Dec 312015
 

Looking back at 2015, DPAC seems to have been even more pro-active and prolific then usual. It has of course been a very strange year in some ways with the General Election in May and the Labour Party leadership election in September.

This has resulted in two of the backbench MPs, Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell who have supported DPAC massively in the past 5 years now leading the party something which I don’t think any of us envisaged at the start of 2015. However one thing that seems very clear from the results of the General Election and the landslide victory of the SNP running on an anti-austerity agenda is that people have made it clear they are no longer going to put up with the Tories neo-Liberal agenda without challenging it.

January started with a hastily arranged lobby of parliament on 6th hosted by the Green Party MP Caroline Lucas to try to save the Independent Living Fund and the launch of a campaign to regain the right to live independently for Anthony Kletzander, a young man in Southern Ireland who had been deprived of his liberty. This campaign was successful and in May Anthony was able to return to live independently in his community.

In January we also supported a protest in Merton against cuts to the Local Authorities budget and helped to support an action around the 70th anniversary of Nazi Holocaust Day.

We spent a lot of time last year lobbying and making ourselves visible to Labour Party politicians as part of our Who2Vote4 campaign in the run up to the General Election. Lets face it this was necessary as the Blairites in the party are no better then the Tories in terms of failing to support disabled people’s rights and equality and it is important we don’t forget that. At the very least Labour should be an effective opposition and oppose the savage attacks disabled people are facing on a daily basis.

We went to the launch of the Labour Party Policy in Birmingham in March together with Kate Belgrave who took videos of Andy Burnham running away from answering questions about the ILF, Yvette Cooper running away from questions about WCAs and Liam Byrne suddenly remembering he had left his children at home and had to go and find them so he too couldn’t speak about WCAs either.

https://dpac.uk.net/2015/03/videos-from-labour-conference-see-these-attempts-to-get-answers-on-disability-funding-cuts-2/

We lobbied every single Prospective Parliamentary Candidate about whether they would agree to keep the ILF open and obviously in particular Ed Miliband. In Ed’s case this had no effect and he seemed to ignore us totally when we said “give us your commitment to save the ILF and we’ll help get you disabled people’s votes.” I can only assume he didn’t want our votes.

We had a list of manifesto promises we asked parties to sign up to for the election and this was pushed by the Radical Left Group and John McDonnell in particular.

We also supported Operation Disabled Vote and helped with the push to get disabled people to register to vote and use their power at the ballot box. The General Election period further involved us in a number of anti-UKIP and anti-fascist protests especially in and around Kent and London areas. We make no apology for these although we have been criticised by one person for spending time and energy campaigning against UKIP. We feel however that UKIP really are dangerous for disabled people’s rights.

Revenge on McVey, DPAC outside her local constituency offices

Revenge on McVey, DPAC outside her local constituency offices

Also for the election in May we had a mini Revenge Tour. We weren’t able to make this as large scale as we had originally hoped due to lack of accessible transport to various places and people having to fit actions around working. However about 8 of us went to the Wirral to protest against that evil witch Esther McVey (apologies to any witches) and almost managed to occupy the local Conservative party office. The lone cop there to protect the Tories was just a little too fast for us though.

Our other primary target was IDS and an enjoyable and visible protest was held outside of his constituency office in Chingford. Iain’s office is on the 1st floor as he thinks that keeps him safe from disabled people and DPAC but we know he is wrong about that.

https://dpac.uk.net/2015/04/pictures-from-the-revenge-tour/

Meanwhile as well as all the lobbying and campaigning around the election we had a national day of action against Maximus on March 2nd the day after they took over the toxic WCA assessments from Atos. In total there were 28 local actions from Aberdeen to Truro.

Cartoon: Maximarse – Same Circus – Different Clowns by Phil Evans.

Cartoon: Maximarse – Same Circus – Different Clowns by Phil Evans.

https://dpac.uk.net/2015/01/maximus-day-of-action-2nd-of-march-list-of-events-around-the-uk-scrapwca/

Our previous efforts to toxify the assessment process seems to continue to be successful and due to the lack of ability of Maximus to recruit and retain staff they have been unable to meet their contractual obligations resulting in a drop in the value of their shares by 26%.

In March we published a template letter for people in the Support Group wrongly being called for interviews at Job Centres to send claiming harassment. Numerous people have now been able to use this successfully although we continue to monitor this situation and will be presenting evidence about various cases to Debbie Abrahams the shadow minister for disabled people in the new year.

We also published a ‘know your rights’ guide to ESA50 forms and information about the right to be accompanied to job centre appointments.

This year as well we’ve carried out several research projects together with PIRU (Public Interest Research Unit) about work and disability and into WCAs.

https://dpac.uk.net/2015/03/template-letters-for-those-in-esa-support-group-harassed-by-job-centres/

We took part in a Housing Summit in May and joined in with the Pride march in June.

We’ve had further protests against forced treatment of social security claimants with a joint action at Streatham job centre with Mental Health Resistance Network in June and December.

June and early July was a very busy period for us and in protest about the closure of the ILF and the implications for independent living we stormed parliament during PMQs followed by an ILF closing ceremony on June 30th.

https://dpac.uk.net/2015/06/saveilf-protest-in-the-house-of-commons-during-pmqs/

As well as making sure we and our issues were very visible to politicians we also published solicitor’s advice about Care Assessments under the new Care Act which came into force in April this year plus guidance on Disability Related Expenses and what people might be able to have exempted from Care charging.

Since the closure of the ILF in June we’ve been closely monitoring the impact of this and are working with solicitors to make legal challenges where necessary.

Soon after those 2 events came out Balls2thebudget action which started in Downing Street and moved down to the river later in the morning.

https://dpac.uk.net/2015/07/balls2thebudget-the-movie/

https://dpac.uk.net/2015/07/pictures-and-video-from-the-balls-to-the-budget-protest-balls2thebudget-budget2015/

In June at the PA march Liz Carr and John Kelly were able to put forward assisted dying arguments and introduce introducing the disability equality arguments on AS to 250,000 people

https://dpac.uk.net/2015/06/the-brilliant-liz-carr-john-kelly-at-june-20th-anti-austerity-march/

Also in September DPAC who have supported the  StopChanges2Accessto Work campaign were also part of a significant march in September. This was the biggest march of Deaf people for about ten years but most significantly it brought together Deaf and Disabled campaigners and interpreters in a bi-bilingual protest. The campaign was also successful in getting the thirty hour limit on interpreter hours over-turned this year.

 

Balls to the Tory Conference

Balls to the Tory Conference

In October DPAC supporters travelled to Manchester for protests at the Tory Party conference and a celebration of DPAC’s 5th birthday. This was closely followed by the unprecedented visit by a team of UN rapporteurs who came to investigate the grave and systematic violation of disabled people’s human rights that is occurring in the UK. This is the first time ever that the Optional Protocol of the UNCRPD has been used in this way against any government – a fact that the Tories and indeed all politicians who sat back and allowed these violations to occur should be utterly ashamed about.


As well as initiating this investigation and working with the UN in relation to it since 2013 DPAC also helped to initiate an individual complaint using the Optional Protocols against the closure of the ILF to new applicants in 2010 together with Inclusion London which is ongoing.

While in London speaking to the rapporteurs we were also able to meet with Debbie Abrahams and Owen Smith, shadow ministers for disabled people and DWP to start what we hope will be an ongoing dialogue with them. We also attended the launch of their forthcoming roadshows in parliament on International Day of Disabled People.

DPAC was also first to expose the underhand tactics of Motability in changing their grant-making conditions for disabled drivers who need either internal transfer or drive-from wheelchairs. We have been trying to find someone able to make a legal challenge about this so if anyone has been affected please get in touch.

DPAC supporters and steering group members have spoken at a massive number of events and meetings and also provided a speaker and music for the PA march in June.

DPAC supporters and steering group members have spoken at a massive number of events and meetings including but not exclusively:-

  • Barnet Trades Council AGM
  • DPAC revenge tour Wirral west sack Esther McVey 
  • TUC Disabled Workers Conference 
  • Marxism
  • RMT Regional Council Meeting
  • Labour Party fringe meeting on housing
  • PCS/unite social security conference
  • GMB equality forum
  • Unite the Resistance conference London 
  • 100 years of women in RMT
  • National Peoples Assembly conference.
  • Hackney North CLP National
  • Stop Changes demonstration.
  • Liverpool Trades Council including delegates from National pensioners convention.
  • Lambeth Libraries demonstration.
  • Day of action at Tory party conference.
  • TUC Disabled Workers meeting. various trade union branch meetings.
  • Regional Peoples Assembly meetings.
  • TUCG meeting
  • Trade Union Disability Alliance AGM
  • Irish Congress of Trade Unions disability employment conference in Waterford 
  • Croydon Assembly 
  • Unite Disabled Workers’
  • Manchester Met University panel on disability
  • Leicester University panel disability and media 
  • Leeds University Caroline Gooding Memorial Seminar, Disability and the Equality Act
  • Ankara/Turkey presentation on Challenge and Activism
  • Radical Assembly
  • Momentum
  • Radical Student Conference

Debbie has been re-elected to the European Network on Independent Living ( ENIL) board and DPAC is engaged in the European Alliance against Disability Cuts. We’re also involved in the further development of the Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance (ROFA ).

Our social media campaigns would be nowehere near as effective without the brilliant graphics Skills of Brian Hilton, thank you Brian.

Our social media campaigns would be nowhere near as effective without the brilliant graphics skills of Brian Hilton, thank you Brian.

We also back up our street campaigns with prolific on-line social media campaigns, these are just as vital in the resistance to the government and for disabled people who cannot make one of our protests due to their impairment and access needs be included in our campaigns by joining the resistance against the government on social media and the internet. With our protests on line – we’ve used twitter storms, tweet lists, thunderclaps, face book pictures and links to share, and have trended on twitter and face book with our actions around the right to independent living for the fight for the ILF, the budget event in July, and just recently in October with our Manchester action where we used the hashtag #IDSMurders, which trended on twitter during his speech to the conference.

Finally money things – just to say thanks you to all of our supporters and those of you able to respond to our fundraising drives this year. In total we raised over £5,300 from the 50p challenge and fund an activist against IDS.

This funding has been spent getting people to all the many protests and lobbies of parliament we’ve and without this support DPAC would not be in a position to be as effective as we are.

In addition we were able to raise £610 eventually towards the cost of court charges for a supporter arrested at our Balls2thebudget protest. We hope you feel we’ve made good use of your donations to us.

Also don’t forget we now sell merchandise on-line for gifts for the bolshie ones in your life. https://dpac.uk.net/stuff-to-buy/

 Posted by at 15:57
Dec 312015
 

Independent Living Fighting Fund – donations needed now to support Disabled people hit by the closure of the ILF fight cuts to vital day to day support

DPAC is asking for donations for an Independent Living Fighting Fund to support individual Disabled people to challenge cuts to their social care support packages following closure of the ILF. The ILF campaigners fought fiercely against the closure, taking their protest right to the doors of the House of Commons chamber, exposing to the world the disgraceful way the UK government is treating its Disabled citizens. The Fund finally closed on 30 June but the fight is far from over. Disabled people hit by the closure need solidarity now more than ever as the cuts we all fought so hard to prevent start to kick in.

The government said the closure of the ILF was a transfer not a cut (https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jun/11/impact-of-changes-to-disability-benefits). This was a lie. Some notable Councils such as Hammersmith and Fulham have committed to protecting people’s support packages in the short-term but in other areas serious cuts are already starting to happen as former ILF recipients are re-assessed to determine the level of social care support their Local Authorities will continue to fund. In Waltham Forest for example nearly 90% of former ILF recipients have had their support package cut as a result of the closure of the ILF, with more than a quarter having a cut of 50% or more (https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/independent-living-fund-shocking-drop-in-support-after-ilf-closure/).

Cuts of this level mean robbing Disabled people of independence, dignity and equality. It also places people at risk as tragically evidenced by the case of Amanda Richard (https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3266218/Disabled-mother-died-house-fire-24-hour-care-cut.html) who died in a house fire in Coventry after her support hours were cut. Forcing use of incontinence pads on Disabled people who aren’t incontinent is emerging as one common tactic, as is blanket removal of night-time support and increasing expectations on, often elderly, family members and neighbours. One former ILF recipient was told that if she wanted to continue attending her community choir, other members of the choir could assist with her physical needs in place of needing paid support hours. The reassessment of another made a recommendation for behaviour therapy in order to cope with the removal of their night-time support following closure of the ILF.

Disabled campaigners warned that the closure of the ILF signalled the end of independent living for Disabled people. Local Authority administered care and support has proven itself unable to consistently provide Disabled people with adequate support to live, work and study in the community with the same chances as non-Disabled people. The current crisis in social care funding means things are only getting worse as Councils consult on further cuts to community support (https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/council-is-trying-to-push-through-care-cuts-without-proper-scrutiny/), meanwhile investing in the building of new ‘super care homes’ to house Disabled people en masse (https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/threat-to-independent-living-as-council-plots-raid-on-high-cost-care/).

Having lost the legal challenge to quash the decision to close the ILF it is now imperative that support is available for each former ILF recipient at risk of cuts to essential support. There are a number of dedicated solicitors committed to providing legal advice, however changes to legal aid mean that some Disabled people are no longer eligible yet not in a situation where they can fund the legal action they need to challenge what is happening. It is also true that we cannot reach every former ILF recipient affected and we also know that many are too frightened to speak out for fear of losing what support they have got. Legal challenges are an important way of testing out the rights of former ILF recipients under the Care Act 2014 and making examples out of Local Authorities that are not meeting their legal duties.

This is why we need a fighting fund available to support legal challenges by former ILF recipients not eligible for legal aid.

