Feb 132017
 

Meme for the Southampton Protest#CareHomesStink

 

#RightsNotTelecare

 

#SupportNotCuts

 

Details of the Protest in Southampton & Online

 

This letter has come from the leader of the council.


Dear Tim,
I appreciate that some of you prefer to demonstrate against the Labour Council rather than the Tory government. But if you are going to do this please have the decent thing and contact us and check whether the thing you are demonstrating against is true. I know we are in the era of ‘alternative’ truth and ‘false news but we do expect you to know better.

The Facts
1. The Care act came in in April last year and requires us to complete annual reviews of all those in receipt of a care package. This created an additional burden on our already stretched social workers. It was proposed and approved that the Council employ through Capita additional social workers to carry out these reviews.
2. No instruction was issued with regard to the outcome of these reviews. No incentive was given to Capita to save money we simply wanted the reviews done.
3. Capita were unable to recruit enough Social workers to complete the work and an offer was made to the ones they had to work some weekends for an extra payment (£200).
4. The vast majority of these reviews (all of which were carried out by fully qualified and registered social workers) lead to no change. Some were adjusted to change the way a service was delivered using modern technologies and these have lead to a saving to the Council. A saving that means less jobs will be cut this year and less other services reduced.
5. An appeals process exists with these assessments’ which has been used by precisely zero clients.
6. As part of our arrangement with Capita we are gradually taking over this work with our in house team working alongside Capita employees. We expect in due course to take over all these reviews.

These are the facts – so please tell me what you are demonstrating about.

Simon


So if those are the facts why do the leaked emails say – either the Labour council leader has no idea about what is happening in Southampton or -well – or he’s just downright lying. Take your pick.

1) From Sue Thomas, sent 15/9/16

Hi All,

The cavalry is on the way!!!

Have just heard from Adam Tait we have 3 new colleagues joining us on Monday, pulling the stops out to make sure they can ‘hit the road’ with you with the minim delay.

Adam is also suggesting some incentives for the Team. He is well aware of some of the difficulties we have had, and that you are giving me the best performance you are able.

But, now we need MORE!! The suggestions below are  cut & paste from Adams e-mail to me.

FROM ADAM’S E-MAIL

I’m not sure how weekend working might go down with the existing team (as a one off) but if we included these days we have an extra 4 days available for eight of the team people and two available for 11 of the team until we have TIB on 27th September. I would suggest we offer an extra incentive if any of the team are prepared to work these weekends or part of…. starting this weekend. It’s short notice but if we paid their existing rate at time and half or double time you may get some take up? I’m not sure if we would need to report these days within the MI suite but that’s not my call. An alternative might be payment of increased hours worked in the week. Again as a one off.

In addition, as the next week or so is so critical I am happy to roll out an extra incentive scheme at the earliest point whereby if a person manages to improve their performance by x% from the previous 4 week average they receive a £y bonus. 10% = £100, 20% = £200 etc. This can be measured across both productivity levels and the savings achieved. If one person improves their productivity by 20% and savings by 20% they receive a £400 bonus.

AGREED WEEK-END RATE TIME & HALF

PLEASE READ CAREFULLY AND CONTACT ME NO LATER THAN 5PM WITH YOUR RESPONSE (EVEN IF YIOU ARE NOT INTERESTED) THIS IS NOT A LONG TERM COMMITMENT – IT’S EMERGENCY FIRST AID TO ENSURE OUR SURVIVAL!!!!

If you want to discuss with me you’ve got my numbers.

Regards – Sue

Sue Thomas – Lead Practitioner,

Capita Review Team,

Adult Social Care,

Southampton City Council,

Southampton SO14 7LY


2) From Sue Thomas, 8 November 2016:

Good Morning,

Another late night last night – Conference Call. Followed by several hours ‘bashing my brains’ for answers.

PLEASE READ CAREFULLY – THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT

As you know our Productivity and the Financial Efficiencies we are making are under  great scrutiny.

Looking at all the figures in the Reports last night it was very clear that both Productivity and Efficiencies have fallen dramatically.

The senior managers who are leading this transformation want to know why it appears we are failing to realise the results in service delivery and savings they anticipated

By commissioning this Project. They in turn are being asked to explain to Councillors of SCC.

Issues such as changes to the Team, Reduced size of Team, Annual Leave, Bank Holidays etc. have all been taken into account but things still don’t add up.

I have stressed how hard you are all working – but we don’t appear to be getting the results we had during the Pilots.

As I said at the Team Meeting yesterday I think it may be about the ways in which we are working – IF IT’S NOT ABOUT HARD WORK, IT MUST BE ABOUT SMART WORK!!!

I HAVE PUT MY NECK ON ‘THE CHOPPING BLOCK’ – YOU HAVE PRODUCED THE RESULTS BEFORE, I KNOW YOU CAN AND I BELIEVE YOU WILL DELIVER THE RESULTS REQUIRED.

NOW I HAVE TO PUT MY MONEY WHERE MY MOUTH IS – PLEASE HELP ME!!!!!!

REMINDERS

  • BE ASSERTIVE WHEN MAKING APPOINTMENTS – SCC ARE REQUITRED BY LAW TO COMPLETE THESE ASSESSMENTS/REVIEWS (NEW LEGISLATION 2014)
  • AS MANY VISITS AS POSSIBLE BEGINNING OF THE WEEK – WEDNESDAY PM – RECORDING
  • CASE ‘OPEN’ DAY OF VISIT – MINIMISES DAYS CASE LEFT OPEN (ASSUMING INACTIVE/UNPRODUCTIVE)
  • CLOSE WHEN ANY REFERRALS HAVE BEEN MADE (MAX 2 DAYS)
  • L.D WILL TAKE A LITTLE LONGER – THIS IS RECOGNISED BY ALL.
  • 15 min. CALL OUT!! TELECARE –IN!!
  • ASSESS NEED NOT WANT.
  • ACTIVELY ENCOURAGE DIRECT PAYMENTS
  • CAREFUL ATTENTION WHEN RECORDING WORK SHEETS, YOUR WORK SHEETS INFORM THE WEEKLY REPORTS FOR THE DECISION MAKERS – DON’T SHOOT YOURSELF IN THE FEET!!
  • THE WORK SHEET IS CHANGING THIS WEEK PLEASE TAKE EXTRA CARE.

THINK ABOUT ASSET BASED ASSESSMENT, FOR THOSE OF YOU NOT FAMILIAR  I WILL BE SENDING INFORMATION.

We don’t have very much time to turn this situation around. if we can’t/don’t do it all the hard work you have put in so far will have been for nothing.

Not to put too fine a point on things WE ARE ALL ON THE WAY HOME.

I AM NOT ASKING YOU TO STAND BEHIND, ME I’M ASKING YOU TO STAND BESIDE ME SO WE CAN BRING THIS PROJECT TO A SUCCESSFUL (FOR ALL OF US!!) CONCLUSION TOGETHER.

Regards – Sue

Sue Thomas – Project Lead Practitioner,

Capita Review Team,

Adult Social Care,

Southampton City Council,

Southampton SO14 7LY


DPAC’s response to Simon:

  1. Capita offered their staff bonuses of up to £400 to cut people’s packages (Capita said  that this was never introduced but they haven’t denied that they made the offer).
  2. Capita’s freelance social workers were paid more than £1,000 a week (after tax) and put up in three-star hotels while they were encouraged to cut people’s packages.
  3. The emails clearly show that they were asked by the council to produce savings (ie cuts).
  4. The Council Leader says “. Some were adjusted to change the way a service was delivered using modern technologies and these have lead to a saving to the Council.” We do not believe Telecare is an acceptable alternative to human support and nor are packs of incontinence pads. If the council leader thinks the following email from a Capita manager is acceptable, then he should be ashamed of himself and needs to resign: The manager suggested an “extra incentive” for the team if they could improve on their previous “performance” and suggested that the bonus “can be measured across both productivity levels and the savings achieved. If one person improves their productivity by 20 per cent and savings by 20 per cent they receive a £400 bonus.” The council never commented on the ‘extra incentive’ email,  we can’t think why not.
  5. Does he also think the other email that was sent by capita to their team is acceptable? “The senior managers [from the council] who are leading this transformation want to know why it appears we are failing to realise the results in service delivery and savings they anticipated by commissioning this project. They in turn are being asked to explain to Councillors of SCC [Southampton City Council].”
  6. Another thing to note is that the whistle-blower said that it was the service-users with no support networks to advocate on their behalf with the council who were often the ones who were having their packages cut. This might explain why there have not been any appeals (if that’s true).
  7. I suspect that, if you take away the care packages that included residential care (which are almost impossible to cut), the proportion of direct payments packages that were cut is significant.
  8. I notice the council leader says that ‘No incentive was given to Capita to save money’. That doesn’t mean that they didn’t tell Capita that they wanted them to save money (which they did). My understanding is that Capita knew they would lose the contract if they didn’t make those savings. That seems like an incentive to me…

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 Posted by at 14:24
Jan 022017
 

Basic Income:

Progressive Dreams Meet Neoliberal Realities

John Clarke

Up until now, the concept of Basic Income (BI) has enjoyed a greater history of being proposed than of being implemented. We may well be approaching a period, however, when this changes. The Ontario Government is holding consultations on setting up a BI pilot project. The Legislature in another Canadian Province, Prince Edward Island, has agreed to test out a version of BI. Pilot projects are also impending in Finland, the Netherlands and Scotland.

