Jun 302015
 

 With thanks to Kate B Published on Jun 30, 2015

TRANSCRIPT

00.00 – 00.19

Today is a very, very sad and tragic day and I think some of us are starting to cry up the front here, because this has been a long campaign and it has been so important to so many people because it means so much, but this isn’t the end and I think what last Wednesday showed is that disabled people are strong when we unite with our allies, we fight back and we give them hell.

00.20

Save the ILF!

00.32

Whoa boy, Whoa.
I come in peace with my horse to save the ILF. We are fighting for independent living for disabled people in the UK in 2015. Can you believe that?

No.

We have had enough. The Independent Living Fund closes tomorrow and we are not going away. We are going to fight on.

1.05

The ILF has given me freedom. It has given me indpendence, to live my life the way I choose without being reliant on friends or family. Without being stuck to a regimented regime of getting up in the morning when it suits other people, to go to bed at 9 o’clock, I was 22 and I had to go to bed at nine o’clock, can you imagine. I was told when I could go to the toilet, once a day at one o’clock, if I wasn’t there on time then tough, I’d have to wait until a later call that evening. It’s just not just me, it’s thousands of people out there who are subjected to this.

1.39

This is from Leanne. Hi all, I wish I could be with you all today but unfortunately, I can’t but please know that I am with you all in spirit, this is not the end, it is just the beginning.

1.54

SINGING

2.07

There used to be a time when governments, particularly when the ILF came in when they were able to at least talk about independent living with a straight face and now when they do it’s very much with a forked tongue. When the ILF closes today, it is more than just the closure of a fund. I think it signifies very much the end of an idea and that idea was that society was very much prepared to meet its responsibilities to make sure that equality of opportunity was something more than words. And we took tangible steps like the Independent Living Fund which got people real lives beyond looking out the window and watching the world pass them by.

Jun 302015
 

It is often said that the Queen is special because she has two birthdays. But in fact, there are another 18,000 people who have two birthdays: the day they were born, and the day they received their first ILF payment.

My first ILF birthday was in 1988, when the Independent Living Fund was introduced. For people with high support needs, it was a great birthday, changing our lives overnight: we became part of our communities, went to college, got jobs, made friends, and generally did the things that non-disabled people take for granted. I met Mike and Darren who have become not only my personal assistants but also life-long friends.

ILF was a springboard for a new life, whereas Direct Payments are a safety net. Direct payments help you out of bed in the morning. ILF gave you a reason to do so. My fear is that we are going back to the days without hope or purpose.

In 1964, I became disabled. Not by being involved in an accident or being ill. I became disabled with one simple sentence from a consultant: “Mr and Mrs Punton, I am sorry to have to tell you but your child has got cerebral palsy.” From that moment, society believed that I had no purpose or future and prescribed special school followed by a life sentence in an institution. My parents disagreed, and I remember my Dad saying, “well, it is not rocket science that you shouldn’t let other people govern what you do.” And my Dad should know, because he was a rocket scientist!

But even so, I was still forced to live the life that society prescribed.

Then, in 1988, three things happened. Thirdly, I got my first job. Secondly, I moved into my first flat. Firstly, and probably most importantly, I applied and was accepted for ILF.

Without the first, I am sure the other two would not have been achievable. The ILF changed my life. It gave me access to the wider community of Birmingham and beyond. It allowed me to meet fellow like-minded people who taught me how to see myself in a different light and introduced me to the concept of social justice. It allowed me to work, start my own community interest company, and empower other people. I even stood as a candidate for parliament at the last election. Fortunately, the wisdom of the people prevailed! But because of ILF and the British democratic process, it is possible for me to sit here and speak to you. The question is, will Robert Punton the younger be able to do the same?

ILF has changed our lives, and how we see life. I am desperately sad that the decision of 2010 meant that an opportunity open to all was suddenly closed, which has led to it being labelled elitist. That was not the original intent or purpose.

On the 19th June 2015, we received our final instalments of ILF.  My concern, and the concern of thousands like me, is that come the first of August, the restrictions of the new definition of community care, will not allow me to continue to participate in my community and I will find myself returning to the lifestyle of pre-1988. If you will allow me a bit of poetic licence, I do not wish to return to the shadows of society but want to help light my community.

I would like to finish with a quote from Antoine De Saint-Exupery “The notion of looking on at life has always been hateful to me. What am I if I am not a participant? In order to be, I must participate.”

Please allow me and many like me the opportunity to participate.

 

 

 

 Posted by at 18:19
Jun 302015
 

Reposted  from www.frameworkinclusion.uk with thanks

Today (30th June 2015) the Independent Living Fund is officially closed at midnight by a heartless Conservative Government –the working concept of independent living is effectively silenced. A fine campaign was, and will continue to be fought by ILF users and Disabled People against Cuts. On the 24th June ILF users and DPAC stormed the parliament in scenes previously unwitnessed in the British Parliament, but the fight began a long time before that day.  The fight for independent living for disabled people has been ongoing for decades; the fight to #saveilf began in 2010 when DPAC asked those affected by the closure to new users to come forward for a court case against the Government.

Disabled people have always had to fight for their human rights and equality. People marvel at the number of demos and direct actions that have been carried out, but its what disabled people have always needed to do. The ILF campaign has been a huge success in alerting the public, the press and TV nationally and internationally to the intense cruelty of a Government who declare they will support those in greatest need and simultaneously close the very efficient ILF which was doing just that. The closure makes no economic sense ILF had running costs of 2% while cash starved local authorities have an average of 16% running costs. On the same day as the closure a #disability confident event was being run in Swansea –this is beyond ironic and highlights the theatre of duplicity that this Government engage in. While ILF users face cuts in support, sometimes of up to 70% or face the fear of being institutionalised, while they face the loss of jobs, staff, PAs, education and life-our Government preaches #disabilityconfident .

We want to pay homage to all those that protested on the streets and online to #saveILF, as many others have said – this is not over- we go on fighting!  We will take back independent living on our terms so that it can never taken from us again- that work begins now.

It is a sad day today, but it also one of pride for the dignity, force and dedication disabled people and our allies have shown in the fight for ILF- the fight for independent living will continue, the continued exposure of what the Conservative Government have done to disabled people will be shouted loud and clear as we join with more and more allies in solidarity against the evil that is being done to us under the myth of austerity -our rage like our strength will grow till the human rights we deserve are ours.

Downing Street, London, UK. 30th June, 2015.  On the day the Independent Living Fund (ILF) closes and organised by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), ILF recipients, campaigners and sympathisers meet outside Downing Street to hand over petitions calling on the Prime Minister to protect disabled people’s right to independent living. Over 25,000 signatures have been collected online supported by videos made by actors of Coronation Street and also during the Graeae Theatre Company’s 2014 UK Tour of The Threepenny Opera. After laying a wreath for the ILF, Schimmel, the battle horse of the Threepenny Opera led a march to the Houses of Parliament to continue the fight for dignity and equality. Last week, DPAC activists clashed with police inside the Houses of Parliament. Pictured:  A RIP ILF wreath was laid outside Downing Street. // Lee Thomas, Flat 47a Park East Building, Bow Quarter, London, E3 2UT. Tel. 07784142973. Email: leepthomas@gmail.com. www.leept.co.uk (0000635435)

