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Mar 162013
 

Beth was convicted for the crime of voicing dissent to David Cameron’s vicious attack on disabled people. She was fined £745 including costs – more than what she makes in a month. An appeal was raised to help her towards the fine and she has decided to donate the rest to DPAC. Many thanks! Reposted with permission from Beth. p/s Bethan needs to raise money still for her appeal – see how below.

blood on Cameron's hands

March 13th 2013

Today I was found guilty in the Oxford Magistrates’ Court of causing “harassment, alarm and distress” following a peaceful and legal political protest in Witney in December. The judge said “I can think of nothing more alarming than the statement that ‘Cameron has blood on his hands.'” I will continue to say that Cameron has blood on his hands, whenever the opportunity presents itself.

 

30 people have died as a direct result of the government’s ‘welfare reforms’. Thousands have died after being found ‘fit for work’. Over the long term, as more and more is taken away there will be increasing harm and death, including many hidden ones. The fine and costs come to more than I earn in a month, the judge said that on a whole £700 a month of course I’d have no trouble paying it back. After rent, travel to work, food and paying off loans I don’t have money left at the end of the month, and my salary is going down soon, so I’m not sure what will happen next. Except that I’m going to keep saying that Cameron has blood on his hands.

 

Here’s some notes I wrote earlier on what happened:

 

On the 30th November David Cameron was booed as he came on stage to turn on the Witney Christmas Lights. You can watch a very funny video of him(at 5.58) trying to drown out any criticism by awkwardly getting the crowd to cheer everyone from themselves to the Queen here –

 

When there’s some background heckling during the countdown he appeals to the crowd to “come on, shout louder!”Kind of funny. Also, kind of not funny.

 

I find it very weird watching the video, because while this was going on I was being beaten up by the police on the other side of the stage. I have never been so scared. My face was being pushed into the ground, I could feel blood coming from my nose, there was someone putting their whole weight on my back while someone else was stamping on my knees, along with various people grabbing and twisting my limbs. And then the officer on my back moved a knee up onto the back of my neck. Up until then I’d been shouting “I’m not resisting, I’m cooperating,” trying to ask them to stop, but from the moment I felt someone pressing their body weight into the back of my neck I gave up trying to communicate anything to them, I realised the police officers on top of me either couldn’t or wouldn’t hear me. Instead I began begging anyone who was nearby to intervene, to tell them to stop. Images flashed into my mind of what could happen. I was in pain, I couldn’t see what was going on, I was crying and bleeding, I couldn’t properly breathe, and I thought that they might leave me seriously injured. I’ve worked supporting people who’ve badly damaged their necks or back, and I can’t believe that any police officer was taught that kneeling on the back of someone’s neck is every an acceptable thing to do.

 

So that was one of the background sounds that Cameron was trying to drown out with his calls for round after round of applause. One of the things Cameron asked the crowd to cheer was “the Paralympics, that was great.” Well yes, the paralympics was great, but he should remember that his ministers were booed loudly whenever they appeared at paralympic ceremonies, and that it had the least popular sponsor possible, ATOS. The government gave ATOS the contract to kick disabled people off benefits they need to survive, and despite some of its staff quitting on grounds of conscience, they’ve done an admirable job of swiping those benefits away.To rub salt into the wound the government justify their cuts with misleading press releases about what percentage of disabled people they’ve deemed “fit for work.” These are taken up by the press, who spin them still further from reality and stir up public hatred of “scroungers” and “shirkers”. A survey by Inclusion London found that the general public believe that between 50% and 70% of disability claims are fraudulent. The reality is that the fraud rate for disability benefits is 0.5%. [Inclusion London]

 

The words that the government and media are using is the indirect part of their attack on disabled people. Disability hate crime, which ranges from comments in the street through vandalism of motability cars up to imprisonment, torture, rape and murder (yes, in the UK, this happens) is growing.  A Comres study found that 66% of disabled people in September 2011 said they experienced aggression, hostility or name calling compared with 41% in May 2011. That’s a huge increase in a short amount of time. I knew about this through hearing and reading stories about the people who are being affected, I also knew that these stories weren’t being given the front page spreads that ‘scrounger’ stories get. I think it’s important to show that some of us are refusing to buy the rhetoric that would have us scapegoat disabled people. So I held up a placard that said “Cameron has blood on his hands,” and I shouted that “disabled people are dying because of Cameron’s policies.” I didn’t expect that to be a big deal, I only wanted to do my bit to show that we’re not all taken in by the rhetoric that disabled people are ‘scroungers’ and ‘shirkers.’ I didn’t think that it would lead to being beaten up, arrested, held overnight and then taken to court on two ridiculous charges.

