Annie

Aug 142018
 

The Social Market Foundation is currently undertaking a major research project looking at benefit sanctions in the United Kingdom, updating and expanding the Independent Review of Sanctions that they undertook for Government in 2014. More information on the project is available at:http://www.smf.co.uk/making-sense-of-sanctions/

As part of this they want to ensure we gather the full range of views, perspectives, and evidence on sanctioning and the sanctions system. They have opened a call for evidence into these issues, which are available at: http://www.smf.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Call-for-evidence-questions.pdf

 Posted by at 17:42
Aug 082018
 

Campaign Bootcamp has recently opened applications for its October residential campaign training, which supports new activists to develop the confidence, tools and community they need to run effective campaigns that challenge injustice. The six-day training is a space where activists from across the UK, across identities, ages and experiences, come together to learn from each other, strategise, gain new skills and find new allies. Campaign Bootcamp offers many scholarships that cover up to the full cost of the training, including scholarships for policing and criminal justice activists, environmental activists, disabled activists, migrants, activists tacking systemic issues such as housing and health, BME activists and more. You can get more information here: https://campaignbootcamp.org/bootcamps/bootcamp-14/
Key information:

  • Campaign Bootcamp is a year-long programme designed to give campaigners the skills, confidence and community they need to succeed

  • The year starts with a six-day residential training at an accessible venue, Gilwell Park (Epping Forest) just outside London
  • You’ll learn about strategy, tactics, messaging, working with the media, creating persuasive social media content, building allies and much more
  • Dates for the training are Sunday 7th October – Friday 12th October 2018

  • Applications are now open now and will close at 9am on Tuesday 21st August

  • Apply online here: www.campaignbootcamp.org/apply
  • There’s a lot of scholarships available, which cover up to the full cost of the programme. Learn more and apply for one here: https://campaignbootcamp.org/bootcamps/bootcamp-14/

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Campaign Bootcamp is a trading name of Campaign Academy Ltd, a charitable company limited by guarantee. We are registered in England and Wales under charity number 1169639 and company number 08390873. Our registered office is 115 Mare St, London E8 4RU, United Kingdom. The Campaign Bootcamp name and logo are registered trademarks.

 Posted by at 17:36
Jul 312018
 

Inclusion London is sending written evidence to the Social Security Advisory Committee’s consultation on proposals to move all people claiming working age income-related benefits to Universal Credit (UC).

Please send us your experience to inform our evidence.  For instance let us know:

  • How you found applying for Universal Credit, including whether you found the process accessible or not.
  • How long you had to wait for the first payment of UC and whether you could manage financially while you waited.
  • Are you receiving the same amount of money or not?
  • Let us know any problems that occurred and also if UC has any advantages for you over the old system.

Please send your information to  Henrietta.Doyle@inclusionlondon.org.uk preferably by 6 August but by 15 August at the latest.

You may wish to respond to the consultation directly to the inquiry. The deadline is 10am on Monday 20 August.

More information about inquiry is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-proposal-to-move-claimants-on-legacy-benefits-to-universal-credit-consultation-announced

 Posted by at 12:10
Jul 292018
 

Representatives of national disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) in Bolivia, Greece, Malaysia and Uganda have described to UK activists how they have fought oppression and discrimination in their own countries.

They were speaking at an International Deaf and Disabled People’s Solidarity Summit in east London, organised by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) to highlight the hypocrisy of the UK government’s decision to co-host a major “global disability summit” on the Olympic Park in east London this week.

Feliza Ali Ramos and Alex Marcelo Vazquez Bracamonte, both wheelchair-users, from the Bolivian DPO New Hope, described how – two years ago – they and fellow disabled activists marched 300 miles through the Andes to the capital La Paz to confront president Evo Morales about the conditions facing disabled people in Bolivia and to seek an increase in disability benefits.

Conditions facing disabled people in Bolivia were harsh, they told the summit.

Many were dying from treatable conditions, some because doctors refused to give them oxygen, with families often welcoming their early deaths “because they were suffering anyway”.

Many disabled people were excluded from education, despite the government’s insistence that disabled people had access to education and to healthcare, the summit heard.

Local campaigns had called for the monthly disability benefit payment to rise from about £10 to about £50 a month, which led to the march on La Paz.

Ramos said: “We sent letter after letter to the president, but the president never received us.”

They marched through the mountains for 35 days and often had nowhere to sleep, while their only food was what they were given by people from the towns they passed through.

When they arrived in the capital, they found the government had put up metal barriers to prevent them reaching the central square where the government offices were located.

The square was guarded by police with water cannons and riot shields, and they were sprayed with pepper spray and water cannons, beaten and pushed out of their wheelchairs.

Refused a meeting with the president, they pitched tents and took part in a vigil that lasted more than three months.

The government tried to infiltrate the movement, and threatened activists with 10 years in prison.

Morales eventually backed down and agreed to some of their demands.

Ramos told fellow activists at Sunday’s summit how they lost two of their colleagues in a traffic accident during the march while another four had died because their health deteriorated during the protest.

She cried as she told the summit: “Because these comrades had given their lives we fought on and we too were prepared to give our lives.

“We remember what we went through and every day it moves me.

“All of a sudden we have made ourselves visible in Bolivia and have got coverage in its media.”

Last week, she said, there was national media coverage of a case in which a young man with cerebral palsy was found severely malnourished.

She said: “Before, it would have been ignored. Now it is a national scandal because of what we did.

“We have shown the whole of society we are strong and are not prepared to shut up and do whatever the government tells us to do.”

New Hope was founded in 1999 to fight for an independent life for all disabled people in Bolivia, and its members try to empower disabled people with physical impairments through their Independent Life programme.

Antonios Rellas, from the Greek DPO Zero Tolerance, told Sunday’s summit how he was the only disabled activist who gave evidence in the long-running trial of MPs and members of the extreme-right Golden Dawn party.

He said: “As disabled activists, we know very well the story behind the fascist danger.

“Golden Dawn followed exactly what Hitler and the Third Reich believed. Some of the first victims of the Third Reich were disabled people who were killed, 275,00 of them, as unworthy to live.”

He also described his organisation’s ongoing fight against the institutionalisation of disabled people in Greece, which saw Zero Tolerance fight for the freedom of disabled residents who were being over-medicated and chained to cages in a state-run institution in Lechaina.

He has directed a documentary which exposes the conditions, with Rellas and other disabled activists occupying the institution for four days and demanding that they were released.

Now those disabled people who have been released from Lechaina have been found homes “in places where they can lead regular lives”, he said.

But he said that more than 900 disabled people were still living in similar conditions in state-run institutions in Greece.

He said: “The institutions that we are talking about are public institutions. We don’t know what is happening in private and church facilities.

“This has nothing to do with the financial crisis that Greece is under. This was happening before this happened and if we are not there to resist and provoke it will stay like this forever.”

Naziaty Yaacob, from Harapan OKU (Hope for Persons with Disabilities), speaking via Skype, told of her organisation’s battle to fight systematic discrimination against disabled people in her country following the election in May of the first new government in Malaysia in 60 years.

They wrote an open letter to the new prime minister, with support from more than 100 charities, telling him that disabled people were “still struggling to achieve independence” and were “still facing barriers and discrimination”, with disabled people the most marginalised group in society.

They highlighted the “toothless” nature of the existing disability discrimination act and the need for a new act and an independent commission to deal with grievances and systemic discrimination.

Rose Achayo, from the National Union of Women with Disabilities of Uganda, described the wide-ranging discrimination faced by disabled women and girls in her country.

She told the summit that her organisation had formed in 1999 to be a voice for disabled women and girls and to push for “a society where girls and women with disabilities lead a dignified life”.

She pointed to barriers faced by disabled women in Uganda, such as violence in the home and in the community, the abuse inflicted on disabled people with high support needs who are placed in isolated settings, the lack of access to reproductive health, and the lack of access to justice.

She also pointed to the stigma and “invisibility” faced by disabled women and girls in mainstream society, and their lack of access to the main source of income: land.

But she said that, unlike the UK government, the Ugandan government had acknowledged issues raised by the UN committee on the rights of persons with disabilities and had come up with a plan for how they could be addressed.

The committee examined Uganda’s progress in 2016, a process her organisation took part in.

26 July 2018 by John Pring, Disability News Service

News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

 Posted by at 20:46
Jul 292018
 

International development secretary Penny Mordaunt has defended the decision to co-host a major international summit on disability rights with Kenya, a country where it is illegal to be gay.

The UK government was co-hosting the Global Disability Summit in east London this week with Kenya and the International Disability Alliance, with Ukur Yatani Kanacho, the Kenyan government’s cabinet secretary for labour and social protection addressing the event.

Although the intersectional discrimination facing disabled women and girls and the barriers faced by disabled young people were both covered extensively by the summit, the double discrimination faced by disabled lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people appears to have been almost completely ignored during the summit.

Regard, a national organisation of disabled lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender and queer people (LGBTQ), said it was “hard to imagine a less suitable partner” to co-host the summit than Kenya, apart from its neighbour, Uganda.

