime too. Let us know any actions you are planning so we can promote them.

End Sanctions, Bedroom Tax and benefit cuts11am Old Palace Yard Westminster SW1P 3JY
and 1pm DWP HQ Tothill St SW1

Other protests planned in
Leeds, Sheffield, Oxford, Manchester/Liverpool, Birmingham, Glasgow


Aug 182014
 

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

 

Many thanks for help with this.

Linda

 Posted by at 21:01
Aug 162014
 

 

(Report from workshop at national meeting of Anti Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice federation)

Fighting Benefit Sanctions

 

The government has a policy  of increasing sanctions to force people off benefits. 

 

More than 800,000 people have been sanctioned in the last year. Referrals to food banks are mainly due to claimants being sanctioned. 

 

Martin Cavanagh is the PCS Group Exec member for civil servants working in the DWP.  The PCS union resolved at their recent conference to oppose both Workfare and Benefit Sanctions. He explained the three central reasons behind the Tories policy of increasing sanctions; Further demonisation of the poor, financial savings for the government, and driving a wedge between claimants and workers. 

 

PCS survey of members working in the DWP revealed that 82% of members felt ‘pressured’ into sanctioning claimants, and 62% said they had made ‘inappropriate’ sanctions decisions. 

 sanctions

The Kirklees Axe The Tax group have used a banner : No Sanction for Claimants! No Targets for Staff! This attracted claimants and some staff to their stall outside a job centre.

 

Roger Lewis speaking for DPAC said that ‘more needed to be done by the PCS.’ But, he insisted, ‘we will not allow the government to divide us. Those working for the DWP alongside claimants have a common interest, we are locked together in a common fight against the Tories.’ 

 

‘More will be done from our union the PCS over the sanctions,’ explained Martin. 

 

‘Advice for claimants on how to challenge sanction decisions has now been agreed between our union, the PCS, Unite the Union Community branches, and campaigners against sanctions. That advice will be issued shortly.’

 

Research has shown that only 1 in 50 claimants who are sanctioned appeal the decision. Of those 90% win their appeal. Forthcoming advice will explain to claimants how they can appeal. 

 

To launch the joint advice and joint campaign, we agreed a day of action against benefit sanctions for Thursday 11th September. 

 

Protests will be organised in every region outside key DWP headquarters or similar high profile government offices.

Fighting Workfare

Public campaigns work! 

 

With just a few protesters the Boycott Workfare actions have ‘shamed’ many employers into withdrawing from the Workfare scheme. Companies and businesses don’t want to be exposed as employing ‘slave’ labour. Only when a company signs up to the Boycott Workfare pledge are they removed for the Boycott Workfare website listing. 

 

Protests outside flagship venues of those companies still in the scheme will continue until the schemes are scrapped.

 

Reblogged with thanks from http://antibedroomtax.org.uk/2013-05-29-04-42-41/latest-news/110-stop-sanctions-11th-sept-day-of-action

 

 

Aug 092014
 

 

Disabled people have been expressing their disquiet at the news that the Independent Living Fund (ILF) will cease to exist in 2015, and that the money will be transferred to Local Authorities. To date, out of the 153 surveyed Local Authorities and from 106 responses, only 10 Local Authorities have said they will ringfence the transferred funds to ILF recipients, which means that in all other areas, ILF recipients face a potential reduction of their care packages. How is it likely to happen?

An interesting article was published this morning by Joe Halewood (@SpeyeJoe): http://speye.wordpress.com/2014/08/09/dhp-dubious-hoodwinking-practices-or-how-ids-pulled-the-woolsack-over-the-courts-eyes/

which shows that 16% (UK average) of Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) allocated by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to Local Authorities to mitigate the impacts of welfare reforms, and specifically of the infamous bedroom tax have been awards unrelated to welfare reforms. See Table 5 and 6 here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/322455/use-of-discretionary-housing-payments-june-2014.pdf

It would be interesting to know what the money was spent on, but more to the point, DWP has twice relied on the DHP argument to win a legal case against claimants challenging the bedroom tax policy, and although DWP’s spokesperson said that the government has put in £345m to mitigate the bedroom tax, the figures shown in the Table 5 and 6 not only disprove this but also show that out of the money disbursed, 16% of the allocated funds have been used for awards totally unrelated to welfare reforms. This shows that disabled people are right to be worried about the future of the transferred ILF funds and about the willingness or unwillingness of Local Authorities to allocate these funds to disabled people who have been assessed as having the greatest needs. The ILF should be retained until assurance is given that these people will not see a reduction in their care packages.

