Dec 112017
 

This guide has been produced by Winvisible with support from others. If your GP or support worker etc don’t know what to do this information should be passed onto them.

Benefit assessments – exemption to protect ‘vulnerable’ patients
There is a great deal of evidence about the profound distress which face-to-face assessments for disability benefits can cause, especially for women and men with mental health conditions. The prospect of interview can induce overwhelming anxiety, panic and dissociative states, levels of stress and distress that can precipitate serious relapses, leading to psychiatric admissions and even suicides. Consultant psychiatrist Dr Jed Boardman said: “You see people relapsing as a consequence of getting distressed about being assessed.” (Fit-for-work tests linked to relapses in those with mental health problems Guardian 24 November 2015.)
Therefore it is vital that professionals know about the benefit system regulations on exemption from the face-to-face interview and for assessment on paper evidence.
They can quote these to protect vulnerable patients from harmful distress and deterioration, and/or enable them to stay out of hospital. Professionals who can state their opinion include: GP, care co-ordinator, psychologist, psychiatrist, key worker, support worker, therapist, counsellor, Independent Domestic Violence Advocate… Opinions from non-medical staff are relevant to describe people’s problems functioning.
It is important to recommend exemption from the face-to-face interview very clearly. Don’t recommend a home visit: this can be worse than an assessment centre interview, as for women rape survivors or others, their home is their safe space which would be violated by an official visit. You may be rung by the assessor as a follow-up, so make sure you are up-to-date with your patient’s situation.
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP) are different benefits with different reasons for exemption:
 ESA is an out-of-work benefit based on limited capability for work where complete exemption from back-to-work conditions is possible. In places where ESA is replaced by Universal Credit (UC), this exemption is in UC regulations 2013 Schedule 8 and also applies to the compulsory “Health and Work Conversation”. Widespread opposition to the brutal UC regime has delayed national rollout.
 PIP is widely claimed by both unwaged and waged people for daily living/care and mobility needs, and is not part of UC.
Companies hold DWP contracts to open mail, scan and distribute it and to carry out assessments, but confidentiality is used to exclude evidence. If a support letter marked “Confidential” goes to the assessor company, the DWP says under confidentiality, it won’t then be disclosed to a DWP Case Manager (PIP Assessment Guide Part One, 1.4.13). As proper consideration often depends on DWP review, don’t mark your report confidential.
ESA
Under “Exceptional Circumstances”, you can say that there would be substantial risk to the patient’s health if they were put under work conditions for benefit, so they should be exempted from these and the exam. This regulation means the person is already accepted as satisfying the test for ESA (limited capability for work) so doesn’t have to be seen. Substantial risk to health can be mental health, or physical health e.g. risk of heart
attack from stress. Risk to mental health covers not only suicide risk, but also sudden deterioration in mental state: PTSD flashbacks, panic attacks, hearing voices, or similar.
Substantial risk regulations: https://wcainfo.net/issues/substantial-risk-lcw 1. A claimant who does not have limited capability for work as determined in accordance with the limited capability for work assessment is to be treated as having limited capability for work if paragraph (2) applies to the claimant. 2. Subject to paragraph (3) this paragraph applies if … (b) the claimant suffers from some specific disease or bodily or mental disablement and, by reasons of such disease or disablement, there would be a substantial risk to the mental or physical health of any person if the claimant were found not to have limited capability for work. 3. Paragraph (2)(b) does not apply where the risk could be reduced by a significant amount by – (a) reasonable adjustments being made in the claimant’s workplace; or (b) the claimant taking medication to manage the claimant’s condition where such medication has been prescribed for the claimant by a registered medical practitioner treating the claimant.
Regulation 25 (2013) (4)
(4) In this regulation ―medical evidence‖ means—
(a) evidence from a health care professional approved by the Secretary of State; and
(b) evidence (if any) from any health care professional or a hospital or similar institution, or such part of such evidence as constitutes the most reliable evidence available in the circumstances.
PIP DWP guidance states that assessors should determine if they can assess the claim from the paper evidence they already have, or if they should get further evidence from professionals, before proceeding to arrange a face-to-face exam — they call it consultation. (PIP Assessment Guide, Part One – The Assessment Process, 1.2.2/1.3.6, 2 November 2017) https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/655611/pip-assessment-guide-part-1-assessment-process.pdf The assessor can make a decision from paper evidence where “there is strong evidence on which to advise on the case and a face-to-face consultation is likely to be stressful for the claimant…” (1.5.4) Assessors “should also consider the needs of vulnerable claimants”, that is “someone who has difficulty dealing with procedural demands” including “a previous suicide attempt, domestic violence, abuse or bereavement.” (1.3.11)
1.5.4 “Cases that should not require a face-to-face consultation” ―Although each case should be determined individually, the following types of case should not normally require a face-to-face consultation: […] • There is strong evidence on which to advise on the case and a face-to-face consultation is likely to be stressful for the claimant (for example, claimants with autism, cognitive impairment or learning disability) • The claimant questionnaire indicates a high level of disability, the information is consistent, medically reasonable and there is nothing to suggest over-reporting – (examples may include claimants with severe neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, severely disabling stroke) • There is sufficient detailed, consistent and medically reasonable information on function.
The medical evidence sent on paper has to be “robust” to enable the test for benefit to be met, and should include comments about how functioning is affected. WinVisible won exemption from the PIP exam for a rape survivor who felt suicidal and was at risk of flashbacks, based on “consultation may be stressful to the claimant”. The assessor rang the woman’s GP for his opinion after his letter was sent in. She was granted full rates for both daily living and mobility.
Where should support letters be directed?
ESA
Assessments are carried out by multinational company Maximus (under the name Health Assessment Advisory Service) on behalf of the DWP.
• If your patient is filling in the ESA50 form, attach your support letter to the form and make sure it is listed on the form.
• If your patient can’t cope with the form, or if an interview date has already been sent out, fax it headed FME (Further Medical Evidence) to HAAS London central fax: 0208 795 8647. This is the procedure recommended by HAAS call centre staff. It should have the claimant’s name and NI No. at the top of each numbered page.
• If your patient has an appointment date and HAAS are refusing to postpone this, or are still requiring her to attend despite your request for exemption, email the same correspondence with a cover note raising your complaint to the Centre for Health and Disability Assessments (Maximus head office). Ask them to put the appointment on hold pending the decision on exemption: email: customer-relations@chdauk.co.uk They usually reply within two days. Always cc the MP and ask them to follow it up on behalf of the claimant.
PIP
Assessments are carried out by Atos (or in some geographical areas by Capita). To send in your medical evidence requesting exemption, you can:
 Email Atos pip-customerservice@atos.net
 Write to the DWP’s Disability and Carers Service, address is on the patient’s PIP letter. And/or email them at blackpoolbc.customercomplaints@dwp.gsi.gov.uk
 If you are not sure where to send it, call the PIP helpline on 03458 503 322.
Getting support from MPs’ caseworkers
Ask if your patient is ready to contact their MP and ask for support for their exemption and paper-based assessment. Google “Find my MP” or search the Parliament website, choosing the constituency contacts. MPs’ caseworkers have direct lines to benefit officials and can often quickly resolve distressing situations. Involving the MP gets your concerns taken more seriously. Assessor companies have staff specifically for MPs’ enquiries. Ms A wrote to us: “I just wanted to let you know, it is with a happy heart I read the opened letter from the DWP this afternoon with my PIP results. I am most grateful for the advice that it is OK to ask my psychiatrist specifically for a paper based assessment. I know not everyone is like this and that particularly with the disabled people’s movement, a lot of work and effort goes into asserting good self-image. In mental health, addictions, abuse/domestic violence situations, I think there is something very unseen and unaddressed going on that makes women like me and others, more likely to be unable to meet the demands of the benefits system. More likely to fall between the cracks.”
Compiled by WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities)
with warm thanks to: Diane Frazer, psychotherapist; Dr Jay Watts, clinical psychologist;
Marcin Brajta, Hackney Community Law Centre
Contact WinVisible:
Crossroads Women’s Centre
25 Wolsey Mews, London NW5 2DX
Email win@winvisible.org
Web www.winvisible.org
Tel: 020 7482 2496

