Apr 272017
 
RMT Rally in defence of workers rights and disabled people's access to transport

RMT Rally in defence of workers rights and disabled people’s access to transport

Good afternoon! My name is Miriam Binder and this is the Grim Creeper also known as my wheelchair, or power-chair to those more technically inclined. We just get on with things and when my legs won’t bear the weight, Grim Creeper steps in and provides me with the trundle power to get where I am going. Well … that is the general idea anyway.

Grimmy and I are a couple of independent travelers. We don’t have a carer who, much like the famed ‘lepers bell’ from years gone by, comes along wherever we go. We do our own shopping, we collect grandchildren from school, we take grandchildren shopping for Mummys’ birthday present or, occasionally, that extra special pair of trainers Daddy said was not in the budget. And we go to London, Manchester, Birmingham, Chester and any other place we want to go.

As long as it isn’t St Heliers though … St Heliers is an unmanned station … one of quite a number, and an increasing number at that, that is out of bounds for the Grim Creeper and me. Sadly though it isn’t just unmanned stations that are an issue. Despite the Equality Act 2010 stating that transport must be accessible to all there has been little progress in applying this to Rail Transport. To date, as things stand, only 1 in 5 of all stations in the UK is fully accessible.

A couple of years ago I needed to get to Chester for a course I was to attend. It was quite a lengthy journey from my home in Brighton and so I planned ahead and made sure I contacted Assisted Travel well in advance of my prospective journey. In fact it was about a week or so before. As it happened, trouble started as soon as I arrived in Euston to get on my Chester bound part of the journey. I wasn’t on the list. Never mind, if I cared to wait someone would put me on the train. As an aside, no one saw fit to inform me that there was no refreshment trolley, that the wheelchair space was in full sunlight space with no room to move and that the canteen on the train was not accessible for lone wheelchair using travellers.

When we got to Chester, everyone alighted from the train and I waited for someone to fetch the ramp to get me off the train. The train started filling up with people London bound and I was still waiting. No one had seen fit to inform the driver, the guard nor the destination station that a wheelchair passenger was on the train. I had to push the alarm to avoid being returned to London.

In January of this year I had an early appointment in London. I was quite ready to take a late train to London and spend the night at Victoria Station to make sure I’d get to my appointment on time. No need I was informed by the helpful staff at the Travel Centre at Brighton Station. There is a train at 6:48am that will get you there in plenty of time. I duly presented myself at Brighton station at 6am. I was assisted on to the train at 6:40am. At 6:50am the train was full to bursting with commuters and we were informed that we would be diverted via Lewes.

I decided to get off the train but, due to a lack of ramps, and the fact that the cover to the alarm button was locked, I was unable to contact the guard. To cut a long story short, I spent 2.5 hours being dragged through Lewes, to Haywards Heath to a field half way to Three Bridges where we sat for about 15 minutes before being told that we were being diverted back to Haywards Heath where I finally managed to get off the train. To get a train back to Brighton having totally missed my appointment.

These are but two instances where the guard was effectively absent from the train as far as Grimmy and I were concerned. We were travelling on what, to all intents and purposes was a Driver Only Operated (DOO) train. I was nothing but a not very important parcel despite having paid my full fare. These two, along with a number of other instances over the years of travelling with Grimmy and her predecessors, made it clear to me that for travelers like me the proposal to operate DOOs on all Southern Rail was to be fought, tooth, nail and final breath, to the bitter end and beyond.

We’ve heard a lot about this ‘Assisted Travel’ and the ‘requirement’ placed on all ‘disabled’ passengers to book their journey 24 hours in advance of travel. If you were paying attention during my ramblings you will recall that I did indeed use Assisted Travel for my trip to Chester. Not because I am an aficionado of ‘Assisted Travel’ but because it was a lengthy journey, involving a number of changes and different train franchises – Southern and Arriva if my memory is not at fault. It did not ensure that my journey was hassle free.

Having said that, I can see the sense in using something like Assisted Travel when you are embarking on a lengthy and complex journey; however, and yes there is a however, this holds not just for us ‘impaired’ travelers but for all train travelers because of the complexities involving changes, different companies and the need to ensure that you know what platforms you need to be on at the various stations you will alight and embark from during your journey.

This is the anniversary of the fight to keep guards on the train; a whole year of strikes, upheavals and the occasional confrontation. As Southern has forged ahead and implemented the changes we oppose we have seen disabled travelers left on unmanned stations in their wheelchairs because there was no one to get them off the train at their desired destination. We have seen passengers getting caught in doors shut by drivers who are forced to rely on blurry and time delayed images on multiple screens. We have heard of yet another 33 stations, so far, that are going to be unmanned and part manned. Add this to what I said earlier … about only 1 in 5 UK stations being fully accessible in 2017 …

I am, apart from a pain in the neck, a mouthy female and the burden borne in style by my Grim Creeper, a mother, a grandmother, a friend and an activist. Things happen; my daughter in London may suddenly need Nanny to babysit her two gorgeous grandsons while Mummy works late. My friend in St Helliers may need my shoulder to cry on as her dog departs on his last journey. My pressure group ‘DPAC’ may need me to attend an emergency meeting with less than 24 hours’ notice. Or I may suddenly get a yearning to go and spend my hard earned cash in Littlehampton rather than Brighton Churchill Square. Or, shock and horror, I may suddenly cave in to the demands of my grandchildren and decide to take them all to Tillgate Park in Crawley one Sunday.

