Jan 132017
 

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.

After months of waiting, the judgment in Doug Paulley’s case vs First Bus Group is finally to be handed down at the Supreme Court next Wednesday January 18th at 9.45am. 

As you may know their decision could have wide implications for wheelchair and mobility scooter users who want to travel by bus in the UK. If the original verdict in Mr Paulley’s favour is upheld by the Supreme Court, then the requirement in law to give a wheelchair/mobility scooter user access to the wheelchair space will be absolutely undeniable, and all bus companies will have to enforce it. This is the reason why Transport for All has supported Doug from the beginning.

On this day, we would like to gather with as many Disabled and older people as possible to show First Bus Group that disabled people everywhere are standing up for our right to ride.
Join us to show our support for Doug Paulley on this historic day.

 

WHEN: 9am, Wednesday 18th January 2017
WHERE: In front of the Supreme Court 
(nearest accessible Tube station is Westminster. Buses: 148, 211).

 

Please email Raphael if you would like to join the rally:

raphael@transportforall.org.uk

Please note that at 9.45am, one of the Justices will deliver a brief summary of the Court’s decision lasting around five minutes. Due to the appalling access at the High Court the number of spaces for wheelchair users is unfortunately very limited. On top of the space booked for people who’ve got a close connection to this case, there are an extra 6 places available which will be allocated via ballot by the Supreme Court .

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 Posted by at 16:14
Nov 292016
 

Have your say on fewer buses and the need for more changes in central london

https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/buses/west-end-bus-changes/

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.

 

 

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 Posted by at 20:32
Nov 172016
 

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.

DPAC Activists gather to pay tribute to the life of Debbie JollyAnd 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.

Gathering in the pouring rain to commemorate the life of Debbie JollyIn 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

DPAC Activists gather to pay tribute to the life of Debbie JollySomewhat 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.

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2016-11-16/debates/B8A1178A-8DFD-4609-89C9-80735DE4FC17/AutumnStatementDistributionalAnalysisUniversalCreditAndESA

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

http://www.thecanary.co/2016/11/17/ken-loach-just-slammed-the-tories-for-brutal-attacks-on-the-real-daniel-blakes-videos/

Plus articles from the Morning Star

http://www.morningstaronline. co.uk/a-fb77-Tories-cannot- brush-off-our-human-rights#. WCytr7KLRdg

http://www.morningstaronline. co.uk/a-fb92-Disabled- campaign-keeps-up-pressure#. WC2FwrKLRdg

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.

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/172393

Credit for photos goes to Nicola Jeffrey

 

 

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 Posted by at 20:42
Nov 102016
 

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

 

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 Posted by at 13:27
Oct 312016
 

Wanted - Damien Green - For Crimes Against Disabled PeopleToday Damien Green announced a consultation into the Work Capability Assessment a toxic and lethal test of disabled peoples’ ability to work. DPAC have consistently called for this to be completely scrapped as in spite of numerous attempts to reform the tick box computer tests they are still not fit for purpose. How many times do you keep trying to fix the unfixable?

It comes as no surprise either that Disability Charities welcome the changes which are being consulted on – why wouldn’t they after all there’s likely to be lots of financial pickings for them from the further misery of disabled claimants. Already Tom Pollard previously Campaign and Policy Manager for MIND has taken his thirty pieces of silver and moved to work for the DWP.

Overview and what these changes might mean

Now like Lord Freud the banker who wrote the guidelines for welfare reform for New Labour in 3 weeks and without any previous experience of our social security system Damien Green today has said “In the long run there is nothing more expensive than saying to someone, ‘Here’s a benefit you can have for the rest of your life…” Not that I’m sure what he means by that since this does not happen and disabled people face continuous repeat assessments to ensure they haven’t grown back any limbs or had a miraculous cure.

The consultation announced today places an emphasis on getting all disabled people back into work as fast as possible on the false assumption that working in a zero hours or low paid dead end jobs may somehow improve people’s health outcomes. Green seems to particularly single out forcing people with Mental Health and Musculoskeletal conditions back into work as fast as possible for as long as possible. Musculoskeletal conditions include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.

This is against a background of massive cuts to MH services to help those with a MH condition receive the support they need. Added to which there are caps to the Access to Work budget , social care funding has been slashed, to access train services in many cases disabled people have to book 24 or 48 hours in advance, Disabled Students’ Allowance has been cut making it more difficult if not impossible for young disabled people to gain qualifications, and people are being forced to give up work as they lose entitlement to PIP and their Motability vehicles are taken away.

Further between 2011 and 2015 the number of Jobcentres employing a full-time advisor to help disabled people navigate the support system and find employment fell by over 60 per cent from 226 to just 90, with reductions in every recorded year.

Does Damien really not understand that without the right support services in place disabled people even if they want to cannot work? Is it really too complex for politicians to grasp that support services must be available to allow disabled people to work if they want to and feel able to. Do they really not understand that for some disabled people working is not and never will be an option?

And what of employers?  of course they’re queuing up to retain and employ disabled people and all workplaces are accessible as we all know. The much lauded Disability Confident campaign resulted in a whopping 40 private firms signing up in 3 years.

But not just Damien also Jeremy Hunt, the much trusted health secretary also suggests getting people back to work had major health benefits. He is reported to say that as it cost £7bn a year to treat long-term health conditions that kept people out of work, and employment could be a part of recovery.

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, said “People in work generally have better health.” Something that I would have thought is obvious as people not in work often have long term health conditions or impairments which prevent them from working. Thus an utterly meaningless statement if ever I’ve heard one.

One particularly worrying statement is “No one wants a system where people are written off and forced to spend long periods of time on benefits when, actually, with the right support they could be getting back into work.” Which we feel means they plan to scrap the Support group.

This would certainly fit in with the announcement on October 1st when Damien Green announced there would be an end to repeat WCA assessments for people with permanent or progressive conditions. There was little detail on the announcement with more questions being raised that answers given (such as which conditions would be excluded from repeat assessments) The DWP promised to release guidelines to clarify exactly what this change means – to date no such clarification has appeared.

My Challenge to Damien Green and why these proposals are a crock of  ****

Dear Damien find an employer for this person. I know having to work as well as survive will help her wellbeing. Please note Damien at the moment she has no money to feed herself or her family due to the barbaric and flawed WCA assessment.

“I am writing this email as I feel desperate and alone after I had a phone call today saying I scored 0 points on my esa assessment. I don’t know where to turn or what to do.

I will start from the beginning. From being young I have had hip disabilities and went through many many operations between the ages of 12 and 19. In my early twenties I broke my left hip 4 times. Also in my early 20’s my spine started to deteriorate and to date I have had 3 emergency operations to try to correct this. During one operation I was left with that much damage and scar tissue I have loss of feeling and severe foot drop in my left foot.

Due to my hip problems I have arthritis in both hips and I am awaiting hip replacements in both hips. Due to my left femur being broken 4 times it is no longer straight meaning the hip replacement surgery will be very difficult which is why my surgeon is trying to leave it as long as possible as the surgery could end very badly.

I have suffered with chronic pain all my life but have always worked until earlier this year when I had my contract ended by work as I was no longer fit to do my job due to my disabilities. This is when I started claiming ESA.

Recently I have had major changes to my health leaving me doubly incontinent. I have to self catheterise twice daily. I am experiencing that much pain I am taking copious amounts of medication including morphine every 3 hours. My mobility is very restricted and my partner has had to give up work to care for me. I can’t cook, clean, go to the shop. My emotional and mental health is suffering terribly and I am on anti depressant medication.

I attended my ESA assessment last week and the decision maker telephoned me today telling me that I had not scored any points at all during the assessment and my benefits have been stopped.

Because my partner has come out of work our tax credits claim was ended and we have had to re apply meaning we are not receiving any money from tax credits at the moment. The only money we had support us and our two children was the ESA payments of £72 per week and £36 per week child benefit.

When the advisor phoned me with the news today I broke down in the phone. I feel as though I am on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I can not go to work as I am too unwell. I spend a lot of my time feeling sleepy and not with it due to my medication, I can not control my bowels, I am in constant severe pain, my mobility is limited, my bladder does not empty itself so I have to self catheterise, I have short term memory loss and confusion due to medication, the list is endless. As the rent is now not being paid and with our previous arrears which I was paying off before this I am terrified my kids are going to lose their home. I can’t put food in the cupboards, gas and electric on. I feel hopeless and desperate.

I don’t know how this works. I have always worked I am not trying to get anything under false pretences. If I could work I would. I have lost my independence and I feel that the DWP are taking away my dignity along with it by making me beg to be able to live.

I am unsure why I have sent you this email but I don’t know where to turn. I am so sorry if this makes no sense. ”
What you can do

Write or email Damien to let him know what you think

ministers@dwp.gsi.gov.uk or Caxton House, 12, Tothill Street, London,SW1H

also please respond to the consulation

Full consultation here

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/work-health-and-disability-improving-lives

take part in consultation here

https://consultations.dh.gov.uk/workandhealth/consult/

 

 

 

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 Posted by at 18:51
Oct 252016
 

The Sustainability and Transformation Plans

Reblogged from National Health Action Party with thanks.

Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) – the biggest threat to the NHS since the Coalition’s Health & Social Care Act (2012)

The STP programme was launched in December 2015.

It splits England into 44 areas called ‘Footprints’ which will be the basis for how the NHS will be run in future. They are taking the ‘N’ out of the NHS.

This is designed to drive forward the 5 Year Forward View. It takes as its central point that there will never be funding for the NHS at any point in the future sufficient to fund it to current levels of service. On this basis the NHS will be reduced. Jeremy Hunt has said it will be on a ’10 year diet’.

This dismantling emphasises ‘out of hospital care’ using technology to replace face-to-face contact and moving people out of hospitals into community care. But funding for social care and public health have both been savagely cut.

Among other things the STPs rely on reducing the number of A&Es, selling ‘surplus’ land and assets to fund the STPs themselves and changing the skills mix of NHS staff. This means that people will no longer see doctors as a matter of course. The new system is based around patients using vouchers and personal health budgets, a form of ‘self-pay’.

In 2013 we had 140 full A&E hospitals in England. When the STPs are complete there will only be between 40 and 70 left.

According to the STPs, to make the NHS affordable and sustainable we, the public, must get used to longer ambulance journeys for emergency care, longer waiting times for treatment and the possibility of paying extra to be seen by a doctor. And we must learn to look after ourselves. This was planned in 2013, but shelved until after the 2015 election as being ‘politically sensitive’. In other words, the Tories knew they would have lost the election. THE PLANS SHOULD HAVE BEEN IN PLACE BY JUNE 30th 2016., but were delayed as so few of the ‘footprints’ could achieve it.

To sign a petition and find out what else you can do to stop this destruction of our NHS visit  http://nhap.org/the-biggest-attack-on-the-nhs/

Or sign the petition here https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-the-plans-to-dismantle-our-nhs

 

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 Posted by at 16:18
Oct 242016
 

I’m Martyn and I sit on the NUS (National Union of Students) Disabled Students Committee.

This Wednesday (26th October) from 1pm, we will be launching a new campaign where we will be fighting the high prescription costs that the NHS has been charging over the last few years. While this area of work will mainly be focusing on students, we will also be looking at the impact that these prescription costs have on the general public as well as fighting the charges to either have them scrapped or heavily reduced.

The current cost of an NHS prescription is £8.40; and in the last five years alone medication costs have increased over £1. When you are on no or a limited income, this is a charge that is not needed and can result in an even greater financial pressure for us to just maintain a basic level of health. Furthermore it is bad enough when you have to pay this once, but when you have to pay this every month for several items the cost soon mounts up. Add on other costs such as optical and dental charges and this annual total can be too much for people on a decent income to afford, let alone disabled people.

Even though there are some financial options for saving money such as pre-payment certificates, this is still not enough. Similarly a few of us are lucky to be exempt from these charges for a variety of reasons, however the majority of us don’t qualify for this. With the increasing cuts that the government are placing on us, this is becoming even harder to get.

As such, we are launching and running the cut prescription costs campaign and it will be great if as many of you can support us as much as you can. From 1pm this Wednesday, it would be amazing if you could take to social media using the hashtag #freeprescriptions to both promote the campaign and share your experiences of prescription costs and having an impairment. There will also be further information coming shortly on the different things that we will be doing and working on in order to fight the prescription charges and have them cut. This will also be an indirect fight at the cuts that the government have been imposing on people like us who are disabled. Again, it will be great if you could support us and get involved with it. The more people there are, the stronger we can be and the more likely it is that we will win.

Furthermore, on November 19th, NUS and UCU will be marching through London against many different issues that we are facing. Disabled people’s issues such as these will be at the forefront of the demo. For further information, see NUS National Demo on Facebook or Google search it.

If anyone has any questions, wants more information or wants to be kept in the loop with what we are doing, feel free to drop me an email at: M.Brown18@uni.brighton.ac.uk

Our website is http://www.prescriptionchargescoalition.org.uk/

I will be keeping DPAC notified of everything that we are doing so that you don’t miss out on this campaign including any information and so that you can get involved with what we are doing.

I hope that many of you can get involved in some way. It will be amazing if you can take to social media from Wednesday at 1pm of promote our campaign AND share your experiences!

 

 

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 Posted by at 18:28
Oct 012016
 

For those who were able to come to our conference on September 10th  I’m sure you all remember the absolutely harrowing video from Greece which was shown of disabled children being bound into cots and beds. For anyone who missed it you can see it again here

http://dpac.uk.net/2016/09/greeces-shocking-secretthe-work-of-zero-tolerance/

In a solidarity action with our OCAP allies in Toronto we plan to deliver a letter to the Greek Embassy in the UK. (below) demanding changes in Greece and human rights for disabled people there.

Meet Wednesday, October 5th at 10.30am outside the embassy at 1A Holland Park, London, W11 3TP

 

For those of you not able to attend in person please join in on twitter #GreeceSolidarity and tweet to @GreeceinUK or email  gremb.lon@mfa.gr using the below as a template.

Dear Mr. : This letter is being hand delivered by a delegation from Disabled People Against Cuts. We are here in solidarity with the Emancipation Movement of People with Disabilities: Zero Tolerance in Greece. In November of last year, they occupied a centre for disabled children and young adults in the town of Lechaina and exposed conditions of neglect and cruelty that clearly constituted an abuse of their human rights. This went to lengths of prolonged confinement in tiny spaces and the tying down of children to their beds round the clock. You may be aware that Human Rights Watch has taken up this matter and spoken in the clearest terms on the enormity of the abuses involved. You may also be aware that the horrors being perpetrated at the Lechaina centre are simply the tip of the iceberg. It is estimated that eighty five such centres are operating throughout Greece and that a huge and appalling abuse of the rights of disabled people is being perpetrated. Your Country is, of course, facing an externally imposed agenda of the most brutal austerity. Regrettably, your Government has decided to accept the logic of this agenda and embrace the infamous notion that ‘there is no alternative.’ With regard to the disgusting treatment of these disabled children, we wish to convey to Mr. Tsipras and his colleagues that an alternative must be found and the obscene warehousing of human beings that has been exposed here must come to an end. DPAC wishes to join with the Emancipation Movement of People with Disabilities: Zero Tolerance, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty and with many others internationally in demanding decent, adequate and humane conditions and services for these children and all disabled people in Greece. Thank you for your attention to this matter and we await your response. Yours truly, Ellen Clifford on behalf of the DPAC steering group

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 Posted by at 20:35
Sep 272016
 

Please submit evidence to this enquiry by October 21st  if you use care and support or Personal Assistants or are a parent of someone who uses these services. It is important that individuals let the rapporteur know what has happened since the closure of the ILF both to new applicants in 2010 and to all in 2015 and due to the cuts to Local Authority funding.

 

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Disability/SRDisabilities/Pages/Provisionofsupporttopersonswithdisabilities.aspx

 

Questionnaire on the “provision of support to persons with disabilities” – Call for submissions

The Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, Ms. Catalina Devandas-Aguilar, is currently preparing a study, to be presented at the 34th session of the Human Rights Council in March 2017, on the provision of support to persons with disabilities.

The Special Rapporteur welcomes inputs, in accessible formats (Word), in English, French, Russian or Spanish, from Member States, international and regional organizations, UN agencies, funds and programmes, organizations of and for persons with disabilities, civil society, national human rights institutions and other national independent mechanisms designated or established to monitor the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, disability or equality Ombudspersons, scholars, research institutions and policy think tanks, private sector businesses and networks, community movements, and private individuals, to provide information on the provision of support to persons with disabilities.

Submissions should be sent by e-mail to the address sr.disability@ohchr.org no later than 21 October 2016. Concise responses are encouraged, inclusive of relevant attachments where available.

Kindly indicate if you have any objections with regard to your reply being posted on this website.


Questionnaire on
 the provision of support to persons with disabilities

 

  1. Please provide information on the following services that are available for persons with disabilities in your country, including data on their coverage, geographic distribution and delivery arrangements, funding and sustainability, challenges and shortcoming in their implementation:
  2. Personal assistance;
  3. In-home, residential and community support;
  4. Support in decision-making, including peer support; and
  5. Communication support, including support for augmentative and alternative communication.

 

  1. Please explain how persons with disabilities can access information about the existing services referred to in question one, including referral procedures, eligibility criteria and application requirements.

 

  1. Please elaborate on how these services respond to the specific needs of persons with disabilities throughout their life cycle (infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood and older age) and how is service delivery ensured in the transition periods between life cycle stages.