In a statement, Regard said: “LGBTQI+ people in Kenya are routinely banished from their families, denied work and accommodation, imprisoned and persecuted.”

The barriers they face to forming and maintaining relationships “results in widespread damage to their mental and physical health, creating impairments where none previously existed.”

Regard said this was reflected in the high level of asylum applications from LGBTQI+ asylum-seekers from African countries, and added: “Despite their experiences, the majority are then refused asylum in the UK and forcibly returned home, where many disappear or are murdered.

“The involvement of the government of Kenya discredits any debate that takes place at the summit.

“Whatever the political reasons for involving Kenya in co-hosting the summit, the rights and welfare of disabled people seem to have had very little to do with it.”

In April, Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta said in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that LGBT rights were “not important” to him.

He said: “I won’t engage in a subject that is of no importance to the people of Kenya.

“This is not an issue of human rights, this is an issue of our own base as a culture, as a people regardless of which community you come from.”

Disabled People Against Cuts has supported Regard’s concerns, and included them in an open letter to some of the most high-profile participants in the summit.

But when asked by Disability News Service how the UK government justified asking Kenya to co-host the summit, Penny Mordaunt, the international development secretary, defended the move.

She said: “We work with many organisations that don’t have the same values as we do. In part, that’s why we work with them.”

She said the UK government chose Kenya as a co-host because of its legislative record on disability; its early signing of the UN disability convention; and “thirdly and perhaps most importantly they are one of the best nations for their relationship and strength of civil society disabled people’s organisations”.

When asked whether the UK government also recognised Kenya’s appalling record on LGBT rights, she said: “We don’t work with perfect nations. That’s why we work with them.”

26 July 2018 by John Pring, Disability News Service

News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

 Posted by at 20:43
Jul 292018
 

The disabled president of Ecuador has given a stirring speech in praise of the social model of disability, at a summit co-hosted in east London by the UK government.

President Lenin Moreno was one of the key-note speakers at the conference on the Olympic Park, which was hosted by the UK government, the International Disability Alliance and the Kenyan government.

Although he was described as the world’s only head of state with a disability – which is highly unlikely – Moreno is thought to be the only one who uses a wheelchair.

The former UN special envoy told the Global Disability Summit in east London that he saw disability as “obstacles created by the environment” and coming from “structures and social conditioning”, and said it was “essential to place disability within the discourse of rights”.

Moreno became disabled after being shot in a robbery in 1998 and was elected president of Ecuador last year.

He told the summit how, after he became vice-president of Ecuador in 2007, he led on a sweeping series of policies – Ecuador Without Barriers – that aimed to transform life for disabled people in Ecuador.

This included the Solidarity Mission Manuela Espejo, an 18-month project to identify every disabled person in Ecuador – they found nearly 300,000 people with significant impairments and high support needs – and assess their needs.

They went, he said, “to the fullest reaches of the forest, the highest points of the mountains and the furthest points of the islands of Ecuador” to carry out the survey.

The government reportedly increased the country’s spending on disability from about $100,000 a year to $65 million (another report described the increase as $2 million to $150 million) and reserved four per cent of jobs with significant employers for disabled people.

There were programmes to provide healthcare, assistive technology such as wheelchairs, canes, prosthetic limbs and hearings aids, and funding for local authorities to improve access to public buildings.

He spoke when he was vice-president of how on his visits around the country he had seen disabled people being hidden from view by their families in chicken coops and sheds.

He told the summit this week that disabled people had “been waiting for too long and they should not keep waiting, suffering abandonment, mistreatment and being hidden” and that Ecuador had needed a “cultural change” in the way it treated disabled people.

Moreno left government in 2013 at the end of his term as vice-president and was appointed as the special envoy on disability and accessibility by the UN’s secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, with the UN describing him then as “a globally acclaimed advocate for persons with disabilities and inclusive society”.

He told the summit that he had tried as the special envoy “to be a voice for millions of persons with disabilities” and to persuade every country to ratify – and then implement – the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

When he returned to government last year, he said, he found that much of his previous work on disability as vice-president “had been forgotten” and “all the things we had been fighting for and had built had been dismantled, forgotten or changed”.

This meant he had had to start again “nearly from scratch” after he was elected president.

Some opponents in Ecuador have accused him of turning his back on his socialist roots since his election.

In April, the Financial Times reported how Moreno had “announced a package of economic measures that aims to pare back the country’s bloated state apparatus and promote private enterprise, in a further departure from his socialist roots” and that he had “promised significant cuts to central government”.

A small group of protesters were outside the summit in east London to protest at his appearance at the summit.

One of the protesters, Mayra Crean, said Moreno had changed his policies since his election and was now applying a “neoliberal agenda”, cutting taxes for the rich and cutting spending.

She said: “He is cutting the budget for everybody – health, education, social care.”

And she said it was “an embarrassment” and “ironic” that he was appearing at the summit as a representative of disabled people.

The right to employment for disabled people is still central, Moreno told the summit, as most disabled people in his country live in poverty, do not have their own homes and do not work.

He said: “Our objective now is all persons with disabilities who can and want to work should be able to do it. They have the right to work.”

He added: “Our objective is to become a society promoting full inclusion of persons with disabilities, where they can train, study, work, enjoy life, have fun.”

But he also pledged his commitment to working with disabled people on policies affecting them, telling the summit: “The historic model of those who drafted the [UN] convention, ‘nothing about us without us’, is at the heart of the principles of my government.”

And he reaffirmed his commitment to the social model of disability, telling the summit that his government’s objective was a “human rights-based policy and not medical based”.

26 July 2018 by John Pring, Disability News Service

News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

 Posted by at 20:40
Jul 292018
 

Labour’s shadow chancellor has described the UK government’s decision to co-host a Global Disability Summit – less than a year after its record on disability rights was dismantled by the United Nations – as “the height of hypocrisy”.

John McDonnell, a long-standing supporter of the disabled people’s anti-cuts movement, was speaking to Disability News Service (DNS) after addressing a rival grassroots summit organised by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) in Stratford, east London.

He said the government’s summit was an attempt to show that they were world leaders in disability rights “when they are clearly not”, but also “trying to argue that they could somehow influence or teach other countries how to treat fairly and equally disabled people”, which was “just outrageous.”

McDonnell said disabled people and their allies had worked hard to ensure that the UN’s committee on the rights of persons with disabilities had “the fullest information to be able to assess the government’s performance on its policies towards disabled people”.

The result, last September, was “an outright condemnation of the role that the government has played”.

He added: “It was the height of hypocrisy then for them to host this event.”

He said the summit could have been so much more successful if there had been an “honest discussion about what’s happened to disabled people across the globe but also learning the lessons of what’s gone wrong in this country, and the lessons of what’s gone wrong are that disabled people have born the brunt of austerity”.

He added: “If what came out of this summit was the admission by the UK government of their mistakes, at least something would come out of it. I doubt that that would happen.”

He also said – as he has stressed previously – that he wants DPAC and other disabled people’s groups “to set the agenda for Labour when we go into power”.

He told DPAC’s International Deaf and Disabled People’s Solidarity Summit that a Labour government’s policies would be based on the motto of the disabled people’s movement: “nothing about us without us”.

He said: “This is not just an open door. It is a solid invitation: when we go into government, you all go into government.”

The DPAC summit had heard from representatives of disabled people’s organisations in four countries – Bolivia, Greece, Malaysia and Uganda – each of whom described how they had fought oppression and discrimination (see separate story).

26 July 2018 by John Pring, Disability News Service

News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

 Posted by at 20:38
Jul 292018
 

A leading disabled activist has exposed the UK’s record on disability rights in front of an audience of disabled people from across the global south who had been invited to take part in the government’s Global Disability Summit.

Simone Aspis drew repeated loud applause from the audience at the Civil Society Forum as she highlighted the attacks on disabled people’s rights by the “arrogant” UK government.

She underlined the “hypocrisy” of the UK asking other countries to sign up to a new Charter for Change, which calls for governments to be held to account for their progress in implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

She said: “Today the UK government is asking other countries to sign up to a charter which talks about the importance of holding governments to account under the CRPD and yet our government stands in breach of it. Hypocrisy.”

Last autumn, the chair of the UN’s committee on the rights of persons with disabilities said the government’s cuts to disabled people’s support had caused “a human catastrophe”.

Aspis, policy and campaigns coordinator for The Alliance for Inclusive Education, a member of the Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance, said the committee had made more than 80 recommendations for improvements and that it had never been as concerned about a country as it was about the UK.

She also highlighted how the same committee had found the UK government guilty of “grave and systematic violations” of the convention in 2016 because its austerity cuts had been “fundamentally breaching disabled people’s human rights to independent living and a decent standard of living and work”.

But she said the government had dismissed the findings of both CRPD reports.

Aspis was speaking at the Civil Society Forum, a sister event to the Global Disability Summit, headed by the International Disability Alliance and intended to “amplify” the voice of disabled people from across the global south the day before the summit was held in the same venue on the Olympic Park.

Aspis told the forum that UK disabled people’s organisations “absolutely welcome the giving of aid and support to our disabled brothers and sisters in other countries but we must also not let the UK government get away with its deliberate dismissal of its obligations under the [UN convention], because if one government should get away with it then others can follow.”

