ellen

Sep 172017
 

Please join us at Robertfest 2017, a celebration of the life of Robert Dellar.

When: Sunday 24th September 2017, 12.00 – 0.00

Where: Amersham Arms, 388 New Cross Road, SE14 6TY (very close to New Cross station)

Tickets: Unwaged £5, Waged £10, Full ticket £20

Booking: via Eventbrite Robertfest 2017

The event will include some of Robert’s favourite bands, including ATV, Vic Goddard, The Long Decline, The Astronauts, The Ceramic Hobbs, Dave Kusworth, Jowe Head and the Infernal Contraption, Alan Tyler, Frank Bangay, Melanie Clifford, Salad from Atlantis, Dave Russell, Paul Caton, MC Razz and special guests.

RobertFest 2017 will also host the inaugural Robert Dellar Lecture, an annual lecture building on the life, times and activism of Robert Dellar. The first Robert Dellar Lecture will be given by Prof Esther Leslie at 4.30 pm at the Amersham Arms.

Aug 312017
 

The UK Government’s claim to be a ‘world leader in disability issues’ has today been crushed by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Committee has released damning Concluding Observations on the UK, following its first Review of the government’s compliance with the Convention.

 

The highlights of the press conference held by the UN Committee on the Rights of Disabled People at this afternoon are:

  • The Committee has made the highest ever number of recommendations to the UK.
  • The UK’s retrogression in ensuring Independent Living is a major concern. There is not adequate funding, resulting in too much institutionalisation.
  • There is a significant problem with Deaf and disabled people’s standard of living. Disabled people continue to be disadvantaged in employment, and are not adequately compensated for disability by the state.

 

The Observations conclude last week’s public examination of the UK Government’s record on delivering disabled people’s rights. The examination was declared by the UK rapporteur Mr Stig Langvad, to be “the most challenging exercise in the history of the Committee”. Mr Langvad raised deep concerns on the UK Government’s failure to implement the rights of disabled people. He also noted the government’s “lack of recognition of the findings and recommendations of the (2016) Inquiry” which found ‘grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s human rights’.

 

Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations (DDPOs) were hailed as the genuine “world leaders” for their efforts in bringing to light the injustices and human rights violations inflicted on disabled people in the UK.

 

The UK Delegation of Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations has issued the following joint statement:

 

“Today the UN(CRPD) Committee has, once again, condemned the UK Government’s record on Deaf and Disabled People’s human rights. They have validated the desperation, frustration and outrage experienced by Deaf and Disabled people since austerity and welfare cuts began. It is not acceptable for the UK Government to ignore the strong and united message of the disability community.

 

UK Government representatives committed during the review to rethinking the way they support Deaf and Disabled People to monitor our rights. We welcome this commitment.  However, we are clear that our involvement must be genuine and inclusive and that we cannot accept anything less than progress on delivering the human rights enshrined in the Convention, and denied us for too long.

 

DDPOs have established themselves as a force to be reckoned with following a long campaign of challenging the Government’s blatant disregard for the lives of Deaf and disabled people in the UK. The unity and solidarity demonstrated by the Committee and the UK Independent Mechanism in supporting our calls for justice continue to strengthen us.”

 

Quotes from DPPOs:

Rhian Davies, Chief Executive of Disability Wales said, “It is a relief to see that the UK Government’s appalling treatment of disabled people has been called out by the UN Committee. The Concluding Observations give a clear sense of direction for the UK and devolved Governments. We welcome Welsh Government’s commitment to a strengthened Framework for Action on Independent Living since much of the implementation of the UNCRPD is devolved to Welsh Government.

However, as a devolved nation, it is not possible to entirely mitigate the impact of UK austerity policies and we will continue to join forces with our sister organisations across the UK in our quest to safeguard disabled people’s human rights in Wales.”

 

Tara Flood, Director of the Alliance for Inclusive Education (ALLFIE) said, “We are delighted that the Committee has highlighted the Government’s shocking disregard for the human rights of Disabled children and young people to be included in mainstream education and we welcome the Committee’s call for a strategy to end the segregation and institutionalisation of children and young people from their families and communities. As the Chair of the Committee, Theresia Degener, stated last week ‘inclusive education is not a choice, it is a human right’. Our work to turn that right into a reality begins today with renewed energy and the force of the world alongside us!”

 

Dr Terry Riley OBE, Chairman of the British Deaf Association said, “We were impressed with the openness of the committee to listen to our evidence and apply their significant legal experience. Therefore we are glad to see that the committee has expressly recommended that the UK government finally legislate to protect language rights of deaf people.

So many of the committee’s remarks related to this, from failings in healthcare and education for deaf people, to the exclusion of deaf jurors. Deaf people have been passed over too long; there can now be no doubt that the government has been taken to task.

Without language rights, we have no human rights.”

 

Kamran Mallick, chief executive of Disability Rights UK, said: “We were proud to give evidence to the committee alongside other deaf and disabled people’s organisations. The UK government should now cut the rhetoric and start delivering on these excellent recommendations.

 

“Along with a host of other issues, the committee rightly voiced concern at the use of compulsory mental health detention and treatment. The seemingly endless rise in the numbers of people with mental health problems being detained or forcibly treated in the community is a daily reminder that human rights violations do take place in the UK. We back the committee’s call for changes to the law in this area.”

 

Tracey Lazard, CEO of Inclusion London, said: “This is a damning verdict by UN disability rights experts on the failure of the UK Government  to protect or uphold Disabled people’s rights. The UN conclusions reflect Deaf and Disabled people’s our own lived experience, in stark contrast to the UK Government position which continues to be one of denial, spin, misinformation and frankly disdain for Disabled people and our organisations and the mountain of evidence that shows things are going terribly wrong, as well as disdain for the UN process itself. We very much hope that these damning concluding observations and recommendations will be the wake-up call the Government needs to begin pro-actively working with us to get the protection and implementation of our rights back on track and begin to restore justice and fairness to UK Government policy.”

 

Ellen Clifford, National Steering Group of Disabled People Against Cuts said: “The Concluding Observations reflect how seriously the UN disability committee are taking the situation in the UK, with the highest number of recommendations ever given by them. In the press conference today members again stated that the UK is going backwards in critical rights such as the right to live in the community with adequate support and the human cost of government austerity measures. They have also been clear in their expectation that the government needs to take on board the findings of their inquiry which found evidence of grave and systematic violations of Disabled people’s rights due to welfare reform. It is utterly shameful that this should be happening in one of the richest nations in the world. We all now need to take a stance that enough is enough and demand that the Government acknowledge reality.”

 

John McArdle and Dr Stephen Carty of the Scottish based Black Triangle Campaign in Defence of Disability Rights said:

‘Black Triangle Campaign has campaigned unrelentingly for the work capability assessment regime to be scrapped and was instrumental through our medical adviser Dr Stephen Carty of Edinburgh in making British Medical Association national policy in 2012 that, in the words of the motion which was passed and remains BMA national policy:

‘The WCA should be scrapped with immediate effect to be replaced with a rigorous and safe assessment regime that does not cause avoidable harm’ to sick and/or disabled people.

Today’s comment from the Chair of the CRPD as reported by Reuters News Agency that the fit for work assessment regime has created a “human catastrophe” for sick and/or disabled people confirms this.

The British government must now halt the assessment regime immediately and replace it working together with DDPOs and the BMA.

Not to do so will ensure that this catastrophic harm continues unabated.’

 

Equal Lives CEO, Mark Harrison said:

“We welcome this condemnation of UK Government policy towards disabled people by the UN. When the Chair of the disability committee described the situation that disabled people face as a ‘human catastrophe’ she was reflecting what Norfolk’s disability community has been experiencing over the last 7 years.  In a very short space of time we have gone from having some of the best rights in the world to a crisis situation where people are dying because of the barriers and discrimination caused by austerity.  Equal Lives is here to support disabled people of all ages to live as equal and active citizens.  We will continue to speak out and campaign for equality and justice until the Government recognises its responsibilities and changes course”.

