Apr 042014
 

We’ve had a great response to bookings for the DPAC conference on Sat 12th April in London, but places are now running out. Please email:  dpacfightback@yahoo.co.uk

with your details, number of places needed and any access needs.

12th April 2014 – 11am until 5pm

London Met University, Tower Building, 166 – 220 Holloway Road, London, N7 8DP

Since we started in October 2010 Disabled People Against Cuts has been at the forefront of the fight against austerity. With Atos on the run, and the bedroom tax on the ropes we are seeing the results of hard campaigning. But there is much more to do to ensure disabled people’s rights to live independently and with an adequate income.


The national conference is a chance for DPAC members to come together, to share experiences and discuss your ideas for moving forwards.


DPAC are working hard to bring to conference a surprise guest, a person who, if anyone has, has been the catalyst for the re-emergence of disability activism in the last few years, someone DPAC has enjoyed a close relationship with from visiting him at home to donating underpants to supporting his select committee appearances.


Workshops will look at: –  Where Now for the Independent Living Fund campaign,  – Developing a Social Model of Distress,  – Winning the Argument,  – Disability, Art and Protest,  – Building a National Network of Disabled People’s Organisations and Direct Action practical skills among others.

 Please note places are limited so priority will be given to DPAC members. For information about joining please contact mail@dpac.uk.net

The venue is wheelchair accessible. BSL and a note taker will be provided. For access information go to: http://www.disabledgo.com/access-guide/islington-council/london-metropolitan-university-tower-building

For access queries including booking parking please contact DPACfightback@yahoo.co.uk
To book places or for more information please contact DPACfightback@yahoo.co.uk

 

 

 

Aug 132013
 

dpacxx

Reclaiming Our Futures UK

 

Join this year’s week of action to protest against austerity, fight for our rights and celebrate disabled people

 

From 29th August – 4th September DPAC and other campaigns will offer a range of activities you can get involved in. These events will bring together our anger at what is happening now, and celebrate our victories won, both in the past and to come.

 

 

Our rights are being stripped away day by day, by the neo-liberal policies being imposed on us all by the Condems, leaving us without much hope for our futures – or our children’s.

 

We have been here before. Our history is littered with examples of how our community has come together when under attack to fight – and win. From the early campaigns of NLBDP (National League of Blind and Disabled People) through to the founding and manifesto of UPIAS (Union of

 

the Physically Impaired Against Segregation) and on to DAN (Direct Action Network)- Now we have DPAC leading direct action and a host of other key grass root campaigns working towards reclaiming our rights and futures.

 

We have fought our corner over 3 centuries. And those fights have brought victories; the Independent Living Movement, our early CILs (Centres for Independent Living) and early active DPO’s (Disabled Peoples Organisations) and the significant rights for disabled people (which are now under attack). They represent big victories, brought about by mobilizing in our communities around our common cause – and having the will and determination to see our demands met without compromising our rights. We have consistently united in anger and celebration.

  

Download easy read information about the week here:

DPAC easy read (2)

 

DPAC Reclaiming our Futures Action

 

This autumn, we are asking our community to come together in anger, and celebration again – and to unite around our demands

 

We will be launching the UK Disabled People’s Manifesto setting out our vision of how the resources, structures and institutions of our society today can be re-designed to empower disabled people to take part in life on our terms. Disabled people are, and always will be, the experts on our lives and our self-determination. It will be a vision and practical plan that we can take forward in our communities, workplaces and lives to reclaim our futures.

 

In the build up to the manifesto launch, DPAC is leading The ‘Reclaiming Our Futures’, seven days of action to protest against the targeting of disabled people by austerity measures, to fight for our rights for inclusion and independence as equal citizens and to celebrate the value, pride and self determination of disabled people.

 

From 29th August – 4th September DPAC and other campaigns will offer a range of activities you can get involved in. These events will bring together our anger at what is happening now, and celebrate our victories won, both in the past and to come.

 

The plan below is only half the story. We want YOU, your Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisation, your campaign group, your community, your friends to put on events and get involved too. Can’t get to our exhibition? – then put on your own. Can’t get to our direct action? – then do your own. Barbecues, debates, quiz nights, family days, picnics – whatever! ACT – in celebration or in anger! (PS don’t forget to let us know what you’re doing).

 

 

Day by Day: 29th August-4th September

 

 

Thursday 29th August – YOU launch our 7 days of action

 

A range of resources will be available for your use as we ask all supporters to start our week of action with an online blitz. You will be the ones creating the buzz and the hype sending letters and twitter messages to targets of your choice ranging from MPs to disability charities to the media. We will be producing twibbons and memes but make and circulate your own. If you haven’t got a Social Media account (such as Facebook & Twitter) set one up now, link to DPAC ( twitter: @Dis_PPL_Protest) and let’s create a cyber wave. #dpacrof

 

The launch will coincide with Transport for All’s Day of Action to make CrossRail accessible: http://dpac.uk.net/2013/07/day-of-action-to-make-crossrail-fully-accessible-thursday-29th-august-2013/

 

 

 

Friday 30th August – Local Protests

 

Last year during the ATOS Games over 30 local actions took place around the UK Local actions mean you get to choose the target of your choice. You could take the Reclaiming Our Futures manifesto to present at your local MP’s constituency office, spread it through social media, protest on the streets against segregated education, the proposed ILF closure or show solidarity at your local Remploy site (for those few factories in their last weeks of operation). Alternatively, you might want to lobby your local Council on the Bedroom Tax and cuts to local services/support. Oh, and as we know ATOS offices are still around too….we’re sure you have other great ideas to add… Remember to let us know what you are doing so we can promote your actions. We will be producing local action resource packs but any materials you develop please send us copies to share with other protests and online.