These are all normal, everyday issues that people face and … surprising as this may sound … so do we, the physically, mentally and cognitively impaired. Why should I, just because I happen to be impaired through no choice of my own, be required to forego on spontaneity because I cannot give Southern Rail at least 24 hours’ notice of my desire to indulge in some spontaneous activities; forgetting for the moment that there is something not quite right about spontaneous activity and 24 hours’ notice. My 9 year old grandson is doing something at school and wants Nanny to come and see him ‘oh and Nanny, it is tomorrow at 10am. Sorry sweetling, no can do as I haven’t the time to let Southern know?

Grimmy and I are fortunate. No one, seeing us, questions whether I am impaired. It is rather obvious. There are however many ‘hidden’ impairments that aren’t instantly recognizable. Mental health issues, cognitive impairments, various ailments that are accompanied with a variety of physical weaknesses … such as heart conditions, epilepsy and others.

I do recollect reading some guard … the name escapes me at the moment … who wrote that he had been told that it is cheaper for a franchise to pay a couple of million for the odd death then it would be to ensure that every passenger is as safe as can be during every single journey. Economically, I can see the argument works well but we are not crates of bottles, reams of paper or boxes of apples, all of which can be replaced given but time enough. We, as human and humane beings, impact on lives other than our own in ways beyond mere calculation. And that holds as true for the impaired as it does for the unimpaired.

Turn up and go is the principle behind the 2010 Equality Act. Turn up and go! With a straight forward journey, doing a normal everyday thing like commuting to work, taking a shopping trip, visiting friends or relatives, indulging the grandchildren or surprising a friend with a meal on the town. Turn up and go is the right of each and every single one of the over 10 million disabled people in the UK.

Just as a matter of interest, 19% of the working age population is disabled. That is over 6.9 million people. Two million people in the UK have impaired vision to varying extents. More than 900,000 people in the UK are severely or profoundly deaf. There are more than 45,000 deaf children in the UK; there are approximately 770,000 disabled children under the age of 16 … that is 1 child in 20 …. A huge number of people who all deserve to … Turn up and go!

When you attach a string of carriages to a powerful engine and send them all hurtling down a track from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ you have a captive ‘community’ – I’ll use the term community even if the only thing they have in common is the fact that they are all on this locked down string of carriages hurtling down a track.

A duty of care cannot be ignored however much you may want to do just that. And to ensure that duty of care is implemented, every train should have a driver and a guard as a minimum. A driver should be allowed to concentrate on getting the train where it is going. And we, the entire railway traveling population, deserve, require and insist on the presence of a safety critical trained guard for our security, safety and welfare in travel!

 Posted by at 23:05
Apr 262017
 

In 2016, despite opposition from campaigners, peers, charities and even Conservative MPs, the government voted to slash Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) by £30 a week for people in the Work-Related Activity Group (WRAG). The DWP claimed (as ever) that this would give people an ‘incentive’ to return to work, (but failed to supply any supporting evidence). Conservative MP, Heidi Allen MP argued “I do not believe mentoring and support alone will heat the home of someone recovering from chemotherapy, nor help out the man with Parkinson’s who needs a little bit of extra help.”

The WCA is an unreliable tick box exercise, driven by targets, and was ultimately designed to deny genuine claimants social security. Consequently severely disabled people end up in the WRAG, including Paul Mickleburgh, a man who has had 14 heart attacks.

People can find out how their MP voted here (note: only Tory MPs voted in favour of this). If you are unsure who your MP is you can use this website. Campaigner Rachael Swindon, has created memes of (almost) all the MPs who voted for this draconian cut. Here is an example:

(Description; on the right there is a photograph of MP Daniel Kawczynski. Text on the left reads: Daniel Kawczynski: Tory MP for Shrewsbury, Daniel on claming expenses: “I am always intrigued by the fascination with MPs’ expenses,” he said. “I just don’t understand what the story is”. The story here is simple Daniel,  you claimed £174,473.29 in one year BUT still voted to cut ESA for his sick and disabled constituents.)

Rachael’s memes highlight the hypocrisy of MPs, and how out of touch they are with their constituents; with her permission we have uploaded them to our google drive account (they are arranged by surname, in alphabetical order). Please name and shame your MP on social media (or even use them for posters). The war on social security must be an issue in the upcoming General Election. Some MPs on this list (such as Byron Davies) have wafer-thin majorities, and can easily be ousted from the Commons. (Please let us know if your MP is not included, and we’ll see what we can do).

Apr 242017
 

These are a list of GE 2015 election fraud MPs who cheated to win their seats. Their twitter names are included in this post and we suggest people remind them of what they’ve done. You might also like to add in @theresa_may to any tweets you make.

The twitter details are collated at the end of the post for easier use.

Wells

James Heappey beat Liberal Democrat Tessa Munt by 7,585 votes. 
Tessa Munt (Liberal Democrat) 18,662 32.8%

Spending limit: £16,092.51

Declared: £14,575.64

Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £633.13

@JSHeappay

 

Northampton North

Michael Ellis beat Labour’s Sally Keeble by 3245 votes.

Spending limit: £12,248.64
Declared: £11,418.70

Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £1,320.06

@Michael_Ellis1

 

North Cornwall

Scott Mann beat Liberal Democrat Dan Rogerson by 6,621 votes.

Spending limit: £14,732.43
Declared: £14,476.55
Not declared: hotels, food.

@scottmannmp

 

Weaver Vale

Graham Evans beat Labour’s Julia Tickridge by 806 votes.

Spending limit: £14,856.63

Declared: £13,720.32Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £1,013.69

@GrahamEvansMP

 

Sherwood

Mark Spencer beat Labour’s Léonie Mathers by 4647 votes.

