ellen

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

Mar 112015
 

Mental health charity Mind excludes election candidate, mental health service user and disability campaigner, Mick Hardy, from its mental health election panel.

Mind, the largest mental health charity in England, has excluded Mick Hardy, a mental health service user and disability campaigner, from its General Election Panel Event at The Curve, The Forum, Norwich NR2 1TF on Friday 13th March, 2015 between 1300 and 1600.

Mind claims that the event, chaired by national Mind’s Chief Executive, Paul Farmer, is “to give people with lived experience of mental health problems, their carers and support workers, volunteers and Mind staff an opportunity to ask the questions which matter to them and to hear what our parliamentary candidates from the north and south of Norwich have to say about the future of the services they use.” Yet Mind seeks to exclude Mick Hardy, disability rights campaigner and Dandy Party candidate in Norwich North from its event.

Mick Hardy said:

“I couldn’t believe it when Mind refused to have me, a prospective parliamentary candidate in Norwich North and mental health service user, on their panel. I believe this is due to my criticism of the failure of the local Norfolk Mind organisation to speak out against the massive cuts to mental health services at Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) which included the closure of the assertive outreach and homeless teams. Indeed, the local Mind has sought as a ‘service provider’ to profit from the cuts and privatisation of services at NSFT. The Mind volunteers and donors will find this shocking.”

“Mind receives more funding from Norman Lamb’s Department of Health than it receives in public donations. This reliance on government funding means that Mind is compromised when it comes to speaking out in defence of mental health service users. Nothing demonstrates this more than Mind’s attempt to exclude a mental health service user candidate from their panel in Norwich. This breaches Mind’s obligation as a charity to be apolitical.”

“I encourage all those concerned about the crisis in mental health services in Norfolk and Suffolk, which has seen our local trust NSFT rated inadequate by the CQC and put into special measures by health regulator Monitor, to lobby outside the Forum on Friday both before (1230-1300) and afterwards (1600-1630). It is a shame that those holding such views have been excluded from Mind’s event.”

“Mind claims to campaign for social inclusion but seeks to exclude me.”

Notes to editors:

Mind received £3.697m in public donations in 2014. Mind received £5.26m in government grants over the same period, with £4.651m from the Department of Health including £100,000 for the crisis care concordat and £4.262m for Time to Change.

Amanda Hedley, Chief Executive of Norwich Mind has written “As part of the Redesign Process we have tried to play a constructive role in helping to suggest good alternatives provided in the third sector which would provide support for people at a lower cost but achieve similar outcomes…..’ She

also told the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee of Norfolk County Council “…MIND could even deliver some of the services currently delivered through the Trust…”

 

Jan 182015
 

Calling all disabled people in Lambeth.

Come to an open meeting of the Lambeth Pan Disability Forum on Monday 9 February 2015 from 2 – 4pm at ‘We are 336’, 336 Brixton Road, SW9 7AA.

For more information contact RLewis@Lambeth.gov.uk

 Posted by at 14:34
Jan 182015
 

SUPPORT PEOPLE, HEALTH, JOBS
Scrap Trident and BAN all Nuclear Weapons!

After the 2015 general election a final decision will be made on replacing Trident nuclear weapons systems. We have to send a clear message to M.Ps: Trident must be scrapped not replaced. That is why D.P.A.C. needs to be present at this protest, says DPAC activist Sam Brackenbury.

The government wants to sign contracts for us to be a nuclear power the NEXT 40 YEARS, we have to stop this madness or 100 billion pounds will be waisted… How many disabled people could be helped with this money ???

South Africa used to be a nuclear power, since the end of Aparthied, it has decomissioned its nuclear weapons so it can be done.

Lets oppose Nuclear Power in all its forms!

Oct 272014
 

On Wednesday the DWP select committee is holding its final oral evidence session for its inquiry into Access to Work. Mark Harper, Minister for Disabled People, will be giving evidence.

The StopChanges2ATW campaign will be attending the evidence session as observers and then holding a rally in Old Palace Yard to protest against changes to Access to Work that are driving Deaf and disabled people out of employment and undermining our employability.

Speakers will include Jenny Sealey, artistic director of Graeae Theatre Company, Geraldine O’Halloran, Inclusion London and co-founder of StopChanges2ATW, Nicky Evans, branch secretary of the National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters, David Buxton CEO of the British Deaf Association and Teresa Pearce MP.

