Apr 052014
 

Defend Independent Living Rights

 Stop the Closure of the Independent Living Fund

 Stop Disability Cuts

 The European Network on Independent Living is calling on disabled people’s organisations across Europe to mobilise together on or near Monday 5 May 2014 through events, lobbying and protests to oppose the deep and ongoing cuts affecting disability services and benefits.

 As disabled Independent Living Fund users, close family members and allies campaigning to defend independent living rights and stop the Fund’s closure, we urge disabled people’s organisations and the broader disability movement in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to actively support this important day.

 Even small events and public activities will help to raise awareness and act as a focal point for those who want to work together to oppose cuts to services and benefits, including the proposed closure of the Independent Living Fund in fifteen months.

 It is vital that we also use this opportunity to reflect and learn from the mistakes associated with the public service reforms of a decade ago and the policies of ‘welfare reform’ and ‘personalisation’, including the use of ‘tick-box’ processes such as the Work Capability Assessment and the Resource Allocation Systems in social care to replace the individual and detailed assessment of need.

 The fear of a ‘demographic time-bomb’ associated with growing numbers of older disabled people in their eighties and nineties, creating an age imbalance in a static or falling population, has been used to justify the raising of the pension age and the way pensions are calculated, the erosion and privatisation of the ‘welfare state’, cuts to health and social care, changes to the benefits systems, and latterly ‘austerity’.

 But a growing population associated with increasing birth rates and the immigration of young adults, improved productivity and the greater fitness and activity levels of older people means the ‘demographic time-bomb’ in Britain may be a myth.

 The political climate that has undermined independent living and disability rights, and is using positive ideas such as ‘direct payments’ and ‘individualised funding’ as vehicles for shifting financial responsibility for meeting social care needs from the state to the individual needs to be challenged.

 We should no longer ignore the needs of the tens of thousands of children who are compelled by their family circumstances to be ‘young carers’ or the four hundred thousand disabled people confined to residential care or the way new concepts such as ‘prevention’, ‘reablement’ and ‘recovery’ are used to deny hundreds of thousands of disabled people the services they need.

 Those who argue disabled people have been ‘liberated’ and the welfare state is ‘broken’ are wrong, and only do so in pursuit of a very negative agenda associated with privatisation and greater inequality between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’. The same people have been passive while the Independent Living Fund has been dismissed as ‘anachronistic’ and ‘paternalistic’, and the experience and wishes of the Fund’s users and their families ignored.

 The disabled people’s movement across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland has a proud history of campaigning for independent living rights, but the gains of a generation ago for disabled people of working age are now under threat, as are the social opportunities pursued by many disabled people with complex conditions.

 The innovations of the ‘independent living movement’ such as the ‘personal assistance’ approach, specialised information and training, and the self-assessment of personal needs have been marginalised. While our organisations and projects have struggled financially since the millennium, tens of millions of pounds have flowed towards those who supported the development of ‘personalisation’ and its ‘evidence base’.

 But what is perhaps worst of all is many of those severely disabled people who have assumed the demanding responsibility of organising and managing their own complex personal assistance support, and do so fifty-two weeks a year without any financial rewards, are defined as being ‘economically inactive’.

 A jigsaw of social equality has been slowly constructed since the end of slavery and the emergence of the Chartists through the right to vote, women’s suffrage, universal healthcare, the legalisation of same-sex relationships, reproductive rights for women, equal pay legislation, and the outlawing of racism and homophobia.

 Limited advances in tackling disability and age discrimination are now being reversed, with the statutory right to an individual assessment of need by local councils being replaced. Local authorities are to be given the power to restrict a disabled person’s rights or freedom of action in pursuit of a legal duty to prevent or reduce a person’s need for social care services or personal assistance.

 Social equality for all will never be achieved unless the needs of disabled children and adults are acknowledged, assessed and met as of right, and those children and young people compelled into a caring role within their family because of a lack of social services support are freed from this and allowed to develop socially in the same way as their peers. But this would require an unparalleled redistribution of wealth, and the redrawing of our society’s social priorities.

 We believe disabled people of all ages should: have the right to live in the community free of the threat of segregation; be supported to stay healthy, safe and free of distress; and be freed from the harsh means-tests that are a feature of social care. Young disabled people in particular should be supported to pursue their dreams and aspirations free of the social barriers and discrimination that impeded many in the past. And because of the vital social role played by full-time family carers, they should be paid a social wage of at least fifty percent of the average wage of a skilled worker.

 Our movement has a collective responsibility to defend the gains we have made, and renew its commitment to campaign for full civil and human rights for all disabled people and their families.

 The ‘European Independent Living Day’ is an opportunity we should not waste.

