Apr 242017
 

These are a list of GE 2015 election fraud MPs who cheated to win their seats. Their twitter names are included in this post and we suggest people remind them of what they’ve done. You might also like to add in @theresa_may to any tweets you make.

The twitter details are collated at the end of the post for easier use.

Wells

James Heappey beat Liberal Democrat Tessa Munt by 7,585 votes. 
Tessa Munt (Liberal Democrat) 18,662 32.8%

Spending limit: £16,092.51

Declared: £14,575.64

Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £633.13

@JSHeappay

 

Northampton North

Michael Ellis beat Labour’s Sally Keeble by 3245 votes.

Spending limit: £12,248.64
Declared: £11,418.70

Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £1,320.06

@Michael_Ellis1

 

North Cornwall

Scott Mann beat Liberal Democrat Dan Rogerson by 6,621 votes.

Spending limit: £14,732.43
Declared: £14,476.55
Not declared: hotels, food.

@scottmannmp

 

Weaver Vale

Graham Evans beat Labour’s Julia Tickridge by 806 votes.

Spending limit: £14,856.63

Declared: £13,720.32Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £1,013.69

@GrahamEvansMP

 

Sherwood

Mark Spencer beat Labour’s Léonie Mathers by 4647 votes.

Spending limit: £15,187.20
Declared: £12,760.00

Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £277.20

@Mark_Spencer

 

Thornbury and Yate

Luke Hall beat Liberal Democrat Steve Webb by 1495 votes.

Spending Limit: £14,709.21
Declared: £13,128.08

Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £568.87

@LukeHallMP

 

Kingston

James Berry beat Liberal Democrat Ed Davey by 2834 votes.

Spending limit: £13,660.32
Declared: £12,296.37

Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £786.05

@JamesBerryMP

 

Broxtowe

Anna Soubry beat Labour’s Nick Palmer by 4287 votes. 
Conservative gain

Spending limit: £15,000.09
Declared: £14,106.96

Not declared: bus, hotels, food, except for £140 paid to Beeston Conservative Club for “refreshments for Team 2015 activists”

Total estimated overspend: £1,256.87

@Anna_Soubry

 

Amber valley

Nigel Mills beat Labour’s Kevin Gillott by 4205 votes

Spending limit: £14955.09
Declared: £13881.62

Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £1,076.53

@NigelMillsMP

 

Morecambe and Lunesdale

David Morris beat Labour’s Amina Lone by 4,590 votes.

Spending limit: £14,626.23
Declared: £14,118.09

Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £1,641.86

@Davidmpmorris

 

Yeovil

Marcus Fysh beat Liberal Democrat David Laws by 5313 votes.

Spending limit: £16,242.54

Declared: £14,870.73

Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £778.19

@MarcusFysh

 

Pudsey

Stuart Andrew beat Jamie Hanley by 4,501 votes.

Spending limit: £12,823.38
Declared: £12,314.60

Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £1,641.22

@StuartAndrew

 

Plymouth Sutton and Devonport

Oliver Colvile beat Labour’s Luke Pollardby 523 votes.

Spending limit: £12,846.18

Declared: £8,769.37

Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £1,926.81

@olivercolville

 

Lincoln

Karl McCartney beat Labour’s Lucy Rigby by 1,443 votes.

Spending limit: £13,136.28

Declared: £12,628.68

Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £1,642.40

@KarlmccartneyMP

 

Torbay

Kevin Foster beat Liberal Democrat Adrian Sanders by 3,286 votes.

Spending limit: £13,217.88
Declared: £12,193.42

Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £1,125.54

@Kevin-j-foster

 

South Thanet

Craig Mackinlay beat UKIP’s Nigel Farage by 2,812 votes.

Spending limit: £15,016.38
Declared: £14,837.77

Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £1,971.39

No twitter

 

Nuneaton

Marcus Jones beat Labour’s Vicky Fowler by 4,882 votes.

Spending limit: £14,768.88
Declared: £13,435.51

Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £816.63

@MarcusJonesMP

 

Cannock Chase

Amanda Milling beat Labour’s Janos Toth by 4,923 votes.

Spending limit: £15,355.23
Declared: £14,465.95

Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £1,260.72

@amandamilling

 

Cheltenham

Alex Chalk beat Liberal Democrat Martin Horwood by 6,516 votes.

Spending limit: £13,229.34
Declared: £12,576.45
Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £1,497.11

@AlexChalkChelt

 

Dudley South

Mike Wood beat Labour’s Natasha Millward by 4,270 votes.

Spending limit: £12,295.68
Declared: £11,452.60

Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £1,306.92

@mikejwood

 

Sutton and Cheam

Paul Scully beat Liberal Democrat Paul Burstow by 3,921 votes.

Spending limit: £12,760.38

Declared: £12,461.20

Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £1,850.82

@scullyp

 

Bury North

David Nuttall beat Labour’s James Frith by 378 votes. 

Spending limit: £12755.40

Declared: £7151.30

Not declared: bus, hotels, food

Total estimated overspend: £3,448.10

@DavidNuttallMP

 

Following further investigation by Channel 4 News, another six MPs have been identified who were visited by the Battlebuses but failed to declare the costs.

They are Neil Carmichael, MP for Stroud, @stroud-neil

George Eustice, MP for Camborne & Redruth, twitter account not used

Jake Berry, MP for Rossendale and Darwen, @JakeBerry

William Wragg, MP for Hazel Grove, @William_Wragg

John Stevenson, MP for Carlisle, @JohnStevensonMP

Mary Robinson, MP for Cheadle @MaryRobinson01

Collated twitter details

@JSHeappay, @stroud-neil, @JakeBerry, @William_Wragg,

@JohnStevensonMP, @DavidNuttallMP, @scullyp, @mikejwood,

@amandamilling,@AlexChalkChelt, @MaryRobinson01, @StuartAndrew,

@olivercolville,@KarlmccartneyMP,@Kevin-j-foster,@MarcusJonesMP, 3

@JSHeappay, @Michael_Ellis1,@scottmannmp,@GrahamEvansMP,@Mark_Spencer,

@LukeHallMP,@JamesBerryMP,@Anna_Soubry,@NigelMillsMP,

@Davidmpmorris,@MarcusFysh

 

With thanks to Daily Mirror for this information from their article

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/busted-29-tories-how-broke-7467603

 

 

 

 Posted by at 19:31
Apr 222017
 

13 million Disabled Voters say time for politicians to take us seriously

May 2nd meet 12.15 pm Old Palace Yard
As more and more disabled people are affected daily by the vicious cuts inflicted on us by the Tories. Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) are calling on all disabled people to register and vote in the forthcoming General Election to make sure that the Tories cannot win.

The 13 million disabled voters in the UK and their families very much hold the balance of power in this election, yet politicians continue to ignore us as a serious political force – but we are and will prove this in 2017.

With the Trash the Tories (#TrashTheTories) campaign, DPAC will be making sure that disabled people and their demands are not forgotten by candidates in the forthcoming election. Nor will we sit back quietly now the UN has found this Conservative government guilty of the “Grave and Systematic violation” of disabled people’s human rights.

Our lively protest on the final day that Parliament sits before the election will be followed up by further actions around the country against politicians who have voted for policies harmful to disabled people since 2010. This will culminate with a protest in Theresa May’s constituency of Maidenhead.

Funding available to help with any travel or PA costs you may have. If help needed please email details to mail@dpac.uk.net
 

Further reading


The 5 Tory benefit cuts taking force this week that could affect YOU
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/tory-benefit-cuts-today-disability-10144250?service=responsive

Cancer patient’s family stands to lose £50k under benefit cuts
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/apr/02/cancer-patients-family-stands-to-lose-50k-under-benefit-cuts

Benefit cuts: Five cuts coming into force this week – and they could affect you
http://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/benefit-cuts-five-cuts-coming-into-force-this-week-and-they-could-affect-you/story-30248892-detail/story.html

Limited life changes of disabled people in Britain revealed by damming report
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/apr/03/limited-life-chances-of-disabled-people-in-britain-revealed-by-damning-report

Imminent tax benefit cuts set to hit families hard and benefit the richest
http://www.itv.com/news/2017-04-05/imminent-tax-and-benefit-cuts-set-to-hit-families-hard-and-benefit-the-richest/

ESA disability benefits are changing – THE WEEK – here’s what you need to know
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/esa-disability-benefits-changing-week-10169466

Charity highlights impact of move from DLA to PIP
http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/23869

Universal credit benefit just changed today- here’s how it will affect you
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/universal-credit-benefits-just-changed-10197976

UK cutting benefits for people with incurable disease
http://presstv.ir/Detail/2017/04/10/517472/UK-Benefit-DWP-PIP