Raise the Rates

Basic Income has been suggested in an exceptionally wide range of forms, often with completely different objectives in mind. In fact, we can draw a line between the models that are concerned with improving lives and raising living standards and those that are focused on intensifying the capacity for capitalist exploitation. Among those in the ‘progressive’ category there is considerable diversity. There’s the ‘universal demogrant’ that provides an income to everyone and the concept of a ‘negative income tax’ involving some level of means test. BI proposals come from liberal quarters that are responsibly redistributive, reduce poverty and inequality and ease up on bureaucratic intrusion. The above mentioned proposal for an Ontario pilot project would be part of this camp. Then there are the models that have more radical, transformative objectives in mind. These suggest that BI could be used to take from employers the power of economic coercion itself by severing the link between work and income. Often such ideas are tied to the notion of preparing for sweeping technological displacement and a ‘workless future’ by providing secure, adequate and unconditional income. Given the vast extent to which forms of unpaid labour are performed by women in this society, it is hardly surprising that there are also feminist arguments for BI.

I have to say that the one really common thread that I see running through all of the notions of a progressive BI is that they pay great attention to explaining how nice their systems would be but give little if any thought to the concrete prospects of implementation. Before looking further at these deficiencies and proposing an alternative approach, it might be useful to consider more seriously the neoliberal version that is hanging like a sword over all our heads.

Neoliberal Version

The deeply reactionary ideas of Charles Murray have extended to some very sinister proposals for BI. There are two basic elements that shape his system. Firstly, the universal payment, after the compulsory purchase of private health insurance, is set at the dreadfully low amount of $10,000 a year. Secondly, he is utterly insistent that all other systems of provision must be dismantled as a BI is put in place. Canada’s right wing Fraser Institute, recently used its blog to stress the same points as Murray, making clear that the level of provision must not interfere with the supply of low waged workers.

If governments today, as they intensify the neoliberal agenda, are starting to consider the possibilities of BI, I see three factors at work. Firstly, there is the not unimportant issue of legitimacy. Particularly because they are being provided with a generous amount of ‘progressive’ cover, they are able to present their deliberations on BI as a responsible weighing of the common good. The Ontario Liberals stand out as international champions in this regard. Their BI pilot project consultations, have enabled them to put in place yet another round of fake dialogue, with the empty promise of a “better way” diverting attention as they push people even deeper into poverty. The World Bank and the IMF have been worrying out loud about the backlash against their austerity agenda and its devastating impacts. That IMF economists are themselves musing about BI, is perhaps significant in this regard. It advances their agenda but can be dressed up to look progressive. It may be the best thing for the institutions of global capitalism since the myth of ‘poverty reduction’.

The second element of BI that I think is of interest to the architects of neoliberalism is that it can fine tune economic coercion as they create an ever more elastic workforce based on the most precarious forms of employment. The income support systems that emerged out of the Poor Law tradition, stressed intense restrictions and moral policing. Along with horribly inadequate benefit levels, this has been very useful in driving people into low waged work to an unprecedented extent. It may, however, be time to rethink this to a degree. If people are moving between poverty wages and poverty level benefits more frequently in a precarious job market, perhaps they can be more effectively prodded into the worst jobs with less intrusive benefit systems. A less rule bound delivery of poverty income, that gives people a chance of retaining their housing, may be needed to keep them job ready. Linked to this, of course, is the huge boost to the employers of a BI system that constitutes a form of wage top up. Provided the payment is meagre, it will not impede the flow of low paid workers but it will mean that their employers receive a subsidy that absolves them from having to pay living wages or come under pressure to increase the amount they do provide.

Thirdly, the great advantage of neoliberal BI is that the inadequate and dwindling payment it provides turns those who receive it into customers in the marketplace. In my opinion, BI would be far from the best way to strengthen the social infrastructure at any time but in the context of an intensifying agenda of austerity and privatization, it is a recipe for disaster. It’s really about the commodification of social provision. Your payment may actually be less conditional and somewhat larger but, as you shop through the privatized remains of the social infrastructure, with inadequate means and very few rights, you are dramatically worse off. That, in my view, is what is being prepared by those who will actually implement a system of BI and the hopes and wishes to the contrary of its progressive advocates don’t count for very much.

Progressive Dreams

I said previously that proposals for redistributive or transformative models of BI are generally marked by a tendency to focus on the desirability of what is being advanced while paying much less attention to actual prospects for implementation. I’ve yet to see, quite bluntly, any serious attempt to assess what stands in the way of a progressive BI and what can be done to bring it into existence. It simply isn’t enough to explain how just and fair a given model would be if it could be adopted. In order to credibly advance BI as the solution, there are some questions that must be settled.

Firstly, income support systems came into being because, while employers welcome an oversupply of labour and the desperation that comes with it as something that boosts their bargaining power, the total abandonment of the jobless creates social unrest. Some measure of income support, provided as a reluctant concession, has proved to be necessary. However, the systems of provision that have been put in place have always been as inadequate as possible so as to undermine employer strength as little as possible. A widely delivered or even universal adequate payment would greatly tilt that balance back the other way. What reason is there to think that this is likely to be implemented?

Secondly, over the last several decades, concessions made during the post war years have been taken back. Trade unions have been weakened, workers’ rights undermined and low waged work has increased considerably. The degrading of income support systems has been central to creating the climate of desperation needed to achieve this. Not only have benefits for the unemployed been attacked but other systems, especially for disabled people have been undermined so as to generate a scramble for the worst jobs. This has led to a shift in the balance of forces in society and we are fighting a largely defensive struggle. Given this very unfavourable situation, in which unions and movements are not in the ascendancy, how can it be supposed that those profiting from the present situation are likely to accept a measure of redistributive social reform that is at least as sweeping as anything put in place during the post war boom? What is the plan to make this happen?

Thirdly, as right wing governments and political parties directly linked to the most reactionary business interests consider BI and set up pilot projects that provide meagre payments and focus on how to ensure people on social benefits become low waged workers, what reason is there to imagine that a progressive BI, rather than the neoliberal variant, is being cooked up?

Regardless of these issues, it is sometimes asserted that an adequate system of provision must be put in place simply because we are moving toward a “workless future.” In such a society, it is suggested, masses of people who have been displaced will have to be provided for and the capitalists will have to think like Elon Musk, of Tesla Motors and support BI because it is the only sensible and rational solution. To imagine such responsible provision for the future is to place undue faith in a system based on the making of profit. If they won’t stop building pipelines in the face of environmental catastrophe, there’s little reason to expect them to worry too much about sensible solutions to technological displacement. There simply is no post-capitalist capitalism and no social policy innovation that is going to bring it about.

At a recent panel on Basic Income that I spoke at, the moderator posed a challenge. She accepted that BI might not be a way forward but asked, if that were so, what “bold vision” could be advanced in its place. It’s a fair question but a realistic appraisal of what we are up against is still obligatory, even if that has some sobering aspects to it. The great problem that we have is that the neoliberal years have done a lot of damage. The level of exploitation has been increased and working class movements have been weakened. While what we demand and aspire to is very important, the bigger question is what we can win. What’s disturbing about the left wing turn to BI is that is seems to think there is a social policy end run around the realities of neoliberalism and the need to resist it. There is no such thing.

British Labour Party and BI

With very good reason, there has been considerable excitement internationally around the Jeremy Corbyn leadership in the British Labour Party. His close ally, Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, has been paying some attention to adopting BI, as part of a platform that would express a break with the austerity consensus. McDonnell, from a position on the left of a major social democratic party, raises the possibility of a ‘best case scenario’ for progressive BI. For that very reason, the question is posed of whether the ‘bold vision’ I spoke of should be framed around the universal payment concept or devoted to other objectives.

Basic Income, when all is said and done, is a vision for nothing more than the means to be a customer in an unjust society that decides what is for sale.

