Jun 092019

National DPAC fully support the statement below from our Berkshire DPAC Group.

Berkshire DPAC wish to register our strongest condemnation of Mr. Lee Harpin’s articles in the Jewish Chronicle, in which he uses screenshots taken from a private group without the group’s consent from our Facebook page to throw utterly false accusations of anti-semitism at Nada Foster and Helen Caney. BDPAC’s members are fully committed to tackling all forms of oppression wherever it appears.

In DPAC, we do not target criticism at policies or MPs from only selected parties; since ALL disabled people have been horrendously impoverished and isolated by austerity measures, we will criticise anyone who has supported these measures or failed to oppose them. And we will continue to do so.

 Posted by at 15:52
Jun 092019

[Text by Fuel Poverty Action, with thanks]

With the second anniversary approaching, two events – the Silent Walk on 14 June and a Solidarity March on 15 June –  will demonstrate that the 72 people who died in the Grenfell fire, and the survivors still fighting for justice, are very far from forgotten.  Please see details at the bottom of this email, and try to be there!

And please sign the petition from Grenfell United, pressing for an effective regulator for social housing, that will hold housing providers to account.  


It is time also for an update from SCIN – the Safe Cladding and Insulation Now campaign:


The Parliamentary debate on Grenfell  on 6 June was opened by Emma Dent Coad with a powerful indictment of the appalling and often racist treatment faced by the Grenfell community. 128 households are still homeless, and one active member of the community is is now being held in prison over the anniversary, while none of those responsible for the deaths of so many has so far faced arrest.  


This debate that followed provides a useful resource for those concerned about the remaining danger to UK residents   


It cites an estimate that the homes of 60,000 people are still clad in flammable materials.  Hundreds of blocks are in the ACM cladding that was used on Grenfell Tower, with only a “waking watch” of workers patrolling the floors for signs of fire, intended to alert them to disaster.  Waking watches, moreover, have often been found to be untrained and inadequate, as well as extremely expensive for leaseholders or social landlords.  Residents have told FPA that too often watchmen do not walk the floors, and some whistle-blowing personnel themselves have told us that they cannot offer safety, or that they are not even properly equipped.  In many cases the private firms contracted for this key role have had to be sacked and replaced.


The majority of tower blocks still clad in ACM are now in the private sector, where leaseholders organised in UK Cladding Action Group have only just now won a government promise of £200 million for remediation.  Just a year ago, the £400 million for social housing was announced right before the first anniversary, and shortly after we’d launched our Open Letter to the government about it – we had to redraft and recirculate a new version.  Similarly, UKCAG’s Open Letter was immediately made out of date by a government announcement.  Their campaigning has been startlingly effective, but many questions remain about the level of funding and how and when it will be accessed.  In the meantime, Housing Minister Kit Malthouse said in the debate that the government have allocated just £259 million of the £400 million announced for social housing, and they are not anticipating any further claims.


While many people think that social housing cladding is sorted now, this is far from being the case.  The Building Safety Programme Monthly Data Release reports good progress, but many tenants have been left behind.  See this shocking account by a resident of one of nine Pendleton Together tower blocks in Salford. Here, tenants who are attempting to organise about dangers that closely mirror those at Grenfell Tower have been subject to threats and intimidation – just as Grenfell residents were.  


Moreover, while Grenfell-style ACM cladding has been removed from many blocks, the government has delayed, and delayed again, the necessary tests on other kinds of potentially combustible cladding — results were due in the autumn, then in the spring, and now “by summer”.  It has been estimated that there are 1,600 properties — both social housing and private — on which the material is not ACM, but could be as dangerous.  Yet these homes are not even being identified.


The 6th June debate helped highlight this issue but much more pressure is needed.  Equally important is the issue of buildings below 18 M (6 storeys) high, including not only public and private blocks of flats but schools, old people’s homes, and hospitals.  The plight of lower buildings is finally beginning to attract more support. (We are trying to get breakdowns of statistics on this and non-ACM cladding through a Parliamentary Question.)


The debate also highlighted the need not only for remediation — and sprinklers, and an end to single-staircase blocks — but wholesale change in the way the construction industry is regulated and monitored.  


However, another key question was not mentioned in this debate: the danger residents have from cold and damp when cladding has been removed, but not yet replaced — a situation that can go on for months.  FPA has been highlighting this nightmare for over a year now.  Together with Tower Blocks UK and Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) we wrote directly to housing associations and local authorities before Christmas to ask for their policies (See Inside Housing report here or here).  


Some have responded with a promise that if cold proves to be a problem, they will compensate residents and ensure that they can keep warm.  Yet few so far seem to have done this.  Camden is one example. Others have provided inadequate amounts eg £15/week in Barnet where the extra costs far exceeded this figure, or have paid compensation into rent accounts, where it can be swallowed up by arrears.  Others, like Westminster, decided there was no need for compensation because residents’ bills did not reflect a major increase when cladding was off — ignoring the fact that many people simply cannot afford to risk keeping the heat on in the hope that their bill will be covered.  Salford residents too have been told they must offer proof. As demanded in our original Open Letter to the Minister, safe heaters should also be provided to residents, so they don’t have to go out and buy the cheapest — and possibly least safe — from the local second hand shop.  


Since there are still so many more buildings with combustible cladding — buildings of different purposes and heights and different kinds of materials as well as different tenures — and since progress is painfully, unacceptably slow, this crisis looks like continuing for a long time to come.  Some landlords have delayed the removal of cladding until after the winter — putting residents in a painful Catch 22. The best solution is clearly for cladding to come off and go  on again immediately.  Some social landlords have achieved this, eg in Islington, and two years on from the fire excuses like delays in the supply chain are now wearing thin.  Some, as in Wandsworth, have even taken cladding off and replaced it floor by floor – necessitated in this case because it was attached to the windows.


But some tenants wait for months to have cladding replaced, only to have removal scheduled just when it’s getting cold.  And many social landlords did not bother to even reply to our letter. They need reminding that each year nearly 10,000 people in the UK die when they cannot afford to heat their homes.


Pressure also needs to be increased to meet residents’ demands on the toxicity found in a wide area around Grenfell Tower — and to ensure that cladding and insulation applied in future is truly safe – which means non-combustible, and non-toxic.  


In the meantime, and most urgently, please show your support for the Grenfell survivors and community on 14 and 15 June.  


Friday 14 June:

See are invited: An evening of remembrance on the 2nd anniversary of the Grenfell Tower Fire. 6.15pm Wreath Laying at the Tower 7pm Multi Faith Vigil 7.45pm Silent Walk To Join us please head to Silchester Road, W11. Wear something green.


Sat 15 June, 12 noon:



Assemble: Portland Place, London W1A1AA Oxford Circus

Two years on…Still no justice! Solidarity March

Hosted by Justice4Grenfell and Grenfell Trust

 Posted by at 15:25
Jul 052018

Meme - caption - Esther (look you in the eye and lie) McVey - Sack Esther McVey for misleading Parliament

We don’t normally do petitions – but if there is a chance of getting McVey sacked – even a slim chance – we’ll take it – so here goes

Please sign, share on social media, your email address book, with your friends, family, neighbours, ex-partners, loose acquaintances, in the post office, round the railway station, the bowls club, with next doors cat, anywhere – just share, share, share, share

We need to get this going big time and we need a big effort from everyone who sees this post

So here it is (just click “Read More” to go to the petition page, or click this link) …..

Plus here’s a catchy tune to play while you are doing all that sharing

Sack Esther McVey, by Alun Parry

 Posted by at 21:58
Jun 302018

Join past tense for
“Disturbance of the Publick Peace”

a FREE past tense radical history walk…

around Holborn & Bloomsbury

Sunday 8th July 2018

Meet 4.15pm, outside Conway Hall,
25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL

a wander through some of the riotous and radical history of Central
London: Gordon Rioters, anti-fascists, suffragettes, Chartist
plotters… and spycops, lots of spycops…

For more info email:

Part of the
50 Years of Resistance events
7th-8th July
Commemorating campaigns that continue to fight for social change,
despite being targeted by undercover police units  since 1968.

 Posted by at 15:26
Mar 122018

It used to be called the Budget now it’s called the Spring Statement. Same bullshit, different name as far as we’re concerned.

(There is information on what the Spring Statement is all about here if you want to know)

But people will be paying attention and looking in on the twitter hashtag #SpringStatement, so we need to be there too.

So we are asking all our supporters who can be on twitter tomorrow afternoon from 12.30, right the way through the afternoon to tweet statements in support of DPAC and about disabled people’s rights and the harm done to us by this vile Tory government and it’s predecessors.

Use the hashtag Spring Statement in your tweets, and below there is some material you can use, firstly some facts and then some images to download and add to your tweets for impact.

  • A quarter of working-age disabled people are in poverty

  • 2.8 million disabled people are in poverty

  • In 2015 approximately 81,000 sanctions were applied to disabled people 80% to those on JSA and 16,000 to those in the ESA Work related group

  • 90% of disabled people will be worse off under Universal Credit

  • 28% of disabled people ‘can’t live on their benefits’

  • Austerity has been targeted at disabled people 9 times more than the general population and severely disabled people have been targeted 19 more than the general population

  • DWP fit-to-work assessments (WCA) cost more money than they save

  • There were 686,000 benefit sanctions in Great Britain in 2014

  • Over a quarter of JSA sanctions were received by disabled people or lone parents

Images that you can download and use in your tweets, and don’t forget to include the hashtag #SpringStatement

Trash The Tories

Dead People Don't Claim

UN Inquiry finds Grave and Systematic violations of disabled people's human rights by the UK Government

Theresa May, our blood on her hands




 Posted by at 17:47
Nov 202016

Poster of a Zombie with the description "Person with a living disability"

This poster was spotted in the window of electronics chain Cex in Dudley. The disabled person who spotted it, who was with a child at the time, was utterly appalled to see this in a high street shop window. She took a photo of it and sent it in to us at DPAC.