50000 disabilied people lose adapted vehicles in Tory benefits shake-up
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/50000-disabled-people-lose-adapted-10203451

The DWP decided to take away a disabled women’s Motability car after tickling her with a feather
ww.thecanary.co/2017/04/12/dwp-decided-take-away-disabled-womans-motability-tickling-feather/

Thousands of disabled people lose special cars due to controverial scheme
http://www.itv.com/news/border/2017-04-12/thousands-lose-cars-due-to-change-in-disability-benefits/

Disability benefit claimant was asked why she had not killed herself
https://www.sundaypost.com/fp/disability-benefit-claimant-was-asked-why-she-had-not-killed-herself/

Companies behind controversial disability tests set to get millions more in cash than planned
http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/politics/companies-behind-controversial-disability-tests-12891576

Man who lost mobility scooter under PIP brands assessment “outrageous” as 50000 have vehicles taken away
http://www.eveningnews24.co.uk/news/health/man-who-lost-mobility-scooter-under-pip-brands-assessment-system-outrageous-as-50-000-have-vehicles-taken-away-1-4975759

Pushed to the brink
https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-c9a6-Pushed-to-the-brink#.WQCrUYjyuUk

Unfair disability benefit changes
http://www.dailyecho.co.uk/yoursay/letters/15227004._Unfair_disability_benefit_changes_/

Sharp rise in rejected claims for disability benefit
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/apr/17/sharp-rise-in-rejected-claims-for-disability-benefit

Shock rise of people given ZERO points in the Tories’ cruel disability benefit tests
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/shock-rise-people-given-zero-10237346

DWP’s unfair twist for disabled people
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/apr/17/dwps-unfair-twist-for-disabled-people

200000 people facing cuts to disabiliy benefit
http://home.bt.com/news/uk-news/200000-people-facing-cuts-to-disability-benefit-11364173718886

The systematic Tory abuse of disabled people
http://anotherangryvoice.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/the-systematic-tory-abuse-of-disabled.ht

 Posted by at 21:05
Apr 202017
 

Crip the Vote UK Ballot Box MemeThis week Theresa May announced yet another Tory U-turn scrapping their fixed term parliaments to call a surprise General Election. This couldn’t possibly be because the CPS is likely to charge 30 of the corrupt bastards with fraud I suppose?

Like most other people I’ve probably had enough elections in the past couple of years to last almost a lifetime but it does give us all an opportunity to show how powerful disabled voters are and to get rid of the Tory vermin once and for all. And we need to do that for all of those previously driven to their deaths and for others still being harassed and vilified simply for being disabled.

For the past 7 years disabled people have been treated as scapegoats for the rancid and vile Osborne austerity agenda. As a group of people we have endured cuts which have impacted on us 9 times more than others and for those with the highest support needs 19 times more. The UN has found the UK Tory government guilty of the grave and systematic violation of disabled people’s human rights thanks to the efforts of DPAC and our supporters who presented evidence to the inquiry carried out in October 2015. So we have indisputable evidence from an internationally respected organisation about the atrocities people have been forced to endure.

It is vital that disabled people and their friends and families are registered to vote on June 8th and that they do vote to get rid of the Tories.

If you aren’t already registered this is how to

vote Registration

https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
you must register by midnight on Monday 22 May.

If you want a postal proxy  you must apply by Tuesday 23 May.

If you want a different type of proxy vote (someone to vote for you),  you must apply by Wednesday 31 May.

For an emergency proxy vote, for example if you end up in hospital, it’s 5pm on the day of the election.

 

While real change is unlikely to happen without a leftist Labour party in power our first battle must be against the Tories and ridding ourselves of them. In the 2015 general election Ed Miliband effectively threw away the bulk of the Labour vote in Scotland by refusing to run on an anti-austerity agenda and this will be problematic this time round but not impossible to combat.

What if you have a Labour MP who you don’t think it’s worth voting for? I’ve already seen people in Southwark saying they would never vote for the Labour MP there and then there’s Birmingham Yardley’s MP, Edgbaston’s MP and others. Worse could you/should you vote Lib Dem aka the little yellow Tories with a seemingly homophobic leader if they offer the opportunity to trash the Tories? Tactical voting to eradicate one scourge on mankind or voting from the heart might be the choice only you can make.

You’re all adults so in spite of requests we have no intention of telling you how you should vote but will be presenting various facts, figures and policies for you to consider over the next few weeks plus organising some fun activities on and off-line for you to take part in.

Graphic Images to download and share (all made by the ever-brilliant Brian Hilton)

#CripTheVoteUK MemeCrip the Vote UK Ballot Box MemeCrip the Vote UK Ballot Box Meme

And the following square images can be used as your  Twitter and Facebook Icons

Crip the Vote UK Ballot Box IconCrip the Vote UK Loud Hailer IconCrip The Vote UK Text Icon

 

 Posted by at 19:42
Apr 122017
 

Have you lost DLA or PIP due to the change in descriptors from 50 metres to 20 metres in the mobility test.

If so and you’re willing to speak to a journalist about this please contact Emily Dugan from Buzzfeed news. They are doing a series of articles about disability cuts and need to speak to people.

 

emily.dugan@buzzfeed.com

 

020 3814 1907 | 077 1770 2566

@emilydugan

 

 Posted by at 21:23
Apr 102017
 

ITV are filming with the West Midlands Mayoral Candidates on Wed 19th April at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.

 

They are looking for someone who has had or is having problems getting accessible accommodation in that area and would be happy to ask questions to the candidates about what they might do to improve the situation for those with a disability.

If you can help please contact Alice Key | Production Journalist | ITV News Central

www.itv.com/central

alice.key@itv.com
084488 14131.

Twitter: @alice1992key

 

 Posted by at 19:53
Apr 012017
 
 Posted by at 22:32
Apr 012017
 

From Monday (3rd April), new recipients of employment and support allowance deemed healthy enough to carry out ‘work related activities’ will get up to £1,500 less each year than existing recipients. Anyone who feels able to work and does so for over 12 weeks but then needs to reclaim ESA will be treated as a new claimant.

When this cut was announced DPAC sought the views of a barrister as to whether this could be legally challenged and the answer was once someone is affected by it then it can be challenged.

We are in touch with a solicitor who is keen to pursue a legal challenge and therefore need to find someone eligible for legal aid willing to make one. We believe this could not only be a new claimant but anyone who might wish to work more than 12 weeks but who would then be disadvantaged if they needed to reclaim ESA at a later date.

If anyone is interested in knowing more and able to help with this incredibly important legal challenge please email us mail@dpac.uk.net or contact us via @dis_ppl_protest

The Institute of Fiscal Studies has put forward a useful round up of this savage cut

https://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/9117

Cut to employment and support allowance

Employment and support allowance (ESA) is the main out of work benefit for working age individuals who are judged not to be ‘fit for work’ due to a health condition. There are currently around 2.2 million individuals claiming ESA, of whom 250,000 are waiting for a health assessment, 1.6 million are in the ‘support group’, and 400,000 are the ‘work-related activity group’ (WRAG). The latter group are those deemed healthy enough to carry out ‘work related activities’, such as CV preparation or skills training.

From next Monday (3rd April) new WRAG claimants will receive £73.10 a week – the same as jobseekers’ allowance (JSA) claimants – rather than £102.15 a week as is currently the case (those in the support group are unaffected). This change will not create immediate losses of benefit income, because only new recipients are affected. Ultimately though, of course, all claims will be assessed under the new less generous rules. To give a sense of how quickly this will cut the generosity of benefits in practice, in the recent past around 60,000 people a year have started an ESA claim and ended up in WRAG – so we would expect approximately that number to get less money over the coming year than they would otherwise have got. In the long run this is expected to save the government about £650 million per year, with around 500,000 recipients getting £1,400 a year less than they would otherwise have got, on average.

What do we know about the sorts of people who are placed in the ESA WRAG? First, around half of them are entitled to ESA because of mental or behavioural disorders. Second, they tend to be somewhat older than JSA claimants, with about half being between 50 and the state pension age compared to about a quarter for JSA. Third, they tend to be on ESA for a relatively long time, as shown in Figure 1. Hence, while this change will align the weekly entitlements of ESA WRAG and JSA claimants, it is worth bearing in mind that the ESA claimants will tend to live on these amounts for substantially longer – around four in five WRAG claimants have been claiming for over two years, compared to less than one in five for JSA.