 

Notes to editors:

  • The OHCHR Press Conference (Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) announcing the Concluding Observations takes place from 13:00 GMT:

https://www.unog.ch/80256EDD006B9C2E/(httpHomepages)/15406DAB6CB569F080256F04006E8812?OpenDocument

  • The Concluding Observations will be published on the Committee’s webpage at 6pm GMT:

http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=1158&Lang=en

  • DDPOs across the UK have worked in coproduction to collect evidence and compile the reports through the Review process. The delegation of DDPOs present in Geneva w/c 21st August 2017 included Disability Rights UK, Inclusion Scotland, Disability Wales, Disability Action Northern Ireland, the Reclaiming our Futures Alliance, British Deaf Association, People First Scotland, Alliance for Inclusive Education, Disabled People Against Cuts, Inclusion London, Equal Lives, Black Triangle, Sisters of Frida, Black Mental Health UK.
  • Contributions were also received from Innovations in Dementia, HFT and Intersex NGO Coalition.
  • On 23rd and 24th August the examination of the UK Government took place in Geneva, with the UN Committee on the Rights of Disabled People. The report of the dialogue can be found here, with links to submission documents: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21993&LangID=E
  • The committee postponed its assessment of the UK (originally due in 2015) to investigate a complaint of the violation of disabled people’s rights as a result of welfare reform. This was brought under the optional protocol of the Convention. The findings expressed concern of grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s human rights. That investigation looked only at a part of the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People – with a particular focus on the impact of austerity measures and welfare reform. The Review looked at a much wider set of issues, including our laws on mental health and mental capacity, policies on employment and education and more.

Inquiry report, 2016: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CRPD/Pages/InquiryProcedure.aspx

Ellen Clifford on 07505 144371 or ellen.clifford@inclusionlondon.org.uk or Natasha Hirst on 029 2088 7325 / 07825 211775 or Natasha.hirst@disabilitywales.org

For comment on intersex genital mutilation, please contact StopIGM.org, Daniela Truffer and Markus Bauer, at nella@zwischengeschlecht.info or +41 76 398 06 50

Follow progress on social media:

#CRPD17 #DDPOsGeneva17 #DefendOurRights

 

 Posted by at 19:06
Aug 312017
 

Place: Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London WC2A 2LL

Time: 10.30am

Date: Friday 1 September 2017

 

Tomorrow, 1 September, the Court of Appeal will deliver its judgement in the a case of R (on the application of Davey) v Oxfordshire County Council).  This is the first case under the Care Act 2014 to reach the Court of Appeal and is critical in determining how far the legislation supports Disabled people’s well-being, choice and control and independent living. (1)

 

The case was brought by Luke Davey, a Disabled person with high support needs, whose support package has been slashed after the closure of the Independent Living Fund (2).  The Equality and Human Rights Commission and Inclusion London (3) both intervened in the case, which highlights the situation many Disabled people are going through at the moment with care packages being cut to the bone by cash strapped Local Authorities.

 

The judgement will follow Concluding Observations from the UN Committee on the Rights of Disabled People published today, which raise serious concerns over how the UK is going backwards in upholding Disabled people’s right to live independently and be included in the community. (4)

 

Anne Novis MBE, Chair of Inclusion London said: “Many Disabled people need social care support to do some of the basic things in life that many non-Disabled people take for granted.  Without adequate levels of support more and more Disabled people are existing not living – trapped at home without support, choice or control, excluded from participating in, and contributing to, community life. Although The Care Act and the introduction of the wellbeing principle were meant to transform social care and put us and our wellbeing at the centre of the process, we know it does not happen in practice.   Disabled people tell us their support packages are being cut to the bare minimum and their views don’t matter.  Such cuts leave Disabled people at risk of harm, and cause emotional, physical and mental distress. We hope the judges will hear our concerns.”

 

Disabled people will gather outside the court as the judgment is handed down in solidarity with Luke and the hundreds of thousands of Disabled people affected by the crisis in social care.

 

For more information and to arrange interviews please contact Svetlana Kotova: Svetlana.kotova@inclusionlondon.org.uk 07853246229

 

Notes to Editors

 

  1. The initial decision in the Davey case could be found here http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2017/354.html
  2. The Independent Living Fund was closed in June 2015 with responsibility for meeting the full care and support needs of Disabled people transferred to Local Authorities and the devolved administrations. Evaluations of its closure have revealed a dramatic post code lottery with some English Local Authorities making substantial cuts. Research carried out by Inclusion London looking at the situation for ex-ILF recipients one year after closure points to the lack of enforcement measures in the Care Act 2014 and due to the loss of entitlement to legal aid the difficulty people face in making a legal challenge against cuts:  https://www.inclusionlondon.org.uk/news/ilf-one-year-on/. The government’s own evaluation records serious negative impacts:  https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/584417/independent-living-fund-post-closure-review.pdf
  3. Inclusion London intervention was supported by Deighton Pierce Glynn.  Inclusion London is a London-wide Deaf and Disabled people’s organisation. We promote equality for the capital’s 1.2 million Deaf and Disabled people and provide capacity-building support to London’s Deaf and Disabled people’s organisations. For more information: www.inclusionlondon.org.uk.
  4. See paras 44 and 45 here:  http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=1158&Lang=en

 

 

 

 

 

 Posted by at 19:04
Jun 082017
 

…via Skype.

This week we lost the beautiful, talented and ever brilliant Sophie Partridge, aka Ruby Pixie on twitter. Words can’t express how much she will be missed or how greatly the loss will be felt in both the art world and in the disabled people’s campaigning community.

So we are simply sharing Soph at her best, carrying on the fight for independent living and getting Russell Brand in on the campaign.

 

 

 Posted by at 01:20
Jun 052017
 

DPAC has today launched a series of short films for the final week of the #GE2017 election campaign. The films, generously produced for us by Tough and Rumble media production company, aim to expose the reality of so-called welfare reform and why this election matters so much to Deaf and Disabled People.

The series of four films have been published on the #DPAC Facebook page – please watch and share far and wide.

Here are the four films, please watch then and then share them far and wide:

David’s Story

Jenny Sealey’s Story


Andria’s Story

Jenny Hurst’s Story

You can also watch footage from the film preview Q & A with film-maker Anthony Swords and discussion with disability campaigner Jenny Hurst and DPAC’s Paula Peters which was held last night in the marginal constituency of Croydon Central.

 

May 012017
 

It’s doubtful that anyone reading the DPAC blog will be in any doubt that Deaf and Disabled people in the UK cannot afford the Tories to get re-elected in June. Since 2010 the Tories have relentlessly attacked Disabled people, hitting the same group of people again and again with cut after cut.

While inequality and poverty increased for Disabled people and the poorest in society, the rich have got richer. Since 2010 when the Tories took power the richest 100 people in Britain have increased their wealth by £55.5 billion. Meanwhile nearly half of the poverty in the UK is now directly associated with disability.

Despite the UK becoming the first country in the world to be found guilty of grave and systematic violations of Disabled people’s rights, the Tories are determined to push through their planned welfare savings and ideological dismantling of state support whatever the cost to us.

Already, just this year, changes to PIP brought in through emergency legislation to avoid Parliamentary scrutiny have taken essential support away from 164,000 people predominantly with mental health support needs, Employment and Support Allowance has been cut by a third for people in the Work Related Activity Group and in April the Government sneaked through three more hidden cuts affecting Disabled people.

At the same time, social care packages are being cut to the bone leaving Disabled people trapped indoors without choice, control, dignity or freedom. Over the Summer, the Department for Work and Pensions will be rolling out the new “Health and Work Conversation” to create an added barrier before Disabled claimants even reach the notorious Work Capability Assessment.

It is wrong to assume however that because the Tories have been getting away with this for so long that this is what the majority of the public wants. Most people are shocked and horrified when they find out what has taken place, incredulous that this can happen in the UK in the twenty first century and angry that anyone would and could pursue policies of, in Ken Loach’s words, such “conscious cruelty”. As I argued in a previous post, the majority of people would rather live in a fair and just society that values diversity and works for the benefit of the many rather than the few.