 

 

Apr 272014
 

Please support Obi and team to continue live-streaming direct actions and events for #dpac, #ukuncut and others. Live-streaming is important for disabled people that cannot always get to events and protests because none of us should be left out of our fight for our rights

It is also important in these times ruled by the right-wing press to get a record of our news and events-its time to fight back and ensure that our voices and protests are heard, recorded, documented and visualised -live-streaming does that- lets support it to continue the  real and uncensored news is seen and heard! Please donate if you can at http://www.gofundme.com/8nzi68

see some of the events live streamed for DPAC

JohnMcDonnell MP Praises DPAC at DPAC conference April 2014

August 5, 2012 Akira: update on ATOS. Paralympics sponsor

August 29, 2012 #ATOS #REMPLOY #ParaOlympics #2012 #Protest by previous gold medal winners

August 31, 2012 #ONN #OLSX covering anti #ATOS #ATOSkills #dpac event at Triton Square, Camden

October 28, 2012 Akira and experiencing Public Transport for a Wheelchair user.

September 3, 2013 DPAC AND BLACK TRIANGLE DIRECT ACTION. BBC PORTLAND PLACE, LONDON

September 5, 2013 DPAC FREEDOM DRIVE.

June 4, 2013 DPAC Bromley Benefit Justice second Meeting

September 26, 2013 10,000 Cuts and Counting

October 5, 2013 SOLIDARITY ACTION WITH UKUNCUT AND DPAC #ROADBLOCKS4JUSTICE

Oct 20, 2013 The DPAC action in Marble Arch . TUC March 2012.

September 28, 2013 DPAC DIRECT ACTION: 10,000 CUTS AND COUNTING. SCRAP ATOS

@Obi_Live
@OccupyNN

https://twitter.com/Obi_Live
https://twitter.com/OccupyTTIP
occupylondon@lists.riseup.net

 

Apr 212014
 

DPAC would like to thank everyone for making last week’s (April 12 2014) National Conference such a huge success. There was a huge turnout with over 150 disabled activists from all over the UK including many new DPAC members attending, but just as important there were hundreds of members and supporters beyond the venue taking part through social media – watching the video live-stream, tweeting and sharing comments, views and sending messages of support. This was fantastic work by everyone and a truly inspiring collective effort.

DSC_1030 con

Here’s a brief outline of how it went.

Programme
The day was timetabled into sections beginning with practical reports and voting on policy motions. This was followed by two workshop sessions and then a closing session for everyone to feedback on the day. Four workshops were available to choose from in each Workshop session. Detailed reports on these will follow later.

John McDonnell MP, a longstanding friend and supporter of DPAC, gave a rousing opening speech to encourage everyone and remind us of the victories achieved so far. He congratulated disabled people and DPAC for fighting back, along with our sister organisation Black Triangle and WoW Petition initiators

As he finished he mentioned his own recent health condition which he said he felt brought him closer to our movement. Ellen reacted quickly by giving him a DPAC t-shirt and declaring him a full DPAC member to instant applause and cheers.

photo1jm tshirt

Finances
The Finance Report showed a healthy state of affairs for the time being thanks to individual donations, t-shirt and badge sales plus grants from the Edge Fund, the Network for Social Change, Trust for London  and the Andrew Wainwright Trust. More fund-raising is necessary going forward.

Motions
1. Government Honours
This proposed that any future candidates for the DPAC Steering Group could thwart the network and collective ethos of DPAC if they had received a national honour like an OBE or MBE. The ‘BE’ refers to the imperialist British Empire which is still celebrated despite what we know of the suffering and oppression this caused. The motion conversations also suggested that any media attention would be focused on those with honours and titles, rather than on the collective network ethos that DPAC ascribes to. The motion was put forward as a rejecting of this possibility and that of the honours system more generally. This was defeated.

