Sep 202018
 

DWP’s secret benefit deaths reviews: Investigations into deaths doubles in two years

The number of secret reviews carried out by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) into deaths linked to benefit claims appears to have doubled in the last two years, according to figures the information watchdog has forced the government to release.

The figures relate to the number of internal process reviews (IPRs), investigations conducted by the department into deaths and other serious and complex cases that have been linked to DWP activity.

They show that, from April 2016 to June 2018, DWP panels carried out 50 IPRs, including 33 involving the death of a benefit claimant, or roughly 1.27 death-related IPRs a month.

DWP figures previously obtained by Disability News Service (DNS) show that, between October 2014 and January 2016, there were nine IPRs involving a death, or about 0.6 a month.

These figures are only approximate, because the information about IPRs (previously known as peer reviews) provided by DWP through freedom of information responses does not provide precise dates for when each of them took place.

But they do appear to show a clear and significant increase since early 2016 in the number of IPRs carried out following deaths linked by DWP to its own activity.

They also appear to show a return to the kind of frequency of reviews related to deaths of claimants that were seen between February 2012 and October 2014, when there were 49 such reviews at a rate of about 1.5 a month, at a time when research and repeated personal testimonies showed the coalition’s social security cuts and reforms were causing severe harm and distress to claimants.

The new figures also show that 19 of the deaths in the last two years involved a claimant viewed as “vulnerable”, while six of the IPRs (and four deaths) related to a claimant of the government’s new and much-criticised universal credit (see separate story).

John McArdle, co-founder of Black Triangle, said ministers “always get up at the despatch box and say they are continually improving the system. This proves that to be false.

“Universal credit should be scrapped, sanctions should be scrapped and the government should call off the dogs, because it is leading to people’s deaths.”

McArdle said that if there was a tragedy involving the deaths of 33 people in a train crash there would be an independent inquiry into what went wrong.

But because these deaths were happening in the social security system, he said, no such public inquiry would take place.

He added: “It just shows a callous disregard for the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable people in society.”

A DWP spokeswoman declined to say whether the figures showed that DWP’s treatment of vulnerable and other benefit claimants had not improved significantly since 2012 and had worsened in the last two years.

She also declined to say if DWP was concerned that there had already been four IPRs following the death of a universal credit claimant, even though only a small number of people are currently claiming UC.

But she said in a statement: “The government is committed to supporting the vulnerable and DWP staff are trained to identify and support people in hardship.

“They can apply special easements to people’s claims and signpost to appropriate local support services.

“IPRs do not seek to identify or apportion blame. They are used as a performance improvement tool that help the department to continually improve how it deals with some of the most complex and challenging cases.”

DWP only released the figures to DNS this week after the Information Commissioner’s Office had reminded the department of its duties under the Freedom of Information Act.

The information was requested on 21 June and should have been provided within 20 working days.

But it was only emailed this week, after ICO wrote to DWP following a complaint lodged by DNS about the department’s failure to respond to the request.

20 September 2018

 

 

DWP’s secret benefit deaths reviews: Universal credit death linked to claimant commitment ‘threats’ 

A secret Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) review into the death of a claimant of universal credit (UC) has criticised the “overtly threatening” nature of the conditions they had to accept when signing up to the new benefit system.

The conclusion by a panel of civil servants relates to just one of 33 deaths, all linked to DWP activity, that have been subject to what are called “internal process reviews” (IPRs) since April 2016.

Brief details of these 33 deaths, and another 17 IPRs carried out into other serious or complex cases involving DWP activity, have been released to Disability News Service by DWP following a freedom of information request.

The panel of reviewers who carried out the IPR into the death linked to universal credit said that it seemed “excessive” for DWP to include eight references to sanctions and how much money a claimant would lose if they breached their “claimant commitment”.

The panel added: “…a better balance could be struck in reminding a client of the consequences of not meeting their obligations and not appearing to be overtly threatening, especially to individuals who are vulnerable.”

