Dec 312017
 

As always we are so grateful to you all for the various types of support we’ve had this year from you. Without that support none of the things we do would be possible. We’ve seconded four extra people to the Steering Group this year and are very happy to welcome their input. We also always need help with the more boring admin tasks that are nevertheless so vital so if anyone has any time or energy to spare please get in touch with us at mail@dpac.uk.net

 

Also too I hope nothing vital is missed out of this round up but with around 15 pages of notes it is difficult to make sure everything and everyone is included.

This year saw yet another General Election and that together with the Brexit catastrophe we seem to be facing has made it difficult to raise our issues with politicians although we’ve succeeded in making ourselves very visible to them several times this year.

The unprecedented UN inquiry which we instigated found that the Tories (and indeed the Lib Dems and Sir Nick Clegg) were guilty of both the grave and systematic violation of our rights.

DPAC together with ROFA and Black Triangle Campaign have also been to Geneva in March and August to present further evidence to support these violations to the UN Disability Committee.This year as well as continuing to work on the Inquiry the Committee carried out the normal periodic review of the UK’s implementation of UNCRPD. This involved submitting two further detailed reports proving the regression and abuse disabled people face in the UK .

The UN report from this review was again very damning and Chair of the Committee, Teresia Derenger described what has happened to disabled people under the Tories rule as a “human catastrophe.”

 

We await the government’s response to that report which will no doubt be yet another barrage of lies and deceits as they thrash around trying to justify their horrendous treatment of disabled people. Meanwhile the research team continue to work closely with the UN to gather further detailed evidence of the atrocities faced on a daily basis.

 

Protests – both local and national

January started off with a protest at the High Court supporting Doug Paulley in his discrimination case against First Bus company.

We also protested against underhand changes to PIP regulations which were sneaked in and which have now been legally challenged.

LetmeLook TV

 

The judgement for the legal challenge is due any day now and we have been actively involved in supporting this including in November a vigil once again at the High Court with Mental Health Resistance Network and Winvisible.

We continue to work closely with the free psychotherapy network made up of MH survivors and professionals plus a smattering of others and had a lively early morning protest outside the Savoy Conference Centre with them.

We joined in with UNITE’s National Day of Action against Benefit sanctions as did many local DPAC groups at the end of March.

March and April saw a lot of joint actions with RMT over the plans to introduce Driver Only Operated trains which for disabled people will be a disaster further reducing our ability to travel when and where we want. Further protests with RMT have continued throughout the year in London, Yorkshire, Ipswich and Brighton in particular.

 

April and May also saw us very busy both visibly and invisibly fighting to #TrashtheTories as part of our #NotthefuckingTories election campaigning. We held our week of action from April 14th-21st.

We held a Tories Out protest at parliament and tried to get into Tory party HQ although surprisingly they didn’t let us in and barricaded themselves behind locked doors.

LetmeLookTV

https://lucaneve.photoshelter.com/gallery-slideshow/G00008dg0Wwz.5jA/C0000GPpTqAGd2Gg?start

As part of  #TrashtheTories we joined activists from Berkshire DPAC in Maidenhead (Theresa’s constituency) on June 2nd and also on the same day activists in Windsor to get our message about her and Theresa’s team out to the electorate. We had earlier considered visiting the village she lives in, Sonning, but the many heavily armed guards and lack of accessible toilets made it an undesirable target. What it is to be so popular you have to be protected by dozens of armed police.

We also invested a lot of money, time and effort into facebook adverts during the election campaign which allowed us to reach over half a million voters in the most marginal constituencies with a series of messages. Not all of the responses we got back to the adverts were positive as some of those we reached were Tory or UKIP voters. In London we had an active and successful campaign in Croydon to get rid of the sitting Tory MP and held hustings in several places as well as enrolling disabled voters.

https://dpac.uk.net/2017/06/dpac-launches-election-film-series/

DPAC Launches Election Film Series

Given the election and the loss of time for serious lobbying we thought in July just before MPs went off for the summer recess that they needed to be reminded we’re still here so we blocked the lobby entrance in parliament getting much needed media attention from that action. Later this year we were shortlisted for a Liberty Human Rights prize for this.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/demonstrators-house-commons-pmqs-disability-cuts-protest-wheelchairs-parliament-entrance-block-a7848876.html

