Apr 262017
 

In 2016, despite opposition from campaigners, peers, charities and even Conservative MPs, the government voted to slash Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) by £30 a week for people in the Work-Related Activity Group (WRAG). The DWP claimed (as ever) that this would give people an ‘incentive’ to return to work, (but failed to supply any supporting evidence). Conservative MP, Heidi Allen MP argued “I do not believe mentoring and support alone will heat the home of someone recovering from chemotherapy, nor help out the man with Parkinson’s who needs a little bit of extra help.”

The WCA is an unreliable tick box exercise, driven by targets, and was ultimately designed to deny genuine claimants social security. Consequently severely disabled people end up in the WRAG, including Paul Mickleburgh, a man who has had 14 heart attacks.

People can find out how their MP voted here (note: only Tory MPs voted in favour of this). If you are unsure who your MP is you can use this website. Campaigner Rachael Swindon, has created memes of (almost) all the MPs who voted for this draconian cut. Here is an example:

(Description; on the right there is a photograph of MP Daniel Kawczynski. Text on the left reads: Daniel Kawczynski: Tory MP for Shrewsbury, Daniel on claming expenses: “I am always intrigued by the fascination with MPs’ expenses,” he said. “I just don’t understand what the story is”. The story here is simple Daniel,  you claimed £174,473.29 in one year BUT still voted to cut ESA for his sick and disabled constituents.)

Rachael’s memes highlight the hypocrisy of MPs, and how out of touch they are with their constituents; with her permission we have uploaded them to our google drive account (they are arranged by surname, in alphabetical order). Please name and shame your MP on social media (or even use them for posters). The war on social security must be an issue in the upcoming General Election. Some MPs on this list (such as Byron Davies) have wafer-thin majorities, and can easily be ousted from the Commons. (Please let us know if your MP is not included, and we’ll see what we can do).

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 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 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
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
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 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
Nov 202016
 

On 17th November the House passed a cross party motion to delay and review the proposed implementation of the ESA Cut of £29/week to new claimants of the ESA Work Related Activity Group.

 

Disabled People Against Cuts are campaigning to have this cut cancelled but today we are asking you as MPs to lobby the Chancellor to postpone the proposed ESA cut until we know the details of the support on offer, and whether this support compensates adequately the loss of £29 per week for claimants in the WRAG.

 

Please consider the following points

 

  • The ESA cut is worth £450m per year[i]. The employment support for claimants in the WRAG is only £60 to £100 million a year[ii] while the Work Programme received £500-£600 million each year[iii]. This represents a huge reduction in support for disabled people to gain work.
  • This employment support will not benefit claimants who cannot and will not be able to work who are misplaced into the WRAG. These are people with progressive illnesses (1/3 of these claimants are initially placed in the WRAG)[iv], claimants given a 2 year+ prognosis (defined by DWP as unlikely to work again)[v], or claimants wrongly placed in the WRAG, who after Mandatory Reconsiderations or appeals move onto the Support Group[vi].
  • This same group of claimants will not benefit from the flexible support fund, a discretionary fund, which provides local support for costs, related to getting into work, such as travel to and from training and travel costs when in work, for the reasons mentioned above.
  • Extension of hardship fund to new groups. The hardship fund is notoriously hard to access, because of very strict eligibility rules (claimants have to be almost destitute to be entitled), and the payments are also modest, discretionary, and of a temporary nature. Most importantly, payments will become recoverable under Universal Credit, driving more claimants into debt[vii]. Evidence also shows that these payments are not advertised by jobcentres and that their take-up is very low[viii]
  • Deals with third parties to help with expenditure not directly related to employment: broadband costs, phone charges, energy costs and insurance. That could be the only scheme likely to benefit the type of claimants we mentioned.

The Minister for Disabled People has given assurance that these schemes will fully compensate for the loss of the payments for new claimants[ix], but because of the flaws in the Work Capability Assessment, the claimants in the WRAG who need the most support because they are unable to work, and have no prospect of moving into work ever again will be the most severely penalised.

            We already know that a third of ESA recipients are running a budget deficit[x], and that 49% of disabled people rely on credit cards or loans to pay for everyday items such as food and clothing[xi]. This ESA cut is the last thing they need.

 

[i] https://medium.com/citizens-advice/halving-the-disability-employment-gap-22e3a588487f#.iuymk8dhu

 

[ii] http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-7649/CBP-7649.pdf

 

[iii] http://www.learningandwork.org.uk/our-thinking/news/dwp-employment-programme-funding-set-80-cut

 

[iv] https://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2016-03-21.31811.h&s=speaker%3A24778#g31811.r0

 

[v] http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmselect/cmworpen/302/30206.htm

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/498130/3703-2015.pdf

[vi] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/498130/3703-2015.pdf

 

[vii] https://www.turn2us.org.uk/Benefit-guides/Hardship-Payment/Hardship-Payments-of-Universal-Credit#guide-content

 

[viii] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/256044/jsa-sanctions-independent-review.pdf

 

[ix] https://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2016-11-17b.413.0&s=speaker%3A24938#g463.3

 

[x] https://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2016-11-17b.413.0&s=speaker%3A24938#g463.3

 

[xi] http://www.scope.org.uk/Scope/media/Documents/Publication%20Directory/Credit-and-Debt.pdf?ext=.pdf

 

 Posted by at 18:19
Oct 312016
 

Wanted - Damien Green - For Crimes Against Disabled PeopleToday Damien Green announced a consultation into the Work Capability Assessment a toxic and lethal test of disabled peoples’ ability to work. DPAC have consistently called for this to be completely scrapped as in spite of numerous attempts to reform the tick box computer tests they are still not fit for purpose. How many times do you keep trying to fix the unfixable?

It comes as no surprise either that Disability Charities welcome the changes which are being consulted on – why wouldn’t they after all there’s likely to be lots of financial pickings for them from the further misery of disabled claimants. Already Tom Pollard previously Campaign and Policy Manager for MIND has taken his thirty pieces of silver and moved to work for the DWP.

Overview and what these changes might mean

Now like Lord Freud the banker who wrote the guidelines for welfare reform for New Labour in 3 weeks and without any previous experience of our social security system Damien Green today has said “In the long run there is nothing more expensive than saying to someone, ‘Here’s a benefit you can have for the rest of your life…” Not that I’m sure what he means by that since this does not happen and disabled people face continuous repeat assessments to ensure they haven’t grown back any limbs or had a miraculous cure.

The consultation announced today places an emphasis on getting all disabled people back into work as fast as possible on the false assumption that working in a zero hours or low paid dead end jobs may somehow improve people’s health outcomes. Green seems to particularly single out forcing people with Mental Health and Musculoskeletal conditions back into work as fast as possible for as long as possible. Musculoskeletal conditions include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.

This is against a background of massive cuts to MH services to help those with a MH condition receive the support they need. Added to which there are caps to the Access to Work budget , social care funding has been slashed, to access train services in many cases disabled people have to book 24 or 48 hours in advance, Disabled Students’ Allowance has been cut making it more difficult if not impossible for young disabled people to gain qualifications, and people are being forced to give up work as they lose entitlement to PIP and their Motability vehicles are taken away.

Further between 2011 and 2015 the number of Jobcentres employing a full-time advisor to help disabled people navigate the support system and find employment fell by over 60 per cent from 226 to just 90, with reductions in every recorded year.

Does Damien really not understand that without the right support services in place disabled people even if they want to cannot work? Is it really too complex for politicians to grasp that support services must be available to allow disabled people to work if they want to and feel able to. Do they really not understand that for some disabled people working is not and never will be an option?

And what of employers?  of course they’re queuing up to retain and employ disabled people and all workplaces are accessible as we all know. The much lauded Disability Confident campaign resulted in a whopping 40 private firms signing up in 3 years.

