May 042014
 

I’m at rock bottom right now and unable to go through writing it again. I have an appointment to see my MP tomorrow. I have copied and pasted an email I sent to his secretary earlier today. Dear Mary, I was going to write a brief summary of the main issues I’m facing right now and send them to you to save some time tomorrow, but it looks like all my benefits have just been stopped. I was due a DLA payment yesterday (Thursday 27th March) but it’s not been paid into my bank account. I signed on at the Job Centre in Stevenage on Tuesday, but the staff (My Adviser/Coach) doubt that I’m fit for work and think I should be on ESA.
I’ve done everything they’ve asked, searched for work everyday, applied for Jobs, even worked on a business plan to start my own business from home, I don’t know what more I could have done. DWP arranged an appointment for me with PLUSS a few weeks ago and after going there I felt quite optimistic, but when I went to sign on following that, their feedback was that they couldn’t help me because my health problems are too severe. I went to DAS (Depression and Anxiety Service) on 16th March, they can’t help with my Mental Health problems because they are too severe and complex.
Unless I say “I’m going to kill myself” I can’t get any help because local Mental resources are too underfunded and their caseload is too big. I DO NOT WANT TO GO INTO HOSPITAL and I would be extremely uncooperative if I was forced!!! Do you think this is Fair or Just??? What am I supposed to do??? My health problems are hard enough to deal with, without all this!!! I went from mid July last year up until a few weeks ago with nothing other than my £40 a week DLA to live on. I had £500 savings and a good credit rating before then, and a £950 overdraft which I never used until I lost my ESA at Tribunal. I got a statement from my bank this afternoon, I’m £921.12 overdrawn with an available balance of £6.20 (I don’t know how they do their maths?) I have £96 of overdraft charges being taken out of my account on 1st of April. I had come to an arrangement with housing people to pay back the outstanding rent arrears I owed when I started to receive JSA a few weeks ago and had promised a payment of £70 by tomorrow (28th March). DNRS have already tried to send the Bailiffs to my flat to take possessions for outstanding council tax arrears.
I’ve been to CAB numerous times recently. If this is how my life is going to be then what’s the point??? I can’t sleep at night because I’m so stressed out all the time, my health mental and physical are getting worse by the day. Everybody I’ve seen, my Job Centre Coach, CAB, My COPD Nurse and the Doctor I last saw (Dr Roper), PLUSS, DAS and my family ALL SAY I SHOULD BE ON ESA. I have an appointment tomorrow morning with my GP. I need immediate help, no more forms, no more appointments, NO MORE BULLSHIT!!! I refuse to live like this any longer, I can’t take anymore of the daily stress and injustice!!! I SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN IN THIS SITUATION FROM THE START!!! I’ve always been a fighter, I’ve had to survive but I’m totally exhausted now, mentally and physically… I HAVE TAKEN AS MUCH AS I CAN –
My appointment with my MP went well. I was already so angry to begin with made sure I made the most of my 15 minutes. I had written my main issues before hand so that I did not forget anything. To be fair I came away feeling he had listened to me and understood my situation. I was fluent in my arguments and never had any denial from him that what this government are doing to the most vulnerable people in this country is totally wrong. Since then I have applied for ESA again, all done over the phone this time, with help from my local CAB. My MP has also liaised with my GP so that I get to see the same doctor each time.

I have been to my local surgery twice since my meeting and the way I have been treated is 100% better. DWP asked me to get a letter from my GP to inform them of how many hours a week I was capable of working while claiming JSA. My COPD and mental health conditions have worsened considerably over the past few months and my GP signed me off sick saying in his opinion I wasn’t well enough to work, hence the claim for ESA. It’s like a merry go round and so frustrating and stressful it just makes my health and life in general suffer as a result. I stated strongly to my MP that I should never have been in this situation, and far from what Iain Duncan Smith claims to be doing. that he is helping people. My MP agreed.
I am due to receive my first ESA payment this coming Tuesday and looking forward to being able to eat properly again.

If I could give any advice to someone in a situation like mine it would be to get mad, make yourself heard with the right people. I am a fighter but fighting battles everyday to survive is tiring and wears you down. It either that or give in, I wasn’t prepared to give in with the injustices I had to face and wasn’t going to go without a fight.

Update: I received a letter this week from the DWP saying they were investigating my case. We will see what comes of it. I am still angry because of all the debt all this has got me into just trying to survive.
I will never forgive nor forget what this government has done to me and tens of thousands of others.

This is an edited version of a set of emails received by DPAC- all names and places have been changed and the author has given DPAC permission to use this to publicise the inhumane situations many are finding themselves in under the Condem regime

 

Apr 042014
 

We’ve had a great response to bookings for the DPAC conference on Sat 12th April in London, but places are now running out. Please email:  dpacfightback@yahoo.co.uk

with your details, number of places needed and any access needs.

12th April 2014 – 11am until 5pm

London Met University, Tower Building, 166 – 220 Holloway Road, London, N7 8DP

Since we started in October 2010 Disabled People Against Cuts has been at the forefront of the fight against austerity. With Atos on the run, and the bedroom tax on the ropes we are seeing the results of hard campaigning. But there is much more to do to ensure disabled people’s rights to live independently and with an adequate income.


The national conference is a chance for DPAC members to come together, to share experiences and discuss your ideas for moving forwards.


DPAC are working hard to bring to conference a surprise guest, a person who, if anyone has, has been the catalyst for the re-emergence of disability activism in the last few years, someone DPAC has enjoyed a close relationship with from visiting him at home to donating underpants to supporting his select committee appearances.


Workshops will look at: –  Where Now for the Independent Living Fund campaign,  – Developing a Social Model of Distress,  – Winning the Argument,  – Disability, Art and Protest,  – Building a National Network of Disabled People’s Organisations and Direct Action practical skills among others.

 Please note places are limited so priority will be given to DPAC members. For information about joining please contact mail@dpac.uk.net

The venue is wheelchair accessible. BSL and a note taker will be provided. For access information go to: http://www.disabledgo.com/access-guide/islington-council/london-metropolitan-university-tower-building

For access queries including booking parking please contact DPACfightback@yahoo.co.uk
To book places or for more information please contact DPACfightback@yahoo.co.uk

 

 

 

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.

Nov 112013
 

Are you a Disability Living Allowance (DLA) user that has been forced into a Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment? We are looking for stories of those that have been forced into a PIP assessment through a third party. For example, if you have had an ESA assessment, failed and then details have been passed on to the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) and  triggered a PIP assessment.  Also if you think you have been reported to any agency for a change of circumstances and this has forced a PIP assessment.

This does not apply if you have reported a change of circumstances, but in any other case where you have been told that you must be assessed for PIP due to a change in your circumstances.

Please send any stories to mail@dpac.uk.net  

All details will remain confidential.

Sep 282013
 

Just less than 3 years ago disabled people marched at the Tory party conference to protest against austerity cuts using the slogan CUTS KILL. Even though it was obvious that the plans outlined by millionaire George Osborne in the June 2010 Spending Review would not be good for disabled people even we did not envisage just how fast our welfare state would be destroyed by the Condems or how many disabled people would be pushed to suicide or death through the malicious Condem cuts.

 

We could not have imagined that 3 years later we’d be getting daily emails from disabled people and pregnant disabled people who were actually starving and being left without food, money or access to any hardship payments. We knew but couldn’t have possibly imagined that disabled people would have their benefits stopped for weeks and in some cases months without any means to support themselves other than possible prostitution, drug dealing or theft. What do you do when you are already living on the breadline with no savings and your only income is taken away? We never imagined we’d read about children, disabled and non-disabled being left without food.

 

It’s hard to believe it’s the UK we’re talking about yet this is what life has become for many in the 21st century in the 7th richest nation in the world. We never imagined that we’d go so far backwards that all of the gains made for disabled people’s rights over the last 30 years would effectively just be swept away as disabled people are vilified as shirkers and scroungers.

 

10,000 Cuts and Counting is a single issue protest against the now discredited computerised Work Capability Assessment executed by ATOS. It has pushed so many disabled people to suicide or death through fear and stress that DWP have now stopped collecting any statistics on the death count but between January 2011 and November 2011, some 10,600 claims ended and a date of death was recorded within six weeks of the claim end. DPAC and other campaigners are proud to have destroyed the ATOS brand name but there is no point in just replacing ATOS with another corporate monster and the WCA must be scrapped in its entirity. Why should any private firm rake in millions and millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to provide a totally flawed service which could be provided by civil servants for a fraction of the cost as has been the case until recently? The WCA was put in place to cut the number of claimants by 1 million either through miracle cures or death it seems.

 

One of the next major battles disabled people face is the scrapping of Disability Living Allowance put in place to meet the extra costs of being disabled. This too has been designed with only one aim in mind to cut costs and remove 20% of disabled people from entitlement. Many disabled people rely on this income to enable them to work and will no longer be able to if it is lost to them. Even more will be left trapped in their homes with no means to go out.

