Nov 082015
 

by Bob Williams Findlay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ian Bynoe picks up the story when he writes:

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

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

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

Barnes and Oliver inform us that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mike Oliver noted that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She went on to say:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional material used as research:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 Posted by at 12:55
May 202015
 

If you have been sanctioned for not engaging in work related activity or threatened with a sanction while on employment support allowance-we want to hear from you for a potential legal challenge. Please email us at: mail@dpac.uk.net

We all know what sanctions do to people; we all know that sanctions have led to needless, avoidable and unforgivable deaths.  With sanctions for those on employment support allowance increasing (up 25%), with 50,000 of those sanctions imposed for not engaging in a work related activity with some affecting mental health users- Its beyond time to act against this outrage

For those facing sanctions we also provide some practical info from @refuted below.

All info is up to date although stats are now out of date

http://refuted.org.uk/2014/08/06/sanctionstips/

With many thanks to refuted for the info

 

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May 172015
 

If you get care funding from your local council this is often not free and you will have to have a financial assessment to see how much they will ask you to pay towards your care. In order to reduce the amount you have to pay for your care here is a list of Disability Related Expenses which they should disregard as available income, thus reducing the amount they ask you to pay.

These are not costs you can claim for.

This is not an exhaustive list and if there are any glaring omissions please let us know.

On the ILF email group we’ve been chatting about Disability Related Expenditure and I have collated people’s suggestions which have been very helpful.

 

It was suggested that to prove something is a “disability related expenditure”, not an expense that non – disabled people would also have, we could also give the reason why someone says that it is “disability related” e.g you could argue that a food processor is a “disability related” expense if you have an impairment which causes difficulties with chopping fruit/vegetables – by having the food processor it means that you don’t have to rely on another person to help you preparing / making meals. (although this example is useful bear in mind that it could lead to your care funding being reduced if social services decided the food processor meant you didn’t need any other support)

 

You could argue that, as a visually impaired person, you need a large print crossword book, which costs more than a regular crossword book. The difference in price would be the disability related expenditure.

 

A lot of councils will not take transport cost into account because they can’t take the mobility component into account – but if you can demonstrate that your full mobility component goes on the hire of your vehicle, then you can argue that fuel costs are a disability related expenditure as there is no other suitable alternative transport.

 

There are definitely many expenses that people don’t even think of, or expenses that people find hard to justify to the council – so giving a list of expenditure with reasons why they are “disability related” can often swing it.

 

And here are some list

 

Disability related expenditure list

Wheelchair insurance

Community Alarm Electric and gas 30 % ( Heating, Laundry due to arthritis/pain/health)

 

Electrical Gadgets – all of which use more electricity then non-disabled people would need to use

Recliner chair

Mobile – needed for safety reasons

Computer/Broadband – social/voluntary activities /computer equipment (mouse/dropped regularly and needing replacement)

NHS Bed

Stair lifts

Door opener/Intercom/remote control door opener

Two Closimat toilets

Wheel chair charging

Mobile phone charges

Adapted Car – use extra diesel for adaptations i.e. ramp, drivers seat, door openers

Health insurance

 

Replacement Equipment aids Costs
Heat pads

Hot water bottles

Bedding

Cushions

Lap Trays – activities/meals/computer

Pillows

Special mattress

Clothes

Wheel chair covers

Tens Machine – Batteries & Pad

 

PA Costs

– Hand wash

– Alcohol gel

– Toilet roll

– Hot water

– Kettle

– Drinks

– Protective/medical gloves and aprons

– Transport costs in order to escort on public transport

– Breakages

– Holiday costs of taking PA as well – 1 week allowed

 

 Live in Carer potential costs

New Carpet

Electric costs

Gas costs

Laundry
Showers

Bedding

Food

 

Heath/Medical

Travel to GP, Nurse and hospital appointments

Hospital
– Neurology

– Eye Clinic

– Euro gynaecology

– Pain clinic

– Operations

– Chiropody

 

– Antiseptic Creams

 

General Outgoings

Electric

Gas

TV costs

Shopping – internet deliveries (again be careful with this as social services may say you don’t need care to go shopping and point out you need someone to put food away for you anytime within a 2 hour delivery slot).

Food costs and dietary needs including more frequent small meals or meals which may need to be left for people to reheat.

Extra costs of things like clothes and shoes – the difference between cheap ones -from-primark and something-which-actually-works.

Extra washing powder, more expensive washing powders or fabric softeners.

Pet insurance if an assistance dog

Rent above levels paid in benefits

Mortgage payments if property is larger than a non-disabled person would need. ie. room needed for PA or equipment storage

Water rates

Household insurance for appliances relating to impairment

Servicing of any aids or equipment

Wheelchair insurance

Gardening

Decorating

Having to put money aside for future needs eg. repairs to equipment, deposit for Motability vehicle etc ( look at last 2-3 years ).

 

There is advice on the Age UK website, of which this is an extract:

Taking disability-related expenditure into account

If the local authority decides to take into account your disability-related benefits, it must also take into account your disability-related expenditure in the means test.

This is confirmed in Annex C of the statutory guidance where it is stated that you should be allowed to keep enough benefit to pay for necessary disability related expenditure to meet any needs that are not being met by the local authority. A similar requirement is made in the charging regulations.

 

Some local authorities disregard set amounts to take account of disability- related expenditure partly to avoid having to ask questions that might be considered intrusive. The amount that is disregarded varies from authority to authority. However if you consider your disability related costs are greater than this set amount you can ask for a full assessment of your costs.

 

The statutory guidance provides an indicative list of disability-related expenditure examples. It is not possible for the list to be comprehensive as it will vary from person to person. When being assessed to see how much you can pay, you should consider everything you have to buy because of your disability. This could, for example, include:

 

lextra washing, or special washing power and conditioner for delicate skin;

lcommunity alarms (pendant or wrist);
lspecial diet;
lspecial clothing or footwear (or extra wear and tear);

ladditional bedding;
lextra heating costs;
lgardening;
lhousehold maintenance (if you would normally have done it yourself);

lany cleaning (if not part of your care plan);

linternet access;
lany care that social services do not meet;
lbuying and maintaining disability-related equipment; or

Factsheet 46lApril 2015
Paying for care and support at home

22 of 48

lany transport costs (both for essential visits to the doctor or hospital, but also to keep up social contacts).

 

It can be difficult to prove you have extra costs if you have not actually incurred those expenses, for example, if you have not put the heating on for fear of large bills, or are not following a special diet because of the cost. Local authorities should work out an amount considered to be normal expenditure on heating, for example, for your area and type of housing to assist them in their response to if you claim disability-related expenditure in this context, or what you would spend if you weren’t avoiding it out of fear of high expenditure.

 

There may be other costs that should be accepted.

The courts have confirmed that local authorities should not be inflexible but should always consider individual circumstances. For example, an authority should not adopt a blanket policy of refusing to acknowledge any payments made to close relatives, as there may exceptional reasons for a particular arrangement. In one case the local authority was criticised for not properly carrying out an assessment of the person’s disability related expenditure by doing a home visit, and for rejecting some items of expenditure such as swimming lessons and paying the carer to accompany him on holiday. Such costs should be considered if they are reasonable expenditure needed for independent living.’2

http://www.ageuk.org.uk/Documents/EN-GB/Factsheets/FS46_Paying_for_care_and_support_at_home_fcs.pdf?dtrk=true

Additional suggestions

communication aid configuration, mounting , unmounting and charging up

private therapies including massage for either pain relief or anxiety

Dressings for self injury and extra water (OCD)

ready meals when unable to cook

pets – insurance and food – for acompanionship and to feel safe.

 

 

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 Posted by at 21:04
Sep 212014
 

The Fabulous Brian Hilton has yet again come up with some great images to use during the party conference season.

Please copy these images and tweet them or use them on facebook during the party conference season

Tomasz and his son Peter show support for disabled people and the Save The Independent Living Fund Campaign in their own unique way.  Every little helps, wether its writing to your local MP, lobbying your councillors or painting your neighbours gate.

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A is for Activism

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On the 22nd and 23rd October disabled people will again challenge the government in the High Court over the closure of the ILF

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Party Conference Time, grab your placards! Labour - 21st-24th Sept, Tory, 28th Sep-1st Oct, LibDem 4th 8th Oct

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Gazing on a young Nick Clegg, who'd have thought he would be in a position help save the ILF - and yet would do nothing

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Esther reminds David that if disable people are going to save the ILF we need to mobilise

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Fearless David Cameron had no qaulms about entering a nuclear facility. However he was less keen on meeting Disabled People who face becoming prisoners in their own homes if the ILF is closed

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Jane explained that the fight to save the ILF is not over and that disabled people still had a few tricks up their sleeve int he run up to the general election

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And Jane was right!!! The fight is far from over,

disabled people do have some more tricks up our sleeve to save the ILF.

More announcements to come, watch this space ……

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 Posted by at 12:28
Apr 212014
 

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

DSC_1030 con

Here’s a brief outline of how it went.

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

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

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

photo1jm tshirt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you on the streets!

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

contact: mail@dpac.uk.net

 

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Dec 092013
 

Our Lives – Equal Lives: Disabled people in Norfolk speak about how personal budgets have transformed their lives and their fears of them being taken away. 

This video forms part of Equal Lives contribution to the Norfolk County Council consultation on the cuts.  The scale of the proposed cuts to adult social care will mean the end of personalisation and will result in disabled people becoming prisoners in their own homes.

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Dec 032013
 

What price independent lives? – launched on the United Nations Day of Disabled People – highlights the combined effect of a range of benefit cuts on disabled people’s incomes and the particular threat this poses to independent living.

Analysis of Habinteg’s detailed tenancy data at a six month point after the introduction of benefit cuts revealed the specific financial hardship faced by disabled tenants as a result of benefit restrictions. It shows that two thirds of tenants affected by the bedroom tax are disabled people.

However the impact of this is deepened when the same people face other benefit cuts and variable policies by local authorities. The result is that the ability for disabled people to pay the additional costs associated with living an independent life is being severely restricted.

Key findings of What price independent lives?:

·         Two-thirds of Habinteg tenants affected by the bedroom tax are disabled people and of these, after six months of the new rules being in place, only a third had been exempted from paying by local authorities.

·         56 per cent of Habinteg tenants living in wheelchair standard properties have not yet been given exempt status from the bedroom tax.

·         Only 15 per cent of tenants who receive Disability Living Allowance (DLA) but live in general needs properties have been given bedroom tax exempt status by their local authority raising concerns that disabled people in this group may be faced with additionally reduced income when tested for eligibility for Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

·         The localised criteria for bedroom tax exemption has created a new postcode lottery for disabled people with an inconsistent and unpredictable approach which varies between local authorities. Such variation reinforces the barriers disabled people face if they want to move, whether for job opportunities or other reasons, and deepens inequality between disabled and non-disabled people.

·         Most tenants adversely affected by the bedroom tax are preparing to “stay and pay” in order to keep their existing property. The chronic shortage of wheelchair standard and accessible properties makes moving to downsize simply not an option.

·         Where local authorities do not agree exempt status, Habinteg is supporting tenants to apply for financial support under the Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) schemes. However, where information is available, it suggests that many disabled people are being refused DHP support. Three out of four case studies in the report have been refused DHPs. Some tenants have been given this support by their local authority while others in similar circumstances have been refused. This inconsistency makes it difficult for housing providers to manage their response and support tenants.

