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……

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Dec 082014
 

This morning after weeks of anxious waiting, disabled people and our supporters learned that the high court has found against the latest legal challenge against the government’s decision to close the Independent Living Fund (1). Disabled campaigners vow to continue the fight in every way that we can.

 

The campaign to save the Independent Living Fund has been one of the most high profile among the many battles disabled people are currently fighting against current government policy that is detrimentally impacting on disabled people, with disabled activists occupying Westminster Abbey gardens over the summer (2).

 

In November last year the Court of Appeal quashed the government’s decision to close the ILF with the Court of Appeal judges unanimous in their view that the closure of the fund would have an ‘inevitable and considerable adverse effect which the closure of the fund will have, particularly on those who will as a consequence lose the ability to live independently” (3).

 

On 6th March this year the then Minister for Disabled People Mike Penning retook the decision and announced a new date of June 2015 for permanent closure of the Fund that provides essential support enabling disabled people with the highest support needs to live in the community when the alternative would be residential care (4).

 

In October a second legal challenge was heard in the high court brought by disabled claimants claiming that the Minister had not considered any new information to properly assess the practical effect of closure on the particular needs of ILF users (5). The Department for Work and Pensions mounted a defence based on their assertion that the Minister had adequate information to realise that the independent living of the majority of ILF users will be significantly impacted by the closure of the fund.

 

Tracey Lazard, CEO of Inclusion London said: “The closure of the ILF effectively signals the end of the right to independent living for disabled people in the UK. Whilst never perfect the ILF represents a model of support that has enabled thousands of disabled people to enjoy meaningfully lives and to contribute to society as equal citizens. Since the closure of the Fund to new applicants in December 2010 we have seen disabled people left with their most basic needs unmet and unable to seek employment, to volunteer or go into education or simply even to leave the house.”

Linda Burnip, co-founder of the campaign Disabled people Against Cuts, said: “Regardless of this ruling, disabled people will not be pushed back into the margins of society, we will not go back into the institutions, our place is in the community alongside our family and friends and neighbours and we are fighting to stay”.

 

For more information or to speak to disabled people directly affected by the Independent Living Fund please contact Ellen on 07505144371 or email mail@dpac.uk.net.

 

Notes for editors

1)      For full judgement and press release from solicitors working on the case see: http://www.deightonpierceglynn.co.uk/http://www.scomo.com/

2)      http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jun/28/occupy-westminster-disabled-people-against-cuts

3)      http://dpac.uk.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/522372-ILF-Briefing-Note-06-11-2013.pdf?bb10e9

4)      https://www.gov.uk/government/news/future-of-the-independent-living-fund

5)      http://dpac.uk.net/2014/06/breaking-news-2nd-court-case-to-challenge-ilf-closure-launched/

 

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Aug 152014
 

 

The campaign to save the Independent living Fund (ILF) is now at its most crucial stage, because it involves you.

 

Following the high profile Westminster Abbey sit-in and the tea parties held outside DWP offices, we’re now asking ILF recipients to invite MPs to their homes to show them exactly what the ILF means in reality and why it must be kept.

 

This Summer is a great time to lobby MPs as they’ll be back in their constituencies working hard in the hope of securing votes in the run up to the 2015 General Election.

 

Please take the simple steps in this toolkit and let us know how it goes so we can target politicians and do everything we can together to save the ILF.

 

It includes writing a letter/email to your MP, writing to the local paper, meeting your MP, arguments and briefing and an invitation for your MP to the MP Drop in on 2nd September

 

Independent Living fund Drop in

with BBC Silent Witness actress Liz Carr

2 September 2014; 2 – 4pm; House of Commons Committee Room 19

This drop in session will be a chance for MPs to find out more about the closure of the ILF which currently supports nearly 18,000 disabled people with the highest support needs to live independently in the community, to contribute to society in employment, education, volunteering, as family members, friends and as members of our communities and to build the local economy through employing teams of Personal Assistants.

 

The surgery will be an opportunity to ask questions and to speak to Liz who has been enabled, through support from the ILF, to progress an acting career that has spanned stand-up comedy, presenting for BBC and primetime television.

 

Also in attendance to answer your questions will be a former ILF staff representative and a disabled person who missed out on the ILF through its closure to new applicants in 2010 and whose experiences reflect those of many other disabled people now excluded from participating in areas of life that non-disabled people take for granted.

 

The Drop in is being organized by PCS Union, Disabled People Against Cuts and Inclusion London.

 

For more information contact ellen.clifford@inclusionlondon.co.uk or Natasha@pcs.org.uk

 

Click Save-the-ILF-mobilisation to download the full Save ILF Mobilisation Word document

 

 

 

Share This:

Jun 192014
 

The ILF has transformed People’s lives.  The Independent Living Fund does what it says on the tin – it liberates people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to, to live independently.  It lets them make choices about how they live – things we often take for granted: when to get up or go to bed, what and when to eat.  It allows them to work, to be active in the community and to live in their own homes.

 

I challenge the Minister today to guarantee that those currently in receipt of ILF won’t become less independent as a result of his decision to close it in June 2015. Because that’s what people fear.  That’s what they are frightened of.  They fear losing their jobs, losing those staff they employ to support them and losing their independence.  They fear being forced out of their homes and into institutions.