 

For anyone who thinks this doesn’t matter to them 6 out of 7 disabled people have an acquired impairment through long term illness or an accident. Most of you will also get older and so how older disabled people are treated should be of great concern to you – it’s your future. Let’s not be polite older disabled people are often treated worse than animals in the UK getting 4 x 15 minutes ‘pop ins’ if they’re lucky and imprisoned in their homes and some left soaking wet the rest of the time.

 

This is the fate now awaiting younger disabled people from 2015 when without any vote in parliament the Independent Living Fund will be closed leaving local councils to try to replace this funding with ever shrinking budgets and different eligibility criteria.

 

At the same time they say they want disabled people to work but without this vital support even if found fit for work they are unable to. The Remploy factories have been decimated in the Condem attacks against disabled people supported by some organisations who purport to campaign for us. At last count only about 3% of those made redundant had secured mainstream employment but given the barriers to gaining and keeping employment that disabled people face this was always likely. To this we need to add the benefit cap which is in effect a futher cut.

 

The Bedroom Tax so loudly condemned by the UN rapporteur Raquel Rolnik existed in the private rented sector since 2008 and Labour who introduced this have singularly forgotten to mention that they originally also planned to roll it out in April 2010 to the social housing sector. None of us should forget that most of these horrors now affecting both disabled and other people were in many cases introduced by Labour and it is time for all of us all to start to tell them what they must do if they want to have a chance of being elected.

 

It is also way past time for the larger unions to stop pussy-footing around, stop unconditionally supporting a neo-liberal Labour party and force them to act as an effective opposition and outline their real policies. The unions and TUC should have already called a general strike but need to do so now urgently. It is time to add industrial power to community activism if any vestiges of our welfare state are to be salvaged for our children.

 

Disabled people and others also face a further raft of cuts and attacks to the NHS and in particular mental health services, to health and safety at work legislation, to Access to Work funding, to secure employment and not zero hours contracts, to accessible transport, to accessible housing, a right to mainstream education, cuts to council tax benefit, all coupled with cuts to CAB services, legal aid cuts and lastly the introduction of the Lobbying Bill which regardless of it’s eventual outcome will not silence us in any way. We are now many thousands and we will be heard.

This piece is also due to be published in the Morning Star

 

 

May 252013
 

Any campaign from this Government which claims to support disabled people should be viewed with suspicion and the latest offering from the DWP is no exception.

The department yesterday put out a press release boasting: “Celebrities have joined forces with the government to help launch a campaign aiming to promote positive role models for disabled people.”

This campaign features a youtube channel where 50 videos have been posted which have “been produced with a focus on overcoming barriers”.  Many of these videos are unsurprisingly about disabled people who have high flying careers, such as Dame Anne Begg, or are stories of disabled entrepreneurs.

The accompanying press release includes a gushing quote from Emmerdale actor Kitty McGeever explaining how after becoming disabled it ‘took some time to get back into work’ but she managed it with the help of the Government’s Access To Work scheme.

This scheme provides funding for workplace adaptations, travel or some care needs for disabled people in employment.  The number of people benefiting from Access To Work has plummeted by over a third since this Government weren’t elected showing the true situation for disabled people currently seeking employment.

Whilst this campaign may be a cheap attempt to improve those figures, it comes against a background of savage cuts to benefits, services and housing for disabled people.  It is a campaign run by a government which is declaring hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled people to be ‘fit for work’ with the aim of stopping their benefits.  A government which has been only too happy to force sick and disabled claimants onto workfare as part of the Work Programme –  with no public scrutiny of where they are being sent or for how long.  A government that is set to force potentially hundreds of thousands of disabled people from their homes due to the bedroom tax, benefit cap and other measures.

And when Personal Independence Payments (PIP) fully replace Disability Living Allowance, this is a Government which will have slashed completely a vital benefit for 20% of disabled people.

This move alone is likely to mean that over 50% of disabled people are forced to leave work as funding for specialist equipment, care and transport disappears*.

Vast numbers of disabled people are set to be plunged into poverty by these measures, and it is this which reveals the true intentions of this latest DWP run project.  One of the charities involved in the campaign is quoted as saying that the “project is about showing what disabled people can do – not what they can’t”.

This is eerily similar to David Cameron’s line when interviewed shortly after the opening of the Paralympic games when he said: “It’s about the inspiration and it will change people’s minds and that’s what matters. It’ll teach people about what they can do, rather than what they can’t do.”

It is also the line used to justify the benefit-stripping Work Capability Assessment which according to the DWP focuses on “what an individual can do despite their health condition, rather than simply what they can’t.”

Minister for Murdering Disabled People, Esther Mcvey also pops up in this week’s press release, and whilst not quite so explicit, her underlying message is the same:  “young disabled people tell me they want to see more inspiring role models to show where disabled people have achieved their ambitions despite the odds being stacked against them”

For young disabled people the odds are stacked against them like never before due to this Government and in this context the true nature of the DWP’s latest campaign becomes clear.  This is not about providing role models for young disabled people or helping people fulfil their potential or even changing perceptions of disabled people as is claimed.  This Government doesn’t care about any of that.  This campaign is yet more insidious DWP propaganda attempting to give the impression that those plunged into poverty due to the ruthless cuts to disability benefits will only have themselves to blame.  If only they’d learnt to play wheelchair rugby, or been a fucking Dame, then they could afford to put the heating on.

The campaign also has a facebook page which might be a good place to share experiences of what people can no longer do due to the vicious cuts to benefits: https://www.facebook.com/Rolemodelsinspire

Dawn Willis writes well about this kind of narrative: ‘I’m not Stephen Fry, how damaging is that?’ from Dawn

*this figure comes from a survey carried out by Disability Rights UK (DRUK) which reported that 56% of those asked said they would have to leave work if they lost their DLA.  DRUK are notoriously in the pockets of the DWP, with Chief Executive Liz Sayce writing a report which recommended the closure of the Remploy factories.  The survey relating to the number of people likely to leave work due to PIP seems to have disappeared from DRUK’s website, for which there is surely an entirely innocent explanation.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

With massive thanks to the brilliant Johnny Void for letting us re-post

See more from Johnny at http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2013/05/25/achieve-your-potential-or-starve/

 

Jan 192013
 

Ellen Clifford joins Paul Carter and Sophie Partridge to talk about DPAC, the end of DLA and the migration to personal independence payments, sport and the Independent Living Fund with Neil Coyle from Disability Rights UK,  and Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson. Includes John Evans interview with Sunil Peck on the closing of the ILF.

from Disability Now – The Download podcast: DLA sport and the Independent Living Fund (to listen to the podcast click on image below)

 

 

Dec 152012
 

14/12/2012 · by skwalker1964 · Bookmark the permalink. ·

This is a difficult post to write, but I think it has to be written. So please, don’t make the mistake of thinking what I’m about to say means my heart isn’t breaking at the tragic loss of lives in yet another US school shooting.

As I write, the news media are showing constant footage and updates about the terrible events in Newtown, Connecticut, where a gunman has entered a school armed with multiple weapons and killed, according to the latest report, at least 27 people, including 18 children, having already killed both of his parents and, so it’s reported, his brother.

It’s an awful, awful situation. I have three children, though now grown up, and one of them is a teacher, so my heart goes out to those affected. But at the same time as I’m appalled and shocked, I can’t help thinking ‘But what about…?’

You see, because of the things I write about, and the research I do for what I write, I’m aware that there are things which are just as bad – and on a much greater scale – going on constantly in this country. The news channels are devoting non-stop coverage of the events in Newtown, and it’s understandable. What isn’t understandable is why the events in this country – also horrific, and hurting far greater numbers of people – barely merit a mention in the news media, let alone saturation coverage.

Already, in the US, the pro-gun lobbies are mobilising to defend the ‘right’ to carry guns. Within minutes of the coverage beginning, I had already heard a commentator talk of how the ‘gun lobby’ was trotting out its well-worn claim: ‘Guns don’t kill people. People kill people‘, and is even trying to use the tragedy to call for more guns, arguing that fewer people would be killed by guns if more people had them ‘to defend themselves’, and that schoolteachers should carry guns to defend their pupils.

The mind boggles. But the thing is, they’re partly right. People do kill people – but guns allow them to kill others in far greater numbers than they could otherwise. Because people kill people, the more you can keep them away from guns, the more sense it makes. If you put guns in their hands, more people are going to die.

But we face a parallel situation here in the UK, and it’s what is causing those barely-mentioned and much larger tragedies I referred to above. Not because we put guns into people’s hands, but because we have power in the hands of people of ill will, stupidity, or both.

Power doesn’t kill people. People kill people. But power allows them to do so on a vast scale. Perhaps you think I’m crass to do anything but join in with the public show of horror and grief about the events in Connecticut – but let me tell you about some of those almost-hidden tragedies first, and then if you still think I’m crass, at least you’ll be making an informed judgment.

In Newtown, 29 people died in today’s shooting, plus the gunman, according to the latest news. It’s truly awful – but here are some other figures, which I hope will shock you commensurately. Because they should:

24,000

24,000 is the number of people who died in the UK last winter because of ‘fuel poverty’. That’s 24 thousand people who died because they couldn’t afford to heat their homes properly, and who died either of hypothermia, or of illnesses resulting from their inability to keep warm.