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/07/19/529018/Demonstrators-block-UKs-House-of-Commons

https://www.rt.com/uk/396813-protesters-wheelchairs-disability-parliament/

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/furious-protesters-wheelchairs-block-house-10829364

We also joined a number of other protests the Budget Day Protest, various NHS protests both against STPs and calling for a Scrap to the Cap on pay, Anti-Atos protest in July, and a National Day of Action against Universal Credit about which we are calling for #StopandScrap and not merely #PauseandFix as we do not believe UC can be fixed as it is like the WCA essentially flawed based as it is on conditionality.

Manchester DPAC also planned and hosted the protest at the Tory Party Conference there organising a wall of noise to disrupt Theresa’s speech.

Local groups have also been involved in many local campaigns and protests against STPs, Atos, Maximus and DWP assessments, Housing Benefit cuts, against loss of local services, and against closures of Job Centres and women’s refuges to name but a few.

Speaking and other activities

DPAC activists have spoken at events and meetings around the country far too many to mention them all but some events DPAC speakers spoke at include Bridges without Walls, RMT rallies, International Women’s Day, Norwich May Day rally, National Pensioners Party Conference, Marxism, CWU disabled workers conference, Reb Law, South West UNITE Bristol history seminar, Bristol Austerity March, Pembrokeshire demo to unseat Stephen Crabb, Weston General Hospital save A&E department, anti DUP rally called by Owen Jones, NEU disabled workers’ conference,  LRC fringe at PCS conference, and speech sent to UCU Equalities Conference.

At the Labour Party Conference Paula spoke as a CLP delegate and raised the attacks against disabled people and Ellen spoke at the PCS meeting on transforming social security, at Momentum’s a World Transformed festival and was also on a panel with Dawn Butler and Owen Jones. Roger also spoke at a fringe meeting.

We also had a number of successful local direct action workshops through our Lock Up Your Wheelchairs tour.

Last February we also exhibited various art installations at the LUSH summit which lasted for 2 days and had over 2,000 visitors.

We’ve also with help from some of you been interviewed for numerous programmes both for viewing in the UK and abroad, written articles for publication both here and abroad and generally kept spreading the word whenever possible. As well as this we’ve had various research interviews for projects and helped with film work especially for the election campaign.

More recently a DPAC steering group member was involved in co-ordinating the National Disabled People’s Summit including 14 workshops to look at how we can more effectively co-ordinate our resistance to the Tories and bringing together ROFA and TUC disabled members. We also funded and organised with support from ROFA an Independent Living Campaign Conference and have been working closely with Fuel Poverty Action group against restrictions on the cap on energy Bills which at the moment will exclude many people who should get this help.

We have also supported disabled and anti-racism campaigners in Bristol to respond to the murder of disabled asylum seeker Kamil Ahmed and plan a national event for next year.

Next year we also plan a major campaign to #StopandScrap Universal Credit and will continue as always to fight for disabled people’s right to live independently with the right levels of support.

 Posted by at 18:38
Dec 232017
 

with thanks to Crippen, cartoonist extraordinaire

 

The DPAC steering group would like to wish everyone our best wishes for the festive season and the New Year. We’ll be posting an update of our activities, and those of some of our local groups, this year as soon as possible and have some exciting events and plans for 2018. Our fightback against injustice and oppression will continue.

 Posted by at 16:24
Dec 212017
 

Today, the 21st  of December, the High Court judge Mr Justice Mostyn allowed the claim in the case of RF v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. The case was brought by a Disabled person with mental health support needs to challenge the changes the government made to Personal Independence Payment Regulations in March 2017[i].

These changes were urgently introduced to reverse the impact of the Upper Tribunal Judgement in the case of MH v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (PIP): [2016] UKUT 531[ii] 

These changes prevent thousands of people who cannot plan and follow a journey due to psychological distress from qualifying for higher rates of this benefit or qualifying at all[iii].

The Public Law Project, who represented RF argued in court that the changes are discriminatory and unlawful, because they go against original policy intent of PIP[iv].