What you can do:

  • Donate to the fighting fund. We have cases that need to be actioned in early January so the sooner you can give the better. To donate go through DPAC’s paypal or contact us via mail@dpac.uk.net for details for a BACS transfer. Include “ILF FF” as the reference.
  • Circulate this post to your friends, family and fellow campaigners asking them to donate too.
  • Donate through gofundme at https://www.gofundme.com/9up7iw
Dec 222015
 

Would you be willing to take part in a focus group to discuss these experiences?

My name is Rosa Morris and I am doing research on:

changes over time in the way the government defines ‘disability’ for the purposes of employment-related disability benefits how this definition compares with disabled people’s lived experiences.

As part of the research I want to find out about:

disabled people’s experiences of the Work Capability Assessment how well they think the WCA reflects and understands their experience of impairment and disability.

I am a disabled person myself with experience of applying for Incapacity Benefit and Employment and Support Allowance. I hope this research will give a greater voice to disabled people and their experiences.

 

First focus group looking for disabled people to take part on Wednesday 27th January 2016, 2-4pm

 

Second focus group Wednesday 3rd February 2016, 2-4pm

 

I am particularly keen to include the experiences of people with mental health difficulties in the research, in order to explore:

  • people’s experiences of the Work Capability Assessment
  • how well they think the WCA reflects and understands their experiences.

 

Both meetings will be at at 336 Brixton Road, London SW9 7AA.

All travel and access expenses will be reimbursed – please contact me if you have any access requirements to be able to take part.

All participants’ details will be kept anonymous. You will be able to withdraw your consent at any time before or during the focus group and for up to 3 months after participation. All focus group participants will be asked to respect other participants’ confidentiality.

If you are interested in taking part and/or would like to speak to me, in confidence, to find out more information please email me at ss10rm@leeds.ac.uk

Thanks very much for reading this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Posted by at 18:29
Dec 172015
 

People who make a claim for PIP normally undergo a medical assessment (carried out by Atos or Capita, commercial contractors). If not, their claim is assessed based on the merits of the medical evidence and the PIP form they have sent to the assessors.

Let’s not forget that assessors only make recommendations. It is the Department of Work and Pensions Decision Maker who decides to award PIP to a claimant. But assessors do have to make recommendations which will influence the duration of the PIP award. Contrary to what is generally assumed, assessors do not make a recommendation for the duration of the award. They only recommend the date for a PIP review.  This recommendation will take into account whether a claimant’s condition is likely to improve or worsen, or whether a claimant has been awarded the highest rate and the medical condition in unlikely to improve. In the latter case, the award period will be of at least 11 years or indefinite and there will be no review date. This should be mentioned in the PIP award letter:

“All awards must be reviewed, as your condition is unlikely to change I have selected the maximum possible review period.”

For all other PIP claimants, the assessors will have recommended a date for a PIP review. When the Decision Maker receives this information from the assessors, and enters it in the computer, the duration of the PIP award is automatically generated as follows:

‘Awards

Where an award is made, the CM {Case Manager is the name given to DWP Decision Maker for PIP} must include the “Date of assessment” and “Review Period”. This will generate a review date and end of award date. The “Review period” is the period of the award up to the date the award review is planned for which will normally be the date recommended by the AP. You can enter “Indef” or a number of years/ months, as appropriate. The “Review period” generates the “Award end date” which will be indefinite or one year beyond the “Review date”.’ https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/263680/response/648138/attach/3/DMR%20Template%202015%20User%20Guide.pdf

 

Let’s say an assessor recommends that a claimant should have a PIP review in 2 years time. Once this information is entered in the computer by the Decision Maker, the claimant will automatically be given a PIP award for 3 years. The letter informing a claimant of a PIP award should mention the PIP review date, but it is done in such a way that many claimants are not aware of a PIP review, nor of what it entails. Claimants assume that they have been awarded PIP for the duration mentioned in the DWP letter, but in fact this duration is equal to the duration of the PIP award minus 1 year.

The terminology is also confusing as it seems that a PIP review is very similar to a new PIP claim or a reassessment, when the claimant has to fill in the PIP2 form. The only difference seems to be the reason why it is happening.

But there is also a very nasty, vicious regulation, Regulation 11, which gives the Secretary of State the authority to determine afresh whether a claimant still qualifies for PIP, for any reason and at any time.  https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukdsi/2013/9780111532072/pdfs/ukdsi_9780111532072_en.pdf

 

Re-determination of ability to carry out activities

‘11. Where it has been determined that C {Claimant} has limited ability or severely limited ability to carry out either or both daily living activities or mobility activities, the Secretary of State may, for any reason and at any time, determine afresh in accordance with regulation 4 whether C continues to have such limited ability or severely limited ability.’

So it seems that the Secretary of State ha the authority to request a PIP review at will. The guidance is a bit clearer about this:

‘This is a key piece of information not fully covered in the system notifications so should be included in the reasons so the claimant knows we’ve not specifically targeted them for planned award review action. This doesn’t stop us choosing to review the case before this date but this would only be where we receive new information or the law changes’.  

So although a PIP review can be done at any time during the duration of a PIP award, it would seem that there should be some justification for it, either because new information has been received, or because of a change in law. Although far from being clear, it would seem that the decision to review a PIP claim could be legally challenged, if there is no basis for the review, and if there is reason to believe that DWP is punishing or harassing a claimant who has, for example, made a complaint. As it has not been tested in court, it is difficult to be certain, but the bottom line is that claimants should know that their PIP claim will be systematically reviewed one year before the end of their award.  This information should be clearly mentioned in the letter they received informing them of the duration of their award. And they should challenge DWP if no review date has been mentioned in their letter but they are called for a review.

This post will be updated as more information becomes available.

 

 

 Posted by at 13:43
Dec 162015
 
It seems that Empire cinemas are taking us back to the days when disabled people weren’t allowed in cinemas because they were considered a health and safety/ fire hazard. It is Empire’s policy that all cinema seats for disabled people should now be at the front of the cinema near the fire exits.As I’m sure most of you know sitting right at the front of the cinema having to bend your neck up to watch the show is often not only painful for most disabled people but also impossible for others.
 
Also Empire cinemas seem oblivious to the fact that disabled people have friends and may have families and their new cinema has introduced metal barriers segregating disabled people from the rest of the audience. They can only sit next to one other person.
 
DPAC think this attitude and policy should be changed so we’re taking advantage of the release of Star Wars in Empire cinemas to launch the #DPACStrikesBack campaign.
 
Pleas email Empire cinemas and tell them disabled people should be treated equally to other cinema patrons and be able to have a choice of where they sit. After all we pay for our own tickets they aren’t free.
 
Template letter/email to use or change, and below that there are some tweets that you can send to @empirecinemas on twitter.

 Dear Empire cinemas,
As a disabled person/ friend of a disabled person I want to let you know that I am opposed to your policy of treating disabled people as second class citizens who are only able to sit at the front of your cinemas because you seem to deem them as being a fire hazard.
 
Further in your new cinema In Hemel Hempstead disabled people are segregated from sitting with friends and family other then one other person. This too is unacceptable.
 
This backward way of thinking should have totally died out by now and given that many disabled people either find sitting at the front of the cinema having to bend their neck up to see the screen or are unable to even do this we want you to change your seating policies for your cinemas so that disabled people also can choose to sit at the back or even in the middle of screens.
 
I look forward to your response to my letter/email
 
Yours faithfully,

Some tweets to aim at @EmpireCinemas to get you started, please add your own as well


Disabled People Strike Back at @EmpireCinemas #DPACStrikesBack #ForceAwakens shar.es/1Gcxi1 pic.twitter.com/G8aRm2idJi


.@EmpireCinemas Segregating disabled people cos they are a file risk? pic.twitter.com/G8aRm2idJi #DPACStrikesBack #ForceAwakens


Segregating disabled people where they cannot watch with friends. Fuck you @EmpireCinemas pic.twitter.com/G8aRm2idJi #ForceAwakens


DPAC say @EmpireCinemas have gone over to the Dark Side pic.twitter.com/G8aRm2idJi #DPACStrikesBack #ForceAwakens


.@EmpireCinemas Disabled people are not a fire risk,we do not spontaneously burn pic.twitter.com/G8aRm2idJi #DPACStrikesBack #ForceAwakens


.@EmpireCinemas disabled people are not putting up with this shar.es/1Gcxi1 #DPACStrikesBack #ForceAwakens pic.twitter.com/G8aRm2idJi


 Posted by at 20:54

A Bleak Time for Many DDPOs

 News  Comments Off on A Bleak Time for Many DDPOs
Dec 152015
 
 Disability Wales at risk of closure following funds shake-up
 
Following a Welsh Government funding change, as from the 1st of April 2016, DW will lose 68% of its income after its recent application to the Sustainable Social Services Third Sector Grant Scheme was turned down and risks closure in less than four months’ time.
Rhian Davies, Chief Executive of Disability Wales explains:

 Since 1972 Disability Wales (DW) has received core funding from the Welsh Government’s Department for Health and Social Services to enable it to represent the voice of members with the aim of informing and influencing government policy. It has enabled DW to successfully influence priority issues for members such as Independent Living, Hate Crime and Access to the High Street as well as providing information and support to disabled people’s organisations around Wales.

 Welsh Government decided to replace core funding arrangements to national third sector organisations with a new project based grant scheme called the Sustainable Social Services Third Sector Grant. The narrower focus of this grant aimed at delivery of social care services meant that DW as a rights and equality based umbrella organisation no longer fitted the funding criteria.”

 
Wendy Ashton, Chair of Disability Wales states:
 “Losing the core grant from Welsh Government is a devastating blow particularly at a time when disabled people, who make up one fifth of the Welsh population, are experiencing cuts both to benefits and services.
 In his speech to DW’s Annual Conference on 8 October, the Minister for Health and Social Services Prof Mark Drakeford AM paid tribute to the ‘impact’ which Disability Wales has had on the new Social Services and Well-being Act as well as the ‘exciting projects’ it is delivering including the development of citizen-led co-operatives to support people with managing their Direct Payments.  Disabled people form one fifth of the Welsh population and face higher levels of poverty than any other group of people with protected characteristics, a situation worsening by the day following continued UK government cuts in benefits and services.”
 Simon Green Disabled Activist and Chair of Bridgend Coalition of Disabled People, a member of Disability Wales states:

 Without Disability Wales there will be no national representative pan-impairment, barriers focussed body able to co-ordinate the views of disabled people and their organisations across Wales

 “I think it will have a massive impact not just on Disability Wales but all the groups it represents including Bridgend Coalition of Disabled People.  Bridgend Coalition have benefited from being a member of Disability Wales for many years and if it wasn’t for Disability Wales we probably wouldn’t exist”

 Rhian Davies:

 “DW is in negotiation with Welsh Government regarding a short-term support package whilst a longer term solution is identified.  However, DW requires an urgent response and time is limited as we approach Christmas and the end of the financial year!  After more than 40 years as a national voice DW has less than four months to ensure its survival.  Who will fight for disabled people’s rights if DW is not there?!” 

 Now the future looks uncertain for Caerphilly-based disability rights organisation. 

 

*ENDS*

Notes to editors 

Disability Wales is the national association of disabled people’s organisations in Wales championing the rights, equality and independence of all disabled people. 
Website: www.disabilitywales.org  twitter: @disabilitywales    facebook: https://www.facebook.com/disabilitywales/?fref=ts       youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/DisabilityWales 

 

*** I’w ryddhau yn syth***
DATGANIAD I’R WASG
 

Dyfodol Anabl

 Posted by at 17:06
Dec 082015
 

Seeing the light…

Introducing Switched On London, a new campaign coalition demanding clean, affordable and democratic energy in the capital through publicly owned energy and supported by DPAC.

www.switchedonlondon.org.uk | @SwitchedOnLDN

The floods in Cumbria are a reminder of how close to home the impacts of climate change are being felt. Three once-in-a-hundred year floods in ten years aren’t an indication of terrible misfortune, but of a new baseline. As leaders and business executives meet in Paris with the outcome uncertain, in London the fight for clean, affordable energy is being taken in a new direction.

In the face of a cartel of energy companies whose turn to renewables is far too slow — and whose profit-hungry business model leaves thousands struggling between heating and eating in the winter — Switched on London is a new campaign launching to build energy democracy in London. We demand that the GLA (Greater London Authority) sets up a new public energy company that works for people, not for profit.

The needs for clean energy and for affordable energy are deeply connected. We have already waited far too long for the private sector to ride to the rescue and deliver renewables.The big energy companies’ commitment to fossil fuels is as profound as their drive to make enormous profits, which have increased ten-fold since 2007. We need to democratise our approach, including people in decisions about their own energy, and giving the public sector the capacity to invest in new sources of clean power and energy efficiency.

In spite of the Tory government’s bizarre attack on the community energy sector, there remain some tools open to the public sector to challenge the dominance of the Big Six. An announcement last year indicated that the Mayor of London had seemed to be using one of these – called ‘Licence Lite’ – to step in to provide a route between public and small-scale energy producers and big consumers such as Transport for London. ‘Licence Lite’ could have given the GLA the chance to break the Big Six’s control over energy supply.

Sources within the GLA this week, however, have revealed that Boris Johnson, far from doing this, has signed off yet another contract with one of the big energy companies themselves, RWE nPower. They will run the scheme, providing billing and administration; tasks they’ve proved singularly bad at in their own business.

This is another blown opportunity by this mayor. After decades of flawed competition and rising prices, over one million Londoners are in fuel poverty, thousands die every year from air pollution, and the commitment to deliver renewable energy is falling short. While major European cities like Munich and Copenhagen are committing to 100% clean power, London is lagging behind. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Switched On London is putting forward a proposal that could help the Greater London Authority become the tap-root of a new energy system in our city. We’re a broad coalition of community organisations, trade unions and NGOs coming together to propose a bold but achievable vision of a very different energy future: one geared around ordinary Londoners, not powerful business executives.