Spending limit: £15,187.20
Declared: £12,760.00

Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £277.20

@Mark_Spencer

 

Thornbury and Yate

Luke Hall beat Liberal Democrat Steve Webb by 1495 votes.

Spending Limit: £14,709.21
Declared: £13,128.08

Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £568.87

@LukeHallMP

 

Kingston

James Berry beat Liberal Democrat Ed Davey by 2834 votes.

Spending limit: £13,660.32
Declared: £12,296.37

Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £786.05

@JamesBerryMP

 

Broxtowe

Anna Soubry beat Labour’s Nick Palmer by 4287 votes. 
Conservative gain

Spending limit: £15,000.09
Declared: £14,106.96

Not declared: bus, hotels, food, except for £140 paid to Beeston Conservative Club for “refreshments for Team 2015 activists”

Total estimated overspend: £1,256.87

@Anna_Soubry

 

Amber valley

Nigel Mills beat Labour’s Kevin Gillott by 4205 votes

Spending limit: £14955.09
Declared: £13881.62

Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £1,076.53

@NigelMillsMP

 

Morecambe and Lunesdale

David Morris beat Labour’s Amina Lone by 4,590 votes.

Spending limit: £14,626.23
Declared: £14,118.09

Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £1,641.86

@Davidmpmorris

 

Yeovil

Marcus Fysh beat Liberal Democrat David Laws by 5313 votes.

Spending limit: £16,242.54

Declared: £14,870.73

Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £778.19

@MarcusFysh

 

Pudsey

Stuart Andrew beat Jamie Hanley by 4,501 votes.

Spending limit: £12,823.38
Declared: £12,314.60

Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £1,641.22

@StuartAndrew

 

Plymouth Sutton and Devonport

Oliver Colvile beat Labour’s Luke Pollardby 523 votes.

Spending limit: £12,846.18

Declared: £8,769.37

Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £1,926.81

@olivercolville

 

Lincoln

Karl McCartney beat Labour’s Lucy Rigby by 1,443 votes.

Spending limit: £13,136.28

Declared: £12,628.68

Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £1,642.40

@KarlmccartneyMP

 

Torbay

Kevin Foster beat Liberal Democrat Adrian Sanders by 3,286 votes.

Spending limit: £13,217.88
Declared: £12,193.42

Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £1,125.54

@Kevin-j-foster

 

South Thanet

Craig Mackinlay beat UKIP’s Nigel Farage by 2,812 votes.

Spending limit: £15,016.38
Declared: £14,837.77

Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £1,971.39

No twitter

 

Nuneaton

Marcus Jones beat Labour’s Vicky Fowler by 4,882 votes.

Spending limit: £14,768.88
Declared: £13,435.51

Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £816.63

@MarcusJonesMP

 

Cannock Chase

Amanda Milling beat Labour’s Janos Toth by 4,923 votes.

Spending limit: £15,355.23
Declared: £14,465.95

Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £1,260.72

@amandamilling

 

Cheltenham

Alex Chalk beat Liberal Democrat Martin Horwood by 6,516 votes.

Spending limit: £13,229.34
Declared: £12,576.45
Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £1,497.11

@AlexChalkChelt

 

Dudley South

Mike Wood beat Labour’s Natasha Millward by 4,270 votes.

Spending limit: £12,295.68
Declared: £11,452.60

Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £1,306.92

@mikejwood

 

Sutton and Cheam

Paul Scully beat Liberal Democrat Paul Burstow by 3,921 votes.

Spending limit: £12,760.38

Declared: £12,461.20

Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £1,850.82

@scullyp

 

Bury North

David Nuttall beat Labour’s James Frith by 378 votes. 

Spending limit: £12755.40

Declared: £7151.30

Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £3,448.10

@DavidNuttallMP

 

Following further investigation by Channel 4 News, another six MPs have been identified who were visited by the Battlebuses but failed to declare the costs.

They are Neil Carmichael, MP for Stroud, @stroud-neil

George Eustice, MP for Camborne & Redruth, twitter account not used

Jake Berry, MP for Rossendale and Darwen, @JakeBerry

William Wragg, MP for Hazel Grove, @William_Wragg

John Stevenson, MP for Carlisle, @JohnStevensonMP

Mary Robinson, MP for Cheadle @MaryRobinson01

Collated twitter details

@JSHeappay, @stroud-neil, @JakeBerry, @William_Wragg,

@JohnStevensonMP, @DavidNuttallMP, @scullyp, @mikejwood,

@amandamilling,@AlexChalkChelt, @MaryRobinson01, @StuartAndrew,

@olivercolville,@KarlmccartneyMP,@Kevin-j-foster,@MarcusJonesMP, 3

@JSHeappay, @Michael_Ellis1,@scottmannmp,@GrahamEvansMP,@Mark_Spencer,

@LukeHallMP,@JamesBerryMP,@Anna_Soubry,@NigelMillsMP,

@Davidmpmorris,@MarcusFysh

 

With thanks to Daily Mirror for this information from their article

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/busted-29-tories-how-broke-7467603

 

 

 

 Posted by at 19:31
Apr 222017
 

13 million Disabled Voters say time for politicians to take us seriously

May 2nd meet 12.15 pm Old Palace Yard
As more and more disabled people are affected daily by the vicious cuts inflicted on us by the Tories. Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) are calling on all disabled people to register and vote in the forthcoming General Election to make sure that the Tories cannot win.

The 13 million disabled voters in the UK and their families very much hold the balance of power in this election, yet politicians continue to ignore us as a serious political force – but we are and will prove this in 2017.