DWP has so far refused to say if it altered the claimant commitment – which sets out what conditions a universal credit claimant needs to meet to continue receiving the benefit – as a result of the IPR.

Further details of the circumstances of the death have not been released, as DWP is only obliged to release the recommendations made following each IPR (formerly known as peer reviews), rather than anything that could identify the subject of the review.

Of the 50 IPRs carried out since April 2016, six involved a universal credit claimant, and in four of these cases the claimant had died.

It is also not yet clear whether DWP acted on any of the other recommendations in the IPRs, but the case is likely to raise fresh concerns about the impact of the introduction of universal claimant on disabled people, and others in vulnerable situations.

It will also alarm those who have spent years highlighting concerns about the ongoing impact on disabled people of eight years of benefit cuts and reforms under successive Conservative-led governments.

DWP rules state that the department must carry out an IPR when it is “made aware of the death of a client and it is suggested that it is linked to DWP activity”.

Of all the reviews, four appear to include recommendations for improvements only to local procedures, with another eight (including three IPRs relating to a universal credit claimant) making recommendations for changes to national policy or practice.

One review reminded DWP “customer compliance officers” of the existence of the “six point plan”, which tells staff how to respond if they learn that a benefit claimant suggests they intend to kill themselves or self-harm.

The recommendations that followed another IPR appear to suggest that a “vulnerable” claimant died after DWP failed to carry out a “safeguarding visit” to check on their welfare when they did not return a form explaining why they had missed a work capability assessment (WCA).

Another IPR appears to have investigated a similar death, involving a vulnerable claimant with a mental health condition who failed to turn up for a WCA. That claimant also died.

One case that appears to have led only to recommendations for improvements locally suggests further poor practice by DWP, with the IPR saying that “we should have considered whether [information redacted] was a vulnerable customer and if there were safeguarding issues”.

It adds that DWP’s customer service was “also poor” for apparently telling the vulnerable claimant something before he or she died, although because the end of the sentence has been redacted by DWP it is not clear what was said.

In another case – although this claimant did not die – DWP staff appear to have failed to pick up on references to “suicide” in the online journal that universal credit claimants must keep up-to-date.

One DWP manager told the Independent last October that many universal credit case managers were overwhelmed by their workload and often had dozens of “unseen journal messages they simply don’t have enough time to address”.

The manager also told the website that many colleagues “feel out of their depth with the quantity of claims they manage, resulting in a vast amount of crucial work never being completed until claimants contact us when their payments are inevitably paid incorrectly or not at all”.

In another IPR that followed a claimant’s death, the panel reminded the department that all staff involved in making decisions on benefit claims must be “reminded of the need to make timeous decisions” relating to benefit sanctions.

Marsha de Cordova, Labour’s shadow minister for disabled people, said: “The connections between the DWP’s actions and the deaths of social security claimants are extremely concerning.

“These figures reveal the devastating impact universal credit is having on disabled people.

“It is shocking that the government is continuing with its roll-out, in spite of this evidence.

“The government must now pause the roll-out and end the hostile environment they have created for disabled people.

“We urgently need an independent investigation into the connections outlined in the internal reviews, before more lives are ruined.”

A spokesperson for Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) said the information released by DWP “highlights failures at many levels”.

DPAC also criticised the IPR panel for suggesting that the key problem with the case involving the universal credit claimant whose death was linked to the “overtly threatening” claimant commitment was with the wording of the document.

The DPAC spokesperson said: “The panel does not address the issue. It is not the wording which needs to be reconsidered, but the fact that claimants deemed vulnerable can be bullied, threatened and intimidated by DWP to a point that their death became the subject of an internal review.

“The concerns about universal credit and its potential for severe harm have now been confirmed.”

The DPAC spokesperson added: “The internal process reviews give a glimpse into the living hell of claimants, where the reckless actions of benefits staff brought grievous harm, extreme distress and fatalities onto benefit claimants.

“And we are already seeing deaths of claimants under universal credit.