2. Discrimination
This motion stated DPAC opposition to discrimination on the grounds of gender, sexuality, age, faith, disability, ethnicity or status. It also empowered the Steering Group to terminate the membership of anyone who supported a party which holds discriminatory policies, like UKIP. This motion passed based on an appeals process being put in place

3. Steering Group Size
This motion sought to expand the Steering Group from 8 members to 12 in order to respond to increased activity and maintain a broad, diverse and inclusive profile. This was passed.

Steering Group
There were 11 nominees for the Steering Group. Conference took a vote on whether to vote for accepting all 11 nominees, or vote for them one by one. Conference voted to accept all 11 nominees. The new steering group are currently reviewing co-opted places and will get back to the additional people that applied past the deadline as soon as possible

Steering Group:
Andy Greene
Bob Ellard
Ciara Doyle
Conan Doyle
Debbie Jolly
Eleanor Firman
Ellen Clifford
Linda Burnip
Paula Peters
Roger Lewis
Sabina Lahur

It was highlighted that the working groups are important in taking DPAC forward. The co-chair said she hoped those who did not stand for the Steering Group but were still interested in getting involved would join these as soon as possible.

Finally, a big thank you to the Conference Organising group and Workshop leaders who worked so hard to make this wonderful event a reality.

Links to videos from the day are here with thanks to Occupy for live streaming on the day to make the conference inclusive to all are here

Links to pictures can be found on DPAC flicker here
Thanks to Pete Riches, Szucs Gabriella and Rob Peters

The powerpoint on highlights of the last year can be found DPAC Report
A link to 2013 and some of the things DPAC did is here

See you on the streets!

DPAC www.dpac.uk.net
Twitter: Dis_ppl_protest
Also find us on Facebook with a group and open page under ‘Disabled People against Cuts’

contact: mail@dpac.uk.net

 

Apr 072014
 

DPAC_coloured_Logo_2__biggerWe are very much looking forward to seeing everyone who can come to our national conference on Saturday but it is also important that those of you who can’t get there in person are able to take part. There are a number of ways you can do this:

  • Send messages of support and your ideas for what DPAC should focus on over the next year to mail@dpac.uk.net or @dis_ppl_protest.These will be put up on the graffiti wall at the conference and included in the notes from the day.
  • Watch the conference live on:

http://bambuser.com/channel/OccupyLondon and http://bambuser.com/channel/DPAC

  • Live tweet your questions and contributions to @dis_ppl_protest

  Or email: mail@dpac.uk.net

 The program for the day is at DPAC Conference 2014 Saturday 12th April – Conference Programme

Mar 312014
 

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

At the fountain, Canal Walk, Swindon Town Centre

10.30 am on April 5th

We will have leaflets to distribute and banners.

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

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

 Posted by at 17:44
Mar 282014
 

DPAC supports the organisers of phase 2 of demos against ATOS and DWP.

Please see national Face book page for those organising in your area

https://www.facebook.com/ATOSNationalDemo?fref=ts

ATOS may have run away from the WCA contract, but they have plenty more contracts funded by public money from this unelected Government, including the disastrous PIP contract, in which people have been waiting for up to 10-12 months to obtain support. The DWP continue to oversee the round of cuts impacting on disabled people leaving them destitute or dead, sanctions are at an all time high.

Show them we’ve had enough-see you there…..

 

Feb 202014
 

Bedroom tax appeal judgment

Vigil outside Royal Courts of Justice: 9.15am Friday 21 February

Disabled people and supporters will gather outside the Royal Courts of Justice on Friday morning as the Court of Appeal delivers its judgment in the ‘bedroom tax’ legal challenge.

Under new Housing Benefit rules introduced in 1 April 2013, persons deemed to have 1 spare bedroom have had their housing benefit reduced by 14% and persons deemed to have 2, or more, spare bedrooms have had their housing benefit reduced by 25%. This bedroom tax or ‘removal of spare room subsidy’ as the government prefers to call it, has had a devastating impact with two thirds of those households affected containing a disabled person.

Last year 10 claimants represented by 3 law firms, argued the new rules discriminate against disabled people. In July 2013 the High Court accepted that they are discriminatory, however decided that the discrimination was justified and therefore lawful in cases concerning disabled adults, although not in cases of disabled children unable to share a bedroom because of their impairments.

Lawyers for disabled adults went to the Court of Appeal, arguing that the discriminatory impact of the measure on disabled people cannot be justified and is unlawful. Lawyers for disabled children and their families also appealed the earlier ruling because the Government has failed to provide a date by which it will implement the high court judgment meanwhile despite the judgement families with disabled children who cannot share rooms because of their impairments are still subject to the bedroom tax.

