Oct 212014
 

More and more people are asking what is happening with Access to Work, the programme that supports Deaf and disabled people to get into and stay in employment, as changes are making it harder and harder to use. Despite the government’s well publicised extra investment in the scheme Access to Work’s clear direction of travel is to cut individual packages, with the result that the employability of Deaf and disabled people is being seriously undermined.

When the Tories closed the Remploy factories in 2011-2012 they said there was no place for segregated workplaces in modern society and the money used to fund the factories would be better spent supporting Deaf and disabled people to get into and stay in mainstream employment through the Access to Work programme.

Over the past year, with the factory closures out of the way, changes introduced to the AtW programme have decreased eligibility, brought considerable distress and uncertainty to customers who had previously and successfully used the programme for many years, pushed Deaf and disabled people out of jobs and left others fearing for their futures.

It is difficult to summarise all the changes: AtW is awarded on a discretionary ‘case by case’ basis and the programme has always denied the existence of any blanket rules for particular impairment groups. What we have seen emerging are some clear patterns around the cutting of packages, lack of information and hostility to AtW customers alongside growing inefficiency and cuts to AtW service delivery.

The first clear pattern emerged with respect to Deaf customers who suddenly found themselves labelled as ‘fraudsters’. Individuals contacting AtW advisers, in some cases advisers they had had for many years were greeted with a completely different and hostile attitude. They were told ‘there are high levels of Access to Work fraud in the Deaf community’. Changes brought in including the notorious ’30 hour rule’, requiring Deaf customers using more than 30 hours of BSL interpreters per week to employ a salaried interpreter, have literally left Deaf people unable to continue in their jobs.  The government has sought to justify what it is doing by pointing the finger at interpreters, blaming them for ‘costing too much’, meanwhile undermining what is a highly skilled and important profession.

A particularly nasty move has been the introduction of retrospective decision making experienced by both Deaf and disabled people who have had their packages cut with the cuts being backdated after support costs have already been incurred. This situation has been compounded by the fact that has review notices are no longer sent out warning AtW customers when their packages are due for renewal which easily leads to people not realising their packages have ended. Deaf and disabled people have been left owing thousands of pounds and has left interpreters and support workers owed thousands of pounds, causing considerable hardship and distress.

Successful appeals against changes to packages have been made but many people do not realise they have a right to appeal or how they would go about making a complaint. Others are too worried about losing the rest of their package to make a fuss. This is where the website DeafAtW has been invaluable, providing information and support on how to challenge decisions.

There is a growing level of misinformation, confusion and chaos coming from AtW itself as a result of a restructuring that has seen a dramatic reduction in the numbers of contact centres and outsourcing. AtW invoices remain unpaid from months and months ago because the addresses of the payment centres changed but customers weren’t told. Meanwhile application backlogs have amassed. Given that Deaf and disabled people often cannot start a job until their AtW package is in place, yet can only make an application after an employment start date has been confirmed, this has presumably Deaf and disabled people unable to take up job offers.

Money pledged by this government for the Access to Work budget has yet to appear. This was highlighted at the Work and Pension Select Committee oral evidence session when Remploy confirmed that the £80million per year “saved” from the closure of the factories hadn’t materialised in AtW support. There was also an additional £17million that hasn’t appeared. These two amounts would mean the AtW budget should have doubled in the past four years, yet cuts are being made.

For a government that claims its welfare reform measures are all about supporting more people into employment, the changes to Access to Work appear counter-productive.

Moreover, in a time of austerity, changes to the programme represent a cutting back of a scheme that actually makes money for the state: the Sayce report found that for every pound invested in Access to Work, £1.48 is recouped by the Treasury.

But for anyone familiar with Tory welfare policies none of this comes as a surprise. Ill-thought through ideologically driven policies are seeking to reduce ‘dependency’ and dismantle the welfare state, removing social security from those that need it and creating situations that will end up costing more.

While the Tories describe AtW as a ‘benefit’ and a dependency and fail to understand it as an investment, campaigners have beaten back some of the attacks. AtW eventually conceded that it was not realistic to expect employers to contribute the on costs for salaried interpreters under the 30 hour rule. In May the Minster for Disabled People announced a review into the 30 hour rule and the DWP Select Committee Inquiry agreed not only to take evidence on how changes were impacting on Deaf people but also extended the deadline for submissions whereas originally the inquiry had been intended to focus on employment support for people with mental health support needs and learning difficulties. Individual decisions have also been revised in the face of continued campaigning and challenges.

More is needed though. We have yet to hear the outcome of the Minister’s review. Meanwhile we are hearing of cuts to AtW packages impacting ever wider, putting jobs at risk and pushing Deaf and disabled people out of employment. We need to step up our campaign to make sure information is available and accessible and people know what to do if they are impacted by the changes, to fight for the employment rights of Deaf and disabled people and to protect the terms and conditions of BSL interpreters and ensure we are not divided.

StopChanges2ATW campaign open meeting – Thursday 23rd October 2014, 6 – 7.30pm, 336 Brixton Road, London, SW9 7AA.

For more information read StopChanges2ATW and Inclusion London’s submissions to the DWP select committee inquiry: http://www.inclusionlondon.co.uk/ATW-ILs-%20and%20stop-changes2atw-respond-to-call-for-evidence

Oct 192014
 

Solidarity to our DPAC members and all in Parliament Square fighting oppression! DPAC fully supports Occupy-go and support them too…
Update: London police torment #OccupyDemocracy protestors on Parliament Square
Overnight in Parliament Square, #OccupyDemocracy protestors aiming to draw attention to the growing democratic deficit in the UK, have been enduring systematic torment from the Metropolitan Police and Heritage Wardens, who have been zealously enforcing new restrictions on the right to protest and assembly in the Square (Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011).
The reaction of the Police and the State to the #OccupyDemocracy protest is in complete juxtaposition to David Cameron’s recent comments regarding the Occupy Central pro-democracy demonstrations in Kong Kong, when he said that “rights and freedoms, including those of person, of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of travel, of movement, and, indeed, of strike … These are important freedoms … which, most of all, we should stand up for.” [1]
Timeline of #OccupyDemocracy
5pm Friday 17 October – Occupation begins on Parliament Square with an overnight vigil to mark the UN Day for the Eradication of Poverty with speakers from groups including War on Want, Fuel Poverty Action and Reverend Dr Keith Hebden (author of Seeking Justice: The Radical Compassion of Jesus). Throughout the night protestors’ right to assemble and protest were contravened – with protestors not being allowed to rest and being forced onto the pavement.
Daytime Saturday 18 October – Protestors support the TUC March.
7-10pm Saturday 18 October – Scuffles instigated by police against protestors as Heritage Wardens instruct that the protestors should be removed. Police kettle the protestors. Two protestors are assaulted, several personal items removed. Banners calling for “Real Democracy Now!” and a small, battery-powered sound system – used by speakers such as Green Party leader Natalie Bennett and Labour MP John McDonnell to address the crowd – were all confiscated by the police. Later witnesses say that journalists and photographers were denied access to the protest by the police and removed from the Square. At around 10pm the police back off.
2am Sunday 19 October – Whilst protestors try to rest police arrest attempts were made with further harassment of the group who were huddled together in the mud. Police also confiscated cardboard that protestors had been using to keep warm. One protestor, a 24 year old woman from Manchester, reported that she was not permitted to lean against her own bag as it was camping equipment. Another woman, 65, has an air mattress literally pulled from under her, casting her to the ground.
7am Sunday 19 October – Things calm until 7am when the police entered the gathered crowd to remove printed materials including banners, hand held signs and a flag displaying a rainbow and the word ‘Peace’. A woman had the occupation’s Safer Spaces sign ripped from her hands as she shouted ‘No’ – this sign set out the ground rules for behaviour to ensure every individual feels safe, comfortable and welcome.
10.30am Sunday 19 October – Another protestor arrested – police allege that he cut a piece of string.
Upcoming – Sundays’ theme is “taming the power of finance” featuring speakers and workshops from UK Uncut, Tax Justice Network, New Economics Foundation and the Robin Hood Tax campaign.
On Monday the focus is on the attacks on our public services including NHS privatisation and cuts in welfare benefits.
Details of planned events for the rest of the week at the #occupydemocracy protest can be found at http://occupydemocracy.org.uk/.
The protest, organised by #OccupyDemocracy – a group that grew out of Occupy London – is demanding reforms to our democratic process so that it serves the public interest, rather than the interests of corporations, banks and a tiny wealthy elite.
Alison Playford from #OccupyDemocracy said: “The way the State has responded to our protest with this political policing just shows how frightened the elite are of a new movement pushing for radical democratic reform.”
Amongst the flurry of support coming in via social media, support includes:
Labour MP John McDonnell who also spoke at the protest said:
“When politicians and parties ignore them, people have no other option but to take direct action. Occupy Democracy is a way people can have their voice heard.”
Donnachadh McCarthy, the whistleblowing former Deputy Chair of the Liberal Democrats and author of The Prostitute State who also spoke yesterday said:
“Our political parties have been hijacked by the corporate lobbying classes, our media perverted by a handful of extreme right-wing billionaires, our tax system plundered by the tax-haven elite and our think-tanks, schools and universities increasingly corporately manipulated. Britain is no longer a democracy but a Prostitute State, which is reflected by the rise of UKIP. We desperately need a 21st Century Great Democratic Reform Act to re-gain our democracy for the sake of social and political justice and the very future of our planet’s ecosystems.”
Notes
1. http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/10/15/uk-hongkong-china-britain-idUKKCN0I41C620141015

Reblogged with thanks to Occupy http://occupydemocracy.org.uk/2014/10/19/update-london-police-torment-occupydemocracy-protestors-on-parliament-square/
Twitter: @OccupyLondon

Sep 082014
 

Tory welfare reform is in crisis. Last week 70 Conservative MPs ignored a three line whip and stayed away from Westminster for the vote on Andrew George’s bedroom tax bill. Protests have beaten back government attacks on benefits but we need to keep fighting to see off the hated bedroom tax once and for all and to stand up against sanctions, which remain a vicious plank in the government’s punitive policies, whose use is rocketing and which are still supported by Labour in Parliament.