For more information contact:

For more information about the changes to Access to Work and how they are impacting on Deaf and disabled people go to:

http://stopchanges2atw.wordpress.com/

https://dpac.uk.net/2014/10/what-the-f-is-going-on-with-access-to-work-join-the-stopchanges2atw-campaign/

http://www.deafatw.com/

http://www.inclusionlondon.co.uk/ATW-ILs-%20and%20stop-changes2atw-respond-to-call-for-evidence

 

Oct 212014
 

More and more people are asking what is happening with Access to Work, the programme that supports Deaf and disabled people to get into and stay in employment, as changes are making it harder and harder to use. Despite the government’s well publicised extra investment in the scheme Access to Work’s clear direction of travel is to cut individual packages, with the result that the employability of Deaf and disabled people is being seriously undermined.

When the Tories closed the Remploy factories in 2011-2012 they said there was no place for segregated workplaces in modern society and the money used to fund the factories would be better spent supporting Deaf and disabled people to get into and stay in mainstream employment through the Access to Work programme.

Over the past year, with the factory closures out of the way, changes introduced to the AtW programme have decreased eligibility, brought considerable distress and uncertainty to customers who had previously and successfully used the programme for many years, pushed Deaf and disabled people out of jobs and left others fearing for their futures.

It is difficult to summarise all the changes: AtW is awarded on a discretionary ‘case by case’ basis and the programme has always denied the existence of any blanket rules for particular impairment groups. What we have seen emerging are some clear patterns around the cutting of packages, lack of information and hostility to AtW customers alongside growing inefficiency and cuts to AtW service delivery.

The first clear pattern emerged with respect to Deaf customers who suddenly found themselves labelled as ‘fraudsters’. Individuals contacting AtW advisers, in some cases advisers they had had for many years were greeted with a completely different and hostile attitude. They were told ‘there are high levels of Access to Work fraud in the Deaf community’. Changes brought in including the notorious ’30 hour rule’, requiring Deaf customers using more than 30 hours of BSL interpreters per week to employ a salaried interpreter, have literally left Deaf people unable to continue in their jobs.  The government has sought to justify what it is doing by pointing the finger at interpreters, blaming them for ‘costing too much’, meanwhile undermining what is a highly skilled and important profession.

A particularly nasty move has been the introduction of retrospective decision making experienced by both Deaf and disabled people who have had their packages cut with the cuts being backdated after support costs have already been incurred. This situation has been compounded by the fact that has review notices are no longer sent out warning AtW customers when their packages are due for renewal which easily leads to people not realising their packages have ended. Deaf and disabled people have been left owing thousands of pounds and has left interpreters and support workers owed thousands of pounds, causing considerable hardship and distress.

Successful appeals against changes to packages have been made but many people do not realise they have a right to appeal or how they would go about making a complaint. Others are too worried about losing the rest of their package to make a fuss. This is where the website DeafAtW has been invaluable, providing information and support on how to challenge decisions.

There is a growing level of misinformation, confusion and chaos coming from AtW itself as a result of a restructuring that has seen a dramatic reduction in the numbers of contact centres and outsourcing. AtW invoices remain unpaid from months and months ago because the addresses of the payment centres changed but customers weren’t told. Meanwhile application backlogs have amassed. Given that Deaf and disabled people often cannot start a job until their AtW package is in place, yet can only make an application after an employment start date has been confirmed, this has presumably Deaf and disabled people unable to take up job offers.

Money pledged by this government for the Access to Work budget has yet to appear. This was highlighted at the Work and Pension Select Committee oral evidence session when Remploy confirmed that the £80million per year “saved” from the closure of the factories hadn’t materialised in AtW support. There was also an additional £17million that hasn’t appeared. These two amounts would mean the AtW budget should have doubled in the past four years, yet cuts are being made.

For a government that claims its welfare reform measures are all about supporting more people into employment, the changes to Access to Work appear counter-productive.

Moreover, in a time of austerity, changes to the programme represent a cutting back of a scheme that actually makes money for the state: the Sayce report found that for every pound invested in Access to Work, £1.48 is recouped by the Treasury.

But for anyone familiar with Tory welfare policies none of this comes as a surprise. Ill-thought through ideologically driven policies are seeking to reduce ‘dependency’ and dismantle the welfare state, removing social security from those that need it and creating situations that will end up costing more.