“If all the other warnings about universal credit were not enough, this should surely give the government an undeniable indication that they must stop their new hostile environment benefits system.

“To do anything else would mean that the government are knowingly about to bring yet more future deaths of benefit claimants.”

John McArdle, co-founder of Black Triangle, said: “You can see the guidelines regarding vulnerable people are not being followed consistently.

“With the introduction of universal credit, it shows people’s lives are being placed at risk.

“DWP are still playing Russian roulette with people’s lives.

“Universal credit must be stopped in its tracks and it must be scrapped.”

A DWP spokeswoman declined to say how many of the IPR recommendations have been acted on.

She also declined to say whether the universal credit “claimant commitment” recommendations had been acted on, and whether they had been a concern to ministers.

And she declined to say if DWP was concerned that there had been four IPRs following the death of universal credit claimants.

But she said in a statement: “The government is committed to supporting the vulnerable and DWP staff are trained to identify and support people in hardship.

“They can apply special easements to people’s claims and signpost to appropriate local support services.

“IPRs do not seek to identify or apportion blame. They are used as a performance improvement tool that help the department to continually improve how it deals with some of the most complex and challenging cases.”

The latest information about the IPRs was only released by DWP after the Information Commissioner’s Office reminded the department of its duties under the Freedom of Information Act.

The information was requested on 21 June and should have been provided within 20 working days.

But it was only emailed this week, after ICO wrote to DWP following a complaint lodged by DNS about the department’s failure to respond to the request.

20 September 2018

 

 

Ministers quietly drop plans for ‘parallel process’ on working-age social care

Ministers have quietly decided to include the support needs of working-age disabled people in their new social care green paper, scrapping the idea of having a separate “parallel programme of work” as they try to address the social care funding crisis.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) previously said it would focus only on older people’s social care in its much-delayed green paper.

The decision to include working-age people’s support needs is likely to be welcomed by most disabled people’s organisations, but DHSC is still facing questions over why it reversed its decision at such a late stage and why it has apparently failed to make any effort to co-produce its policy with disabled people and their user-led organisations.

There are also still concerns over whether the green paper will side-line the support needs of working-age disabled people when it is eventually published.

As recently as last month, a House of Commons Library briefing paper referred to the government’s “parallel process” of work on social care for working-age adults.

But a DHSC spokeswoman has now told DNS that the green paper will “cover care and support for adults of all ages (rather than there being a separate workstream)”.

When questioned further about this, she said: “We have always planned to consider issues relating to all adults receiving social care.

“This will now be taken forward through a single green paper.”

She declined to comment when asked why the government had made this decision, but said disabled people and their organisations – and other “interested parties” – would be able to feed in their views in a consultation on the green paper, when it is published.

The disabled crossbench peer Baroness [Jane] Campbell, who chairs the Independent Living Strategy Group, told Disability News Service (DNS): “It would have been nice to be informed of this decision to scrap the parallel process by my fellow parliamentarians in the House of Lords, especially as I had asked formally on two occasions for any progress on the ‘parallel process’.

“So much for close collaboration with disabled people on matters that concern them directly!”

But she welcomed the decision to integrate working-age people into the green paper, which she hoped would be on an equal basis with older people.

She said: “This way, disabled people will not be a tag on, or afterthought, but have full green paper status.

“This is how it should be and something I said most firmly at the first meeting of ‘stakeholders’ with the ministers for disabled people [Sarah Newton], social care [Caroline Dinenage] and local government [Rishi Sunak].”

Baroness Campbell said that this meeting, in February, was the “first and only time” she has been consulted on the government’s social care plans.

She was also highly critical of the plans to simply consult disabled people after the green paper has been published, partly because she has been “highly sceptical of any consultation this government has conducted on pretty much any issue recently”.

She added: “Whatever happened to the progress we made with governments over the last 20 years on co-production, mutuality and equal involvement from the prototype stage?

“Disabled people don’t want to be consulted about policies which will determine the way they live, we want partnerships. Remember: ‘nothing about us, without us!’”