 

 

Saturday 31st – Disability, Art & Protest Exhibition and Fundraising Gig

 

An exhibition and sharing of work exploring disability, art and protest followed by a ticketed fundraising gig run in partnership with Madpride and Tottenham Chances. Come during the day and join in our banner making workshop to prepare for the big Freedom Drive on the 4th September. If you would like to nominate an artist, collective and/or piece of work please let us know (including any links) and we will try to get them involved. If you want to do a local, street or online art protest too-this could be the day to do it.

 

Venue: Tottenham Chances, 399 High Road, London, N17 6QN Times:

 

12 – 7pm Exhibition: disability, art and protest

1 – 3.30pm Banner and placard making workshop

 

4 – 6pm Work Sharing

7.30pm till late Gig

 

 

Sunday 1st September – Reclaiming the Social Model: the social model in the 21st Century

 

Anne Rae: former UPIAS and current chair of the Greater

Manchester Coalition of Disabled People (GMCDP),

 

Colin Barnes: Professor of Disability Studies at Leeds Centre for Disability Studies

 

 

As government and the private sector increasingly use a so-called ‘modern understanding of disability’ to redefine who is and who isn’t disabled it is more important than ever that we understand, defend and promote the social model of disability. This isn’t helped when the social model is not fully supported within our movement. This event will be a chance to hear from a range of speakers and to discuss why the social model is still relevant today to our lives and our futures and to map out what we need to do to fight for it. The event will be live-streamed with the opportunity for people to participate in the discussion virtually. We will also be promoting a range of resources around the social model.

 

Venue

UNITE House, 128 Theobald’s Road, Holborn, WC1X 8TN

Time: 12.30 – 4.30pm

 

 

Monday 2nd September – Direct Action

 

Despite the huge efforts of thousands of disabled people throughout the country, it is increasingly difficult to find spaces where lies, inaccuracies and mis-use of statistics can be challenged. DPAC recently released a study into how the DWP uses all of these to vilify and demonize disabled people.

 

See more at: http://dpac.uk.net/2013/06/lies-damn-ids-and-statistics/#sthash.MAk5nTiU.dpuf

 

But why is this down to us? People should be presented with both sides of the story and this isn’t happening. Disabled people are having to find ways to make sure our truths will be heard. Watch this space…

 

 

Tuesday 3rd September – ‘I Dare’ day

 

A day of online action to reinforce that we want ‘Rights not Charity’, and a society where we are able to operate on our own terms as disabled people. Dare to ask for Rights not Charity. Dare to be an activist. Dare to ask more of ‘our’ organisations. We aren’t asking for Care, we want Power: Power to write the script for our own lives, and not to be written out or written off by others. A range of actions and captions will be available for you to capture in an image and circulate online.

 

 

Wednesday 4th September – UK FREEDOM DRIVE

 

A final-day march and events in and around Parliament. Four

 

themed ‘blocks’ will meet at 4 Government departments, central to the lives of disabled people. After handing over our demands, blocks will then move towards Parliament for a lobby where we will formally launch the UK Disabled People’s Manifesto and present our demands to our

 

elected representatives.

 

Choose your ‘block’ and meet at 12.45pm at one of:

 

·        Department for Education to oppose government attacks on inclusive education and a return to segregation (Sanctuary Buildings, 20 Great Smith Street, London, SW1P 3BT)

 

·        Department of Energy and Climate Change if you’re angry about the numbers of disabled people living in fuel poverty while the energy companies rake in ever growing profits (3 Whitehall Pl, City of Westminster, SW1A 2AW)

 

·        Department for Transport to challenge inaccessible transport, the opening of new inaccessible stations for Crossrail and proposed cuts to rail staff further reducing customer assistance (Great Minster House, 33 Horseferry Rd, London SW1P 4DR)

 

·        Department of Health to defend our NHS and demand our right to levels of social care support enabling choice, control, dignity and independence (Richmond House, 79 Whitehall, London SW1A 2NS)

 

Lobby of Parliament: 5 – 6pm – launch of the UK Disabled People’s

Manifesto

 

WE WANT EVERYBODY TO JOIN US FOR THE FREEDOM DRIVE ideally in person, but also online-this is for everyone everywhere. There will be accessible transport from a variety of towns and cities throughout the country (details to follow) and there is some funding available for transport but we will need your co-operation and patience to make this work for everybody, so please bear with us and note that while DPAC members will be given priority we want to support as many people as we can. If you can’t get there send a photo or your name and you can march with us.

 

This week of action is yours. Please take part at whatever level suits you – BUT MAKE SURE YOU TAKE PART. Share our events, resources and actions as far and wide as you can.

 

 

 

Let’s Reclaim Our Futures, together!

