Feb 282013

one of our supporters has been having an ongoing conversation with SCOPE to see why they aren’t campaigning to save the Independent Living Fund. We’ve now edited those emails and added a few comments in brackets but hopefully left their general thrust apparent for you all to read.

Finacial income for 2010

Scope– 101 million pounds

Mencap – 194 million pounds

RNID – 41 million pounds

RNIB – 135 million pounds

Leonard Cheshire – 155 million pounds

Guide Dogs – 57 million pounds

MS Society – 29 million pounds

MND Association – 13 million pounds

Spinal Injuries Association – 20 million pounds

TOTAL = 745 million. (Where are the so-called charities with this amount of money to spend? Forgive me but what exactly are they doing for us all?)

From: Sarah Daly <Sarah.Daly@scope.org.uk>
Sent: Thursday, 28 February 2013, 12:52
Subject: Re: ILF

I’m just checking with my colleagues in our media and parliamentary teams to provide more detail about what is planned around the March court case.

Are you already involved with the DPAC campaigning around ILF? http://www.dpac.uk.net/2013/02/vigil-to-save-ilf/

Scope have challenged the Government on their decision to close ILF, much earlier in the process. (DPAC has responded to the consultation too and have arranged public lobbies of MPs already – SCOPE haven’t)

We now feel that the way we can have the most impact to protect care and support for disabled people is to focus on public campaigning around the Care and Support Bill. (SCOPE are writing off the ILF completely)

I’m sure you can understand that we have limited campaigning capacity (only  101 million income in 2010)and therefore, as much as we would like to, cannot pursue all the issues we challenge the Government on into full public campaigns. I know this is frustrating.

As with many of our campaigns, I understand it’s frustrating that the change we want to see is long term – and yet the difficulties are happening right now.  We will continue to speak up to ensure that society in the future is a better place for all disabled people.(but too bad for anyone now)

I hope this answers your questions.

Best regards,


 Posted by at 20:37
Feb 272013

Contact Councillor Brewer at cbrewer@cornwall.gov.uk

We’ll be asking him for any comments he’d like to provide for our website
article from This is Cornwall. http://www.thisiscornwall.co.uk/Cornwall-councillor-refuses-resign-saying/story-18257973-detail/story.html#axzz2M1xFzc8Y plus poll to vote whether you think he should resign.

A CORNWALL councillor has apologised but refused to resign after telling a disability charity that all disabled children “should be put down”.

Collin Brewer, independent councillor Wadebridge East, made the comments to Disability Cornwall at County Hall when the group had an information stand at an event to allow councillors to meet equalities organisations and understand some of the issues they face.

Councillor Colin Brewer

At the event, which took place in October 2011, Mr Brewer approached the stand and was told how the group helps parents of children with special educational needs.

He responded by saying: “Disabled children cost the council too much money and should be put down.”

Disability Cornwall advice services manager Theresa Court said: “I was absolutely horrified anyone would make such a depraved comment, let alone a Cornwall councillor and at a public event.

“As far as I was concerned I had a duty to make a formal complaint against Councillor Brewer to seek appropriate justice.”

An investigation was launched and the independent standards committee ruled that Mr Brewer should write a letter of apology to the organisation.

His letter read: “I am writing to offer my whole hearted apology for the offence these remarks have clearly caused. While I meant no offence by my remarks to you I can see, in retrospect, that they were ill judged and insensitive and should not have been made at all.”

Chair of Disability Cornwall Steve Paget, MBE added: “It is of great concern to us that anyone with such beliefs, let alone to vocalise them, could be a representative and elected member of our local authority. For such a serious issue and multiple breach of code of conduct, bringing the council into disrepute, we did expect no less than this councillor’s resignation.”

When the West Briton contacted Mr Brewer about whether he would resign he initially claimed that he could not recall the incident.

However when prompted he said that he was not aware that there had been calls for his resignation and indicated that he would not stand down.

He said: “I had come to their stall after a long council meeting and I was probably a little bit het up as we had had some difficult debates.

“I could see that they were trying to sell me something so I said something to them which I thought would provoke a reaction. But they turned their backs on me and I walked away – I thought that was the end of the matter until the complaint.

“I used to be a salesman and I said it to provoke them into a discussion – I expected them to parry it and talk to me.

“I didn’t mean any offence and didn’t want to upset anyone.”

Should Councillor Collin Brewer resign? Vote in our poll now.

96 % say yes so far

Read more: http://www.thisiscornwall.co.uk/Cornwall-councillor-refuses-resign-saying/story-18257973-detail/story.html#ixzz2M7iOp1QN
Follow us: @thisiscornwall on Twitter | thisiscornwall on Facebook

 Posted by at 18:03
Feb 262013


Plaid. www.plaidcymru.org

Tuesday 26 February 2013. For immediate release. 



 A joint debate by Plaid Cymru, the SNP and the Green Party will be held in Parliament tomorrow (Wednesday) in which Members from all three parties will call upon the Government to abolish its unjust and unworkable housing under-occupancy penalty – commonly known as the “bedroom tax.”

 Plaid Cymru’s Hywel Williams MP, who will lead for the party in the debate, will argue that this toxic policy is set to impact on some of the most vulnerable people in society – including pensioners, people will disabilities, separated families and families of service personnel – by penalising those who are in receipt of housing benefit while having one or more spare bedrooms in the household.

 The Department for Work and Pensions’ own figures show that 63% of the 660,000 claimants affected by the bedroom tax or their partners are disabled. 

 Mr Williams has grave concerns over the mismatch between the available social housing stock and the needs of tenants, and the fact that this will disproportionately hit some parts of the UK such as rural Wales.

 Speaking ahead of the debate, Mr Williams said:

 “There is growing public anger at the introduction of the bedroom tax. Plaid Cymru and the SNP are determined to put pressure on the Government to abolish this unjust and unworkable proposal.

 “This is a politically-directed exercise to save money at the expense of some of society’s most vulnerable people, and one that will lead to a far more costly legacy in the long-term.

 “It seeks to force 400,000 disabled people and their partners out of their homes and is wrong both in principle and in practice. The absence of flexibility in the housing market in rural and inner city areas means that people will be unable to move through no fault of their own.

 “As with most cuts imposed by Westminster, Wales is set to suffer disproportionately due to our high number of housing benefit and DLA (Disability Living Allowance) recipients. 

 “Tomorrow’s debate will aim to wake the Coalition from its complacency and to hammer home the devastating impact its welfare reform proposals will have on families already facing choices between paying their bills and putting food on the table.

 “This is a personal test for the Prime Minister and his alleged caring Conservatism. It is also a test for those Liberal Democrats who know this is wrong but have until now compromised their principles to stay in power.”


 Elin Angharad Roberts

Swyddog y Wasg a Chyfathrebu / Press and Communications Officer

M: 07738 182 864

E: elin.roberts@parliament.uk  

 Posted by at 13:41
Feb 252013

DPAC has been passed a letter from Ed on WCA/Atos which we’ve been asked to share. While reading please remember that it was New Labour that first contracted Atos and Ed has done some visits to them too- no, not  joining DPAC, or disabled  people in  protests outside Atos offices in direct actions against the 72 deaths a week of those being put through this inhuman regime. But as a kind of badly advised PR exercise. He seems to have stopped that now.

The letter says:

              ‘We appreciate and share the concerns that have been expressed by many charities, disability groups and health care professionals regarding the WCA …’

Would these be the same multi-million big disability charities that sat at the table with Atos in the working groups on the construction of the WCA we wonder? And is Ed really talking about HCPs here? Ed’s  letter continues:

             ‘….and we agree that the government need to move quickly to remedy the problems. A large number of charities and disabled people have reported serious shortcomings with the assessment process and there is clear evidence that the WCA is not working….’

A slight understatement? Then there’s a bit of a disclaimer about previous New Labour government and what they intended for the WCA which was for it to work with applicants ‘fairly, quickly and compassionately’ with ‘appropriate support’.  Ah so no plans to scrap this inhumane disaster and start looking at it all again then? Back to Ed:

           ‘…It is clear, however, that the current Government have been too slow to adapt the Work Capability Assessment in the light of experience, and in view of the much bigger job it is now being asked to do…’

Actually they have been adapting it, mobilising distance for example has been reduced several times to make even more difficult to score those elusive Atos points removing more people from any support. Then we have a paragraph on Professor Malcolm Harrison’s independent reports and lack of progress. Let’s also remember Prof Harrison was sacked/resigned/came to the end of his appointment, apparently after appearing on Panorama citing the disaster of the WCA and Atos. But moving on:

       ‘…We would like to see the Government move much faster-for example in acting on the recommendations made by charities on dealing with mental health problems and fluctuating conditions-and to reduce the current bureaucracy of the current system. Atos healthcare also have questions to answer about the effectiveness of the current assessment process…’

        ‘..We are also very concerned that the scale of the cuts to disability benefits and social care introduced by this Government-which will total 8.6 billion over the parliament-will have a very serious impact on many disabled people..’