The disabled Liberal Democrat peer Baroness [Celia] Thomas, who speaks for her party on disability in the Lords and is also a member of the Independent Living Strategy Group, said there was continuing “despair” over when the green paper would eventually be published.

She said the news that working-age disabled people would now be included in the green paper “could be good news [but] it could be bad news” as it could either mean a “breath of fresh air” or signify that working-age disabled people will be “an after-thought”.

She added: “Everyone is in the dark.”

The news of the government U-turn emerged following a freedom of information request submitted by DNS, which had asked which committees and working groups had been set up as part of the parallel process, and which organisations were represented on them.

The department said in its response that “no such committees or formal working groups including stakeholders have been set up” as part of its work on working-age social care.

But she said the government had “engaged informally with a number of stake-holders and the insights from this work will inform the social care green paper”.

A DHSC spokeswoman declined to say which organisations it had engaged with, but she said: “We are grateful for the input of stakeholders to the work we have done to date and there will be an opportunity for all interested parties to feed in views through the green paper consultation process.”

DNS reported in March how the government had failed to set up a single committee involving experts from outside the two departments examining the future of working-age social care – DHSC and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government – nearly four months after the parallel programme of work had been announced.

The previous month, ministers had faced criticism after organising a “round table” event on working-age social care without inviting any disabled people’s organisations to attend.

The green paper has always been described by ministers as a document that would lay out the government’s proposals for the future funding of older people’s social care, with a separate programme of work looking at the care needs of working-age disabled people.

But there have been repeated concerns that the government was failing to make any progress on this parallel process and failing to engage with disabled people and their user-led organisations.

The much-delayed green paper is set to be published this autumn.

20 September 2018

 

 

New job stats raise questions over ministers’ boasts on disability employment

New figures obtained by a disabled people’s organisation – after ministers refused to commission the work themselves – appear to show how the government relies on the growth in self-employment and part-time jobs to exaggerate its success in increasing disability employment.

Ministers such as work and pensions secretary Esther McVey have repeatedly boasted of how their policies have led to hundreds of thousands more disabled people in work over the last five years.

But those claims have been based on figures provided by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which includes in its measure of “employment” people who are in part-time work, are self-employed, or are on government training and jobs programmes.

Ministers in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) refused to commission work from ONS – which it told Disability News Service would cost just £125 (plus VAT) – that would show the full, detailed figures.

Now London’s pan-disability disabled people’s organisation Inclusion London has commissioned the work itself from ONS, at the same price of £125 plus VAT.

The new ONS figures*  obtained by Inclusion London show that nearly half of the increase in disability employment in the last four years has been due to disabled people becoming self-employed or taking part-time jobs.

Between 2013-14 and 2017-18, the number of full-time disabled employees rose by about 383,000, while the number of disabled people in part-time jobs, self-employment, government training programmes and employed as unpaid family workers increased by about 366,000.

During this period, the number of disabled people in self-employment increased by more than 22 per cent, when the number of non-disabled people who were self-employed rose by just nine per cent.

The increase in the number of disabled people in part-time self-employment increased even faster, by about 25 per cent.

There was, though, also a sharp increase of about 22.5 per cent in full-time disabled employees over the four years, although the number of part-time disabled employees rose even faster, by about 27.5 per cent.

Ellen Clifford, campaigns and policy manager for Inclusion London, pointed to the high number of disabled people who had become self-employed.

She said: “Research by the New Economics Foundation in 2017 found more than half of all self-employed people don’t make a decent living.

“This is even more of an issue for disabled people, whose outgoings tend to be much higher due to unavoidable impairment-related expenditure.

“Anecdotally we have heard about disabled people feeling pressured by their jobcentre to consider becoming self-employed.”

Clifford also highlighted the high proportion of disabled people who have taken part-time jobs.

She said: “This will include things like zero hours contracts which can again easily fail to provide the security, conditions and income levels that disabled people need.

