Dec 092014
 

John Healey (Wentworth and Dearne) (Lab): What legal costs his Department has incurred in legal proceedings involving disabled people relating to the under-occupancy penalty and the closure of the independent living fund. [906481]

The Minister for Disabled People (Mr Mark Harper): The Government have robustly defended their policies in relation to the closure of the independent living fund and the removal of the spare room subsidy. The total known legal costs to date, in respect of both policies where disability formed part of the grounds of the claim, are £415,000: £236,000 for the ILF and £178,000 for the removal of the spare room subsidy.

John Healey: That is a part answer to a very direct question about the cost to the taxpayers of Government lawyers defending the indefensible—axing the ILF and introducing the hated bedroom tax. Will the Minister not recognise that many severely disabled people flourish with the fund but are now frightened of losing their independence when he shuts it down next year? He might have won the legal case this year, but he has lost the moral and policy arguments, so even at this 11th hour will he rethink the protection available to ILF users?

Mr Harper: No, I will not. I have talked to disability organisations about this matter, and they agree with the Government. More than 1 million people get social care through the mainstream social care system. The Government are not making any savings by moving the ILF to local authorities and devolved Administrations, and we are working closely with each local authority to ensure that the amount of money being transferred at the point of closure next year will be exactly what is needed and what is being spent by the ILF, meaning that disabled people will be protected.

Barbara Keeley (Worsley and Eccles South) (Lab): Some £4.3 billion has been taken out of adult social care budgets over the past four years because of the Government’s cuts. If that funding transfers across, as is planned, it will plug only a very small part of the gap. If they will not rethink this policy, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Wentworth and Dearne (John Healey) just suggested, will Ministers require that the funding be ring-fenced to ensure that 70 people in Salford and 18,000 people across the country with disabilities can look forward to keeping their independence and to this continuing support?

Mr Harper: Of course local government has had to play its part in the savings, but local authorities can make choices. My local authority in Gloucestershire has protected the value of social care because it thinks that protecting older people—[Interruption.] No, my local authority has faced cuts, like all local authorities, but it has chosen to—[Interruption.] If Opposition Members want me to answer their hon. Friend’s question, they should stop yelling. My local authority has prioritised funding for older people and people of working age. Clearly, the hon. Lady’s local authority has made different decisions. If those on her local authority want to ring-fence the money transferred from the ILF, they are absolutely free to do so, so I suggest she take that up with them.


8 Dec 2014 : Column 632

We want to thank John Healey MP for raising these questions

But other questions arise: which disability organisations did Harper speak to and why did they agree with the Government that closing ILF was a good thing for disabled people with high support needs and their employees? Did Harper speak to ILF users?