What we have at the moment is a system when power and wealth are in the hands of the elite and that includes control of the mainstream media and the ability to communicate misleading information and to distract from the real problems in society. Thus we find people blaming migrants and benefit scroungers instead of challenging the real enemies who are those who choose to put profit before people.

Precisely because we are the many and they are the few, the obstacles to achieving a fairer society are not insurmountable. Jeremy Corbyn’s two elections as leader of the Labour party in spite of everything the right wing of the party and the media threw at him, the second time with an increased mandate, show that united we can win.

But social justice and a fairer society are not things that will ever be handed to us on a plate, they have to be fought for.

With a General Election called and the prospect of another five years of Tory rule bringing with it insurance based systems to replace benefits and the NHS, now is one of those times when we have to step up and fight even harder because of the very real human cost that a loss will entail.

We all have a part to play in the coming weeks.

It is up to us all to do what we can to make sure the real information gets out there about what a Tory election will mean for Disabled people.

On 2nd May DPAC will be officially kicking off our election campaign to #TrashTheTories with our #NotTheFuckingTories protest: https://www.facebook.com/events/247652075641387.


We would like as many of you to join us as possible on the day but what is even more important is that members get out on the streets and your keyboards in the coming weeks to get that information out there to make anyone thinking of voting Tory or voting in a way that would help the Tories get in, think again.

The voices of Disabled people can and does make a difference. In the 2014 local elections the Disabled campaign group Hammersmith and Fulham Coalition Against Cuts ran street stalls to engage with the public and hand out information about how the cuts were impacting on local Disabled people and what the different local political parties were saying on disability issues. Unexpectedly, Labour unseated the Tory Council and followed through on honouring significant pledges they had made to Disabled voters before the election on issues such as abolishing home care charging.

We are asking all our members to think about what you can do and how you can help and encourage you to target marginal seats. There are some resources you may find useful at the end of this post. The media are often keen to cover stories about access to voting for Disabled people so do use this angle to get local attention.

Can you:

         Make sure your friends, neighbours and colleagues are registered to vote before the deadline on 22 May and plan to use their vote?

         Leaflet on street stalls or door to door with information about how important this election is to Deaf and Disabled people?

         Circulate information about what the different parties are saying on disability issues?

         Hold a local screening of I Daniel Blake with a Q and A after?

         Organise a local Deaf and disability hustings event?

DPAC has some funding for leaflets, stickers and posters which we can post to you if you have an event organised. Please keep us informed with how you are getting on.

Love and solidarity.

 

 

Resources

Leaflet: Why this General Election matters to Deaf and Disabled people

List of marginal seats: marginal constituencies 2017

Polling station access guide: ODV-Access-Guide_3_sm

 

Mar 302017
 

Have you used food banks or community kitchens, or found it difficult to feed yourself or your family?

Would you like to share your story?

I am a trainee psychologist carrying out research into the impact on people’s lives of not having secure access to food.

I’m looking for participants who are willing to tell their stories confidentially, including how experiences of the benefits system and/or disability have had an impact on the availability of food.

If you are interested in taking part then please email me on rtwcza@essex.ac.uk

I will then get in touch to arrange to meet you at a convenient time and location.

Interviews will take between 45 and 90 minutes and a £10 voucher will be given in return for your time.

Many thanks,

Ryan Wczasek

University of Essex

 

Jan 152017
 

A specialist women’s mental health service attributed with saving lives is facing threat of closure under proposals currently being agreed by Croydon CCG. The 8-bedded facility providing holistic treatment in a supportive peer environment is highly valued by women who have used its services and their families. However, the CCG claim it is too expensive to run and the money cannot be justified for the number of women admitted each year. Women and their families say this is effectively putting a price on women’s lives.

Bromley and Croydon DPAC is asking for support to challenge the closure.

How you can help:

           Tweet at @NHSCroydonCCG calling on them to #SaveFoxleySaveWomen on Tuesday 17th January from 1pm.

          Sign the petition to stop closure. The consultation period has now ended but the campaign to save Foxley Lane is not done yet: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-foxley-lane-women-s-service

          If you are a Croydon resident please write to your local GP (who are members of the CCG) and to your MP. You can find template letters under this post. 

           If you have used Foxley Lane services in the past and are happy, anonymously or otherwise, to share your story about how this service has helped you and why it is important that it stays open please contact: ellen.clifford@inclusionlondon.org.uk.

          Join DPAC members at the CCG governing body meeting where they are considering the proposal for closure.  The meeting is taking place 1 – 4pm on Tuesday 17th January 2017 Conference Room, Croydon College, College Road, Croydon, CR9 1DX. If you can come along and want more information contact norwichpete@hotmail.co.uk​

 

For more information about the closure you can read these articles in Inside Croydon:

https://insidecroydon.com/2016/11/25/hundreds-sign-up-to-petition-to-save-foxley-lane/

https://insidecroydon.com/2016/11/25/please-dont-close-foxley-lane-it-saves-womens-lives/

To read our consultation response scroll down to below the template letters.

 

Letter to Croydon GP – please insert any relevant personal experiences of Foxley Lane

Dear

I am writing to you as my GP practice to ask for your support in opposing proposals by Croydon CCG to close Foxley Lane women’s mental health service.

Foxley Lane provides a highly effective and specialised service unavailable in neighbouring boroughs and to the benefit of women in Croydon. Just as this service has saved many lives, its closure will undoubtedly cost lives.

At a time when Government has recognised, in the words of Prime Minister Theresa May, the “burning injustice” of how society treats mental ill health, Foxley Lane is a model of provision that should be celebrated and promoted to improve women’s mental health services elsewhere.

There is wide opposition to the closure with a petition having now reached over 850 signatures and rising.

The recent consultation undertaken by Croydon CCG was inadequate and flawed. 54% of respondents to the consultation survey stated that they did not understand the proposals.

Information in the consultation document is misleading. It suggests that numbers of admissions to Foxley Lane have been falling due to declining need for the service. However, the reason for fewer admissions in 2015/2016 was due to longer stays which is indicative of growing rather than decreasing need.

The consultation document claims that home treatment can better meet the mental health needs of women in Croydon, but this is not a view shared by mental health service users, their organisations or staff. For many women the home environment is a dominant factor behind their need to access the Foxley Lane facility and the effectiveness of the support it provides is due to factors that cannot be replicated by home treatment including peer support and group therapy, 24-hour support and consistency of staffing from long-standing and experienced staff members.

A report for Croydon CCG’s January governing body meeting acknowledges that home treatment will not be able to meet the needs of all women impacted by the Foxley Lane closure and announces plans for a new 14-bedded women-only ward on the Bethlem. Acute wards in a hospital setting are not able to provide the same quality of environment as Foxley Lane and are therefore less effective. Moreover, the consultation proposals did not include this information.

The financial value of closing Foxley Lane does not appear to be as clear as the consultation makes out. Beds on acute wards at the Bethlem are more expensive than Foxley Lane and direct admissions to Foxley Lane prevent more expensive detentions under the Mental Health Act. The effectiveness of the support women receive in this service as a step down facility can also prevent readmissions.

Some of the things women who have used Foxley Lane and their families say:

“It is criminal to close such a unique centre. I owe my life and my road to recovery to the amazing staff and all services provided at Foxley Lane. It would be a great shame for other women to lose out on a place at the centre. A human life and mental stability should not have a price-tag.”

“When I was treated at Foxley Lane it was not tenable for me to remain in my home and receive treatment from a community team yet based on previous experiences, staying on a psychiatric ward can be very difficult and distressing for someone in an already vulnerable state. I am very concerned that if (when) I fall ill again in the future, the Foxley Lane service will not be available to me, and my recovery will take longer, at much greater cost to my family and to the NHS.”

“My own circumstances were unique to me but I was so grateful to be able to go to Foxley. I do feel it saved my life too. There is nowhere like this in the UK certainly not in Croydon and the health service should be using this as a model to copy. The other services in Croydon are not adequate and would have been unsuitable for me and many other women.”