The poster shows a decomposing zombie with an  description of “Person with a living disability”.

We believe that such an image is utterly offensive to disabled people, and anyone whether a disabled person or not who has the slightest sense of decency.

If you agree please contact Cex on twitter @Cex,  on facebook, or email them by the contact page on their website.

And let us know if you see this poster or any other ableist or offensive material in display in your local Cex store. If you can,. please take a photo and email it to us at



 Posted by at 21:30
Aug 292016
Supported by:
NHS Solidarity Campaign Logo
NHS Solidarity Campaign
Lush LogoLush  The Barry Amiel & Norman Melburn Trust
The Barry Amiel & Norman Melburn Trust
 Barnet Unison Logo

Barnet Unison

Black Triangle Campaign Logo
Black Triangle Campaign
Winvisible Logo
Women with visible and invisible disabilities
Mental Health Resistance Network Logo
Mental Health Resistance Network

DPAC Week of Action Logo with "DPAC Week of Action, September 4-10th 2016" underneathAt the end of last year the UK became the first country in the world to be investigated by the United Nations for grave and systematic violations of Disabled people’s rights.

This is as a direct result of the disproportionate impact of austerity on Disabled people and ideological attacks waged by the Tory government that have seen Disabled people and the poorest members of society hit by cut after cut after cut.

In 2012 DPAC in partnership with UK Uncut were able to use the media interest around the London Paralympics to draw attention to the disgraceful practices of Atos, one of the Paralympic sponsors and the company responsible for carrying out the notorious Work Capability Assessment that has caused so much harm and suffering. Two years later Atos pulled put of the contract to run the WCA which had become unworkable due to the success of the campaign against them.

This September DPAC will be using the interest surrounding the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio to draw attention to the cumulative impact of the cuts on Disabled people that are taking Disabled people’s rights back decades with attacks in every area of our lives from education to independent living to employment to income.

Whilst we will not be protesting against the Games themselves, we will be using this opportunity to raise awareness of the increasing numbers of Disabled people whose access not only to sport and recreation but also to basic human rights such support to eat, drink and use the toilet is being taken away as a result of the cuts.

Below are the events we have planned but please do organise your own and let us know so we can publicise.

Week of Action

Woman standing in front of an exhibition. She is holding a poster which says "Cut your crap not our lifelines"

Photo: Christopher John Ball

Sunday 4th September 2016
#Art4Rights Exhibition

To kick off our week of action Disabled People Against Cuts, PCS Culture Sector and allies will be launching an exhibition by Disabled artists to highlight the impact of austerity on Disabled people felt through the devastating range and scale of cuts experienced since 2010.

The exhibition will be popping up in a central London location and simultaneously launched on-line at from 2pm.

People wanting to join in this event online can look at tweets from @Dis_ppl_protest and  @PCSCultureGroup, follow the hashtag #Art4Rights, and join in using this tweetlist. There will also be updates on the DPAC Facebook Page


Man at protest holding NO ILF NO LIFE placard

Photo: DPAC

Monday 5th September 2016
Demanding the Right to Independent Living #Right2IL

Join Independent living campaigners in Parliament for the launch of ‘One Year On: a report into the impact of the closure of the Independent Living Fund’ by Inclusion London. For access info or to book a place please contact

2-4pm Committee Room 21, House of Commons. BSL provided.


Protest against cuts to legal aid outside Norwich City Hall

Photo by Roger Blackwell

Monday 5th September 2016
#Right2IL Pop-Up Street Theatre

Join the DPAC crew for a unique show paying homage to Independent Living with poetry, spoken word & performance art plus Masterclasses by the artists at one of the worlds most iconic venues.

Meet outside the Houses of Parliament Exit at 5pm.


The 'Atos Miracle Cure' -'Atos's own Reverend' blesses and lays his hand on the head of a man in a wheelchair at the Closing Atos Ceremony by DPAC & UK Uncut outside Atos's offices.

Photo: Peter Marshall

Tuesday 6th September 2016
National day of action for #RightsNotGames

DPAC is calling on campaigners across the UK to come out onto the streets in protest against the many different cuts and attacks with campaigners choosing local targets reflecting the issues that
are affecting Disabled people locally. Please get in touch if you are planning anything to:

For more information about where protests are taking place, and resources for local protests see


People with banners at a protest which say NO MORE DEATHS FROM BENEFIT CUTS

Photo: Peter Marshall

Wednesday 7th September 2016
No More Benefit Deaths #CutsKill

12pm. Meet outside Downing Street to remember the victims of welfare reform during the first Prime Minister’s Questions after Parliament comes back from recess. We will be calling on the new Prime Minister to make public the findings of the UN investigation into the UK for violations of Deaf and Disabled people’s rights, to scrap the Work Capability Assessment and commit to preventing future benefit-related deaths. Please bring white flowers. Mourning dress optional.


DPAC banner which says Disabled People Against Cuts: Rights not Charity

Photo: Disabled Go

Wednesday 7th September 2016
#RightsNotGames virtual protest

From 9.30pm. To coincide with the Paralympics opening ceremony we invite campaigners from across the world to join with us in a virtual protest against the disproportionate impact of global austerity on Deaf and Disabled people using a groundbreaking online tool developed for us by students at the Royal College of Arts.  For more information see


People walking in front of the Resource for London building

Photo: Resource for London

Saturday 10th September 2016
Conference: DPAC Disabled Peoples’ Resistance: building beyond borders #GlobalResistance

Now Fully Booked

Join us for a one day conference bringing together perspectives and allies in the fight against austerity and neo-liberalism from the UK, Europe and Canada to look at geographic resistance and independent living. Speakers include John Clarke (Canada), Antonois Rellas (Greece), Catriona Kenny (Ireland), Kapka Panayotova (Bulgaria), The ak MoB (Germany) and John McDonnell MP. For more info or to book a place contact


Lizz Carr with placard which says ASSISTED SUICIDE IS NOT THE SOLUTION

Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th September 2016
Assisted Suicide: The Musical

To celebrate the end of the week of action we will be kicking back and enjoying ‘Assisted Suicide: The Musical’ by writer/actor/activist Liz Carr which is being performed at the Southbank Centre on 10th and 11th September.

For more information go to:


Online actions

Throughout the week there will be a range of online actions that campaigners can take part in.
For more information see

Travel costs

If you would like to take part in one of the events above but need help with reasonable travel costs please contact:


For access needs please contact or 07505144371 (text only)


All donations however small to help make the week of action happen are extremely valuable. To donate you can go through the paypal button on the DPAC website or to make a direct transfer contact

Download the PDF flyer here:

#RightsNotGames Week of Action single page flyer - A5

#RightsNotGames Week of Action single page flyer – A5

Rights not Games Flyer

 Posted by at 17:11
Jul 152016

Dear DPAC,

Congratulations for all your great actions. I’m writing as part of a researcher/activist group called Debt Resistance UK to let you know of a possible way for challenging austerity cuts on local authority level.

For the last two years, we’ve been researching local authorities’ lending from banks and found out is that hundreds of councils across Scotland, England and Wales have taken out risky and expensive loans called LOBOs. They are very problematic:

–      Interest rates are up to 3 times higher than if councils borrowed from the Treasury

–      Some LOBOs include derivatives, and councils are not allowed to gamble with taxpayer money. Some are also tied to LIBOR that has been rigged

–      There are conflicts of interest between councils’ financial advisers and brokers of the loans

You can find more information on our website. But in short, we do not believe LOBOs are in the interests of residents of local authorities that have taken them out. This is why we campaign for residents to challenge them, and use the issue to challenge the narrative that cuts are necessary.

The Audit Commission Act enables anyone interested to inspect local authorities’ accounts during a 30 working day period, called the ‘period for the exercise of public rights.’ Councils will advertise on their website that the accounts and related documents are available to inspect – in most councils, it is now.

As a resident, you have two options for filing an objection to what you don’t believe to be in the public interest. You can:

–      Request a public interest report in writing, detailing why you are objecting to LOBOs (More details here)

–      Request the council’s auditor to take the legality of the loans to the high court. This is potentially a more powerful route, as you can appeal the auditor’s decision if they don’t take the matter forward (More information here)

We have supported residents in two London boroughs to file objections to their councils’ accounts and are happy to help if you’d like to object to your council’s LOBOs.

In solidarity,



 Posted by at 19:13
Jul 022016

We are looking for people in Northern Ireland who are interested in forming a DPAC group. We have had a few enquiries about this so are doing a call-out to make sure all who are interested can be included

If you are interested please contact us by email at

 Posted by at 12:23
Jun 292016

Less than a year ago there was a vote by Labour party members and people who were sick of establishment and Labour inaptitude. That vote overwhelmingly elected Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour party. There have been calls for his resignation ever since along with a continuous back-stabbing farce that puts the Labour party to shame.

This afternoon (29th June) Cameron, the worst Prime Minister in living history, had the gall to tell Corbyn to go. This comes from a man who has split the UK , and whose actions to stave off the Eurosceptics of his own party  has led the UK into total chaos with Brexit and no apparent plan on what to do next.

Its thanks to Cameron that we face yet more recession, increasing horrors of unacceptable racism, more cuts and the potential parting gift of an imposed Boris Johnson.

Cameron should not have been part of the Remain campaign. He helped lose it just by being there, now like a rat deserting the sinking ship he’s off leaving the mess to some other inept con man or woman. There’s nothing honourable about Cameron, he resigned to pass the buck.

Corbyn on the other hand holds fast in the face of enormous pressure from careerist Labour MPs, ex grandees and an ever hostile right wing press. Why? Because he respects the mandate that he was elected on by ordinary people. Ordinary people who were sick of a plastic ineffectual Blairite Labour and a Labour little different from the Tories

DPAC and disabled people have had unstinting support from Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell. Both have spoken out and voted against every horror the Tories have imposed on disabled people. So when we had a message from John McDonnell we knew we’d pass it on to you.