Downing Street, London, UK. 30th June, 2015. On the day the Independent Living Fund (ILF) closes and organised by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), ILF recipients, campaigners and sympathisers meet outside Downing Street to hand over petitions calling on the Prime Minister to protect disabled people’s right to independent living. Over 25,000 signatures have been collected online supported by videos made by actors of Coronation Street and also during the Graeae Theatre Company’s 2014 UK Tour of The Threepenny Opera. After laying a wreath for the ILF, Schimmel, the battle horse of the Threepenny Opera led a march to the Houses of Parliament to continue the fight for dignity and equality. Last week, DPAC activists clashed with police inside the Houses of Parliament. Pictured: A RIP ILF wreath was laid outside Downing Street. // Lee Thomas, Flat 47a Park East Building, Bow Quarter, London, E3 2UT. Tel. 07784142973. Email: leepthomas@gmail.com. www.leept.co.uk (0000635435)

 Posted by at 18:03
Jun 292015
 

DPAC joined by:

Class War, Streets Kitchen,  Black Dissidents,

London Latinxs, Columbian Women in Action,
Occupy, Brick Lane Debates, Winvisible, London Black Revs, Reclaim Hackney, Camden Resists, Never Again Ever & others

Announce

Balls to the Budget

#Balls2TheBudget

Facebook Event Page Here : https://www.facebook.com/events/1455266081436327/

Wednesday 8th July, 10.30 am

Downing St

Just to confirm that the tube strike planned for July 8th will not start until 9.30 pm so it will not affect people who may need to travel to this event by tube.

Big balls, small balls, footballs, tennis balls, volleyballs, handballs, rubber balls, plastic balls, flour balls, paint balls, canon balls, beachballs, hairballs, furballs, glitter balls, gumballs, basketballs, garlic balls, initialed balls, personalised balls.

Top: Picture of Osborne Looking sad, text "Sorry George DPAC's gonna get you", Bottom: DPAC Logo text "Wednesday 8th July, 10.30, Downing St, DPAC - We'll be back"

Poster by Still Oaks

Get creative.

Balls to austerity;
Balls to taking our rights;
Balls to taking our jobs;
Balls to cutting our services;
Balls to bankers bonuses;
Balls to cutting the ILF;
Balls to Met Police;
Balls to cuts to Access to Work;
Balls to cuts to Social Care;
Balls to the Bedroom Tax;
Balls to Workfare & Sanctions;
Balls to Forced Treatments;
Balls to Maximus, Atos & PIP;
Balls to Child Poverty & inequality;
Balls to low pay & exploiting workers;
Balls to anti-homless laws;
Balls to stifling protest;
Balls to migrant bashing, racism & Islamophobia;
Balls to cuts to Housing, Education, NHS, Legal Aid, Womens Refuges, CAMHS and much much more.

Then, afterwards – We Are Going Back.

11.30 The Lobby, House of Commons.

Bring balls.

Online: Twitter from 10.30 am till yer tweeting fingers wear out

Take part online by using and sharing: #Balls2TheBudget

There is a tweetlist you can use here: http://dftr.org.uk/Songbird.php?TweetFile=Balls2theBudget

 Posted by at 10:00
Jun 282015
 

DPAC Members took part in the Pride March in London on Saturday

Here are some pictures of that great day:

Louise (Bromley DPAC) with Roger and Pride flag

Louise (Bromley DPAC) with Roger and Pride flag

Roger and Paula, waving Pride flag

Roger and Paula, waving Pride flag

Roger (DPAC) with John Burgess Barnet Unison

Roger (DPAC) with John Burgess Barnet Unison

Paula holding Backing Jeremy Corbyn message board with message of thanks for support with ILF campaign

Paula holding Backing Jeremy Corbyn message board with message of thanks for support with ILF campaign

Paula,Louise, Mike Jackson (LGSM)  great nieces and Roger from DPAC with DPAC Banner and LGSM banner

Paula,Louise, Mike Jackson (LGSM) great nieces and Roger from DPAC with DPAC Banner and LGSM banner

Mike jackson great nieces, Roger, Louise (DPAC) with DPAC banner with Mike Jackson (co founder of LGSM)

Mike jackson great nieces, Roger, Louise (DPAC) with DPAC banner with Mike Jackson (co founder of LGSM)

Patrick Hunter and John Burgess Barnet Unison with Louise and Roger from dpac with DPAC and Barnet Unison banners

Patrick Hunter and John Burgess Barnet Unison with Louise and Roger from dpac with DPAC and Barnet Unison banners

Roger and Louise from DPAC on the Pride march

Roger and Louise from DPAC on the Pride march

Roger with placard on Pride march

Roger with placard on Pride march

Roger from DPAC with Jim (wearing his DPAC t shirt) and placards on Pride march

Roger from DPAC with Jim (wearing his DPAC t shirt) and placards on Pride march

Members of LGSM with Nicola Field (southwark DPAC and also a member of LGSM)

Members of LGSM with Nicola Field (southwark DPAC and also a member of LGSM)

 Posted by at 17:24
Jun 282015
 

On 30th June, the day the ILF closes, ILF recipients, campaigners and Allies will meet outside Downing Street to hand over petitions calling on the Prime Minister to protect Disabled people’s right to independent living. Over 25,000 signatures have been collected online (supported by the brilliant video made by the stars of Coronation Street) and also during the Graeae Theatre Company’s 2014 UK Tour of The Threepenny Opera.

After laying a wreath for the ILF, Schimmel, the equine star and proud battle horse of the Threepenny Opera will lead a march to the Houses of Parliament to continue the fight for dignity and equality.

But this isn’t theatre… It’s real and it’s our lives.

Join us in person or show your support on social media with the hashtag #SaveILF, to say “Today marks the closure of the ILF. This terrible action is wrong but the battle to protect our right to Independent Living will go on. For disabled people and for everyone who cares about fairness and social justice.”

Meet 11.30am outside Downing Street.

Jun 272015
 

We were passed a letter anonymously last week. Atos the company responsible for misery and premature death now wants to help disabled people. Atos still do PIP assessments, and are in part responsible for the long delays, declared unlawful in the courts that have left people without income, food and at risk of losing their homes. This is something they share with Capita.

Yet, Atos will always be remembered for the Work Capability Assessment and ESA travesty. Their staff were filmed admitting that there were targets and saying that the job of assessing was toxic. But Atos were still laughing all the way to bank- After a prolonged campaign by DPAC and others Atos left the WCA contact early and were replaced by Maximus who seem no better.

We thought we’d publish the Atos letter in full , so that those people we receive emails  from who have no money for food, who are being threatened with eviction and whose families have broken up due to the inhumanity of welfare ‘reform’ might apply

No surprise that Atos has sent out its letter as a PDF which is inaccessible for some screen readers , so we copy the main parts here

As you are well aware Atos Healthcare is contracted to assess claimants on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) benefit.

We assess some of our society’s most vulnerable people on a daily basis; and we recognise their hardships and struggles. The environment we work in means that our staff frequently undertake charitable activities for a wide range of causes. In support of this effort Atos Healthcare usually matches their collections. As a result there is a fund available for charitable donation and we are looking at how best to use that to make a positive contribution to supporting and improving the day to day living of vulnerable people.

We would like to support a different selected charity for each six month period. Naturally, as the PIP benefit is intended to support people with long term conditions or disabilities we feel that a disability or condition based charity would be appropriate.

We are aware that you have strong relationships and key contacts within many charities and we would value your opinion and expertise on selecting appropriate charities.

This work is being coordinated by Saleem Jawaid who is passionate about these activities and he would welcome your views on the most effective mechanisms for doing this and any issues that you think we might face. Contact details for Saleem are given at the end of this letter.

Yours Faithfully

For anyone who’d like their ‘hardships and struggles’ recognised by Atos the number is Tel: 0118 914 9500 Ext: 18296 or if you prefer email then its : Saleem.jawaid.external@atos.net

For any disability charity taking money from Atos – we’ll find out and expose you

Rights not Charity!