She said ROFA was calling for the government to implement CRPD’s recommendations, including the need for a cumulative assessment of the impact of its welfare and tax reforms; to reverse its welfare reforms; to introduce a national independent living support service; to reverse the reinstitutionalisation of disabled people; and to fully implement disabled people’s right to inclusive education.

26 July 2018 by John Pring, Disability News Service

News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

 Posted by at 20:33
Jul 292018
 

Disabled people and their organisations from the global south have called for a “new beginning” in the way that the UN disability convention is implemented and monitored.

They were speaking at the Global Disability Summit, a major international disability rights conference co-hosted by the UK government in east London this week.

Speaking at the Civil Society Forum, an event held alongside the summit to “amplify the voice and participation” of disabled people, Dr Samuel Kabue, chair of the Kenya Disability Caucus, said that ratification by countries of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) by governments was not enough in itself.

Kabue, a member of the UN’s committee on the rights of persons with disabilities (CRPD), said that the participation of disabled people’s organisations was “crucial” in the implementation of the convention.

He said: “‘This summit is telling us that we need to have a new beginning where persons with disabilities are given the opportunity, the right and the capacity to work with the government in many places.”

Laura Kanushu, executive director of Legal Action for Persons with Disabilities Uganda, told the forum that taking “strategic” legal cases was “a big strategy” in creating awareness of the convention.

She said: “In implementing [UNCRPD] effectively we need [legal] precedents on different issues in our different countries.”

Another CRPD member, Gertrude Oforiwa Fefoame, from Ghana, said disabled people and their organisations “have a great contribution to give” if there is to be “full meaning” of the implementation of UNCRPD because of their “authentic experience and relevant information of the situation of persons with disabilities”.

She said disabled people and their organisations were not consulted when decisions were made on their behalf.

She said: “We have to demand accountability at all levels and ensure and demand that persons with disabilities and their organisations are actively involved in the development and implementation of legislation and policies.”

Ana Lucia Arellano, chair of the International Disability Alliance, which co-hosted the summit, said the event was “an opportunity for meaningful change”.

She said there was an “urgent” need to “move from principals to procedures, from words to action”.

More than 600 representatives of disabled people’s organisations (DPOs), charities, governments and private sector organisations who attended the forum agreed a “collaborative” statement, which calls for “measurable, ambitious and lasting commitments” to implementing UNCRPD and the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The statement, which was presented the next day to the Global Disability Summit by Arellano, says: “It is time to implement the [UNCRPD] in every corner of the world: in every city, in every train station, in every village, in every mountain and valley, in every refugee camp and in every school.”

Among its calls is for increased investment in DPOs and support for the disability rights movement “to grow from the grassroots” and for the introduction of “CRPD compliant policies and legislation” and an increase in the “meaningful consultation and involvement” of disabled people and their organisations.

The forum and summit also saw concerns about a new 10-point Charter for Change, which laid out 10 commitments to achieve full inclusion for disabled people, with the UK government apparently its driving force.

The charter includes pledges on inclusive education (see separate story), to promote the leadership of disabled people, to eliminate discrimination, and to “revolutionise the availability and affordability of appropriate assistive technology”.

By the end of the summit, more than 300 governments, disability organisations, international agencies and private sector companies had signed up to it.

But Simone Aspis, from The Alliance for Inclusive Education, told the Civil Society Forum: “We must all make sure that the charter we introduce at the summit does not become a substitute for proper implementation of the [UNCRPD] and a way to water down our rights and ability to hold our governments to account.”

Marsha de Cordova, Labour’s shadow minister for disabled people, said the UK was itself violating eight of the 10 commitments in the charter (see separate story).

And Sally Witcher, chief executive of Inclusion Scotland, said: “Rather than urging others to sign a Charter for Change, they might like to consider implementing UNCRPD and accept the verdict of the UN committee on their woeful performance.

“The UK government should stop lecturing to the world and start sorting out its own backyard. Its credibility on disabled people’s human rights is non-existent.”

The European Disability Forum (EDF) endorsed the charter but also warned that it could not be a “substitute” for the UN convention.

Nadia Hadad, an EDF board member, said: “We hope the outcomes of the Global Disability Summit will also provide a strong push at the national level towards full implementation of the [UNCRPD].

“This push is needed everywhere: not only in low and middle-income countries, but also in OECD countries.”

EDF pointed out that the UK government was heavily criticised last autumn by the UN committee on the rights of persons with disabilities for “failing to uphold the rights of persons with disabilities, including through a string of austerity policies which disproportionately affected persons with disabilities”.

The UK government reported a string of pledges from other governments, international agencies and other organisations by the end of the Global Disability Summit.

It said that nine national governments had promised to pass or draw up new or revised laws to give disabled people greater rights; 18 governments and other organisations said they were producing new action plans on disability inclusion; and 33 governments and other organisations had pledged to support more disabled people affected by humanitarian crises.

Seven UN agencies that attended the summit committed to change the way they include disabled people in their work, including UNICEF, which pledged to help an extra 30 million disabled children gain a high-quality education by 2030 through programmes in more than 140 countries.

It was not clear, though, how many of the commitments and promises were simply policies that governments and organisations had already been planning and would have been introduced without the Global Disability Summit.

26 July 2018 by John Pring, Disability News Service

News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

 Posted by at 20:25
Jul 292018
 

Disabled activists have held a “festival of resistance” outside an international disability rights event to highlight the “hypocrisy” of it being co-hosted by the UK government.

Members of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and allies were outside the Here East centre on the Olympic Park in the east London borough of Newham, as hundreds of delegates from across the UK and the global south took part in the Global Disability Summit.

Among those speaking at DPAC’s protest were disabled activists from Greece, Bolivia and Uganda, and an anti-poverty activist from Canada, who had all spoken at DPAC’s own International Deaf and Disabled People’s Solidarity Summit in nearby Stratford two days earlier.

Paula Peters, a member of DPAC’s national steering group, said: “It is important to be outside the Global Disability Summit to show the true nature of what the UK government are doing to disabled people with their austerity agenda.”

She pointed to the two reports from the UN’s committee on the rights of persons with disabilities (CRPD), in 2016 and 2017, which had exposed the impact of the cuts on disabled people.

The first of the reports, in November 2016, found the government had committed “grave and systematic violations” of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities through its policies on independent living, social security and employment.

The second, last autumn, assessed the government’s overall record on implementing the convention, produced an unprecedented number of recommendations for improvements, and led the committee’s chair to tell the UK government that its cuts to disabled people’s support had caused “a human catastrophe”.

Ellen Clifford, who helped organise DPAC’s International Deaf and Disabled People’s Solidarity Summit, which took place two days before the government’s summit (see separate stories), had said that holding the Global Disability Summit so soon after the UN report was like the UK government “sticking two fingers up to the UN”.

But she said she welcomed anything positive that came out of the summit and was “particularly in favour of deaf and disabled people and our organisations making direct links internationally to support each other in our shared struggles.”

She said this could only be done “from the grassroots up”, which was why DPAC had hosted its own summit.

Clifford said that the Department for International Development, which had co-hosted the summit, had said DPAC activists could come inside the summit but would only be allowed in “if you don’t mention the UK government”.

DPAC rejected the invitation, and instead, the International Disability Alliance (IDA), an alliance of disabled people’s organisations which co-hosted the summit, supported DPAC in ensuring that its leaflets were distributed inside the summit.

The leaflets told delegates that the UK government had shown “contempt” for disabled people and the UN convention, had driven its “disabled citizens into degrading and inhumane conditions” and that it appeared to be “attempting to use this event to whitewash its appalling record on disability at home”.

Peters said the UK government was not talking about the two UN reports in its summit, and added: “The sun never sets on their hypocrisy. They are abusing our human rights at home.

“They are in there celebrating disabled people and how fantastic disabled are but their policies are harming disabled people, pushing us further into poverty, further marginalising us and excluding us from society.

“The cuts are killing us. We had to be here to show that, to show the truth.”

Marsha de Cordova, the disabled shadow minister for disabled people, also attended the DPAC protest, along with her Labour colleague Kate Osamor, the shadow international development secretary.

De Cordova pointed out that the Global Disability Summit was being hosted by Penny Mordaunt, the international development secretary, who had been minister for disabled people when CRPD produced its two reports in 2016 and 2017.

She said she was at the DPAC protest because ministers were “portraying themselves as being global leaders on disability rights”.

She said: “We know that is not the case. Their policies have been condemned by the UN.”

She said the government’s policies over the last eight years had “disproportionately hit disabled people, particularly on social security”.

De Cordova also pointed to the Charter for Change, the summit’s “principal legacy document”, which the UK was asking other governments and organisations to sign up to.

She said the UK was violating eight of the charter’s 10 commitments, including the pledge to “gather and use better data and evidence to understand and address the scale, and nature, of challenges faced by persons with disabilities”.

The UK government has persistently refused to carry out a cumulative impact assessment of its social security and tax cuts and reforms since 2010, even though the Equality and Human Rights Commission published its own version in March.