Join protests happening in the areas below or hold your own. Send pictures and updates to benefitjustice@gmail.com and/or mail@dpac.uk.net.

 

Barnet

9.00am: Jobcentre Granta House 1 Western Rd London N22 6UH. Go to Barnet Housing Action Group on facebook for more information.

 

Birmingham

12 noon: Broad Street Job Centre, Centennial House,100 Broad St, B15 1AU.

1.15pm: Centenary Square, Broad Street.

Sandk123456@aol.com

 

Huddersfield

12 noon: Upper Head Row, Huddersfield, HD1 2JL. (near main entrance to bus station) juneholmes@btopenworld.com

 

Leeds

12 – 2pm: Street meeting on benefits and sanctions: Briggate, LS1 6JX (near the Body Shop). ellenrobottom@hotmail.com

 

London

11am Old Palace Yard Westminster SW1P 3JY
and 1pm DWP HQ Tothill St SW1
(Southwark Benefit Justice Campaign will be meeting 10.30am outside Metropolitan Tabernacle opposite Elephant and Castle tube station to go up to Parliament)
Anti-Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Gig: Starring: THE WICKED VENETIANS + PARVA HINTON + SEBASTIAN MELMOTH + MYLAS: New Cross Inn, 323 New Cross Road London SE14 6AS: http://newcrossinn.com/?p=1&m=09&y=2014

Milton Keynes

12 noon – 1pm outside Milton Keynes Jobcentre Plus, Midsummer Blvd, MK9 3BN. E.kate.hunter@googlemail.com

 

FRIDAY 12th SEPTEMBER

 

Brighton

11am: Brighton station forecourt: brightonbenefitscampaign@gmail.com
Witney

Paupers Picnic outside David Cameron’s Witney Conservatives event at Witney Lakes with tax-dodging, expenses-grabbing MP Nadim Zahawi. Coaches leave Oxford at 5.30pm. For more info contact: mail:dpac.uk.net

Aug 262014
 

Thursday 11th September 2014

End Bedroom Tax; No Sanctions for Claimants – No Targets for Staff

On 11th September the Anti-Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Campaign is holding a day of protest: say no to claimant sanctions, bedroom tax and benefit cuts

Government attacks on benefits mean hunger, debt and fear. Ex-soldier David Clapson died hungry and destitute after his benefits were stopped, the latest in a string of deaths and suicides related to sanctions and benefit cuts.  The overwhelming majority of referrals to food banks are due to  claimants being sanctioned.

Sanctions cutting benefits of disabled people on Employment and Support Allowance, rose by nearly 580 percent between March 2013 and March 2014, and total sanctions rose to over a million last year, from 100,000 in 2010 (DWP figures).
PCS union is supporting the 11 September protests.  Research by PCS members working in the DWP revealed that 82% of members felt ‘pressured’ into sanctioning claimants, and 62% said they had made ‘inappropriate’ sanctions decisions.Protests have forced Government to promise changes: see Review report. But sanctions remain a vicious plank of the Government’s punitive welfare reforms, and are still supported by Labour in parliament.

Join us on one of protests below or organise your own.  Demand an end to the Bedroom Tax and link it to the slogan: ‘No sanctions for claimants, No targets for staff’. Build links with local PCS members – contacts for local PCS in DWP and PCS regions.The Bedroom Tax is almost dead – we will demand MPs kill it now  and up the pressure to beat the sanctions regime too. Let us know any actions you are planning so we can promote them.

End Sanctions, Bedroom Tax and benefit cuts11am Old Palace Yard Westminster SW1P 3JY
and 1pm DWP HQ Tothill St SW1

Other protests planned in
Leeds, Sheffield, Oxford, Manchester/Liverpool, Birmingham, Glasgow


Jul 032014
 

 Hello comrades 

ALLFIE  (the Alliance for Inclusive Education) would like to put together some short and snappy videos on disabled peoples experiences of having Disabled Students Allowance and the impact it has had in helping them benefit from higher education on our lovely website – 

In particular we would like to focus on inclusion and participation whilst recognising that for some disabled students having the DSA means the potential of getting higher grades or getting a qualification whilst studying at university.  Also it be great to hear how DSA has supported disabled students who benefited from higher education even if they have not ‘passed’ their course.  

We would like to interview disabled people (young and old!) who  are thinking twice about going to university as a result of Government’s DSA reforms.

If anyone wants to know more about the DSA reforms please follow the link – http://www.allfie.org.uk/   Please scroll down to ALLIFE’s june briefing. 

If you are going to be around for the ILF tea party on Friday  – please let me know as I will have a small video camera to do the interview with.    I will be wearing an ALLFIE teashirt.     If you want to have a chat please ring me on 0207 737 6030 during Tuesday and Thursday.

 See u there, Simone Aspis.

May 182014
 

ocap_logo_biggerDPAC_coloured_Logo_2__normal

If you’ve been following this on twitter and face book, you’ll know what a great success the first international #dpactour has been. The excellent Ellen Clifford of DPAC travelled to Canada at the invitation of John Clarke of Ontario Coalition against Poverty (OCAP).

John and OCAP have been great allies to DPAC, supporting us since 2012 ATOS Games protests, and DPAC was happy to return that support. We want to thank all for inviting us to share the knowledge of #dpac campaigns and actions, and the history of the unelected coalition Government’s appalling treatment and stripping of rights from disabled people.

The terrifying model of the coalition is spreading with punitive, harmful and potentially murderous regimes being taken up by other Tories at international and European levels. Canada have an election coming up and already plans similar to those carried out in Britain are starting to take shape. The Canadian people wanted to hear from #dpac on how they could increase campaigns and what was happening here to disabled people. Ellen and John did a tour letting people know what could be done, what has been done and how to fight it.

Remember: #internationalsolidarity, ‘fight to win’, ‘austerity is global so is our resistance’

With thanks to everyone involved we reproduce below some pictures from the #dpactour- more on the #dpactour to come..so watch this space

 

johnBm_SC6NCMAAhiZDBnEZ0Z8IEAApL5gBnKNjYeIcAASqw3BnjRGT0IIAAGlRKBnjSpx8IAAA8DE1BnjWpUlIQAA3AdPBnoVYa7IgAAIGtMBnrPXbnCMAAeNw8

Apr 272014
 

Please support Obi and team to continue live-streaming direct actions and events for #dpac, #ukuncut and others. Live-streaming is important for disabled people that cannot always get to events and protests because none of us should be left out of our fight for our rights

It is also important in these times ruled by the right-wing press to get a record of our news and events-its time to fight back and ensure that our voices and protests are heard, recorded, documented and visualised -live-streaming does that- lets support it to continue the  real and uncensored news is seen and heard! Please donate if you can at http://www.gofundme.com/8nzi68

see some of the events live streamed for DPAC

JohnMcDonnell MP Praises DPAC at DPAC conference April 2014

August 5, 2012 Akira: update on ATOS. Paralympics sponsor

August 29, 2012 #ATOS #REMPLOY #ParaOlympics #2012 #Protest by previous gold medal winners

August 31, 2012 #ONN #OLSX covering anti #ATOS #ATOSkills #dpac event at Triton Square, Camden

October 28, 2012 Akira and experiencing Public Transport for a Wheelchair user.

September 3, 2013 DPAC AND BLACK TRIANGLE DIRECT ACTION. BBC PORTLAND PLACE, LONDON

September 5, 2013 DPAC FREEDOM DRIVE.

June 4, 2013 DPAC Bromley Benefit Justice second Meeting

September 26, 2013 10,000 Cuts and Counting

October 5, 2013 SOLIDARITY ACTION WITH UKUNCUT AND DPAC #ROADBLOCKS4JUSTICE

Oct 20, 2013 The DPAC action in Marble Arch . TUC March 2012.

