Sep 122011
 

We are still waiting for specific details for disabled people who wish to participate from the TUC organisers.

Details  below are from the TUC website

Date: Sunday 18 September
Assemble at 11 am on Granville Street B1 1JW

Speakers include: Billy Hayes CWU, Mark Serwotka PCS, Christine Blower NUT, Paul Kenny GMB

images

This year the Lib Dems are having their annual conference in Birmingham and the TUC is organising a march and rally to show opposition to the Coalition Government’s disastrous policies of pay freezes, cuts and attacks on public services that are producing rising unemployment, cuts in living standards and stagnation. The march will also show the support for The Alternative. We need jobs, growth and justice for a sustainable future and this event will send that message loud and clear.

We call for the maximum support and are specifically asking unions and trades councils to:

  • Encourage all your members to attend, a flier is available to download [PDF] and printed copies are available, to order leaflets e mail mkesterton@tuc.org.uk clearly stating the number of leaflets wanted and a postal address for delivery, allow 5 working days for delivery ,
  • Let us know if you are booking transport and we can give advice on drop off, parking and collection,
  • To ensure that we have an effective and safe event we need a number of stewards and all affiliates are asked to nominate a number of stewards, please e mail contact details of potential stewards to mkesterton@tuc.org.uk
  • Consider making a donation to help fund the campaign.

There will be provision for marchers with disabilities, including a short route. It would be helpful if organisations could give as an indication of what their members access requirements are and we will do our very best to ensure that they are met.

from the Right to Work website

Transport

Leeds – 9.30am, West Yorkshire Playhouse, http://yorklibdem2011.eventbrite.com/ 07980 316414

Leicester – Humberstone Gate, Leicester at 10 am, Contact Leicesterrtw@gmail.com or 07963703691 to book a seat.

York – 8.30am, Memorial Gardens Coach Pickup, Leeman Road, YO26 4ZF http://yorklibdem2011.eventbrite.com/ 07980 316414

March Against the Lib Dems

Sep 122011
 

The following letter has been sent to Atos Healthcare. Copies have also been sent to The Guardian, The Independent, The Morning Star, The Times, The Financial Times, Newsweek & the Daily Mail. It is written in response to Atos Healthcare’s misuse of the libel laws in a bid to silence their many many critics, especially those who have spoken openly about their bad experiences of the Work Capability Assessment.

The original post Atos objected to can be found at
http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2011/02/15/atos-mach-frei-atos-origin-team-up-with-gas-chamber-firm/

AN OPEN LETTER TO ATOS HEALTHCARE

Lisa Coleman
General Manager for the DWP Contracts
Atos Healthcare
4 Triton Square
Regent’s Place
London, NW1 3HG

Dear Ms Coleman,

We the undersigned individuals and groups are seriously concerned by the fact that Atos Healthcare, the provider of the Work Capability Assessment for sickness benefits, has threatened legal action against the Internet hosting companies of three websites which circulated letters from sickness benefit claimants – ‘Carerwatch’, ‘After Atos’ and ‘Atos Register of Shame’ (now relaunched as ‘A### the Truth’).

These websites have given members of society who are often isolated and have traditionally found it difficult to take joint action, the chance to come together and share their experiences. We find it unacceptable that a large IT company, which receives £100m per year for their assessment of claimants, has deployed their legal department against individuals or small organisations who dared to circulate people’s comments and concerns about their treatment at Atos’ hands.

As acknowledged by both the recent Harrington Report and the Work and Pensions Select Committee, the Work Capability Assessment implemented by Atos Healthcare was found to be mechanistic and Atos’ ‘medical reports’ far too often did not reflect circumstances and discussions that had taken place during the assessments (Harrington Report, pp. 40-41). In addition, ESA claimants have now been told that twelve doctors working for Atos face being struck off for improper conduct, and other members of Atos’ staff are under investigation over allegations of obscene criticism of benefit claimants.