 

Since December there has been a little more attention slowly coming to focus on the horrific way that this government is treating disabled people. MP Micheal Meacher told the House of Commons that Cameron has blood on his hands (he didn’t get arrested). We’ve heard more about how the bedroom tax is going to hit disabled people. But still, there’s very little media coverage of the disability campaigners who are also in court today, in London, challenging the cut of the Independent Living Fund, which will force people into residential homes? We had a huge amount of coverage of one large family getting one large council house. Where are the front page stories about the far more common experiences of people who are losing their independence, their ability to meet their basic needs, even their houses? Where are the front page stories about the people who have killed themselves, seeing no other option as the support they need is pulled away from under them? There are now 30 cases listed on the website Calum’s List, a memorial site for those who have died because of the welfare reforms, either through suicide or through ill health and hardship. Aren’t any of those 30 people as newsworthy as one large family getting a large house? We must do what the mainstream media will not, and resist the government’s attempt to divide and rule.

 

We can listen to the voices of the people who know what’s going on, the people on the frontline of the cuts, and share them with our friends – Calum’s List is hard reading, but important. It lists the deaths caused directly by welfare reform. dpac.uk.net – Disabled People Against Cuts campaign tirelessly, provide an endless amount of information and analysis, and receive hardly any media coverage, or even the recognition they deserve from the wider anti-cuts movement – the Black Triangle Campaign tells it just how it is, read their about page, read some of their blog posts, and you get a sense of just how violent the government’s two-pronged attack on disabled people is, and how dangerous it is for the rest of society to stay silent.

Continue to donate money for her appeal at the Bright Green website

 

Mar 142013
 

Benefits Justice Summit 9th March 2013, London

The start of Benefits Justice Summit


Benefit justice summit Winvisible


Benefit justice summit – Mental Health Network


Benefit Summit – Using the law to fight the cuts – Wendy Pettifer 1/2


Benefit Summit – Using the law to fight the cuts – Wendy Pettifer 2/2


Benefit Summit – Using the law to fight the cuts – Liz Davies 1/2


Benefit Summit – Using the law to fight the cuts – Liz Davies 2/2


Benefit Justice Summit – Closing session – Action plan part 1


Benefit justice summit – Building campaigns locally Part 1


Benefit justice summit – Building campaigns locally Part 2


Benefit summit – Tenants Federation


Benefit summit – Food & Allied Workers Union


Benefit summit – Pensioners Association


Benefit Summit – Single Mother’s Self-Defence

From the live streaming


Benefit Justice Campaign Summit 09/03/13


Benefit Justice Campaign Summit Part 2. 09/03/13

Mar 132013
 

Natassia and Petrell’s Story

Natassia and Petrell’s Story

Natassia is a 21year old young woman who lives at home with her parents in South Norwood, Croydon. She wants to live an independent life with choice and control over what she does and who she does it with. Her support package from the local Council is £175 per week. This is not enough to cover the support she needs yet the Council are refusing to raise it, giving her mother the only alternative of sending her to live in residential care.

Natassia has Cerebral Palsy and requires assistance with washing, dressing,***** She wants to be active and to enjoy social networks and get of the house so she uses her budget to pay to go to a day centre of her choice in South Croydon three days a week. This costs £141 and leaves little left in the budget for meeting her needs for the rest of the week. The Council say if it is too expensive from her budget she should choose to go somewhere else but other day centres in the area are full of older people who Natassia doesn’t relate to and aren’t appropriate. The cost of getting out of the house three times a week then means that there isn’t enough money left in the budget to pay for personal assistants to support Natassia get up, washed and dressed and her parents have to rise at 4.30am to do this. They are happy to do this on the weekend but they find it too much every day of the week.

The Council says that if this is a problem, Natassia should be sent into residential care.

This is despite the fact that residential care would be more expensive than raising the level of the personal budget Natassia receives, costing £225 in rent before any costs for support and personal care.

The family home has been adapted so it is accessible and meets Natassia’s needs. It is where she wants to live.

Had the Independent Living Fund been open Natassia could have applied for support to meet her full range of needs, to receive personal assistance support that allowed her to live with her family while allowing them to live their own lives while still being able to maintain her social networks and to be part of the community.

Mar 122013
 

VIGIL to support the ONE BARNET legal challenge

Tuesday 19th March, 9.30am

Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand, London, WC2A 2ll.

Please join us outside the Royal Courts of Justice to show solidarity and support with disabled Barnet resident Maria Nash who is challenging Barnet Council’s decision to outsource a large group of public services without properly consulting Barnet residents.

Barnet Council is effectively selling off their public services to Capita, a private company in a single contract for a minimum of 10 years, putting the quality of services at risk as profit becomes the over-riding priority. Under the proposals customer services will for example be delivered from call centres in other parts of the UK that won’t have local knowledge or connections. There are many concerns about the impact on the local economy, about risks that the promised savings will not materialise leading to further cuts to services, about the ability of the council to accurately and properly monitor services once outsourced, and about the loss of democracy the entire procedure represents.

We are already seeing the failure of the One Barnet programme as staff working with disabled people through the ‘Your Choice Barnet’ trading company are having their terms and conditions slashed because the enterprise has not delivered the profits it was forecast to. This is what happens when profit is put before people yet Barnet Council is pressing ahead with its plans.

What is happening in Barnet is important to all of us because where Barnet leads in selling off our services other local authorities will follow.