But not just Damien also Jeremy Hunt, the much trusted health secretary also suggests getting people back to work had major health benefits. He is reported to say that as it cost £7bn a year to treat long-term health conditions that kept people out of work, and employment could be a part of recovery.

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, said “People in work generally have better health.” Something that I would have thought is obvious as people not in work often have long term health conditions or impairments which prevent them from working. Thus an utterly meaningless statement if ever I’ve heard one.

One particularly worrying statement is “No one wants a system where people are written off and forced to spend long periods of time on benefits when, actually, with the right support they could be getting back into work.” Which we feel means they plan to scrap the Support group.

This would certainly fit in with the announcement on October 1st when Damien Green announced there would be an end to repeat WCA assessments for people with permanent or progressive conditions. There was little detail on the announcement with more questions being raised that answers given (such as which conditions would be excluded from repeat assessments) The DWP promised to release guidelines to clarify exactly what this change means – to date no such clarification has appeared.

My Challenge to Damien Green and why these proposals are a crock of  ****

Dear Damien find an employer for this person. I know having to work as well as survive will help her wellbeing. Please note Damien at the moment she has no money to feed herself or her family due to the barbaric and flawed WCA assessment.

“I am writing this email as I feel desperate and alone after I had a phone call today saying I scored 0 points on my esa assessment. I don’t know where to turn or what to do.

I will start from the beginning. From being young I have had hip disabilities and went through many many operations between the ages of 12 and 19. In my early twenties I broke my left hip 4 times. Also in my early 20’s my spine started to deteriorate and to date I have had 3 emergency operations to try to correct this. During one operation I was left with that much damage and scar tissue I have loss of feeling and severe foot drop in my left foot.

Due to my hip problems I have arthritis in both hips and I am awaiting hip replacements in both hips. Due to my left femur being broken 4 times it is no longer straight meaning the hip replacement surgery will be very difficult which is why my surgeon is trying to leave it as long as possible as the surgery could end very badly.

I have suffered with chronic pain all my life but have always worked until earlier this year when I had my contract ended by work as I was no longer fit to do my job due to my disabilities. This is when I started claiming ESA.

Recently I have had major changes to my health leaving me doubly incontinent. I have to self catheterise twice daily. I am experiencing that much pain I am taking copious amounts of medication including morphine every 3 hours. My mobility is very restricted and my partner has had to give up work to care for me. I can’t cook, clean, go to the shop. My emotional and mental health is suffering terribly and I am on anti depressant medication.

I attended my ESA assessment last week and the decision maker telephoned me today telling me that I had not scored any points at all during the assessment and my benefits have been stopped.

Because my partner has come out of work our tax credits claim was ended and we have had to re apply meaning we are not receiving any money from tax credits at the moment. The only money we had support us and our two children was the ESA payments of £72 per week and £36 per week child benefit.

When the advisor phoned me with the news today I broke down in the phone. I feel as though I am on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I can not go to work as I am too unwell. I spend a lot of my time feeling sleepy and not with it due to my medication, I can not control my bowels, I am in constant severe pain, my mobility is limited, my bladder does not empty itself so I have to self catheterise, I have short term memory loss and confusion due to medication, the list is endless. As the rent is now not being paid and with our previous arrears which I was paying off before this I am terrified my kids are going to lose their home. I can’t put food in the cupboards, gas and electric on. I feel hopeless and desperate.

I don’t know how this works. I have always worked I am not trying to get anything under false pretences. If I could work I would. I have lost my independence and I feel that the DWP are taking away my dignity along with it by making me beg to be able to live.

I am unsure why I have sent you this email but I don’t know where to turn. I am so sorry if this makes no sense. ”
What you can do

Write or email Damien to let him know what you think

ministers@dwp.gsi.gov.uk or Caxton House, 12, Tothill Street, London,SW1H

also please respond to the consulation

Full consultation here

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/work-health-and-disability-improving-lives

take part in consultation here

https://consultations.dh.gov.uk/workandhealth/consult/

 

 

 

 Posted by at 18:51
Sep 192016
 

Contact a Family have advised the following for anyone who has a disabled child or is a carer for an older adult. We think this advice should also apply to anyone who might qualify for PIP and who hasn’t yet claimed.

 

Over the next ten days the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will write to all those families who are going to be affected by changes to the household benefit cap in November. These letters will be sent out between 19 and 29 September.

The good news is you are exempt from the benefit cap if you have a dependent child who is on either Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

If you have a disabled child but haven’t claimed DLA/PIP for them yet, think about doing so now. Getting an award of DLA or PIP at any rate will mean you don’t have to worry about the benefit cap hitting your family.

If you are disabled and think you may qualify even for the lowest rates of PIP please apply now.
What is the household benefit cap?

The household benefit cap limits the total amount of benefits that an out of work family can receive. At the moment the cap is £500 a week for lone parents and couples.

However, from 7 Nov 2016 the government intends to lower this figure to £442 in London and to £384.62 elsewhere for couples and single parents with children living with them. For single people without children the cap will limit overall weekly payments to £296.35 in London and £256.69 outside Greater London.

An extra 88,000 households are expected to be affected by this lower cap. If your benefit income is above the cap then the excess amount is cut from your housing benefit, or from your Universal Credit if you get this instead. The cap is lower for single people without children.

Are families with disabled children exempt from the household benefit cap?

All families with a dependent child on DLA or PIP are exempt from the cap. It doesn’t matter what rate of DLA or PIP your child gets – even if they only get the lowest rate you will still be exempt from the cap.

Am I still protected from the cap if my son or daughter stops being treated as a dependent child?

If a disabled child aged 16 or above either leaves education, turns 20 or claims certain benefits such as Employment and Support Allowance, they stop being treated as a dependent. This means that their parent may then lose their exemption from the benefit cap.

However, the government has said in the autumn it will change the benefit cap rules so that you are also exempt if you are entitled to Carer’s Allowance or get a carer element in your Universal Credit. These changes to the rules for carers will help some parents who care for a disabled young person to remain exempt from the cap despite their child no longer being a dependent. These changes for carers have already been introduced in Northern Ireland.

Benefits included in the cap

The cap applies to the total amount people in your household (you, your partner and any children living with you) get from the following benefits:

Payments towards carer’s costs in Universal Credit won’t be affected by the benefit cap from autumn 2016.

Benefits that aren’t included

You’re not affected by the cap if anyone in your household qualifies for Working Tax Credit or gets any of the following benefits:

If you have adult children or non-dependants living with you and they qualify for any of these benefits, you may be affected by the cap. This is because they’re not usually included in your household.

 

 

 Posted by at 20:45
Jan 292016
 

Following the winning of two Bedroom Tax cases this week by the grandparents of a young disabled man and the survivor of domestic violence in the Court of Appeal the government announced within hours that it intended to appeal against this decision and has allocated an unlimited amount of our money to defend their totally unjust policies.

You can read the full  so-called justification for this from the so-called minister for disabled people, Justin Torysnake in this link here
Under-occupancy Penalty (28 Jan 2016)
http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2016-01-28a.415.0&s=%22housing+benefit%22#g424.0
“Justin Tomlinson: We are not ignoring the ruling; we are appealing it.
We are doing that because we feel that discretionary housing payment is
the correct way to do it. Reforms take time to come in, as I said
earlier. *Housing benefit* cost £24.4 billion this year. Had we not
brought in reforms, every single one of which was opposed by the Labour
party, it would have cost £26 billion this year.”…..

 

Until this appeal has been heard in the Supreme Court anyone currently appealing against a bedroom tax decision will have their appeal ‘parked’ pending the outcome however in the meantime the government has produced new guidance for anyone affected specifying that their extra costs should be met from a Discretionary Housing Payment.