Atos Healthcare has given assurances that the shortcomings identified by the Harrington Report are being addressed. Yet many claimants are still experiencing the distress of poor and rushed medical assessments based on Atos Healthcare’s computer programme.

Amid growing concern that Atos Healthcare is failing to raise its methods and professionalism to acceptable standards, the company is now attempting to silence those claimants and their small organisations who have had the courage to speak up. At a time when we see that major corporations such as News International are able to use the threat of legal action to hide their wrongdoings, it is important that Atos’ actions are brought to account.

It is also the case that government bodies are unable to sue for libel. Atos’ argument is that they are taking legal action to protect their business reputation, but in this case they are performing the work of the DWP, and receiving public money for doing it.

For these reasons, we ask that Atos withdraw all threats of libel action, that they publicly guarantee that they will not in future use the libel laws to close down criticism of their practices, and that they make a public apology to those individuals and websites which they have tried to silence.

Yours truly

Brighton Benefits Campaign
Brighton & Hove TUC Unemployed Centre
Caroline Lucas MP
Amanda Sebestyen Writer
Paul Smith Atos Victims Group
Holly Smith (President) Brighton and Hove Trades Union Council
Brighton Keep Our NHS Public
Brighton Stop the Cuts Coalition
Brighton Disabled People Against Cuts
Ipswich Unemployed Action
Disabled People Against Cuts
False Economy
Southampton United for Pensions and Public Services
National Coalition for Independent Action
Redhill Coalition Against Cuts
Lewes Stop the Cuts
Art Uncut
DLA Help Group
The Broken of Britain
WinVisible (Women With Visible and Invisible Disabilities)
Suffolk Coalition for Public Services
Queer Resistance
Newport Trades Union Council
Cornwall Anti Cuts Alliance
Cornwall Disabled People Against Cuts
Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group

cross posted from Brighton Benefits Campaign

Sep 112011
 

On September 13th the Welfare Reform bill passes to the House of Lords for debate and to be voted on. This bill is based upon the ‘Universal Credit: Welfare that Works’ white paper that puts forward the Condem’s proposals for reforming welfare to work incentives, to simplify the benefit system and to tackle administrative complexity.

In short it seeks to destroy the welfare state as we know it and in many cases slash benefit claims to the point where increased poverty and homelessness will result.

DPAC say that Disabled People and Disabled Children should not pay the price for welfare reform. Please email as many Lords as you can. This needs to be done now or very soon so please take a few moments to do this if at all possible.

A full list of Lords email addresses can be found here or at this blog

Dear Lords,

We are writing to express our concern over numerous aspects of the current Welfare Reform proposals which you are now being asked to consider and vote on. Many of these measures will adversely affect the lives of disabled people and children and will in many cases remove disabled people’s rights supposedly guaranteed under the UN Convention of Rights of Persons with Disabilities. If passed as they are many of these changes will result in widespread increases in poverty and homelessness.

A number of our concerns include the introduction of Personal Independence Payments to replace Disability Living Allowance with a stated aim of reducing the number of claimants by 20% when the fraud rate for DLA is according to DWP figures only 0.5% and the social security advisory committee have said they can see no reason for the changes. Re-testing of claimants regularly although their conditions will never change will be a further waste of public money and will merely add another test for disabled people to fear.

The proposed removal of the Mobility component of Disability Living Allowance from all residents of care homes, resulting in a fall in their incomes of 66% and leaving them with only £22 a week for all extra expenses will cause genuine distress  for many residents as well as in most cases removing from them a right to family life. Many disabled people living in residential homes use this component to pay for either a mobility aid such as a wheelchair or to pay travel costs to see family and friends. One care home resident tells us that he has to pay his home 65p per mile to travel anywhere although the home is paid over £1,000 per week for his care and the drivers are volunteers. This is typical and without mobility allowance many disabled people will effectively become prisoners.