Isn’t it over 9 billion?

     ‘…Mr Miliband and the Shadow Frontbench will continue to press the Government on the need to put right the serious problems with the WCA…’

Cheers Ed and let us add that the work of Labour’s John McDonnell, Michael Meacher and others in bringing this Atos horror and the links between Atos and Unum in running ‘Government’ from the inside are much appreciated.

You can download the full letter from link below


Feb 242013
Tuesday 26 February, 6pm
Croydon Town Hall
On 25 February Croydon Council will agree their budget for 2013-2014 which will include cuts across services for disabled and older residents adding up to£10 million coming at a time when disabled people are already being impoverished and left without essential income and support through national cuts to benefits and entitlements.
The detailed budget setting recommendations from Cabinet on 10th December (attached) contain much that was left out of the flimsy online consultation and much that is worrying including efficiency savings (read ‘cuts’) to an already over stretched voluntary sector and more effective use (read ‘reductions’) to care packages when disabled residents are already being told if they can’t cope on the support they currently get they will have to go into residential care.
We are very concerned that on top of year on year reductions by Croydon, and the huge central government cuts to disability-related benefits and entitlements, these cuts represent a further attack on the quality of life of disabled people. The cuts are adding injury to injury, and mean yet more pain for disabled people in Croydon.
Feb 242013

Southwark Save Our Services

southwarksos@gmail.com Facebook: Southwark SOSsouthwarksaveourservices.blogspot.com/ Twitter:@southwarkSOS

Wed 27 Feb 6pm 160 Tooley St SE1 2TZ


Tell the council: Benefit cuts hurt

We can’t pay ANY more
This protest is supported by:
Southwark Disabled People Against Cuts
Southwark Trades Council
Southwark SOS
Southwark Group of Tenants’ Organisations Southwark Pensioners Action Group

Feb 232013

 Please also read below from the brilliant Kate Belgrave with many thanks to Kate for allowing us to repost-see more from Kate at http://www.katebelgrave.com/

On November 5, Mark Hoban told parliament that “we have introduced a mental health champion in every single assessment centre throughout the country.”

He absolutely had not.

Why cant we find out more about Atos mental health function Champions?
 Update Thursday 14 February 2013: Atos has been in contact and discussions are underway to set up a meeting. Interesting. They reckon they sent an email to a generic email address of one group on the list and made a phone call a week or so ago – a fairly half-hearted attempt to set up a meeting if you ask me, but at least we’re underway. Ish. I want to know what this role really does, or doesn’t, do for people with mental health problems who must go through WCAs. I’ve seen plenty of examples of the problems WCAs cause people and more needs to be known about this MFC role – the role that was created to, purportedly, improve WCAs for people with mental health problems. More soon.


For several months now, as readers of this site will know, a group of Newcastle mental health service users and support workers and I have been asking Atos to agree to set a meeting up between us and Atos’ work capability assessment mental function champions. (Mental function champions do not advise or support claimants: they provide advice and coaching to Atos healthcare professionals).

I’m posting this article to let you know that despite repeated assurances from Atos that our meeting will be organised, it hasn’t been. Atos keeps saying it’ll set a meeting up for us, but never does. We call Atos and we email Atos and they say they’ll get right onto it. They don’t. So we call Atos and email Atos and they say they’ll get right onto it. They don’t. So, we got in contact with Atos again about a fortnight ago and were assured that a call would be made and a meeting would be set up. Nothing’s happened. It has occured to us that Atos doesn’t want us to meet with mental function champions. Or something. We’re sure that they’re there, etc. We just want to see them and find out more about the “role.”

Mental function champions are the individuals Malcolm Harrington suggested that Atos added to the work capability assessment process to “spread best practice amongst Atos healthcare professionals in mental, intellectual and cognitive disabilities,” whatever that means. Last year, the DWP told me that 60 of these MFCs were in place (I suppose we take that as written for now) and that they largely worked a phone advice line. Mark Hoban went somewhere else with it, into territory that may best be described as make-believe: on November 5, he told parliament that “we have introduced a mental health champion in every single assessment centre throughout the country.” The DWP rowed back on that and admitted that there wasn’t a mental function champion in every single assessment centre in the country. There were/are 60, apparently, and they’re mostly on the phone. The DWP didn’t much want to talk about that: its officers told me to contact Atos for more on MFCs. And as I say – pinning Atos down on the details has been a struggle.

In his first-year review of work capability assessments, Harrington observed that concerns had been raised about Atos assessors’ knowledge and understanding of mental health conditions. “The short training course in mental health that Atos assessors receive is proving nowhere near adequate to allow them to accurately assess applicants,” MIND said in the review.

I’d take it a good few steps further than that. Complaints and concerns about the appalling effects of WCAs on people with mental health problems are, as I’ve written before, widespread and well-documented: work capability assessments and descriptors for disability benefits place too much emphasis on basic physical readiness for work, do not account for the fluctuating nature of some mental health illnesses and assume that everyone is always in a position to offer a detailed picture of their circumstances. Once found fit for work, people’s benefits are cut, they must appeal or apply for jobseekers’ allowance, they can fall behind on their rent and bills and their mental health really begins to deteriorate, as this doctor will tell you. I have witnessed some of this myself, having attended work capability assessments with people who have mental health problems and followed them as they have gone through the stressful appeals process. Stephen, a 54-year-old man with schizophrenia who was one of those people, got a zero-points score in his initial WCA assessment, but was placed in the ESA support group on appeal – a monumental turnaround by the DWP that made everyone involved wonder at the criteria. Claimants with mental health problems have sought recourse in court: last month, the courts heard a case which, if won, will put the onus on the DWP to make sure medical evidence from practitioners is sourced from the start of the ESA application process for people who have mental health problems.

Those issues being very much the case, it is understandable that people with mental health problems and their supporters want to know how the MFC role works. Meeting with champions and asking them about their daily role seemed as good an approach to this as any. It certainly seemed a better approach than asking Atos directly, given the thin results that has yielded.

I asked Atos to explain exactly who MFCs are and the skills they bring to WCAs. Atos’ response was short on specifics: the company had, apparently, “invited leading external experts in mental health to help shape the role for the mental function champions,” and the champions “work alongside our healthcare professionals, supporting them in a range of different ways.” The word “alongside” could be considered a stretch – as we’ve seen, the DWP said that MFCs advise Atos HCPs down a phone (“telephone-based support” Atos calls it). Details of the “different ways” support was provided were not forthcoming in the response I received. I received this instead: “Our mental function champions are selected for the role because they have considerable expertise within the mental function field. They may already have higher training or a higher qualification in the field of psychiatry or have experience working in Mental Health, Learning Disability or Cognitive Impairment.” Presumably, the word “may” there means that some may not. There’s an awful lot of Maybe going on here.

Anyway. People want to meet with MFCs because they want to know more about the “role” and see it in action. It’s important. It’s very important. The MFC role is, it could be said, to be the main means by which concerns about WCAs and mental health problems have been “addressed” (ahem) to date. So – people need specifics. They need to know how, on a day-to-day basis, the role “spreads best practice” so that it improves WCAs for people going through them – assuming that is what is does. As I’ve observed – the jury’s out on that one. Things are too difficult for people going through WCAs for this topic to be left at a few press statements from Atos. I know we’re not the only people who are interested, too. I’m also pretty sure that Atos doesn’t want us to be.

Feb 232013

It has always been assumed that only 11% of new ESA claimants would meet the criteria of the Support Group, although reality shows otherwise. And this figure has been repeatedly used by DWP in almost all their communications. But where does this 11% come from?

Through various Freedom of Information requests, we have been able to learn that:

“..within the document that has been referred to (ESA RFP.pdf) there was a planning assumption (based on historical/statistical evidence?[1]) made prior to the introduction of ESA for commercial purposes to assist Atos Healthcare in the recruitment of sufficient resources to deliver the medical services contract”

Or in another FOI:

“…the original estimate of the mix of Work Capability Assessment (WCA) outcomes (for initial assessments) was Fit For Work (FFW) (15%); Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) (76.5%) and SG (8.5%). These estimates were based on Incapacity Benefits Personal Capability Assessment (PCA) data and pilot data”

But the response to a new Freedom of Information request lets the cat out of the bag. To the same question, where does this 11% come from, the DWP answers:

“The WCA was designed in consultation with medical experts and representative groups.  It builds on the experience gained from the operation of the Personal Capability Assessment (PCA) which was used for Incapacity Benefit, which was replaced by ESA. To estimate the probable assessment results the figures derived in the ESA RFP were based on historical Incapacity Benefit results of Personal Capability Reports information.