The disabled Kenyan MP Isaac Mwaura also expressed his solidarity with the DPAC protest.

He told them: “If there are any cuts to social welfare, how come they start with the most vulnerable, people with disabilities?”

Mwaura, a former student at the University of Leeds, said that disability was about “rights, respect and dignity”.

He said: “I tell you in solidarity, demand for your rights, let the UK government also implement the recommendations of the UN report for the CRPD.

“That way, the UK government will be providing leadership, the way it is purporting to do together with my government on the conditions of people with disability.

“Disability is about rights, it is about respect, it is about dignity, we will stand in solidarity with you, we refuse to accept the north and south divide, where some countries are seen to be better than others, yet the problems of disabled people are universal and common to all of us.

“We have to stand up and demand our rights: nothing about us without us.”

Dr Ju Gosling, artistic director of Together! 2012, a social enterprise led by Newham-based disabled artists, was one of several disabled artists who performed at the protest.

She said that Newham was the main London 2012 host borough and has one of the highest proportions of disabled residents in the UK, but that the promised “legacy” benefits of London 2012 to disabled people in Newham had yet to appear.

Instead, she said, “we have the highest percentage of homeless residents in the country, the vast majority of whom have an impairment or a long-term health condition, and the lowest level of cultural engagement.

“There is no funded disabled people’s organisation or centre for independent living; in fact, there is almost no advice and support available of any kind.”

Gosling pointed out that the Global Disability Summit organisers did not appear to have invited any local organisation of disabled people to the summit, including Together! 2012.

And she said there had also been no attempt to facilitate meetings between disabled people from the global south visiting the summit and Together! 2012.

She said: “In Newham, we have disabled people from all over the world and they would love to have had a discussion and could have really enriched the understanding of the visitors about what it is like to be disabled in the UK.

“Presumably that’s why we were not invited.”

Representatives of IDA attended the DPAC protest and said they were there “in solidarity”.

An IDA representative said: “IDA agreed to co-host because we wanted DPOs, including UK DPOs, to be a central part of the summit.

“And we have achieved this. DPOs from across the global, and including UK DPOs, have been key to the success of this summit.”

But she added: “We cannot ignore the findings of the CRPD committee.”

She said IDA was hoping to set up a meeting between DPOs including DPAC, the Department for Work and Pensions and Mordaunt’s Department for International Development.

26 July 2018 by John Pring, Disability News Service

News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

 Posted by at 20:23
Jul 292018
 

A national disabled people’s organisation is facing accusations that it “betrayed” the UK disability movement after its deputy chief executive failed to condemn the government’s record on rights at a major international gathering of disabled people.

Sue Bott was sharing the stage with a senior government civil servant less than a year after the chair of the UN’s committee on the rights of persons with disabilities (CRPD) said the UK government’s cuts to disabled people’s support had caused “a human catastrophe”.

They were appearing at the Civil Society Forum, an event headed by the International Disability Alliance and intended to “amplify” the voice of disabled people the day before the UK government’s sister event, the Global Disability Forum, was held in the same venue on the Olympic Park in east London.

Bott was asked on Monday by the UN’s special rapporteur on the rights of disabled people, Catalina Aguilar, what she would like to ask the UK government to do.

But in front of an audience containing disabled people from organisations across the global south and the UK, Bott failed to criticise the UK government.

Instead, she laughed, and said DR UK wanted to “collaborate” and “learn from disabled people around the world”.

Hours earlier, Simone Aspis, from The Alliance for Inclusive Education, had won loud applause and even one or two cheers from the international audience after delivering a devastating attack on the government’s record on disability rights and its “hypocrisy” in holding the summit (see separate story).

CRPD told the UK government last September to make more than 80 improvements to how its laws and policies affect disabled people’s human rights, the highest number of recommendations it had ever produced in reviewing a country’s progress in implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Aspis had told the forum, which was organised by the UK government, the International Disability Alliance and the government of Kenya: “Today the UK government is asking other countries to sign up to a charter which talks about the importance of holding governments to account under the [UN convention] and yet our government stands in breach of it. Hypocrisy.”

And she said that UK disabled people’s organisations “absolutely welcome the giving of aid and support to our disabled brothers and sisters in other countries but we must also not let the UK government get away with its deliberate dismissal of its obligations under the [UN convention], because if one government should get away with it then others can follow.”

But instead of supporting Aspis by telling disabled delegates from across the world about the UK government’s serious breaches of the UN convention, Bott said: “We do want to work with government.

“As you heard this morning, we have some challenges in the UK but I believe that it’s essential that we keep that dialogue going with government and that we try to influence.”

She then said that DR UK’s request of the UK government was to “listen to us, talk to us, work with us and together if we work together we can create a society that is much better and inclusive for disabled people.

“It is a difficult process and sometimes unfortunately we end up going backwards sometimes but we need to engage and we need to find ways of going forwards and continuously improving our society for the benefit of disabled people.”

DR UK* has been repeatedly criticised for being too close to the government, but it appeared to have reclaimed some credibility with the disabled people’s movement through its part in a delegation of UK DPOs that visited Geneva last year, where its chief executive Kamran Mallick helped brief CRPD members on the UK’s breaches.

Last week, DR UK published a statement on its website criticising the government’s progress on disability rights, which it said had not just stalled but “reversed”, and adding: “We hope the summit will strengthen the ability of civic society in all the participating countries to hold their governments to account against the pledges they make.”

But when Bott took to the stage, sitting two seats down from Gerard Howe, head of inclusive societies in the policy division of the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID), she failed to repeat that criticism.

The next day, Mallick spoke at the summit and also failed to criticise the government, noting only that he wanted the government to “see the UNCRPD report from 2017 as an opportunity to work through the issues raised and for the UK to reclaim its reputation as one of the leaders in disability equality”.

Eleanor Lisney, a leading disabled activist and member of the Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance network of disabled people and their organisations, said she was “astounded” by Bott’s speech.

She said: “Given that it was such a strong examination by the CRPD she didn’t mention it at all.

“It is not something that is hearsay. This is the UN.”

She said that one of the UN’s key conclusions last year was that one of the strongest elements in the UK was its disabled activists and disabled people’s organisations (DPOs).

Lisney said: “She didn’t mention that, she didn’t give credit to DPOs in her own country, she said she wants to learn from the countries the UK government is giving help to.

“She’s not there for DR UK, she’s there for DPOs in the UK.

“It’s a betrayal, that’s what I call it.”

There was also strong criticism on social media, with DPAC activist Rick Burgess saying on Twitter: “It is not acceptable for her to make no comment on UN report and to want to work with ongoing human rights abusers. Disgusting.”

Richard Rieser, who was at the forum and heard Bott’s speech, said it was “too weak” and that she had failed to challenge the UK government from the stage.

Rieser, a leading disabled consultant, who has played a key role in representing UK disabled people on international bodies such as the European Disability Forum and at the UN, said it had been “very difficult” to persuade DfID to let anyone from the UK disabled people’s movement to speak at the event.

And he praised Aspis for her speech, which had challenged the government.

He added: “People who were speaking were not just speaking for themselves and their own organisations but the whole UK disability movement and [DR UK] could have done more justice to the case against the British government domestically.”

He said Mallick had failed to explain to delegates what concerns the UN had raised “or in any way embarrass the government”.

Rieser said: “We have to be slightly stronger than that if we want to move them.

“We should really have held them to account more at this event. When you have the chance, you have to.”

Mallick and Bott refused to respond to requests from Disability News Service (DNS) to explain their failure to be more critical of the government from the stage.

Mallick said only in a statement: “Sue and I were asked to contribute to specific topics and questions, these were the basis of what we said.

“The panel that I was on was cut short significantly, due to the previous speech by the president of Ecuador running over time.”

He also referred DNS to a blog he wrote in advance of the summit, which was mildly critical of the government, a link to his speech to the summit, and to last week’s statement.

*DR UK is a Disability News Service subscriber

26 July 2018 by John Pring, Disability News Service

News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

 Posted by at 20:18
Jul 292018
 

International development secretary Penny Mordaunt has been labelled a hypocrite and an embarrassment after attempting to redefine inclusive education at the international disability summit she was hosting in east London.

Penny Mordaunt’s government was already facing criticism from across the UK disabled people’s movement for its “blatant attempt to divert attention from its own disastrous record on human rights” by co-hosting the Global Disability Summit in east London.

But Mordaunt was then asked during the summit – a major international disability rights conference focused on the global south – what inclusive education meant to her, and she replied: “Inclusive education means that everyone has an education and it is done in a way to reach their full potential.”

The UN has made it clear that inclusive education means that all disabled children and young people are educated in mainstream settings and that the right for disabled students not to be discriminated against “includes the right not to be segregated” into special schools.

The UK government’s opposition to an inclusive education system dates back to the Conservative party’s 2010 election manifesto, in which it said its policy would be to “end the bias towards inclusion of disabled children in mainstream schools”.

Five years later, its general election manifesto boasted of how it had “created 2,200 more special schools places through our free schools programme”.

And last autumn, the UN committee on the rights of persons with disabilities was highly critical of the UK government’s approach to inclusive education, and the “persistence of a dual education system” that segregates increasing numbers of disabled children in special schools.