 Posted by at 18:50
Dec 092017
 

DWP freefone numbers December 2017

Access to work 08001217479

Benefit enquiry line 08001690310

DLA adult and child 08001214600

DLA mobility 08001216379

DWP online help desk 08001690154

Induustrial Injuries Disabled benefit 08001218379

Jobcentre enquiry line 08001690190

Maternity Allowance enquiry line 08001690283

PIP enquiries 08001214433

Social Fund enquiries 08001690140

UC live service 0800 3289344
UC full service 0800 3285644
UC housing 0800 3283844
UC sanctions 0800 3289744
UC live to full service transfers 0800 3287844

 

 Posted by at 19:13
Dec 092017
 
Sarah Graham – Freelance Journalist

#JournoRequest:Sarah wants to hear from disabled young adults (20-30ish) who are desperate to move out of their parents’ home but struggling to find the accessible housing they’d need to live independently.

Perhaps you’d need certain adaptations that housing providers and private landlords aren’t prepared to make, or your local authority doesn’t have enough accessible housing to meet the demand. You might even be considering buying your own place, and paying for the adaptations yourself, but that’s just not affordable right now. Whatever your situation, if you’re disabled and stuck living with mum and dad in your 20s, I’d love to hear about your experiences of trying to fly the nest.

Please email or message me if you can help – contact@sarah-graham.co.uk. It’s for a sensitive feature looking at the problems disabled millennials face accessing suitable housing – case studies do need to be happy being identified.

 Posted by at 17:28
Dec 082017
 

As people are likely to know Phillip Hammond is blaming disabled people being part of the UK workforce for lower productivity rates. This is without any evidence being provided to support this bollocks. So we’d like to reply to Phillip and let him know what we all think about this latest abuse. Please feel free to tweet this post to Tory MPs including @TheresaMay

Apologies to anyone who is sensitive to what some might consider bad language.

Philip Hammond is a prick. We know this, you know this  – everybody knows this. Let’s not encourage him. Assume everything he says is just pure shite. This load of shite is particularly dangerous because it reinforces stereotypes and myths, and enables othering. More dangerously, some people feel empowered to go further than othering and take their frustrations out on people who’ve done nothing but try to live the best lives they can.
Don’t be a prick. Don’t believe or peddle this shite.
And Philip Hammond should fuck off now.
 Posted by at 11:59
Nov 212017
 

On November 16 2017, during a  House of Lords debate on Universal Credit, Lord Shinkwin, who is himself disabled, accused MPs from the ‘hard left’ of scaremongering, and exaggerating the problems that Universal Credit is causing.

We know that the problems are already very real, and directly impacting on disabled people.

When Disabled people in high places like Lord Skinkwin downplay what is happening it makes it much more difficult for campaigners to get our voices heard.

So DPAC is encouraging anyone who has a personal story about how Universal Credit is causing you problems to write to him and let him know.

You can write to him at: House of Lords, London, SW1A 0PW

Or send an email marked for him in the subject line to: contactholmember@parliament.uk

Please send copies of your letters and any response you receive to us here at: mail@dpac.uk.net

His speech is available on the Hansard website.

 Posted by at 22:16
Nov 212017
 
NDEPENDENT LIVING CAMPAIGN CONFERENCE
Saturday 25th November, 2017   11am – 4:30pm

336 Brixton Road, London, SW9 7AA

The aim of the conference is to take stock of the key barriers to independent living that Disabled people who use adult social care services face. The day will aim to assess how far the situation has deteriorated in the last year and also to explore a shared vision for an independent living support system that can truly uphold our rights.

AGENDA 

11 – 11:30am Registration

11:30am Opening Session
Welcome – Brian Hilton (Chair)
Introduction to the day & recap since last year
– Ellen Clifford (DPAC) and Mark Harrison (Equal Lives/Norfolk DPAC)

12pm Workshops – Barriers to Independent Living
Charging – facilitated by Jenny Hurst (ADKC)
Assessment And Reviews – facilitated by Mark Williams (BDEF) and Tracey Lazard (Inclusion London)
Hourly Rates And Recruiting PAs – facilitated by Theresa Hodge (SENDPO)

12:45pm Lunch

1:30pm Welcome back
Book reading by Penny Pepper from her memoirs “First in the World Somewhere”
Using the media to make the invisible visible – Cherylee Houston (actor and campaigner)

2pm Workshops – the way forwards
Alternative Models Of Independent Living – facilitated by Steve Graby (Manchester DPAC) with a presentation by Emma Vogelmann on ‘Looking abroad to alternative models’
Independent Living Support Principles – facilitated by Mark Harrison (Equal Lives/Norfolk DPAC) with a presentation by Zara Todd (ENIL) on ‘Lessons from Australia’s National Insurance Scheme’
Campaigning For The Right To Independent Living – facilitated by Tracey Lazard (Inclusion London) with a presentation on ‘Using local elections’ by Kevin Caulfield (hafcac)

3pm Break

3:20pm Feedback from workshops and next steps
Independent living principles
Core characteristics of alternative models
Key campaign objectives & actions

3:45pm Agreeing our positions

4:30pm Close

Mark Harrison and Peter Beresford have written an article for Labour Briefing on alternative models for independent living – CLICK HERE to read and HERE for plain text format.

Please CLICK HERE to view Occupy London’s event page for the day where you will find a link to the livestream channel. The channel won’t be showing videos of the conference until the event starts this Saturday (but you may see Occupy London posting livestreams before then). For anyone you know who can’t make the day, please share the link with them. Please join us in using the hashtag #Right2IL to tweet about the conference.

If you have any questions about the day, please email ellen.morrison@inclusionlondon.