We want a new non-profit company that offers fair, affordable prices, reinvesting in energy efficiency and tackling fuel poverty. By taking public control we could directly drive investment in the 21st century renewable energy sources London needs. With a range of democratic mechanisms – from elected board-members to open borough assemblies and public referenda on important issues – we could truly shift power to people’s hands.

This is a perfectly realistic goal. London could start moving rapidly by divesting its £4.8bn pension pot from fossil fuels. It could launch municipal bonds to fund new clean energy sources, as it did for Crossrail.

Local authorities like Nottingham and Bristol have already taken steps in the direction of public energy along with dozens of cities across Europe. Londoners have had to live with a broken energy system too long, and it’s time to change it.

www.switchedonlondon.org.uk | @SwitchedOnLDN

 

 Posted by at 15:05
Dec 032015
 

A full list of Labour MPs who backed vote for airstrikes in Syria, has been released.

Labour MPS who voted Yes:

Labour

ALEXANDER, Heidi, Ms

AUSTIN, Ian, Mr

BAILEY, Adrian, Mr

BARRON, Kevin, Sir

BECKETT, Margaret,

BENN, Hilary,

BERGER, Luciana, Ms

BLENKINSOP, Tom, Mr

BRADSHAW, Ben,

BRYANT, Chris, Mr

CAMPBELL, Alan,

CHAPMAN, Jenny, Ms

COAKER, Vernon, Mr

COFFEY, Ann, Ms

COOPER, Yvette,

COYLE, Neil, Mr

CREAGH, Mary, Ms

CREASY, Stella, Ms

DANCZUK, Simon, Mr

DAVID, Wayne, Mr

DE PIERO, Gloria, Ms

DOUGHTY, Stephen, Mr

DOWD, Jim, Mr

DUGHER, Michael, Mr

EAGLE, Angela, Ms

EAGLE, Maria, Ms

ELLMAN, Louise, Ms

FIELD, Frank, Rt Hon.

FITZPATRICK, Jim, Mr

FLETCHER, Colleen, Ms

FLINT, Caroline,

HARMAN, Harriet,

HODGE, Margaret,

HOWARTH, George,

HUNT, Tristram, Mr

JARVIS, Dan, Mr

JOHNSON, Alan,

JONES, Graham, Mr

JONES, Helen, Ms

JONES, Kevan, Mr

JONES, Susan Elan, Ms

KENDALL, Liz, Ms

KYLE, Peter, Mr

LESLIE, Chris, Mr

LYNCH, Holly, Ms

MCDONAGH, Siobhain, Ms

MCFADDEN, Pat,

MCGINN, Conor, Mr

MCGOVERN, Alison, Ms

PHILLIPSON, Bridget, Ms

POWELL, Lucy, Ms

REED, Jamie, Mr

REYNOLDS, Emma, Ms

ROBINSON, Geoffrey, Mr

RYAN, Joan, Ms

SMEETH, Ruth, Ms

SMITH, Angela, Ms

SPELLAR, John,

STUART, Gisela, Ms

THOMAS, Gareth, Mr

TURLEY, Anna, Ms

UMUNNA, Chuka, Mr

VAZ, Keith,

WATSON, Tom, Mr

WILSON, Phil, Mr

WOODCOCK, John, Mr

 Posted by at 20:30
Dec 032015
 

DPAC/Public Interest Research Unit study on work-place discrimination: request for information on your experiences.

Do you think that you might have experienced disability discrimination at work?

Did the new £1,250 fee (introduced in July 2013), to take your case to an employment tribunal, put you off making a discrimination claim against the employer?

If so, and you think that you might be prepared to provide more details for DPAC/PIRU’s study, please email rgbharwood@hotmail.com or mail@dpac.uk.net.

Any information you provide will be anonymised, so as to hide your identity.

 Posted by at 19:53
Nov 242015
 

Last week John Pring highlighted a case showing not only that the system dealing with unemployed and disabled people has not improved, but is reminiscent of the worst days under Atos

 

But this time, it is Maximus which is the henchman. It is Maximus which had been informed by Mandy McGuire, project manager of the charity Slough Homeless Our Concern (SHOC), that Alan McArdle, whom she had supported for 16 years, was too unwell to contact Maximus as he had just left hospital, and it is Maximus which referred him to the DWP for sanction. One hour after reading the DWP letter telling him he was at risk of losing his benefits because he failed to contact Maximus, Mr McArdle collapsed and died of a heart attack.

 

His case embodies the long catalogue of failures associated with the WCA and DWP that we have become accustomed to seeing.

To start with, he was wrongly placed in the Work Related Activity Group, and with a prognosis short enough that he had to attend the the Work Programme. Suffering from diabetes, he had no feeling in his arms and legs, and also suffered from other medical conditions, in addition to being alcoholic.  It was his lack of feeling which caused his fall, leading to his hospitalisation. He was so unwell before his fall that Maximus had agreed to keep in touch by telephone as Mandy McGuire found it impossible to transport him to the meetings because his mobility was so poor.

Once in the Work Programme, he had to keep in touch with the Work Programme private contractor Maximus in order to receive his benefits. When he failed to do so, he was referred to the DWP for sanction. The likely response of Maximus to any criticism is that private contractors don’t legally have the discretion to review good cause. This is true, but it does not take away the fact that Maximus is now in charge of administering 2 lethal schemes, the WCA and the Work Programme, both of them fundamentally flawed.  Obviously Maximus has no interest in seeing their ‘clients’ dying, as it makes a huge amount of money out of their misery.

In other news, Maximus share prices have floundered as it is not processing the required number of ESA assessments. The explanation given by Maximus is the recruitment, training and retention issues the company faces.  Which explains why it is offering such attractive salaries.

Maximus salaries

 

 

But it takes a certain kind of person to knowingly deprive some very disabled people of benefits because they did not tick the right boxes. Although the salaries are attractive, are they big enough to buy a conscience?

The last words are left to people by Trinity who cared of Alan McArdle: https://wearetrinity.org.uk/who-matters/

“One of the people we work with, from our day centre in Slough, died recently. He wasn’t living on the streets – he had found housing. He had multiple health problems and had recently been in hospital. The private company who had been tasked with deciding who was fit for work – no longer the job of the civil servants employed by the jobcentre – had put him on the work programme. This meant he had to keep a number of appointments, apply for jobs and was expected to work. He missed an appointment. He had just left hospital and one of our people had written letters and made calls on his behalf to ensure that the people from the work programme knew why the appointment was missed. He was too poorly to leave the house.

He received a letter telling him his benefits had been stopped – he was being sanctioned for not attending his appointment. His ill-health was irrelevant. He died after opening this letter. He collapsed and was gone. They say your life flashes before your eyes before you die, I would hazard a guess that it was his future that flashed before his: losing his home, returning to the streets, perhaps dying there.

Does his life matter?

It matters to us”

 

It also matters to us. You were a precious, unique human being. Rest in peace, Alan

 Posted by at 23:30
Nov 242015
 
Thank you again to Nick Dilworth for this important post: ( https://ilegal.org.uk/thread/7258/serious-flaws-governments-statistics?page=24&scrollTo=23023)

 

 

Sickness claim levels fall for
first time in 2 years

 

It was only a question of time.

For sometime I’ve been tracking signs of movement on the Maximus front.

On the face of it, the latest Work Capability Assessment (WCA) statistics from the DWP provide a very limited insight into how busy they are finding sick people ‘fit for work’ or placing them in the Work Related Activity or Support Group of the Employment & Support Allowance.

The current outcome statistics tail off dramatically showing a much lower number of assessments being carried out (see previous posts and others on ‘ESA Chaos‘)

But don’t be fooled, Maximus are coining it in and the latest claimant count figures for those on the sick show us that for the first time in two years, the numbers have fallen.  In my estimation, it’s only the start, the worst is yet to come.

Fist pumping Duncan Smith will be secretly delighted, but he’ll not make any noise over it; – for now.

Here’s the figures….

Note the fall from 2,533,220 to 2,521,160 between February 2015 and May 2015?

Not a huge drop, but all heading in the right direction as far as Duncan Smith is concerned.

Don’t forget these figures from the DWP are always living in the past.  Although, from looking at separate figures fromDWP expenditure tables we can get a much more up to date idea of just how busy Maximus – aka – Centre for Health & Disability Assessment Ltd – have been.  In the 7 months from March 2015, the start of the their new contract with the DWP, they’ve raked in over a cool £60Million pounds.  Nice to know our corporate friends are starting to coin it in….

Yet, a look at the DWP’s record of assessment outcomes tells us that in March 2015, a limited number of assessments have been carried out by Maximus.  There are no figures available beyond March because these are the latest available.

The DWP ‘outcome’ statistics tell us that in March 2015, Maximus conducted a grand total of 56,400 assessments, 42,400 for new ESA claims and 14,000 for ‘repeat’ assessments – there are no figures beyond December 2014 for claims migrated from old incapacity benefits. In the month of March 2015, 36% of new claimants were found fit for work.

In the preceding six months from September 2014 to February 2015, the average percentage of new ESA claimants found fit for work was 29%.  In six month sector from March to August 2014 the fit for work percentage was also 29% and for the sector September 2013 to February 2014 we were looking at 28.6%.

Under Maximus, in the first month alone, the numbers found fit for work has jumped to 36%.

As previously stated, Maximus are said to be working to a target of 1 million assessments by the end of 2015. This averages out at around 100,000 a year, the assessment records are only showing us 56,000, the payments indicate considerably more assessments are being carried.

It amazes me how the DWP are always unable to produce up to date statistics due to ‘data lag’, yet Maxmimus appear to have no difficulty in invoicing the DWP to get their payments – I assume they do so on the basis of up to date information detailing precisely how many assessments they are carrying out?

Like I say, this is the first clear indication that Maximus are putting the boot in, Duncan Smith is looking to cleanse the sick of their illnesses and knock a few billion off his welfare bill, now he’s cleared the election he’ll not worry too much about a few thousand more on Jobseeker’s Allowance.  “That’s because our new measures at improving Labour’s broken Employment & Support Allowance system are now working, we’re getting people off the sick and in to work just as we said we would” – that’ll be his words in a few months to come.

The real casualties will be those in the Support Group.  Moving thousands from this group is fraught with potential disasters as is limiting the number of formal appeals along with the restriction on re-claims.  I dare say we will see an increase in the number of deaths associated with the wretched process – no matter how much IDS tries to deny it.

 Posted by at 16:57
Nov 222015
 

[Reblogged from Doug Paulley’s Blog, with thanks]

And when we want your opinion, we’ll tell you what it is!

And when we want your opinion, we’ll tell you what it is!

Clare Pelham, Leonard Cheshire’s Chief Executive Officer, was interviewed by Peter White today on Radio 4 “You and Yours” about disabled peoples’ difficulties in accessing buses. This is because their survey of 179 wheelchair users found “over nine out of ten (92%) wheelchair users had been refused a space on a bus” and “three in five (61%) people identified buggies in the wheelchair space as the biggest problem they faced. This was way ahead of other problems faced by those using wheelchairs“.

Peter White asked her specifically if she thought that the Paulley vs Firstbus case would find in my favour at Supreme Court.

Peter White: “So this case, that is still going to the Supreme Court, are you expecting that to be restored? Mr Paulley‘s right to get on the bus?”

Clare Pelham: “I don’t think I would even presume to guess what Supreme Court judges would find. But actually, I think this shouldn’t be a case for the law. This should be a case for the people, the people to do what’s right, whether they are bus drivers or passengers, we all want to have public transport that enables all of the public to travel.”

That obviously works well, doesn’t it. People with pushchairs, other passengers, drivers, they all know and understand that if the wheelchair space isn’t made available, a wheelchair user can’t travel. Yet by her own figures, 61% of wheelchair users identify buggies in the wheelchair space as the biggest problem they face. Just how does she think the few people with pushchairs, other passengers and drivers who currently prevent wheelchair users traveling are suddenly going to realise the error of their ways? How, precisely, is she going to instill this magnanimity into the British populace? Through simpering on Radio 4?

Leonard Cheshire try to claim to be the voice of disabled people, a campaigning force to be reckoned with. That’s why they spend £735,000 per year on “campaigning”, and why they have posh offices in Vauxhaul – ostensibly so they can toddle round the corner to lobby Parliament. (They grew too big for their previous offices in Millbank.) Yet they don’t have any legitimacy. They don’t have a constituency, and politically active disabled people despise them. They also don’t walk the walk for the talk they talk, as demonstrated by Northumbria University’s research – an apposite quote below.

“One of the problems it (user involvement) causes is when residents become more empowered and aware of the opportunities of life they’re likely to ask for more. In asking for more, it usually involves staff, and resources are already very scarce and limited, and centred mainly in providing basic daily care in washing, dressing, eating and they occupy an awful lot of time. Empowerment creates problems of staff support. And if the choice of empowerment involves travel then that’s a further added burden. Not necessarily to pay the cost of travelling but to have the opportunity with limited transport or escort.” – A resident in a Leonard Cheshire care home.

Yet even Leonard Cheshire recognise that the Firstbus case is an important fight. Andy Cole (Minister for Administrative Aff – sorry, Director of Corporate Affairs) told BBC News that Leonard Cheshire was disappointed with the Appeal Court judgement as it did not provide “clarity and certainty for disabled bus passengers that the space they need will definitely be made available“, and further that if the case moved to the Supreme Court he hoped any judgement would provide that certainty. (He even gave me a back-handed compliment; “The case shows the immense impact that individual campaigners can have“).