 Abi Vanes, sister of ILF user

Aine Young, family of ILF user

Alma Lunt

Andy Greene, Islington Disabled People Against Cuts

Angela Mountstephens, sister and carer of an ILF user

Ann Walawalkar, parent of an ILF user

Anne Novis MBE

Anne Pridmore, ILF user and Director of ‘Being the Boss’

Anne Rae, Chair of Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People

Ann Rainey, ILF user

Anne Whitehurst, ILF user

Anita Bellows

Ashleigh Myatt, personal assistant

Bill Riddall, Centre for Independent Living Northern Ireland

Brian Glaves, family carer and husband of ILF user

Brian Hilton, ILF user

Bob Ellard, member of Disabled People Against Cuts

Brenda Bayliss, mother of an ILF user

Caroline Kelly

Caroline Martin, mother of an ILF user

Cath Gibson, ILF user

Charles Rainey, brother and carer of an ILF user

Christine Pickthall, ILF user

Christine Squires, ILF user

Christine Stringer, parent of an ILF user

Clare Palmer, mother of an ILF user

Colin Griffiths, ILF user

Colm Murphy, family of an ILF user

David Vanes, brother-in-law of ILF user

Debbie Domb, ILF user

Debbie Jolly, co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts and Board member of the European Network on Independent Living

Dessie Allen, brother of ILF user

Dolores Hannigan, ILF user

Ellen Clifford, Disabled People Against Cuts

Emma Dakin, ILF user

Fred Bayliss, father of ILF user

Gabriel Pepper, ILF user

Helen Brown, personal assistant

Ian Atkinson, Gateshead Access Panel

Ian Kenny, ILF user

Jacqui Armston, personal assistant

James Corker, carer of ILF user

Jan Turner, Project Manager of ‘Being the Boss’

Jean Allen, mother of ILF user

Jean Glaves, ILF user

Jenny Hurst, ILF user

Joe Whittaker

John Aspinall, ILF user

John Buckley, parent of an ILF user

John Gilliland, father of ILF user

John Kelly, ILF user

Juliet Marlow, ILF user since 1991

Kieran Coffey, ILF user

Kieran McCarthy M.L.A. Strangford (Northern Ireland)

Kieran Walawalkar, ILF user

Kristine Cope

Laura McCrum, ILF user

Lianne Bayliss, ILF user

Linda Burnip, parent of an ILF user and co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts

Lise Marron, ILF user

Mandy Dexter, personal assistant

Margaret Coffey, mother and carer of ILF user

Maria Nash, ILF user

Marie Thompson, sister of ILF user

Mark Williams, ILF user

Michael Bayliss, brother of ILF user

Michelle Allen, personal assistant

Mick Hutchins, ILF user

Neil Bayliss, brother of ILF user

Niqi Rainey, sister-in-law and carer of an ILF user

Paul Taylforth, step-father and carer of ILF user

Paula Peters, Disabled People Against Cuts

Peter Coffey, father and carer of ILF user

Peter Steele

Philomena McCrory, Centre for Independent Living Northern Ireland

Rahel Geffen – CEO Disability Action in Islington

Richard Parker, ILF user since 1991

Rob Punton, ILF user, Community Navigator Services and Disabled People Against Cuts

Robert Allen, ILF user

Ronnie Allen, brother of ILF user

Rosemary Kelly, ILF user

Rosemary O’Neill, CarerWatch

Roxanne Homayoun, ILF user

Sam Whalley

Sean O’Hare, ILF user

Sophie Partridge, ILF user

Stuart Bracking, ILF user

Sue Lovett, English Campaign for a Fair Society

Surojit Walawalkar, parent of an ILF user

Theresa Murphy, family of an ILF user

Tracey Lazard, Chief Executive of Inclusion London

Ursula Corker MBE, carer of ILF user

Valerie McCarthy, sister and carer of an ILF user

Vin West, parent and carer

Wendy Mortimer, personal assistant

 

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Mar 092014
 

Anthony has the label of Autism, he does not use the spoken word but he is able to communicate very effectively through typing on his light writer. Anthony’s struggle for independent living highlights important issues for all disabled people, living in Ireland and Europe who have a human right to independent living as per article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The catalogue of mismanagement and abuse outlined below demands a full and independent enquiry into the unacceptable experiences of Anthony.

For almost three years Anthony (now 26) had his own apartment in Dublin, he had 24hr personal assistance, and he was attending university classes. His support was managed by Cheshire Ireland, who fully accepted and welcomed Anthony’s communication and his voice. Cheshire Ireland managed the funding for support for over two years, which was provided by Health Service Executive of Ireland (HSE).

However, without consultation with Anthony or his Family a new organization took over Anthony’s support arrangements Áiseanna Tacaíochta Network (ATN) This organization was imposed upon Anthony and his family by HSE.