Bulletin for HB staff HB U1/2016, effective from 28 January 2016

The important point is that this states very clearly that any additional costs incurred in meeting disability related housing needs should be met by a DHP. The bulletin states -:

Court of Appeal judicial review decision concerning the maximum rent (social sector)

  1. Yesterday the judgment of the Court of Appeal was handed down in the joined judicial review cases R v. Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, ex parte Rutherford and R v. Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, ex parte A. The full judgment is available at: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2016/29.html

 

  1. The Court has found that the claimants have suffered discrimination contrary to A14 of the European Convention on Human Rights. However, the Court of Appeal repeated the finding at first instance that the Secretary of State had complied with the Public Sector Equality Duty.

 

  1. The Court has granted the Secretary of State permission to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, and it is the Secretary of State’s intention to appeal.

 

  1. No action needs to be taken by local authorities following this judgment. It has not changed the applicability of the maximum rent (social sector) provisions and no action should be taken to re-assess the Housing Benefit (HB) of claimants in the appellants’ situation.

 

  1. The Department remains of the view that Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) are the appropriate means of protecting HB claimants in the appellants’ circumstances.

 

  1. Provided below are some Q&A to enable you to respond to any enquiries you might receive.

 

Q&A

 

  1. Is the government going to appeal?

 

  1. The Court of Appeal granted permission to appeal and it is the government’s intention to appeal.

 

  1. What does this mean for claimants with panic rooms or a disabled child who requires overnight care?

 

  1. The maximum rent (social sector) must continue to be applied to all claimants as before yesterday’s judgment.

 

  1. As a local authority should we continue to apply the maximum rent (social sector) in these cases?

 

  1. Yes, the legislation underpinning the size criteria remains in force. DHPs remain the appropriate mechanism for providing support where there is an under-occupancy deduction because of a panic room or a bedroom used to accommodate an overnight carer for a disabled child.

 

Applying for and Being refused a DHP

We know that although DHPs should be being made to people this is yet another post-code lottery and whether or not you get one and how long it is for varies from one LA to another.

We know that some LAs take DLA into account as available income when they should not do so.

You can’t appeal against being refused a DHP but you can still challenge it being refused through a Judicial Review. DPAC would encourage anyone who is refused a DHP to seek legal advice with regard to making a legal challenge against being refused and also they should apply again. (It is possible to have more than one JR against refusals at the same time).

 

Why discretionary DHPs are not an adequate replacement for rights

Disabled people need Rights not Charity or Discretionary Payments and access to this right was proven in a previous case relating to Local Housing Payments using right enshrined in article 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights. In particular the arguments used by the solicitor representing Trengrove vs Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council are particularly relevant in arguing this.

http://ukhumanrightsblog.com/2012/05/19/housing-benefit-system-discriminated-against-disabled-people-rules-court-of-appeal/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Posted by at 20:05
Jan 212016
 

We need people who would be willing to speak to the press who are in ESA WRAG about the £30 a week cut to funding which is being proposed and how this would affect you.

 

We also need to have anyone living in Supported Housing who will be affected by the cuts to Housing Benefit and the amount allowed being restricted to LHA rates.

 

If you would be willing to help with either of these things please email us at mail@dpac.uk.net

 

 Posted by at 19:44
May 172015
 

If you get care funding from your local council this is often not free and you will have to have a financial assessment to see how much they will ask you to pay towards your care. In order to reduce the amount you have to pay for your care here is a list of Disability Related Expenses which they should disregard as available income, thus reducing the amount they ask you to pay.

These are not costs you can claim for.

This is not an exhaustive list and if there are any glaring omissions please let us know.

On the ILF email group we’ve been chatting about Disability Related Expenditure and I have collated people’s suggestions which have been very helpful.

 

It was suggested that to prove something is a “disability related expenditure”, not an expense that non – disabled people would also have, we could also give the reason why someone says that it is “disability related” e.g you could argue that a food processor is a “disability related” expense if you have an impairment which causes difficulties with chopping fruit/vegetables – by having the food processor it means that you don’t have to rely on another person to help you preparing / making meals. (although this example is useful bear in mind that it could lead to your care funding being reduced if social services decided the food processor meant you didn’t need any other support)

 

You could argue that, as a visually impaired person, you need a large print crossword book, which costs more than a regular crossword book. The difference in price would be the disability related expenditure.

 

A lot of councils will not take transport cost into account because they can’t take the mobility component into account – but if you can demonstrate that your full mobility component goes on the hire of your vehicle, then you can argue that fuel costs are a disability related expenditure as there is no other suitable alternative transport.

 

There are definitely many expenses that people don’t even think of, or expenses that people find hard to justify to the council – so giving a list of expenditure with reasons why they are “disability related” can often swing it.

 

And here are some list

 

Disability related expenditure list

Wheelchair insurance

Community Alarm Electric and gas 30 % ( Heating, Laundry due to arthritis/pain/health)

 

Electrical Gadgets – all of which use more electricity then non-disabled people would need to use

Recliner chair

Mobile – needed for safety reasons

Computer/Broadband – social/voluntary activities /computer equipment (mouse/dropped regularly and needing replacement)

NHS Bed

Stair lifts

Door opener/Intercom/remote control door opener

Two Closimat toilets

Wheel chair charging

Mobile phone charges

Adapted Car – use extra diesel for adaptations i.e. ramp, drivers seat, door openers

Health insurance

 

Replacement Equipment aids Costs
Heat pads

Hot water bottles

Bedding

Cushions

Lap Trays – activities/meals/computer

Pillows

Special mattress

Clothes

Wheel chair covers

Tens Machine – Batteries & Pad

 

PA Costs

– Hand wash

– Alcohol gel

– Toilet roll

– Hot water

– Kettle

– Drinks

– Protective/medical gloves and aprons

– Transport costs in order to escort on public transport

– Breakages

– Holiday costs of taking PA as well – 1 week allowed

 

 Live in Carer potential costs

New Carpet

Electric costs

Gas costs

Laundry
Showers

Bedding

Food

 

Heath/Medical

Travel to GP, Nurse and hospital appointments

Hospital
– Neurology

– Eye Clinic

– Euro gynaecology

– Pain clinic

– Operations

– Chiropody

 

– Antiseptic Creams

 

General Outgoings

Electric

Gas

TV costs

Shopping – internet deliveries (again be careful with this as social services may say you don’t need care to go shopping and point out you need someone to put food away for you anytime within a 2 hour delivery slot).

Food costs and dietary needs including more frequent small meals or meals which may need to be left for people to reheat.

Extra costs of things like clothes and shoes – the difference between cheap ones -from-primark and something-which-actually-works.

Extra washing powder, more expensive washing powders or fabric softeners.

Pet insurance if an assistance dog

Rent above levels paid in benefits

Mortgage payments if property is larger than a non-disabled person would need. ie. room needed for PA or equipment storage

Water rates

Household insurance for appliances relating to impairment

Servicing of any aids or equipment

Wheelchair insurance

Gardening

Decorating

Having to put money aside for future needs eg. repairs to equipment, deposit for Motability vehicle etc ( look at last 2-3 years ).

 

There is advice on the Age UK website, of which this is an extract:

Taking disability-related expenditure into account

If the local authority decides to take into account your disability-related benefits, it must also take into account your disability-related expenditure in the means test.

This is confirmed in Annex C of the statutory guidance where it is stated that you should be allowed to keep enough benefit to pay for necessary disability related expenditure to meet any needs that are not being met by the local authority. A similar requirement is made in the charging regulations.

 

Some local authorities disregard set amounts to take account of disability- related expenditure partly to avoid having to ask questions that might be considered intrusive. The amount that is disregarded varies from authority to authority. However if you consider your disability related costs are greater than this set amount you can ask for a full assessment of your costs.