One wonders what planet Clare Pelham is on. Out of touch with service users, disabled people, her own care-workers and even her own campaign team (or at least her Ashley Maddison rep – sorry, “Director of Corporate Affairs”.)

Non-disabled and on £150,000 per year plus private medical treatment and other benefits – surely Clare Pelham should shut up or carry on her disempowering self-serving greasy-pole-climbing elsewhere?

With thanks as ever to the wonderful Dave Lupton / Crippen for his excellent cartoon.

 Posted by at 16:27
Nov 162015
 

From the WCA, the disability assessment test which was supposed to be the panacea for all ills, helping 1 million disabled people moving into work and thereby reducing the employment gap, supporting financially those not well enough to work, the WCA has turned to be a blunt and lethal instrument. What DPAC has known for years, through the letters sent by thousands of disabled people, has now been confirmed by a scientific study.

 

The WCA is linked to more suicides, mental ill health and antidepressant use as evidenced by experts from Oxford University and Liverpool University’s study, which found  that after taking account of the impact of baseline deprivation, economic trends, and long-term trends in mental health,  there were around six extra suicides, 2,700 more cases of mental ill health and an extra 7,020 prescriptions for anti-depressants for every 10,000 people reassessed during this period, which equates to 590 additional suicides, 279,000 extra cases of mental ill-health and 725,000 more prescriptions for anti-depressants across the country as a whole between 2010 and 2013.

Linked does not always mean ‘causal’, although several coroners’ inquests into suicides have now shown it to be the case.

Despite mounting evidence, the government has always refused to acknowledge the harm done by the WCA, and keep parroting that work is good for health.

 

What this study shows is that harm is not only done by benefits loss, but by the fear of it, a testimony to the arbitrary nature of this assessment. Harm is done by giving too short prognosis, in case somebody would spend an extra day on benefits than he/she should have done, leading to endless reassessments. Harm is done by cancelled appointments, and assessors’ lack of sensitivity. Harm is done by having to prove endlessly your impairments or chronic health condition, and by not being believed. Harm is done by mistakes or deliberate and systematic errors. Harm is done by being left destitute after the loss of ESA. Harm is done by the Work Programme and its long litany of sanctions, misery and suffering

 

As early as 2010, the DWP knew that this test was the direct cause of at least one suicide. Somebody at DWP decided to sit on it. Prior to that, in the last weeks of the Labour government (who introduced the test, the DWP were warned of the harm it would cause

Not only has the time come to scrap the WCA, but also to hold people, from whichever party, accountable for this atrocity.

 Posted by at 23:47
Nov 132015
 

[Originally published in the Annie Agitator Blog. We are grateful to Annie Agitator for this meticulous research and for allowing us to republish in this form]

It’s ok if you call it research. Is the DWP carrying out an unethical and coercive social experiment on people claiming tax credits?

Following the mini success in the House of Lords in October, one could be forgiven for thinking that the first battle in the war on tax credits has been won. In reality, the first battle in this war was waged back April 2015. And it’s already been lost.

In April the DWP began a research project to use sanctions to take away tax credits from the lowest earning working poor. The DWP have called this a research project, more specifically a Randomised Control Trial (RCT). An RCT is a research model in which people are randomly assigned to an intervention or a control (no intervention) and compared. These kinds of trials have very strict safeguards to ensure the fair and ethical treatment of all participants, and these safeguards are especially essential in government trials given the obvious power imbalances and potentials for abuse.

As far as this trial is concerned there is limited information available and it is hard not to conclude that the DWP is deliberately exploiting a research framework as a way to test out highly unethical policies as well as using the research exemption in the FOIA 2000 to keep this work hidden from public view.

However, what is available to view is shocking. The DWP have misled parliament about the research. They have shown contempt for governmental ethical safeguards. They appear to have deliberately misinformed people about their involvement. Most alarmingly they would appear to be subjecting vulnerable groups to unnecessary harassment from the jobcentre.

Misleading Parliament:

The trial is called the In Work Progression Trial. Esther Mcvey and Lord Freud state that is about encouraging people on tax credits (as part of Universal Credit) to earn more either by getting more hours or a better paying job. Although McVey managed to duck the issue at the Legalisation Committee in January (an initial step in having the law changed to allow the trial to run), the trial is very clearly about ‘conditionality’ or the use of sanctions, as further FOI requests reveal. In January, McVey (https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmgeneral/deleg2/150114/150114s01.htm) shamelessly downplayed the use of sanctions and the amendment passed without too much opposition.

Next stop House of Lords. Lord Freud presented it here (https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201415/ldhansrd/text/150122-gc0001.htm ) and was subject to a slightly harsher grilling. Freud told the committee that ‘some of the activities we set will be mandatory’. This is not true. Underneath the rhetoric of ‘tailored interventions’ and ‘coaching’, the message is clear. The trial is about imposing mandatory activities with the use of sanctions if they are not done. Given the growing evidence on the destructive and punitive application of sanctions, it is alarming that those with a job are to be punished by the DWP for not earning enough. Freud dismissed the need to consider ethics as part of this trial as he stated conditionality is something the DWP enforce already. This disregard for ethical standards has set the precedent for how the trial has been conducted to date.

Disregarding ethical safeguards: Excluding vulnerable groups from the trial:

One of the supposed safeguards of the trial was the exclusion of certain vulnerable groups. These included the recently bereaved, recent victims of domestic violence, those with physical illness or those with caring responsibilities over a set amount of hours per week. In a typical RCT the excluding of certain people is done from the outset. This is to ensure they do not have any involvement in something that might be unhelpful or could cause them harm.

In what at best could be seen as a display of ignorance and, at worst a gross abuse of power, the DWP have eschewed this basic ethical principle. They are hauling people into the jobcentre to have a ‘challenging conversation’ about why they should be earning more, regardless of whether they fall into these groups or not. So someone who is recently bereaved, or someone simply in a position where they cannot do more hours is sent a very threatening letter and told they have to attend or lose their benefit. A FOIA response shows that people are excluded AFTER the interview with the job coach, if they happen to fall into one of these groups. But are they even told they are being assessed for a research trial. Are they given an opportunity to give the information that would have them excluded? Could they even tell the job coach about an abusive partner during this ‘challenging conversation’?

Recently released Universal Credit documents state that if someone is on Universal Credit there will be an expectation that they increase their earnings. There is no mention of a research trial. There is no mention of groups to be excluded. This is not ethical research. This is an intervention that is actively seeking to harm people (i.e. earn more or be punished by sanctions). People do not appear to be told about its status as research in any meaningful way and there seems to be very little effort made to ensure identified groups are excluded. Freud mentioned that the hope is to have 15,000 people on this trial within the year. There are already over 500 people in the intervention arm with only 125 in the control. So clearly there is a strong push to get people on the trial, suggesting that the exclusion criteria exists on paper only.

Disregarding ethical safeguards; deceiving people who are included in the trial

An FOIA request asking about how consent is discussed and obtained from participants had a telling reply. The DWP provided documents about a one off interview rather than the ongoing trial. This information says participation is voluntary and it won’t affect benefits. But it is only referring to one interview. So is this the only consent and information document that the person is sent home with? If they are given other documents about the trial and their participation, why not just provide the documents as asked in the FOIA. Why would the FOIA responder deliberately provide information that was known to be inaccurate?

This is very serious, as it suggests that the DWP is deliberately misleading people about what the trial will involve, e.g. there is no mention of mandatory activities and sanctions but there is one document that says their participation is voluntary and won’t affect tax credits. If it is the case that the DWP is wilfully deceiving people in this manner, just as they attempted in the FOI then this is a very worrying breach of research ethics and needs to be immediately reviewed by the SSAC who are according to Freud ‘monitoring the trial as it goes along’.

In summary the DWP appear to have misled parliament about this trial. They have shown utter contempt for ethical safeguards, which essentially means contempt for the respectful and humane treatment of human beings. Given the widespread condemnation of sanctions and the growing awareness of destruction they cause, it is hard to believe that the trial has been approved. What it amounts to is a punishment system for those who are already working, on the pretext of testing out a punishment that the government already know to be ineffective in its aims.

Cowering behind the label of research, the DWP refuse to disclose how many people have been sanctioned to date as part of this trial. Equally, it seems that if the DWP choose, the trial can be extended for another two years without having to revisit parliament. This raises the obvious question of whether the aim is to simply carry out an endless trial, in which the DWP has found a clause to avoid holding any public accountability for it’s unethical treatment of people and wanton abuse of the privileges of research.

Is the DWP willing to go to any lengths to push people off benefits? To push them into poverty, to destitution, to death? Anything to ensure that the DWP numbers look good?

Links:

FOIA Requests:

For information including letters in the trial:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/work_coaches_in_certain_trials_r#incoming-659103

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/further_information_requested_on#comment-59928

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/pilots_on_sanctions_for_in_work#comment-59342

Information on how many people in the trial:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/in_work_progression_trial#incoming-728325

Information on consent:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/randomised_control_trial#incoming-721592

and

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/287561/response/703836/attach/2/FoI%203518%20reply.pdf

Information on the content of the trial:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/in_work_progression_rct#incoming-721324

and here, note research is now not mentioned at all but the word regime appears to be used instead:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/298186/response/730120/attach/4/Attachment%202%20Universal%20Credit%20Conditionality%20Earnings%20Threshold%20polic….pdf

Sanctions:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/in_work_progression_rct_and_sanc#incoming-706582

DWP UC document: note again no mention of research

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/universal-credit-information-for-claimants-in-sutton

 Posted by at 11:20
Nov 112015
 

From the front page of Friday’s Morning Star:

 

Friday’s front: Lightning post strike shocks bosses – Unofficial walkout wins job back for MS sufferer


Previously :

80 Royal Mail postmen and women at Bridgwater Delivery Office in Somerset defied the Tory anti-union laws today when they walked out without a ballot to protest at Royal Mail’s refusal to reinstate Andrew Mootoo, a postman who has MS/Multiple Sclerosis. Andrew has been waiting so long for Royal Mail to support his return to work that his pay has been stopped and he has to rely on benefits. 


Dave Chapple, CWU Rep, said:

Most decent employers would do their best to try and get a disabled worker like Andrew Mootoo off benefits and back to work on a properly adjusted duty. Instead, for 18 months, since MS was diagnosed, Royal Mail, nationally and locally, have tried every dirty trick in their book to get Andrew the sack and reduce him to a lifetime of benefits dependency.

18 months ago they tried to sack him. We stopped that by proving they would have acted illegally. Then Royal Mail tested Andrew back at work: when he passed this with flying colours, they invented a new test, which they ensured he would fail, for example, by deliberately using a faulty chair!

The last straw is Royal Mail saying that Andrew has no rest room for his meal break, because it is in continuous use by managers for disciplinary purposes; and that his MS means he will get stuck in the toilet. What offensive rubbish from the country’s second largest employer!

Justice for MS sufferers at work! Justice for Andrew Mootoo!


 

Andrew, who is of Indo-Mauritian parents and who is also profoundly deaf, lives a full life: he drives a car, shops, goes to sport matches, goes shopping, walks down busy high streets, goes to the gym once a week, all without falling over, getting stuck in a toilet or endangering anyone else. 

All Andrew’ s friends at Bridgwater Delivery Office want, is for Royal Mail to sit down and give him a chance to come off the dole and work for his living, as he wants to do. The work is there. The CWU have even accepted that Andrew could return on a monitored trial basis.

Every reasonable compromise CWU offer to Royal Mail has been spurned: every patient CWU plea to Royal Mail to give Andrew a chance has been ignored.

80 Bridgwater trades unionists are right now, a day after the Tory Anti-Union Bill passed the House of Commons, breaking these vicious laws to fight for workplace justice for a severely disabled and much respected colleague. 

They, and Andrew, deserve your support.”

Please contact Dave Chapple, CWU Rep, on 077007 869 144, or e-mail on davechapple@btinternet.com


 

 Posted by at 23:49
Nov 112015
 

International Women’s Conference

Sat 14 & Sun 15 November, 9am-5pm

WAC Arts Hampstead Old Town Hall, 213 Haverstock Hill, London NW3 4QP (near Belsize Park tube, Northern Line)
On 14/15 November, the Global Women’s Strike is hosting an amazing range of international and UK speakers at the international women’s conference‘Caring, Survival and Justice vs. The Tyranny of the Market’.

Featuring on disability, welfare and carer rights, independent living and NHS activism:

Nicole Als NICOLE ALS – Nicole was married and a drama practitioner when she got pregnant. At the time of the birth she had a Sickle Cell crisis and ended up in a coma. Glad to be alive, she faced homelessness, the threat of having her baby taken away, and then being rehoused away from her support network. Despite all the obstacles, Nicole loves being a mum: “It’s the best job in the world!”
Dame Philippa Russell DBE DAME PHILIPPA RUSSELL DBE – former Chair of the Government’s Standing Commission on Carers. Philippa is the mother of a son with a learning disability and has worked for respect for those who need care, and independent living.  Her contribution to raising the profile of carers of all ages, including young carers, cannot be overestimated.
 Gill Thompson GILL THOMPSON – campaigner for justice against benefit sanctions.  Her petition calling for a full independent inquiry into the sanctions regime that killed her brother, David Clapson, gained 211,819 supporters.  David was diabetic, starving and had no electricity when he died.  He had cared for their mother for many years.  Gill is a mother and supports other bereaved relatives and welfare campaigns.
 Dr Louise Irvine Dr LOUISE IRVINE – GP, mother of two and chair of the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign founded in October 2012, which defeated the government in court with a ruling that the Health Secretary had acted outside his powers when he announced casualty and maternity units would be downgraded. Louise helped to secure the British Medical Association policy opposing the Work Capability Assessment and Atos.
Kevin Caulfield

Debbie Domb

Though they are not be able to travel to speak, we would also like to acknowledge:

 

KEVIN CAULFIELD and DEBBIE DOMB — Hammersmith & Fulham Coalition Against Cuts (HAFCAC).  They led a successful eight-year campaign for abolition of local Council charges for homecare.  These charges are often paid from disability benefits, impoverishing disabled and older people.  Their hard-won victory brought in free homecare in Hammersmith & Fulham from April 2015, and kept the Independent Living Fund money ring-fenced until 2018. This breaks with the market approach to people who need care services, and is an example for all of us.