With the Trash the Tories (#TrashTheTories) campaign, DPAC will be making sure that disabled people and their demands are not forgotten by candidates in the forthcoming election. Nor will we sit back quietly now the UN has found this Conservative government guilty of the “Grave and Systematic violation” of disabled people’s human rights.

Our lively protest on the final day that Parliament sits before the election will be followed up by further actions around the country against politicians who have voted for policies harmful to disabled people since 2010. This will culminate with a protest in Theresa May’s constituency of Maidenhead.

Funding available to help with any travel or PA costs you may have. If help needed please email details to mail@dpac.uk.net
 

Further reading


The 5 Tory benefit cuts taking force this week that could affect YOU
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/tory-benefit-cuts-today-disability-10144250?service=responsive

Cancer patient’s family stands to lose £50k under benefit cuts
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/apr/02/cancer-patients-family-stands-to-lose-50k-under-benefit-cuts

Benefit cuts: Five cuts coming into force this week – and they could affect you
http://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/benefit-cuts-five-cuts-coming-into-force-this-week-and-they-could-affect-you/story-30248892-detail/story.html

Limited life changes of disabled people in Britain revealed by damming report
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/apr/03/limited-life-chances-of-disabled-people-in-britain-revealed-by-damning-report

Imminent tax benefit cuts set to hit families hard and benefit the richest
http://www.itv.com/news/2017-04-05/imminent-tax-and-benefit-cuts-set-to-hit-families-hard-and-benefit-the-richest/

ESA disability benefits are changing – THE WEEK – here’s what you need to know
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/esa-disability-benefits-changing-week-10169466

Charity highlights impact of move from DLA to PIP
http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/23869

Universal credit benefit just changed today- here’s how it will affect you
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/universal-credit-benefits-just-changed-10197976

UK cutting benefits for people with incurable disease
http://presstv.ir/Detail/2017/04/10/517472/UK-Benefit-DWP-PIP

50000 disabilied people lose adapted vehicles in Tory benefits shake-up
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/50000-disabled-people-lose-adapted-10203451

The DWP decided to take away a disabled women’s Motability car after tickling her with a feather
ww.thecanary.co/2017/04/12/dwp-decided-take-away-disabled-womans-motability-tickling-feather/

Thousands of disabled people lose special cars due to controverial scheme
http://www.itv.com/news/border/2017-04-12/thousands-lose-cars-due-to-change-in-disability-benefits/

Disability benefit claimant was asked why she had not killed herself
https://www.sundaypost.com/fp/disability-benefit-claimant-was-asked-why-she-had-not-killed-herself/

Companies behind controversial disability tests set to get millions more in cash than planned
http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/politics/companies-behind-controversial-disability-tests-12891576

Man who lost mobility scooter under PIP brands assessment “outrageous” as 50000 have vehicles taken away
http://www.eveningnews24.co.uk/news/health/man-who-lost-mobility-scooter-under-pip-brands-assessment-system-outrageous-as-50-000-have-vehicles-taken-away-1-4975759

Pushed to the brink
https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-c9a6-Pushed-to-the-brink#.WQCrUYjyuUk

Unfair disability benefit changes
http://www.dailyecho.co.uk/yoursay/letters/15227004._Unfair_disability_benefit_changes_/

Sharp rise in rejected claims for disability benefit
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/apr/17/sharp-rise-in-rejected-claims-for-disability-benefit

Shock rise of people given ZERO points in the Tories’ cruel disability benefit tests
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/shock-rise-people-given-zero-10237346

DWP’s unfair twist for disabled people
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/apr/17/dwps-unfair-twist-for-disabled-people

200000 people facing cuts to disabiliy benefit
http://home.bt.com/news/uk-news/200000-people-facing-cuts-to-disability-benefit-11364173718886

The systematic Tory abuse of disabled people
http://anotherangryvoice.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/the-systematic-tory-abuse-of-disabled.ht

 Posted by at 21:05
Apr 202017
 

Crip the Vote UK Ballot Box MemeThis week Theresa May announced yet another Tory U-turn scrapping their fixed term parliaments to call a surprise General Election. This couldn’t possibly be because the CPS is likely to charge 30 of the corrupt bastards with fraud I suppose?

Like most other people I’ve probably had enough elections in the past couple of years to last almost a lifetime but it does give us all an opportunity to show how powerful disabled voters are and to get rid of the Tory vermin once and for all. And we need to do that for all of those previously driven to their deaths and for others still being harassed and vilified simply for being disabled.

For the past 7 years disabled people have been treated as scapegoats for the rancid and vile Osborne austerity agenda. As a group of people we have endured cuts which have impacted on us 9 times more than others and for those with the highest support needs 19 times more. The UN has found the UK Tory government guilty of the grave and systematic violation of disabled people’s human rights thanks to the efforts of DPAC and our supporters who presented evidence to the inquiry carried out in October 2015. So we have indisputable evidence from an internationally respected organisation about the atrocities people have been forced to endure.

It is vital that disabled people and their friends and families are registered to vote on June 8th and that they do vote to get rid of the Tories.

If you aren’t already registered this is how to

vote Registration

https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
you must register by midnight on Monday 22 May.

If you want a postal proxy  you must apply by Tuesday 23 May.

If you want a different type of proxy vote (someone to vote for you),  you must apply by Wednesday 31 May.

For an emergency proxy vote, for example if you end up in hospital, it’s 5pm on the day of the election.