Habinteg is calling for the Government to repeal the bedroom tax, especially in respect of disabled people, review their stance on Universal Credit which will not cover service charging on disability-related adaptations and revise their plans to cut benefit payments under the transfer from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payments.

Habinteg Chief Executive, Paul Gamble, said: “Our report shows clearly the disproportionate impact from combined welfare reform policies on disabled people and highlights the very serious risk that the basic right to an independent life is threatened by the increased financial burden.

“We want the Government to acknowledge, understand and act on the cumulative impact of its welfare cuts agenda on disabled people. We are calling for the repeal of the bedroom tax, especially in respect of disabled people along with other steps to ensure their on-going right to independence and inclusion in their homes and communities.”

Baroness Rosalie Wilkins, Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Disability Group, said: “Habinteg’s new research provides a rallying cry for choice, independence and equality. Independent living is a right not a privilege. The way in which the bedroom tax cuts the incomes of disabled people at a stroke and impinges on their ability to live independently is something that must be challenged.

“I fully endorse Habinteg in their efforts to persuade the government to listen to the evidence, call a halt to the bedroom tax and rethink a welfare benefits programme that is unfairly impacting on disabled people.”

A Habinteg tenant case study from What price independent lives? (who wished to remain anonymous) said: “I can’t begin to explain how stressful this whole process has been. It was a trauma to work out what I was going to do. I kept thinking why would they do this?

“I never believed that moving was an option as the lack of a purpose built one bedroom wheelchair accessible home gave me no choice but to find a way to pay.”

The full report can be found at www.habinteg.org.uk/whatpriceindependentlives

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Nov 152013
 

Don’t forget to come to the action on November 26th to protest against Fuel Poverty. meet 11.30 am at Liverpool Street station. Also here are Fuel Poverty Action’s tips to help you keep as warm as possible this winter.

Fuel Poverty Top Tips

Fuel Poverty Action has produced some resources copied below to help people keep warm. Please download and share them wherever they can be of use.

If you have stories about how disabled people are being affected by fuel poverty that you are happy to share please or would like to get involved in campaigning against the effects of fuel poverty on disabled people please contact Ellen on 07505 144371 or ellenrclifford@btinternet.com.

 

  • SOME TIPS ON HOW TO BRING DOWN YOUR FUEL BILLS
  • STRUGGLING WITH HIGH FUEL BILLS?
  • TEN THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU WERE ENTITLED TO FROM YOUR ENERGY SUPPLIER….

 

SOME TIPS ON HOW TO BRING DOWN YOUR FUEL BILLS

Produced by Fuel Poverty Action

fuelpovertyaction.org.uk | Twitter: @FuelPovAction | Facebook: Fuel Poverty Action

1.            Switch supplier

Consider switching your energy supplier, or switching your tariff from your current supplier. An easy way to do this is through consumer rights advocates uswitch. You can find the cheapest deal through uswitch online at www.uswitch.com or by telephone on 0808 178 3492.

2.            Warm Homes Discount

This is a discount of £120 off your annual energy bill. People who get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit are the core group that is eligible, receiving the discount from the government automatically. But the energy suppliers also have broader schemes for other people, each with slightly different criteria. Contact your supplier to find out whether you qualify.

3.            Insulation

•             Insulating your home is an important way to save money on your bills. Several of the energy companies offer free insulation schemes. Get in touch with your supplier to find out if you could qualify.

•             The government’s ‘Warm Front’ scheme also offers free grants to people to fund insulation and other home efficiency measures, including loft insulation, draughtproofing, cavity wall insulation and more. The government have just broadened the eligibility criteria for Warm Front- whether or not you’re eligible depends on which benefits you receive. To find out if you qualify, go to http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Environmentandgreenerliving/Energyandwatersaving/DG_10018661, call the Warm Front advice line on 0800 316 2805 or contact your local Citizens’ Advice Bureau. NB the Warm Front scheme expires at the end of October 2012 so apply as soon as possible!

•             You can try out DIY insulation-measures: insulate cold walls on the inside with special insulating wallpaper, available from DIY stores.

 

4.            Draughts

•             Fill the gap between the floor and the bottom of the wall with draught excluder strip (buy this from the DIY store) or, if you can’t get hold of it, strips of rag or rolled newspaper.

•             Fill up gaps in the floorboards with ‘plastic wood’ filler that you can buy from a DIY store or sawdust mixed with glue.

•             Buy an inside letter-box flap from a DIY store to stop draughts getting in through your letter box. Or make your own with a cloth bag fixed around the inside of the letter-box (with a hole in the bottom to retrieve the post!)

•             Fit draught excluder strips round doors and windows.

5.            Don’t overheat your homes

•             If you have gas central heating, use your room thermostat to control the heating so that you have temperatures of 18°C in most areas and 21°C in the living room.

•             Turn your heating off in the summer.

•             Set your central heating timer to switch the heating off half an hour before you leave the house or go to bed (if it’s warm enough to sleep without heating.)

•             Don’t heat rooms that you’re not using – turn the thermostats in these rooms off, and keep the doors closed.

•             Service your boiler every year – this will increase the efficiency of your heating system.

 

6.            Keep doors/windows closed

Keep doors and windows closed when you are heating your home. When you need to ventilate, for example when cooking or bathing and the room gets steamed up, close the kitchen/bathroom door so the rest of the house does not cool down and moisture does not spread and cause condensation.

7.            Think about your curtains!

•             Close your curtains at dusk to stop heat escaping through the windows.

•             Don’t let curtains overhang radiators as this funnels heat out of the room via the glass.

•             Don’t put heavy furniture, such as sofas, in front of radiators as this traps warmth and stops it from circulating round the room.

•             Open your curtains during daylight to get the heat from the sun.

8.            Hot water…

•             Take short showers not baths. Showering uses about two-fifths of the amount of hot water needed for a bath. This saves about £45 per year.

•             Don’t overheat your water. Setting the hot water cylinder thermostat to 60°C is adequate for bathing and washing.

•             Repair dripping taps and make sure taps are turned off properly.

•             Use the plug to save on hot water.

9.            Electical Applicances…

•             Buy energy efficient appliances. An energy label must, by law, be shown for most electrical appliances, with ‘A’ rated appliances the most efficient and ‘G’ rated the least efficient.

•             Turn appliances off at the socket.

10.          Cooking

•             When boiling the kettle, only boil the water that you need to use. This will save you around £25 per year.

•             Cooking with gas or in the microwave is cheaper than an electric cooker.

•             You can save on gas by cooking two or more things at once in the oven and by putting lids on saucepans.

11.          Washing…

•             Washing at 30 degrees means less money spent heating the water in the washing machine.

•             Make sure you wash full loads of clothes if possible.

•             Use the economy setting on your washing machine if you have one.

•             Tumble dryers use a lot of energy. If possible. dry clothes outside or on drying racks.

12.          Lighting…

•             Use low-energy light bulbs.

•             Make sure you turn lights off when they’re not being used.

 

 

STRUGGLING WITH HIGH FUEL BILLS?

A short guide to government schemes that could help you out…

Produced by Fuel Poverty Action.

 

The government offers several schemes that can help you with heating your home and bringing down your bills. This guide has been made to help you work out what you’re entitled to. You can find all the info online at direct.gov.uk. See the end of this guide for a full list of useful contact details.

 

There are four different government schemes to be aware of:

 

a) Warm Homes Discount Scheme – page 1-2. (Only available for older people)

b) Cold Weather Payments – page 2. (Only available if you live an area that has just experienced seven consecutive days of very cold weather).

c) Winter Fuel Payments – page 3-4. (Only available for older people)

d) Warm Front Scheme – page 4-5. (For those on low-incomes living in homes that are poorly insulated and/or do not have a properly funcitoning heating system).

 

 

WARM HOMES DISCOUNT SCHEME

The Warm Homes Discount Scheme helps some pensioners with their energy bills. In winter 2012/2013, the scheme will give those who qualify a £130 discount from their energy bills.

 

The scheme applies to pensioners who receive pension credit, which is an income-related benefit to top up a state pension. Pension credit is made up of two separate parts: Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit. You might receive just one of these or both. If you’re not sure whether you receive pension credit or which parts you receive, or if you do not already receive it but want to find out if you are entitled, call the pension credit helpline on 0800 99 1234 or visit http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Pensionsandretirementplanning/PensionCredit/

 

If you are under 80 years old, You are entitled to this discount if :

 

a) You receive the Guarantee Credit aspect of Pension Credit

AND

b) You DO NOT receive the Savings Credit aspect of Pension credit.

AND

c) Your name, or your partner’s name is on your electricity bill.

AND

d) You get your electricity from one of the following energy suppliers: Atlantic, British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, Equipower, Equigas, Manweb, M&S Energy, npower, Sainsbury’s Energy, Scottish Gas, Scottish Hydro, ScottishPower, Southern Electric, SSE, Swalec and Utility Warehouse.

 

If you are over 80 years old, you are entitled to this discount if:

 

a) You receive the Guarantee Credit aspect of Pension Credit (if you are over 80, you can receive the discount even if you receive Savings Credit as well)

AND

b) Your name, or your partner’s name is on your electricity bill.

AND

c) You get your electricity from one of the following energy suppliers: Atlantic, British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, Equipower, Equigas, Manweb, M&S Energy, npower, Sainsbury’s Energy, Scottish Gas, Scottish Hydro, ScottishPower, Southern Electric, SSE, Swalec and Utility Warehouse.

 

If you meet the conditions above you do not need to do anything now to get your discount in 2012/2013. The Government will write to all those potentially eligible for the discount in autumn 2012.

 

NB Several energy suppliers offer Warm Homes Discounts to a broader range of people beyond pensioners. To find out whether you could qualify, contact your energy supplier.

 

 

COLD WEATHER PAYMENTS

If there is a period of very cold weather in your area you may be able to get a Cold Weather Payment. A period of very cold weather is classed as when the temperature is an average of zero degrees Celsius or below over seven consecutive days in a row. The value of the payment is £25 for each seven consecutive days of cold weather.

 

You don’t need to apply for a cold weather payment – if you’re entitled, you will automatically receive this.

 

To receive a payment, you have to receive certain benefiits:

 

– If you get Pension Credit, you will usually receive a Cold Weather payment.

 

– If you receive Income Support or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, you will get Cold Weather Payments if you also have any of the following:

a) a disability or pensioner premium included in your benefit

b) a child who is disabled

c) Child Tax Credit that includes a disability or severe disability element

d) a child under five living with you

 

– If you receive income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), you will usually receive Cold Weather Payments if you also have any of the following:

a) the support or work-related component of ESA

b) a severe or enhanced disability premium included in your benefit

c) a pensioner premium included in you rbenefit

d) a child who is disabled

e) Child Tax Credit that includes a disability or severe disability element

f) A child under five living you you

 

If you think you are entitled to a Cold Weather Payment but have not received one within 14 working days of a very cold period, then contact your local pension centre or Jobcentre Plus.

 

 

WINTER FUEL PAYMENTS

The Winter Fuel Payment is paid to all households with an occupant aged over 60. The amount a household is entitled to depends upon  your personal situation, but is between £100 and £300 per winter. The payment is paid regardless of your income and you can get it if you’re still working or claiming a benefit.