In my opinion, if we are to consider goals we set and demands we put forward in the face of neoliberalism, that are based on the needs of workers and communities and create the conditions for challenging capitalism itself, we sell ourselves well short if we settle for something so limited and inherently conservative as the universal payment. BI, when all is said and done, is a vision for nothing more than the means to be a customer in an unjust society that decides what is for sale. How much bolder and more meaningful to fight for free, massively expanded and fully accessible systems of healthcare and public transportation? How much better to focus on the creation of social housing and try to expand it so that, not only the poorest, but most working class people enjoy its benefits? There is universal child care and vast array of important community services to pay attention to. Moreover, we can work to wrest as much power as possible out of the hands of the mandarins of state bureaucracy and fight to increase the control working class people exercise over the public services they rely on. When it comes to existing systems of income support, we should not for a moment accept their poverty level benefits, bureaucratic intrusion and forms of moral policing steeped in racism and sexism. There is a fight to be taken forward for living income, full entitlement and programs that meet the real needs of unemployed, poor and disabled people, as opposed to the present ‘rituals of degradation’ they embody. At every point, let’s try to ensure that these expanded services are not paid for by other working class people but by forcing the corporations, banks and those who own them to pay by increasing their tax burden and imposing levies on their wealth.

The struggle to expand and improve public services would have to, of course, be linked to workers’ struggles for living wages, workplace rights and real compensation for injured workers. Beyond this, let’s challenge as much as we can the ‘business decisions’ that deplete resources, pollute and threaten us with ecological disaster.

I am suggesting that our movements need to challenge, rather than come to terms with, the neoliberal order and the capitalist system that has produced it. For all its claims to be a sweeping measure, the notion of progressive BI is a futile attempt to make peace with that system. In reality, even that compromise is not available. The model of BI that governments are working on in their social policy laboratories will not ‘end the tyranny of the labour market’ but render it more dreadful. The agenda of austerity and privatization requires a system of income support that renders people as powerless and desperate as possible in the face of exploitation and that won’t change if it is relabelled as ‘Basic Income’. •

John Clarke is an organizer with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP).

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 Posted by at 21:14
Dec 232016
 

It’s difficult if not impossible to adequately define the outcomes of Brexit for anyone living in the UK let alone for disabled people. The result where a small minority of the electorate voted to leave the EU has so far caused massive political turmoil but no concrete proposals as the new unelected Prime Minister, Teresa May, thrashes around wildly clutching at straws.

What is certain is that the promise of an extra £350 million a week for our National Health Service has not and will not be forthcoming. In fact this promise promoted widely by the Leave campaigners in the Tory Party and a reason why many UK citizens were conned into voting to leave turns out to have been an outright lie.

Many of the more deluded disabled people who also voted to leave did so simply because they wanted to punish David Cameron the then Tory Prime Minister who was stupid enough to call a referendum in the first place. Having resigned first as Prime Minister and then a little later as a Member of Parliament I’m sure the multi-millionaire Cameron is indeed ‘suffering’. What is certain that disabled people will.

As soon as the outcome of the referendum was known Cameron together with a whole host of Leave politicians turned their backs on guiding the UK through the Brexit process – no doubt so they don’t get blamed for the ensuing disaster.

The devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland do not want to leave the EU and in the case of Northern Ireland the Good Friday agreement and peace process means that there must be a parliamentary vote if Northern Ireland is to leave the EU.  There is also a legal challenge to seek a parliamentary vote on Brexit as the outcome of the referendum is advisory only. So chaos reigns as the UK population dangle precipitously in limbo.

As well as months spent focussed on the referendum campaign, the immediate aftermath was an election for a new Tory Party Leader and a second internal party election to try to remove the previously democratically elected Labour Party leader. During these many months of political bat and ball and trips around the country by various politicians the rights of disabled people have largely been forgotten especially by the media. Serious campaigning has been put back months as the political focus has been firmly placed elsewhere.

On a plus point the fascist party UKIP which very much led the Brexit campaign on an anti-immigration stance have also fallen into disarray and appear on the verge of oblivion. There have already been several elections for a new leader with none of them being successful in finding someone who stayed more than a couple of weeks. As the old British saying goes “every cloud has a silver lining”

What is certain for the UK is that Brexit has led to a massive  increase in race-related hate crime and there is no doubt those who perpetrate these crimes feel their actions are vindicated by the vote to leave. Xenophobia is rampant in parts of the country fuelled by some of the media as well as the Brexit campaign rhetoric. Disability hate crime has been rising year on year since 2010 in part thanks once again to the media-fuelled ‘useless eater’ and scrounger propaganda. For disabled people as well as those perceived to not be British hatred and abuse is only likely to increase in the post-Brexit frenzy that currently pervades the country.

Since Brexit as well the value of the pound has slumped which has already led to an increase in price for even essential daily items including for some the #Marmitegate tragedy where the price of Marmite has already risen in some cases by 12.5 % in shops.

Price increases for food and other essential items is likely to pose a particular problems for disabled people and others in receipt of UK Social Security payments as there is an austerity-led freeze on the amount of benefits which will be paid until at least 2020. The UK already has some of the lowest rates for out-of-work benefit payments in the EU so starting from a very low base rate the value of payments will fall even further as exchange rates fall.

On top of this fall in the value of the pound and freeze on increases in social security payments early in November an austerity-led cap on the total overall amount of benefit payments per household will result in massive reductions of £3,000 less per annum being paid to claimants. Many of those affected by this drastic cut will be disabled although other disabled people will be exempt from this cut.

From next April 2017 disabled people who make a new claim for Employment and Support Allowance and who are found not to be fit for work but able to undertake Work Related Activity which involved forcibly being made to jump though inappropriate and unacceptable hoops to continue being entitled to payments will also see their weekly income cut drastically by one-third. All of these changes will as already said be taking place at the same time the value of the pound falls against other currencies. Needless to say fuel prices are also continuing to rise and the number of UK residents on low incomes who have to choose between eating and heating because they can’t afford both continues to rise.

As disabled people and others wait for the mythical 35 million a day that we’re apparently saving by leaving the EU to be redeployed to help fund our National Health Service as promised we find our Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt putting in place plans to drastically reduce both the number of hospitals – down from 9 to 5 in London – and health service funding elsewhere in the UK through the implementation of Sustainability and Transformation Plans. This is very definitely not what Brexit promised for our health service. Hunt has also further undermined our NHS by stating that we want British only doctors in the near future in spite of the fact that around one-third of doctors currently are from other EU countries.

For disabled people who need personal assistance to live and take part in society Brexit is also bad news. Many people employ care workers/personal assistants from EU countries and now not only does the fall in the value of the pound affect the exchange value of wages paid but on a longer term basis no-one, neither the employers or the employees, have any idea about a future right to work here when the UK leaves the EU. It could of course be years before any more is known.

Workers rights generally are very much an unknown quantity at the moment as well. Teresa May has said the Conservatives want to protect those in place yet many people are on insecure zero hours contracts with no legal protections. The introduction of fees for Employment Tribunal hearings has also negatively affected worker’s rights to challenge unfair dismissals. All of these issues regarding employment rights continue to disproportionately affect disabled workers and the fear that once EU constraints on our employment laws are removed is causing major concerns for those disabled people who are in work.

For disabled people not in work the ending of Workfare and Work Choice schemes funded by the European Social Fund can really only be seen as positive. Neither of these schemes worked well in finding disabled people suitable or sustainable employment opportunities.

Workfare schemes in particular have been likened to unpaid slave labour which they were since claimants were forced to work for no pay under threat of having their benefits removed if they did not. Having said that there were a number of locally EU funded schemes to help disabled and other people into work which have worked well and for which there will now be no further EU funding available.

In other areas of life shared by disabled and non-disabled people the loss of European funding from the Social Fund, from the Common Agricultural Policy and from Regional Development grants will nevertheless be grossly detrimental to the overall standards of living and is likely to have a further negative trickle down impact on food prices. The idea that these funding streams will be replaced by our own government’s spending is laughable given their ongoing austerity agenda and determination to replace Trident nuclear weapons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 Posted by at 17:49
Nov 112016
 

GMCDP uninvited

On 28th October, Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People (GMCDP) were contacted by the office of Debbie Abrahams, the Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, and invited to provide a key speaker for the launch of the Labour Party Disability Equality Roadshow on November 11th 2016.

The Labour Party said they wanted

“to ensure that we listen directly to the views of disabled people on a wide range of issues as we begin to develop Labour’s policies for the next election. We hoped to have brief introductory speeches from Jeremy Corbyn, Debbie and yourself, before breaking out into smaller groups to discuss policy themes, drawn from the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.”