 

The court said today that the regulations were discriminatory, and they have been quashed but it won’t take affect until the court of appeal decides the government can appeal

Tracey Lazard, CEO of Inclusion London  said:

“This is a hugely important case.  It challenges the discriminatory way the government treats Disabled people with mental health support needs.  The outcome can make a difference to thousands upon thousands of Disabled people.  We have always believed that these changes are discriminatory and unfair and should have never been introduced. It is incomprehensible that the government pledges more support for people with mental health support needs and at the same time introduces, through the back door regulation changes  that prevent many thousands of Disabled people with mental health support needs from qualifying for this essential benefit.

The government’s actions to change PIP regulations and single out people who cannot travel because of psychological distress are a brutal attack on the rights of Disabled people.  Today’s case illustrates the lack of concern for Disabled people and the government’s inability to listen to us and engage with us.  It is extremely worrying that many of us feel the legal action is the only way for us to get heard”.

Linda Burnip, co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts said:

“We are pleased with the judgement today. It will make a huge difference for thousands of Disabled people with mental health support needs.

We have to remember that this challenge is taken in a context when the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities found systematic and grave violations of Disabled people’s rights a year ago.  And again in August it called the situation Disabled people are in a ‘human catastrophe’.  The UN specifically called on the Government to repeal changes to PIP regulations because they breach our human rights under the Convention”.

 

[i] Personal Independence Payment is a new benefit which replaced Disability Living Allowance for Disabled working-age claimants.  The purpose of the benefit is to compensate for extra costs of disability.  Eligibility for PIP is a points-based system where points are assigned to descriptors illustrating the difficulties person experiences in carrying out specific activities.

[ii] See the judgement here https://www.gov.uk/administrative-appeals-tribunal-decisions/mh-v-secretary-of-state-for-work-and-pensions-pip-2016-ukut-0531-aac

 

[iii] The Government’s own Equality Impact Assessment stated that changes will prevent 164000 people from current PIP caseload from qualifying, 143.000 of those people will be prevented from qualifying at all.  https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/593392/pip-assessment-criteria-equality-analysis.pdf

Inclusion London supported the case from the start and provided a witness statement.

[iv] Statements made by the Government prior to 2014 as well as the Government’s 2012 Response to the consultation on PIP clearly express the intention of PIP to assess need rather than make decisions on the basis of impairment labels.

Statement from PLP

Statutory Instrument Quashed by the High Court

2017 Personal Independence Payment Regulations are Discriminatory

The High Court has found that part of the rules governing Personal Independence Payments are unlawfully discriminatory against people with mental health impairments. The Public Law Project’s client, RF, won on all three grounds of her challenge (RF v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions). The judge quashed the 2017 Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Regulations because they discriminate against those with disabilities in breach of Human Rights Act 1998 obligations. Because they were discriminatory, the judge also found that the Secretary of State did not have lawful power to make the Regulations (i.e. they were “ultra vires”), and that he should have consulted before making them, because they went against the very purpose of what PIP regime sought to achieve.

The judge heard that the Regulations were laid by negative resolution in February 2017, received relatively little parliamentary attention, and were rushed through the parliamentary process by the Secretary of State without prior reference to checks by relevant committees.  Contrary to the Secretary of State’s defence, the judge found that the decision to introduce the Regulations was ‘manifestly without reasonable foundation’ and commented that the wish to save money could not justify such an unreasonable measure.

During the course of the trial, the Secretary of State accepted that the testing carried out for PIP had not looked at whether the basis for treating those with psychological distress differently was sound or not, and the testing actually done was limited. 

RF’s claim was supported by The National Autistic Society, Inclusion London, Revolving Doors and Disability Rights UK. All of those organisations gave statements to the court that the Regulations were unfair and that the intention to treat those with psychological distress differently had not been made clear in the early PIP consultation stages. The claim was also supported by two interveners: Mind and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). The EHRC made written submissions to the Court on the ongoing and persistent breaches by the UK Government of its obligations under UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities arising from its austerity measures. The Judge found that this inconsistency with the UN Convention supported his finding that the measure had no objective justification.

RF commented: “This judgment is important for a community of people with mental health problems fighting for their lives against discrimination.”  

Note to Editors:

The case was previously known as SM and RF, but is now known as RF v Secretary of State for Department of Work and Pensions. There is an anonymity order in place protecting SM and RF.