 

While real change is unlikely to happen without a leftist Labour party in power our first battle must be against the Tories and ridding ourselves of them. In the 2015 general election Ed Miliband effectively threw away the bulk of the Labour vote in Scotland by refusing to run on an anti-austerity agenda and this will be problematic this time round but not impossible to combat.

What if you have a Labour MP who you don’t think it’s worth voting for? I’ve already seen people in Southwark saying they would never vote for the Labour MP there and then there’s Birmingham Yardley’s MP, Edgbaston’s MP and others. Worse could you/should you vote Lib Dem aka the little yellow Tories with a seemingly homophobic leader if they offer the opportunity to trash the Tories? Tactical voting to eradicate one scourge on mankind or voting from the heart might be the choice only you can make.

You’re all adults so in spite of requests we have no intention of telling you how you should vote but will be presenting various facts, figures and policies for you to consider over the next few weeks plus organising some fun activities on and off-line for you to take part in.

Graphic Images to download and share (all made by the ever-brilliant Brian Hilton)

#CripTheVoteUK MemeCrip the Vote UK Ballot Box MemeCrip the Vote UK Ballot Box Meme

And the following square images can be used as your  Twitter and Facebook Icons

Crip the Vote UK Ballot Box IconCrip the Vote UK Loud Hailer IconCrip The Vote UK Text Icon

 

 Posted by at 19:42
Apr 192017
 

Fight Rail Access cuts

Image of disabled people protesting about transport accessOn the 28th of April Transport for All will be protesting at eight stations across London, calling on the Government to reverse the shameful decision to cancel their key Access for All projects.

Over twenty years have passed since the rights of disabled people to access goods and services were passed into law – yet still many of us cannot use our local train station. Only 1/5 of stations in the UK are step free and the majority of stations do not have lifts, tactile paving, audio visual information, induction loops or the other fixtures that enable disabled people to use them.

Last week, Disability News Service revealed that “the UK has one of the least accessible rail systems in Europe“, contrary to recent Rail Delivery Group claim and their “‘shameful’ attempt to disguise Britain’s inaccessible network”.

Access for All projects have provided vital accessibility upgrades to stations across the UK. It has helped to open up vast swathes of our railways to many people who have never been able to use them before.

However, last year the Government chose to accept the findings of the Hendy review into Network Rail spending – slashing the number of Access for All projects to be delivered before 2019 by 50%

The Government’s decision to defer £50m worth of Access for All funding for another five years is major blow to rail access. Disabled and older people can’t be expected to defer their lives for another five years while accessibility funding is raided to plug holes elsewhere in the Network Rail budget.

Early last year TfA together with Inclusion London, Disabled People against Cuts, Disability Rights UK, RNIB, Muscular Dystrophy Campaign UK and Campaign for Better Transport wrote to the Secretary of State for Transport to express our dismay at the proposals, calling on them to ensure to deliver all the Access for All projects they had promised. Unfortunately the Government chose to push ahead with their plans – delaying accessibility projects at 26 stations across the UK.

In London, 8 stations are affected by this decision

  • Battersea Park
  • Hither Green
  • St Mary Cray
  • Seven Sisters
  • Peckham Rye
  • Streatham
  • Barnes
  • Petts Wood

Other affected stations across the UK are: Alfreton Parkway, Liverpool Central, Southend East, Llanelli, Barry Town, Luton, Market Harborough, Alok, Cathays, Northallerton, Trefforest, Chatham, Walton-on-Thames, Garforth, Weston-Super-Mare, Grays, Worcester Shrub Hill.

 

Since the beginning of this year TfA have been meeting with MPs from across the political spectrum including Chuka Ummuna, Bob Neil, Heidi Alexander and Sarah Olney who agreed to support the Access for All campaign in their areas.

Make your voice heard

Following the success of our Southern Rail action earlier this month we will be organising a coordinated protest at every station in London which has had an Access for All project deferred.

It’s so important that we show the Government just how much support there is for Access for All projects across London.

We need as many Disabled and older people as possible to take action outside the eight stations across London and to demand Rail Access Now

WHEN: April 28th

WHERE & TIME:

Barnes station: 17:00 – 18:00

Battersea Park station: 17:00 – 18:00

Hither Green station: 14:00 – 15:00

Peckham Rye station: 17:00 – 18:00

Petts Wood station: 17:00 – 18:00

Seven Sisters station: 17:00 – 18:00

St Mary Cray station: 15:00 – 16:00

Streatham station: 17:00 – 18:00

It is important that you register so we can keep you informed about the protest you will join at a specific station.

Please let us know if you can come by completing the following brief registration form.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/join-us-to-fight-rail-access-cuts-on-the-28th-april-registration-33620483772

Please contact catherine@transportforall.org.uk for more details.

 Posted by at 21:26
Apr 182017
 

The ESA cut is part of a drive to close the employment gap between disabled and non-disabled people, although the target to achieve this in 2020 has been scrapped. Almost everybody assumes that  most people placed in the Work related activity group will eventually get better and move into work. Nobody could have been more convinced of this that all the Tory MPs who voted for the ESA cut.

However, a 2014 Upper Tribunal judgment throws a different light on this. The 3 judge panels did not make a judgement on the suitability of placing some disabled people in the WRAG, but interpreted the law. This is what they said:

Although Mrs L had not put her case in quite this way, it would be fair to state it like this. The tribunal has accepted that I am not able to sustain sufficient activity to be capable of work and my condition is not going to improve, so what is the point of making me undertake activity to prepare me for work of which I will never be capable? The answer is that the law is not structured in that way. There are claimants who are not capable of work and never will be capable of work but whose condition and disabilities are not such that they can satisfy the conditions for the support group. To put it another way, the support group is not for those who will never be capable of work. It is for a narrower category. That may explain why, by Mrs L’s report, her Jobcentre Plus adviser has not asked her to undertake any work-related activity.