ATN did not accept Anthony’s communication, which caused a breakdown of Anthony’s support arrangements, including the Director informing Anthony’s parents that he had completed the necessary forms to have Anthony’s personal disability benefits paid into ATN accounts; this was without consent or consultation with Anthony or his family. As a result Anthony’s personal disability allowance was suspended. (Leaving Anthony without his own money for 10 months). After six months of ATN management the director had a private meeting with HSE to recommend Anthony goes into residential institution for further assessments.

Anthony and his family opposed such a retrograde step. At the same time ATN took the bizarre step of refusing to renew the rental agreement on Anthony’s accommodation, which resulted in Anthony being made homeless. He therefore had no meaningful choice but to accept the residential assessment at Redwood Centre, Stamullen in Ireland.

Within days at Redwood Anthony was put on antipsychotic medication and taken off his important gluten and diary free diet, against the strong protest of himself and his family, and against medical advice of Anthony’s own doctor (GP). Redwood ignored these representations. A few days later Anthony was admitted as an emergency patient from Redwood to a general hospital having had a series of nine seizures. Anthony had never experienced seizures prior to being admitted to Redwood.

Redwood also refused to accept Anthony’s communication needs and after several months, still on the same medication Anthony was refused the right to attend his own case conference at Redwood by Redwood senior staff and by HSE.

Anthony was removed from Redwood in December 2013, but is now at another institution, as the option of moving back into his old accommodation is no longer available to him due to the actions of ATN.

Redwood has refused to comment on Anthony experience whilst at Redwood.

HSE has refused to comment upon Anthony’s experience at Redwood.

ATN has refused to comment on Anthony’s experience at Redwood or their actions.

All involved appear to deny responsibility for any of the severe impacts on Anthony’s life or the removal of his right to live independently through their actions.

Anthony and his family want a full and independent enquiry into the unnecessary and unacceptable actions leading to this total abuse of Anthony’s human rights.

Important Questions for the Health Service Executive:

1. Why did the HSE change Anthony’s support arrangements to ATN without consultation with Anthony or his family, prior to those arrangements being completed?

2. Why did the HSE allow ATN to take over the management of Anthony’s support arrangement when ATN had not consulted with Anthony of his family?

3. Why did the HSE allow ATN to stop Anthony’s personal disability allowance without any consultation with Anthony of his parents?

4. Why did the HSE allow ATN to end the rental contract of Anthony’s accommodation without Anthony’s or his family’s permission?

5. Why did the HSE accept the recommendations of ATN, for Anthony for residential assessment when ATN failed to discuss such a recommendations with Anthony or his family?

6. Why did the HSE allow Redwood to administer Antipsychotic medication and remove his gluten and dairy free diet to Anthony without his permission and against the advice of Anthony’s own family doctor and parents?

7. Why did the HSE not explain to Anthony or his family why he was admitted as an emergency patient to the general hospital?

8. Why did the HSE refuse to allow Anthony to attend his own Case Conference at Redwood?

Joe Whittaker

Whittakerjoe5@gmail.com

Friend of Anthony

Please email Joe with messages of support to pass on to Anthony, or if you can help in any way please contact Joe.

Reposted from European Network for Independent Living (ENIL) website with thanks http://www.enil.eu/news/anthony-kletzander-abuse-of-human-rights-dublin-ireland/

 

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Dec 312013
 

DPAC were sent this by terrorismodeautor 

English sub-titles should play automactically. Full transcript also below video

Beautiful democracy…

How did you reach the peak of your lowness?

Flying too high?

Crawling?

How far did you want to get?

Then you were nothing more than a stale formula, plastic and artificial.

You, beautiful democracy,

always playing to choose between daddy and mommy.

This familiar theatre of Capulet’s and Montague’s,

a prime time farce directed by government and opposition.

What did your wrapping hide but ignorance, cynicism and corruption?

Beautiful democracy,

you used to be a symbol of squares,

now you could only be seen under the guise of an entertainment drug…

…and the anaesthetic of department stores:

the sham of free choice.

How could you get that low?

An alibi for the Empire and its money.

You, beautiful democracy, a plastic bag ready to carry fear and impotence.

In one handle, law`s lie;

in the other, marketing and police.

When did this Stockholm syndrome start?

How did you manage to kidnap our desires and dreams?

Beautiful democracy,

you sick old whore,

dressed up like a vain youth, rotten with cosmetics…

Who will attend your burial…

…when all your merchants and pimps are dead?

Maybe those who were your parents?

No, not even them.

Because you, beautiful democracy,

were born a bastard, from illegitimate parents…

…and an orphan without a people.

Now you can die alone in peace.