 

The statutory guidance provides an indicative list of disability-related expenditure examples. It is not possible for the list to be comprehensive as it will vary from person to person. When being assessed to see how much you can pay, you should consider everything you have to buy because of your disability. This could, for example, include:

 

lextra washing, or special washing power and conditioner for delicate skin;

lcommunity alarms (pendant or wrist);
lspecial diet;
lspecial clothing or footwear (or extra wear and tear);

ladditional bedding;
lextra heating costs;
lgardening;
lhousehold maintenance (if you would normally have done it yourself);

lany cleaning (if not part of your care plan);

linternet access;
lany care that social services do not meet;
lbuying and maintaining disability-related equipment; or

Factsheet 46lApril 2015
Paying for care and support at home

22 of 48

lany transport costs (both for essential visits to the doctor or hospital, but also to keep up social contacts).

 

It can be difficult to prove you have extra costs if you have not actually incurred those expenses, for example, if you have not put the heating on for fear of large bills, or are not following a special diet because of the cost. Local authorities should work out an amount considered to be normal expenditure on heating, for example, for your area and type of housing to assist them in their response to if you claim disability-related expenditure in this context, or what you would spend if you weren’t avoiding it out of fear of high expenditure.

 

There may be other costs that should be accepted.

The courts have confirmed that local authorities should not be inflexible but should always consider individual circumstances. For example, an authority should not adopt a blanket policy of refusing to acknowledge any payments made to close relatives, as there may exceptional reasons for a particular arrangement. In one case the local authority was criticised for not properly carrying out an assessment of the person’s disability related expenditure by doing a home visit, and for rejecting some items of expenditure such as swimming lessons and paying the carer to accompany him on holiday. Such costs should be considered if they are reasonable expenditure needed for independent living.’2

http://www.ageuk.org.uk/Documents/EN-GB/Factsheets/FS46_Paying_for_care_and_support_at_home_fcs.pdf?dtrk=true

Additional suggestions

communication aid configuration, mounting , unmounting and charging up

private therapies including massage for either pain relief or anxiety

Dressings for self injury and extra water (OCD)

ready meals when unable to cook

pets – insurance and food – for acompanionship and to feel safe.

 

 

 Posted by at 21:04
May 112015
 

Secret Changes to Motability Grant Making Conditions – People needed for Legal Challenge

Motability have introduced changes to their grant making conditions discriminating against disabled people with the highest support needs who are unable to work for a minimum of 12 hours a week, carry out at least 12 hours voluntary work (which apparently can’t be internet based but has to be outside the home and doesn’t include travelling time), are not in education for at least 12 hours a week and who need specialised adaptations to transfer to drive or drive-from-wheelchair vehicles.

These changes have not been made publicly known or advertised to current customers in any way about who is eligible for a grant and the changes were made without any consultation.

We understand these changes were made from June 1st this year but customers are only being told about them when they enquire about a grant for a replacement vehicle.

The impact of these changes which affects those with the highest and most costly needs are potentially life-changing. It could well prevent people having contact with family (let alone friends) if they live in a rural area with little or no transport, it means anyone who can only travel with equipment like hoists. Oxygen cylinders and other bulky items won’t be able to go anywhere. It also ignores the fact that with other cuts to services people will not be able to ensure they have the physical support from someone else to drive them.

We have sought legal advice to see whether these changes can be challenged as discriminatory and now need to hear from anyone who is or would be affected by these changes in the near future and who would qualify for legal aid. In particular we want to hear from anyone who currently does not have a vehicle and has been refused the right to apply for grant funding.

If you think you might be affected by these changes and are willing to consider taking legal action then please contact us at  mail@dpac.uk.net

http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/motability-face-court-action-discriminatory-new-rules/

 

 Posted by at 20:33
Mar 312015
 

Sign in support of the campaign now! 

Email Henrietta.doyle@inclusionlondon.co.uk with the name of your organisation or as an individual.

Ultimate aim of the campaign

Motability agrees to reverse the changes to eligibility criteria for Motability’s Special Vehicles Fund for Drive-from-Wheelchair/Internal Transfer (DFW/IT) vehicles used by disabled people with complex needs. 

Other aims:

·        Motability agrees to conduct a formal public consultation on the changes, including a face to face meeting with current grant users. Until this consultation is concluded and a consultation response report publicly published the changes should be immediately reversed.

·        Motability agrees to publishes  their equality impact assessment of the changes

·        Motability agrees to publish clear and full information about the changes on their website. 

Why the need for the campaign?

Motability has changed the eligibility criteria for their Special Vehicles Fund (SVF) for Drive-from-Wheelchair/Internal Transfer (DFW/IT) vehicles used by disabled people with complex needs. We believe these changes could destroy the ability to live independently and be included in the community of those affected. 

What are the changes?

From June 2014 ‘a usage test’ was introduced by Motability regarding DFW/IT vehicles.  This test applies to those applying to the SVF first time and current users when renewing their contract (see statement provided by Motability attached). Below is information on how the changes are being implemented in practice.

Current users are telephoned some months in advance of the renewal date of their contract and asked if the vehicle is to support ‘substantive employment, education, volunteer working or to enable the disabled driver to provide vital and sole care to another, for example, a school-age child or children or a disabled loved one who resides with the disabled person.’  About 12 hours a week seems to be considered ‘substantive’. It appears that those that do not fulfil this criterion are no longer eligible for a vehicle.

We are very concerned that disabled people who rely on access to such vehicles will no longer be eligible for grants from the scheme and therefore unable to replace vehicles, which are essential to their independence. These vehicles are often used by disabled people with the highest support needs, who for a range of reasons relating to their impairments, are unable to access public transport because it unavailable or not possible because of pain levels or the need to carry equipment such as hoists or oxygen or a particularly large vehicle as illustrated in the case study below:

Case study

Because of the specialised seating on my wheelchair, it is too large to travel on bus.  Only 3 weeks ago I couldn’t go to hospital Emergency A&E because the ambulances can’t take me!  I was severely dehydrated, they ended up sending a doctor to my home and doing 48-hour IV just because I couldn’t go to hospital.  

There is NO way I am every going to be employed which is depressing enough, I can’t get  voluntary work because I can’t even go and see anyone to consider it (no transport!).  I really am so depressed over these changes. 

These new changes mean I am confined to the distance of my own wheelchair with no access to public transport, and no access to Motability.

The impact

The independence given to disabled people to drive their own vehicle often means they can become involved in their community and do voluntary activities. Without a DFW/IT vehicle many disabled people will be excluded from visits to families and friends and will be unable to take part in any aspects of social, religious, community, wellbeing activities and political life.  In addition these changes will prevent disabled people getting into education, obtaining employment or volunteering unless already involved in these activities and therefore will never fulfil the new criteria for a DFW/IT vehicle.

Motability did not conduct a consultation before implementing these changes and as far as we are aware they did not carry out an Equality Impact Assessment regarding the impact of the change, also there was no public announcement or any information published concerning the changes.   Disabled people only become aware when asked the questions on the telephone. There is still only limited information given by Motability at: http://www.motability.co.uk/understanding-the-scheme/financial-help/eligibility-for-financial-help

Motability administers government funds, yet they seem to be ignoring the Equality act and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities, which states the duty to facilitate:

·        ‘the personal mobility of persons with disabilities in the manner and at the time of their choice’

·        access to ‘quality mobility aids’

·        disabled people’s right to ‘full inclusion and participation in the community’.   

Disabled people’s organisations are acting together with other voluntary sector organisations to ask Motability to reverses the changes to the eligibility criteria for the SVF for DFW/IT vehicles.

What can you do?

