May 272015

Soap stars and disabled campaigners have teamed up to produce a short film about what the closure of the Independent Living Fund means to disabled people and why the public should get behind calls to keep it open.

To watch the film and sign the petition go to:



 Posted by at 13:26
May 252015

Independent Living Fund

Frequently Asked Questions for Independent Living Fund ( ILF ) users and other people with High Support Needs

This has been written for people who do not have a legal background. However, any individual who is considering legal action in relation to problems with their support should not rely only on this guide but should seek specialist advice, including legal advice.

These FAQs have been prepared by Kate Whittaker[1] together with DPAC supporters who are ILF users, Inclusion London and Disability Sheffield Centre for Independent Living. Individuals and local groups are welcome to re-use extracts and are free to copy it and send it round by email. If extracts of the paper are used in other publications please state that the content was taken from this guide.

The full document can be downloaded from

[1] Kate is a consultant solicitor at Scott-Moncrieff & Associates, a national firm of solicitors specialising in community care, public law, mental capacity and other civil liberties work. Scott-Moncrieff & Associates have a franchise with the Legal Aid Agency to provide legal aid work in these areas.  Kate also provides independent legal consultancy and training. She specialises in cases involving disabled adults and children and others who need care and support from public bodies. As well as working as a solicitor Kate works closely with a number of disabled people’s organisations providing advocacy and other services, including Disability Sheffield where she is a trustee.

 Posted by at 20:22
May 252015

Following Benefits and Work’s article about a claimant negotiating with Maximus to use an up to date ESA50 form for a Work Capability Assessment  (rather than using an ESA50 Form completed 2 years earlier), there has been much debate about how this situation arose. A number of scenarios have been considered, but in the absence of evidence, it has been difficult to establish who was responsible for this state of affairs and whether it was really a legacy from the Atos period.

A recent interesting case has been brought to the attention of DPAC, which demonstrates that it is absolutely essential for claimants to refuse to undergo a WCA without first completing an ESA50, and to refuse to undergo a WCA with an ESA50 submitted for an earlier assessment.

One claimant, who we will call John, was recently invited for a Work Capability Assessment and DWP decided he was not entitled to ESA based on the WCA and a 2 year old ESA50 form. Following this, John requested a Mandatory Reconsideration, which failed as DWP upheld their initial decision, leaving him with no other option than to lodge an Appeal.

If you think this is bad, it is going to get much worse.  John had already undergone a Work Capability Assessment 2 years earlier, using the very same ESA50 for the first time. He was refused ESA, and as it was prior to the introduction of Mandatory Reconsiderations, he was able to directly appeal the decision.   The tribunal overturned DWP’s decision and decided that John was entitled to ESA.

In other words, an ESA50 form which was instrumental in a decision, overturned by a tribunal, to deny John of his entitlement to ESA, has been used again, and has led again to John being denied ESA. How can this not be unlawful?

Even if we assume that neither Atos nor Maximus would have been aware of the WCA outcome in John’s case (or in any other claimant’s case), or aware of whether claimants had lodged a tribunal appeal resulting in a reversed ESA outcome, this scenario still had to be a distinct possibility for them to consider, when deciding to reuse a 2 year old ESA50 form.

Furthermore, it is very clearly stated on the ESA50 form that the claimant should be prepared to undergo the Work Capability Assessment within 3 months of the ESA50 being returned.  Although no statutory time limit has been set as to the validity of the medical information gathered in the ESA50, by their very nature illnesses change over time and so does their impact on a person’s functional ability. This is the very argument that the DWP uses to justify making people attend multiple WCAs. It is therefore essential that the most up to date evidence is available to those making the assessment and making the decisions.


In practice, no claimant should agree to undergo a WCA without first submitting an ESA50 form with the most recent medical information.  Go back to Maximus and ask them for a new ESA50 form. Ultimately, the legal power to require evidence rests with the DWP and not Maximus.

DPAC would be interested in what Sue Marsh has to say about this apparent new twist on denying disabled people support

 Posted by at 08:31
May 242015

posted from

@refuted with thanks

There are reports that Jobcentres are refusing to allow people attending Jobcentre appointments to be accompanied by representatives, including family members or friends.

Below is a draft letter based upon DWP policy on ‘Working with representatives‘ and a DWP FOI response about being accompanied at Jobcentre appointments.

If you have a health or disability related reason for needing to be accompanied at a Jobcentre, you can also add to the draft letter below something like:

‘I am making this request to be accompanied and supported at the Jobcentre under the Equality Act as a reasonable adjustment, due to my health and or disability related needs’

It is recommended to attach a copy of the DWP FOI response: to your letter.

—– draft letter——-

Dear Jobcentre Plus,

RE: Support at Jobcentre appointments

I am writing to advise that I want my representative [name of supporter/organisation] to attend Jobcentre appointments with me for support and act upon my behalf with regards my benefit claim(s).

This request is in accordance with your own ‘Working with representatives‘ policy, which can be viewed at:

Attached is a letter from the DWP [Your Ref: 634] that gives a summary of your ‘Working with representatives’ policy, which confirms I can have a representative “accompany” me at Jobcentre appointments, for sake of clarification your policy says a representative can be:

– advice or welfare rights organisations
– professionals such as social workers, community nurses or doctors
– family members or friends

Yours faithfully


Notes: When possible it is highly recommended to make a formal request, to be accompanied at a Jobcentre appointment, in advance. You could do so by phoneor email, or at an actual Jobcentre appointment and follow up the request with a letter, including a copy of the FOI response:


 Posted by at 14:23
May 222015

A very interesting FOI response from DWP has arrived today. The FOI request is here

But what interest us is the first statement of the FOI request and the response.

The first statement is as follows:

‘I have become aware that a number of people allocated to the ESA Support Group (“SG”) have been told in writing that they must attend a JCP office and bring passport and bank details with them. I further understand that they have been told that if they do not comply they are putting their benefits at risk. It seems that only those that were able to call the JCP were then told that the required information could be supplied by post. Please provide the following information: Q1. Which organisation(s) within the DWP are authorised to demand such information as described above from ESA claimants in the SG? It is my understanding that administrative checks of this nature fall within the scope of performance management officers. The only other organisation I can think of that might reasonably need such information is the fraud and error service.’