For more information about what is happening in Barnet go to: http://barnetalliance.org/

For information about the vigil please contact: barnetalliance4publicservices@gmail.com                            07534-407703

Mar 122013
 

Jenny’s Story

Before I was referred for funding from the Independent Living Fund I lived without having my most basic needs met, spending hours unable to have a drink or go the toilet, without dignity and without any quality of life, existing between TV and hospital.

I received a package of 4 hours a day, one hour for getting me up, showered and breakfasted, one hour for house work and lunch, one hour for supper and one hour to do the “put to bed”. In between times I couldn’t get a drink or use the toilet- let alone do anything meaningful with my life. I even had one of the care workers bring her husband or (male) neighbour along as she was unable to get me in and out the bath by herself! I thought this was normal! I whiled away my days watching TV or falling asleep due to boredom. I used to be got up at 9 and put to bed at 9. I couldn’t even do shopping as it was quicker for the care worker to do it alone. I spent weeks at a time in hospital going from one health crisis to the next.
A chance meeting with a social care researcher led to me hearing of disabled people using “indirect” budgets to employ their own PAs. I was reassessed and awarded a 24/7 package partly funded by the ILF. I recruited a team of PAs who enabled me to actually have a life!

 

Through support from the Independent living Fund I have been enabled to go back to University and to enter employment, firstly through casual work as an “expert by experience” for the Care Quality Commission and to then go on to get my first full-time job in 20 years (as a Personal Budget Coordinator – the job of my dreams and my hobby to boot!).

 

I am paying into the system in 2 ways – as a Trustee of a charity – and as an economically active tax payer, thanks to my paid work. Additionally, 7 other people are economically active through their employment as my Personal Assistants.

 

In terms of saving money to the state you can also count on the fingers of one hand the number of hospital stays I have had since receiving ILF funding – and all but one of those stays were planned.

My ILF pays for a quarter of my care package – essentially 42 hours a week- and roughly the same amount of time that I spend at work, in education or taking part in leisure activities.

I can’t bear to think of a return to life without these opportunities.

Unfortunately in my job I see many people who are suffering the dreary lifestyle that I had once had as they have missed the chance to apply for ILF funding. One client says that she feels she is treated “worse than a dog – at least dogs get taken for a walk every day” – as she spends all but a couple of hours a week in bed. She doesn’t have a package flexible enough to have someone around to help her back to bed when her muscles no longer allow her to maintain her position in her wheelchair. The hour that she can spend in her chair, while the care worker is doing housework, she drives from room to room like a caged animal “just to make sure the other rooms are still there”!

I have no doubt that ILF funding would have made her life much, much better.

I am worried for the day that my 42 hours funded by the ILF disappear and I resort to driving from room to room, no longer able to pay for the support I need to lead the meaningful life I currently enjoy thanks to the ILF.

 

Mar 102013
 

I am an advocate for my brother Anthony who has severe learning disabilities, autism and bi-polar. As a result of maladministration by Bradford council, when my brother went into supported accommodation in June 2001 he lost his support from the Independent Living Fund. This experience demonstrated brutally the difference between life with and without the ILF and the limitations of Local Authority care packages.

For the six years my brother went without ILF funding his life ceased. After returning from daycare at 3.30pm he did not go out again until the following morning at 8.30 back to daycare. His social life disappeared, no longer could he access the community, you could forget the days out or the occasional visits to the seaside. To my brother, a short walk down the road with his coat and shoes on can make his day seem so much more yet without the ILF he couldn’t step out of the four walls he was imprisoned in.

Although the local Council was made aware of what position they had put my brother in they refused to fund or help in anyway, continually stipulating they did not have the resources.

The ILF may well have certain flaws but the biggest flaw or mistake would be to transfer full responsibility for meeting social care and support needs Local Authorities. The lives of people without a voice, like my brother, will be ruined.

 

Mar 052013
 

Anne’s ILF story

Anne

Anne

My partner of 20 years left me in 1984. I am ashamed to say that until this time I knew nothing about disability rights let alone Disabled Peoples User Led Organisations. When I informed my social services department they hadn’t a clue as to how they were going to support me.
From 1984 until 1988 was four years of hell, never knowing who was going to get me up in the morning, put me to bed and all the other bits in between. I joined a Local Authority Strategy group with whom I visited a conference in London. It was there I met Jane Campbell who introduced me to the ILF.

To begin with I had only 14 hours ILF funding which in the early days I used to do some social things and join a local DPULO becoming chair after six months. However I was still having home care, districts nurses to put me to bed and a bath nurse once a week except on Bank Holidays when I could miss a bath for three weeks. During this period of my life I was forced into having a hysterectomy because with the limited amount of support I received I was unable to keep myself clean. One evening whilst entertaining two friends the nurse arrived and donned a plastic piny and gloves to undress me. Seemingly cerebral palsy had become contagious, this is when I decided to use some of my precious ILF funding to support me to go to bed.

As the years went on and my impairment grew worse I eventually got 24/7 funding half of which is paid for by the ILF. This package has enabled me to run local, national and European DPULO’s. The latter gave me the opportunity to travel all over Europe supporting people to fight for their rights to independent living. During the 28 years I have been part of many nongovernmental organisations, fed into countless government “think tanks” etc none of which would have been possible without the ILF because Local Authorities will or can only support basic care needs.