The invitation cited GMCDPs “promotion of a rights-based approach to disability, extensive experience of campaigning to assert the rights of disabled people” and we, of course, were pleased to accept.

Two of the major issues that have been important to disabled people, we said, are Independent Living and Assisted Suicide, and we would like to talk about them. This seemed to worry our contact, who said that Labour had not got a formal policy position on the future funding of the ILF and he was concerned that this might be a difficult issue for Jeremy Corbyn and Debbie Abrahams to respond to if this was brought up. We explained that this was broader than the ILF and we wouldn’t be looking to put anyone on the spot, or expecting any commitment from Labour about this on the day.

Despite such reassurances from ourselves the Office of Debbie Abrahams has now withdrawn its invitation to GMCDP to provide a speaker.  Although we will still attend, we are immensely disappointed.We have been a part of – and are linked into – disabled people’s organisations and networks and have offered to speak on two of the most serious matters facing disabled people today. We are astounded that the Labour Party does not want to hear us. Because of this we have decided to make our views available widely and are posting this message on our website. Please circulate it as widely as possible, so that the Labour Party knows just how important these matters are.

Please see below the speech we intended to deliver. Please circulate it as widely as possible, so that the Labour Party knows just how important these matters are.

1 Introduction:

Firstly I would like to thank Jeremy, Debbie and the Labour Party for inviting GMCDP to speak today at the launch of your Disability Equality Roadshow. Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People have no political affiliations, we have worked with past governments, Labour and Tory alike. We have also protested against both parties.

However, we are now living through an unprecedented period of sustained attacks on disabled people; the services we receive, the support we require and our very right to exist. You will no doubt have read the UN report published on Monday that state austerity policies ‘amount to violations of disabled people’s rights’. I mention this just so you don’t think that disabled people are making all this up.

We face inequality it all aspects of our lives, whether it be transport, housing, education or employment. Employment is a prime example of where we face inequalities at every level, from recruitment, retention, promotion and dismissal. To compound these difficulties the employment support programme Access To Work is being cut. Yes that’s right its being cut!  At a time when we should be investing in support, the government is making cuts to this programme. This is impacting particularly upon Deaf People who require British Sign Language interpreters within the work place. If we want to see Deaf lawyers, Deaf teachers and Deaf members of parliament, cutting support is not the way to go about it!

However, for GMCDP and for disabled people’s organisations in the UK, there are two issues that are of greatest concern, two issues that we want to reach out to Labour on.

2 Independent Living

Firstly, the principals of Independent Living for disabled people are being dismantled. The Independent Living Fund has gone. It was established to support disabled people with the highest support needs to live independently within the community rather than locked away in residential care, and the government scrapped it! Jeremy knows this because unlike the majority of politicians who shrugged their shoulders and walked away, Jeremy stood with us outside the Court of Appeals in the cold and stood up for us in parliament and campaigned for the retention of the ILF.

So what has the closure of the ILF meant for disabled people? It’s meant that some disabled people are having their care support cut in half, some disabled people told to wear incontinence pads at night, despite the fact they are not incontinent. Southampton CCG are saying that anyone needing more than 8 hours care support a day now face the threat of going into residential care. Here in Greater Manchester, Rochdale council is planning cuts to its Learning Disability Services by moving some people who have existing tenancies into residential care.

What we need is a national, needs-led system, independent of local authorities to administer independent living support, free at point of delivery and paid for through taxation. This system should build on the learning from the Independent Living Fund and be a key strategic mechanism for ensuring Disabled people’s rights under the UNCRPD are fully and consistently realised across the country.

3 Assisted Suicide

The other big issue, the scariest issue, the most misunderstood and misreported issue is disabled people’s opposition to the legalisation of Assisted Suicide.

At times it feels to us that we are fighting a pincer movement.

On the one side we have austerity and the narrative that has been spun by successive governments that disabled people have had it too easy for too long, that we are bleeding the county dry and that we are unsustainable and an unacceptable expense (I thought that was the banks, but apparently not). There was the punitive introduction of Workfare, the bedroom tax, cuts to Disabled Students Allowance, cuts disguised as reforms to ESA, DLA which are relentless and ongoing.

On the other side we have repeated attempts to introduce Assisted Suicide legislation. Let us be clear that GMCDP, DPAC, Inclusion London and all the other major UK disabled people’s organisations or disability charities strongly oppose any attempt to introduce any Assisted Suicide legislation. At a time when we are facing massive cuts to services and benefits, we need support to live, not assistance to die.  It is not only disabled people who oppose Assisted Suicide. The British Medical Association and Royal Colleges of Physicians, GPs and Surgeons and The Association for Palliative Medicine are all opposed to changing the law in relation to Assisted Suicide.

Despite this, supporters of Assisted Suicide claim that disabled people’s opposition to Assisted Suicide isn’t relevant as any such legislation would only apply to people who are terminally ill with less than six months to live and that safeguards would be put in place to protect the vulnerable (I think that means people like me). Well our concerns are relevant because we have the evidence from countries like Belgium, Holland and parts of the USA where Assisted Suicide is already lawful. In almost all cases there has been some kind of ‘mission creep’ on the criteria of who is eligible. It’s follows a similar pattern. At first it is limited to those with ‘less than six months to live’, then is extend to those in ‘chronic pain’ and eventually encompasses those found to be experiencing ‘unbearable suffering’. All such criteria is subjective and ultimately divides society into those deemed worthy to live and those deemed not worthy of life. So we vehemently oppose legislation that would give the state the power to end our lives through fear and coercion and then sold to us as ‘choice’.

Conclusion

Imagine the power we could harness if all those, either for or against Assisted Suicide could instead turn their energies to fighting for better palliative care for all. Fight for a better funded NHS and a social care system that enables people to maintain their choice, control and dignity. Not being able to wipe your own bum, or hold a spoon or dress yourself are not reasons to kill people or lock them away in residential care or withdraw their support so they become prisoners in their own homes.

So we are asking the Labour leadership to talk to disabled people’s organisations about Independent Living and about our opposition to Assisted Suicide. Today is a great start but if you want your policies to be the policies that disabled people support, that disabled people endorse and ultimately vote for, then there must be an ongoing dialogue. So here’s our contact details not just GMCDP but our sister organisations, Not Dead Yet UK, the Alliance for Inclusive Education and the other organisations I have already mentioned. Work with us. You provide the tea and coffee and we’ll bring the biscuits.

Thank you.

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 Posted by at 13:35
Nov 032016
 

Following the receipt of several requests for support from people which included phrases such as “my benefits have been cut because we give too much money to immigrants” or “if we didn’t waste so much money on food aid our benefits wouldn’t be cut” this is just a quick reminder to everyone that DPAC campaign from a non-racist, non-homophobic, non-sexist position.

 

We do not agree with hate fuelled rhetoric against any group of people, pedalled by the likes of the Daily Mail and Express, and do not support the divisions into ‘them’ and ‘us’ which allow the government to weaken any joint fight back against attacks to claimants and others.

Neither do we support the scapegoating of migrants and refugees

 

If you do hold a racist, homophobic, ageist, or sexist viewpoint please seek support elsewhere. We’re sure your local UKIP branch would be happy to welcome you.

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 Posted by at 17:30
Oct 312016
 

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

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

Overview and what these changes might mean

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Write or email Damien to let him know what you think

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

also please respond to the consulation

Full consultation here

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

take part in consultation here

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

 

 

 

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 Posted by at 18:51
Sep 262016
 

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

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

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

DPAC priorities for setting Mental Health  Disability Policies.

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

Compulsory MH Training for Professionals in Various Fields

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

Treatment Changes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Financial Needs – Individual and Other Support

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

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

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

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

 

Other

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

Further Investigations Needed 

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

 

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

 

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC)

www.dpac.uk.net

mail@dpac.uk.net

@dis_ppl_protest

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 Posted by at 21:47
Sep 262016
 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

A Legal Right to Independent Living and Self-Determination:

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Housing:

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

 

An end to bedroom tax and the Benefit Cap.

 

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

 

Access, Inclusion and taking part in society:

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

 

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

 

Fully Inclusive Education:

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

 

Cuts to Disabled Students’ Allowance should be reversed

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Access to Justice:

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

 

Disability Hate Crime laws and sentencing must be strengthened.

 

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

 

Restoration of funding for advice advocacy services such as CABs.

 

Legislation to prevent assisted dying.

 

Local Authority Statutory Services:

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

 

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

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

 

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC)

www.dpac.uk.net

mail@dpac.uk.net

@dis_ppl_protest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

A Legal Right to Independent Living and Self-Determination:

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Housing:

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

 

An end to bedroom tax and the Benefit Cap.