It’s truly a national scandal. And yet I can barely recall a mention of it on the news channels, and little more in the press. Certainly nothing like the coverage that we’re seeing now about the school shooting – or even the near-continuous coverage of the very sad death of Jacintha Saldanha. One royal-related death is big news, but 24,000 avoidable deaths, in a single winter and from a clearly identifiable, remediable cause, are apparently not. But then, the progress of the Olympic torch around the country was deemed worthy of mass coverage when the plan to privatise the NHS wasn’t, so maybe I shouldn’t be surprised.

Our government has the power to do something about fuel poverty, in order to prevent a repeat of this national shame. So what is it doing? In a time of steep rises in fuel costs that are expected to continue for the foreseeable future – it is capping benefit rises at 1%, well below the general rate of inflation and miles below the rate of increase in energy costs (13% up to October this year, and another 8% or so from January)

330,000 – or 1.9 million

I wrote a couple of months ago about the government’s planned change from Disability Living Allowance (DLA), which is currently paid (in varying amounts) to some 3.2 million people, to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP). Iain Duncan Smith’s Department of Work & Pensions devised the new payment with the specific goal of excluding at least 500,000 people from the new payment who currently qualify for DLA, as a cost-saving measure.

Basing my calculations on this figure, I showed that the change will push at least 85,000 people below the poverty line – but that figure is based on an extremely unlikely hypothetical scenario in which every single person excluded is single and has no dependents. On a more likely situation, the number of people pushed into poverty will number in the hundreds of thousands.

But it appears I was over-cautious. Yesterday, the Tory Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey, told the House of Commons that, of the 560,000 people who will be assessed for the new benefit by 2015, 330,000 are expected to be excluded from the benefit. That’s an exclusion rate of 59%. 3.2 million people receive DLA, so if the same failure rate applies as they become due for reassessment, that means around 1.9 million disabled people who will lose crucial support. Using the same calculations as I applied to the 500,000 initially flagged to be excluded, it means almost a million people pushed below the poverty line.

Factor that into the death rate from energy poverty, and you’re looking at a situation where the 24,000 deaths last winter will look like nothing compared to what we’re going to see, let alone the 30 innocent deaths in Connecticut.

453 – and counting

That’s the number of additional suicides that happened last year, compared to before the financial crash. As growing numbers of people face financial catastrophe, more and more are seeing suicide as the only escape. The government’s response? To demonise the unemployed,  disabled people and low earners who are forced to claim benefits – and then to cut those benefits and deepen the despair, while the rich get richer.

73 – a week

This, according to the campaign group DPAC, is the number of deaths (including suicides) among disabled people as a result of the government’s programme of Work Capability Assessments (WCAs), which is categorising people as fit for work when they are plainly not. 70% are eventually overturned on appeal – but the stress of the process and the fear of losing essential support are killing some and causing others to commit suicide. And the government is responding by capping benefits even for those who do pass the test – and closing Remploy, which provides suitable work for disabled people, while Iain Duncan Smith sneers at them and tells them ‘this is better’.

24,000. 330,000. 1.9 million. 453. 73 a week. All numbers at least as deserving of mass media attention as the 30 killed in Connecticut – and all conspicuous by their absence from the BBC and other news media.

Power doesn’t kill people. People kill people. But people with power can kill a lot of people – and this government is wreaking havoc among ordinary and vulnerable people.

The deaths of the 30 (as of now) innocents in Newtown will, rightly, bring people out onto the streets in the US – for prayer vigils, to lay flowers, to protest in favour of (and, insanely, against) gun control.

If the people of the UK became as aware, en masse, of what is taking place under the coalition government as they surely are now of what has happened in Connecticut, the streets would be packed with people protesting – and streaming to the polls in 2015 or earlier to get rid of those in power, killing people.

Which is, probably, why we’re not seeing those other numbers and many like them on our television screens.

With many thanks to Steve for agreeing to repost- please support this excellent blog-see more at http://skwalker1964.wordpress.com/2012/12/14/media-full-of-newtown-tragedy-but-far-worse-is-ignored/

Follow Steve on twitter : @skywalker 1964

 

Dec 012012
 

Re: scrapping of equality impact assessments and fair consultation arrangements

 

Dear …..

 I am writing to express in the strongest terms our objection to the plans announced by the Prime Minister to scrap equality impact assessments and fair consultation arrangements.

 The Coalition Government has unleashed the most disproportionate and discriminatory attack on disability rights and  the resources on which disabled people depend in a civilised community.

 Equality impact assessments when carried out thoroughly provide an indication of the impact of proposals on disabled people and reveal factors that may significantly reduce the ability of disabled people to contribute to the community and economy.

 Government’s proposal to scrap this mechanism will not lead to growth, but to a widening of the fast growing gaps into which many disabled people are falling to the detriment of the economy and cohesion in our communities.

 Your Government has refused to carry out a cumulative impact assessment of all the measures that are being introduced which affect disabled people. Our own research shows that disabled people will have their living standards reduced by 20% over the four years of the austerity programme.  Contrast this with the richest 20% of the population who are only seeing a 7.5% reduction – clearly we are not all in this together.  

 Mr Cameron is trying to cover it up by scrapping the instruments that prove it.

 “The cuts to disability benefits are estimated to total £9 billion over the four years, about a third of all cash benefits paid to disabled people in 2009-10. These cuts mean that the poorest fifth of the 2.7 million households receiving disability benefits will lose 16% of their cash income plus benefits-in-kind over the four years. This percentage loss is four times as big as the loss for the richest fifth of all households but even this 16% is probably an understatement because of the difficulty of analysing how hard disabled people will be hit by the cuts in Departmental Expenditure (Local Government, Health, Education, etc)” 

 The Austerity War and the impoverishment of disabled people, Chris Edwards, September, 2012

 What concerns me most is that you have no democratic mandate to carry out these attacks as neither the Conservative or Lib Dem manifestos put these plans before the public.

 Fair consultation on Government plans and Equality Impact Assessments are the only means by which Government can claim the democratic process has been satisfied.

 I urge you to take all possible action to reverse the decision to scrap Equality Impact Assessments, and to restore fair consultation with disabled people throughout Government.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 ==============

For the record we will itemise the regressive measures that your Government is carrying out that negatively affect the life chances  and rights of disabled people:

 

  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and replace it with the Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which aims to reduce the budget by 20%, removing support from half a million people.  Increase the take up ofDLA so that disabled people and people with long term conditions can live independently in the community. DLA – like child benefit – is recognition that some groups of people face additional costs and that society wishes to collectively make provision to cover some of these costs.  The principle of making ‘reasonable adjustments’ – whether it takes the form of money or support – should be applied to both disability and out of work benefits, and to employment support.

 

  • Employment and Support Allowance and ‘medical model’ Work Capability Assessments, which reduces eligibility, increases means-testing and imposes conditions and sanctions.  This approach sees us and our behaviour as the problem. Instead it needs to recognise the additional needs that come with impairment and/or ill health and the barriers and discrimination in the labour market.  This would mean a welfare system which compensated for loss of income and for additional costs associated with impairment and ill health, while at the same time tackling disabling barriers to employment. Crucially, this system must recognise the impact of ill health and not confuse it with functional impairment. 

A recent article in The Church Times recently highlighted the issues:

 “…those who fail the Government’s new Work Capability Assessment. This includes 73 people each week who usually die as a result of the illnesses and conditions for which they had previously received welfare payments, after they were certified “fit for work”. Some commit suicide. In one case, Freedom of Information requests revealed, someone died while filling out an assessment form. Relatives of the deceased have suggested that the stress of the assessment itself also contributes to death.

The arbitrary nature of such categorisation is also highlighted by the 400,000 disabled and sick people who have been initially declared fit, and who then have to undergo a lengthy, expensive, and exhausting appeals process to establish that they were deserving after all.

The categorisation of “deserving” and “undeserving” hardly makes financial sense, either. The total expected savings from putting 2.5 million disabled people through work tests will be just £2.2 million over three years – and that is if the targets are met.”

 ATOS, A4E etc: The privatised delivery of Government assessment, employment and training programmes is failing disabled people and the public purse.  It may be good forPLC’s, directors and shareholders but it is not delivering good outcomes for disabled people.  The Guardian, Panorama and Dispatches have shown that the real agenda is targets to get people off benefits.. 

 ATOS – 40% of assessments are overturned on appeal and this rises to 70% if representation is present in the appeals process.

 The Work Programme – Only 3.4% of people referred to the job programme got and stayed in work 3-6 months (these figures drop to 2.5% if calculated from June – May.

 This is an expensive waste of money. 

  • Closing Remploy

It is gross negligence to close Remploy factories and throw disabled people onto the open job market in the current economic climate.  This Government has done nothing to ‘level the playing field’ by addressing the disablism in the training and job market.  In the last round of redundancies at Remploy only 3% of the disabled employees were able to get jobs and that was prior to the current triple dip recession.  We absolutely agree with the planned closure of sheltered workshops but this approach is crass.