September 28, 2013 DPAC DIRECT ACTION: 10,000 CUTS AND COUNTING. SCRAP ATOS

@Obi_Live
@OccupyNN

https://twitter.com/Obi_Live

https://twitter.com/OccupyTTIP

occupylondon@lists.riseup.net

 

Apr 162014
 

DPAC Press Release: Top Corrie stars Support Save ILF Campaign

For immediate release: 16 April 2014

Coronation Street stars support the ‘Save the Independent Living Fund’ Postcard Campaign.

Stars of Britain’s longest running soap joined disabled people in their campaign to Save the ILF(1).  The fund which provides support funding to almost 20 000 disabled people is to close in June next year the Government announced last month(2). See Facebook campaign page

save ILF LM
Stars such as Bev Callard, who plays Liz McDonald, former Red Dwarf actor Craig Charles who plays Lloyd Mullaney and Jack P Shepard who plays David Platt ans several other stars posed with oversized postcards produced by campaign organisers who include DPAC(3)  (Disabled People Against Cuts), GMCDP (4)(Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People), Inlusion London(5), Equal Lives(6) and others.

Despite having their original decision to close the fund over-turned at the Court of Appeal late last year(7), the Government has re-announced the closure following a new Equalities Analysis(8) – where officials admit levels of support cannot be maintained and some users may end up having to move into Residential Homes to have their support needs met. Funding will be devolved to Local Authorities for 1 year until 2016(9), but not ring fenced, meaning there is no guarantee the money will be spent providing support for users, or indeed any disability services at all.

DPAC member Paddy Murphy said ‘At an annual cost of just over £350m, this isn’t a hugely expensive fund to run. Users receive an average of just £337 a week to maintain their independence. The Government have admitted some will be forced to move into Residential homes, and others won’t get the level of support they receive now – some none at all. Local Authorities are seeing their budgets decimated, and their largest expenditure is on Adult Social Care, they simply won’t be able to afford to meet people’s needs. Disabled People will once again be forced to pay the highest price to fund the bailouts and rescue plans for the banks, which is the underlying justification for the cuts to public services.’

Editors Notes & contact details here mail@dpac.uk.net

END

1.Http://dpac.uk.net/2014/04/save-the-independent-living-fund-postcard-campaign-saveilf/

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

3. http://dpac.uk.net/

4.http://gmcdp.com/

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

6.http://www.equallives.org.uk/

7.http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/news/2013/november/commission-welcomes-court-of-appeal-decision-overturning-the-abolition-of-the-independent-living-fun/

8.https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-the-independent-living-fund-equality-analysis

9.http://hadag.org.uk/second-closure-of-independent-living-fund-and-our-analysis-of-the-equality-analysis-by-dwp/

Apr 092014
 

OCAP logo2DPAC_coloured_Logo_2__bigger

Reposted from the OCAP site with thanks

Austerity is Global – so is our resistance!

The Raise the Rates Campaign is excited to announce an Ontario-wide speaking tour this coming May 2014 of Ellen Clifford from Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC) UK.

Who is DPAC: The Cameron Government in the UK has implemented brutal cuts to programs for unemployed and disabled people. This includes a system called the Work Capability Assessment that has been used to deny benefits to thousands of people. Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) is an organization in the UK that has been at the forefront of challenging this situation. It has mobilized disabled people to fight back and formed alliances with community organizations and unions in resisting the austerity measures of the Cameron Government. The hated private company, Atos, that was carrying out the assessments of sick and disabled people has been forced to quit as a result of the powerful resistance DPAC and others have taken up.

Here in Ontario, we also face major attacks. Ontario Works (Welfare) and ODSP (Disability) rates are too low to enable people to pay their rent and eat properly. The Special Diet and Community Start Up have been slashed by the Ontario Liberal government. Under huge pressure from ongoing community action, the Liberals have promised not to merge OW and ODSP but the danger remains that they will bring in a UK style assessment system that would pose a huge threat to disabled people on ODSP. We need to understand what is happening elsewhere and how people are fighting back and winning against the attacks. Austerity is global – but so is our resistance.

From May 4-15th, Ellen Clifford from DPAC will be visiting Toronto, Kitchener, Sudbury, Kingston and Ottawa. She has been campaigning with the disabled people’s movement for 15 years and, since 2011, has sat on the National Steering Committee of DPAC. She is also a member of Unite the Union and works to build solidarity between workers in unions and those forced to live on social benefits.

Details of the tour, with times and places for meetings will be announced soon. Visit: raisetherates.ca for the full schedule & for more information call the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty at (416) 925-6939
Join the Raise the Rates Campaign Today!
Raise the Rates is a campaign to fight poverty by raising social assistance rates in Ontario. Jointly organized by the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP), the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario, Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty (S-CAP), Kingston Coalition Against Poverty (K-CAP), Poverty Makes Us Sick Waterloo Region, Poverty Makes Us Sick Ottawa, OPSEU and other grassroots anti-poverty organizers and trade union allies from across Ontario. We are a growing movement united in fighting for:

• Raise Social Assistance Rates 55%: reverse the cuts, raise the rates!
• Restore Special Diet and Community Start-Up Benefits
• Stop the Attack on Disability Benefits
• Living wage for all: Raise the Minimum wage above poverty wages

 

For more see http://www.ocap.ca/node/1148

Visit: RaisetheRates.ca
https://www.facebook.com/RaiseTheRates
#RaisetheRates

 

Mar 122014
 

In 2012 not long after the government passed the welfare reform Act John McDonnell MP warned the House of Commons: ““We now have a disability movement in this country of which we have not seen the equal before: Black Triangle occupied Atos offices in Scotland, DPAC – Disabled People Against Cuts – chained themselves in Trafalgar Square. These people are not going to go away. They will be in our face – and rightly so.” And we have been ever since. With Atos on the run, the bedroom tax on the ropes and the ongoing fight for the Independent Living Fund we are seeing the results of disabled people’s co-ordinated grassroots campaigning.

 
A model of campaigning that responds to the direct lived experience of disabled people is not popular with everyone. Too often it rocks the boat in questioning entrenched positions within the disability sector such as the need to close the Remploy factories at the earliest opportunity whatever the cost and the wisdom of local authority administered social care support. Disabled people have looked beyond disabled people’s organisations and disability ‘professionals’ to gain support for grassroots led disabled people’s campaigns, making alliances with the broader anti cuts movement and the various, often conflicted groups within that, from trade unions to UKUncut.

 
The model has proved successful and disabled people’s protest has succeeded in punching holes in austerity, as the Government and private companies like Atos are strongly aware.  DPAC co-founder Linda Burnip remembers: “Our first protest against ATOS was January 2011 in Triton Square and few people had heard of the WCA or ATOS. Our continued national days of action against ATOS from then on helped very much to change that and bring the atrocities being inflicted on disabled people to the forefront of public awareness. After the DPAC actions against ATOS sponsorship of the paralympic games and the spontaneous booing of Osborne by 80,000 disabled spectators our campaign against ATOS gained international attention. Our early intervention in targeting protests at ATOS recruitment fares has eventually paid off and particularly after Joyce Drummond and Dr. Woods spoke out about their experiences of working for ATOS the WCAs and ATOS are now so toxic that they are unable to recruit enough staff to carry out assessments and the whole system is in melt-down. Any firm considering taking over the ATOS contract should be aware that disabled people will do the same to them as they have done to ATOS.”

 

While the bedroom tax is being held aloft as an example of the effectiveness of framing theory we should not forget that co-ordinated community action put the real pressure on. It may not have changed the government’s mind but the audacity of two wheelchair accessible bus-loads of disabled people turning up at Iain Duncan Smith’s mansion to serve an eviction notice and picnic in the lavish grounds last April set the tone for a determined campaign that has placed disabled people at the centre of community action on estates across the country. Disabled campaigner Robert Punton says, “Disabled people have been at the forefront of both this despicable tax and the resulting campaign. A by-product of the campaign has been that we as a disabled people’s pressure group have come into a working relationship with unions and other community campaigns strengthening everyone’s position and resolve.”

 

The campaign to save the independent living fund (ILF) led by ILF recipients and supported by DPAC and Inclusion London among other disabled people led groups has gained real traction despite the consensus among national charities and disability organisations that transfer to local authorities was the way forwards. Without a grassroots material basis from which to develop, theoretical rights will remain forever in the abstract. Disabled people are experiencing ever diminishing packages of support increasingly delivered on a ‘clean and feed’ model, with a rise in administration by in-house local authority services and prepayment cards. Yet, while, through continuation of the ILF, we have a layer of disabled people who regardless of their level of support need are enabled to enjoy a quality of life and level of choice and control that affords an ordinary life, we prevent a full scale roll back and the loss of aspiration for independent living for disabled people. Kevin Caulfield, disabled activist and Chair of Hammersmith and Fulham Coalition Against Cuts says “The campaign has been really important to draw attention to the government’s suffocation of disabled people’s right to independent living and equality. Every disabled person who needs support should have the right resources to live a full life which is why the ILF should be protected and re-opened so that everyone who needs it can apply. The campaign exposed the light touch of the government in relation to enforcing equality legislation and we can see why they are desperate to restrict disabled people’s access to justice by excluding us from legal aid and the right to take judicial review”.