 

The Minister may say he’s passing the monies and responsibility to Local Authorities but this will not ease their fear.  And he is rather naïve if he thinks that absolves him from his responsibilities for this decision.  I’m afraid he can’t get away with devolving responsibility and blame for the consequences of his decision to others.  That’s why I ask him for these guarantees today.  For a start Disabled People Against Cuts calculate the current annual cost of support at around £288 million yet the government only identified £262 million to transfer to local authorities.   And it gives no reassurances that this money will be ring fenced to be spent only on supporting disabled people to live independently rather than absorbed into broader council budgets.

 

According to SCOPE £2.68 billion has been cut from adult social care budgets in the last 3 years alone, equating to 20 per cent of net spending.  This is happening at a time when the numbers of working-age disabled people needing care is projected to rise by 9.2% from 2010 to 2020.  In a recent survey 40% of disabled people reported that social care services already fail to meet their basic needs like washing, dressing or getting out of the house.  And 47% of respondents said that the services they receive do not enable them to take part in community life.

 

So it’s not surprising that people are desperately worried about their future.

The worry is that continued underfunding of social care will mean the care system will simply not be able to support disabled people to live independently.  The lack of reference to ‘independent living’ under the definition of the ‘well-being principle’ in the Care Bill which local authorities will need to take into account when providing care further fuels this anxiety.

 

And it’s not just people in receipt of ILF who are worried – it’s their friends, their carers and their families too.  The cases of two of my constituents illustrate this well.

 

 

Ashley Harrison is a Scunthorpe United fan like me cheering on the Iron at Glanford Park. At 10 months old he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.  He will turn 30 this year.  Ashley has lived in his own bungalow since 2006.  The ILF allows him to employ his own team of carers.  Ashley is an inspirational man, a fighter but he is worried that the control over his future is being taken away from him.

 

His mother says:

 

‘The closure of the ILF would be nothing less than devastating for us as a family. Since Ashley was awarded his ILF allowance the whole family’s lives have changed for the better. ILF understands Ashley’s needs and always do everything they can to constantly improve Ashley’s life and enable him to live independently.

As a family naturally all we have ever wanted is the best for Ashley, which the ILF has helped us achieve. The ILF has always seemed to be the leading and positive force at meetings ensuring that social services match and meet Ashley’s needs. Without the ILF we all face a very uncertain future. The uncertainty that Ashley faced in his early years prior to receiving his ILF award have been daunting, frustrating and of course a constant battle with social services.

The alleged “smooth transfer” over to social services is already proving to be nothing of the sort.  Each and every meeting we hold (which are incredibly frequent) leave us having to justify Ashley’s needs as a disabled person.  The assessments they ask us to complete are totally unsuitable for the severely disabled.

All of the disabled people living independently with the help of ILF are living their lives to the full. The fear is that if ILF closes these people will lose their human rights and dignity to live their lives as they should.

As a mother who’s fought the last 30 years for Ashley to have the life he wants and of course deserves, I dread to think what the next generation of disabled people will have to endure without the positive support of the ILF.

I beg you to listen to myself as a mother of a disabled son and also listen to all those disabled voices who deserve to be heard.

Give each and every person the ability to live and achieve their dreams just as you and I can.

The Paralympics just proves how amazing disabled people can be!!!’

 

 

Jon Clayton is also in receipt of ILF.  Like Ashley he has carers whom he employs who understand his disability.  His sister writes

 

‘My brother Jon is quadriplegic having been involved in an accident which was not his fault at the age of 18. He is now 54. 

He is one of life’s truly inspirational people; an accomplished mouth artist – a gift he only knew he had after his life changing accident-  living independently in his own home. He freely gives his time mentoring other disabled persons, helping them come to terms with another life. A life without limbs. A life without walking.


He has always sought to live as normal a life as possible. Having gone through marriage, divorce, being a step father, losing a partner.

He is both ordinary and extraordinary.

He relies heavily on his full time carers. Carers who he personally has ensured are trained to an appropriate and exceptional level to look after a person with specific and defined needs. One false move and he could (and has) spent 18 months bed bound with a pressure sore at the expense of some ill trained nurse.


His carers are trusted to ensure and give a high level of care, entrusted with the most personal of tasks from catheter changing, toileting, dressing etc.  This has been part of Jon’s life since his accident. Something he has taken on with humour and dignity.

If the ILF is removed Jon will be unable to live independently. Being able to engage in what you and I would consider a normal life. He will be unable to travel, have holidays, visit family, visit friends. 

The ILF has enabled independence. Given life, where life seemed over.

I would therefore urge you to do all you can to prevent this life enabling function – the ILF – from being eroded’

 

A fundamental concern for Jon, Ashley and others is whether they will be able to employ their specialist staff in the future.  North Lincolnshire Council’s responded to this question on 9th June 2014:

 

‘We appreciate this situation may cause you concern as an existing Independent Living Fund customer and would wish to reduce any worry or anxiety you may have.

 

Allocation of future monies will be based on your updated assessment and support plan and on future Local Authority funding so at this stage we cannot give any specific guidance on the amount of monies that you may receive from us or cannot give guarantees on the future employment status of any Personal Assistants you may currently employ.’

 

As you can imagine such ‘reassurance’ only serves to heighten anxieties and build mistrust!

 

So I return to my central question – will the government guarantee that Ashley Jon and all those currently in receipt of ILF will not lose their independence as a result of their decision to close it.  A decision I believe is aimed at saving money but might end up costing more in other budget areas such as health.  A better way forward would be for government to engage with ILF recipients learn from their experience and find ways of shaping future services that are cost effective but continue to deliver true independence.