“The service offered at Foxley lane is a showcase of best practice in the tortuous process of rehabilitation into the community for sufferers of severe mental illness. My own personal experience on several occasions with my daughter has seen long periods of difficult isolation at home followed by lengthy hospitalisation only for real and rapid recovery occurring at the Foxley lane facility. The peaceful calm environment and the amazing caring and professional staff combine with the result of a step change in speed of recovery.”

I hope that you would agree that Croydon CCG needs to at least rethink its proposal to close such a vital and effective service and look forward to your response.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Letter to Croydon MP – please insert any relevant personal experiences of Foxley Lane

Dear

I am writing to you as my constituency MP to ask for your support in opposing proposals by Croydon CCG to close Foxley Lane women’s mental health service.

Foxley Lane provides a highly effective and specialised service unavailable in neighbouring boroughs and to the benefit of women in Croydon. Just as this service has saved many lives, its closure will undoubtedly cost lives.

At a time when Government has recognised, in the words of Prime Minister Theresa May, the “burning injustice” of how society treats mental ill health, Foxley Lane is a model of provision that should be celebrated and promoted to improve women’s mental health services elsewhere.

There is wide opposition to the closure with a petition having now reached over 850 signatures and rising.

The recent consultation undertaken by Croydon CCG was inadequate and flawed. 54% of respondents to the consultation survey stated that they did not understand the proposals.

Information in the consultation document is misleading. It suggests that numbers of admissions to Foxley Lane have been falling due to declining need for the service. However, the reason for fewer admissions in 2015/2016 was due to longer stays which is indicative of growing rather than decreasing need.

The consultation document claims that home treatment can better meet the mental health needs of women in Croydon, but this is not a view shared by mental health service users, their organisations or staff. For many women the home environment is a dominant factor behind their need to access the Foxley Lane facility and the effectiveness of the support it provides is due to factors that cannot be replicated by home treatment including peer support and group therapy, 24-hour support and consistency of staffing from long-standing and experienced staff members.

A report for Croydon CCG’s January governing body meeting acknowledges that home treatment will not be able to meet the needs of all women impacted by the Foxley Lane closure and announces plans for a new 14-bedded women-only ward on the Bethlem. Acute wards in a hospital setting are not able to provide the same quality of environment as Foxley Lane and are therefore less effective. Moreover, the consultation proposals did not include this information.

The financial value of closing Foxley Lane does not appear to be as clear as the consultation makes out. Beds on acute wards at the Bethlem are more expensive than Foxley Lane and direct admissions to Foxley Lane prevent more expensive detentions under the Mental Health Act. The effectiveness of the support women receive in this service as a step down facility can also prevent readmissions.

Finally, there is also a clear conflict between the closure and with national government policy on mental health. The green paper “Improving Lives: disability, health and work” makes clear the Government’s ambition that health services should fit holistically around individuals, tailored to meet individual need in order to better facilitate all Disabled people into employment with no one left behind. Women who have used Foxley in the past have recovered sufficiently to either return to or take up employment as a result of the high quality individualised support available. In line with government aims to address mental health injustice and to support more people with mental health support needs into work, services such as Foxley Lane should be promoted as best practice.

Some of the things women who have used Foxley Lane and their families say:

“It is criminal to close such a unique centre. I owe my life and my road to recovery to the amazing staff and all services provided at Foxley Lane. It would be a great shame for other women to lose out on a place at the centre. A human life and mental stability should not have a price-tag.”

“When I was treated at Foxley Lane it was not tenable for me to remain in my home and receive treatment from a community team yet based on previous experiences, staying on a psychiatric ward can be very difficult and distressing for someone in an already vulnerable state. I am very concerned that if (when) I fall ill again in the future, the Foxley Lane service will not be available to me, and my recovery will take longer, at much greater cost to my family and to the NHS.”

“My own circumstances were unique to me but I was so grateful to be able to go to Foxley. I do feel it saved my life too. There is nowhere like this in the UK certainly not in Croydon and the health service should be using this as a model to copy. The other services in Croydon are not adequate and would have been unsuitable for me and many other women.”

“The service offered at Foxley lane is a showcase of best practice in the tortuous process of rehabilitation into the community for sufferers of severe mental illness. My own personal experience on several occasions with my daughter has seen long periods of difficult isolation at home followed by lengthy hospitalisation only for real and rapid recovery occurring at the Foxley lane facility. The peaceful calm environment and the amazing caring and professional staff combine with the result of a step change in speed of recovery.”

I hope that you would agree that Croydon CCG needs to at least rethink its proposal to close such a vital and effective service and look forward to your response.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Response to consultation on closure of Foxley Lane women’s mental health service

 

We are deeply concerned by and opposed to proposals by Croydon CCG to close Foxley Lane women’s mental health service. Foxley Lane provides a highly effective and specialised service unavailable in neighbouring boroughs and to the benefit of women in Croydon. At a time when Government has recognised, in the words of Prime Minister Theresa May, the “burning injustice” of how society treats mental ill health, it is a model of provision that should be promoted and built upon to improve women’s mental health services elsewhere. Just as Foxley Lane has saved many lives, its closure will undoubtedly cost lives.

The following response sets out our main points of concern regarding the planned closure.

 

Summary of main points

·         Flawed and inadequate consultation process

·         Disproportionate equalities impact

·         Inappropriateness of home treatment as an alternative

·         Conflict with national government disability policy and negative impact on employment outcomes

·         Questionable value for money

 

Flawed and inadequate consultation process

The engagement document published by Croydon CCG setting out its plans concerning Foxley Lane presented closure as the only option available and feedback from local residents unhappy with the proposals indicates they saw the closure as “a done deal” that they had no power to stop happening.  We believe that this had the effect of limiting the response to the consultation.

Information in the engagement document is misleading. It suggests that falling numbers of admissions to Foxley Lane from a comparison of the 2014/2015 and 2015/2016 figures are evidence that need for a service of this type is decreasing. However, the reason for the lower numbers is that length of stays were longer in 2015/16. This is consistent with the wider picture of growing demands on mental health services and does not prove declining need due to improved community services. The engagement document also fails to explain how the referral procedure for Foxley Lane has changed which has restricted access through direct admissions.

The Croydon CCG “Case for Change” report recommending closure of Foxley Lane includes information about a planned 14 bed women only ward at the Bethlem as a mitigating factor in the impact of the closure of Foxley and as additional alternative provision. There is no mention of plans for this new facility in the engagement document which informed the consultation process. The document makes clear that the primary arguments for closure are cost savings and an emphasis on home treatment. However, replacement of some of the service provided by Foxley Lane with new acute inpatient provision represents both additional cost and a move further away from home and community treatment. Costs per bed for acute wards are higher than the costs per bed at Foxley Lane. None of the additional costs associated with alternative provision on an acute wards are included in the proposals outlined in the engagement document.

The consultation survey was publicised predominantly online and may not have reached or been available in a format appropriate to responses from local mental health service users and survivors. Furthermore, the survey questions were both limited and confusing. Despite good attendance at open meetings and over 700 signatures to a petition opposing the closure, only 57 consultation survey responses were received.  54% of respondents said they did not understand the CCG proposals.

Some of the groups and organisations supporting this submission, whose members include women who have used Foxley Lane and their families, only learned about the planned closure shortly before Christmas. A request for an extension to the deadline was denied.

 

Disproportionate equalities impact

We are concerned that the proposals do not put forward adequate measures to mitigate the disproportionate impact that the closure will have in regards to gender, disability and ethnicity.

In Croydon a similar facility for men, Ashton, was closed and replaced by home treatment as an alternative service. Firstly, we would ask what the measured impact of this closure has been. Secondly we would point to differential factors which need to be taken into account when considering the needs of women for both direct admissions to Foxley Lane and for the step-down facility it provides. These include situations including domestic violence and caring responsibilities which are more likely to affect women.  