Atos Open Letter – charity

 

 

 Posted by at 13:18  Tagged with:
Jun 272015
 

Anyone in Suffolk/Norfolk who’s in receipt of ILF, would you be willing to talk about your concerns on the closure of the ILF (Independent Living Fund)

 

I’ve been contacted by Linda Walker Broadcast Journalist from BBC Suffolk who has informed me that :-

“She’s putting together some research ahead of the ILF changes going through on Tuesday.
She’s keen to hear from any of you who have real concerns about the change and how it might impact on you personally. If anyone would be willing to share their story people do contact me on
linda.walker@bbc.co.uk or 01473 340 707.”

 

Solidarity

Martin

Suffolk DPAC

 Posted by at 12:12
Jun 252015
 

So we had a bit of a ruckus in the House of Commons yesterday, while trying to deliver this letter to the Speaker.

Just for once, it got noticed by the media, and there were several news interviews with people who are about to lose their ILF and supporting activists, which is a good thing.

But in each of the news bulletins the DWP response was – they are scaremongering and ILF user’s won’t lose out when the fund closes – rather like this quote from Justin Tomlinson, latest in a long line of inhuman Tory ministers against disabled people:

Responsibility for providing this [ILF] support is, in fact, being transferred to local authorities. Far from being taken away, it will be administered in a way better able to take account of variations in local circumstances and services.http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jun/11/impact-of-changes-to-disability-benefits

We would just like to point out, its a lie.

The proof that its a lie will appear further down the page, but before that, we’d like to make this statement:-


Contrary to what some may think, we don’t think protesting is fun.

We don’t enjoy being roughed up by the cops, it hurts. And its bloody hard work.

We don’t do this for laughs.

But the fact is that disabled people have discovered from years of being shat on by powerful people that if we don’t fight for our rights no other bastard will even see us, let alone do anything for us (*) .

So if it were true that ILF users weren’t about to lose out, we wouldn’t have had to riot yesterday.

We wouldn’t even have been in the building.

We wouldn’t have had to campaign for more than 3 years. We wouldn’t have had to spend long hours fighting court cases. Twice. We wouldn’t have had to spend endless hours writing letters and emails. We wouldn’t have had to stand in front of bloody buses. We wouldn’t have had to occupy Westminster Abbey grounds.

If we had thought ILF users would have had equivalent care packages we wouldn’t have had to do any of that.

And that would have been fine by us.

But its a lie and we don’t believe the DWP for one instant.


Here is our proof of that the lie that ILF closure is just a transfer of funding to councils and ILF recipients will not lose out:

(1) Not all the money in the fund is being transferred – the amount is being cut by 5% min for ‘attrition’ the DWP’s cost analysis for percentage of those who die each year

(2) The money isn’t being ring-fenced, so the councils its being given to can spend on road cones or park maintenance if they wish – there is no guarantee of any sort that it will be spent on continuing packages for ex-ILF recipients

(3) The funding is being transferred for just ONE YEAR. After that – if any of the non ring-fenced money has made it through to support for disabled people, it will be gone.

(4) Individual Local Authorities don’t even know how much money they will get yet, 5 days before the fund closes – the handover is in chaos

(5) We already know of people who are having their support for independent living cut.

So are we Scaremongering?

No.

We know the dreadful state of the social care system. We know that council funded carers frequently have 15 minutes to complete tasks, and there isn’t time in 15 minutes to assist a severely disabled person to use the toilet and wash and dress plus cook a hot meal.

So in 15 minutes its a choice between shitting and eating.

We know that councils are strapped for cash and many will do the bare minimum that the law requires.

We know that people currently receiving the ILF are likely to have to move into care homes because that’s where they were living before the ILF was available.

The ILF was one of the very few (only?) good things to come out of Thatcher’s government, because it allowed disabled people, who had been incarcerated in care homes, living no life at all, to move out into the world- and that was only because Thatcher cut another benefit that disabled people relied on.

They could be self sufficient, they could lead full lives, they could live independent lives. It was one of the big advances that happened to disabled people in the last century. It was world leading.

And its being shut down by Cameron’s government. Taking disabled people back decades.

And we know that disabled people who currently receive the ILF have said that they would rather die, or go to jail than live in a care home. Because we’ve heard them say it with our own ears.

In five days time, the Independent Living Fund Closes.

We don’t need to scaremonger – the fear that ILF users have isn’t of DPAC, the fear is of giving up on having a life and being forced into an existence.

The fear is of being kept alive, given just basic enough support to comply with the bare minimum that the law requires.

The fear is of being abused in a care home.

We don’t need to scaremonger. Not when we have the conservative party in power.

Read more here:

https://dpac.uk.net/2015/06/ilf-freedom-of-information-request-findings/

http://www.katebelgrave.com/2015/06/and-so-the-dwp-washes-its-hands-of-the-independent-living-fund-meltdown/

https://dpac.uk.net/2015/06/disability-ministers-travesty-of-the-truth/

(*) apart from some very honourable exceptions of allies we have in parliament and elsewhere.

So if you agree with the DPAC view and not the DWP’s lies – please sign our petition here https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/defend-disabled-people-s-right-to-independent-living

And please read and send these tweets to in support of the #SaveILF Campaign.

Remember – ILF recipients have just 5 days left of the fund.




An Important Request on ILF from Mary Laver http://shar.es/BjyqK #SaveILF #ILF




What the Closure of the #ILF means to disabled people -Mary’s story http://campaigndpac.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/what-the-closure-of-the-independent-living-fund-means-to-disabled-people-mars-story-2/ #SaveILF #ILF




What the Closure of the #ILF means to disabled people – Justine’s story http://campaigndpac.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/what-the-closure-of-the-independent-living-fund-means-to-disabled-people-justines-story/ #SaveILF #ILF




What the Closure of the #ILF means to disabled people – John, Paul and Evonne’s story http://campaigndpac.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/what-the-closure-of-the-independent-living-fund-means-to-disabled-people-john-paul-and-evonnes-story/ #SaveILF #ILF




What the Closure of the #ILF means to disabled people – Roxy’s story http://campaigndpac.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/what-the-closure-of-the-independent-living-fund-means-to-disabled-people-oxys-story/ #SaveILF #ILF




What the Closure of the #ILF means to disabled people – Kathy’s story http://campaigndpac.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/what-the-closure-of-the-independent-living-fund-means-to-disabled-people-kathys-story/ #SaveILF #ILF




What the Closure of ILF means to disabled people – Richard’s story http://www.dpac.uk.net/2013/03/what-the-closure-of-ilf-means-to-me-richards-story/ #SaveILF #ILF




What the Closure of ILF means to disabled people – Penny’s story http://www.dpac.uk.net/2013/03/what-the-closure-of-ilf-means-to-me-pennys-story/ #SaveILF #ILF




What the Closure of ILF means to disabled people – Anthony and David’s story http://www.dpac.uk.net/2013/03/what-the-closure-of-ilf-means-to-disabled-people-anthony-and-davids-story/ #SaveILF #ILF




What the Closure of ILF means to disabled people – Kevin’s story http://www.dpac.uk.net/2013/03/what-the-closure-of-ilf-means-to-disabled-people-kevins-story/ #SaveILF #ILF




Second Closure of #ILF and our analysis of the equality analysis by DWP http://shar.es/Bm4hM #SaveILF #ILF




DPAC statement on government announcement on closure of the #ILF http://shar.es/BHRcl #SaveILF #ILF




How the closure of the ILF will affect lives https://dpac.uk.net/independent-living-fund/#sthash.dLgkwYIe.dpbs #SaveILF #ILF




What Local Authorities said about the Closure of ILF http://www.dpac.uk.net/2013/02/what-local-authorities-said-about-the-closure-of-ilf/ #SaveILF #ILF




A Nasty Cut people affected by the closure of the #ILF http://www.dpac.uk.net/2013/02/a-nasty-cut-people-affected-by-the-closure-of-the-independent-l5142/ #SaveILF #ILF




Second Closure of Independent Living Fund and our analysis of the equality analysis by DWP http://shar.es/BjygQ #SaveILF #ILF


 Posted by at 23:40
Jun 252015
 

Freedom of Information requests asking the following questions were sent out on 15th April to 151 English Local Authorities:

Q1 Will you be ring fencing the lF money passed to you to: –
A) Individual ILF users
B) Adult Social Care
C) No ring-fence at all

Q2 Have you received the details of how much money you are being allocated and if so how much?