Giving up faith in you will be our deliverance…

…and also our mourning.

Rest in peace.
________________________________________

With thanks to

terrorismodeautor

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Dec 012013
 

In a shocking development Belgium came a step closer granting the right to die for children and babies in the Belgian Senate committee on Wednesday 27th Nov.

The panel voted 13-4 to allow minors to seek euthanasia under certain conditions, the communications director for the Senate, Patrick Peremans, told CNN.

The vote is one stage in a legislative process — the bill must clear other hurdles before it becomes law. However, many expect this to pass. Belgium passed legislation in 2002 allowing voluntary euthanasia for adults.

While some hail this as progress for liberalism, others say it sets a worrying precedent. It is not clear how this will be activated, but it is clear that despite soothing words to the contrary this is an act that holds many dangers not least the breaking of human rights in the right to life.  We are told ‘safeguards’ will be put in place, but it is difficult to see how safeguards for a 2 month old disabled child would come into play if parents decide that life would be easier if the child dies rather than lives.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/27/euthanasia-terminally-ill-children-belgium

INTERACTIVE: Euthanasia and the right to die around the world

READ: OPINION: Euthanasia: we can live without it…

 

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Sep 182013
 

In 2005 I had been a retired philosophy teacher in the Netherlands for several years. Pensioned civil servants were entitled to a rebate on their medical costs. It wasn’t much, but I liked this State-run system, called ZVO. In that year the international consultancy firm KPMG began managing ZVO. It worked well until 1 Jan 2006, when the Dutch healthcare system was almost completely privatized (the first in the EU). ZVO was abolished in order to enact a new health insurance law [1]. KPMG engineered this by paying out less and less each year after that, ‘to ease the pain,’ as we were told. I did not know that ZVO was outsourced to KPMG in 2005.

Privatization gave the insurers near-total control over medical financing. Provisions were dangerously downgraded, to increase profits. In December 2008 a specialist informed me that I had a life-threatening illness. I was 66 and found an age limit of 65 for adequate treatment. I moved to Uppsala Sweden, where specialists saved my life [2]. How could the supposedly humanitarian EU allow such practices (many residents were disadvantaged)? I decided to investigate and stumbled upon Atos, an information technology (IT) company that began by fusing the French IT firm Origin and part of Philips (Dutch) in 1996. It acquired the British and Dutch divisions of KPMG Consultancy in 2002 [3], was named Atos Origin and became Atos after further expansion in 2011[4].

The firm’s Atos Healthcare section (UK) began work for DWP in 1998. It is contracted to them through to 2015 [5]. Its morally and medically questionable disability benefit assessment programme has received a good deal of publicity. The revelations, including claims of at least 10,600 resultant deaths, are forcing a reorganisation of this work [6].

 In 2009 Mark Britnell, a former high NHS civil servant, became ‘Head of Healthcare, Europe and UK’ for KPMG; he is now an advisor to the British government. At an international health conference organised by industry in 2010, he remarked that ‘[T]he NHS will be shown no mercy’ in the coming privatizations, and that it would be ‘a state insurance provider, not a state deliverer’ [7]. In effect, it will take your money and distribute it to many businesses, from groups of GPs upwards. The need for profits in this model will necessarily reduce the quality and quantity of care, since when profits are subtracted from the total insurance input, less cash is available for reinvestment. This is happening in Sweden and the Netherlands now, with variations due to differences in their political systems.

Britnell might well be influencing the privatization of the NHS. Since KPMG’s Dutch branch was part of Atos Origin in 2006, its financial destruction of ZVO helped privatize healthcare in the Netherlands. Atos is not just an IT company: it is a danger to EU public health [8].

                                             

1.     http://vpwnet.wordpress.com/2006/02/02/einde_van_de_zvo_regeling/

2.      I describe this affair in Red Pepper, June/July 2009.

3.      http://atos.net/en-us/home/we-are/news/press-release/2002/pr-2002_06_05_01.html

4.      http://atos.net/en-us/home/we-are/company-profile/company-history.html

5.      http://www.atoshealthcare.com/claimants/in_partnership_with_the_dwp

6.      http://mikesivier.wordpress.com/2012/11/03/new-call-to-put-dwpatos-on-trial-for-manslaughter/. Caution is advised here. Although the government released the figure of 10,600 deaths in nine months of 2011, we do not know how many of these are directly attributable to the assessment regime, e.g. from stress, cardiovascular issues, and undiagnosed or untreated illnesses. (Atos does not investigate these. It looks only at basic behavioural and mental capacities, not medical causes of incapacity.)

7.      http://www.spinwatch.org/index.php/issues/lobbying/item/5343-%E2%80%9Cthe-nhs-will-be-shown-no-mercy-says-cameron-health-adviser, http://www.powerbase.info/images/f/fe/Apax_Healthcare_conference_2010.pdf.