“please send out to all DPAC members and supporters urging them to support Jeremy if there is a leadership election, we will need Labour Party members to vote for Jeremy if they are not members we will urge them to join ”

See Corbyn’s statement issued after the ‘no confidence’ vote

“In the aftermath of last week’s referendum, our country faces major challenges. Risks to the economy and living standards are growing. The public is divided.

“The Government is in disarray. Ministers have made it clear they have no exit plan, but are determined to make working people pay with a new round of cuts and tax rises.

“Labour has the responsibility to give a lead where the Government will not. We need to bring people together, hold the Government to account, oppose austerity and set out a path to exit that will protect jobs and incomes.

“To do that we need to stand together. Since I was elected leader of our party nine months ago, we have repeatedly defeated the Government over its attacks on living standards.

“Last month, Labour became the largest party in the local elections. In Thursday’s referendum, a narrow majority voted to leave, but two thirds of Labour supporters backed our call for a remain vote.

“I was democratically elected leader of our party for a new kind of politics by 60% of Labour members and supporters, and I will not betray them by resigning. Today’s vote by MPs has no constitutional legitimacy.

“We are a democratic party, with a clear constitution. Our people need Labour party members, trade unionists and MPs to unite behind my leadership at a critical time for our country.”

See some of the ways Corbyn and McDonnell have supported DPAC and disabled people

Corbyn and McDonnell have done more than any other politicians to speak out and act against what’s happening to disabled people

And if you want to know the real story of why the Labour party seems to be against its own members see the excellent Steve Topple’s piece in the Canary: The Truth behind the Labour Coup, when it began and who manufactured it.

Labour Membership and Vote of Confidence in Corbyn Petition

To add yourself to the estimated 13,000 people who recently joined Labour with the majority giving the reason that they are supporting Corbyn

You can join either by phoning 0345 092 2299 or online :



To sign the petition and add your name to almost 300,000 signatures to express a vote of confidence in Corbyn go to






Jun 282016

As three of the disabled people and the parent of a fourth who in 2013 and 2014 brought legal challenges to the decisions by Conservative ministers to close the UK-wide Independent Living Fund, we are concerned by the developments in the Labour Party over the weekend and the threat to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.


Throughout our campaign to save the Independent Living Fund, Jeremy Corbyn was unstinting in his support for the continuation of the Fund, and issued a statement on the day of closure in June 2015 pledging to campaign for its reinstatement.


The democratic election of Jeremy Corbyn last September instilled hope among many disabled people and their families that the Labour Party had turned a corner, and would campaign hard to stop further austerity and cuts to public services and benefits.


A number of Judicial Reviews brought in recent years reflect the impact public service cuts are having on the lives of disabled people and their families. While legal challenges are sometimes successful, they cannot achieve the impact and change an effective political campaign can.


Rather than sow further division, we would urge Labour MPs to remember who austerity and public sector cuts are hitting the hardest, and the lives now being destroyed by them.


There is a desperate need for unity among working class people of all ages and backgrounds, and we need the Labour Party and its MPs to consider their responsibility and duty of care towards those who will continue to face the consequences if we fail to end austerity now.


This is only possible if the Labour Party unites behind Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and works in unity with the trade unions and disability campaigners to build a political movement to achieve this.


Anne Pridmore, Gabriel Pepper, Paul Taylforth and Stuart Bracking

 Posted by at 00:37
Jun 102016

By Kate Belgrave

Yesterday, I spent god knows how long on the phone to the Department for Work and Pensions (a charged-for call, if you don’t mind), having the most ridiculous conversation that I (and probably anyone) has ever had with them.

I was calling on behalf of Sam, a 22-year-old who signs on at East Ham jobcentre in London. A week or so ago, Sam saw a different jobcentre adviser from her usual one. The adviser at that meeting decided that Sam’s jobsearch record for the fortnight wasn’t up to a standard that the adviser had in mind and that the jobcentre would think about imposing a sanction. Advisers told Sam that she’d have to wait a week or two for a decision-maker to decide whether or not the sanction would go ahead.

But in the meantime, to all intents and purposes, Sam has been sanctioned. I say this because she didn’t receive her benefit payment this week. As of Monday, she had 80p left in her bank account. Last week the jobcentre gave her a hardship payment application form, when advisers first started talking about imposing a sanction. She filled in the form and took it to the jobcentre this week with her bank statement showing the 80p.

But the jobcentre now told Sam that she couldn’t submit the hardship form until the jobcentre had made a formal decision about sanctioning her. Sam said she’d already been sanctioned, because her benefit had been stopped. That was a sanction as far as she was concerned. It certainly felt like a sanction. She had no money. Her benefit had been stopped. Still the jobcentre wouldn’t take the hardship form.

So we rang the DWP. The DWP confirmed that Sam’s benefit had been suspended. The DWP also confirmed that Sam couldn’t submit her application for a hardship payment until the jobcentre made a formal decision about the sanction. I said that Sam had surely already been sanctioned, because her benefit hadn’t been paid.

Certainly, as far as Sam was concerned, she had been sanctioned. Her benefit had been suspended and she had no money in her account. How else would anybody view that experience, except as a sanction? Was it a pre-sanction sanction? What was the DWP even talking about? The DWP said that it had to suspend Sam’s benefit payments while the jobcentre decided whether or not to sanction her. True story. That’s what they said.

I said again that Sam had no money in her account. The DWP said again that Sam couldn’t submit the hardship form until the jobcentre made the formal decision about the sanction. The DWP said it hoped the formal decision about the sanction would be made sometime this week. Sam very much hopes the same, as well she might. Her benefit has been stopped, she has no income and she can’t apply for hardship assistance until her benefit is “officially” stopped, even though her benefit has already been stopped anyway.

The DWP suggested that in the meantime, Sam goes to her local council and asks for crisis help there. I wonder how many other people will be in that queue. These people are not only being left completely without income – they’re not even being told how long they’ll have to go without income for.

with thanks to Kate, Chaminda and the excellent Sentinel News






 Posted by at 11:47
Jun 092016

On the 15th June the Supreme Court will look at a case which could have wide implications for wheelchair and mobility scooter users who want to travel by bus in the UK.

On this day, TfA (Transport for All) members will gather together to show First Bus Group that disabled people everywhere are standing up for our right to ride.

Join us to show our support for Doug Paulley on this historic day.

WHEN: Wednesday, 15th June 2016, 9.00 am

WHERE: In front of the Supreme Court (nearest accessible Tube station is Wesminster. Buses: 148, 211).

Wheelchair and mobility scooter users are heavily dependent on buses to get around London because so few Tube stations have step-free access. But bus travel for disabled and older Londoners is not always easy.

In 2014, the well-publicised Appeal Court case involving Doug Paulley and the bus company First Bus Group really highlighted this issue.

Wheelchair-user Doug Paulley had successfully sued First Bus Group in 2013 after he had been denied access to one of their buses because a bus driver didn’t enforce priority in the wheelchair space and a buggy owner refused to make room for him. But this decision was overturned by the Appeal Court in November 2014. The Supreme Court will now reconsider the case.

Transport for All has supported Doug from the beginning. This case has wide implications for wheelchair users who want to travel by bus. If the original verdict in Mr Paulley’s favour is upheld by the Supreme Court, then the requirement in law to give a wheelchair/mobility scooter user access to the wheelchair space will be absolutely undeniable, and all bus companies will have to enforce it.

We hope that Doug’s appeal will be upheld. Disabled people fought for and won the wheelchair space, and the right to be able to travel on buses. We can’t let this right be eroded by a failure to enforce it as a wheelchair bay.

Please email Raphael if you would like to come:

 Posted by at 17:36
Jun 092016

Have you, or someone you know, with an “unseen” chronic illness been through the Work Capability Assessment (WCA)?


As part of a health psychology research project, we would like to know your experiences of the process (regardless of the assessment’s outcome), as well as the day-to-day effect of your condition.


An unseen or “invisible” condition could be any chronic condition which is not visible to others. Examples could include: MS, fibromyalgia, asthma, arthritis, heart problems, diabetes or gastrointestinal issues.


The study involves a semi-structured, informal interview and an optional section around photographs – talking about photographs, taken by you, which you feel represent the day-to-day effect of your condition and your experiences of the WCA.


If you would be interested in finding out more, please do contact William Day via email ( or telephone (0121 204 4050).


The study is based in Birmingham/the West Midlands area, however we are keen to travel and meet with any interested individuals at locations convenient to them. Alternatively, discussions can take place via any internet messaging programs.

This study has been approved by the Aston University Research Ethics Committee.


 Posted by at 16:19
Jun 072016

An important survey on the experiences of applying for ESA to complete the survey go to:

We have copied the first page here for more information

I am a PhD student at the University of Leeds who has personal experience of applying for Employment and Support Allowance and attending a Work Capability Assessment.

My research is looking at changes over time in the way the government defines ‘disability’ for the purposes of employment-related disability benefits, its relation to the economy, and how this definition compares with disabled people’s lived experiences.

As part of this research I am gathering people’s experiences of applying for Employment and Support Allowance and in particular the Work Capability Assessment and how well they feel this reflects and understands their lives.

If you have ever applied for Employment and Support Allowance (including if you are not currently recieving it) I would be very grateful if you could complete this short survey. All answers are confidential and anonymous. No information will be shared with any other individual or organsiation and when writing up my research I will ensure that no respondants can be identified. None of the questions are compulsory and you can save the survey to complete at a later time at any point.

I would really appreciate it if you could help with this research. Having been through the process of applying for ESA myself, I know it can be distressing to recall the experience so if at any point you are finding it very difficult to continue please don’t.

If you have any further questions please contact me at:

Thank you very much for your time.

Survey link:


 Posted by at 13:53  Tagged with:
Jun 062016

ROFA “Uniting Our Voices & Defending Our Rights” conference 2016 : Thursday 14 July 10.30am to 4pm , Sheffield Town Hall, Pinstone Street, Sheffield S1 2HH

 The Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance (ROFA) – a national alliance of grassroots Deaf and Disabled Peoples Organisations (DDPOs) and campaign groups – is holding its annual conference on Thursday 14 July. The conference is a chance to share information about effective campaigns our movement has carried out over the year, build our campaign skills and share & shape campaign priorities over the next year.