Figure 1. Proportion of claimants by length of claim, various benefits

 

Note: Before being placed in WRAG or support group or being declared ‘fit to work’, claimants must go through an assessment, during which they are entitled only to the basic JSA rate. The above data include time spent in the assessment phase, which typically takes at least 13 weeks. This is part of the reason why the ‘up to 6 months’ bars are small for the WRAG and support group. However, since this policy only affects claimants post-assessment, the left-hand stacked bar does give an accurate picture of claim durations for the group affected by the policy change. Source: DWP Tabulation Tool: Employment and Support Allowance, May 2016, Office for National Statistics, UK Labour Market: March 2017, Table BEN02

People might respond to this change in several ways. First, they may not choose to claim ESA in the first place: since JSA will afford the same financial support as WRAG, the financial incentives to go through the medical assessment rather than accept the additional work conditions of JSA are reduced. Second, those placed in the WRAG might challenge the decision to try to get into the support group and receive the now much higher entitlement. At the moment around 20% of those placed in WRAG challenge the decision at least once, so there is considerable scope for this to become more prevalent. Third, as the government’s policy costing document points out, they may try to claim other benefits. The main option available here is personal independence payment, a non-means tested disability benefit. Not only does this provide income directly (between £22 and £141.10 per week), but receipt can also be an automatic passport to higher ESA entitlements. Fourth, they could move into work. Claimants may be constrained in the extent to which they can respond in this way – WRAG claimants have after all been declared by the government to have ‘limited capability for work’. On the other hand, a DWP survey found that 30% of WRAG claimants are already looking for work, and some research suggests that employment decisions among the disabled can be sensitive to the level of disability payments. However, many – perhaps the majority – will not respond in any of these ways and will therefore have to make do with an average of £1,400 a year less than they would otherwise have got.

 

 Posted by at 21:49
Mar 302017
 

People and Planet based in Oxford have paid internship vacancies available in a fully accessible workplace.

Their latest campaign is around challenging racist narratives in the media and promoting ethical journalism on migrant’s rights.

This sits alongside our fossil fuel divestment campaign and our workers rights campaign in the electronics industry in the globalSouth.

For more information see hhtps://peopleandplanet.org/work-with-us

 Posted by at 14:24
Mar 212017
 
Let us know about your experience of the PIP assessment
Inclusion London have been invited by the Chair of the Work and Pension’s
Committee to give written evidence on the process of being assessed for the
Personal Independence Payment PIP – your experience will inform our evidence.
The questions the Committee are particularly interested in are:
1. Which aspects of the current assessment process for PIP are and are not
conducive to accurate decision-making? What improvements could be made?
2. Do Atos and Capita staff conducting PIP assessments possess sufficient
expertise to make accurate decisions on claims involving a wide range of
mental and physical health conditions?
a. Do the staff take enough account of additional evidence supplied by
claimants?
2. Is the face-to-face assessment appropriate for claimants with a range of
different conditions?
3. What changes are needed to improve the accuracy of decisions made in initial
assessments and in mandatory reconsideration, given that the majority of
decisions that go to appeal are overturned?
a. What are the most common reasons you come across for decisions
being overturned on appeal?
b. Is the mandatory reconsideration stage functioning properly? How
could it be improved, or should it be abolished?
4. What is the impact on claimants of delays in getting an accurate decision on
their claim, and how could this be reduced or better managed?
Please send your experience to Henrietta.doyle@inclusionlondon.org.uk
asap or by Wednesday 12 April 2017
 Posted by at 17:12
Mar 172017
 

Thanks to everyone who contacted us about this possible challenge. The solicitors have spoken initially to a number of people and are now able to try to seek a barrister’s opinion. If you haven’t been contacted yet then it may be after that opinion is available that you may be for witness statements to add to the case.

We’ll keep everyone informed of what’s happening as soon as we can.

 Posted by at 20:56
Mar 122017
 

Thursday 30 March 2017
National Day of Action Against Sanctions
JOIN US
More and more people are facing benefit sanctions. Half a million people have had their benefits suddenly stopped by sanctions in the last 12 monthsNo Sanctions logo.
That’s half a million people, many of whom have been plunged into poverty, unable to heat their homes or even eat. How is this meant to help prepare people for work?


Benefit sanctions must be fought against

These sanctions are cruel and handed out for ridiculous reasons such as:

  • Arriving minutes late to a meeting
  • Not applying for jobs when waiting to start a new job!
  • Missing an appointment on the day of the funeral of a close family member.

This has to stop.

nite demonstration outside the Department of Work and Pensions in London watch the video here  – See more at: http://stagingui.unite.awsripple.com/growing-our-union/communitymembership/day-of-action-against-sanctions/default.aspx#sthash.QsxxyCRf.dpuf
Unite demonstration outside the Department of Work and Pensions in London watch the video here  – See more at: http://stagingui.unite.awsripple.com/growing-our-union/communitymembership/day-of-action-against-sanctions/default.aspx#sthash.QsxxyCRf.dpufTake other action
  • Share your story – we are looking for people who have been sanctioned to tell their story.
  • We want to show the reality and impact on people’s lives – show your support – share on Twitter and Facebook #No2Sanctions

JOIN US – Thursday 30 MarchPlease join an event near you on Thursday 30 March to stop benefit sanctions in your community.

We will continue to add new actions on a regular basis, so please check back.

For further information please email your Unite community cordinator (see below).

London & Eastern – David Condliffe
Herts and Beds Branch: Luton, Jobcentre, Guilford Street – 12.00 noon.
Contact: Rachel Holmes, Branch Secretary – Email: RedR8chel@hotmail.com | Mobile: 07526282356.

Kilburn Jobcentre – 12.00 to 1.00 pm.

East and West Midlands – Shaun Pender
Protest & Film – Stop Benefit Sanctions – Save Eastern Ave JCP
Manor Top, Sheffield – 5.00 to 9.00 pm
https://www.facebook.com/events/405106473173499/


South East – Kelly Tomlinson

North East, Yorkshire & Humberside – John Coan

North West – Sheila Coleman
Wirral Community Branch has created a Thunderclap:
https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/53094-stop-benefit-sanctions

South West – Brett Sparkes
Lemon Quay, Truro 12.00 to 3.00 pm
https://www.facebook.com/events/1835696733335875/

Bridgwater Jobcentre: 11.00 to 1.00 pm
Bridgwater High Street, next to Admiral Blake: 11.00 to 1.00 pm

Film | I, Daniel Blake – 7.00 to 9.30 pm
Venue: Somerset Film @ The Engine Room, 50-52 High St, Bridgwater TA6 3BL Phone: 01278 433187. £3 standard ticket but if people can afford more there is a solidarity ticket at £10.
For more information visit: http://www.somersetfilm.com/diary/?action=evrplusegister&event_id=147
https://www.facebook.com/events/1420001918045217/

We will also be raising money for Bridgwater food bank.

Wales – Mary Williams

Scotland – Jamie Caldwell
Outside Dunfermline Jobcentre – 11.00 am

Ireland – Albert Hewitt
Portadown Jobs & Benefits Office – 12:00 to 1.00 pm
https://www.facebook.com/events/256582661460078/

– See more at: http://www.unitetheunion.org/growing-our-union/communitymembership/day-of-action-against-sanctions/#sthash.jVbfpy3m.dpuf

 Posted by at 15:47
Mar 122017
 
 Posted by at 13:36
Feb 232017
 

ALLFIE’s February Briefing and call for action

We need your stories about disabled children and young people’s experience of attending residential special schools and colleges. We are responding to The Lenehan review of experiences and outcomes in residential special schools and colleges.

ALLFIE’s February Briefing and call for action

Posted by: Alliance for Inclusive Education in DDPO news on 16 February 2017

Please see ALLFIE’s latest campaigns briefing: ALLFIE’s February 2017 Campaign Briefing – No.53

CALL FOR ACTION: 

Responding to The Lenehan review of experiences and outcomes in residential special schools and colleges

We need your stories about disabled children and young people’s experience of attending residential special schools and colleges.

We are also interested in hearing from disabled children and young people and parents who have been pressurised by their local authority (or resisted the pressure) to consider a residential special school or college placement.

Does your local authority have a residential school or college placement policy that we should know about?

Please contact us if you can help us – we need your response by Deadline 1st March 2017.   For further information please see our briefing.  

Please contact me if you would like more information.

In solidarity

Simone Aspis

Campaigns and Policy Co-ordinator
Alliance for Inclusive Education
Tel: 020 7737 6030
Email: simone.aspis@allfie.org.uk
Website: www.allfie.org.uk

 Posted by at 12:52
Feb 142017
 

 

The Government has responded to the petition you signed – “Force the government to act on the eleven recommendations of the UNCRPD report”.

Government responded:

This Government engaged fully with the inquiry process. However, we strongly reject the findings and believe that the core intentions of many of the recommendations are already being fulfilled.