 

 

DPAC web site: www.dpac.uk.net

 

DPAC facebook:

 

https://www.facebook.com/pages/DPAC-Disabled-People-Against-Cuts/213545112011414?fref=ts(Open Community group- including allupdates from DPAC)

 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/DPAC2011/?fref=ts(original open groupDPAC page- faster paced and more opinion driven than community group )

 

DPAC Twitter: @Dis_PPL_Protest 

 

DPAC email: mail@dpac.uk.net

 

 

Remember if you need help with funding to get to London (4th Sept) email us at mail@dpac.uk.net with details. DPAC members will get first priority but we’re hoping to be able to contribute to all that want to come along. If you are unable to come but would like your picture carried send us a photo or message. Please get in touch with any other queries as well and we’ll try to help.

Download this as a PDF Doc: http://dpac.uk.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Reclaiming-Our-Futures-call-out-long-w-logos-v2.pdf

 Download this as a Word Doc: http://dpac.uk.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Reclaiming-Our-Futures-call-out-long-w-logos-v2-1.doc

 

 Reclaiming our Futures is supported by The Edge Fund, Andrew Wainwright Reform Trust, Network for Social Change, Black Triangle, Mental Health resistance network, Wow Petition, Fuel Poverty Action, Occupy London, TUC, UK UNCUT, Boycott Workfare, Right to Work, Just Fair, Unite Disabled Workers, BFAAWU, European Network on Independent Living, Anti-Bedroom Tax and Benefits Justice Federation, and more…..

 rof8

Mar 232013
 

In the court case taken by five disabled people against the proposed closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) , and supported by a campaign led by DPAC and Inclusion London certain documents were used. These documents are mainly correspondence between civil servants at the Government’s Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) and the minister for disabled people: Esther McVey.

These documents were released and declassified after the court case because they had been mentioned in the case. This is a summary of those documents.

Early analysis of responses to the consultation on ILF Closure (undated)

This document gives a breakdown of responses and several points for McVey to take into account. First, the consultation asked:

Question 1Do you agree with the Government’s proposal that the care and support needs of current ILF users should be met within the mainstream care and support system, with funding devolved to local government in England and the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales?[1] This would mean the closure of the ILF in 2015.

 

Question 2What are the key challenges that ILF users would face in moving from joint ILF/Local Authority to sole Local Authority funding of their care and support needs? How can any impacts be mitigated?

 

Question 3What impact would the closure of the ILF have on Local Authorities and the provision of care and support services more widely? How could any impacts be mitigated?

 As we see never were questions asked on extending the ILF or keeping it open. In fact question 1 is what is called a ‘leading question’

In the documents DWP tell McVey:

       ‘As we expected with the current challenges facing the care and support system, the majority of ILF users are opposed to closure of the fund, with many doing so on the basis that there could be no guarantee that their current level of funding would be protected in the future’

and….

           ‘A range of smaller national and local disability groups expressed similar concerns with our proposal. Some have been able to support the closures in principle but usually conditional on current user awards being protected as part of ring-fenced funding. The most vocal group has been the relatively new Disabled People against Cuts, DPAC. This group has taken a very strong critical position on a range of DWP policies’.

Yes we have and both Miller (our old mister for disabled people) and McVey refused to meet us and ILF users several times-in fact they didn’t even bother to respond to these requests!

We were very surprised to see this section advising McVey:

           ‘The consultation exercise has been immensely useful and we have been satisfied that we have listened to a collection of views that is representative of all those individuals or organisations that have an interest in or may be impacted by closure and devolution and have considered whether to modify the preferred position set out in the consultation in light of those views’ (emphasis added)

Amazing! Because if most said : keep it open, and if most said people would lose support or enter institutions, including responses from local authorities: what exactly did they listen to?

The documents recognize that ILF users will see a drop in support with some not being eligible for support at all

             ‘We do recognise that upon reassessment by LA’s most users are likely to see some reduction in the current funding levels, and there are a group of users with low care needs that may not be eligible for local authority support under current needs thresholds in most LA’s.’

The cost of closure will be £39 million! One document states that some of this has been achieved by the savings from closing ILF to new users in 2010. But closure cannot be publically defined as value for money-indeed!

        ‘The transfer costs mean that this proposal will cost rather than save money and therefore it cannot be defined as value for money. However the transfer costs are fully affordable’.

Not to ILF users they aren’t!

And wouldn’t £39 million, plus transfer cost be better put into ILF? Of course that’s not what they want to do, in spite of a consultation exercise where the majority appeared to say a resounding NO to closure.

Why did the DWP think it would Easy to Close the ILF?

One of the reasons given that the DWP found it so easy to close the ILF to new users in 2010 was the lack of any objections from the ‘big disability organisations’ which DWP call ‘Major Departmental Stakeholder Responses’ whatever that is.

In terms of the announcement of proposed closure in 2015 it was noted that none of these ‘stakeholders’ had requested a meeting with ministers from Westminster. Basically most had kept quiet, and hadn’t seen the closure of ILF as any big deal. Great support guys!

On this basis the DWP tell McVey in another document around the potential announcement of the closure in 2015

         ‘on the basis of attention shown so far, we do not think this will   receive  significant attention on its own…’

Guess they forgot about that vocal group DPAC and Deaf and Disabled Peoples’ Organisation: Inclusion London, because the closure of the ILF has now received significant attention in the UK and in Europe, at European Parliamentary level through MEPs and at UN level and we’ll make sure this continues.