It called instead for a “coherent strategy” on “increasing and improving inclusive education”, to include raising awareness of – and support for – inclusive education among parents of disabled children.

The day before Mordaunt’s comments, Laura Kanushu, executive director of Legal Action for Persons with Disabilities Uganda, told the Civil Society Forum – a sister event held the day before the Global Disability Summit, in the same venue – of the “challenges of governments still investing so much in special needs schools”.

She said: “Why don’t you make the mainstream schools inclusive rather than investing in building special needs schools? For us that has been a challenge.”

The UK government’s refusal to support inclusive education – at least in its own country – was always likely to be exposed during the summit after the Department for International Development decided that one of its four main themes would be “inclusion in education”.

The prime minister, Theresa May, in a video played to the summit, even called for “truly inclusive” education as a way of helping disabled people “play a full role in their communities”, although she was apparently only referring to disabled young people living in developing countries.

And in her closing speech, Mordaunt announced a new Inclusive Education Initiative – led by the UK – a “multi-donor partnership to support developing countries realise the promise of truly inclusive schools, teaching and learning”.

Michelle Daley and Simone Aspis, interim director and policy and campaigns coordinator for The Alliance for Inclusive Education, said that Mordaunt’s comments were embarrassing and hypocritical.

Daley and Aspis said in a statement: “It is not just an embarrassment but also an hypocrisy for our government to tell the Global Disability Summit anything about inclusive education, especially when we are terribly failing many of our disabled children.”

They said it was “very concerning” that Mordaunt appeared to have redefined the definition of inclusive education in a way that did not comply with the UN’s definition.

They said: “The convention comes with an obligation to develop and implement an inclusive education system.

“However, our government continues to have a dual education system, refusing to make inclusive education a right, with an increase in the number of children being forced into segregated schools.

“It is time that our government starts to properly implement inclusive education as a human right.”

Richard Rieser, a leading inclusive education and international disability rights expert, who chaired a session at the summit, said the government was “clearly finding this an embarrassment”.

He said: “It is well-established under article 24 [of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities] that inclusion is education in the local school in your community.

“What the minister [Mordaunt] said leaves the door open to segregated special schools.”

He pointed out that the UK maintained a reservation against article 24 of the convention, reserving the right for disabled children to be educated outside their local community, and an “interpretive declaration”*, which explains that the UK believes that the convention allows it to continue to operate both mainstream and special schools.

Only two other countries – Suriname and Mauritius – have placed reservations against article 24.

Rieser said: “This is the problem and the fear about the Department for International Development leading this [event] when they don’t understand the things we are arguing for as a world disability movement.”

*Both the reservation and interpretive declaration were placed by the Labour government in 2009 when it ratified the convention and have been maintained by subsequent coalition and Conservative governments

26 July 2018 by John Pring, Disability News Service

News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

 Posted by at 20:14
Jul 292018
 

The international development secretary, Penny Mordaunt, has been forced to retreat from her government’s repeated claims that the UK is a “global leader in disability rights”.

Her government has faced anger from the UK disabled people’s movement at its decision to co-host a Global Disability Summit in east London less than a year after the UN’s committee on the rights of persons with disabilities (CRPD) found that its cuts to disabled people’s support had caused “a human catastrophe”.

The committee told the UK government last September – when Mordaunt herself was minister for disabled people – to make more than 80 improvements to how its laws and policies affect disabled people’s human rights.

It was the highest number of recommendations CRPD had ever produced in reviewing a country’s progress in implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The committee also made it clear to the government that the UK was no longer considered a world leader on disability rights.

But the government has repeatedly disagreed with the UN’s conclusion.

Last November, the new minister for disabled people, Sarah Newton, said that the UK “continues to be a global leader in disability rights”.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said last October – in responding to CRPD’s findings – that the UK was “a recognised world leader in disability rights and equality”.

And last October, Mordaunt herself said the government wanted to “establish the UK as a global leader” in disability and development and that she was “keen to promote what we are doing [on the domestic agenda] because it is a catalyst for change elsewhere in the world”.

But in an interview with Disability News Service (DNS) this week at the summit – a major international disability rights conference focused on the global south – Mordaunt distanced herself from those claims.

When asked if it was hypocritical for her government to hold itself up as a world leader on disability rights while co-hosting the summit, she said: “I think you’re putting words into my mouth, we are not holding ourselves up saying that we’re perfect or we have all the answers and I’ve been very clear in all my communications about this summit that that is the case.

“But I tell you this, we are well placed to help other nations get where we all want to be.”

She added: “This is not about the UK either preaching to other nations or not including ourselves in the list of nations that need to do better.

“We do need to do better. I’ve got a big long list, you’ve got a big long list, the Office for Disability Issues has a big long list of things that it wants to get done.”

She said she wanted the UK to do better on welfare, accessibility, building regulations and disabled people as consumers, and she said: “There is a lot of room for improvement, but there is more to do, but us as a wealthy nation not supporting, encouraging and enabling others to make the progress as well, I think it would be a dereliction of our duty.”

When told that the disabled people’s organisation Inclusion Scotland had described the summit as a “blatant attempt [by the government] to divert attention from its own disastrous record on human rights and the damage its own policies have inflicted on UK disabled people”, Mordaunt said: “Well, if that were the case, holding a Global Disability Summit in the UK would be a pretty poor strategy. It’s not about that.”

This week, Mordaunt and her fellow ministers have been encouraging other countries and organisations to sign up to a new Charter for Change, calling on them to “hold ourselves and others to account for the promises we have made here today” and to “strive for real change through the convention’s implementation”.

But Mordaunt has now criticised the UN for its attempts to do just that.

In 2016, the UN’s CRPD told the UK government that it was guilty of “grave and systematic violations” of disabled people’s rights through its policies on independent living, social security and employment.

There has been anger and disbelief that the UK was asking other countries at the summit to sign up to a new charter that calls for governments to be held to account for their progress in implementing the convention, when it had not accepted the CRPD recommendations last September, or in 2016.

Last year, DWP said it was “disappointed” that the UN report “fails to recognise all the progress we’ve made to empower disabled people in all aspects of their lives”.

And the previous year, DWP said that it “strongly disagrees” with CRPD’s conclusions that it had caused “grave and systematic violations” of disabled people’s rights and that the CRPD report “presents an inaccurate picture of life for disabled people in the UK”.

Mordaunt insisted this week that the government had not dismissed last year’s report on the overall implementation of the convention in the UK, and that Newton was now “working through” the recommendations, with announcements expected nest month.

But when asked four times whether she accepted the 2016 “grave and systematic violations” report, Mordaunt declined to do so.

She eventually said that the government had “issues with some of the aspects of the UN process”.

She said: “We think that we have been in some instances unfairly dealt with, but we will continue to engage in that process and I am confident that you will see progress.”

Mordaunt made a series of announcements at the summit to demonstrate the government’s commitment to supporting disabled people in the developing world, funded through the UK’s continuing legally binding agreement to spend 0.7 per cent of national income a year on foreign aid (about £14 billion in 2017).

She committed the UK government to a new global partnership – AT Scale – to “transform access to and affordability of” assistive technology, such as wheelchairs, prosthetics, hearing aids and glasses, with the aim of reaching 500 million people globally by 2030.

She also announced a new UK Aid Connect programme, led by disability charities Sightsavers and Leonard Cheshire, which will work with organisations within small communities in the developing world to support disabled people into jobs.

There will be a six-year programme to design ways to help 100,000 disabled people to access health services, 10,000 disabled children to access education, and up to 45,000 disabled people to increase their incomes.

And Mordaunt said that her Department for International Development would work with businesses to support disabled people as employers, employees and consumers.

26 July 2018 by John Pring, Disability News Service

News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

 Posted by at 20:11
May 032018
 

1.8 million disabled people with unmet housing needs

580,000 of whom are of working age

2/3 of single disabled people living alone are in poverty

Disabled people are twice as likely as non disabled people to be social housing tenants

There is a shortage of accessible housing across Britain.

Of the councils in England with a housing plan, fewer than 17% of councils have set out strategies to build disabled-friendly homes

From: Facts and Figures 2018. Disability in the UK. Papworth Trust http://online.flipbuilder.com/afjd/uvad/mobile/index.html#p=1

Thanks to Miriam Binder Brighton DPAC, for this excellent account of the difficulties disabled people face when looking for accessible housing

There is indeed a crisis in Housing and this holds probably truer for disabled people and it must be added, the long-term ill, then any other group. Why this is the case is down to a number of factors. As we all know, or should do by now, the Housing Crisis as it stands at the moment is due to not the rising number in Housing Need as such but rather the inequality that exists within society.

Here in England, Housing has been beset by a number of issues. I will not delve into the complexities surrounding home ownership, initial mortgages and the varying types of mortgage. Not because they are inconsequential but because, for the majority of disabled people and the long-term sick, they are by and large, unobtainable. Whether there is a Disabled Community is questionable as the sheer diversity in Disability and Long-Term Illness is immense. I am mobility impaired and rely on my trusty wheelchair, the Grim Creeper, to get me around. But I can see, provided my spectacles prescription is up to date. My hearing is functional despite what my grandchildren may have to say at times – especially when it comes to them demanding more chocolate or, as is the case with the older ones, more pocket money.