For more information, contact WinVisible
win@winvisible.org 020 7482 2496 Facebook

 Posted by at 23:34
Nov 102015
 
Louise from Bromley DPAC on the DPAC Stall at the Anarchist Book Fair

Louise from Bromley DPAC on the DPAC Stall at the Anarchist Book Fair

For a while now DPAC have been running stalls at political events with awareness raising leaflets about what we do, we’ve also been taking along DPAC Tshirts, Mugs, Bags, Badges and Pens to sell to raise a bit of funds for the cause.

The people who run the stalls for us frequently get asked if we sell any items online – and up until now we haven’t but we have finally got around to setting up online sales on the website. 

So if you fancy a bit of DPAC stuff for presents or for yourself, the sales page is here. All proceeds will go directly to DPAC campaigns

 

 

Mugs £5.99 plus £4.50 p&pMaterial Bags £4.50 plus £1.00 p&pTShirt (White) £10 plus £3 p&pBottle Opener Key Ring (front shows DPAC logo) £1.50 plus £1.25 p&p

 

 Posted by at 15:29
Nov 092015
 

[Reblogged from Johnny Void blog, with thanks ]
"killing with Kindness" poster telling people not to give money to homeless people as it will be spent on alcohol and drugsPicture yourself trying to get to sleep on a hard concrete pavement, whilst biting wind and rain swirls around you and the risk of abuse, arrest and even violence is ever present.  Imagine thinking that this could go on for ever, that you have no-one and nothing left, and that only the instinctive fear of death is preventing you from taking that final step.  So you do what half the country does before going to bed.  You have a fucking drink.

This is how a life on the streets begins and as weeks turn into months routines and habits, bad and good, develop.  You might learn where you can get free food, make allegiances, and hopefully genuine friends.  Perhaps you spend a few nights, or even months in a nightshelter or hostel.  Perhaps you get kicked out for breaking one of the endless petty rules like not being back in time for curfew or having a sneaky can of lager.  Or you get beaten up, or piss off someone who might beat you up if you don’t disappear.  Homelessness hostels are strange places, often full of tolerance and even love, but they are not safe spaces.  All it takes is a vindictive charity worker or a violent argument and you can be back on the streets in a heartbeat.

Homelessness strikes when lives fracture, whether due to relationship break up, debt, eviction or domestic abuse.  It often happens to those who have lived through harrowing circumstances – ex-squaddies scarred by war, refugees who have seen loved ones slaughtered,  kids who grew up in care or were abused in the family home.  At the heart of the problem however is money, and a society that values that above all else.  Landlords refusing to accept tenants on benefits, eye-watering deposits to secure even basic accommodation, the chronic lack of social housing and ever more vicious benefit cuts – these are the reasons that street homelessness has risen to record levels over the last five years.

Homelessness endures because the scant social structures in place to prevent it focus on the symptoms – the perceived individual failings of homeless people – not the causes.  Just like Iain Duncan Smith blames unemployed people for a lack of jobs, politicians and the charity bosses who suck up to them for funding blame homeless people themselves for their plight.  To do otherwise would be to acknowledge their own role in creating the homelessness crisis.  That is why in many major cities charities which claim to help homeless people are running anti-begging campaigns to smear them all as drug users or drunks and warning if you give them money you will kill them.

Ask anyone begging what they want, right there and then, and if they are foolish enough to be honest they will say money.  That does’t mean they wouldn’t appreciate a sandwich, a cup of tea or a warm coat as well.  But what they need is cash.  They may want that money for drugs or booze, or they may want it to choose something to eat or wear themselves.  They may be in debt, to someone you really don’t want to be in debt to.  The propaganda on display in anti-begging campaigns insists that street homeless people do nothing but scrounge and shovel drugs down their necks, never stopping to eat, pay hostel service charges, buy a clean pair of socks or get a bus across town.  Yet even the most chaotic substance users still need money for other things as well.  Because they are real people, not grotesque cartoons.

The stark truth is that even someone who does beg to maintain an addiction will not be helped by no-one giving them any money.  They will simply beg for longer to get what they need, whether that’s a bag of smack or three litres of White Lightening.  If the begging is good, and the sun’s out, then once they have that they might beg for something for dinner as well.  Or to be able to have their drink of choice rather than rough cheap cider.  Or to buy their kid they hardly see a birthday present.

If the begging is bad that day then they will sit there all night, or resort to other means to get money such as crime or sex work.  The faster they can meet the needs of their addiction – needs which are real, the street is no place to go cold turkey – the more likely they will have time or money to do other things.  What they are really begging for, in many cases, is a bit of stability.  A drug law reform poster that occassionally appeared on the streets of King’s Cross a couple of decades ago summed it up: “Heroin addiction is not hedonism but constant medication with a very powerful painkiller”.  Until withdrawal symptoms can be medicated away then most people can barely roll a cigarette let alone try to sort their housing out, seek treatment, or get a fucking job.  You are unlikely to kill someone with a drug or alcohol dependency with kindness by giving them a quid as hysterical homelessness charities claim.  You are not prolonging their addiction, only they can do that.  What you might do is give them a bit of space and time to do something else that day other than sit outside a shop doorway and risk arrest by asking people for money.

It is the presumption that homeless people cannot be trusted to be actors in their own lives that reveals the flaws embedded within charity.  To make a decision about what someone needs, whilst ignoring what they tell you they need, makes giving all about the giver not the receiver.  Charity becomes a way for people to feel better about themselves and for the wealthy to erase the guilt that comes from living in such an unequal and fractured society.

Few things expose this self-indulgence better than the horrifyingly named Crack + Cider initiative which was featured in today’s Huffington Post.  This Hackney based pop-up shop was established so that people can help homeless people without worrying whether they will spend the money on alcohol or drugs.  They can do this by donating the price of a coat, pair of gloves or umbrella, which Crack + Cider will then buy and give to a homelessness charity.  And then it will probably sit in a store room for the next decade along with all the rest of the tat that arrives in charity fundraising offices that they have neither the resources or the will to distribute.

There is of course nothing wrong with buying a homeless person a coat.  You can do that very easily without the act being mediated by charity.  Go into a shop, buy a coat, give it to a homeless person.  Fucking simples.  Or join up with #opsafewinter who distribute supplies to homeless people directly.

What is wrong with Crack and Cider, apart from the obvious, is that this is not a project designed to help homeless people, but to help the urban middle classes feel better about homelessness.  It does this by not only re-inforcing prejudices people feel towards the homeless, but also allowing them to buy their way out of any sense of personal responsibility for the problem.  After all, there might be a poor person walking round now in a coat they paid for. If homeless people are still homeless after that kind of lavish generosity then they only have themselves to blame.  Serves them right anyway for taking all those drugs.

In a gushing press release those behind the shop  warn that even Kensington and Chelsea council say “giving to rough sleepers contributes to their early death”.  There is no evidence that this is true because this is a political lie, used by a Tory council to justify forcing beggars out of one of London’s richest boroughs rather than providing the homes and services they need.   A borough that could soon be selling off up to 97% of their socially rented homes.  Better to blame people hooked on Special Brew for the homelessness this will cause than the Tory government’s housing policy.

There is no doubt those behind Crack + Cider are trying to be well-meaning – they are not taking any money from the project.  The name they say is merely intended to stimulate a conversation about homelessness in that kind of wacky and ironic way that normal people who don’t live in Hoxton probably don’t understand.  They say it was inspired by a beggar telling them that people didn’t give them money because they thought they’d spend it all on crack and cider.  “Oh yah, that’s what we think too” they no doubt decided.  Let’s set up a shop and call it something edgy.  And so homelessness, as far as coat-buying Hackney hipsters are concerned, is sorted.  Meanwhile down the road a beggar just got stabbed because they tried to pay off a drug debt with a pair of gloves and a fucking umbrella.

 Posted by at 23:14
Nov 082015
 

by Bob Williams Findlay

It’s often said that history only remembers the victors. Recently, the Equality and Human Rights Commission produced a video to, and I quote, “Celebrate twenty years since the passing of the Disability Discrimination Act in 1995.” For disabled people who were involved in the struggle to have the inequalities we face acknowledged and addressed, I doubt there are many of us who will be putting the flags out or popping champagne corks in celebration of the Act itself.

The bulk of us who were actively involved remain true to the belief that the passing of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) was a significant defeat for disabled people and the struggle against social oppression. This is not to say the passing of the DDA had no positive impact upon disabled people’s lives or had no influence on social change, it did, but acknowledging this shouldn’t detract us from recognising the fact the DDA restricted our progress, was of limited use to disabled people and was never likely to challenge the status quo.

It is impossible to produce a balance sheet of the DDA’s true impact because all kinds of external factors operate to mask the truth. It can be argued that the overall struggle for anti-discrimination legislation and specific actions such as the Campaign for Accessible Transport were more instrumental in bringing about organic social change. Over the last twenty years the whole of society has radically changed, and how disabled people have been both seen and treated have been part of that process whether that’s been via Tony Blair’s “rights and responsibilities” agenda or the neoliberal business case for ‘including disabled people’.

To fully appreciate our position on the DDA it is necessary to strip away the sugar coated presentation of this historic piece of legislation in order to reveal how the collective voice of disabled people and their many allies were silenced by acts of betrayal and brute force. The real story isn’t really about the twenty years since the passing of this piecemeal, ineffectual and oppressive Act, but rather it is about how the Civil Rights Bill and the ideas contained within it were buried both physically and politically by those who felt threatened by the potential impact it would’ve had on society.

The aim here is not to romanticise the campaign for full civil and human rights for disabled people, but instead to recall the major events that led up to the Tories introducing their own Disability Discrimination Bill in order to head off the Private Member’s Bill on Civil Rights Bill and why the passing of the DDA should be viewed as a significant and negative watershed in our emancipation struggle. Neither is it possible to critique the nature or merits of the Disabled People’s Movements campaign, although there’ll be signposts to various opinions on it.

Over the last twenty years we have seen various ‘interpretations’ of the struggle for our emancipation and many of these place tremendous emphasis on the fact that legislation was adopted to give disabled people ‘rights’. Here is a lengthy quotation from one such interpretation:

‘The Disabled People’s ‘Rights Now!’ campaign had a rich and diverse membership, including representation from many trade unions. It encompassed direct action, mass lobbies of parliament, petitions and awareness-raising campaigns to support civil rights for disabled people, and the issue was raised in Parliament on 14 separate occasions. The campaign won over a number of MPs and Peers, including Alf Morris, Roger Berry, Tom Clarke and Harry Barnes, who provided much needed political support and sponsored various Disabled People’s Civil Rights Private Members Bills.

The campaign reached a turning point in 1994 when the Conservative Government and the then Minister for Disabled People Nicholas Scott were found to have misled Parliament by stating that the cost of implementing civil rights legislation for disabled people would be greater than the sum previously calculated by civil servants.

In 1995, the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) became law and although it was a watered-down version of what disabled people wanted, it was nevertheless a huge victory for the Rights Now! campaign.’ (Aspis, 2011:3)

There are many aspects of this account that needs to be placed in a wider context and, as a consequence, it can then be viewed differently. Let’s begin by looking at important historical moments as a backdrop to the Rights Now campaign. Barnes and Oliver remind us that:

…the move by disabled people to form their own organisations…
fostered a growing collective consciousness amongst disabled people…. [which] began a process of reformulating the problems of disability, shifting the focus away from the functional limitations of impaired individuals towards contemporary social organisation with its plethora of disabling barriers. It also set in train a political divergence between organisations for the disabled and organisations of disabled people. (Barnes and Oliver,1991: 4)

The political divergence spoken about here between organisations for the disabled (sic) and organisations of disabled people permeates right through the history of the struggle for anti-discrimination legislation and beyond. Significantly, Barnes and Oliver go on to say:

Many of the traditional organisations for the disabled had advised the government that discrimination was not a problem for disabled people and that legislation was unnecessary. Yet in 1979, the Silver Jubilee Access Committee drew attention to a number of ‘blatant acts of discrimination against disabled people. The official committee which investigated the allegations was unequivocal in its findings: discrimination against disabled people was widespread and legislation was essential. (Barnes and Oliver,1991: 5)

Ian Bynoe picks up the story when he writes:

….1992 marks the tenth anniversary of the publication of the Report of the Committee on Restrictions against Disabled People
(CORAD).This is the only report on disability and discrimination ever to have been received by a UK government. It found discrimination to be commonplace in the experience of disabled people and recommended anti-discrimination legislation. Its
proposals were dismissed by the government of the day and there has since been no evidence of a change of mind to revive hopes that the CORAD proposals might be implemented. (Bynoe, 1991: 1)

For the record the CORAD committee defined discrimination as: ‘the unjustifiable withholding whether intentional or not, of some service, facility or opportunity from a disabled person because of that person’s disability’ (Large, 1982:7)

The stark reality is that since the early 1980s there were no less than fourteen attempts to introduce anti-discrimination legislation via Private Members Bills largely introduced, but not exclusively, by backbench Labour MPs. Not only did each fail, they nearly all followed a similar pattern where in Parliament the Tory spokesperson would state that, ‘there was nothing but good will towards the disabled’, and of course, ‘education was better than legislation’ if any problems were to exist. On the other hand, the supporters of the various bills would mainly focus upon employment issues. Meanwhile outside of Parliament there was the ritualised farce of the big disability charities shipping in bus loads of disabled people to parade around Parliament Square before sending them home again.