In year 2008/09 total ESA New Claim referrals were 151,523 – Support Group criteria 16,274 (10.74%); the percentage was constant throughout.  Therefore, DWP use the derivation of 11% from these findings”.

Below is the table from which these figures are taken:


ESA New and Repeat claims -referral at Week 4

ESA New and Repeat claims -referral at Week 4


So the DWP tells us that this 11% is derived from the 151,523 persons assessed in 2008/2009, and that this has been confirmed by figures obtained in the following years. Really?

In fact, this number is part of what is called a planning assumption, which does not represent the actual number of people assessed during the year, but what DWP thought was a workable figure for budgeting costs in its ESA contract with Atos. The document, which contains these figures and other figures up to 2015, was completed in 2007 and the little note underneath the box referring to the drop out rate gives it away.   So while DWP presented this 11% in the last FOI as the findings derived from actual figures, it was in fact a percentage derived from a planning assumption, or to put it differently, in this FOI the DWP was confirming an assumption with another assumption.

But let us look more closely at the figures, because there it becomes really interesting. It is complicated, but worth reading until the end. We need to disregard the figures in the 2008-2009 row, because they are atypical and do not tally as it was the first year of ESA roll-out.

For all the following years, the number of people in the Support Group column also amounts to 11% of the total number of referrals, exactly as DWP stated, but we need to remind ourselves that these figures were only assumptions. Now let us do some calculations. If we take the total number of ESA claimant referrals, then subtract the number found in the Support Group column, and then subtract the number found in the Drop out Pre-exam column, we consistently arrive at the number of people found in the Expected at Examination column[2].

What does it mean? It means that the assumption of 11% does not represent, either in this table or in any other DWP documents, the total number of people in the Support Group, but only the number of people, meeting certain criteria, who would be put directly into the Support Group without going through a WCA.  Of the number of people undergoing a WCA in the Expected at Examination column, a certain number would also be assessed as meeting the criteria of the Support Group. And do not forget that these figures represent the number of people being assessed, before the decision of the Decision-Maker, and before any appeals, and the number of appeals would have impacted this group more than it would have impacted the total number of referrals, because by definition it contains all the people likely to appeal a decision.

Or to put it differently, 11% is the basic percentage to which should be added the percentage of people going through a WCA and meeting the Support Group criteria.

These assumptions were given to Atos for costing and planning purposes only. The 11% was never intended to represent the actual number of people in the Support Group, but only those who did not need a medical examination, so that Atos could plan and budget staff, premises and other resources around the number of physical WCAs it would actually have to do.
The DWP people who compiled these tables would have known the 11% represented only the number of people who would have to be deducted from the number of referrals in order to work out how many claimants will need to attend a physical examination, but they seem to have been the only ones to know this.
It is obvious from the last FOI request that DWP staff do not understand what these figures refer to, as no explanation accompanies the table, and in the contract, these figures are contained in a stand-alone document. It is also obvious that the DWP staff who wrote the contract for the introduction of ESA with Atos at the same time must have been different from the staff who compiled this table as they did not understand what these figures were supposed to mean either, or they would not have written:

‘It is estimated that approximately 11% of new customers will fall into the Support Group. Atos Healthcare MUST base their solution and costs the figures in Appendix 8’,

when their own contemporary contract document shows that 11% only represents the fast-tracked claimants.  It could not have been in DWP’s interest to deceive Atos on such a scale.

 To understand what happens, look at this graphic:


Atos would not have had any reason to doubt this figure, around which it would have planned and incurred expenses. Anything deviating from this assumption would have cost Atos money, and would therefore have created the financial pressure to keep the Support Group percentage as close as possible to 11%.  Moreover, although 11% does not constitute a target as such, the financial pressure coupled with DWP’s estimations based on wrong assumptions would have necessarily driven the WCA’s outcomes.


Apart from the DWP’s real desire to cut the number of benefit claimants, this is a glaring example and evidence of confusion and incompetence at several levels of the DWP, which goes right to the top of the department. Not only are DWP staff unable to differentiate between assumptions and statistics, but they are also wrongly interpreting their own figures, and this incompetence would have led Atos to attempt to mitigate any unplanned costs it incurred because of this blunder by cutting the number of people meeting the Support Group criteria. That would have therefore influenced the assessment process and the outcomes of the WCA.


It also explains why neither Grayling, IDS nor any other DWP spokesperson can afford to reveal the real numbers of people meeting the Support Group criteria, which have been grossly under-estimated, without losing face, as they show their incompetence.  They would rather be seen as nasty than incompetent. But it is incompetence that disabled people are paying dearly for.


[1] This was written in red in the original document, with the question mark

[2] I have used the Expected at Examination column rather than the Completed PCA Examinations for simplicity purposes (the number of people non attending is 17%). It does not affect the calculations in any significant way, and does not impact on the argument

Feb 222013

Inclusion London logoDPAC Logo 3 amendment 1 (Small)

Defend Independent Living: Save the Independent Living Fund!

We are opposed to the closure of the Independent Living Fund – a national fund that enables disabled people with the highest support needs to live independently in the community

Without the ILF disabled people with the highest support needs will lose essential support – local authorities cannot provide disabled people with the same level or type of support as the ILF and some people who get support from the Independent Living Fund now are not eligible for support from local authorities at all

Disabled people with high support needs are most at risk of losing their independence and those risks are greater now than at any time since the ILF started due to the disproportionate impact of different austerity measures on disabled people

Disabled people will be forced into residential care against their wishes, losing choice and control over their lives

Closure of the Fund breaches the human rights of disabled people as enshrined in the United Nations Convention for the Rights of People with Disabilities:

–         Article 19 – right to independent living

–         Article 28 – the right to an adequate standard of living and protection

Closure of the ILF will cost jobs:

–         Thousands of Personal Assistants employed through the ILF will lose their jobs

–         Disabled people will not have the support they need to be part of the community and to take up training, education and employment

–         Staff employed by the ILF will lose their jobs

The ILF is an effective and efficient way of providing support to disabled people with complex and high support needs:

  • ILF has higher satisfaction rates amongst disabled service users than LA services
  • Just 2% of funding goes on overheads (running the ILF) this is in stark contrast to the 16% of social care funding that goes on running LA social services departments.
  • ILF has the skills, knowledge and expertise to genuinely support disabled people with complex and high support needs, unlike LA’s.

We are calling for investment and expansion of the ILF that will provide:

–         State protection for the rights of disabled people with complex and high support needs to be supported to live independent lives

–         Expert independent living support based on the genuine independence, proper participation in society, and fulfillment of aspirations of disabled people.

–         A national model of support that does not vary depending on where you live

–         Support that is free at the point of need


Kevin Caulfield, Independent Living Fund, January 2013

Write to your MP

Dear_______________________ MP,

I am writing to urge you to defend disabled people’s right to independent
living which is under threat from the closure of the Independent Living Fund
(ILF), a source of essential support enabling disabled people with the highest
support needs to live in the community.

The closure of the ILF will mean for me….

On 18th December 2012 the government announced its decision to
permanently close the ILF following its closure to new applicants since
December 2010. The announcement followed a consultation that was flawed
and which ignored the overwhelming opposition to the closure from disabled
people and disabled people’s organisations as well as other organisations
and Local Authorities.

Government plans to merge the ILF with mainstream care and support will
result in a greatly reduced quality of life for disabled people and for some
will mean being forced into residential care against their wishes. This will
prevent disabled people from full inclusion and participation in the community,
as anticipated by Article 19 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with

The Government’s decision not to put in place any ring-fencing for the
support for current ILF recipients when responsibilities are transferred to
local authorities and devolved administrations will inevitably lead to a loss of
support as many local authorities have stated in their consultation responses.

The ILF is needed to protect adults in the UK who are most at risk of losing
their independence. Those risks are greater now than at any time since the
ILF started, and there is clear evidence that without that protection being
continued on a national basis disabled people with high support needs will
lose their ability to work, to live in the community rather than in institutions,
and to be part of society or even carry out family roles. With the ILF already
shut to new applicants it is clear this is the consequence of closure of the

The closure is a false economy, making relatively small savings through
reducing support while at the same time making people dependent and
economically helpless.

The ILF has proved effective in meeting independent living needs at a
national level and at a time when disabled people are being affected
disproportionately by many different austerity measures, the protection
provided by the ILF needs of this group nationally needs to be strengthened

not removed.