Neither DPAC nor Inclusion London has the millions for campaigning that the big disability charities have, nor dedicated media, press and campaign teams. But we do have passion, and we do care about what happens to us all as disabled people, and we care what happens to independent living. ILF users taking the case and supporting the case have appeared on TV, on radio and in newspapers to get the message across that ILF is important and this will continue too.

Any journalists that want to know more or run stories can contact: mail@dpac.uk.net

So what did these so called ‘stakeholders’ say in response to the consultation? According to the DWP, there was not enough resistance at all.

In the early analysis document those who the DWP define as key stakeholders are broken down and their responses analysed. Below is what DWP said of their ‘Major Departmental Stakeholder Responses’ in the exact words of the DWP to McVey

 Carers UK-Weakly Disagree

-User packages would be reduced placing extra demand on unpaid care

Disability Rights UK-Concerned

-Lack of choice and flexibility under Local Authorities (Las)

-User packages will be reduced

-Poor perception and past support of Las

-Difficult for ILF users to transition easily

 Disability Wales- Strongly Disagree

-users packages would be reduced which could make it impossible to support ILF users in a family environment

-since the 2010 closure of the fund to applicants disabled people have had to start entering residential care.

-believes the government is targeting the disabled for cuts

-LAs could not cope with the additional workload

-Lack of choice, flexibility and dignity for ILF users under LAs

-Do not believe transitional protection will be offered

 Inclusion Scotland-Strongly Disagree

-The proposal would create a postcode lottery of support

-User packages would be reduced

-LA support is budget led rather than needs led

-ILF expertise would be lost

-Lack of choice and flexibility under LAs

 MENCAP-Pragmatic Agreement

-If reforms go ahead they should be about finding a better system, not cutting costs

-Funding should be allocated to LAs as a separate ring fenced funding stream based on current ILF regional spending patterns in which current users enjoy time-limited protection

-need for Government to provide advice and information to all parties

 MS Society- Concerned Agreement

-Consolidation of funding streams would simplify the care system

-The proposal should not be enacted until the impact of current welfare reform is understood

-Lack of choice, flexibility and dignity for ILF users under LAs needs to be addressed

-LAs need as far as possible, to replicate the personalised expertise of ILF

-Representative groups need to be closely involved in the transition design

 RNIB-Weak Concern

-Concerned that closure might lead to a breach of article 19 on UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

-Representative groups must be closely involved in transition design

-Current levels of support must be maintained

 SCOPE-Concerned Weak Agreement

 -Consolidation of funding streams would simplify the care system

-The proposal should not be enacted during current funding constraints

-The mainstream care and support system needs more experience and commitment to independent living to be able to undertake the responsibilities of the ILF

 Spinal Injuries Association-Disagree

 -Funding is likely to disappear into wider LA budgets on transfer

-ILF is more efficient than LAs

 

‘Rights not Charity’ seems very apt as the major charities for disabled people appeared to agree with the closure, after all more institutionalisation of disabled people might benefit them mightn’t it?  Disability Rights UK (DRUK) a so called user-led organisation incorporating, but clearly forgetting the principles of National Centre for Independent Living, did not offer more than ‘concern’.  The Spinal Injuries Association ‘disagreed’ but what this needed was for all to come out and say ‘Strongly Disagree’ as Disability Wales and Inclusion Scotland did.

 Remember that when the charities ask you for money, remember that when those groups that didn’t come out fully against the closure of the ILF say they are on the side of disabled people or are working for disabled people: we believe they can no longer justify either of those statements.

 The DWP told McVey that ‘stakeholders’ (SCOPE, DRUK etc)

‘..have traditionally found it hard to defend the ILF model of funding care..’

‘none of the largest national disability organisations requested ministerial meetings and many did not submit responses to the consultation. While we have had an increasing number of letters from MPs on users’ behalf, the proposal to close the fund has received almost no attention in the mainstream media’ (correspondence to McVey 7th November 2012)

We will work through more of the documents looking at issues on transition, and the DWP’s media strategy which is unsurprisingly at odds with any issues raised by disabled people-you know the stuff Closure of ILF will give ‘choice and control’ , ‘committed to supporting disabled people’ blah, blah, blah.

The big difference here is that it is clear from the documents  that the DWP are perfectly aware that ILF users will lose funding and that their needs won’t be adequately met through the local authority system.

Cuts versus Reform

Finally, the DWP were keen to try and put the message out that the closure of the ILF was not about ‘cuts’ but about ‘reform’ –what’s the difference? They do appear to believe that if they say reform we all think this is a good thing, rather than identifying that everything that comes under the heading of reform is actually another cut.

The documents cannot be clearer: this is a cut

A cut to the dignity, life chances and lives of disabled people-not just those who are currently supported to lead independent lives through ILF , but also those who would have qualified before closure to new applicants in 2010 and all who could benefit from the ILF system in the future

Support ILF users now; support a better future-say no to the closure of the ILF!

 

 

 

 

 

 



[1] Funding for ILF users in Northern Ireland is currently the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Department for Social Development, not the Department for Work and Pensions.