Barnes and Oliver inform us that:

The formation of Voluntary Organisations for Anti-
Discrimination Legislation (VOADL) was a sign that many organisations for the disabled had been converted to views articulated by disabled people themselves. However, there
remain, perhaps inevitably, significant differences between the
philanthropic and liberationist elements of the disability lobby.
(Barnes and Oliver,1991: 5)

Those of us who were involved with VOADL and later, Rights Now, might take issue with the view that the “for” organisations were actually ‘converted’ to the views held by disabled people. Their practice then and since would cast a long shadow over this assumption. An alternative view is that for a long time disabled people’s organisations were only granted observer status within VOADL however the growing momentum behind the British Council for Disabled People’s campaign for anti-discrimination legislation (ADL), began to shift both the focus and the exercising of power and so this ‘conversion’ by the charities had more to do with their fear of being outflanked by BCODP than [it did to] any serious commitment to disability politics.

John Evans provides us with information on BCODP’s campaign when he says:

It was 1991 when BCODP (British Council of Disabled People) which is the national, representative and democratic organisation of disabled people in the UK launched its ADL campaign as its future main objective. (Evans, 1996: 2)

There are two important points raised here. Firstly, the fact BCODP made this their main campaign has been debated off and on within the Disabled People’s Movement ever since and it’s an issue that continues to divide opinion. This article isn’t the place to unpack the issues, however, the significance of the decision will be returned to later. Secondly, a major contribution to the launch of BCODP’s ADL campaign was the publishing of commissioned research undertaken by Colin Barnes into discrimination against disabled people in the UK. Evans points out that “Discrimination and Disabled People in Britain” was so comprehensive ‘…. it provided more than enough evidence supporting the whole case for ADL and it became a very useful tool in the campaign and a symbol for empowerment and inspiration. It was the first authoritative piece of research done in this area and was carried out by disabled researchers and disabled experts.’ (Evans, 1996: 2)

The momentum generated by BCODP’s campaign and the emergence of the Disability Action Network (DAN) made VOADL look staid and stuffy. As mentioned previously the differences between the philanthropic and liberationist elements of the disability lobby became increasingly marked. The Executive Committee of BCODP recommended that VOADL had a make-over and with a bloodless coup, Rights Now was launched under the stewardship of the Disabled People’s Movement. John Evans again broadly captures the period between 1992 and 1994 when he writes:

Direct action no doubt heightened the profile for the need for civil rights legislation in the eyes of the general public and did a lot to shake up the politicians complacency on the issue but it could never be enough by itself. Without the lobbying of parliament and meetings with politicians putting forward constructive arguments based on available evidence of discrimination and seeking their support the cause would have been lost. Any changes in the law have to be done through Parliament so you have to get some politicians fighting for your cause. At the same time disabled experts and lawyers have to work alongside other lawyers and politicians in writing up the Bill. This work was co-ordinated by a group called the Rights Now…. which was a coalition of about 50 disability organisations and charities who were formed to work together to help bring about ADL. (Evans, 1996: 3)

Two central features mark the difference between VOADL and Rights Now. Disabled people drove the agenda and increased the public profile of the ADL campaign, but at the same time worked directly with members of parliament to put together the Civil Rights Bill. Many of us believe that this displacement of the ‘big six’ disability charities resulted in them watering down their commitment to full and comprehensive legislation and a growing willingness to accept compromise as the price of regaining their power position over disabled people. This watershed moment sees the birth of what has subsequently become ‘Janus politics’ – where the charities look back towards the radical language and concepts from the Disabled People’s Movement, but actually creates ‘new meaning’ which transforms them into tools which then help maintain their status. For example, the concepts ‘independent living’ and ‘choices and rights’ now employed by organisations such as Scope and Disability Rights UK are a million miles from their original meaning.

Mike Oliver noted that:

Speaker after speaker from non-representative organisations for disabled people claimed the social model as their own in the Trafalgar Square demonstrations of 1994. Additionally, the Disability Rights Commission established in 1997 by the New Labour Government declares that it is guided in everything it does by the social model of disability. (Oliver, 2004: 28)

Caroline Gooding and Bob Findlay advised the opposition parties on behalf of Rights Now, including writing a briefing paper on the social model and the definition of disability. Once in power New Labour set up a Disability Task Force, but this body steadfastly declined to change the traditional definition of disability to one in keeping with the social model.

Stepping back a little, the first test for the new wave militancy and Parliamentary campaigning came when Harry Barnes tried to push through the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill.

Ian Parker, in an article called ‘SPITTING ON CHARITY’ which appeared in the Independent, wrote:

In May 1994, however, a private member’s bill, the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill, was killed messily by the Government, and the minister for disabled people, Nicholas Scott, eventually had to resign. (Parker, 2011: unpaged)
This caused an outcry and came about because as Parker acknowledged:

Last year – another Great Leap Forward – the civil rights argument was won. At some point, legislation may follow. (Parker, 2011: unpaged)

Parliament was finally ready to pass ADL, but the Tories and big business weren’t prepared to see the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill go through. As Lorraine Gradwell states, ‘… the Tory government were so concerned about the increasing popularity of anti discrimination legislation that they brought forward this fudge of a compromise’.(2015)

Their only course of action was to head off our Bill by introducing the weaker Disability Discrimination Bill led by William Hague. This was eventually passed into law twenty years ago as the Disability Discrimination Act.

What followed was a two horse handicapped chase. Roger Berry picked up the gauntlet and re-introduced the Civil Rights Bill, but Hague had the advantage of proposing a Bill supported by the Conservative John Major government. It was under these conditions that the ‘big six’ charities made their move.

Parker reports:
Thanks to his position at the head of a fairly well-funded “for” organisation, and thanks to his support for incremental methods, and thanks to his recent claim to see some (flawed) virtue in the Government’s Disability Discrimination Bill, Massie is regarded with great hostility by many “fundamentalists”. Rachel Hurst, a radical with a sharp political sense, says, “Our voice has been shut out by the established charities. Some staff at Radar I’ve got more time for than I can say. [But] I wouldn’t mind shooting the man at the top. He is an Uncle Tom, Mr Massie… He actually doesn’t care a toss about the rights of disabled people.” (Parker, 2011: unpaged)
Evans also recalls in 1996 that:

The DDA took only 6 months from beginning to end in becoming law.

Unfortunately the DDA was flawed from the start as being a weak piece of legislation which was unenforceable and was considered a drop in the ocean, as it was certainly not going to protect disabled people from the many forms of discrimination which existed. It outraged the disability movement because it denied them the fully comprehensive civil rights legislation which they had worked so hard campaigning for and consequently they refused to have anything to do with it. (Evans, 1996: 4)

Perhaps even more forcibly Marian Corker wrote in ‘The UK Disability Discrimination Act – disabling language, justifying inequitable social participation’:

What has been ‘achieved’ is a legal instrument that has variously been described as ‘confusing, contorted and unsatisfactory’ (Gooding 1996); ‘a dissembling law not an enabling statute’ (Doyle 1997: 78); and ‘one of the most ill-conceived pieces of legislation ever to reach the statute books’ (Corker 1998: 115). This is the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) (Corker, 2000)

She went on to say:

However, there is little doubt that the DDA represents a muddled combination of prohibition, justifiable discrimination and reasonable adjustment that can themselves act as a barrier to claimants who may be ‘isolated, possibly ill-informed and under-resourced’ (Gooding 1996: 6). Further, because the DDA legally justifies direct discrimination on the grounds of ‘disability’ in what Gooding (1996: 6) describes as ‘dangerously vague’ terms, and fails to incorporate a notion of the indirect discrimination experienced by disabled people, it seems an ineffective legal instrument for tackling the institutionalised oppression of disabled people. (Corker, 2000)

The DDA, unlike the Civil Rights Bill, wasn’t designed to tackle the institutionalised oppression of disabled people. Any hope of repealing and replacing the DDA with the Civil Rights Bill when New Labour came to power was quickly dashed. First, Labour’s Tom Clarke refuted BCODP’s claim that Labour in opposition had promised to do just that. Second, the Task Force already mentioned was hand-picked with more radical elements of the Disabled People’s Movement blacklisted throughout Labour’s terms in office. Margaret Hodge in 2000 when Minister for Disabled People, instructed the BBC to ‘edit out’ criticism of the DDA in its Disabled Century TV program. Third, Labour looked towards the new ‘Disability Movement’ driven by the charities and DPOs willing to buy into Blair’s ‘Third Way’ and the neoliberal market economy. Finally, it was New Labour who brought in Atos to hound sick and disabled people.

So, when we’re told the DDA was a victory, what does this mean? There has been a paradoxical development; just at the moment when inadequate legal rights were established for disabled people, the movement for emancipation was outflanked by the big disability charities and made an outcast by successive governments. Since 1995 the Disabled People’s Movement has gone into decline. Internal division and criticism followed the defeat of the Civil Rights Bill, with senior disabled activists accusing BCODP of ‘putting all its eggs in one basket’ by having ‘legislation’ as its prime focus and failing to cultivate grassroots structures and organisation.

Does this look like a victory? Merely getting legal recognition that disabled people have limited rights not to be discriminated against? Are they saying we should be celebrating being granted crumbs from their table? In 2005 the Public Interest Research Unit reported, ‘Ten years of the Disability Discrimination Act: Anniversary research indicates qualified failure.’

The DDA gave individual rights, but simply asked for employers and service providers to behave ‘reasonably’. The last five years in particular has witnessed savage attacks on both disabled people’s rights, services and lifestyles. A reverse of disabled people’s fortunes added to by the threat of legalised ‘assisted suicide’ is the reality, not this empty rhetoric of ‘equal citizenship’. Disabled people have been silenced and sidelined for the majority of the last twenty years apart from piecemeal changes in the social environment and attempts at tokenistic ‘inclusion’ here and there.

Now the whitewash begins. We see video clips from the Equality and Human Rights Commission and Scope on 20 years of the DDA, producing ‘false history’ via safe narratives and the worst of all, the Heritage Lottery Fund supporting Leonard Cheshire’s empire to write ‘disability history’ (sic). Ellis’s piece for the HLF on the DDA is another example of revisionism with a dash of criticism thrown in.

Those of us who lived and fought through the 1980s and 1990s see no cause to celebrate. Politically, we were defeated in 1995; our slogan, “Nothing About Us, Without Us”, has still to be realised. Although the last twenty years has been an uphill struggle to keep the fight for emancipation alive, we are seeing yet again a new wave of determination among disabled people; people who believe in freedom and social justice. These green shoots are what we should be celebrating today, not the results of the falsification of history written by our oppressors and shameful or misguided collaborators.

Notes:

Aspis, S. (2011:3) Campaigns in Action – Disabled People’s struggle for Equality
www.allfie.org.uk/docs/campaigns%20in%20action%20text%20only.doc

Barnes, C. and Oliver, M. (1991) ‘DISCRIMINATION, DISABILITY AND WELFARE: FROM NEEDS TO RIGHTS’ in Bynoe, I. et al.,
Equal Rights for Disabled People: A Case for a new law – IPPR.

Bynoe, I. (1991) THE CASE FOR ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LEGISLATION in Bynoe, I. et al., Equal Rights for Disabled People: A Case for a new law – IPPR.

https://disability-studies.leeds.ac.uk/files/library/bynoe-equal-rights-for-disabled-people.pdf

Large, P., (1982) Report of the Committee on Restrictions
Against Disabled People

Evans, J. (1996) ‘THE U.K. CIVIL RIGHTS CAMPAIGN AND THE DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION ACT’

https://disability-studies.leeds.ac.uk/files/library/evans-ADLWIEN.pdf

Oliver, M. (2004) ‘The Social Model in Action: if I had a hammer’, in Implementing the Social Model of Disability: Theory and Research edited by Colin Barnes and Geof Mercer (2004); Leeds: The Disability Press, pp. 18-31

https://pf7d7vi404s1dxh27mla5569.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/files/library/Barnes-implementing-the-social-model-chapter-2.pdf

Parker, I. (2011) ‘SPITTING ON CHARITY’ from the Independent,

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/spitting-on-charity-1614885.html

Gradwell, L. (2015) Comment on her Facebook page, 4th November.

Corker, M. (2000) ‘The UK Disability Discrimination Act – disabling language, justifying inequitable social participation’, in: The 10tk Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, edited by Anita Silvers and Leslie Francis, Routledge

https://pf7d7vi404s1dxh27mla5569.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/files/library/Corker-UKDDA.pdf

Additional material used as research:

Corker, M. (1998) Deaf and Disabled or Deafness Disabled? Buckingham: Open University Press

Doyle, B. (1997) Enabling legislation or dissembling law? -The Disability Discrimination Act 1995. Modern Law Review, 64

Gooding, C. (1996) Blackstone’s guide to the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, London: Blackstone, in association with RADAR

Public Interest Research Unit (2005) ‘Ten years of the Disability Discrimination Act: Anniversary research indicates qualified failure’

https://www.piru.org.uk/press-releases/ten-years-of-dda

Ellis, L. (2015) ’20 Years of the DDA’, Heritage Lottery Fund

https://www.hlf.org.uk/about-us/news-features/20-years-disability-discrimination-act

 Posted by at 12:55
Nov 042015
 

[Reblogged from GMCDP Blog with thanks]

Foreward: Many disabled people are angry that the national lottery has awarded Leonard Cheshire Disability almost £300K to document the history of disabled people. We therefore thought it quite timely to reproduce the following article (first published in our Coalition News – May 1987), which is as powerful and relevant today as when our friend and colleague Ken Davis wrote it almost 30 years ago.