I ask you to sign Early Day Motion 651 and to call on the Government to
review this regressive step and to look instead at ways of expanding the
Independent Living Fund to provide needs-based support to all disabled
people in the UK who require it.
In order to protect disabled people’s right to live with choice and control over
their lives and with dignity we need the Independent Living Fund.

Yours sincerely,



template_letter_to_MP__Final_+1 Word Doc



Feb 182013

Unum the US insurance company that have been constantly criticised by disability activists have finally been nailed through their own bragging. The Unum /Atos partnership is no longer in doubt in driving new harmful policy direction to remove support from disabled people and guide others towards taking out income protection insurance. The wholesale take over of welfare by corporate giants intent on profit and a Condem Government intent on destroying a welfare state has been ongoing since the 1990s. But since the Condems came to power without mandate, the situation has gone full speed ahead with attack after attack on disabled people and others on low incomes.

Disability news service John Pring says:

The US insurance giant Unum has repeatedly denied attempting to influence IB reform over the last two decades, despite mounting evidence that it has done so.

Unum is the largest provider of “income protection insurance” (IPI) in the UK, and tougher welfare rules – including replacing incapacity benefit with employment and support allowance (ESA) – are likely to persuade more people to take out IPI, boosting the company’s profits.

Unum even launched a major media campaign in 2011 just as the coalition began a three-year programme to reassess about 1.5 million existing IB claimants through the new, stricter test, the work capability assessment (WCA).

Now DNS has secured a copy of a Unum document on the assessment of “incapacity”, which was published in 2005.

Read more HERE


 Posted by at 22:26
Feb 182013


Reclaim It!
Take Direct Action on International Women’s Day
Sick of the Con Dem’s regime of cuts and austerity?
Tired of watching helpless while the government destroys people’s lives and create a world we don’t want to live in?
Then join us on International Women’s Day to take direct action to stop the cuts.
We are an independent coalition of feminist and anti-cuts activists who think its time to take matters into our own hands. We are particularly concerned about the gendered impact of the cuts which will jeopardise safe and free access to abortion, force single mothers back to work when their children are still young, close down rape crisis centres and women’s refuges as well as many more services for women and LGBT people.
We will be taking direct action in a ‘yet-to-be-revealed’ location, to reclaim feminist space. Assemble at 12pm on Friday 8th March at either Goldsmiths University of London (main entrance Lewisham Way ) or Queen Mary University of London (main entrance Mile End road) where you will be met and taken to a convergence point. This action is open to people of all genders and none.
Join us to fight austerity together!
If anyone is interested in joining this action and has specific access needs please email us at mail@dpac.uk.net
Support can be provided to people to  take part
 Posted by at 14:06
Feb 162013

11am at ULU, Malet Street,
London WC1E 7HY

With workshops on • welfare reforms causing poverty, debt and
homelessness • how we can oppose them • building mass resistance
• Link up and build the campaign locally and nationally

The Campaign for Benefit Justice is uniting all those opposed to
devastating benefit cuts / By linking up we can challenge the
Government’s divide and rule tactics and unite the 99% of people
hit by these cuts / Bringing together disabled people, tenants,
unemployed , trade unions, students, pensioners, single parents
and others to oppose benefit cuts.

Download summit flyer and details for how to book your place here: benefit-justice-summit_A5_4pp (2)

Feb 162013

Protesters brought traffic at Whitehall to a stand still following a ‘speak out’ organised by Fuel Poverty Action and Supported by Disabled People Against Cuts and Greater London Pensioners Association to highlight the injustice of rocketing fuel bills at a time when benefit changes, cutbacks and low wages are pushing growing numbers of people into poverty. Meanwhile the Big Six Energy companies, in bed with government, have increased their profit margins 700%. The action followed protests earlier in the week in Edinburgh, and Haringey while Southwark Pensioners held a ‘warm up’ in the Royal Festival Hall.


Read about the fuel robbers: http://fuelpovertyaction.org.uk/stop-the-great-fuel-robbery/490-2/

Read the Independent’s article ahead of today’s protest: http://www.independent.co.uk/money/spend-save/anger-at-decc-as-fuel-poverty-hits-millions-8497485.html

Below – MarmiteRay of ‘The Undateables’ fame speaks out against the Great Fuel Robbery:



Feb 162013

Not all local authorities bothered to respond to the consultation over the future of the Independent Living Fund but here are links to the responses of most of those who did reply


Local authority responses to ILF consultation





Anglesey, Conwy,Flintshire & Wrexham Joint response http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134567/response/326222/attach/html/2/ILF%20Response%20North%20Wales%20LA%20s%20Oct%202012.doc.html


Argyll & Bute  http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134707/response/324073/attach/html/3/Argyll%20and%20Bute%20Council%20Response%20ILF%20Final%202012.doc.html


Barking & Dagenham http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133081/response/330461/attach/html/3/ILF%20Consultation%20Response.docx.html


Barnsley http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134244/response/327015/attach/3/img%20X31113918%200001.pdf


Birmingham http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133990/response/331269/attach/html/3/FOI%207763%20reply.pdf.html


Blaenau Gwent http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_149#incoming-325185


Brighton & Hove http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133594/response/331709/attach/html/3/RESPONSE%20TO%20ILF%20REVIEW.DOC.doc.html


Bournemouth http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133767/response/329417/attach/html/3/ILF%20response.docx.html


Buckinghamshire http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/137363/response/331429/attach/html/3/FINAL%20Clarification%20letter%2013.11.12.pdf.html


Bury http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_68#incoming-321716


Caerphilly http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134557/response/328904/attach/html/4/03.CCBC%20response%20to%20consultation.doc.html





Cheshire East http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133425/response/330439/attach/html/2/20121022ResToBrady.doc.html


Cheshire West & Chester http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133426/response/329618/attach/html/2/ILFCONSULTATION.docx.html


Croydon http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133178/response/331452/attach/html/4/Response%20F%20CRT%202012%202205.doc.html


Coventry http://moderngov.coventry.gov.uk/documents/s4779/Responses%20to%20Government%20Consultations.pdf


Cornwall http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133772/response/328476/attach/html/3/IAR%20245927%20FOI%20EIR%20Response%20Template%20NO%20Exemptions%20Applied.doc.html


Cumbria http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133561/response/326948/attach/html/3/2012%2010%2031%20Disclosure.doc.html


Denbighshire http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134568/response/324469/attach/html/2/Response.pdf.html


Devon http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133959/response/324802/attach/html/3/Information%20Request%2003195.pdf.html





Dorset http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133961/response/323544/attach/html/2/ILF%20draft%20consultation.pdf.html





Dumfries & Galloway



Durham http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133401/response/322132/attach/html/4/ILF%20consultation.pdf.html


Ealing http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133179/response/329882/attach/html/4/17102012%20ADASS%20Agenda%20Item%203%20ILF.Appx%201.pdf.html


East Dunbartonshire http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134712/response/324687/attach/html/2/ILF%20FINAL%20RESPONSE%20SEP%2024TH%202012.doc.html



East Riding of Yorkshire http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134251/response/333084/attach/html/3/EEF90461233811E2A672B51576002175.doc.html


East Renfrewshire



East Sussex http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133597/response/333253/attach/html/3/1751%20ILF%20letter%20final%201.pdf.html


Edinburgh http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134721/response/332950/attach/html/3/CEC%20response%20on%20Future%20of%20ILF%2010%2010%2012.pdf.html


Essex http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133065/response/329347/attach/html/3/ASC%20IG%20025700%20Final%20Response%20Appendix%201.pdf.html


Falkirk http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134723/response/332393/attach/html/5/FC%20Response%20to%20ILF%20Consultation%20October%202012.doc.html


Flintshire http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134569/response/325743/attach/html/3/FCC%20ILF%20Consultation%20Oct%202012.doc.html


Gateshead http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_55#incoming-324658


Glasgow http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134725/response/331701/attach/html/3/Brady%20D131112L%20FOI%205.doc.htmlhttp://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134725/response/331701/attach/html/3/Brady%20D131112L%20FOI%205.doc.html


Hammersmith & Fulham http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133211/response/326346/attach/html/3/Response%20to%20consultation.doc.html


Hampshire http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133743/response/333637/attach/3/FOI%205422%20Taylforth%20Formal%20Response%202012%2011%2020%20HF000003887806.pdf


Halton Borough Council http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_72#incoming-323442


Hartlepool http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_56#incoming-327676





Hertfordshire http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133067/response/321758/attach/html/6/Herts%20ILF%20final%20response%201%2010%2012%202.pdf.html



Hounslow http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133217/response/322483/attach/html/4/Submitted%20LBH%20response%2010%2010%2012.pdf.html


Hull http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_139


Inverclyde http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134727/response/324516/attach/html/3/Consultation%20Response.doc.html