8.      I am indebted to Andy Cropper for ideas, information and support during the past year or so. He has done us a service by compiling this thread of data about the NHS:

      https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150607105601288.

    George Berger, Uppsala Sweden, 10 September 2013

With many thanks to George for his permission to repost on DPAC

Originally posted at http://www.dorseteye.com/north/articles/atos-kpmg-and-the-nhs-be-afraid-be-very-afraid

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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.

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Mar 112013
 

DPAC Logo 3 amendment 1 (Small)  enil logo

11 March 2013 – On 7 March, the Conference of Presidents[1] agreed to place an oral question on the impact of austerity on the living conditions of disabled people on the agenda of the European Parliament.

The question debated and adopted by the Employment and Social Affairs Committee last month, is based on a proposal by the European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) and cooperating European organisations. ENIL welcomes the debate, scheduled to take place in the plenary meeting on 12 March, but notes with regret that the Conference of Presidents missed this opportunity to vote on a Resolution on the same issue. We see this as a clear sign of the lack of understanding by MEPs for the precarious situation of disabled EU citizens brought on by the cuts in public spending.

 The European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) launched the Proposal for a Parliament Resolution in September 2009, when a range of cuts to services and benefits for disabled people was first announced in many Member States. Today, disabled people are feeling the effects of these cuts. Their support to live independently, in the community, is being reduced or taken away and the threat of institutionalisation, or re-institutionalisation, is a reality for many.[2]

 An increasing number of voices in Europe and internationally, including DPAC, are pointing to the disproportionate effect of the financial crisis on disabled people, and warning about the long-term consequences for the entire society. ENIL and DPAC have been working with a number of European and national organisations[3] over the past 18 months, as well as with some MEPs, in order to ensure an adequate response of the European Parliament and the European Commission to austerity measures imposed by the Member States.

 The oral question to the European Commission, which will be debated on Tues 12th March, is an opportunity to get the worsening situation of disabled people in the EU on the political agenda. It is the first step towards a Resolution of the European Parliament, which can ensure that the Member States take concrete steps to reconsider and reverse the measures which are negatively affecting the rights of disabled people. ENIL and DPAC believe that a Parliament Resolution will send a strong signal to the Member States, and will continue campaigning for its adoption in the coming months.

 To support ENIL’s Resolution on the effect of cuts in public spending, please write to your MEP today! Together, we can make MEPs from all political groups aware of the impact of austerity measures on the lives of people they are representing and ask them to take immediate action.  Thank you for your support!

 To follow the debate in the European Parliament on 12 March, please use this link, select ‘Live’ and ‘Current debate’, and then click on the desired language. An estimated starting time will be shown on the website at 16:00 GMT, with the debate likely to take place in the evening.

 Background information

 Text of the oral question 

 Subject: The impact of austerity on the living conditions of people with disabilities  
In the European Union, evidence shows that persons with disabilities, including people with intellectual disabilities, are to a disproportionate degree affected by cuts in public spending and by a resulting loss of support measures – such as personal assistance and direct payments – that are essential if they are to live independently in the community

.1. Austerity policies will lead to an increase in the number of people living in long-term institutional care in many Member States, and to the further social exclusion of persons with disabilities. What steps does the Commission intend to take to remedy and reverse this trend?

2. It is of paramount importance for people with disabilities that austerity measures do not affect primary and daytime care, which, on the contrary, should be expanded further. At the same time, the provision of home care should be enhanced. What concrete steps does the Commission plan to take to encourage the organisation of these community-based services?

3. The EU’s commitments to prevent discrimination when it comes to access to employment and occupation, and to promote the social inclusion of persons with disabilities, are not being met. There is still poor awareness of the enormous potential for improving the integration of disabled people into the labour market, which would also contribute to the employment target set in the framework of EU 2020. What recommendations or good practices can guide the Member States in their efforts to promote the participation of people with disabilities in the society, and in the labour market, and to promote a more sustainable society?

4. Parliament’s resolution of 25 October 2011 on mobility and inclusion of people with disabilities(1) and the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 stress the need for further action in several areas. What steps does the Commission intend to take to implement the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 and to ensure that the EU fulfils its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities?

 

(1) Text adopted P7_TA(2011)0453.