 

Inappropriateness of home treatment as an alternative

We question the evidence base on which the claim is made that home treatment can deliver more effective outcomes than a stay at Foxley Lane. For many women the home environment is a dominant factor behind their need to access the Foxley Lane facility and the effectiveness of the support it provides is due to factors that cannot be replicated by home treatment including:

          Refuge away from the home environment

          Peer support and group therapy

          Consistency of staffing from long-standing and experienced staff members

          24 hour staff presence

The proposal document claims that home treatment will be a better option as women who use Foxley Lane predominantly come from north of the borough whereas the service is based in South Croydon. We agree that it is detrimental for women to be sent for inpatient treatment many miles from home but do not consider that the distance between the North and the South of the borough presents the same issue. Foxley Lane is well served by Purley transport links and close to local amenities whilst occupying a peaceful environment conducive to restoring well-being. The suggested alternative of an additional ward on the Bethlem would place women in a location with fewer transport links and in an institutionalised setting away from the local community.

There is also evidence that the home treatment service provided in Croydon is currently unable to satisfactorily meet the needs of its existing service users. For example:

           Lack of consistent staffing. Women accessing the home treatment service have described having to go through the same information again and again to new staff.

          Limited visits at set times rather than support being available as and when required.

 

Conflict with national government disability policy and negative impact on employment outcomes

The green paper “Improving Lives: disability, health and work” makes clear the Government’s ambition that health services should fit holistically around individuals, tailored to meet individual need in order to better facilitate all Disabled people into employment with no one left behind.

By closing the Foxley Lane service, Croydon CCG will be restricting the types of service that are available to meet the different needs of women in the borough. The service provided by Foxley Lane has successfully supported women to return to employment following a mental health crisis. We are concerned that replacement of Foxley Lane with less effective treatment options will negatively impact on the employment outcomes of Disabled women in Croydon.

 

Questionable Value for Money

The consultation document makes clear that the intention behind the closure of Foxley Lane is to save money. Foxley Lane provides a service that is different from anything else on offer and just as it has saved the lives of many women, its closure will cost lives. To deem the service too expensive to continue to run is to in effect put a price on a woman’s life. It also ignores the social returns from enabling a woman to continue in her role within her family and as a member of her community.

As a purely financial exercise the proposal is however also questionable. The cost per bed at Foxley Lane is cheaper than per bed on a ward at the Bethlem. The current context is one where detainment under the Mental Health Act is rapidly increasing as low level and preventative services are cut. The resulting chronic bed shortage is leading to patients being sent many miles away to available places in acute settings. Acute wards provide a very different environment to the one on offer at Foxley Lane where chaos and disturbances can exacerbate and prolong mental distress. There is a likelihood that the closure of Foxley will result in:

·         a rise in more expensive admissions to acute wards

·         increased stays on more expensive acute wards due to a lack of step down facility

·         increased pressure on inpatient beds through readmissions due to the lack of availability of more effective holistic support as provided at Foxley Lane

 

Some of the things women who have used Foxley Lane and their families have told us:

“It is criminal to close such a unique centre. I owe my life and my road to recovery to the amazing staff and all services provided at Foxley Lane. It would be a great shame for other women to lose out on a place at the centre. A human life and mental stability should not have a price-tag.”

“When I was treated at Foxley Lane it was not tenable for me to remain in my home and receive treatment from a community team yet based on previous experiences, staying on a psychiatric ward can be very difficult and distressing for someone in an already vulnerable state. I am very concerned that if (when) I fall ill again in the future, the Foxley Lane service will not be available to me, and my recovery will take longer, at much greater cost to my family and to the NHS.”

“My own circumstances were unique to me but I was so grateful to be able to go to Foxley. I do feel it saved my life too. There is nowhere like this in the UK certainly not in Croydon and the health service should be using this as a model to copy. The other services in Croydon are not adequate and would have been unsuitable for me and many other women.”

“The service offered at Foxley lane is a showcase of best practice in the tortuous process of rehabilitation into the community for sufferers of severe mental illness. My own personal experience on several occasions with my daughter has seen long periods of difficult isolation at home followed by lengthy hospitalisation only for real and rapid recovery occurring at the Foxley lane facility. The peaceful calm environment and the amazing caring and professional staff combine with the result of a step change in speed of recovery.”

 

 

 

Nov 102016
 

Date: Wednesday 16th November

Time: 5.30pm

Place: Gather at Old Palace Yard, Westminster

Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/195617644226019/


Join Disabled People Against Cuts and Black Triangle to protest against the grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s rights by the UK government through welfare reform, as evidenced in the United Nations inquiry findings published this week.

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CRPD/Pages/InquiryProcedure.aspx

For DPAC’s response see: https://dpac.uk.net/2016/11/dpacs-rebuttal-of-damian-greens-denials-about-the-un-report/

The protest will also be in honour of DPAC co-founder Debbie Jolly who tragically passed away this week. Back in 2010 a small group of activists including Debbie and Linda started to campaign against the Work Capability Assessment. At that time very few people other than those personally suffering as a result of the brutal assessment process had heard of the WCA or Atos. Debbie and others put up a tireless struggle for the past six years to expose what was happening and fight for justice.

Now I Daniel Blake is in cinemas across the country and a UN inquiry, which Debbie put years’ of work into making happen, has found reliable evidence of grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s rights by the UK government due to welfare reform.

However we still have welfare reform and things are worse now than they were when the UN conducted their enquiry and set to get even worse; we still have the WCA, the bedroom tax, changes to Access to Work and a social care support system in crisis but everyday more disabled people are losing essential income through PIP assessments, the benefit cap is about to be lowered and the introduction of Universal Credit will make thousands of households with disabled members worse off. On Thursday MPs will debate the cut to Employment and Support Allowance which was voted through earlier this year in the Welfare Reform and Work bill.

We must act now to put an end to this conscious cruelty.

We ask that everyone who can come to Parliament on Wednesday joins us and those who can’t show their solidarity through social media with the hashtag #EndWelfareReform.

 

 Posted by at 18:18
Sep 152016
 

DISABLED PEOPLE AGAINST CUTS WEST MIDLANDS

DAY OF ACTION

CONSERVATIVE PARTY CONFERENCE

3rd October 2016

No More ‘’Cinderella’’ Role – We Will Go To The Ball!

Assemble: 13:00pm

St Philip’s Cathedral, Colmore Row* Birmingham

 

DPAC WM has organised a Day of Action to coincide with the Conservative Party Conference. Through a series of activities, culminating with a Rally at the Birmingham Council House, DPAC WM will bring to life the grim reality of living in Tory led Britain.

Will you join our cast on the 3rd October, 2016 in Birmingham to help tell our version of events as Cinderella takes on her evil stepsisters and the Big Bad Wolf?

Article 19 – Living independently and being included in the community

States Parties to this Convention recognize the equal right of all disabled people to live in the community, with choices equal to others, and shall take effective and appropriate measures to facilitate full enjoyment by disabled people of this right and their full inclusion and participation in the community.

*Colmore Row is a street in the centre of Birmingham running from Victoria Square to just beyond Snow Hill station.

National Demonstration

2nd October 2016

Tories OUT – Austerity Has Failed

Assemble: 11:30am, Victoria Square, Birmingham

Access Information for Deaf and Disabled People

 

The Co-ordinators of DPAC WM have been working with National P.A., West Midlands TUC and the regional Unwelcome the Tories Committee to make this demonstration as inclusive as possible. Discussions are ongoing therefore this information may alter. Our primary objective is to ensure everyone’s well-being and safety therefore we can only outline the conditions we could encounter as we currently see them.

 

Victoria Square Start Station – Whole March

 

The geographical terrain of Birmingham City Centre does not lend itself well to large numbers of people and between 10,000 and 30,000 may gravitate towards Victoria Square and surrounding streets from 11am onwards. The route of the demonstration between Victoria Square and Dale End could present mobility issues as the road is relatively narrow and slightly uneven. [See short march details]

 

We would like to suggest Deaf and Disabled People who want to go on the whole demonstration congregate in Eden Place [between top of Colmore Row and Edmund Street] – it is near the Council House with a Starbucks on the corner – feeding into the demonstration at this point.