 

As Disabled People Against Cuts points out for the 17,500 people in receipt of ILF ‘the closure of the Fund will have a devastating impact on the lives on these individuals and their families.  It also has a much wider significance because at the heart of this is the fundamental question of disabled people’s place in society: do we want a society that keeps its disabled citizens out of sight, prisoners in their own homes or locked away in institutions, surviving not living or do we want a society that enables disabled people to participate, contribute and enjoy the opportunities, choice and control that non-disabled people take for granted?’

Or in Mahatma Ghandi’s words “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.”

 

People like Jon and Ashley are not weak but strong.  The ILF gives them independence and liberates their strengths. Now is the opportunity for the Minister to guarantee their future independence will not be compromised by the closure of the ILF.

 

http://www.nicdakin.com/ilfspeech.html

 

DPAC would like to thank Nic and all the supportive MPs at the adjournment debate on ILF on 18th June 2014

 

See the ILF debate at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/democracylive/house-of-commons-27884690

 

 

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Jun 132014
 

Get your MP to the House of Commons Debate!

Wednesday 18th June 11am

The future of the Independent Living Fund will be debated in the House of Commons for the first time this Wednesday 18th June from 11 – 11.30am.

We need to make sure as many MPs know it’s happening and will be there prepared to stand up for the ILF and the future of independent living support for disabled people.

The fight for the ILF is far from over.

Where will your MP be during the ILF Debate?

In March the Minister for Disabled People announced a new decision to permanently close the ILF in June 2015 following a ruling by the Court of Appeal in November 2013 which quashed the Government’s previous decision to close.
Last week ILF recipients launched a fresh legal challenge which you can read about here

Meanwhile #SaveILF supporters have been busy contacting their local councillors and MPs collecting sign ups to the campaign statement and spreading the word with the brilliant ILF postcard campaign: www.facebook.com/ILFpostcard

One supportive MP Nic Dakin MP for Scunthorpe has managed to get a debate on the future of the Independent Living Fund for this Wednesday 18th June 11 – 11.30am.

Whilst it is only half an hour, it is the first time the ILF and the fundamental question of the removal of disabled people’s right to independent living which its closure represents, has had a debate in Parliament.

This is an opportunity to make sure politicians know what the ILF is and why it is so important.

We need to take urgent action to write to our MPs, urging them to attend the debate, telling them why it matters and most importantly sharing your stories and experiences that show why we need not only to keep the ILF open but to reopen it to new applicants.

You can find your MPs email address and post address here.

Here is a briefing about the ILF you can download and send them as an attachment. ILF briefing 13 June 2014  (just click on the link)

If they can do it in Scotland, why not here?


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 Posted by at 16:15
May 082014
 

Dear Sir,
I received the attached leaflet yesterday and my wife a similar (smaller) one today, both unsolicited. We demand an explanation as to where and from whom you obtained our personal data as I believe that you have mis-used it and may even have obtained it unfairly or unlawfully.

We require this within fourteen days or I shall make a formal complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office. I shall do so in any event, should said explanation not be satisfactory. Furthermore, we require you cease any processing and to delete our personal information – however obtained – and never contact us again.

In any case, given that I regard the Conservative Party as only minimally above the British National and UK Independence Parties in the food chain of malignant bigotry, I find the leaflet to be offensive as well a tissue of lies and misrepresentation.

For example:

• You claim to have created or promise to create ‘a stronger economy at home’. For whom exactly? The much-trumpeted job creation schemes have been proven to be riddled with fraud and incompetence – by government and providers – and to have created fewer than 30,000 jobs – most of them of the lowest paid class? You appear bent on creating, effectively, a slave economy in all but name.

• You claim to have created or promise to create ‘renewed respect abroad’? Almost certainly only from governments such as the United States to which you are proven sycophants (see e.g. the reaction to Edward Snowden’s revelations, Russia, Ukraine, et al). The previous administration’s tenure in regard to the so-called ‘special relationship’ can be summed up, somewhat crudely as Bend Over For Bush, but the Conservatives have turned that into a fine art.

• You claim to have wrought or want ‘real change in Europe’. How exactly? You scream like stuck pigs every time a decision or negotiation goes against you and have no apparent clue as to the founding ethos behind the European Union, or European Coal & Steel Community as it originally was. Remind me, who took us into Europe? Might it have been a Conservative government?

• ‘Cut the deficit by a third’? Really? Apparently only by (1) increasing concessions to those who contribute least to the Exchequer (i.e. bankers and tax-dodging businesses) as well as a malignant and persistent attack on justice – overseen by a Minister who knows nothing of the justice system and couldn’t care less. Your party – by way of its odious coalition with the Liberal Democrats – have made access to justice little more than a sick joke. (2) By attacking the most vulnerable in society, among which I count myself.

• ‘Create more jobs’? See above.

• ‘Cut tax’? Again, for whom? Principally for those who do everything they can to avoid paying it at all, presumably.

• ‘Control immigration’? How? Your history – particularly recent history – would suggest that you intend to achieve this by racist attacks, particularly in the press and via equally racist and unlawful publicity as well as racist stop-and-search campaigns instigated by a Minister forced to resign when it was revealed that he himself employed an illegal immigrant!