Islington http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133218/response/324586/attach/html/3/ILFConsultationResponse%20IslingtonOct2012.pdf.html


Kensington & Chelsea http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_39#incoming-330104


Kent http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133745/response/322389/attach/html/3/The%20future%20of%20the%20ILF%20consultation%20response%20Oct%202012.pdf.html


Kirkless http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_140#incoming-331317


Lancashire (






Leicestershire http://www.leicsfoi.org.uk/disclosureLogMonth.asp?year_value=2012&month_value=10#rn3803


Manchester http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133567/response/331151/attach/html/2/ASC8Z6BR5%20ILF%20respnse.doc.html


Medway http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_94#incoming-332110


Middlesbrough  http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133406/response/323469/attach/html/4/TAYLFORTH%20P%202923.3%20ATT.doc.html


Midlothian http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134728/response/333568/attach/html/3/F4276%20MID%20ILF%20response.doc.html



Milton Keynes http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_95#incoming-324054


Moray http://www.moray.gov.uk/downloads/file83404.pdf


Newcastle http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133408/response/325991/attach/html/4/Final%20ILF%20consultation%20response%20Oct%202012.pdf.html



North Ayrshire http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134730/response/334293/attach/html/2/10052%2012%20Consultation%20Response%20ILF.doc.html


North Tyneside Council http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133409/response/322730/attach/html/4/ILF%20response.docx.html


North Yorkshire http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_144#incoming-323851


Nottinghamshire  http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/132919/response/324055/attach/html/2/ILF%20consultation%20questions%20responses%20NottsCC.doc.html


Oldham http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_76#incoming-322916





Pembrokeshire http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134589/response/330598/attach/html/4/3286%20Brady%20Info.doc.html


Poole http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133974/response/329013/attach/html/6/FOI%20615%20reply.pdf.html


Portsmouth http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_97#incoming-327297


Powys http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_163#incoming-327163



Renfrewshire http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134984/response/334480/attach/html/3/Taylforth%20Paul%20ILF%20Response%20FOI%20Response.pdf.html


Rhondda http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134591/response/334118/attach/html/2/RCT%20ILF%20Consulatation%20Response.doc.html


Rochdale http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133572/response/332520/attach/html/3/TF%20Response.doc.html


Richmond upon Thames http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133263/response/326232/attach/html/3/13604%201.pdf.html


Rotherham http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/independent_living_fund_consulta_145#incoming-331784


Salford http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/133573/response/333490/attach/html/2/Consultation%20document.docx.pdf.html





Solihull http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/134005/response/323740/attach/html/3/ILF%20Consultation%20Response%20oct12.doc.html









South Lanarkshire






Stockton on Tees



Stoke on Trent



St Helens






Vale of Glamorgan












West Lothian



West Sussex

























 Posted by at 17:16
Feb 162013

Dear_______________________ MP,

I am writing to urge you to defend disabled people’s right to independent living which is under threat from the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF), a source of essential support enabling disabled people with the highest support needs to live in the community.

The closure of the ILF will mean for me….


On 18th December 2012 the government announced its decision to permanently close the ILF following its closure to new applicants since December 2010. The announcement followed a consultation that was flawed and which ignored the views of disabled people and disabled people’s organisations as well as a number of other organisations and Local Authorities.

Government plans to merge the ILF with mainstream care and support will result in a greatly reduced quality of life for disabled people and for some will mean being forced into residential care against their wishes. This will prevent disabled people from full inclusion and participation in the community, as anticipated by Article 19 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The Government’s decision not to put in place any ring-fencing for the support for current ILF recipients when responsibilities are transferred to local authorities and devolved administrations will inevitably lead to a loss of support as local authorities raised in their consultation responses and have a devastating impact on disabled adults who have been supported by the ILF to lead active and full lives.

I would ask you to sign Early Day Motion 651 and to call on the Government to review this regressive step and to look instead at ways of expanding the Independent Living Fund to provide needs-based support to all adults in the UK who require it.

In order to protect disabled people’s right to live with choice and control over their lives and with dignity we need the Independent Living Fund.

Yours sincerely,

 Download Template letter by clicking following link: ILF template letter

 Posted by at 17:12
Feb 142013

BEDROOM TAX. A summary by Frank

None of what follows is scaremongering.  

Nearly one in three tenants on benefit to lose at least £14 per week

The Draconian measures will affect an estimated 660,000 working-age social tenants – 31% of existing working-age housing benefit claimants in the social sector. The majority of these people have only one extra bedroom.

The legislation is deliberately complicated and comrades need to gen up or refer to other agencies. The legislation also worsens  between Housing Benefit and Universal Credit which will replace HB from October 2013

80% of those affected are expected to be unable or unwilling to move home, so the governments claim that it will free up homes for ‘overcrowded families’ is limited. The government is not interested in providing homes, it is interested in penalising the poorest.

Many tenants have invested a lot of money in their homes over the years – garden sheds, children’s play items, carpets, decorating etc., and the prospect of abandoning this will be hard to take.



(Based on England/Wales)


(32pages, Chartered Institute of Housing, aimed at Scotland’s social landlords)



The “bedroom tax” is a change to Housing Benefit introduced by the Con-dem Government to take effect from April 2013.

The power to do this is contained in the Welfare Reform Act 2012 and is commonly referred to as the bedroom tax, size criteria or under-occupation penalty.


Children under 16 of same gender expected to share one room.

Children under 10 expected to share regardless of gender

Disabled tenant or partner who needs non resident overnight carer will be allowed an extra bedroom. However proving this will be very difficult, although it has been allowed in the private rented sector since 2010.


Who will be affected?

All claimants who are deemed to have at least one spare bedroom will be affected. This includes:


Separated parents who share the care of their children and who may have been allocated an extra bedroom to reflect this. Benefit rules mean that there must be a designated ‘main carer’ for children (who receives the extra benefit)

Couples who use their ‘spare’ bedroom when recovering from an illness or operation

Foster carers because foster children are not counted as part of the household for benefit purposes

Parents whose children visit but are not part of the household including those at university.

Families with disabled children who need an extra bedroom due to their disability. (a case about this in Private Rented sector is now going to Supreme Court)

Disabled people including people living in adapted or specially designed properties. (One person has been told that her adapted shower room which was a bedroom will count as an extra bedroom and she’ll have to pay for it.)

Pensioners when in mixed age couple


How much will people lose?


The cut will be a fixed percentage of the Housing Benefit eligible rent. The Government has said that this will be set at 14% for one extra bedroom and 25% for two or more extra bedrooms.


The Government’s impact assessment shows that those affected will lose an average of £14 a week. Housing association tenants are expected to lose £16 a week on average.

However as social housing rents in the Highlands are higher than the Scottish average, we can expect to lose marginally more.


A person on JSA can expect to be hit by at least £60 per month.


HB is different for claimants depending on whether they are with a private landlord or social landlord, ie., Council or Housing Association. Private tenants are already subject to a benefit reduction, as Their LOCAL HOUSING ALLOWANCE is set at a ” market rate” below the actual market rate, meaning large numbers of claimants get benefit at a lower rate than the actual rent, and have to make up the difference from their unemployment or other benefits, or from the meagre wages of those on pay low enough to qualify for LHA.

The new legislation is effectively a substantial cut in HB for all claimants in Social  housing who supposedly have a ‘spare’ room. 

The government do not care if a room is single or double, it is just a room, so two children will be expected to share a ‘single’ room.

A couple alone in a two-bedroom home will see their HB reduced by 14%per week, and by 25% if they have a three-bedroom house.

A couple in a three-bedroom home with two children will see their HB reduced by 14% per week – the Government says children must share a bedroom, so the other room is ‘spare’!

A couple in a three-bedroom home with one child will see a cut of 14%.

A couple in a four-bedroom house with three children will see their benefit cut by 14%, or by 25% if  two children are home.

A couple with one adult unemployed child aged 16+ and two other children in a 4-bed house will be cut, by more than 14% but subject to other terms.

(‘Couple’ also means a single parent)

All these reduction will apply even if there are no available ‘smaller’ homes to which the claimant may be moved by the landlord. As a large proportion of social (and private) housing built in the last 40 years has been of 2- and 3-bedroom size, being the most flexible, the number of 1-bed and Studio flats is very limited and will prevent any significant migration. The government know this of course, but don’t care.

Tenants in rural areas where there is no alternative accommodation, even if they wanted it, will be hit.

The cuts also apply even if you are disabled and use a spare room for keeping equipment such as a mobility scooter or for kidney dialysis. 

A couple who do not share the same bedroom will also be penalised, even if this is because of disability.

Also, separated parents who share custody and keep a spare room for their visiting children will see similar cuts.