 

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

 

Access, Inclusion and taking part in society:

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

 

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

 

Fully Inclusive Education:

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

 

Cuts to Disabled Students’ Allowance should be reversed

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Access to Justice:

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

 

Disability Hate Crime laws and sentencing must be strengthened.

 

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

 

Restoration of funding for advice advocacy services such as CABs.

 

Legislation to prevent assisted dying.

 

Local Authority Statutory Services:

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

 

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

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

 

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC)

www.dpac.uk.net

mail@dpac.uk.net

@dis_ppl_protest

 

 

 

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 Posted by at 21:41
Sep 192016
 

Contact a Family have advised the following for anyone who has a disabled child or is a carer for an older adult. We think this advice should also apply to anyone who might qualify for PIP and who hasn’t yet claimed.

 

Over the next ten days the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will write to all those families who are going to be affected by changes to the household benefit cap in November. These letters will be sent out between 19 and 29 September.

The good news is you are exempt from the benefit cap if you have a dependent child who is on either Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

If you have a disabled child but haven’t claimed DLA/PIP for them yet, think about doing so now. Getting an award of DLA or PIP at any rate will mean you don’t have to worry about the benefit cap hitting your family.

If you are disabled and think you may qualify even for the lowest rates of PIP please apply now.
What is the household benefit cap?

The household benefit cap limits the total amount of benefits that an out of work family can receive. At the moment the cap is £500 a week for lone parents and couples.

However, from 7 Nov 2016 the government intends to lower this figure to £442 in London and to £384.62 elsewhere for couples and single parents with children living with them. For single people without children the cap will limit overall weekly payments to £296.35 in London and £256.69 outside Greater London.

An extra 88,000 households are expected to be affected by this lower cap. If your benefit income is above the cap then the excess amount is cut from your housing benefit, or from your Universal Credit if you get this instead. The cap is lower for single people without children.

Are families with disabled children exempt from the household benefit cap?

All families with a dependent child on DLA or PIP are exempt from the cap. It doesn’t matter what rate of DLA or PIP your child gets – even if they only get the lowest rate you will still be exempt from the cap.

Am I still protected from the cap if my son or daughter stops being treated as a dependent child?

If a disabled child aged 16 or above either leaves education, turns 20 or claims certain benefits such as Employment and Support Allowance, they stop being treated as a dependent. This means that their parent may then lose their exemption from the benefit cap.

However, the government has said in the autumn it will change the benefit cap rules so that you are also exempt if you are entitled to Carer’s Allowance or get a carer element in your Universal Credit. These changes to the rules for carers will help some parents who care for a disabled young person to remain exempt from the cap despite their child no longer being a dependent. These changes for carers have already been introduced in Northern Ireland.

Benefits included in the cap

The cap applies to the total amount people in your household (you, your partner and any children living with you) get from the following benefits:

Payments towards carer’s costs in Universal Credit won’t be affected by the benefit cap from autumn 2016.

Benefits that aren’t included

You’re not affected by the cap if anyone in your household qualifies for Working Tax Credit or gets any of the following benefits:

If you have adult children or non-dependants living with you and they qualify for any of these benefits, you may be affected by the cap. This is because they’re not usually included in your household.

 

 

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 Posted by at 20:45
May 172016
 

By Ian

On the 3rd of May I was one of the 300 people who shut down the UK’s largest coal mine; a place called Ffos-y-fran in South Wales. Going on any action can cause its share of trepidations—even if you don’t identify with the ‘disabled’ tag; but the decision to take action against coal, for the local community, and ultimately for the future was actually a joy to take.

Facilitated with the Reclaim the Power network, who had set-up camp on the commons above Merthyr Tydfil, we then proceeded to have five days of action-planning, skilling-up, networking and ultimately connecting with others. I was amazed by the truly multinational scope of the camp, with people from all over Europe, America, India and beyond. The local resistance organisation UVAG (United Valleys Action Group) provided us with support and a vital personal perspective on their ten-year long struggle against the opencast mine.

Walking over the narrow hillpath and down into the mine and seeing the small communities nestled cheek-by-jowl nearby it saddened me how these people were being treated with such callous disregard; unfortunately, a familiar feeling for any who experience long-term health conditions.

A tiny bit of history then: The Ffos-y-Fran ‘Land Reclamation Scheme’ is the UK’s largest coal mine, and proposed to become much bigger if the developing company Miller Argent get their way. Locally and nationally controversial, the Welsh Assembly has already called for a moratorium on opencast coal mining in 2015, but Miller Argent ignored them. They proposed to build another huge mine at the adjacent site of Nant Llesg, and despite being rejected by the County Council, then raised the threat of legal actions should they be refused!

The actions of the day were many; from those of us who could making our way, column-style, down into the mine itself (following a gigantic red-dragon from Wales!), with other affinity groups already locking on to machinery, or blockading the front gates. Despite any reservations we might have had; there was a carnival atmosphere that day, as the space was transformed from a dull and poisonous wound, to the feeling of a spontaneous summer party.

I am aware of how lucky I am of being able to be there. My disability is (mostly?) an invisible one—a mental health condition that has curtailed my activism over the years, during the different seasons of mood that I can go through. Knowing that action-camp life can sometimes be strenuous (especially the come-down after the action) I took the opportunity of going to the Well-Being Tent run by the camp’s Tranquillity Team. This was a quiet, supportive place where people could catch a few hours’ sleep, a cup of tea, or have just simple and supportive conversations should they need it. Unlike the clinical care that I have received in the past, this space felt entirely different: you didn’t have to be mad to go there, just as you didn’t have to be ‘ill’. No judgements were passed you were allowed to sit and read, or zone-out, talk, or whatever you needed to. This actually felt very supportive and self-led care rather than the mainstream ‘top-down’ approach to care. I also took time to speak with GBC (Green and Black Cross, a legal advisory group for activists) about the possibility of being arrested and what to expect as a disabled person, the pros and cons of carrying medicine on me etc — more on that in another action-report.

Sometimes there can be a sense of wariness over disability and activism, as if one might preclude the other. From what I saw at the Reclaim the Power camp (I saw at least one wheelchair user there as well) this view is entirely outdated. Disability rights and access to safer spaces is a vital part of the climate struggle, just as the climate struggle is a key part of disability rights here and abroad. The right to live visibly and with dignity is the right to a safer space for all of us: the right to live on a world which is not being destroyed under our feet and over our heads! Fuel Poverty Action (a campaigning group also represented at the camp) state on their website that as well as polluting our environment, fossil fuels are also increasing in cost.” Unconventional and extreme fossil fuels such as opencast mining, deep-sea drilling and fracking are all driving up the costs of heating our homes, as well as endangering our planet. Academics from the Universities of Leicester and York found back in 2015 that disabled people in the UK [and the world] bear a much higher burden of fuel poverty, and a much higher risk of climate change due to substandard housing, inefficient insulation, and institutionalized economic poverty.

I’m coming to the view that direct action is actually good for the heart, just as acts of civil disobedience are good for civil society (where would we be without the Suffragette movement, without the chartists, the bus-boycotter’s and the peace campaigners?). Despite how my Impairment might define me in some ways, they did not impede me taking action to defend our planet—and being a part of a community taking action was joyous.

 

 

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 Posted by at 17:36
Jan 292016
 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Q&A

 

  1. Is the government going to appeal?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Applying for and Being refused a DHP

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

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

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

 

Why discretionary DHPs are not an adequate replacement for rights

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 Posted by at 20:05
Dec 032015
 

A full list of Labour MPs who backed vote for airstrikes in Syria, has been released.

Labour MPS who voted Yes:

Labour

ALEXANDER, Heidi, Ms

AUSTIN, Ian, Mr

BAILEY, Adrian, Mr

BARRON, Kevin, Sir

BECKETT, Margaret,

BENN, Hilary,

BERGER, Luciana, Ms

BLENKINSOP, Tom, Mr

BRADSHAW, Ben,

BRYANT, Chris, Mr

CAMPBELL, Alan,

CHAPMAN, Jenny, Ms

COAKER, Vernon, Mr

COFFEY, Ann, Ms

COOPER, Yvette,

COYLE, Neil, Mr

CREAGH, Mary, Ms

CREASY, Stella, Ms

DANCZUK, Simon, Mr

DAVID, Wayne, Mr

DE PIERO, Gloria, Ms

DOUGHTY, Stephen, Mr

DOWD, Jim, Mr

DUGHER, Michael, Mr

EAGLE, Angela, Ms

EAGLE, Maria, Ms

ELLMAN, Louise, Ms

FIELD, Frank, Rt Hon.