  • Changes to housing and  housing benefits: Government figures show about 450,000 disabled people will see their incomes cut under one of the changes planned to housing benefit.  Our fear is that thousands will be forced from their homes.   From April 2013, housing benefit for working age people in social rented homes will be linked to the size of property councils believe they need. 

An assessment from the Department for Work and Pensions shows   the change will leave 450,000 disabled people an average of £13 a week worse off.

  • Independent Living Fund: There are 20,000 existing users of ILF in theUK. The fund was closed to new applicants in 2010 preventing many disabled people from accessing this support to remain independent.  The Coalition Government wants to force disabled people to rely on local authorities from 2015 by closing the ILF permanently. Local authorities already face severe cuts and cannot provide adequate support to existing customers. Some local authorities are already saying that residential care homes will be their only option.  Without guaranteed levels of funding and ringfencing this is fantasy talk as the funds will disappear through the cuts.  This is a major threat to independent living for disabled people.

 

  • Cuts to Local Authorities: disabled people are disproportionately affected to cuts to local authorities as we use public services more than non-disabled members of the community.  Any cuts therefore are discriminatory and threaten our right to live independently in the community.  Services can be delivered more effectively and in a personalised way and we support reform that gets better outcomes more cost effectively.  However the level of cuts is negatively impacting on disabled people’s life chances and will not achieve reform.

 

  • Universality in health and social care: Social care policies have led to the privatisation of care services, and may well support the same trend in the context of health care.  This has led to the re-institutionalisation of people with learning disabilities and other groups.  This private sector led retrograde step has been colluded with by local authority commissioners who have shunned the community based alternatives leading to disasters such as Winterbourne View.  Reverse this move and return to the founding principles of the health service and welfare state – services should be based on need and free at the point of delivery funded through a progressive taxation system, in benefits, services and equipment which aim to create a level playing field for people affected by illness and/or impairment. Work with DPOs to truly personalise services in ways which increase choice and control for disabled people and achieve the best outcomes and value for money, whilst protecting rights and reversing the harmful effects of privatisation. Create real choice and control for us over the resources needed to go about our daily lives.  

 

  • Social Care: Can people who need help to go about their daily lives, help which involves intimate care, help that enables someone to access the most basic human rights like communication, rely on the profit motive to deliver this assistance in a way which protects and promotes their human rights?  Giving and receiving intimate care is not the same as having your car serviced.  To rely on another person in such a way is inevitably associated with a vulnerability to abuse, unless the person providing the care holds and promotes values which in many instances are incompatible with the profit motive.  Maximising profit requires holding down wages, increasing productivity by reducing the amount of time spent on each task to a minimum, only investing in training to provide basic competence, and minimising regulation.  We don’t believe that the delivery of high quality social care services, which protect and promote people’s human rights, is compatible with the profit motive.  This is not to say that services run by public authorities are necessarily any better at delivering our human rights. Over the last twenty years, public services have increasingly had to measure themselves against private sector notions of efficiency – and efficiency is defined in terms of cost, not quality.  Personalisation in social care – the current policy – is only tinkering with the adult social care system, which is underfunded, and too reliant on organisations motivated by profit and answerable to their shareholders. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oct 072012
 

If you have been refused ESA or DLA , have exhausted the appeals process or are trying to survive on no income-Please contact Merry Cross at  merry4u@talktalk.net

This is for a potential legal challenge and to publicise these issues more widely

You can also call Merry on her radio show or be an interviewee.

Merry’s show is : Make Yourself Heard on Tuesdays 2-4p.m. The link is  www.Reading4u.co.uk

Sep 182012
 

Section 102 and Schedule 11 Welfare Reform Act 2012 – Power to require consideration of revision before appeal

 Section 102 and Schedule 11 of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 legislate for the following changes to the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Disability Living Allowance (DLA) appeals process:

 Ÿ  Under the new rules, due to be implemented from April 2013, claimants who wish to challenge a benefits decision will no longer be allowed to choose to lodge an appeal immediately.

Ÿ  Instead, there will be a new requirement for claimants to request a revision of the original decision from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and have that request determined before launching the right to appeal to an independent tribunal.

Ÿ  Only once the decision maker has either issued a revised decision, or decided that they cannot revise the decision, will the claimant be able to lodge their appeal.

Ÿ  There will be no time limit on how long this process can take.

 DPAC is very concerned at the harmful impact these changes will have on many claimants:

 Ÿ  The new bureaucratic tier in the appeal system has the potential to cause confusion for many claimants and lead them to make the wrong appeal to the wrong people at the wrong time, leading to inevitable problems with the payment of their benefits. Some disabled people may even withdraw from the appeals process altogether. The current appeal system is already a highly stressful, time-consuming process, resulting in considerable instability in many people’s lives and finances. The addition of a mandatory review stage, with all the attendant uncertainties, can only exacerbate these problems. DPAC is not convinced that the addition of a mandatory revision stage will in any way increase the efficiency of the system.

Ÿ  This problem will be heightened by the fact that there is no statutory time limit for the revision stage. This could lead to indefinite delays to the process while the DWP revises the decision. There is already no time limit in the current system, so adding another stage can also maximise delays, with, once again, a corresponding adverse impact on the health and well-being of the claimant. This could be alleviated if there was a maximum set period for the review process. This would at least provide the claimant with some level of certainty.

Ÿ  Around 40% of all WCA appeals are currently successful with 70% sucessful with representation which is a damning indictment of the quality of ATOS Healthcare’s initial assessment. Tragically and scandalously, many people who have initially been found fit for work have actually died before the appeals process was completed. With the extension of the time frame for appeals that this change will introduce, and no perceivable improvement in the WCA itself, this number can only rise even further.  

Ÿ  It is also unclear how the new process will deal with the payment of ESA during the new mandatory revision stage. Currently, a claimant appealing against a decision that they do not have a limited capability of work is able to continue to receive ESA at the assessment phase rate pending the outcome of their appeal. However, if the ESA Regulations are not amended, the position would be that claimants would have to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), and therefore comply with all the conditions associated with receipt of that benefit,  or face receiving no benefit at all. Many claimants with severe conditions would simply be unable to fulfill the JSA conditions and therefore face a very real prospect of destitution. This would be inhumane and lead to a catastrophic increase in the amount of distress, poverty and debt many disabled people already suffer from. The Government should therefore, as a matter of urgency, provide clarification on whether it intends to allow ESA claimants to continue to receive ESA at the assessment rate while they undergo the mandatory revision stage.

Ÿ  The fundamental problem is that the WCA process is itself fundamentally flawed and it this broken system that needs to be completely overhauled. The standard of the initial medical examination, and the information provided to the claimant on their WCA decision, need to be drastically improved before any needless tinkering with the appeals system is introduced.

 The Government consulted on the implementation and operation on the appeals reform provisions from February to May this year. The consultation, though, did not ask for responses on whether the mandatory reconsiderations should be introduced. The Government revealed, in its interim response published in June, that it had received 154 responses to the consultation but indicated that it “does not propose to make any significant changes to the draft regulations included in the consultation document as a result of the comments received“. DPAC calls on the Government to publish a full response to this consultation as soon as possible so we can ascertain the evidential basis for this change and just how much support the proposed change has received from respondents.  

 With Thanks to Richard Woodward

Mar 012012
 

The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) today publishes its Report on the implementation of the right of disabled people to independent living in the context of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) which was ratified by the UK in 2009. The Report draws attention to a number of significant human rights issues, including:

 

  • the need for freestanding legislation to protect the right to independent living in UK law,
  • the effect of current reforms to benefits and services on the ability of disabled people to enjoy independent living,
  • the role played by the UNCRPD in policy development and decision making at all levels of government,
  • the use of equality impact assessments,
  • the effects of devolution on implementation of the UNCRPD, and
  • hate crime

 

The right to independent living does not exist as a freestanding right in UK law. Although it is protected and promoted to some extent by a matrix of rights, the Committee believes that this is not enough. It argues that the Government and other interested parties should immediately assess the need for, and feasibility of, legislation to establish independent living as a freestanding right. In addition, the Committee concludes that the UNCRPD is hard law, not soft law, and that the Government should fulfil their obligations under the Convention on that basis, and counter any public perception that it is soft law.

 

The Committee finds that:

 

  • reforms to benefits and services risk leaving disabled people without the support they need to live independently;
  • restrictions in local authority eligibility criteria for social care support, the replacement of the Disability Living Allowance with Personal Independence Payment, the closure of the Independent Living Fund and changes to housing benefit risk interacting in a particularly harmful way for disabled people;
  • some people fear that the cumulative impact of these changes will force them out of their homes and local communities and into residential care.

 

It also finds that:

 

  • the Government had not conducted an assessment of the cumulative impact of current reforms on disabled people. The Report urges them do so, and to report on the extent to which these reforms are enabling them and local authorities to comply with their obligations under the UNCRPD.

 

  • the UNCRPD did not appear to have played a significant role in the development of policy and legislation, as is required by the Convention. The Committee therefore argues that the Government should make a commitment to Parliament that they will give due consideration to the articles of the Convention when making legislation.