Parents of children taken into foster care, even if temporarily.

Foster Carers will be penalised, because children in care are not counted.

If a partner/dependent dies, the surviving tenant gets one years grace before HB cuts apply. With the introduction of Universal Credit this will be reduced to 13 weeks.

Claimants will be expected to find the money from other benefits or move home at their own expense, possibly out of the area meaning a change of school and loss of friends and family support. Then when their oldest child reaches the age of 10 they may be eligible to apply to move back into a larger house again, but of course there may be none available, and certainly not their old house! Thus we see both a tragedy and a farce.

The government is also to stop direct payments to landlords, putting the responsibility on tenants,  many of whom will have to set up transactional bank accounts, perhaps for the first time, and many of whom lack the skills to budget. For example, if the landlord sets up a direct debit and there are insufficient funds in the account, even just by £1, the landlord will get NO rent and the tenant will get hit by default bank charges. (This applies to ALL tenants whether claiming HB or not). The landlord may also charge a default fee! The tenant may not even realize the situation until he examines a statement or gets a notice of arrears, and may be unable to catch up. This will inevitably lead to rent arrears, losses to landlords, evictions and increased rents for remaining tenants.

The new legislation will be accompanied by a ‘black propaganda’ campaign by the government and the usual obsequious media to demonise all HB claimants as feckless scroungers denying ‘genuine’ families the chance to move into a house, and that the ‘taxpayer’ is subsidising them. The reality is that it is a mean and hurtful policy aimed knowingly at those least able to move home and least able to pay the rent.

Under both Labour and Tories, the social rented housing stock has fallen (by 421,000 units from 1997 to 2010) as funds were cut, right-to-buy removed the best houses, and councils were denied the ability to build. This is the REAL cause of the huge waiting lists.


In most cases, the penalties will kick in after 13 weeks of ‘under-occupancy’ – this will affect the families of the armed forces who are on tours of duty.

STUDENTS: This will affect the families of students away for 6 months or more.

CHILDREN: under16’s of same sex must share. Over 10’s of different sex are entitled to own room. Under 10’s of either sex must share.

Social landlords are already planning to change the criteria for applicants. For example, if a WORKING couple with one child apply for a vacant local council house close to the workplace, and the only house available is a 3-bedroom (not uncommon especially in rural areas), the application may be refused because the Landlord is afraid of potential loss if the tenant/s become unemployed. This could further devastate rural communities already desperately short of social housing, although the Landlord may never admit that this kind of process is official. 

Of course what no-one is saying is that Labour introduced size criteria into the private rented sector in 2008 and had planned to extend this to the social rented sector in 2010 but Housing Associations made too much fuss about the potential rent losses they faced if that happened forcing them to drop the scheme.

 Posted by at 21:42
Feb 132013

Yesterday’s Court of Appeal verdict has dealt a massive blow to Workfare, one of the Government’s flagship welfare reform policies.


The judgment on cases brought by Cait Reilly and Jamie Wilson mean that all but one of the Government’s workfare schemes (Mandatory Work Activity) that force unemployed people to work unpaid or lose benefits have been deemed unlawful.


It also means that  tens of thousands of unemployed people that had their benefits stripped whilst on the schemes should be due a refund.


DPAC knows of many people with mental health support needs found fit for work and forced onto workfare who have not been able to meet the conditions and have had their benefits stopped as a result. We hope that this judgment will end punitive schemes that drive down wages and benefit business while pushing disabled people off their benefits and stopping people from looking from appropriate employment.


Yet the message from the Government was that they would be pressing ahead regardless of today’s judgement.


Employment minister Mark Hoban said:


“The court has backed our right to require people to take part in programmes which will help get them into work…”


But workfare has not aided people into work.


His own department’s figures show that just over 2 out of 100 people are found jobs by the Work Programme, whereas 5 out of 100 people find work without assistance.


The real beneficiaries have been the likes of McDonalds, Poundland and Greggs that have made substantial savings on wages and notorious firms such as A4e, Serco and G4S that have delivered very little for the hundreds of millions of pounds they have received in Government contracts.


Such a blow to the Government can boost the fight against other attacks on welfare, such as cuts to council tax benefits, the bedroom tax and the end of disability living allowance amongst others.


Protests and occupations organised by Right To Work and Boycott Workfare have meant that Work and Pensions minister Iain Duncan Smith’s workfare schemes have been under pressure since the introduction of workfare.


Indeed Holland and Barrett cited anti-workfare protests as the reason they withdrew from workfare last summer.



The Campaign for Benefit Justice has called a summit event on 9 March in central London, bringing together tenants, disabled people, trade unions, the unpaid and the low paid as one national voice to end the war on the poor. All who support us should contact benefit justice via info@defendouncilhousing.org.uk or mail@dpac.uk.net.

 Posted by at 11:28
Feb 112013

Reposted from the New Statesman

Owen Jones caused a bit of a stir this week, when after it was revealed that he had won the Political Book Awards Young Writer of the Year award, he announced he would be giving his £3,000 prize money (donated by Lord Ashcroft) away – half to Lisa Forbes, Labour candidate in Peterborough, and half to the Disabled People Against Cuts.

He tweeted:

Chuffed to win Young Writer of the Year Award at #PBAwards. Given the £3,000 prize is from Lord Ashcroft I’ll be donating it to causes (1/3)

Half to the brilliant @LisaForbes_ campaign against right-wing Tory caricature @SJacksonMP. Lord Ashcroft money well-spent #PBAwards (2/3)

The other half to @dis_ppl_protest who are campaigning for disabled people who are being battered by Tory cuts #PBAwards (3/3)

Thanks to Jones, Tory mega-donor Lord Ashcroft’s money is going to be funding a Labour parliamentary candidate and a group of activists who vehemently oppose the actions of the Conservative politicians in the coalition. When he came up on stage to present another award, Lord Ashcroft attempted to have a pop at Jones in return, and delivered an unconvincing comeback.

Feb 102013

Benefit Cuts opposition grows as MPs and union leaders back

Union leaders and MPs are publicly backing tenants and campaigners against Benefit cuts which they say ‘must stop’.

The leaders of Britains largest trade unions are lining up in a joint call to action, with Defend Council Housing, Disabled People Against Cuts and others. They say debt, hunger and homelessness will get worse if ‘vicious’ cuts to Council tax, Disability and housing benefits including the Bedroom Tax go ahead. ‘People receiving benefits did not cause the banking and economic crisis and we do not accept them being scapegoated to pay for it.’ A joint letter published today, is signed by Len McCluskey leader of Britain’s biggest trade union Unite, and by Mark Serwotka of the PCS trade union representing Benefits workers and other civil servants.

Four MPs also back the call for a Benefits Summit on 9 March, bringing together campaigns and organisations to step up opposition. Today’s letter says:

Cuts in benefit are an unjust attack on the poor and they must stop.

People are already being driven into debt, hunger and homelessness. From April millions more will be hit by the Bedroom tax, cuts in council tax benefit, ending Disability Living Allowance and further vicious cuts.

In one of the richest countries in the world, the rise of food banks, destitution and poverty is not acceptable. People receiving benefits did not cause the banking and economic crisis and we do not accept them being scapegoated to pay for it.

The Campaign for Benefit Justice has called a summit event on 9 March in central London, bringing together tenants, disabled people, trade unions, the unpaid and the low paid as one national voice to end the war on the poor. All who support us should contact Benefit Justice via info@defendouncilhousing.org.uk or mail@dpac.uk.net

Collecting unpaid corporate tax, capping private rents, insulating, repairing and greening homes and building 100,000 first-class council homes would be a sane and just way to raise funds, build for growth and cut bills and rents.

It is signed by:

Eileen Short Defend Council Housing

Linda Burnip Disabled People Against Cuts

Michael Bradley Right to Work Campaign

Len McCluskey General Secretary Unite the Union

Mark Serwotka General Secretary PCS union

Dave Anderson MP

John McDonnell MP

Austin Mitchell MP

Caroline Lucas MP

Jane Aitchison (PCS) Unite the Resistance joint Secretary

Richard Buckwell Chair Ashfield UNISON Branch & East Midlands member of UNISON’s national Housing Forum

Glyn Robbins (UNITE member)

Dot Gibson National Pensioners Convention general secretary

Claire Glasman WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities)

Kim Sparrow Single Mothers Self-Defence

John Davies Leeds Hands off our Homes

Dr Stuart Hodkinson Lecturer School of Geography University of Leeds

Shirley Frost Sheffield Defend Council Housing, Campaign for Benefits Justice, and UNITE Community Members branch Sheffield

Imelda Messenger Hackney tenant, Street Properties

Further information from DCH chair, Eileen Short (07432 098440)

To stop getting DCH press releases reply with UNSUBSCRIBE in subject.