 

  1. Please provide information on the number of certified sign language interpreters and deafblind interpreters available in your country.

 

  1. Please provide information on the existence of any partnership between State institutions and private service providers (e.g., non-governmental organizations, for-profit service providers) for the provision of support to persons with disabilities.

 

  1. Please describe to what extent and how are persons with disabilities and their representative organizations involved in the design, planning, implementation and evaluation of support services.

 

  1. Please provide any other relevant information and statistics (including surveys, censuses, administrative data, reports, and studies) related to the provision of support to persons with disabilities in your country.

 

 

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 Posted by at 20:13
Sep 262016
 

As well as general demands for improved rights of disabled people DPAC, Mental Health Resistance Network and Recovery in the bin have drawn up a set of specific demands for Mental Health.

After decades of oppression we believe that disabled people must be afforded self determination from the grass roots level. “Nothing About Us Without Us” must become a reality.

No Longer will we tolerate large disability charities which see us as nothing more than marketable commodities from which to make profits for their own benefit speaking for us and deciding our futures. We expect a Labour Party which claims to support disabled people’s rights to ensure that it is our voices that are listened to and not the empty voices of our oppressors. Without this guarantee DPAC cannot approve of the disability policies of any political party.

DPAC priorities for setting Mental Health  Disability Policies.

We deplore the appropriation of the Recovery Model by statutory services and government departments in order to justify the withdrawal of services and benefits from people who need them. 

Compulsory MH Training for Professionals in Various Fields

  1. Mental health training should be compulsory for all health care professionals, including doctors and nurses, and suicide awareness training should be given to all health care professionals. Such training should be kept up to date.
  2. All Police Forces should have full mental health awareness training, stop using section 136, and acknowledge that custody suites and lock-ups in police cells are not safe places.
  3. Mental health awareness training and crisis awareness training should be available for all teaching staff in primary and secondary schools, and further education institutions.
  4. A person suffering from mental distress should be treated with respect, courtesy, dignity, and consideration at all times as should and their families and friends.

Treatment Changes

 We demand the abolition of forced treatment and Compulsory Treatment Orders (CTOs).

  1. All treatment should be with the full agreement of the person being treated and with their full understanding of the side effects of treatment, both pharmaceutical and psychological.

7.We demand the right to refuse treatment as it is ratified under the United Nations Convention Rights People with Disabilities (UNCRPD)

8.We want recognition of the link between abuse and trauma, and mental distress. The British Psychological Society has already made this link.

9.We demand the recognition that child abuse prevention is also mental distress prevention.

  1. We want the abolition of the medical model of mental distress to be replaced with an acceptance that mental distress is part of the human condition and is a normal response to adverse events and circumstances. Appropriate care and support should be the right for all people suffering from mental distress.
  2. Long term psychological treatments should be provided freely to all who need them and talking therapies should not be restricted to short term interventions. We recognise that not everyone wants talking treatments and this should be respected.
  3. The person experiencing mental distress should decide their care and always have their wishes respected.
  4. There should be a recognition that the use of alcohol and drugs are a form of self medication for many in mental distress. Drugs should therefore be decriminalised.

14.Access to detox and drug rehab programmes should be available to everyone.

15.We demand recognition that many social values that are common place, such as competition being intrinsic to human relationships, are erroneous and cause harm to people’s mental health.

  1. Bereavement counselling should be made available for all children who lose a parent or supporting person. 

Financial Needs – Individual and Other Support

  1. We demand recognition that the WCA and PIP assessment processes are detrimental to people’s mental health and should be scrapped. The money saved by not paying Private Companies to carry out these assessments should be re-invested into better services.
  2. We demand guaranteed financial security and appropriate housing for everyone experiencing mental distress.
  3. No aspect of the social security system should cause distress or deterioration in a claimant’s mental health condition.
  4. Funding should be provided for Crisis Care to be made available for help and support 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.
  5. Funding should be made available for the setting up of Crisis Houses as safe spaces. Access to these should be every person’s right and should include ‘sitters’ who will be there to support people throughout these times.
  6. We want hospital beds to be replaced with beds in settings similar to domestic environments.
  7. More provision of services for children and young adults. 1 in 10 children are being denied mental health service support which is having a huge impact on the family and schools.
  8. Concessionary travel passes should be made available to all people living with mental distress to enable independence in the community and to attend appointments with health care professionals, thus aiding mental wellbeing.
  9. We want special support centres for young men who are suicidal and a paradigm shift away from the “norms” which are set as ideals of masculinity and may contribute to the high rate of suicide in young men.

26.Funding should be made available for research into mental health care that is based on a Social Model of mental distress; such funding should at least equal the current amount of money available for pharmaceutical research.

27.We demand the provision of special support for people with mental distress to ensure their children remain with them as a family.

  1. We demand a holistic approach to care – where a person has both a physical and a mental health problem, such impairments should be treated equally with respect and with dignity and with full understanding that a physical impairment can impact on a mental health impairment and vice versa.
  2. We want specialist support to be made available for ALL armed forces veterans who experience mental distress and for housing to be made available to them.
  3. We deplore the underfunding of mental health services in the NHS and the current practice of discharging people with mental health problems from secondary care into primary care where their needs cannot be met. These services should be properly funded.

 

Other

  1. Any crime against someone with a mental health condition should be treated as a hate crime.
  2. We want an ongoing campaign to end all bullying in schools and work places and within families and general society where such bullying is linked to mental distress.
  3. Action should be taken to end the ongoing discrimination against LGBT people as such discrimination can lead to mental distress.

Further Investigations Needed 

  1. We demand a full investigation into the effects of long term use of psychiatric medications and demand that mental health professionals treat reports of side effects of medication seriously.
  2. We want a full investigation into the appropriateness of the continuous use of medication as the main form of treatment for people in mental distress.

 

  1. We demand a full public inquiry into the impact on people in mental distress of being detained in Prison Environments.
  2. We want a full investigation into why so many people from BME communities are being diagnosed with a mental health condition.
  3. We want an investigation into the harmful effects of E.C.T.
  4. We demand an inquiry into the success or otherwise of the use of personal budgets for day care provision for people living with mental health problems.
  5. We demand a full public inquiry into the significantly shortened life expectancy of people with mental health conditions and a full report produced with recommendations which should be implemented.

 

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC)

www.dpac.uk.net

mail@dpac.uk.net

@dis_ppl_protest

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 Posted by at 21:47
Sep 262016
 

This is what we have asked the Labour Party to support and will also be asking others as soon as possible to do the same.

After decades of oppression we believe that disabled people must be afforded self determination from the grass roots level. “Nothing About Us Without Us” must become a reality.

No Longer will we tolerate large disability charities which see us as nothing more than marketable commodities from which to make profits for their own benefit speaking for us and deciding our futures. We expect a Labour Party which claims to support disabled people’s rights to ensure that it is our voices that are listened to and not the empty voices of our oppressors. Without this guarantee DPAC cannot approve of the disability policies of any political party.

 

The UNCRDP and our human and civil rights must be fully implemented, promoted and enforced.

Disabled people are affected by the cuts 9 times more than everybody else. People with the most severe disabilities are affected by the cuts 19 times more than everybody else. This discrimination against disabled people must end.

 

DPAC priorities for setting disability policies  – Policy Pledges we are seeking from Labour

 

A Legal Right to Independent Living and Self-Determination:

The creation of a specific independent living law: a legal right that fully enacts and enforces, as domestic law, the UNCRPD incorporating the 12 pillars of independent living as its key goals and ensures provision of independent living support is free at the point of need and paid from general taxation.

 

A continuing right for disabled people to receive a Direct Payment to fund their own care and support and have a right to choose what option they wish to use to provide that care and support.

 

There should be a single nationally transportable social care system and an end to localism and the current postcode lottery that exists. Funding for care should return to a 4 tier rather then a 2 tier system with low and moderate needs being met for all as well as substantial and critical. This would, as in the past, act as a preventative measure which would allow disabled people to retain independence and dignity longer.

 

Set up an Independent living task force, co-produced with disabled people to review independent living in order to identify how best to improve, develop and extend independent living support building on the successful model of ILF provision.

 

Legislation to end 15 minute home care visits and any move to replace face-to-face visits with telecare options.

 

Conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the use of agencies to provide home care provision with a view of bringing home-care (where provided as a service) back into local authority control.

 

An end to zero hour contracts for home care staff. Local Authorities to provide sufficient funding for those using Direct payments to meet all their financial responsibilities as an employer.

 

Serious changes should be made to how family carers are better supported both financially and practically.

 

Access to Health and Support Services: NHS funding must be protected and all forms of privatisation of our NHS should end with immediate effect.

 

Funding for mental health services including crisis teams should be protected and where necessary increased to former and safer levels. There should be an end of rationing of primary MH care services and treatment tailored to needs.

 

More funding investment is needed for children’s adolescent mental health services.

 

GP and nurse training should include compulsory training on mental health conditions and treatment.

 

There must be changes made to the Mental Capacity Act which is failing people it is supposed to protect. The Best Interests concept means that substitute decision making has become the default position rather than supporting people who are disabled or have Learning Difficulties to make their own decisions.

 

Welfare Support : There must be a publicly run welfare system and an end to paying private firms massive amounts of public money to carry out disability assessments badly. Instead that money should be invested into providing decent, liveable benefit levels.

 

An end to the Work Capability Assessment which is too flawed to amend. No aspect of the social security system should cause distress or deterioration in a claimant’s health condition.

 

An end to replacing Disability Living Allowance with Personal Independence Payments where assessment processes are in complete chaos. Flawed assessments are depriving many disabled people of the support they need to get to work or to take part in society.

 

A full public, independent inquiry into deaths of social security claimants   leading where appropriate to criminal proceedings against ministers, civil   servants, and employees of service providing companies, ATOS, Maximus Capita who were found to have broken any laws with respect to this

 

 

Engagement with any back to work services must be optional for all claimants.

 

An immediate end to benefit sanctions which have led to deaths and increasing poverty. Ensure that there is no conditionality of JSA or ESA WRAG on seeking treatments and no linkage with treatment and receipt of benefits.
There must be a statutory right ensuring all people have ‘enough to live on’  and no-one is left destitute without money for food and fuel as a very minimum.

 

A total rethink on any move to Universal Credit and instead serious consideration to be given working with disabled people and DPOs to a move to a single system of welfare support based on the concept of a disabled person’s citizen’s income.

 

Policy recognition that there will always be disabled people who are unable or too ill to work. These individuals must be supported by a publically funded system.

 

Housing:

A strategic and sustained programme of building social housing to the standards of universal design and accessibility is carried out.

 

An end to bedroom tax and the Benefit Cap.

 

Until there are adequate levels of social housing available an increase in LHA rates to fully reflect the real costs of housing to meet the needs of disabled people and disabled children.

 

Access, Inclusion and taking part in society:

The creation of legal status for British Sign Language, and disabled people’s access on an equal basis with others to the physical environment, to transportation, justice, family life, the arts, to accessible information and all forms of information technology.

 

Enact and maintain a fully accessible public transport system with free transport available for disabled people.

 

Fully Inclusive Education:

Education is the key to creating an inclusive society. This can only be achieved by having one fully inclusive mainstream education system, funded by the state. Without inclusive education you will not get an inclusive society

 

Cuts to Disabled Students’ Allowance should be reversed

 

All Disabled People have a right to Work and get a Job:

A comprehensive plan of action is developed with disabled people and our organisations to tackle the discrimination and exclusion disabled people face in work and employment.

 

Access to Work (AtW) must be extended to include unpaid voluntary positions and recent changes that limit and reduce the support provided through AtW should be reversed.

 

The recently introduced (August 2013) fees for taking an employer to Employment Tribunal must be repealed.

 

Ensure that all government contracts, at a national, regional and local level, are only awarded to companies that are fulfilling measurable targets for the employment of disabled people.

 

Access to Justice:

All legal aid changes must be repealed and disabled people’s rights to access justice must be restored.

 

Disability Hate Crime laws and sentencing must be strengthened.

 

Reversal of the watering down of disabled people’s rights with the move from DDA to the Equality Act.

 

Restoration of funding for advice advocacy services such as CABs.

 

Legislation to prevent assisted dying.

 

Local Authority Statutory Services:

There must be no redefining of Local Authority Statutory Services to reduce their obligations even further.

 

Real and Effective Co-Production with user-led Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations across the UK:

Ensure meaningful, well-resourced and accessible co-production with disabled people and their organisations at local, regional and national levels on all issues affecting us.

 

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC)

www.dpac.uk.net

mail@dpac.uk.net

@dis_ppl_protest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After decades of oppression we believe that disabled people must be afforded self determination from the grass roots level. “Nothing About Us Without Us” must become a reality.

No Longer will we tolerate large disability charities which see us as nothing more than marketable commodities from which to make profits for their own benefit speaking for us and deciding our futures. We expect a Labour Party which claims to support disabled people’s rights to ensure that it is our voices that are listened to and not the empty voices of our oppressors. Without this guarantee DPAC cannot approve of the disability policies of any political party.

 

The UNCRDP and our human and civil rights must be fully implemented, promoted and enforced.

Disabled people are affected by the cuts 9 times more than everybody else. People with the most severe disabilities are affected by the cuts 19 times more than everybody else. This discrimination against disabled people must end.

 

DPAC priorities for setting disability policies  – Policy Pledges we are seeking from Labour

 

A Legal Right to Independent Living and Self-Determination:

The creation of a specific independent living law: a legal right that fully enacts and enforces, as domestic law, the UNCRPD incorporating the 12 pillars of independent living as its key goals and ensures provision of independent living support is free at the point of need and paid from general taxation.

 

A continuing right for disabled people to receive a Direct Payment to fund their own care and support and have a right to choose what option they wish to use to provide that care and support.

 

There should be a single nationally transportable social care system and an end to localism and the current postcode lottery that exists. Funding for care should return to a 4 tier rather then a 2 tier system with low and moderate needs being met for all as well as substantial and critical. This would, as in the past, act as a preventative measure which would allow disabled people to retain independence and dignity longer.

 

Set up an Independent living task force, co-produced with disabled people to review independent living in order to identify how best to improve, develop and extend independent living support building on the successful model of ILF provision.

 

Legislation to end 15 minute home care visits and any move to replace face-to-face visits with telecare options.

 

Conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the use of agencies to provide home care provision with a view of bringing home-care (where provided as a service) back into local authority control.

 

An end to zero hour contracts for home care staff. Local Authorities to provide sufficient funding for those using Direct payments to meet all their financial responsibilities as an employer.

 

Serious changes should be made to how family carers are better supported both financially and practically.

 

Access to Health and Support Services: NHS funding must be protected and all forms of privatisation of our NHS should end with immediate effect.

 

Funding for mental health services including crisis teams should be protected and where necessary increased to former and safer levels. There should be an end of rationing of primary MH care services and treatment tailored to needs.

 

More funding investment is needed for children’s adolescent mental health services.

 

GP and nurse training should include compulsory training on mental health conditions and treatment.

 

There must be changes made to the Mental Capacity Act which is failing people it is supposed to protect. The Best Interests concept means that substitute decision making has become the default position rather than supporting people who are disabled or have Learning Difficulties to make their own decisions.

 

Welfare Support : There must be a publicly run welfare system and an end to paying private firms massive amounts of public money to carry out disability assessments badly. Instead that money should be invested into providing decent, liveable benefit levels.

 

An end to the Work Capability Assessment which is too flawed to amend. No aspect of the social security system should cause distress or deterioration in a claimant’s health condition.

 

An end to replacing Disability Living Allowance with Personal Independence Payments where assessment processes are in complete chaos. Flawed assessments are depriving many disabled people of the support they need to get to work or to take part in society.

 

A full public, independent inquiry into deaths of social security claimants   leading where appropriate to criminal proceedings against ministers, civil   servants, and employees of service providing companies, ATOS, Maximus Capita who were found to have broken any laws with respect to this

 

 

Engagement with any back to work services must be optional for all claimants.

 

An immediate end to benefit sanctions which have led to deaths and increasing poverty. Ensure that there is no conditionality of JSA or ESA WRAG on seeking treatments and no linkage with treatment and receipt of benefits.
There must be a statutory right ensuring all people have ‘enough to live on’  and no-one is left destitute without money for food and fuel as a very minimum.

 

A total rethink on any move to Universal Credit and instead serious consideration to be given working with disabled people and DPOs to a move to a single system of welfare support based on the concept of a disabled person’s citizen’s income.

 

Policy recognition that there will always be disabled people who are unable or too ill to work. These individuals must be supported by a publically funded system.

 

Housing:

A strategic and sustained programme of building social housing to the standards of universal design and accessibility is carried out.

 

An end to bedroom tax and the Benefit Cap.

 

Until there are adequate levels of social housing available an increase in LHA rates to fully reflect the real costs of housing to meet the needs of disabled people and disabled children.

 

Access, Inclusion and taking part in society:

The creation of legal status for British Sign Language, and disabled people’s access on an equal basis with others to the physical environment, to transportation, justice, family life, the arts, to accessible information and all forms of information technology.

 

Enact and maintain a fully accessible public transport system with free transport available for disabled people.

 

Fully Inclusive Education:

Education is the key to creating an inclusive society. This can only be achieved by having one fully inclusive mainstream education system, funded by the state. Without inclusive education you will not get an inclusive society

 

Cuts to Disabled Students’ Allowance should be reversed

 

All Disabled People have a right to Work and get a Job:

A comprehensive plan of action is developed with disabled people and our organisations to tackle the discrimination and exclusion disabled people face in work and employment.