 Posted by at 22:09
Nov 182017
 

Thanks to Nick Dilworth who wrote this template letter

You can follow him @Mylegalforum http://ilegal.org.uk/

 

[Your Address]

 

The Customer Complaints Manager

[Address of your Employment & Support Allowance Office]

*shown on your most recent correspondence from them

 

Date

 

Dear Sir / Madam,

National Insurance No:

Arrears of Employment & Support Allowance which may be owed to me through your official error

My attention has been drawn to some recent media coverage by the BBC entitled ‘Mistakes in benefits claims could cost up to £500m’ (dated the 17th November 2017).  As a result of this I am making an official complaint, I believe I may be affected and entitled to arrears of Employment & Support Allowance.The media coverage states:

“The errors identified by the Department for Work and Pensions affect the main sickness benefit, the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).  The BBC understands that assessors wrongly calculated the income of around 75,000 claimants.  Ministers say that they are aware of the problem and that repayments have begun to be made.  The department, which says it discovered the mistakes last December, is understood to have contacted about 1,000 people so far.  It says it is still trying to understand the scale of the problems with ESA, which is paid to about 2.5 million people, and will contact anyone affected.”

 

Having made some enquiries, I understand that I may be an affected individual because I underwent a ‘conversion’ assessment from older Incapacity Benefits / Income Support paid on the grounds of incapacity for work / Severe Disablement Allowance.  My recollection is that this was subject to a decision made by you on or about the [insert date].

The conversion process should have been carried out in accordance with the Employment and Support Allowance (Transitional Provisions, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit) (Existing Awards) (No.2) Regulations 2010 and it is my understanding that in confirming your decision you should:

(a) have ensured I was entitled to the correct amount of ‘transitionally protected’ benefit at a rate whereby my converted Employment & Support Allowance award was equal to what I received before conversion and should have continued to be protected on a ‘mark time’ basis until the level of Employment & Support Allowance either caught up with my transitionally protected amount or until the 5th April 2020.

(b) As part of the conversion decision making and notification process you should also have checked any existing contributory award to see if I may qualify for an income based amount on the converted Employment & Support Allowance award as confirmed by the Upper Tribunal in [2015] UKUT 342 (AAC) where it was held [In considering Regulation 8 of Employment and Support Allowance (Transitional Provisions, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit) (Existing Awards) (No.2) Regulations 2010]:

 

“Given the unified nature of ESA as described in paragraph 25 above, the determination by the Secretary of State of the amount of ESA to which a person would be entitled on conversion under regulation 8(1) in my judgment must encompass consideration of both the contributory amount and the income-related amount.”

 

I am therefore asking you to confirm that neither of the above omissions (a) or (b) occurred as a result of any official error on my claim.  If official error has occurred and I have been underpaid in consequence of that error, please ensure that you pay me any amounts owing to as a matter of urgency and without unacceptable delay.

Please note that this request is an official one which you must treat by way of an anytime review or supersession request.

I must further point out that this request applies to a retrospective decision and therefore applies in cases where there may have been a subsequent successful appeal against any initial decision to refuse or otherwise restrict the Employment & Support Allowance award made.  Likewise, the fact that I have since stopped claiming Employment & Support Allowance or taken up another claim to other benefits does not prevent me from making this request.

So that I can check the accuracy of your records please treat this letter as a Subject Access Request and supply me with copies of my pre – conversion awards and all claim details pertaining to my Employment & Support Allowance claim from the point of conversion of my claim.

Please also consider this as a complaint of potential maladministration on my claim and consider issuing me with an appropriate compensatory or special payment.

On a final point, please make me aware of the effect which this may have upon any other benefits such as Housing and or Council Tax Benefit paid at the point of conversion.

I look forward to hearing from you and trust that you will look in to and act on this request as a matter of urgency.

Yours faithfully

 

 

[Name]

 Posted by at 20:38
Nov 172017
 

 

 

 

 

Support the Budget Day Sack the Tories protests arranged by the People’s Assembly. Meet Downing Street, November 21st from 6pm- 7.30 pm.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1968486683476948/

#SackTheTories – BUDGET DAY PROTEST
Stop the Universal Credit Crisis – Stop Tax Avoidance – Fund Our NHS
Day of action the night before the Budget

November 21st 6pm – 7:30pm, Opposite Downing Street, Whitehall, London

**Universal Credit
The Government’s plans to overhaul the welfare system by forcing people onto Universal Credit have been widely criticised by MPs, charities, and campaigners all warning that this is likely to cause a rise in homelessness, poverty, and unnecessary debt. It will leave thousands without an income for weeks as they wait to be transferred, many will be left thousands of pounds worse off, and there is reduced support for claimants. The Trussell Trust have said that they expect a 30% increase in foodbank use this winter in areas where Universal Credit is rolled out. Child Poverty Action Group have found that Government welfare reform will push 1 million children below the poverty line.

Disabled People face losing £40.10 per week with the scrapping of Disability Premiums from Universal Credit.

Vicious Conditionality which could force people to seek extra work for up to 48 hours per week will affect everyone regardless of whether they are in or out of work, disabled or non-disabled.

The cost of moving to Universal Credit was originally estimated at £2.2bn, however it is now at a staggering £15.8bn and still rising.

**Paradise Papers
Revelations in the Paradise Papers show how companies, politicians and individuals are avoiding paying billions of pounds in tax using offshore tax havens rather than paying their fair share here. Theresa May said she would clamp down on tax avoidance but loopholes are still in operation.

More people than ever are having to rely on foodbanks to feed their families, our NHS is in a funding crisis, public sector workers are still facing a pay cap below inflation, millions can’t access affordable housing while the richest individuals and biggest companies take money that should be spent on dealing with these problems and squirrel it away for themselves. The Government is doing nothing to stop it.

**NHS
Last winter our NHS was driven into the worst crisis in it’s history. We witnessed patients dying in hospital corridors, staff stretched to breaking point and the Red Cross declaring a ‘humanitarian crisis’ in our NHS. This winter looks set to be worse. Head of NHS England Simon Stephens warned the Government last week that unless billions of pounds is found in the budget for the NHS it won’t be able to cope.

#SackTheTories
The People’s Assembly is calling a nationwide day of action the night before the Chancellors Budget is announced. We’re organising ‘Stop the Universal Credit Crisis – Stop Tax Avoidance’ protests in towns and cities across the country. As part of the protests we’re collecting food which will be donated to local foodbanks so their shelves are stocked to deal with the fallout from Universal Credit and the continuation of austerity policies in the budget.

We want to urge the Government to use the Budget to scrap their plans for Universal Credit, to close tax loopholes and force the tax avoiders to pay their fair share, to end the public sector pay cap with an increase above inflation, and to make sure our public services are properly funded.

We will also be using the thousands of pounds that was raised through sales of Captain Ska’s track ‘Liar Liar’ to buy tonnes of food and deliver it to foodbanks across the country. But before it’s delivered, we’ll be displaying all of it right on the doorstep of Downing Street to show Theresa May and Phillip Hammond the effect their damaging policies are having on ordinary people – this will take place as part of the London wide protest on Tuesday 21 November. Join us at Downing Street or at one of the many protests that will be taking place across the country and don’t forget to bring along food for the foodbank collection.