Q3 When will be starting reassessments of ILF users and wjen do you anticipate completing those assessments?

Responses were received from 147.

At the time of responding to the FOIs 12 said a decision had not yet been made as to how they will use the money with 2 if these explaining that they were waiting for confirmation of the amount of monies they will be receiving from central government before they decide.
31 said they will not be ring-fencing at all while 60 have decided to ring-fence to their Adult Social Care budget. 3 LAs will be ring-fencing to individual ILF recipients for a set amount of time (Camden for three months and Enfield and Slough for six months) while 9 said they will ring- fence individual awards until review and reassessment of individual support packages over the course of the nine months.
28 LAs responded that they will be ring-fencing to individual ILF users up until the end of March 2016. Those Local Authorities are Bath, Bedford, Birmingham, City of London, Cornwall, Derbyshire, Greenwich, Hammersmith and Fulham, Hartlepool, Herefordshire, Hertfordshire, Hounslow, Islington, Kingston, Lambeth, Lewisham, Medway, Merton, Middlesbrough, Richmond, Rutland, Shropshire, South Gloucestershire, Southend, Stockport, Trafford, Wokingham and York.

88 out of the 147 Local Authorities who responded said they had not received details about how much money will be transferred from central government. 41 said they have an indicative amount they are working to based on the amount paid to ILF users now minus the 5% “attrition rate” the government will be top slicing. Only 15 said yes they do know how much they will be getting.

Most LAs (78) are aiming to have completed reassessments of all ILF recipients in their area before 30 June 2015. 30 do not have a timescale for completion while 17 LAs have set a target date later within the next nine months. 12 LAs said reassessments would be completed between July 2015 and March 2016. 7 said they had already completed theirs.

For those LAs who said they had completed their reassessments it was not clear whether all of them were referring to reassessments to calculate the support package ILF recipients will receive from the LA after transfer from the ILF or whether they had answered the question in relation to the joint transfer reviews with ILF assessors which were conducted as part of the transition process.

Some LAs who have committed to ring-fencing such as Stockport, Islington and Kingston have also completed their reassessments. Others such as South Gloucestershire will be reassessing over the next nine months.

For more information about these FOIs and the findings contact mail@dpac.uk.net or ellen.clifford@inclusionlondon.co.uk

Jun 252015
 

Dear Mr Speaker,

On 30th June the Independent Living Fund, providing essential support to disabled people with high support needs with everyday basic tasks such as eating, drinking and going to the toilet, will close. This is the result of a decision taken by the government without a vote in Parliament.

The closure will have a devastating impact on disabled people. In December 2014 the High Court found that as a consequence of the closure of the Fund “independent living might well be put seriously in peril for… Most (or a substantial number of) ILF users”.

Without the ILF the UK is not able to meet the basic human rights of disabled people.

We have seen this since the closure of the ILF to new applicants in December 2010 which has resulted in disabled people left trapped in their own homes or dependent on friends and families, placing intolerable strain on relationships and denying disabled people the chance to live an ordinary life.

Now as Local Authorities start to reassess individual support packages and inform disabled people what support we will receive after 30th June 2015 we are fearing for our futures. Currently we pay taxes, we work, we study, we raise our families and make many valuable contributions to society in other ways. The cuts in support that are being handed out to individuals will leave us without dignity, sitting in our own faeces for hours at a time dependent on the kindness of friends, family, neighbours and even strangers just to eat, drink and move.

We urge the honourable Speaker to ensure that it is our elected Parliament that has a say on whether disabled people in the UK have the right to independent living or whether in the sixth richest nation in the world we are denied the same opportunities to live and to contribute to society.
Yours ever,
Disabled People

Jun 242015
 

Today (24th of June) severely disabled people who are set to lose their Independent Living Fund support in just seven days time along with  protesters from Disabled People Against Cuts staged a protest inside the House of Commons Lobby, and attempted to break through into the commons chamber and almost succeeded in interrupting Prime Ministers Questions.

The police response was at first confused, and then described as “rough” but none of the protestors was reported as being hurt and there were no arrests reported.

After leaving the House of Commons, the protestors continued to block roads around Westminster.

There is a much better report on the day from Kate Belgrave who took part in the protest here http://www.katebelgrave.com/2015/06/videos-and-pics-from-today-disabled-people-occupy-central-lobby-at-parliament-saveilf/

Mobile phone video footage of police action against protesters, taken by Brian Hilton (the video displays on its side but still very worth seeing ) IMG_0635

See video and Pictures below:

This video courtesy of Occupy UK

Video of the Protest thanks to Kate Belgrave @Hangbitch

Protest inside the House of Commons to #SaveILFProtest inside the House of Commons to #SaveILFProtest inside the House of Commons to #SaveILFProtest inside the House of Commons to #SaveILFProtesters to #SaveILF at the commonsProtesters to #SaveILF at the commons

Read more here:

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/disabled-protesters-try-storm-commons-5940466

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/pmqs/11695937/Disability-protesters-try-to-storm-Commons-during-Prime-Ministers-Questions.html

http://www.itv.com/news/update/2015-06-24/disability-rights-protest-over-cuts-held-in-parliament/

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/06/24/disability-prime-ministers-questions-independent-living-fund-_n_7653048.html?1435150311%3F%3F

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/police-clash-with-disabled-protesters-as-they-try-to-storm-house-of-commons-chamber-during-prime-ministers-questions-10342106.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-33252828

http://www.demotix.com/news/7935988/dpac-protest-westminster-fight-against-closure-ilf

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6N8c4XNa2Y&feature=youtu.be

 

 

 Posted by at 15:03
Jun 222015
 

(NB. Those supporting the Bill use terms such as assisted dying and death with dignity to make killing someone / assisting a suicide more palatable.  Those of us opposed to legalizing assisted suicide think it’s important to call it what it is and so we use the term assisted suicide.)

The Assisted Dying Bill is doing the rounds again.  This time Rob Marris, MP for Wolverhampton South is bringing this private members bill to the Commons for a full debate on Friday September 11 2015.  This will be the first time in over 18 years that Commons rather than the Lords have had the chance to vote on this subject so it’s essential that we let our MPs know that we oppose legalising AS.

The best way to do this is to pay your MP a visit before they finish for the summer on the 21st July.  Use this opportunity tell your MP that you oppose this Bill, to find out how they’re going to vote and most importantly, to tell your MP to attend the debate on September 11th  –  and hopefully to vote against it.