This Government engaged fully with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Convention) inquiry process. In their report, the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Committee) expressed appreciation for our support throughout the process, which included facilitating a visit to the UK and providing written evidence on numerous occasions.

On receipt of the report, we considered the findings alongside our own evidence. In making this comparison, it was clear that there were individual facts in the report that were incorrect. Additionally, the report failed to place the reforms investigated in the wider context of improvements made and the support available. For example, in discussing Article 27 ‘Work and Employment’, the report barely mentions the raft of work-related support available to disabled people and therefore presents a highly partial view.

The UK supported the development of the Convention and was among the first countries to sign it in 2007. Our approach to disability equality, which focuses on inclusion and mainstreaming (with additional support provided as necessary) and on involving disabled people in decision-making, is very much aligned with the Convention. The report itself recognised that “at a national level, it appears that the welfare system together with a social and health care system provide a solid base for the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities and that the system has allowed persons with disabilities to achieve an acceptable level of autonomy and
DWP E-Petitions Response independence”. It also recognised measures to reinforce choice and control in the UK through the increased personalisation and localisation of services.

This Government considered the recommendations made by the Committee. Many of the recommendations promote approaches and actions that we already take, such as actively engaging disabled people in policy design and delivery. Others promote actions that the UK Government has already identified as areas for improvement; the Government response sets out some of the work being done across the UK to ensure progress in these areas, such as increasing the accessibility of information and tackling negative attitudes towards disabled people. Several recommendations are prescriptive in nature, sighting specific methodologies that should be implemented. The UK is committed to meeting its obligations of progressing towards the full participation and inclusion of disabled people in all aspects of life on an equal basis. However, how we ensure this progression remains for the UK Government, and the wider parliament, to decide.

The UK is a strong parliamentary democracy, where the voices and opinions of disabled people are represented and listened to, and disabled people’s rights are respected, promoted and upheld. It is also a world leader in disability issues. We are proud of the work we do to support people with disabilities and health conditions, both domestically and abroad. And we believe that the core intentions of the recommendations are already incorporated into UK policies and practices, and delivered in a way that fits with the values and structures particular to the UK.

However, we do recognise that there is more to do to meet the Convention’s ambition of full participation and inclusion, and this Government is committed to continuing progress towards this. Taking employment as an example, our aspiration is for disabled people to get the same opportunities as others to find work while ensuring that people who cannot work because of a disability or health condition receive the support they need. That is why this Government is committed to, and working towards, halving the disability employment gap. The ‘Improving Lives’ Green Paper seeks views on how to ensure that health and welfare systems support people who can work with better opportunities to stay in employment, while protecting people who can’t work, with a view to meeting the Government’s ambition.

This Government champions work because of its power to transform people’s lives. We strongly believe that, though welfare provides necessary social protection, it is not the only way to help disabled people live independent, inclusive lives in which they can fulfil their potential. Implementing the Convention articles requires more than higher welfare payments. It requires society-wide shifts in attitudes and behaviours, innovative approaches to health provision, and concerted efforts to break down persistent barriers preventing disabled people from living independently, working, and enjoying full inclusion in their communities. This Government remains committed to working across government and sectors to ensure that these changes take place, supporting disabled people in the UK to fully participate in all aspects of life on an equal basis.

Department for Work and Pensions

Click this link to view the response online:

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/172393?reveal_response=yes

The Petitions Committee will take a look at this petition and its response. They can press the government for action and gather evidence. If this petition reaches 100,000 signatures, the Committee will consider it for a debate.

The Committee is made up of 11 MPs, from political parties in government and in opposition. It is entirely independent of the Government. Find out more about the Committee: https://petition.parliament.uk/help#petitions-committee

Thanks,
The Petitions team
UK Government and Parliament

 

 Posted by at 12:54
Feb 132017
 

Unite Community (Coventry and Warwickshire Branch) along with co-sponsor UCU and supporting organisations Peoples Assembly and Coventry Recovery Centre will be screening the film I Daniel Blake.

Our aim is to raise awareness of the sanctions regime in the benefits system and to highlight the desperation and indignity that this imposes on thousands of people in Britain today.

The theatre will open at 18.00 and we advise that you be seated by 18.05 The film will start at 18.15 and lasts for 1 hour 40 minutes.

After the film there will be a question and answer session in the theatre led by the director of the film Ken Loach, which everyone watching the film is invited to. The Q&A session will last approximately 1 hour.

 

DATE AND TIME

Wed 22 February 2017

18:00 – 21:00 GMT

Add to Calendar

LOCATION

The Goldstein Lecture Theatre

Alan Berry Room

Coventry University, Jordan

Coventry

CV1 5FB

 

There are limited numbers of tickets available. To book tickets  and advise on access needs please email us at mail@dpac.uk.net

 Posted by at 19:50
Feb 132017
 

Meme for the Southampton Protest#CareHomesStink

 

#RightsNotTelecare

 

#SupportNotCuts

 

Details of the Protest in Southampton & Online

 

This letter has come from the leader of the council.


Dear Tim,
I appreciate that some of you prefer to demonstrate against the Labour Council rather than the Tory government. But if you are going to do this please have the decent thing and contact us and check whether the thing you are demonstrating against is true. I know we are in the era of ‘alternative’ truth and ‘false news but we do expect you to know better.

The Facts
1. The Care act came in in April last year and requires us to complete annual reviews of all those in receipt of a care package. This created an additional burden on our already stretched social workers. It was proposed and approved that the Council employ through Capita additional social workers to carry out these reviews.
2. No instruction was issued with regard to the outcome of these reviews. No incentive was given to Capita to save money we simply wanted the reviews done.
3. Capita were unable to recruit enough Social workers to complete the work and an offer was made to the ones they had to work some weekends for an extra payment (£200).
4. The vast majority of these reviews (all of which were carried out by fully qualified and registered social workers) lead to no change. Some were adjusted to change the way a service was delivered using modern technologies and these have lead to a saving to the Council. A saving that means less jobs will be cut this year and less other services reduced.
5. An appeals process exists with these assessments’ which has been used by precisely zero clients.
6. As part of our arrangement with Capita we are gradually taking over this work with our in house team working alongside Capita employees. We expect in due course to take over all these reviews.

These are the facts – so please tell me what you are demonstrating about.

Simon


So if those are the facts why do the leaked emails say – either the Labour council leader has no idea about what is happening in Southampton or -well – or he’s just downright lying. Take your pick.

1) From Sue Thomas, sent 15/9/16

Hi All,

The cavalry is on the way!!!

Have just heard from Adam Tait we have 3 new colleagues joining us on Monday, pulling the stops out to make sure they can ‘hit the road’ with you with the minim delay.

Adam is also suggesting some incentives for the Team. He is well aware of some of the difficulties we have had, and that you are giving me the best performance you are able.

But, now we need MORE!! The suggestions below are  cut & paste from Adams e-mail to me.

FROM ADAM’S E-MAIL

I’m not sure how weekend working might go down with the existing team (as a one off) but if we included these days we have an extra 4 days available for eight of the team people and two available for 11 of the team until we have TIB on 27th September. I would suggest we offer an extra incentive if any of the team are prepared to work these weekends or part of…. starting this weekend. It’s short notice but if we paid their existing rate at time and half or double time you may get some take up? I’m not sure if we would need to report these days within the MI suite but that’s not my call. An alternative might be payment of increased hours worked in the week. Again as a one off.

In addition, as the next week or so is so critical I am happy to roll out an extra incentive scheme at the earliest point whereby if a person manages to improve their performance by x% from the previous 4 week average they receive a £y bonus. 10% = £100, 20% = £200 etc. This can be measured across both productivity levels and the savings achieved. If one person improves their productivity by 20% and savings by 20% they receive a £400 bonus.

AGREED WEEK-END RATE TIME & HALF

PLEASE READ CAREFULLY AND CONTACT ME NO LATER THAN 5PM WITH YOUR RESPONSE (EVEN IF YIOU ARE NOT INTERESTED) THIS IS NOT A LONG TERM COMMITMENT – IT’S EMERGENCY FIRST AID TO ENSURE OUR SURVIVAL!!!!

If you want to discuss with me you’ve got my numbers.

Regards – Sue

Sue Thomas – Lead Practitioner,

Capita Review Team,

Adult Social Care,

Southampton City Council,

Southampton SO14 7LY


2) From Sue Thomas, 8 November 2016:

Good Morning,

Another late night last night – Conference Call. Followed by several hours ‘bashing my brains’ for answers.