The Government intends to appeal the decision. The Regulations will not be quashed until the Court of Appeal decides whether or not the appeal should proceed. RF is anticipating a decision on this in early 2018.

 A digital version of the decision will be available shortly here: https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/judgments/

Further enquiries can be made to o.persey@publiclawproject.org.uk.

 Posted by at 10:58
Dec 202017
 

Assistive technology for Deaf and Disabled people in work  – your experience

There is a Work and Pensions Select Committee inquiry on assistive technology for Deaf and Disabled people in work.

To inform Inclusion London’s evidence to the inquiry I would be grateful if you can send me:

  • Your experience of assistive technology, both the process of getting it and how useful it is to you for obtaining and maintaining employment and/or
  • Your answers to the questions below, which have been set by the Select Committee and some additional ones by Inclusion London. 

Please send all responses to Henrietta.Doyle Henrietta.Doyle@inclusionlondon.org.uk by Monday 15 January 2018.

‘Scope of the inquiry

The Committee invites evidence on the role of assistive technology in improving disabled people’s employment rates, drawing on the Government’s response to the Committee’s Disability employment gap report.

The Committee welcomes submissions addressing any or all of the following questions:

  • What role can assistive technology play in removing barriers to work and helping disabled people stay in work?
  • How should the Government support the development of this technology, and are there any particular innovations it should look to support?
  • Is Access to Work the most effective means of providing access to assistive technology? Should other funding models be considered?’

Additional questions from Inclusion London:

  • Are there barriers to obtaining assistive technology needed, if so what are the solutions to this?
  • What are the greatest barriers to disabled people obtaining and maintaining work – is it lack of assistive technology or other issues?

You are welcome to send a submission directly to the Select Committee. The deadline for this inquiry is 19 January 2018. 

Information about the inquiry is available at: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/work-and-pensions-committee/inquiries/parliament-2017/assistive-technology-17-19/

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/work-and-pensions-committee/news-parliament-2017/assistive-tech-inquiry-launch-17-19/

 Posted by at 11:39
Dec 192017
 

The outcome of the PIP legal challenge against the changes to who qualifies for Mobility component which will affect people with a MH condition is due to be handed down this week – either tomorrow or Thursday and there are a number of press people interested in reporting on it. However they want to speak to someone who will also be affected therefore I wondered whether any of you feel able to speak to them if needed about your own situation.

 

If you would be willing to please could you email us at mail@dpac.uk.net with your contact phone number.

 Posted by at 16:37
Dec 152017
 

Closure of the independent living fund and the negative impacts of funding shortfall for maintaining individuals’ care packages has been the centre of disabled peoples independent living campaigns since 2012. Whilst cuts to state-funded assistance have been blamed on austerity, there is one area of care that is rolling in cash, hundreds millions of pounds being thrown into assessment and treatment units and psychiatric hospitals for people with learning difficulties and autism. Research by Mark Brown at Lancaster University’s Centre for Disability found that the Government spent £477m last year on incarcerating 2,500 people with learning difficulties and autism in ATUs ; in cash terms the state is prepared to pay £190,800 per year or £525 per day for institutionalized care for one individual.

Let’s not be under any illusion, whilst the numbers of disabled people being detained under the Mental Health Act (MHA) has reduced from 3500 to 2150 between 2011 to 2017, the trend for young people is going the other way: in 2011 young people made up 7.6% of the total of disabled people detained under the MHA but by 2017 this had risen to 13%. Many of these are people with learning difficulties or autism who are admitted for short-stays that then become long-stay placements. This is caused by the systematic failures of Local Authorities and Clinical Commissioning Groups to adequately fund local education, health and social care services that would facilitate disabled individuals’ participation in their local mainstream education provision whilst living with their families. These figures do not include people with learning difficulties or autism who have restrictions placed on their freedoms whilst living in institutionalised psychiatric and social care settings as a result of deprivation of liberty safeguard order issued under the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