 

Access to Work (AtW) must be extended to include unpaid voluntary positions and recent changes that limit and reduce the support provided through AtW should be reversed.

 

The recently introduced (August 2013) fees for taking an employer to Employment Tribunal must be repealed.

 

Ensure that all government contracts, at a national, regional and local level, are only awarded to companies that are fulfilling measurable targets for the employment of disabled people.

 

Access to Justice:

All legal aid changes must be repealed and disabled people’s rights to access justice must be restored.

 

Disability Hate Crime laws and sentencing must be strengthened.

 

Reversal of the watering down of disabled people’s rights with the move from DDA to the Equality Act.

 

Restoration of funding for advice advocacy services such as CABs.

 

Legislation to prevent assisted dying.

 

Local Authority Statutory Services:

There must be no redefining of Local Authority Statutory Services to reduce their obligations even further.

 

Real and Effective Co-Production with user-led Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations across the UK:

Ensure meaningful, well-resourced and accessible co-production with disabled people and their organisations at local, regional and national levels on all issues affecting us.

 

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC)

www.dpac.uk.net

mail@dpac.uk.net

@dis_ppl_protest

 

 

 

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 Posted by at 21:41
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/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 Posted by at 20:05
Dec 032015
 

DPAC/Public Interest Research Unit study on work-place discrimination: request for information on your experiences.

Do you think that you might have experienced disability discrimination at work?

Did the new £1,250 fee (introduced in July 2013), to take your case to an employment tribunal, put you off making a discrimination claim against the employer?

If so, and you think that you might be prepared to provide more details for DPAC/PIRU’s study, please email rgbharwood@hotmail.com or mail@dpac.uk.net.

Any information you provide will be anonymised, so as to hide your identity.

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 Posted by at 19:53
Nov 082015
 

by Bob Williams Findlay

It’s often said that history only remembers the victors. Recently, the Equality and Human Rights Commission produced a video to, and I quote, “Celebrate twenty years since the passing of the Disability Discrimination Act in 1995.” For disabled people who were involved in the struggle to have the inequalities we face acknowledged and addressed, I doubt there are many of us who will be putting the flags out or popping champagne corks in celebration of the Act itself.

The bulk of us who were actively involved remain true to the belief that the passing of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) was a significant defeat for disabled people and the struggle against social oppression. This is not to say the passing of the DDA had no positive impact upon disabled people’s lives or had no influence on social change, it did, but acknowledging this shouldn’t detract us from recognising the fact the DDA restricted our progress, was of limited use to disabled people and was never likely to challenge the status quo.

It is impossible to produce a balance sheet of the DDA’s true impact because all kinds of external factors operate to mask the truth. It can be argued that the overall struggle for anti-discrimination legislation and specific actions such as the Campaign for Accessible Transport were more instrumental in bringing about organic social change. Over the last twenty years the whole of society has radically changed, and how disabled people have been both seen and treated have been part of that process whether that’s been via Tony Blair’s “rights and responsibilities” agenda or the neoliberal business case for ‘including disabled people’.

To fully appreciate our position on the DDA it is necessary to strip away the sugar coated presentation of this historic piece of legislation in order to reveal how the collective voice of disabled people and their many allies were silenced by acts of betrayal and brute force. The real story isn’t really about the twenty years since the passing of this piecemeal, ineffectual and oppressive Act, but rather it is about how the Civil Rights Bill and the ideas contained within it were buried both physically and politically by those who felt threatened by the potential impact it would’ve had on society.

The aim here is not to romanticise the campaign for full civil and human rights for disabled people, but instead to recall the major events that led up to the Tories introducing their own Disability Discrimination Bill in order to head off the Private Member’s Bill on Civil Rights Bill and why the passing of the DDA should be viewed as a significant and negative watershed in our emancipation struggle. Neither is it possible to critique the nature or merits of the Disabled People’s Movements campaign, although there’ll be signposts to various opinions on it.

Over the last twenty years we have seen various ‘interpretations’ of the struggle for our emancipation and many of these place tremendous emphasis on the fact that legislation was adopted to give disabled people ‘rights’. Here is a lengthy quotation from one such interpretation:

‘The Disabled People’s ‘Rights Now!’ campaign had a rich and diverse membership, including representation from many trade unions. It encompassed direct action, mass lobbies of parliament, petitions and awareness-raising campaigns to support civil rights for disabled people, and the issue was raised in Parliament on 14 separate occasions. The campaign won over a number of MPs and Peers, including Alf Morris, Roger Berry, Tom Clarke and Harry Barnes, who provided much needed political support and sponsored various Disabled People’s Civil Rights Private Members Bills.

The campaign reached a turning point in 1994 when the Conservative Government and the then Minister for Disabled People Nicholas Scott were found to have misled Parliament by stating that the cost of implementing civil rights legislation for disabled people would be greater than the sum previously calculated by civil servants.

In 1995, the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) became law and although it was a watered-down version of what disabled people wanted, it was nevertheless a huge victory for the Rights Now! campaign.’ (Aspis, 2011:3)

There are many aspects of this account that needs to be placed in a wider context and, as a consequence, it can then be viewed differently. Let’s begin by looking at important historical moments as a backdrop to the Rights Now campaign. Barnes and Oliver remind us that:

…the move by disabled people to form their own organisations…
fostered a growing collective consciousness amongst disabled people…. [which] began a process of reformulating the problems of disability, shifting the focus away from the functional limitations of impaired individuals towards contemporary social organisation with its plethora of disabling barriers. It also set in train a political divergence between organisations for the disabled and organisations of disabled people. (Barnes and Oliver,1991: 4)

The political divergence spoken about here between organisations for the disabled (sic) and organisations of disabled people permeates right through the history of the struggle for anti-discrimination legislation and beyond. Significantly, Barnes and Oliver go on to say:

Many of the traditional organisations for the disabled had advised the government that discrimination was not a problem for disabled people and that legislation was unnecessary. Yet in 1979, the Silver Jubilee Access Committee drew attention to a number of ‘blatant acts of discrimination against disabled people. The official committee which investigated the allegations was unequivocal in its findings: discrimination against disabled people was widespread and legislation was essential. (Barnes and Oliver,1991: 5)

Ian Bynoe picks up the story when he writes:

….1992 marks the tenth anniversary of the publication of the Report of the Committee on Restrictions against Disabled People
(CORAD).This is the only report on disability and discrimination ever to have been received by a UK government. It found discrimination to be commonplace in the experience of disabled people and recommended anti-discrimination legislation. Its
proposals were dismissed by the government of the day and there has since been no evidence of a change of mind to revive hopes that the CORAD proposals might be implemented. (Bynoe, 1991: 1)

For the record the CORAD committee defined discrimination as: ‘the unjustifiable withholding whether intentional or not, of some service, facility or opportunity from a disabled person because of that person’s disability’ (Large, 1982:7)

The stark reality is that since the early 1980s there were no less than fourteen attempts to introduce anti-discrimination legislation via Private Members Bills largely introduced, but not exclusively, by backbench Labour MPs. Not only did each fail, they nearly all followed a similar pattern where in Parliament the Tory spokesperson would state that, ‘there was nothing but good will towards the disabled’, and of course, ‘education was better than legislation’ if any problems were to exist. On the other hand, the supporters of the various bills would mainly focus upon employment issues. Meanwhile outside of Parliament there was the ritualised farce of the big disability charities shipping in bus loads of disabled people to parade around Parliament Square before sending them home again.

Barnes and Oliver inform us that:

The formation of Voluntary Organisations for Anti-
Discrimination Legislation (VOADL) was a sign that many organisations for the disabled had been converted to views articulated by disabled people themselves. However, there
remain, perhaps inevitably, significant differences between the
philanthropic and liberationist elements of the disability lobby.
(Barnes and Oliver,1991: 5)

Those of us who were involved with VOADL and later, Rights Now, might take issue with the view that the “for” organisations were actually ‘converted’ to the views held by disabled people. Their practice then and since would cast a long shadow over this assumption. An alternative view is that for a long time disabled people’s organisations were only granted observer status within VOADL however the growing momentum behind the British Council for Disabled People’s campaign for anti-discrimination legislation (ADL), began to shift both the focus and the exercising of power and so this ‘conversion’ by the charities had more to do with their fear of being outflanked by BCODP than [it did to] any serious commitment to disability politics.

John Evans provides us with information on BCODP’s campaign when he says:

It was 1991 when BCODP (British Council of Disabled People) which is the national, representative and democratic organisation of disabled people in the UK launched its ADL campaign as its future main objective. (Evans, 1996: 2)

There are two important points raised here. Firstly, the fact BCODP made this their main campaign has been debated off and on within the Disabled People’s Movement ever since and it’s an issue that continues to divide opinion. This article isn’t the place to unpack the issues, however, the significance of the decision will be returned to later. Secondly, a major contribution to the launch of BCODP’s ADL campaign was the publishing of commissioned research undertaken by Colin Barnes into discrimination against disabled people in the UK. Evans points out that “Discrimination and Disabled People in Britain” was so comprehensive ‘…. it provided more than enough evidence supporting the whole case for ADL and it became a very useful tool in the campaign and a symbol for empowerment and inspiration. It was the first authoritative piece of research done in this area and was carried out by disabled researchers and disabled experts.’ (Evans, 1996: 2)

The momentum generated by BCODP’s campaign and the emergence of the Disability Action Network (DAN) made VOADL look staid and stuffy. As mentioned previously the differences between the philanthropic and liberationist elements of the disability lobby became increasingly marked. The Executive Committee of BCODP recommended that VOADL had a make-over and with a bloodless coup, Rights Now was launched under the stewardship of the Disabled People’s Movement. John Evans again broadly captures the period between 1992 and 1994 when he writes:

Direct action no doubt heightened the profile for the need for civil rights legislation in the eyes of the general public and did a lot to shake up the politicians complacency on the issue but it could never be enough by itself. Without the lobbying of parliament and meetings with politicians putting forward constructive arguments based on available evidence of discrimination and seeking their support the cause would have been lost. Any changes in the law have to be done through Parliament so you have to get some politicians fighting for your cause. At the same time disabled experts and lawyers have to work alongside other lawyers and politicians in writing up the Bill. This work was co-ordinated by a group called the Rights Now…. which was a coalition of about 50 disability organisations and charities who were formed to work together to help bring about ADL. (Evans, 1996: 3)

Two central features mark the difference between VOADL and Rights Now. Disabled people drove the agenda and increased the public profile of the ADL campaign, but at the same time worked directly with members of parliament to put together the Civil Rights Bill. Many of us believe that this displacement of the ‘big six’ disability charities resulted in them watering down their commitment to full and comprehensive legislation and a growing willingness to accept compromise as the price of regaining their power position over disabled people. This watershed moment sees the birth of what has subsequently become ‘Janus politics’ – where the charities look back towards the radical language and concepts from the Disabled People’s Movement, but actually creates ‘new meaning’ which transforms them into tools which then help maintain their status. For example, the concepts ‘independent living’ and ‘choices and rights’ now employed by organisations such as Scope and Disability Rights UK are a million miles from their original meaning.

Mike Oliver noted that:

Speaker after speaker from non-representative organisations for disabled people claimed the social model as their own in the Trafalgar Square demonstrations of 1994. Additionally, the Disability Rights Commission established in 1997 by the New Labour Government declares that it is guided in everything it does by the social model of disability. (Oliver, 2004: 28)

Caroline Gooding and Bob Findlay advised the opposition parties on behalf of Rights Now, including writing a briefing paper on the social model and the definition of disability. Once in power New Labour set up a Disability Task Force, but this body steadfastly declined to change the traditional definition of disability to one in keeping with the social model.

Stepping back a little, the first test for the new wave militancy and Parliamentary campaigning came when Harry Barnes tried to push through the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill.

Ian Parker, in an article called ‘SPITTING ON CHARITY’ which appeared in the Independent, wrote:

In May 1994, however, a private member’s bill, the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill, was killed messily by the Government, and the minister for disabled people, Nicholas Scott, eventually had to resign. (Parker, 2011: unpaged)
This caused an outcry and came about because as Parker acknowledged:

Last year – another Great Leap Forward – the civil rights argument was won. At some point, legislation may follow. (Parker, 2011: unpaged)

Parliament was finally ready to pass ADL, but the Tories and big business weren’t prepared to see the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill go through. As Lorraine Gradwell states, ‘… the Tory government were so concerned about the increasing popularity of anti discrimination legislation that they brought forward this fudge of a compromise’.(2015)

Their only course of action was to head off our Bill by introducing the weaker Disability Discrimination Bill led by William Hague. This was eventually passed into law twenty years ago as the Disability Discrimination Act.

What followed was a two horse handicapped chase. Roger Berry picked up the gauntlet and re-introduced the Civil Rights Bill, but Hague had the advantage of proposing a Bill supported by the Conservative John Major government. It was under these conditions that the ‘big six’ charities made their move.

Parker reports:
Thanks to his position at the head of a fairly well-funded “for” organisation, and thanks to his support for incremental methods, and thanks to his recent claim to see some (flawed) virtue in the Government’s Disability Discrimination Bill, Massie is regarded with great hostility by many “fundamentalists”. Rachel Hurst, a radical with a sharp political sense, says, “Our voice has been shut out by the established charities. Some staff at Radar I’ve got more time for than I can say. [But] I wouldn’t mind shooting the man at the top. He is an Uncle Tom, Mr Massie… He actually doesn’t care a toss about the rights of disabled people.” (Parker, 2011: unpaged)
Evans also recalls in 1996 that:

The DDA took only 6 months from beginning to end in becoming law.

Unfortunately the DDA was flawed from the start as being a weak piece of legislation which was unenforceable and was considered a drop in the ocean, as it was certainly not going to protect disabled people from the many forms of discrimination which existed. It outraged the disability movement because it denied them the fully comprehensive civil rights legislation which they had worked so hard campaigning for and consequently they refused to have anything to do with it. (Evans, 1996: 4)

Perhaps even more forcibly Marian Corker wrote in ‘The UK Disability Discrimination Act – disabling language, justifying inequitable social participation’:

What has been ‘achieved’ is a legal instrument that has variously been described as ‘confusing, contorted and unsatisfactory’ (Gooding 1996); ‘a dissembling law not an enabling statute’ (Doyle 1997: 78); and ‘one of the most ill-conceived pieces of legislation ever to reach the statute books’ (Corker 1998: 115). This is the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) (Corker, 2000)

She went on to say:

However, there is little doubt that the DDA represents a muddled combination of prohibition, justifiable discrimination and reasonable adjustment that can themselves act as a barrier to claimants who may be ‘isolated, possibly ill-informed and under-resourced’ (Gooding 1996: 6). Further, because the DDA legally justifies direct discrimination on the grounds of ‘disability’ in what Gooding (1996: 6) describes as ‘dangerously vague’ terms, and fails to incorporate a notion of the indirect discrimination experienced by disabled people, it seems an ineffective legal instrument for tackling the institutionalised oppression of disabled people. (Corker, 2000)

The DDA, unlike the Civil Rights Bill, wasn’t designed to tackle the institutionalised oppression of disabled people. Any hope of repealing and replacing the DDA with the Civil Rights Bill when New Labour came to power was quickly dashed. First, Labour’s Tom Clarke refuted BCODP’s claim that Labour in opposition had promised to do just that. Second, the Task Force already mentioned was hand-picked with more radical elements of the Disabled People’s Movement blacklisted throughout Labour’s terms in office. Margaret Hodge in 2000 when Minister for Disabled People, instructed the BBC to ‘edit out’ criticism of the DDA in its Disabled Century TV program. Third, Labour looked towards the new ‘Disability Movement’ driven by the charities and DPOs willing to buy into Blair’s ‘Third Way’ and the neoliberal market economy. Finally, it was New Labour who brought in Atos to hound sick and disabled people.

So, when we’re told the DDA was a victory, what does this mean? There has been a paradoxical development; just at the moment when inadequate legal rights were established for disabled people, the movement for emancipation was outflanked by the big disability charities and made an outcast by successive governments. Since 1995 the Disabled People’s Movement has gone into decline. Internal division and criticism followed the defeat of the Civil Rights Bill, with senior disabled activists accusing BCODP of ‘putting all its eggs in one basket’ by having ‘legislation’ as its prime focus and failing to cultivate grassroots structures and organisation.

Does this look like a victory? Merely getting legal recognition that disabled people have limited rights not to be discriminated against? Are they saying we should be celebrating being granted crumbs from their table? In 2005 the Public Interest Research Unit reported, ‘Ten years of the Disability Discrimination Act: Anniversary research indicates qualified failure.’

The DDA gave individual rights, but simply asked for employers and service providers to behave ‘reasonably’. The last five years in particular has witnessed savage attacks on both disabled people’s rights, services and lifestyles. A reverse of disabled people’s fortunes added to by the threat of legalised ‘assisted suicide’ is the reality, not this empty rhetoric of ‘equal citizenship’. Disabled people have been silenced and sidelined for the majority of the last twenty years apart from piecemeal changes in the social environment and attempts at tokenistic ‘inclusion’ here and there.

Now the whitewash begins. We see video clips from the Equality and Human Rights Commission and Scope on 20 years of the DDA, producing ‘false history’ via safe narratives and the worst of all, the Heritage Lottery Fund supporting Leonard Cheshire’s empire to write ‘disability history’ (sic). Ellis’s piece for the HLF on the DDA is another example of revisionism with a dash of criticism thrown in.