When you read my story you may think what a drain I have been on society but let me remind you that I keep six Personal Assistants in work, pay employers National Insurance, contribute both economically and mentally to society, run a web based organisation for disabled people who employ their own PAs, carers or support workers – none of which I could do without the support of ILF.

Feb 222013
 

Inclusion London logoDPAC Logo 3 amendment 1 (Small)

Defend Independent Living: Save the Independent Living Fund!

We are opposed to the closure of the Independent Living Fund – a national fund that enables disabled people with the highest support needs to live independently in the community

Without the ILF disabled people with the highest support needs will lose essential support – local authorities cannot provide disabled people with the same level or type of support as the ILF and some people who get support from the Independent Living Fund now are not eligible for support from local authorities at all

Disabled people with high support needs are most at risk of losing their independence and those risks are greater now than at any time since the ILF started due to the disproportionate impact of different austerity measures on disabled people

Disabled people will be forced into residential care against their wishes, losing choice and control over their lives

Closure of the Fund breaches the human rights of disabled people as enshrined in the United Nations Convention for the Rights of People with Disabilities:

–         Article 19 – right to independent living

–         Article 28 – the right to an adequate standard of living and protection

Closure of the ILF will cost jobs:

–         Thousands of Personal Assistants employed through the ILF will lose their jobs

–         Disabled people will not have the support they need to be part of the community and to take up training, education and employment

–         Staff employed by the ILF will lose their jobs

The ILF is an effective and efficient way of providing support to disabled people with complex and high support needs:

  • ILF has higher satisfaction rates amongst disabled service users than LA services
  • Just 2% of funding goes on overheads (running the ILF) this is in stark contrast to the 16% of social care funding that goes on running LA social services departments.
  • ILF has the skills, knowledge and expertise to genuinely support disabled people with complex and high support needs, unlike LA’s.

We are calling for investment and expansion of the ILF that will provide:

–         State protection for the rights of disabled people with complex and high support needs to be supported to live independent lives

–         Expert independent living support based on the genuine independence, proper participation in society, and fulfillment of aspirations of disabled people.

–         A national model of support that does not vary depending on where you live

–         Support that is free at the point of need

 

Kevin Caulfield, Independent Living Fund, January 2013

Write to your MP

Dear_______________________ MP,

I am writing to urge you to defend disabled people’s right to independent
living which is under threat from the closure of the Independent Living Fund
(ILF), a source of essential support enabling disabled people with the highest
support needs to live in the community.

The closure of the ILF will mean for me….

On 18th December 2012 the government announced its decision to
permanently close the ILF following its closure to new applicants since
December 2010. The announcement followed a consultation that was flawed
and which ignored the overwhelming opposition to the closure from disabled
people and disabled people’s organisations as well as other organisations
and Local Authorities.

Government plans to merge the ILF with mainstream care and support will
result in a greatly reduced quality of life for disabled people and for some
will mean being forced into residential care against their wishes. This will
prevent disabled people from full inclusion and participation in the community,
as anticipated by Article 19 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with
Disabilities.

The Government’s decision not to put in place any ring-fencing for the
support for current ILF recipients when responsibilities are transferred to
local authorities and devolved administrations will inevitably lead to a loss of
support as many local authorities have stated in their consultation responses.

The ILF is needed to protect adults in the UK who are most at risk of losing
their independence. Those risks are greater now than at any time since the
ILF started, and there is clear evidence that without that protection being
continued on a national basis disabled people with high support needs will
lose their ability to work, to live in the community rather than in institutions,
and to be part of society or even carry out family roles. With the ILF already
shut to new applicants it is clear this is the consequence of closure of the
Fund.

The closure is a false economy, making relatively small savings through
reducing support while at the same time making people dependent and
economically helpless.

The ILF has proved effective in meeting independent living needs at a
national level and at a time when disabled people are being affected
disproportionately by many different austerity measures, the protection
provided by the ILF needs of this group nationally needs to be strengthened

not removed.

I ask you to sign Early Day Motion 651 and to call on the Government to
review this regressive step and to look instead at ways of expanding the
Independent Living Fund to provide needs-based support to all disabled
people in the UK who require it.
In order to protect disabled people’s right to live with choice and control over
their lives and with dignity we need the Independent Living Fund.

Yours sincerely,

 

————————————————————-

template_letter_to_MP__Final_+1 Word Doc

 

 

Feb 012013
 

Many thanks to Kate Belgrave for letting us repost her blog and these great videos! Read also DPAC’s  draft position about the closure of the ILF.

 

This is the first of a collection of videos featuring people who will be directly affected by the government’s atrocious decision to close the Independent Living Fund (the ILF).

The ILF was set up in 1988 as a standalone fund which people with severe disabilities could apply to for extra money to pay for added care and support. That additional funding made it possible for people to live independently in their homes, rather than in residential care. For some people, the ILF paid for entire care packages. For others, ILF money was used to top up council funding for care. Most of the people who appear in these videos require round-the-clock care which – unsurprisingly – comes with a price tag.