As well as interactive campaign workshops we have a keynote speech from Professor Peter Beresford and panel on “Defending our vision of rights, inclusion and equality in austerity neo-liberal Britain” with lots of time for audience questions and contributions.

To register go to:

 Posted by at 15:49
May 052016



Barnet Alliance for Public Services (BAPS) is horrified to learn that Capita, which runs services for Barnet council, have cancelled the Freedom Passes for a number of disabled residents, apparently without warning and with no legal basis.

The council temporarily halted further cancellations, pending a review, only when complaints were raised by local bloggers.

BAPS demands that all cancelled passes will be reinstated immediately and Capita’s actions be subject to an independent investigation.



 Posted by at 13:00
May 042016

The 5th of May is independent living day. We support European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) on #ENILILDAY

What is the European Independent Living Day?

The European Independent Living Day, celebrated on 5 May, is an annual event to raise awareness about the right to Independent Living and its importance for disabled people. It was launched by the European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) in 2014 and each year the Independent Living supporters from many countries celebrate it by staging protests, launching reports, organising exhibitions and other awareness raising activities that target the general public.

What is Independent Living?

ENIL defines Independent Living as the daily demonstration of human rights-based disability policies. Independent living is possible through the combination of various environmental and individual factors that allow disabled people to have control over their own lives. This includes the opportunity to make real choices and decisions regarding where to live, with whom to live and how to live. Services must be available, accessible to all and provided on the basis of equal opportunity, free and informed consent and allowing disabled people flexibility in our daily life. Independent living requires that the built environment, transport and information are accessible, that there is availability of technical aids, access to personal assistance and/or community-based services. It is necessary to point out that independent living is for all disabled persons, regardless of the gender, age and the level of their support needs.

No public money, at any level, should be used to build or renovate institutions for disabled people. Disabled people should be supported to live in the community and not locked away in institutions.

Situation in the UK

We have seen the decimation of independent living. The closure of the Independent Living Fund, the cuts to local authorities, the forthcoming ESA 30% cut to those in the work related activity group from 2017, the change to PIP that has left many without support, cuts to Access to Work, and constant cases of those institutionalised who have died in a series of high profile cases-independent living isn’t working. The gains made by generations before us are being lost. But as disabled people we will continue to fight for independent living throughout Europe.

What you can do to support

You can join the fight by sharing this post, tweeting the hashtag in support, or joining ENIL’s campaign on Facebook

This year, ENIL is encouraging everyone to take a photo with a sign ( download sign here) saying what Independent Living means to you.

You can follow ENIL’s campaign on Facebook at

Photos can also be posted on Twitter with a hashtag ‪#‎ENILILDAY

You can also email your MEPs list here by region

Or tweet them if they’re on twitter

For those that prefer not to use their own photo we have a ready made sign.

You can download the image and add #ENILILDAY to a tweet or Facebook post









Apr 292016

SCOPE announces: “We are reinvigorating the disability movement”  SCOPE for Change.

How dare they!

Here’s the problem: SCOPE is not and has never been a part of any so called ‘disability movement’, whatever that is. It’s a multi-million pound disability charity whose existence demands that disabled people are oppressed, vilified and subjugated. Their sales pitch depends on it-why would they change anything?

There’s a difference between organisations ‘of’ disabled people, which is those led and run by disabled people, and those ‘for’ run by non-disabled people. The ‘for’  organisations rarely, if ever,  include disabled people in any positions of power. Yet, they are arrogant enough to speak for us and claim to know what disabled people want and need. Then they rattle their tins for us and we don’t see a penny.

Imagine that process applied to any other equality group: a set of men speaking exclusively for womens’ issues, white people speaking exclusively for people of colour- Each claiming to know better what those groups need, collecting money on that flawed basis –and keeping it!

SCOPE names itself as a disability charity, but its a corporate entity with an income of £101.1 million in 2015. It has senior staff on £150,000 per year. SCOPE is not and has never been part of any ‘disability movement’, like other charities SCOPE is part of the disability business- its just another parasitic corporate entity.

As things get worse for us, money rolls in to SCOPE from those that don’t understand the grassroots politics of disability. A grass root politics that rejects charity, rejects others speaking on our behalf, rejects the colonisation of disabled people as quazi representatives of the charity corporate business brand.

SCOPE like all the other big disability charities make money from disabled people- the worse the crisis gets for us -the better it is for them: donations soar, their overpaid elite get salary increases and disabled people remain in exactly the same place in society.

We don’t need or want disability charities. We need actions, strong voices critical of government, and mediocre organisations withdrawing from government groups. Groups such as Priti Patel’s apparent ‘task force’ set to advise on ‘support’ for those in the ESA WRAG group who’ll lose £30 a week from April 2017.

How could any group, charity or even user-led organisation even agree to this travesty? SCOPE and others may say they’re doing it to ‘help’, but collapsing into little government clichés doesn’t help-refusing to engage and rejecting the very idea that some disabled people will have 30% of their income removed does.

We’ve seen the lengths big Disability charities like MENCAP will go to keep their MP patrons-patrons who voted for the 30 pound cut to ESA are not being sacked-so whose side are they on? It isn’t ours.

Now SCOPE gather some young disabled people and dare to announce they are ‘reinvigorating the disability movement’ what next? And what types of campaign will these people be directed to?

Remember the awful ‘end the awkward campaign’? A patronizing piece of expensive rubbish brilliantly critiqued by Brain Hilton.

Remember the ILF /DPAC campaign against the ILF Closure? When some from the ILF campaign group insisted on writing to SCOPE to ask them what they were going to do, multi-million pound SCOPE told them it wasn’t in their program and to get in touch with DPAC.

When DPAC protested outside SCOPE’s offices in 2013 SCOPE used it as publicity to tweet they’d had a productive meeting with us!

When SCOPE , bizarrely, decided to celebrate 20 years of the Disability Discrimination Act in 2015 with an exhibition of ‘the disability movement’ we were confused but saw it as a way for them to avoid challenging the decimation of rights today. A decimation that initiated the UN Inquiry by four people from DPAC not by any multi-million charity, remember.

When SCOPE announced closure of residential homes in a newspaper without bothering to tell the residents, it said they were developing independent living. They were losing loss making inconveniences and selling them off.

When SCOPE was exposed by Boycott Workfare for entering the government market for the punitive workfare regime for disabled people in 2012-they claimed it was an ‘isolated incident’, and amazingly claimed to have no idea of compulsion or sanctions for disabled people.

The slogan ‘Rights not charity’ is a stalwart of the disabled people’s movement for a reason. We want human rights, justice, and equality –not charity models that present us as pitiful, vulnerable creatures to be saved by the collecting tin.

The vicious attacks on disabled people by this government, and attacks by new Labour before them,  has not moved SCOPE to do anything other than produce intermittent bland and meaningless media statements.

But they wouldn’t do anything else would they, because they sit at the governments table, enjoy funds from government departments and are doing very well. They’ve done very well since 1952 when they were set up as the Spastics Society. They had an expensive brand change to SCOPE in 1994 because they thought that the Spastics Society just wasn’t modern enough.

They stole our words, our lives, our campaigning terms and put the social model of disability on their website- a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It didn’t wash then and it certainly doesn’t wash now.

Neither SCOPE nor any other multi million pound big Disability Charity speaks or acts for disabled people-we speak and act for ourselves.

For the young campaigners who have unwittingly joined SCOPEs latest public relations/donations campaign, albeit six years into the biggest assault on disabled people’s lives in recent history. If you want to make a change do it with a user-led disability organisation ‘of’ disabled people or set up something your selves.

Please though, above all, read up on the history of the struggles of disabled people to free ourselves from charities incarcerating us in institutions, speaking on our behalf and making millions on our backs-understand the slogan ‘Rights not charity’!

And for SCOPE forget ‘end the awkward’ #endthebullshit because most of us aren’t fooled.


SCOPE still spends 22.4 million on residential ‘care’ for disabled people

Debbie Jolly

Big thanks to Bob for the title


Mar 292016

Please answer all the questions-if you want to say anything more about why you did or didn’t vote for Labour or why you did or didn’t vote for Corbyn – add it as a comment

 Posted by at 15:48
Mar 282016

 Press release; Pembrokeshire People’s Assembly Against Austerity.

For immediate release 27-03-16.

Crabb Must Go!! Resign Mencap!! – Demonstration at Crabb’s Office in Haverfordwest. Sat, 2nd April. 11AM till 1PM

Pembrokeshire People’s Assembly Against Austerity are organising a demonstration outside Stephen Crabb’s Office for this Saturday 2nd which will take place from 11AM till 1PM. Demonstrators will be demanding that Crabb recognises public opinion and resigns as Pembrokeshire Mencap patron following his recent vote to cut ESA by £30 per for disabled people.

Organisers say that as there has as yet been no statement made by Stephen Crabb’s office, nor Mencap Pembrokeshire indicating that Crabb is to resign as Mencap patron so they feel that they have no other option but to press ahead with the demonstration.

The 38degrees petition calling for Crabb to resign as patron of Mencap Pembs is close to reaching 12,000 signatures. It had already achieved 2000 signatures within its first two days. Notably before Crabb was appointed as DWP secretary.

Jim Scott, the organiser of the petition said; “There is now overwhelming pressure from all quarters for Crabb to resign this post. The Mencap Facebook page (Stackpole Walled Gardens)  has been inundated with comments requesting that Crabb be removed as their patron. A great many people have written and emailed Mencap locally as well as nationally. Many people have even said that they will be withholding their donations until this matter is resolved. The petition continues to grow. Public pressure as well as the efforts of DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) has already forced 4 ESA voting MP’s to resign their patronages of other disability charities as part of DPAC’s on-going campaign aptly named ‘Operation #ToryDump’ . It is just a matter of time now. Crabb simply cannot and will-not get away with voting in Westminster for cuts such as the ESA cut which is a ‘done-deal’ now for Crabb and cannot be ‘undone’ .  Yet then masquerade as some kind of champion for disabled people while back in Pembrokshire, his game is up! These cuts have already caused widespread poverty, destitution, homelessness and many suicides among our most vulnerable and deserving members of society. Crabb, and all other ESA voting MP’s simply have to go.”