·        Sign in support of the campaign by emailing Henrietta.doyle@inclusionlondon.co.uk

·        Sign the petition at: https://www.change.org/p/stop-unfair-and-secret-changes-to-motability-grants#petition-letter   2,500 people  signed in the first 3 weeks!

·        Promote petition, email, Facebook, Twitter etc.

·        Send letter of protest and case examples to Motability.

·        Survey members on their experiences of Motability reviews

·        Contact your local MP, and relevant Ministers

Join the coalition of disabled people’s organisations and voluntary sector organisations supporting the aims of the campaign above, to do this please email Henrietta.doyle@inclusionlondon.co.uk with the name of your organisation. 

Please forward this email to your contacts. 

Many thanks,

Henrietta

Henrietta Doyle

Policy Officer

Mobile: 07703 715091

Direct line (Wednesday’s only) 020 7036 6033

Office Tel: 020 7237 3181, SMS: 0771 839 4687

www: http://www.inclusionlondon.co.uk/

 Posted by at 19:07
Mar 172015
 

Today, the Guardian published an interview of Rachel Reeves, in which she says of the Labour party: “We are not the party of people on benefits. We don’t want to be seen, and we’re not, the party to represent those who are out of work,……. Labour are a party of working people, formed for and by working people.”

This is a huge disappointment for those who had been expecting the Labour party to take a principled stand against what the Coalition is doing to unemployed and disabled people who cannot work, lone parents, carers and pensioners who rely on benefits and to voice their concerns and anger.

Forget it. The Labour Party does not represent you.

But that is not even the worst. Rachel Reeves seems to think that you cannot be claiming benefits and working at the same time, although some disability benefits like the Independent Living Fund, Disability Living Allowance,Personal Independence Payment and Access to Work are designed precisely with this in mind. All parents raising children are entitled to Child Benefit, although it is now mean-tested. Do we have to assume that Rachel Reeves will forfeit her allowance when she has her baby? Should we assume that neither David Blunkett nor Ann Begg had or have to rely on some form of disability benefits to support them in their Parliamentary life?

Is the assumption that claiming benefits only happens to others, slightly apart from the rest of the human race, and who don’t deserve to be represented although they are already the most politically marginalised and unrepresented group?

Maybe before speaking, Reeves should have had a chat with Yvette Cooper. Yvette Cooper could have told her that when she was struck by ME, she had to claim disability benefits during six months because she was too sick to work. She was lucky to totally recover after 4 years, but when she needed it, the state was there to support her, and I am not sure she would have been very pleased to be told at the time that her own party did not represent her anymore because she could not work. (see below for more information)

Rachel Reeves made a huge faux-pas today, which might not gain the Labour Party any extra votes from the Tory party, but which has lost for Labour the last hopeful voters who still believed that the Labour Party was the party of compassion and solidarity and who discover that it has lost its soul.


On 21st October 2009 while Work and Pensions Secretary, Yvette Cooper made the following statement to the All Party Parliamentary Group on ME. Of particular interest are Yvette Cooper’s comments about her uncertainty about if she would have qualified for ESA at the time, when she knew she was unable to work, and also a recognition all the way back in 2009, six years ago, that the WCA was flawed when dealing with fluctuating conditions.

I am happy to say a few things first. It is a pleasure for me to be here. Tony Wright MP and I first discussed setting up the all party group on ME back in 1998. I obviously have a strong personal interest in it, having been an ME sufferer back in 1993. I was off work for about a year. I had to work part time for a year or two after that, and then it was another couple of years before I stopped getting any relapses.

I obviously have a personal interest in this, and although it is true that I am the third Secretary of State to come before the group, I think I am probably the only Secretary of State from the Department for Work and Pensions who has actually claimed sickness benefits. As well as having statutory sick pay for six months, I also claimed what was then invalidity benefit for six months, before going back to work. I was lucky to have a supportive employer who allowed me to work part time — I worked alternate days, as that was the best way for me to do it when I started back at work — and who was very considerate when I had bad days. I am very conscious of the difficulties and challenges that people can face. That includes both those who have the condition and can work, although they can only work certain times and need it to be flexible — that was the position I was in for some time — and those people who cannot work at all.

I am happy to listen to the concerns that the group wishes to raise. I have also been through the new work capability assessment, from the point of view of how I felt and the condition that I had at the time. I know that I was not able to work; I was desperate to get back to work, but would I have passed the work capability assessment in terms of getting the ESA?

I have been through all those sorts of questions because I have a personal interest in it, but I am interested in hearing your views too.

We have done a lot of work to try to ensure that the whole approach to the employment support allowance takes account of fluctuating conditions and fatigue, not only inability to do things. It should look at those conditions where someone is able to do something, but it wipes them out for the rest of the day. It is not that someone cannot do a particular thing because they are incapable of doing it, but it wipes them out.

That must be taken into account in the assessment process. A lot of work has been done to try and do that, and to build that in to the assessment process. I obviously have personal experience of how that is going, but we are keen to keep trying to do that, and ensure that we respond to what I know is a difficult condition.

We are pleased to note that Yvette Cooper is restored to health, not only being able to hold down a demanding job, but also now having the spare energy to be able to run away from difficult questions about WCA:


Video courtesy of Kate Belgrave

 Posted by at 13:45
Jan 292015
 

Legal Challenge re-PIP claims

We are aware that many disabled people are having problems with the way the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) system works, and many people are having to wait a really long time for an assessment or decision. We know some people are waiting months, which is unacceptable.

If you are planning to apply for PIP, or have applied and are currently waiting for an assessment or decision, we can put you in touch with some solicitors who may be able to provide you with some free assistance which may speed up your claim where there is a delay. If you would like to find out about this please email us at mail@dpac.uk.net

Legal Challenge re- Sanctions

We are also looking for  ESA claimants who have been sanctioned, or threatened with a sanction, because they have not been able to undertake work related activity for some reason which is connected with their disability. For example, the claimant cannot attend training because their mental health problem prevents them from travelling or from working in a group of people they do not know. In such a case, we could argue that the DWP should make reasonable adjustments such as providing them with training via the internet or providing them with means of travel to training as appropriate.

The best time for a case to start is probably at the point when a sanction has been threatened and before it is imposed, but get in touch if your benefit has been reduced as well.

We also hope that the question of the lawfulness of sanctions can be looked at as well but need some individual cases first.

If you are interested in getting involved with either of these cases please contact us at mail@dpac.uk.net

 

 Posted by at 13:08
Jan 092015
 

Join The Day Of Action Against Maximus

Maximus Day of Action 2nd March A5 leaflet front and back 06

You can download this A5 leaflet to print, share, tweet and put on facebook here or just the front page here  and you can find more information on the Facebook Event Page


 

A national day of action has been called on March 2nd 2015 against Maximus, the company set to take over from Atos running the despised Work Capability Assessments (WCAs) for sickness and disability benefits.

These crude and callous assessments have been used to strip benefits from hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled people after a quick computer based test ruled them ‘fit for work’.  A growing number of suicides have been directly linked to this stressful regime, whilst charities, medical staff and claimants themselves have warned of the desperate consequences for those left with no money at all by the system.

In a huge embarrassment for the DWP, the previous contractor Atos were chased out of the Work Capability Assessments after a sustained and militant campaign carried out by disabled people, benefit claimants and supporters.  In a panicky effort to save these vicious assessments Iain Duncan Smith hired US private healthcare company Maximus to take over from Atos this coming April.

This is not the only lucrative contract the Tories have awarded this company.  Maximus are also involved in helping to privatise the NHS, running the Fit for Work occupational health service designed to bully and harass people on sick leave into going back to work.  Maximus also run the notorious Work Programme in some parts of the UK, meaning that disabled people found fit for work by Maximus may then find themselves sent on workfare by Maximus.  There is no greater enemy to the lives of sick and disabled people in the UK today than this multi-national poverty profiteer who even are prepared to run welfare-to-work style schemes for the brutal Saudi Arabian government.