Evidence of the injustice of the bedroom tax is widespread with families falling into arrears and at threat of eviction. A report by the Papworth trust found that 1 in 3 disabled people hit by the bedroom tax have been refused the Discretionary Housing Payment so far and of those, 9 in 10 disabled people are cutting back on food or bills. There has been at least one suicide as a direct consequence of the distress caused by the new Housing Benefit regulations.

Grassroots campaigns have presented consistent opposition to the hated tax. In April last year a group of disabled activists and supporters from DPAC and UKUncut travelled to Iain Duncan Smith’s mansion in Buckinghamshire to present an under-occupation eviction notice and enjoy an uninvited picnic in his extensive grounds. There have been a series of legal rulings highlighting the unfairness of this poorly thought out and unworkable measure.

We say that no one should have to move and the answer is to build more social housing. A legal victory against this rotten policy would highlight how unworkable and unfair the government’s so-called welfare reforms really are.

The vigil has been called by the Anti Bedroom Tax Federation and Disabled People Against Cuts.

The judgment is due to be given in court room 72 at 9.55am.

 

 

Notes for editors

1) Two thirds of the people affected by the bedroom tax nationally (around 420,000 out of 660,000) are disabled people

2) The challenge against the government was brought by 10 families through a three day hearing from 15 to 18 May: http://www.leighday.co.uk/News/2013/May-2013/Bedroom-Tax-Challenge-at-the-High-Court-(1)

3) Aragon Housing published a report on the first 100 days of the bedroom tax that evidences the disproportionate impact on disabled people as many other issues that make it unworkable

4)  In December it emerged that a loophole had been identified whereby anyone receiving Housing Benefit continuously since before 1996 should be exempt and in January the government had to publish official guidance acknowledging this. A recent Upper Tribunal ruling that defined the term ‘bedroom’ using the plain dictionary meaning also implications for implementation of the bedroom tax.

http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/regulation/full-details-of-first-bedroom-tax-tribunal-rulings/6528701.article?PageNo=1&PageSize=50

http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/housing_benefit_and_local_housing_allowance/changes_to_housing_benefit/bedroom_tax_loophole

http://www.innertemplelibrary.com/2014/01/upper-tribunal-on-bedrooms-nearlylegal/

5) Disabled People Against Cuts is a national campaign led by disabled people, set up to oppose the government’s attacks being carried out in the name of welfare reform. For more information see http://www.dpac.uk.net

6) The Anti-Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Federation is a federation of anti bedroom tax and benefit justice campaigns across England and Wales. We were formed in May 2013 shortly after the launch of the Scotland Anti Bedroom Tax Federation. For more information see: http://www.antibedroomtax.org.uk

 

 

 Posted by at 12:34
Feb 112014
 
bromley DPAC will be presenting the bedroom tax to bromley council on Monday 24th February 2014 at bromley council full budget meeting at 7 pm. This meeting will also announce the next round of cuts that will affect Bromley residents.
Meeting takes place. Bromley Civic Centre
Stockwell close
Bromley, Kent BR1 3UH.
Main council chamber.
nearest train station is Bromley South…(disabled access is availlable for wheelchair users or people with mobililty issues)
Buses 61,208.161, 358, 126 all go to the stop opposite the civic centre..

 

 Posted by at 20:11
Feb 032014
 

The UN Raquel Rolnik ‘s report is now out -she calls for an immediate suspension of the bedroom tax and for it to be fully evaluated in light of evidence of its negative impacts

The section on disabled people and those with long term health conditions lists the retrogression of rights and especially the impact on article 19 is copied below

1.   The plight of persons with disabilities deeply touched the Special Rapporteur. She learned from their strength and welcomed their active engagement in discussing adequate housing from their perspective, and in sharing their testimonies.