This is one example of the kind of form sent to ESA claimants in the Support Group (click on the picture to see it better):


DWP response is very clear: ‘In respect of your first statement the department issued in error some letters using an incorrect template, this was around November and December 2014. Once this error was realised the letters were withdrawn and the customers affected were contacted with an apology letter. Unfortunately we do not know the number of incorrect letters issued and the incorrect letters were destroyed’.


What does that mean? It does not mean that DWP cannot check your personal details to see whether you are claiming the right amount of benefits. It is perfectly legitimate for it to do so. However, the DWP has two dedicated teams whose job is to deal with this aspect of benefits.

The first is the Fraud and Error Team and its reasons for checking are self-explanatory. The Second is the Performance Management Team where random checks are carried out by Performance Management Officers (“PMO”) as part of a DWP quality assurance process.

2 FOIs requests are attached below, to explain what the performance management process is about and what are your rights if you are contacted by a member of the performance management team. It is important to remember that you don’t have to let a PMO into your home or talk to them if they simply turn up without an appointment. You can arrange for the meeting to take place at a DWP office or perhaps somewhere else where you feel comfortable. If you feel unable to cope with an interview you can suggest that you provide the requested information by post as it would be a reasonable adjustment under the Equality Act given your circumstances.  

Given that the DWP has dedicated teams that look at benefit claims from the perspective of quality assurance, error and fraud it seems strange that a local JCP office would duplicate these activities.  The confirmation by the DWP that the incorrect letters were issued suggests that JCP offices should not be issuing letters of the type shown above. So, what could you do if you receive a letter like the one shown above from a JCP office and don’t feel able or want to attend?


Don’t ignore the letter. Write back to the JCP office (make sure you keep a copy of your letter and get free proof of postage at the post office) to explain that you won’t be attending the interview for the following reasons:

  1. You are in the ESA Support Group and therefore not subject to conditionality such as work-focused interviews.
  2. Given that the DWP has dedicated teams that deal with quality assurance, error and fraud you have reasonably concluded that the real purpose of the letter is to scare you into attending a work-focus interview and that is harassment (under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997) and that the DWP must immediately cease and desist from any further acts of harassment.
  3. The DWP is seeking to obtain personal data without explaining why it wants it, what it intends to do with it and on what legal basis you are ‘required’ to provide it. This is a breach of the Data Protection Act 1998.
  4. State that you will always provide any information that is a statutory requirement in respect of your benefit claim but the DWP must seek to obtain it lawfully and by people whose job it is to collect and verify it.


To summarise, as ESA claimants in the Support Group, you are not subject to any conditionality. If you are asked to attend a Work Related Interview, or a Group Session, as an ESA claimant in the Support Group, you can refuse as these are voluntary, and ask not to be contacted again if this causes you any distress.

If you are unsure about your rights, seek advice. Never ignore a DWP letter, but don’t assume that DWP or a JCP Offfice always know what it is doing.


The 2 FOIs requests which explain what are your rights regarding DWP Performance Management Assurance Quality:




 Posted by at 21:05
May 202015

If you have been sanctioned for not engaging in work related activity or threatened with a sanction while on employment support allowance-we want to hear from you for a potential legal challenge. Please email us at:

We all know what sanctions do to people; we all know that sanctions have led to needless, avoidable and unforgivable deaths.  With sanctions for those on employment support allowance increasing (up 25%), with 50,000 of those sanctions imposed for not engaging in a work related activity with some affecting mental health users- Its beyond time to act against this outrage

For those facing sanctions we also provide some practical info from @refuted below.

All info is up to date although stats are now out of date

With many thanks to refuted for the info


May 192015

To be or not to be a vulnerable person?

By Anne Novis


I am ‘vulnerable.’


This is what the law says as I am a disabled person, a wheelchair user and a person who receives care support.


Yet I do not feel I am and I do not feel that treating me as such does justice to who I am as a person or what I experience around hate crime. It certainly does not enable justice through the police or courts.


I could go on about my feelings on this, how disempowering it feels, how such a label does not in any way ensure I get the responses I should get when experiencing hostility due to being a disabled person. Suffice to say it’s not a description I find acceptable to be labelled.


I, like all of you reading this, can be in vulnerable situations, where someone decides for whatever reason to target us for a crime. They will usually assess their own risk first for any type of crime against anyone. It’s normal. Yet for some reason around disability justice agencies think it becomes an acceptable ‘reason’ in its own right for doing the crime,  a reason that then puts the onus on the disabled person rather then the perpetrator.


Yet if someone targets me because I am a  ‘vulnerable’ person is that not hate crime?


In my opinion it is if the act is directly about me being a disabled person.


Yet statutory agencies find it hard to get their heads around this, they think that if a ‘vulnerable’ person, or adult at risk, is targeted it’s due to no more then that, being ‘vulnerable’.


To me whatever term or word is used if someone targets me for that reason then I perceive that as a hate crime or incident.


Lets look at this another way, if I dress differently, say as a Goth and I am verbally abused due to my perceived difference, is that hate crime? Some say yes, it is being recognised as a type of hate crime. If I am from a culture, race, religion or have a sexuality that’s perceived as somewhat different from what others may perceive as the norm and then targeted due to that perceived difference then that too is recognised easily as hate crime.


Yet for disabled people if we are deemed as ‘vulnerable’ or ‘adults at risk’, and often we are, and targeted for a crime it’s not automatically understood as hate crime.


Why not I have to ask?


Yes it is easier for criminals to target some disabled people because we may be perceived as ‘less able’ an ‘easy target’ or ‘easily misled’.


But what is behind such crime?


What is motivating the offence, what language, behaviour, or prejudice?


Is it for the victim to just accept they are ‘vulnerable’ or an ‘adult at risk’ and therefore change the way they live?


A focus on perceived vulnerability when addressing hostility against disabled people is a distraction from what is really occurring.


Looking at why a perpetrator decides to target a disabled person, the context, timing, language is necessary but at the end of the day they have targeted a disabled person for a crime and therefore automatically a presumption that this is more then likely a hate crime needs to be the first thought when recorded and investigated.