Maximus have boasted they will not face protests due to their involvement in the Work Capability Asessments and have even stooped as low as hiring one prominent former disability campaigner on a huge salary in an effort to quell protests against their activities.  We urgently need to show them how wrong they are and call for all disabled people, benefit claimants and supporters to organise against this vicious bunch of profiteering thugs.

Please organise in your local area and spread the word.

Maximus are likely to use the same assessment centres as Atos whilst a list of their premises which provide (privatised) healthcare services can be found below, and a list of Maximus offices where they provide welfare-to-work services can be found below that.

In Central London protesters will gather outside Maximus HQ on  at 1pm or 1.30pm. Level 1 Quuen Anne’s Gate, London SW1H 9BU, just round the corner from the DWP.

Look out for online action to be called on the same day.


 

List of Maximus Health programme Locations

Manchester

12 Edward Court, Altrincham Business Park | Altrincham, WA14 5GL
Tel: 0845 894 1664

Birmingham

2 Home Farm Courtyard, Meriden Road | Berkswell, CV7 7BG
Tel: 0845 504 0230

London (City)

Boston House, 63-64 New Broad Street | London, EC2M 1JJ
Tel: 0845 504 0200

London Bridge

3rd Floor, 115 Southwark Bridge Road | London, SE1 0AX
Tel: 0845 504 0202

HML Transport (Derby)

41 Brunel Parkway, Pride Park | Derby, DE24 8HR
Tel: 0845 504 0280

 

Employment and Works programmes

London Branches

Ilford

1st Floor, Newbury House, 890-900 Eastern Ave | Newbury Park, Illford, Essex, IG2 7HY
Phone: 0203 551 7595 | Fax: 0208 599 5218 | ilford@maximusuk.co.uk

Camden

2nd Floor, Bedford House, 125-133 Camden High St | London, NW1 7JR
Phone: 0203 551 7477 | Fax: 0203 551 7480 | camden@maximusuk.co.uk

Ealing

2nd Floor, 84 Uxbridge Rd | Ealing, London, W13 8RA
Phone: 0203 551 7488 | Fax: 0203 551 7495 | ealing@maximusuk.co.uk

Hammersmith and Kensington

Brook House, 235 -239 Shepherds Bush Rd | Hammersmith, London, W6 7AN
Phone: 0203 551 7499 | Fax: 0203 551 7500| hammersmith@maximusuk.co.uk

Hillingdon (Hayes)

914-918 Uxbridge Rd | Hayes, Middlesex, London, UB4 0RW
Phone: 0203 551 7525 | Fax: 0203 551 7526 | hillingdon@maximusuk.co.uk

Islington

2nd Floor, Unit 7, Blenheim Court, 62 Brewery Rd | Islington, London, N7 9NY
Phone: 0203 551 7535 | Fax: 0203 551 7540 | islington@maximusuk.co.uk

Peckham

Ground Floor, 218-222 Rye Lane | Peckham, London, SE15 4NL
Phone: 0203 5517565 | Fax: 0207 6351794 | peckham@maximusuk.co.uk

Romford

3rd Floor, Lambourne House, 7 Western Rd | Romford, Essex, RM1 3LD
Phone: 01708 629208 | Fax: 01708 629212 | romford@maximusuk.co.uk

Walthamstow

Landmark House, Uplands Business Park, Blackhorse Lane | London, E17 5QJ
Phone: 02035 517575 | Fax: 02085 275301 | walthamstow@maximusuk.co.uk


List of Maximus Work Programme Locations

London Branches

Ilford

1st Floor, Newbury House, 890-900 Eastern Ave | Newbury Park, Illford, Essex, IG2 7HY
Phone: 0203 551 7595 | Fax: 0208 599 5218 | ilford@maximusuk.co.uk

Camden

2nd Floor, Bedford House, 125-133 Camden High St | London, NW1 7JR
Phone: 0203 551 7477 | Fax: 0203 551 7480 | camden@maximusuk.co.uk

Ealing

2nd Floor, 84 Uxbridge Rd | Ealing, London, W13 8RA
Phone: 0203 551 7488 | Fax: 0203 551 7495 | ealing@maximusuk.co.uk

Hammersmith and Kensington

Brook House, 235 -239 Shepherds Bush Rd | Hammersmith, London, W6 7AN
Phone: 0203 551 7499 | Fax: 0203 551 7500| hammersmith@maximusuk.co.uk

Hillingdon (Hayes)

914-918 Uxbridge Rd | Hayes, Middlesex, London, UB4 0RW
Phone: 0203 551 7525 | Fax: 0203 551 7526 | hillingdon@maximusuk.co.uk

Islington

2nd Floor, Unit 7, Blenheim Court, 62 Brewery Rd | Islington, London, N7 9NY
Phone: 0203 551 7535 | Fax: 0203 551 7540 | islington@maximusuk.co.uk

Peckham

Ground Floor, 218-222 Rye Lane | Peckham, London, SE15 4NL
Phone: 0203 5517565 | Fax: 0207 6351794 | peckham@maximusuk.co.uk

Romford

3rd Floor, Lambourne House, 7 Western Rd | Romford, Essex, RM1 3LD
Phone: 01708 629208 | Fax: 01708 629212 | romford@maximusuk.co.uk

Walthamstow

Landmark House, Uplands Business Park, Blackhorse Lane | London, E17 5QJ
Phone: 02035 517575 | Fax: 02085 275301 | walthamstow@maximusuk.co.uk

South East Branches

Aldershot

Suite 1, 3rd Floor, Victoria House, Victoria Road | Aldershot, GU11 1DB
Phone: 01252 352354 | aldershot@maximusuk.co.uk

Aylesbury

Ground Floor, Walker House, George St | Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, HP20 2HU
Phone: 01296 699870 | Fax: 01296 699871 | aylesbury@maximusuk.co.uk

Banbury

Suite A, Castle Link, 39 North Bar St | Banbury, OX16 0TH
Phone: 01295 675135 | Fax: 01295 675136 | banbury@maximusuk.co.uk

Bracknell

1st Floor, Unit 7, Bracknell Beeches, Old Bracknell Lane West | Bracknell, RG12 7BW
Phone: 01344 859150 | Fax: 01344 304632 | bracknell@maximusuk.co.uk

Burgess Hill

2nd Floor, Greenacre Court, Market Place | Bracknell, RH15 9DS
Phone: 01444 810280 | burgesshill@maximusuk.co.uk

Chichester

1st Floor, Friar’s House, 52A East St | Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 1JG
Phone: 01243 850905 | Fax: 01243 785491 | chichester@maximusuk.co.uk

Dartford

Third Floor, West Hill House, West Hill | Dartford, Kent, DA1 2EU
Phone: 01322 352565 | Fax: 01322 293690 | dartford@maximusuk.co.uk

Eastleigh

Suite B, 2nd Floor, Smith Bradbeer House, High St | Eastleigh, Hampshire, SO50 5LG
Phone: 02380 658600 | Fax: 02380 650259 | eastleigh@maximusuk.co.uk

Guildford

4th Floor Dominion House, Woodbridge Rd | Guildford, Surrey, GU1 4PU
Phone: 01483 550 990 | Fax: 01483 457 151 | guildford@maximusuk.co.uk

High Wycombe

2nd Floor, Suite C, The Apollo Centre, Desborough Rd | High Wycombe, HP11 2QW
Phone: 01494 958414 | Fax: 01494 958415 | highwycombe@maximusuk.co.uk

Horsham

2nd Floor, South Suite, Sanford House, Medwin Walk | Sussex, RH12 1AG
Phone: 01403 800160 | Fax: 01403 230408 | horsham@maximusuk.co.uk