 

Your household will receive this payment in winter 2012/2013 if you (or someone else living in your house) were born on or before 5 July 1951 and NONE of the following applies for the week of 17-23 September 2012:

 

– you were in hospital for more than 52 weeks previously, getting free treatment as an inpatient

– you were in custody serving a court sentence

– you were subject to immigration control and did not qualify for help from the Department for Work and Pensions

– you lived in a care home, an independent hospital or Ilford Park Polish Resettlement Home (and had done so for the previous 12 weeks or more) and you were on Pension Credit, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance

– you move to another European Economic Area country or Switzerland and didn’t qualify before you moved.

 

If you are eligible for a Winter Fuel Payment and receive any of the following, then you do not need to claim and will be paid automatically:

 

–             State Pension

–             Employment and Support Allowance

–             Income Support

–             Jobseeker’s Allowance

–             Pension Credit

–             Attendance Allowance

–             Bereavement Benefit

–             Carer’s Allowance

–             Disability Living Allowance

–             Graduated Retirement Benefit

–             Incapacity Benefit

–             Industrial Injuries Benefits

–             Severe Disablement Allowance

–             War Pension

–             Widow’s Benefit

 

If you do not receive any of the above benefits but you are eligible for a Winter Fuel Payment, then you need to claim. You can do this by downloading a claim form online at http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Pensionsandretirementplanning/Benefits/BenefitsInRetirement/DG_198331  or by requesting a claim form by calling 0845 9 15 15. If you need to claim, make sure that you have sent your claim form in to arrive on or before September 21 to get your payment before Christmas.

 

 

WARM FRONT SCHEME

The Warm Front scheme provides heating and insulation improvements to households on certain income-related benefits that are having problem with their house’s insulation and/or heating system. The scheme can provide improvements of up to £6000.

 

NB: The Warm Front Scheme is due to expire at the end of 2012, so apply for a grant as soon as possible!

 

Grants are available for improvements such as:

•             loft insulation

•             draughtproofing

•             cavity wall insulation

•             hot water tank insulation

•             gas, electric, liquid petroleum gas or oil heating

•             glass-fronted fire – the Warm Front scheme can convert your solid-fuel open fire to a glass-fronted fire

You won’t have to pay anything as long as the work doesn’t cost more than the grant available. If the cost of the work is more than the grant available you’ll have to make a contribution to enable work to go ahead. Work will not start without making sure you are willing and able to pay the difference.

 

The first condition of being eligible for a Warm Front grant is that you must live in a property that you own or rent that is poorly insulated and/or without a working central heating system.

 

Secondly, to qualify, you must receive one or more of the following benefits:

 

1. Pension Credit (Guaranteed Credit and/or Savings Credit)

 

2. Income Support or Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance with any of the following:

•             Parental responsibility for a child under 16 who ordinarily resides with that person, or a child that is 16 or over but under 20 and in full time education.

•             Child Tax Credit (which must include a disability or severe disability element for a child or young person)

•             Disabled Child Premium

•             Disability Premium (enhanced disability or severe disability element premium)

•             Pensioner Premium (higher pensioner premium or enhanced pensioner premium)

 

3. Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA IR) that includes a work related activity or support component.

 

4. Child Tax Credit with an income of £15,860 or less.

 

5. Working Tax Credit with an income of £15,860 or less and any of the following:

•             parental responsibility for a child under 16 who ordinarily resides with that person. (16 or over but under 20 and in full time education)

•             disabled worker element

•             severe disability element

•             are aged 60 years or over

 

If you are eligible for a grant, then you need to apply. You can apply online at http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Environmentandgreenerliving/Energyandwatersaving/Energygrants/DG_10018661, or apply over the phone by calling 0800 316 2805.

If your application form is succesful, you will then be visited by a Warm Front surveyor, who will measure the energy efficiency of your home. The surveyor will then make recommendations on which energy efficiency improvements are most appropriate for your home. The surveyor may find that the energy efficiency of your home is above the threshold required to benefit from the scheme. If this is the case you will not be provided with any recommendations and you will be left with details of where else you may be able to get energy advice and help. However, if the surveyor finds that the energy efficiency of your home is below the required threshold, you will receive a grant.

USEFUL CONTACT INFO.

Government advice: www.direct.gov.uk

Home Heat Helpline: useful advice service for people struggling with fuel bills. Find this online at http://www.homeheathelpline.org.uk/  or ring their free advice line on 0800 33 66 99.

Citizens’ Advice Bureau: find advice online and search for your local advice centre at http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/ or call 08444 111 444.

Energy Supplier helplines:

British Gas: 0800 072 8629

EDF: 0800 096 9966

EON: 0345 301 4875

RWEnpower: 0800 073 3000

Scottish and Southern Electricity: 0845 026 0658

Scottish Power: 0845 026 0658

This guide was produced by Fuel Poverty Action. Fuel Poverty Action are a group of people fed up with high fuel bills, rising energy company profits, government cuts, negligent landlords and dirty, polluting forms of energy. We believe that everyone has the right to affordable, clean energy and warm, affordable and secure housing. We aim to support community action to defend these rights. Get in touch with us if you’d like to find out more.

Email: fuelpovertyaction@gmail.com

Website: fuelpovertyaction.org.uk

Twitter: @FuelPovAction

Facebook: Fuel Poverty Action

 

 

TEN THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU WERE ENTITLED TO FROM YOUR ENERGY SUPPLIER….

Produced by Fuel Poverty Action

 

1) Get compensation for wasted time

You don’t have to wait in all day for a meter reader or engineer. If your energy firm needs to visit you at home, you are entitled to a two-hour appointment slot – and, should they not turn up, you are entitled to compensation of £22 for a gas or electricity appointment or £44 for both.

 

2) Know the backdate limit

If you have had your bills recalculated because of a mistake by the energy provider, there is a limit to how much they can ask you to pay up. If your usage has been underestimated, the supplier can backdate your bills for only up to 12 months. However, to avoid even a year’s worth of charges, get into the habit of providing regular meter readings to ensure you always pay the right amount.

 

3) Know your rights with price rises

If your energy provider is putting up its prices, it is required to give you 30 days’ notice and cannot implement the increase if you tell it within 15 working days that you’re leaving. And despite what the name suggests, those on fixed-rate tariffs cannot be charged an exit penalty if they switch within this time.

 

4) Payments for power cuts

If consumers lose power, they can claim compensation for power cuts from their energy distributor, rather than the supplier. If your power is out for more than 18 hours you are entitled to £54, and £27 for each additional 12 hours without power. Similarly, those who have four or more power cuts lasting three hours or more in a year should receive £54. To get your refund, contact your energy provider.

 

5) Get extra help

Pensioners and people who are disabled or chronically ill can get extra help through their supplier’s Priority Services Register. This includes free quarterly meter readings, bills in large print or Braille or bills sent to a friend or relative, and a free annual gas safety check for those in receipt of means-tested benefits.

 

6) Know the switching timetable

If you switch energy supplier in order to ensure that you are on the most competitive tariff, it should take no longer than five weeks from start to finish. This includes the two-week cooling-off period and three weeks for the switch. Keep in mind that suppliers have also committed to make switching hassle-free, so if there are any problems it is their responsibility to sort it out, not the customer’s.

 

7) Compensation for being misled

If you have had your energy supply switched to another provider without your permission, you are entitled to compensation of £250. You are also entitled to compensation if you can prove you were deliberately misled by a sales person.

 

8) Know where to get help with debt

If you get into debt, your supplier must agree repayments that are affordable for you. Some suppliers, such as British Gas, EDF and npower, also have trust funds that can help you to settle debts or other essential costs.

9) Find free insulation

Loft insulation can save you an average of £120 on your annual energy bill, but costs as much as £300 to install. Many suppliers will offer free loft and cavity wall insulation with cash incentives. For instance, E.On and EDF are offering incentives of £100 and £200 respectively to those on low incomes who register for free insulation. Contact your supplier to find out, or check out the deals that other suppliers are offering…

 

10) Remember your cooling-off period

Have you switched your tariff only to have a cheaper one launched just days later? Or maybe you felt pressurised or put on the spot by a telesales agent? Not to worry, it is not too late to change your mind. All consumers who switch energy supplier are entitled to a 14-day cooling-off period during which they can switch back without incurring any charges.

 

 

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 Posted by at 18:06
Sep 142013
 

BENEFITS JUSTICE CAMPAIGN 

THREATENED WITH EVICTION ? DON’T PANIC ! DON’T DESPAIR!

 You can only be evicted by a Judge and only if:

“It would be reasonable to leave and .. you will able to suggest to the court that it is not reasonable ..” (Official ‘Notice Seeking Possession’ form that the landlord has to send you) 

LOADS OF DEBTS?  Phone Advice Sheffield for free debt counselling on 205 5055

BEDROOM TAX bill?  COUNCIL TAX bill? CANT PAY?

Apply for the Discretionary Housing Payment and Council Tax Hardship Fund by phoning 273 6983 or visit your local Housing Office. If you are refused you can appeal.

IF YOU ARE SENT A ‘NOTICE SEEKING POSSESSION’

Your landlord (the council or a housing association) must carry out the PRE-COURT ACTION PROTOCOL:

–         check if you are vulnerable because of age, illness, mental or physical condition, communication or language problem

–         check to see if you are getting the Housing Benefit you are entitled to

–         tell you where you can get help and advice

–         consider whether the Equalities Act 2010 applies to you

If they do not do this any case  they take to court could be thrown out

DON’T WAIT: DEFEND YOURSELF NOW!

Write out all the reasons why it would not be reasonable to evict you:

Make a detailed financial statement showing your income and expenditure proving you cant pay the extra rent and/or council tax because of cuts in your benefit. Disability benefits should be excluded.

Send this to your landlord at the address on the letter where they mention possible eviction

Keep copies to show any advisers you speak to.Get legal advice –see below.

                                                       APPLY FOR LEGAL AID

You can get legal aid if you are on low wages or benefits and at risk of losing your home. You will need proof of income e.g. wage slips or benefit letters for IS/JSA/ESA.

Solicitors who do housing cases:

Howells 7 Castle St, Castle Green S3 BLT tel 249 6666

Sheffield Law Centre Waverley House 10 Joiner St, S3 8GW

Norrie Waite & Slater 9-12 East Parade S1 2ET tel 276 6166

Tell them its about Notice Seeking Possession

WARRANTS FOR POSSESSION CAN BE STOPPED ! BAILIFFS CAN BE STOPPED! 

WHEN IS A BEDROOM NOT A BEDROOM?

–     when its too small e.g. less than 70 sq ft of useable space

–         when its used for another purpose eg. storing medical equipment

–         not fit to be used as a bedroom

If you think the council’s Housing Benefits decision to charge you for having ‘too many bedrooms’ is unfair you can still put in a late Appeal due to wholly exceptional circumstances’ – this should be done within 12 months of the original decision. A HB Tribunal in Fife just decided in favour of  a tenant who appealed. Your reasons could be Official Error or Mistake about a Material Fact. You can get help from an advice centre. Tel 205 5055.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE  – GET SUPPORT!

Tell your neighbours, friends and family to get together to form a support group.