For background information on the demand for investment in council housing and who supports the campaign see www.defendcouncilhousing.org.uk

Feb 102013

The Public Accounts Committee this week published their report on the Work Capability Assessment and criticised the Department for Work and Pensions for their handling of the contract with Atos, for allowing them a monopoly and for being complacent about the numbers of wrong decisions.

See the reports through Black Triangle’s website:  http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/2013/02/08/public-accounts-committee-report-on-the-dwp-atos-contract-management-of-medical-services/

BBC news and Margaret Hodge, Chair of the Committee speaking: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-21376915

DPACers speaking to the media this week about the WCA:

John Smith and Kevin Watts were on Radio BBC Northampton:  (about 1 hour 6 mins into the programme): http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p013kwpk/Stuart_Linnell_at_Breakfast_OneThird_Of_Incapacity_Claimants_Are_Fit_For_Work/

Channel 4 were going to do a story but horse meat knocked it off the running order.

Feb 102013

Next weekend, between 15th-18th February, hundreds of people across
the UK will be taking to the streets to Stop the Great Fuel Robbery in
our national weekend of fuel bill assemblies and action
(http://fuelpovertyaction.org.uk/stop-the-great-fuel-robbery/)  All
the details of what’s going on are at the end of this email. But,
first, here’s a round-up things you can do to help.

We’ve launched an online forum for people to speak out about their
experiences of the likes of mammoth fuel bills, greedy landlords,
rip-off energy companies. If you can’t make it to an event on the
weekend, submit your testimony online in advance (make sure you let us
know if you want it read out at a fuel bill assembly.
Find the online speak-out forum here:

We’re asking trade union branches to offer their support for Fuel
Poverty Action and our weekend of action. If you have union contacts,
download our Letter to Branches and Trade Unionists and Model Motion on Fuel Poverty Action.

The facebook event for the weekend of action is here:
Please join the event, invite all your friends and share it as your status.
And, don’t forget to follow @FuelPovAction on Twitter.

Warm wishes,

Fuel Poverty Action
Visit www.fuelpovertyaction.org.uk
Twitter: @FuelPovAction
Email us at fuelpovertyaction@gmail.com
Tel: 07586 482 157



Organised by Southwark Pensioners’ Action Group. Meet outside the
Royal Festival Hall at 1pm.

On Wednesday 13 February Southwark Pensioners’ Action Group members
are going to sit in at the Royal Festival Hall.  No, we have no
argument with the Festival Hall but they have lovely warm premises.
Many people today (especially older people on low incomes) cannot
afford to heat their homes, so going to somewhere warm on the South
Bank will be a treat.

Our present fuel arrangements are a disgrace.  We have six main energy
companies who compete with each other not to give better value but to
make more profits. Every year each of them makes billions of pounds
while people sit at home in the cold.  We are told we can save money
by changing suppliers, but when we do so we often find we are even
worse off than before; even financial advisers cannot tell us what the
best deal is.  The Prime Minister got involved but apparently it is
not in his power to force energy companies to act in the interests of

Thousands of people, most of them old, die prematurely every year
because they cannot afford to heat their homes adequately.  In recent
years there have been many campaigns about Heating or Eating.  But we
are told nothing can be done.

This cannot go on.  Come with us and made a fuss.  Let’s get the local
papers involved.



Meet 1pm, Scottish Gas HQ, Waterfront Avenue, Edinburgh, EH5 1SG. Map here.

2000 Scots die each year because of rip-off energy prices, and we are
all struggling to pay the bills.

The Edinburgh Tenants Federation Fuel Poverty Campaign will be raising
awareness about the issues surrounding rip-off energy prices, and our
campaign to get the council to implement a bulk-buy energy scheme to
save us money, with a demonstration at the Scottish Gas HQ, on Friday
15th February at 1pm.

Please join us for what we hope will be a vibrant and exciting
demonstration, which will include a 15 piece samba band!

More info: http://edinburghenergycampaign.org.uk/

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/326805920764239/



Meet: 11am, Wood Green Central Library, 87-197A High Rd London, N22 6XD

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/546290358736932/



Meet at 2pm at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), 3
Whitehall Place, SW1A 2AW. Map here: http://goo.gl/maps/n5010.
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/180920275365768/

– Your fuel bills or records of recent meter payments.
– Symbols or examples of the things you’re doing without in order to
heat your home.
– Banners and placards.
– Blankets, hot water bottles and flasks to keep warm.

Organised by: Fuel Poverty Action.

Supported by: All African Women’s Group, Climate Justice Collective,
Disabled People Against Cuts, Frack Off (London), Global Women’s
Strike, the Greater London Pensioners’ Association, National
Pensioners’ Convention, Redbridge Pensioners’ Forum, Red Pepper,
Single Mothers’ Self Defence, Southwark Pensioners’ Action Group,

Get in touch with us if your group would like to be listed as a supporter.

Part of a national weekend of fuel bill assemblies and action called
by Fuel Poverty Action. See www.fuelpovertyaction.org.uk to find out


While one in four families choose between heating and eating, the
government is plotting to increase our dependence on dirty and
expensive gas power. This will send fuel bills even higher, contribute
to rising food prices through climate change and block the alternative
of cheaper, cleaner renewable energy.

While disabled and elderly people are forced into libraries and
shopping centres to keep warm and people with cancer freeze in their
homes with the heating off, the government is slashing crucial
benefits and cutting grants to make homes energy efficient.

The government is snugly in bed with the Big Six energy companies.
Dozens of Big Six energy company staff are being paid by the
government to set energy policy within the Department for Energy and
Climate Change. Together, they’re doing all they can to keep profiting
from the Great Fuel Robbery. We say: enough is enough.

Join us at the Department of Energy and Climate Change for a fuel bill
assembly, as part of a national weekend of fuel bill assemblies and
action. Come speak out about living with mammoth bills, debt, cuts and
cold homes and share experiences of how you’re getting by. Come
discuss how we can support each other. And come take action to Stop
the Great Fuel Robbery.

Afterwards, we’ll find somewhere warm to go together to keep on the

Please spread the word far and wide!


Travel info: The address of the Department of Energy and Climate
Change is 3 Whitehall Place, SW1A 2AW, situated just off Whitehall.
There’s a map here: http://goo.gl/maps/n5010. The building is near
Charing Cross, Embankment and Westminster tube stations. Westminster
is the nearest accessible tube station.

We have limited funds available to pay for travel to the assembly for
those who would not otherwise be able to make it. If you do need a
travel refund, please contact us in advance by email on
fuelpovertyaction@gmail.com or by phone on 07985 980013 no later than
Tuesday 12th February to let us know how much you will need and your
journey details. We will let you know by Thursday 14th February
whether or not we are able to refund all or part of your travel costs
(this will depend on how much is requested in total). Please then try
to bring a receipt with you on the day.


Fuel bill assembly in Hackney tbc. For confirmation, email
fuelpovertyaction@gmail.com nearer the time or check the website at:

 Posted by at 23:43
Feb 102013

New ‘Use Common Sense’ training module for ATOS HP and DWP Decision Makers

“Common Sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen”

(Albert Einstein)

ATOS HPs are well known for having assimilated all what needs to be learnt about any physical or mental impairments, illnesses and disabilities in a grand total of 22 days training.

They are now required to call upon one of their other greatest strengths, namely ‘common sense’ to decide whether a claimant undertaking a Work Capability Assessment would benefit from a mobility aid or appliance, and therefore is fit to work.

In the words of DWP [1]:


It must be recognised that specific skills, knowledge, experience and training are required to fully assess individuals for aids and appliances which may ultimately help their function. Additionally, clinicians who assess and prescribe aids and appliances for an individual will normally have access to significantly more information about the individual’s situation than HCPs offering advice as part of the WCA process.


Therefore, in situations where an aid or appliance has not been recommended or prescribed, HCPs are being asked to use their skills and experience as a disability analyst to offer ‘common-sense’ advice to the DM in situations where they feel an aid or appliance could improve a claimant’s function in terms of an individual WCA Activity’.

In other words, HPs can without specific skills, knowledge, experience, training and medical information, and simply using their ‘common sense’ decide if person is fit for work IF they were to use a mobility aid or other appliance

If a person in the street, chosen at random were asked “whether a person with mobility problems would benefit from a wheelchair”, the answer would be “yes”

This answer would have as much value as the HP’s advice and be about as accurate.

Using specialist information to make such a decision requires the wisdom of education and experience, not common sense.

But it gets worse:

The ATOS HP’s ‘common sense’ advice is then presented to the DWP Decision-maker, who, let us not forget, has no medical training whatsoever.