Watch this space……

Sep 112014
 
Motion to be debated at full council on Tuesday 16th September
The ability to be able to live independently is a fundamental right for disabled people – it is enshrined in Article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities [1]. Over 18,000 disabled people in the UK, including over a hundred in Bristol, are only able to live independently by accessing the support they need through the Independent Living Fund (ILF).
Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett holding a Save ILF Postcard
Therefore, the Coalition Government’s decision to close the ILF will have seriously repercussions for many of our fellow citizens, denying them the right to choose to live in their own home, and to be active members of their local communities.
On Wednesday, the Bristol Green Party will ask the council to vote to ring-fence all funds transferred from the ILF, and to call upon the national leaders of the main political parties to reverse the closure of the ILF.  If passed, it is believed that Bristol will become the first city to take an official position against the closure of the ILF.[2]
“We are calling for the funds that will be transferred locally to be ring-fenced but we also need any future national government to commit to providing the necessary resources to enable disabled citizens to live independently.” said Tony Dyer, the Green Party candidate for Bristol South, “Welfare reform, including changes to incapacity benefit and the introduction of personal independence payments have badly affected many disabled people – they have too often borne the brunt of this government’s cuts.
“Changes to the ILF fund in particular are causing stress for many people who depend on the fund for their support needs and who fear that it will be cut” he continued; “Disability rights groups are also concerned that some people who will have been eligible for ILF support have not been able to apply to the fund since it was closed to new applicants and thus we are also calling for the Council to ensure that these people are not forgotten.”
What is the Independent Living Fund? [3]
The ILF was originally set up in 1988 as a national resource dedicated to the financial support of disable people, enabling them to choose to live in their communities rather than being forced in to residential care.
The ILF is amongst the most efficient of all public sector organisations, with administration costs of just 2% compared to an average of 16% for local authorities. It also has a 98% satisfaction rating amongst its users. In addition, the average weekly ILF fund of £345 to allow disabled people to live at home should be compared with an average weekly cost to the taxpayer of £738 per week to provide residential care.
Despite this exemplar performance, the Coalition government announced in December 2012 it will close the scheme.  This decision was subsequently overturned at the Court of Appeal where a judge found that the decision breached the government’s equality duty.
However, the Coalition Government has since repeated its intention to close the fund in June 2015 and transfer its funding responsibilities to local authorities but has only committed to funding local authorities for one year. Disabled groups have already stated their intention to also challenge this decision in the courts. Meanwhile, in August, the UK became the first country to be the subject of an investigation by a high level United Nations commission into “grave violations” of the rights of disabled people. [4]
“I am proud that the Green Party is raising this issue with the Council.”

said Rob Telford, Green Party councillor for Ashley. “The UN  human rights investigation to find out if Coalition Government policies have led to ‘grave violations’ of the rights of disabled people comes in the wake of studies showing that those with disabilities have been impacted disproportionately by the cuts – almost 20 times as much. Here in Bristol we must aim to do everything we can to ensure disabled people can live independent, dignified lives and be allowed to contribute to our communities. Any effective future solution needs to directly involve disabled people themselves in the decision making process”
Many of the actions called for by the Greens are based on the concerns raised by Disability Rights UK following responses to Freedom of Information requests sent to all the relevant local authorities.  Only 10 local authorities confirmed they were planning to ring-fence ILF transfer funding. [5]

 

References
(1) United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; http://www.un.org/disabilities/convention/conventionfull.shtml
(2) Green Party motion to full council on Independent Living Fund is now available on the Council website – it is motion a, under agenda item 10 – and will be the first motion debated
(3) House of Commons Library Standard Note on the Independent Living Fund is available here; http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/research/briefing-papers/SN05633/independent-living-fund
UK is first country to face UN enquiry into disability rights violations
(5) Most councils will not ring fence ILF resources
Further Information on
Tony Dyer (named as Green Party candidate in Bristol South)
Rob Telford, Green Party councillor for Ashley Ward
 Posted by at 14:02
Jun 182014
 

Derbyshire Anti Cuts campaigners witnessed the Disgraceful move by Labour-controlled Derbyshire County Council Cabinet yesterday voting through cuts and charges to adult social care services that Derbyshire disabled people rely on.

 

Derbyshire Anti Cuts campaigners were at Derbyshire County Council headquarters, County Hall, Matlock yesterday June 17th 2014 supporting disabled people from Derbyshire Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC).

 

Their spokesman, the brilliant Gary Matthews,  other disabled people and allies challenged council leader Cllr Anne Western, Cllr Andy Botham and Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, Cllr Clare Neill on the steps leading in to County Hall yesterday and then submitted questions in the Cabinet meeting itself raising the alarm that if these cuts and charges were voted through today, then councillors would in effect be complicit in the victimisation and persecution of Derbyshire’s disabled people and their families.

 

Good luck to Derbyshire DPAC in sorting out a legal challenge to this victimisation and persecution.

 

We say SHAME on Labour controlled Derbyshire County Council for being complicit accomplices to the Con Dem robbery of Derbyshire people’s rightful money and to the victimisation and persecution of disabled people and those with long term health issues.