In the CPS guidance on hostility and vulnerability it states:

‘It can be simpler, more intuitive, to proceed on the basis of vulnerability but an inappropriate focus on vulnerability risks enhancing an already negative image of disabled people as inherently “weak”, “easy targets” and “dependent” requiring society’s protection. Instead, the focus ought to be on enforcing the victim’s right to justice and scrutinising the offender’s behaviour, prejudices and hostility so that the case is properly investigated and prosecuted for what it is.’

Yet how many police officers read this guidance, have any understanding of the types of hostility disabled people experience?

Very few, for the focus is on ‘vulnerability’ rather then Hate Crime, ‘Safeguarding’ rather then prosecution and justice.

Another example is bullying, many of us can be bullied as children in the playground at school, and there are extensive actions in place to address this now.

Yet when a disabled person, an adult, is bullied many think this is just a fact of life, even the disabled person due to the lack of appropriate responses they get when reporting it.

I was told once by a police officer when reporting that I had been verbally abused as a disabled person “What do you expect? You just have to ignore it and toughen up”. A comment I recall from school days.

Yet as adults is it ever acceptable to bully another adult? I think not and again this is a type of hostility against disabled people that needs recognition as disability hate crime for you only have to read a couple of case studies to understand how easily ‘bullying’ can lead to violence, torture or murder of a disabled person.

As victims we are already changing the way we live, some isolate themselves, never go out alone, and are anxious and fearful, find ways to hide themselves from the notice of others for fear of what abuse they may experience. I know because I do this myself at times and hear it from so many disabled people. Focusing on us as ‘vulnerable’ adds another burden upon us, for no matter what I, or others may do, this perception will be a barrier between us and justice.

It frustrates me immensely that in my work advising justice agencies again and again the issue of ‘vulnerability’ becomes a stumbling block in the work on Disability hate crime. Yet another hurdle to be overcome before we as disabled people can rightly get the justice we deserve as fellow human beings.

It is the perpetrators action and behaviour against disabled people that needs more focused attention by police and the courts. Protection comes when we are assured of appropriate policing and justice, they go together, but never should the focus just be on protection, or safeguarding, for we need the police to investigate and understand that just as in other types of hate crime we are being targeted due to being disabled people.

So I am not a ‘vulnerable’ person, I am a human being who has a right to expect police and justice agencies to address my experiences as I perceive them and to also recognise what is really happening rather then accepting hostility against disabled people as something that cannot be changed because being a ‘vulnerable person’ means its to be expected, as though I am somehow at fault, inherently and automatically a lesser being, one who needs ‘protecting’ rather then justice.

The CPS guidance explains it as do I:

‘When the nature of a person’s disability makes it easier for the offender to commit a particular offence, police and prosecutors often focus on the victim being “vulnerable”, an “easy target” and no further thought is given to the issue of hostility.

This approach is wrong.’ (my emphasis)

Then goes onto to explain:

Targeting a particular person to be the victim of an offence, because they are black or gay or disabled is often, but not always, a clear indication of hostility (unfriendliness, ill-will etc) based on race, sexual orientation or disability. Seeing the particular disabled person as an easy target for a particular criminal offence, does not alter this. The victim is still being targeted specifically because of their disability.


‘Prosecutors must therefore explore fully the surrounding context of an offence committed against a disabled person, so that the true nature of the offence can be put before the court. There will be cases in which there is no other reasonable explanation, other than that the offender’s hostility was based on disability. This is particularly so in cases of abuse, violence or other offensive conduct as these offences tend to carry inbuilt within them the demonstration of hostility. For that hostility to be based on disability is but a short evidential step in many cases.

In other cases the question may be asked: what other explanation can there be? Let the defendant give his explanation and let the court decide. Courts are entitled to draw a reasonable inference that hostility based on disability was the whole or partial motivating factor.’

This guidance was produced in consultation with disabled people, we have yet to see it make much difference to the way police respond on the ground ensuring they record, flag, investigate fully so a prosecution could take place. We need to ensure it does make a difference by challenging the perception around perceived vulnerability.


CPS Guidance on Prosecuting Disability Hate Crime –

Hostility, Vulnerability sections







 Posted by at 19:41
May 192015

It has been very difficult to find out what is really happening regarding people being called for a Work Capability Assessment who may not have submitted an ESA50 form. This is a form that you fill in and is sent to you after the first initial phone contact to apply for  Employment Support Allowance. The issuing of the ESA50 form is automated and systematic in almost all cases. But we are hearing of people going to assessments who haven’t filled out this form or received it, also from people that filled out the form 1-2 years before their assessment.


We would like to ask people in this situation to contact us.  What we are specifically interested in, is to know whether Employment Support Allowance claimants had ever submitted an ESA50 form, at any time before being asked to attend a Work Capability Assessment, even if it was as far as 2 years ago.


In your response, could you specify whether you are claiming Employment Support Allowance  for the first time or whether it is a reassessment? And whether you have ever submitted  an ESA50 form at any time? And please could you be as precise as you can regarding the dates.

Thank you for you time.

 Posted by at 15:45
May 172015

If you get care funding from your local council this is often not free and you will have to have a financial assessment to see how much they will ask you to pay towards your care. In order to reduce the amount you have to pay for your care here is a list of Disability Related Expenses which they should disregard as available income, thus reducing the amount they ask you to pay.

These are not costs you can claim for.

This is not an exhaustive list and if there are any glaring omissions please let us know.

On the ILF email group we’ve been chatting about Disability Related Expenditure and I have collated people’s suggestions which have been very helpful.


It was suggested that to prove something is a “disability related expenditure”, not an expense that non – disabled people would also have, we could also give the reason why someone says that it is “disability related” e.g you could argue that a food processor is a “disability related” expense if you have an impairment which causes difficulties with chopping fruit/vegetables – by having the food processor it means that you don’t have to rely on another person to help you preparing / making meals. (although this example is useful bear in mind that it could lead to your care funding being reduced if social services decided the food processor meant you didn’t need any other support)


You could argue that, as a visually impaired person, you need a large print crossword book, which costs more than a regular crossword book. The difference in price would be the disability related expenditure.