 

It is interesting that the impact of disabled people’s campaigning at this pivotal point in history is so much better recognised outside the disability sector than within. This is for a number of reasons. Mainstream media bias means that most activity is only communicated through social and independent media and to those already linked in. Then there also seems to be a misperception in some quarters that because disabled people are allying ourselves with mainstream movements that it is not disabled people setting the agenda. This misses some really exciting developments where disabled people are influencing a wider understanding and application in practice of disability equality and inclusion. DPAC activists were for example central to last summer’s anti-fracking protest in Balcombe having worked with Reclaim the Power to build an accessible protest camp and a direct action of which disabled activists were at the forefront.

 

The point is not though to gain recognition, the point is to continue to effect concrete social change. Atos may be looking for an exit strategy but disabled people need abolition of the Work Capability Assessment itself, the bedroom tax may have lost all credibility but disabled people and their families are continuing to build arrears and to suffer under its implementation, the Independent Living Fund may have been at least temporarily saved for those existing recipients but the crisis in social care grows ever more desperate. What we have shown over the last few years is that we do have agency when we co-ordinate and campaign. Now there is more to do.

 

For more information about Disabled People Against Cuts national conference on 12th April 2014 contact dpacfightback@yahoo.co.uk. Please note due to limited capacity places are prioritised for signed up members.

Mar 072014
 

photoThe Tory Government’s callous decision to continue with the closure of the Independent Living Fund, announced today by Mike Penning represents a further ideologically driven attack on the quality of life of all but the richest UK citizens.

For those people who rely on the fund for their care and support, the prospect of the devolution of such care to Local Authority adult care provision is harrowing indeed.

One ILF recipient, Mary Laver, made a video about what her life would be like without the ILF. You can see it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLPA96k1oaE

What is most illustrative about this video, to me, is not her condition as presented in the video, nor the fact that a woman like Mary could not possibly have been an Olympic Torch Bearer without the help of the fund, but a single sentence she uttered after watching the video of herself in the Houses of Parliament last November. It spoke volumes. She said “I never realized how disabled I am until I saw that.”

Another, perhaps better known ILF recipient is actor and comedian Liz Carr who plays Clarissa Mullery in BBC’s Silent Witness. She says  “The closure of the Independent Living Fund will inevitably lead to the erosion of  independence, inclusion and freedom for disabled people who have high levels of need.  I am one of the 18,000 people in the UK who receive support from the ILF and it is this funding to pay people to do the things I physically can’t do which enables me to get up in the morning, work and have the same kinds of opportunities as everyone else.  I don’t think I’m being overdramatic when I say that today’s news is devastating to those of us whose lives and existence owes a great deal to the Independent Living Fund.  How can already strapped for cash Local authorities take up the slack when the Fund closes in the summer of 2015?  How many of us are going to lose our independence as residential care provides a more cost effective option?  A future without the ILF is terrifying.”

Merry Cross of DPAC and Left Unity says that the decision is “the worst example of the hypocysy asnd lies that Cameron has come out with since he took office in 2010, claiming that he would be protecting ‘the poorest, the most vulnerable, the elderly, the frail’. The intention is to destroy Local Authorities as part of the privatisation agenda. I can’t think of a single reason why any disabled person would be reassured by that statement at the end of the press release that the government “‘want to make sure that disabled people are given the support that allows them to fulfil their potential’” and I can’t think of a single reason why any disabled person would feel anything other than terror and horror. I’d say the governmentt commitment to disabled people is as shallow as its commitment to the pockets of its rich friends is deep.”

That is the truth at the heart of the matter. Withdrawing this lifeline from those of us who need it is sentencing us to a life inside the sterilized walls of a local authority Care Home, or imprisonment within the no less confining walls of our own homes, granted “care” in such meager doses as to deny us the dignity of choosing our own time of rising, sleeping, eating or even the voluntary usage of such necessities as the toilet.

The Court of Appeal found the decision of the Tory Government to close the Independent Living Fund unlawful last November on the grounds that the duty of the government to promote equality had been neglected. The judges found that the DWP had failed to fulfil its duty, under section 149 of the Equality Act 2010, to have “due regard” to the need to promote equality of opportunity between disabled and non-disabled people in its decision to close the fund. It was found that briefings given to then disability minister Esther McVey by officials did not adequately make clear “the potentially very grave impact” the closure of the ILF could have on service users and that whereas responses to the consultation indicated that “independent living might well be put seriously in jeopardy for a large number of people”, this was not conveyed to the minister in clear terms.

To callously strip disabled people of their most basic freedoms cannot by any reasonable person be considered a promotion of equality.

We would thus urge persons of conscience, politicians, and organizations concerned with any and all human rights to join us in the condemnation of this policy and to support the next steps in challenging the manifest sadism of a government bent on imposing destitution and despair on the populace.

Campaigners will continue to fight the closure. DPAC’s Ellen Clifford said, “The fight continues. We are seeing the impact of the closure on 2010 and how local authority support is failing to meet the needs and rights of disabled people under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The strength and resolve of grassroots disabled people got us this far and we are not giving up now. This has never just been about protecting support for existing ILF recipients, however important that certainly is, but it is also about the fundamental right to independent living for all disabled people.”

Article by Conan Doyle

Photo from Rockinpaddy touring with Graeae’s Threepenny Opera

 

Feb 122014
 

The Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union (BFAWU), Youth Fight for Jobs, National Shop Stewards Network, Unite the Resistance, DPAC and John McDonnell

MP and other supporters of the new Fast Food Rights initiative are launching our campaign with a day of action on Saturday 15th February.

We’ve been inspired by the movement in the USA. Fast food workers there have taken wildcat strike action, in some instances, demanding a fourfold increase in their pay, to reflect the real cost of living – the ‘Fight 4 15’, a $15/hr minimum wage. This groundswell of support helped propel Socialist Alternative member Kshama Sawant to victory in Seattle.

More and more young people are forced into low-paying, super-exploitative jobs in the fast food industry – not just as stop-gaps, but permanently. When young workers realise that they’ll be stuck in these under-employed jobs for the foreseeable future, they’ll be pushed to fight back. A Unite the Union survey showed that 5.5m workers in Britain are on zero-hour contracts.

BFAWU have raised the sights of workers everywhere with their strike at the Hovis factory in Wigan, showing that zero-hour contracts can be beaten. Last year, Youth Fight for Jobs launched a new initiative, ‘Are you Sick of your Boss?’ to take up the growing issue of under-employment and respond to a sharp rise in the prevalence of zero-hour contracts. Armed with Sick of your Boss leaflets Youth Fight for Jobs have marched straight into shops and handed them to staff. Fast Food Rights will be doing the same on its day of action, this time handing recruitment forms for the BFAWU directly to fast food workers ready to join.

Across the country, on Saturday 15th February, Youth Fight for Jobs alongside BFAWU is organising protests through Fast Food Rights. In London, we’re meeting at the corner of Tottenham Court Road at 1pm, marching along Oxford Street, encouraging McDonalds, Burger King, and Costa staff to get organised, demonstrating to fight for our rights. Fat cat corporations like McDonalds are more than happy to leave there staff in the lurch, suffering on zero-hour contracts and Workfare, while McDonalds use these schemes to rake in billions of £ in profits.

With Fast Food Rights we’ve already done preparatory work, leafleted the staff in these stores on numerous occasions, to explain our protest is not against them. Youth Fight for Jobs is enthusiastically supporting Fast Food Rights because it represents a significant step forward. BFAWU as a trade union have taken it on themselves to organise the unorganised. Hopefully, through our struggle starting on Saturday, we’ll be able to further build BFAWU, and gain a momentum so other trade unions join the campaign alongside us.

 

London: meeting at the corner of Tottenham Court Road at 1pm, marching along Oxford Street, encouraging McDonalds, Burger King, and Costa staff to get organised, demonstrating to fight for our rights.

Leeds: Meet at 1pm outside McDonald’s at the St. Johns Centre, Merrion Street, Leeds, LS2 8LQ. Backed by Leeds TUC

Wigan: Meet 12.30pm in the car park of the Cube nightclub (formerly Maxim’s), at the bottom of Standishgate

Sheffield: We will meet at the bottom of Fargate, Sheffield, S1 1QF to walk the short distance to our first target. 12pm until 1pm For more information, please message https://www.facebook.com/UniteCommunitySheffield or email gareth50lane@gmail.com

Brighton: Meet by McDonalds on Western Road, 12-2pm
Called by the Sussex Labour Representation Committee
http://sussexlrc.com/

For more details, click here to go to the related news story on Fast Food
Rights website; email fastfoodrights@mail.com   or on the web at
www.fastfoodrights.wordpress.com   where there are links to Twitter and our Facebook page. BFAWU website www.bfawu.org/

Email – youthfightforjobs@gmail.com

Website – www.youthfightforjobs.com/

 

Jan 182014
 

 

Sanity in an era of rabid capitalism?