Romayne Phoenix, National Co-Chair of The People’s Assembly said; “With Iain Duncan Smith’s resignation and the government forced to backtrack on Osborne’s disastrous budget, there are many more British people now recognising the hypocrisy of having Tory patrons of these disability charities & charities which focus on care. The pressure is on – and Crabb’s appointment looks to have been a mistake made in a hurry that the `Tories will regret for a long time.”

A spokesperson for DPAC said   “The strength of disabled people has been shown over the past few weeks-we will not support any charity or MP who voted for the cuts to ESA. The charities must remove such MPs, if they do not it will be more confirmation for disabled people whos side the charities are really on”

Natalie Bennett – Green Party leader publically signed the 38degrees petition calling for Crabb to resign when visiting Fishguard last week for an anti-cuts debate. Bennett was joined in signing the petition by Alice Hooker Stroud – Wales Green Party leader, Chris Overton – Withybush Hospital campaigner and Kay Dearing of SOS (Save our Sixth Forms Pembrokeshire).

Other MP’s are facing similar pressure including Liam Fox, another Mencap Patron who has had a petition lodged against him to resign as Mencap patron for North Somerset.

Speakers invited to Saturdays demonstration  include, National People’s Assembly Against Austerity, DPAC (disabled People Against cuts) and other local disability groups, Wales Green Party, Plaid Cymru, The Labour Party, The Green Party, Lib-Dems, Plaid for Pride, Welsh Green Pride, TUSC, Left unity,  and many more local campaigners.

Organisers say “This will be a united show of strength demonstrating cross-Party & multi-Campaign support, this will show Crabb and the Charity involved that even just a few weeks from a major election here in Wales, all Parties and campaigns are willing to stand together to show a united front in the face of such injustice. Austerity is ideologically driven and is ruining people’s lives, people are dying out there yet wealth among the richest has doubled in the past 5 years. It doesn’t take a genius to work out what Crabb’s Government is up to, but we need to be united in order to put a stop to it.”

The organisers urge all concerned citizens of Pembrokeshire and elsewhere to attend the demonstration and add their number to those demanding- Crabb must go! They also welcome spokespeople to attend and speak on behalf any other respective organisations who wish to be represented. You can contact them via their Facebook page for more information. (Pembrokeshire People’s Assembly (against austerity)

Protestors will gather shortly before 11AM on Saturday at Crabb’s office, Upper Market St Haverfordwest, SA61 1QA.



Notes to editors;

The speakers list for this event is being constantly updated and can be checked here; (Facebook event page).



Attached showing Sticker and campaign banner picture.

A special sticker has even been created for the event , these stickers are available at;

Crabb the grab resign as mencap Patron

Crabb resign sticker


Mar 202016

SCOPE that well know charity parasite claiming to collect money to enrich our disabled lives welcomes Crabb with a tweet

Something that even the social media person at SCOPE seems to know is that Crabb has replaced IDS as secretary of state.

IDS is now doing an impersonation of God and the saviour of all  disabled people. He loved us all really and is telling the world how misunderstood he has been-He was always on our side and ‘helping’ us. It’s all as believable as a goldfish riding a unicycle.

SCOPE have been practising being our ‘saviour’ for years. It’s a performance they’ll be polishing up after That Tweet welcoming Crabb.

Crabb voted for the £30 pound cut to ESA WRAG- It could have been worse: welcome Stephen , can we sit at your Government table and have some money please –its very difficult to manage on our income of over 100 million –times are hard.

Of course SCOPE aren’t the only charity supporting those that voted for the £30 cut or keeping  ties with MPs to help them along see DPAC’s #ToryDump for more of them. We know who’s side they’re on and it isn’t ours, despite what they try and tell us.

MENCAP have Crabb as patron too, but don’t seem to want to get rid of him. MENCAP national pass the buck by saying he is patron of a local MENCAP?? Local MENCAP did rattle on about MPs from all walks of life or something incoherent in the week…buck passing at its finest, until a few hours ago when MENCAP national released a statement to ITV gushing their congratulations to Crabb You can join the thousands that have already signed the  the petition for MENCAP to get rid of Crabb HERE

But what about Crabb?

We’ve made a little background list.

-Voted for £30 cut to ESA WRAG

-Supported the introduction of the Bedroom tax

-Supported the introduction of the chaotic and decimating Personal Independence Payments

-Voted against increasing social security payments in line with inflation

-Voted against prolonging social security payments for those with chronic health conditions and disabled people

-Voted for the welfare cap

-Voted to include child benefit in the welfare cap rather than exclude it

-Voted to exclude more people from tax credits

-Supported reduction in corporation tax

-Supported scrapping education maintenance grant

-Supported air strikes in Syria

If that’s not enough, Crabb continues to have links with an organisation that supports some so called ‘gay cure’

Pink News reported that the MP employed interns in his parliamentary office through a scheme organised and funded by Christian Action Research and Education (CARE). CARE has previously sponsored events which refer to gay and bisexual people as “sexually broken” and advocating that they can become “ex-gay”. The organisation has funded internship places for young people to be placed with MPs as researchers or interns.

Addressing the concerns in 2012, Mr Crabb confirmed that he had received interns from the scheme while an MP. However, despite criticism of CARE, he refused to distance himself from the group when asked, The Daily Telegraph reported.

Mr Crabb also reportedly began his political career while an intern for CARE in the 1990s[i].

Crabb also voted against the equality of same sex marriage in 2013

And there’s more…

Expense fiddles

Not underpants this time, but houses. In 2009 Crabb claimed over £8,000 to refurbish his flat, sold it for a huge profit ( paid 68,000 sold for £240,000 ten years later), then flipped his second home expenses to family home. He then claimed £9,300 in stamp duty and £1,325 in mortgage interest.

In 2014 Crabb employed his wife on the public payroll –and we paid for that too

So no DPAC doesn’t welcome Crabb

Let’s  give the last word to his constituents. Here’s what some said on his surgery wall-note the inaccessible office too

“Y do U hate the sick”



 Posted by at 20:20
Mar 122016

By Ellen Clifford writing in a personal capacity

The majority of the DPAC steering group believes disabled people should vote to stay in the European Union.

Today we publish two pieces. The first, below, outlines a ‘no’ vote perspective, the  other HERE outlines why it should be a ‘yes’ vote to stay in EU on the 23rd June.

No to the EU

With the EU referendum looming in June this year a number of articles have been published debating the left case for a no vote on the EU (1). Here I will seek to summarise some of the key left case arguments as well to as to address the question from a disability perspective. I believe the conclusion drawn by a range of anti-austerity campaigners that the capitalist monolith of the EU cannot be reformed and must be opposed, is equally applicable to Disabled people fighting oppression and the impact of austerity cuts. John Hilary, Executive Director of War on Want writes: “a vote to remain in the EU is automatically a vote for the continuation of austerity and neoliberal capitalist rule” (2).

One point to make from the outset is that breaking with the EU would not impact on the ability of Disabled people in Britain to use the European Convention on Human Rights. At some stage the Tories may try to take Britain out of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights and that is a fight we must be prepared for. However, it is a question that is separate from the membership of the EU.


Austerity and Neoliberalism

As an internationalist, the idea of a no vote on membership of the European Union can at first instinct feel wrong, but a no vote to the EU is not the same as turning away from Disabled people in the member states of the EU. Indeed a no vote is very much in solidarity with Disabled people who have born the brunt of austerity measures imposed on them by the EU in countries such as Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain. Since 2008 spending on disability services in the Irish Republic has been cut by 10% (3) with major cuts in disability-related services also occurring in Greece, Portugal and Spain (4). Bail outs given to Greece came in return for the imposition of austerity on a colossal scale. Health spending was capped at 6% with a quarter of the budget cut over just two years. In Achaia province two thirds of those prescribed drugs said they could not afford to buy them. Major depression more than doubled and suicide attempts grew by a third and yet mental health services were cut to the bone. It is estimated that the number of stillborn babies grew by 21% (5).

There can be no doubting the pressure brought to bear by the EU in imposing it neoliberal agenda. The “Fiscal Contract” signed by most EU member states in March 2012 obliges signatories to change their constitution to ensure balanced budgets under the supervision of the European Commission, an unelected EU body that acts unashamedly in the interests of big business at the expense of social or environmental rights. When the European Central Bank cut off emergency funding to Greek banks, effectively shutting them down and bringing the Greek economy to a halt, the Syriza government felt it had no option but to capitulate to the EU and sign up to a bail out package demanding austerity and privatisation. The EU thus forced through an agreement that over rode the democratic will of the Greek people who had voted against austerity. Just as the Tories have been using the financial crisis to take forward their own ideological agenda, so have EU institutions involved in the Troika (6) been using the debt crisis to impose “structural adjustment programmes” across Europe with the aim of clearing the way for multinational countries to come in and seize public assets.

Anti-austerity campaigners in Europe are clear about the role the EU plays in enforcing austerity, while nevertheless resisting its implementation by their own nation states. It is in the interests of international solidarity and resistance beyond borders to stand with our anti-austerity allies across Europe in saying ‘No’ to the EU.


Fortress Europe

A no vote also stands in solidarity with Disabled people from outside the current borders of the EU. Those borders, enforced by the EU joint border control taskforce Frontex, leave them with no escape from the poverty, wars and terrors created by Western imperialism. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has documented how, whenever human rights clash with the policies of racist exclusion, the EU will always prioritise the latter (7). The creation of “Fortress Europe” has seen unprecedented cooperation between countries in and just outside of the EU. A HRW report explained how in 2009 Italy began forcing migrants from Libya to return there where they would be detained by the authorities. In exchange Italy offered Libya $5 billion over 25 years in infrastructural investment. HRW collected harrowing accounts from migrants held in the detention centres including torture and rape. The EU’s response was to give Libya a further $80 million to build detention centres and strengthen its southern frontier.