Local Events

Local Events

JOIN AN EVENT NEAR YOU (more to be confirmed):

 

London

6:00pm – 7:30pm, Tuesday 21 November, Downing Street, London

https://www.facebook.com/events/1968486683476948/

 

Manchester

6:30pm, Tuesday 21 November, GMEX Steps, Windmill Street M2 3GX

https://www.facebook.com/events/296804000806920/

 

Southampton

12pm – 2pm, Tuesday 21 November, ASDA – Southampton Central, Western Esplanade, SO14 7EG

https://www.facebook.com/events/842488905918828/

Hull
4:30 PM – 6 PM, Tuesday 21 November, Outside Hull Paragon Station, Kingston Upon Hull
https://www.facebook.com/events/1352958458166560/

 

Eastbourne

Public Meeting and Collection:

7pm, Tuesday 21 November,Crown and Anchor, 15-16 Marine Parade, BN21 3DX

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/sack-the-tories-why-they-have-to-go-tickets-39911046013

 

Swindon

4:00pm – 8:00pm, Tuesday 21 November, Wharf Green Swindon Town Centre SN15 3

https://www.facebook.com/events/201493753726609/

 

Calderdale

6:30pm, Tuesday 21 November, St George’s Square, Hebden Bridge, HX7 8

https://www.facebook.com/events/811335062404833/

 

Hastings

5:30pm, Tuesday 21 November, Outside Lloyd’s Bank, Wellington Place, Hastings, TN34 1NX

 

Merseyside

4:00pm, Tuesday 21 November, Queens Square, Liverpool

 

Milton Keynes

5:00pm, outside Civic offices, Central Milton Keynes

 

Fenland

6.30p.m, TUESDAY 21 NOVEMBER, THOMAS CLARKSON MEMORIAL, WISBECH

Fenland Peoples Assembly

 

Nottingham

12:00pm, Saturday 2 December, Old Market Square, Nottingham, MK18 3

https://www.facebook.com/events/1128093670658916/

 

Derby

Wednesday 22nd November 5.15pm outside… 6pm inside

Demonstration & Lobby re NHS cuts & STP

Derby City Council House, Corporation Street, Derby, DE1 2FS.

saveournhsderby@gmail.com

www.facebook.com/SOSNHSDerbyPage

 

North East

4:45pm – 5:45pm, Tuesday 21 November, Haymarket Metro Station, Haymarket, NE1 7PF

https://www.facebook.com/events/146554449302317/

 

Sheffield

5:30pm, Tuesday 21 November, Sheffield Cathedral

https://www.facebook.com/events/405688823181350/

 

Birmingham

5:00pm, Wednesday 22 November, Waterstones Birmingham

https://www.facebook.com/events/331804610619889/

 

Bristol

6:00pm, Tuesday 21 November, Water Fountains, Bristol City Centre

https://www.facebook.com/events/179907642561572/

 

.

 

 

 Posted by at 17:47
Nov 162017
 
The last chance to see the Resistance Exhibition in London before it goes around the country (Autumn 2018 and onwards). We’re delighted to be part of Makerversity’s Tools for Change, where makers have been creating imaginative protest materials.

If you can make it down between Saturday 18 and Wednesday 23 November to Somerset House on The Strand, central London, please register here:

Feel free to BRING YOUR OWN PROTEST ARCHIVE and upload it.
And please share our event on facebook:
Once again, we apologise if you’re not based around London, but please make contact with us if you have a suitable venue where you are.
Very best wishes
Phoenix, Sheila, Elizavet, Richard and the Resistance Crew
 

Resistance!

Exhibition & Digital DIY archive
 Posted by at 21:10
Nov 162017
 

On the 22nd of November, the statistics of “excess winter deaths” from 2016 will be released.

At the same time, Ofgem are considering details of their “safeguard” cap, which excludes many who need it most – see post about this here: https://dpac.uk.net/tag/vulnerable-customer-safeguard-cap/

Fuel Poverty Action believes next week would be a good opportunity to present Ofgem with a letter in person explaining why it is wrong to exclude disabled people from their proposed safeguard tariff and is asking for help to get the message across.

If you are disabled and can’t afford your energy bills and are happy to speak to the media about how this affects you (anonymously or otherwise) please contact  fuelpovertyaction@gmail.com.

We would also like to invite people to come and join in handing over the letter on Tuesday 21 November, at 11 a.m. at the Ofgem office, 9 Millbank SW1P 3GE. We’re planning on making this loud and colourful outside the building, so banners and placards are encouraged! If you can make it then please let Fuel Poverty Action know.

 

 Posted by at 01:11
Nov 142017
 

one of our members has written to Christian and if anyone else woudl liek to his email address is christian@horleyconservatives.com

 Posted by at 16:58
Nov 102017
 

Mon 13 November at 9 am is the deadline for responses to a proposed limited cap on energy prices.

You may know that the government has for over a year been promising relief for people who pay the default “standard variable tariff” (SVT) – and who are getting ripped off as a result. Meanwhile prices have soared, and so have suppliers’ profits. A small cap on tariffs has been brought in for people with Prepayment Meters. It’s inadequate, but better than nothing. For people with credit meters, Theresa May promised a cap, then went back on it, then promised it again: u-turn upon u-turn. And she is now reassuring the energy industry that it will take ages, if it comes in at all. But meanwhile, the energy regulator Ofgem, with government support, is proposing a limited “safeguarding” cap, which would apply only to people who receive the Warm Home Discount.

Here the story gets murky. Warm Home Discount – worth £140 a year off your electricity bill — is awarded automatically to pensioners on low incomes. People deemed “vulnerable” for other reasons – particularly disability or illness, or children aged 5 or under, can apply to their energy supplier and may get it, but it is “first come first served” with a limited pot, and all the suppliers have different requirements to say who qualifies, mostly based on what benefits you receive. Some smaller suppliers don’t offer Warm Home Discount at all.

This means that despite being eligible, disabled people and children will often be excluded – not only from the discount itself, but now from the cap, which Ofgem say could save the average user around £120 a year. That is a total of over £260 a year, and much more if you need the heat on a lot or use a lot of power.

Ofgem are consulting on this plan, and Fuel Poverty Action will be telling them that this is particularly shocking. Disabled people often need more heat, for medical reasons or if we’re home a lot, and can suffer much worse effects if we can’t afford to keep warm. And, having been hit hardest by multiple cuts, disabled people are in a worse position to deal with rising fuel prices. The same is true for the parents of babies and young children, with benefit cuts, universal credit and low wages causing a massive increase in child poverty.

There is even a risk that, if the cap is applied to some people, the people who don’t qualify for the cap may see our fuel prices rise by even more, as suppliers try to make up the difference through cross-subsidisation!

An Ofgem press release says they will “Ofgem will work on extending price protection to at least a further 2 million vulnerable households for winter next year once the timing of the Government’s price cap is confirmed”. However, there is nothing about this “work” in the actual consultation papers; instead they repeatedly say that to bring the cap in quickly, they will limit it to people who already get the Warm Home Discount.