 

Date: Friday 7 February, 2014

 

Time: 6.30 doors open for 7pm start

 

A F.E.E.L. (Friends of East End Loonies) occasional event todiscuss abuses within the psychiatric system, what a humane asylum would be like and the wide range of alternatives.

 

SPEAKERS

 

 

Denise McKenna, Mental Health Resistance Network

 

 

Towards a social model of mental distress

 

 

A Local Trade Union activist

 

 

The impact of local authority & NHS cuts on

 

mental health services

 

 

Questions/comments from the floor

 

 

Venue:Kingsley Hall, corner Powis and Bruce Roads, E3 3HJ,

 

(Nearest tube stations: Bow Church and Bromley-By-Bow)

 

 

There will be an interval with music, poetry and refreshments.No entrance fee but donations will be welcome to cover costs.

 

FEEL is a democratic anarchic group in which people are encouraged to share what they need to say and to contribute what they can. It meets the 3rd Monday of the month at 6.30 pm at the LARC centre, 62 Fieldgate St E1 1ES. For more information call:

 

David: 020 7790 0269 or Myra on 020 7780 9038 email: f.e.e.l.campaign@googlemail.com

 

 

Humane Therapy not Drug Tyranny

 

 

 

Joanna Moncrieff says in her book, The Myth of the Chemical Cure, “My thesis in this book is that the disease-centred model of drug action has been adopted, and recently widely publicised, not because the evidence for it is compelling, but because it helped promote the interests of certain powerful social groups, namely the psychiatric profession, the pharmaceutical industry and the modern state.” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009 London)

 

 

 

We need a liberating movement to transform hospitals and Mental Health Units into humane asylums and to demand the full range of complementary and natural therapies including arts therapies (which a study has indicated is more effective than drug therapy) and talking therapy, and an end to pharmaco-custodial control.

 

 

 

F.E.E.L. – Friends of East End Loonies

 

Believe in empowering all people in the mental health system

 

Ending the chemical cosh

 

Supporting community mental health services

 

Encouraging more holistic therapies

 

HUMANE THERAPY – NOT DRUG TYRANNY

 

 

 

Jan 182014
 

Having become aware that there seems to be some confusion about People First groups operating in England Disabled People Against Cuts invited People First (Self Advocacy)’s Director Andrew Lee to set the record straight:

People First (Self Advocacy) is a national, user-led self-advocacy organisation, run for and by people with learning difficulties.  People First has been operating for 27 years.  The constitution says that the number of members of the company is unlimited, and can be individual members – any person with learning difficulties, 18 years or over, and group members, which will be organisations run by people with learning difficulties.  People First has a national membership of 101 self-advocacy group members and 150 individual members; the spread of members is national, covering every region.
The Charity Commission entry for People First states:
Activities
PEOPLE FIRST IS AN ORGANISATION RUN BY AND FOR PEOPLE WITH LEARNING DIFFICULTIES TO RAISE AWARENESS OF AND CAMPAIGN FOR THE RIGHTS OF PEOPLE WITH LEARNING DIFFICULTIES AND TO SUPPORT SELF ADVOCACY GROUPS ACROSS THE COUNTRY.
Where it operates
THROUGHOUT ENGLAND AND WALES

Having set the record straight, some people may say it is easy to say People First is a national organisation, but ask where is the proof?  People First’s response would be the we have a long history of working nationally with groups and individuals, and we would really like to share with you and your readership the detail, depth, quality and impact of our work, both in terms of campaigning with and on behalf of our national membership, and in supporting self-advocacy groups to build their capacity and become strong groups.
This is a summary of our current work:
1. Policy and Campaigning
We are working with a large range of organisations to make change happen for people with learning difficulties on all of the key Government changes affecting our members.  This includes local self-advocacy groups, SCIE, Inclusion London, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, DPAC, ALLFIE, The Mayor’s Office and many other national and Government organisations.  As well as this many other organisations come to People First for advice and support, For example, this week we have carried out some work on behalf of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, to make sure that people with learning difficulties can give their views to the United Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons, about the most important areas for the Government to work on; we worked with York People First and Bristol and South Gloucestershire People First, as well as our national Board of Trustees.  We work with organisations, but as well as this we make sure that we are in touch with our membership and that we are campaigning out on the streets.

2. Cuts Impact Action Now Project
We have also set up the Cuts Impact Action Now Project (CIAN).  The CIAN project, funded by Trust for London, is an evidence collection project looking at what impact both local authority and national cuts and changes are having on people with learning difficulties in Barnet.   This project is a pilot project starting in borough of Barnet.  We are working in partnership with People’s Choice at BCIL.  We are piloting a way of collecting evidence that can then be used in other London Boroughs and nationally.
The reason that we are running this project is because there are lots of national and local changes and cuts happening at the same time.  There has been no research or evidence collected about what impact all of these changes together will have on people with learning difficulties.  We are worried about what this will mean for people and we want to make sure that the voices of people with learning difficulties are heard.  We want to make sure that any cuts or changes do not have an unfair impact on people with learning difficulties.
We want to pilot a way of collecting evidence so that eventually all self-advocacy groups can use this to collect their own local evidence.  We know that cuts and changes are very different in each local authority as a result of the Localism Bill.  This is why a project like this will support local self-advocacy groups to campaign with solid evidence in their local area.  We will also support them to campaign nationally.
3. Supporting Self Advocacy Groups
Our work was very public during the years that we ran the National project and when we were part of the Disability LIB project.  During this project we capacity built 30 organisations.  These organisations were all members of People First (Self Advocacy), but they were not all called People First.  They included Speak Out groups, SHOUT groups as well as other local self-advocacy organisations that had completely different names.  To be a member of People First (Self Advocacy), a group does not need to have the ‘People First’ name.  It just needs to be a self-advocacy organisation run and led by people with learning difficulties.
Since this Big Lottery funding ended, it has been very difficult to get funding for this “second tier” work.  We therefore offer a more low key type of support, such as training, consultancy and research. During the past year we have supported 6 local self-advocacy groups with things such as Management Committee training, consultancy on the future of organisations, fundraising and support with other issues that groups have been having.
4. Advocacy Signposting and Advice
We offer a telephone service to all people with learning difficulties and their carers and supporters.  With all of the cuts to advocacy services and support services happening many people that are going through very difficult issues do not have anyone to turn to.  We offer this service so that anyone going through an issue can come to us and we will support them to get the information and support that they need to move forward.  People have come to us with issues around debt, benefits, getting support, getting advocates, problems with local authorities, hate crime and many other areas.  For this project we have been included on the SCIE Find Me Good Care website, as an organisation offering support and advice to people with learning difficulties, their carers and supporters.  We use our core funds to cover this work.

5. Easy Read
We have a long term campaign of making Easy Read more well-known and better used.  With the support of the Facilitation Fund from the Office for Disability Issues we putting together a service to make sure that there are no excuses for not using Easy Read.  This is so that anyone can have the tools they need to put something into Easy Read.  We have already put together Easy Read training and we are now using the fund to design a new and improved Easy Read Picture bank.  We also provide an Easy Read translation service for a range of Government, local authority, and voluntary sector organisations.
In Conclusion
With the change in the political climate, and funding priorities, like many charities we have had to review our position and develop new strategies and plans.  Our new BIG PICTURE approach to how we move forward is that all the work we are now doing could be described as taking a strategic approach, that is not just being out there strutting our stuff, but putting plans in place to make sure:
The work we do takes into account the need for major structural change, that means in the way systems and policies work at a local and national level, which will make a real difference to the lives of people with learning difficulties
The work we do takes into account the Localism Bill, and will put information, power and control back into the hands and voices of local people with learning difficulties
The work we do has a major impact to benefit the lives of people with learning difficulties who are often excluded from the debate and that’s why our organisation has led the Self Advocacy Movement for 27 years.

Dec 012013
 

Saturday 7th December  10am – 5pm

Goldsmiths, University of London, New Cross, London SE14 6NW

www.southlondonpa.org

Speakers include Francesca Martinez, Owen Jones and Josie Long.

There will be workshops on How we Can Save our NHS, The Housing Crisis, The Battle for Education, Building Unions to Fight Austerity and Environment and Energy as well as Austerity and Rascist Scapegoating, Alternatives to Austerity, Explaining and Fighting the Benefit Cuts and EU-US Free Trade Agreement.

There will also be a showing of protest films by Reel News and Kate Belgrave in the cinema and workshop sessions on banner making, leaflet design and performance and songs.