Tell us and we will come to court to support you as well. Join our campaign to kick the Bedroom Tax and all the  benefit cuts into the long grass. Contact sheffieldbenefitjustice@gmail.com. Tel 07928766385 or 248 3937 or sheffieldagainstevictions@gmail.com tel 07579203968. Affiliated to the national campaign

Anti Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Federation at antibedroomtax.org.uk. Email benefitjustice@gmail.com

    JOIN OUR CAMPAIGN TO DEFEAT THE BEDROOM TAX AND ALL BENEFIT CUTS

many thanks to Shirley in Shefield for this information

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 Posted by at 17:09
Aug 292013
 

Scope charity says they care about disabled peoples’ rights to access universal services close to their homes as part of their high profile ‘Britain Cares’/ ‘I Care’ campaign.

At the same time Scope is fundraising and asking the state to continue funding their institutionalised and segregated residential and educational services for disabled people.   

Throughout history special residential educational and care institutions have claimed to provide the education and care that disabled people need.  

We are here to dispel the myth of segregated ‘care’ and education services that are provided without our consent.  

do not:

·        Support disabled people’s choice and control over their lives.

·        promote disabled peoples inclusion in their local communities  

·        Support disabled people’s aspirations in education, training and employment.  

·        Support positive relationships between disabled and non-disabled people.  

·        Challenge the unacceptability of disability-related bullying and hate crime.

Scope is one of range of big business disability charities that are funded by the state to provide segregated education and care services at the expense of providing funding for independent living and inclusive education- things that are wanted by disabled people, their organisations and allies to provide proper independent living.

SCOPE supports the full implementation of the UN Convention of Persons with Disabilities that includes disabled peoples’ rights to inclusive education (Article 24) and Independent Living (Article 19).    

If SCOPE truly believes in disabled peoples’ human rights to be included in their local communities then they must stop the patronising caring campaign and be prepared to make fundamental changes to their paternalistic services.   

DISABLED PEOPLE WANT SCOPE ‘TO DARE’ TOO…..

We dare SCOPE to close their special schools and colleges.

We dare SCOPE to develop alternative services that will support disabled peoples access to mainstream education.

We dare SCOPE to support ALLFIE’s Inclusive Education manifesto demands. 

We dare SCOPE to close residential institutions and develop real independent living alternatives for disabled people

We dare SCOPE to stop all segregated services such as day care to enact the full inclusion of disabled people

We dare SCOPE to stop claiming that they work ‘with’ disabled people while they continue to gain service contracts from local authorities when there are active user-led disabled organisations in that area.

It’s not only Scope but all the other disability big charities who claim to support disabled peoples human rights that must be challenged and be prepared to dare to do what disabled people want: a right to be supported, to be educated, and to live in their local communities, free from the possibility of state sanctioned institutionalisation.    

Please join DPAC’s Reclaiming Our Futures campaign….. We Launch the ‘I Dare’ Campaign against Segregation and the Removal of our Rights online campaign on the 3rd Sept

disabled extremist i dare

With thanks to Ania for pic

‘I Dare’ Day 3rd Sept

This is not just about SCOPE but all those other big disability charities Leonard  Cheshire, MENCAP, MIND you name them- they all do it-they all claim to speak in our name. Add to this, this Government and we ‘dare’ to campaign against it all.

Sept 3rd is DPAC ‘s ‘I Dare’ day, a day of online action on twitter and Facebook , with a few surprises too.

We want to see people tweeting and spreading the word across social media against all those that try to take our rights away – that segregate us, that say they speak for us-we want to show them that we dare to fight back.

Flood twitter and Facebook with ‘I dare’ messages –here’s some we made earlier…..

I dare campaign

 

#I dare: speak up and campaign for independent living and to save ILF

#I dare: speak out about the lost of support for disabled people

#I dare: speak out on the increasing suicides and premature deaths from Atos assessments

#I dare: speak out on the increasing number of disabled people left without food because of cuts

#I dare: to tell the truth about what is happening in this country to disabled people under this Government

#I dare: to say that its not ‘care’ disabled people want, but the right to make our own choices

#I dare: to say I want rights not charity

#Britain dares #I dare #We dare

Inclusive Education NOT segregated Education for Disabled children and young people

#I dare to experience mainstream education!

# I dare the Govt to implement the education related recommendations in the EHRC Hate Crime reports – what are they afraid of!

#I dare the government to give disabled people choice of mainstream provision – what have they got to lose other than a few quid invested in segregated ed!

And why not send an ‘I dare’ Picture to SCOPE to let them know what you think http://www.britaincares.co.uk/ show them #Britain Dares, better send us a copy too at: mail@dpac.uk.net

 

 

 

 

 

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Aug 262013
 

Copy and paste below or download from link-your MP can be found at

   http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/ 

Dear MP,

I am writing as one of your constituents to invite you to attend the launch of the UK Disabled People’s Manifesto: Reclaiming Our Futures on 4th September 5 – 6pm in the House of Commons Committee room 9.

Current government policy on disability is in crisis with disabled people collectively feeling under attack from their own government; research shows that disabled people are being disproportionately impacted by the cuts with those with the most complex levels of support need being hit by austerity nineteen times harder than the average person (‘A Fair Society? How the cuts target disabled people’ by Simon Duffy).

With around 1 in 5 of the population being disabled and many more affected by disability as family, friends and carers or simply as citizens who care about social justice, policy and pledges on disability will be a key concern of many voters as we approach the next election.

Disabled people and our organisations have come together across the UK to develop a UK Disabled People’s manifesto setting out the key principles, demands and commitments that are important to Deaf and disabled people and our allies.

I hope you are able to join us on the 4th to explore what is needed to achieve a society where disabled people can live, work and participate as equal citizens. Copies of the manifesto will be available from Inclusion London (www.inclusion.co.uk or contact ellen.clifford@inclusionlondon.co.uk / 02072373181).

Yours sincerely,

Link to download letter in Word Dear MP

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Aug 222013
 

Updated video of the excellent Condemn Love DPAC’s Anti-Atos song -with massive thanks once more to Kevin Robins for all his work on this. See Kevin perform live at Piss on Pity 31st August-part of the DPAC Reclaiming our Futures week of action.

Also watch this space for more news on how to download Condem Love and contribute to DPAC

 

Con-Dem Love!

They’re screwing up my mind , wasting my time
Keeping up the pressure on this heart of mine
They’ve got a real obsession , egos out of hand
Out to make a make a killing from their “welfare” scam.

This is Con-Dem love, Con-Dem love, Con-Dem love ,
Condemn .. … Con-Dem love.

Laid my cards on the table told their GP straight
Depressions biting hard and that’s hard to take
I showed him the scars on my arms where I’d cut
He looked me in the eye and said you’re “working fit”

This is Con-Dem love, Con-Dem love, Con-Dem love
They’re going to show you what they’re made of.

On a circle of emotion on the treadmill again
They took away my social, can’t pay the rent
What can do, so ill, I can’t fight,
I toss and turn I stay awake all night
Darkened thoughts are haunting me
I’m so afraid of this reality

This is Con-Dem love, Con-Dem love, Con-Dem love
They’re going to show you what they’re made of.

Sitting in a corner — with the lights switched off
This no win situation’s lost
Can’t make no plans for you or for me
There’s no reason to go on you see .

This is Con-Dem love, Con-Dem love, Con-Dem love
They’re going to show you what they’re made of.
They’re going to show you what they’re made of

They’re screwing up my mind, wasting my time
Keeping up the pressure on this heart of mine
They’ve got real obsession, egos out of hand
Out to make a make a killing from their “welfare” scam.

They’re screwing up my mind , taking away my life x 3

©  Robins/Clark

If you would like to know more about DPAC or make a contribution to our work please visit our website www.dpac.uk.net or email: mail@dpac.uk.net or twitter: @Dis_PPL_Protest *Special thanks to all including Rob Livingstone and Simon Gomery for some of the excellent artwork contribution on this video.

 

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Jun 302013
 

University of London Union, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HY

This meeting will be a chance for

– Local DPAC groups to share information and experiences and to network

– Find out more about and feed into the Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations Manifesto

– Feed into the planning of this year’s DPAC Week of Action and Freedom Drive

 

The venue is wheelchair accessible and BSL will be provided.

 

To RSVP or for other access enquiries please contact Ellen ellen.clifford@inclusionlondon.co.uk or 07505144371

  

Many thanks to Inclusion London and to University of London Union for their support and facilities for this meeting.

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Jun 032013
 

As more and more people are finding that they go from hours to minutes of support from their local authorities, as ILF users are threatened with being passed into a local authority system that cannot serve the aims of independent living, and as independent living is becoming more of a mirage every day, despite article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons (UNCRPD) – we look at Angela’s story. Angela contacted DPAC several months ago when it was clear that her local authority were carrying out practices that appeared to be against protocol -legal representation was found. However, this could not stop the real threats to the reduction of Angela’s support or to her right to independent living:

Angela’s Story
I’m 28 years old – but if they take away my social care it’ll be the end of my life.

I’m disabled but I want to enjoy life the way any other young woman can.  I have two volunteer jobs.

 Now they’re threatening to take this support away – leaving me isolated at home, forcing me to go to bed at 9.30 every night, not even able to go to the toilet.

I did a degree in psychology and criminal behaviour. It was interesting but nothing like CSI! During one of the seminars, I met a representative from Headway, the spinal brain injury charity and I’ve been volunteering there for the last two and a half years. I won Luton’s Volunteer of the Year Award last year.

I’m constantly looking for paid work. I don’t sit around watching TV, I never have, I don’t believe in that. I would love to get a paid job. I have tried. I’ve been for interviews for customer services and as a support worker. Even though we are supposed to have equal opportunities, people still look at my wheelchair.

I was hit by a car when I was two. I have a spinal brain injury which has affected my left side. I can’t walk because I have no balance, so I use an electric chair.

When I turned 18, Social Services helped me find a place to live and be independent. Social care gave me total freedom to get up, go to bed, go to the toilet and settle into my new home and life. With decent social care I’ve been able to do whatever I want. I can go out and enjoy life the way any other young woman can. I have two volunteer jobs, and I can go shopping and see my friends.

Suddenly, out of the blue recently they’ve tried to cut my care from 20 hours a day down to three. I was shocked, upset and angry. I tried to negotiate with the woman at the Council and was told “life’s not perfect for anyone”.  I don’t expect it to be perfect – I want to have a life like any young woman.

I’d have no freedom. I’d have to be in bed at 9.30pm and get up at 7.30am, with no way to go to the toilet in the night either. My carer wouldn’t have time to cook me fresh food (microwaved horsemeat lasagne here I come!).

Imagine living this life for the next 50 years. If I was stuck with that forever, I would give up and lose my passion for living. I would find a way to end my life.

What I’m asking for isn’t unreasonable. I just want flexibility and freedom and a little support. I’m not asking for the world. But I do want dignity and I do want freedom. If I wasn’t in this wheelchair I would have those things, so why shouldn’t I.

What’s worse is it isn’t just me. It isn’t just about reducing how much support people get. They’re taking away all support for some disabled people. Every disabled person who needs support should get it – this is about the basic dignity and freedom to live our lives.

The government has what they call a spending review coming up – it’s when George Osborne decides: How will he spend our money? What do we care about as a country?

Will you sign the petition I’ve started and send George Osborne a message loud and clear that we want adequate support for disabled people to live independently?    They spent more than a billion pounds just on the Olympics village where the athletes stayed last year, surely they can put at least that much into social support for us? We only have a few weeks!
Angela Murray

Petition: http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/george-osborne-save-social-care-let-me-and-all-disabled-people-live-with-freedom-and-dignity

Please sign the petition and write to us at mail@dpac.uk.net with your stories. We are also looking for stories from people who were stopped from applying for Independent Living Fund support in 2010 when the Coalition closed it to new applicants.