 

Further, the Committee deprecates changes to the duties of public authorities in England under the Equality Act 2010, which no longer require the production of equality impact assessments of changes in policy, nor the involvement of disabled people in developing policies which will affect them.

 

The Committee finds variations in the manner in which the devolved administrations have implemented the Convention, and uncertainty as to the role the UK Government should play in ensuring implementation. The Report notes with disappointment the lack of a strategy in Northern Ireland to promote independent living and reminds the UK Government to acknowledge their responsibility to ensure implementation.

 

The Committee also considers a range of other issues relating to independent living. It recommends that the Government should take further action to ensure that assessments for care needs are portable across the country in order to ensure disabled people’s right to choose their place of residence. It also expresses concern over a growing incidence of hate crime against disabled people and urges the Government take action to foster respect for the rights and dignity of disabled people.

 

 

Dr Hywel Francis MP, Chair of the Committee, said: “We are concerned to learn that the right of disabled people to independent living may be at risk through the cumulative impact of current reforms. Even though the UK ratified the UNCPRD in 2009 with cross-party support, the Government is unable to demonstrate that sufficient regard has been paid to the Convention in the development of policy with direct relevance to the lives of disabled people. The right to independent living in UK law may need to be strengthened further, and we call on the Government and other interested organisations to consider the need for a freestanding right to independent living in UK law.”

 

 

The members of the Committee Are:

Rehman Chishti MP (Conservative Gillingham and Rainham) Baroness Berridge (Conservative)
Mike Crockart MP (Liberal Democrat Edinburgh West) Lord Bowness (Conservative)
Dr Hywel Francis MP (Labour Aberavon) (Chair) Baroness Campbell of Surbiton (Cross-Bencher)
Mr Dominic Raab MP (Conservative Esher and Walton) Lord Dubs (Labour)
Mr Virendra Sharma MP (Labour Ealing Southall) Lord Lester of Herne Hill (Liberal Democrat)
Mr Richard Shepherd MP (Conservative Aldridge-Brownhills) Lord Morris of Handsworth (Labour)

Clerks to the Committee:

Mike Hennessy (House of Commons) 020 7219 2797 John Turner (House of Lords) 020 7219 6772

Enquiries: 020 7219 2467        Fax: 020 7219 8393        E-mail: jchr@parliament.uk

Homepage: http://www.parliament.uk/jchr

Media Inquiries:  Liz Parratt: 07917 488978.

Feb 012012
 

Debate was heated today as the House of Commons debated the Lords amendments to the Welfare Reform Bill with Ian Lavery, MP for Wansbeck, pointing to the similarity between the Tory party and the Nazis. Opposition MPs supported the Lords amendments while conceding the sad reality that the ConDems would likely carry the day. ConDem contributions to the debate exposed ignorance and failure to understand the day-to-day lives of disabled people and the barriers we face.

The Lords amendments rejected the 12-month limit for ESA claimants who are judged capable of working at some stage in the future, Peers voted down plans that would have meant some cancer patients receiving contributory ESA would have been means tested for the benefit after 12 months and they rejected moves to stop disabled young people who have never worked, due to illness or disability, from receiving contributory ESA. The Government was nevertheless determined to push these measures through.

There was much discussion about the arbitrary nature of the 12 month limit and Stephen Timms, Shadow Minister for Work and Pensions, reminded Libdem MPs that their party conference had voted against time-limiting ESA. ConDems defended their position by citing that a 2 year time limit was equally arbitrary. For every example given of individual circumstances where a person in need would potentially be thrown into poverty by the Government’s proposed measures, ConDems explained that such an individual would be placed in the support group of ESA and was therefore irrelevant to the debate on time-limiting for the work related group. Jenny Willott, MP for Cardiff Central, said that assessments were important for getting people into the right ESA groups. When Opposition MPs raised the issue of the notorious inaccuracy of the Work Capability Assessments, the Government Front Bench blamed the WCA system on New Labour, saying that the impact of the changes to the WCA following the Harrington review is not yet measurable and that the accuracy of the current WCA cannot be commented upon.

However we know that the aim of the time-limiting is to get people off benefits. We know that the application of a policy with such an aim is that people are found fit for work when they are not. For the Government to make the savings it wants there will continue to be cases of individuals who are in need and who are denied access to the ESA support group. Stephen Timms quoted figures to show that although 90% of people on contributory Job Seekers Allowance find work within 6 months, only 6% of those on ESA find work within 12 months. Inevitably therefore time-limiting will mean people being denied an income when their inability to find work is due to disability or ill health.

The question of the need to set the 12 month time limit in statute by an Act of Parliament was also questioned. Willott weakly defended this explaining that benefit claimants would welcome the stability to the benefits system that such an Act would ensure. In reality benefit claimants would be better reassured by such an arbitrary and unfair time-limit not being set in stone in legislation in this way. Willott did seek assurances from her front bench colleagues that those affected by the change to ESA would be among the first to be moved onto a universal credit system which aclnowledged that these measures will have a serious detrimental impact on high numbers of disabled people.

Anne Begg expressed exasperation at the inability of the ConDem benches to understand the fundamental difference between being out of work due to being unemployed and due to long term disability or ill health. As a Tory back-bencher cited his own past circumstance of being made redundant with no access to benefits to help him out, Begg explained that there is a clear difference when a person has no prospect of improving their financial circumstances themselves.  She went on to have to explain to Jenny Willott what different benefits payments are for after the MP for Cardiff Central commented that an individual denied ESA would still have access to non means-tested benefits: Begg explained that housing benefit pays for rent, DLA pays for the extra costs that arise from being disabled and that still leaves no income, nothing for clothes or heating or the everyday things we take for granted. The Tories continued to fail to understand the barriers that disabled people face as David Nuttall got close to describing disabled people as benefit scroungers when he commented that his constituents are sick and tired of people making a lifestyle choice of being on benefits.

David Winnick, MP for Walsall North was vehement in his opposition to the Government proposals. He said: “This is indeed a grubby and obnoxious measure” and called on LibDem MPs to vote against the Government, as he would have done had his Government ever tried to introduce such a thing. Winnick quoted the Prime Minister, who said: “People who are sick, who are vulnerable, I want you to know we will always look after you. That is a sign of a civilised society. That is what I believe in”. The Welfare Reform Bill exposes this as a lie.

-Ellen Clifford

Dec 202011
 

DPAC has been passed an unedited transcript from Work and Pensions Committee in which Maria Miller appears to admit that the changeover from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is set for cuts of £160 million from disabled people. It’s claimed that the department must raise the cash cuts lost in the U-turn on removal of mobility allowance for those in residential institutions. In the full transcript participants also seem to be talking as though DLA to PIP is already passed in law which it isn’t.

Q194 Sheila Gilmore: Some of my colleagues may want to ask whether or not it is just a question of people filling in the form. There is quite a lot of dispute as to whether it is fair to say that is all that goes on here. As to the financial position, a lot of people were very pleased to see the removal of mobility allowance from people in residential homes, which is something people have campaigned on from the time it was proposed. That also had a savings implication because a reduction of some £160 million was in the financial estimates. Is your Department still expecting to find additional savings from the migration from DLA to PIP that now will not be found from removing mobility allowance from people in residential care?

Maria Miller: As you would expect me to say, the Department has very clear commitments to the Treasury in terms of the spending it is able to undertake in the spending review period. The answer to that question is, very firmly, that we will have to find the funding that was associated with the mobility component for people living in residential care, but we will not find it from within the Disability Living Allowance.

Q195 Sheila Gilmore: From within PIP?

Maria Miller: Yes.

DPAC are running a campaign on DLA as already people are losing this in increasing numbers see

DLA tell DPAC your story Campaign and Social model respomse to loss of DLA

See full unedited transcript of meeting of Work and Pensions Committee at link below

Proposal to replace disability living allowance with personal independence payment – uncorrected evidence

Organisation: House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee

Source: House of Commons – Uncorrected Commons Committee Evidence

Date: 18.12.11

The House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee has published an uncorrected transcript from its evidence session on December 12 2011 on the proposal to replace disability living allowance with personal independence payment.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmselect/cmworpen/uc1493-iii/uc149301.htm

Witnesses:

  • Maria Miller MP, minister for disabled people, Department for Work and Pensions
  • Dr James Bolton, deputy chief medical adviser, Department for Work and Pensions
  • Simon Dawson, deputy director of independent living and Office for Disability Issues, Department for Work and Pensions

18 December 2011

 

 

 

Oct 232011
 
At Disability Capital Conference

At Disability Capital Conference

The sham that was Disability Capital 2011 (20th October at London Excel) reinforced the Government’s determination to set disability policy without any reference to disabled people ourselves and the reality of our day to day lives. Disabled People’s Organisations were markedly absent from the organisation and running of the event and those that did consider it worth attending went to protest. The aim of the day seemed to be to exclude and silence disabled people and to avoid those topics that we did want to hear about and question. Enough was however said to make it plainly obvious that the politicians responsible for setting current government policy are completely out of touch with the realities of disabled people’s existence.