Those of us who lived and fought through the 1980s and 1990s see no cause to celebrate. Politically, we were defeated in 1995; our slogan, “Nothing About Us, Without Us”, has still to be realised. Although the last twenty years has been an uphill struggle to keep the fight for emancipation alive, we are seeing yet again a new wave of determination among disabled people; people who believe in freedom and social justice. These green shoots are what we should be celebrating today, not the results of the falsification of history written by our oppressors and shameful or misguided collaborators.

Notes:

Aspis, S. (2011:3) Campaigns in Action – Disabled People’s struggle for Equality
www.allfie.org.uk/docs/campaigns%20in%20action%20text%20only.doc

Barnes, C. and Oliver, M. (1991) ‘DISCRIMINATION, DISABILITY AND WELFARE: FROM NEEDS TO RIGHTS’ in Bynoe, I. et al.,
Equal Rights for Disabled People: A Case for a new law – IPPR.

Bynoe, I. (1991) THE CASE FOR ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LEGISLATION in Bynoe, I. et al., Equal Rights for Disabled People: A Case for a new law – IPPR.

http://disability-studies.leeds.ac.uk/files/library/bynoe-equal-rights-for-disabled-people.pdf

Large, P., (1982) Report of the Committee on Restrictions
Against Disabled People

Evans, J. (1996) ‘THE U.K. CIVIL RIGHTS CAMPAIGN AND THE DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION ACT’

http://disability-studies.leeds.ac.uk/files/library/evans-ADLWIEN.pdf

Oliver, M. (2004) ‘The Social Model in Action: if I had a hammer’, in Implementing the Social Model of Disability: Theory and Research edited by Colin Barnes and Geof Mercer (2004); Leeds: The Disability Press, pp. 18-31

http://pf7d7vi404s1dxh27mla5569.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/files/library/Barnes-implementing-the-social-model-chapter-2.pdf

Parker, I. (2011) ‘SPITTING ON CHARITY’ from the Independent,

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/spitting-on-charity-1614885.html

Gradwell, L. (2015) Comment on her Facebook page, 4th November.

Corker, M. (2000) ‘The UK Disability Discrimination Act – disabling language, justifying inequitable social participation’, in: The 10tk Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, edited by Anita Silvers and Leslie Francis, Routledge

http://pf7d7vi404s1dxh27mla5569.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/files/library/Corker-UKDDA.pdf

Additional material used as research:

Corker, M. (1998) Deaf and Disabled or Deafness Disabled? Buckingham: Open University Press

Doyle, B. (1997) Enabling legislation or dissembling law? -The Disability Discrimination Act 1995. Modern Law Review, 64

Gooding, C. (1996) Blackstone’s guide to the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, London: Blackstone, in association with RADAR

Public Interest Research Unit (2005) ‘Ten years of the Disability Discrimination Act: Anniversary research indicates qualified failure’

http://www.piru.org.uk/press-releases/ten-years-of-dda

Ellis, L. (2015) ’20 Years of the DDA’, Heritage Lottery Fund

http://www.hlf.org.uk/about-us/news-features/20-years-disability-discrimination-act

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 Posted by at 12:55
Aug 262015
 

DPAC are going to Manchester and the Tory Party Conference 

Our main action will be on Monday October 5th at noon. Meet at Central Library opposite the Midland Hotel, just off St. Peter’s Square 

https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/The+Midland/@53.4772841,-2.2451292,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x487bb1c27381b90b:0xf4daf7

The theme of this event will be

IDS Wanted for Crimes Against Disabled People

A second action together with others will be held on Wednesday October 7th from 9am.  Public meeting point is Albert square outside the Town Hall

https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/Manchester+City+Council/@53.4791675,-2.2443142,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x487bb1c18b1ea

As usual we need donations, but only from those of you who can really afford them, to help pay for people to get to these actions. We have already set aside an amount of £2,000 to help fund our members to get to these events. However with train fares and the need for accessible accommodation that disabled people need this is likely to just be enough to fund 10- 12 people to attend.

If anyone can donate or are union members and could ask their union branch to donate you can pay through paypal or email us at mail@dpac.uk.net for BACS details or details of where to send cheques.

If any DPAC members want to apply for financial support also email us at mail@dpac.uk.net

This will be on a first come first served basis

 

 

 

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 Posted by at 19:25
Aug 032015
 

– Urgent Action for DDPOs and Disabled Rights Campaigners to oppose the legalisation of Assisted Suicide

Book NOW for Assisted Dying bill briefing session and media training -13 August

The Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance is calling on Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations (DDPOs) and individual Disabled Rights campaigners and supporters to join Not Dead Yet UK in speaking out about the dangers that the legalisation of assisted suicide poses to Disabled people.

There are currently two bills to legalise assisted suicide before Parliament. Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying bill had its First Reading in the House of Lords on 4 June and Rob Marris’ Assisted Dying No.2 Bill had its first reading in the House of Commons on 24 June. Marris’ bill will have its Second Reading debate in the House of Commons on 11 September when Parliament returns from its Summer recess. For the first time in years MPs will get to vote on this highly controversial subject.

There are many different ways you can be involved but one important ask is for DDPOs to sign up to the ROFA statement opposing legalisation.

Inclusion London is also running an Assisted Dying bill  briefing session and media training workshop facilitated by Liz Carr from the Not Dead Yet campaign on Thursday 13th August at 336 Brixton Road, SW9 7AA.

The day is open to representatives and members from national as well as London Disabled People’s Organisations and campaigns. For more information visit the Inclusion London website  or contactellen.clifford@inclusionlondon.co.uk.

To read more about the Assisted Dying bills, the issues surrounding the legalisation of assisted suicide and ways you can be involved in the campaign see the Inclusion London (www.inclusionlondon.co.uk/Campaigns) and DPAC (www.dpac.uk.net) websites.

 

 

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 Posted by at 17:16
Jun 172015
 

Conference

Tuesday 14 July 2015,

11-4pm,

Hotel Novotel Sheffield Centre,

50 Arundel Gate,

Sheffield, S1 2PR

Now more than ever Disabled people and our organisations and networks need to work together to protect & defend our rights and develop our own voice and policy ideas.

This conference organised by the Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance (ROFA) is inviting representatives from Disabled Peoples Organisations(DPO’s) and networks from across England to meet together to:

  •   Take stock following the election and explore likely implications of new Government policy for disabled people.
  •  Identify our disability equality campaigning priorities for the next year.
  •  Identify the policy issues our movement needs to explore and progress.
  •  Build and strengthen ROFA as a really effective network of grassroots DPOs.

 

The conference will include a keynote speech from Jenny Morris, plenty of time for small group discussion & Networking plus free lunch and refreshments.

To book a place at the conference:

Please email andrew.crooks@disabilitysheffield.org.uk

Or

Phone Andrew tel: 0114 2536752

The venue is fully wheelchair accessible. If you require

BSL interpreters, e note-taker, audio-loop or any other

access arrangements you must email: andrew.crooks@ disabilitysheffield.org.uk

or phone Andrew tel:0114 2536752

by 5pm on Monday 15th June 2015 as we may not be able to meet your access needs after this date

More information about the event, together with an agenda and travel information about getting to the venue will be sent once your booking has been confirmed

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Jun 142015
 

While the Labour party still scrambles among the election debris searching for its identity and running focus groups to find out if it should be circa 1990s Bluritte retro Tory in shocking pink, or a Tuesday-an unpleasant creature seems to have emerged from the Wolverhampton dust…

Rob Marris Labour MP for Wolverhampton South West is a bit of an Indiana Jones: ex lumber jack, ex truck driver, traveller, sociologist and solicitor.  He also has a distaste for parked vans. In 2008 he caused £350 worth of damage to a van parked by a bus stop when he jumped on the bonnet because he didn’t like the way it was parked. While other people walked around the van, Rob chose to jump on the bonnet.

Colin Molloy, the district CPS prosecutor, said: “There were two vehicles parked in front of a bus stop with a small gap between them.” Others had walked through the gap but Mr Marris chose not to, Mr Molloy said. “The van was not parked to his liking,” he added. Marris admitted it was an ‘unconventional’ act and accepted a conditional caution. Unconventional is one term: contemptuous violent disregard for others property and person is another.

On the 31st July Rob Marris is hosting The Silence of Suicide. The event blurb says: ‘Strange title you may think … but it is the silence that precedes the ultimate act of those who tragically decide to end their lives’.

So it’s even stranger then, that this is the same Rob Marris who has resurrected the “assisted suicide” or “assisted dying” Bill via some archaic competition in which he was the MP who got to choose a Bill.  By this process, and choice, Marris is the man responsible for reopening the door of Falconer’s state sanctioned killing proposal.  The idea being that a doctor can leave you a lethal cocktail which you can take when he/she leaves the room, or have forced down you when he/she leaves the room-actually there are no safeguards on that unless your home is fully fitted with CCTV. Were there any other Bills he could have sponsored? Yes there were..

LBBill

Marris is a self confessed patron of Wolverhampton Mencap (Rights not Charity by the way Rob) but we’d still imagine he’d spare a thought for the LBBill  (see https://lbbill.wordpress.com/ ). A Bill intended to prevent the abuse, neglect and deaths of people with learning difficulties locked away in institutions often many miles from their families. Marris’ constituents wrote to him asking him to support the important Bill and presented the reasons why he should. But Marris replied that he had his own ideas.

 I already have a couple of ideas, and I’m sorry to disappoint you but the interesting-sounding Bill you suggest is not one of them.

I am a patron of Wolverhampton Mencap, and I can only hope that the problems you delineate are not present at New Cross (no we didn’t understand what that meant either).

Rob Marris

His idea was not to save countless lives, prevent misery and abuse of human rights, but to resurrect the call for death-A call that the majority of Doctors and the BMA rejects.

It’s the van all over again: A contemptuous violent disregard for others property, person and life. Not only will refusing to back the LBbill cost lives, but the dragging back of the assisted killing bill shows a complete contempt for disabled people. A complete ignorance of the circumstances we find ourselves in with social ‘care’ at breaking point, the loss of the ILF, £12.5bn more cuts to come, newspapers screaming scrounger, the rise of hate crime and the collapse of welfare support.

There couldn’t be a more dangerous time to bring back the Bill. But maybe that’s the idea, with little between Labour and the Tories, the shrinking of the state along with the culling of more disabled people through the assisted dying/suicide/killing Bill- it couldn’t be better timed. Why try to right the wrongs in long term hospitals, prevent deaths in long stay institutions, attempt to recognise human rights when people are tied down against their will or force fed psychotic drugs in long stay institutions-they needn’t bother with any of it.

Marris also needn’t bother with the hundreds of disabled adults in Wolverhampton who are Independent Living Fund (ILF) users. Wolverhampton ILF users are set to lose £784,000 when the ILF closes on June 30th and monies transfer to the local authority. At the time of writing Wolverhampton social services have refused to tell the 300 ILF users in Wolverhampton what’s going to happen to their support. Marris doesn’t seem particularly bothered either.

Marris doesn’t care about ILF users, he doesn’t care about the human rights abuses happening in long stay hospitals and institutions. He cares about the horrors of suicide while simultaneously imposing state sanctioned suicide on disabled people.

Ann Whitehurst sums it up

Rob Marris, Labour MP, was number 1 MP on the PMB ballot list and was therefore in a position to save countless disabled people’s lives and prevent thousands from abusive neglect. A number of requests were made for Rob Marris to present the Disabled Peoples Community Inclusion bill, known as LBbill, including one from Bob Williams-Findlay who lives in Marris’ constituency but he declined to sponsor the bill preferring to use his position of being in line-up for ‘private members bill’ to sponsor killing us rather than including us in life.

When have any of these Labour MPs who want us dead ever put forward Assisted Living bill? How many fought for the ILF? How many support people to get decent Care Packages from their social services? Labour fascism”.

Rob Marris we’re bringing a van to Wolverhampton very soon and we don’t think you’re going to like where we’ll be parking it.

Rob is on twitter @WSW_Labour why not let him know what you think

 

 

 

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/labour/2076906/Labour-MP-Rob-Marris-cautioned-for-damaging-van.html

https://lbbill.wordpress.com/

http://www.changepeople.org/blog-and-news/justice-for-laughing-boy-a-new-bill-for-parliament/

http://www.robmarris.net/the_silence_of_suicide

http://www.expressandstar.com/news/2015/06/10/fears-over-780000-disability-benefits-in-wolverhampton-council-change/

 

 

 

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 Posted by at 14:48
May 192015
 

To be or not to be a vulnerable person?

By Anne Novis

 

I am ‘vulnerable.’

 

This is what the law says as I am a disabled person, a wheelchair user and a person who receives care support.

 

Yet I do not feel I am and I do not feel that treating me as such does justice to who I am as a person or what I experience around hate crime. It certainly does not enable justice through the police or courts.

 

I could go on about my feelings on this, how disempowering it feels, how such a label does not in any way ensure I get the responses I should get when experiencing hostility due to being a disabled person. Suffice to say it’s not a description I find acceptable to be labelled.

 

I, like all of you reading this, can be in vulnerable situations, where someone decides for whatever reason to target us for a crime. They will usually assess their own risk first for any type of crime against anyone. It’s normal. Yet for some reason around disability justice agencies think it becomes an acceptable ‘reason’ in its own right for doing the crime,  a reason that then puts the onus on the disabled person rather then the perpetrator.

 

Yet if someone targets me because I am a  ‘vulnerable’ person is that not hate crime?

 

In my opinion it is if the act is directly about me being a disabled person.

 

Yet statutory agencies find it hard to get their heads around this, they think that if a ‘vulnerable’ person, or adult at risk, is targeted it’s due to no more then that, being ‘vulnerable’.

 

To me whatever term or word is used if someone targets me for that reason then I perceive that as a hate crime or incident.

 

Lets look at this another way, if I dress differently, say as a Goth and I am verbally abused due to my perceived difference, is that hate crime? Some say yes, it is being recognised as a type of hate crime. If I am from a culture, race, religion or have a sexuality that’s perceived as somewhat different from what others may perceive as the norm and then targeted due to that perceived difference then that too is recognised easily as hate crime.

 

Yet for disabled people if we are deemed as ‘vulnerable’ or ‘adults at risk’, and often we are, and targeted for a crime it’s not automatically understood as hate crime.

 

Why not I have to ask?

 

Yes it is easier for criminals to target some disabled people because we may be perceived as ‘less able’ an ‘easy target’ or ‘easily misled’.

 

But what is behind such crime?

 

What is motivating the offence, what language, behaviour, or prejudice?

 

Is it for the victim to just accept they are ‘vulnerable’ or an ‘adult at risk’ and therefore change the way they live?

 

A focus on perceived vulnerability when addressing hostility against disabled people is a distraction from what is really occurring.

 

Looking at why a perpetrator decides to target a disabled person, the context, timing, language is necessary but at the end of the day they have targeted a disabled person for a crime and therefore automatically a presumption that this is more then likely a hate crime needs to be the first thought when recorded and investigated.

 

In the CPS guidance on hostility and vulnerability it states:

‘It can be simpler, more intuitive, to proceed on the basis of vulnerability but an inappropriate focus on vulnerability risks enhancing an already negative image of disabled people as inherently “weak”, “easy targets” and “dependent” requiring society’s protection. Instead, the focus ought to be on enforcing the victim’s right to justice and scrutinising the offender’s behaviour, prejudices and hostility so that the case is properly investigated and prosecuted for what it is.’

Yet how many police officers read this guidance, have any understanding of the types of hostility disabled people experience?

Very few, for the focus is on ‘vulnerability’ rather then Hate Crime, ‘Safeguarding’ rather then prosecution and justice.

Another example is bullying, many of us can be bullied as children in the playground at school, and there are extensive actions in place to address this now.

Yet when a disabled person, an adult, is bullied many think this is just a fact of life, even the disabled person due to the lack of appropriate responses they get when reporting it.

I was told once by a police officer when reporting that I had been verbally abused as a disabled person “What do you expect? You just have to ignore it and toughen up”. A comment I recall from school days.

Yet as adults is it ever acceptable to bully another adult? I think not and again this is a type of hostility against disabled people that needs recognition as disability hate crime for you only have to read a couple of case studies to understand how easily ‘bullying’ can lead to violence, torture or murder of a disabled person.

As victims we are already changing the way we live, some isolate themselves, never go out alone, and are anxious and fearful, find ways to hide themselves from the notice of others for fear of what abuse they may experience. I know because I do this myself at times and hear it from so many disabled people. Focusing on us as ‘vulnerable’ adds another burden upon us, for no matter what I, or others may do, this perception will be a barrier between us and justice.

It frustrates me immensely that in my work advising justice agencies again and again the issue of ‘vulnerability’ becomes a stumbling block in the work on Disability hate crime. Yet another hurdle to be overcome before we as disabled people can rightly get the justice we deserve as fellow human beings.

It is the perpetrators action and behaviour against disabled people that needs more focused attention by police and the courts. Protection comes when we are assured of appropriate policing and justice, they go together, but never should the focus just be on protection, or safeguarding, for we need the police to investigate and understand that just as in other types of hate crime we are being targeted due to being disabled people.

So I am not a ‘vulnerable’ person, I am a human being who has a right to expect police and justice agencies to address my experiences as I perceive them and to also recognise what is really happening rather then accepting hostility against disabled people as something that cannot be changed because being a ‘vulnerable person’ means its to be expected, as though I am somehow at fault, inherently and automatically a lesser being, one who needs ‘protecting’ rather then justice.