This is not just about ‘care’ it is about independent living, the right to independent living and support for all. It is about the UK breaking its own signed commitment to the UNCRPD. It is about the impact on real lives like Angela’s. It is fundamentally wrong!

DPAC is continually gathering evidence of the impacts of the cuts, their effects on independent living and quality of life for disabled people and those with long term health issues. Unlike some other organisations we are keen to bring this Government to task through every route we can, including the legal system.

 

 

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May 162013
 

This Code of practice for transition reviews of those in receipt of ILF funding has been drawn up by ILF, ADASS and LGA.  It seems fairly meaningless so there is no surprise there.

Transfer Review Programme Code of practice
Purpose of the code of practice
Following engagement with local authorities in England and disabled people and their organisations, the Independent Living Fund (ILF), the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), and the Local Government Association (LGA) have co-produced this code in order to promote best practice to support the effective transfer of ILF users to sole local authority support from April 2015.
The code aims to maximise the success of the transfer review programme and enhance the customer journey throughout transition by providing key principles to underpin partnership working.
Key principles
1. Commitment to personalisation, inclusion, and choice and control
Throughout the process all parties will seek to demonstrate a commitment to the underlying principles of personalisation. There will be a high level commitment to maintaining choice and control, as well as maintaining users’ independent living outcomes.
All parties will ensure that users and their representatives are fully involved in transitional planning, and will take account of the views and requirements of users and their families/representatives in the preparation and implementation of the transfer of support.
2. Working in partnership
It is essential that the ILF and local authorities collaborate and work in partnership throughout the transfer programme to ensure that the necessary plans and structures are in place to fully support users up to and beyond 2015.
All parties will be committed to working towards and meeting relevant deadlines so as to guarantee that the programme is fully completed by 31 March 2015.
2
3. Open communication
Throughout the programme there needs to be continuous and open communication, providing relevant information that is shared in a timely manner. All parties should ensure that users are kept informed of plans that impact on their future. It is important that users have a clear awareness and understanding of what the transfer will mean for them.
4. Designated support
In order to facilitate the management of the programme, the ILF and local authorities will have place a named point of contact to manage relations between the ILF and each local authority, for both operational and corporate liaison. There should be a clear delineation of responsibility and accountability in running the programme both within the ILF and with local authorities.
5. Commitment to joint reviews
To aid the transfer process the ILF and local authorities will collaborate and participate in the joint transfer review programme, using a person centred assessment to identify how independent living outcomes can continue to be met.
In addition the programme will need to identify and inform users of what they will need to do prior to April 2015 to ensure that their eligible support continues to be met.
To aid in this process the ILF will seek consent prior to the initiation of the transfer review programme from all group 1 users to pass on information to local authorities. This will facilitate the collaboration between the ILF and local authorities and enable full participation in the programme by local authorities.
6. Advice and advocacy
Local authorities should where possible ensure that there is sufficient provision of, and clear signposting towards, independent advocacy and support. The ILF and local authorities will work together to share information on support available for users in order to effectively signpost people to this.
7. Personal budgets
The transfer to local authorities will be an opportunity to promote the take up of personal budgets. ILF users currently receive cash payments directly from the fund to pay for their support and the expectation is that they will continue to be able to exercise choice and control over how their care is provided. Users should be informed of what options and support are available locally.
3
8. Provision from April 2015
Transitional arrangements need to be in place from 1 April 2015 which enable users to plan for and manage any change in their support. The arrangement of a period of phased transition being provided that supports the protection of independent living outcomes is one of the issues for consideration during this transition period.
We believe that it is essential that before the end of the transfer programme all ILF users and their representatives have a clear understanding of how their eligible support needs will be met immediately following the transfer.
Any change to support arrangements made by the local authority should take into account the impact upon care providers making certain that the user is able to meet legal and contractual obligations where provision is reduced or replaced. In particular this includes redundancy payments and notice periods.
9. Data sharing
Any transfer of information needs to ensure that no person who has expressed a wish to receive support after April 2015 is unaccounted for.
The ILF will need to monitor the transfer of information to the relevant authorities. When information is transferred to local authorities there will need to be in place a mechanism to acknowledge the receipt of this information. All parties will ensure that appropriate measures are in place to transfer and protect sensitive information in compliance with data protection legislation.
10.Monitoring and evaluation
The ILF and local authorities will work in conjunction to ensure that there is a system in place to evaluate the effectiveness and progress of the programme. Any evaluation will naturally engage the opinions of users and their representatives.
Each party will have in place a clear process for managing complaints about decisions taken as a result of reviews. In addition the ILF and Local authorities should work in conjunction to resolve any concerns raised and provide a rapid resolution of any issues that arise.
7 May 2013

We also have this equally meaningless response to an FOI request for further information about what funding will be available. To summarise there is NO information which seems to be available to inform people what will happen.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/159619/response/390200/attach/html/2/FOI%202003.response.pdf.html

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 Posted by at 18:39
May 022013
 

On 1st May the local Times (Hendon and Finchley, Barnet and Potters Bar, Edgeware and Mill Hill) newspaper published a Headline on the Barnet case taken by Maria Nash against the Capita contract for the privatisation of Barnet local authority services.  It said:

“One Barnet campaigner Maria Nash handed more taxpayer funding to continue High Court fight”

 This was a scandalous and pejorative statement written by the chief reporter Chris Hewitt. Even the local Times may be Tory Blue , but such headlines are surely an insult to balanced reporting everywhere. Nowhere did this piece state what the problems with the outsourcing would be, nowhere did it state the facts of the issue, or the problems outsourcing of council services had brought previously. Instead preferring to deal with sensationalist vitriol on an exercise of democracy, in an era where democracy is harder and harder to find. The piece went on to say:

‘A campaigner fighting Barnet Council’s multi-million pound outsourcing scheme has been granted more taxpayer funding to continue her legal battle…Following a three-day hearing in March, which cost the taxpayer more than £500,000…’

The piece can be seen in full at the link below

http://www.times-series.co.uk/news/10392566.One_Barnet_campaigner_handed_more_taxpayer_funding/?ref=twtrec

 What this is really about

Well this could be about tax payers money in bailing out yet another private company, should the worst happen and Capita do take over services. It will leave the people of Barnet in a worse position than now with social care provision, cut backs and based on Capita’s previous form : increasing debts. DPAC applauds Maria Nash and Barnet Alliance for Public Services (BAPS).  As we have previously  said:

“DPAC fully supports the campaign to oppose the privatisation of public services in Barnet.

What is happening in Barnet is important to everyone because Barnet is only just the beginning and if this is allowed to happen in one area it could happen anywhere.

Disabled people have fought long and hard for public sector duties to promote our rights, and privatisation will cynically evade responsibilities towards equality and inclusion.

Where private companies are squeezing profit out of already under funded services the result can only be sub standard services. For disabled people who rely on services that means people’s lives on the line.

Disabled people have seen the care that private companies have for us from our experiences with the Work Capability Assessment where they compete for contracts to profit out of pushing disabled people into poverty.

In Banstead last week a disabled older woman unable to leave her bed died after her outsourced care agency was shut down and she was left completely without the support her life depended on.

Selling Barnet public services to Capita will mean more tragic stories and less accountability. It must be opposed.

We ask you to complain to the writer of the piece and to the newspaper itself.

Chief reporter
Chris Hewett
07824 530136
chewett@london.newsquest.co.uk @TimesChewit1987

Group editor
Martin Buhagiar
mbuhagiar@london.newsquest.co.uk @TimesIndyEditor

Letters to the Editor

Email:

timesletters@london.newsquest.co.uk

Letters should be as short as possible and will be considered for publication only if accompanied by your name and address (anonymity can be requested). Letters may appear in print and online, where Newsquest’s internet policy applies.

May be we could send Chris and co some real facts on Barnet too- see the brilliant video below

 http://dpac.uk.net/2013/02/urgent-stop-captia-10-years-plus-contract-for-council-services-in-barnet/

Read BAPs press release

http://dpac.uk.net/2013/04/one-barnet-judicial-review-the-fight-against-undemocratic-outsourcing-goes-on/

Or read what Phillip Rackham says

http://dpac.uk.net/2013/03/barnet-springif-you-dont-fight-back-you-dont-get-anywhere-interview-with-philip-rackham/

Finally please support BAPs at

http://barnetalliance.org/

 

 

 

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May 012013
 

The latest Work Capability Assessment figures released by the DWP yesterday (30th May 2013) attracted little of the usual fanfare which usually sounds as they trumpet the results. Perhaps they’re getting nervous with an increasing number of rebuttals over their use of statistics appearing in the press of late?

Or perhaps on this occasion they simply didn’t have too much which they wanted to shout about?

I think it’s a mixture of both.

Amongst other things the DWP’s latest Quarterly figure release’ for June – August 2012 reveals:

52% of new Employment & Support Allowance were entitled to the allowance after assessment

73% of claimants having undergone conversion from their incapacity benefit claims had qualified for Employment & Support Allowance with 38% ending up in the Work Related Activity group and 35% in the Support Group.

It’s all a far cry from the days when not so longer ago the media fuelled almost certainly by the DWP were saying 75% of claimants were skivers.

Closed claims

After being heavily criticised in a number of media articles over drawing unsubstantiated conclusions as to why 878,300 (A figure which in itself was wrong) claimants had closed their claims before being assessed, the DWP appears to mitigate its incorrect assumptions by drawing a reference to a further report ‘Unsuccessful Employment and Support Allowance claims – qualitative research. I’d encourage those following the reassessment programme to give it a close read, not least because it was prepared some time ago back in 2011 and relates to findings drawn from a survey across only 952 individuals and a further sample of just 60 claimants. It’s a meagre number of claimants upon which to draw any conclusions when looking at the many thousands who have, for a variety of unknown reasons, closed their claims prior to being assessed.

The report concludes

“An important reason why ESA claims in this sample were withdrawn or closed before they were fully assessed
was because the person recovered and either returned to work, or claimed a benefit more appropriate to their
situation”

Before accepting the conclusion, I’d look at the report and the sample size of those surveyed.

What’s missing?


A complete reference to any of the results of the claimants who have been assessed following their initial assessment is missing from the report although the information is to be found in the tables.  These are often omitted but should be included.  If you look at the accompanying tables which the report if linked to you you will see that there is a total case load of no less than 958,300 from which 340,300 claimants were placed in the Work Related Activity Group since October 2008, far fewer are found fit for work in the group with 215,100 from October 2008 to August 2012.  Both of these groups will have a propensity to appeal, some claimants may for instance at the initial assessment have been placed in the Support Group but after being assessed again may be put in the Work Related Activity Group – creating a number who will appeal.

Of these assessed in the ‘reassessed following initial assessment’ group, 78% were entitled to ESA in June, 79% in July and 79% in August 2012 – a sizeable increase when compared with the 73% cumulative total relating to the entire period from October 2008 to August 2012.  I fail to understand why so little attention is drawn to a cohort of close to a million claimants who have been ‘repeat’ assessed in this group since the programme started .