Fuel Poverty Action think a cap should apply across the board – no means-testing, no cliff-edge where your bills go up if you get knocked off disability benefits, or get a rise in pay, or get married … The prices are too high for everyone now, thousands of people in all sorts of situations are dying from cold every year, and suppliers are making a killing.
But in the meantime, the Ofgem cap is scheduled to come in this coming February. At the very least, it should apply to everyone who would be eligible for Warm Home Discount, whether or not you actually get it. If you want to help make sure that the cap covers more of the people who need it most urgently, you can send a simple email to:

Jemma Baker at vulnerability@ofgem.gov.uk, by 9am on Monday 13 November

And send us a copy at fuelpovertyaction@gmail.com!

Tell them: warm homes are a right – not a “first-come-first-served” lottery!

Feel free to check out our response for inspiration.

Cold homes, fuel poverty, climate change, millions of homes in debt to their energy supplier, huge profits for the Big Six… the energy system isn’t working.
Another energy system is possible! Get behind the Fuel Poverty Action Energy Bill of Rights

 

Nov 092017
 

anyone who is both a DPAC supporter and member of UNITE community can apply to UNITE to attend this meeting. We need a united front to make it clear to everyone that #pauseandfix is not an option with Universal Credit. It must be#StopandScrap. If you are able to register to go to this please let us know ny emailing us at mail@dpac.uk.net

To book a place email

Tony.Winchester@unitetheunion.org  requesting a place at the mini-conference on the 20th December include your unite membership number and branch number in your email.                            

                          MUTUAL BENEFITS                            

 DWP CLAIMANTS AND STAFF WORKING TOGETHER

CONFERENCE for UNITE COMMUNITY, PCS and LUS MEMBERS

Wednesday 20th December 10.00 a.m. – 4.00 p.m. at PCS HQ, 160 Falcon Rd, London SW11 2LN

Nearest Overground Station: Clapham Junction

AGENDA

9.30 – 10.00 a.m.: – Registration

  1. 00 – 10.40: Introduction and speakers:
  • John McDonnell (invited) Labour Party
  • Liane Groves         National Coordinator, Unite Community
  • John McInally      PCS Vice-President

10.40 – 11:00:

  • The Welfare Charter – Nick Phillips, London Unemployed Strategies
  • Stand Up For Your Rights groups – Waltham Forest and Southwark SUFYR

 

11.00 – 11.30 a.m. Questions and contributions 

11.30 – 11.45: Break

11.45 – 12.30 p.m.: Workshops

  • The Welfare Charter: Labour Party and TUC – how to progress from policy to action to legislation
  • Stand Up For Your Rights Groups: how to set up a group in your area; strengths and weaknesses

12.30 – 1.00: Feedback from workshops and discussion

1.00 – 1.45: – Lunchbreak

1.45 – 2.00:  Joint campaigns between Unite Community, PCS and LUS

Introductions from:

  • Tony Reay – PCS
  • Liane Groves – Unite Community
  • Nick Phillips – LUS

 

2.00 – 3.00:Workshops x 4 (North, South, East and West regions)

To discuss local and national campaign priorities including:

  • Universal Credit rollout
  • Jobcentre closures
  • Digitisation and the threat of mass redundancies;
  • Rights to representation for claimants

 

3.00 – 3.45: Feedback from workshops and discussion

3.45 – 4.00: Conclusions and what happens next

4.00 ff.:  Campaign/demo picture followed by refreshments and party

 Posted by at 13:09
Nov 062017
 

Dear friends and colleagues

I am writing to invite you to the launch of the Austerity Campaign Action Pack, being developed by the Austerity Action Group formed by BASW following the Boot Out Austerity walk, with the support of the Social Workers Union.

The flyer for the event is attached and I would be grateful if you could share this widely. It is taking place on the evening of Thursday 30th November, at the University of Salford. It is a free, UK-wide event at which we will be hearing of anti-austerit activity in Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England. We are delighted that Rebecca Long-Bailey, a member of the Shadow Cabinet, will be speaking, alongside other notable speakers; and there will also be music, songs, poems, readings and film, in true Boot Out Austerity style. See the flyer for more details.

Food and refreshments will also be served.

You are receiving this email because of the interest you expressed in Boot Out Austerity. If you’d rather not receive future emails regarding BASW’s austerity campaigning, let me know by email, and I will remove your details from the mailing list.

Best wishes

Guy

Guy Shennan

BASW Chair

07841 529798

Visit our website at basw.co.uk

Wellesley House, 37 Waterloo Street, Birmingham, B2 5PP. Tel 0121 622 3911

The British Association of Social Workers is a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England No. 982041.

 Posted by at 19:49
Nov 042017
 

A statement in solidarity with the London Anarchist Bookfair Collective. From some friends of the Bookfair

Please share a widely as possible.

On Saturday 28th October the 2017 London Anarchist Bookfair took place in North London. As usual several thousand anarchists and fellow travellers from diverse tendencies attended, ran stalls, held meetings and other activities.
The Bookfair is organised by a small voluntary collective of five, with a wider group of supporters who help out with setting up, facilitating areas or aspects of the events on the day, collecting donations to cover costs of this free event, tidying up at the end, and so on. It is a monumental amount of work, that generally falls on this small group of people (with families and lives, like the rest of us), who come together to spend much of the year running up to October facilitating the staging of an event and a space for several thousand others in the movement. The Bookfair Collective have always shown willing to take on board suggestions, follow up ideas, and include people and organisations with a view to broadening the range of ideas encompassed and the diversity of the program. They have always been open to more involvement in running the Bookfair.

Saturday’s events and the Open Letter

There were a series of incidents at the Bookfair this year which included distribution of leaflets about the proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act being consulted on and an ensuing stand-off. Several people intervened to stop what looked like a developing potentially physically violent incident against a lone woman activist by a group of people. We would hope that most people reading this would do the same.

Some of the people who intervened to do this were members of the Bookfair Collective but they were not doing so as a group in ‘authority’ on the situation, but as individuals and friends supporting a comrade; just as other bookfair-goers in the past have stepped up to stop others being chucked out. We would suggest it is a misinterpretation of events, and the role of the collective, to see this as a ‘Bookfair Collective intervention’ in order to stop the self-organisation of the group involved.

In the wake of the events on Saturday, an Open Letter has been written and circulated online, calling for changes to, and a potential boycott and/or picket of, next year’s Bookfair.

This open letter is online here:

https://londonbookfairopenlett er.wordpress.com/

Other public statements are also being discussed around withdrawal/disaffiliation with the Bookfair for instance:

https://edinburghanarchists.no flag.org.uk/2017/10/labf/

The open letter claims

“a pattern of response from Bookfair organisers where incidents of transphobia, anti-semitism, islamophobia, racism and misogyny are ignored” and “organisers have stepped in to defend and support those who use oppressive, violent and dehumanising language to perpetuate racist, colonial and patriarchal systems of oppression.” and the collective “allows racist imperialism, anti-semitism, Islamophobia, misogyny and ableism to ingratiate themselves as part of the culture of the Bookfair”

We would dispute this and would call for specific examples for any of the above, and evidence that we can reasonably judge from, enough to prove a pattern that the Bookfair Collective have refused to deal with them when raised.

What is the Anarchist Bookfair?

More fundamentally, we would ask to whom are the demands in the open letter really directed?