 Click on the links below to:

 Find your MEP

Download Template letter from link below 

http://www.dpac.uk.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/MEP-template-letter.doc

ENIL

–       Information about ENIL’s Campaign against the Cuts

–       Action Toolkit

–       Study of the European Foundation Centre on the impact of austerity measures on people with disabilities

–       Contact: mail@dpac.uk.net

 



[1] The Conference of Presidents consists of the President of Parliament and the chairmen of the political groups (who may arrange to be represented by a member of their group)

[2] For more information, please see Hauben, H. et al. (2012) Assessing the impact of European governments’ austerity plans on the rights of people with disabilities – European report. European Foundation Centre. Available at: http://www.enil.eu/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Austerity-European-Report_FINAL.pdf

[3] AGE Platform Europe, Autism Europe, European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN), European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD), European Disability Forum (EDF), Inclusion Europe, European Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry, Mental Health Europe (MHE), European Foundation Centre (EFC), Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC), UK and Onafhankelijk Leven, Belgium

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Sep 262012
 

We often don’t get a chance to let people know what we do other then our street protests and direct actions so we thought you might all be interested in what we’re all going to be doing over the next few weeks. Of course as well as this we have surveys to analyse and information to put together to submit to various UN bodies. Plus we have our normal campaigns to run especially those on WCA and ILF funding which seem to be going well.

All- attending Inclusion London conference on Rethinking Disability Equality Policy in a Hostile Climate.

October 7th– protest at the Tory party conference,Birmingham

October 20th – TUC march,London.

Roger – Recently spoke at Walthamstow anti-cuts mobilising meeting, also speaking inPortsmouth, at GMB Equality conference, and inLiverpool at a NW anti-cuts conference.

Ellen – Speaking inOxford, Tower Hamlets and at Unite the Resistance conference. Doing workshop at Climate Justice Collective event and manning a stall at the Anarchists Bookfare. PCS meeting.

Linda- Derby speaking at ALLFIE conference, PCS meeting and PCS-led Equality conference in Liverpool doing a joint workshop with Laurence Clark. Workshop with Faryal from Transport for All for Inclusion London leadership course.

Debbie- speaking at Disability Wales AGM, ENIL meeting inAntwerpand another ENIL meeting about austerity cuts.

Andy- Cuts Café workshop, Meeting in Luton, PCS meeting and full day networking event with activists in London.

We also have Mike speaking for us at a Unite the Resistance meeting inSheffield.

There may well be more that I’ve forgotten.

 

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 Posted by at 12:28
Dec 142011
 

In March 2011 I wrote about the ways media portrayed disabled people at a time of punitive cuts to disabled peoples’ social and financial supports.

….a range of false accusations against disabled people and those with long term health conditions are visible in the media. Rather than offering support to disabled people, certain sections of the media prefer to label disabled people as unsustainable, unproductive or immoral members of their communities. The major accusation, however, is that disabled people are not disabled at all, but profiting from fraudulent benefit claims

Eight months on there is a clear escalation of the negative portrayal of disabled people in the UK media. These attacks are no longer confined to screaming newspaper headlines in the Daily Mail and Daily Express declaring that the majority of people on disability benefits are frauds, but a whole host of television programs setting out the Saints and Sinners, even programs with usually good credentials such as Panorama have jumped on to the band wagon of who’s responsible for ‘Broken Britain’. Since March 2011 negative and unbalanced reporting has become worse.

Social and Economic facts versus ideological messages

At the same time unemployment has increased to the highest rates ever recorded for youth and women, and the highest since 1992. On average vacancies have decreased from an average of 2/1 (2005) vacancy rate to a 6/1 (2011) with six people chasing one job according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS). Figures on averages hide local variations which are often much higher.

Yet, still unemployment or any need for state support is consistently identified as a personal failing regardless of personal circumstances or societal limitations: it’s this ideological message, rather than economic and statistical facts that gathers pace and shouts out loud and clear from some sectors of the media, with disabled people most often identified as the group needing to leave welfare and get jobs because they are ‘faking it’.

How the Newspapers are reporting Disability

A recent report commissioned by the organisation Inclusion London and carried out by the Strathclyde Disability Research Group and Glasgow Media Studies group at the University of Glasgow: Bad News for Disabled People: How the Newspapers are reporting Disability, found significant changes in media reporting of disabled people which show a clearly defined increase in stories and views identifying disabled people as ‘undeserving’.

The report identified changes in reporting through comparative content analysis of tabloid newspapers in 2005/6 and 2010/11and through focus groups. The researchers found that incidents of negative language regarding disabled people in print media had more than doubled over the time period, while what they termed ‘sympathetic’ stories had more or less disappeared in the tabloid press. Terms such as ‘burden’, ‘scrounger’, and ‘cheat’ were used repeatedly in 2011with a rapidly decreasing use of articles on disability discrimination. In addition stories outlining the political and economic context were rare. When the focus groups were asked to describe a typical disability story in the newspapers: disability benefit fraud was the top theme.