London DPAC will be running a workshop on disability, austerity and resistance. Disabled people have been at the forefront of the fightback against the Coalition government for the past three years. Our rights and freedoms are facing an ideological attack of unprecedented magnitude under the excuse of austerity that is resulting in misery, poverty and death. Disabled people are not letting this happen to us without a fight. This workshop will explore the range of campaign tactics and alliances that have been built and what more we need to do in our struggle for an alternative to austerity founded in social justice and fairness.

roger lewis 2-1

Chair: Roger Lewis,London DPAC

267683_10150237146049690_544729689_7488154_6718546_n

Ciara Doyle, Disabled People Against Cuts

Unites Sean McGovern on defending disabled peoples rights-1411-13127

Sean McGovern is TUC disabled workers’ committee co-chair and Unite EC and national disabled members’ committee chair

Picture 2

Denise McKenna is a long standing campaigner against psychiatric abuses.

Tickets are free if you are unwaged, £5 if bought in advance, £10 on the door.

For any access requests please contact contact@southlondonpa.org

Nov 282013
 

It’s been a busy few days for DPAC gathering evidence on the cumulative impact of cuts on disabled people, and on the crisis in independent living.  On the 25th we heard moving and powerful testimonies of how the Government are ruining lives through their austerity regime. Disabled people are faced with a range of cuts and so called ‘reforms’ which are contravening our basic human rights. We are faced with stark choices between eating or heating while having our dignity stripped by a range of psychological attacks at the same time as having support removed.

 Testimonies will be sent to the UN rapporteur on disability-thanks to everybody who came to London to tell their stories and to those that submitted their experiences through email. This event was originally arranged by Just Fair, however due to the rapporteur being unable to come to the UK due to illness DPAC and Inclusion London stepped in to run this at the last minute, so we could get these important stories out to the UN.

On the 26th the morning saw a hugely successful protest on fuel poverty organised by DPAC, Fuel Poverty Action, the Greater London Pensioners and UKUncut: ‘Bring down the Big Six – Fuel Poverty Kills!’ against the increase in fuel poverty deaths and increasing profits and prices of the big 6. Supporting groups included No Dash for Gas, Campaign Against Climate Change, Climate Revolution, Young Friends of the Earth, Frack Off London, Power for the People, Barnet Alliance for Public Services, Lewes Against the Cuts, SOAS Energy & Climate Change Society and Southwest Against Nuclear. There were also protests in Oxford, Lewes and Bristol.

In the afternoon of the 26th the Emergency meeting on the crisis in independent living took place at parliament hosted by DPAC and Inclusion London.  An event originally planned by Just Fair to launch their report to the UN rapporteur which DPAC and Inclusion London stepped in to run with a new focus on the crisis in independent living.  This was in response to the successful appeal outcome at the courts on the Independent Living Fund-and the continuing awareness of the crisis for ILF users, those trying to access local authority support and the Government’s apparent non-compliance with article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The afternoon launched DPAC’s report on the crisis in independent living and cumulative impacts of the cuts, one of many that DPAC is working on, as well as the film by Mary Laver an ILF user. The afternoon was complimented by speeches from John Evans and reflection on the past battles for independent living.  We heard from the brilliant Louise Whitfield (one of the solicitors in the ILF case) and were treated to an excellent DPAC theatre performance which brought to life the reality of impacts on disabled people and the different barriers we face.

Despite extremely short notice the event was well attended by MPs and those from the Lords. Kate Green , Hywell Williams, Katy Clarke, Anne Begg, John McDonnell, Jim Shannon, Andy Slaughter, Baroness  Campbell, Baroness Wilkins  and a host of others including Mary Laver’s MP.  Apologies were sent from Anne McGuire, Caroline Lucas, Lucy Powell, Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa Pierce

Mike Penning ‘our’ new minister for disability was invited but did not respond or send apologies!

Many thanks to all that attended, supported and worked so hard towards the afternoon-especially the many DPAC members and supporters that wrote to their MPs and publicised this. Some may ask why English national formal disability organisations with much more money and resources than us aren’t putting their energies into these types of activities all the time- we don’t have any answers or understanding on that.

We will have a more detailed report on the Emergency meeting on the Crisis in Independent Living event in Parliament with film and photos soon

Download DPAC report Crisis in Disabled People’s Independent Living 

See Mary Laver’s film on ILF View the movie

kljxr

Nov 242013
 

The eight Labour MPs who attended the lobby meeting were perhaps somewhat discomforted by the level of hostility, and indeed rowdiness that occasionally erupted from the floor of Meeting Room 12. It was obvious from the chair, Ian Lavery’s, comments and opening address, that the MPs involved, and their offices had hoped for a reassurance of votes won from grassroots bedroom tax campaigners. The assembled activists, who had come from as far afield as Glasgow and Kent, were not so keen on patting any MP on the back, and the most obvious complaint voiced from the floor was that, despite Labour opposition to the Bedroom Tax policy, Labour held local councils are nonetheless proceeding with evictions against council tenants.

The MPs present, in the order in which they spoke, included the chair of the meeting: Ian Lavery MP for Wansbeck [http://www.ianlavery.co.uk/], Margaret Curran, MP for Glasgow East, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland [http://margaretcurran.org/], Kate Green, MP Stretford and Urmston, Shadow Minister for Disabled People [http://www.kategreen.org/], Emma Reynolds, MP for Wolverhampton, Shadow Housing Minister [http://www.emmareynolds.org.uk/], Jack Dromey, MP for Erdington, Shadow Home Affairs Minister [http://www.jackdromey.org], Rachel Reeves, MP for Leeds West, Shadow Minister for Work and Pensions [http://www.rachelreeves.net], Stephen Timms, MP for East Ham, Shadow minister for Employment [http://www.stephentimms.org.uk/], and Wayne David, MP for Caerphilly [http://www.waynedavid.labour.co.uk/].

The MP heckled the most was, without a doubt, Rachel Reeves, whose comments on welfare as reported in the Observer came under fire. There seemed to be a general consensus among the MPs on why the bedroom tax must be scrapped, most obviously that it’s implementation is actually more expensive than any possible saving, Stephen Timms mentioning the research of Prof. Rebecca Tunstall. [http://www.york.ac.uk/chp/people/tunstall/, Full report here: http://www.york.ac.uk/media/chp/documents/2013/Testing%20DWP%20Assessment%20of%20Impact%20of%20SRS%20Size%20Criterion%20on%20HB%20Costs%20University%20of%20York.pdf], where other MPs such as Mr Lavery and Mr David mentioning the human cost of the policy, and Emma Reynolds and Rachel Reeves mentioning the infrastructural cost of the policy, namely that housing associations facing reduced rental income cannot afford to invest in new housing stock at a time of great housing shortage.

Having found the audience less welcoming than they had perhaps expected, the chair and assembled MPs went to great lengths to point out that the bedroom tax lobby meeting was occurring just before an opposition day devoted entirely to fighting the Bedroom Tax in the commons. Needless to say, the motion to end the Bedroom Tax was defeated 252:226 [http://www.parliament.uk/business/news/2013/november-/mps-debate-abolition-of-the-bedroom-tax/]. The aspect of this timing that the chair, Mr Lavery in particular, was keen to impress on the assembled activists was that this motion was only brought forward because of the vociferous nature of our campaigns against the Bedroom Tax, which are now gaining the attention of such papers as the Guardian [http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/oct/20/protests-grow-over-benefit-cuts]

Shaun O’Regan from Southwark Benefit Justice Campaign, among others, also viewed the related debate in the commons, mentioned above. He noted that the lobby meeting ‘surprised the Labour politicians about how angry we are, not just about the bedroom tax, but all the other cuts’. He added that the ‘shameful Lib Dems and Tories’ who spoke in favour of retaining the Bedroom tax in the Commons debate ‘made us more determined to go aay and build for the Southwark Benefit justice demonstration on the 25th of January 2014.’ Southwark Benefit Justice Campaign have also been instrumental in lobbying Harriet Harman, whose fierce opposition to the Bedroom Tax has recently been reported by the Independent [http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/nick-cleggs-promise-of-bedroom-tax-review-is-a-sham-says-harriet-harman-8930911.html]

The Southwark campaign have also obtained the following response from their local council. [link to file]. The following Guardian Article published on the 18th of October illustrates the injustice of Southwark Council, who had issued 5,800 summonses. [http://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/oct/18/thousands-court-council-tax]

Councillor Richard Livingston issued a response (text below), in which he explains both his abhorrence for the ‘particularly brutal’ Bedroom Tax, and explains how he is helping effected households in his Livingston ward, ‘using all the Discretionary Housing Payment money we receive to keep families in their homes by bridging the gap created by the Bedroom Tax, we are also finding extra money from other tenants through the Housing Revenue Account.’

 

A great deal of credit for the occurrence of the meeting on Tuesday 12th must be offered to the grassroots groups who seem to have caught the ear of the Labour shadow cabinet, not least Southwark Benefit Justice Campaign. Here is what some of those activists contributed:

Much of the ire voiced in the meeting was eloquently summed up by Mr Robert Punton of DPAC, who described empty promises as ‘wind in the air’ and whose standing ovation was reported by the Morning Star: [http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-7614-bedroom-tax-provokes-stormy-scenes-in-Parliament#.UoYhXXBK8-c]

‘Robert Punton DPAC activist and advocate of Birmingham Anti Bedroom  was infuriated by the crass disregard in which the panel of Labour MP’s quoted that they where here to listen to the people suffering under this bill, but spent 90% of 2 hour preaching party rhetoric at an increasing angered impassioned audience.