No, this is no longer austerity, it’s now ideological. The Government does not believe that disabled people have a place in society and have developed polices that will turn us back to the era of Victorian asylums. Let’s not kid ourselves – these places are dehumanising and brutal as highlighted by practices exposed by BBC Panorama’s under-cover investigation into Winterbourne View. Since then there has been various investigations into abusive practices that have taken place in a range of ATUs. Disabled people with learning difficulties and autism have been killed in these institutions by toxic medication, neglect and total abuse inflicted by management and staff. Institutionalisation and forced overmedication are grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s human rights.
The psychiatric regime is rooted within the individualised and medical model of disability/mental disorder where its focus is on fixing, mending and curing the disabled person. Anti-psychotic medication infringes a disabled person’s autonomy, and control over their body and mind, altering personality and interfering with personal identity and life-style. When not medicated, inpatients will undertake a whole range of therapeutic activities that place an emphasis on developing individual’s coping strategies and where possible to help the person minimise or reject their disability identity and their sense of being, thinking and feelings; the patient is forced to follow neuro-typical patterns of being, thinking and feeling. Patients are self-obsessed with analysing and reviewing their own performance with no allowance given as to how institution and other powerful forces impact on their wellbeing.

Whilst working as an advocate for ATU inpatients with learning difficulties and autism wanting to get out of these institutions, I am increasingly finding that the Independent Living movement’s priorities are not the radical solutions needed if we are going to advocate for all disabled people rights to independent living, not only those with capacity. We are witnessing a resurgence of institutions for people with learning difficulties and autism – not a week goes by and there is a spanking new facility opening up to lock them up and throw away the key.
We can talk about all the cuts we like to independent living provision and dream about alternative models of care all we want, however this means little if we do not speak out against the millions of pounds being spent on creeping institutionalisation of disabled people. There are some cuts that we should all be advocating for, ones that prevent us from having a full life, on par with our non-disabled peers. Disabled people will always be threatened with institutionalisation and incarceration as long as ATUs and other institutions exist and are permitted under the Care, Mental Health and Mental Capacity legislation.

Disabled people whose capacity is not being questioned by the state cannot be complacent either – with savage cuts to care packages, disabled people are being institutionalised within their own homes or within residential and nursing homes. And as such institutionalisation is on the way back for all disabled people.
The UNCRPD committee review of the United Kingdom’s (UK) progress in implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities observations and recommendations included the tackling of increased state-sanctioned institutionalisation and compulsory treatment of disabled people.

We need to take the lead and act now – change our focus of our campaign work to a big NO to institutionalisation and their oppressive practices together with highlighting how such places have and will continue to violate disabled peoples human rights as set out in the UN Convention Rights for Persons with Disabilities articles. We need to be campaigning against the setting up and continuation of these institutions and the legislation that gives the state power to force disabled people out of their own homes and communities alongside full implementation of the UNCRPD underpinned by the 12 pillars of independent living. Alongside a plan to phrase out ATUs, we need to be strongly advocating for our right to be provided with the support and services (including mental health ones) we need to live fulfilled lives.

By Simone Aspis (Changing Perspectives and Free Our People Now Advocate)
I am a disabled person who is acting as an advocate for detained in-patients with learning difficulties and autism who want to be released from psychiatric hospitals. I have over 20 years experience campaigning for disabled peoples’ human and civil rights, working for People 1st, the United Kingdom’s Disabled Peoples Council and the Alliance for Inclusive Education and Not Dead Yet. Anyone wants to contact me please do so via Ellen Clifford at ellen.clifford@inclusionlondon/org.uk.

Dec 112017
 

This guide has been produced by Winvisible with support from others. If your GP or support worker etc don’t know what to do this information should be passed onto them.