You can read the entire judgment here:”[i]

In other terms, claimants are placed in the WRAG not because they may be able to work again at some stage, but because they do not tick the right boxes to be assigned to the Support Group. These people who may have a progressive illness or have a prognosis of 2 years or over, which DWP recognised means unlikely to work again[ii] will suffer from April 2017 a cut of 1/3 of their income in exchange for employment support they do not need or cannot use. We know from a FOI request that 5,000 claimants have been in the WRAG since 2008[iii]. And DWP own figures show that 388,700 claimants (37%) have been placed in the WRAG since 2008 with a prognosis of 2 years or more[iv]. (click on the picture)

As the inherent flaws in the WCA have not been addressed, from April 2017 claimants who  the DWP recognises are unlikely to work again will be still placed in the WRAG. To add insult to injury, non only they would have to survive on very little money, be subjected to sanctions, and have uncovered extra needs due to their disability (only ½ claimants in the WRAG are claiming DLA or PIP), but it is very likely they would have to attend unnecessary Work Related Interviews by the sheer fact of being assigned to the WRAG

It makes a mockery of the Work Capability Assessment, which has nothing to do with assessing work readiness and capability in spite of its name, but whose whole purpose is to arbitrary assigns claimants to some groups, based on criteria that the government can change at will, according to how much money they are willing to spend on disabled people.

If your MP is a conservative who voted for the ESA cut, you should ask their thoughts about what should or will happen to these claimants in the WRAG who from April 2007 have been assessed by DWP as ‘unlikely to ever work again’.

[i] http://administrativeappeals.decisions.tribunals.gov.uk//Aspx/view.aspx?id=4295

 

[ii] https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm140701/text/140701w0001.htm

 

[iii] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/351360/foi-3129-2014.pdf

 

[iv] http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2016-02-19/27486

 

 Posted by at 17:29
Apr 172017
 
As some of you may know there is an opportunity for people along the route between Wolverhampton and Wigan to tell their story to the Mirror’s Road to Wigan Pier series.
Three of our supporters have already done this to help highlight the cuts disabled people face and links to their articles are here.
 
If anyone else is willing to speak to Ros Wynne-Jones or Claire Donnelly please phone 07538 000271 or you can sign up in the link below
 
 
 Posted by at 21:51
Apr 132017
 

For He Who Is Winning, Another Must Lose

A song about social justice (or the lack thereof). Written and performed by Ryan Fox. (Lyrics below)


Rich is a wolf, he cheats and he steals
He’s jolly well banking on insider deals
He lies in his den with a grin full of sin
As Sarah the cleaner mucks out his bin
He howls at her haircut and third-rate shoes
For he who is winning, another must lose

Lucy forgets to turn off the hob
The government says she should go get a job
The voices she hears make her feel sad
Though Sarah her carer makes things less bad
But working two jobs gives Sarah the blues
For he who is winning, another must lose

Rushing for the bus
Sarah has a fall
Racing to the A and E
She needs a new hip
The wait will be a year
‘Til then she can’t walk
Forced to take an office job
How will Lucy cope?

Upper side of town
Rich is racing fast
Didn’t see the ambulance
Crashed his Jag
Neck brace and physio
The firm will cover that!
He’ll be fit in no time
The very very best

Lucy forgets and now is forgotten
Society’s safety net ragged and rotten
Her benefits slashed for missing a meeting
No money for food or central heating
Lifting the cup to her cold, crusty lips
She takes enough pills to make it quick
This wasn’t the end she imagined she’d choose
But for he who is winning, another must lose

 Posted by at 16:17
Apr 122017
 

Have you lost DLA or PIP due to the change in descriptors from 50 metres to 20 metres in the mobility test.

If so and you’re willing to speak to a journalist about this please contact Emily Dugan from Buzzfeed news. They are doing a series of articles about disability cuts and need to speak to people.

 

emily.dugan@buzzfeed.com

 

020 3814 1907 | 077 1770 2566

@emilydugan

 

 Posted by at 21:23
Apr 102017
 

ITV are filming with the West Midlands Mayoral Candidates on Wed 19th April at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.

 

They are looking for someone who has had or is having problems getting accessible accommodation in that area and would be happy to ask questions to the candidates about what they might do to improve the situation for those with a disability.

If you can help please contact Alice Key | Production Journalist | ITV News Central

www.itv.com/central

alice.key@itv.com
084488 14131.

Twitter: @alice1992key

 

 Posted by at 19:53
Apr 042017
 

‘The Work Capability Assessment’ is a 30 minute presentation about the WCA, released by DPAC.

The Work Capability Assessment (WCA) is the primary assessment for Employment and Support Allowance, the main social security payment for disabled people and those with a long term health condition. In this documentary advocates, lawyers and claimants outline the fundamental problems with the WCA, and the adverse effects it can have on claimants. They show how the WCA not only fails disabled people, but fails on the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) terms; it can worsen people’s health and does not help them return to work. The WCA is carried out by private companies (initially Atos now Maximus). Although some assessments can be carried out smoothly and professionally, others are in buildings that do not have disabled access, require people in pain to sit for hours on hard chairs, and are carried out by assessors who can be rude, and even cruel.