The most basic details of the event reveal a lack of consideration for disabled people’s attendance. People First Director Andrew Lee said

“we told the GLA if they had the conference at the Excel disabled people wouldn’t be able to get there but they didn’t listen”.

Not only was the conference venue difficult to get to, the conference opened at 9am to start at 10am, leaving disabled people with a Freedom Pass just half an hour to travel across the capital in the post peak-time rush to get there for the keynote speeches. Moreover the main mode of transport to get to the venue, the DLR, was disrupted by non-operational lifts at many of the stations serving it. Worst of all, there was no lunch provided, leaving attendees to fend for themselves at the over-priced outlets in the Excel. It certainly appeared as if the GLA wanted to hold a Disability event without any disabled people being there.

Islington DPAC banner

Islington DPAC banner

Those disabled people who did attend were restrained from asking difficult questions or getting our points of view across. Security made Islington Disabled People Against Cuts take our banners down, and when we draped them across the empty chairs we were informed there were 1000 people booked to attend and all the seats were needed. Not even half that number showed up. Then there were the questions, hand-picked from ones submitted in advance.

Both Transport for All and Inclusion London pre-publicised the range of pertinent questions they put forward to ask but the majority went unanswered. Not content to be silenced in this way, protestors heckled the Mayor of London and Minister for Disabled People, Maria Miller during their keynote speeches. This provided the entertainment for the day as politicians put on the spot revealed their levels of ignorance and prejudice.

Mayor Boris Johnson showed himself completely out of touch with the concerns of disabled people. He thought we should be celebrating the 2012 Games, after all, some tickets are priced so extremely reasonably at under one hundred pounds. He told us that not only do disabled Londoners have the Games to look forward to, we also have the prospect of the South Bank, a veritable “party zone”, as he described it, bring made accessible. In future disabled people will theoretically be able to party freely in the Southbank. If only we had the income, the support and the transport to get there.

Disabled members of the audience called out and heckled the Mayor about something called Atos.

“Well, there’s clearly a lot of concern about Atos sponsoring the Paralympics” he conceded, “Why is Atos sponsoring the Paralympics? I don’t know”, he told us. “I’ll have to go and discover that from some learned quarter”.

He promised that if people stopped heckling and let him finish, he would come back to questions from the floor, mainly about Atos, at the end. He didn’t of course. By the time the hand-picked advance questions had been covered, it was too late and he had to leave, although not before he enlightened us on such burning topics as “What bit of the Paralympics is the Mayor most looking forward to?”, and “What does the Mayor know about sickle cell” (cue patronising sympathy and a recited Wikipedia entry).

So no, we never really got to the heart of the Mayor’s understanding of his government’s vicious erosion of disabled people’s rights. Maybe because he doesn’t have one or maybe because that’s what he would rather we believed. However he did promise that if we write in to City Hall after the conference with any questions that did not get answered he would receive a reply.

Killer Miller poster for Maria MillerMP

Killer Miller poster for Maria MillerMP

After Mayor Boris came Maria Miller MP. She was vehement in her defence of the right of Deaf members of the audience to follow the conference and that meant all hecklers had to be quiet. Never has a politician cared so much about the rights of the Deaf community as Ms Miller appeared to that morning. Suits in the audience felt emboldened to tell protesters to “shut up” so they could hear our venerable Minister speak as she painfully regurgitated the social model of disability and independent living philosophy as a justification for cutting services. Undaunted, the few disabled people in the audience called out “Lies, lies”.

Finally, a hard-hitting question, about the target of reducing DLA claimants by 20%, was allowed through. Maria Miller MP responded by telling the room that the majority of people on DLA do not have life-long conditions. She claimed it is in the interests of people with fluctuating conditions and those with learning disabilities, to be regularly reassessed. She never said why, or mentioned the cost of continuous review and reassessment, or explained how people with learning difficulties will be able to engage in the review process when their support packages are being slashed. And then it was time for her too to go.

The Atos question was resurrected again in a subsequent session about the 2012 Games as a disabled member of the floor insisted that a question be posed about Atos sponsorship. (Of course this question had not been chosen from those sent in in advance as sufficiently interesting to be covered).

Baronness Tanni Grey -Thompson explained that as the Welfare Reform Bill is currently at Committee stage it would be inappropriate for her to comment and would damage her credibility among her peers (pun intended). However only about 25 people had actually contacted her to raise concerns about Atos sponsorship of the Paralympic Games and if there are more people out there who are worried about it, by all means they should contact her and let her know.

So in light of this invitation I would urge all DPAC members to contact Grey-Thompson and make sure that whether she supports our objections to Atos or not, she cannot continue to say that only 25 people in the country have an issue with Atos sponsoring the Paralympics Games. Contact her at http://www.tanni.co.uk/contact/

Aug 142011
 

legs of a wheelchair userLeft Foot Forward reported that:

The Department for Work and Pensions has acknowledged that one of the key statistics it has used to justify radical change to disability benefits ‘gives a distorted picture’.

One of the main ‘stylised facts’ that the DWP has used to make the case for aggressive reform of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) has been that the caseload increased by 30% over the last eight years- a phenomenon which a DWP source described as ‘inexplicable’.

Read the figures at Left Foot Forward

Further on

While it is welcome that the Department now recognises the inadequacies of its earlier statements on DLA caseload growth, the publication of this analysis at this late stage is a matter of concern, for two reasons.

The first is the stress the government has placed on the 30% figure as evidence of major flaws in the system requiring radical reform:  the consultation document on DLA reform stated:

“In just eight years the numbers receiving DLA has [sic] increased by 30%. The complexity and subjectivity of the benefit has led to a wider application than was originally intended.”

With the Welfare Reform Bill having already passed its report stage in the Commons and due to go to the Lords in September, government surely needs to explain how the downward revision from 30% to 16% affects the case for its proposals.

The second reason for disquiet is this: government is engaged in radical cuts and reforms to disability benefits, including a reduction in caseload and expenditure by 20% against projections for 2016 and the abolition of DLA and its replacement with a new system, Personal Independence Payment.

Yet it now appears that prior to deciding on these ambitious projects, DWP failed to carry out the most rudimentary analysis of the changes in DLA caseload which reform was supposed to address.

And finally

The government would appear to have launched itself into a radical programme of change affecting millions of disabled people without troubling to understand the first thing about the benefit it claims to be reforming. One has to ask whether this sort of amateurishness would be tolerated in any other major area of government spending.

We would say very probably not. But at the rate this government is going, we might say that the amateurishness starts at the highest echelon.

Read the full article at Left Foot Forward

Jul 082011
 

By Steven Sumpter

In two weeks I have to undergo a Work Capability Assessment which will determine whether or not I will continue to receive Employment and Support Allowance while I am ill. I will be placed into one of two groups: the Support Group, who are judged sick enough to be left alone to receive ESA, or the Work Related Activity Group, who are thought able to attend several Work Focused Interviews and eventually to be able to work if pushed enough. If by some miracle I am suddenly cured, I could be declared fit to work and moved on to Job Seekers Allowance and classed as unemployed.

That all sounds OK, you might think. It sounds reasonable, we have to make sure that sick and disabled people receive support, and the the work shy are sent back to work. But there’s a problem. It isn’t my GP that will carrying out this assessment. Nor is it any hospital specialist. It’s not even the Department of Work and Pensions that will carry out this test, even though they requested it. No, instead of any of these, it is a French IT company called ATOS that will decide if I am fit to work or not. Specifically, a division of ATOS called ATOS Healthcare that has been contracted by the DWP to carry out these assessments and provide “medical advice” at a cost of £100 million a year. “That’s absurd!” you may say. What does an IT company know about health? Well, that doesn’t matter, according to ATOS. They have developed a computer system called LiMA that records the patients answers given in an interview, and makes the decision based on points. It’s all very straightforward. What could possibly go wrong?

Well obviously something has, because ATOS is the subject of strong protest. On twitter and on blogs anger against ATOS has been obvious, cropping up again and again. In the physical world campaigners have held extensive protests outside ATOS buildings, with signs and slogans like “ATOS kills” and “ATOS don’t give a toss.” ATOS recruitment fares have been targetted too. When sick and disabled people are scared and angry enough to picket a company, wheelchairs and crutches and all, there might just be something wrong. A commons select committee has been investigating the Migration from Incapacity Benefits to Employment Support Allowance, and while questioning senior executives from ATOS healthcare MP Stephen Lloyd said that Atos was “feared and loathed probably in equal terms” by the families and friends of disabled people. Lisa Coleman, a senior manager at ATOS, said that “fear and misunderstanding” could be blamed on claimants “not really understanding the role that Atos plays”.