Disability and Long-Term Illness covers a large diversity of impairments. From Mobility through to Cognitive and Mental impairments. In addition, there is the fluctuation of symptoms, when someone is undergoing treatment, which by and large is of concern to the Long-Term Ill however can at times also be an issue for disabled people; regardless of whether this is a life long disability, from birth that is, or an acquired disability, as in my case, where it only became a factor in my middle years. I will refer to us, for the sake of this discussion, as the Disabled Community.

I’ll start with a bit of background. I am fortunate enough to be a council tenant. I’ve been one now for 38 years. When mobility first became a real issue, I was still the tenant of what was my family home. I lived in a three-bedroom house with the bedrooms and bathroom located upstairs. Nothing fancy but good accommodation for what was at the time, the size of my family. My daughters grew up and, as is the habit of such creatures, left home one by one. I started considering downsizing. However, as my mobility worsened I realised that a high-rise flat was not the most suitable move. I remained in that house, under occupying, for 4 years after my youngest left home. The last two years I rarely made it to the second floor. I slept on the sofa in the front room. I bathed, or what passed as bathed, at the kitchen sink. I was fortunate that the house had a downstairs toilet.

I was bidding … a truly atrocious method of seeking rehousing in the Social Housing sector; not least of which is the requirement of having internet access. I was however also dependant on the ranking I was given by the Council as to whether a bid would be considered acceptable. I ended up refusing to pay any additional charges and the matter eventually ended up in court with the ever-ready threat of eviction looming over me. Being a self-possessed, articulate and relatively educated individual, I got the point across that I need a ground floor property and, with the magistrate siding with me on this issue, I eventually got my current bungalow. I also was in some housing debt but that, given my desperate need for suitable housing, was a minor consideration at the time.

The trouble was, and yes this isn’t the end of the story, my dream home, this one-bedroom bungalow, was not wheelchair accessible. There was a 19cm step entering the house and a 7cm step exiting it. For two years I had to lift a 93-kilo wheelchair across these steps, every time I needed to exit or enter my home. I am now not only disabled because of my lower limbs not functioning properly but also have limitations in my right arm due to a severely torn rotor cuff.

Adaptations however are not that easily obtained. There is a process one has to go through which is rather complex. And even when it has been accepted that the adaptation is necessary, by the appropriate Social Services department, there is the matter of financing said adaptation. This matter falls within the remit of an entirely different department.

To cut a long story relatively short, I ended up having to present a deposition to the Housing Committee to eventually gain the finance necessary to provide my adaptation. Bless the soul of the Adult Social Care assessor that came to the property as she determined that while they were adapting my access into the home, they may as well adapt my bathroom so that I would be able to shower without risking a fall every time. I got a wet room at the same time.

Not that that was the end of the adaptations required to mean I could actually retain independence in my home. It took a total of 5 years to make my home adapted to my needs. Included there also 3 years of not being able to use the kitchen. The only thing that is now worrying me on the home front is if ever I need care. There is no room in my home for anyone to sleep. It has presented some problems when I’ve been to hospital for treatment. I’ll tell no lie but I do lie. I would get one of my daughters to come ‘spring me’ from the hospital, assure the hospital that someone would remain with me at home and then, once released, would go home alone, crawl in to bed and pray there were no post-operative complications.

We live in a society that has many gorgeous houses built over the centuries. Wonderful places with wonderful spaces for people to live and have families. The problem is that few, if any, of these places are adaptable. Those that are adaptable are limited to the extent of adaptation possible. Then there is the fact that the Disabled people and long-term ill are generally speaking amongst the poorer in society. Buying a home is, as a rule, beyond most. We, by and large, depend on renting our residences. That presents a particular problem in that renting in the private sector is problematic. Not just the sheer cost and the short-termism of rental agreements but also the issue of adaptations. Few, if any, private landlords would be willing to have extensive adaptations done to their property just because they have a given tenant for the next 6, 12 or 36 months.

There are other issues. Temporary housing which is far from disabled friendly due to lack of adaptations. Ill suited for people recovering from and between treatments such as chemo- or radiotherapy, dialysis and others. One young man, a tetraplegic wheelchair user, ended up in a 2nd floor attic flat. There was no way of getting his wheelchair to the flat so he had to be bodily hauled up and down to the place. Even if he could have managed to get his wheelchair into the flat, there was no room to move around in the flat with a wheelchair. In addition, treatment to enable him to regain, or at least retain, some movement was denied as, according to the NHS, there was little sense in treating him while his body was being abused daily because of his housing situation.

You see, with disabled people and long-term sick, it is not enough to get a roof over your head. The roof needs to be over a place you can move around in, you can store any equipment you need and you can have an overnight visitor stay for when you need that extra care. This cannot be addressed on an ad hoc basis. Nor can we remain reactive to need but we must become proactive to potential. If you come across someone who has, let us say for argument sake, Peripheral Vascular Disease, today they may walk short distances, enough to hobble around the house but tomorrow, or if not tomorrow at sometime in the future, they will be totally incapable of walking, requiring amputation of at least one if not both, feet or legs.

We must also bear in mind that Disabled people and the long-term ill have families, brothers and sisters and yes, children. We need to ensure that all building programmes, and certainly all social building programmes, build houses with, as standard, wider doorways, level access, wide hallways and rooms we can easily adapt if they require a lift, lower access cupboards and a cooker that can be used while seated. We need these properties in all shapes and sizes. Neither disability, be it from birth or an acquired one, nor long term illness will go away. They are part of humanity and a parcel of life. Let us make sure that any programmes of building we engage in will have at least the facility to adapt, easily and simply and that the groundwork is already done.

 Posted by at 16:33
May 022018
 

May 2nd, 2018

Join us today for the 2nd day of the vigil outside the high court  to support the first judicial review against the Government’s decision to bring in Universal Credit. The case will focus in particular on the removal of the Severe and Enhanced Disability Premiums which will have a devastating impact on Disabled people. When the Government introduced Universal credit they said no one will be worse off, but this simply isn’t true. Research in 2013 estimated that 450,000 households containing a Disabled person would lose essential income.

The case is being taken by Leigh Day solicitors on behalf of a man who is terminally ill and through the removal of SDP and EDP has lost £178 per month.

Vigil called by Disabled People Against Cuts and Winvisible.

 Posted by at 06:36
Apr 172018
 

Let Inclusion London know about your experience of welfare benefit sanctions.   The information will be used to inform our evidence to a Select Committee inquiry into sanctions.

Please send your evidence to Henrietta.Doyle@inclusionlondon.org.uk by 17 May

The Work and Pensions Committee recently launched an inquiry into benefit sanctions.  The evidence the Committee is calling for includes: how sanctions operate, recent developments, and whether sanctions ‘help’ people off benefits and into work.

Below are some of the questions the committee is asking:

  • What improvements to sanctions policy could be made to achieve its objectives better?
  • Could a challenge period and/or a system of warnings for a first sanctionable offence be beneficial? If so, how should they be implemented?
  • Are levels of discretion afforded to jobcentre staff appropriate?
  • Are adequate protections in place for vulnerable claimants?
  • What effects does sanctions policy have on other aspects of the benefits system and public services more widely?

If you wish send evidence directly to the committee the deadline for is 25 May 2018.

More information about the inquiry is available at:

https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/work-and-pensions-committee/news-parliament-2017/benefit-sanctions-launch-17-19/

 Posted by at 13:20
Apr 122018
 

Please send your submissions about sanctions to the Work and Pension Committee. The Committee is asking specific questions, and we recommended that you respond to them in the order they are asked, but nothing prevents you from expanding and describing the appalling impact sanctions had or have on you.  Importantly, as sanctions are supposed to ‘help’ claimants move closer to work or into work, anything which undermines or impedes this objective must be mentioned and emphasised. As should any negative impact on health, mental or physical.

The deadline for written submissions is 25 May 2018 and you will find at the bottom of the page some guidance about written submissions.

Or if you would like to submit information to include in a submission being made by Inclusion London, please email Ellen Clifford at Inclusion London on Ellen.Clifford@inclusionlondon.org.uk

The Work and Pensions Committee launches an inquiry into benefit sanctions: how they operate, recent developments, and what the evidence is that they work – either to deter non-compliant behaviour or to help achieve the policy objectives of getting people off benefits and into work.

Absurdly trivial breaches of benefit conditions

Sanctions, which take the form of docking a portion of benefit payments for a set period of time, can be imposed for breaching benefit conditions like attending a work placement, or for being minutes late for a Job Centre appointment.

Media reports of the Committee’s last inquiry into benefit sanctions in 2015 Benefit sanctions policy beyond the Oakley Review, described “copious evidence of claimants being docked hundreds of pounds and pitched into financial crisis for often absurdly trivial breaches of benefit conditions, or for administrative errors beyond their control.”