 The media examined were the Mirror, the Sun, the Daily Mail, the Daily Express, and for balance the Guardian. The researchers also carried out a number of focus groups asking what each group thought the level of disability benefit fraud was, there were variations from rates of 50% to 70% of perceived disability fraud from focus groups.

The reality in terms of incapacity benefit it is just 0.03% according to the ONS the report states. The Department of Work and Pensions own figures on Disability Living Allowance are 0.05% both stats also include administrative errors within their figures. The media strategy appears to be working when focus groups state perceived incidents of fraud of up to 70% which is more in line with Daily Mail and Daily Express headlines, than any statistical realities.

The report’s timely commission by Inclusion London, a London wide Deaf and Disabled Peoples’ organisation provides more evidence for further campaigns and for those who doubted that the print media in particular were objective. In addition, there have been several examples of stories usefully backed by a quote or two from Iain Duncan Smith MP welfare and pensions’ secretary. The most stunning in the Sun newspaper in 2011 when he happily implied that disabled people were responsible for the UK deficit, the most recent quoting him as ‘enraged’ and ‘shocked’ based a story that carried false figures regarding mobility cars. He wasn’t shocked by the inaccuracies but by the figures which weren’t checked before publication, but false figures are par for the course, as are false accusations.

The Cuts, Media and ‘real life’ Implications

Sheffield Hallam University have also produced a report outlining the impact of the cuts in incapacity benefit, claiming that almost half of those now receiving incapacity benefits will lose them, not because of fraud, but because of a tightening of the qualifying criteria for the replacement of lower income benefit Employment Support Allowance. The report by the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University, estimates that the reforms will cut the number of disabled people on out-of-work disability benefits by nearly one million in just three years. Add to this other reforms set to take away any support from disabled people and those already carried out removing over 9 billion pounds worth of support and we see a very different story from one of fraud. We see a story of ‘cuts’ to a group that the UK public had consistently agreed to be deserving of support in national surveys such as the British Attitudes Survey.

Professor Fothergill author of the report on Incapacity Benefit changes said

The large numbers that will pushed off incapacity benefits over the next two to three years are entirely the result of changes in the benefit rules” and added that this ..’would impoverish vast numbers of households and cause untold distress to countless more. The incapacity numbers need to be brought down, but this is not the way’

He is also clear that this is not about fraud, but about ‘changes in the benefit rules’ see Jolly . He adds: “Incapacity claimants often face multiple obstacles to working again and their concentration in the weakest local economies and most disadvantaged communities means they usually have little chance of finding work.”

Yet, it is the benefit fraud stories that abound despite the 0.03% figure; people believe the figure is much higher. A rise in disability hate crime has been linked to the media strategy on the demonising of disabled people. One example was reported on 4th December, one day after the International Day of People with Disabilities. It tells of Peter Greener’s constant barrage of abuse from his neighbour.

Sometimes, it was eggs thrown at his house, stones thrown at his windows or paint thrown at his fence; more often, it was words hurled in his face: spastic, cripple, scum, scrounger. These assaults went on for months, leaving the former Nissan car-sprayer in floods of tears, feeling suicidal and on antidepressants. He was scared to leave his home in Hebburn in South Tyneside and blamed himself for the upset it caused his wife and two children. “It made our lives hell,” he said.

Like many people with conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Greener’s regressive condition fluctuates. One day, it affects his memory, the next his speech. Sometimes, he uses a wheelchair; at other times, he can haul himself around on crutches. But this only led to more abuse, with angry shouts he was faking his disabilities and exaggerating his problems to get benefits

This is just one story; but the climate of fear is clearly working, there are disabled people who are frightened to leave their homes because of verbal and physical abuse, and accusations of being scroungers and frauds. There are those who refuse to claim their entitlement to support in spite of previously paying years of national insurance when they were in work, because they do not want to be labelled as benefit cheats. In total 16 million pounds worth of entitlements goes unclaimed. There are also those denied entitlement to support through the tougher regimes for claiming any benefit such as the replacement for incapacity benefit through the work capability assessment, carried out by the private company Atos who are being paid 100 million pounds per year by the government. The sums do not add up, but the strategy seems to:

A further report carried out by BT showed that a third of those questioned demonstrated increasingly negative attitudes towards disabled people. Reasons cited for this ranged from disabled people being seen as a burden on society (38%), ill feeling around the perceived extra support given to disabled people (28%), and the personal worries and sensitivities which rise to the fore during a recession (79%).

European Media Strategies

The media attacks on disabled people are not just happening in the UK. In Holland up to 90% is being cut from support for disabled people, similar media demonization is taking place in the popular press identifying perceived ‘undeserving’ cases. In Sweden cuts are being made to assistance to support disabled people with tougher qualifying criteria being put in place, they too have a focus on those who defraud the system highlighting such stories while record numbers of people loose entitlement to support.