FITZPATRICK, Jim, Mr

FLETCHER, Colleen, Ms

FLINT, Caroline,

HARMAN, Harriet,

HODGE, Margaret,

HOWARTH, George,

HUNT, Tristram, Mr

JARVIS, Dan, Mr

JOHNSON, Alan,

JONES, Graham, Mr

JONES, Helen, Ms

JONES, Kevan, Mr

JONES, Susan Elan, Ms

KENDALL, Liz, Ms

KYLE, Peter, Mr

LESLIE, Chris, Mr

LYNCH, Holly, Ms

MCDONAGH, Siobhain, Ms

MCFADDEN, Pat,

MCGINN, Conor, Mr

MCGOVERN, Alison, Ms

PHILLIPSON, Bridget, Ms

POWELL, Lucy, Ms

REED, Jamie, Mr

REYNOLDS, Emma, Ms

ROBINSON, Geoffrey, Mr

RYAN, Joan, Ms

SMEETH, Ruth, Ms

SMITH, Angela, Ms

SPELLAR, John,

STUART, Gisela, Ms

THOMAS, Gareth, Mr

TURLEY, Anna, Ms

UMUNNA, Chuka, Mr

VAZ, Keith,

WATSON, Tom, Mr

WILSON, Phil, Mr

WOODCOCK, John, Mr

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 Posted by at 20:30
Dec 032015
 

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

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

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

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

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

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 Posted by at 19:53
Aug 262015
 

DPAC are going to Manchester and the Tory Party Conference 

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

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

The theme of this event will be

IDS Wanted for Crimes Against Disabled People

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

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

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

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

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

This will be on a first come first served basis

 

 

 

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 Posted by at 19:25
Jun 012015
 
Are you excited that the election fanfare is over? Are ye of little faith that much will change? Concerned that our human rights are under attack? That the Government’s austerity regime is unnecessary and brutal and will end in tragedy? Do you want to connect, learn from, make commonalities and organise with other people challenging injustice?
 
‘Beyond The Ballot Box!’ – Creative Activism Lab
 
Sunday June 14th 2015 10am-5pm – Saint George’s Town Hall, 236 Cable Street, London E1 0BL, United Kingdom (for all accessibility requirements for the day please get in contact ASAP). Nearest station – Whitechapel or Shadwell
 
Facebook page click here
Twitter – NeverAgainUK 
RSVP to reserve (limited spaces) your space or with any enquiries or if your press – neveragaineverever@gmail.com
 

Keynote speakers so far (more to come)
  • Leah Borromeo – a journalist, filmmaker and erstwhile Space Hijacker 
  • James leadbitter – Award winning mental health activist and artist at ‘The Vacuum Cleaner’
  • Saph Mac – Anti-racist activist, presenter and recent hostess of ‘Beyond UKIP Cabaret’ 
  • John Stewart – Top environmental activist and defeater of Heathrow airports development plans. 
  • Alison Playford – Occupy organiser and member of Disabled People Against Cuts
  • Jewdas Representative – a network of left-wing Jewish activists who campaign against fascism, racism and oppression in all its forms.
  • The Sex Workers’ Opera Representative – a show by local and global Sex Workers through community art and grassroots activism
  • The Rebel Clown Army Representative – an international movement bringing silliness and play into direct action to disempower authorities and shut down evil corporations using tickling tactics, hide and seek in public spaces and police parody fancy dress. 
  • Prison reform activism – our ex-prisoner guest will discuss how he’s made prison reform relevant and interesting for the unconverted. 
With further speakers from Save our Soho and a variety of queer, housing, sex worker, human rights and anti-austerity campaigns.
 

Throughout 2015 there has been an incredible amount of creative grassroots protest against the brutal connected environmental, social, racial, and economic injustice’s and the rise of the far rights politics across Britain. Those targeted by prejudice have come together [Disability, HIV, women’s, migrant right groups and many more] and have created imaginative performance protests (such as ‘The Beyond UKIP’ cabaret) to confront these injustice’s and to create a new world beyond this inequality.

These groups are coming together again for an ‘action-lab’ where we will create a series of actions for the rest of 2015 to let the electoral politicians know that our dreams live far beyond the ballot box.

The day will involve –

  • Learning from a panel of activists from key historical moments of injustice and resistance (speaker list to follow)
  • Strategising a series of actions for the coming year.
  • Facilitate critical thinking about the injustice of the whole system and not just individual causes/campaigns/groups
  • Facilitate unity, solidarity, ongoing networking and linking up of activities through grassroots performance protest and online media.
  • Create a large protest that strengthens movements at the grassroots and encourages resistance to the divide and rule of the mainstream political system.
RSVP to reserve your space or with any enquiries or if your press – neveragaineverever@gmail.com


The training is organised by a range of grassroots social justice movements as part of the ‘Never Nie Wieder – Never Again Ever!’ campaign – A unique memorial-activism programme to pass on the legacy of Holocaust survivors today. See all information at www.neveragainever.org

 

If you can’t make this one there will be another action-lab on July 19th 2015 in central London.

 

 

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 Posted by at 19:59
May 112015
 

Secret Changes to Motability Grant Making Conditions – People needed for Legal Challenge

Motability have introduced changes to their grant making conditions discriminating against disabled people with the highest support needs who are unable to work for a minimum of 12 hours a week, carry out at least 12 hours voluntary work (which apparently can’t be internet based but has to be outside the home and doesn’t include travelling time), are not in education for at least 12 hours a week and who need specialised adaptations to transfer to drive or drive-from-wheelchair vehicles.

These changes have not been made publicly known or advertised to current customers in any way about who is eligible for a grant and the changes were made without any consultation.

We understand these changes were made from June 1st this year but customers are only being told about them when they enquire about a grant for a replacement vehicle.

The impact of these changes which affects those with the highest and most costly needs are potentially life-changing. It could well prevent people having contact with family (let alone friends) if they live in a rural area with little or no transport, it means anyone who can only travel with equipment like hoists. Oxygen cylinders and other bulky items won’t be able to go anywhere. It also ignores the fact that with other cuts to services people will not be able to ensure they have the physical support from someone else to drive them.

We have sought legal advice to see whether these changes can be challenged as discriminatory and now need to hear from anyone who is or would be affected by these changes in the near future and who would qualify for legal aid. In particular we want to hear from anyone who currently does not have a vehicle and has been refused the right to apply for grant funding.

If you think you might be affected by these changes and are willing to consider taking legal action then please contact us at  mail@dpac.uk.net

http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/motability-face-court-action-discriminatory-new-rules/

 

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 Posted by at 20:33
May 012015
 

Who 2 Vote 4 Logo

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 Posted by at 21:42
May 012015
 

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

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

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

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

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

Tracey Lazard, CEO, Inclusion London said

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

A DPAC spokesperson said

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

 

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 Posted by at 16:15
Mar 312015
 

Sign in support of the campaign now! 

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

Ultimate aim of the campaign

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

Other aims:

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

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

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

Why the need for the campaign?

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

What are the changes?

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

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

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

Case study

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

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

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

The impact

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

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

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

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

·        access to ‘quality mobility aids’

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

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

What can you do?

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

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

·        Promote petition, email, Facebook, Twitter etc.

·        Send letter of protest and case examples to Motability.

·        Survey members on their experiences of Motability reviews

·        Contact your local MP, and relevant Ministers

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

Please forward this email to your contacts. 

Many thanks,

Henrietta

Henrietta Doyle

Policy Officer

Mobile: 07703 715091

Direct line (Wednesday’s only) 020 7036 6033

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

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

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 Posted by at 19:07
Mar 252015
 

A complaint to the United Nations was today launched on behalf of disabled people in the UK whose rights have been breached by the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF). The ILF, which is the subject of an on-going and desperate battle between disabled people and the Department for Work and Pensions (1), is high on the priority list for disabled people deciding how to vote at the forthcoming election. The complaint brought by Inclusion London (2) on behalf of two disabled women, Nicky Baker and Dr Melanie Wilson Jones, alleges that the government has violated Articles 17, 19, 20, 30 and 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), ratified by the UK in 2009 (3).

The Independent Living Fund was set up in 1988 to support disabled people with high support needs to live in the community when the alternative was residential care. Since then it has helped thousands to live active and full lives, contributing to their communities and participating in education, employment and volunteering, family and social life. It is an effective way to provide support with both low cost overheads and extremely high user satisfaction rates (4).