The CPS guidance explains it as do I:

‘When the nature of a person’s disability makes it easier for the offender to commit a particular offence, police and prosecutors often focus on the victim being “vulnerable”, an “easy target” and no further thought is given to the issue of hostility.

This approach is wrong.’ (my emphasis)

Then goes onto to explain:

Targeting a particular person to be the victim of an offence, because they are black or gay or disabled is often, but not always, a clear indication of hostility (unfriendliness, ill-will etc) based on race, sexual orientation or disability. Seeing the particular disabled person as an easy target for a particular criminal offence, does not alter this. The victim is still being targeted specifically because of their disability.

And;

‘Prosecutors must therefore explore fully the surrounding context of an offence committed against a disabled person, so that the true nature of the offence can be put before the court. There will be cases in which there is no other reasonable explanation, other than that the offender’s hostility was based on disability. This is particularly so in cases of abuse, violence or other offensive conduct as these offences tend to carry inbuilt within them the demonstration of hostility. For that hostility to be based on disability is but a short evidential step in many cases.

In other cases the question may be asked: what other explanation can there be? Let the defendant give his explanation and let the court decide. Courts are entitled to draw a reasonable inference that hostility based on disability was the whole or partial motivating factor.’

This guidance was produced in consultation with disabled people, we have yet to see it make much difference to the way police respond on the ground ensuring they record, flag, investigate fully so a prosecution could take place. We need to ensure it does make a difference by challenging the perception around perceived vulnerability.

Reference

CPS Guidance on Prosecuting Disability Hate Crime –

Hostility, Vulnerability sections

http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/d_to_g/disability_hate_crime/#a31

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 Posted by at 19:41
May 012015
 

Logos of supporting organisations, DPAC, Inclusion London, Equal Lives and Allfie
Four leading Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) have got together to produce a list of 17 things we need the new Government to implement in the first 100 days after being elected. These are based on making the British Government compliant with its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

Disabled people have been disproportionately affected by the Coalition Government’s austerity programme. By the 2015 election, more than 28 billion pounds in benefits and entitlements will have been taken away from disabled people. At the same time, disabled people are twice as likely to live in poverty as non- disabled people. In Austerity Britain, where the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer continue to claim “We are all in this together”, disabled people will pay 9 times more towards reducing the budget deficit than the average citizen. Those who are severely disabled will pay nineteen times more.

Disabled people have been forced to report the UK Government to the UN CRPD committee for human rights violations. They in turn have launched an inquiry into possible grave or systemic violations of “disabled people’s human rights.”

The following demands from Equal Lives, Inclusion London, Disabled People Against Cuts and the Alliance for Inclusive Education, if implemented, will bring the UK Government back in line with its obligations to the UN CRPD and ensure disabled people enjoy equal rights with non-disabled people:

  1. Reverse the decision to close the Independent Living Fund (ILF) in June and plan to open it up again to new recipients.
  2. Abolish the Bedroom Tax.
  3. Announce the scrapping of Work Capability Assessments and suspend assessments.
  4. Work with Dis­abled People’s Organisations (DPOs) to re-focus employment of disabled people to removing disabling barriers and ensuring workforces in public and private sector reflect the diversity of the community by age, disability, race, gender, sexuality, etc.
  5. Move the Office for Disability Issues out of DWP and into the Cabinet office and appoint disabled peo­ple from Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) to key posts.
  6. Engage with Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) to co-produce an action plan to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the Interpretative Declaration. Remove all reservations.
  7. Invite the UN inquiry team into the UK so they can carry out their investigation into human rights abuses of disabled people.
  8. Fund mental health based on parity of esteem to address the short term crisis while longer term solu­tions are sorted.
  9. Scrap benefit sanctions.
  10. Restore funding to the NHS and local authorities for children’s and adult social care to 2010 levels and up rated for inflation.
  11. Reverse cuts to Access to Work and expand its remit and scope.
  12. Stop all new Special Free Schools/Academy applications and begin a plan to revert existing Free schools and Academies to Local Authority control.
  13. Stop the plan to cut Disabled Students Allowance.
  14. Review equality legislation and work with DPOs to draft disability civil rights legislation with real scrutiny and enforcement by DPOs.
  15. Plan a programme of affordable public house building and ensure all new homes are accessible and built to Life Time homes specifications.
  16. For disabled people renting in the private sector the level of Local Housing Allowance paid must re­flect the costs of their additional needs and no longer be restricted to the 30th percentile of Broad Market Rental Area rents.
  17. Repeal changes to Legal Aid in England & Wales to ensure that Disabled people and all other groups have equal access to the justice system and all are equal under the rule of law”.

Tracey Lazard, CEO, Inclusion London said

Disabled people have been hit harder than most by austerity. We have seen the hard won progress towards our equality and inclusion systematically undermined and weakened by a plethora of cuts that are stripping away our quality of life, dignity and independence.  Meeting these 17 demands will begin to restore fairness and justice for Disabled people and mark the moment Government starts working with us and not against us “

A DPAC spokesperson said

Over the past 5 years disabled people’s human rights have been systematically destroyed by vicious and unjust ConDem policies. We are now asking for these demands to be met within the first 100 days of a new government to start the long the road to reclaiming those rights and to begin to rebuild our lives.”

 

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 Posted by at 16:15
Mar 312015
 

Sign in support of the campaign now! 

Email Henrietta.doyle@inclusionlondon.co.uk with the name of your organisation or as an individual.

Ultimate aim of the campaign

Motability agrees to reverse the changes to eligibility criteria for Motability’s Special Vehicles Fund for Drive-from-Wheelchair/Internal Transfer (DFW/IT) vehicles used by disabled people with complex needs. 

Other aims:

·        Motability agrees to conduct a formal public consultation on the changes, including a face to face meeting with current grant users. Until this consultation is concluded and a consultation response report publicly published the changes should be immediately reversed.

·        Motability agrees to publishes  their equality impact assessment of the changes

·        Motability agrees to publish clear and full information about the changes on their website. 

Why the need for the campaign?

Motability has changed the eligibility criteria for their Special Vehicles Fund (SVF) for Drive-from-Wheelchair/Internal Transfer (DFW/IT) vehicles used by disabled people with complex needs. We believe these changes could destroy the ability to live independently and be included in the community of those affected. 

What are the changes?

From June 2014 ‘a usage test’ was introduced by Motability regarding DFW/IT vehicles.  This test applies to those applying to the SVF first time and current users when renewing their contract (see statement provided by Motability attached). Below is information on how the changes are being implemented in practice.

Current users are telephoned some months in advance of the renewal date of their contract and asked if the vehicle is to support ‘substantive employment, education, volunteer working or to enable the disabled driver to provide vital and sole care to another, for example, a school-age child or children or a disabled loved one who resides with the disabled person.’  About 12 hours a week seems to be considered ‘substantive’. It appears that those that do not fulfil this criterion are no longer eligible for a vehicle.

We are very concerned that disabled people who rely on access to such vehicles will no longer be eligible for grants from the scheme and therefore unable to replace vehicles, which are essential to their independence. These vehicles are often used by disabled people with the highest support needs, who for a range of reasons relating to their impairments, are unable to access public transport because it unavailable or not possible because of pain levels or the need to carry equipment such as hoists or oxygen or a particularly large vehicle as illustrated in the case study below:

Case study

Because of the specialised seating on my wheelchair, it is too large to travel on bus.  Only 3 weeks ago I couldn’t go to hospital Emergency A&E because the ambulances can’t take me!  I was severely dehydrated, they ended up sending a doctor to my home and doing 48-hour IV just because I couldn’t go to hospital.  

There is NO way I am every going to be employed which is depressing enough, I can’t get  voluntary work because I can’t even go and see anyone to consider it (no transport!).  I really am so depressed over these changes. 

These new changes mean I am confined to the distance of my own wheelchair with no access to public transport, and no access to Motability.

The impact

The independence given to disabled people to drive their own vehicle often means they can become involved in their community and do voluntary activities. Without a DFW/IT vehicle many disabled people will be excluded from visits to families and friends and will be unable to take part in any aspects of social, religious, community, wellbeing activities and political life.  In addition these changes will prevent disabled people getting into education, obtaining employment or volunteering unless already involved in these activities and therefore will never fulfil the new criteria for a DFW/IT vehicle.

Motability did not conduct a consultation before implementing these changes and as far as we are aware they did not carry out an Equality Impact Assessment regarding the impact of the change, also there was no public announcement or any information published concerning the changes.   Disabled people only become aware when asked the questions on the telephone. There is still only limited information given by Motability at: http://www.motability.co.uk/understanding-the-scheme/financial-help/eligibility-for-financial-help

Motability administers government funds, yet they seem to be ignoring the Equality act and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities, which states the duty to facilitate:

·        ‘the personal mobility of persons with disabilities in the manner and at the time of their choice’

·        access to ‘quality mobility aids’

·        disabled people’s right to ‘full inclusion and participation in the community’.   

Disabled people’s organisations are acting together with other voluntary sector organisations to ask Motability to reverses the changes to the eligibility criteria for the SVF for DFW/IT vehicles.

What can you do?

·        Sign in support of the campaign by emailing Henrietta.doyle@inclusionlondon.co.uk

·        Sign the petition at: https://www.change.org/p/stop-unfair-and-secret-changes-to-motability-grants#petition-letter   2,500 people  signed in the first 3 weeks!

·        Promote petition, email, Facebook, Twitter etc.

·        Send letter of protest and case examples to Motability.

·        Survey members on their experiences of Motability reviews

·        Contact your local MP, and relevant Ministers

Join the coalition of disabled people’s organisations and voluntary sector organisations supporting the aims of the campaign above, to do this please email Henrietta.doyle@inclusionlondon.co.uk with the name of your organisation. 

Please forward this email to your contacts. 

Many thanks,

Henrietta

Henrietta Doyle

Policy Officer

Mobile: 07703 715091

Direct line (Wednesday’s only) 020 7036 6033

Office Tel: 020 7237 3181, SMS: 0771 839 4687

www: http://www.inclusionlondon.co.uk/

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 Posted by at 19:07
Mar 112015
 

I need to acknowledge the use of work produced by Professor Luke Clemens which was provided by Kate Whittaker, of Scott-Moncrieff to us. The full summary produced is here http://www.lukeclements.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/0-Care-Act-notes-updated-2015-02.pdf

 

There are also 2 excellent youtube videos by Professor Clemens on Continuing Health Care and assessing social care needs.

 

Luke Clements lectures

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmFZ5qzvCZE  on CHC

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEwBN873dYE   assessing social care needs

 

 

Background to Care Act 2014

The Care Act 2014 repeals almost all of the principal adult social care statutes. The list of ‘repeals’ is extensive including the National Assistance Act 1948, as well as the Acts and regulations that govern such things as direct payments, charging for social care, assessments (ie the NHS & Community Care Act 1990) and all the Carers Acts. It also replaces FACS criteria with a list of eligible needs.

 

The implementation timetable for the Care Act 2014 has been the subject of significant criticism. The 506 page guidance and 17 sets of regulations weren’t approved until mid-October – leaving local authorities less than 5 months to make major) changes (including training their workforce) before the Act comes into force in April 2015. It is I think fair to sat that many local authority social workers and managers are unlikely to know just what the Care Act entails even once it has replaced existing social care legislation so as disabled people and carers it is probably more important than ever that we know what it says and what our rights are.

 

The Government say this is  ‘the most significant reform of care and support in more than 60 years’ and it also provides a range of new rights for family carers.

The equivalent Welsh legislation (Social Services & Well-being (Wales) Act 2014) is not coming into force until 2016.

 

While the bulk of the Act will come into force in April 2015, the new appeals process and the ‘cap on costs’ provisions aren’t due to come into force until April 2016. A sum of £55.5m was ‘released’ which becomes the ‘Carers and Care Act Implementation Grant.’ aimed at meeting the expected increased potential demand from carers to access their ‘new rights’.

 

Luke Clemens says that “The speed with which the final guidance has been produced has resulted in it having a number of material errors and omissions. One is a section explaining the guidance’s status at law. The draft guidance contained a statement (page 3) that ‘local authorities are required to act under the guidance, which means that they must follow it, unless they can demonstrate sound legal reasons for not doing so’. This obligation stems from section 78 of the 2014 Act – which replicates the current duty (in section 7(1) Local Authority Social Services Act 1970) and means that existing case law concerning Department of Health ‘policy guidance’ will remain relevant under the new legal regime.”

 

The regulations detail specific obligations relating to market oversight / business failure (3 sets of regulations); the assessment of need; eligibility criteria; advocacy; charging; choice of accommodation; deferred payments; personal budgets; direct payments; the NHS interface; delayed hospital discharge; ordinary residence (2 sets of regulations); portability of care packages and cross-border placements; and registers for people with visual impairments. The longest set of regulations concern charging and there are none on some key questions – notably adult safeguarding.

The guidance contains a number of ‘examples’. While these had the potential to be of considerable value, they are disappointing: generally limp and have the predominant outcome that once the person had been pointed in the right direction, there was no need provide them with any local authority support.

 

The Act does not talk of disabled, elderly or of ill people: instead it uses the word ‘adult’ – but this is generally qualified as being an adult ‘in need’ of care and support. The regulations however stipulate that this is an adult who has ‘a physical or mental impairment or illness’. The current community care legislation generally requires that the impairment be both substantial and permanent.

 

Carer

Section 10 defines a carer as someone 18 or over  who provides or intends to provide care for someone but is not contracted to provide the care or providing the care as formal ‘voluntary work’. All ‘carers’ are now eligible for an assessment. This means that many more carers will be eligible for an assessment – for example those who are providing little or no physical or practical care – but providing emotional support This change, coupled with: (a) the abolition of the requirement that carers’ ‘request’ an assessment; and (b) the new ‘duty’ to meet carers assessed needs has the potential to recast radically the legal regime for carers.

 

As with the pre-Care Act law, there is no duty to assess carers who provide their care by virtue of a contract, or as voluntary work (section 10(9)). The guidance addresses the not uncommon situation of a carer who is paid to provide care for the adult (possibly through the use of a direct payment) but is also providing unpaid care for that person. At para 6.17 it advises that in such circumstances ‘the local authority must consider whether to carry out a carer’s assessment for that part of the care they are not providing on a contractual or voluntary basis’.

 

The act also includes provisions for young carers and disabled children.

 

Local Authorities also have far greater duties to provide assessments to eligible persons even those who self-fund, they must provide transparent information to people including how their Resource Allocation System operates, they must provide access to information and to advocacy for those who need it.

 

RAS will be based on the 10 outcomes outlined below with each outcome having a maximum number of points based on how expensive that outcome is to meet. Questions asked about support levels and the need to meet these will produce points for people whereasquestions about informal support which may be in place to help meet needs will remove points but it is also stressed in the Act that any assessment of needs must ignore care provided by informal carers and that such input can only be considered if appropriate and the informal carers are willing to provide such support. (6.64)

 

Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) says that the Care Act is based on a strengths based approach to improve wellbeing and independence and that it looks at what people can do rather than what they can’t do as well as what those around them can do and what the community can do to support them to put off the need for care and support.

 

Underpinning principles (section 1)

The consultation process leading to the drafting of the legislation resulted in demands that the Act be underpinned by a coherent set of guiding principles (rather like those that apply in relation to the Mental Capacity Act 2005, s1). The Act does not have such a set of principles – instead it contains a general duty to promote the ‘well-being’ of individuals (ie adults and carers). The duty applies to local authorities and their staff when exercising ‘any function’ under Part 1 of the Act (ie sections 1-80).

 

Well-being

Well-being is so widely defined that there was a risk that it would prove to be of little practical application and is fairly meaningless. Clemens says   however the guidance goes a considerable way to dispelling this fear.

 

‘Well-being’ includes personal dignity, physical and mental health and emotional well-being; protection from abuse and neglect; control over day-to-day life; participation in work, education, training or recreation; social and economic well-being; domestic, family and personal relationships; suitability of living accommodation; and ‘the individual’s contribution to society’.

 

The emphasis on the importance of ‘control’ has been seen as a cause for concern by some commentators: in many respects the inclusion of ‘control’ can be seen as a further manifestation of the ‘responsibilization’ agenda. Despite the Law Commission’s comments, ‘choice’ does not appear as a well-being principle.

When discharging any obligation under the Act, the local authority must ‘have regard to’—

 the individual’s views, wishes, feelings and beliefs;

 the need to prevent/ delay the development of needs for care and support;

 the need to make decisions that are not based on stereotyping individuals;

 the importance of individual’s participating as fully as possible in relevant decisions (including provision to them of necessary information and support);

 the importance of achieving a ‘balance between the individual’s wellbeing and that of any friends or relatives who are involved in caring for the individual’;

 the need to protect people from abuse and neglect;

 the need to ensure that restrictions on individual rights /freedoms be kept to the minimum necessary.

 

A criticism made of the ‘well-being’ obligation and the above list in particular – concerns the failure to include an explicit reference to the right to ‘independent living’ – ie as protected by Article 19 UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The guidance, however, goes a good way to addressing this omission, stating that (para 1.19):

 

The wellbeing principle is intended to cover the key components of independent living, as expressed in the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (in particular, Article 19 of the Convention). Supporting people to live as independently as possible, for as long as possible, is a guiding principle of the Care Act.

 

Such an express statement is of considerable value – not least because the courts and Ombudsmen have shown a surprising willingness to have regard to the Convention in recent judgments / reports.