PLEASE READ CAREFULLY – THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT

As you know our Productivity and the Financial Efficiencies we are making are under  great scrutiny.

Looking at all the figures in the Reports last night it was very clear that both Productivity and Efficiencies have fallen dramatically.

The senior managers who are leading this transformation want to know why it appears we are failing to realise the results in service delivery and savings they anticipated

By commissioning this Project. They in turn are being asked to explain to Councillors of SCC.

Issues such as changes to the Team, Reduced size of Team, Annual Leave, Bank Holidays etc. have all been taken into account but things still don’t add up.

I have stressed how hard you are all working – but we don’t appear to be getting the results we had during the Pilots.

As I said at the Team Meeting yesterday I think it may be about the ways in which we are working – IF IT’S NOT ABOUT HARD WORK, IT MUST BE ABOUT SMART WORK!!!

I HAVE PUT MY NECK ON ‘THE CHOPPING BLOCK’ – YOU HAVE PRODUCED THE RESULTS BEFORE, I KNOW YOU CAN AND I BELIEVE YOU WILL DELIVER THE RESULTS REQUIRED.

NOW I HAVE TO PUT MY MONEY WHERE MY MOUTH IS – PLEASE HELP ME!!!!!!

REMINDERS

  • BE ASSERTIVE WHEN MAKING APPOINTMENTS – SCC ARE REQUITRED BY LAW TO COMPLETE THESE ASSESSMENTS/REVIEWS (NEW LEGISLATION 2014)
  • AS MANY VISITS AS POSSIBLE BEGINNING OF THE WEEK – WEDNESDAY PM – RECORDING
  • CASE ‘OPEN’ DAY OF VISIT – MINIMISES DAYS CASE LEFT OPEN (ASSUMING INACTIVE/UNPRODUCTIVE)
  • CLOSE WHEN ANY REFERRALS HAVE BEEN MADE (MAX 2 DAYS)
  • L.D WILL TAKE A LITTLE LONGER – THIS IS RECOGNISED BY ALL.
  • 15 min. CALL OUT!! TELECARE –IN!!
  • ASSESS NEED NOT WANT.
  • ACTIVELY ENCOURAGE DIRECT PAYMENTS
  • CAREFUL ATTENTION WHEN RECORDING WORK SHEETS, YOUR WORK SHEETS INFORM THE WEEKLY REPORTS FOR THE DECISION MAKERS – DON’T SHOOT YOURSELF IN THE FEET!!
  • THE WORK SHEET IS CHANGING THIS WEEK PLEASE TAKE EXTRA CARE.

THINK ABOUT ASSET BASED ASSESSMENT, FOR THOSE OF YOU NOT FAMILIAR  I WILL BE SENDING INFORMATION.

We don’t have very much time to turn this situation around. if we can’t/don’t do it all the hard work you have put in so far will have been for nothing.

Not to put too fine a point on things WE ARE ALL ON THE WAY HOME.

I AM NOT ASKING YOU TO STAND BEHIND, ME I’M ASKING YOU TO STAND BESIDE ME SO WE CAN BRING THIS PROJECT TO A SUCCESSFUL (FOR ALL OF US!!) CONCLUSION TOGETHER.

Regards – Sue

Sue Thomas – Project Lead Practitioner,

Capita Review Team,

Adult Social Care,

Southampton City Council,

Southampton SO14 7LY


DPAC’s response to Simon:

  1. Capita offered their staff bonuses of up to £400 to cut people’s packages (Capita said  that this was never introduced but they haven’t denied that they made the offer).
  2. Capita’s freelance social workers were paid more than £1,000 a week (after tax) and put up in three-star hotels while they were encouraged to cut people’s packages.
  3. The emails clearly show that they were asked by the council to produce savings (ie cuts).
  4. The Council Leader says “. Some were adjusted to change the way a service was delivered using modern technologies and these have lead to a saving to the Council.” We do not believe Telecare is an acceptable alternative to human support and nor are packs of incontinence pads. If the council leader thinks the following email from a Capita manager is acceptable, then he should be ashamed of himself and needs to resign: The manager suggested an “extra incentive” for the team if they could improve on their previous “performance” and suggested that the bonus “can be measured across both productivity levels and the savings achieved. If one person improves their productivity by 20 per cent and savings by 20 per cent they receive a £400 bonus.” The council never commented on the ‘extra incentive’ email,  we can’t think why not.
  5. Does he also think the other email that was sent by capita to their team is acceptable? “The senior managers [from the council] who are leading this transformation want to know why it appears we are failing to realise the results in service delivery and savings they anticipated by commissioning this project. They in turn are being asked to explain to Councillors of SCC [Southampton City Council].”
  6. Another thing to note is that the whistle-blower said that it was the service-users with no support networks to advocate on their behalf with the council who were often the ones who were having their packages cut. This might explain why there have not been any appeals (if that’s true).
  7. I suspect that, if you take away the care packages that included residential care (which are almost impossible to cut), the proportion of direct payments packages that were cut is significant.
  8. I notice the council leader says that ‘No incentive was given to Capita to save money’. That doesn’t mean that they didn’t tell Capita that they wanted them to save money (which they did). My understanding is that Capita knew they would lose the contract if they didn’t make those savings. That seems like an incentive to me…
 Posted by at 14:24
Jan 192017
 

Blakeway Productions is making a Channel 4 programme looking at the impact that the new benefit cap will have on households. We are keen to speak to people who have been told that they will be capped. At this stage it would be for an initial chat which wouldn’t mean definitely being included in the programme.
Call or text Bethan for more information on: 07786 901026
Blakeway will process personal data in accordance with their privacy policy.

 Posted by at 17:57
Jan 132017
 

A brief look at Stephen Duckworth’s career. He’s being nominated for another honour and details of where to send any recommendations re-Stephen’s honour are at the end of this outline of his work with New Deal for disabled people, Serco, Capita and now the Shaw Trust. He is also an advisor for the new Work and Health unit. Please feel free to respond as you see fit.

Articles

Why Britain should expect more from the disabled for their own good, by the paralysed doctor in charge of assessing benefits claims

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2415778/Paralysed-Dr-Stephen-Duckworth-Why-Britain-expect-disabled-good.html#ixzz4VgCc7zkV

Stephen Duckworth: ‘The new disability benefit is enabling’.  The new head of Capita’s personal independence payments says disabled people must be central to the process

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/mar/05/stephen-duckworth-new-disability-benefit

 


Stephen Duckworth OBE, PhD, MSc, LRCP, MRCS, FDSRCS

Berkeley House, Rectory Hill, West Tytherley, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP5 1NF

Profile

Results orientated and innovative strategic thinker with sound independent judgement.  Leader with exceptional interpersonal skills combined with the ability and a willingness to influence, challenge and probe.  Keen analytical mind that revels in new concepts. Strong national and international connections with the UN, WHO, International Labour Organisation, World Bank and International Disability Alliance. Personal values driven by integrity and ethical standards combined with a strong sense of fun. 

Shaw Trust

2015 –            Shaw Trust: Chair, Programme Board – Rehabilitation International Global Congress on Disability and Inclusion, Edinburgh 2016. This attracted over 1000 people from 68 countries with 200 speakers and 7 Ministers. Currently working with Ministers in China and India having previously developed a new approach to disruptive innovation that has now become known as frugal innovation allowing ideas from low income countries to be adopted by higher income countries. 

Capita plc

2014 –            Capita, Director – Disability Assessment Services

2012 – 2014  Managing Director – Health & Disability Assessment Service covering  Wales, the Midlands and Northern Ireland with job based in London

Serco plc

2012–2012    Strategic Development Director – responsible for the company’s relationship with the Heart of Government.

2011-2012     Director, Serco Institute that aims to foster the development of sustainable public service markets through an outward-facing programme of research and communication.

2010-2011     Strategic Development Director, Serco Welfare to Work, supporting a 45 strong business development team to secure £210 million of business (Work Programme) to help disadvantaged people return to work.

2009-2010     Director West Midlands Flexible New Deal, Welfare to Work. Responsible for £20 million annual contract supporting over 5,000 long-term unemployed jobseekers to return to sustainable employment.