The quarterly comparison 

When comparing the overall figures for all three cohorts (new claims, claims reassessed following initial claim and ib/ESA conversions) between May 2012 and August 2012

To date total


Increase/decrease on figure to May 2012 

Per month average over quarter

Numbers assessed WCA

3,053,200

367,300

122,433

Work Related
Activity Group placements

1,028,800

134,200

44,733

Support Group
placements

715,500

139,200

46,400

Fit for work findings

1,308,700

93,500

31,167

Closed claims before assessment

1,074,200

91,800

30,600

Cases still in progress

193,200

26,000

8,667

Overall case load

4,320,600

485,100

161,700

Case load

What these figures, taken across ALL claimants involved in the assessment programme, show is that the DWP ‘case load’ increased by 485,100 over the period from June 2012 to August 2012.  The case load isn’t the number of claimants, it is the number of claim interventions made by DWP officials as part of their case load, it can be divided in to cases where an outcome has been recorded in which case the claimant will be placed in the Support Group, Work Related Activity Group or found ‘Fit for Work’.

Of the cases which have not been assessed, the claimant’s case can ‘still be in progress’ (this is not the same as the assessment phase data) or could be closed without assessment.

With usual thanks to the brilliant Nick of My Legal twitter @Mylegalforum

For a detailed breakdown up to August 2012 see Nick’s detailed work at

http://ilegal.org.uk/thread/7140/page/5/dwps-esa-reassessment-programme-chaos



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Apr 212013
 

this is taken from kittyjoneswordpress.com and we hope it will be useful for people to know about.

Courageous Scottish nurse Joyce Drummond, who made a heartfelt apology to Atos assessment victims, has submitted evidence to the Scottish Parliament Select Committee on Welfare Reform.
I have a correspondence with Joyce, who was the subject of this article: www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/nurse-makes-heartfelt-apology-after-1340838

Joyce has submitted evidence to the Scottish Parliament Select Committee on Welfare reform, which she forwarded to me this morning. I have edited where needed, and added to the text to make it easier to read. I’ve included the contents from Joyce’s notes in full.

I knew nothing about Atos when I joined, and left as soon as I realised that there was no way to fight from the inside.
I carried out Incapacity Benefit assessments, these were the forerunner to ESA assessments. I stated at my interview for the job that I believed in social inclusion and social justice.

I went for 4 weeks training in England. The training did not prepare me for what I was expected to do in real life.

The forms that are completed prior to assessment, I have recently found out, are opened by Royal Mail Staff. They are then sent for “scrutiny” where nurses decide whether or not a face to face assessment is required. I was not involved in this and do not know what criteria are used.

It is made clear throughout training and working that we are not nurses- we are disability analysts. Also, we do not carry out ‘medical assessments’ – we carry out ‘functional assessments’. We did not even need a diagnosis to carry out assessments. I had reservations around consent, as we were expected to assess patients – sorry, we didn’t have patients, we had ‘claimants’- who appeared to be under the influence of alcohol or other substances.

We were also consistently told that we did not make benefit decisions. The final decision was made by a DWP decision maker with no medical qualification. If our assessment was overturned at appeal we never knew about it. There was no accountability for assessments overruled.
Assessment starts on the day of your appointment with the HCP reading the form you complete when you applied for benefit. Remember that every single question you are asked is designed to justify ending your claim for ESA and passing you as “fit for work”. That is what Atos are contracted to do by the Government. This is not a genuine assessment, but rather, an opportunity for the DWP to take away your financial support, which you are entitled to.Things that are noted are :-

Did you complete the form yourself
Is the handwriting legible
Are the contents coherent.

These observations are already used in assessing your hand function, your cognitive state and concentration. Next under observation:-
Do the things you have written add up.
Does your medication support your diagnosis.
What tests you have had to confirm diagnosis. For example a diagnosis of sciatica is not accepted unless diagnosed by MRI scan.
Do you have supporting medical evidence from GP or consultants. If you do, it shows that you are able to organise getting this information.

This is also a hidden cost to the NHS. I believe that if ATOS request information there is a charge levied by GP’s. However claimants are expected to source medical evidence themselves. It uses valuable NHS time for medical staff to write supporting statements.
There were no hidden cameras, at least in Glasgow, to watch people arriving for assessment or sitting in waiting room. This may not be true in other areas.

When the HCP has read your form they input some data into the computer system. The assessment properly begins when they call your name in the waiting room. At this point they assess:-
Did you hear your name being called
Did you rise from your chair unaided, did the chair have arms or not
Were you accompanied – this addresses you’re ability to go out alone.
Were you reading a paper while waiting- looks at your concentration.
Did you walk to the assessment room unaided, did you use aids correctly. Did you navigate any obstacles safely- assessing sight.
The HCP will shake your hand when inroducing herself- are you trembling, sweating- signs of anxiety. Again note the constant scrutiny. The HCP will often ask on way to waiting room:-

How long you’ve been waiting- assessing ability to sit- both physically, and looking at your mental state.
How did you get here today- ability to drive, use public transport.
Assessment begins by listing medical conditions/complaints. For each complaint you will be asked:-

How long have you had it, have you seen a specialist
Have you had any tests, what treatments have you had
What’s your current treatment. Have you had any other specialist input eg. physiotherapy, CPN.

The HCP will use lack of specialist input/ hospital admissions to justify assessing your condition as less severe. Medications will be listed and it will be noted if they prescribed or bought. Dates will be checked on boxes to assess compliance with dosage and treatment regime. Any allergies or side-effects should be noted.
A brief note is made of how you feel each condition affects your life
A brief social history will be taken – who you live with, if have you stairs in your house or outside to your house.
Employment history taken – asking when you last worked, what you worked as, reason for leaving employment.
Typical Day – this is the part of the assessment where how you function on a day to day basis is used to justify the HCP decisions. Anything you say here is where you are most likely to fail your assessment. Along side this, the HCP records their observations.
Starting with your sleep pattern, questions are asked around your ability to function.

Lower limb problems- ability to mobilise to shops, around the house, drive, use public transport, dress, shower.
Upper limb- ability to wash, dress, cook, shop, complete ESA form
Vision- did you manage to navigate safely to assessment room.
Hearing- did you hear your name being called in waiting room.
Speech- could the HCP understand you at assessment.
Continence- do you describe incontinence NOT CONTROLLED by pads, medication. Do you mention it’s effects on your life when describing your typical day.
Consciousness- Do you suffer seizures- with loss of continence, possible injury, witnessed, or uncontrolled diabetes.
HCP observations include- how far did you walk to examination room, did you remove your coat independently, did you handle medications without difficulty, did you bend to pick up handbag.
Formal examination consists of simple movements to assess limited function.Things HCP also looks out for:-

Are you well presented, hair done, make-up, eyebrows waxed.
Do you have any pets – this can be linked with ability to bend to feed and walk.
Do you look after someone else – parent or carer- if you do this will be taken as evidence of functioning
Any training, voluntary work, socialising will be used as evidence of functioning.

This is not a comprehensive list, but gives you an idea of how seemingly innocent questions are used to justify HCP decisions.
Mental Health
Learning tasks- Can you use phone, computer, washing machine.
Hazards- Can you safely make tea, if claiming accidents- must have had emergency services eg fire service. Near miss accidents do not count.

Personal Actions
Can you wash, dress, gather evidence for assessment
Manage bills.

Observations made by HCP – appearance and presentation
Coping with assessment interview, abnormal thoughts, hallucinations, confusion.
Coping with change – ability to attend assessment, attend GP or hospital appointments, shopping and socialising.

More HCP observations:-
Appearance, eye contact, rapport, any signs/symptoms that are abnormal mood/thoughts/perceptions. Suicidal thoughts.
Coping with social engagement/appropriateness of behaviour – any inappropriate behaviour must have involved police
Ability to attend assessment, engage with assessor, behave appropriately.
Again this is not an exhaustive list, merely examples.
There are some “special cases”. Off the top of my head, exemptions from assessment include – terminal illness, intravenous chemotherapy treatment and danger to self or others if found fit to work (Regulation 29.)

At present to qualify for ESA you need to score 15 points. This can be a combination of scores from physical and mental health descriptors.
To qualify for the support group you must score 15 points in one section.
As long as you are claiming income – based ESA then your award can be renewed at each assessment, if you gain 15 points.

Contribution ESA lasts for 1 year only, unless you are in the support group. After 1 year in the support group, you may only get income based ESA if your household income is below a certain threshold. It makes no difference how long you have previously paid National Insurance.

For clarity, as far as I know in the real world, doctors carry out medical assessments, nurses carry out nursing assessments and physios carry out physiotherapy assessments. In the world of Atos, each of these separate professions are employed as disability analysts, carrying out functional assessments.
Nurses are employable for these posts if they have been qualified for at least 3 years, are registered to practice with the NMC, and have basic computer skills.
My interview consisted of-
Face to face interview with medical director and nurse team leader.
A written paper assessing a scenario, in my case someone with back pain
A 10 minute basic computer test.
In order to be approved as disability analyst I had to complete 4 weeks Atos disability training, reach a certain standard of assessment reports- as decided by audit of all cases seen (don’t know what criteria was) and finally approval to carry out WCA assessments from the Secretary for Work and Pensions.
In my opinion the money given to Atos and spent on tribunals should be given to NHS GPs. They are best placed to make assessments regarding patients work capability. They have access to all medical reports, past history, specialist input and know their patients. My concern would be what criteria the DWP would impose on GPs risking the doctor/patient relationship. GPs already assess patients for “fit notes”, which have to be submitted to DWP during assessment phase of ESA.

While I worked at Atos, sessional medical staff were being paid £40 per assessment, as far as I am aware. I have no idea of wages of permanent medical staff. Nurses were on a salary, which based on 10 assessments a day (Atos target) equalled around £10 per assessment. These are approximate figures but may give a clue as to why Atos are employing nurses rather than doctors.

Further information:-

Special exemptions from the 15 points criteria: Regulations 29 and 35.

Questions you may be asked at assessment: dwpexamination forum

How to deal with Benefits medical examinations: A Useful Guide to Benefit Claimants when up against ATOS Doctors

More support and helpful advice here: How to deal with Benefits medical examinations

Previous related article: After Atos

List of conditions judged suitable for assessment by neuro trained nurses/any health care profession: –
Prolapsed intervertebral disc
Lumbar nerve root compression
Sciatica
Slipped disc
Lumbar spondylosis
Lumbar spondylolisthesis
Lumbar spondylolysis
Cauda equina syndrome
Spinal stenosis
Peripheral neuropathy
Neuropathy
Drop foot
Meralgia paraesthetica
Cervical spondylosis
Cervical nerve root compression
Cervicalgia
Nerve entrapment syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Trapped nerve
Paraesthesia
Tingling
Numbness
Brachial plexus injury
Polyneuropathy
Dizziness
Vertigo
Essential Tremor
VWF
Alzheimer’s

List of conditions judged by the DWP and Atos Healthcare as suitable only for assessment by doctors:-
Stroke
Head injury with neuro sequelae
Brain haemorrhage
Sub Arachnoid Haemorrhage
Brain tumour
Acoustic Neuroma
Multiple Sclerosis
Motor Neurone Disease
Parkinson’s disease
TIAs
Bulbar Palsy
Myasthenia Gravis
Muscular Dystrophy
Guillain-Barre Syndrome
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Syringomyelia
Neurofibromatosis
Spina bifida
Polio
Fits (secondary to brain tumour)
Learning difficulties (with physical problems)
Nystagmus
Myelitis
Bells Palsy
Trigeminal Neuralgia
Paraplegia
Quadriplegia
Huntington’s Chorea
Huntington’s Disease

 

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 Posted by at 17:24
Apr 092013
 

Please be aware that ILF users in Northern Ireland have set up their own group to ensure that user input is included in the decision making process.  The independent NI ILF user group have already begun to liaise with local politicians and Health Trusts/Social Care Board and will be holding user consultations during May 2013 to develop some proposed solutions regarding ILF in Northern Ireland.