The proposed abolition of the Independent Living Fund coupled with the reduction of local authority funding will result in massive numbers of disabled people losing their right to live independently in total contradiction to the UNCRPD which was ratified by the UK government. This fund should not be scrapped without an adequate and ring-fenced alternative being put in place. In other countries where similar moves have been made the costs to the state increased as large numbers of disabled people ended up being admitted to hospital for lengthy periods of time. This proposal in particular will be disastrous for disabled people’s rights.

Restricting the amount of Housing Benefit entitlement to social housing tenants whose homes are larger then they are deemed to need is ill thought out as many disabled people have had costly adaptations made to their homes which they would lose if forced to move. There is also a massive lack of accessible properties available anyhow thus making it almost impossible for disabled people to find alternative accommodation. Further for anyone with a visual impairment or a learning disability it is often vital for them to remain in surroundings that they are familiar with and to maintain contact with medical and other professionals who know them well.

Another potential problem with housing is that the bill will link Local Housing Allowance rates to CPI index, which excludes housing costs. Already with the changes to LHA made it is becoming increasingly difficult for disabled people who have additional housing needs eg. to use a wheelchair, or have non-resident carers to find accommodation they can afford in the private rented sector.

Limiting of Employment and Support payments to 12 months for those in the Work Related Activity Group seem particularly illogical as disabled people’s impairments are not likely to go away and may in fact deteriorate. It ignores the effects of chronic, fluctuating conditions such as MS, ME, inflammatory bowel diseases etc.

In addition, the universal credit and welfare reform will bring in ‘a commitment’ for those who fail to ‘apply themselves’ to proper work seeking activities to tougher sanctions. Once again this will not address the complexity of employment related barriers that disabled people face, even if they really are ‘fit for work’. Cuts to Access to Work funding will put in place additional barriers to disabled people in trying to secure employment.

Caps on the total amount of benefit any claimant can get, for both housing needs and living expenses. The suggested total amount is £500 per week regardless of family size, or costs of housing. Ian Duncan Smith says this is to ensure that work pays however it totally ignores the multiple barriers that disabled people face in entering and remaining in the job market, and the fact that many families with disabled children are forced to give up work to care for them due to the lack of adequate alternatives.

Many families with disabled children will face a cut to the financial support they receive. The new system will result in these children losing up to £1400 per year The Government estimates that 100,000 disabled children would lose out under this change.

The reforms suggest that all claims should be processed via the internet which is not accessible for many disabled people. What alternatives are being proposed for those who do not have or cannot access this method of claiming.

We hope that you will ensure these issues are fully addressed before you vote on this bill, the future of disabled people now lies in your hands.

Yours faithfully,

(fill in your name and address)


Sep 092011
 

Crippencartoons blogs…

“Atos Origin, the french owned company who undertake the ‘work capability assessment’ for the UK government have spread their tentacles still further into the world of disabled people.

Already a ‘worldwide partner’ of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), Atos founder and former chair Bernard Bourigeaud, has now been invited to join the IPC as a member of the Governing Board.

Bourigeaud, a non-disabled person who now runs his own consulting company, will take his place alongside the 14 other members of the Governing Board with immediate effect and therefore be part of the body primarily responsible for the implementation of policies and direction of the Paralympic Movement.

Bob Williams Findlay, a spokesperson for Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) commented:

“The chief agent of people’s oppression currently in the UK is Atos, and whilst I fully understand the outrage over the appointment of Bernard Bourigeaud as a co-opted member of the Governing Board of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), I can’t say I’m surprised … whilst western capitalist states may be slashing their welfare budgets, global corporations such as Atos, continue to exploit the potential markets surrounding medicine, ill health and disability.”

Black Triangle, another anti-cuts organisation of disabled people based in Scotland have called for a boycott of the Paralympics. John McArdle, Black Triangle’s facilitator told me:

“In a recent survey by Scope, 64% of all respondents said that they see the Paralympics as an opportunity for disabled people. We agree; it is an opportunity for grassroots disabled people and disabled people’s organisations to UNITE TOGETHER and BOYCOTT this event!”