Non-Executive Positions

  • Adviser to the Minister for Disabled People supporting the establishment of the Joint Work and Health Unit (2016 – ongoing)
  • Association Member BUPA (2015 – ongoing)
  • Commissioner – Commission on Assisted Dying Chaired by Lord Faulkner (2010 – 2011)
  • Board Member Olympic Delivery Authority £9.2 billion budget Board Champion for Equality and Diversity, Chair Health, Safety and Environment Committee (2006 – 2012).
  • Board Member National Quality Board Chaired by David Nicholson DoH (2009 – 2010).
  • NED Business Link in London (2009-2010)
  • External Member – Disability Equality Delivery Board Chaired by Sue Owen, Director General, DWP working across government departments to achieve Equality for Disabled People by 2025 (2009 – 2012)
  • Adviser to the Secretary of the State, Minister for Welfare Reform and Minister for Disabled People (2005-7) to initiate the restructuring of the employment service provision for disabled people.
  • NED – Route2Mobility Ltd a FSA regulated company providing ethical finance to disabled customers (2003 -2009).
  • Member of the Council of the University of Southampton (1999-2007)

1999-2004     Initiated and designed and Award Winning New Deal for Disabled People return to work programme – The Gateway Partnership and developed a Project Lead Recruitment Process in partnership with the Employers Forum on Disability and Centrica. Continue to lead organic growth to establish a business with a turnover in excess of £2 million.

 

 

Honours Research <honours.research2017@gmail.com>

Subject: Stephen DuckworthDear Colleague

You may know Stephen Duckworth quite well or may have only met him once. More about his background is in the attached CV – the incredible thing is that he broke his neck in a rugby accident aged 21 and is more or less completely paralysed.

I have been commissioned to gather supporting evidence about his suitability for a higher Honour’s Award. In 1994 at 34 years of age he became an Officer of the Order of the British Empire and was presented with his OBE by the Queen. Subject to other information gathered he will be considered for a CBE or Knighthood.

Please treat this email strictly confidentially as neither he nor his immediate family know about this approach to you. I have managed to track down your address through a former secretary and hope you do not mind me contacting you. The application is being sponsored by a member of the House of Lords

I am attaching the template for a letter of support that should make your life much easier to complete and send back to me as an attachment to an email. I hope you won’t mind spending a few minutes to do this over the festive season. The awards process generally takes 12-18 months so I would appreciate you replying as soon as possible.

I have been advised that he recently organised an International World Conference on disability and rehabilitation and is hoping to be supporting projects in China, India and Africa over the next few years. If you feel he deserves the higher award then I would be grateful if you could emphasise his national and international activities as this will prove to be very helpful.

Many thanks indeed in anticipation of a positive response. I hope that you will be able to get back to me early in the New Year or at the very latest by the end of January 2017.

Lisa Coleman

Research Assistant

Independent Honours Research

For Further Information

The Honours System https://www.gov.uk/hono urs/types-of-honours-and-award s

 

 

 

 Posted by at 21:05
Jan 132017
 

reblogged from Transport for All (mostly)

Wheelchair-user Doug Paulley had successfully sued First Bus Group in 2013 after he had been denied access to one of their buses because a bus driver didn’t enforce priority in the wheelchair space and a buggy owner refused to make room for him. But this decision was overturned by the Appeal Court in November 2014. The Supreme Court will now give their verdict on Wednesday.

After months of waiting, the judgment in Doug Paulley’s case vs First Bus Group is finally to be handed down at the Supreme Court next Wednesday January 18th at 9.45am. 

As you may know their decision could have wide implications for wheelchair and mobility scooter users who want to travel by bus in the UK. If the original verdict in Mr Paulley’s favour is upheld by the Supreme Court, then the requirement in law to give a wheelchair/mobility scooter user access to the wheelchair space will be absolutely undeniable, and all bus companies will have to enforce it. This is the reason why Transport for All has supported Doug from the beginning.

On this day, we would like to gather with as many Disabled and older people as possible to show First Bus Group that disabled people everywhere are standing up for our right to ride.
Join us to show our support for Doug Paulley on this historic day.

 

WHEN: 9am, Wednesday 18th January 2017
WHERE: In front of the Supreme Court 
(nearest accessible Tube station is Westminster. Buses: 148, 211).

 

Please email Raphael if you would like to join the rally:

raphael@transportforall.org.uk

Please note that at 9.45am, one of the Justices will deliver a brief summary of the Court’s decision lasting around five minutes. Due to the appalling access at the High Court the number of spaces for wheelchair users is unfortunately very limited. On top of the space booked for people who’ve got a close connection to this case, there are an extra 6 places available which will be allocated via ballot by the Supreme Court .

 Posted by at 16:14
Jan 052017
 
 Posted by at 15:40
Jan 052017
 

If anyone is willing to help with either of these requests please contact the relevant person directly.

Loss of Motability Vehicles 

I’m a TV producer based in Southampton looking into PIP and Motability.  I’m looking for someone to film who is having to hand back a car and would like to speak to people who might be affected by this especially anyone willing to be filmed when their car is removed.

Feel free to circulate this email.

Jane Goddard

Assistant Editor Inside Out South

jane.goddard@bbc.co.uk

BBC South, Havelock Road, Southampton, SO14 7PU – 07740 732402

Removal of Benefits from people

My name is Jemma and I am a Producer making a BBC Three documentary with Stephen Manderson, also known as Professor Green, exploring the issue of families raising children with low incomes across the UK. I came across your campaign group in my research and I am hoping you may be able to help. Stephen Manderson, grew up in Hackney and is an award winning rap artist and documentary filmmaker. The film we are making follows on from the success of his recent BBC Three documentaries: ‘Suicide and Me’ about his personal experience of losing his father to suicide and ‘Hidden and Homeless’. In this new documentary, Professor Green will set out to understand the experience of families facing hardship in the UK. As an important part of Stephen’s journey we would like to speak to families with children who feel their benefits status or payments shifted at a time when they were unwell or vulnerable. I completely appreciate the sensitivities around this area as many have lost loved ones which is heart breaking and I understand even more so where they feel they have been let down by the benefits system. I would like to open up a conversation with you at DPAC to see if you may be able to help us reach out to families who might be open to having an initial chat about their experiences with the DWP? If you would like any further information please do not hesitate to contact me on the below numbers or via email. I very much look forward to hearing from you.

Jemma Gander Producer The Garden One America Street London SE1 0NE T: +44 (0) 20 7620 6734 F: +44 (0) 20 7620 6724 M: + 44 (0) 784 000 3976 E: jemma.gander@thegardenproductions.tv

 Posted by at 14:55
Jan 022017
 

Basic Income:

Progressive Dreams Meet Neoliberal Realities

John Clarke

Up until now, the concept of Basic Income (BI) has enjoyed a greater history of being proposed than of being implemented. We may well be approaching a period, however, when this changes. The Ontario Government is holding consultations on setting up a BI pilot project. The Legislature in another Canadian Province, Prince Edward Island, has agreed to test out a version of BI. Pilot projects are also impending in Finland, the Netherlands and Scotland.

Raise the Rates

Basic Income has been suggested in an exceptionally wide range of forms, often with completely different objectives in mind. In fact, we can draw a line between the models that are concerned with improving lives and raising living standards and those that are focused on intensifying the capacity for capitalist exploitation. Among those in the ‘progressive’ category there is considerable diversity. There’s the ‘universal demogrant’ that provides an income to everyone and the concept of a ‘negative income tax’ involving some level of means test. BI proposals come from liberal quarters that are responsibly redistributive, reduce poverty and inequality and ease up on bureaucratic intrusion. The above mentioned proposal for an Ontario pilot project would be part of this camp. Then there are the models that have more radical, transformative objectives in mind. These suggest that BI could be used to take from employers the power of economic coercion itself by severing the link between work and income. Often such ideas are tied to the notion of preparing for sweeping technological displacement and a ‘workless future’ by providing secure, adequate and unconditional income. Given the vast extent to which forms of unpaid labour are performed by women in this society, it is hardly surprising that there are also feminist arguments for BI.

I have to say that the one really common thread that I see running through all of the notions of a progressive BI is that they pay great attention to explaining how nice their systems would be but give little if any thought to the concrete prospects of implementation. Before looking further at these deficiencies and proposing an alternative approach, it might be useful to consider more seriously the neoliberal version that is hanging like a sword over all our heads.

Neoliberal Version

The deeply reactionary ideas of Charles Murray have extended to some very sinister proposals for BI. There are two basic elements that shape his system. Firstly, the universal payment, after the compulsory purchase of private health insurance, is set at the dreadfully low amount of $10,000 a year. Secondly, he is utterly insistent that all other systems of provision must be dismantled as a BI is put in place. Canada’s right wing Fraser Institute, recently used its blog to stress the same points as Murray, making clear that the level of provision must not interfere with the supply of low waged workers.