 

Well-being is defined as including being protected from ‘abuse and neglect’ (s1(2)(c)) and the guidance gives emphasis to this stating that ‘it is not possible to promote wellbeing without establishing a basic foundation where people are safe and their care and support is on a secure footing’ (para 1.26). The problem, as is noted below, is that although the eligibility criteria lists ‘being able to make use of the adult’s home safely’ as an outcome – this in itself does not (on one interpretation) trigger the safeguarding duty as the adult would also have to demonstrate an inability in relation to another ‘outcome’: being an elderly ill person unable to keep herself safe – is not without more, sufficient to instigate the safeguarding duty.

 

Bits of particular interest to us

 

Services / care and support responses (section 8)

Under the current legal regime the object of a community care / carers assessment is to determine (among other things) whether there is a need for ‘services’. The community care statutes provide exhaustive lists of services that can be provided and the Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000 provides a generalised statement as to what a carer’s ‘service’ might be. The Care Act repeals these statutes and (in keeping with its ‘outcomes’ rhetoric) avoids referring to the word ‘service’ when describing what may be provided to meet a person’s needs. Instead, section 8(1) contains an illustrative list of what may be ‘provided’ to an adult in need or carer – namely:

  1. a) accommodation in a care home or in premises of some other type;
  2. b) care and support at home or in the community;
  3. c) counselling, advocacy and other types of social work;
  4. d) goods and facilities;
  5. e) information and advice.

The absence of such things as ‘adaptations’ ‘travel’; and ‘holidays’ (which are specifically cited in the current law) was considered problematical by the Select Committee and in response to a question it asked the Department of Health, received confirmation that the Department considered that these services did fall within the ambit of the list.The Committee expressed the hope that the subsequent guidance would ‘make clear that the list is not intended to limit the ways in which a local authority might meet any eligible needs or agreed outcomes, removing any possible ambiguity on that point’ (para 170). Unfortunately the guidance does not make this sufficiently clear.

Support such as home adaptations, equipment and transport is often vital to enable ‘adults in need’ to live independently in the community. The facilitation / provision of suitable adaptations / equipment requires explicit guidance, given that the overlap of responsibilities between housing and social services authorities will remain (with such support being capable of being delivered under both the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 and the Care Act 2014).  The guidance fails to reiterate and build on the current guidance on this question.

 

Section 8(2) slips out of the ‘outcomes’ mode and gives examples of the ways need may be met which include the ‘service’ word – namely:

(a) by arranging for a person other than it to provide a service;

(b) by itself providing a service;

(c) by making direct payments.

 

Local authorities will be able to charge (under section 14) for the costs that they incur in providing care and support (under section 8) to meet the ‘needs’ of individuals – ie carers as well as elderly ill and disabled people. The question arises therefore as to whether local authorities will start charging for support such as advocacy, social work and information (and indeed how ‘social work’ is to be defined). The question is all the more pressing since local authorities will be able to delegate assessments (and most of their other functions) to independent sector organisations (section 79 – see below). In answer to a specific question on this point, the Minister (Norman Lamb) stated that these provisions do ‘not give a power to local authorities to charge for carrying out a needs or carer’s assessment in any circumstances’.

 

Assessment of adults in need (section 9)

The Act, the regulations and the guidance create important and welcome obligations on local authorities in relation to the advocacy and safeguarding needs of individuals

identified during the assessment and care planning processes.

 

The duty in the Care Act to assess adults in need is closely aligned to the existing duty (under s47 NHS and Community Care Act 1990). As with the current law, the duty is triggered by the appearance of need and arises regardless of the ‘level’ of those needs or the person’s financial resources (it applies, as now, to self-funders). The assessment must have specific regard to the well-being criteria (ie section 1(2) above) and must involve the adult and any carer. It is difficult to see how this can be achieved without a face to face assessment (unless the adult agrees this is not necessary) however para 6.28 of the guidance states that:

Where appropriate, an assessment may be carried out over the phone or online. In adopting such approaches, local authorities should consider whether the proposed means of carrying out the assessment poses any challenges or risks for certain groups, particularly when assuring itself that it has fulfilled its duties around safeguarding, independent advocacy, and assessing mental capacity.

There appears to be a downgrading (or at least a welcome acceptance of reality) of the value of ‘supported self-assessments’. Rhetorically they have promoted the unrealistic notion of disabled people identifying their own needs and mapping out their support – with a social worker giving gentle guidance and the benefit of her or his wisdom. In reality they have too often been the posting of a Self Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) to the person in need and then running the ticked boxes through a Resource Allocation System (RAS): highly impersonalised and designed to reduce care costs: to ‘lower expectations’. The guidance requires individuals who are able and willing to undertake a supported self-assessment be offered one (para 6.44) but that: (a) the local authority must assure itself that it ‘is an accurate reflection of the person’s needs’ (para 6.3); and (b) that regardless of what the individual may think ‘the final decision regarding eligibility will rest with the local authority’ (para 6.53).

The guidance gives useful emphasis to the need for assessors to be ‘appropriately trained’, but also states that registered ‘social workers and occupational therapists can provide important support and may be involved in complex assessments which indicate a wide range of needs, risks and strengths that may require a coordinated response from a variety of statutory and community services’ (para 6.7). In so doing the implication is that for non-complex cases social workers may not be necessary. The general (and welcome) tenor of the guidance is, however, that assessors must be ‘appropriately trained’. Para 6.88, for example states that if an ‘assessor does not have the knowledge of a particular condition or circumstance, they must consult someone who has relevant expertise’ and at para 6.86 it requires that:

assessors undergo regular, up-to-date training on an ongoing basis. The training must be appropriate to the assessment, both the format of assessment and the condition(s) and circumstances of the person being assessed. They must also have the skills and knowledge to carry out an assessment of needs that relate to a specific condition or circumstances requiring expert insight, for example when assessing an individual who has autism, learning disabilities, mental health needs or dementia.

The guidance requires that assessments be ‘person-centred, involving the individual and any carer that the adult has, or any other person they might want involved ‘ (para 6.9) and that they must ‘establish the total extent of needs’ (para 6.10). Local authorities are also required to ‘provide in advance, and in accessible format, the list of questions to be covered in the assessment’ (para 6.38).

 

Carer support ignored

The ‘eligibility criteria’ regulations make explicit that the decision about whether an adult has eligible needs, is made on the basis that it does not take into account any support that is being provided by third parties (ie carers): ‘instead, where a person receives support from a carer, this will be taken into account during the development of the care and support plan.’ This important point is addressed in the guidance, which at chapter 6 (Assessment and eligibility) states:

 

6.15 During the assessment, local authorities must consider all of the adult’s care and support needs, regardless of any support being provided by a carer. Where the adult has a carer, information on the care that they are providing can be captured during assessment, but it must not influence the eligibility determination.

 

This approach is restated in the care and support planning section of the guidance (para 10.26) which requires that authorities ‘must identify, during the assessment process, those needs which are being met by a carer at that time, and determine whether those needs would be eligible’.

Section 10(5) requires that assessments must take into account the extent to which the carer is ‘willing, and is likely to continue to be willing’ to provide care. The guidance at para 2.48 that ‘authorities ‘should not assume that others are willing or able to take up caring roles’ echoes earlier guidance – for example the original 1990 policy guidance to the Community Care reforms61 and guidance to the Carers (Recognition & Services) Act 1995.62

 

The nature and setting of the assessment

The guidance advises that to enable individuals to prepare for their assessment, they should be provided in advance (in an accessible format) with the list of questions to be covered in the assessment (para 6.38). At the same time the authority must consider if the individual may have ‘substantial difficulty’ in being involved in the assessment process and if so consider the need for independent advocacy (para 6.23). At the conclusion of the assessment the local authority must ‘ensure that it is an accurate and complete reflection of the person’s needs’ (para 6.46) – which must presumably mean sharing a draft and getting it agreed (or details of what is not agreed) – since a copy of the assessment must then be given to the carer / adult in need (para 6.98).The duty to endeavour to reach agreement at this stage is not however explicit – unlike the requirement in para 10.83, that authorities ‘must take all reasonable steps to reach agreement with the person for whom the plan is being prepared’.

Individuals must be ‘at the heart’ of their assessments and in the case of an adult ‘in need’ the authority ‘must also involve any carer the person has (which may be more than one carer)’.

 

Advocacy support

The Act, regulations and guidance make specific provision for advocates to be provided where a person has ‘substantial difficulty’ in being actively involved with the planning process. Less is said concerning the needs of those who don’t have such a difficulty – but nevertheless feel the need for support from friends or advocates.

 

Eligibility criteria (section 13)

Where an assessment identifies that an individual has needs for care / support then the authority must decide if these needs are sufficient to meet the eligibility criteria. The pre-Care Act legislation contains no reference to ‘eligibility criteria’: locating them instead in guidance (commonly referred to as FACS). The Care Act places eligibility criteria in a statutory footing (section 13) with the detail being spelled out in the regulations– which contain separate criteria for adults in need and for carers. Whether this change of status – or indeed the significant changes to the criteria themselves – will result in material change in practice is difficult to predict. Research suggests that for both carers and disabled / older people, the content of national criteria is less influential than ‘social work attitudes’ and local interpretations of the national criteria.

 

Adults in need eligibility criteria

For adults in need, the Care Act criteria have many similarities to the FACS guidance: the most obvious change is the absence of ‘bands’ (the ‘critical’, ‘substantial’, ‘moderate’ ‘low’ bands in FACS).

 

Under the new eligibility scheme, adults in need must satisfy three requirements:

 

(1) their needs must be the result of a physical or mental impairment or illness;

(2) as a result they must be unable to achieve two or more specified outcomes; and

(3) as a consequence, there is (or there is likely to be) a significant impact on their well-being.

 

In this process – a key word is ‘significant’ and it is one that also appears in the carers eligibility criteria. The guidance avoids a precise definition of what ‘significant’ means – para 6.110 stating that it is to have its ‘everyday meaning – but then adding that authorities must consider whether the adult’s needs and their consequent inability to achieve the relevant outcomes will have an important, consequential effect on their daily lives, their independence and their wellbeing’ (para 6.110) – and that:

‘Needs may affect different people differently, because what is important to the individual’s wellbeing may not be the same in all cases. Circumstances which create a significant impact on the wellbeing of one individual may not have the same effect on another’ (para 6.111).

 

Inevitably it would appear to follow that, as with the FACS criteria, the eligibility determination will continue to be subjective and made on the basis of the assessor’s professional opinion. The ‘inherently subjective’ nature of this process led a number of commentators, including the LGA and ADASS, to suggest that the draft eligibility criteria (published in June 2014) placed the threshold of entitlement closer to the ‘moderate’ band in FACS than the ‘substantial’ band. The final (ie revised) criteria appear to be ‘tighter’ – most noticeably requiring that the person is ‘unable to achieve two or more specified outcomes’. However, in this context, regulation 3 defines ‘unable’ in expansive terms: a person is to be deemed ‘unable’ if he or she:

(a) is unable to achieve it without assistance;

(b) is able to achieve it without assistance but doing so causes the adult significant pain, distress or anxiety;

(c) is able to achieve it without assistance but doing so endangers or is likely to endanger the health or safety of the adult, or of others; or

(d) is able to achieve it without assistance but takes significantly longer than would normally be expected.

The broad definition of inability to achieve – has also led commentators to suggest that even in this final formulation, the eligibility remain more generous than under the FACS guidance.

 

Regulation 2 details ‘outcomes’ as being:

(a) managing and maintaining nutrition;

(b) maintaining personal hygiene;

(c) managing toilet needs;

(d) being appropriately clothed;

(e) being able to make use of the adult’s home safely;

(f) maintaining a habitable home environment;

(g) developing and maintaining family or other personal relationships;

(h) accessing and engaging in work, training, education or volunteering; Care

(i) making use of necessary facilities or services in the local community including public transport, and recreational facilities or services; and

(j) carrying out any caring responsibilities the adult has for a child.

 

Para 6.107 of the guidance provides examples of how local authorities should consider each of the above outcomes – while emphasising that the guidance does not constitute an exhaustive list of examples.

 

As noted above, the regulations and guidance are unequivocal concerning the input of carers: this must be ignored during the assessment process of the adult and during the determination of eligibility. As the guidance states (para 6.119):

The eligibility determination must be made based on the adult’s needs and how these impact on their wellbeing. Authorities must only take consideration of whether the adult has a carer, or what needs may be met by a carer after the eligibility determination when a care and support plan is prepared. The determination must be based solely on the adult’s needs and if an adult does have a carer, the care they are providing will be taken into account when considering whether the needs must be met.

 

The pre-Care Act rule – that the eligibility criteria can be sidestepped for people whose needs are urgent is carried forward into the new regime (section 19(3)). The guidance advises that where ‘an individual with urgent needs approaches or is referred to the local authority [it] should provide an immediate response and meet the individuals care and support needs’ and it then provides as an example, ‘where an individual’s condition deteriorates rapidly or they have an accident, they will need a swift response to ensure their needs are met’ (para 6.26).

 

Funding panels

Many local authorities use ‘panels’ of various types (sometimes termed ‘allocation panels’, ‘funding panels’ or ‘purchasing panels’) as a means of rationing services. The legality of the way that some of these panels operate is open to question – creating as they do, an additional non-statutory hurdle for people in need and their carers. The 2014 Act makes no change to this situation and so the concerns raised by the courts and the Joint Committee on Human Rights concerning the legality of such ‘panels’ overruling social work recommendations will remain relevant. The Local Government Ombudsman has also expressed similar misgivings. In a 2005 report, for example, he held that where an assessment has been carried out, a purchasing panel (and by implication a manager) cannot override the judgment of the assessor without providing clear reasons for doing so.

Due regard should be taken to the use of approval panels in both the timeliness and bureaucracy of the planning and sign-off process. In some cases, panels may be an appropriate governance mechanism to sign-off large or unique personal budget allocations and/or plans. Where used, panels should be appropriately skilled and trained, and local authorities should refrain from creating or using panels that seek to amend planning decisions, micro-manage the planning process or are in place purely for financial reasons. …

 

Duty /power to provide care & support for adults /carers (section 18 – 20)

The duty on local authorities to meet the eligible needs of disabled, elderly and ill people is retained and widened by the Care Act. The pre-2014 legislation contains no duty to meet carers’ eligible needs (just a power)85 nor (in general) does the pre-2014 legislation create a duty to meet the needs of ‘self-funders’ (ie people whose savings are above the capital limit – currently £23,750). Both these limitations are removed by the 2014 Act. Where an individual’s needs (ie a carer or an ‘adult in need’) meet the eligibility criteria then there will be a duty to ensure their care and support needs are addressed. The only stipulation being that they are ordinarily resident in the local authority’s area (as at present) and that if their assets are above the financial limit, that they ‘ask the authority’ to meet their needs. Until April 2014 the right of self-funder’s to require the local authority to meet their care needs will only extend to non-care home settings.

Even if a self funder with eligible needs does not ask the local authority to meet their needs – the local authority will (once the ‘cap on care costs’ comes into force in 2016) be under a duty to provide them with a statement (an ‘independent personal budget’ ) detailing what the cost would be to the local authority of meeting their needs – since this notional budget will count towards the ‘cap’.

 

Care & support plans (section 25-26)

The assessment process involves identifying ‘needs’ and then determining which of these (if any) are ‘eligible needs’. This stage is then followed by the development of a care and support plan that explains how the eligible needs will be met. These stages are two sides of an equation: on one side there are the eligible needs that have to be met and on the other are the details of how this will be done. In order that the individual can determine whether their assessed needs are fully addressed in the care plan, the guidance requires that they ‘must be given a record of their needs or carer’s assessment’ (para 6.98) and also their final care plan (para 10.87).

 

Needs versus ‘outcomes’

The Act seeks to distinguish ‘needs’ from ‘outcomes’. This chimes with the views of many commentators who consider that the ‘social model’ approach requires a ‘focus on outcomes’ rather than personal ‘needs’. There is much to be said for this, but there are dangers too.

On the positive side outcomes aim to identify the person’s ‘aspirations, goals and priorities’. The theory is that if the assessment focuses on these issues it will break free from the shackles of thought processes tied to existing service models – thinking about ‘what services are available’. Once the person ‘in need’ / carer have been helped to explain what they would like happen in their lives – then they (with the support of the authority) can seek to develop a care and support plan designed to enable these things to be achieved. The theory is that this process leads to better and sometimes more imaginative solutions.

On the negative side, however, there is evidence that the emphasis on outcomes is rhetorical rather than of substance (a criticism also made of many local authority ‘personalisation’ programmes). Much of the research concerning outcomes focused assessments identifies the importance of avoiding prescriptive ‘tick box’ questionnaires and of the need for a strong human relationships with assessors who have the skills and time to enable this approach to succeed. Local authorities are however moving to greater standardisation, more prescriptive assessment forms, less skilled / trained workforces with ever higher caseloads. increasing disconnect between what service users say and related evidence, and the thinking of government and policy-makers and what they seem to be doing.

 

A further reason for caution lies in the very ambiguity as to what constitutes an ‘outcome’. Just as some disabled people have historically been told that their asserted ‘need’ is merely a ‘want’ – some are now being told that their ‘need’ is no longer relevant – it is the ‘outcome’ that counts (and the local authority then proceed to tell them what this is). Not infrequently there is a pedantic circularity to the distinction – and one that should be confronted. Outcomes arise out of needs, which stem from impairments – so, for example, the regulations (when dealing with the criteria for an adult in need’) state that because of a person’s needs, a statutory ‘outcome’ could be ‘managing toilet needs’. The guidance (para 6.107) then explains how local authorities should consider each statutory ‘outcome’ for the purposes of determining eligibility – and in relation to ‘managing toilet needs’ it states that this requires a consideration of their ‘ability to access and use a toilet and manage their toilet needs.’ It would appear to follow that a ‘need’ to get to the toilet is only a ‘need’ but a need to mange my toilet needs’ is an outcome.