 

Lower Bull Street Start Station – Short March

 

We would like to recommend that Deaf and Disabled People who want to go on a shorter route congregate at the lower end of Bull Street by [Wok & Go: 100A Bull St, Birmingham B4 7AA] – feeding into the demonstration at this point as the road widens soon after this stretch.

    

Rallying point [end of demonstration]

 

Precise details in relation to the layout of the site with the stage and accessible portaloos are not currently available. At the end of the demonstration Stewards will indicate where Deaf and Disabled People can follow the most direct and accessible route to the staging area. A cordoned off section will be provided to ensure access to the proceedings for wheelchair users, those with restricted mobility and those who are Deaf and hearing impaired – BSL Interpretation available. It is essential that people in this section assist us in a disciplined way to ensure both access and egress at ALL times.

 

Travel Plans

 

TRAINS

 

If possible using Snow Hill Rail Station would offer the most direct route [turn right out of station up Colmore Row] to both Victoria Square and the lower end of Bull St [cross road, then turn left until the corner and travel South] to the short march station point.

 

New Street Rail Station has good and bad points. Grand Central [upper floor accessed via lifts and escalators] has a variety of food outlets. It is however a steep trek to Victoria Square from the station taking a variety of routes. [Bull St can be accessed via turning right at New St and then going down High St or straight up Corporation St and then right onto Bull St.]

 

Car parking

 

It is unlikely there will be parking in close proximity to either start stations.

 

Buses

 

It is likely bus routes will be either suspended or re-routed into the City Centre = [check on: https://www.networkwestmidlands.com/ways-to-travel/bus/]

 

Food and Drink

 

There are sparse outlets near end of demonstration. City Centre ones vary greatly in terms of access and could be extremely busy or difficult to navigate. We would advise where possible to bring packed food and drink.

 email: DPACWM@outlook.com

 Posted by at 10:12
Sep 152016
 

 

Hammersmith and Fulham Council were the first to remove charges from social ‘care’ in April 2015 after an excellent campaign by Hammersmith and Fulham Coalition against Cuts HAFCAC

Now Hammersmith and Fulham council  launch a Disabled People’s Commission, as Kevin Caulfield chair of HAFCAC said at the launch of Inclusion London’s report ‘One year on ‘ report on ILF users after the closure of ILF

If they can do so can others”

Hammersmith & Fulham Council launched a Disabled People’s Commission as part of its drive to improve services and accessibility for all communities in the borough.  Too often, disabled people are overlooked when councils are both designing and delivering services. With the launch of its Disabled People’s Commission, H&F will look into the experiences of disabled people in the borough to help make positive changes to increase equality and inclusivity for all those who live in, work in and visit the borough.

 

Cllr Stephen Cowan, Leader of the Council, said:

 

I want Hammersmith & Fulham to become the most accessible and inclusive borough in London and this new Commission will help show us the way to deliver this vision.

 

As Commission Chair, I know that Tara Flood will draw on her excellent track record in disability campaigning. Tara is also a local resident, with vital first-hand experience of what life is like for disabled people in the borough.

 

H&F Council is committed to putting residents at the heart of decision making, doing things with people and not to them. Under Tara’s leadership, I am confident that our Disabled People’s Commission will give disabled people in Hammersmith and Fulham a voice and a platform that they have all too often been denied in the past.”

 

Tara Flood, on her appointment as chair of the Commission, said:

 

This is an exciting opportunity for Disabled people across the borough to come together and be part of a radical change – a change that will begin to see a new way of doing things – services that are co-produced with Disabled people. Hammersmith & Fulham is a borough that wants to hear what we, as Disabled people, have got to say so I’m really looking forward to chairing the Commission and turning words into action

The Commission is expected to complete its work and publish its findings and recommendations for action around May 2017.

See more from Jenny Morris: https://jennymorrisnet.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/something-to-celebrate-story-of.html

See more from HAFCAC http://www.hafcac.org.uk/

 

 Posted by at 10:12
Sep 142016
 

DPAC’s conference on Saturday 10th September #globalresistance brought together speakers from Greece, Ireland, Germany,  Bulgaria and the UK in solidarity for disabled people

From Greece Antonios Rellis and Athanasios Papantonopoulous of the brilliant activist group Κίνηση Χειραφέτησης ΑμεΑ: “Μηδενική Ανοχή” Emancipation Movement of People with Disabilities: “Zero Tolerance”gave us a film of their occupation of to the “Kepep” or “child care centre” in the town of Lechaina.

We have been asked to put this on the DPAC web, but we warn that the film of the institution is harrowing and upsetting to watch, nethertheless we believe that it should be seen by as many people as possible to expose the inhuman conditions that still exist in Greece and , sadly in other countries too.

We also reproduce the power point given on the day which highlights problems with some ‘traditional’ disability organisations in their collusion with national governments to undermine the problems that disabled people face . A  sad fact that extends country bounderies

Power Point

zero-tolerance-against-budget-cuts_athanasios

For more details see Canary piece http://www.thecanary.co/2016/09/14/like-stray-pets-waiting-put-greeces-shocking-disabled-care-homes-video/

PwD Emancipation Movement: ZERO TOLERANCE
Zero tolerance to whatever violates the right to dignity, the right to life itself.
Contact: mideniki.anoxi@gmail.com

We will be adding more films and power points from the conference shortly

 

 Posted by at 15:18
Sep 042016
 

DPAC #RightsNotGames National day of Protest

Local Action Tool Kit

During the DPAC Week of Action from 4th -10th September we will be holding a National Day of Action, on Tues 6th Sept taking the fight to a target near you.

This is a chance to raise as much local awareness of the problems that we face and are trying to highlight, whether that be with your local council over the savage cut’s to social care packets,  your local JCP or assessment centre for the barbaric treatment of claimants and the systematic roll out of sanctions to the most vulnerable people in society, the local school for discriminating against disabled children or a stall in your local high-street to raise awareness, see this link for more information on actions already being taken.

#RightsNotGames National Day of Action Tuesday September 6th

And if there isn’t currently something happening in your local area and you want to know how or what you can do to start your own, please use this ‘Local Tool Kit’ for ideas and don’t forget to let us know at DPAC by emailing us at: mail@dpac.uk.net

Tool kit docs for download

  -how to campaigns guide
 – planning a local action guide
– template leaflets
  – template Press Release
  – template letter for anyone doing protests at JCPs who wants to use this
and #RightsnotGames black and white leaflet
 RightsnotGames leaflet

 to copy right click  and select ‘save image as’ to save to your documents

 Posted by at 15:12
Aug 272016
 

Join us for a DPAC  conference on ‘Disabled Peoples’ Resistance: building beyond borders’ for discussion and film.

John Clarke of Ontario Coalition Against Poverty

John Clarke of Ontario Coalition Against Poverty

This exciting event brings together influential disabled people’s campaigners from around the world into one place for a discussion on how to take the fight for disabled people’s rights forward

The brilliant John Clarke joins us from Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) in Canada to present:  ‘Stop the War on the Poor! Resisting Austerity in Ontario’  and the workshop: ‘ is basic income a cynical promise of jam tomorrow to extend austerity?

John McDonnell MP

John McDonnell MP

Speakers include:  Catriona Kenny (Ireland), Antonios Rellas and Athanasios Papantonopoulos (Greece), Kapka Panayotova (Bulgaria)  and The ak MoB (Germany)

With a guest appearance by John McDonnell MP,  Shadow Chancellor

Booking essential: please email: mail@dpac.uk.net

we may be able to help with travel for DPAC members if you email us

BSL will be provided

Where: Resource for London 356 Holloway Road, London, N7 6PA

http://www.resourceforlondon.org/contact-us/

Buses 43 17 4 29 271 153 253 254 259   stop within a short walk of Resource for London.

Tube: Holloway Road, please note this tube station is not accessible

When: Saturday 10th Sept 10.30-4.30 pm

Cost: Free

Photo: independent . co.uk

For more information about the #RightsNotGames Week of Action, see https://dpac.uk.net/2016/08/rightsnotgames-week-of-action-september-4th-10th/

 

 Posted by at 16:30
Aug 252016
 

Evidence needed for PIP second independent review

Are you being forced to return your Motability vehicle because of the change in eligibility criteria for the enhanced rate of the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP)? The criteria was changed from 50 metres under Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to 20 metres under PIP.  Has the return of your Motability vehicle affected your ability to stay or return to employment?