Milton Keynes

2nd Floor East, Elder House, 502 Elder Gate | Milton Keynes, MK9 1LR
Phone: 01908 711800 | Fax: 01908 711801 | miltonkeynes@maximusuk.co.uk

Oxford

1st Floor, Suite 3, Threeways House, George St | Oxford, OX1 2BJ
Phone: 01865 364364 | Fax: 01865 364365 | oxford@maximusuk.co.uk

Reading

Ground and 1st Floor, Summit House, 49-51 Greyfriars Rd | Reading, RG1 1PA
Phone: 01189 099189 | Fax: 01189 099191 | reading@maximusuk.co.uk

Slough

1st Floor, South Suite, Wellington House, 20 Queensmere, High Street | Slough, Berkshire, SL1 1DB
Phone: 01753 569500 | Fax: 01392 330195 | slough@maximusuk.co.uk

Southampton

2nd Floor, Podium Unit, Dukes Keep, Marsh Lane | Southampton, SO14 3EX
Phone: 02380 658585 | Fax: 02380 336480 | southampton@maximusuk.co.uk

 Posted by at 14:12
Jan 072015
 

Hannah a research student at LSE is carrying out research which doesn’t seem to be done by anyone else on how people are managing being left without money if they have asked for a Mandatory Reconsideration of an ESA decision. We think having more information about this process is vital but of course the government aren’t bothering to monitor the impact.

If you or anyone you know can help with this research, or if you have avoided asking for a Mandatory reconsideration because you wouldn’t have managed to be left without any form of income please contact Hannah directly.

************************************

Have you applied for ESA? Are you going through the Mandatory Reconsideration process? I am conducting a piece of research about individual’s experiences whilst they wait for their MR decision.

If you are interested in helping please contact Hannah: h.j.chetwynd@lse.ac.uk

 

 Posted by at 16:03
Jan 032015
 

Different forms of Government Propaganda began and ended the year. We saw delays, backlogs, more cuts, more campaigns and direct actions. We reproduce some of the DPAC actions, research and call outs from 2014. Highlights included the Westminster Abbey Occupation against the closure of ILF as part of the #saveilf campaign, lowlights included the court case that arrived at the decision that Penning had taken appropriate process into account by saying that ILF users could be entitled to less under local authorities. Chaos with the DWP, PIP, ESA was compounded by misinformation, dodgy stats , backlogs and increasing sanctions. The brilliant Hammersmith and Fulham Coalition against Cuts achieved the abolition of ‘care’ charges by their local authority-proving it can be done. Esther McVey was awarded Scrooge of the year. DPAC was threatened with legal action for our support of the Anthony Kletzander campaign -in response we increased the campaign, and the relationship in the propaganda against disabled people between the DWP and the Mail was finally exposed

News that the UNCRPD Committee had initiated its first ever inquiry into grave and systematic violations of the UN Convention against the UK identified how far our disability rights and independent living had been eroded by the Coalition-although the Mail didnt seem to like it much

Our constant court cases against the DWP continued, and we have more lined up for this year too- yes, we could be talking to you Motability!

We look forward to 2015 and a change in the regime that has seen the poor grow poorer, while the richest grew richer. A year in which we launch Who2vote4? and the DPAC revenge tour. We will continue to fight for #saveilf with an event on 6th Jan at the House of Commons and an online twitter event.

For an excellent review of the fight against cuts from 2010-2014 please download From Cuts to Resistance and if you want a count down to the election , then the DPAC downloadable calender can help

Here’s to a better year in 2015 with thanks to all our members and supporters. Keep up with news in 2015 by subscribing to posts through our website www.dpac.uk.net or follow us on twitter @Dis_ppl_protest

Some selected actions of DPAC in 2014

January saw the posting of a call for those who were waiting for PIP due to backlogs. This post has received over 40,000 views,shares and many comments. The situation has now been described as a backlog that , at the current rate , could take 42 years to clear. For those claiming ‘reforms’ are working have a look to see that they are not: https://dpac.uk.net/2014/01/have-you-waited-months-for-a-pip-assessment/ and let’s not forget the backlog in ESA either-in short complete chaos for disabled people.

In ‘Austerity Street: the real impacts’ we reproduced some of the stories we had received from those left without cash and homes via sanctions, delays and backlogs. This was in response to Love Production’s poverty porn , Benefits Street, part of the media’s continued demonization regime -the campaign incorporated a twitter fest against the format of biased programming. We supported our partners in Canada Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty (SCAP) and Ontario Coalition Aginst Poverty (OCAP). In an international campaign against increasing homelessness. Austerity is global. We supported Boycott workfare against CAPITA cashing in on poverty.

Through the excellent work of Nick Dilworth we exposed more BBC media double dealing and the fact that they weren’t publicizing the 88% success rates of those claiming ESA and asked ‘Are the DWP failing apart at every level? When a freedom of information response incorrectly claimed that PIP was subjected to sanctions. In another they claimed that the cap would be cut for those without children, both were incorrect. With Inclusion London we campaigned against the Care Act’s exclusion of ‘independent living’ and DPAC also  joined Hands off London Transport against ticket office closures, as well as regional Rail protests

February We joined  the many direct actions against the removal of legal aid. Raquel Rolnik ‘s report on the bedroom tax is published and recommends immediate suspension of the bedroom tax. The Government’s response is to accuse her of giving sacrifices to Marx and telling her to ‘sort out her own country’. We republish the excellent ‘Why the rise of UKIP is dangerous for disabled people’ and receive the usual abuse from Kippers proving the point. DPAC, Black Triangle and Wow publish a joint statement on Atos exit strategy , calling again for an end to the WCA. We expose how 9 out of 10 sanctions are dismissed when challenged

March More direct actions against proposed cuts in legal aid for judicial review.We publish ‘Punching Holes in Austerity’ an insightful analysis of DPAC and direct actions. DPAC supports #stopchanges2A2W against punitive changes in Access to Work. We publish an update on Anthony Kletzander and questions for HSE in Ireland with ENIL , a story of human rights abuse in Dublin, Ireland, a stand that we would later find invoked a threat of legal action against one of our co-founders.

DPAC joins protests against DWP and ATOS country wide. Protests that were reminiscent of the very first DPAC protests against Atos carried out by DPAC from 2011 onwards, culminating in the 2012 DPAC Atos games that saw Atos tarnished forever. DPAC leads direct actions and online protests against the despised disability Con-fident, leading to the highest number of tweets and retweets ever, exposing the scheme as no more than a Government gloss while they were cutting access to work and removing the means for disabled people to work. We produce a critical analysis of Pennings impact assessment regarding ILF. We reproduce the piece by John Pring asking ‘Where was your MP during the Wow Debate’

April The brilliant Ellen Clifford travels to Canada to embark on a successful speaking tour with raise the rates. We hold a well attended DPAC Grassroots Fightback conference. DPAC, Inclusion London, Equal Lives and the Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People promote the #saveilf postcard campaignTop Corrie stars support the postcard campaign to #saveilf.  DPAC supports Lifeworks and protests against cuts to mental health support. DPAC gives its response to Labour on reform of WCA

 May DPAC releases its research documents for download. DPAC and ILF users block the DWP in protest. We learn that disabled students allowances are now under threat of cuts. DPAC publishes a powerful piece by one of our readers that sums up many peoples’ feelings: ‘I’ll never forgive or forget what this Government has done to me and thousands of others‘. We pay homage to the strength of Quiet Riot, celebrate the #dpactour and the success of the Freedom Riders.

June The Independent Living Fund’s Birthday protest happens in June with lots of action outside the DWP. We see JSA benefit sanctions sky rocket under the coalition Government. More actions happen to fight the bedroom tax.