It is at this stage one asks whether the well-being requirement – that the authority starts from the ‘assumption that the individual is best-placed to judge the individual’s well-being’ (section 1(3)) – extends to accepting that the individual is best placed to say what they want to be able to do (their outcome) and to do so in their own terms – including using the language of need?

 

Provided the potential for casuistry in the ‘outcomes versus needs’ analysis is avoided, there is much to welcome in having a statutory list of ‘outcomes / needs’ – particularly as the guidance (para 6.107) states that this does ‘not constitute an exhaustive list) when determining the adult’s eligibility for care and support’.

 

Care and support planning – principles

Section 25 details what must be in every care and support plan (ie for a carer or an adult ‘in need’) and this duty is analysed in the guidance (para 10.36). The requirements include:

 the needs identified by the assessment;

 whether, and to what extent, the needs meet the eligibility criteria;

 the needs that the authority is going to meet, and how it intends to do so;

 for a person needing care, for which of the desired outcomes care and support could be relevant;

 for a carer, the outcomes the carer wishes to achieve, and their wishes around providing care, work, education and recreation where support could be relevant;

 

the personal budget …;

 information and advice on what can be done to reduce the needs in question, and to prevent or delay the development of needs in the future;

 where needs are being met via a direct payment … , the needs to be met via the direct payment and the amount and frequency of the payments.

The effect of section 25 is that the current requirements for care and support plans will continue – but they now become statutory rather than requirements of Department of Health guidance. Existing case law concerning care plans will remain relevant – particularly so, given that it places great emphasis on the importance of local authorities following guidance. (which will now be the detail in the 2014 guidance). In R v Islington LBC ex p Rixon (1997) it was held that central importance of a care plan was described as: the means by which the local authority assembles the relevant information and applies it to the statutory ends, and hence affords good evidence to any inquirer of the due discharge of its statutory duties.

In R (J) v Caerphilly CBC it was held that care plans must ‘set out the operational objectives with sufficient detail – including detail of the “how, who, what and when” – to enable the care plan itself to be used as a means of checking whether or not those objectives are being met’. A 2014 Ombudsman’s report held (in similar terms) that an assessment must be more than merely a descriptive document: it must spell out with precision what the needs are, what the impact of the disability is on the carer(s) and whether the disabled person and the carers needs can be met and can continue to be met into the future. The assessment must result in a care plan that identifies the needs, what is to be done about these needs, by whom and when. If a direct payment is made, it must specify precisely what need these payments are intended to meet, why this level of payment is considered appropriate, or what outcome this will result in.

 

The most significant difference under the new regime is that every such plan for an ‘adult’ must have a ‘personal budget’ offered. (s25(1)(e) ). Since most local authorities already do this – it will probably make little practical difference.

 

The 2014 guidance requires that the person being assessed must be ‘genuinely involved and influential throughout the planning process and that: ‘it should be made clear that the plan ‘belongs’ to the person it is intended for, with the local authority role to ensure the production and sign-off of the plan to ensure that it is appropriate to meet the identified needs (para 10.2). The care and support plan ‘must take into consideration the individual’s preferences’ (para 10.21).

The duty to meet eligible needs is not discharged just because a person has another entitlement to a different service which could meet those needs, but which they are not availing themselves of. The needs remain ‘unmet’ (and so the local authority under a duty to meet them) until those needs are actually met by the relevant service bring provided or arranged.

 

Personal budgets

Section 26 states that the amount of an adult’s personal budget is ‘the cost to the local authority of meeting those of the adult’s needs which it is required or decides to meet’. The guidance states at para 11.10 that:

The personal budget must always be an amount sufficient to meet the person’s care and support needs, and must include the cost to the local authority of meeting the person’s needs which the local authority is under a duty to meet, or has exercised its power to do so. This overall cost must then be broken down into the amount the person must pay, following the financial assessment, and the remainder of the budget that the authority will pay.

It follows from the above, that a personal budget may include an amount attributable to support that the local authority funds as a ‘discretion’ (ie support that it considers is needed – but which does not meet the eligibility criteria). Since the amount that an individual pays for their care will be added (from April 2016) to their ‘Dilnot taxi meter’ – towards their ‘cap on costs’ – the guidance needs to make clear whether the charges for discretionary services are included for ‘cap on costs’ purposes. If these charges do not count – then there is an obvious temptation for local authorities to include them in the plan as a discretionary support.

The expectation is that (for non-self funders) the personal budget will change as the care and support planning process progresses. At the start of the planning process it will be an ‘indicative amount’ shared with the person, and anybody else involved, with ‘final amount of the personal budget confirmed through this process’ (para 11.7). This means there is no need for an authority to use a Resource Allocation System (RAS) to generate a figure at the commencement of the process – an authority might have (for example) a simple set of ‘bands’. Research suggests that most RAS generate incorrect figures which have serious defects – not least their complexity and the rigidity with which some local authorities then apply them. In support of this approach the guidance advises that ‘complex RAS models of allocation may not work for all client groups’ (para 11.23) and that ‘regardless of the process used, the most important principles in setting the personal budget are transparency, timeliness and sufficiency’ (para 11.24).

The guidance (para 11.7) states that ‘Everyone whose needs are met by the local authority … must receive a personal budget as part of the care and support plan.

 

Direct Payments (sections 31-33)

The new legislation provides for an almost identical ‘direct payments’ regime as at present and the detail (as with the current system) is to be found in the regulations and the guidance. The only significant change is that direct payments will be available for residential care placements. This change is expected to come into force in April 2016 and pilots in 18 local authority areas are currently underway.

 

 

The relevance of local authority financial difficulties

Para 10.27 of the guidance makes clear that the current law concerning the relevance of a local authority’s financial position remains (as first detailed in the Gloucestershire judgment) namely that although authorities can ‘take into account reasonable consideration’ of their finances, they ‘must comply’ with their legal obligations. A local authority’s finances are relevant when it decides how to meet the eligible needs of an individual ‘but not whether those needs are met’. The guidance goes on to stress that authorities ‘should not set arbitrary upper limits on the costs [they are] willing to pay to meet needs through certain routes’ – although they may: take decisions on a case-by-case basis which weigh up the total costs of different potential options for meeting needs, and include the cost as a relevant factor in deciding between suitable alternative options for meeting needs. This does not mean choosing the cheapest option; but the one which delivers the outcomes desired for the best value. (para 10.27)

 

Sign off and copies of care plans

The ‘sign off of a plan should only occur once the authority has taken ‘all reasonable steps to reach agreement with the person for whom the plan is being prepared’ and ‘any third party involved in the preparation of the plan’ and this ‘agreement should be recorded and a copy placed within the plan’ (para 10.83). If the plan is not agreed then the authority should ‘state the reasons for this and the steps which must be taken to ensure that the plan is signed-off’ (para 10.86).

The Act also requires that a copy of the care and support plan be given to the adult in need / carer (and anyone else they request) (section 25(9) and (10)) and the guidance at para 10.87 makes clear that the copy must be ‘in a format that is accessible to the person for whom the plan is intended’ and copies should also be given to any independent advocate involved. Many care and support plans are computer generated and incomprehensible to all but the initiated. The requirement that the copies be ‘in a format that is accessible’ must require that this practice ends and plain English, jargon free plans are provided to those who require them.

 

And some of the rest

Prevention (section 2)

Local authorities will be under a general duty to provide a range of preventative services that they ‘consider’ will:

(a) contribute towards preventing or delaying the development by adults in its area of needs for care and support;

(b) contribute towards preventing or delaying the development by carers in its area of needs for support;

(c) reduce the needs for care and support of adults in its area;

(d) reduce the needs for support of carers in its area.

 

Charging and preventative services

The current requirement that intermediate care and reablement must be provided without charge is carried into the new regime. While it will continue to be a time-limited service, the guidance advises that ‘where it is provided beyond six weeks, local authorities should consider continuing to provide it free of charge beyond six weeks in such circumstances’ (para 2.61).

Where a local authority decides to charge for preventative services the guidance advices that it is ‘vital to ensure affordability’ and that it balances the ‘affordability and viability … with the likely impact of charging on the uptake’ – and that this be considered individually as well as at general policy levels.

 

Integration with the NHS (section 3)

Section 3 places a duty on local authorities to promote integration with health provision where it would—

(a) promote the well-being of adults with needs & carers in its area; or

(b) contribute to the prevention of the development of needs in adults / carers; or

(c) improve the quality of care for adults / carers, provided

This will include joint working in relation to the better Care Fund.

 

Information (section 4)

Local authorities will have an enhanced duty to provide adults in need / carers with information about care and support arrangements, including:- how the care system operates; the care and support choices they have (including the choice of providers); how to access this support and how to raise safeguarding concerns. The information duty will also include how to access independent financial advice – which will be of considerable relevance given the choices ‘self-funders’ will have to make under the new regime – particularly with regard to the ‘cap on care cost’ reforms.

The guidance explains that authorities ‘must establish and maintain a service for providing people with information and advice relating to care and support’ (para 3.11); that this must be provided for a variety of different formats; that the ‘duty in the Care Act will not be met through the use of digital channels alone’ and that the mix of provision will be expected to include ‘face-to-face contact’ (para 3.29).

 

Duty to promote effective high quality providers (section 5)

The Act (fleshed out by three sets of regulations36) contains a range of provisions designed to address the ‘supply side’ problems of the social care market – ie (a) the problem of large providers collapsing (such as Southern Cross failure in 2011); and (b) the increasing belief that the quality of services is generally poor and deteriorating. These provisions include ‘market oversight’ arrangements involving the Care Quality Commission (CQC) – amongst others (ss 53 – 57 Care Act 2014) and a temporary duty on social services to intervene if a particular provider ‘fails’ (ss 48-52). In July 2014 the Public Accounts Committee was of the view that the CQC (which will monitor the top 40 – 50 providers) lacked ‘the skills to undertake this expanded level of monitoring’.

Regulations38 have now been issued to provide for eleven fundamental standards39 of safety and quality that should always be met by providers of health and social care and draft CQC guidance.

Section 5 places a duty on local authorities to promote an efficient /

Workforce issues

The social care workforce has been a direct victim of local authority pressure on providers to reduce their fees. The guidance stresses the importance of authorities ‘fostering a workforce which underpins the market’ (para 4.21) and encouraging (by for example providing funding – para 4.29) ‘training and development’. Local authorities when commissioning services must assure themselves that their fee levels do not (among other things) compromise the service provider’s ability to: (1) ‘meet the statutory obligations to pay at least minimum wages; (2) ‘provide effective training and development of staff’ (para 4.31); and (3) pay remuneration that is:

at least sufficient to comply with the national minimum wage legislation for hourly pay or equivalent salary. This will include appropriate remuneration for any time spent travelling between appointments (para 4.30).

The guidance advises that where a provider has previously been in breach of national minimum wage legislation it should in general be excluded from the tendering process (para 4.102).

 

Delegation (section 79)

Local authorities will be able to delegate all of their functions under the Act – with few exceptions (eg safeguarding (sections 42 – 47) and charging (section 14)). Section 79(6) makes it clear that ultimate responsibility in such cases will still rest with the local authority (any acts /omissions by the delegated body will be treated as done / omitted to be done by the local authority). A series of pilots have run since 2011 to explore the potential for delegation: these have been small scale and almost all have been third sector not for profit organisations. Section 79 opens up the possibility of full scale delegation of quite a different order and might be contemplated by local authorities facing a steep rise in their assessment / care planning obligations resulting from their new duties to carers and to self funders. In anticipation of these reforms all English local authorities have been given power to delegate virtually all of their adult social services powers.

covered in the assessment’ (para 6.38).

 

Review of care & support plans (aka annual harassment)

Section 27(1) of the 2014 Act places a general requirement for local authorities to keep under review care and support plans (as well as when a reasonable request by the adult in need or a carer and section 27(4) requires that if they believe that that circumstances have changed materially, then they must undertake a further needs or carer’s assessment and revise the plan accordingly. The guidance creates an expectation that the care and support plans will reviewed ‘no later than every 12 months, although a light-touch review should be considered 6-8 weeks after the plan and personal budget have been signed off’ (para 10.42 – and see also para 13.32).

The guidance requires that reviews (like assessments) must be person-centred, accessible and proportionate: must involve the ‘person needing care and also the carer where feasible’ (para 13.2) and their purpose is ‘identify if the person’s needs (or any other circumstances) have changed’ (para 13.4). Very welcome is the note in the guidance that the ‘review must not be used as a mechanism to arbitrarily reduce the level of a person’s personal budget’ (para 13.4). Reviews should not be ‘overly-complex or bureaucratic’ and should cover the specified matters – which ‘should be communicated to the person before the review process begins’ para 13.12). These include: whether the person’s needs / circumstances have changed; what parts of the plan are working / not working / need changing; have the outcomes identified in the plan been achieved and are there any new outcomes they want to meet; is the person’s personal budget adequate and is there a need to change the way it is managed / paid; are there material changes in the person’s support networks which might impact negatively or positively on the plan; have any changes occurred which could give rise to a risk of abuse or neglect; and is the person, carer, independent advocate satisfied with the plan?

 

Charging (section 14)

As noted, local authorities will be able to charge for the cost they incur in providing social care support services. Under the pre-Care Act law, there was a duty to charge for residential care services and a power to charge for non-residential care (including carers’ services). The 2014 Act repeals the previous law and section 14 gives authorities the power (but not a duty) to charge. In the short term it is unlikely that there will be material changes to local authority charging policies – although reference to the well-established Charging for Residential Accommodation Guidance (CRAG) will change as this is repealed – but it is replicated in large measure by the Care and Support (Charging and Assessment of Resources) Regulations and the guidance (including Annexes B, C, D and E).

 

The guidance states (para 8.2) that a single set of principles will condition local authority approaches to charging, namely:

 ensure that people are not charged more than it is reasonably practicable for them to pay;

 be comprehensive, to reduce variation in the way people are assessed and charged;

 be clear and transparent, so people know what they will be charged;

 promote wellbeing, social inclusion, and support the vision of personalisation, independence, choice and control;

 support carers to look after their own health and wellbeing and to care effectively and safely;

 be person-focused, reflecting the variety of care and caring journeys and the variety of options available to meet their needs;

 apply the charging rules equally so those with similar needs or services are treated the same and minimise anomalies between different care settings;

 encourage and enable those who wish to stay in or take up employment, education or training or plan for the future costs of meeting their needs to do so; and

 be sustainable for local authorities in the long-term.

 

Welcome as is the requirement that ‘people are not charged more than it is reasonably practicable for them to pay’ this represents (for people receiving non-residential care support) a dilution of their legal rights. At present the prohibition is contained in the statute and so is only capable of being removed by Parliament (whereas guidance can be re-written on Ministerial whim).

One problem with the approach of applying ‘the charging rules equally so those with similar needs or services are treated the same’ is that local authorities may start charging carers for services. The guidance anticipates this problem – but in a relatively ‘limp’ section seeks to argue that charging carers is not inevitable stating (para 8.50):

Local authorities are not required to charge a carer for support. …. a local authority should consider how it wishes to express the way it values carers within its local community as partners in care, and recognise the significant contribution carers make. … Local authorities should consider carefully the likely impact of any charges on carers, particularly in terms of their willingness and ability to continue their caring responsibilities.

 

Continuity of care (portability) (sections 37-38)

The Act prescribes the way local authorities transfer responsibility for the care and support of an adult – when she or he moves from one local authority area to another. It does this by attempting to embed ‘good practice’ (ie what should happen) into legislation. The problem is that there are no sanctions if either the first or second local authority fails to act properly – and so (as now) an individual would have to make a complaint/ go to the Ombudsman if a problem occurs.

Sections 37 – 38 are replete with detailed procedural obligations – but in essence they provide that where a local authority (the 1st local authority) is providing135 care and support for an adult and another authority (the 2nd authority) is notified that the adult intends to move into their area (and it is satisfied that the intention is genuine) then it must (among other things) undertake an assessment of the adult’s needs (and those of any carers he or she may have). If the assessment(s) have not been completed by the time the adult actually moves, then the second authority must meet the needs identified by the 1st authority (until its assessment is complete).

Chapter 20 of the guidance fleshes out how the process should operate – but signally fails to deal with what will happen when a person moves and the second local authority fails to act properly – for example by failing to fund the person’s needs to the same level as the first authority until it has completed its assessment. The guidance should have cautioned against the first authority stopping the funding in such cases – but it does not.

 

Ordinary Residence (section 39 – 41)

The existing law concerning the determination of a person’s ‘ordinary residence’ continues under the new legislation – with one major change.

The case law concerning the notion of ‘ordinary residence’ will remain applicable – ie that it refers to a person’s ‘abode in a particular place … adopted voluntarily and for settled purposes … whether of short or long duration’.As with the current law there are two significant ‘deeming’ rules – and it is in relation to the second of these that the material change is made.

The first deeming rule (now found in section 39(5)) concerns adults in NHS accommodation: such people are deemed to be ordinarily resident in the area in which they were immediately before they entered the NHS accommodation / ambulance.