If governments today, as they intensify the neoliberal agenda, are starting to consider the possibilities of BI, I see three factors at work. Firstly, there is the not unimportant issue of legitimacy. Particularly because they are being provided with a generous amount of ‘progressive’ cover, they are able to present their deliberations on BI as a responsible weighing of the common good. The Ontario Liberals stand out as international champions in this regard. Their BI pilot project consultations, have enabled them to put in place yet another round of fake dialogue, with the empty promise of a “better way” diverting attention as they push people even deeper into poverty. The World Bank and the IMF have been worrying out loud about the backlash against their austerity agenda and its devastating impacts. That IMF economists are themselves musing about BI, is perhaps significant in this regard. It advances their agenda but can be dressed up to look progressive. It may be the best thing for the institutions of global capitalism since the myth of ‘poverty reduction’.

The second element of BI that I think is of interest to the architects of neoliberalism is that it can fine tune economic coercion as they create an ever more elastic workforce based on the most precarious forms of employment. The income support systems that emerged out of the Poor Law tradition, stressed intense restrictions and moral policing. Along with horribly inadequate benefit levels, this has been very useful in driving people into low waged work to an unprecedented extent. It may, however, be time to rethink this to a degree. If people are moving between poverty wages and poverty level benefits more frequently in a precarious job market, perhaps they can be more effectively prodded into the worst jobs with less intrusive benefit systems. A less rule bound delivery of poverty income, that gives people a chance of retaining their housing, may be needed to keep them job ready. Linked to this, of course, is the huge boost to the employers of a BI system that constitutes a form of wage top up. Provided the payment is meagre, it will not impede the flow of low paid workers but it will mean that their employers receive a subsidy that absolves them from having to pay living wages or come under pressure to increase the amount they do provide.

Thirdly, the great advantage of neoliberal BI is that the inadequate and dwindling payment it provides turns those who receive it into customers in the marketplace. In my opinion, BI would be far from the best way to strengthen the social infrastructure at any time but in the context of an intensifying agenda of austerity and privatization, it is a recipe for disaster. It’s really about the commodification of social provision. Your payment may actually be less conditional and somewhat larger but, as you shop through the privatized remains of the social infrastructure, with inadequate means and very few rights, you are dramatically worse off. That, in my view, is what is being prepared by those who will actually implement a system of BI and the hopes and wishes to the contrary of its progressive advocates don’t count for very much.

Progressive Dreams

I said previously that proposals for redistributive or transformative models of BI are generally marked by a tendency to focus on the desirability of what is being advanced while paying much less attention to actual prospects for implementation. I’ve yet to see, quite bluntly, any serious attempt to assess what stands in the way of a progressive BI and what can be done to bring it into existence. It simply isn’t enough to explain how just and fair a given model would be if it could be adopted. In order to credibly advance BI as the solution, there are some questions that must be settled.

Firstly, income support systems came into being because, while employers welcome an oversupply of labour and the desperation that comes with it as something that boosts their bargaining power, the total abandonment of the jobless creates social unrest. Some measure of income support, provided as a reluctant concession, has proved to be necessary. However, the systems of provision that have been put in place have always been as inadequate as possible so as to undermine employer strength as little as possible. A widely delivered or even universal adequate payment would greatly tilt that balance back the other way. What reason is there to think that this is likely to be implemented?

Secondly, over the last several decades, concessions made during the post war years have been taken back. Trade unions have been weakened, workers’ rights undermined and low waged work has increased considerably. The degrading of income support systems has been central to creating the climate of desperation needed to achieve this. Not only have benefits for the unemployed been attacked but other systems, especially for disabled people have been undermined so as to generate a scramble for the worst jobs. This has led to a shift in the balance of forces in society and we are fighting a largely defensive struggle. Given this very unfavourable situation, in which unions and movements are not in the ascendancy, how can it be supposed that those profiting from the present situation are likely to accept a measure of redistributive social reform that is at least as sweeping as anything put in place during the post war boom? What is the plan to make this happen?

Thirdly, as right wing governments and political parties directly linked to the most reactionary business interests consider BI and set up pilot projects that provide meagre payments and focus on how to ensure people on social benefits become low waged workers, what reason is there to imagine that a progressive BI, rather than the neoliberal variant, is being cooked up?

Regardless of these issues, it is sometimes asserted that an adequate system of provision must be put in place simply because we are moving toward a “workless future.” In such a society, it is suggested, masses of people who have been displaced will have to be provided for and the capitalists will have to think like Elon Musk, of Tesla Motors and support BI because it is the only sensible and rational solution. To imagine such responsible provision for the future is to place undue faith in a system based on the making of profit. If they won’t stop building pipelines in the face of environmental catastrophe, there’s little reason to expect them to worry too much about sensible solutions to technological displacement. There simply is no post-capitalist capitalism and no social policy innovation that is going to bring it about.

At a recent panel on Basic Income that I spoke at, the moderator posed a challenge. She accepted that BI might not be a way forward but asked, if that were so, what “bold vision” could be advanced in its place. It’s a fair question but a realistic appraisal of what we are up against is still obligatory, even if that has some sobering aspects to it. The great problem that we have is that the neoliberal years have done a lot of damage. The level of exploitation has been increased and working class movements have been weakened. While what we demand and aspire to is very important, the bigger question is what we can win. What’s disturbing about the left wing turn to BI is that is seems to think there is a social policy end run around the realities of neoliberalism and the need to resist it. There is no such thing.

British Labour Party and BI

With very good reason, there has been considerable excitement internationally around the Jeremy Corbyn leadership in the British Labour Party. His close ally, Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, has been paying some attention to adopting BI, as part of a platform that would express a break with the austerity consensus. McDonnell, from a position on the left of a major social democratic party, raises the possibility of a ‘best case scenario’ for progressive BI. For that very reason, the question is posed of whether the ‘bold vision’ I spoke of should be framed around the universal payment concept or devoted to other objectives.

Basic Income, when all is said and done, is a vision for nothing more than the means to be a customer in an unjust society that decides what is for sale.

In my opinion, if we are to consider goals we set and demands we put forward in the face of neoliberalism, that are based on the needs of workers and communities and create the conditions for challenging capitalism itself, we sell ourselves well short if we settle for something so limited and inherently conservative as the universal payment. BI, when all is said and done, is a vision for nothing more than the means to be a customer in an unjust society that decides what is for sale. How much bolder and more meaningful to fight for free, massively expanded and fully accessible systems of healthcare and public transportation? How much better to focus on the creation of social housing and try to expand it so that, not only the poorest, but most working class people enjoy its benefits? There is universal child care and vast array of important community services to pay attention to. Moreover, we can work to wrest as much power as possible out of the hands of the mandarins of state bureaucracy and fight to increase the control working class people exercise over the public services they rely on. When it comes to existing systems of income support, we should not for a moment accept their poverty level benefits, bureaucratic intrusion and forms of moral policing steeped in racism and sexism. There is a fight to be taken forward for living income, full entitlement and programs that meet the real needs of unemployed, poor and disabled people, as opposed to the present ‘rituals of degradation’ they embody. At every point, let’s try to ensure that these expanded services are not paid for by other working class people but by forcing the corporations, banks and those who own them to pay by increasing their tax burden and imposing levies on their wealth.

The struggle to expand and improve public services would have to, of course, be linked to workers’ struggles for living wages, workplace rights and real compensation for injured workers. Beyond this, let’s challenge as much as we can the ‘business decisions’ that deplete resources, pollute and threaten us with ecological disaster.

I am suggesting that our movements need to challenge, rather than come to terms with, the neoliberal order and the capitalist system that has produced it. For all its claims to be a sweeping measure, the notion of progressive BI is a futile attempt to make peace with that system. In reality, even that compromise is not available. The model of BI that governments are working on in their social policy laboratories will not ‘end the tyranny of the labour market’ but render it more dreadful. The agenda of austerity and privatization requires a system of income support that renders people as powerless and desperate as possible in the face of exploitation and that won’t change if it is relabelled as ‘Basic Income’. •

John Clarke is an organizer with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP).

 Posted by at 21:14
Jan 022017
 
My name is Helen and I am a Trainee Clinical Psychologist from Lancaster University. I am conducting research as part of my doctoral thesis about the psychological impact of benefits sanctions following the Work Capability Assessment process and what impact this had, if any, on peoples’ mental health and outlook. I’m involved with Pyschs Against Austerity who DPAC and MHRN both work closely with.

If you have a diagnosed mental health condition? Have you experienced the Work Capability Assessment? Have your benefits been sanctioned because of this assessment? .

The purpose of this research is to understand the psychological impact of benefits sanctions following the Work Capability Assessment process and what impact this had, if any, on your mental health and outlook. If you would like to take part in the study, you would be invited to be interviewed to discuss these experiences for around one hour. . It would be useful for this to be in the North West but I am willing to travel if necessary. I can also help with any travel costs people have up to £20.