A lot of councils will not take transport cost into account because they can’t take the mobility component into account – but if you can demonstrate that your full mobility component goes on the hire of your vehicle, then you can argue that fuel costs are a disability related expenditure as there is no other suitable alternative transport.


There are definitely many expenses that people don’t even think of, or expenses that people find hard to justify to the council – so giving a list of expenditure with reasons why they are “disability related” can often swing it.


And here are some list


Disability related expenditure list

Wheelchair insurance

Community Alarm Electric and gas 30 % ( Heating, Laundry due to arthritis/pain/health)


Electrical Gadgets – all of which use more electricity then non-disabled people would need to use

Recliner chair

Mobile – needed for safety reasons

Computer/Broadband – social/voluntary activities /computer equipment (mouse/dropped regularly and needing replacement)


Stair lifts

Door opener/Intercom/remote control door opener

Two Closimat toilets

Wheel chair charging

Mobile phone charges

Adapted Car – use extra diesel for adaptations i.e. ramp, drivers seat, door openers

Health insurance


Replacement Equipment aids Costs
Heat pads

Hot water bottles



Lap Trays – activities/meals/computer


Special mattress


Wheel chair covers

Tens Machine – Batteries & Pad


PA Costs

– Hand wash

– Alcohol gel

– Toilet roll

– Hot water

– Kettle

– Drinks

– Protective/medical gloves and aprons

– Transport costs in order to escort on public transport

– Breakages

– Holiday costs of taking PA as well – 1 week allowed


 Live in Carer potential costs

New Carpet

Electric costs

Gas costs






Travel to GP, Nurse and hospital appointments

– Neurology

– Eye Clinic

– Euro gynaecology

– Pain clinic

– Operations

– Chiropody


– Antiseptic Creams


General Outgoings



TV costs

Shopping – internet deliveries (again be careful with this as social services may say you don’t need care to go shopping and point out you need someone to put food away for you anytime within a 2 hour delivery slot).

Food costs and dietary needs including more frequent small meals or meals which may need to be left for people to reheat.

Extra costs of things like clothes and shoes – the difference between cheap ones -from-primark and something-which-actually-works.

Extra washing powder, more expensive washing powders or fabric softeners.

Pet insurance if an assistance dog

Rent above levels paid in benefits

Mortgage payments if property is larger than a non-disabled person would need. ie. room needed for PA or equipment storage

Water rates

Household insurance for appliances relating to impairment

Servicing of any aids or equipment

Wheelchair insurance



Having to put money aside for future needs eg. repairs to equipment, deposit for Motability vehicle etc ( look at last 2-3 years ).


There is advice on the Age UK website, of which this is an extract:

Taking disability-related expenditure into account

If the local authority decides to take into account your disability-related benefits, it must also take into account your disability-related expenditure in the means test.

This is confirmed in Annex C of the statutory guidance where it is stated that you should be allowed to keep enough benefit to pay for necessary disability related expenditure to meet any needs that are not being met by the local authority. A similar requirement is made in the charging regulations.


Some local authorities disregard set amounts to take account of disability- related expenditure partly to avoid having to ask questions that might be considered intrusive. The amount that is disregarded varies from authority to authority. However if you consider your disability related costs are greater than this set amount you can ask for a full assessment of your costs.


The statutory guidance provides an indicative list of disability-related expenditure examples. It is not possible for the list to be comprehensive as it will vary from person to person. When being assessed to see how much you can pay, you should consider everything you have to buy because of your disability. This could, for example, include:


lextra washing, or special washing power and conditioner for delicate skin;

lcommunity alarms (pendant or wrist);
lspecial diet;
lspecial clothing or footwear (or extra wear and tear);

ladditional bedding;
lextra heating costs;
lhousehold maintenance (if you would normally have done it yourself);

lany cleaning (if not part of your care plan);

linternet access;
lany care that social services do not meet;
lbuying and maintaining disability-related equipment; or

Factsheet 46lApril 2015
Paying for care and support at home

22 of 48

lany transport costs (both for essential visits to the doctor or hospital, but also to keep up social contacts).


It can be difficult to prove you have extra costs if you have not actually incurred those expenses, for example, if you have not put the heating on for fear of large bills, or are not following a special diet because of the cost. Local authorities should work out an amount considered to be normal expenditure on heating, for example, for your area and type of housing to assist them in their response to if you claim disability-related expenditure in this context, or what you would spend if you weren’t avoiding it out of fear of high expenditure.


There may be other costs that should be accepted.

The courts have confirmed that local authorities should not be inflexible but should always consider individual circumstances. For example, an authority should not adopt a blanket policy of refusing to acknowledge any payments made to close relatives, as there may exceptional reasons for a particular arrangement. In one case the local authority was criticised for not properly carrying out an assessment of the person’s disability related expenditure by doing a home visit, and for rejecting some items of expenditure such as swimming lessons and paying the carer to accompany him on holiday. Such costs should be considered if they are reasonable expenditure needed for independent living.’2

Additional suggestions

communication aid configuration, mounting , unmounting and charging up

private therapies including massage for either pain relief or anxiety

Dressings for self injury and extra water (OCD)

ready meals when unable to cook

pets – insurance and food – for acompanionship and to feel safe.



 Posted by at 21:04
May 162015

We are looking for a case study we could meet and film in the London area about the Universal Credit & Sanctions. TF1 is the leading broadcaster in France and its prime time news programme attracts on average 8 million viewers a day and broadcasts to some 500,000 Britons currently living in France. TF1 broadcasts globally to the French speaking world (Belgium, Luxembourg, Monaco, Switzerland and North African countries).

Please get in touch with DPAC if you can help at:


 Posted by at 15:06
May 152015

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) are looking for disabled people to speak to a national newspaper about problems they have had with zero hours contracts. If you think you might be willing to speak to the paper please contact

Even if you don’t want to speak to the paper but have information you are willing to share with DPAC please email.

Your information might, for example, cover:

– not being granted reasonable adjustments

– the impact of zero hours contracts on your impairment or health

– the impact of being disabled on your ability to meet your zero hours contract

– being dismissed

– ill-treatment in the workplace

– financial problems

– being pressured into a zero hours contract by JCP/DWP


Thank you for any help you can give.