Taking a principled stance in opposition to the EU does NOT mean agreeing with or supporting the nationalist, racist arguments of the likes of UKIP, while a yes position also means voting the same way as political undesirables such as Cameron (whose ‘bunch of migrants’ comment marks him as much a vicious racist as UKIP’s Nigel Farage) and Osborne.


The Disintegration of Social Europe

It is very much in the interests of British capital to stay in the EU while pushing ahead regardless with plans to curtail human rights in the UK through the introduction of a British Bill of Rights in place of the Human Rights Act. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) backs continued membership of the European Union (8) – they also dedicate a section of their website to defending the governments Work Programme from which many of its own members extract profits and Maximus UK’s managing director Chris Blackwell is ‘an active member of the CBI and regularly speaks at major events’ (9).

Those in favour of staying in the EU often cite the reforms that came in through the social chapter of the Maastricht agreement in 1992 including parental leave and working hour directives. However the idea that the EU continues to offer some kind of “social Europe” to protect against the ravages of neoliberalism is a myth. The European Central Bank president Mario Draghi said in a 2012 interview that “The European social model has already gone”. Recent years have shown the EU repeatedly undermining trade union rights in favour of business. Employment barrister John Hendy QC has written, “The EU has become a disaster for the collective rights of workers and their unions. It is essential that the international institutions of human rights law be upheld, it is yet more vital that working people and trade unions across Europe achieve the solidarity necessary to prevent the further depredations of the EU” (10).


How should Disabled people vote?

On the question of what is in the best interests of Disabled people in the UK, firstly it is a false division to treat the interests of Disabled people as an entirely separate entity from those of the rest of the 99%. Wider social issues such as workers’ rights and the racist myths used to justify ill treatment of migrants also impact on our lives and are important to us. Secondly the argument that Disabled people in the UK have too much to lose by leaving the EU is insufficiently convincing to justify voting in favour of an institution that acts so clearly in the interests of the 1%, that forces Disabled people to suffer under austerity to keep the bankers’ bonuses piling in and that condemns refugees (many of whom are Disabled or children) to drown in the sea.

With regards to the situation in the UK, where has the EU been in stopping the Tories from their relentless attacks on Disabled people? If we look across Europe we see routine treatment of Disabled people that would be considered unthinkable here, even now following the dramatic regression we have experienced since 2010. An expose by French newspaper Liberation in 2014 revealed the terrible conditions suffered by thousands of Disabled people sent to live in institutions in Belgium (11) while caged beds are still routinely used in areas of Europe (12).

Advances in disability equality and inclusion are not the result of EU policy, they are the product of struggle by Disabled people. Sweden, a country considered for a long time to be a world leader in independent living, did not join the EU until 1994. Demands made by STIL, the Stockholm Co-operative for Independent Living, set up in 1983 and inspired by the Independent Living Movement in California, forced the introduction of Direct Payments, using demonstrations and actions that gave them a “radical reputation” that they “exploited in our dealings with the authorities” (13). In Norway, which is not an EU member, disability benefits are a universal right, while in EU member states including Sweden these are increasingly limited. There is no automatic link between EU membership and higher standards of support and inclusion for Disabled people.

Key successes in the fight against Disabled people’s oppression have not been handed down from EU bodies but won by grassroots Disabled people and our allies. The independent living movement was formed by Disabled people breaking out of residential care; the social model of disability was developed by Disabled socialists; Atos was driven out of the contract running the WCA by Disabled campaigners.

Illusions in the EU are an obstacle to building the movement we need. The force to effect real change lies with the struggle from below and that will remain the case whether the UK is in or out of the EU. However losing the referendum would be a blow to Cameron’s government and the businesses that profit from our misery, and this can help our struggle break new ground.


Reasons to vote No to the EU:

* The EU is negotiating secret trade deals such as the Transatlantic and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the US. TTIP threatens to introduce a new wave of privatisation in key sectors such as health and education. It also seeks to grant foreign investors the right to sue governments for loss of profits resulting from public policy decisions.

* The strict criteria of Economic and Monetary Union limits public sector expenditure and government borrowing. Euro member states now face fines if they fail to enact “implementation law” to cut spending deficits.

* The EU promotes zero hours contracts, casualisation and low pay as part of its structural adjustment programme.

* The EU promotes privatisation. Various EU directives, regulations, policies and the EMU criteria are forcing public services into the private sector. Large parts of the conditions to obtain further “bailout” loans are to sell off public sector institutions.

* The EU seeks to undermine trade union rights. The suspension of trade union collective bargaining is a strict condition of EU “bailouts” in Ireland, Portugal, Romania and Greece. A number of European Court of Justice rulings have found in favour of business over workers’ rights to defend themselves.

* The EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy has allowed the development of armed drones, economic support for the arms trade and an armed European Gendarmarie Force (EGF).

* The EU is the antithesis of democracy. The EU government is the unelected and unaccountable European Commission which legislates and proposes policy to the Councils of Ministers. The European Parliament only has very limited powers of “co-decision” with the Commission.


Further reading


War on Want:

Human Rights Watch:


  1. Choonara, “The EU: A left case for exit”
  2. Slorach, “A Very Capitalist Condition: a history and politics of disability”



  2. The Journal, 15 September 2015. See
  3. I B Portero, “Are there rights in a time of crisis?” Disability and Society, vol 27, no 4 (2012).

  1. J Choonara, “The EU: A Left Case For Exit” (available from
  2. The Troika consists of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Commission and the European Central Bank, two of which are institutions of the EU.



 Posted by at 14:29
Mar 122016

By Debbie Jolly

The majority of the DPAC steering group believes disabled people should vote to stay in the European Union.

Today we publish two pieces. The one below, outlines why it should be a ‘yes’ vote to stay in EU on the 23rd June. The other HERE outlines the ‘no’ perspective

So what exactly is the EU?

Many criticisms of the European Union are based on a lack of understanding of how its different parts interact. This tends to promote the myth of an unelected and unrepresentative European union with dictates coming from Brussels. In fact the main parts of its headquarters are in Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg.

Here’s a quick rundown of its main parts and what they do so we’re clear about how each of the member countries are represented and how the parliament works by individuals in each of the member countries electing members of the European Parliament:

European Commission-Commissioners are made up of a representative from each member country. Also where new laws are proposed

European Parliament-elected members of the European Parliament (MEPS), elected for each of the 28 member countries. The Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats and the Group of the European’s Peoples Party have consistently pulled in 50-70% of votes[1] . It’s the Parliament of elected MEPs that vote on the laws proposed by the commission

Council of the European Union-where government representatives of the 28 member countries/states have their say on the political direction of the union and their stake in it. For example Cameron’s latest ‘deal’ for an emergency brake on in work benefits for so called migrants was done here[2].

European Court of Justice-The 28 Judges come from each of the member states. As its name suggests it is a court of justice regarding member countries squabbles or issues where member countries are not fulfilling the rights of citizenship. They also take cases of discrimination and have established issues such as equal pay and combated issues around the forced institutionalisation of disabled people[3]

So the different parts of the EU and its parliament are representative of each of its member states and MEPs are elected by the people. The electoral system uses proportional representation -as opposed to the British first past the post system that allowed the Tories to govern again in Britain.

The right wing media mouthpieces such as the Express and Mail have been at the fore front of anti-European rhetoric.   So that issues such as free movement in Europe that allowed those in war torn countries to try and seek a decent peaceful existence ( more on that later), the working time directive and other social gains are always ignored, misconstrued or demonised.

Social policy gains from the EU: what has EU ever done for us?

While some on the left cite the EU or European Parliament social gains, social charters and key treaties, taking resistance, development and co-operation as the route to build on the social gains-the Eurosceptic left charge the EU with being a capitalist monolith that cannot be reformed, so let’s throw it all away.

We need to ask ourselves if we do that: what are the consequences? Will we really fair better under ‘Tory Boys Limited’?  They and Thatcher before them sought to limit or block every improvement in employee rights and social rights put forward by the EU. Let’s look in brief at some of the social gains that being part of the European Union gave us in employment protection against ‘the bosses’.


-Maternity and Paternity leave criteria, protection against workplace dismissal due to pregnancy

-Protection of employment if business is transferred or sold (TUPE)

-Protection from workplace discrimination re gender, disability, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age

-Working time directive: rules on paid leave, holidays, working breaks, no more than a 48 hour working week (UK has an opt out option between employers and employees on this one , of course)

-Employment contracts and information they must contain for any employee

-Protection against less favourable treatment for part-time workers compared to full time workers, no right of employer to transfer someone from part-time to full time or vice versa without employee agreement

-Health and safety regulations in work

-Data protection on employees’ information and data protection issues more widely

And before we hear any cries of Europe imposing nasty equality and protection and undermining member countries sovereign whatever, please note that member countries can and did tinker around the edges. For example, whether paternity leave was paid or not. For more detail see reference[4] .

If we leave the EU these protections for workers will no longer be applicable and the current government would be all too happy to remove them. In fact Cameron wanted part of his recent EU deal to deal with the ‘red tape’ of these employment rights

Disability: why disabled people would be better in Europe than out

The European Union also have a wealth of social policy on gender issues and other equality issues. Here I’ll focus on disability issues

Non discrimination: as previously covered a variety of non discrimination measures to protect disabled people is written into treaties, directives and strategies at the European level on goods and services, access and independent living

Non discrimination by association: The principle of not discriminating because of association (e.g partner, child, parent etc) with a disabled person came via Europe through a European Court of Justice case and was written into the UK Equality Act 2010[5]

Forced institutionalisation: The European court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights has overseen many cases on forced institutionalization by member countries this is in line with commission signing up to the UNCRPD and its own EU Disability Strategy. As such precedents have been made to prevent both forced institutionalisation and combat conditions within institutions. This does not mean that all situations across European member states are now perfect, but that individuals and NGOs have other routes as well as their national government/national legal system to challenge human rights abuses against disabled people and disabled children at the European level.