2.   At the root of many testimonies lies the threat to a hard-won right to live independently. For persons with physical and mental disabilities, as well as for the chronically ill, adequate housing means living in homes that are adapted to specific needs; close to services, care and facilities allowing them to carry out their daily routines; and in the vicinity of friends, relatives or a community essential to leading lives in dignity and freedom. Often, the compounded impact of an acute shortage of adapted and affordable accommodation, combined with other changes to the welfare system, has left them “between a rock and a hard place”: downsizing or facing rent arrears and eviction. Many testimonies refer to anxiety, stress and suicidal thoughts as a result, precisely the type of situations that should be avoided at all costs. Serious concerns about the direct impact of these reforms were already raised in 2012: “The range of reforms proposed to housing benefit, Disability Living Allowance, the Independent Living Fund, and changes to eligibility criteria risk interacting in a particularly harmful way for disabled people. … As a result, there seems to be a significant risk of retrogression of independent living and a breach of the UK’s Article 19 [CRPD] obligations.”[1] The Department for Work and Pensions has made available additional funding under the DHP scheme to assist those affected by this measure, but, as noted above, DHPs are time-bound and limited in scope.

3.   According to Inclusion Scotland, the government of Scotland estimated that 95,000 Scottish households will be affected by this measure in the first year. In Scotland, 79 per cent of the households expected to be affected (76,000) contain a disabled person. They will lose an average of 13 pounds in housing benefit. Inclusion Scotland noted with concern that persons with disabilities will be among those least able to continue to meet their rent payments.[2]

See also DPAC piece showing 87% of disabled people affected by the change to bedroom tax pre-1996 exemption

http://dpac.uk.net/2014/02/more-proof-disabled-people-and-family-carers-are-severely-disadvantaged-by-bedroom-tax/

 

 The full Rolnik report can be downloaded from A_HRC_25_54_Add.2_ENG



                     [1]   House of Lords and House of Commons, Joint Committee on Human Rights, Implementation of the Right of Disabled People to Independent Living (2012), para. 161.

                     [2]   Submission of Inclusion Scotland for this report.

Feb 032014
 

We are conducting an investigation into the human impact of food poverty, child poverty, payday loans, and benefit caps. Our research will form a part of a wider investigation organised by Professor of Journalism Paul Bradshaw, who is gathering information from across the UK. Our focus is on people living in Nottingham,  and are looking to bring to light issues confronting those groups who are suffering as a result of economic changes in the past three to four years.


We are looking for people to come forward with experiences particularly of using food banks in Nottingham, especially those who have started using food banks in that last few years. We are also looking for people who are payday loan customers, and who have suffered financial losses as a result of using payday loans. If anybody has also experienced financial difficulties or has felt that they have been left vulnerable following changes to the benefits system, particularly regarding benefit caps, we would very much appreciate them getting in touch.


The questions we ask will be directed at understanding the impact of these circumstances on the daily lives of people in Nottingham, and the strains that they are under with reference to any of the issues stated above. Respondents will be encouraged to speak openly about their experiences, however all responses can be kept anonymous if preferred, and we will not publish any information without the express permission of respondents.

 

Please email editorinchief@impactnottingham.com

Feb 032014
 

BREAKING: 2/3 women, 87% long-term sick or disabled and 1 in 6 carers will be affected by change to Bedroom Tax pre-1996 exemption

An article by Joe Halewood, who has been the most vocal and articulate opponent of the bedroom tax, throws light on what the changes intended by the government following the discovery of  the Bedroom Tax pre 1996 exemption will mean for the people affected. This exemption means that tenants who have been continuously entitled to Housing Benefit since at least 1 January 1996 and who have occupied the same dwelling since that date are exempt from the bedroom tax.

Joe Halewood, a Housing Consultant, has been working with Reclaim, a local grassroot organisation which in December asked pre-1996 tenants to email them with their initials and their post code.

The results for the first 250 or so households which were unlawfully hit with this pre-1996 bedroom tax are as follows:

  • Two-thirds were women
  • 87% were long-term sick or disabled
  • One in six were carers for a family member 

These are the kind of figures IDS would not want you to know and they explain why he is in such a rush to change the law.  These figures are unlikely to change as more data is gathered. Disabled people who had their homes adapted to fit their needs are not likely to move, which explains why 87% of them will be hit by a change to the pre-1996 housing rule.

It is possible to bring pressure to bear on this government and on MPs by alerting public opinion on the impact this change will have for people who are least likely to find a job to offset the cost of the bedroom tax.