 

Once Mr Punton got the opportunity to speak he told the greatly decreased panel, (because contrary to their promised to listen once they delivered their speeches they flooded out of committee room on mass) until the Labour Party turns it’s words into actions, then all their promises of post 2015 are just hot air on the wind!  They must demand their Labour Council colleague who told Councils to refuse evictions and tear up arrear bills.  Labour MP’s oho are true Socialists must join campaigning groups such as DPAC OCCUPY. UK UNCUT, ANNONYMOUS, UNIONS & PEOPLES ASSEMBLY  on the streets to demand Social justice for all.  The sentiments expressed throughout Mr Punton where echoed and expanded upon from other speakers from floor from all sections of society and communities the length the country.

 

Until Labour wash away “new” Labour ideals and return to the true principles or grandparents generation a free NHS welfare rights not charity and a playing level field which treats all equal, they need to bring the Party back to the people NOT expect the so titled underclass to move to them.  Until they do they will remain unelectable as far the targets of the Coalition are concerned

The actions of the Labour Party over next two weeks months will determine the true credentials and prospects of whether they truly deserve the chance and responsibility to govern us in 2015.  If they honestly support the growing unrest being represented by Grassroot groups such as DPAC, UK UNCUT & OCCUPY they will turn their hot air into action.

Will they prove to us they are part of Solution or just collaborators in the problem which is the Coalition.  Will they cut back or join us fighting back!

They need to realise that the peoplesunrest escalating and desperately cornered people will vote for change not in the ballot box but in the street and on the road.

The people are doing community advocacy through DIRECT ACTION!’

The fact that the motion to end the hated bedroom tax was defeated in the commons is a disheartening blow to all of us, but on the other hand, the fact that it took place at all means that the opposition are listening to at least some of our cries. Moreover, the media coverage of the day gives us some small consolation that our voices will be heard.

 

It is difficult to know even whether Mr Lavery’s response to one question, that he desired an end to the Work Capability Assessment, and not just the replacement of ATOS, was something which actually reflects the thinking of his entire party. One thing is certain, they want our votes, and the energy and enthusiasm of our grassroots campaigning to back them in 2015. Whether the Labour party deserves our support perhaps remains to be seen.

Postscript: Media Coverage

Here’s Alan Wylie’s blog about the day: http://diaryofaloonyleftie.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/bedroom-tax-meeting-in-parliament.html

Also present was Ros Wynne Jones, who live tweeted throughout the event

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/ros-wynne-jones-bedroom-tax-2785516

Coverage of the commons debate

-          http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/live-bedroom-tax-protest-debate-2783462

-          http://www.channel4.com/news/bedroom-tax-labour-lib-dems-vote-commons

-          http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-7614-bedroom-tax-provokes-stormy-scenes-in-Parliament#.UoYhXXBK8-c

-          http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/nov/12/ed-daveys-speech-to-energy-firms-telling-them-not-to-be-greedy-politics-live-blog

-          http://www.itv.com/news/2013-11-12/iain-duncan-smith-to-miss-bedroom-tax-debate-in-commons/ (describes us as “a number of protesters!)

Letter to Southwark Benefit Justice Campaign from Councillor Richard Livingstone

I am sorry I cannot be with you today. As you know the fight for benefit justice has many fronts and so this morning I am at a meeting alongside the Citizens Advice Bureau and other voluntary organisations in Southwark to lobby Job Centre Plus about the explosion in the number of benefit claimants who have had the totality of their benefits removed through sanctions, in what often appears to be an arbitrary way.

The Bedroom Tax is a particularly brutal piece of legislation that fails to understand the realities of, and pressures on, social housing.  As a local Councillor I have had to deal time and time again with cases of families with disabled members whose needs are ignored in how the Bedroom Tax is applied, with separated families where the access rights of the children to one of the parents have been compromised as the room that they stay at the weekend has been declared surplus by the DWP. Or the cases where Southwark Council has decided that a family needs three bedrooms, that family is suddenly being hit by the Bedroom Tax as a result of the DWP applying a new set of harsher criteria.

Government talk about the Bedroom Tax being in incentive for families to downsize their homes to the minimum that they need. But where are these homes going to come from? Like the rest of London, we have acute housing problems in Southwark. The waiting list for a council home in Southwark has 20,000 families on it. We estimate it would take ten years to move every family affected by the Bedroom Tax to a new home that government deems to be the right size. And all this, of course, is before you consider the physical and emotional upheaval of having to leave the family home for something smaller.

We are trying to help families caught up in this as much as legally possible. In particular, we are not only using al the Discretionary Housing Payment money we receive to keep families in their homes by bridging the gap created by the Bedroom Tax, we are also finding extra money from other tenants through the Housing Revenue Account. Once again, the government is making sure that it is the poor that have to pay for the poorest.

 

The Bedroom Tax is an obscenity. I welcome the commitment of Rachel Reeves an our next Labour government to repeal it and wish you all well in the Lobby today.

 

Councillor Richard Livingstone

Cabinet member for Finance, Resources and Community Safety

Labour councillor for Livesey Ward

Nov 152013
 

Join Fuel Poverty Action, UK Uncut, the Greater London Pensioners’ Association and Disabled People Against Cuts for an outrageous, creative and inclusive protest against fuel poverty deaths on November 26th at 11.30am in Central London. Meeting point – well it’s a secret, for now.

On November 26th, the number of people who died last winter from cold homes will be announced. But we won’t stand for any more unnecessary deaths caused by price-hiking, polluting, profiteering, tax avoiding energy companies. So …join us as we take to the streets in central London to target one of the main energy robbers driving fuel poverty.

As the Big Six energy companies hike up prices we are told the only answer is to put on a jumper, leaving millions of us to choose between heating and eating. While the energy companies spread the lie that ‘green taxes’ are to blame, we know that the real problem is the privatisation of our energy for profit and the skyrocketing cost of dirty fossil fuels.

So bring your kids, neighbours, grandparents, your warmest jumper and your latest energy bill — and come join the fightback for the alternatives: warm, insulated homes and clean, affordable energy. It’s time to bring down the Big Six and put power back in people’s hands.

Meet outside Royal Exchange by Bank Station for short march to destination target.

See you on the streets.
#justicenotjumper

fuel poverty pic

Oct 222013
 

Draft Call-out for Dramatic Presentation at Report launch:
“Dignity and Equal Opportunity: Securing the Human Rights of Disabled People in an
Age of Austerity”
Houses of Parliament – Tuesday 26th November 4pm

 

• Welfare reform: Are you being affected by welfare reform and austerity measures?
• Tell your story: Would you like the opportunity to tell your own story to MPs and media in Parliament?
• Dramatic presentation: Would you like to take part in a small action group that will put together a
dramatic presentation in Parliament highlighting the impact of austerity on the rights of disabled people?
• Training: Do you live in London, or are you able to travel to London during November, for two planning
workshops (9th and 16th November) and the main event (26th November)?

If so, please take part in our “Theatre of the Oppressed” presentation in Parliament!10 places are available – contact DPAC via ciaradoyle@yahoo.com

What commitment is involved?

We will meet for two planning days in November and bring together a short dramatic presentation using Theatre of the Oppressed methods. We would ask that people who want to take part, check that they are available for the following dates:

• 1st planning workshop: 3pm, 9th November (Resource for London, 356 Holloway Road, London, N76PA)
• Second planning workshop: 3pm, 16th November (Resource for London, 356 Holloway Road, N76PA)
• Dramatic Presentation: 26th November from 4pm to 6pm (Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London)

Do I need any specific experience or skills?

The only experiences you need to bring are your own stories of how you have been affected by welfare reform and austerity measures. This event is open to all disabled people and carers who are being affected by
government cutbacks. You do not need to have ever done any acting or storytelling before. The workshops will explore how we can explore the inner creativity that exists in ALL people.

What will happen at the workshops?

At the workshops we will start by using some Theatre of the Oppressed activities to tap in to our own
creativity. We will then take some time to explore our stories and experiences. We will bring together a short
action-drama which then tells the collective story of the group and which can be presented in Parliament as
part of the event which will launch the report.

What will happen on the evening we go to Parliament?

The Just Fair consortium will be launching the report “Dignity and Equal Opportunity: Securing the
Human Rights of Persons with Disabilities in an Age of Austerity” to an audience of MPs, Peers, and
media, and our drama or creative story-telling will be part of this launch

Who is organising the event?

This event is being organised by the Just Fair Consortium with the support of Disabled People Against Cuts.
The workshops will be facilitated by DPAC.

Where will the planning sessions take place?

2nd and 16th November at Resource for London – 356 Holloway Road, London, N7 6PA

How do I get there?