Benefit assessments – exemption to protect ‘vulnerable’ patients
There is a great deal of evidence about the profound distress which face-to-face assessments for disability benefits can cause, especially for women and men with mental health conditions. The prospect of interview can induce overwhelming anxiety, panic and dissociative states, levels of stress and distress that can precipitate serious relapses, leading to psychiatric admissions and even suicides. Consultant psychiatrist Dr Jed Boardman said: “You see people relapsing as a consequence of getting distressed about being assessed.” (Fit-for-work tests linked to relapses in those with mental health problems Guardian 24 November 2015.)
Therefore it is vital that professionals know about the benefit system regulations on exemption from the face-to-face interview and for assessment on paper evidence.
They can quote these to protect vulnerable patients from harmful distress and deterioration, and/or enable them to stay out of hospital. Professionals who can state their opinion include: GP, care co-ordinator, psychologist, psychiatrist, key worker, support worker, therapist, counsellor, Independent Domestic Violence Advocate… Opinions from non-medical staff are relevant to describe people’s problems functioning.
It is important to recommend exemption from the face-to-face interview very clearly. Don’t recommend a home visit: this can be worse than an assessment centre interview, as for women rape survivors or others, their home is their safe space which would be violated by an official visit. You may be rung by the assessor as a follow-up, so make sure you are up-to-date with your patient’s situation.
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP) are different benefits with different reasons for exemption:
 ESA is an out-of-work benefit based on limited capability for work where complete exemption from back-to-work conditions is possible. In places where ESA is replaced by Universal Credit (UC), this exemption is in UC regulations 2013 Schedule 8 and also applies to the compulsory “Health and Work Conversation”. Widespread opposition to the brutal UC regime has delayed national rollout.
 PIP is widely claimed by both unwaged and waged people for daily living/care and mobility needs, and is not part of UC.
Companies hold DWP contracts to open mail, scan and distribute it and to carry out assessments, but confidentiality is used to exclude evidence. If a support letter marked “Confidential” goes to the assessor company, the DWP says under confidentiality, it won’t then be disclosed to a DWP Case Manager (PIP Assessment Guide Part One, 1.4.13). As proper consideration often depends on DWP review, don’t mark your report confidential.
ESA
Under “Exceptional Circumstances”, you can say that there would be substantial risk to the patient’s health if they were put under work conditions for benefit, so they should be exempted from these and the exam. This regulation means the person is already accepted as satisfying the test for ESA (limited capability for work) so doesn’t have to be seen. Substantial risk to health can be mental health, or physical health e.g. risk of heart
attack from stress. Risk to mental health covers not only suicide risk, but also sudden deterioration in mental state: PTSD flashbacks, panic attacks, hearing voices, or similar.
Substantial risk regulations: https://wcainfo.net/issues/substantial-risk-lcw 1. A claimant who does not have limited capability for work as determined in accordance with the limited capability for work assessment is to be treated as having limited capability for work if paragraph (2) applies to the claimant. 2. Subject to paragraph (3) this paragraph applies if … (b) the claimant suffers from some specific disease or bodily or mental disablement and, by reasons of such disease or disablement, there would be a substantial risk to the mental or physical health of any person if the claimant were found not to have limited capability for work. 3. Paragraph (2)(b) does not apply where the risk could be reduced by a significant amount by – (a) reasonable adjustments being made in the claimant’s workplace; or (b) the claimant taking medication to manage the claimant’s condition where such medication has been prescribed for the claimant by a registered medical practitioner treating the claimant.
Regulation 25 (2013) (4)
(4) In this regulation ―medical evidence‖ means—
(a) evidence from a health care professional approved by the Secretary of State; and
(b) evidence (if any) from any health care professional or a hospital or similar institution, or such part of such evidence as constitutes the most reliable evidence available in the circumstances.