On 13 December 2010 without any consultation or impact assessment, it was announced that the ILF would be closed permanently to new applicants. A ministerial statement was made referring to “informal consultation with disability organisations” but there is no record of this consultation (5). Since then, disabled people who missed out on the Fund have been left without the support they need to take part in day to day life and disabled people’s life chances have dramatically fallen. Meanwhile the government has failed to monitor the impact of the closure.

Nicky Baker, age 30, is a qualified auditor working within a disabled people’s organisation as well as studying part time for a degree. Although eligible for support from the ILF, the Fund was closed the day after she telephoned for an application form. The social care package she receives from her Local Authority does not provide the support she needs to live an independent life, for example to go on dates with her boyfriend without having her parents there or to take part in sufficient training for the high level of powerchair football she reached.

Dr Melanie Wilson Jones received a substantial amount of support including from the ILF after sustaining a brain injury. She made such progress that her needs decreased and thus her support was reduced. However following a road traffic accident in 2011 she sustained a further brain injury requiring someone to be with her constantly. Now unable to get support from the ILF, she is reliant on her husband who works full time and her 16 year old daughter to make up the extra hours of support she needs for evenings and weekends.

Linda Burnip, co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts, who are supporting the challenge, said: “It is the pooling of resources and collective solidarity that has allowed this to happen. We’re grateful to DPAC supporters for their financial support towards travel costs, to the solicitor and barrister who gave their time pro bono, to Inclusion London for their staffing resources and of course to the two disabled women willing to put themselves forward to make a complaint on an issue that affects all disabled people in the UK. Without all of these factors this could never have been brought to fruition.”

Tracey Lazard, CEO of Inclusion London, who authored the complaint said, “The closure of the Independent Living Fund signals the end of independent living for disabled people. It took many years for disabled people to fight their way out of the institutions and to have the same chances as anyone else to live in the community alongside family and friends. At the current time Local Authorities are simply not able to provide the level of social care support required to uphold disabled people’s fundamental human rights”.

Sophie Partridge, a current ILF recipient, said: “The ILF has played a huge part in supporting me to have equal access to an independent adult life and a level playing field alongside non-disabled people. Without the ILF being re-opened to new applicants, I worry that young disabled people will never get the same life chances as I have had.”

Solicitor Louise Whitfield, from law firm Deighton Pearce Glynn, who is representing the complainants said: “From a legal perspective, I cannot see how the UK Government can justify closing the ILF to new applicants with no consultation or consideration of the rights protected under the UN Convention. Under Article 19, those rights include the fundamental right to independent living which has clearly been breached by this decision and I hope that the UN Committee takes appropriate action to recognise these very significant breaches”.

For more information or to speak to either the complainants or other disabled people affected by the closure of the ILF contact: ellen.clifford@inclusionlondon.co.uk or call 07505144371.

Notes for editors:

1) The future of the ILF has been the subject of two legal challenges: the first was won by disabled claimants at the Court of Appeal in November 2013 and the second was lost in the High Court in December 2014. There have been continued protests and direct actions led by disabled people and their supporters since 2010, including in June 2014 the attempted occupation of the grounds of Westminster Abbey.

2) Inclusion London is a pan impairment pan London Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisation (DDPO) which provides policy, campaigning and capacity building support for London DDPOs. Inclusion London promotes disability equality and has been working with the disabled people led campaign Disabled People Against cuts to support ILF recipients in the campaign to keep the ILF open.

3) The UK is signed up to the UNCRPD Optional Protocol. This means that individuals can take complaints to the UN disability committee for breach of the UNCRPD if all domestic avenues have been exhausted. If the committee find the complaint admissible, they will investigate. and produce a set of recommendations for the State in question. One previous complaint was made to the UN disability committee but found inadmissible as the incidents in question which related to employment discrimination occurred before the UK ratified the convention. For more information about the UNCRPD: http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?id=150

For more information about previous uses of the Optional Protocol: http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/TBSearch.aspx?Lang=en&TreatyID=4&DocTypeCategoryID=6

4)

5)

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 Posted by at 21:42
Mar 222015
 

Press Release

Anti UKIP campaigners are staging a protest now in the local pub of UKIP leader Nigel Farage in the village of Downe, Kent.

Nigel Farage’s local pub the George & Dragon where he has been pictured many times going for a drink has been invaded by about 80 people protesting against UKIP.

Campaigners include those who have been targeted by UKIP such as migrants, HIV activists, gay people, disabled people and breastfeeding mums.

Protest organiser  said:

UKIP are a con. They pretend to be anti-establishment but this couldn’t be further from the truth. By wrongfully shifting the blame for the economic crisis onto immigrants they have let the bankers off the hook. That is why so many diverse communities have taken our cultures to the heart of where they exist – Nigel Farage’s local pub. We will not succumb to their prejudice. We will create the world we want to live in. A world beyond UKIP.

We sympathise with people who feel alienated with the political system but a vote for UKIP really is the worst thing you could do to protest about the current state of this country.

a social worker from London said:

“The alliance of people here today shows that there are clear targets of UKIPs hate filled agenda. We want to live in a society in which we are all valued and our different contributions, talents and cultures are acknowledged. 

We want politicians to stop using the language of divide and rule, xenophobia, racism and fear and instead speak up to the 99% to challenge the corporate greed and massive inequality that exists in this country and globally”.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

  • Full address of the Pub: George & Dragon, 26 High St, Downe, Orpington, BR6 7UT
  • We have photographers on the protest who will be able to provide photos in the next few hours.

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 Posted by at 12:32
Mar 172015
 

Today, the Guardian published an interview of Rachel Reeves, in which she says of the Labour party: “We are not the party of people on benefits. We don’t want to be seen, and we’re not, the party to represent those who are out of work,……. Labour are a party of working people, formed for and by working people.”

This is a huge disappointment for those who had been expecting the Labour party to take a principled stand against what the Coalition is doing to unemployed and disabled people who cannot work, lone parents, carers and pensioners who rely on benefits and to voice their concerns and anger.

Forget it. The Labour Party does not represent you.

But that is not even the worst. Rachel Reeves seems to think that you cannot be claiming benefits and working at the same time, although some disability benefits like the Independent Living Fund, Disability Living Allowance,Personal Independence Payment and Access to Work are designed precisely with this in mind. All parents raising children are entitled to Child Benefit, although it is now mean-tested. Do we have to assume that Rachel Reeves will forfeit her allowance when she has her baby? Should we assume that neither David Blunkett nor Ann Begg had or have to rely on some form of disability benefits to support them in their Parliamentary life?

Is the assumption that claiming benefits only happens to others, slightly apart from the rest of the human race, and who don’t deserve to be represented although they are already the most politically marginalised and unrepresented group?

Maybe before speaking, Reeves should have had a chat with Yvette Cooper. Yvette Cooper could have told her that when she was struck by ME, she had to claim disability benefits during six months because she was too sick to work. She was lucky to totally recover after 4 years, but when she needed it, the state was there to support her, and I am not sure she would have been very pleased to be told at the time that her own party did not represent her anymore because she could not work. (see below for more information)

Rachel Reeves made a huge faux-pas today, which might not gain the Labour Party any extra votes from the Tory party, but which has lost for Labour the last hopeful voters who still believed that the Labour Party was the party of compassion and solidarity and who discover that it has lost its soul.


On 21st October 2009 while Work and Pensions Secretary, Yvette Cooper made the following statement to the All Party Parliamentary Group on ME. Of particular interest are Yvette Cooper’s comments about her uncertainty about if she would have qualified for ESA at the time, when she knew she was unable to work, and also a recognition all the way back in 2009, six years ago, that the WCA was flawed when dealing with fluctuating conditions.

I am happy to say a few things first. It is a pleasure for me to be here. Tony Wright MP and I first discussed setting up the all party group on ME back in 1998. I obviously have a strong personal interest in it, having been an ME sufferer back in 1993. I was off work for about a year. I had to work part time for a year or two after that, and then it was another couple of years before I stopped getting any relapses.

I obviously have a personal interest in this, and although it is true that I am the third Secretary of State to come before the group, I think I am probably the only Secretary of State from the Department for Work and Pensions who has actually claimed sickness benefits. As well as having statutory sick pay for six months, I also claimed what was then invalidity benefit for six months, before going back to work. I was lucky to have a supportive employer who allowed me to work part time — I worked alternate days, as that was the best way for me to do it when I started back at work — and who was very considerate when I had bad days. I am very conscious of the difficulties and challenges that people can face. That includes both those who have the condition and can work, although they can only work certain times and need it to be flexible — that was the position I was in for some time — and those people who cannot work at all.

I am happy to listen to the concerns that the group wishes to raise. I have also been through the new work capability assessment, from the point of view of how I felt and the condition that I had at the time. I know that I was not able to work; I was desperate to get back to work, but would I have passed the work capability assessment in terms of getting the ESA?