While the Tories describe AtW as a ‘benefit’ and a dependency and fail to understand it as an investment, campaigners have beaten back some of the attacks. AtW eventually conceded that it was not realistic to expect employers to contribute the on costs for salaried interpreters under the 30 hour rule. In May the Minster for Disabled People announced a review into the 30 hour rule and the DWP Select Committee Inquiry agreed not only to take evidence on how changes were impacting on Deaf people but also extended the deadline for submissions whereas originally the inquiry had been intended to focus on employment support for people with mental health support needs and learning difficulties. Individual decisions have also been revised in the face of continued campaigning and challenges.

More is needed though. We have yet to hear the outcome of the Minister’s review. Meanwhile we are hearing of cuts to AtW packages impacting ever wider, putting jobs at risk and pushing Deaf and disabled people out of employment. We need to step up our campaign to make sure information is available and accessible and people know what to do if they are impacted by the changes, to fight for the employment rights of Deaf and disabled people and to protect the terms and conditions of BSL interpreters and ensure we are not divided.

StopChanges2ATW campaign open meeting – Thursday 23rd October 2014, 6 – 7.30pm, 336 Brixton Road, London, SW9 7AA.

For more information read StopChanges2ATW and Inclusion London’s submissions to the DWP select committee inquiry: http://www.inclusionlondon.co.uk/ATW-ILs-%20and%20stop-changes2atw-respond-to-call-for-evidence

Oct 162014
 

Speakers: Robert Punton, Disabled People Against Cuts; Tanya Murat, Southwark Benefit Justice Campaign; E15 mother and PCS union speakers tbc

> Despite unmissable evidence and growing public awareness of the detrimental impact on the poorest and disabled members of our communities by punitive measures such as sanctions, benefit assessments and capping, all main political parties are still committed to being ‘tough’ on welfare and sticking to Tory spending plans. Whoever is elected in 2015, things are set to get even worse for communities already struggling under the weight of arrears, debts and falling incomes. The occupation of the Carpenters’ Estate by the Focus E15 mothers in Newham shows that resistance is also growing and developing. This workshop will explore how trade unionists and community groups can work together to expose the truth about welfare reform and to fightback.

The meeting will take place as part of the Unite the Resistance conference. For more information and to book a place go to: http://uniteresist.org/

Oct 162014
 

Saturday 29th November 2014
2 – 3.45pm
82 Tanners Hill, SE8 4PN.

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) was set up by disabled people in 2010 to speak up against cutbacks and changes to benefits. The cuts have hit disabled people hard in a way that is not fair. Disabled people have been hit by one cut on top of another, for example:
– cuts to groups and services we use
– scrapping Disability Living Allowance and replacing it with Personal Independence Payments
– Work Capability Assessments run by Atos
– closing the Independent Living Fund
– attacks on inclusive education

Disabled people have been fighting back against what the government is doing. We have forced them to make some changes to their plans.

DPAC is still protesting at a national level. There are also now local DPAC groups set up in different areas across the country.

Disabled people in Lewisham think it would be a good idea to set up a Lewisham DPAC. The group will be led by disabled people but allies are welcome to support and be part of our campaign.

Come along to our launch meeting on 29th November to find out more and have your say about why you think we need a Lewisham DPAC and what we should campaign on.

Please RSVP if you are planning to come letting us know any access requirements.

For more information or to RSVP contact:

Email – ellenrclifford@btinternet.com

Text –  07505144371

Phone – 0207237 3181

Sep 082014
 

Tory welfare reform is in crisis. Last week 70 Conservative MPs ignored a three line whip and stayed away from Westminster for the vote on Andrew George’s bedroom tax bill. Protests have beaten back government attacks on benefits but we need to keep fighting to see off the hated bedroom tax once and for all and to stand up against sanctions, which remain a vicious plank in the government’s punitive policies, whose use is rocketing and which are still supported by Labour in Parliament.

Join protests happening in the areas below or hold your own. Send pictures and updates to benefitjustice@gmail.com and/or mail@dpac.uk.net.

 

Barnet

9.00am: Jobcentre Granta House 1 Western Rd London N22 6UH. Go to Barnet Housing Action Group on facebook for more information.

 

Birmingham

12 noon: Broad Street Job Centre, Centennial House,100 Broad St, B15 1AU.

1.15pm: Centenary Square, Broad Street.