The Bookfair is not set up to be the representative body for anarchists, nor can it be. It is neither a membership organisation, nor are members of the collective Mediation Practitioners, there to settle the sometimes seismic differences and different perspectives that attendees bring to the event.

Come the day of the Bookfair that space the organisers have facilitated is filled with the politics brought into it by the anarchist movement itself, in all its initiatives, vivid colours and traditions. If a chasm of difference exists over issues that flare up, such as last weekend, the Bookfair Collective are not in a position, nor have the physical resources to arbitrate. So we ask: whose responsibility is this and how do disagreements (sometimes leading to threats of violence or actual violence) get dealt with? The existing statement on these issues can be found on the Bookfair’s website:

http://anarchistbookfair.org.u k/respect.html

We are left to wonder whether anarchist practice has become so inculcated by ‘customer service’ culture that even the Bookfair is attended by consumers forgetting the fundamental essence of DIY, self-organisation and self-regulation of events.

The Bookfair Collective operates on the principle that it is not for the small collective that organises it to take on defining and enforcing a rigid policy on safety and behaviour; it is for the wider movement that takes part in the Bookfair to do so, along anarchist principles of opposing centralized authority with dispersed and grassroots responsibility.

Points raised in the open letter call for a radically different event, with a much more centralized program, organized or tightly overseen by the collective. If we as a movement, decide that this is what we want, many more of us will need to commit time and energy to organising and supporting this annual event.

Where next?

We reject transphobia and have all actively supported struggles against oppression. We support the right of trans identifying people to live their lives free from harassment and abuse, to organise, campaign and engage in debate with whoever they choose; and to be addressed by the gender pronouns of their choice. We support the rights of all women to be heard. We recognise that both trans activists and gender critical feminists are currently feeling attacked, at times to the level of their very existence and identities. We would hope that everyone participating in London Anarchist Bookfair would treat each other respectfully and continue to believe that dialogue is possible so that we can strengthen our struggle against oppression and build a better world. We reject bullying and intimidation – in physical or written form.

The Bookfair can never be the ‘dreamed of Utopia’ the open letter imagines, despite all our desires and dedication. We agree with the open letter on one thing, that we should all always be challenging ourselves and each other to widen liberation and ensure the Bookfair is a safe and respectful event, drawing in communities, and reflecting them. But we also believe it needs to allow for discussion and dissent, while excluding hatred and oppression.

We are not members of the Bookfair Collective but some of us have been in the past, and some of us have been involved in wider support work for Bookfairs. All of us are long-time attendees of the Bookfair. As such we hope that it continues, we offer our solidarity and practical support to the Bookfair Collective. We urge the Collective to look beyond the signatories of the open letter to the many wider groups and individuals who attend and take part in the event every year, and to realise that they do have a groundswell of support out there.

Rather than calling for a boycott of the Bookfair, we would challenge the writers of the open letter to engage meaningfully with the Collective and others to help create the change they want. In the light of the statement’s refusal to engage with the Collective until their minimum demands are met, the Bookfair Collective would be reasonably entitled to ignore the open letter.

So we stand by the Bookfair Collective, and salute how the Bookfair is organised; recognising the immense work done in making it happen every year. But it remains up to all of us who attend and take part in it to ensure that it measures up to the standards of love, solidarity and empowerment that we all desire. It is not possible for the small collective that currently facilitates the space to police them. Nor is it fundamentally anarchism.

This statement is online at:

https://bookfair248.wordpress. com/

Comments and practical contributions to what is likely to be an ongoing discussion about the future of the London Anarchist Bookfair are welcome on this site.

For a statement by Helen Steel on the events at the bookfair:

https://helensteelbookfairstat ement.wordpress.com/

 

 Posted by at 20:39
Nov 032017
 

DPAC received this letter a while ago. At first, it did not make sense. What was Swanee? Then, looking around, we started to make connections with words associated with swans and babies’s swans.

UP THE SWANEE:

Hello, you have reached the SWAN,

kontroller of many Sicknets.

Fancy a stay in one of our private mental health hospitals?

Don’t fret about the cost! The NHS pay us approx £12,000 – £32,000  per week (all dividends boosting a USA owned company).

Long stays are assured.

Correct treatments not guaranteed.

All our staff are lovely (in our opinion), we are talking textbooks enjoying our very rewarding jobs patronising clients, dodging real issues, & creating drug addicts.

On average, we will force you to take 24 pills every 12 hours – so we can stay in our offices, & keep you feeling unwell.

If you don’t swallow, law says it’s OK for you to be thrown to the floor, held down & forcibly injected.

If you dare to raise a little finger to defend yourself, we accuse you of assault, police come, you are blamed.

No, whilst in our “care” you will not be allowed to leave, or go outside. You stay inside, with no fresh air, activities or access to education.

There’s no point us providing that as patients are too drugged to do anything.

Yes, our slick, well oiled sales pitch, aimed at maximising numbers of customers, does give onlookers the impression we provide HOTEL like facilities – a gym for example.

We have an Occupational Therapist. I’m not sure why – in this heat nobody has much motivation…

But our brand new buildings –  quickly put up constructions similar to MacDonalds, are a facade.

Seems like patients are on holiday!

There’s even a chef to cook your meals.

Admittedly it’s not homely. It is like living in a glass office 24/7 with approx 30 complete strangers – some of whom are dangerous – full of fear – desperate to go out / escape.

So you’re watched by staff & cameras 24/7.

Staff control everything! What you can read, you are not allowed to write (a pen is a potential weapon). But if you want to cut yourself with razor blades, that’s OK, we  can’t watch you all the time! Ha ha. (Even though we are paid to safeguard you).

When you realise you are suffering from EXTREME boredom caused by not doing anything month after month, year after year – you may develop some nasty new habits like trying to gauge your eyeballs out.

It is upsetting for staff. But these side effects are all due to your illness, and part of your recovery. It is a sign of progress! Due to your condition getting worse.

No! None of what you are feeling / suffering is attributable to your environment, or fact you are being tortured by us.

This is new-style USA medical kidnapping, in the UK, with the image all sorted out so it seems palatable to less discerning eyes.

Oh, we don’t worry about inspections, inquests, complaints, or cuts in NHS funding!

Who do you think our shareholders are?

Anyone can invest in our multi-Billion $ business – the funders of NHS Commissioning groups do, MH Trusts… acquire shares – it’s a fast growing industry – very attractive to most (& not repulsive enough to cause disternation amongst those who might see through the sham. Or should I say scam?)

(It suits Conservatives – they cause the conditions that drive folk to distraction – the stressful conditions Tories like to inflict on lower income groups beneath them, increases illnesses – if it’s cogs that go, all drives ’em to our door, so it’s win win for us!

It’s not a revolving door! We let ’em in a door we then keep shut.

That’s all we need to do really – herd ’em in like cattle.

Of course we don’t like deaths! That’s a loss of approx at least £300,000 a year per expired patient.

Quickly replaced by another dying to get in, yes. But we would prefer to get that £300 grand plus  get another £300 grand.

Never mind.  Our insurance covers us against dead losses.

Luckily for us (on the dark side) nobody has scrutinised deaths caused. Nobody in authority wants to link them!