You can read more what John has to say about this on the Black Triangle web site.

Please click here to access the Black Triangle web site.”

To read Crippsencartoons blog go to: http://crippencartoons.wordpress.com/2011/09/09/the-spread-of-atos-tentacles/

 Posted by at 17:27
Sep 092011
 

Last night (Thursday 8th September) Birmingham Against Cuts held a meeting to build towards the Liberal Democrat conference demonstration on the 18th September.  Sam Brackenberry from DPAC spoke about the challenges disabled people are facing to a full room attended by about 150 people. Speakers included Bob Crow and Jody McIntyre.

For the full report read here: http://birminghamagainstthecuts.wordpress.com/2011/09/09/report-from-build-the-alternative-broaden-the-struggle-public-meeting/

 Posted by at 17:19
Sep 092011
 

CoolTan Arts is delighted to announce the very talented Arthur Smith as the Largactyl Shuffle Sponsored Walk patron 2011 – The internationally renowned comedian, playwright, author and broadcaster will join us on 15 October to walk, promote World Mental Health Day and raise money for CoolTan Arts.

Want to meet him? – then walk with us to help raise money and promote World Mental Health Day. Sign up now here!

He says: “Supporting CoolTan’s Sponsored Walk and Promoting World Mental Health Day this year, is something I am pleased to do especially as I have had friends and family who have suffered clinical depression.

Read more: http://www.cooltanarts.org.uk/2011/08/arthur-smith-cooltan-arts-largactyl-shuffle-sponsored-walk/

 Posted by at 16:49
Sep 052011
 

New developments! Please read
Great news on the ESA Amendment! at George Potter’s blog.

DPAC is calling upon all members to write to the Lib Dems to build support for a motion being put forward at their annual conference on September 17th about fundamental changes to the Employment and Support Allowance assessment system.

The Lib Dem motion, to be proposed by Liberal Youth, will make five key demands including calling for:

–       a clearer assessment process,

–       greater accuracy in assessment, particularly for those with fluctuating conditions,

–       ensuring disabled people get the support they need

–       all claimants on appeal to be given access to adequate representation

–       a less stressful assessment process

An amendment to the motion put forward by George Potter relates to the difficulties currently faced by disabled people placed in the Work Related Activity Group, many of whom have fluctuating conditions which may vary widely from day to day, who face the ongoing  threat of having their benefits sanctioned if they fail to fully comply with conditions imposed on them regardless of how difficult this may be for them.

Lib Dem Youth believe that the government will listen if the motion is passed.

DPAC would ask its members to contact your Lib Dem MPs, MEPs, councillors and peers to urge them to vote in favour of the motion. You can find their contact details at www.parliament.uk If your MP is not a Lib Dem then please write instead to Nick Clegg, deputy prime minister and Simon Hughes, deputy leader of the Lib Dems who it is very important to influence.

Nick Clegg, deputy PM, Cabinet Office, 70, Whitehall, London, SW1A 2AS or nick.clegg@cabinet-office.x.gsi.gov.uk

Simon Hughes, deputy leader Lib Dems, Lib Dem head office, 4,Cowley Street, London, SW1P 3NB or info@libdems.org.uk

Please send us copies of any letters you do send and we would also like to hear what responses you receive.

You can use this template letter: template letter

Sep 042011
 

DPAC would like to express their deepest sympathies to the Muslim community for the loss of Sheikh Maymoun Zarzour, Imam at the Muslim House in London. He showed that there is a diversity of disabled people who serve their communities from all walks of life.

It is  terrible that he should be so brutally murdered. While we understand that the police have indicated it as not a race/religious hate related crime, we hope that they will fully investigate that it is not a disability hate crime either.

Please refer to

http://www.mcb.org.uk/article_detail.php?article=announcement-991

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-14774251
http://www.haringeyindependent.co.uk/news/topstories/9231774.Prayers_for_murdered_Finsbury_Park_Imam/

for more details.