European Social Funds: The EU provides millions of euros in social funds to NGOs/local authorities/regions/universities in its 28 member states to combat poverty, to promote and enact independent living, to challenge injustice and to remove institutions. It has also provided much needed regeneration in many areas as well as educational and project funds around human rights. These funds would be removed from disabled people and from communities if we leave. The Tory government will not replace them.

Misuse of social funds by member states: while social funds are meant to increase access to independent living and disabled people being part of the community with adequate support, i.e. the closure of large institutions, some member state governments have been misusing such funds to build smaller institutions. These issues are now being dealt with by the commission-and the point is: what Europe is accused of is often in reality a failing of a member state, but it is often wrongly blamed on the European Union itself.

Access and EU Accessibility Act: the UK enjoys comparatively good access in relation with some other European countries, but harmonization is important across the EU to serve all disabled people. The recent EU accessibility Act builds on other directives from the EU to improve access and harmonize the social gains disabled people fought for. Most countries have regulations on ramps and buildings, although these are not always adhered to. The EU can strengthen these gains and has provided more in line with their EU Disability Strategy

Transport-EU rules on accessible vehicles standards and provision of assistance on all forms of public transport, including planes meant that those countries that did not provide this can now be taken through the courts

Public web sites –must adhere to EU rules on accessibility

The list below shows new products and services that must be accessible to all impairment groups

-computers and operating systems;

– ATMs; ticketing and check-in machines;

– smartphones;

– TV equipment related to digital television services;

– telephony services and related equipment;

– audiovisual media services (AVMS) and related equipment;

– air, bus, rail and waterborne passenger transport services;

–  banking services;


– e-commerce.

For example the EU access directive means that:

ATMs will provide sockets for headphones with the support of audio instructions. Keyboards will provide tactual clues. ATMs will also have visual alerts (blinking lights) in addition to audible signals to indicate where the cards need to be introduced or where the money comes out.

Booking and travel: accessibility requirements of the Directive will allow disabled passengers to be able to book their tickets on the transport companies’ websites or directly via accessible ticketing machines. For example, a blind person will be able to use voice or tactual interfaces to interact with the ticketing machines and also to get information about the schedule of his/her journey. Deaf and hard of hearing persons will get information about the changes in the schedule of their train/bus journeys in real time in text format, complementing the oral announcements[6].

The European Parliament also has a disability intergroup made up of MEPs with an interest in protecting and extending the rights of disabled people, a disability strategy focused on independent living and equal rights and a whole set of different groups looking at issues such as de-institutionalisation.

Disabled people and European NGOs are the ones that fight for disability rights, but being in the EU  can help extend those rights and also help fund our battles. While we in the UK may know we have a significant battle, other countries have significant battles too in terms of access, attitudes, being part of the community, and poor financial support for the extra costs of disability-pulling out of the EU means rejecting our disabled European friends and significantly weakening our own fight too.

The closure of the ILF (independent Living Fund) has been covered and protested by MEPs and by European NGOs in a way that would not have been possible if we were not members of the EU. The additional 4 years of funds for ex ILF users were not given because the government wanted to be generous, but because of the campaigns around the ILF-a campaign that was supported by those in Europe.

The European Court of Human Rights is separate from the EU. It was set up to take cases under the European Convention on Human Rights and its members are the signatories to the convention. The Tory government plans for a British Bill of Rights might mean that the European Court of Human Rights and the European Convention become irrelevant. It’s also much more likely that we’ll lose the European Convention rights if we pull out of the EU which will mean we lose the European Court of Justice and the court of Human Rights in one swoop. We need both.

Myths and misunderstandings

The previous piece arguing for a vote to leave the EU because disabled people would be better off  raised a number of points that need to be clarified.

1.’ it is a false division to treat the interests of Disabled people as a distinct entity separate from the rest of the 99%’ It isn’t when the piece is on a disabled peoples’ campaign group’s site, disabled people are a distinct entity in that many of our rights are not met as they should be, as such we need to examine why remaining in the EU can aid and increase those rights, not just for us as an Island, but in solidarity with disabled people across Europe and beyond

  1. The EU ‘forces disabled people to suffer under austerity’, no it doesn’t national governments do. Is it nations (or member states) that chose their austerity measures and chose its targets? Nations do both not the EU. Nations do both whether they’ve been bailed out by the EU/IMF (international Monetary Fund)/member states money or not. For example Ireland was not directed by the EU (or any other parties to the bail out) to specifically cut disability spending by 10% any more than Ireland was directed by the EU not to sign or ratify the UNCRPD[7]. It’s the same case for other ‘bail out’ countries. The false conflation between the EU and its member state actions are misleading
  2. The EU is ‘an institution that condemns refugees (many of whom are Disabled or children) to drown in the sea’. The EU’s Schengen treaty of free movement across European borders is the thing that allowed people to escape war torn or other types of country within or outside the EU. It was a Tory dictate that rescues wouldn’t happen. They claimed it would just ‘encourage more to come’-so a national government that refused rescues and funds[8]. The EU is not responsible for refugees having their cash and valuables confiscated either, but national governments- Denmark[9] followed by Germany and Switzerland[10]. Again, the false conflation between the EU and its member state actions/inactions are misleading
  3. ‘Sweden, a country considered for a long time to be a world leader in independent living, did not join the EU until 1994. Demands made by STIL, the Stockholm Co-operative for Independent Living, set up in 1983 and inspired by the Independent Living Movement in California, forced the introduction of Direct Payments, using demonstrations and actions that gave them a “radical reputation” that they “exploited in our dealings with the authorities”. In Norway, which is not an EU member, disability benefits are a universal right, while in EU member states including Sweden these are increasingly limited’ STIL is a great model for independent living in Sweden, there are many around Europe and in the European Economic Area (EEA) including ULOBA in Norway. However, Norway has also seen reductions in support. They, like STIL and inspired by STIL, have fought a long battle to develop direct payments and gained a personal assistance law in 2014[11], Sweden had personal assistance law much sooner. This is not about being part of the European Union or not- it’s about the context, histories and cultures of individual countries. It should also be noted that that other member countries of the EU are not seeing reductions in disability financial support in particular those in Eastern Europe-again we cannot conflate what happens with a single issue on a national basis and claim that it’s the EU’s fault/not the EU’s fault, issues including those connected with disability, are much more complex.

Voting to leave the EU will protect us against TTIP??

No it won’t. Leaving the EU will not mean that we suddenly cease trading with other parts of Europe-we will still import/export and trading will continue. It’s likely that if we do leave we will take a position similar to Norway and be part of the single market or European Economic Area. We will still be subject to TTIP whether we’re in or out. If we’re out we can’t be in the fight to change aspects of TTIP through the European parliament or with other member countries such as France or Greece[12] who want to veto aspects of TTIP. National governments do have a say in TTIP contrary to some of the media’s claims.

If we’re out the current government might also see the need to create their version of TTIP too, given their appetite for cuts of all kinds and an abject lack of responsibility for any standards concerning our health or well-being this would prove to be an even bigger nightmare. Cameron’s extreme pro TTIP stance[13] show this is highly likely. ‘Red Tape’ and safety would be swept away and even more deregulation and privatization will follow. While we remain in the EU we are protected by the ‘precautionary principle’. The precautionary principle protects public health, the environment and food –stuffs. The Lisbon treaty states

“Union policy on the environment shall aim at a high level of protection taking into account the diversity of situations in the various regions of the Union. It shall be based on the precautionary principle and on the principles that preventive action should be taken, that environmental damage should as a priority be rectified at source and that the polluter should pay”[14]

From 2006 these protections went beyond the environmental to products, additives, food stuffs, genetically modified food stuffs, and the disposal of waste[15]

If we leave the EU we’ll lose the protections we have, still be subject to TTIP and more than likely need to watch as the Tories create their own version of TTIP that will rocket their extreme unregulated privatization and love of the free market beyond even their wildest dreams as they rip the last vestiges of the NHS to its final defeat- don’t let it happen

UK vs EU on Google, tax avoidance and regulation

The Google tax deal proved once more that the Westminster government and Osborn will do little but tinker around the edges in relation to unpaid tax by multinationals and large companies. They’re just not interested in changing the British owned tax havens, or bringing corporate  tax avoiders to account-worse they’re quite happy to make sweetheart deals with the likes of Google and co. while they cut disability support and other social support while claiming austerity.

The Common Consolidated Corporate Tax base (CCCTB) from the EU could change everything. The European Tax commissioner Moscovici told MEPs that he wanted to make 2016 “the year of tax reform”, with the EU’s CCCTB at the centre of his plans. “We have a serious problem with tax avoidance and lack of transparency. Too many people have looked the other way”. He claimed the string of global tax scandals and the anger from the public can be used to bring those member countries currently against such measures in line[16].

The EU isn’t just gunning for companies like Google and Apple through its digital tax[17] on tax avoidance and ‘hiding’ multi billion profits. The EU has already secured regulation on mobile phone companies’ exorbitant roaming charges through a vote by MEPs to scrap them. As anyone unfortunate enough to have needed to use their mobile phone in Europe will tell you there are charges for the calls/texts out and receiving calls, and additional costs for internet on top of any service agreement or credit. The extra charges have been reduced and will be removed completely by 2017[18]due to EU membership

Do those agreeing with Brexit ‘want to have their cake and eat it’?

A report by the High Pay Centre Think Tank ( a think tank monitoring excessive high pay and inequality)  shows that some may. While many agreed with measures of the EU to tackle inequality and improve rights few knew that such measures originated from the EU, were on the EU remit to tackle or were in danger if we leave the EU.