The second deeming rule concerns adults whose accommodation is arranged by a local authority in the area of another local authority. At present this is restricted to cases where a local authority arranges accommodation in a registered care home. The legislation extends this rule to include not only care home accommodation, but also shared lives scheme accommodation and supported living accommodation. Local authority responsibility only attaches if the care and support ‘can be met only’ in the specified accommodation and the accommodation is in England (section 39(1)).

Para 19.31 of the guidance explains that:

Need should be judged to “only be able to be met” through a specified type of accommodation

 

in the specified accommodation and the accommodation is in England (section 39(1)).

Para 19.31 of the guidance explains that:

Need should be judged to “only be able to be met” through a specified type of accommodation where the local authority has made this decision following an assessment and a care and support planning process involving the person. Decisions on how needs are to be met, made in the latter process and recorded in the care and support plan, should evidence that needs can only be met in that manner. The local authority must have assessed those needs in order to make such a decision – the “deeming” principle therefore does not apply to cases where a person arranges their own accommodation and the local authority does not meet their needs.

Responsibility will however continue even if the person moves between different specified types of accommodation in another (or more than one other) area and it will also exist where the person takes a direct payment and arranges their own care (see paras 19.32 – 19.34).

 

Safeguarding (sections 42 – 47))

The Act places on a statutory footing some of the safeguarding obligations that are at present, only located in the guidance (principally the ‘No Secrets’ guidance) – for example the duty to make enquiries / decide what action should to be taken.

Section 42 contains the duty to make enquiries if adult with care & support needs:

  • is experiencing, or is at risk of abuse of neglect; and
  • is unable to protect him/herself against the abuse / neglect.

 

The Act does not explain what is meant by ‘abuse’ – save to specify that it includes financial abuse which is broadly defined – eg including putting the adult ‘under pressure in relation to money or other property’ and/or the adult ‘having money or other property misused’.

The Act provides no new powers to protect adults from abuse – merely ‘process’ obligations (eg to have a Safeguarding Board; to undertake investigations and to require individuals to provide information etc). The Welsh Act provides a power of entry – to enable social services to gain access and to speak with a person suspected of being abused – and the Scottish Act contains (in addition) a power of removal. Not only are such powers absent from the English Act, the existing National Assistance Act 1948 section 47 power to remove, is repealed.

 

Independent advocacy (section 67)

Section 67 of the Act and the regulations place a duty on local authorities to arrange independent advocacy if the authority considers that: (1) an individual would experience ‘substantial difficulty’ in participating in (amongst other things) their assessment and / or the preparation of their care and support plan; and (2) there is no one appropriate available to support and represent the person’s wishes. As the guidance states at para 7.4:

Local authorities must arrange an independent advocate to facilitate the involvement of a person in their assessment, in the preparation of their care and support plan and in the review of their care plan, as well as in safeguarding enquiries and SARs [Safeguarding Adults Reviews] if two conditions are met. That if an independent advocate were not provided then the person would have substantial difficulty in being fully involved in these processes and second, there is no appropriate individual available to support and represent the person’s wishes who is not paid or professionally engaged in providing care or treatment to the person or their carer. The role of the independent advocate is to support and represent the person and to facilitate their involvement in the key processes and interactions with the local authority and other organisations as required for the safeguarding enquiry or SAR.

The guidance explains that a person experiences ‘substantial difficulty’ when this exists in relation to any one of four areas – namely (para by 6.33):

understanding the information provided; retaining the information; using or weighing up the information as part of the process of being involved; and communicating the person’s views, wishes or feelings. Where a person has substantial difficulty in any of these four areas, then they need assistance.

s117 Mental Health Act 1983 (section 74)

Currently ‘’after-care services’ are not defined by the 1983 Act. The Care Act inserts a new subsection (5) into the 1983 Act to limit services to those:

(a) ‘arising from or related to the mental disorder’ and

(b) reducing the risk of a deterioration of the person’s mental condition (ie that may require re-admission).

The Act confirms that ordinary residence for the purposes of s117 is determined by where a person was based immediately before they were detained and gives the Secretary of State power to resolve ordinary residence disputes. It also inserts a new ‘s117A’ that provides for regulations to introduce a limited ‘choice of accommodation’ for persons subject to s117.

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 Posted by at 21:25
Mar 102015
 
A recent article in the Guardian drew attention to the BBC’s current efforts to increase the numbers of disabled people on and off-screen. Tania Motie and Tanni Grey-Thompson argued that there are three stereotypes applied to disabled people – we are heroes, scroungers or brave victims. The BBC, they wrote, has a role in challenging this, and that:

Sophisticated, multi-faceted, authentic portrayal influenced by disabled people will really help to break down barriers and allow disability to become part of the DNA of our society.

This reminded me of how, 23 years ago, in 1992 – which like 2015 was also a general election year – the BBC launched a series of programmes made with and about disabled people, together with a booklet and poster advertising.  The series and the booklet were called Disabled Lives: we wanted to call it Disabling Society but Channel 4 had got there first with their own series that same year. The initiative resulted from an Advisory Group made up of disabled people brought together by the BBC to help them  develop programmes which challenged the stereotypical and unrealistic ways in which disabled people’s lives were portrayed.
It sounds familiar doesn’t it? But there were some differences.
The key difference is that, in 1992, disability was increasingly being identified as a civil rights issue, whereas today public debate is dominated by arguments and counter-arguments about whether we are ‘scroungers’ or ‘vulnerable’.
The 1992 booklet said that it, and the BBC series of programmes, was about:

one of the most exciting civil rights issues of our times, the right of disabled people to participate equally and fully in the communities in which we live….Today, there is a growing movement of disabled people who insist that our lives have value and that we want to be treated as equal citizens with equal rights.

This was before the Disability Discrimination Act which was finally passed in 1995 after many years of campaigning.  The programmes and the publicity gave a voice to this demand for an end to discrimination, but also emphasised the importance of changing the dominant cultural representations of disabled people, arguing – as Elspeth Morrison (one of the Advisory Group’s members) put it:

If we have no representation of ourselves other than those images used in charities’ advertising, crippled witches in children’s books, brave and tragic media stuff, theatre and film’s metaphorical use of disability as social inadequacy, social decay – if there is no expression of life as we live, it, how do we begin to validate ourselves and learn about each other?

One of the photographs (taken by David Hevey) used in the booklet and in the posters  – was of the Direct Action Network holding up a bus in Manchester.  No buses were wheelchair accessible at that time and access to public transport was an important part of the campaign for anti-discrimination legislation.
Independent living (having choice and control) was also a key focus, for people with the whole range of impairments and across all ages. The Independent Living Fund had been established in 1988 and more and more people with high levels of support needs were accessing it and starting to live the kind of lives their non-disabled peers took for granted. In general, more disabled people were demanding, and getting, their entitlements to support to enable them to go about their daily lives.
Organisations of disabled people (as opposed to the charities speakingfor disabled people) were increasing in number and influence in the early 1990s, reflected in the fact that the people on the  BBC’s Advisory Group were mainly from organisations of disabled people.  The initiative encompassed Deaf people, people with physical and/or sensory impairments, people with non-evident impairments and health conditions, people with learning difficulties, mental health service users and older disabled people.  As People First (the organisation of people with learning difficulties) said:
We are for difference
For respecting difference
For allowing difference
Until difference
Doesn’t matter anymore.
In the early 1990s, the most influential stereotype of disabled people was of us as objects of pity, as tragic victims who, at best, could be admired for ‘overcoming’ against all odds, at worst were considered to have lives not worth living.  The response of a government Minister to one of the petitions calling for anti-discrimination legislation was to say that he didn’t believe employers discriminated against us, rather they felt sorry for us.
Nevertheless, in 1992 things were shifting.  In the run-up to the general election, the Conservative Party (in government since 1979) devoted a specific section in its Manifesto to commitments to disabled people, celebrating that:

Under the Conservatives, more disabled people than ever before are getting the help they need and deserve. Since 1979, the number receiving Attendance Allowance has more than trebled; the number receiving Mobility Allowance has risen six fold; the number receiving Invalid Care Allowance has risen 25-fold. Today we spend some £12,000 million a year on benefits for long-term sick and disabled people. Even after allowing for inflation, that is 2½ times as much as Labour spent in the 1970s.

The Tories promised to introduce “new disability benefits [Disability Living Allowance and Disability Working Allowance] which will, in the next Parliament, bring extra help to at least 300,000 people. By 1993-94 these and other improvements will mean that we will be directing an extra £300 million a year to long-term sick and disabled people.”
They were proud of the “great success” of the Independent Living Fund and gave a manifesto commitment to maintaining it.
The Labour Party had very little to say about disabled people in their1992 manifesto. There was a nod to ‘training’ opportunities, to health services for people with long-term conditions and to better community services for people using mental health services and for people with learning difficulties.  The Liberal Democrats’ manifesto had more, committing them to introduce a Citizen’s Income with a specific disability component, human rights legalisation (to include disability) and a Charter of Rights for disabled people.
In those days, very few people argued that too much was spent on disability benefits. Very few people thought that disabled and sick people were making false claims for out of work or disability benefits.
In fact, in 1992 the Conservative government felt that not enough disabled people were being helped and introduced new benefits for which more people were eligible.  Today the Coalition government argues that too many people are receiving help with the additional costs associated with impairment and disability. The Disability Living Allowance – which the Conservative government of the early 1990s was proud to introduce – has been abolished and replaced with Personal Independence Payment with the aim of reducing the budget by 20% and accompanied by such long delays in responding to claims that aJudicial Review has been granted of the process.
In 1992, the government were proud of the Independent Living Fund and vowed to keep it.  Today, they have abolished it and many people with high support needs are at risk of losing the ability that ILF funding gave them to live ‘ordinary lives’.
In 1992, disability was a civil rights issue and we were on our way to getting the Disability Discrimination Act, enacted by the Conservative government in 1995.  Today, access to justice under the legislation has been severely undermined by cuts in legal aid, and the introduction of fees for taking a case to an Employment Tribunal.
In 1992, public debate was about whether disabled people were to be pitied as the objects of charity and needed to be ‘looked after’, or whether we should have equal rights to access education, employment, independent living.  Today, public debate is about whether we are avoiding our responsibilities to seek employment and need conditions and sanctions to get us ‘off benefits’, or whether we are ‘vulnerable’.   Instead of recognising the additional support, and the removal of barriers, which are required in order for us to access the same opportunities as others, we are – in order to avoid being labelled as ‘scroungers’ –  once again forced into the role of tragic victims, where the legitimacy of our requirements is to be measured by how ‘vulnerable’, ill and/or impaired we are.
So if we are to avoid being identified as ‘scroungers’, we have to prove how ‘vulnerable’ we are made by our impairments, illness and/or age.  Yet ’vulnerability’ is created by the society in which we live – by lack of appropriate support, and by prejudicial attitudes. ‘Vulnerability’ is created, for example, by removing benefits from someone because they failed to fulfil conditions which illness, impairment and/or poverty made difficult for them to do. ‘Vulnerability’ is created by threatening to stop providing support to enable someone to go to the toilet when they need to. ‘Vulnerability’ is created by a lack of suitable, affordable housing for a family affected by illness and disability.
Tackling discrimination, removing barriers, providing appropriate support which gives us choice and control in our lives – none of these are on the agenda for public and policy debate anymore. Instead, our social worth is to be measured by whether we are ‘hard-working’, which means engaged in productive labour.  Other important social roles – looking after others, bringing up children, contributing to our friends, families and communities – are not deemed worthy of support or celebration.
The BBC’s current initiative – all these years after the 1992 initiative – to increase the numbers of visible, ‘happen to be’ disabled people on screen and to increase their employment off screen is laudable.  But we also need to change the language of public discourse about sick and disabled people.
In particular, we need politicians, and all those participating in public debate in the run up to the election in May, to change the way they talk about disabled people.  We need to revisit the language and images the disability movement tried so hard (with some considerable success) to promote during the 1980s and 1990s – language which returns to some of the hopes reflected in the BBC’s booklet all those years ago:

Disabled people are fighting for a society which celebrates difference, a society which does not react to physical, sensory or intellectual impairments, or emotional distress,, with fear and prejudice.  We want a society that recognises the difficulties we face, but which also values us for what we are.

 

Our hopes for the future are based on the justice of our wish for control over our lives, the strength of our demands for equal participation, the passion of our belief in the value of our contribution to the communities in which we live.

 

with thanks to Jenny Morris for more see:

http://jennymorrisnet.blogspot.co.uk/

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Mar 042015
 

From 1st March Maximus took over the contract for carrying out the notorious Work Capability Assessment.

Disabled campaigners and our supporters are clear that simply altering the provider will fail to correct the gross injustice that the WCA represents. This is an assessment that seeks to redefine who is and is not disabled in order to push the most disadvantaged members of society off benefits while lining the pockets of the private sector with public money.

Maximus, a company with a history of disability discrimination and improper practices, will be paid more than double what Atos was for the contract. Meanwhile very little will have changed: Maximus will be using the same buildings, many of which are not accessible to disabled people, assessment staff will still not necessarily have any knowledge of the conditions they are evaluating, and, most significantly, the fundamental flaws of the assessment which tests functionality as opposed to employability will continue.

The only way to ensure a fair and just social security system is to scrap the Work Capability Assessment and bring benefit tests back within the public sector.

Mark Serwotka, General Secretary, PCS Union
John McDonnell MP
Paula Peters, National Steering Committee, Disabled People Against Cuts
Ellen Clifford, Inclusion London
Jane Aitchison, PCS, Joint National Secretary Unite the Resistance
Katy Clark MP
Ian Hodson, National President, Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union
Mick Carney, National President, Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association
Sean McGovern, TUC GC Councillor for Disabled Members
Siobhan Endead, National Officer for Equalities, Unite the Union
Linda Burnip, Disabled People against Cuts
Debbie Jolly, Disabled People against Cuts
Andy Greene, Disabled People against Cuts
Roger Lewis, Disabled People against Cuts
Anita Bellows, Disabled People against Cuts
Bob Ellard, Disabled People against Cuts
Denise McKenna, Mental Health Resistance Network
Jane Bence, New Approach
John McArdle, Co-Founder Black Triangle Campaign (Edinburgh)
David Churchley, Co-Founder Black Triangle (Glasgow)
Dr Stephen Carty GP,  Member and Medical Adviser Black Triangle
Steven Preece, Welfare Weekly Editor
Johnny Void, Johnny Void blog
Carole Ford, WOWcampaign
Laura Stringhetti, WOWcampaign
Michelle Maher, WOWcampaign
Ian Jones, WOWcampaign
Frances Kelly, CarerWatch
Rick Burgess, NewApproach
Eleanor Lisney, Sisters of Frida
Mark Harrison, Equal Lives
Sarah Hatch, South East London People’s Assembly
Amanda Nelson, South East London People’s Assembly
Pat Onions, Pat’s Petition
Anne Pridmore, Being the Boss

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 Posted by at 20:47
Feb 112015
 
Picture: Ian Dury. Caption: Ian Dury had it right when he sang What A Waste, says Mark Harrison.

Ian Dury had it right when he sang What A
Waste, says Mark Harrison.

In the words of Ian Drury – What a waste! I am referring to the exclusion of disabled people in society and the attitudes and behaviours of Government, both local and national, towards us. As a society we need to turn our approach to disability on its head.

This Government has initiated a poisonous discourse in order to justify targeting disabled people through austerity. By the 2015 election, more than £28bn in benefits and entitlements will have been taken away from disabled people. At the same time, disabled people are twice as likely to live in poverty as non-disabled people. In Austerity Britain, where the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer continue to claim “We are all in this together”, disabled people will pay 9 times more towards reducing the budget deficit than the average citizen. Those who are severely disabled will pay nineteen times more.

We are not benefit scroungers or burdens, we are not too expensive or units of costs that we as a society cannot afford, we are not brave, courageous or ‘special needs’. We are human beings like everybody else. If you cut us we bleed. You call us names and bully us, we hurt. You pity us and stick us in the charity box, we behave like charity cases. You segregate us in separate institutions and we become institutionalised. You do everything for us and wrap us in cotton wool then we become dependent. You have low expectations of our abilities and you damage our growth and development.

Disabled people don’t want this; we just want to be treated equally. We don’t want to be labelled as ‘special needs’ and charity cases. We want to live in the mainstream like everyone else. We want the barriers to us leading equal lives removed. If you label us as charity cases then what happens when you lose interest and move on to the next ‘good cause’? Labels are for tins not disabled people!

So what is to be done to address this waste? It is our responsibility – all of us – to remove these barriers. The barriers are ‘man made’ so it is our responsibility to break them down and consign them to history together. Disabled people can’t do this by ourselves we need allies. We need non-disabled people to get along side us and not accept the apartheid lives many disabled people are forced to live. We need disabled and non-disabled to be passionate about disability equality just like we are about women’s, racial and sexuality equality.

Disabled people have enormous amounts to give if afforded the opportunity and responsibility. Let’s end this waste and call time on out of date 20th Century attitudes and behaviours. Together we can consign them to the dustbin of history where they belong. Let’s get passionate together about disability equality and removing those barriers, wherever they are. Our Government has signed and ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities http://www.un.org/disabilities/

This provides a comprehensive road map for achieving disability equality – let’s implement it.

Mark Harrison

Mark Harrison is CEO of Equal Lives,
formerly known as the Norfolk Coalition of
Disabled People.

January 2015

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 Posted by at 22:00