• ‘Cut the costs of Europe’? The greatest savings could arguably be made by the government/party complying with their legal obligations and not fighting every decision simply because it doesn’t serve Conservative rather than British or European interests. Furthermore, your projected savings in this regard of £8.15bn are also misleading, perhaps fraudulent, given that the Chancellor changed the tax regime for the largest corporations – at a projected cost to the exchequer of between £5bn and £10bn a year over the next six years. The Institute for Public Policy Research also showed that a tax on financial transactions of a mere 0.01% would raise at least £25bn a year. Perhaps that was ignored because that would impact party funding by losing you the support of such people?

Perhaps you could also explain why the British Government has thus far failed or refused to ratify the recent European convention on violence against women.

• ‘Defend Britain’s interests’? See earlier comment on the founding ethos of the EU and then read some recent European history!

• ‘Keeping our border controls and cracking down on benefit tourism’. To use an American expression: What a crock! This is pure saloon bar politics, as are previous claims by the Conservatives with regard to so-called ‘health service tourism’ which has been proven to benefit, rather than detract from the national and local economies. Your claims regarding ‘benefit tourism’ are also equally misleading and fraudulent given that several bodies have found UK benefits to be manifestly inadequate in any case.

• ‘Securing more trade but not an ‘ever closer union’ ‘. Fraudulent twaddle, given that the two will ultimately be mutually exclusive where European trade is concerned.

• ‘Getting a better deal for British Taxpayers’. Which taxpayers exactly? Perhaps you might explain why, for example, Rinat Akhmetov pays less Council Tax on two flats in Hyde Park purchased for £136.4m than does the owner of a house in Blackburn, Lancashire valued at £115,939 – on which they probably have a mortgage? By the way, Rinat Akhmetov is an immigrant, but I have yet to read any racist Conservative rhetoric directed against him and his ilk.

Perhaps you might also explain why, while poor people are being forced out of their homes due to government cuts, the government is increasing the subsidy it provides for grouse moors (owned by roughly 1% of the so-called 1%) from £30 per hectare to £56?

• ‘Capping welfare and reducing immigration’? It is typical of the Conservatives to conflate two classes of people in this regard that they continue to denigrate as ‘scroungers’ – both by implication (by repeatedly and fraudulently referring to ‘hard-working people’) and directly. Since the very second it entered office the coalition has mounted a malignant, vicious and discriminatory war on the sick and disabled to the extent that it is directly responsible for hundreds of deaths – led by a Minister who is not only manifestly incompetent, but (repeatedly) a proven liar and failed party leader. Your politician’s continued and blatant lying pronouncements with regard to food banks are also about as despicable as it comes. You might also explain – with regard to the disabled (of whom I am one) – why, despite funding for ‘Access for All’ having been cut by roughly half (or eliminated), the government appears to be allocating what spending there is for rail improvements to predominantly coalition areas?

You might also explain something else: Despite introducing a completely vindictive benefit cap (£26,000) – the rationale for which is, short of the Conservative brand of malignant bigotry – completely evidence-free. The government instigated this while fighting desperately in Europe against a proposed cap of ten times that on the subsidies which agriculture can legally claim. The largest 170-odd landowners in Britain now collectively claim £120m. Who was profligate with the budget there Mr. Mabbutt? It was the coalition – predominantly made up of Conservatives – who fought that cap. Might that be because a significant number of your members are landowners?

The party and government’s pronouncements on immigration are also fraudulent and discriminatory given that a significant proportion of immigrants start businesses which go on to actually employ people! This is a claim that cannot truthfully be made of most government schemes during the current or previous Conservative governments. The Conservatives also either gloss over the contributions that immigrants have made to this country – Sir Alec Issigonis as one example, Dame Doreen Lawrence for another – or ignore them altogether, airbrushing them out of British history.

• ‘Delivering the best schools and skills for young people’. Utter rubbish! Education funding is more under attack now than it ever has been, with overworked teachers, fewer or non-existent resources and attacks on wages and conditions for all staff, let alone teachers. Standards are falling under a clueless Minister and a government interested in political advantage rather than meaningful change. My own granddaughter was also the victim of this fraud. She was following a so-called ‘apprenticeship’ on slave wages of £2.10 per hour and, just prior to the projected end of this modern-day slavery, was the victim of a trumped-up disciplinary offence and dismissed despite having out-performed even most of her supervisors. Thanks to government ‘reforms’ she cannot afford to seek redress through an Employment Tribunal. She also has significant talents in signing for hearing impaired people but cannot obtain employment in that field as she cannot afford to attend university to obtain the requisite qualifications.

Higher education has become increasingly elitist – giving the further lie to your claims regarding education. I was fortunate enough, when I became disabled, to be able to attend university as a mature student (1995-1999 and 2005-2008) via grants, student loans and Disabled Student Awards in an effort to make myself employable. I sincerely doubt that would be possible today – particularly given the cuts to support for disabled students.

This was, however, ultimately futile (other than the education itself) as I went into teaching in Further Education and – thanks to changes wrought in this area by the previous Conservative government(s) – was forced to work via an agency at £5-6 per hour less than my full-time, directly-employed, colleagues. Ultimately, my teaching hours were almost the equivalent of three full-time posts. Consequently I became seriously ill as a result and will almost certainly never work again.

You now class myself and people like me as scroungers to be hounded by your creatures Atos and their ilk, driven even further into poverty and ultimately an early grave.

Thanks Tories!

Yours, etc.

John Lockett

CC:
Retained.

Information Commissioner’s Office.

Data Controller, Conservative Party.

Disabled People Against Cuts.

DPAC says: we were going to add a picture of the leaflet, but decided to spare everyone

 

Share This:

Apr 252014
 

Please save the independent living fund!