By London Underground – take the Piccadilly line to Holloway Road station. On leaving the station turn left and walk under the railway bridge for 5 minutes. Resource for London is on the opposite side of the road and
can be reached by using the pedestrian crossing. By bus – buses 4, 17, 29, 43, 153, 253, 259, 271, 279 and X43 stop within a short walk of Resource for London. Also there are mobility buses available in the area, these are numbers 920, 921, 923 and 927.

What will I get out of taking part?

By taking part in this event you will have the opportunity to tell your story directly to a group of MP’s in parliament. You will also get to take part in the Theatre of the Oppressed workshops which will give you a
set of skills that can be used for planning actions and events in future on issues you care about.

How much will this cost?

All of these activities are free of charge, including the training sessions and the presentation itself.
Also, ten travel bursaries will be available for each of the three sessions, for those who cannot afford to pay for travel, each providing a subsidy of £20 per person (i.e. overall 30 bursaries are available – 10 will be
allocated per each session).

How can I get Involved?

Please contact Ciara Doyle of Disabled People Against Cuts on ciaradoyle@yahoo.com in order to apply totake part in the training sessions and the main event. As mentioned above, 10 places are available so pleaseget in touch ASAP

Sep 122013
 

Last week on 4th September disabled people and our supporters took to the streets of Westminster as the finale to the DPAC week of action: Reclaiming Our Futures.

Download and sign up to the UK Disabled People’s manifesto through www.inclusionlondon.co.uk

You can watch Reel News’ film from the day here:

http://

Sep 122013
 

SAVE OUR PUBLIC TRANSPORT

DEMONSTRATE OUTSIDE THE TORY PARTY CONFERENCE

Tuesday 1 October (13:00 – 14:00)

Meet: Lower Mosley Street (in front of Water Bridge Hall)

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/514362975322019/

SEND A MESSAGE TO THE TORIES!

• No to cuts in public transport
• Stop cutting vital services
• Affordable Fares for all passengers
• Investment in PUBLIC Transport, not subsidising Private Profits

Since coming into government, the Tories have continued to attack our public
transport

Make sure their visit to Manchester doesn’t go unnoticed

CONTACT:

• Vic Paulino: paulinov@tssa.org.uk
• Vic Walsh: walshv@tssa.org.uk

transport

 

Download leaflet here: Amended leaflet for Manchester

Sep 112013
 

Demonstration at the Labour Party Conference:

Sunday 22nd September

Meet on the Level – 10.30am

For more info contact brightonbenefitwscampaign@gmail.com

LABOUR! STOP SUPPORTING TORY POLICIES

When a Labour government swept to power in 1997, it could have restored those rights which had been under attack since the 1970s. Instead it chose to ally itself with corporate tax-shirkers, company bosses, grasping landlords and rich investors, to turn Britain into a paradise for the privileged.

Now we have a Coalition intent on breaking open every last part of our public services for private profit, and threatening millions of us with homelessness and destitution. Yet Miliband and Co. just stand on the side-lines or actively cheer it on, because Labour still agrees with every cut, every sell off, and every assault on the rights of working people.

Labour supports cuts in the name of austerity. Despite the fact that the financial crisis was due to the gambling of greedy unregulated bankers and that trillions of pounds was spent on bailing them out, it has been used as an excuse to launch a vicious attack on the public sector. Since the crisis the income of top earners has rocketed while the rest of us face frozen pay, crippled services, and job and housing insecurity.

Labour scorns those reliant on benefits. It was Labour that introduced US-style workfare schemes, which it still approves of, and employed Atos to force the sick and disabled off benefits through the iniquitous work capability assessment. No wonder Liam Byrne is promising to help the Tories salvage the shambles of Universal Credit, which is planned to punish all those on low incomes.

Labour supports privatisation. Hardly surprising, after all it introduced academy schools, tuition fees, NHS foundation trusts and the Private Finance Initiative. Labour talks of saving the NHS in 2015 – but there won’t be anything left to save.

When will Labour stop embracing Tory policies and remember who it is supposed to represent. We already have one major party for the wealthy and privileged, we don’t need another.

LABOUR IS CALLED ‘THE OPPOSITION’
TIME TO ACT LIKE IT!

labour demo flyer

Download demo poster and leaflet:

LPdemoleaflet

LPDemoPosterFullC

Sep 112013
 

British tenants and disabled people who gave evidence to a United Nations mission welcome the recommendation from Raquel Rolnik, the UN special rapporteur on housing, to abolish the bedroom tax.

In a special evidence session held in Manchester on Saturday, Rolnik, who was in the UK to investigate the housing situation in the UK, heard graphic first hand evidence from carers, sick and disabled people, a grieving widow, grandparents, separated parents and a former soldier all struggling due to the Bedroom Tax.

‘The Bedroom Tax is an abuse of my right to a family life and to our human rights,’ one tenant said in evidence.

The Anti Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Federation invited Ms Rolnik to hear first hand the indiscrimate and unjust impact of the Bedroom Tax and why we are demanding it must be abolished.

Eileen Short of the Anti Bedroom Tax Federation of which DPAC is a founding member says:

‘The Bedroom Tax must be repealed, arrears written off and landlords repaid for this crass injustice.  A growing movement of defiance will resist any evictions, and demand an end to this war on tenants.’

The Tories have responded with anger to the UN recommendations with Grant Schapps, according to reports, incandescent with rage. The DWP have questioned Ms Rolnik’s ability to make findings on the basis of “anecdotal information and meetings”.

Evidence that the bedroom tax is unfair and discriminates against disabled people is so well established, Ms Rolnik, the UN’s housing expert, did not need long to see that it breaches human rights.

A judicial review earlier this year found that the government’s ‘under-occupation penalty’ did discriminate against disabled adults but the judge was not prepared to ‘micro manage’ government policy and found that under the letter of the law the government had discharged its duty in carrying out an equalities assessment irrespective of the outcome of that assessment.

Numerous reports have evidenced the impact of the bedroom tax on disabled people and the ineffectiveness of Discretionary Housing Payments in mitigating the harm. (http://www.aragon-housing.co.uk/about-us/news/100-days-of-the-bedroom-tax/http://www.papworth.org.uk/news-detail.php?aid=438).

Some of the most compelling evidence heard by Ms Rolnik came from those tenants, many of them disabled, who are personally affected. The callous way the Tories and the DWP can disregard this evidence shows just how nasty this government really is.

Watch the powerful testimonials:













Aug 302013
 

Media links on Paralympic legacy

Penny Pepper @PenPep on BBC London: http://bbc.in/1bx7a3s 
Maria Nash on BBC: can only find links to simpering Paralympians spouting government propaganda

Fabulous ISLINGTON local protest

We were Absolutely Fabulous @rockinpaddy @e_lisney @PenPep @disabilitydiva #DAII #SaveILF @SEPartridge #BecauseWe_R_WorthIt #NastyCut

islington ILF protest

islington ILF protest 2 islington ILF protest 3 islington ILF protest 4 islington ILF protest 5

Aug 292013
 

Last year during the ATOS Games over 30 local actions took place around the UK. They were really important for getting the message to members of the public and raising awareness about what this government is doing to disabled people.

This year you get to choose the target of your choice. You could take the Reclaiming Our Futures manifesto to present at your local MP’s constituency office, spread it through social media, protest on the streets  against segregated education, the proposed ILF closure or show solidarity at your local Remploy site (for those few factories in their last weeks of operation). Alternatively, you might want to lobby your local Council on the Bedroom Tax and cuts to local services/support. Oh, and  as we know  ATOS offices are still around too….

You could decide to hold an arts event or a debate to raise awareness about disabled people’s rights. There are a number of films listed below showing disabled people’s protest or the brilliant work of Katherine Araniello providing a wry insight into prejudice and the social model discussion event on 1st September will be live streamed for virtual particpation.

How you organise your local actions is entirely up to you but there is a set of resources to download below that might be useful to ensure you get as much local publicity as possible and could give you more time to concentrate on building bigger protests.

Thanks to the local groups who have shared these with us and if you have any resources that other actions and campaigns might find useful please do send them in.

We can help promote your actions on the DPAC website to build as much support as possible so send us information that we can publish about when and where local actions are taking place.

 

Resources to download:

– Template press release:  ROF template PR

– Flyer promoting grand finale of the week of action on 4th September: flyer 3

– Letter to send to your MPs inviting them to the lobby in Parliament and  launch of the UK Disabled People’s Manifesto: Dear MP

– Flyer for the lobby and launch: flyer – lobby (3)

– Easy read information about the week of action: DPAC easy read (2)

– Reclaiming Our Futures graphic: graphic

– Films list: Films

– Guide to organising a local action: How to Guide 

–  Easy read ‘Planning a Campaign’ information: campaigns (DPAC)

And of course, back this year by popular demand…. Barbie shows us how to organise a demo….How to do a demo

Don’t forget to make sure your friends, family and fellow campaigners have information about the week of action and armchair activism guide and let us know how you get on.

Together we can reclaim our futures!

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