In 2010, the Independent Living Fund was closed to new applicants.

Then in 2012, the coalition government announced that it would “consult” on the future of the fund for the ILF’s 19,000 existing users. The upshot of this was, towards the end of last year, an extremely unpopular decision to close the fund and devolve it to local authorities.

“In terms of independent living, this is the single most regressive action that the Condems could have taken,” DPAC’s Linda Burnip emailed to say. Indeed.

The money will not be ringfenced. It will be left to already cash-strapped councils to fund care for people with the most complex – and expensive – needs. That makes the whole prospect a complete shambles. Councils can’t meet demand as it is. Many are tightening eligibility criteria for care and have been taken to court for trying to restrict services, or for capping the amounts that they spend on claimants. Last year, as an example, Worcesterchire county council came up with a so-called maximum expenditure policy – meaning that if paying for someone to live at home with carers cost more than residential care, the individual would have to make up the difference themselves, or go into residential care – the sort of idea which would, as Sophie Partridge says in the video below, take everyone back to a time when people were hidden away in homes and made to sit around in incontinence pads.

So much for the advance of civilisation.

Penny Pepper

In this video, Penny Pepper – an Islington journalist and writer who has been receiving ILF payments for about 15 years – gives her views on the planned devolution.

The video starts with a few comments from Pepper about a letter (she’s holding it in the video) on the ILF closure which she received from her local MP Emily Thornberry – a letter that she says “doesn’t have any balls.”

Pepper requires round-the-clock care support. Islington council funds just over half of that. The ILF pays for the rest.

She believes that an independent funding structure like the ILF – run by people with disabilities themselves – is crucial to ensuring funding for people with complex needs.

She also says that she has found the political response to the government’s devolution proposal discouraging, to say the least. You’ll see in the video that she’s particularly disappointed with the response from Emily Thornberry, her local MP (I’ve asked Thornberry for her views on her own representation of people on this issue and had nothing back. Will keep you posted on developments if there are any).

Sophie Partridge

 

In this video, freelance creative practitioner Sophie Partridge, who is also a long-term ILF recipient and who also lives in Islington, voices similar concerns about a lack of political representation. She thinks that people with disabilities tend to serve as pawns in funding wars.

Any loss of care funding and hours could see her forced into residential care – an option that she says she will not contemplate. She says that councils should have fought harder to keep the ILF intact.

The lack of information that councils appear to have – or, at least, are prepared to release – about upcoming ILF responsibilities is purely amazing. Islington council (which part-funds care packages for Sophie Partridge and Penny Pepper) told me that it couldn’t predict whether or not it could match ILF funding, because the council “did not yet know the total amount to be devolved to local authorities.” Neither did the council know if it would need to fund extra staff, saying: “we do not yet know whether additional resources will be provided as part of the transition.” The council merely said, fluffily, that it would “always seek to meet people’s eligible needs in an appropriate way within available council resources.”

“Within available council resources.” Not a phrase to inspire confidence in this era.

Neither is this sentence [from the DWP]. “All disabled people, including those transferring from the ILF, will continue to be protected by a local authority safety net that guarantees disabled people get the support they need,” runs the fantasy that the DWP has posing as a ILF press release. A couple of weeks ago, I had an utterly painful phone conversation with a DWP press officer who insisted (and insisted) that the department’s ILF devolution plans must not be reported as a “cut.” I can see from your website that you write about cuts and this is not a cut! the press officer said several times. Loudly. It’s not a cut!

My two cents as I wrote in this short piece in the Guardian: if you believe that, you’ll believe anything. ILF recipients certainly don’t: a group of claimants has started court proceedings to challenge last year’s “consultation” on the closure. It’s the wider context that is the issue here. Council budgets and services are being obliterated. As things stand, an increasing number of councils now only fund people whose needs are assessed as substantial or critical in fair access to care bands. Being placed in the substantial or critical bands is no guarantee that your needs will be met, either. I’ve interviewed people who already struggle to pay for the care they need: this Lancashire woman, for example, who had been placed in the substantial band, told me that she had to stay in bed on weekends, because her care hours didn’t stretch to Saturdays and Sundays. This Cheshire woman, who was also in the substantial needs band, had run out of care hours on the day that I visited. I found her alone in her home lying next to a sick bucket. Who honestly thinks that the future holds local authority safety nets?

The early day motion which calls for MPs to fight the ILF closure is here.

 

Jan 192013
 

Ellen Clifford joins Paul Carter and Sophie Partridge to talk about DPAC, the end of DLA and the migration to personal independence payments, sport and the Independent Living Fund with Neil Coyle from Disability Rights UK,  and Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson. Includes John Evans interview with Sunil Peck on the closing of the ILF.

from Disability Now – The Download podcast: DLA sport and the Independent Living Fund (to listen to the podcast click on image below)

 

 

Jan 192013
 

reposted from Social Work Action Network:

Please find below the call for proposals for both papers and workshops for 2013 Social Work Action Network (SWAN) conference, which will be held at London South Bank University between 12-13 April 2013.