I got up this morning, brushed my teeth, showered, ate breakfast, got dressed, checked my e mails, went to work, had lunch with colleagues, met with friends on the way home from work, popped in on my mum to see she was alright before coming home to do a couple of hours work on my open university degree before bed. I was able to do all this because of the money from the Independent Living Fund that helps pay my Personal Assistant to support me to do the things I can’t manage to do directly because I have a condition that means my hands do not work and I get around using a wheelchair” – ILF recipient.

The money from the independent living fund helps pay for a personal assistant, and enables disabled people who need support to have a quality of life to do the same things everyone else can do. Live.

The government says “ILF recipients will be reassessed by their local authority, and will be funded by the local authority” The money given to the local authority to meet a disabled person’s support needs will not be ring fenced. The local authority can spend that money meant for disabled people and their support needs on other resources. Disabled people who need the support fear less or no support at all and then being placed into residential care, far from friends and family.

Imagine this; your local authority has cut your support needs. You would have to rely on the local pop in service from carers you do not know, to keep you clean, warm up a meal in the microwave, and convenient at the time for the carer but not a convenient time for you. If you need night care, you would then be forced to wear incontinence pads or even worse cathertised.

You would then be only able to shower once a week, have no social life, have to perhaps use a hoist and then excluded from every day activities outside, forced to give up your pet if you had one, no garden, forced into isolation, having to sack the personal assistant you relied on for many years with no redundancy for them.

Now you are thinking you do not want to go on anymore. Its how do I go on like this with little support? Due to the lack of support you are now isolated at home cut off from society and from friends and family and as the lack of support means no independence, no social life, can’t work, no quality of life, it would make anyone feel down, and even depressed. It’s awful to contemplate isn’t it?

Disabled people want rights. Rights to live independently in the community, to have our support needs met, so we can have a quality of life, and do the same things as everyone else does. Live.

Society forgets that we are human beings, people, we are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends, neighbours, colleagues, but society sees the impairment, not the person we happen to be. We are judged, discriminated against, and called a drain to society. Well, we are not!

People can be born with an impairment, or at some point in their lives can even be struck down with a devastating illness, hit by a car, lose your mobility need to use a wheelchair to get around, have a breakdown, could lose your job and need to claim benefits to live. The social security system was put in place to protect those who needed the support, who may be too ill to work. You need the support every day to carry out the simplest of tasks. Life is unexpected, it’s cruel and its tough, it can change in a flicker of an eye lash, and it can happen to YOU.

Life is really hard living as a disabled person every day. Trying to manage life with all the same worries as non disabled people. Money, keeping a job, family life, health issues, how to get around using public transport. It’s bloody tough.

The independent living fund gave people with severe impairments the support needed to live life as we chose, so we could work, go shopping, feel part of society, a human being. A non disabled person is not used to thinking about how they would go to the toilet, get in and out of their home, get to work but we need to plan all those things in advance and ensure we have the support to do them.” -ILF recipient.

Our demand is to keep the independent living fund open, open it up to new claimants and open up independent living to all disabled people so we can keep our independence, and with support, have a quality of life and live.

All I ask of you is for your help. Help us save the independent living fund from closing on 30th June 2015. As disabled people, we want rights to live independently as possible, having a quality of life despite what we battle with every day with our disabilities and illnesses.

Why? Because we’re worth it! We are human beings and we want to be treated as such, not the stock the government and great swathes of society think we are. We are worth it! Help us keep the independent living fund open and help us in the fight for our rights so we can have a quality of life living in society as best as we can.

by Paula Peters

Take part in the Save the ILF Campaign:




An Important Request on ILF from Mary Laver http://shar.es/BjyqK #SaveILF #ILF




What the Closure of the #ILF means to disabled people -Mary’s story http://campaigndpac.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/what-the-closure-of-the-independent-living-fund-means-to-disabled-people-mars-story-2/ #SaveILF #ILF




What the Closure of the #ILF means to disabled people – Justine’s story http://campaigndpac.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/what-the-closure-of-the-independent-living-fund-means-to-disabled-people-justines-story/ #SaveILF #ILF




What the Closure of the #ILF means to disabled people – John, Paul and Evonne’s story http://campaigndpac.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/what-the-closure-of-the-independent-living-fund-means-to-disabled-people-john-paul-and-evonnes-story/ #SaveILF #ILF




What the Closure of the #ILF means to disabled people – Roxy’s story http://campaigndpac.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/what-the-closure-of-the-independent-living-fund-means-to-disabled-people-oxys-story/ #SaveILF #ILF




What the Closure of the #ILF means to disabled people – Kathy’s story http://campaigndpac.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/what-the-closure-of-the-independent-living-fund-means-to-disabled-people-kathys-story/ #SaveILF #ILF




What the Closure of ILF means to disabled people – Richard’s story http://www.dpac.uk.net/2013/03/what-the-closure-of-ilf-means-to-me-richards-story/ #SaveILF #ILF




What the Closure of ILF means to disabled people – Penny’s story http://www.dpac.uk.net/2013/03/what-the-closure-of-ilf-means-to-me-pennys-story/ #SaveILF #ILF




What the Closure of ILF means to disabled people – Anthony and David’s story http://www.dpac.uk.net/2013/03/what-the-closure-of-ilf-means-to-disabled-people-anthony-and-davids-story/ #SaveILF #ILF




What the Closure of ILF means to disabled people – Kevin’s story http://www.dpac.uk.net/2013/03/what-the-closure-of-ilf-means-to-disabled-people-kevins-story/ #SaveILF #ILF