Feb 252013
 

DPAC has been passed a letter from Ed on WCA/Atos which we’ve been asked to share. While reading please remember that it was New Labour that first contracted Atos and Ed has done some visits to them too- no, not  joining DPAC, or disabled  people in  protests outside Atos offices in direct actions against the 72 deaths a week of those being put through this inhuman regime. But as a kind of badly advised PR exercise. He seems to have stopped that now.

The letter says:

              ‘We appreciate and share the concerns that have been expressed by many charities, disability groups and health care professionals regarding the WCA …’

Would these be the same multi-million big disability charities that sat at the table with Atos in the working groups on the construction of the WCA we wonder? And is Ed really talking about HCPs here? Ed’s  letter continues:

             ‘….and we agree that the government need to move quickly to remedy the problems. A large number of charities and disabled people have reported serious shortcomings with the assessment process and there is clear evidence that the WCA is not working….’

A slight understatement? Then there’s a bit of a disclaimer about previous New Labour government and what they intended for the WCA which was for it to work with applicants ‘fairly, quickly and compassionately’ with ‘appropriate support’.  Ah so no plans to scrap this inhumane disaster and start looking at it all again then? Back to Ed:

           ‘…It is clear, however, that the current Government have been too slow to adapt the Work Capability Assessment in the light of experience, and in view of the much bigger job it is now being asked to do…’

Actually they have been adapting it, mobilising distance for example has been reduced several times to make even more difficult to score those elusive Atos points removing more people from any support. Then we have a paragraph on Professor Malcolm Harrison’s independent reports and lack of progress. Let’s also remember Prof Harrison was sacked/resigned/came to the end of his appointment, apparently after appearing on Panorama citing the disaster of the WCA and Atos. But moving on:

       ‘…We would like to see the Government move much faster-for example in acting on the recommendations made by charities on dealing with mental health problems and fluctuating conditions-and to reduce the current bureaucracy of the current system. Atos healthcare also have questions to answer about the effectiveness of the current assessment process…’

        ‘..We are also very concerned that the scale of the cuts to disability benefits and social care introduced by this Government-which will total 8.6 billion over the parliament-will have a very serious impact on many disabled people..’

Isn’t it over 9 billion?

     ‘…Mr Miliband and the Shadow Frontbench will continue to press the Government on the need to put right the serious problems with the WCA…’

Cheers Ed and let us add that the work of Labour’s John McDonnell, Michael Meacher and others in bringing this Atos horror and the links between Atos and Unum in running ‘Government’ from the inside are much appreciated.

You can download the full letter from link below

 http://www.dpac.uk.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Letter-From-Ed-Milliband-Mp2.jpg

May 272012
 

While there always seems to be plenty of money for some from disability sadly, the trickle-down effect never seems to reach as far as disabled people themselves. We still seem to be being exploited as cash cows for others. Below tells how charities are exploiting disabled people through the evidence of a whistleblower from one of the charities.

 Scandal of charities that bully people off benefits

by Dave Sewell

Charities and voluntary organisations that claim to be helping vulnerable people are instead enforcing government plans to throw them off benefits, Socialist Worker can reveal.

Over 270 voluntary organisations signed up to the government’s Work Programme, which pays contractors to bully unemployed people off benefits.

Sometimes this involves “workfare” schemes—herding unemployed workers into mandatory unpaid work at supermarkets, fast food restaurants and even NHS hospitals (see below).

An “employment advisor” at one of the charities spoke to Socialist Worker anonymously about the practice. “It’s disgusting,” they said. “We get letters from people who are really ill asking why their benefits have been taken away.

“I remember one client with severe psychosis. He didn’t know what day of the week it was—but he was about to lose his benefits because he had missed his appointments.”

The charities claim they are providing a service to help vulnerable people into jobs. But the jobs simply aren’t there.

Last week St Mungo’s became the latest charity to pull out of the Work Programme. It hadn’t made the revenue it expected. And it failed to put a single homeless person into work.

“Charities signed up naively,” the advisor told Socialist Worker. “They thought—we already work with vulnerable people, so why shouldn’t we do the same for a contract?”

Factories

In practice this has meant charities turning into factories designed to process unemployed claimants. And if claimants can’t jump through the government’s impossible hoops, their benefits can be removed.

“There is so much pressure to get results—either by getting people into work, or by getting their benefits sanctioned,” the advisor said.

Around one in ten of those that the charity recommends to be stripped of their benefits are later found to have been sanctioned wrongly, the advisor added.

Their caseload includes people who are claiming Employment Support Allowance and are not obliged to seek jobs, as they are not considered fit for work.

But the advisors are not trained to tell them this. Nor are they trained to help claimants who miss appointments for health reasons—and then find they have lost their benefits as a result.

The voluntary organisations involved in the Work Programme are subcontractors of private sector training firm Seetec. They include charities that work with disabled people, homeless people, single parents, young people and ex-offenders.

But the Work Programme is in a mess over its use of contractors. One prominent firm, A4e, is so mired in fraud allegations that it has had to be axed from the scheme.

And last week the House of Commons’ Public Accounts Committee called for payments to Work Programme contractors to be frozen. The advisor welcomed this move, saying, “It’s an obscene system. Let’s hope it falls apart soon.”