‘Defeating the politics of austerity: creating an alternative future’

Call for Papers and Workshop Proposals

As we move towards 2013 and society becomes increasingly unequal with social protection perilously eroded, the neoliberal consensus around austerity is starting to falter and fracture.

Social workers and care employees work with families and communities struggling with the cumulative impact of cuts: parents who are forced to choose between feeding their children and paying the rent; people who are out of work or forced onto ‘workfare’ programmes; disabled people who are vilified by the government and media as unproductive scroungers while having their support for independence and employment snatched away from them. Whilst retrenchment deepens, marketisation progresses in social care as multinational companies such as Serco, G4S and Virgin profit from welfare delivery.  Meanwhile, the UK government ‘s collusion with News Corp, rate-fixing by Barclays Bank and the reduction of the top rate of tax on the rich all underline social injustice and feed the anger of people already enslaved to paying for an economic crisis caused by a pursuit of the free market.

Social workers and social care workers are themselves attacked through redundancies, pay cuts and higher workloads; many struggle to practice ethically whilst expected to work with the context of welfare cuts.

Yet social workers and service users are also witnessing and participating in the fight back to defend the welfare state. Likewise, they are involved in social movements that are developing alternative visions of social care and welfare based on collective benefit.  This year’s SWAN conference will provide an opportunity to share strategies in the struggle against cuts and marketisation of services, and to challenge the hardship these create. Join social work and care practitioners, service users, carers, educators, students and other activists to defend, debate and create alternative visions of social care and welfare.

We welcome papers and workshop proposals on the main conference themes:

•    Privatisation in care (e.g. G4S, Virgin, Atos): alternatives to outsourcing
•    The disability movement
•    Anti-racist/anti-fascist social work practice
•    Work with asylum seekers
•    Women and the cuts
•    User-led groups and community campaigns
•    How to do it in practice: radical social work in 2013 in state and voluntary sector social work
•    Radical social work education
•    Big society vs big state – should we take sides? Big Society, community social work and the role of the state in the provision of social work services.
•    Other themes relevant to the conference

We would like to encourage activists and practitioners as well as academics to submit ideas.  We hope to have workshops where people can engage in debate as well as having more formal papers presented.

Please send proposals (200 – 300 words) to swanconf2013 [at] gmail.com by 31st January 2013 and indicate the aims of the session, whether presentation or workshop and the content.  Please include a cover sheet with your name and contact details.  You will receive confirmation of whether your proposal is accepted in early March 2013. All those who are accepted to present at the conference must book a place at the conference.

Booking for the conference can be completed here:  people from DPAC and other disability activists who want to come should register here:

http://www.socialworkfuture.org/conference-and-events/conference-2013/273-register-for-swan-conf-2013

They should then make a donation to the conference when they turn up on the day, but only if they feel they can afford to do so. 

Download this file (Call for papers - FINAL.docx)Call for papers and workshops – SWAN Conf 2013

Jan 112013
 

Tenants, Disabled People Against Cuts, trade unions and others are meeting 19 Jan 12-2pm to organise against Benefit Cuts.DCH, Disabled People against Cuts (DPAC), PCS and Unite trade unions and others want to get organised with tenants and other groups hit by the Bedroom tax, Council Tax and other Benefit  cuts.

Come along, or delegate someone from your tenants group, union, political or campaign to the Benefit Justice organising meeting 12-2.00 pm Sat 19 Jan at Unite House, 128 Theobald’s Road,London WC1X 8TN (nearest tube Holborn.)

Please forward to local groups and others who are concerned at the impact of Benefit cuts and want to challenge this injustice.

Get in touch for more information or see you on 19th
Eileen Short
for Housing Emergency

Dec 132012
 

Cross posted and with thanks to Kate Belgrave

Ever since disabled man Geoff Meeghan was trapped in an Atos assessment centre a week or so ago when a fire alarm went off at the centre there’s been much discussion about the accessibility – or otherwise – of the buildings that Atos is using to hold work capability assessments for the employment and support allowance. ESA is a disability allowance, so it follows that a lot of people who must attend work capability assessments are wheelchair users and/or people who have mobility problems. You’d think that at the very least, buildings would be properly adapted to make entering and leaving those buildings as easy as possible for everyone.

Au contraire.

I took the video below in September when I accompanied DPAC campaigner Patrick Lynch and his carer Stephen to the assessment centre in Archway where Patrick’s WCA was to be held. I’ve uploaded it here to give you an idea of the rubbish which passes for accessibility in some of these centres.

As you’ll see in the video, the front doors at the centre wouldn’t open. A woman who was smoking a cigarette out the front came over to show us how to open the doors – she pulled them open with her bare hands. The “lift” was a single platform squeezed into the right-hand side of the groundfloor entrance. To call the lift, we had to hold the call button down and keep it held down. The door into the cupboard (which it was, literally) which housed this platform opened outwards, into the path of the wheelchair. Once inside, the platform only started moving when the call button was held down. It certainly took more than one person to operate everything.