Each death is explained away by a coroner scattered someplace in the UK, if we get told off a bit for not providing the best care, we promise to improve, and jackpot!

We’ve perfected our operation – our branding – everything – so disgruntled relatives can’t even leave negative comments on our websites. We churn out photos to promote us… I particularly like  awards put in our reception areas –  so  assuring to our customers & clients, reminding them what we do is very rewarding.

Our complaints procedure has become increasingly obscure.

We say one thing, do another. 99% we get away with it. We hire a pretty youngling to listen pseudo sympathetically, then write saying you have got it wrong, the hospital is right. Works like a charm! Complaints fade away like patients

No, we don’t allow 2nd opinions when it’s claimed a patient is misdiagnosed, or put on a wrong ward.

Yes, we do get annoying Nearest Relatives to either put up & shut up, or get lost.

What’s it to us if a patient is 100’s of miles from home with no-one to check on their welfare?

Do we help alleviate the mental health of patients?

A few compliant types – 1 or 2 are released.  We love it when the grateful sing our praises – that’s good PR.

If discharged into the community – you still have to take all the drugs, or you are sent back on a Section.

So, we create the illusion we do, but we don’t.

If you say you have a mental health problem, I’ll give it a name, I’ll tie you in knots – you haven’t got a degree in psychobabble, but I have – I get paid to confuse you, throw the weight of the establishment on you and they will back me, not you…because… I am omnipotent… so big & powerful…

What’s the point in making patients better?

That is counter productive for us. You do see that, don’t you?

Ethics? What’s that got to do with us? We are not in the business of selling ethics! We’re here (to exploit and) make money. From drug sales…

Yes, we are fundamentally (excuse the pun) very different from the founding NHS principles. The NHS aim to get you better double quick.

We do not need a heart, soul, or conscience to make huge profits. We only care about acceptably fixing figures so attractive sums end up in offshore accounts.

I should care about tricking people, destroying quality of lives, futures?

No thanks, the money does me. Their mental health has gone to pot. My pot!

So, when are you signing up to join us?

You can trust in me, I’m a professional.

 

 

 

 Posted by at 21:51
Nov 012017
 

A little later than planned is our second blog about Cygnet Health Care and what appears to be their shocking treatment and restraint regimes. The latter seems almost certainly to be illegal yet NHS England continues to have a £300 million deal with them.

This couldn’t of course have anything to do with the fact that Cygnet is now owned by US Universal Health Services, whose executive was Simon Stevens now head of NHS England.

Payers of $8.4 million for false claims Universal Health Services take over Cygnet Health Care for £205 Million.

MP Louise Hague has also written to the health secretary to demand an urgent meeting about the quality of care at Cygnet Hospital Sheffield.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has rated the hospital “inadequate” on safety.

The CQC has held inspections at the site three times in 13 months, two of which were prompted by serious incidents.

Similarly Cygnet hospital, Woking was actually forced to close down and some of the more disturbing findings included adolescents allowed to self-harm with objects they found in the rubbish, while four allegations of sexual assault were reported by patients supposedly under “constant observation” there.

Investigators found that staff on the adolescent wards had used physical restraint 839 times in six months, including 88 cases of face-down restraint.

A patient also required emergency help after being given a significant overdose of medicine.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/10/14/vindictive-hospital-staff-taunted-young-psychiatric-patients/

The most recent CQC report for Woking found

http://www.cqc.org.uk/sites/default/files/new_reports/AAAG7870.pdf

Ratings

Overall rating for this location

Inadequate

–––

Are services safe? Inadequate

–––

Are services effective? Inadequate

–––

Are services caring? Requires improvement

–––

Are services responsive? Requires improvement

–––

Are services well-led? Inadequate––

 

And then there are the worrying number of deaths which have been allowed to occur including

https://finolamoss.wordpress.com/2016/12/01/24-year-old-dies-in-cygnet-after-11-forced-olanzapine-injections-in-10-days/

 

https://finolamoss.wordpress.com/2016/12/09/jodies-cygnet-help-no-psychologist-communicationassessment-plan-protection-death-for-21000/amp/

Let us remind ourselves of Cygnet’s record on ‘treatment’.

https://finolamoss.wordpress.com/2016/12/25/a-christmas-tale-of-autistic-lives-and-cygnets-12500-a-week-nhs-bonanza/

And the fact that Cygnet is now owned by US Universal Health Services, whose executive was Simon Stevens now head of NHS England.

https://finolamoss.wordpress.com/2016/11/25/payers-of-8-4-million-for-false-claims-universal-health-services-take-over-cygnet-health-care-for-205-million/

And let us remind ourselves that rehabilitation to enable going ‘home’, is a home of drugged containment termed ‘community living’, also increasingly owned by US Universal Health Services via Cambian.

https://finolamoss.wordpress.com/2017/07/01/adult-treatment-units-to-community-living-turf-war-for-billions/

And here we have workers comments on Cygnet’s services.

https://finolamoss.wordpress.com/2016/12/29/comments-on-cygnets-services/

Finola Moss sums up her views on Cygnet and their service provision for autistic people.

Autistic people are huge cash cows, they earn Cygnet £13,000 a week being rapidly tranquilised in a secure Unit, whenever they are deemed ‘unmanageable’ in community placement or rehabilitation.

The Spring Centre with this new provision for an extra 14 men in locked rehabilitation and 4 rapid/emergency tranquilisation beds, earn £13,000 a week per ‘patient’ in addition to the existing 26 bed low secure units where each ‘patient’ earns £7,000 a week. That is £416,000 a week.

Over one and a half million a month and over 16 million a year ‘to look after’ 44 autistic people.

And what do they get for this colossal amount of public money ?

Renovation of a large house in a cheap area, plenty of drugs until compliant, containment, a consultant psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, a nurse practitioner, an occupational therapist, a manager and deputy, and minimum ratio to patient care workers/nurses on shifts, and cooking, cleaning and laundry provision.

Is there any competition ? No, as Cygnet is deemed the only ‘specialist provider’ under HSCA 2012.

The ‘patients’ have no rights, as sectioned each year under MHA and if necessary deemed ‘incapable’ for life under the MCA with yearly rubber stamped reviews of Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards. All this in their ‘best interests’.