Disability and the Bomb

Disability and the Bomb – the connection
By Ken Davis

I am writing this on August 6th, 1986—the 41st anniversary of the dropping of the first atomic bomb on the unsuspecting, defenceless and innocent civilian population of Hiroshima.

There was no warning. After the explosion, some 140,000 ordinary people lay dead or dying. Men and women; old and young; teenagers and tiny tots; the sick in hospitals; babies in their mothers’ wombs. There was no escape.

They called the bomb “Little Boy” (what an insult, that humanity should be incinerated in the name of children!). The U.S.B29 bomber, the Enola Gay, carried more than one connection with disability. Little Boy was carried not only to inflict death—but to cause physical impairment in countless thousands of people. The Enola Gay also carried a person called Leonard Cheshire, founder of the international chain of segregated institutions for disabled people.

The disabled peoples’ movement has much to say on these matters. As it gains strength, it will add to the growing condemnation of war and violence as a means of resolving human conflict. Many more thousands of innocent people since Hiroshima have become disabled through war. The plights of our brothers and sisters in disability across the world cannot be imagined by us here in Britain. The suffering of those disabled people displaced by war into refugee camps is unutterably intolerable.

Back in 1982, the Disabled Peoples’ International made the following Peace Statement at Hiroshima:
“We, the representatives of all the world’s disabled peoples, have come to Hiroshima to make known our resolute condemnation of the arms race.

“We affirm, in the strongest possible terms, our determination to join with others and take our rightful place in the forefront of the worldwide movement of disarmament.

“We, the 500million disabled people of the world, declare that we will fight for the exclusion and annihilation of wars and nuclear weapons from the earth.”

Again, as our movement grows, Leonard Cheshire VC, and many others like him, how have used “compassion for the disabled” as a convenient stepping-stone to lucrative social careers, will be called to account for their actions. The Honours Lists are littered with the names of such people, who have chosen to speak and act in the name of disabled people without our authority.

This year—1986—is the International Peace Year. In a world besotted by war and violence, it is a timely reminder that there are higher ideals and finer values which can guide human conduct in the struggle to establish a better social order. It is also timely, on the 41st anniversary of Hiroshima, to remind ourselves of the long legacy of disability stemming from this shocking event.

The 1965 survey of the Hibakusha—the survivors of the bomb—showed their rate of physical impairment to be 350% higher than the Japanese national average. Some 44% of the survivors were sick or injured—a figure which had risen up to 59% by the 1975 survey.

Truly, those who died were the lucky ones. Obviously, cancers figure high in survivors, as does the incidence of leukaemia. These are caused by exposure to radiation and radioactivity, which guarantees long-term agony.

Many of those whose eyeballs didn’t burst in the intense heat now suffer from eye disorders. Microcephalic (small head size) victims have found their condition degenerating over the years. Gross disfigurement, e.g. from keloids on the skin, adds another dimension to disability. The psychological and social effects are profound and still imperfectly understood.

Many disabled people will be able to identity with the effects of these impairments. The Hibakusha share with us many of the same problems of rehabilitation and social integration. They suffer discrimination in employments, and even marriage. Their incomes are small, and they know as much about the poverty trap as any British claimant. Their families are the main source of support and, as they begin to age, carers come under increasing stress.

Through our membership of the British Council of Organisations of Disabled People, the Derbyshire Coalition of Disabled People is directly linked to Disabled Peoples’ International. Japan cones within the Asia-Pacific region of DPI, and the Regional Chairperson of himself Japanese—a spinal injured wheelchair-user, Senator Hita Yashiro. Hita is a living example of the additional grit and determination disabled people have to find if they seek high office.

Interestingly, the Chairperson of the DPI Human Rights Committee brought the news to the last DPI World Congress that putting disabled people away in institutions in Japan had been ruled a violation of human rights.

Relentlessly, the connection between disability and the bomb becomes clear. The mentality that made Leonard Cheshire a compliant participant in the mass creation of disability at Hiroshima is the same mentality which made him the instigator of the mass incarceration of disabled people in a chain of segregated institutions.

In the first place he went over the top of the heads of disabled people in a B29 bomber; in the second he went over our heads in the name of charity. Increasingly, over the years, both actions have come to attract just abhorrence.

In our struggle to realise the aims of the International Year of Disabled People—full participation and equality—we have to find the strength to insist that our representative organisations are fully involved in decisions about the dismantling of disabled apartheid. And we have to add our insistent voice to the clamour for world disarmament—with the aim of removing, for all time, this particularly horrifying cause of unnecessary disability.

Footnote: 1. Later research indicates that Leonard Cheshire was on the Big Stink (a B-29 support plane) on 9 August 1945 when the Enola Gay aircraft dropped the second atomic bomb, named Fat Man, on Nagasaki, and that he was not onboard the Enola Gay on 6 August 1945 when it dropped the bomb named Little Boy on Hiroshima as previously thought.

Source: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonard_Cheshire, accessed 16 May 2015.

 Posted by at 16:52
Oct 282015
 

DPAC and the Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance are gathering evidence on the impact of the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) since it was shut permanently on 30 June 2015. This will be used for a report which we aim to bring out ahead of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement due at the end of November.

The report will publish responses from a latest round of Freedom Of Information requests asking Local Authorities how many reassessments have been carried out and the overall results (percentage pf support packages increased, percentage decreased..etc).

We also want to base our findings on testimonies from individuals and organisations with direct experience of the impact of closure.

Testimonies could be from people who used to receive ILF, people who missed out on ILF when it shut to new applicants, Disabled People’s Organisations, care managers expected to carry out reassessments or Council’s now responsible for meeting the full adult social care needs of Disabled people.

Information it may be useful to include in your testimonies:
– communication about the transfer process
– experience and knowledge of Local Authority staff carrying out assessments
– experiences and outcomes of reassessments

-how the transition process has impacted on you

Please indicate if you want:

– your testimony to be anonymous

– your testimony to be used only for the purposes of the informing the findings of the report or whether you are happy for your experiences to be used as an anonymous illustrative case study

– if you are happy to speak to the media about your experiences. If so please include contact details to reach you on and any communication access needs.

Send testimonies to mail@dpac.uk.net before mid-night 8th November 2015. Please keep testimonies as brief as possible and ideally no more than 4 pages/

 Posted by at 19:31
Oct 162015
 

Why are the UN investigating the UK Government for potential breaches of disabled peoples human rights?

It has recently been *reported that the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is to visit the United Kingdom in the next few weeks as part of an inquiry into ‘grave and systemic violations of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD)’ by the Conservative Party (known as Tories) Government. The UN was asked to intervene by the grass-roots campaign network Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) under a monitoring mechanism known as the Optional Protocol as a response to cuts and reforms introduced by the party during the previous parliament (in Coalition with the Liberal Democrats 2010-15) . This is the first time any government has been investigated for breaches of the Convention; but just what does this actually mean, why has this happened and what are the potential implications for disabled people in the UK and around the world?

The UNCRPD was hard fought for over decades, driven largely by European and Latin American disabled people organisations. The Convention eventually came into being in 2008, and now ratified by over 150 countries (known as State Parties). The purpose of the Convention is defined in Article 1 as:

‘To promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity’.

Lofty intentions indeed. The Convention goes on to afford disabled people a number of rights including for example; the right to recognition before the law (Article 12), the right to live independently (Article 19) the right to work (Article 27). Its based on the Social Model of Disability which asserts that people who have impairments are disabled by the attitudes, institutions and processes societies create rather than those impairments. The Convention was ratified by the UK in 2009. By also signing up to the Optional Protocol, the UK accepted the legitimacy of the UN Committee on the CRPD to investigate potential breaches and report their findings. This Committee is a panel of human rights experts and works with the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to ensure its application in states who have signed up. The Committee visits usually include a series of meetings with relevant authorities (in this case most likely they will seek meetings with government ministers and departments), civil society organisations e.g. NGO’s, campaign/community organisations and individuals to hear testimony and gather evidence.

Any claim of potential breaches must be forensically evidenced to a set UN template, with the burden of proof falling heavily on the claimant. In claims made against a government as the State Party, they have a right to reply before the evidence is considered for inquiry level action. In this case, the Committee reviewed the government response and felt there were enough grounds to launch an inquiry.

Why?

On coming to power in 2010, the government implemented their austerity agenda, a series of cuts and reforms which fell mostly on public services , local councils and the voluntary sector.  These measures they said were necessary to address the shortfall in the nations budget, caused by using public money to bail out the UK banking sector following the global financial crisis in 2008.

No matter where you are, as a disabled person living under a capitalist system, you are more likely to face economic disadvantage and dependency on public & local services  and voluntary sector support. This is also true in the UK. Many disabled people understood that their lives as they knew them were about to be turned upside down.  Despite generations of self organised activism, disabled people in the UK were still less likely to be in work or university, to own their own home or car. A significant number lived in poverty and isolation. Yes, there had been relative gains over the years.  But these were mostly in areas covered by access to public buildings, goods and services and also some public transport. Systemic change had never happened. It may have been the 20th century, with surface level cosmetic change, but for many it was simply a matter of now being prisoners in gilded cages. And even that wouldn’t last long.

In one year alone, 2012 almost half a million – 470 000 – disabled people lost their jobs. The total amount of disabled people who’ve found work over the whole parliamentary period comes nowhere near this. Funds which supported disabled people to work such as Access to Work (AtW) were restricted; over 1500 disabled people working in semi-state supported employers Remploy lost their jobs on the promise that the money saved would be ploughed into AtW support for them. Over two thirds are still out of work today.

Cuts to local Councils have had an incredible impact on disabled people. The biggest single cost most Councils have is Adult Social Care (support with everyday tasks such as washing, dressing, cooking etc). During the last parliament, Social Care budgets were slashed by 25%, with that figure set to reach 33% over the course of this parliament. This means that around 4 in 10 disabled people get any form of support at all, never mind adequate support to live independently. The overwhelming majority of Councils now provide support only for those people with ‘substantial or critical need’ – i.e. People with complex support needs. The closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) in June this year – a fund to support those with complex support needs – has already seen many Councils cut support packages. Transition funding was devolved to Councils for one year, intended to provide support for former ILF Users. Many Councils have taken the money and not provided the support, as the money wasn’t ring-fenced.

Added to this are the huge swathe of Council services and departments closed, and jobs lost. Local Council funding for voluntary sector has been decimated. Often these were the only provider of frontline/crisis interventions such as Domestic Violence Refuges for women. Many voluntary and community groups existed only through funding from local councils.

But by far, the biggest impact has been felt by those claiming Social Security. Mandatory retesting for every single claimant of all forms of disability benefit.  Divided into those ruled immediately fit to work, fit to do work related activity, or not able to get paid work at all; many saw their incomes slashed overnight. Those found fit to work instantly lost their right to any disability benefits, those who were fit to do work related activity had their benefits for a limited time. Again, only those with the most complex  support needs had ongoing access to disability benefits.

This was compounded for many by what became known as the Bedroom Tax. Disabled people who received a rent subsidy would now be charged for any ‘spare’ bedroom. This means that rooms used to house specialist or medical equipment (often at the request of health professionals) became a financial liability. Reduced income and rising costs meant many thousands of people have left their (often adapted) homes and support networks and communities, moving to smaller homes and having to rebuild their lives. Others have made a different choice – to remain in their homes, pay the charge and skip meals or sit in freezing cold homes rather than face the trauma changing homes, and re-establishing networks and services all over again.

There are of course too many cuts and reforms to note here, but here are 2 facts worth bearing in mind:

Disabled people are paying up to 9 times more through direct and indirect cuts in order to balance the UK’s budget than non-disabled people;

For disabled people with the highest support needs, this figure rises to 19 times more.

In what is still the 6th richest country in the world.

You would think this would make victims of us all. That it would be easier to passively accept this change, and be grateful for whatever meagre support was now on offer.

Then you would be wrong.

Disabled people in the UK have a proud history of self-organised resistance movements. Throughout the last 50 years the UK has seen the anger, defiance and mobilisation of disabled people manifest in political action groups like UPIAS (Union of Physically Impaired And Segregated), DAN (Direct Action Network) and now DPAC.

DPAC has followed in the tradition of using direct action and civil disobedience to mobilise disabled people as agents for change themselves. Born in 2010 at a protest outside the Conservative Party’s first conference in government, and using social media, the network has proved a formidable foe of government policy and corporate profiteers. Their sustained campaign against ATOS began with just a couple of dozen people protesting outside their London HQ, saw a week of action during the London Paralympics in 2012 in response to their sponsorship of the games (including many hundreds of protestors shutting down the HQ) and culminated in protests at over 60 offices nationwide in February 2014. A month later, ATOS withdrew from a £500m contract to carry out the Work Capability Assessments.

The network organised the attempt to build a fully accessible protest camp outside the Houses of Parliament in the grounds of the famous Westminster Abbey. The action took 6 months to prepare, involved over 100 activists in the site-take (supported by Occupy & UK Uncut) and brought 7 tonnes of infrastructure from accessible accommodation and toilets to kitchens. Full plumbing and power circuits. In the end, only the presence of hundreds of police and the intransigence of the Dean of Westminster prevented the occupation which was in protest to the closure of the ILF.

The ILF was also the catalyst for DPAC’s boldest action to date – the attempted storming of the House of Commons floor during Prime Ministers Questions in June this year. Only days before the closure date, dozens of disabled people outwitted police and security to reach the entrance to the commons floor only for police to become over-excited and dragged protestors away.