Joe Halewood’s article is here:  http://speye.wordpress.com/2014/02/02/cover-your-cock-up-ids-and-no-we-wont-be-on-our-knees/

 

 

 Posted by at 13:42
Jan 232014
 

Caroline Murphy

22nd January:  This is day three of the Court of Appeal hearing against the bedroom tax. Monday morning began with a vigil outside the Royal Courts of Justice, supported by Disabled People against  Cuts (DPAC)WinVisibleTaxpayers Against Poverty, Camden Association of Street Properties, the Anti Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Federation and others.

The Appeal concerns with discrimination against disabled people, a group disproportionately affected by the bedroom tax. Two thirds of all those hit by this iniquitous tax are disabled. Imagine for a moment that your life depends upon having ready access to cumbersome medical equipment or supplies. If you have the temerity to store them all in a small bedroom … tough. You get taxed. You should have someone living there.

If you’re facing mental health issues, changing your environment, or having personal boundaries invaded can trigger painful symptoms. But if you have that spare bedroom, you have to take in a lodger, or you have to pay the tax. It’s about as conclusive a “lose-lose” you could hope to impose on anyone.

One example given was of a mentally unwell resident whose home was filled with paperwork he had accumulated & stored over years. Was his home in an acceptable state to take in another resident?

Meanwhile, more evidence is emerging about how disabled people are plugging the holes that have opened up in their domestic budgets as a result of the bedroom tax. Personal Independence Payments (PIPs) for adults are intended to be used for specialist care & mobility support. Now they’re going on necessities.

Check out these figures from the National Housing Federation.
In a survey of disabled people denied local authority support to replace the money lost through the bedroom tax, nearly 40% had cut back on specialist mobility transport; over 25% had cut back on medical expenses; and 90% had decreased their spending on food.

Exemption from bedroom tax has been won for disabled children already. Now that exemption should be extended to disabled adults. And then it should be abolished entirely.”

 with thanks to Caroline
http://iamcarolinemurphy.tumblr.com

Caroline is on twitter: @_C_Murphy

Jan 162014
 

Bedroom Tax Appeal

Vigil – Monday 20th January, 9.30am, outside the Royal Courts of Justice

Disabled people and our supporters will hold a vigil outside the high courts to mark the start of a three day appeal hearing looking to overturn the judgment handed down in July 2013 that found the government can lawfully discriminate against disabled people through implementation of the bedroom tax.

Monday’s legal challenge focuses on discrimination against disabled people, who make up two thirds of those affected – exemption for disabled children was recently won. Other challenges brought against the discriminatory nature of the policy, by separated parents with shared care of children, and mothers fleeing domestic violence in housing with security measures, are on hold behind this case and could be affected by the result, so it’s even more important for everyone to show their support.

The bedroom tax is vicious and punitive. All social housing tenants should have a right to a family home for life. The longer people have to suffer the bedroom tax, the longer people are having to go without essentials like food and heating in order to try to make up the shortfall they are left with, the higher the arrears that are mounting up, and the closer we come to evictions. In November the Disability Benefits Consortium reported that 9 out of 10 disabled people and three quarters of carers affected are now having to cut back on food and heating.

Campaigners from the Anti Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Federation, Camden Association of Street Properties (Camden tenants), Disabled People Against Cuts, Single Mothers’ Self-Defence, Taxpayers Against Poverty and WinVisible are calling the vigil in solidarity with the disabled people taking the appeal and everyone affected. It is also an important opportunity to keep the spotlight on how unfair and unworkable this policy is and to maintain pressure to axe the tax.

We invite everyone who can get to the high courts on Monday to come and show support. The media are keen to hear from disabled people who are directly affected by the bedroom tax and if you are willing to share your story please let us know.

The following Monday 27 January, the appeal against the total Benefit Cap is being heard.  Women Against Rape and Single Mothers’ Self-Defence are calling a protest against the Cap outside the Royal Courts of Justice at 9.30am.  We hope you’ll be able to support that too.

 

 

 Posted by at 18:26
Jan 122014
 

In another year of imposed austerity when the Condems voted in a 5% tax cut for all earning over £ 150, 000, another year when unpaid tax by corporations was at £95bn per year, a year that MPs paid their heating bills with our money, while we couldn’t afford to heat our homes DPAC received more emails and realities of destroyed lives under imposed austerity.