 

Gary Matthews from DPAC handed out leaflets with the following text on to all councillors and people who attended the protest and the council meeting:

 

“Think before you vote!”

 

The report to the Derbyshire County Council Cabinet being voted on this morning is a very depressing document. We believe that the three recommendations are an attack on disabled people across Derbyshire.

 

Increasing the eligibility threshold for those who need support will impact seriously on the daily lives of disabled people.

 

We are talking about not just cuts, but life and death issues.

The report admits that there will be more accidents at home and people will no longer be safe if their care is cut.It also predicts worsening personal health for those deprived of care in the future.

 

The proposals on co-funding (paying for care) and on charging £5 for transport trips will drive hundreds of disabled people into poverty.

30% of disabled people already live in poverty and this will just add to it.

The report does not have a proper equality impact report and the consultation process was highly defective.

 

We attended a two hour meeting yesterday (June 16th 2014) with Cllr Clare Neill where we put our concerns.

We told her in straight terms what the effects on our disabled community would be.

We asked her to advise the Labour cabinet to delay these cuts for 12 months and lead a campaign against the Coalition cuts together with trade unions and disabled peoples groups.

 

We are fed up with hearing the Labour mantra and excuse that there is no alternative.

 

We have now given the Labour cabinet a clear alternative.If they ignore this, they will only have themselves to blame.

Will they act as agents to Eric Pickles and force through these cuts, or will they stand alongside disabled people and oppose all cuts.

 

“We believe that cuts in welfare benefits and in essential adult care services amount to nothing more than crimes against humanity”.

 

Gary Matthews

Email: matthews354@btinternet.com

 

Where injustice becomes the law, resistance becomes necessary.

 

An injustice to one is an injustice to all.

 

They say cut back, we say FIGHT BACK

 

Liz Potter on behalf of Derbyshire Anti Cuts Campaign in solidarity with Derbyshire Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC).

 

http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/Disabled-campaigners-stage-protest-cuts-adult/story-21248190-detail/story.html

 

 

May 162014
 

We are asking all local council candidates to pledge their support for developing inclusive education practice if elected onto the council.

For DPAC members not standing, we want your local council candidates to pledge their support for inclusive education practice.

We would like to have a photo of candidate with his or her party rosette, name, borough and ward and a sentence or two on why she or he is supporting ALLFIE’s manifesto demands.

We would like to aim for every candidate to offer his or her support for inclusion.

Please follow link: http://www.allfie.org.uk/pages/work/manifesto.html

Send photos to simone.aspis@allfie.org.uk

 

Aug 262013
 

Find your local councillors at http://www.writetothem.com/ 

Or at your local council website  -Copy and paste the text below or download Word version from the link-please send any copies of responses to benefitjustice@gmail.com

Dear Councillor (insert name),

 

I am writing as one of your ward constituents to ask you to sign up to the Councillors Against the Bedroom Tax and Benefit Cuts statement and oppose anyone losing their home or being forced to move due to the Bedroom Tax or other unjust benefit cuts, and call on landlords not to evict those pushed into arrears due to these measures: http://www.defendcouncilhousing.org.uk/dch/resources/CouncillorsvBedTax2.pdf

 

The bedroom tax or ‘under-occupation penalty’ is unfair and unworkable. Two thirds of those affected by it nationally are disabled and the majority have no-where suitable to move to. Discretionary Housing Payments are a short term solution that create more work for local authorities. A July survey by the Papworth Trust, backed by the National Housing Federation , said nine out of 10 disabled people are cutting back on food or bills to pay the bedroom tax if they are refused a safety-net housing payment. Meanwhile the cost of implementing the bedroom tax costs far more than the savings the government claimed it would make.

 

To add your name to the list of Councillors please contact benefitjustice@gmail.com.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

(include your address)

Download Word version of text here: Dear Councillor-2