Originally posted at http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=28575 nice pic of DPAC protesters there too blocking the road

 see also: http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2012/02/18/shame-of-the-third-sector-how-charities-got-it-wrong-on-workfare/

http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2012/05/28/workfare-isnt-working-so-grayling-plans-more-workfare-this-time-its-for-charity/

 According to DWP charities involved are set out in the following table by area: find your charity here-we’ve kindly highlighted the disability ones for you- let us know if we missed any-for full excell sheet email us at mail@dpac.net.uk

 Btw Disability Works UK includes SCOPE, Leonard Cheshire, Mind, MENCAP, Action for Blind People (or RNIB) Disability Works UK has a turnover value of £654.4 million and a surplus of £15.6 million Recession? What recession?

Work Programme Supply Chains

 
The information contained in the table below reflects updates and changes to the Work Programme supply chains and is correct as at 30 January 2012.
It is published in the interests of transparency. It is limited to those in supply chains delivering to prime providers as part of their tier 1 and 2 chains. Definitions of what these tiers incorporate vary from prime provider to prime provider. There are additional suppliers beyond these tiers who are largely to be called on to deliver one off, unique interventions in response to a particular participants needs and circumstances.
The Department for Work and Pensions fully anticipate that supply chains will be dynamic, with scope to flex and evolve to reflect change within the labour market and participant needs.
The Department intends to update this information at regular intervals dependant on time and resources available.
In addition to the Merlin standard, a robust process is in place for the Department to approve any supply chain changes and to ensure that the service on offer is not compromised or reduced.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   
Comparison between the August 2011 stock take and the January 2012 figures shows a small net increase in the overall number of organisations in the supply chains. Both the public and private sector shows slight increases, while the voluntary and community sector shows a small net decrease.
The table below illustrates these changes
 
 
 
 
   
Sector Number of organisations in the supply chain    
Private As at 30 January 2012 – 306 / As at 12 August 2011 – 295*  
Public As at 30 January 2012 – 137 / As at 12 August 2011 – 133*  
Voluntary or Community (VCS) As at 30 January 2012 – 412 / As at 12 August 2011 – 420*  
Totals As at 30 january 2012 – 855 / As at 12 August 2011 – 848*  
   
*Note  These figure have been amended due to organisations being incorrectly recorded in the earlier stock take, which has now been rectified. This included two strategic partners being listed as a tier 2 sub contractor when no contractual relationship was in place; one organisation being incorrectly categorised as voluntary sector when they were in fact from the private sector, and a voluntary sector organisation being recorded under two different names, thus decreasing the voluntary sector count and increasing the private sector.

East of England              
Papworth Trust              
Action for Blind People              
Royal Mencap Society               
East Midlands              
Disability Works (UK)              
Disability Alliance              
Action for Blind People               
Royal Mencap Society              
West London              
Acton for Blind People              
Hammersmith & Fulham MIND              
MENCAP              
Disability Works UK              
East London              
Disability Works UK              
Mencap              
North East              
Action for Blind People              
North West – Merseyside, Halton, Cumbria and Lancashire              
Disability Works UK              
Eden Mencap              
Action for Blind People              
Royal Mencap Society              
North West – Greater Manchester, Cheshire & Warrington              
Disability Information Bureau              
Action for Blind People              
Leonard Cheshire Disability              
RNIB              
Royal Mencap Society ( Mencap )              
Scotland              
Action for Blind People              
Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH)              
Scottish Mental Health Co-operative              
South East – Thames Valley and Hampshire and Isle of Wight              
Disability Works UK              
MENCAP              
South East – Surrey, Sussex and Kent              
Disability Works              
Action for Blind People              
Disability Works UK              
RNIB              
Royal Mencap Society ( Mencap )              
South West – Devon and Cornwall, Dorset and Somerset              
NIL              
South West – Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and West of England              
Shaw Trust               
Swindon Mind              
Action for Blind People              
Wales              
Action for Blind People ( RNIB )              
West Midlands – Birmingham, Solihull and Black Country              
Action for Blind People              
Disability Works UK              
Birmingham Disability Consortium              
West Midlands – Coventry and Warwickshire, Staffordshire and the Marches              
Mencap               
Shaw Trust              
West Yorkshire              
Action for Blind People              
South Yorkshire              
Disability Works UK              
Disability Works UK              
North East Yorkshire and the Humber              
Leonard Cheshire Disability              
RNIB              
Royal Mencap Society ( Mencap )              
The Mind Consortium              
               
 
 
 
 
   

Apr 022012
 

Boris claimed he was too busy to turn up at a London mayoral ‘hustlings’ organised by user-led organisations Inclusion London and Transport for all (TfA) to listen to disabled people.

However, Boris can find the time to go to another ‘hustlings’ event organised by the big disability charities including RNIB, Leonard Cheshire Disability and MENCAP. The charities have not invited user-led disabled peoples’ organisations to attend. The big charities continue to speak FOR disabled people with no mandate to do so and continue to exclude disabled people from talks with local and national governments as always.

DPAC asks: How much longer will user-led organisations and disabled people continue to be silenced by the multi-million pound charities?  How much longer will people support the big disability charities without realising that they are acting in their own interests? Already Disability Works UK (a consortium of charities  claiming a turn over value of £654.4 million) run workfare for disabled people, risking sanctions and loss of benefit for the very people the charities claim to ‘help’.  They claim they dont do sanctions but this is because they pass on the names of people to DWP so that they can do them.