Sandk123456@aol.com

 

Huddersfield

12 noon: Upper Head Row, Huddersfield, HD1 2JL. (near main entrance to bus station) juneholmes@btopenworld.com

 

Leeds

12 – 2pm: Street meeting on benefits and sanctions: Briggate, LS1 6JX (near the Body Shop). ellenrobottom@hotmail.com

 

London

11am Old Palace Yard Westminster SW1P 3JY
and 1pm DWP HQ Tothill St SW1
(Southwark Benefit Justice Campaign will be meeting 10.30am outside Metropolitan Tabernacle opposite Elephant and Castle tube station to go up to Parliament)
Anti-Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Gig: Starring: THE WICKED VENETIANS + PARVA HINTON + SEBASTIAN MELMOTH + MYLAS: New Cross Inn, 323 New Cross Road London SE14 6AS: http://newcrossinn.com/?p=1&m=09&y=2014

Milton Keynes

12 noon – 1pm outside Milton Keynes Jobcentre Plus, Midsummer Blvd, MK9 3BN. E.kate.hunter@googlemail.com

 

FRIDAY 12th SEPTEMBER

 

Brighton

11am: Brighton station forecourt: brightonbenefitscampaign@gmail.com
Witney

Paupers Picnic outside David Cameron’s Witney Conservatives event at Witney Lakes with tax-dodging, expenses-grabbing MP Nadim Zahawi. Coaches leave Oxford at 5.30pm. For more info contact: mail:dpac.uk.net

Aug 262014
 

Thursday 11th September 2014

End Bedroom Tax; No Sanctions for Claimants – No Targets for Staff

On 11th September the Anti-Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Campaign is holding a day of protest: say no to claimant sanctions, bedroom tax and benefit cuts

Government attacks on benefits mean hunger, debt and fear. Ex-soldier David Clapson died hungry and destitute after his benefits were stopped, the latest in a string of deaths and suicides related to sanctions and benefit cuts.  The overwhelming majority of referrals to food banks are due to  claimants being sanctioned.

Sanctions cutting benefits of disabled people on Employment and Support Allowance, rose by nearly 580 percent between March 2013 and March 2014, and total sanctions rose to over a million last year, from 100,000 in 2010 (DWP figures).
PCS union is supporting the 11 September protests.  Research by PCS members working in the DWP revealed that 82% of members felt ‘pressured’ into sanctioning claimants, and 62% said they had made ‘inappropriate’ sanctions decisions.Protests have forced Government to promise changes: see Review report. But sanctions remain a vicious plank of the Government’s punitive welfare reforms, and are still supported by Labour in parliament.

Join us on one of protests below or organise your own.  Demand an end to the Bedroom Tax and link it to the slogan: ‘No sanctions for claimants, No targets for staff’. Build links with local PCS members – contacts for local PCS in DWP and PCS regions.The Bedroom Tax is almost dead – we will demand MPs kill it now  and up the pressure to beat the sanctions regime too. Let us know any actions you are planning so we can promote them.

End Sanctions, Bedroom Tax and benefit cuts11am Old Palace Yard Westminster SW1P 3JY
and 1pm DWP HQ Tothill St SW1

Other protests planned in
Leeds, Sheffield, Oxford, Manchester/Liverpool, Birmingham, Glasgow


Jul 032014
 

 Hello comrades 

ALLFIE  (the Alliance for Inclusive Education) would like to put together some short and snappy videos on disabled peoples experiences of having Disabled Students Allowance and the impact it has had in helping them benefit from higher education on our lovely website – 

In particular we would like to focus on inclusion and participation whilst recognising that for some disabled students having the DSA means the potential of getting higher grades or getting a qualification whilst studying at university.  Also it be great to hear how DSA has supported disabled students who benefited from higher education even if they have not ‘passed’ their course.  

We would like to interview disabled people (young and old!) who  are thinking twice about going to university as a result of Government’s DSA reforms.

If anyone wants to know more about the DSA reforms please follow the link – http://www.allfie.org.uk/   Please scroll down to ALLIFE’s june briefing. 

If you are going to be around for the ILF tea party on Friday  – please let me know as I will have a small video camera to do the interview with.    I will be wearing an ALLFIE teashirt.     If you want to have a chat please ring me on 0207 737 6030 during Tuesday and Thursday.

 See u there, Simone Aspis.