There have also been serial reports in the media of extreme instances of the use and effects of sanctions – people hospitalised for life threatening conditions or premature labour being sanctioned for weeks or months for consequently missing a benefits appointment, or being unable to afford the transport to a distant job placement and being sanctioned for failing to attend it – and speculation over the degree of discretion Job Centre Plus staff have in these instances.

Recent policy developments

The  inquiry will look at recent sanctions policy developments, like the “yellow card” system which gives claimants 14 days to challenge a decision to impose a sanction before it is put into effect. The system was announced in late 2015 although there is still no date for introducing it.

The inquiry will also consider the evidence base for the impact of sanctions, both that emerging from newly published statistics, and the robustness of the evidence base for the current use of sanctions as a means of achieving policy objectives.  Previously published in the Department’s quarterly statistical summaries, the Benefit Sanctions Statistics will now be a separate quarterly publication.

In 2016 the NAO released a report on the subject; and in February 2017 the Public Accounts Committee published its report “Benefit sanctions“. The Government accepted the recommendations of that PAC report and described progress on implementation in the January 2018 Treasury Minutes Progress Report:

  • The Government initially agreed to undertake a trial of warnings for a first sanctionable offence. This recommendation has not been implemented.
  • The Government agreed to monitor variation in sanction referrals and to assess the reasons for such variation. The Department’s research on variation is due to be completed in March.
  • The Government agreed to monitor the use and take-up of protections for vulnerable groups. The Department is “still considering the best way to qualitatively assess the use and effectiveness of protections for vulnerable claimants”.
  • The Government agreed to improve data systems, including on linking information e.g. earnings and sanctions
  • The Government initially agreed to work with the rest of Government to estimate the impacts of sanctions on claimants and their wider costs to government. This recommendation has not been implemented.

Send us your views

The Committee invites evidence on any or all of the following questions, from benefit recipients with experience of the system, or experts in the field:

  1. To what extent is the current sanctions regime achieving its policy objectives?
  2. Is the current evidence base adequate and if not, what further information, data and research are required?
  3. What improvements to sanctions policy could be made to achieve its objectives better?
  4. Could a challenge period and/or a system of warnings for a first sanctionable offence be beneficial? If so, how should they be implemented?
  5. Are levels of discretion afforded to jobcentre staff appropriate?
  6. Are adequate protections in place for vulnerable claimants?
  7. What effects does sanctions policy have on other aspects of the benefits system and public services more widely? Are consequential policy changes required?
  8. To what extent have the recommendations of the Oakley review of Jobseekers’ Allowance sanctions improved the sanctions regime? Are there recommendations that have not been implemented that should be?

The deadline for written submissions is 25 May 2018.

Sanctions need to be proportional and fair

Rt Hon Frank Field MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

“Sanctions are an important part of any benefits system but they need to be applied proportionately and fairly and to account for individual circumstances.

I’ve seen deeply troubling cases in my constituency that suggest these objectives are not always being achieved. We will be reviewing the evidence to see if sanctions policy is working properly and if not, we will recommend improvements.”

Further information

 

 Posted by at 17:33
Apr 042018
 

The DWP has issued a new ESA65B, the form used to inform a patient’s GP of their WCA outcome.  This form which requests GPs not to send any further fit notes for ESA purposes after a claimant has been found fit for work, unless they appeal had already been at the centre of a controversy. James Harrison died 10 months after being found fit for work and after the jobcentre asked his GP not to issue further fit notes for ESA purposes. James Harrison wanted a fit note because he was too ill to attend the jobcentre appointments, but his GP refused to issue them. http://metro.co.uk/2016/12/29/jobcentre-secretly-told-dying-mans-gp-to-stop-giving-him-sick-notes-6349168/

The new ESA65B form which is headed ‘Help us support your patient to return to or start work’ has an added paragraph http://data.parliament.uk/DepositedPapers/Files/DEP2018-0290/ESA65B_Letter.pdf

In the course of any further consultations with [Title] [First name] [Surname] we hope you will also encourage [select] in [select] efforts to return to, or start, work.

It is all in keeping with DWP’s mantra that not only work is good for health, but also should be a ‘health outcome’. There are many reasons why this is wrong and DR Jay Watts, Consultant clinical psychologist, lists some of them:

Health professionals across the country will be horrified at this latest interference from the DWP – a move that undermines clinical expertise and threatens the safety of patients. There are a number of problems. First the letter places the expertise of DWP-funded ESA assessors above that of GPs. This is despite the fact GPs are more qualified to assess mental health, and can do so with the benefits of having known the patient for years, often decades (as opposed to in a one-off assessment). The DWP letter makes clear that they wish claimants to return to work at any cost, even if that means leaving a current occupation – an attack on the core identity of patients likely to have a damaging effect on mental health. Second, the letter states that “we know most people are better off in work”. This ignores a considerable literature showing that work can be damaging for mental health, with poor work environments a frequent trigger to mental breakdown. Economic evidence shows that rushing people back into work increases the likelihood of long-term illness. How then can it be right to encourage GPs to coerce patients back to work, a pressure likely to increase the feelings of shame, despair and anxiety at not working that have been exacerbated by the governments relentless and damaging campaign to associate worklessness with worthlessness? Third, the pressure the DWP is exerting on GPs to ‘encourage’ patients back to work, and desist from providing fit notes, is an attack on clinical expertise and the sanctity of the clinical space and clinical decision-making. Without a firm denouncement of this letter from Royal College of General Practitioners, we risk a situation where claimants will feel unwilling to make appointments with their GPs, given the level of fear the DWP and the work agenda elicits, with damaging and potentially life-threatening effects on the physical and mental health of claimants. It is vital that health professionals speak up for claimants rights, and insist that fit notes and therapeutic conversations are dictated by the needs of patients not the DWP.

 

WHAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT IT?

You can make sure that your GP does not receive this letter and is not informed of your WCA outcome. This is sensitive personal data and the DWP needs your consent to share it as show  here in this FOI request.  There are several steps you need to take to refuse your consent:

1) You need to refuse to give your consent when you are completing your ESA50. On page 21 of the ESA50 form, under the “Other information” box you will write:

I DO NOT consent/agree to my doctor or any doctor treating me,
being informed about the Secretary of State’s
determination on
– limited capability for work
– limited capability for work-related activity
or being sent a summary of the Limited Capability for Work Assessment.

And you need to remove/strike out the text on the ESA50 form in the Declaration section page 22, that covers allowing the DWP to notify the person’s GP. The ESA50 form used for this is this form

AND

2) Because you cannot be sure that the ESA50 form will be read by DWP, you need to write to the benefit centre which processes your claim, to inform them that you refuse to give your consent to share the WCA outcome with your GP, or any doctor. You will find a proforma letter to do so at the end of this article.

 

If you forgot to amend the ESA50 form in order to refuse your consent, you can still write to the DWP/benefit centre after every ESA50 form submitted and or after every WCA undertaken asking them not to share your WCA outcome with your GP.

This is heavily drawn from Frank Zola’s article on the same subject, which also provides more information and template letters to help you to refuse your consent. https://mrfrankzola.wordpress.com/2017/02/16/do-not-tell-gp-outcome-of-your-work-capability-assessment-wca-donotconsent/ 

And thanks also to John Slater @AmateurFOI for his input

That should stop the DWP interfering in the doctor/patient’s relationship and destroying the trust which exists between them and also stop the DWP from exerting pressures on GPs in a way which can be detrimental for their patients.

 

Template letter

[Your full address]

[The date]

Department for Work and Pensions

[Address of your local JCP office]

[Enter Your National Insurance Number]

Dear Sir or Madam

 

RE: Consent, ESA50 and my Work Capability Assessment (WCA)

 

I write to confirm that I do not consent to my or any doctor being informed of any determination related to:

 

  1. limited capability for work
  2. limited capability for work-related activity

 

I am asserting my rights under the Data Protection Act (1998), as the Department requires my explicit consent to share said determination with my or any Doctor/GP, as it is my sensitive personal data.

 

Please write to me to acknowledge receipt of this letter and confirm that my records have been updated on the appropriate IT systems.

 

On your ESA50 form, a copy of which I have retained, I have removed/ struck-out the part of the declaration section that states:

 

“I agree to my doctor or any doctor treating me, being informed about the Secretary of State’s determination on

– limited capability for work

– limited capability for work-related activity, or

– both”

 

If I change my mind in the future I will write to the Department to advise it. I will not notify the Department of any change via the ESA50 form and should there be any doubt this letter should always take precedent.

 

Yours faithfully

[Signature]

 

 

 

 

 Posted by at 20:15
Mar 252018
 

All over Britain we’re holding locally based protests against universal credit to support the DPAC demonstration in London. Obviously everyone can’t get to London so this is going to open up the event and make it easier for more people to access and take part.

Sheffield

Anyone is welcome to come and speak at the demo, just inbox the DPAC Sheffield page or email DPACsheffield@gmail.com
So far we have: Labour sheffield, Women’s lives matter campaign Yorkshire, Sheffield Green party, Momentum Sheffield disability officer, and DPAC.