If you would like to get involved or just give your input and be kept up to date on the latest developments please to contact them on : ilf_users_ni@hotmail.co.uk “.

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Mar 272013
 

phillipDisabled activists are at the forefront of the campaign in Barnet to stop the sell off of public services to private companies. Barnet Alliance for Public Services (BAPS) brings together a wide section of the community to fight privatisation. Last week Maria Nash was in the high court taking a legal challenge against Barnet Council’s failure to adequately consult or pay due regard to the impact of outsourcing Council services to Capita for a period of ten years. On Saturday 20th March disabled campaigners led the ‘Barnet Spring’ march (ironically through a blizzard of snow).

Philip Rackham, Chair of Barnet Centre for Independent Living, is a key member of the campaign and sat through the three day court hearing in support of Maria.

Why do think campaigning is important?

I’m a fighter. I was abused mentally, emotionally, physically by my Mum. She told me she wished I’d never been born. I used to think am I worth it? But I know I am now. I got away from my Mum and I’ve had my own flat for eleven years. I was married for five years to Suzy. When we got together her Mum didn’t think I could look after her but I did. I used to carry her up the steps to her flat. She died and I miss her like anything. But I keep fighting.

Why did you get involved with BAPS?

I’ve lived in Barnet all my life. Cuts put disabled people down. They’re trying to cut my care package. That’s not right. I sat through the court case. It was difficult, I found it heavy. I have learning difficulties see? But you have to do it. If you don’t fight back, you don’t get anywhere.

Tell us something about yourself

I’m a joker. How many seconds in a year? Twelve: second of January, second of February, second of March…

 

To find out more about BAPS go to:

www.barnetalliance.org

Or follow the campaign on twitter: @barnetalliance

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Feb 162013
 

Not all local authorities bothered to respond to the consultation over the future of the Independent Living Fund but here are links to the responses of most of those who did reply

 

Local authority responses to ILF consultation

 

Aberdeenshire

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134705/response/332139/attach/html/2/Aberdeenshire%20Council%20Response%20to%20ILF%20Consultation%20October%202012.doc.html

 

Anglesey, Conwy,Flintshire & Wrexham Joint response http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134567/response/326222/attach/html/2/ILF%20Response%20North%20Wales%20LA%20s%20Oct%202012.doc.html

 

Argyll & Bute  http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134707/response/324073/attach/html/3/Argyll%20and%20Bute%20Council%20Response%20ILF%20Final%202012.doc.html

 

Barking & Dagenham http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133081/response/330461/attach/html/3/ILF%20Consultation%20Response.docx.html

 

Barnsley http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134244/response/327015/attach/3/img%20X31113918%200001.pdf

 

Birmingham http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133990/response/331269/attach/html/3/FOI%207763%20reply.pdf.html

 

Blaenau Gwent http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_149#incoming-325185

 

Brighton & Hove http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133594/response/331709/attach/html/3/RESPONSE%20TO%20ILF%20REVIEW.DOC.doc.html

 

Bournemouth http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133767/response/329417/attach/html/3/ILF%20response.docx.html

 

Buckinghamshire http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/137363/response/331429/attach/html/3/FINAL%20Clarification%20letter%2013.11.12.pdf.html

 

Bury http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_68#incoming-321716

 

Caerphilly http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134557/response/328904/attach/html/4/03.CCBC%20response%20to%20consultation.doc.html

 

Carmarthenshire

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134564/response/332233/attach/html/2/Consultation%20on%20the%20Closure%20of%20the%20ILF%20in%202015.doc.html

 

Cheshire East http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133425/response/330439/attach/html/2/20121022ResToBrady.doc.html

 

Cheshire West & Chester http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133426/response/329618/attach/html/2/ILFCONSULTATION.docx.html

 

Croydon http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133178/response/331452/attach/html/4/Response%20F%20CRT%202012%202205.doc.html

 

Coventry http://moderngov.coventry.gov.uk/documents/s4779/Responses%20to%20Government%20Consultations.pdf

 

Cornwall http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133772/response/328476/attach/html/3/IAR%20245927%20FOI%20EIR%20Response%20Template%20NO%20Exemptions%20Applied.doc.html

 

Cumbria http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133561/response/326948/attach/html/3/2012%2010%2031%20Disclosure.doc.html

 

Denbighshire http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134568/response/324469/attach/html/2/Response.pdf.html

 

Devon http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133959/response/324802/attach/html/3/Information%20Request%2003195.pdf.html

 

Doncaster

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134249/response/333090/attach/html/2/FOI%20Response%20Data%20Taylforth%2050159.doc.html

 

Dorset http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133961/response/323544/attach/html/2/ILF%20draft%20consultation.pdf.html

 

Dudley

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133994/response/323677/attach/html/4/ILF%20Consultation%2010.10.12.doc.html

 

Dumfries & Galloway

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134709/response/332905/attach/3/ResponseConsutationProposedClosureOfILF.pdf

 

Durham http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133401/response/322132/attach/html/4/ILF%20consultation.pdf.html

 

Ealing http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133179/response/329882/attach/html/4/17102012%20ADASS%20Agenda%20Item%203%20ILF.Appx%201.pdf.html

 

East Dunbartonshire http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134712/response/324687/attach/html/2/ILF%20FINAL%20RESPONSE%20SEP%2024TH%202012.doc.html

 

 

East Riding of Yorkshire http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134251/response/333084/attach/html/3/EEF90461233811E2A672B51576002175.doc.html

 

East Renfrewshire

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134714/response/332040/attach/html/3/East%20Renfrewshire%20CHCP%20Response%20to%20ILF%20Consultation%20September%202012.doc.html

 

East Sussex http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133597/response/333253/attach/html/3/1751%20ILF%20letter%20final%201.pdf.html

 

Edinburgh http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134721/response/332950/attach/html/3/CEC%20response%20on%20Future%20of%20ILF%2010%2010%2012.pdf.html

 

Essex http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133065/response/329347/attach/html/3/ASC%20IG%20025700%20Final%20Response%20Appendix%201.pdf.html

 

Falkirk http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134723/response/332393/attach/html/5/FC%20Response%20to%20ILF%20Consultation%20October%202012.doc.html

 

Flintshire http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134569/response/325743/attach/html/3/FCC%20ILF%20Consultation%20Oct%202012.doc.html

 

Gateshead http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_55#incoming-324658

 

Glasgow http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134725/response/331701/attach/html/3/Brady%20D131112L%20FOI%205.doc.htmlhttp://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134725/response/331701/attach/html/3/Brady%20D131112L%20FOI%205.doc.html

 

Hammersmith & Fulham http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133211/response/326346/attach/html/3/Response%20to%20consultation.doc.html

 

Hampshire http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133743/response/333637/attach/3/FOI%205422%20Taylforth%20Formal%20Response%202012%2011%2020%20HF000003887806.pdf

 

Halton Borough Council http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_72#incoming-323442

 

Hartlepool http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_56#incoming-327676

 

Havering

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133215/response/326747/attach/html/3/Response%20from%20Social%20Care%20Learning.pdf.html

 

Hertfordshire http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133067/response/321758/attach/html/6/Herts%20ILF%20final%20response%201%2010%2012%202.pdf.html

 

 

Hounslow http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133217/response/322483/attach/html/4/Submitted%20LBH%20response%2010%2010%2012.pdf.html

 

Hull http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_139

 

Inverclyde http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134727/response/324516/attach/html/3/Consultation%20Response.doc.html

 

Islington http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133218/response/324586/attach/html/3/ILFConsultationResponse%20IslingtonOct2012.pdf.html

 

Kensington & Chelsea http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_39#incoming-330104

 

Kent http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133745/response/322389/attach/html/3/The%20future%20of%20the%20ILF%20consultation%20response%20Oct%202012.pdf.html

 

Kirkless http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_140#incoming-331317

 

Lancashire (

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/131103/response/320019/attach/html/3/ILF%20Public%20Consultation%20LCC%20Response.docx.html

 

Leeds

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134264/response/329797/attach/html/2/8782%20reply%202nd%20response.pdf.html

 

Leicestershire http://www.leicsfoi.org.uk/disclosureLogMonth.asp?year_value=2012&month_value=10#rn3803

 

Manchester http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133567/response/331151/attach/html/2/ASC8Z6BR5%20ILF%20respnse.doc.html

 

Medway http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_94#incoming-332110

 

Middlesbrough  http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133406/response/323469/attach/html/4/TAYLFORTH%20P%202923.3%20ATT.doc.html

 

Midlothian http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134728/response/333568/attach/html/3/F4276%20MID%20ILF%20response.doc.html

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_201

 

Milton Keynes http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_95#incoming-324054

 

Moray http://www.moray.gov.uk/downloads/file83404.pdf

 

Newcastle http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133408/response/325991/attach/html/4/Final%20ILF%20consultation%20response%20Oct%202012.pdf.html

 

 

North Ayrshire http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134730/response/334293/attach/html/2/10052%2012%20Consultation%20Response%20ILF.doc.html

 

North Tyneside Council http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133409/response/322730/attach/html/4/ILF%20response.docx.html

 

North Yorkshire http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_144#incoming-323851

 

Nottinghamshire  http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/132919/response/324055/attach/html/2/ILF%20consultation%20questions%20responses%20NottsCC.doc.html

 

Oldham http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_76#incoming-322916

 

Oxfordshire

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_96#incoming-322427

 

Pembrokeshire http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134589/response/330598/attach/html/4/3286%20Brady%20Info.doc.html

 

Poole http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133974/response/329013/attach/html/6/FOI%20615%20reply.pdf.html

 

Portsmouth http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_97#incoming-327297

 

Powys http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_163#incoming-327163

 

 

Renfrewshire http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134984/response/334480/attach/html/3/Taylforth%20Paul%20ILF%20Response%20FOI%20Response.pdf.html

 

Rhondda http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134591/response/334118/attach/html/2/RCT%20ILF%20Consulatation%20Response.doc.html

 

Rochdale http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133572/response/332520/attach/html/3/TF%20Response.doc.html

 

Richmond upon Thames http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133263/response/326232/attach/html/3/13604%201.pdf.html

 

Rotherham http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_145#incoming-331784

 

Salford http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133573/response/333490/attach/html/2/Consultation%20document.docx.pdf.html

 

Sefton

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_79#incoming-328385

 

Solihull http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134005/response/323740/attach/html/3/ILF%20Consultation%20Response%20oct12.doc.html

 

Somerset

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/143759/response/355033/attach/html/3/Consultation%20July12%20Draft2.doc.html

 

 

Southend

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_17#incoming-326146

 

South Lanarkshire

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134988/response/327150/attach/html/3/20121101111552374.pdf.html

 

Stockport

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133580/response/323988/attach/html/2/ILF%20consultation%20answers%20Oct%2012.docx.html

 

Stockton on Tees

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133415/response/327789/attach/html/4/SBC0066.pdf.html

 

Stoke on Trent

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134013/response/333078/attach/html/3/Consultation%20Response.pdf.html

 

St Helens

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133576/response/327425/attach/2/ILF%20Consultation%20Response.pdf

 

Swansea

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134592/response/332296/attach/html/4/SH1.749%20Consultation%20Response.doc.html

 

Vale of Glamorgan

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_167#incoming-323698

 

Wakefield

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134305/response/332276/attach/html/2/ILF%20Consultaion%20q%20s%20Sept%2012%20FOI%204603.docx.html

 

Warwickshire

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134233/response/331342/attach/html/3/Independent%20Living%20Fund%20Responses.docx.html

 

Warrington

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133586/response/327113/attach/html/3/0059%20Brady.doc.html

 

West Lothian

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134992/response/325216/attach/html/3/WL%20Response%20to%20the%20ILF%20Consultation%209%2012.doc.html

 

West Sussex

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133756/response/326953/attach/html/3/ILF%20consultation%20questions%20final.doc.html

 

Westminster

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_52#incoming-328288

 

 

Worcestershire

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134239/response/332677/attach/5/ILF%20consultation%20response%20V2.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 Posted by at 17:16
Feb 162013
 

Dear_______________________ MP,

I am writing to urge you to defend disabled people’s right to independent living which is under threat from the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF), a source of essential support enabling disabled people with the highest support needs to live in the community.