An actual meeting with your MP will have the most impact. MPs will see you at a ‘surgery’ (meeting) in their constituency (the area that your MP represents).  Sometimes you have to make an appointment and some MPs will hold drop in sessions.  If there’s a few of you in the same constituency from NDYUK, you could always go together?   Your MP should also be able to make a house call if visiting them would be difficult.

 

If you need to find out who your MP is, just put your postcode into www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/  The parliament.uk website will also help you find your MP’s webpage detailing when they hold constituency surgeries and how to make an appointment to see them.

Remember, an MP has a duty to see their constituents and an MP is meant to represent a constituent’s interests even if they disagree.

NDYUK will have an information sheet available with key points for you to print out and leave with your MP.  Your personal reasons for opposing the legalisation of assisted suicide however, will have the most impact – after all, your local MP is more likely to be concerned about issues that directly affect their constituents.  If your MP is also opposed to the Bill then you could ask them to help with our campaign, to debate against it in the Commons and to publicly speak out against the Bill in the media.

 

Most importantly, whether or not your MP shares your view, ask them to attend the debate and vote on September 11th.

 

Please make an appointment to see your MP before July 21st and if you really cannot visit them, write a letter or at least email them before July 21st.

 

Let us know how it goes, how your MP intends to vote & if you need any more information.  Thanks and good luck!

Jun 192015
 

12.30 – 3.30pm

RMT Head Office at Unity House, 39 Charlton St; London NW1 1JD

 

This meeting will be a chance for local London DPAC groups and members to share information, catch up on current key national DPAC campaigns and agree priorities for our activity over the Summer.

 

The venue is wheelchair accessible and the meeting will be BSL interpreted. Please specify other access needs when booking.

 

Space is limited so please book if you planning to come by emailing: ellen.clifford@inclusionlondon.co.uk

 

 

Agenda

12.30 – 12.45pm Sign in

12.45 – 1pm Welcome and introduction

1 – 2pm Feedback from local DPAC groups and campaigns

2 – 2.30pm Break

2.30 – 3.30pm Priorities and actions

 Posted by at 22:22
Jun 172015
 

Reblogged from Kate Belgrave’s blog: http://www.katebelgrave.com/2015/06/and-so-the-dwp-washes-its-hands-of-the-independent-living-fund-meltdown/ Twitter: hangbitch

 

There are now just two weeks left until the Independent Living Fund closes.What a shambles this closure is.

The ILF is a fund that severely disabled people use to pay for the extra carer hours they need to live independent lives. But never mind that: the government will close the ILF on 30 June – a monumentally unpopular and unnecessary decision which disabled campaigners have fought since the closure was announced in 2012. With just two weeks to go, the thing is in meltdown. Some ILF recipients in England still don’t know if their councils will pay for the care that the ILF covered, especially in an ongoing way (ILF funding in England will be devolved to local authorities for just a year). You can imagine the distress this is causing disabled people and their families. You can read about thathere and here.

This 30 June closure was a coalition government decision out of the DWP, but you can forget about that lot taking responsibility for the distress and the mess. Government and the DWP have already washed their hands of it. The official line is that any problems with the ILF closure in England – and there are plenty, as I say – belong firmly to councils. We may as well note this for the record.

I asked the DWP about support it could offer to people who still hadn’t alternative care packages in place by 30 June, or who still didn’t know what would happen to their care when the ILF closed. The DWP didn’t quite say Don’t Bore Us With That, but it might as well have: from 30 June, the department said, “sole responsibility” in England for “former-ILF user” care lay with councils. No point making calls to the department in the meantime, either: “Any ILF user who has concerns about future funding from their local authority should contact the local authority directly.” Not Our Problem, in other words. Government has left the building. Disabled people and councils have been left to fight it out.

Disabled People Against Cuts and supporters will lobby MPs about the ILF closure on 24 June. Details here.

Video: Corrie stars back the Independent Living Fund:

Video: Disabled campaigners occupy Westminster Abbey in June 2014 to protest government plans to close the Independent Living Fund:

Picture: police stand on tents to stop disabled people setting up a Save The Independent Living Fund protest camp at Westminster Abbey last year.

Police standing on tents

Video: Independent Living Fund recipient Gabriel Pepper explains why he needs the extra carer hours that the ILF pays for. Gabriel has had three brain tumours. He is one of the ILF recipients who still isn’t sure if his council will meet all his care needs after 30 June.

 

 Posted by at 16:24
Jun 172015
 

We are reproducing in full the letters published by the Guardian in response to the letter by Justin Tomlinson, Minister for Disabled People, published in the same newspaper:  http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jun/11/impact-of-changes-to-disability-benefits

ILF

Justin Tomlinson’s letter in response to Aditya Chakrabortty’s article (Disabled people have become human collateral in an ideological war, 9 June) is a travesty of the truth. One glaring inaccuracy is his claim that under current government proposals closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) and transfer to Local Authorities (LAs) will not take support away.

 

In the high court last year the DWP argued that the then Minister for Disabled People Mike Penning was made fully aware of “the inevitable and considerable adverse effect” that closure of the ILF and transfer to LAs would have on disabled people.  In the judgment passed down on 8 December 2014 Justice Andrews concluded that the assumption on which Mr Penning based his decision was that “independent living might well be put seriously in peril for … most (or a substantial number of) ILF users”.

 

The straight contradiction between the DWP’s arguments in court and Justin Tomlinson’s assertions to the Guardian mean that either the DWP were lying then or that the Minister is lying now.

 

The amount of funding being transferred to LAs is less than what is currently paid out disabled people through the ILF. Local Authorities also operate different eligibility criteria to the ILF which will exclude some disabled people from support. The government response to their consultation on the closure of the ILF stated that; “We expect that some users are likely to see changes in their funding packages as eligibility is aligned using local authorities’ criteria… Whilst some Group 1 users may find that their levels of need will mean they are not eligible for support”.

 

There is plenty of evidence from the reviews and reassessments of ILF recipients by their LAs that are currently taking place ahead of closure at the end of June that demonstrate the very real cut in support that transfer means. We are more than happy to share this with the Minister but responses to a number of requests to meet him on this issue have informed us his diary is too busy until October.

 

Ellen Clifford, Disabled People Against Cuts

Linda Burnip, Disabled People Against Cuts

Tracey Lazard, Inclusion London

Mark Harrison, Equal Lives

Alison Playford, Occupy London

Kate Belgrave, journalist

Debbie Jolly, Disabled People Against Cuts

Paula Peters, Disabled People Against Cuts

Anita Bellows, Disabled People Against Cuts

Bob Ellard, Disabled People Against Cuts

Roger Lewis, Disabled People Against Cuts

 

Access To Work

 

The gap between the rhetoric of the new Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson (“We’ve got thousands more disabled people into work, but there’s more to do” 3 June 2015) and the true impact of his government’s policy on disability employment support is staggering.

 

Tomlinson says “I am pleased that recognising disabled people’s abilities and providing support to enable them to realise their aspirations is higher up the agenda than ever before”.

 

The reality for Deaf and disabled people is one where we are increasingly held back from fulfilling our potential, particularly within the field of employment, as a direct result of changes to government policy.

 

On 12 March 2015 the DWP published proposals to limit spend on Access to Work, the government’s very successful disability employment support programme. The impact of this will be to set a cap on ambition, restricting the aspirations of Deaf and disabled people with anything but minimal support needs and barring people from certain jobs and careers, not because they don’t have the skills but because they have an impairment.

 

Besides the equalities argument there is also a strong economic case for investment in Access to Work (ATW), which brings back to the Treasury more than it costs. The Sayce Report found that for every £1 invested in ATW, £1.48 comes back through taxes. This is without taking into account wider net savings from health and social care.