Please let me know what the impact of returning your Motability vehicle has had on you, by emailing me on:  Henrietta.doyle@inclusionlondon.org.uk

Your experience will inform Inclusion London’s evidence to the second independent review of PIP.

Information about the second independent review of PIP is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/personal-independence-payment-pip-assessment-second-independent-review-call-for-evidence

We would also welcome evidence other areas of the PIP application process e.g. your experience of the PIP assessment or Mandatory reconsideration, or the appeals process, more information is available at: https://www.inclusionlondon.org.uk/campaigns-and-policy/act-now/personal-independence-payment-pip-assessment-second-independent-review-call-evidence/

 Please send me your evidence by 12 September.

Many thanks

 

 Posted by at 12:07
Aug 152016
 

 

For instance a bank may not have given you a loan or closed an account.

The Lords Select Committee is carrying out an inquiry into financial exclusion and one of the questions they are asking is, ‘What has been the impact of recent welfare reforms on financial exclusion?

Financial exclusion usually means a lack of access to a range of financial services such as those provided by banks including current or savings accounts, loans, credit and debit cards.

The welfare reforms include:

  • Disability Living Allowance being abolished and replaced by Personal Independence Allowance

This includes the change from 50 metres to 20 metre walking distance criteria for enhanced rate mobility                     payment

  • Changes to housing benefit such as the social housing size criteria (commonly known as the bedroom tax)
  • Harsher sanctions regarding Employment Support Allowance or JobSeekers Allowance
  • Tighter criteria for Employment Support Allowance via the WCA
  • Benefit cap.

Please let me know your experience on any areas of financial exclusion by 5 September by email:

Henrietta.doyle@inclusionlondon.org.uk

Inclusion London is responding to the Lords Select Committee inquiry into financial exclusion and your experience will inform our evidence. Your anonymity will be preserved.

You are welcome to submit evidence directly to the inquiry.

Information about the inquiry is available at:

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/lords-select/financial-exclusion/news-parliament-2015/call-for-evidence/

The deadline for submissions is Wednesday 14 September.

 

 

 

 Posted by at 14:15
Aug 142016
 

Many thanks to one of our supporters for alerting us to this consultation by Torbay council on council tax. Its worth reading whether you are in Torbay or not because it gives us clues to the next set of horrors that will be visited on us by local councils. Torbay say:

Each year the Council has to decide whether to change the Council Tax Support Scheme for working age applicants in Torbay. This year we are proposing a set of changes to the current scheme, including some changes which will bring our support scheme in line with changes made by Central Government to Housing Benefit and Universal Credit.

In addition to this the Council will continue to face budget pressures over the next few years.  Taking into account the income the council receives and what we spend on our services, we estimate there is a funding gap of £18.5 million between now and 2019/20.  We need to ensure that we are able to provide the services which our communities need and value within the budget that we have.   The proposed changes to our Council Tax Support Scheme will assist us with these budget pressures.

The consultation puts forward a set of scenarios around council tax payments. The main message is that there will be more increases. Other messages include financial penalties for those with more than two children, and financial penalties for anyone getting ‘carers allowance’

What is being proposed?

We are proposing to make ten changes that are listed below to the current scheme from 1 April 2017:

  • Reducing the maximum level of support to 55% of the council tax charge
  • Restrict the maximum level of support to the equivalent of a band C property charge
  • Savings limit of £3,000
  • Removal of the family premium
  • Reducing backdating for new claims to one month
  • Basing the reduction on a set minimum income for self-employed earners after one year’s self-employment
  • Reducing the period a person can be absent from Great Britain and still receive a reduction to four weeks
  • Removing the work related activity component for new ESA applicants
  • Limiting the number of dependent children within the calculation to a maximum of two
  • Removing entitlement to Severe Disability Premium where another person is paid Universal Credit (Carers Element)

The consultation closes 31st October, changes will be implemented on 1st April 2017

Link to consultation https://www.torbay.gov.uk/surveys/cts/ctsse.htm

For those not in Torbay, it might be worth seeing if your council has similar plans

People might also be interested in:https://dpac.uk.net/2016/07/hold-your-council-to-account-on-finances/

 

 Posted by at 16:13
Aug 122016
 

Ministers always assure critics of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that their appeal process is fair. After all, the press is full of stories of people who have been declared fit for work even though their disability plainly makes it impossible for them. Given the quality of decision-making, there needs to be a thorough system in place for rejected applicants to appeal the ruling.

But scratch beneath the surface of the appeals system and you find a mess of confusing and inconsistent legal practice, which stack the odds in the department’s favour.

A new appeal process was introduced in 2013 and was beset by problems from the start. Now a report by the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) highlights the Kafkaesque deficiencies of the system.

Before a claimant can take an appeal to a tribunal they must first ask for the decision to be reconsidered by the DWP – known as a ‘mandatory reconsideration’ (MR). This process is a terrible mess. And the DWP has known about it for nearly 18 months without doing anything to change it.

With thanks to author Natalie Bloomer and Politics.co.uk read the rest of the article at:

http://www.politics.co.uk/comment-analysis/2016/08/12/how-the-dwp-stacks-the-odds-against-benefit-claimants

 

 

 Posted by at 15:44
Dec 312015
 

Independent Living Fighting Fund – donations needed now to support Disabled people hit by the closure of the ILF fight cuts to vital day to day support

DPAC is asking for donations for an Independent Living Fighting Fund to support individual Disabled people to challenge cuts to their social care support packages following closure of the ILF. The ILF campaigners fought fiercely against the closure, taking their protest right to the doors of the House of Commons chamber, exposing to the world the disgraceful way the UK government is treating its Disabled citizens. The Fund finally closed on 30 June but the fight is far from over. Disabled people hit by the closure need solidarity now more than ever as the cuts we all fought so hard to prevent start to kick in.

The government said the closure of the ILF was a transfer not a cut (http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jun/11/impact-of-changes-to-disability-benefits). This was a lie. Some notable Councils such as Hammersmith and Fulham have committed to protecting people’s support packages in the short-term but in other areas serious cuts are already starting to happen as former ILF recipients are re-assessed to determine the level of social care support their Local Authorities will continue to fund. In Waltham Forest for example nearly 90% of former ILF recipients have had their support package cut as a result of the closure of the ILF, with more than a quarter having a cut of 50% or more (http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/independent-living-fund-shocking-drop-in-support-after-ilf-closure/).

Cuts of this level mean robbing Disabled people of independence, dignity and equality. It also places people at risk as tragically evidenced by the case of Amanda Richard (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3266218/Disabled-mother-died-house-fire-24-hour-care-cut.html) who died in a house fire in Coventry after her support hours were cut. Forcing use of incontinence pads on Disabled people who aren’t incontinent is emerging as one common tactic, as is blanket removal of night-time support and increasing expectations on, often elderly, family members and neighbours. One former ILF recipient was told that if she wanted to continue attending her community choir, other members of the choir could assist with her physical needs in place of needing paid support hours. The reassessment of another made a recommendation for behaviour therapy in order to cope with the removal of their night-time support following closure of the ILF.

Disabled campaigners warned that the closure of the ILF signalled the end of independent living for Disabled people. Local Authority administered care and support has proven itself unable to consistently provide Disabled people with adequate support to live, work and study in the community with the same chances as non-Disabled people. The current crisis in social care funding means things are only getting worse as Councils consult on further cuts to community support (http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/council-is-trying-to-push-through-care-cuts-without-proper-scrutiny/), meanwhile investing in the building of new ‘super care homes’ to house Disabled people en masse (http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/threat-to-independent-living-as-council-plots-raid-on-high-cost-care/).