We would like to thank everyone who volunteered their time to talk about the WCA. Some people have requested anonymity, therefore we have either a) used their voice only or b) got actors to record what they said (a lot of claimants are scared of the DWP).

It can be viewed on youtube:

and is available for viewing and download on Vimeo

The Work Capability Assessment from DPAC on Vimeo.

 

Please share this far and wide!

Apr 032017
 

Doug Paulley (who last year won a case in the Supreme Court over wheelchair access on Buses ) has written to DPAC with some important information about how disabled people can exercise their rights to travel on buses.

Doug Writes:

Through the Police Crime Commissioner, I’ve got West Yorkshire Police to recognise that a bus driver who refuses a wheelchair user access to an empty wheelchair space on a bus is committing a crime and should
face punishment.

The Police want wheelchair users to report such crimes to them.  They are ready and waiting to investigate and (if appropriate) prosecute the driver.

Disabled people, bus companies and drivers should all be made aware that such crimes should be reported to the Police.

Under the same legislation (1), drivers are also under a criminal obligation:

:- to accept passengers with assistance dogs

:- to allow a wheelchair user onto the bus even if the wheelchair space is occupied, if passengers and/or their effects in that space can readily and reasonably vacate it to another part of the vehicle

:- to operate a ramp or boarding lift, including by using the manual override if an electric mechanism is broken, whenever a wheelchair  user wishes to get on or off, e.g. when a wheelchair user presses the special blue button to indicate they want to get off

:- to help wheelchair users get on or off

:- to enable wheelchair users to access and leave the wheelchair space

:- to kneel the bus if they think a disabled person would benefit from it and/or if asked to do so

:- to ensure the bus is displaying the correct route number and destination.

The above duties are criminal duties on a driver, separate and additional to the duties under the Equality Act. Failure to comply  with the duty may result in a driver’s criminal conviction and a fine of up to £500 and endorsements on the driving license.

I would encourage disabled people and their allies to contact other Police Forces / Police and Crime Commissioners, to encourage them to take similar proactive action.

Doug

(1) http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2002/1724/pdfs/uksi_20021724_en.pdf

This is a forwarded message
From: [Redacted]
To: [Redacted]
CC:
Date: Tuesday, March 28, 2017, 9:16:17 AM
Subject: FW: Police action where a bus driver refuses to allow wheelchair users into   empty spaces [NOT PROTECTIVELY MARKED]

===8<==============Original message text===============
Classification: NOT PROTECTIVELY MARKED

Dear Mr Paulley,

I have heard back from West Yorkshire Police now. They have confirmed that bus drivers refusing access to wheelchair users is a summary only offence which can be enforced by the police. They have done some work to check whether any reports of this have been made to West Yorkshire Police since 1 March 2016 and cannot find any that match these exact circumstances, but there were 346 reports found with the keywords WHEELCHAIR and BUS with different circumstances.

They have said that any reports of access issues would be logged and an enquiry conducted on the evidence available. Prosecutions could subsequently be considered. The police would therefore encourage
anyone to contact the police if they believe they have been a victim of this crime.

They have acknowledged your concerns about lack of awareness of the legislation and have taken steps to ensure the Force’s Contact Centre staff are informed to ensure that any calls are handled appropriately.

I hope you find this information reassuring but please let me know if you have any further questions.

Kind Regards

[Redacted]

[Redacted]
Casework Manager
Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire
Follow us on Twitter – @WestYorksOPCC
Like us on Facebook – ‘Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner West Yorkshire’

Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire Ploughland House, 62 George Street, Wakefield, WF1 1DL Visit: www.westyorkshire-pcc.gov.uk for more information.

Help for victims and witnesses Independent, informed and impartial www.helpforvictims.co.uk

 Posted by at 22:46
Apr 032017
 

Potent Whisper (@PotentOfficial) has dedicated his song Deep Cuts to DPAC (Lyrics included below) .

Georgie (Potent Whisper) said

My name is Georgie, also known as rapper ‘Potent Whisper’. I have just released a music video called ‘Deep Cuts’ which I have dedicated to DPAC.

The video has been released on the second largest youth music platform in the UK: ‘Link Up TV’. They have over 1.2 Million followers on Facebook.

Link to this upload on Facebook: 

The video has also just been uploaded to a Youtube channel: ‘Global Faction’. They have over 70,000 subscribers.

Link to this upload on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8734ysjpRw

The song/ video is a response to austerity and the music video features DPAC’s name on screen at the end.

This is just a small thank you to all of you for your relentless, inspiring, hard work. I will take great pride in sharing this video and invite you to do the same if you like it.

Respect and deep solidarity.
Potent Whisper
@PotentOfficial
We hope you enjoy this as much as we do, here it is:

You can see more of Potent Whisper’s work here :  https://potent-whisper.bandcamp.com/?…

The Lyrics are reproduced below :

[Chorus]

They said they loved you, but then they cut you
They never loved you, they only fucked you
They said they loved you, but then they cut you
They never loved you, they never loved you

[Verse 1]

Run up on HMRC. Take an army in fake Versace’s
Stamp of the march like bass at parties
Take em all apart and claim our money
Gimme the p – gimme the money bags
Run up in the bank like “gimme the money back!”
Stand back! Grabbing that. Baddin the 1%
Then when I’m done there, I’ll run up on number 10

Baddin him up – jackin him up
Grabbin our cut – stackin it up
Imagine the rush, havin him up
One time. I’m hype. I’m baddin him up
It’s about cash, it’s about pride
It’s about tax, it’s about life
It’s about black, it’s about white
It’s about to bang, and fam it’s about time!