DPAC has also been effective in mobilising disabled people who want to campaign along more traditional lines also; lobbying MP’s, media campaigns, legal challenges, research and evidence gathering etc. DPAC has also maximised the opportunities brought by social media and the power it has to bring formerly isolated disabled people into the network and Its because of all of these actions, all of these efforts that the disabled peoples movement in the UK is undergoing a resurgence; and reshaping the wider left in the process. Grass-roots activism has responded to disabled people by embracing the ideas of inclusion and accessibility as integral to movement building and not a luxury or add on. And, in doing so often exposed the lip-service and frequently patronising nature of the more established, better resourced and frankly should-know-better institutions such as trade unions, campaigning NGO’s and the revolutionary left.

At the time of writing, DPAC is currently planning to celebrate its 5th birthday at the latest Conservative Party conference in Manchester with two direct actions in three days. With almost 30 local DPAC groups, these kinds of actions seem set to continue for a while yet.

Whatever recommendations come out of the UN visit, the work of disabled activists will continue to set the terms for resistance – fearless and challenging. Fearless in its targeting and tactics, challenging the myth of disabled people as vulnerable objects of pity.

But, it appears the UN visit may also have little impact on the decisions of the government. Already in 2015, the UK has heard from UN Special Rapporteurs for Violence Against Women & Girls – who described the UK  as ‘an old boys club…..doing little to prevent violence against women’; and on the Right to Peaceful Assembly who expressed ‘deep concerns of the high number of undercover police embedded in non-violent campaign groups’. Neither report has cut any ice with the government. Though they did manage to respond to the visit of the Special Rapporteur on Housing recent visit as ‘Marxist diatribe’. Which is at least consistent with their response to every criticism or questioning of heir policy direction. Normally, i would suggest that the biggest fear the Tories have is being shamed in front of the world by this report. But, Tories have no shame.

Once re-elected in May this year, the government have pledged to remove disability benefits altogether for all but those with the highest support needs. Disabled people are seen as undeserving of a safety net, unless you have to be hoisted into it. Hundreds of thousands of people will be left destitute – still with the added costs disability brings, only now without any income to meet those costs. With almost 2m people out of work, and barely half a million jobs in the entire country, working your way out of this poverty trap isn’t an option for most.

And, we’ve seen their plans or those who resist. The recent moves to restrict campaigning, protest and strikes have shown that they are prepared to go to whatever lengths are required to push through their agenda. We must be as determined in fighting back.

But, this planned visit could open the door for a raft of similar challenges by disabled people around the world. Already we have seen disabled people as part of social movements resisting austerity in Greece and Spain. I’ve no doubt these activists are watching with interest what happens here in the next few weeks. And too in places like Belarus, the only country in Europe refusing to sign up to the UNCRPD. Could a campaign demanding this act an engine driving towards democracy in Europe’s last remaining brutal dictatorship? Bolivia has seen violent confrontations with disabled people using crutches, wheelchair parts and walking sticks to break police lines when trying to deliver their demand for more support to their country’s parliament. Will the pen prove mightier than the foot-plate in breaking the resolve of nations who don’t make equality and independence of disabled people a priority?

Will the UN prove to be white knight or a white elephant?

The truth is, it doesn’t matter. Disabled people taking the responsibility to make change happen ourselves is what matters.

Fighting back is our business, and business is good.

by Andy Greene

An edited version of this piece is published in New Internationalist

 Posted by at 13:51
Oct 152015
 

The campaign group #StopChanges2ATW are aware that Deaf and Disabled people are still facing barriers when trying to access and use the Access to Work (AtW) disability employment support programme. In order to lobby for improvements we need to be able to evidence what is happening and to show where there are any problems. It is really important we can collect this information so we can show politicians and policy-makers what is going on with the scheme.

We would be very grateful if anyone with any recent experiences of either applying to or using Access to Work could fill in our quick survey and share with others to do the same. Please see our information sheet for more information about the survey and how it will be used.

The survey is in English and BSL. There is also an easy read version of the survey which can be downloaded.

 

#StopChanges2ATW is a Deaf and Disabled people led campaign that was established in November 2013 when the government introduced new rules to the Access to Work scheme. Read more about us here

 Posted by at 12:46
Oct 102015
 

 Reblogged from Doug Paulley’s Blog, with thanks

Leonard Cheshire have announced that the Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded them £242,250 to “enable the charity to use its archives to raise awareness about the history of disabled people.

Cartoon by the wonderful Crippen / Dave Lupton Cartoons: www crippencartoons.co.uk

Cartoon by the wonderful Crippen / Dave Lupton Cartoons: www crippencartoons.co.uk

For their full, nauseating and uninteresting press release (why do charities write such?),

[Press release included at the end of this piece]

I hope the opening-up of Leonard Cheshire’s archives will be “warts and all” and not an exercise in nauseating saccharine-sweet deification of the organisation, but I suspect they will be true to form. (I also hope that they put the £242,350 to good use: shame they can’t use it to pay carers the living wage. Mind you, it wouldn’t even pay a year’s salary of their two highest earning staff.)

The history of Leonard Cheshire Disability is not insignificant to the development of the disabled peoples’ rights movement, throughout the UK and indeed the world; though probably not in the way that they would really like people to believe. I wonder if their archive will release some of the following history.

It’s ironic that Leonard Cheshire Disability are releasing their archives as a result of a Lottery grant, because Leonard Cheshire Disability had to wrestle their domain name off a disabled ex-trustee, who was using the domain to show LCD were duplicitous in their treatment of disabled people and were allegedly fraudulent in their grant application to the Lottery.

But there’s much more history than that.

The seminal Union of the Physically Impaired Against Segregation, the founder of the disabled peoples’ movement and the originators of the Social Model, occurred as a result of Paul Hunt‘s reaction to institutionalised care and  segregation in Le Court, the inaugural Leonard Cheshire home.

The residents of Le Court resisted the disabling regime. They did so initially through sending the staff to Coventry in 1956 to 1958. They went on to stage the infamous “pyjama protest” – they instituted a protest of mass defiance of the rule that they had to change into their pyjamas by 6pm. Their protests earned them eviction notices, which Leonard Cheshire served against multiple residents and only rescinded following a direct appeal to Group Captain Leonard Cheshire himself.  “Our Len” said that a Cheshire home was a home for life, words which echo down the ages…

Paul felt that these charities, by focussing on Residential Care, were basically wrong. He saw disabled people’s place as being in the community. In addition Paul felt that these existing long established ‘disability’ organisations did not reflect the interests of disabled people and that disabled people should organise and form their own organisations.

The same clarion call across the decades: Leonard Cheshire would have you believe that they are disabled peoples’ mouthpiece, yet they don’t represent disabled people and they don’t always practice what they preach in their own service provision.

I hope the archive will show documents from when residents challenged Leonard Cheshire after LCD chose to close Le Court in 2002. Leonard Cheshire won by creating the legal precedent that (despite being paid hundreds of millions of pounds in taxpayers money) they are not subject to the Human Rights Act, including the obligation to respect disabled peoples’ right to choice over their homes. As a result, they can – and did – shut Le Court against residents’ wishes, evicting the disabled people living there.

I wonder if the archive will include the two pieces of research (by Peter Beresford and Northumbria University) commissioned by LCD’s Trustees but then quietly hidden as they showed that Leonard Cheshire actively undermined residents’ rights to basic everyday choices and support?

Will it include that they spent hundreds of thousands of pounds changing their brand and their name; in the process failing to tell or consult Leonard Cheshire’s family? Or that BBC presenters suggested that they choose a name that describes what they do, e.g. “jobs for the boys” or “keep us out of sight, out of mind you bastard”?

I hope Dr Laurence Clark‘s research paper, “Leonard Cheshire vs. The Disabled People’s Movement: A Review” is given due prominence:

Oliver (1990, page 39) points outs that the post-war ‘rescuing’ of disabled adults from other unsuitable provision by the Cheshire Foundation may subsequently be reinterpreted as “incarceration” by historians. Although the organisation would argue that in recent years it has changed to an “enabling” approach, the movement maintains that it “continues to appropriate our language as efficiently as it corrupts our image and comodifies our lives to ensure its thriving status as the leading charity provider of services for disabled people in the UK today” (Carr, 2000).

To be fair and comprehensive, it would have to include the many protests by disabled people against the Leonard Cheshire. For example, in 2007 disabled people stopped Leonard Cheshire’s glitzy ball by blockading it and letting off stink-bombs, as a protest against the “prison like regime” in many Leonard Cheshire homes.

gang-and-cops

Perhaps it should include Leonard Cheshire’s tragic failures: incidents where their cost-cutting and incompetence have resulted in people dying. For example, Leonard Cheshire killed one young man because they left an unsupervised voluntary worker who don’t know his care plan, to feed him without supervision, even though the Council paid the home £1,700 per week for his care. (That home eventually shut.)

Leonard Cheshire have repeatedly demonstrated that they are unable to run any new services. For example, Waltham Forrest council abandoned using Leonard Cheshire’s services shortly after appointing them, due to this debacle which caused misery and suffering for many disabled people.

Leonard Cheshire sunk a lot of other people’s money (including mine, from my fees to another care home) into an Acquired Brain Injury unit in Goole. It shut shortly after it opened due to a shortage of clients, because Leonard Cheshire’s regional director annoyed a neurological consultant. Leonard Cheshire had to cut their losses, yet another provider has since opened the same unit. It’s now profitable and providing a decent service.

“Since the closure of the nearly-new 1.5m Leonard Cheshire unit in 2003, people from the Goole area have had to travel to Leeds or York for treatment. But the unit is now reopening in August thanks to a joint venture between the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust (BIRT) and Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS Trust (NLAG).” Strange that, I wonder why this Trust could run it but Leonard Cheshire failed…

I hope the published archives include my little comma in the history of the organisation. Leonard Cheshire had the only enforcement notice ever issued against a charity by the Information Commissioner’s Office, after they tried to hide from me that senior managers called me a “git” and a “plonker” and attempted to sabotage funding for a holiday I’d booked, in recompense for me raising issues that residents had been overcharged by hundreds of pounds due to LCD’s failure to follow its own transport procedures.

They then attempted to evict me whilst still going through the façade of mediating with me; resulting in the local safeguarding adults’ board reaching a formal finding that Leonard Cheshire had subjected me to institutional abuse. Leonard Cheshire threatened judicial review, following which the Board re-investigated and concluded that their first conclusion was too light. They unanimously concluded that Leonard Cheshire had subjected me to institutional abuse, and specifically psychological abuse, by a range of senior management over a period of years.

I guess in one respect we should thank Leonard Cheshire for creating such amazing disability activists as John EvansPaul Hunt, Liz Carr and Paul Darke, and prompting them to create the Social Model; much as we should “thank” PW Botha‘s South African apartheid regime for creating Desmond Tutu and Madiba Mandela, and for prompting them to create the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.


From: Selina Mills [mailto:Selina.Mills@leonardcheshire.org] Sent: 09 October 2015 12:54
To: Selina Mills
Subject: FW: LEADING DISABILITY ARCHIVE PROJECT SECURES MAJOR NATIONAL LOTTERY GRANT

PRESS RELEASE
HIGH RES PIX AVAILABLE

  • Leonard Cheshire Disability ‘REWIND’ project secures £242,250 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)
  • Archive will show history of disabled people’s lives over 70 years
  • Project will increase access to archive materials
  • Total amount raised for the project is £305,500

Leading charity Leonard Cheshire Disability is delighted to have been awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant of £242,250 which will enable the charity to use its archives to raise awareness about the history of disabled people.

The HLF grant will be used to fund ‘Rewind – seven decades of stories from Leonard Cheshire Disability’ project. It will support vital conservation work, digitise archive material and record new oral history interviews with disabled people. The project will create an accessible website and allow online public access to the collections for the first time.

It comes alongside contributions to the project from the Sobell Foundation and the Brighton and Worthing Charitable Trust. The total amount raised for the project is £305,500.

This project uses archive materials from the home of the founder of the charity, Leonard Cheshire, called ‘Le Court’ which was adapted for its disabled residents. Le Court had a film unit, radio station, publishers, archive and artists group run by disabled people and played a significant role in the beginnings of the disability rights movement.

Stephanie Nield, Leonard Cheshire Disability Archivist, said:
“We have such a rich and diverse archive and as a result, the heritage we hold from Le Court forms a unique part of a rarely documented social and disability history.

“Our founder, Leonard Cheshire, started our charity in 1948 with a single act of kindness when he took disabled veteran Arthur Dykes into his own home to care for him. This is an important step in helping us shape our history to share this dynamic story with the world.”

Stuart McLeod, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South East, said: “Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players we’re able to support Leonard Cheshire Disability’s project that will explore, raise awareness and share the heritage of disabled people over the last 70 years. This is particularly timely as 2015 marks the 20th anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act – so it’s the perfect time to uncover this largely hidden part of our history.”

A community engagement programme is also planned and will run in six locations in the Home Counties of Surrey, West Sussex, Essex and Kent with trained volunteers assisting community groups to share memories and experiences. Volunteers will also record the oral histories of people who had contact with and experience of the charity Leonard Cheshire Disability, as well as capturing the experience of disabled people over seventy years.

The project will increase the opportunities for of disabled people to talk about and share their experiences of care and capture a unique part of UK social history.

ENDS

For further information, images and interviews, please contact Selina Mills in the Press Office on 020 3242 0298 or on Selina.Mills@leonardcheshire.org

Notes to editors

The Heritage Lottery Fund
Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk @heritagelottery

Leonard Cheshire Disability is the UK’s largest voluntary sector provider of services to disabled people. We support thousands of people with physical and learning disabilities in the UK and we work with Cheshire partner organisations in 54 countries around the world. We campaign for change and provide innovative services that give disabled people the opportunity to live life their way. Visit www.leonardcheshire.org

 Posted by at 23:02