The findings suggest that UK workers are unaware that their working conditions could be dramatically affected by plans to re-negotiate the terms of Britain’s EU membership. Influential eurosceptics have argued that the reform of laws guaranteeing workers’ rights should be a priority for any re-negotiation[19].

While there is widespread support for the workers rights, just 25% of those polled were aware of the fact that these came from the EU.

The polling also found that:

70% of respondents supported the EU bankers’ bonus cap, limiting bankers’ bonuses to twice their annual salary

59% support a European-wide corporation tax floor, whereby European countries agree not  to reduce tax on big companies below a certain level

60% support a wealth tax on the richest EU citizens, such as that proposed by the French economist Thomas Piketty in his best-selling book ‘Capital in the 21st Century’

66% support a European wide pay cap, limiting the pay of company executives to a fixed multiple of their lowest paid employee.

So should we stay or should we go?

The EU referendum has been couched in right wing Eurosceptic terms of ‘stopping migrants’, regaining the sovereignty of the punitive ‘empire’ of centuries past, or left wing Eurosceptic terms of leaving an unaccountable capitalist monolith. Ian Duncan Smith has recently bizarrely announced that Europe is ‘a security threat’ while Boris Johnson sees Eurosceptism as the ticket to becoming the next Prime Minister[20].

Such rhetoric may be entertaining or rage inducing, but it obscures the facts and it stops us focusing on what a UK outside the EU will look like.

A vote to leave the EU is a vote to accelerate the Tory machine in cutting more social rights. A vote to leave will push us into even greater inequality; a vote to leave will push further forward with relentless privatisation and corporate tax avoidance, a vote to leave will erase standards on drinking water, clean air, safe food and a lot more, a vote to leave will erase social gains and rights, and a vote to leave will have every UKIPper and racist feeling supremely justified in their insufferable xenophobia.

Yes, the EU can be improved, but we can’t do that from outside. The last EU referendum was in Greece-they voted to stay. Yanis Varoufakis ex Greek finance minister thinks that the UK should stay in the EU too. Asked how the anti -austerity and equality proponents should focus discontent, he suggests a new pan European movement

‘..because the only way of changing Europe is to do this by a groundswell that rises throughout Europe. Otherwise the protest vote manifesting itself in Greece, Spain, the UK, Portugal, if it is not synchronised everywhere, will eventually dissipate, leaving behind it nothing but the bitterness and insecurity’[21].

Let’s create that groundswell-say yes to the EU-say no to Tory Boys Limited





















[14]  Consolidated Version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union article 191, paragraph 2


[15] Recuerda, Miguel A. (2006). “Risk and Reason in the European Union Law”. European Food and Feed Law Review 5.


[17] See 15






 Posted by at 14:11
Mar 112016


Extracts from speech by Richard Howitt

 “British Disabled People Are Stronger In Europe.” Speech by Richard Howitt MEP, Co-President of the European Parliament’s All-Party Disability Rights Group 11 March 2016.


So far the European Referendum debate has been dominated – at least in the airwaves – by discussion of Treaties, trade agreements, legal competences.


These are all very important.


But ultimately they are important because of their impact on people in Britain.

And today I want to talk about how people are better off with Britain in Europe.


And in particular how British disabled people are stronger with Britain remaining in the European Union.


I used to work in the Disability Movement before going in to politics and as Vice-Chair and now again Chair of the All-Party Disability Rights Group of MEPs during all my time in the European Parliament, I still see myself as an activist.


I have often told the story about how I was motivated to stand for the European Parliament by being part of a European project where we brought British and Dutch profoundly deaf people together. At first, differences in sign language meant they couldn’t communicate. But within 15 minutes they had spontaneously found a way of doing so – very effectively.


It taught me a lesson about pulling barriers down and how people benefit by doing so.

People with disabilities will always campaign to pull down barriers.


In the European referendum, the Disability Movement should campaign against erecting new barriers.


When I was elected, let me also remind you that there was no provision for Europe to be able to pass legislation for disabled people.


And we campaigned successfully to change that, in what is now known as Article 19.


Why did we do that?


Because discrimination does not stop at borders.


In all the talk of ‘free movement’, what about the right of a wheelchair user to move freely to visit another European country?


The great moves that have been made in accessible tourism. The spirit that Britain brought to hosting the Paralympics.


That’s the same spirit I – as a British politician – take to upholding rights of access and of participation for people with disabilities in the European Union.


And what are some of our achievements by doing so?


Non-discrimination in the right to work for disabled people in all European countries.


Access requirements – never enough but very significant compared with the past – for lifts in public buildings, for web accessibility, now in all major transport modes.


Today, on the table, a European-wide general Accessibility Act.


A ban on all new funding going towards segregating, institutionalisation of people with disabilities, particularly important for people with learning disabilities amongst others.


In addition, the legal exemption from EU state aid rules to allow public authorities to directly contract, provides an important boost for people with disabilities to set up and run their own social enterprises.


Like ‘Norfolk Industries’ in which a group of a group of blind employees produce and sell animal bedding based in Norwich and a computer recycling and repair company ‘Reboot’ formed from a group of people with Aspergers – both from my own East of England constituency.


People in Britain with rare diseases, too few for effective treatments to be developed, have benefitted from European Research programmes being able to do so, when the greater numbers experiencing the same disability are put together across all 28 countries of the EU.


International copyright rules have been established which allow blind people to continue to benefit from talking books and newspapers.


Those who campaign to leave the European Union say Britain could pass these laws on our own.


But disabled people should consider: do you believe that this or any British Government would tear up all these rights and then one-by-one draw up new laws to reinstate them?


Don’t politicians always delay things or water them down?


And what those who would leave the European Union won’t tell you is that this European social legislation is a minimum standard, and there is already a specific rule that says European Union countries can go further?


If there really was such political will in Britain to go even further for the rights of people with disabilities – why hasn’t Britain done so already?


The truth is that the minimum floor of rights created in Europe has actually pulled up standards for all.


And remaining in Europe will see that gradual process of improvement continue in to the future.


Indeed there are examples where British politicians have been tempted to act against or remove rights or benefits for disabled people, which have been and are being prevented by these minimum standards of European law.


The European Non-Discrimination in Employment law meant Britain’s Disability Discrimination Act had to be extended to small businesses too, which had not previously been the case.


British Sign Language only became an official language in the United Kingdom, following years of resistance, after a declaration in the European Parliament of which I was proud to be a co-signatory.


The position of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission in the United Kingdom which has been under a barrage of criticism, is protected by the requirements of an ‘indeoendent body’ laid down in the EU non-discrimination directives.


British disabled people are stronger in Europe.


And although I am deeply sad at the abolition of the Independent Living Fund here in Britain, it is worth remembering that the whole concepts of independent living, personal assistance and personal budgets were pioneered in Europe by the Scandinavian countries and can be said to have been imported to Britain from there.


I believe remaining in the EU to be important for keeping the whole concept of ‘independent living’ itself alive.


The lesson for disabled people is that while they may not be truly independent, our country is. This very example shows social security laws – like the vast majority of areas affecting our national life – remain determined at Westminster.


But there is a lesson as well to EU ‘leave’ campaigners, from the experience of people with disabilities.


We all strive for independence. But sometimes a recognition of inter-dependence is important too. Cooperating with others can be a better route to maximising our own interests and welfare, working for and not against them.


Now the last big argument of the EU ‘leave’ campaign is that there is somehow a better alternative outside the European Union.


Could that be true for disabled people?


Just last month I helped host a visit to Brussels by organisations of disabled people from Asia, Africa and Latin America. They didn’t think it was better for them and their countries to create links to Britain if we left the European Union.


Indeed for them, life was better in the European Union and they had come to Brussels to learn from and copy our ways of working.


Add to that the campaign I and so many people have been integrally involved in, over the last decade, to successfully get agreement of a United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.


I know how European diplomacy played a vital role in winning support for the convention.  And it is now the first ever UN human rights convention to which the European Union as an institution has become a signatory.  Implementation of the convention is improving the lives of disabled people in Europe and in the rest of the world.


Europe wasn’t an impediment to achieving this, it was a powerful tool.


Britain in Europe does look out in to the world and is not held back from doing so.


Europe is a stepping stone, which helps us on our journey and prevents us from falling in the water.


Britain within the European Union is more influential in the world and the world is better off because of it.


Now my mention of human rights does cause me to explain that Eurosceptics deliberately confuse the Court of Justice for EU law with the European Court of Human Rights, which is nothing to do with the European Union.


Nevertheless, when the EU ‘leave’ campaign rails against the powers of the European Court, they should remember the landmark cases where disabled people’s human rights have been upheld.


Like the person with mental health [issues] who won a right to review his detention in a psychiatric hospital, the parents who challenged a hospital decision to put a ‘do not resuscitate’ notice on their severely disabled child or the woman who’d had a stroke who challenged her local authority for cutting her care package to a level which deprived her a minimum level of dignity.


It is a good not a bad thing that ‘the state’ can itself be challenged under the rule of law on such important issues of deprivation of liberty, cruel and degrading treatment and the right to life itself.


And in today’s economy of austerity, where rationing and denial of services has become the norm, never discount the fact that the economic prosperity which comes from Britain’s membership of the European Union is vital, if we are fund the public services which many disabled people believe should be theirs of right…


In the Disability Movement.


We want to pull down barriers not erect them.


We recognise discrimination does not stop at borders.


We want to protect Europe’s very significant achievements for people with disabilities, prevent others from being taken away and provide a platform for the further improvements of the future.


We know we can be independent and inter-dependent at one and the same time.


We know that there is no easy, better alternative – indeed the wider world becomes a better place if we remain in, than if we leave.


Above all, the EU referendum is about people and I have argued that British disabled people are stronger in Europe.


This is a call for people with disabilities themselves to vote in the referendum, to vote for Britain to remain in the EU and – in doing so – to vote for better lives for all disabled people in Britain and across Europe.




Richard Howitt MEP is Member of the European Parliament for the East of England and Co-President of the European Parliament All-Party Disability Rights Group of MEPs.











 Posted by at 14:42