Please help us get A moved from Cygnet Derby to live nearer her grandmother and out of the clutches of Cygnet.

https://www.thepetitionsite.com/en-gb/798/440/513/release-my-grandayghter-from-detention-in-cygnet-private-hospital/?taf_id=44510916&cid=twitter

 Posted by at 21:19
Oct 282017
 

To confirm attendance please email
ellen.morrison@inclusionlondon.org.uk 

And with any information about any dietary and access requirements. There is parking outside and the nearest tube is Brixton. For more information about the venue see:

http://www.weare336.org.uk/

There will be more detailed information including programme for the day, workshops and speakers list to follow after the National Disabled People’s Summit is out of the way

Please share this information across your social media platforms

 Posted by at 20:56
Oct 282017
 
By the kilburn Unemployed Workers GrouK
The government has already closed 24 jobcentres since August this year. They plan to close a further 78 Jobcentres by April of 2018.
16 of these Jobcentres are in London.
Poor people and people facing the biggest challenges need local jobcentres, not some superhub that they have to walk miles to reach.
Benefit money is too little to cover regular trips on public transport. People will have to walk. And don’t be late or too ill to walk over a mile each way whenever the jobcentre demands it-– you’ll be up for a sanction!
The Torys say that much of the jobcentres work is now done online, but 5.3 million people in Britain have never used the internet, and 10 million lack the basic digital skills. And millions of these people will be in receipt of benefits.
You can’t use the internet if you can’t afford a computer or a mobile phone contract or or the fee for using library or internet cafe
You can’t use the internet if you are illiterate (and six to eight million Britons are borderline or fully illiterate)
Our local Jobcentres, Kilburn and Neasden, serve one of the most deprived areas in the country. If they are closed then over half of the borough of Camden and around two thirds of Brent will be more than half a mile from the nearest jobcentre, i.e. more than a mile round trip. These areas contain heavily populated areas: a lot of people are going to be affected.
In amongst the people who can’t use the internet are hundreds of thousands of people who have lost their disability benefit because they aren’t disabled enough for the Tories. They may be able to walk just 200 meters, or sometimes panic when out and get lost, or nor be able to plan a journey to places they dont know, or have epilepsy. They may be seriously depressed or suffering from brain fog brought on by medication or illnesses like Fibromyalgia. They may be recovering from Cancer or waiting for a heart operation. They may have variable conditions that mean that they can’t guarantee being able to go out at all on any particular day.
Let’s meet outside the DWP’s headquarters at Caxton House and let them know what we think about this. Save our Jobcentres!
The 16 London jobcentres that are closing are:
Highgate, – 24 November 2017
Eltham, – 1 December 2017
Edgware,  – 8 December 2017
Finchley,  12 January 2018
Dagenham, – 19 January 2018
Southall,  January 2018
Kingston,  February 2018
Brixton,  9 February 2018
Neasden Chancel House,  16 February 2018
Clapham Maritime House, – 23 February 2018
Kilburn,  2 March 2018
Hammersmith 9 March 2018
Croydon, – 16 March 2018
Wandsworth,  23 March 2018
Leytonstone, 30 March 2018
Hounslow, 1 – 6 April 2018
 Posted by at 19:15
Oct 282017
 
It’s been reported http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/disabled-people-interned-care-homes-nhs-cost-cutting-a8019906.html that across the country disabled people are receiving threats from their local NHS service that they may have to be moved from living in their own homes to a residential setting due to newly capped funding.
 
I’m looking to speak to disabled people in this situation to raise awareness of the issue. Please note, it isn’t necessary that you’ve actually been moved to a care home but that you’ve been directly told this is a possibility. 
 
Please get in touch on: frances.ryan.freelance@guardian.co.uk 
 Posted by at 19:05
Oct 272017
 

BBC Sunday Politics South East is making a news piece about the closure of Jobcentres. From next March people in the Whitstable and Herne Bay areas will have to travel to Canterbury, which can take up to an hour on public transport and cost up to £6.70. The BBC are looking for an individual or family who will be affected by these changes who would be happy to appear on TV and are available for filming on WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 1. Filming will take around an hour. If you can help please contact the South East team on 0207 407 9292. Many thanks. 

 Posted by at 16:12
Oct 272017
 
Please send your experience of the ESA or PIP assessment or your experience of waiting for an assessment to Henrietta.Doyle@inclusionlondon.org.uk by the 8 November.   Suggestions to improve the assessment process are also welcome.
Inclusion London will be sending written evidence to the Work and Pensions Select Committee inquiry into PIP and ESA assessments and your evidence will be used to inform our evidence.
 Posted by at 13:22
Oct 252017
 

We know that Universal credit is a mess, but what about HMRC’s Real Time Information system ? The following contribution from Stephen Timms based on a Freedom of Information request is very interesting. It seems that over 5% of payments to individuals by HMRC were reported being paid late.  HMRC does not monitor the missing or incorrect payments, but we know that Universal Credit is being underpaid. So not only claimants have to contend with long waiting times, but when they are paid via RTI, over 5% are paid late, and an unknown number of claimants don’t receive anything, or an incorrect payment, mostly at their disadvantage. What experts are saying, is that 5,7% is an unacceptably high rate of late payments.  The number of late, missing and incorrect payments should be well lower than 1% if UC is going to work

Stephen Timms’ contribution comes from yesterday debate on UC

.

“Under universal credit, everybody’s monthly pay is automatically sent to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs through the pay-as-you-earn RTI—real-time information—system, and HMRC then sends that to the DWP so that it can do the universal credit calculation. There have been rumours for some time that the RTI system does not work very well. I have tabled questions about that, but the Minister has flatly denied that there is a problem.

It emerged last month, through a freedom of information request submitted by a member of the public, Mr John Slater, that there is a thing called the “Late, Missing and Incorrect RTI Project”. If RTI is late, missing or incorrect, we have a problem, because it is not possible to do the required universal credit calculation. I therefore tabled a question for the Minister:

“To ask…what the remit and activities of the Late, Missing and Incorrect RTI Project are.”

The Minister sent back an answer telling me that it did not exist and that there was no such thing. Fortunately, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs was more forthcoming on this point. I got a written answer last week from the Treasury, dated 16 October, to my written question 107309, which stated that:

“The vast majority of Real Time Information submissions are accurate and on time. However, a very small number of data quality issues create discrepancies and these can have an effect on an individual’s tax and benefits position.”

Indeed they can, because if the information is wrong, people’s benefit calculations will also be wrong.

The following day, 17 October, also from the more helpful of these two departments, the Treasury answer to my question 107475 stated that:

“during the 2016/17 tax year approximately 590m payments to individuals were reported via RTI. 5.7% of these were reported late. HMRC does not hold the information in respect of missing and incorrect reports.”

If over 5% of them were just late, never mind the ones that were missing or incorrect, we do have a serious problem.

Looking through all the submissions we received, briefing us ahead of this debate, I was struck by the one from the Child Poverty Action Group, referring to,

“difficulty making claims for universal credit, with many online claims seeming to ‘disappear’.

Universal credit being underpaid because ‘real time information’ provided by HMRC regarding income is not always reliable or accurate.

Claimants being paid the wrong amount of universal credit for no apparent reason.”

What is happening is that the IT is not doing what it is supposed to do.

My hon. Friend the Member for Brentford and Isleworth (Ruth Cadbury) referred to the anonymous report in The Independent a couple of weeks ago by someone working in a jobcentre, who talked about the grim reality of administering universal credit, rather by contrast with the enthusiasm with which Tory Members have told us that people are working on this. That writer made the point that when there is a discrepancy between what people were paid and what HMRC says they were paid—in other words, an RTI problem—it takes ages to sort that problem out. Members representing constituencies where universal credit has been fully rolled out report endless mistakes, delays and errors, which take weeks and weeks to resolve.

Another reason why this project’s roll-out should be paused and then fixed is to stop these problems being inflicted on tens of thousands more.

 Posted by at 15:54