So what is the problem with ATOS? Well, for a start, the computer can only work with what it is told. And what it is told is keywords. The examiner asks questions about things such as walking, reaching, communicating and controlling the bowels. The answers don’t really matter much, because the examiner stares fixedly at the computer screen and picks keywords and numbers from a list as they are mentioned and the computer assembles them into a sentence and fills in the gaps. This has often resulted in some absurd and misleading statements. Some genuine examples include “usually can do light gardening for 1 minutes” and “The client’s Amputation of Upper Limb is mild. They have seen a specialist for this problem.” Another claimant stated that she pottered about all day; it was recorded as “Customer does pottery all day.” After the questioning is complete there is usually a very short physical examination. The claimant may poked and prodded and instructed to stand up, raise their arms, pick something up, or make other movements. It is all very rushed and does not leave time or scope for much useful data to be gathered. In addition the examiner records observations about the patients ability to walk and talk while at the assessment.

This assessment is flawed for several reasons. Firstly, the data gathering process is inaccurate and rushed. Staff carrying out the assessment have strict targets and are expected to get through five assessments in a morning or afternoon session, which allows about 45 minutes per assessment at most. People that have been through the process complain that the examiner spent their time looking at the computer rather than paying attention to them.

Once the examination is over the examiner produces a report that may bear little resemblance to the patient’s actual condition. The reports often fail to take into account the variable nature of many illnesses. What the patient can do on one day is by no means representative of what they can do the next, and for someone who is chronically sick or disabled, each task in itself may be achievable but exhaustion and pain can often prevent repetition or moving on to the next task.

An ATOS examiner might note that a person can sit at a computer, walk to the shops, cook a meal, and wash themselves. What they fail to note is that it might well only be possible to do one of those things on any given day! Being fit to work in an office, for example, involves a series of tasks – washing, dressing, commuting, sitting, talking, thinking, typing, holding the telephone, holding a pen, making decisions, defending those decisions, and much more. I could do any of those things, sometimes, maybe, but I could not do them all together, and I certainly could not make any guarantees about when I could do them or how long it would take, or even guarantee to do them at all. ATOS cares not. If you say that you can ever manage a task, it is assumed that you can do all of the tasks all of the time. They may well assume that because I could write and record this article, I could write for a living. They don’t see that it took me several days to write including many hours of frustration as my body left me in too much pain or fatigue to think or type.

Another flaw is that the ATOS assessment process can often be harmful in itself. For example, I could usually raise my arm above my head when asked. It would result in pain and fatigue which the examiner would not see. It would also be harder to do a second time, and after a few goes I would be unable to do it at all. The ATOS examiner would simply note that I could manage it the first time and would take no account of whether or not I could do it again or what price I paid for doing it.

More problems occur because at least a fifth of ATOS medical centres are not wheelchair accessible. Only one third of the centres have onsite parking, while visitors are required to walk from car parks several minutes away for other centres, and just one has a parking space for disabled people. 30 of the centres are not on the ground floor some don’t even have lifts! Considering that people only visit these buildings when they are sick or disabled and a huge number of them will be using walking sticks or wheelchairs, this is ridiculous.

For many people, just getting to the ATOS medical examination centre can be a major challenge. In a letter sent out to notify me of my impending assessment I was helpfully sent a suggested journey plan. It included bus, train and 17 minutes of walking. I do understand that the journey plan is a standard item sent out to all claimants, and this is why they have suggested that I walk despite them being fully aware that I cannot stay on my feet for more than a couple of minutes.  But I can’t be the only one that would have trouble with that journey. In fact, I would suggest that a majority of  people that claim ESA would find it difficult. Whether that be through inability to stand or walk, or pain, or fatigue, or because of a lack of accessible buses, or through mental health problems that get worse when around other people or attempting a task such as travelling. The problem is that many people will attempt and complete the journey at great cost to their own health, purely because they feel that they have to. Again, ATOS would merely note that the journey had been completed, and not what it cost in terms of pain, fatigue and recovery time.

It is not just the people subject to the tests that are unhappy with the situation. As I mentioned above, a commons select committee has been investigating the Migration from Incapacity Benefits to Employment Support Allowance.  In February, Dr Margaret McCartney attended a recruitment evening with ATOS Healthcare and reported back in the British Medical Journal. She noted that apart from doctors, ATOS also recruit nurses and physiotherapists for the same role, and that patients often would not be examined by anyone with knowledge of their health conditions. She reported that ATOS said “You are not in a typical caring role. This isn’t about diagnosing.” and “We don’t call them patients . . . We call them claimants.” She said that “Throughput is a clear focus” and that “from the recruitment evening it was clear that the medical examination consisted of a computerised form to be filled in by choosing drop down statements and justifying them. For example, you could say “able to walk with ease” if you witnessed this or the patient told you this.” Even Professor Paul Gregg, who was involved in designing the test has said “The test is badly malfunctioning. The current assessment is a complete mess.

Since ATOS have taken over the assessments for ESA, both ESA and the contract with ATOS originating from our last government, by the way, the number of people being judged fit for work has risen substantially but high numbers of those go on to appeal with a 40% success rate at overturning the decision. That rises to 70% of cases overturned when representation is provided. This has caused alarm to a great many people with groups such as Citizens Advice Scotland reporting “Our evidence has highlighted the cases of many clients with serious health conditions who have been found fit for work, including those with Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, terminal cancer, bipolar disorder, heart failure, strokes, severe depression, and agoraphobia.” In fact there have been several recent cases where people have died soon after being judged fit for work and while waiting for their appeal. In one case the patient died IN the ATOS building after his assessment. On the day of the funeral his family received a letter notifying them that he had been declared fit for work.

Clearly, the Work Capability Assessment needs a rethink. Actually, the whole system by which benefits are controlled needs a rethink. Government insist that GPs can be trusted to take over administration and budgeting of the NHS from Primary Care Trusts, and yet they do not trust GPs and specialists to say whether or not their patient is capable of work or needs to rest at home.  The current arrangement for ATOS to assess patients does not and cannot provide for accurate assessment and proper care.

Related Links

Apr 092011
 

Thursday 14th April is the next day of action against welfare cuts. In Islington there will be a protest at 8.30am to 9.30am outside the Atos Healthcare assessment centre at 1 Elthorne Road, just off Holloway Road, 2 minutes walk south from Archway tube.

This private company gets paid millions to carry out dubious medical assessments for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), which is replacing Incapacity Benefit.

Later on the same day there will be a protest outside The Daily Mail at 2pm on their defamation of benefits claimants; their head office is on Young Street, off Kensington High St. And at 5pm to 9pm there will be a food giveaway outside Westminster City Hall to protest the banning of soup runs – see http://www.dpac.uk.net/2011/04/day-of-action-14th-april-3rd-national-day-of-protest-against-cuts/

All benefit claimants and supporters are welcome. Bring music, drums, whistles, placards and maybe even some breakfast to share!

Please help spread the word, invite your friends and join us!

Stop the attacks on benefit claimants! Stop the cuts!

More info:

This is part of a National Day of Protest Against Benefits Cuts, with groups up and down the country demonstrating against savage cuts to disability, housing, sickness and welfare benefits: http://www.dpac.uk.net/2011/03/3rd-national-day-of-protest-against-benefit-cutsapril-14th/

See also
non-facebook details of troll a tory and the two London events are both on there

http://benefitclaimantsfightback.wordpress.com/2011/04/10/protest-outside-the-daily-mail-stop-the-defamation-stop-the-lies/

http://benefitclaimantsfightback.wordpress.com/2011/04/10/national-troll-a-tory-day-3-and-rat-on-a-rat/

http://benefitclaimantsfightback.wordpress.com/2011/04/10/protest-outside-westminster-city-hall-mass-food-give-away/

Atos Healthcare has been awarded a £300 million contract by the government to carry out ‘work capability assessments’.

It’s claimed that assessments are to test what people can do rather than what they can’t. The real purpose is to strip benefits from as many people as possible.

This testing system has already led to people with terminal illnesses and severe medical conditions being declared fit for work and having benefits cut. GPs are ignored in favour of decisions made by Atos’s computer.

Plans announced for the scrapping of Disability Living Allowance mean this intrusive testing is likely to be extended to everyone on some form of disability or health related benefit.

Apr 042011
 

The 3rd National Day of Protest Against Benefit Cuts has been called for April 14th 2011. …..BE THERE!

from http://benefitclaimantsfightback.wordpress.com/

Brighton

Thursday April 14th 2-5pm

Churchill Square Brighton

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=210782635605158

Bristol

Thursday April 14 · 12:00pm – 5:00pm

Benefit Cuts Hurt Protest – 3rd National Day of Protest

Government Buildings, Flowers Hill, Bristol, BS4 5LA

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=199413500079998

Leeds

Thursday, April 14 · 10:30am – 2:00pm

Meeting @ Leeds Train Station 10am before moving to picket ATOS from 10:30 for an hour then move onto A4e/BEST for a couple of hours. The last picket was a great success and we hope to have another good day. Bring banners, flags etc.

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=155593464493862&

London

Thursday, April 14 – 2pm
Protest Outside The Daily Mail – Stop the Defamation – Stop the Lies

Daily Mail Headquarters, Young Street (off Kensington High Street), London W8 5TT

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=161556473898500&

Protest Outside Westminster City Hall & Mass Food Give Away!

Thursday, April 14 · 5:00pm – 9:00pm

Westminster City Hall, 64 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 6QP

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=186039361439862

Poole

Outside the Jobcentre at noon. Everyone welcome!