May 142015

So Justin Tomlinson is the new Minister for Disabled people, the 5th Minister in 5 years. Much has been said over the past few days about his voting record, but what is maybe more striking is his total lack of interest in disability issues as evidenced by his Parliamentary record. This did not prevent him voting, and sometimes very strongly, in a way which has made life much more difficult for disabled people, either in favour of the bedroom tax, against raising benefits in line with prices, or paying higher benefits over longer periods for those unable to work due to illness or disability etc.

The press and social media have picked up on two of his most inhuman votes in the House of Commons:

The refusal to make an exception for those with a cancer diagnosis or undergoing cancer treatment from the 365 day limit on receiving contributions-based Employment and Support Allowance, which means that these claimants are only entitled to one year of support, and to refuse to set the lower rate of the Universal Credit payment in relation to disabled children and young people at a minimum of two-thirds of the higher rate.  Read a very good article by Jenny Morris which explains the twisted thinking behind it

Nor does he seem to be very keen on human rights and equality for all, and voted in 2012 to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998, and to remove the duty of the CEHR (Commission for Equality and Human Rights) to work to support the development of a society where people’s ability to achieve their potential is not limited by prejudice or discrimination and there is respect for human rights.  Put otherwise, he is not opposed per se to prejudice or discrimination.

His full voting record is here: What a nice chap!


While there is no doubt that the new Minister for Disabled People is not of the progressive type, his voting record reveals what has been the main objective of this government over the past five years, which is to reduce the welfare bill and specifically the disability benefits component. Behind all the rhetoric of disabled people being stuck on disability benefits (disproved by statistics), of disability being a ‘lifestyle’ choice, and of helping disabled people to achieve their potential by ‘helping’ them get a job, what his appointment highlights is one of the greatest failures of this government. After tightening even further a disability assessment devised under Labour and geared to reduce the claimant count by 1 million, after restricting the duration of entitlement for people receiving contributions based ESA to 365 days, after putting disabled people through 4.8 million assessments, and after applying sanctions to 3000 disabled people each and every month as admitted by McVey in her evidence to the W&P Committee  Q248 , the claimant count today is roughly similar to what it was in 2010 and the government had to constantly revise its expenditure forecasts. 

Not only is the number of disability benefit claimants on the rise, but contrary to what the government would like us to believe, the number of disabled people who moved into work, although on the rise, has not narrowed the gap between the employment rate of disabled and non disabled people. And all this in spite of a very visible government campaign #disabilityconfident, which has made no difference whatsoever.  At the same time, the government has been reducing the support disabled people need to work or to go to work: Access to Work has been initially reduced and now capped, the Independent Living Fund will close at the end of June 2015, and 3,000 out of 8,000 users have lost their motability vehicles following the introduction of PIP.


With this appointment, the government is flying its true colours. But disabled people have proved to be proud and defiant. They have not gone away quietly. They have been fighting, challenging the government and exposing it for what it is.  Whether it is on the streets or on social media, disabled people have made disability a visible issue, and have exposed the callousness of this government.  With £12bn of welfare cuts in the pipeline, the fight must go on.

 Posted by at 18:16
May 112015

Secret Changes to Motability Grant Making Conditions – People needed for Legal Challenge

Motability have introduced changes to their grant making conditions discriminating against disabled people with the highest support needs who are unable to work for a minimum of 12 hours a week, carry out at least 12 hours voluntary work (which apparently can’t be internet based but has to be outside the home and doesn’t include travelling time), are not in education for at least 12 hours a week and who need specialised adaptations to transfer to drive or drive-from-wheelchair vehicles.

These changes have not been made publicly known or advertised to current customers in any way about who is eligible for a grant and the changes were made without any consultation.

We understand these changes were made from June 1st this year but customers are only being told about them when they enquire about a grant for a replacement vehicle.

The impact of these changes which affects those with the highest and most costly needs are potentially life-changing. It could well prevent people having contact with family (let alone friends) if they live in a rural area with little or no transport, it means anyone who can only travel with equipment like hoists. Oxygen cylinders and other bulky items won’t be able to go anywhere. It also ignores the fact that with other cuts to services people will not be able to ensure they have the physical support from someone else to drive them.

We have sought legal advice to see whether these changes can be challenged as discriminatory and now need to hear from anyone who is or would be affected by these changes in the near future and who would qualify for legal aid. In particular we want to hear from anyone who currently does not have a vehicle and has been refused the right to apply for grant funding.

If you think you might be affected by these changes and are willing to consider taking legal action then please contact us at


 Posted by at 20:33
May 082015

The devastating results show an electoral system in disarray and a Britain at odds with its own best interests. While Scotland and SNP came out firmly against austerity and Westminster politics resulting in them sweeping the board, Labour counted on middle England and left the base of its roots. Today disabled people, the unemployed, the low paid, the old, and children face more uncertainty and fear. Yet, in this election we have also seen new smaller parties rise up, these parties are going to get stronger. The political landscape is changing, not as fast as we would like, but its changing.

There were some good points McVey lost her seat, Farage resigned. The Lib Dems were almost wiped out, and Clegg has gone as leader. This is without doubt a comment on their collusion with Tories as they took a lot of Labour voters in the 2010 election. The polls were staggeringly wrong, with the first sign of this unbelievable result coming in the exit polls last night.

But disabled people are proud and strong, we will not give up. DPAC will increase its fight, its protests and improve its methods, because now we’re at war, fighting for our lives and futures. The Tories now have to back up their ‘growing economy’ myth, the right wing press will continue to be challenged with more alternatives and social media becoming the commentary that people trust. The much publicised UN inquiry will focus on the Tories and we will show the devastation and erosion of rights that the Tories have caused to an international platform. We can’t give up, but must fight harder, until every hardship, every death and every misery has been exposed and accounted for. It’s not the end-this is a new beginning-and we’re ready but we need all disabled people and our allies to stand firm and fight back even harder than you have done in the last five years. Apathy is not an option any of us can now afford

 Posted by at 13:57
May 072015

1)  If AtW contact you offering to investigate and resolve your complaint, reply to AtW saying that you want PHSO to finish their investigation.  2)  If AtW offer to pay back money they owe you, then you can say “yes please, pay back money that is owed”, but that you consider the complaint unresolved until the PHSO have finished their investigation.  3)  Send AtW’s email and your reply to the PHSO.  If you have any questions, contact DeafATW.comDeafATW has just been told that AtW are contacting people who have complained the the PHSO, and we thought it important we share this information with you quickly.