I have been through all those sorts of questions because I have a personal interest in it, but I am interested in hearing your views too.

We have done a lot of work to try to ensure that the whole approach to the employment support allowance takes account of fluctuating conditions and fatigue, not only inability to do things. It should look at those conditions where someone is able to do something, but it wipes them out for the rest of the day. It is not that someone cannot do a particular thing because they are incapable of doing it, but it wipes them out.

That must be taken into account in the assessment process. A lot of work has been done to try and do that, and to build that in to the assessment process. I obviously have personal experience of how that is going, but we are keen to keep trying to do that, and ensure that we respond to what I know is a difficult condition.

We are pleased to note that Yvette Cooper is restored to health, not only being able to hold down a demanding job, but also now having the spare energy to be able to run away from difficult questions about WCA:


Video courtesy of Kate Belgrave

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 Posted by at 13:45
Mar 152015
 

The Deaf  community in North Staffordshire region have had all funding  for Hearing Aids withdrawn!
This means  if people can’t pay £ 400, they can’t hear. We need to fight this not just as deaf  community and supporters but as an entire disabled community.
This despicable behaviour is likely to spread to withdrawing funding of equipment and resources for other impairments  too. Please like and share our new dpac page for North Staffordshire and Cheshire East.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/DPAC-North-Staffordshire-and-Cheshire-East/1568667403389619?fref=ts

if you are unable to access Facebook but would like to get involved in this area email us at mail@dpac.uk.net with your contact details which we will pass on.

 

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 Posted by at 15:01
Mar 112015
 

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

 

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

 

Luke Clements lectures

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

 

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

 

 

Background to Care Act 2014

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

Carer

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Underpinning principles (section 1)

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

 

Well-being

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 the need to protect people from abuse and neglect;

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Bits of particular interest to us

 

Services / care and support responses (section 8)

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

(b) by itself providing a service;

(c) by making direct payments.

 

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

 

Assessment of adults in need (section 9)

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

identified during the assessment and care planning processes.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Carer support ignored

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

The nature and setting of the assessment

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

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

 

Advocacy support

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

 

Eligibility criteria (section 13)

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

 

Adults in need eligibility criteria

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

(a) is unable to achieve it without assistance;

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

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

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

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

 

Regulation 2 details ‘outcomes’ as being:

(a) managing and maintaining nutrition;

(b) maintaining personal hygiene;

(c) managing toilet needs;

(d) being appropriately clothed;

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

(f) maintaining a habitable home environment;

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

Funding panels

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Care & support plans (section 25-26)

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

 

Needs versus ‘outcomes’

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

Care and support planning – principles

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

 the needs identified by the assessment;

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

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

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

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

 

the personal budget …;

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

Personal budgets

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

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

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

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

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

 

Direct Payments (sections 31-33)

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

 

 

The relevance of local authority financial difficulties

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

 

Sign off and copies of care plans

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

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

 

And some of the rest

Prevention (section 2)

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

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

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

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

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

 

Charging and preventative services

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

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

 

Integration with the NHS (section 3)

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

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

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

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

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

 

Information (section 4)

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

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

 

Duty to promote effective high quality providers (section 5)

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

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

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

Workforce issues

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

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

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

 

Delegation (section 79)

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

covered in the assessment’ (para 6.38).

 

Review of care & support plans (aka annual harassment)

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

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

 

Charging (section 14)

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Ordinary Residence (section 39 – 41)

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

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

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

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

Para 19.31 of the guidance explains that:

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

 

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

Para 19.31 of the guidance explains that:

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

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

 

Safeguarding (sections 42 – 47))

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Independent advocacy (section 67)

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

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

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

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

s117 Mental Health Act 1983 (section 74)

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

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

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

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

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 Posted by at 21:25
Feb 212015
 
The Save the ILF Campaign was successful in all parts of the UK except England, where the Labour Party repeatedly refused to save it on and coming to power they followed through on this non-promised. The guidlines they had promised to send to Local Authorities where duly sent and had were of no help whatsoever to former ILF recipients.

The Save the ILF Campaign was successful in all parts of the UK except England, where the Labour Party repeatedly refused to save it. Then Shadow Minister for Disabled People Kate Green said “I do need to start by being clear that it’s not Labour’s position to retain the ILF”.

September 2015: The Legacy of the First 100 Days of a Labour government elected with a majority. Disabled people throughout the devolved nations of the UK are celebrating the continuing existence of their own Independent Living Funds. Yet in England those with the same support needs have little to cheer about as Labour themselves abandoned disabled people in England and continued forcing through the closure of the ILF, refusing disabled people the right to have the support they need to continue to live independently in the community.

Labour kept its pre-election promises on cuddly animals, and unfortunately kept to it's pre-election policies on disability as well
Labour kept its pre-election promises on cuddly animals, and unfortunately kept to it’s pre-election policies for disabled people  as well

But resilient as ever disabled people are cheering the fact that under Labour there are a significant number of improved rights for animals. After all we accept that not being pretty and fluffy and not enjoying being patted on the head by people passing us on the street- we were never likely to get the same sort of attention as cute little animals.Besides which, after 5 years of Condem austerity measures we’ve come to accept that the main political parties view us as stock with no human rights.

One of the first acts of the new Labour Government was to pass legislation to improve the lives of dogs and cats-they must now all be fed daily, be allowed out to go to the toilet regularly and have a daily walk. Not so for disabled people who have lost their care and support funding and who can only watch wistfully the new freedoms that pets have- imprisoned as they now are inside the walls of their homes unable to leave and take any active part in society. Many social services have introduced toileting regimes allowing disabled people to go to the toilet only at set times, or replaced human support with incontinence pads and catheters.

Fresh food has become a distant memory as more and more 3 minute short visits are all that is available to humans. Along with the wild animals which Labour is protecting by banning them from being used in circuses some of us are also being relocated to new ‘homes’. Sadly for disabled people this means we’re being removed totally from society and pushed out of sight and mind since the closure of the ILF in England.

Ed Miliband and Ed Balls back when every disabled child mattered

Ed Miliband and Ed Balls back in 2006 when every disabled child mattered

Many young disabled people have now been sentenced to spend the rest of their lives in old people’s homes which provide the only residential care available for them. Meanwhile the search for suitable re-homing of our circus animals is being supported by a new independent and well-funded task force set up by Ed Balls. Equitably the re-homing of disabled people by Local Authorities is being done following a set of non-compulsory guidelines drawn up by the new minister of disabled people Dick Ensien.

When asked why he has abandoned the previous legacy of the last labour Governments Every Disabled Child Matters Campaign which he spear-headed Ed replied “ Although I find some disabled children cute I can’t stand them once they reach adulthood and besides which having had 'a hand up' while children the Labour party now no longer need to do anything more for them. They’ve already had equality of opportunity as outlined in Tony’s Third Way ideology and should just be jolly grateful for that.

Before the election, Rachel Reeves promised "Labour will be tougher then the Tories on Benefits ......" (http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/oct/12/labour-benefits-tories-labour-rachel-reeves-welfare)

Before the election, Rachel Reeves promised “Labour will be tougher then the Tories on Benefits ……” (http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/oct/12/labour-benefits-tories-labour-rachel-reeves-welfare)

Thankfully, as well, we’re delighted that the hunting ban has been confirmed to continue, and all culling of badgers has been stopped however the culling of disabled people through the new Work Capability Assessments carried out by Maximus – Same Circus, Different Clowns - continues unabated. The DWP as usual have refused to release figures of how many disabled people have died as a result of this process since the Labour government came to power. Disabled people also continue to be disproportionately sanctioned for failing to meet the conditionality in the WRAG as well as those flung onto JSA. Unqualified Job centre staff are free to decide which disabled people can be left to starve and for how long. But we are all so pleased dogs and cats now have a right to at least one meal a day. Tesco’s should also be applauded for continuing to collect food for us in their shops next to their baskets collecting cat and dog food. We do love being passive recipients of charity and being made to feel so thankful for any scraps thrown our way.

David Freud has now also returned to the Labour fold as a Labour Lord advising on benefits reform.

David Freud has now also returned to the Labour fold as a Labour Lord advising on benefit reform.

Of course David Freud has now also returned to the Labour fold as a Labour Lord advising on benefits reform. He has recommended to a Labour government bent on imposing further and harsher austerity measures that any disabled person in work should only be paid a maximum rate of £2 per hour since we are worth so much less to employers than non-disabled people. Since the alternative to this for many of us is unpaid work placements we are of course willing to accept this meagre rate if it allows us to be more employable.

 

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