We have reproduced some of these below with all identifying elements removed. We know they don’t fit into anything that Channel 4 or the BBC would like to show as part of the media demonization propa ganda – so we rely on you to share and publicise the real demons and real impact of austerity for those that should be supported with basic necessities like food….

 

“I just got this information from a nurse friend of mine last night…….a man who has diabetics type 2 and severe copd was brought in to hospital last night…..aged 61 his esa was stopped 8 weeks ago after being found fit 2 work….. it turns out he has been eating dried corn flakes for the last 5 weeks and has no electric on for 5 weeks….. he has had no heating or even able to boil a kettle for a hot drink…..he was not even able to use his nebulizer without electric…..the cold has got to his lungs and his blood sugars have gone dangerously low as type 2 diabetics must eat 3 times a day 2 keep blood sugars level……the nurses have chipped in to get him a bottle of squash and some fruit ….apparently this gentleman is very unwell at the moment and if the Tories and Lib- Dems find peoples hunger something to laugh at will they also find this funny? The sick will end up in hospital beds if they cant eat and stay warm……this mans situation is just a taste of what the future holds for thousands…….”

 

“Hi guys… You’ve probably had a few complaints already, so I really am sorry, but I need to unwind… Would it have caused that many issues for the DWP to release our disability payments a few days early, and in time for Xmas this year? I struggle to feed myself as it is, and my payment is due this Friday, the 27th. I have no food in my fridge, nor my freezer, and none in the cupboards…I honestly do not know what I’m gonna do for food between now and Friday… Is the Government that much out of touch with the people? I have no family to whom I can turn for help… What am I going to do? I remember a time when payments were made available early, to cover such occasions… What’s happened? I have osteoarthritis, which is aggravated by my hypertension, and one out two other complaints. I’m unable to walk far, and I have no transport. I thought I had a friend, until I found out just how self-centered he is…Now it’s clear that I’m on my own. Is there any wonder people withdraw and become isolated from society if this is what’s on offer? Sorry for bring the bearer of such bad ridings, and I sincerely hope you have a great time. Thank you for taking the time to read this email”.


Today at the foodbank in Bromley over 200 families received help to eat over Christmas. Many of their stories were horrendous. Three of them am going to share with you now.

The 89 year old man, in hospital with malnutrition, freezing in his home, kicked out of the PRUH for bed blocking, sent home to a freezing cold home, and no food. Tonight he has food, carers are going in, and someone is going to spend Christmas with him. He has money on the gas and electric, the local shops made sure of that with donations. It was heartbreaking to see him cry and thanking us all. He hasnt had a decent cup of tea at home for the last 4 weeks, he told us. I just wanted to do more to help, but now the agencies in the area have swung into action to help. 

Of the family with a three week old baby, her father sanctioned this morning for a year. The job centre said he came on the wrong day, he showed them the letter for the day to see them today, the JCP changed it and did not tell him. Then as they sanctioned him they wished him a Merry Christmas and smiled at him. He cried on my shoulder, his family affected by the bedroom tax, no food, nothing. So we applied for DHP for him, and for hardship payments, his baby called May has a few toys for Christmas and some clothes and baby milk, some of the shops in the area donated for them. 

Of the man homeless who walked four miles in the driving rain to the foodbank today. The local church clothed him, got him hot food, and he is in a shelter for the next few months”. 

 

“my benefits are sanctioned over Christmas for arriving to a work program 5 mins & 15 minutes late on 2 appointments I’ve no money until the 5th January is I cannot get a budgeting loan as they say i owe them to much already I have no food no electric no heating & 2 young children I’m in desperate need of some form of help is there anything I can do?”

 

“I have just been sanctioned.

Apparently i have not been doing enough to find a job … despite the fact i have a job to go to in January.

When I mentioned this, I was told … but what if for some reason, that job falls through.

WHAT IF ??? ……….. can you imagine the hoops we’d have to jump through if we put on the jobsearch record … what if i got a job by sending out cv’s to companies that don’t exist ….. yet”

 

“I really need some money because I have no food and i need to pay rent and I need gas and electric I cant get help nowhere and I have been to the food bank 4 time AND you can only go 3 time they cant help no more”

 

 

am a 23 year old male with A levels and a degree.

Unfortunately I have been forced to sign on. My “Advisor” has put me down for picking/packing work and cleaning.