Second Closure of #ILF and our analysis of the equality analysis by DWP http://shar.es/Bm4hM #SaveILF #ILF




DPAC statement on government announcement on closure of the #ILF http://shar.es/BHRcl #SaveILF #ILF




How the closure of the ILF will affect lives http://dpac.uk.net/independent-living-fund/#sthash.dLgkwYIe.dpbs #SaveILF #ILF




What Local Authorities said about the Closure of ILF http://www.dpac.uk.net/2013/02/what-local-authorities-said-about-the-closure-of-ilf/ #SaveILF #ILF




A Nasty Cut people affected by the closure of the #ILF http://www.dpac.uk.net/2013/02/a-nasty-cut-people-affected-by-the-closure-of-the-independent-l5142/ #SaveILF #ILF




Second Closure of Independent Living Fund and our analysis of the equality analysis by DWP http://shar.es/BjygQ #SaveILF #ILF


There are many more tweets that you can use here: http://dftr.org.uk/SaveILF

The “Save The Independent Living Fund” postcard campaign is supported by GMCDP, ALLFIE, DPAC, Inclusion London and Equal Lives.

 

 

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 Posted by at 16:13
Feb 162014
 

The WOW petition debate which has been supported by John McDonnell MP will take place on Thursday 27th February 2014 around 11.30 am at the House of Commons chamber.

Please contact your MP to ask them to attend this important debate. You can find your MP’s email details at www.parliament.uk

You may want to remind your MP that as we are approaching an election in the not too distant future you will be monitoring to see whether they attend or not on your behalf.

Template letter mainly taken from WOW

http://wowpetition.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/draft-letter-to-mps-option-2.html

Dear …..

I am writing as your constituent to ask you to represent my views in Parliament.

I support a government e-petition, the WOW petition, which passed the 100,000 signature mark, and on the 10th December 2013 and was granted a full chamber debate by the Back Bench Business Committee in the New Year. This in itself is a historic event as it is the first time in the history of this country that disabled people have secured a Main Chamber debate.

The petition calls for a cumulative impact assessment of welfare reform as it affects disabled people and those with a long term health condition as well as family carers, and an end to the Work Capability Assessment, as demanded by the British Medical Association.

==================

Please add a personal message here to illustrate how this Government’s Policies are either directly affecting you, your family, people you know or society and why you believe the Government should properly debate their policies, the effect they are having and the hardship they are causing to specifically targeted groups with UK society. 

==================

I know you are very busy, but please allow me to present some evidence to support the need for these measures.

The Welfare Reform Act  was promoted as the biggest shake up in welfare for 60 years, so it was extraordinary that no assessment was carried out on how it would affect disabled people. I believe the government now needs to take stock, and face the fact that disabled people have been caused great distress and hardship by measure such as the Work Capability Assessment, bedroom tax, the twenty per cent cut in the budget for Disability Living Allowance, the closure of the Independent Living Fund to new applicants, and many more measures. The think tank Demos has calculated that disabled people, already more likely to be living in poverty, will lose around £28 billion over five years. This hardly seems to be sharing the burden of austerity fairly.

As for the Work Capability Assessments, these have been a disaster. The British Medical Association last year called for them to be scrapped with immediate effect. Parkinson’s UK’s research found that almost half of people with a progressive illness, when assessed, are told they will get better and placed in the Work Related Activity Group. This means they are required to prepare for work, and if they are unable to do what is required of them can be sanctioned leaving them with no income. Please remember these are people with Parkinsons Disease and other progressive illnesses.

As my representative in Parliament I am requesting that you attend and speak at this debate so that your constituents and I can understand your views on government policy towards disabled people.

I would also like to add that we are quickly approaching national elections and I and your other disabled constituents will be watching how you are willing to support us very closely.

Yours sincerely,

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 Posted by at 21:23
Jan 212014
 

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is the new benefit which replaces Disability Living Allowance (DLA). 

DLA was introduced in the UK in 1992, and its main purpose was to compensate for the extra costs associated with disability and it was therefore not means tested, non contributory and not taxable. Although the majority of people claiming DLA had mobility issues, some disabled people would also choose to claim it to cover their personal care costs. Many were awarded DLA for life in recognition that their impairment/health issue would be with them for life. DLA was for those both in and out of work for the extra costs associated with disability. The Government presented PIP as a ‘like for like’ payment to replace DLA.

PIP was introduced in 2012 to replace DLA, the government arguing that the increasing number of claimants made DLA unsustainable.  PIP is therefore more restrictive and will lead not only to a reduced number of claimants but also to a reduced number of claimants entitled to the enhanced rate of the mobility component. http://disabilitynewsservice.com/2014/01/shocking-pip-figure-raises-new-motability-concerns/

PIP has also been riddled in controversy because of Atos, the firm contracted by the government to undertake the PIP and the Work Capability Assessments, which has led to 1 million disabled people appealing in court, with 43% of them succeeding in having their fit for work decision overturned. http://dpac.uk.net/2012/11/esa-appeals-increase-by-40-what-the-newspapers-wont-print/

Therefore it really came as a surprise to discover that in 2012 PIP had become a sanctionable benefit.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/192913/response/472770/attach/3/8.194%20Clarification%20letter%20Jones%20WDTK..pdf

http://legislation.data.gov.uk/ukpga/2012/5/schedule/9/crossheading/social-security-fraud-act-2001-c-11/data.htm?wrap=true

However aborrhent sanctions are, there is a kind of twisted logic behind them.  JSA and ESA claimants have to sign a contract (under duress, meaning threat of sanctions) and have to comply with the terms of this ‘contract’ (again under threat of sanctions). If they don’t, they will lose some of their benefits and many JSA and ESA claimants have been sanctioned, some 120 disabled people up to three years http://www.cpag.org.uk/content/3-year-benefit-ban-hits-120-disabled-people-under-new-sanctions-regime

 But with PIP, there is no contract, no Jobseeker’s agreement, no Claimant Commitment and it still remains a recognition that life for disabled people is more expensive, if they have to buy appliances or care that non disabled people don’t need in order to live a decent and dignified life or to work.