The closure of the ILF will mean for me….

 

On 18th December 2012 the government announced its decision to permanently close the ILF following its closure to new applicants since December 2010. The announcement followed a consultation that was flawed and which ignored the views of disabled people and disabled people’s organisations as well as a number of other organisations and Local Authorities.

Government plans to merge the ILF with mainstream care and support will result in a greatly reduced quality of life for disabled people and for some will mean being forced into residential care against their wishes. This will prevent disabled people from full inclusion and participation in the community, as anticipated by Article 19 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The Government’s decision not to put in place any ring-fencing for the support for current ILF recipients when responsibilities are transferred to local authorities and devolved administrations will inevitably lead to a loss of support as local authorities raised in their consultation responses and have a devastating impact on disabled adults who have been supported by the ILF to lead active and full lives.

I would ask you to sign Early Day Motion 651 and to call on the Government to review this regressive step and to look instead at ways of expanding the Independent Living Fund to provide needs-based support to all adults in the UK who require it.

In order to protect disabled people’s right to live with choice and control over their lives and with dignity we need the Independent Living Fund.

Yours sincerely,

 Download Template letter by clicking following link: ILF template letter

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 Posted by at 17:12
Nov 252012
 
 Liz has asked us to post the link to her testimony about the welfare reform scandals.
 It’s at www.roaring-girl.com/writing/ and well worth a read.

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 Posted by at 20:45
Nov 212012
 

CONSTITUTION

A          NAME 

The group’s name is Disabled People Against Cuts 

B           THE AIMS AND OBJECTS OF THE GROUP ARE :-

–          To campaign as Disabled People Against Cuts on all issues which undermine our disability rights according to the UNCRPD

–          To provide disabled people and the wider public information about disability rights and the impact of government cuts.

–          To campaign with other communities which are also affected by cuts such as trade unions and other grassroots groups so as to pool resources for solidarity while maintaining a distinct voice for disabled people

–          To facilitate the setting up of local DPAC groups which may only call themselves and be considered to be a DPAC group if they adopt the same aims and objectives as DPAC nationally.

–          All  work will be underpinned by the social model of disability and the principle of  ‘Rights not Charity.’

C          POWERS

In order to carry out the objects, the Steering Group has the power to : –

(1)               raise funds, receive grants and donations

(2)               buy or sell property, take on leases and employ staff

(3)               co-operate with and support other groups with similar purposes

(4)               do anything else which is necessary to achieve the aims and objectives of the group.

D      LOCAL DPACs 

Local DPACs shall abide by the aims, policies and objectives of DPAC

They shall operate in a way that is transparent and accountable by

1)     Sharing local minutes of meetings

2)     Advising the steering group of potential actions so that they may be publicised on the DPAC web site 

3)      Making it clear that they operate on a local level in all documentation by stating the name of their local group 

4)     Being responsible for their own fundraising for local meetings, access needs, campaigns in a manner approved by the DPAC steering group

5)     The steering group has the right to remove the title ‘DPAC’ from any local group that in its majority decision has contravened the aims and objectives of DPAC.

6)     The steering group are in no way responsible for any acts which members may commit at any time or in any place, although they can rescind an individual or group’s membership of DPAC as outlined below if this is deemed appropriate by a majority of the steering group. 

E            MEMBERSHIP 

1)      Any disabled person, group, local DPAC,Union, or DPO who supports the purposes and aims of the group can join DPAC. Only disabled people will have full membership and voting rights. Groups, DPOs, Unions’ Disabled members sections, and Local DPACs will have one vote each dependent on them having at least 75% disabled people at decision making levels.

2)     Non-disabled allies will be granted associate membership without voting rights.

3) The maximum financial liability of any member will be £1.

F           ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING – AGM

1)     Providing adequate funding is available the AGM must be held every year, with 28 days notice given to all members telling them what is on the agenda.

2)     There must be at least 5 members present at the AGM.

3)     The Steering Group shall present the annual report and accounts.

4)     At the AGM members shall elect up to 8 steering group members who will serve for a minimum period of 12 months.

5)     Other members will be consulted about agenda items as appropriate using electronic means. This is by way of a reasonable adjustment to be as inclusive as possible.

6)      Every member has one vote. Each DPO, DPAC, and other groups entitled to vote shall also have one vote only although their individual members can also vote themselves.

G        STEERING GROUP 

1)     Only disabled people fully committed to the social model of disability, aims and values of DPAC may stand for election to the steering group.

2)     Any member may put themselves forward for election as a Steering Group member at least 2 weeks before the AGM.

3) To ensure that the Steering Group has an adequate range of people   with different Impairments, and skills needed by DPAC applicants must first be accepted by a majority of the current Steering Group.

4) To ensure the Steering Group is fully representative no more than 2 members from any single organisation, group or political party shall be entitled to be a member. The Steering Group will also try to ensure that there is an adequate geographical spread of members represented on the steering group.

5) The Steering group shall hold at least 3 meetings each year.  Decisions can be made by the Steering Group members if at least 3   are present at such a meeting or by internet consultation of Steering Group members.

7)     During the year, the Steering group may appoint up to 4 extra members on to the Steering Group.

8)     Where a decision needs to be made immediately the Steering Group have devolved such power to make decisions to 2 available members of the Steering group . Any such decisions should reflect the views of the majority of the steering group. Other than in these exceptional circumstances the majority decisions made by the Steering Group should be upheld by all of its members. 

9)      The Steering group may make reasonable additional rules for the proper conduct and management of the group.

10)  All Steering Group meetings can be attended by any member.

11)  A steering group member shall cease to hold office if he or she:

–          Stops being a member of the group

–          Resigns as a Steering Group member by notice to the group (but only if at least three members will remain in office when the notice is to take effect).

–          Subject to appeal is found guilty of breaking the constitution or seriously violating the agreed policy, aims and values of DPAC. 

H          MONEY

!) A bank account will be set up for DPAC.

2) All cheques must be signed by 2 steering group members.

3) Funds cannot be used to pay steering group members except to refund legitimate expenses. 

I           SPECIAL GENERAL MEETINGS 

1)      Special General Meetings may be called by the steering group for the following reasons.  All members must be given 14 days notice and told what change is proposed.

–          Changing the Constitution – The constitution may be changed by a two -thirds majority of members present and voting at a Special General Meeting.

–          Emergency Special General Meetings – to allow the members to decide on important issues , such as withholding a membership.

–          Winding up – the group may be wound up by a two- thirds majority of members present and voting at a Special General Meeting.  Any money or property remaining after payment of debts must be given to a group with similar purposes. 

J           SETTING UP THE GROUP

 

This constitution was adopted on  28/10/2011 at DPAC’s national conference.

                                               

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 Posted by at 13:28
Nov 182012
 

98.4% said that they would prefer the WCA to be recorded

Almost 70% were not aware that they could ask for a recording. The lack of any mention of recording of the WCA in the Atos literature helped the ‘lack of demand’ issue.

For those that had asked for a recording but were refused one almost half 40% were not given a reason for the refusal of the remainder: nearly a quarter (24.5%) were simply told they were not allowed a recording, 20% were told the machines were broken and the remainder were told Atos staff did not like recordings.

Of those refused a recording 65% were told they must attend their appointment without recording or be classified as a ‘no show’. While 23% were not aware that a recording would not be carried out until they arrived at the assessment centre where they faced the choice of returning home and risking loss of benefits or staying and going through the assessment without recording.

74% said that it was difficult for them to travel to the assessment centre, we heard from those who were sent for assessments away from their closest centre with complicated travel routes

Almost half (47.5%) were not aware that they could ask for a home assessment, of those that did and asked for a home assessment none believed they received a satisfactory response to the refusal to grant a home assessment

64% of those that said their doctors were told not to provide written support said this was because of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)

Some respondents said that the DWP had written to their doctors to tell them not to issue ‘fit notes’ or written support, others that doctors resented such directives and would supply these based on their expertise and knowledge of the individual.

The survey drew 733 responses. It asks questions that were not asked in the Harrington review, questions on issues of recording, access, doctors input and the apparent increasing influence of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on doctors’.  As such it represents the first evidence based research report on these issues.

The responses contribute to a growing list of criticisms on the experiences of the WCA, welfare reform/cuts and their impacts on the lives of disabled people. It also adds to the growing list of criticism against Atos the company contracted by the Government to carry out assessments, at the cost of 1.10 million pounds per year. Significant concerns are being raised on the financial cost of appeals against Atos WCA decisions, currently running at 60-80 million per year[1], but it is the human cost of suicides and premature deaths rising from 32 per week to 73[ii] a week of those undergoing this process that represents a larger cost. It is a UK outrage that these assessments continue.

The survey responses show the tricks, barriers and bullying tactics used to prevent audio recordings. How difficult home assessments are and how centres, access and travel are made problematic and the ways that doctors input is being ignored and appears to be increasingly directed by the Department for Work and Pensions. The survey is a collection of the ways people are being driven to crisis point, and worse by a system with no clear public accountability. (See also 76% entitled to support after appeal figures and appeals increase by 40%)

DPAC, Black Triangle, and Social Welfare Union, along with the British Medical Association and a growing number of organisations and MPs condemn the WCA and call for its immediate end. We hope the contents of this report will help those who fail to understand why these calls are being made to begin to understand why this is the only justifiable option.

One person said:

If I filled a benefit claim form in and deliberately lied, misled with my answers and omitted information / events relevant to my claim with the view to gain financially – I would have my ass hauled into court on charges of benefit fraud. The DWP and ATOS are doing exactly those things with the farce they call an assessment and are both gaining financially by, dare I say, producing fraudulent reports when assessing peoples eligibility for benefit. I suggest people pool together, write statements describing their experience with ATOS and the assessment, highlight the discrepancies between what was said / happened in the assessment and what was written into the report .. and when enough statements are gathered, hand them to the top cop in the country and demand they launch an investigation into the activities of both ATOS and the DWP on the grounds of fraudulent behaviour.

From the quotes and responses to our survey the comment is entirely valid.

Download the report in WORD by clicking this link: final wca surveydpac

Download the report in PDF by clicking this link: final-wca-surveydpac-1


 

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