When you complain to PHSO, they tell AtW what you are complaining about and ask for information about your case.

Some Deaf people have said that after the PHSO contacted AtW, AtW contacted them offering to resolve their complaint by paying money that is owed and saying sorry.

If this happens to you, and you accept AtW’s offer to resolve your complaint,  AtW may tell the PHSO that they should stop their investigation.

AtW may want to stop the PHSO investigating your complaint, because the PHSO will make public thethings that AtW have done wrong, and will tell them what they need to do to put it right.

If the PHSO don’t finish investigating your complaint, AtW might not make changes to stop these problems happening to you, or other people, again.

Of course, it is up to you what you want to do if AtW contact you, but DeafATW’s suggestion is:

1)  If AtW contact you offering to investigate and resolve your complaint, reply to AtW saying that you want PHSO to finish their investigation.

2)  If AtW offer to pay back money they owe you, then you can say “yes please, pay back money that is owed”, but that you consider the complaint unresolved until the PHSO have finished their investigation.

3)  Send AtW’s email and your reply to the PHSO.

If you have any questions, contact

 Posted by at 12:36
May 072015
The question of mental health under the previous government’s austerity policies has taken a vital new twist. Please find a new press open letter touching on this in Monday’s Guardian, here >>

In the accompanying newspaper report, we read that <<…A [Cons] party source added: “Every suicide is a tragedy, but the latest available data shows that the rate is now the same as in 2003 and has been relatively stable during successive governments in the intervening period.” >>

This rebuttal appears in today’s “i” newspaper – not available online >>


Having announced their £12 billion of welfare cuts nearly two years ago, any responsible government would have long since devised clear plans for implementing them (6 May). The Conservatives are also being equally disingenuous about the impact of their austerity policies on Britain’s suicide rate, having recently publicly denied that there has been any spike in the data. This denial flies in the face of all the empirical evidence. Extensive international epidemiological evidence shows a clear and consistent causal link between austerity policies and suicide rates. With the Conservatives returned to office and these cuts imposed, Britain’s suicide rate would soar to previously unheard-of levels.
Dr Richard House
Chartered Psychologist, Stroud; Alliance for Counselling and Psychotherapy

Could you please circulate this link and letter far and wide to all your contacts ASAP, and ask them all to do the same… – that way, we can maximise the extent to which voters know about this scandalous issue before voting today.
Thanks for your support on this crucial issue.

The Alliance for Counselling and Psychotherapy
 Posted by at 12:16
May 062015

DPAC are very happy to post this update from Anthony’s friend and advocate, Joe Whittaker:


5 May 2015 — Dear Supporters,

I have just returned from a visit to see Anthony in Dublin.

Anthony is delighted that within the coming weeks he is going to be in his own home with his own support staff and enjoying his chosen lifestyle, once again.
A bungalow in his local and family neighbourhood has been found. The process of Anthony recruiting his own pa’s has started. ALL staff will be given full and ongoing training in Anthony’s communication – essential ingredient, for Anthony to direct his own life, with the support he requires.

Anthony is very much aware that there will be struggles to overcome to re establish his independent life but he has an absolute determination that he will achieve it given the recently established, and hard won, positive climate, which Anthony and his family know would not have happened without your warm and very practical support.

Anthony intends to post many photos when he is in his own home celebrating his and your victory.

Will keep you posted

Joe Whittaker
Friend of Anthony Kletzander


 Posted by at 10:10
May 042015

People with disabilities or a long-term illness, having borne the brunt of welfare cuts in this Parliament, fear what will happen after the General Election. With the Conservatives promising a further £12 billion cuts without specifying where the axe would fall, they fear the worst.

Disabled people wrote an open letter, signed by many celebrities and prominent figures, which appeared in the Guardian. You can view it here. They want it be read by as many people as possible, so it is also published here.

“The general election is upon us. In 21st century Britain we like to think we live in an equal and fair society, but equality is hard won. There was a time when women chained themselves to railings for their right to vote, a time when gay people were imprisoned and when signs proclaimed “No blacks, no dogs, no Irish”. All have had to fight for their right to equality. Disabled people are fighting too, but not simply for equality – for their very survival.

“A third of disabled adults already live in poverty. Disabled people and those needing social care have already been hit up to 19 times harder by cuts than others. Under the Conservative-led coalition every aspect of their support has been reduced, abolished or failed, costing the taxpayer and costing lives. But just weeks before the election we discover through a leaked document that the Tories plan £12bn more cuts to social security, including disability benefits (Report, 30 March).

“The UN is said to be conducting a confidential inquiry into “grave or systemic violations” of the human rights of disabled people in the UK. If these cuts went ahead it would be a further breach of the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, which the UK ratified in 2009, with cross-party support. Every week we learn of more people who have lost their lives, many others will follow if more support is stripped away.

“The Institute for Fiscal Studies has said the chancellor must specify how he will reach the targets. Yet George Osborne, David Cameron, Theresa May, Matthew Hancock and David Gauke have all doggedly refused to give any details before the election. Iain Duncan Smith has said: “We may, we may not, decide that it’s relevant to put something out there about some of those changes.”

“It is unfair and irresponsible to conceal changes that may heavily impact the lives of those who have already been hit the hardest. Perhaps they think disabled people are an easy target, becausemisleading articles and the rhetoric of “scroungers” and “skivers” has skewed public perception of people who need support. But more and more, people are becoming aware of how unfairly disabled people have been treated. The tide is turning.

“Disabled people wrote an open letter calling on politicians to stop any further cuts which would increase their already profound social and economic disadvantage and asked the public to show their support. We, like those before us, are prepared to fight until disabled people are treated equally and difference doesn’t matter anymore.