They’re spilling our blood, they’re killing our mums, they started war
If they wanna cut, we’ll build an army on the scars that form
Walking around, talking about how you and the countries’ screwed without them, but look who wars them now, even Iain walked out – he knew all about them!

[Verse 2]

They snatch you, abuse you
They trap you and use you
That’s their attitude, no gratitude
They’re attacking you like Zulu
They tax you, then cut you
They jacked you, they moved you
They had you, they dun you
They don’t have to, they choose to

Baddin him up – jackin him up
Grabbin our cut – stackin it up
Imagine the rush, havin him up
One time. I’m hype. I’m baddin him up
It’s about cash, it’s about pride
It’s about tax, it’s about life
It’s about black, it’s about white
It’s about to bang, and fam it’s about time!

They’re spilling our blood, they’re killing our mums, they started war
If they wanna cut, we’ll build an army on the scars that form
Walking around, talking about how you and the countries’ screwed without them
But look who wars them now, even Iain walked out – he knew all about them!

[Chorus x2]

 Posted by at 21:40
Apr 012017
 
 Posted by at 22:32
Apr 012017
 

From Monday (3rd April), new recipients of employment and support allowance deemed healthy enough to carry out ‘work related activities’ will get up to £1,500 less each year than existing recipients. Anyone who feels able to work and does so for over 12 weeks but then needs to reclaim ESA will be treated as a new claimant.

When this cut was announced DPAC sought the views of a barrister as to whether this could be legally challenged and the answer was once someone is affected by it then it can be challenged.

We are in touch with a solicitor who is keen to pursue a legal challenge and therefore need to find someone eligible for legal aid willing to make one. We believe this could not only be a new claimant but anyone who might wish to work more than 12 weeks but who would then be disadvantaged if they needed to reclaim ESA at a later date.

If anyone is interested in knowing more and able to help with this incredibly important legal challenge please email us mail@dpac.uk.net or contact us via @dis_ppl_protest

The Institute of Fiscal Studies has put forward a useful round up of this savage cut

https://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/9117

Cut to employment and support allowance

Employment and support allowance (ESA) is the main out of work benefit for working age individuals who are judged not to be ‘fit for work’ due to a health condition. There are currently around 2.2 million individuals claiming ESA, of whom 250,000 are waiting for a health assessment, 1.6 million are in the ‘support group’, and 400,000 are the ‘work-related activity group’ (WRAG). The latter group are those deemed healthy enough to carry out ‘work related activities’, such as CV preparation or skills training.

From next Monday (3rd April) new WRAG claimants will receive £73.10 a week – the same as jobseekers’ allowance (JSA) claimants – rather than £102.15 a week as is currently the case (those in the support group are unaffected). This change will not create immediate losses of benefit income, because only new recipients are affected. Ultimately though, of course, all claims will be assessed under the new less generous rules. To give a sense of how quickly this will cut the generosity of benefits in practice, in the recent past around 60,000 people a year have started an ESA claim and ended up in WRAG – so we would expect approximately that number to get less money over the coming year than they would otherwise have got. In the long run this is expected to save the government about £650 million per year, with around 500,000 recipients getting £1,400 a year less than they would otherwise have got, on average.

What do we know about the sorts of people who are placed in the ESA WRAG? First, around half of them are entitled to ESA because of mental or behavioural disorders. Second, they tend to be somewhat older than JSA claimants, with about half being between 50 and the state pension age compared to about a quarter for JSA. Third, they tend to be on ESA for a relatively long time, as shown in Figure 1. Hence, while this change will align the weekly entitlements of ESA WRAG and JSA claimants, it is worth bearing in mind that the ESA claimants will tend to live on these amounts for substantially longer – around four in five WRAG claimants have been claiming for over two years, compared to less than one in five for JSA.

Figure 1. Proportion of claimants by length of claim, various benefits

 

Note: Before being placed in WRAG or support group or being declared ‘fit to work’, claimants must go through an assessment, during which they are entitled only to the basic JSA rate. The above data include time spent in the assessment phase, which typically takes at least 13 weeks. This is part of the reason why the ‘up to 6 months’ bars are small for the WRAG and support group. However, since this policy only affects claimants post-assessment, the left-hand stacked bar does give an accurate picture of claim durations for the group affected by the policy change. Source: DWP Tabulation Tool: Employment and Support Allowance, May 2016, Office for National Statistics, UK Labour Market: March 2017, Table BEN02

People might respond to this change in several ways. First, they may not choose to claim ESA in the first place: since JSA will afford the same financial support as WRAG, the financial incentives to go through the medical assessment rather than accept the additional work conditions of JSA are reduced. Second, those placed in the WRAG might challenge the decision to try to get into the support group and receive the now much higher entitlement. At the moment around 20% of those placed in WRAG challenge the decision at least once, so there is considerable scope for this to become more prevalent. Third, as the government’s policy costing document points out, they may try to claim other benefits. The main option available here is personal independence payment, a non-means tested disability benefit. Not only does this provide income directly (between £22 and £141.10 per week), but receipt can also be an automatic passport to higher ESA entitlements. Fourth, they could move into work. Claimants may be constrained in the extent to which they can respond in this way – WRAG claimants have after all been declared by the government to have ‘limited capability for work’. On the other hand, a DWP survey found that 30% of WRAG claimants are already looking for work, and some research suggests that employment decisions among the disabled can be sensitive to the level of disability payments. However, many – perhaps the majority – will not respond in any of these ways and will therefore have to make do with an average of £1,400 a year less than they would otherwise have got.

 

 Posted by at 21:49