I don’t know what would have happened if there had been a fire. Using this lift for escape purposes would have been challenging, all right, especially if you tried to fit more than one wheelchair in it. There may have been a brilliant, if not brilliantly obvious, escape route out back, of course, but if there was, nobody told us about it. Would we have had to find it ourselves?

Kate Belgrave

See also: DPAC Survey responses on WCA: Atos and DWP Exposed

Dec 122012
 

Being the Boss

Job Description: The Consultant will work primarily with the organization called CHANGE which is the main partner in the project, to ensure delivery within very tight timescales..

Salary: Hourly Rate to be agreed circa £25 per hour.

Employment status: Self Employed

Project: Consultant to take forward the project “Making Direct Payment Easy”.

The work will include:-

Contacting all participants of steering group and focus groups to get a planned schedule/time line for the project and feed into flow chart.
Consultant hours -Attending steering group and focus groups (4 in total) Collating responses with Admin support and preparing report for Steering Group Assessment of focus group minutes and compiling report in conjunction with Change Working with Change proof reading training pack and checking for accuracy.

Attending final steering group meeting and preparing report.
Focus Groups and Steering Group meetings will be held in Leicester and Leeds and reasonable travel expenses will be paid.
It is expected that the work will take a total of 82 hours worked over a three month period. Some will be full days at meeting venues and some will be working from home. The Consultant will have Administration support and will be responsible for supervision of the admin assistant.

A full job description is available on request.

Closing date: 14th January 2013

Please reply to: Being the Boss
22 Holly Place
Moreton
Wirral CH46 9QZ.
Or:
mail@beingtheboss.co.uk

Dec 022012
 
Disabled People Against Cuts will launch a group at a meeting in Manchester following the protest march against further Tory cuts on Saturday 8th December.
3.30pm Saturday 8th December at Friends Meeting House, Mount St. M2 5NS

——————————————————

Disabled people are disproportionately affected by the vicious Condem cuts on welfare. Disabled people and their carers are fighting back attacks cuts which will drive them into further poverty and leave them even isolated through lack of adequate social support. Manchester Coalition Against Cuts is facilitating the launch of a DPAC group in Manchester on 8th December, 3:30pm after the anti-cuts demonstration to protest further cuts following Osbourne’s budget announcement on the 5th. We are seeking volunteers to help ensure that the meeting is accessible to all those who want to attend. If you can help out contact MCAC at coalitionagainstcuts@gmail.com or phone Tina on 07813591192

 

Nov 282012
 

December 7th

11am – 12pm

St Mary’s House, Duke St, Norwich,

NR3 1QA

If you would like your chance to show how you feel about Atos and the benefit cuts

 feel free to come along and

demonstrate with us

Bring your placards, whistles and horns to help raise awareness of how the Work Capability Assessment system and Atos are affecting peoples lives

Protest the cuts to vital services for EVERYONE

ATOS PROTEST (download as Word doc)

Nov 262012
 

George Osborne

  •  An action organised by Fuel Poverty Action, Disabled People Against Cuts and the Greater London Pensioners’ Association. Other organisations taking part include Single Mothers’ Self-Defence, Southwark Pensioners’ Action Group and WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities).
  • Meet Thursday 29th November at 11am outside the main entrance to the Treasury on Horse Guards Road, SW1A 2HQ, opposite St James’s Park (nearest accessible tube station, Westminster).
  • Speak out against cold homes, mammoth fuel bills and winter deaths! Demand that George Osborne lets us into The Toasty Treasury to keep warm!  
  • Bring placards, banners, blankets, flasks and hot water bottles! 

 

This week, the government will publish its controversial Energy Bill. What it’s hoping we won’t notice is that, on Thursday November 29th – the likely date of the Bill’s first reading – the human cost of its destructive energy policies will be revealed as figures on last year’s winter deaths are announced. Disabled people, as well as pensioners, mothers, children and others in low-income households will be among the worst affected.
Fuel poverty disproportionately affects disabled people, who are twice as likely to live in poverty as non-disabled people. Disabled people need to spend more on energy as they are more likely to spend time indoors with fewer opportunities to go out and access community facilities to keep warm. Some impairments are aggravated by cold, requiring homes to be heated at higher temperatures to avoid illness and hospital admissions.

Join Fuel Poverty Action, the Greater London Pensioners’ Association, Disabled People Against Cuts and others in fighting back. Over the past week, we’ve asked people across the country which Cold Homes Killer they want to target. The votes are now in and we can reveal that the target of our winter deaths action will be…THE TREASURY, home to George Osborne. We can’t afford to heat our homes, so we’ll be demanding that George Osborne lets us into The Toasty Treasury to keep warm.
We’re targeting George Osborne and The Treasury because they are directly responsible for deaths from cold homes. This is due, firstly, to their cuts to crucial lifelines like benefits, council housing and the Winter Fuel Allowance.
George Osborne and The Treasury are also responsible for winter deaths because of their role in secret Tory plots to lock us into decades of dependence on dirty and expensive gas power. While the Tories and media blame green energy, in fact, two-thirds of last year’s energy bill increases were due to the rising cost of gas. Meanwhile, the cost of renewable energy is quickly coming down.
We need to invest rapidly in renewable energy to bring down bills and avert the dangers of climate change, which is also a killer. Why is the government allowing the Big Six energy companies – British Gas (Centrica), EDF, E.ON, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE –  to push the cost of investment in new energy onto our energy bills, while their profits soar to record highs? The answer: the government are in bed with the energy companies and are prioritising their profits over our lives.
Join us in demanding no more cuts, no more dirty and expensive gas, no more mammoth fuel bills and no more winter deaths. Our alternative: let’s reclaim power through community-controlled renewable energy, distributed on the basis of need not private profit.  
Spread the word on Facebook, event here.
We are attempting to secure funds to subsidise people’s travel to the event. If you are in need of subsidised travel, please let us know in advance via the contact details below and we will try our best to help you.
If your group would like to publically support this event, please let us know.
Contact us:
Tel: 07586 482 157