According to the new guidelines, the DM will have to:

Consider all the circumstances in order to determine whether it would be reasonable to assess the claimant as using an aid or appliance that has not been prescribed or that they have not been advised to use.’

Here are some of the factors in the DWP guidance, which include:

  • whether the claimant would be advised to use an aid or appliance if they raised it with the appropriate authority such as a GP or occupational therapist 
  • it is medically reasonable for them to use an aid or appliance

At this point, we are entering the world of La La Land:

The Fit for Work decision, which will have huge implications for a claimant, is purely resting on a series of assumptions:

  • The HP’s assumption based on ‘common sense’ that an aid/appliance would improve mobility, without appropriate medical training, skills, experience and without considering :
  •      Its suitability for the claimants condition,
  •      The medical reasons why it might not be appropriate for that person,
  •      The practicality of use in real life and in a real workplace
  • The DM’s assumption that the claimant could be advised to use an aid or appliance if he asked the question, and that it is medically reasonable for them to use an aid and an appliance, without any medical knowledge to back the decision.

In both cases, the new guidelines require HP’s and DM’s to use what is called ‘common sense assumptions’, which are very far away from the informed decisions expected in these kind of cases

In the reality that most of the human race inhabit, a decision whether to use a sophisticated aid such as a prosthetic limb to give a patient mobility would only be undertaken by trained medical professionals in consultation with the patient over the course of several sessions.

However on the planet inhabited by the masterminds at the DWP, it is possible for an untrained, inexperienced ATOS “Health Practitioner” to make this decision using only “common sense” within a matter of minutes (since ATOS allows a very short time for each HP to make a recommendation) and without any consultation with the benefit claimant as to the suitability of such a device.

Notes to Editors:

What the DWP has done, is to use an appeal judgement [1] that it said it has won (when actually the appeal was upheld for the claimant, and the tribunal recommended an oral hearing).

Here is an extract from the DWP Guidance document [2] which explains the judgement:

Here is the background to this change, which was based on the outcome of a single ESA claim, which passed through the Appeals process. It contains the essence of what Decision Makers – and therefore HCPs – will be required to consider as a result of the change.

The facts of the Upper Tribunal decision were as follows. The case was assessed under the ESA 2008 regulations.

The claimant suffered from problems with his knee. He had not been advised to use a walking stick, and did not do so. Following application of the WCA, the DM determined that the claimant did not score any points, and ESA was terminated.

On appeal, the First Tier Tribunal awarded 9 points for descriptor 3(b) (bending or kneeling). They considered that the claimant’s difficulties with walking, standing and sitting could be helped by the use of a walking stick. As the score was still less than 15 points, the DM’s decision was upheld.

On a further appeal, the Upper Tribunal Judge held that

A – Where a claimant normally uses an aid or appliance, they         must be assessed as if they were using it

B – If an aid or appliance has been prescribed or recommended by a person with appropriate expertise, the claimant must be assessed as using it, unless it would be unreasonable for them to use it

C – if a claimant does not use an aid or appliance, and it has not been prescribed or recommended, the claimant must be assessed as if using it if

a. it is normally used by people in the same circumstances acting reasonably and

b. It would be reasonable for the claimant to use it.

The Judge also held that where paragraph C applies, the DM must explain how an aid or appliance would help the claimant.

The Judge’s application of the test of ‘normal use of an aid or appliance’ applies to the assessment of all of the physical activities in the WCA. It is not restricted to those activities that make specific reference to aids or appliances.

Four of the physical activities within the WCA refer specifically to the use of aids. Activity 8 (navigation) and Activity 9 (continence), refer to aids that are normally used.

Activity 1 (mobilising) and Activity 7 (understanding communication) refer to the reasonableness of the use of an aid.

The DWP has extended the judgement from the use of a simple aid (a stick in the present case), to more sophisticated aids or appliances, such as wheelchairs and prosthetics.

Further reading:


[2] http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/139330/response/358405/attach/3/Mobility%20Aids%20and%20Appliances%20doc.pdf

[3] Guidance for DWP Decision-makers: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/m-24-12.pdf

 by Annie and Bob.


 Posted by at 21:44
Feb 102013


At 10.30 this morning the Law Lords at the Royal Courts of Justice reduced Daniel Roque Hall`s original prison sentence to 18 months so he was released from custody this morning and will be going home today! The only restriction imposed is a two year ban on foreign travel.

The Court recognised that Daniel’s serious disabilities – which leave him unable to move his limbs, feed himself, hold a pen or a telephone, or read a book unaided – and complex health needs which require 24/7 care, meant that he should not be returned to prison.

 On hearing the verdict, Daniel said: “This is tremendous news.  I want to thank my mum, my carers, my legal team, WinVisible and all those who have supported me, and I’m looking forward to resting and recovering fully at home”.

In court, supporters clapped and embraced Anne Hall, Daniel’s mother. Visibly moved and relieved, she said:

This is a fantastic result for Daniel, who suffered a great deal while in prison. I think the judges recognised that and I am grateful for the mercy they have shown.  This result is not just because of the court’s judgement, but is thanks to our dedicated new legal team and ongoing support from a large number of people, many of whom have campaigned tirelessly.  I’d like to thank everyone, especially his carers and friends, and WinVisible and the Global Women’s Strike, whose support has been invaluable.  This is a very important ruling not just for Daniel but also for people with disabilities and complex health problems, because it confirms that prison is not an environment which can meet their needs.”

Daniel was unable to attend his appeal hearing because the High Court does not have adequate disability access.  Instead he had to follow the proceedings from hospital via video link – an unsatisfactory and expensive alternative.

WinVisible commented:

Many disabled people supported Daniel’s fight to be released from prison, and identified with the vulnerability of having to be dependent on people who don’t care about you.  Daniel should never have been put in prison and we’re sure there are many other prisoners, women and men, who are being tortured and even killed by inadequate or even complete lack of care.  The neglect Daniel suffered in prison is happening in many institutions including hospitals, from geriatric to psychiatric wards, as the recent report into Mid Staffordshire hospital shows.  That even the High Court does not have adequate disability access is evidence of the discrimination disabled people face at every stage of the criminal justice system.”

The Global Women’s Strike added:

This judgement would not have happened without the determination of Anne Hall, Daniel’s mother, who has been relentless in pursuing justice for her son.  There are serious questions about the treatment Daniel Hall has received in prison and about how the NHS deals with people who are serving sentences in prison but who need to be in hospital.  Those in high places who are responsible for neglect or grand theft from the public purse costing many lives, are mostly allowed to get away with this behaviour.  Prisons are overcrowded with women and men who pose no threat to the public.  We hope they will be able to use this judgement to get their sentences changed so they can get out.”

Although the judges showed mercy because of Daniel’s exceptional circumstances, they did not agree that his treatment at Wormwood Scrubs breached his human rights.  Yet, after only seven weeks he had become so ill that he was taken to UCLH where he spent over a week in Intensive Care. His mother was called to the hospital at 3am and told to kiss him and “say goodbye” – she thought he was expected to die.  It took a further five months of hospital care for Daniel to partially recover.  While the hospital was prepared to release Daniel back to prison, accepting the prison’s assurances that it could now meet his needs, his mother and other carers were convinced that he would not survive in prison.  On 2 January an emergency injunction was granted preventing his discharge back to prison.  His appeal against sentence was expedited with the help of his dedicated new legal team, which resulted in today’s judgement.

Andrew Sperling, Scott Moncrieff solicitors, who prepared the appeal with barrister Flo Krause, was delighted at the result but sorry that Daniel’s human rights case had been rejected.

Daniel’s case is exceptional but he is certainly not the only prisoner in England and Wales who has serious disabilities or health problems.  All are entitled to expect the equivalent level of care they would have access to if they were in the community, but there are very serious concerns about the ability of the prison service to care for them.  Where there is a conflict between the demands of security and the need to provide proper care for seriously ill and disabled prisoners, there is a danger that security is prioritised over health needs.  This is compounded by lack of resources. Someone with Daniel’s disabilities posed no risk to the public and he was assessed as a Category C prisoner.  Yet he was kept in a category B prison like Wormwood Scrubs because the prison service does not appear able to deliver sufficient levels of care in prisons with lower security.  As a result, his conditions were even harsher than they should have been, an additional discrimination.”

Barrister Flo Krause added:

“Daniel’s case is extreme, yet it took all that a lot of people had, to ensure that his life was preserved and he was not subjected to additional suffering. This highlights how wrong systemic approaches are. Daniel is going home. Not a minute too soon.”

For more information contact:

Justice for Daniel Roque Hall

WinVisible Facebook

Global Women’s Strike  www.globalwomenstrike.net               0207 482 2496

 Posted by at 14:47