Not only that, I was sanctioned for not attending a group session. The reason for this is because I met up with a guy who interviewed me for a job. I told the job centre the reason and told them to ring the guy. I even got him to write them a letter. The PROOF is there. How can they sanction money for trying to get a job??????? Its ridiculous. They cant make ONE phone call. Its all computerised and robotic in today’s world so we don’t even stand a chance.

Why are the sanctioning innocent people?

The UK is meant to have a system in place to help those in need. I’m not a bad person. I have saved lives, raised money for charities and even worked voluntarily. I am treated with disgust by our system. I can now see why a man set himself on fire outside of the Selly Oak job centre!

I have lost weight. I have depression. My motivation is zero. I am in a pit. As I write this, suicide is in the back of my mind because I feel helpless. The support is not there and it never will be until there is a major change. Would me taking my own life be enough to make the system change? Sadly I think it will. It always takes somebodys life to make people realise.

I have waited over 8 days for a hardship fund. I am living on old biscuits which I had from Christmas 2012″.

 

“Just thought I’d post this I found, then read it again, this is the “care” cancer sufferers get

Dear Mr Cameron,

Chester and Ellesmere Port Foodbank (Wednesday, 6 November 2013): ‘Jenny shared her story with one of our volunteers, and requested that we share it with you (everyone). We are privileged to do so.’

Jenny

Jenny came to the Chester and Ellesmere Port Foodbank last month, having been diagnosed with terminal Cancer. Her prognosis was three to six months. She already suffered with several chronic illnesses preventing her from working over the last two years and was in receipt of Disability Living Allowance. Having no family she was trying to “put her house in order”, ensuring all her bills were paid and saving up for her funeral. Her DLA was stopped; the reason given was that as she was not expected to survive the required time, she did not qualify for this benefit!

She came to the Foodbank not for herself but to bring a neighbour who had mental health issues and short term memory problems. He had been 30 minutes late for his appointment at the Benefit office (he had forgotten the time!) and had therefore been sanctioned. He had not eaten for three days. They were both given a meal and the time to talk of their problems and referred to the appropriate agencies for food vouchers and further support and help. Several weeks later Jenny came to the Foodbank to thank everyone for the help and food that was given and the kindness and support that was shown in their time of need. Jenny died three weeks later.

Where did Jenny fit in your striver/scrounger world, Mr Cameron? Evidently she did not fit at all, she was abandoned to die in poverty as a direct result of your government policies and in particular the welfare policies of Iain Duncan Smith”.

 

“I’ve got no food rent is due also got an appointment 20 miles away on Tuesday at a local hospital with atos to see if I can get PIP don’t get paid ESA until next Thursday already had budgeting loan 3 months ago suffer with recurrent depressive disorder care cluster 3 and severe anxiety”

“I am close to suicide due to the threat of eviction due to not being able to pay council tax or the bedroom tax!

I have applied for a DHP and been refused, I also have a carer overnight which I have to pay £400 per month for and they use one bedroom but this is not being counted,I also have a room that is used for medical equipment such as a scooter, wheelchair toilet rolls and paper towels and washing tablets as I have bowel problems due to cancer treatment, and also the bed is used as a massage bed due to alleviate my pain due to arthritis, and also facial masks and filters for my CPAP machine and a facial steamer which clears my air passage at night and massage equipment! This was scoffed at as being a room for medical use”

 

Don’t forget: Monday 13th Twitter Demo against Love Productions supporting Street Demo against #BenefitsStreet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan 072014
 

We promised to update everyone about the outcome of this case where our ally Citizen Smart was charged and in court for singing anti-Tory songs.

 

http://dpac.uk.net/2014/01/anti-tory-songs-now-illegal/

 

Yesterday was the day of the court case but the case has still not been heard. Our understanding of the events are the court had difficulty trying to video-record proceedings so there wasn’t enough time to hear the case and the trial has been postponed again. We will let people know how this farce is progressing when we get more news.

 Posted by at 15:37
Jan 052014
 

Singing anti-Tory songs will now land you in court. Citizen Smart who has supported many camapigns against the cuts  is before Sterling Sherrif court tomorrow (Jan 6th) for anti Tory song : Hey Mr Cameron! See video below and dont forget to sign along at a street near you-solidarity from DPAC to Citizen Smart. We’ll update on what happens