PIP DWP guidance states that assessors should determine if they can assess the claim from the paper evidence they already have, or if they should get further evidence from professionals, before proceeding to arrange a face-to-face exam — they call it consultation. (PIP Assessment Guide, Part One – The Assessment Process, 1.2.2/1.3.6, 2 November 2017) https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/655611/pip-assessment-guide-part-1-assessment-process.pdf The assessor can make a decision from paper evidence where “there is strong evidence on which to advise on the case and a face-to-face consultation is likely to be stressful for the claimant…” (1.5.4) Assessors “should also consider the needs of vulnerable claimants”, that is “someone who has difficulty dealing with procedural demands” including “a previous suicide attempt, domestic violence, abuse or bereavement.” (1.3.11)
1.5.4 “Cases that should not require a face-to-face consultation” ―Although each case should be determined individually, the following types of case should not normally require a face-to-face consultation: […] • There is strong evidence on which to advise on the case and a face-to-face consultation is likely to be stressful for the claimant (for example, claimants with autism, cognitive impairment or learning disability) • The claimant questionnaire indicates a high level of disability, the information is consistent, medically reasonable and there is nothing to suggest over-reporting – (examples may include claimants with severe neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, severely disabling stroke) • There is sufficient detailed, consistent and medically reasonable information on function.
The medical evidence sent on paper has to be “robust” to enable the test for benefit to be met, and should include comments about how functioning is affected. WinVisible won exemption from the PIP exam for a rape survivor who felt suicidal and was at risk of flashbacks, based on “consultation may be stressful to the claimant”. The assessor rang the woman’s GP for his opinion after his letter was sent in. She was granted full rates for both daily living and mobility.
Where should support letters be directed?
ESA
Assessments are carried out by multinational company Maximus (under the name Health Assessment Advisory Service) on behalf of the DWP.
• If your patient is filling in the ESA50 form, attach your support letter to the form and make sure it is listed on the form.
• If your patient can’t cope with the form, or if an interview date has already been sent out, fax it headed FME (Further Medical Evidence) to HAAS London central fax: 0208 795 8647. This is the procedure recommended by HAAS call centre staff. It should have the claimant’s name and NI No. at the top of each numbered page.
• If your patient has an appointment date and HAAS are refusing to postpone this, or are still requiring her to attend despite your request for exemption, email the same correspondence with a cover note raising your complaint to the Centre for Health and Disability Assessments (Maximus head office). Ask them to put the appointment on hold pending the decision on exemption: email: customer-relations@chdauk.co.uk They usually reply within two days. Always cc the MP and ask them to follow it up on behalf of the claimant.
PIP
Assessments are carried out by Atos (or in some geographical areas by Capita). To send in your medical evidence requesting exemption, you can:
 Email Atos pip-customerservice@atos.net
 Write to the DWP’s Disability and Carers Service, address is on the patient’s PIP letter. And/or email them at blackpoolbc.customercomplaints@dwp.gsi.gov.uk
 If you are not sure where to send it, call the PIP helpline on 03458 503 322.
Getting support from MPs’ caseworkers
Ask if your patient is ready to contact their MP and ask for support for their exemption and paper-based assessment. Google “Find my MP” or search the Parliament website, choosing the constituency contacts. MPs’ caseworkers have direct lines to benefit officials and can often quickly resolve distressing situations. Involving the MP gets your concerns taken more seriously. Assessor companies have staff specifically for MPs’ enquiries. Ms A wrote to us: “I just wanted to let you know, it is with a happy heart I read the opened letter from the DWP this afternoon with my PIP results. I am most grateful for the advice that it is OK to ask my psychiatrist specifically for a paper based assessment. I know not everyone is like this and that particularly with the disabled people’s movement, a lot of work and effort goes into asserting good self-image. In mental health, addictions, abuse/domestic violence situations, I think there is something very unseen and unaddressed going on that makes women like me and others, more likely to be unable to meet the demands of the benefits system. More likely to fall between the cracks.”
Compiled by WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities)
with warm thanks to: Diane Frazer, psychotherapist; Dr Jay Watts, clinical psychologist;
Marcin Brajta, Hackney Community Law Centre
Contact WinVisible:
Crossroads Women’s Centre
25 Wolsey Mews, London NW5 2DX
Email win@winvisible.org
Web www.winvisible.org
Tel: 020 7482 2496