Birmingham

Meet New Street, Time to be confirmed

Brighton

Information table 10.30am Meet at the Clock Tower

Ceredigion

We will be outside Cardigan job centre on the 18th at 11.00

Edinburgh

Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty
STOP AND SCRAP UNIVERSAL CREDIT – DAY OF ACTION WED 18 APRIL
High Riggs jobcentre 12.30
Leicester
Wednesday 18th April, 12- 2 pm at the Clocktower, Unite Community and friends supporting DPAC.

Manchester

St.Peters Square, 13.00-15.00 joining together with Greater Manchester Law Centre and Acorn Tenants Union to say no to evictions

Norwich

12.30-14.00

Meet City Hall steps from 12.15 pm

Truro 

11am – 13.00 pm April 18th Lemon Quay 

https://www.facebook.com/events/1638152956261713/

York

The York Unite Community Branch  is supporting the Disabled People Against Cuts national day of action against Universal Credit by holding a gathering on and adjacent to the footpath outside The Jobcentre Plus (one of our local Department of Work and Pensions buildings), 11-17 Monkgate, York YO31 7JZ  between 10 and 12 on Wednesday April 18th 2018.

 Posted by at 15:29
Mar 242018
 

Our colleagues from the Public Law Project are taking the DWP to court for the failure to make good reasonable adjustments for disabled people who need communication via email.

We are supporting this challenge and need people to share their experience with us.

If you have asked the DWP to communicate with via email, please take our short survey, it will only take 5 minutes.  https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/VC99J78

Alternatively you can email Svetlana.kotova@inclusionlondon.org.uk to share your experiences.

We need responses by the 6th of April.

 Posted by at 14:04
Mar 202018
 

With an impending high court challenge against the  Access to Work cap, the government has announced it is increasing the cap. They say this will affect fewer Deaf and Disabled people.

DPAC thinks that any form of cap is inappropriate and discriminatory. Any cap hits those with the highest support needs, effectively penalising Deaf and Disabled people with the highest support needs and impacting most on certain impairment groups. The new cap has been increased from 1.5 x the average worker’s salary (£42,100) to 2x (£57,200) but is still a fixed limit set in an entirely arbitrary way whereas costs for highly specialised equipment and good quality professional interpreters tailored to an individual’s needs can exceed this amount or vary from year to year. There is no financial reason for a cap given that investment in Access to Work makes a return on investment to the Treasury through taxes, without taking into account the added cost benefits of savings to the NHS or social care budgets.

The cap is also just one issue within a whole range of problems that Deaf and Disabled people are experiencing with Access to Work. These include administrative and financial errors on a scale that is making employment unviable for many, alongside cuts and restrictions to individual support packages that are placing intolerable strain on Deaf and Disabled people doing their best to stay in work. An urgent review of the scheme in consultation with Deaf and Disabled people is well over due.

Written statement from Esther McVey

See the statement on Parliament.uk here.

 Posted by at 16:08
Mar 102018
 

This article has been triggered by a post from Joe Halewood who is absolutely right to highlight the shockingly low numbers of people appealing a benefit decision, and especially PIP https://speyejoe2.wordpress.com/2018/03/09/tory-policy-deliberately-shafts-half-a-million-disabled-persons/

It is worth looking at the numbers to understand the scale of the issue, and to compare the situation under DLA and PIP.

The main difference between the 2 benefits, apart from the descriptors, which with PIP were meant to lead to a reduction of 500,000 fewer claimants, is the introduction of Mandatory Reconsiderations. Mandatory Reconsiderations are a system of internal appeals, designed to reduce the number of appeals by reviewing and revising if necessary a benefit decision within a shorter timeframe. Where appeals could take one year or even 18 months these days to be heard, a mandatory reconsideration can take around 10 days, because the government has imposed targets. That is the good news. The bad news is as for sanctions, mandatory reconsiderations are under the direct influence of DWP Secretary of State, and are not independent. The initial benefit decision is supposed to be reviewed by a different Decision Maker, but  around 84% of initial benefit decisions are being upheld, which leaves a claimant with only one option: to appeal.

The problem is that very few people appeal, and it is obvious that Mandatory Reconsiderations and the Kafkaesque system put in place by DWP, which makes it as difficult as possible for a claimant to get some kind of justice, plus the mistakes and the incompetence of many DWP staff, constitute a real denial of justice. Let’s crunch some numbers:

Before the introduction of PIP in 2012, there were 3,253,810 DLA claimants, but only 71,744 appeals, which is 2,20%. Let’s remind ourselves that claimants could directly ask for an appeal and that DWP would lodge it on their behalf. Now let’s compare this situation with PIP today.

In 2016/2017, there are only 1,409,027 PIP claimants (and still 2,263,162 DLA claimants), and the number of Mandatory Reconsiderations is 669,000. This means that almost ½ the people undergoing a PIP assessment are dissatisfied with the outcome and ask for a Mandatory Reconsideration. Knowing that 80% of mandatory reconsideration upheld the initial PIP decision, you would expect around 535,200 PIP claimants lodging an appeal. In fact, the number is 104,205, which only 19% of the number of claimants expected to appeal.

But what needs to be done is to compare more directly the DLA and the PIP situation:

2012                       3,253,810 DLA claimants                                                                71,744 appeals

2017                       1,409,027 PIP claimants                 669,000 MR                         104,205 appeals

Without Mandatory Reconsiderations, the number of PIP claimants lodging an appeal would have been 669,000. If the level of overturned PIP decisions is maintained (64%), it means that 424,160 PIP claimants would have had a PIP decision overturned in their favour.

That is a real denial of justice.

 

 

 

 

.

 

 

 

 Posted by at 13:07
Mar 072018
 

Bromley JCP Protest
Bromley DPAC along with SE London Unite Community have organised a protest outside Bromley Job Centre Against Universal Credit For Wednesday 14th March 2018 12 noon until 2pm
Address Bromley Job Centre Plus
Unicorn house
28 Elmfield Road
Bromley
Kent BR1 1NX

Nearest train station is Bromley South Station accessible from train platform to street level
Buses 61, 208,358,261,126,367,314 all Stop opposite the entrance to Bromley JCP
Lewisham JCP has now closed and half of Lewisham JCP are having to make longer journeys to Bromley causing additional financial hardship. Bromley JCP staff are struggling with the additional influx of claimants leading to backlogs of claimants claims being dealt with and payment delays
Universal Credit cannot be paused and fixed. It is causing poverty and homelessness to rise and causing further distress and harm with the abolition of the severe disability premium, meaning disabled people will be worse off by £2,000 per year
By 2022 it is estimated that 1 million children will be plunged further into poverty under Universal Credit
We are calling for Universal Credit to be stopped and Scrapped

Please support the protest

Facebook event link is here

:

 

 

 Posted by at 14:41
Mar 012018
 

Please feel free to tweet all day and you can add the hashtag #bbcqt for tweeting tonight during BBC Question Time


#UniversalCreditCrimesAgainstClaimants UC is rotten to the core #StopandScrapUC


#UniversalCreditCrimesAgainstClaimants 7m households will be affected, including over one million low paid part-time workers.


#UniversalCreditCrimesAgainstClaimants UC has too many flaws to be simply paused and fixed – it must be stopped and scrapped


#UniversalCreditCrimesAgainstClaimants at least £15.8 billion has been wasted UC, yet only £1 billion will be saved by 2020.


#UniversalCreditCrimesAgainstClaimants No civilized Government should impose UC on its citizens


#UniversalCreditCrimesAgainstClaimants No credible opposition party should want to simply pause and fix UC


#UniversalCreditCrimesAgainstClaimants UC is claimed and managed digitally which is impossible for many disabled people


#UniversalCreditCrimesAgainstClaimants Health & Work conversations are mandatory, any failure to attend will lead to claim being closed


#UniversalCreditCrimesAgainstClaimants People in part time work could be forced to give up work that suits their Disability


#UniversalCreditCrimesAgainstClaimants UC has no Severe and Enhanced Disability Premiums- single disabled people lose around £2,000 pa


#UniversalCreditCrimesAgainstClaimants UC includes the vile rape clause – violating womens rights


#UniversalCreditCrimesAgainstClaimants UC was designed by IDS to punish people for the crime of being poor


Stop Universal Credit before it claims you https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DXEO-CEXUAAaYme.jpg #UniversalCreditCrimesAgainstClaimants


Letter to send to MPs about Universal Credit https://dpac.uk.net/2018/02/letter-to-send-to-mps-about-universal-credit/ #UniversalCreditCrimesAgainstClaimants


Trapped in Universal Credit: How a broken leg left a woman starved of cash http://www.politics.co.uk/comment-analysis/2018/02/27/trapped-in-universal-credit-how-a-broken-leg-left-a-woman-st


Video Message from Paula Peters on how you can get involved in getting Universal Credit scrapped https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-yoAsVo2dIk&feature=youtu.be #UniversalCreditCrimesAgainstClaimants


Letter to send to MPs about Universal Credit https://dpac.uk.net/2018/02/letter-to-send-to-mps-about-universal-credit/ #UniversalCreditCrimesAgainstClaimants


List of MPs Email Addresses https://dpac.uk.net/2018/02/list-of-mps-email-addresses/ #UniversalCreditCrimesAgainstClaimants

 Posted by at 14:42