“Armando Ianucci Writer, director, producer, Bianca Jagger Council of Europe goodwill ambassador, Founder Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, Michael Sheen Actor, director, Peter Tatchell Human rights campaigner, Dominic Minghella Screenwriter, Aamer Anwar, Criminal defence solicitor, Human rights campaigner, Rev Andy Smith Ecumenical Dean of Telford, Richard Hughes Drummer, Keane, Sophie Christiansen Triple gold medallist, London 2012 Paralympic Games, Steve Peers Professor of human rights law, Jonathon Tomlinson GP NIHR research fellow, Eddi Reader Musician, Professor Peter Beresford Professor of social policy, Brunel University, London, Cherylee Houston Actor, Dr Sam Majumdar Consultant surgeon Dundee, Surgical advisor Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh, Francesca Martinez Comedian, author, campaigner, Deborah Bowman Professor of ethics and law St George’s, University of London, Terry Christian Broadcaster, Dr Simon Duffy Director, The Centre for Welfare Reform, Lisa Hammond Actor, Jonathan Bartley Green party spokesperson on work and pensions, Rabbi Debbie Young-Somers, Dr Kailash Chand, Rev Fr Patrick Brennan Priest, archdiocese of Birmingham, Cameron McNeish Broadcaster, author, Bill Bowring Barrister, professor of law, Birkbeck, University of London”

The letter is linked to a petition which you can sign here to show your solidarity and support.

This Open letter was published first  in the Guardian

 Posted by at 22:23
May 022015

So the election has been boring, dull, achingly, sickeningly drawn out utter utter grot.

But the songs we’ve seen that have been written for the election have been great !! So we are sharing them with you below……

If you know of any more good election or political songs that we’ve missed, add a link below in the comments or mail them to:

Warning: these songs contain swearing………………..

A lot of swearing.

Really, these these songs contain a lot of naughty words.

The sort of words that you really don’t want to see used on TV when you are watching it with your mother.

Or a nun. Not that many of us watch TV with nuns of course, that was just an example of the sort of people you don’t want to play these songs in front of.

Or Julie Andrews, picture yourself watching TV with Julie Andrews, and think of the list of words that you wouldn’t want to hear. They are all used in these songs.

So if you don’t like swearing maybe you’d be better off watching this video (which is sort of political as it features Danny Alexander singing his bid to be the next LidDem leader)

For the those who like swearing (and us at DPAC central swear. A lot)….  here are some of the best election and political songs that we have come across…….

You have been warned

Thanks to the brilliant @kingqueen3065  these songs are now in a youtube playlist Fuck the Tories in May 2015

Sick of this Shit by Cause of Accident(@causeofaccident)

Which Side Are You On… by the very great @RockinPaddy (A song we’d like to dedicate to the leadership of the Labour Party)

The official Sack Esther McVey Campaign Song by Alun Parry

Taking from the Poor to Pay the Rich (David Cameron is a W*****) by the Kilburn Unemployed Workers’ Group

LIAR LIAR – 2015 Election Remix by Captain Ska

UKIP Song by Jonny and the Baptists

David Cameron ‘Papering Over The Cracks’ by H.O.A.S and UPP

The Government Gets In by Banner Theatre

F The Tories Freestyle – @NxtGenUK

And some oldies but goodies …
ConDem Love by Kevin Robbins (written for DPAC)

The Battle of Whitehall Continues by @RockinPaddy

Bedroom Tax Song: You Cannae Have A Spare Room in a Pokey Cooncil Flat by Citizen Smart

Stand Up by Sean Tailor

Bullingdon Club by Lux Lisbon (@LuxLisbonMusic)

Farewell to Welfare by Grace Petrie

They Shall Not Pass by Grace Petrie

I Do Not Have The Power To Cause A Flood by Grace Petrie

Farage by Jonny and the Baptists

Shame on You by Captain Ska

What’s the Point of Nick Clegg by Captain Ska

Cameron Conference Rap by CassetteBoy

We’ll never re-elect you if you wreck our NHS by @johngabbay

Don’t Stop Me Now by Common People

Common People by Common People

The Daily Mail Song by Dan and Dan

Fuck the Poor by Tim Minchin

Cuts23 by AspenMonkey

Looters by Attila the Stockbroker

Natwest Barclays Midlands Lloyds by the Manic Street Preachers

The Michael Gove Song by Tommy Reckless

Andrew Lansley Rap Co-written by MC Nxtgen & Rob Gee

A Flash Mob performing “Here Comes the Sun” in a Spanish unemployment office (very moving)

….. and finally by the great Bob Marley ( someone who needs no link)

 Posted by at 22:30
May 012015

[Reblogged from Vox Political]

Brian McArdle. On the BBC’s Question Time in November 2012, Iain Duncan Smith flew into a rage when Owen Jones challenged him about what happened to Mr McArdle, “57 years old, paralysed down one side, blind in one eye; he couldn’t speak. He died one day after being found ‘fit for work’.”

Brian McArdle. On the BBC’s Question Time in November 2012, Iain Duncan Smith flew into a rage when Owen Jones challenged him about what happened to Mr McArdle, “57 years old, paralysed down one side, blind in one eye; he couldn’t speak. He died one day after being found ‘fit for work’.”

The Department for Work and Pensions has been ordered to disclose the number of Incapacity Benefit and ESA claimants who have died between November 2011 and May 2014.

The ruling comes from the Information Commissioner after an appeal by Vox Political‘s Mike Sivier.

But it seems likely to have been delayed – possibly for political reasons. If the number of deaths has been high, then it would generate a backlash against the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties that presided over them in the Coalition Government.

Mr Sivier said: “The decision notice was ready in February, but the Information Commissioner’s Office delayed its release for reasons that have not been given. Suppose a large number of deaths have taken place – I have heard suggestions that 60,000 people or more may have died as a result of government policy.

“It seems clear that the revelation of many deaths may turn voters away from supporting the Conservatives or Lib Dems – so it seems appropriate to question that delay. Will the election result be valid if the number of deaths is not known on May 7?”

The DWP had refused a Freedom of Information request on the grounds that the information would be published in the future (a section 22 exemption) – but the Information Commisioner found that officials had been wrong to do so.