We publish a piece by Angela 28 on how ‘care’ support has been threatened and why that threatens independent living and rights– legal representation was found for many people, but we were aware that this was happening to many more people through emails to dpac mail. Unlike some organisations we attempt to challenge these instances and reject the rhetoric that there is more ‘choice and control’ for disabled people.

At the end of June DPAC with UKUNCUT, and Occupy carry out a daring occupation of Westminster Abbey , after months of planning to highlight the #saveilf campaign. There were 3 police to every protester , and while we had no support from the dear old church , messages of support and publicity poured in

 July We publish a joint statement in response to the Work and Pensions Committee on the WCA from DPAC, Black Triangle, the Mental Health Resistance Network, Pats petition, Wow and New Approach in which we again say the WCA should be scrapped.

An ILF user makes a plea to Disability Rights UK (DRUK) on ILF after he was denied the right to speak at their independent living conference. DRUK did not feel the need to offer any response.  In Disability Rights UK : independent Living or new visions in Neo-Liberalism we ask why the DRUK ‘independent living ‘ conference was sponsored by an organisation running institutions, segregated schooling and ‘hospitals for those with mental health issues. We also launched a highly successful twitter campaign asking the same questions, again DRUK did not feel they owed disabled people any response to this outrage.

DPAC highlights more chaos at the DWP on appeals and sanctions. John McDonnell launches an Early Day Motion to #saveilf. Positive updates and actions on the WCA court case regarding mental health claimants by the Mental Health Resistance Network. We ask that people write to IDS to raise issues happening regarding mental health.

August Rethink calls people with mental health issues a ‘disease burden’ Mental Health Resistance Network respond to the outrage. We call for a stop to discrimination for those transferring from DLA to PIP who do not get backdated paymentsDPAC continues to support anti-fracking protests with Reclaim the power.

We republish the excellent Nick Dilworth’s piece on how the media are ignoring what’s happening to disabled people https://dpac.uk.net/2014/08/a-national-scandal-4-million-people-face-chaos-in-this-country-and-are-ignored-by-the-media/

ILF user John Kelly speaks to BBC on the impacts of the potential loss of ILF. We ask what happens when ILF funds are not ring fenced to local authorities

September sees a national day of Protest against sanctions, bedroom tax and benefit caps.

The fantastic Brian Hilton produces a set of pics for party conference season on #saveilf. DPAC crash the Tory Party Conference via a successful tweet attack and in person. We do the same to Labour.

We publish The Great Farago: UKIP sleight of hand and receive more abuse from Kippers, Richard Howitt Labour MEP quotes the piece and receives even more abuse.

New short film launched with the Daily Mirror on ILF.

The first inkling that the DWP are wrongly asking those in the ESA support group to attend work focused interviews comes to our notice.

DPAC is threatened with legal action for supporting Anthony Kletzander and publicising the abuse of his human rights in Ireland, our response is to publish an interview with Anthony’s parents  on the injustice Anthony and his family have endured.

October We reblog the excellent Johnny Void piece on the boss of Maximus https://dpac.uk.net/2014/10/meet-richard-a-montoni-the-five-million-dollar-maximus-boss-here-to-fleece-the-uks-benefits-system/.

We publish an open letter to Freud who declared that disabled people can work for less than minimum wage. DPAC and Occupy pay another visit to the DWP Caxton House building for ‘Freud must go!’ protest

In Secrets and Lies :maximus the new leader of the inhumans we ask why Disability Rights UK have agreed to a) be part of the Maximus testing process on the WCA and b) why they’ve teamed up with Unum and other insurance companies to develop a TV program showing how much better off disabled people will be if they take out private insurance- with user-led disability organisations like these we dont need enemies.

ILF users return to court to challenge the DWP on ILF. A successful #saveilf vigil happens with road blocks, many messages of support and some great pics.

Welfare assistance fund is next under threat of closure. Campaign to save it is launched.

November The Final Litchfield Review shows that the WCA should be scrapped.

One of our favourite reports of the year : IDS is chased around a building to drown out shouts of murderer at Ipswich- congratulations to the local dpac group for that one!

We ask people to come forward to launch a legal challenge on cuts to the disabled student allowance

£86 million goes missing from Pudsley’s children in need account BBC to blame for mislaying -complainants are actually advised to write to Pudsley via his BBC email

DWP increase attacks on disabled benefit recipients with claims they can harress them off benefits. We put out an urgent call-out https://dpac.uk.net/2014/11/urgent-people-awaiting-wca-assessments-particularly-in-birmingham-please-read/

Work Providers A4E are exposed again in relation to ESA and workfare. The Rev Paul Nicolson wins in court against council tax. Class War’s continuing protests against ‘poor doors’ get to the authorities who make arrests- and Boris is burnt. Meanwhile DPAC discovers Motability’s sneaky backdoor changes to individuals needing to be in work to qualify for support https://dpac.uk.net/2014/11/motability-and-the-deserving-and-undeserving-charity-not-rights/

December ILF users lose court case on ILF but its not over.

DPAC launches an Open letter to Ed, Kate and Rachel on ILF– we’re still waiting for a response

Hammersmith and Fulham abolish home ‘care’ charges, showing it can be done. Congratulations for a great campaign to the excellent Kevin Caulfield and Debbie Domb and all at Hammersmith and Fulham Coalition against Cuts

Esther McVey is named scrooge of the year, which we though was a little too kind to the creature

Unsurprisingly the Work and Pensions report slammed the Government ‘mismanagament of Access to Work – the stop the changes to Access to Work campaign continues.

Questions are asked on the Government costs in fighting against disabled peoples’equality

The link between the DWP and the Mail propaganda is finally nailed and exposed as the DWP is caught out https://dpac.uk.net/2014/12/dwp-caught-giving-disability-propaganda-to-daily-mail/

Nov 072014
 

Rev Paul Nicolson, of Taxpayers Against Poverty, is publicising his two recent court victories — which we can all use to challenge our Council Tax bills and the court costs added on top. See letter below.

And read the interview with him and Haringey single mum Michelle Moseley: ‘A powerful win’: single mother takes down council in supreme court.


 At the Supreme Court in June 2014 when the case was heard by the five judges.


At the High Court last month.


Key judgments on council benefit cuts

The Guardian, Sunday 2 November 2014

Two judgments given in October will impact on all council-tax payers, magistratescourts, local authorities and governmental consultations of the public. On 29 October the supreme court decided that the London borough of Haringey’s 2012 council-tax consultation was unlawful. On 10 December 2012 I had written to the leader of Haringey council: “I am shocked that no alternative to hitting the fragileincomes of the poorest residents of Haringey [with council tax] … was included in the recent consultation.” Declaring that consultation unlawful, Justice Lord Wilson wrote: “The protest of the Rev Nicolson in his letter … was well directed.”

Alternatives to the council’s preferred options must now be put to the public in a future consultation. In all fairness there must be an alternative to local government taxation of benefits that are being shredded by central government (Cameron accused of getting sums wrong on cuts, 31 October).

On 7 October the high court gave me leave for judicial review of the £125 costs for a summons sought by Haringey council from 28,882 late or non-paying households in 2013-14. The costs are imposed by Tottenham magistrates against benefit incomes on top of inevitable arrears.  I have deliberately allowed my council tax to become a civil debt. I was duly summoned to court, which allowed me the opportunity to ask the magistrates how they arrived at that £125. Haringey council has now withdrawn a summons against me, “as a matter of prudence during this period of on going litigation” and waived the £125.

The council has not replied to my letter inviting them to cease issuing all summons until it has reviewed the rationality and legality of that £125 it asks the magistrates to impose. Maybe all magistrates and councils in England and Wales should take notice.

Rev Paul Nicolson

Taxpayers Against Poverty

 

 Posted by at 19:44