So what does it take to have your PIP sanctioned?  Is there somebody in the twittersphere or reading this article who can answer this question?  Because making PIP sanctionable does not make any sense, unless the DWP or IDS have a cunning plan. And they might.

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Jan 072014
 

Independent Living & The Care Bill 2013 – help make this Bill better for disabled people 

The Care Bill going through Parliament this January 2014 will shape social care for years to come yet the Bill currently does not include any mention of independent living and fails to address key concerns like independent advocacy and funding of social care. 

The Care Bill is being discussed by MPs from 9 January till early February, during this time changes can be made to the Bill to improve it. We know you are extremely busy but please take the time to get in contact with your MP to ask them put forward amendments to the Care Bill to ensure independent living is at the heart of this important piece of legislation and also encourage your service users and members to contact their MPs as well.

We have received some great news – Liz Kendall, the Shadow Care Minister has put forward important changes to the Bill suggested by Inclusion London and supported by DPAC regarding choice and independent living, for discussion by the Care Bill’s Scrutiny Committee! Pressure from your MP now will help these amendments to be accepted in the House of Commons.

Detailed below is all the information you need to lobby your MP. It won’t take that long and your input could make all the difference.

How to lobby your MP

  1. 1.   Email or write to your MP. 

Find out who is your local MP at: http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/

Their contact details are available at: http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/

Send the attached letter to your MP, feel free to change the letter to reflect your / their circumstances.

  1. Tweet:
    Service users / members can tweet about any responses to their letters or meetings, which will keep interest in the Care Bill alive. Use your own twitter account or email your tweet to henrietta.doyle@inclusionlondon.co.uk who will tweet it for you.
  1. Attend your MP’s surgery or ask for a home visit.
    Information about your MP’s surgeries times and venues is available at:http://wiki.openrightsgroup.org/wiki/London_MP_Surgeries

Home visits:  If you are not able to attend your MP’s surgery because of your impairment you should ask for a home visit.

  1. DDPOs you can organise a meeting between your MP and your members and users about the Care Bill.

For information on how to contact your MP go to: http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/ 

We know you are extremely busy but please take the time to get in touch with your MP. This is a vitally important piece of legislation that will have a huge impact on disabled people’s lives now and in the future. We can make this Bill better.

Many thanks to Inclusion London for putting together this campaign pack for people to use. Further information on the Care Bill is available to read at   http://www.inclusionlondon.co.uk/ 

Template Letter for individuals

 

Dear   Add the name of your MP,

I am writing to you regarding the Care Bill which is in currently being discussed by MPs.

The Care Bill has been described as a once in a life time opportunity to tackle the social care crisis which is impacting on my life. I am asking for your support to propose the amendments to the Care Bill below, to ensure that I am given the support I need for my independent living. 

Independent living for disabled people

As a disabled person I have the right to the same opportunities, choices and rights as other citizens. I want to get a job, build a career and have an education and to take part in community and public life.  I wish to decide when I go bed, what I eat and to live in my home with people I choose to live with, I also want to be able to leave my home to go out and about – go shopping, go to see a band. I would like the opportunity to be a parent and friend, have a family and social life. All these elements are included in independent living for disabled people.  Independent living is being able to contribute, participate and be included.

Funding

Social care is in crisis resulting in more and more disabled people going without the essential support they need. This situation is likely to continue because the Care Bill does not tackle the fundamental issue of funding for social care. I have not got large savings and do not own my house, so I will not benefit from the Government’s funding reforms.  I would like care and support to be funded so it supports me to lead an independent life of participation, inclusion, dignity and equality. To achieve this I believe it should be funded out of National Insurance contributions/general taxation and free at the point of need like the NHS, this would ensure I get the care I need for independent living in the future.

Amendments to Care Bill

I would be grateful if you could put forward the amendments below to the Scrutiny Committee or to the House of Commons when the Bill reaches Report stage, to try and ensure that independent living for disabled people becomes a reality. All the amendments are highlighted in bold:

1. Amendment to: Clause 1 ‘Promoting individual well-being’ 

Can you please propose the following amendments to the definition of ‘well-being’ and to the General responsibilities of local authorities:

1 Promoting individual well-being and independent living

(1) The general duty of a local authority, in exercising a function under this Part in the case of an individual, is to promote that individual’s well-being, independence and inclusion as equal and valued citizens and members of the community.

(a) That duties under independent living promote the wider definition of independent living as expressed in the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

(See Inclusion London’ paper attached for all the amendments to this clause). 

2. Advocacy

It is very important that disabled people are provided with independent advocacy right through the process of obtaining and maintaining care and support.