The ruling means the DWP must disclose – within 35 calendar days of April 30 – the number of IB and ESA claimants who have died between November 2011 and May 2014, broken down into the following categories:

  • Those in the assessment phase,
  • Those who were found fit for work,
  • Those who were placed in the work-related activity group,
  • Those who were placed in the support group, and
  • Those who had an appeal pending.

In his ruling, the Commissioner states: “It appears … that the DWP has had reasonable time to prepare for publishing [the] information and that disclosure was not so novel or unusual given the previous requests and disclosures made.

“DWP have not supplied any detailed or convincing evidence about the time needed and what preparation would need to be undertaken during this time or what the specific impact of disclosure would be… The DWP has previously published similar information.

The decision notice continued: “It is not reasonable for the DWP, having had enough time to extract the information and prepare internally for publication, to seek further time to provide the information requested.

“The Commissioner also finds that delaying publication is not reasonable in light of the requests DWP have received from the public and the fact that the previous statistics published were around two years old at the time of the request.”

Mr Sivier said he had first asked for information on benefit-related deaths in the summer of 2013: “It was almost a year after the DWP had published an ‘ad hoc’ report entitled Incapacity Benefits (Deaths of Claimants).

“That document stated that 10,600 people had died between January and November 2011, while claiming benefits that should have helped them survive with a reasonable quality of life. Some of those people may have died because of their conditions but evidence that has become available since suggests that many died due to the stress of constant reassessment by an unsympathetic government department that was determined to clear as many people off its books as possible, no matter what the health risks might be.”

He said: “I knew that other FOI requests had been made in November 2012 – a year after the last date covered in the ‘ad hoc’ report – but they had been refused. When I made my request in June 2013, I publicised it via my website, Vox Political, and asked for others to submit a similar request in the hope that weight of numbers might sway the DWP. This was a mistake as the department was able to use FOI rules to dismiss my request as being ‘vexatious’.

“I made a new request last May, and the DWP illegally delayed its response by several months. When ministers finally denied me the information, claiming they would be publishing it at an unspecified date in the future, I checked the rules and found that they were wrong. That is why I appealed to the Information Commissioner – and I am delighted that the Commissioner has upheld my appeal.”

Under the Freedom of Information Act, the DWP may appeal to the Information Rights Tribunal, but Mr Sivier said he doubted any such appeal would succeed: “I took my first request to a tribunal and, although the decision was upheld, the judges stated that they were extremely sympathetic to my cause.

“They said they did not see any reason why another FOI request, properly made out, should not be successful. That is why I tried again.”

Follow Mike on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

 Posted by at 21:51
May 012015

Logos of supporting organisations, DPAC, Inclusion London, Equal Lives and Allfie
Four leading Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) have got together to produce a list of 17 things we need the new Government to implement in the first 100 days after being elected. These are based on making the British Government compliant with its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

Disabled people have been disproportionately affected by the Coalition Government’s austerity programme. By the 2015 election, more than 28 billion pounds in benefits and entitlements will have been taken away from disabled people. At the same time, disabled people are twice as likely to live in poverty as non- disabled people. In Austerity Britain, where the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer continue to claim “We are all in this together”, disabled people will pay 9 times more towards reducing the budget deficit than the average citizen. Those who are severely disabled will pay nineteen times more.

Disabled people have been forced to report the UK Government to the UN CRPD committee for human rights violations. They in turn have launched an inquiry into possible grave or systemic violations of “disabled people’s human rights.”

The following demands from Equal Lives, Inclusion London, Disabled People Against Cuts and the Alliance for Inclusive Education, if implemented, will bring the UK Government back in line with its obligations to the UN CRPD and ensure disabled people enjoy equal rights with non-disabled people:

  1. Reverse the decision to close the Independent Living Fund (ILF) in June and plan to open it up again to new recipients.
  2. Abolish the Bedroom Tax.
  3. Announce the scrapping of Work Capability Assessments and suspend assessments.
  4. Work with Dis­abled People’s Organisations (DPOs) to re-focus employment of disabled people to removing disabling barriers and ensuring workforces in public and private sector reflect the diversity of the community by age, disability, race, gender, sexuality, etc.
  5. Move the Office for Disability Issues out of DWP and into the Cabinet office and appoint disabled peo­ple from Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) to key posts.
  6. Engage with Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) to co-produce an action plan to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the Interpretative Declaration. Remove all reservations.
  7. Invite the UN inquiry team into the UK so they can carry out their investigation into human rights abuses of disabled people.
  8. Fund mental health based on parity of esteem to address the short term crisis while longer term solu­tions are sorted.
  9. Scrap benefit sanctions.
  10. Restore funding to the NHS and local authorities for children’s and adult social care to 2010 levels and up rated for inflation.
  11. Reverse cuts to Access to Work and expand its remit and scope.
  12. Stop all new Special Free Schools/Academy applications and begin a plan to revert existing Free schools and Academies to Local Authority control.
  13. Stop the plan to cut Disabled Students Allowance.
  14. Review equality legislation and work with DPOs to draft disability civil rights legislation with real scrutiny and enforcement by DPOs.
  15. Plan a programme of affordable public house building and ensure all new homes are accessible and built to Life Time homes specifications.
  16. For disabled people renting in the private sector the level of Local Housing Allowance paid must re­flect the costs of their additional needs and no longer be restricted to the 30th percentile of Broad Market Rental Area rents.
  17. Repeal changes to Legal Aid in England & Wales to ensure that Disabled people and all other groups have equal access to the justice system and all are equal under the rule of law”.

Tracey Lazard, CEO, Inclusion London said

Disabled people have been hit harder than most by austerity. We have seen the hard won progress towards our equality and inclusion systematically undermined and weakened by a plethora of cuts that are stripping away our quality of life, dignity and independence.  Meeting these 17 demands will begin to restore fairness and justice for Disabled people and mark the moment Government starts working with us and not against us “

A DPAC spokesperson said

Over the past 5 years disabled people’s human rights have been systematically destroyed by vicious and unjust ConDem policies. We are now asking for these demands to be met within the first 100 days of a new government to start the long the road to reclaiming those rights and to begin to rebuild our lives.”


 Posted by at 16:15