 Posted by at 18:50
Dec 092017
 

DWP freefone numbers December 2017

Access to work 08001217479

Benefit enquiry line 08001690310

DLA adult and child 08001214600

DLA mobility 08001216379

DWP online help desk 08001690154

Induustrial Injuries Disabled benefit 08001218379

Jobcentre enquiry line 08001690190

Maternity Allowance enquiry line 08001690283

PIP enquiries 08001214433

Social Fund enquiries 08001690140

UC live service 0800 3289344
UC full service 0800 3285644
UC housing 0800 3283844
UC sanctions 0800 3289744
UC live to full service transfers 0800 3287844

 

 Posted by at 19:13
Dec 092017
 
Sarah Graham – Freelance Journalist

#JournoRequest:Sarah wants to hear from disabled young adults (20-30ish) who are desperate to move out of their parents’ home but struggling to find the accessible housing they’d need to live independently.

Perhaps you’d need certain adaptations that housing providers and private landlords aren’t prepared to make, or your local authority doesn’t have enough accessible housing to meet the demand. You might even be considering buying your own place, and paying for the adaptations yourself, but that’s just not affordable right now. Whatever your situation, if you’re disabled and stuck living with mum and dad in your 20s, I’d love to hear about your experiences of trying to fly the nest.

Please email or message me if you can help – contact@sarah-graham.co.uk. It’s for a sensitive feature looking at the problems disabled millennials face accessing suitable housing – case studies do need to be happy being identified.

 Posted by at 17:28
Dec 082017
 
Work & Pensions Committee hears from specialist disability groups on the PIP and ESA assessments on Monday
One of the big concerns the Committee has heard about DWP’s contracted PIP and ESA assessors is how their staff are qualified to assess the impact of multiple, serious and complex physical and mental health conditions on people’s lives, and how those conditions can affect the assessment process itself. Mencap’s evidence to this inquiry includes instances like a claimant being asked what medication he was on for Down’s Syndrome and learning disability – displaying deep ignorance of the condition, its effects and how it is dealt with.
In the video below from our in evidence this week, Committee Member Alex Burghart asks what specialist measures these companies have in place when they are working with someone with a serious mental health condition like schizophrenia: the answer was, effectively, none. All three companies insisted that no specialist medical knowledge is required to perform the “functional” assessments they carry out.
On Monday at 15:45 in Wilson Room we’re asking the specialist disability advocacy groups asking Scope, Sense, the Disability Benefits Consortium,  Citizen’s Advice and Mencap if they agree. You can also watch online. /ENDS

 Posted by at 18:48
Dec 082017
 

As people are likely to know Phillip Hammond is blaming disabled people being part of the UK workforce for lower productivity rates. This is without any evidence being provided to support this bollocks. So we’d like to reply to Phillip and let him know what we all think about this latest abuse. Please feel free to tweet this post to Tory MPs including @TheresaMay

Apologies to anyone who is sensitive to what some might consider bad language.

Philip Hammond is a prick. We know this, you know this  – everybody knows this. Let’s not encourage him. Assume everything he says is just pure shite. This load of shite is particularly dangerous because it reinforces stereotypes and myths, and enables othering. More dangerously, some people feel empowered to go further than othering and take their frustrations out on people who’ve done nothing but try to live the best lives they can.
Don’t be a prick. Don’t believe or peddle this shite.
And Philip Hammond should fuck off now.
 Posted by at 11:59
Dec 052017
 

Many of the areas identified by the United Nations disability committee where regression of Disabled people’s rights are taking place are socio-economic. Section 1 of the Equality Act 2010 that has never been implemented would place a duty on all public bodies to assess the socio-economic impact of all policy decisions. This would add an important protection against further regression of Disabled people’s rights and is something that Deaf and Disabled people called for in our submissions under the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities this year. The Scottish government has already announced an intention to bring Section 1 into force in Scotland and the human rights consortium Just Fair has launched the #1forEquality campaign to make Section 1 a reality across Britain.

Please write to your MP asking them to sign Early Day Motion 591 in support of a socio-economic duty and send us copies of any responses you receive.

For more information about Just Fair’s #1forEquality campaign see: https://1forequality.com/

Below is some text you may wish to use for your letter:

Dear xxx

As you know, income and wealth inequalities are severe problems in our country. Abundant evidence shows that inequality harms our physical and mental health, self-esteem, happiness, social mobility, trust and civic participation, and puts the enjoyment of human rights at risk.

The Equality Act 2010 was a significant step forward in tackling social inequalities in our society. Chief amongst its instruments was the Socio-economic Duty (Section 1), which would require public bodies ‘when making decisions of a strategic nature about how to exercise [their] functions’ to ‘have due regard to the desirability of exercising them in a way that is designed to reduce the inequalities of outcome which result from socio-economic disadvantage’.

Unfortunately, to this day Section 1 remains one of the few uncommenced clauses of The Equality Act 2010.

The Socio-economic Duty offers a powerful lever for reducing the damaging gaps between us all.

In this regard, we urge you to consider supporting EDM 591 on the commencement and enforcement of the Socio-Economic Duty.

Yours,

 Posted by at 15:54