If you would like to take part or would like more information, please email the principal researcher, Helen McGauley, email h.mcgauley@lancaster.ac.uk Please share this with anyone else who you think might be interested in taking part. Thanking you in advance, Helen McGauley

 Posted by at 16:57
Dec 232016
 

It’s difficult if not impossible to adequately define the outcomes of Brexit for anyone living in the UK let alone for disabled people. The result where a small minority of the electorate voted to leave the EU has so far caused massive political turmoil but no concrete proposals as the new unelected Prime Minister, Teresa May, thrashes around wildly clutching at straws.

What is certain is that the promise of an extra £350 million a week for our National Health Service has not and will not be forthcoming. In fact this promise promoted widely by the Leave campaigners in the Tory Party and a reason why many UK citizens were conned into voting to leave turns out to have been an outright lie.

Many of the more deluded disabled people who also voted to leave did so simply because they wanted to punish David Cameron the then Tory Prime Minister who was stupid enough to call a referendum in the first place. Having resigned first as Prime Minister and then a little later as a Member of Parliament I’m sure the multi-millionaire Cameron is indeed ‘suffering’. What is certain that disabled people will.

As soon as the outcome of the referendum was known Cameron together with a whole host of Leave politicians turned their backs on guiding the UK through the Brexit process – no doubt so they don’t get blamed for the ensuing disaster.

The devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland do not want to leave the EU and in the case of Northern Ireland the Good Friday agreement and peace process means that there must be a parliamentary vote if Northern Ireland is to leave the EU.  There is also a legal challenge to seek a parliamentary vote on Brexit as the outcome of the referendum is advisory only. So chaos reigns as the UK population dangle precipitously in limbo.

As well as months spent focussed on the referendum campaign, the immediate aftermath was an election for a new Tory Party Leader and a second internal party election to try to remove the previously democratically elected Labour Party leader. During these many months of political bat and ball and trips around the country by various politicians the rights of disabled people have largely been forgotten especially by the media. Serious campaigning has been put back months as the political focus has been firmly placed elsewhere.

On a plus point the fascist party UKIP which very much led the Brexit campaign on an anti-immigration stance have also fallen into disarray and appear on the verge of oblivion. There have already been several elections for a new leader with none of them being successful in finding someone who stayed more than a couple of weeks. As the old British saying goes “every cloud has a silver lining”

What is certain for the UK is that Brexit has led to a massive  increase in race-related hate crime and there is no doubt those who perpetrate these crimes feel their actions are vindicated by the vote to leave. Xenophobia is rampant in parts of the country fuelled by some of the media as well as the Brexit campaign rhetoric. Disability hate crime has been rising year on year since 2010 in part thanks once again to the media-fuelled ‘useless eater’ and scrounger propaganda. For disabled people as well as those perceived to not be British hatred and abuse is only likely to increase in the post-Brexit frenzy that currently pervades the country.

Since Brexit as well the value of the pound has slumped which has already led to an increase in price for even essential daily items including for some the #Marmitegate tragedy where the price of Marmite has already risen in some cases by 12.5 % in shops.

Price increases for food and other essential items is likely to pose a particular problems for disabled people and others in receipt of UK Social Security payments as there is an austerity-led freeze on the amount of benefits which will be paid until at least 2020. The UK already has some of the lowest rates for out-of-work benefit payments in the EU so starting from a very low base rate the value of payments will fall even further as exchange rates fall.

On top of this fall in the value of the pound and freeze on increases in social security payments early in November an austerity-led cap on the total overall amount of benefit payments per household will result in massive reductions of £3,000 less per annum being paid to claimants. Many of those affected by this drastic cut will be disabled although other disabled people will be exempt from this cut.

From next April 2017 disabled people who make a new claim for Employment and Support Allowance and who are found not to be fit for work but able to undertake Work Related Activity which involved forcibly being made to jump though inappropriate and unacceptable hoops to continue being entitled to payments will also see their weekly income cut drastically by one-third. All of these changes will as already said be taking place at the same time the value of the pound falls against other currencies. Needless to say fuel prices are also continuing to rise and the number of UK residents on low incomes who have to choose between eating and heating because they can’t afford both continues to rise.

As disabled people and others wait for the mythical 35 million a day that we’re apparently saving by leaving the EU to be redeployed to help fund our National Health Service as promised we find our Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt putting in place plans to drastically reduce both the number of hospitals – down from 9 to 5 in London – and health service funding elsewhere in the UK through the implementation of Sustainability and Transformation Plans. This is very definitely not what Brexit promised for our health service. Hunt has also further undermined our NHS by stating that we want British only doctors in the near future in spite of the fact that around one-third of doctors currently are from other EU countries.

For disabled people who need personal assistance to live and take part in society Brexit is also bad news. Many people employ care workers/personal assistants from EU countries and now not only does the fall in the value of the pound affect the exchange value of wages paid but on a longer term basis no-one, neither the employers or the employees, have any idea about a future right to work here when the UK leaves the EU. It could of course be years before any more is known.

Workers rights generally are very much an unknown quantity at the moment as well. Teresa May has said the Conservatives want to protect those in place yet many people are on insecure zero hours contracts with no legal protections. The introduction of fees for Employment Tribunal hearings has also negatively affected worker’s rights to challenge unfair dismissals. All of these issues regarding employment rights continue to disproportionately affect disabled workers and the fear that once EU constraints on our employment laws are removed is causing major concerns for those disabled people who are in work.

For disabled people not in work the ending of Workfare and Work Choice schemes funded by the European Social Fund can really only be seen as positive. Neither of these schemes worked well in finding disabled people suitable or sustainable employment opportunities.

Workfare schemes in particular have been likened to unpaid slave labour which they were since claimants were forced to work for no pay under threat of having their benefits removed if they did not. Having said that there were a number of locally EU funded schemes to help disabled and other people into work which have worked well and for which there will now be no further EU funding available.

In other areas of life shared by disabled and non-disabled people the loss of European funding from the Social Fund, from the Common Agricultural Policy and from Regional Development grants will nevertheless be grossly detrimental to the overall standards of living and is likely to have a further negative trickle down impact on food prices. The idea that these funding streams will be replaced by our own government’s spending is laughable given their ongoing austerity agenda and determination to replace Trident nuclear weapons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Posted by at 17:49
Nov 292016
 

Have your say on fewer buses and the need for more changes in central london

https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/buses/west-end-bus-changes/

Transport for London are currently consulting on reducing the frequency of buses in Central London and changing the route, and terminus of others. This is bad news for disabled people due to the lack of alternative accessible transport options in the city.

Many journeys across London already require disabled people to change buses, however adjustments to the line of route, and shortening of the routes will make bus changes, and lengthy waits in the dark, cold and rain far more likely. Routes like 73 from Stoke Newington to Victoria and 390 Archway to Victoria are examples of routes that would be affected by these changes.

In particular, getting from Euston and Kings Cross to parts of London where there is no accessible tube service is a major issue and in zones 1 and 2 – much more difficult.

Transport for London are justifying this planned change as they claim more people are using the tube. This is not an option for disabled people as only 15% of Central London tube stations have step-free access and often not to all lines/directions. Central London stations which still do not have step-free access include numerous major hubs such as Bond Street, Oxford Circus, Leicester Square, Covent Garden, Tottenham Court Road, Vauxhall, Victoria, Euston, and Charring Cross.

Further, despite promises from TfL and the Mayor of London, that the closure of ticket offices would improve services for disabled travellers up to October 2016 the number of lifts being out of service due to staff shortages increased by a massive 118% compared to the previous year. In some cases lifts were closed for 20 hours.

TFL state in their consultation that the opening of the Elizabeth line (Crossrail) will reduce the need for buses. However, given the issues with acceptable levels of staffing at existing stations to provide lifts, and the fact that Crossrail will not be level from the platform to the train, requiring a bridging ramp, can disabled people trust that they will be able to access the new line’s services?

On top of all of that there are often planned closures of lifts for maintenance work lasting months and with no alternative usable tube stations nearby.

In most areas of central London Blue Badges cannot be used so disabled drivers are unable to park there. For those in work with a Motability vehicle who might need to travel into central London for work by taxi due to the lack of parking available this too is no longer an option as Access to Work will no longer provide taxis for those who have a Motability vehicle – not even so they can work.

At peak time, buses are often delayed due to traffic, or are so full that drivers refuse to allow wheelchair users onboard, meaning commutes are harder, longer and more arduous for disabled people.

These proposals risk causing disabled people more difficulties accessing the community, their places of work, and will reduce their ability to undertake leisure activities.

 

 

 Posted by at 20:32