It is important because independent advocacy enables disabled people to participate in the assessment and review process but also enable disabled people to give direct feedback about the quality of services, which will help prevent on-going abuse of disabled people in the future. Therefore we ask you to put forward the following amendments to three clauses, (see wording in bold)

Clause 5.Promoting diversity and quality in provision of service:

A local authority must have regard to —

(c)      the need to offer and provide an independent advocate to enable service user feedback to improve the quality of services  

Clause 9.  Assessment of adults need for care and support:

A local authority, in carrying out a needs assessment, has

(d)     A duty to offer and provide an independent advocate to the adult to enable full participation in all needs assessments and reviews

Clause 42.   Enquiry by local authority:

(2)The local authority must-

(a)     Offer and provide an independent advocate to an adult who is experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect to enable them to give evidence and participate fully in the enquiry. 

3. Amendment to Clause 9 ‘Assessment of an adult’s needs for care and support’

The assessment is the key gateway to care and support so it is important that disabled people, who are expert in their own needs, should be at the core of the assessment process. Can you please propose the following that:

  • All care assessments reflect the rights to independent living and choice encompassed in the UNCRDP.  Also that all care and support assessments should be a person centred process. 

4. Amendment to Clause 13 ‘The eligibility criteria’

The government has announced that the national eligibility threshold is to be set at ‘Substantial’. This means support will only be provided at a very late stage when disabled people’s health, wellbeing and independence has deteriorated badly. Can you please propose an amendment so that:

  • The eligibility threshold for care is set at ‘moderate’ to ensure that disabled people are able to receive the support needed to maintain and sustain health, wellbeing and independence

5. Independent Living Fund (no existing clause)

The impact on the independent living of disabled people with high support needs if the Independent Living Fund (ILF) closes in 2015 will be devastating. I would be grateful if you can propose a new clause to ensure there is:

  • A duty on local authorities to provide equivalent support as provided by the ILF that ensures independent living in the community on an on-going basis. 
  • Set up an Independent living task force, co-produced with ILF users, to review independent living and specifically the Independent Living Fund in order to identify how best to improve, develop and extend independent living support building on the successful model of ILF provision. 

5. Amendment to ‘Continuity of care and support when an adult moves’ – Clause 37 ‘Notification, assessment etc

I believe I should have the same freedom to move home as non-disabled people i.e. without the fear that my care package will be removed or reduced. I urge you to propose and amendment so there is a duty to:

  • Ensure the new care package provided by the receiving authority must be equivalent to the existing care package, provided by the first authority.  

Together these amendments will help make the Care Bill better for disabled people and help make independent living a reality for me and other disabled people.

Can you please let me know what action you will take and what amendments you will be proposing and supporting.

Yours sincerely,

 

 

 

 

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 Posted by at 16:36
Nov 292013
 

Please write to your MP urgently, asking them to save the Independent Living Fund which exists to help disabled people who need the highest levels of support. You can contact your MP easily through this website: www.writetothem.com.

Below is a message and links to a video from Mary, who is directly affected by welfare cuts. At the end of this email is a template you can use when writing to your MP.

Dear friends,
I’m writing to let you know about an emergency that is happening to disabled people in the UK right now as you read this email.

Some of Britain’s most disabled people – including me – are facing losing our right to living independent lives. The Independent Living Fund is a pot of money that helps disabled people who need the highest levels of support to do more than just exist.

But David Cameron’s government has already closed the ILF to new applicants – and now he wants to stop it for the group of 18,500 people who already receive it.

That will mean people like me will end up sitting alone looking out of the window for most of the day unable to even go to the toilet. Until now, despite being severely disabled by rheumatoid arthritis and unable to walk or use my hands or arms, I’ve been able to live a fulfilling life. In 2012 I was a Gamesmaker, and I carried the Olympic torch. Now, I will be imprisoned at home, and will even have to give up my beloved dogs Jack and Molly.

At 66 years old, severely disabled, and totally human and wheelchair dependent, I have found myself looking at the deep pond at the bottom of my garden, no longer wanting to live. My weight has dropped down from 9 stone to 6 stone.

But I didn’t want to just sit around feeling sorry for myself, so I asked campaigners to make a film about me. The trailer is right here. But you can also watch the whole 15 minute film by going to http://vimeo.com/79330726

You can read my full story by going to www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/ros-wynne-jones-column-mary-laver-2855221

It’s not just the ILF the whole of social care provision is in crisis. Sooner or later this will affect most of you if you become disabled or when you get older.

Disabled people are also under attack from the Bedroom Tax, from the flawed Work Capability Assessment process and ATOS’ reviled tests, from the abolition of Disability Living Allowance,from cuts to council tax benefit and Benefit Caps.

We wonder what we’ve done to deserve it. We aren’t the ones who caused the banking crisis. But it seems as if we are the ones who are paying for it.

We wanted you to know what’s happening to disabled people under ‘Austerity’, because we thought if you did you’d want to campaign with us about it.

If you do, please write to your MP urgently, asking them to save the ILF. You can send them a letter at the House of Commons, or email them via www.theyworkforyou.com.

And please forward this email to everyone you know.

Mary Laver

You could use this as a template:

Dear MP,
The government has already been found guilty of illegally deciding to close the Independent Living Fund and now have to remake their decision. I believe that closing this fund would violate the human rights of disabled people who have the highest support needs to live independently in the community. Closure of the ILF would not only force disabled people back into residential care homes but also cause the UK to breach its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

I urge you to watch this video, which gives a very real idea of how important this fund is, and to do everything you can to save this vital fund: http://vimeo.com/79330726

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