 

The government has nevertheless failed to carry out the financial review recommended by the Work and Pensions Select Committee or to explore an AME/DEL switch for ATW where funding saved from future benefit expenditure is invested into the scheme as people move into work.

 

Instead they are pushing ahead with plans which will curtail Deaf and disabled people’s ability to get into and stay in work. Meanwhile, employment rates for disabled people are still below the 2007 figure.

 

We would urge the new Minister to think again.

 

Geraldine O’Halloran, co-founder, StopChanges2ATW

Jenny Sealey, Artistic Director, Graeae theatre Company

Nicky Evans, Secretary, National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters

Tracey Lazard, Inclusion London

Linda Burnip, co-founder, Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC)

Debbie Jolly, co-founder, DPAC

Ellen Clifford, National Steering Committee, DPAC

Paula Peters, National Steering Committee, DPAC

Bob Ellard, National Steering Committee, DPAC

Anita Bellows, DPAC

Andy Greene, National Steering Committee, DPAC

Ann Whitehurst, DPAC

 Posted by at 16:18
Jun 172015
 

Conference

Tuesday 14 July 2015,

11-4pm,

Hotel Novotel Sheffield Centre,

50 Arundel Gate,

Sheffield, S1 2PR

Now more than ever Disabled people and our organisations and networks need to work together to protect & defend our rights and develop our own voice and policy ideas.

This conference organised by the Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance (ROFA) is inviting representatives from Disabled Peoples Organisations(DPO’s) and networks from across England to meet together to:

  •   Take stock following the election and explore likely implications of new Government policy for disabled people.
  •  Identify our disability equality campaigning priorities for the next year.
  •  Identify the policy issues our movement needs to explore and progress.
  •  Build and strengthen ROFA as a really effective network of grassroots DPOs.

 

The conference will include a keynote speech from Jenny Morris, plenty of time for small group discussion & Networking plus free lunch and refreshments.

To book a place at the conference:

Please email andrew.crooks@disabilitysheffield.org.uk

Or

Phone Andrew tel: 0114 2536752

The venue is fully wheelchair accessible. If you require

BSL interpreters, e note-taker, audio-loop or any other

access arrangements you must email: andrew.crooks@ disabilitysheffield.org.uk

or phone Andrew tel:0114 2536752

by 5pm on Monday 15th June 2015 as we may not be able to meet your access needs after this date

More information about the event, together with an agenda and travel information about getting to the venue will be sent once your booking has been confirmed

Jun 142015
 

While the Labour party still scrambles among the election debris searching for its identity and running focus groups to find out if it should be circa 1990s Bluritte retro Tory in shocking pink, or a Tuesday-an unpleasant creature seems to have emerged from the Wolverhampton dust…

Rob Marris Labour MP for Wolverhampton South West is a bit of an Indiana Jones: ex lumber jack, ex truck driver, traveller, sociologist and solicitor.  He also has a distaste for parked vans. In 2008 he caused £350 worth of damage to a van parked by a bus stop when he jumped on the bonnet because he didn’t like the way it was parked. While other people walked around the van, Rob chose to jump on the bonnet.

Colin Molloy, the district CPS prosecutor, said: “There were two vehicles parked in front of a bus stop with a small gap between them.” Others had walked through the gap but Mr Marris chose not to, Mr Molloy said. “The van was not parked to his liking,” he added. Marris admitted it was an ‘unconventional’ act and accepted a conditional caution. Unconventional is one term: contemptuous violent disregard for others property and person is another.

On the 31st July Rob Marris is hosting The Silence of Suicide. The event blurb says: ‘Strange title you may think … but it is the silence that precedes the ultimate act of those who tragically decide to end their lives’.

So it’s even stranger then, that this is the same Rob Marris who has resurrected the “assisted suicide” or “assisted dying” Bill via some archaic competition in which he was the MP who got to choose a Bill.  By this process, and choice, Marris is the man responsible for reopening the door of Falconer’s state sanctioned killing proposal.  The idea being that a doctor can leave you a lethal cocktail which you can take when he/she leaves the room, or have forced down you when he/she leaves the room-actually there are no safeguards on that unless your home is fully fitted with CCTV. Were there any other Bills he could have sponsored? Yes there were..

LBBill

Marris is a self confessed patron of Wolverhampton Mencap (Rights not Charity by the way Rob) but we’d still imagine he’d spare a thought for the LBBill  (see https://lbbill.wordpress.com/ ). A Bill intended to prevent the abuse, neglect and deaths of people with learning difficulties locked away in institutions often many miles from their families. Marris’ constituents wrote to him asking him to support the important Bill and presented the reasons why he should. But Marris replied that he had his own ideas.

 I already have a couple of ideas, and I’m sorry to disappoint you but the interesting-sounding Bill you suggest is not one of them.

I am a patron of Wolverhampton Mencap, and I can only hope that the problems you delineate are not present at New Cross (no we didn’t understand what that meant either).

Rob Marris

His idea was not to save countless lives, prevent misery and abuse of human rights, but to resurrect the call for death-A call that the majority of Doctors and the BMA rejects.

It’s the van all over again: A contemptuous violent disregard for others property, person and life. Not only will refusing to back the LBbill cost lives, but the dragging back of the assisted killing bill shows a complete contempt for disabled people. A complete ignorance of the circumstances we find ourselves in with social ‘care’ at breaking point, the loss of the ILF, £12.5bn more cuts to come, newspapers screaming scrounger, the rise of hate crime and the collapse of welfare support.

There couldn’t be a more dangerous time to bring back the Bill. But maybe that’s the idea, with little between Labour and the Tories, the shrinking of the state along with the culling of more disabled people through the assisted dying/suicide/killing Bill- it couldn’t be better timed. Why try to right the wrongs in long term hospitals, prevent deaths in long stay institutions, attempt to recognise human rights when people are tied down against their will or force fed psychotic drugs in long stay institutions-they needn’t bother with any of it.

Marris also needn’t bother with the hundreds of disabled adults in Wolverhampton who are Independent Living Fund (ILF) users. Wolverhampton ILF users are set to lose £784,000 when the ILF closes on June 30th and monies transfer to the local authority. At the time of writing Wolverhampton social services have refused to tell the 300 ILF users in Wolverhampton what’s going to happen to their support. Marris doesn’t seem particularly bothered either.

Marris doesn’t care about ILF users, he doesn’t care about the human rights abuses happening in long stay hospitals and institutions. He cares about the horrors of suicide while simultaneously imposing state sanctioned suicide on disabled people.

Ann Whitehurst sums it up

Rob Marris, Labour MP, was number 1 MP on the PMB ballot list and was therefore in a position to save countless disabled people’s lives and prevent thousands from abusive neglect. A number of requests were made for Rob Marris to present the Disabled Peoples Community Inclusion bill, known as LBbill, including one from Bob Williams-Findlay who lives in Marris’ constituency but he declined to sponsor the bill preferring to use his position of being in line-up for ‘private members bill’ to sponsor killing us rather than including us in life.

When have any of these Labour MPs who want us dead ever put forward Assisted Living bill? How many fought for the ILF? How many support people to get decent Care Packages from their social services? Labour fascism”.

Rob Marris we’re bringing a van to Wolverhampton very soon and we don’t think you’re going to like where we’ll be parking it.