Boris may be too busy to notice or simply not care- disabled people of London should care and make sure that his arrogance towards disabled peoples’ issues and the real problems we face translates into a ‘no vote’ for Boris in May.

Click on link to read the story of the snub by John Pring:

http://www.disabledgo.com/blog/2012/03/anger-over-boris-snub-for-user-led-question-time/

 

Feb 182012
 
Many thanks to Johnny Void for this repost

Several major UK charities now found themselves being in the unfortunate position of being less ethical organisations than corporate bastards Tesco due to their continued participation in the government’s workfare schemes.

Hot on the heels of Tesco announcing they  “will not be taking part in any mandatory (workfare) scheme set by the Government”, Oxfam and Marie Curie have also said they will no longer use workfare workers.  Housing charity Shelter confirmed that they stopped using the scheme last year after concerns that it was not in the interests of potential volunteers.

However several major UK charities, including Age UK, Cancer Research, the British Heart Foundation (BHF), Barnados and the PDSA have so far remained quiet on their use of forced labour.  Chef Executive of the BHF, Peter Hollins, earned a whopping £153,000 in 2008, and the average salary of the top 100 charities Chef Execs is now over £166,000.  These vast sums don’t appear to have trickled down though and the chances are that the person serving you in a British Heart Foundation shop is a workfare slave, paid nothing other than the pittance available on Job Seekers Allowance.

Charities have always used volunteers, and no-one has objected to that.  What the hundreds, if not thousands of people, who have contacted Tesco this work are concerned about is the punitive measures now being used to recruit these so called ‘volunteers’.  Workfare staff, as well as being unpaid, have no workplace rights.  If they are dismissed for any reason they face having their benefits sanctioned, leaving them destitute and possibly homeless.  Increasingly people who are sick and disabled are being bullied onto workfare schemes, and plans revealed in the Guardian show that they could be forced into permanent unpaid positions with charities and businesses alike.

Many workfare workers have complained of no longer having the time to look for paid work properly due to workfare schemes.  Some, like Cait Reilly, who is currently taking legal action after being forced to work in Poundland, were already volunteering and on the way to gaining a career.  Benefit levels are so low that many workfare staff go without lunch.

This isn’t a few hours a week doing good deeds or helping organise a local church fete.  Charities are using workfare staff full time, in what were often previously paid positions. As many charities now have gained contracts to carry out public services, something Cameron claims to want more of, then this could depress wages across the public sector.

And whilst charities are feeling the pinch just as much as every else, with Chief Execs living lives of luxury, then any justification charities need to use slave labour to survive ring somewhat hollow.

Unfortunately, for some charities, their involvement with this scheme goes even deeper than merely exploiting workfare staff.  Over 300 voluntary organisations have been listed as sub-contracters to administer the government’s Work Programme scheme including household names such as Mencap and the Prince’s Trust.  Many of them, some who already use workfare staff themselves, will be some of the key organisations responsible for helping to implement the scheme.  In other words they may be directly responsible for pushing vulnerable people into workfare whilst the DWP hovers in the background threatening benefit sanctions for non-compliance.  Under Work Programme claimants can be forced to work 30 hours a week with no pay for up to six months, something far more draconian than the Tesco workfare position which caused public outrage.  Astonishingly these charities have signed contracts which gag them from even being critical of the DWP and the workfare scheme.

So far it hasn’t quite been plain sailing however and many charities are already raising concerns that workfare isn’t turning out to be quite the gravy train they hoped for.

That charities should be quite happy to be actively involved in press-ganging vulnerable people into forced labour, and only really raise concerns that they aren’t making enough money out of it, reveals an astonishing gulf between charity bosses and the people they claim to be there to help.

At the forefront of this has been the Disability Works Consortium, an alliance of charities working together to maximise income from workfare,  and which includes MIND, SCOPE (who’s shops are riddled with workfare staff), The Leonard Chesire  Foundation, Action for Blind People and Mencap.

It’s not that these organisations have been unaware of the problems of the workfare schemes and the distress they have brought to some people’s live.  Disabled People’s Organisations, claimants groups, and perhaps most importantly their own users, have told them time and time again that workfare is exploitative, demeaning and damaging to wages and conditions for everyone.  But these charities have chosen not to listen, instead jumping through ever more complex moral and intellectual hoops in order to justify the hundreds of thousands of pounds they’ve been raking in.  Just like free market ideologues and bankers, charities have taken the position that what ever makes them the most cash just happens to also be the morally correct thing to do.

Everyone agrees that disabled people should have the right to work, and access to  support and training.  No-one disputes that for young people volunteering can be a way to gain valuable experience.  The problem is that consent has been removed from the system and  the threat of starvation and homelessness has been used to bully people into unpaid labour.  It’s really not a difficult concept and now the public have been made fully aware of what’s going on they have rightly shown their contempt for the whole shoddy operation.

Participating charities should hang their heads in shame for colluding in (and profiting from) this abuse of the most vulnerable in society.

The road the charities have taken has given soft cover to some of the most brutal welfare policies in the Western world.  Policies that have failed everywhere they have been implemented.  Policies which are now leading to a situation where someone with terminal cancer could be forced to work night-shifts stacking shelves at Tesco, or day shifts stacking shelves in a charity shop, all for no pay.