Nov 162012
 

Joint statement on campaigning against welfare cuts

 Public and Commercial Services union, Disabled People Against Cuts and Black Triangle Campaign

 

PCS, DPAC and Black Triangle Campaign are united in opposing the government’s austerity programme, which seeks to force people to pay for the failure of the finance system and of the government to regulate it.

The government is making unprecedented cuts across the public sector and is removing people’s social, economic and civil rights. The welfare state which was established to provide social security to those unable to work is being systematically dismantled through privatisation and £30 billion of cuts announced to date.

This is not about balancing the books. Over the same period, the government has also given away £30 billion in tax breaks to business. This is an ideological assault on the welfare state.

Disabled people are being disproportionately and brutally affected by these cuts, which include to Employment and Support Allowance, and the Disability Living Allowance, the imposition of the Work Capability Assessment (carried out by Atos) and the proposed abolition of the Independent Living Fund.

It is shameful and immoral that private companies are making profit from disabled and unemployed workers but worse, it does not work, the public sector delivers services more effectively, efficiently and less expensively than the private sector.

The cuts are blighting the lives of the least economically secure in society. The government’s approach cannot work: there are already 2.5 million people unemployed, and over 6 million seeking additional work. Pushing disabled people off benefits – without creating jobs or tackling employer discrimination – is simply a means of cutting disabled people’s living standards.

Evidence shows supportive social security systems that treat people with dignity and respect – rather than punitive systems based on conditionality, sanctions and low benefit levels – help individuals, families and communities but also the wider economy. The social, individual and household consequences of these cuts contravene the right to independent living enshrined in the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

To justify this brutal attack on disabled people and those on welfare more generally, the government has engaged in a campaign of vilification to label those on benefits as lazy, as feckless and as scroungers. Much of the news and print media have colluded in this hate campaign – leading to a sharp increase in attacks on disabled workers, including physical assaults. The government’s own figures show benefit fraud accounts for £1.5 billion a year, while £16 billion of benefits and tax credits are left unclaimed.

Tens of thousands of PCS members are involved in the administration of the welfare state and they are committed to providing a service that meets people’s needs. Workers are facing huge cuts in their pay, pensions and rights at work – 40% of those workers who will administer universal credit will also be entitled to it.

PCS members are often on the frontline, facing the anguish and anger of those suffering from government welfare policies. PCS members did not create these policies, the union does not support them and is committed to campaigning against them.

We commit to strengthening our campaigning alliance, which includes peaceful direct action against those politicians who have supported these policies and against those companies that seek to profit from them.

The government is trying to divide people: between those in work and those out of work;, between disabled and non-disabled people, between those in the public sector and those in the private sector. The key to defeating these welfare cuts, and austerity more generally, is unity.

PCS, DPAC, and Black Triangle members have a common cause in defeating these welfare cuts and in building a decent welfare state. We are united.

Nov 102012
 

 

“An Inclusive Education and a Fulfilling Life” Conference

   Saturday 17th November 2012   10.30am until 4.00pm  

                     Email: afulfillinglife2012@gmail.com          

Venue: The Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick, Derbyshire, DE55 1AU

Purpose: This conference sets out to bring together disabled people, the parents of disabled children and those with SEN, and their non-disabled allies to explore common ground, opportunities and choice with regard to independent living and enjoying an education alongside their peers.

The conference will:

  • Be respectful and accessible
  • Be informative and participatory
  • Use cooperative learning approaches
  • Give examples of where things are working
  • Discuss why life is getting harder for disabled people.

 

Refreshments: Lunch provided

 

The charge will be: £5.00 disabled people and family members

£15.00 for allies (education professionals etc)

This in a not-for-profit event; all proceeds are to cover the cost of the conference.  Please pay on the day but we do need a definite commitment that you are coming so we can make arrangements.

Interested in attending or want more information?

Please contact us by emailing:  afulfillinglife2012@gmail.com

 

ALLFIE Contact: Convenor: Keith Venables,

Organisers: Elaine Hill, Caroline & Maresa MacKeith

National Advisors: Katie Clarke, Derek Wilson & Tara Flood

Text or call: 0780 587 8729 Email: afulfillinglife2012@gmail.com

For more information about ALLFIE: http://www.allfie.org.uk