Having lost the legal challenge to quash the decision to close the ILF it is now imperative that support is available for each former ILF recipient at risk of cuts to essential support. There are a number of dedicated solicitors committed to providing legal advice, however changes to legal aid mean that some Disabled people are no longer eligible yet not in a situation where they can fund the legal action they need to challenge what is happening. It is also true that we cannot reach every former ILF recipient affected and we also know that many are too frightened to speak out for fear of losing what support they have got. Legal challenges are an important way of testing out the rights of former ILF recipients under the Care Act 2014 and making examples out of Local Authorities that are not meeting their legal duties.

This is why we need a fighting fund available to support legal challenges by former ILF recipients not eligible for legal aid.

What you can do:

  • Donate to the fighting fund. We have cases that need to be actioned in early January so the sooner you can give the better. To donate go through DPAC’s paypal or contact us via mail@dpac.uk.net for details for a BACS transfer. Include “ILF FF” as the reference.
  • Circulate this post to your friends, family and fellow campaigners asking them to donate too.
  • Donate through gofundme at https://www.gofundme.com/9up7iw
Jun 282015
 

On 30th June, the day the ILF closes, ILF recipients, campaigners and Allies will meet outside Downing Street to hand over petitions calling on the Prime Minister to protect Disabled people’s right to independent living. Over 25,000 signatures have been collected online (supported by the brilliant video made by the stars of Coronation Street) and also during the Graeae Theatre Company’s 2014 UK Tour of The Threepenny Opera.

After laying a wreath for the ILF, Schimmel, the equine star and proud battle horse of the Threepenny Opera will lead a march to the Houses of Parliament to continue the fight for dignity and equality.

But this isn’t theatre… It’s real and it’s our lives.

Join us in person or show your support on social media with the hashtag #SaveILF, to say “Today marks the closure of the ILF. This terrible action is wrong but the battle to protect our right to Independent Living will go on. For disabled people and for everyone who cares about fairness and social justice.”

Meet 11.30am outside Downing Street.

Jun 252015
 

Freedom of Information requests asking the following questions were sent out on 15th April to 151 English Local Authorities:

Q1 Will you be ring fencing the lF money passed to you to: –
A) Individual ILF users
B) Adult Social Care
C) No ring-fence at all

Q2 Have you received the details of how much money you are being allocated and if so how much?

Q3 When will be starting reassessments of ILF users and wjen do you anticipate completing those assessments?

Responses were received from 147.

At the time of responding to the FOIs 12 said a decision had not yet been made as to how they will use the money with 2 if these explaining that they were waiting for confirmation of the amount of monies they will be receiving from central government before they decide.
31 said they will not be ring-fencing at all while 60 have decided to ring-fence to their Adult Social Care budget. 3 LAs will be ring-fencing to individual ILF recipients for a set amount of time (Camden for three months and Enfield and Slough for six months) while 9 said they will ring- fence individual awards until review and reassessment of individual support packages over the course of the nine months.
28 LAs responded that they will be ring-fencing to individual ILF users up until the end of March 2016. Those Local Authorities are Bath, Bedford, Birmingham, City of London, Cornwall, Derbyshire, Greenwich, Hammersmith and Fulham, Hartlepool, Herefordshire, Hertfordshire, Hounslow, Islington, Kingston, Lambeth, Lewisham, Medway, Merton, Middlesbrough, Richmond, Rutland, Shropshire, South Gloucestershire, Southend, Stockport, Trafford, Wokingham and York.

88 out of the 147 Local Authorities who responded said they had not received details about how much money will be transferred from central government. 41 said they have an indicative amount they are working to based on the amount paid to ILF users now minus the 5% “attrition rate” the government will be top slicing. Only 15 said yes they do know how much they will be getting.

Most LAs (78) are aiming to have completed reassessments of all ILF recipients in their area before 30 June 2015. 30 do not have a timescale for completion while 17 LAs have set a target date later within the next nine months. 12 LAs said reassessments would be completed between July 2015 and March 2016. 7 said they had already completed theirs.

For those LAs who said they had completed their reassessments it was not clear whether all of them were referring to reassessments to calculate the support package ILF recipients will receive from the LA after transfer from the ILF or whether they had answered the question in relation to the joint transfer reviews with ILF assessors which were conducted as part of the transition process.

Some LAs who have committed to ring-fencing such as Stockport, Islington and Kingston have also completed their reassessments. Others such as South Gloucestershire will be reassessing over the next nine months.

For more information about these FOIs and the findings contact mail@dpac.uk.net or ellen.clifford@inclusionlondon.co.uk

Jun 252015
 

Dear Mr Speaker,

On 30th June the Independent Living Fund, providing essential support to disabled people with high support needs with everyday basic tasks such as eating, drinking and going to the toilet, will close. This is the result of a decision taken by the government without a vote in Parliament.

The closure will have a devastating impact on disabled people. In December 2014 the High Court found that as a consequence of the closure of the Fund “independent living might well be put seriously in peril for… Most (or a substantial number of) ILF users”.

Without the ILF the UK is not able to meet the basic human rights of disabled people.

We have seen this since the closure of the ILF to new applicants in December 2010 which has resulted in disabled people left trapped in their own homes or dependent on friends and families, placing intolerable strain on relationships and denying disabled people the chance to live an ordinary life.

Now as Local Authorities start to reassess individual support packages and inform disabled people what support we will receive after 30th June 2015 we are fearing for our futures. Currently we pay taxes, we work, we study, we raise our families and make many valuable contributions to society in other ways. The cuts in support that are being handed out to individuals will leave us without dignity, sitting in our own faeces for hours at a time dependent on the kindness of friends, family, neighbours and even strangers just to eat, drink and move.

We urge the honourable Speaker to ensure that it is our elected Parliament that has a say on whether disabled people in the UK have the right to independent living or whether in the sixth richest nation in the world we are denied the same opportunities to live and to contribute to society.
Yours ever,
Disabled People

May 152015
 

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) are looking for disabled people to speak to a national newspaper about problems they have had with zero hours contracts. If you think you might be willing to speak to the paper please contact Ellen.clifford@inclusionlondon.co.uk.

Even if you don’t want to speak to the paper but have information you are willing to share with DPAC please email.

Your information might, for example, cover:

– not being granted reasonable adjustments

– the impact of zero hours contracts on your impairment or health

– the impact of being disabled on your ability to meet your zero hours contract

– being dismissed

– ill-treatment in the workplace

– financial problems

– being pressured into a zero hours contract by JCP/DWP

 

Thank you for any help you can give.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mar 152015
 

The Ministerial statement issued this week by Mark Harper, Minister against Disabled People, announced measures which will discriminate against Deaf BSL users and those with higher cost support needs by introducing a cap on Access To Work packages. The statement mentions personal budgets and the idea of giving greater flexibility and choice in how ATW customers use their packages. Deaf and disabled people are under no illusions that this will mean anything but a further driving down of support costs. There is no recognition within the statement about the value of investing in Deaf and disabled people’s employment or the proven economic benefits for the state of Access to Work. Instead there are references to taxpayers money and the implication, consistent with the cultural shift we have seen within ATW over the last year or so, that Deaf and disabled people don’t have a right to aspire to equal life chances due to cost.

Campaigners at this week’s StopChanges2ATS meeting commented that the government may as well just send us all back to the workhouse. Already the changes to ATW have pushed Deaf and disabled people out of professional positions, careers and businesses they have spent decades building. The pressure on employers to “redesign” jobs to reduce support needs is pushing Deaf and disabled people into unskilled, lower paid work.

Harper’s statement also confirms the introduction of a framework agreement which will mean the outsourcing and privatisation of BSL interpreting. A similar framework adopted four years ago in the Ministry of Justice has been a categoric disaster. The framework for translating and interpreting currently being proposed is entirely unworkable, will drive down standards and leave Deaf BSL users without the communication support they need not only day to day but also in life or death situations interacting with for example hospital or social services. In a survey carried out by the National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters, 48% of interpreters surveyed said they are considering leaving the profession.

For more comment see:
https://stopchanges2atw.wordpress.com

To view the statement:
http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-vote-office/March%202015/12%20March%202015/40.DWP-Access-to-work.pdf