Rob is on twitter @WSW_Labour why not let him know what you think

 

 

 

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/labour/2076906/Labour-MP-Rob-Marris-cautioned-for-damaging-van.html

https://lbbill.wordpress.com/

http://www.changepeople.org/blog-and-news/justice-for-laughing-boy-a-new-bill-for-parliament/

http://www.robmarris.net/the_silence_of_suicide

http://www.expressandstar.com/news/2015/06/10/fears-over-780000-disability-benefits-in-wolverhampton-council-change/

 

 

 

 Posted by at 14:48
Jun 132015
 

Ref: ESA50 forms

13.06.15

Dear Maximus,

DPAC has become aware of a number of serious issues in relation to the ESA50 form.  In fact, the evidence received seems so extreme as to be almost unbelievable but a pattern has started to emerge.

For example, this month, a benefit claimant has been refused ESA (and a mandatory reconsideration upheld the decision), based on an assessment, but also based on an ESA50 form which 2 years earlier contributed to the same decision. But 2 years ago, the ESA decision was found to be flawed and overturned by a tribunal. Still, the same ESA50 form was used again this time by Maximus and the claimant has for a second time appealed the decision. But of course, this time, he has had to wait for the Mandatory Reconsideration outcome on no income before being allowed to lodge an appeal.

Another claimant was awarded ESA 2 years ago on the basis of the ESA50 he submitted, and was not required to undergo a face to face Work Capability Assesssment. But this month he has been asked to attend a WCA with Maximus without having to submit a new ESA50.  So assuming that Maximus is again using the same earlier ESA50 form to assess his capability for work, it should lead to the same conclusion that a face to face WCA is not needed to decide that he is entitled to ESA.

This does not make sense, and disabled people deserve much better than this.

While Maximus has shown itself to be fairly accomodating and prepared to accept more recent ESA50s and a reasonable deadline for completing the form when requested by claimants, that is just not good enough. Claimants should not have to argue their individual case in order that Maximus fulfill their contractual requirement for the issuing of ESA50 forms, nor should they have to negotiate a deadline for completing and submitting the form when DWP has decided that 4 weeks are necessary to do so.

The WCA is desperately flawed and badly failing many claimants, as shown by the recent story of a woman who was found fit for work although she has Parkinsons disease and a brain tumour, http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/woman-parkinsons-brain-tumour-ruled-5822041, which is why DPAC has repeatedly called for it to be scrapped, but in the meantime claimants deserve to be treated fairly, consistently and lawfully in their dealings with Maximus.

DWP’s argument for reassessing claimants endlessly is that medical conditions can vary, which makes the re-use of a 2 year old form unjustifiable, and this has been criticised by tribunals which have had to decide on these cases.  Likewise, claimants who are given less than 4 weeks to complete their ESA50 forms are placed at a substantial disavantage compared to claimants who benefited from 4 weeks to do so.

DPAC is demanding that Maximus and DWP ensure that every claimant is issued with an ESA50 before each WCA and is given 4 weeks to submit it. DPAC is also demanding that Maximus require claimants to attend a face to face Work Capability Assessment only after consideration of a recent or up-to-date ESA50

Anything less would be unacceptable and probably unlawful.

We look forward to your comments,

Yours sincerely

Disabled People against Cuts (DPAC)

 Posted by at 15:41

Jun 102015
 

Update we’re asking people to bring incontinence pads with them if they can tomoro-you’ll find out why on the day

Organised by the People’s Assembly

 

DPAC, Deaf campaigners and NUBSLI (National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters) will be marching together on 20th June. We want to make our block as colourful and lively as possible to get across the message loud and clear that we will fight the attacks against us being carried out in the name of austerity loudly and proudly. We are not going away! Disabled activist Liz Carr will also be speaking on the platform at the end of the march.

 

For anyone wishing to join the DPAC block for the long march, this block will meet on Walbrook which is opposite Cannon Street station. Meet from noon for start of march at 1.30pm.

 

There will also be a static protest opposite Downing Street which will feed into the DPAC block as it passes for a short march to Parliament Square.

 

Access information for the 20th can be found here:http://www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/access_info_20jun

 

 Posted by at 21:06
Jun 102015
 

Campaign against introduction of psychological therapies into Job Centres

MARCH ON STREATHAM JOB CENTRE – FRIDAY 26TH JUNE, 1.30 pm

MEETING POINT: STREATHAM MEMORIAL GARDENS, STREATHAM HIGH ROAD/ STREATHAM COMMON NORTH, LONDON SW16

STREATHAM JOB CENTRE PLUS: CROWN HOUSE, STATION APPROACH, LONDON SW16  6HW

* A pilot project to bring CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) into Job Centres starts at Streatham Job Centre Plus in June 2015.

* In the same month, Lambeth “Living Well Hub” for Community Mental Health Services is due to open in the same building.

*Mental Health Resistance Network is unhappy with these developments which are part of the government’s brutal “back to work” agenda.

*Mental Health Resistance Network has called a demonstration which will march on Streatham Job Centre on Friday 26th June.

*Mental Health Resistance Network is circulating an open letter to relevant individuals, charities and professional organisations stating our position and asking them to join us in our condemnation for these developments.

 

The text of the open letter is as follows:

Mental Health Resistance Network is organising a demonstration to take place at Streatham Job Centre Plus on Friday 26th June 2015, protesting against the opening there of Lambeth’s principal community mental  health centre  (“Living Well Network Hub”) the following Monday.

Streatham Job Centre also, from June 2015, hosts the first pilot of the DWP’s scheme to provide psychological therapies – specifically Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – at Job Centres for people suspected of having mental health problems. This is the first of ten pilot schemes in advance of a national project planned to begin in January 2016.

We are calling on you/ your organisation to state your position on these issues, and we hope join us in our condemnation of these developments.

As mental health service users, we are extremely unhappy with these developments. We deplore the government’s brutal “back to work” agenda, which is a front for cutting disabled welfare benefits for the most vulnerable. Mental health service users are understandably terrified of Job Centres and the threat of losing their benefits through Sanctions, or degrading and unfit-for-purpose Work Capability Assessments. With the main point of access to Community Mental Health services in Lambeth on the 3rd floor of a Job Centre, many of us will feel too frightened to ask for the help and services we need, and lose contact with services altogether.

Mental health service users are already reporting higher levels of fear, anxiety and anguish as a result of the increasingly difficult welfare benefits system, which is linked to an increasing rate of suicides. This situation will be exacerbated by the new developments.

We should not be put under pressure to look for work unless we feel capable. The competitive, profit-driven and exploitative nature of the modern workplace is not suitable for people whose mental health is fragile. But the location of the Network Hub at Streatham Job Centre put us under such pressure if we try to use mental health services.

Experts agree that CBT does not work for everyone; that psychological therapies are ineffective if they are forced on people; and that they need to take place in safe, unthreatening environments. We do not think making people have CBT at Job Centres will make anyone magically “fit for work.” We are concerned that people will be Sanctioned (i.e. have their benefits stopped) if they do not co-operate with this “therapy” either out of principle or because they are not well enough. “BACK TO WORK THERAPY” IS NO THERAPY AT ALL!

Additionally, we are concerned that this amounts to an extension of the coercive powers of the 1983 Mental Health Act amended 2007. Whereas at present people can only be forced into “treatment” under in-patient Sections of this Act or by Community Treatment Orders, making welfare benefits and by extension housing conditional on agreeing to psychological treatment broadens the principle of compulsion.

We condemn the involvement of  IAPTS in this attempt to make people undergo “therapy” at Job Centres, which we believe goes against professional ethics. We are also unhappy that psychiatrists, occupational therapists, nurses, social workers and other mental health professionals are also expected to work at Streatham Job Centre, again compromising their professional ethics, and we call on individual staff and collective agencies representing them to publicly oppose this development.