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=161332900587762

Everywhere

National Troll A Tory Day 3 and Rat On A Rat!

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=173026406078054

If you are planning an event in your town or city please add details in the comments below to be added to this page and the facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=164277070288955

You can also send details to notowelfarecuts@yahoo.co.uk

If you would like to see action locally, set up a group, event page or ask below. We will do out best to promote and co-ordinate all activity.

We are fighting for our homes, our livelihoods, our very survival. It’s time to show these public school parasites and their poverty pimp collaborators we mean business.

Mar 142011
 

Linda Laurie5,000 people turned up to march on the Lib Dem spring conference in Sheffield on Saturday. £2 million was spent on security to protect them so we weren’t allowed to get anywhere near them and surprise, surprise, Nick Clegg didn’t come out to speak to us despite his claiming that he and his ministers wouldn’t hide away. I went to speak at the rally after Linda Burnip (from DPAC) asked for a volunteer (speaker for Disabled people ). This was what I tried to say although speakers were curtailed to a few minutes each.

“Apparently we are all in this together.

Apparently the country doesn’t have any money.

Sorry

Apart from the

* £2 million that we are paying for the security to protect the Coalition govt Lib Dem millionaires, including Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne, inside our City Hall.

* Apart from the £20 million that we are paying for Will and Kate’s wedding.

* Apart from the £6.5 million bonus that the boss of Barclays bank is getting.

* Apart from the £20 billion of our money that the British govt have spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

Apart from, according to Nick Clegg last April, the £100 billion it will cost us to replace Trident.

Apart from the £210bn in avoided, evaded and uncollected taxes according to the Public and Commercial Services Union who organise Inland Revenue Staff, so they should know!

That is how they spend our money.

Yet the Lib Dem Coalition govt says that it is your fault – students, disabled people, pensioners, trade unionists – that the country has a budget deficit.

They say we must pay for the deficit with the destruction of the welfare state.

* The Liberals and their Tory friends say the NHS must pay with cuts of £20bn and the loss of 53,000 jobs including 6,346 jobs in mental health services by 2015.

* The ConDems say public services must pay with spending cuts of £31.9bn and job losses of 725,000 by 2015.

* The Liberals meeting today in City Hall say that poor people must pay with welfare spending cuts of £11bn.

They say that workers in the public sector must pay by having their pay frozen for 2 years.

* The Liberals and Tories (is there any difference any more?) all say that children must pay with a 3-year freeze in Child Benefit.

* The ConDems say that 3,000 council workers in Nottingham must pay by losing their jobs.

They say that public sector workers must pay through cuts in their pensions.

Our own council in Sheffield – run by the Lib Dems – says that the youth training charity Sheffield Futures must pay by losing 28% of their funding.

* Sheffield’s Lib Dem Council says that South Yorkshire Police have to pay with £40m of savings and 1,100 job cuts.

They say that 270 Sheffield council workers have to pay with their jobs.

They said that Sheffield Forgemasters had to pay by axing an £80m loan to them.

* The Liberals and Tories say that 120 carers in Barnsley have to pay by losing their jobs.

The Coalition govt says that disabled people have to pay by losing their Disability Living Allowance, by losing Employment Support Allowance after 12 months, support from the Independent Living Fund which has been abolished, support from the DWP Access to Work scheme that enables many of us to work and pay taxes, by having our housing benefit cut which will put up to 450,000 disabled people at risk of losing their homes according to independent BBC research and the National Federation of Housing Associations, and by disabled people living in residential homes losing their Mobility Allowance,

Disabled people are more likely to be unqualified, unemployed with only 47% being in paid employment in 2009, be paid less than non-disabled people, experience barriers to employment, incur more expense as a result of living with an impairment, have to rely on public services and live in low-income families.

* The ConDems say that the Big Society will provide the services lost through the cuts. We are told by the Tories and their LibDem allies that the Big Society is supposed to be about communities taking more control, more charitable giving, social enterprises taking on a bigger role, people establishing public services themselves.

The Big Society is a big con that is headed by the big con himself – David Cameron – supported by his lackeys – the Lib Dems

The Big Society is a cover up for the cuts being made by Nick Clegg and his mates the Tories whilst they award contracts like the £500m one given to the French owned company Atos, to bully people, like those with terminal cancer back into work, and harass people such as a former miner in Chesterfield whose family say they believe the stress of undergoing 2 Atos medical assessments led to his death from heart failure.

The main difference between the Big Society and the Big Issue is that some people buy the Big Issue.

The Lib Dems didn’t have to have their spring conference here in Sheffield where:

270 council workers face losing their jobs

1,100 staff from South Yorkshire Police face losing their jobs

A £80million loan for Sheffield Forgemaster was axed.

156 job cuts are expected in Barnsley NHS

145 job cuts are expected from Doncaster NHS

Having their conference here demonstrates their contempt for people here in Sheffield and South Yorkshire.

· Yesterday in the House of Commons, Labour had an opportunity to vote against the Coalition’s planned attacks on Disabled People, but they abstained! Trade unions, which have been described in the past as ‘Lions led by donkeys’, now need to take a lead too! Organising a mass demo of 2 milllion plus on 26th March is great, but that has to be just the start. Demonstrating is not enough.

· Disabled People call upon the TUC and the public sector trade union leaders to join with us, with students and others to take action now before it is too late to save our NHS, to save our public services, to save our universities, our schools, our jobs, our city, our country.

Disabled People say Rights Not Charity.

Disabled People say Can’t pay, Won’t pay.

Disabled People say “We have no time to waste, a new campaign coalition is needed; a coalition that brings together both disabled and non-disabled people. We need an active voice in the mainstream – a voice that challenges the lies about DLA, exposes the real agenda – cuts in welfare – and combats the ideology that says DLA should only be for the “most vulnerable”, If we don’t all stand up and be counted then many of us will see our benefits stolen from us by one hand and a one-way ticket to the euthanasia clinic Dignitas in Switzerland offered by the other!”

We say to Nick Clegg and the other traitors inside that building = shame, shame, shame on you. Shame on you for turning blue.

—-Linda Laurie

Mar 092011
 

by benefitclaimantsfightback

The 3rd National Day of Protest Against Benefit Cuts has been called for April 14th 2011.

Millions are set to be affected by savage cuts to housing, disability, sickness and welfare benefits. People with disabilities, illness, the unemployed, single parents, carers the low waged, part time students, volunteers, homeless people and college students are all likely to see a devastating drop in disposable income with many slipping even further below the poverty line.

The poorest and most vulnerable are being asked to pay for the mistakes and extravagances of the richest. Meanwhile poverty pimps like Atos Origin and A4e are set to rake in hundreds of millions on government contracts to bully and intimidate people from claiming the pittance handed out in benefit payments. Many disabled people have threatened suicide if these cuts are allowed to continue. Some have tragically already carried out that threat.

The first two days of protest against benefit cuts have seen demonstrations, meetings, unemployed discos, public pantomimes and occupations in cities across the UK. Atos Origin have been forced to close offices, protesters have gathered inside and outside workfare sharks A4e and demonstrations have taken place from Downing Street to local town centres such as Lydney and Crawley.

This time we have two months to organise for the biggest day yet. We call on all claimants, as groups or individuals, to organise and take action around the country on April 14th.

If you are planning an event in your town or city please add details in the comments below to be added to the facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=164277070288955

You can also send details to notowelfarecuts@yahoo.co.uk

If you would like to see action locally, set up a group, event page or ask below. We will do out best to promote and co-ordinate all activity.

We are fighting for our homes, our livelihoods, our very survival. It’s time to show these public school parasites and their poverty pimp collaborators we mean business.

Actions/events are being discussed and organised in Edinburgh, London, Birmingham and Nottingham so far.

UPDATE: First to call, the fine folk of Leeds

Thursday, April 14 · 10:30am – 2:00pm

Meeting @ Leeds Train Station 10am before moving to picket ATOS from 10:30 for an hour then move onto A4e/BEST for a couple of hours. The last picket was a great success and we hope to have another good day. Bring banners, flags etc.

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=155593464493862&

Supported by:

o Black Triangle Anti-Defamation Campaign
o Brighton Benefits Campaign
o Cardiff’s Unemployed Daytime Disco
o Carer Watch
o Carer Watch fb page
o Crippen – Disabled Cartoonist
o Diary of a Benefit Scrounger
o Disabled People Against Cuts
o Dundee Unemployed Workers
o Free London Listings
o Goldsmiths in Occupation
o Haringey Solidarity Group
o Ipswich Unemployed Action
o Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group
o Lancaster and Morecambe Against the Cuts
o London Coalition Against Poverty (LCAP)
o Mad Pride
o Norfolk Community Action Group
o Nottingham Claimants’ Union
o Nuneaton Against Benefit Cuts
o Oxford Save Our Services
o Squattastic
o Tyneside Claimants Union
o Welfare Action Hackney
o Welfare Rights 4 u (UK)
o Work Programme & Flexible New Deal Scandal
o World Homeless Day

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