The figures for fraud are just 0.05% in Holland. Yet, the magazine Vrij Nederland, a major quality magazine in Holland reproduces outrageous comments from the Secretary of State, responsible for the drastic 90% cuts:

The State Secretary of Health, Marlies van Zanten Veldhuijzen finds it unacceptable that some thirty percent of people with a personal budget (PGB) wrongly receive it. She said in an interview this week: “It can have you on the internet looking for the name of a disease, and then think: look, I can get 2000 Euros per month. With PGB we need to sort the wheat from the chaff.

 She states that 30% receive a budget without having the right to receive it, as if it is a fact. Yet, here is no existing evidence or research confirming or even indicating this. Before receiving a PGB, as in most countries, a strict assessment is carried out. However, here we have a government minister saying that individuals can simply choose a disease at random by searching the internet to gain these funds.

Stories used by media to usher in cuts to disability support appear to converge into strategies by particular populist media to create a media panic around the extra perceived support given to disabled people for the extra costs of disability. This is proving effective , especially when there are examples of ‘undeserving’ cases being presented to shift the traditional view of disabled people as ‘tragic victims of circumstance’ –the  claim of ‘tragic victims’ has always been rejected by many in the disabled peoples’ movement –maybe this will change as the 21st century welfare reform policies and the media strategies in the UK and Europe reinvent millions of disabled people as the tragic victims of the circumstance of recession and easy targets for savings from the state budget.

The political use of media to promote demonization of disabled people is aiding the work of governments’ intent on cutting the support and the human rights of disabled people.  There are rising cases of verbal abuse against disabled people such as that endured by Peter Greener and rising cases of suicide amongst disabled people with one couple entering a suicide pact after surviving for a year by walking 10 miles to receive food parcels which they made last all week.

The Challenges

Ann McGuire Westminster Shadow minister for work and pensions wrote recently:

Disabled people say they are fed up with being labelled as scroungers in the media – and are beginning to point the finger in the direction of the Government. Yesterday at Work and Pensions questions I asked the Minister for Disabled People to assure the House, and disabled people up and down the country, that Ministers are not behind the stories knocking disabled people that seem to be emerging with alarming regularity…

 McGuire called on the minister for disabled people to quell the insidious media attacks, a challenge that was also made directly to Miller at a recent disability conference in London: McGuire said:

The Minister for Disabled People has a responsibility as the champion of disabled people inside government to challenge some of the more outrageous and outlandish comments by some of her senior colleagues and others associated with her government…And I call on her to do so.

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Article 8(2c) of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states:

‘Encouraging all organs of the media to portray persons with disabilities in a manner consistent with the purpose of the present Convention’.

This would include any change in reporting over time: it seems that there has been a change in reporting which is clearly not in line with the convention’s principles of promoting, protecting and ensuring the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms nor with promoting respect for disabled peoples’ inherent dignity. In fact the opposite seems to be occurring.

UK Responses

Inclusion London, the pan Deaf and Disabled Peoples’ organisation that commissioned the Glasgow University research into the media have led a response on the Leveson Inquiry. The response: titled ‘Open Season on Disabled People?’ supported by Disabled People against Cuts and others states:

  • The Government must issue a clear and public rebuttal every time the media release inaccurate information citing Government / Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) statistics.
  • That the Government commit to full transparency in their dealings with the press including  keeping a publically available record of all communications between Government officials, Ministers, their aides and special advisors and the media.
  • That there needs to be an independent review of how the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) releases and provides commentary on its statistics to assess how fair and balanced this data is presented and communicated.
  • That the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) must carry out further research on the impact of media coverage on disabled people and the implications this has for disability hate crime, disabled people’s protection under The Equalities Act and the UN Convention on the rights of disabled people.

We call on the Leveson inquiry, Press Complaints Commission, and OFCOM to:

  • Carry out an independent investigation into the media reporting of disabled people. This investigation needs to include the impact this coverage is having on disabled people and the implications this biased and inaccurate reporting has for the culture, practices, ethics and standards of the press. It must also examine the opportunities disabled people should have for effective redress.

 Debbie Jolly

Debbie Jolly is on twitter: @redjolly1

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An edited version of this paper is published on British Politics and Policy London School of Economics,  entitled: ‘As the government moves to cut the number of disabled people on benefits, the media is increasingly portraying them as ‘undeserving fraudsters’.http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/2011/12/14/disabled-people-media-attacks/

 Acknowledgements: I would like to acknowledge the assistance and kind support of Jamie Bolling Executive Director of the European Network for Independent Living (ENIL) and Peter Lambreghts of ENIL and the Expertise Centre Independent Living

Please see and support: www.enil.eu  and http://www-en.independentliving.be/

 



 

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