For more information contact:

mentalhealthresistancenetwork@gmail.com

 

 Posted by at 20:54
Jun 102015
 

With just over three weeks to go before the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF), soap stars and disabled campaigners have launched a new petition to defend disabled people’s right to independent living. The petition hosted by 38 degrees includes a film featuring the cast of Coronation Street and disabled actors Lisa Hammond (Eastenders) and Liz Carr (BBC Silent Witness) along with ILF recipients themselves.

 

The ILF was set up in 1988 to provide support to disabled people with the highest support needs to live in the community. Since then it has enabled thousands of disabled people to live full and meaningful lives, able to contribute to society and participate through education, employment, volunteering and taking on caring roles within their own families. ILF recipients employ teams of Personal Assistants thereby contributing to their local economies.

 

At a time when the wider social care system is in crisis,  the ILF works extremely effectively with high satisfaction rates and excellent value for money (1). It seems nonsensical then that the government is planning to permanently close the ILF from June 30 2015 and transfer responsibility to struggling cash strapped local authorities (2). A high court ruling last year about the decision to close the fund referred to “the inevitable and considerable adverse effect” this would have on disabled people and how “independent living might well be put seriously in peril for… most (or a substantial number of) ILF users” (3).

 

The petition calls on David Cameron to over-turn the decision to close the Independent Living Fund which was taken without a vote in Parliament, or to at the very least ringfence monies devolved to local authorities specifically for the needs of ILF recipients and social care. Whereas the government’s of Scotland and Northern Ireland have committed to create their own versions of the ILF, and the Welsh government has said it will put money aside to help recipients for 9 months, disabled people currently receiving the ILF in England will be left unprotected.

 

Cherylee Houston who plays Izzy Armstrong in Coronation Street and who has been the driving force behind the petition said: “I had to speak up, I realised I have a voice and I couldn’t stand by and let this happen to my community.  I remember when I first became disabled I researched our history – the Independent Living Fund was the thing which allowed us to live in and contribute to the community; without this we are going back to where disabled people were ‘locked up’, it makes me want to weep – we’ve fought so hard for equality and how can anyone take away another human being’s independence?  Please please help us not going backwards, we’re the section of society who has a smaller voice than the rest of you – we need help to make that voice stronger  – please don’t stand by whilst it’s smothered.”

 

To sign the petition go to: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/defend-disabled-people-s-right-to-independent-living

The campaign Disabled People Against Cuts has called a lobby of Parliament for 24th June for a final call on Parliament to reverse the closure. For more details go to: www.dpac.uk.net/2015/06/SaveILF-lobby-Wednesday-24th-June-London/

 

For more information contact:

Ellen Clifford

07505144371

Ellen.clifford@inclusionlondon.co.uk

 

 

Notes for editors

 

  1. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/independent-living-fund-annual-report-and-accounts-2013-to-2014

 

  1. The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services has warned that Councils in England are facing a £1.1bn shortfall this year, on top of “almost unendurable” cuts since 2010:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-32997697

 

  1. The full judgment can be read here: http://www.bailii.org/cgi-bin/markup.cgi?doc=/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2014/4134.html&query=title+(+aspinall+)&method=boolean

 

  1. For information on what is planned in the devolved administrations:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/scottish-governments-decision-on-a-scottish-independent-living-fund

http://www.welfareweekly.com/northern-ireland-independent-living-fund-to-be-administered-in-scotland/

http://www.communitycare.co.uk/2015/03/13/waless-independent-living-fund-users-given-nine-months-protection-cuts-agency-closes/

 Posted by at 00:07
Jun 092015
 

In an article published on 5th June the Daily Mail reported that two sign language interpreters had defrauded the Department of Work and Pensions

(DWP) via the Access to Work scheme.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3112470/1million-sign-language-fraudsters-guilty-scamming-taxpayer-pay-luxury-holidays-claiming-work-21-hours-day.html

The story misrepresents the hundreds of professionals who provide an essential service and take an average of seven years to train.

The National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters (NUBSLI) have checked the names of the individuals involved and can confirm that neither of the two individuals being charged were members. Whilst we believe Angela Poole may have been registered as a British Sign Language (BSL)/English interpreter, George Taylor was not.

Prior to any allegations of fraud being made, BSL/English Interpreters/translators have been calling for Access to Work to improve their processes and communicate how both professionals and Deaf people could safeguard against fraud. These concerns were raised due to the large numbers of unregulated agencies being used by the DWP.  The DWPs failure to monitor agencies is clear. Whilst NUBSLI remain outraged by the behaviour of the two individuals involved, important questions need to be asked of the DWP.

The #ScrapTheFramework campaign (http://www.nubsli.com/our-work/scrap-the-framework.php) was recently established to oppose the governments bid to establish a national framework for interpreting and translating. The initial drafts of the framework did not provide adequate safeguarding or a requirement for interpreters to be registered. Agencies have the potential to use unqualified people and charge extortionate amounts whilst driving down the fees paid to properly regulated qualified interpreters and translators.

The article in the Daily Mail was a direct attack on both BSL/English interpreters/translators and members of the Deaf community. With the government pushing ahead with caps and changes to the Access to Work scheme that will see Deaf and disabled people struggle to keep their jobs (for more information go to: https://stopchanges2atw.wordpress.com), and the Crown Commercial Services are trying to establish a framework to drive down interpreters fees, the timing of this article is no coincidence.

NUBSLI will be meeting the new Minister in July to explain more about the BSL/English interpreting profession and the importance of only using registered fully qualified or trainee interpreters. They will also take the opportunity to remind government rely on BSL interpreters to fulfil their basic statutory duties to Deaf BSL users.

 

 Posted by at 20:46
Jun 092015
 

Irwin Mitchell’s Public Law team has ensured that a disabled man will receive funding from his Local Authority adult services department to replace the care funding that he will lose when the Independent Living Fund (ILF) closes at the end of June 2015.

Family members of P, a 28-year-old man with complex health and learning needs, including cerebral palsy and associated communication difficulties, approached Mathieu Culverhouse at Irwin Mitchell’s Manchester office after his Local Authority failed to confirm that it would replace the element of funding he currently receives from the ILF when it closes on 30 June 2015.

The ILF currently pays for over two thirds of P’s care package costs and so losing any portion of this funding would have had an obvious and significant impact on meeting his assessed care needs and potentially force a situation where family members or others would be required to act as carers.

Irwin Mitchell successfully challenged the council on the basis that the Local Authority has a duty under the Care Act 2014 to meet P’s needs and to ensure that his care and support continues uninterrupted when the ILF closes. The Local Authority has now agreed to provide funding to P in an amount equivalent to that previously paid by the ILF until such time as it has carried out a lawful assessment of P.

The ILF funding from central government will be transferred over to local authorities from 1 July 2015 and the responsibility to meet all care and support needs will be met by councils in line with their duties under the Care Act 2014.

P’s father commented: “Since the decision to close the ILF in December 2014 we, and other families who had been assessed as requiring this funding due to caring for someone with complex needs, have unfortunately been left by the Local Authority not knowing what was going to happen to their fund, causing a great deal of stress.

“The fact is without Irwin Mitchell challenging the Local Authority we would still be awaiting an answer from the Local Authority, who are not making the situation less stressful for families in our position.  Although the government have not ring-fenced the fund transfer from ILF, Local Authorities should not  forget their duty of care and should act as social workers not as accountants.

“Although we are very concerned that this is just the start of our long stressful journey to ensure the right level of funding, thanks to the help of Irwin Mitchell the rights and needs of our son have not been ignored.”

 Posted by at 12:22