These charities are just as vulnerable to commercial pressures as the likes of Tesco, Matalan, Sainsbury’s and TK Maxx who have all now pulled out of mandatory workfare.  A threat to withdraw donations and boycott the  shops of MIND (@mindcharity), SCOPE (@scope), and Mencap (@mencap_charity) may well help focus their minds.  As resistance to workfare spreads, not for the first time, the likes of SCOPE could see angry mobs of disabled people and claimants outside their shops and offices.  It’s time they pull out of these schemes completely, tear up the contracts and issue a clear condemnation of any scheme that uses threats of benefit sanctions to force people to work for no pay.

The collapse of workfare is near complete as the corporate sector runs for the hills in the face of public fury.  All that’s left propping it up now is these charities, who depend so much on the support of the public for their very existence.  We should not be squeamish in holding them to account for their actions every bit as fiercely as we have done to the likes of Tesco and Poundland.

UPDATE!!! SCOPE have just announced on Twitter that they are ending their involvement with workfare with immediate effect.  Whether this just applies to workfare staff in SCOPE’s shops or whether they will be pulling out as workfare sub-contracters remains to be seen.  They say a statement is coming on their website: http://www.scope.org.uk/

Oct 182011
 

Many thanks to Tony Kay who allowed us to publish his letter to show the concern with Scope  shutting down of Dial UK

Dear all,

I must say that when we first heard about the DIAL UK merger with Scope back in 2008 we did have reservations because we did know that Scopes remit was focussed only on those people with Cerebral Palsy whereas DIAL UK had a disability wide remit. However we accepted that DIALUK were in a very tricky situation and that they were running on their reserves and that the merger whilst not the best solution to the problem was perhaps the only way they could continue. I am sure that DIAL UK were given assurances at that time that it was a merger and not what now appears to be happening which is a takeover and the loss of the DIAL UK brand.

We have been affiliated to DIAL UK for over 20 years and throughout this time we have received invaluable support including a paid consultancy to develop a Business plan. This was over 12 years ago and the relationship we built up with the designated Consultant has continued ever since mainly on a ‘pro bono’ basis and this support has been crucial to us. We have also accessed training received lots of useful information via the monthly information packs and been able to call on DIAL UK staff when required. This has only been possible due to the expertise of the DIAL UK staff and their knowledge and understanding of all things disability related.

We have no real affinity with Scope and at this time I do not feel it would be appropriate to be part of a Scope Network. Also I do not want the organisation information and statistics we send to DIAL UK to be made available to Scope as I have reservations that this could be used to help Scope to compete against our Organisation when trying to secure new and existing  funding.

I was recently doing a Google search of DART more out of curiosity than anything and came across a funding bid by the Local Scope service for the creation of a local Calderdale Brokerage Service for disabled adults and children, plus their families. Within this bid it states that Scope were ‘in the process of exploring working in conjunction with one of our DIAL groups Calderdale DART’ The bid was submitted in February of this year and whilst I do not know if it was successful or not, the fact is that no one from Scope has been in touch with me at any time. Is this how it is going to be in the future?

Our affiliation has always been with DIAL UK and if this is to be lost due to the enforced restructuring, then I feel we may need to look elsewhere for support as we do not feel it would be appropriate to be affiliated to Scope given their current remit and how they have let down the staff of DIAL UK who have provided an excellent service for 30 years and who have now been let down by an Organisation who have renegade on the merger arrangement agreed in 2008, knowing full well that DIAL UK cannot fight back because that merger turned into a full blown takeover.
Tony Kay

Manager

Calderdale D.A.R.T.

Read also Scope to shut down DIAL UK, make all staff redundant

from Indymedia

Scope a National charity plan to shut down a smaller charity DIAL UK and make the DIAL UK staff redundant following a recent merger. This will impact on Disabled People’s Advice Services.
West Yorkshire Solidarity federation has been passed the following information which directly affects one of the locals members.

News has just come in that Scope (essentially a national non advice giving organisation) is going to shut down DIAL UK following an earlier merger. This will affect disabled people’s advice services at a time when the need is greater. Added to this experienced staff are being dumped. Scope will claim that it has no option following cuts in funding, but they are still managing to pay their chief exec thousands.

We have been told the following:

“If – as seems likely now – none of the current staff get positions in the new structure the main sources of knowledge and intelligence about the network will be lost when it is most needed. Understanding the network and its operation and working on its behalf is the essential uniqueness of DIAL UK.

In this new structure there is no focus on the DIAL brand, name or work of the network. It seems it will become the Scope Network, with no specialist dedicated support for current and potential new members.

Scope are not an Information and Advice provider, they are not a disabled people’s organisation (DPO) or a user led organisation (ULO) so do not understand the mechanisms of running a network or the issues faced by individual member groups.

Dial UK currently receives over 20,000 calls every year from disabled people in addition to the thousands dealt with by each of the hundred plus Dial groups – where will these calls go?

If, as we fear, Dial UK ceases to exist, disabled peoples’ organisations will be abandoned by their main source of advice, support and information – where will they get this support? From Scope’s new people whose Job Descriptions don’t mention or the essential element of understanding pan disability issues and the problems disabled people face”.