“Studies have confirmed that unsuitable employment is worse for people’s health than no employment.”

She urged the government to “look at the types of jobs and work that disabled people are moving or potentially being pushed into and to address issues of quality instead of making the aim to get people off out-of-work benefits at any cost”.

Linda Burnip, co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), said DWP had yet again “botched” its analysis of statistics.

She said: “Disabled people are particularly over-represented amongst the self-employed and as most people are aware, self-employment is often a route to employment taken by those excluded from mainstream labour markets.

“The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE) have revealed that self-employed workers [can end up] £3,000 per annum worse off than those in employment with the roll-out of universal credit and are calling on the government, like DPAC, to stop this roll-out.

“They highlight too the instability of income that self-employment creates and the negative impact this has on the wellbeing of those working in this sector.”

A DWP spokeswoman declined to comment about the part-time work figures and whether the government agreed with calls to look at the types and quality of work disabled people are moving into.

But she said: “We welcome recent increases in the disability employment rate, with 600,000 more disabled people in work between 2013 and 2017.

“This analysis shows that employment and self-employment for disabled people both increased by around a fifth between 2013-14 and 2016-17.”

*It is not possible to compare today’s figures with 2009-10, before the Conservative-led coalition came to power, because of a change in in 2013 in how the survey data ONS uses to calculate its figures was collected

20 September 2018

 

 

Lib Dem conference: Universal credit migration is set for disaster, warns Lloyd

The impact of the “migration” of hundreds of thousands of disabled people onto universal credit from next year could prove disastrous because of the “hoops” the government will force claimants to leap through, according to a disabled MP.

Stephen Lloyd, work and pensions spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, said the migration process was set to be “a disaster” for those disabled people currently claiming employment and support allowance (ESA), including many people with learning difficulties and mental health conditions.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is set to start testing the process of moving hundreds of thousands of existing ESA claimants – its estimates suggest it will eventually need to “migrate” 750,000 – onto universal credit from January, and intends to “increase volumes” by July and complete the process in 2023.

ESA claimants will be among those receiving a letter telling them that their existing benefits are about to stop and that they will need to make a new claim for universal credit.

They will have to fill out an online application, and then make at least one and possibly two, or even three, visits to their local job centre in the space of just one month, to validate their claim.

If they fail to do this, said Lloyd – who was speaking to Disability News Service at his party’s annual conference in Brighton – they will get “kicked out” and be left with no benefits, as their ESA claim will have ended.

A DWP memo, produced in June, said the department would give claimants at least one month to make their claim, although there will be “flexibility for this period to be extended” to up to three months.

But Lloyd said: “What on earth is going to happen? You have got to do all this in a month, otherwise you’re going to be kicked off. That’s going to be catastrophic.

“We have got to stop this, it’s ridiculous. It’s not going to work.”

He has written to work and pensions secretary Esther McVey to seek clarification on what claimants will be asked to do.

Lloyd said: “I have to get the minister to understand you have to give them more time, otherwise there is going to be a car crash.”

His hope is that pressure on McVey through parliamentary questions and an early day motion will force her to back down and ease the conditions imposed on claimants before regulations are laid before parliament in October.

Concerns about the migration have also been raised by the mental health charity Mind, which said: “Many people experiencing mental health problems have told us they are extremely worried about what these proposals will mean for them.

“As people begin to move over to universal credit, we are concerned people will fall through the cracks, and see their benefits stopped entirely.

“It’s appalling to place all the responsibility on unwell people to reapply for a new benefit and risk losing their income in the process.

“The government should change their plans so that no-one faces having their benefits stopped before they move to universal credit.”

A DWP spokeswoman said: “We are working closely with stakeholders and other parties to design the best possible process for the migration of our customers to universal credit.

“Our focus will be on safeguarding claimants and ensuring a smooth transition with uninterrupted support.

“Based on early planning there is no evidence to indicate that claimants would need to come into the jobcentre so frequently and therefore we do not recognise this claim.

“We plan to have a comprehensive and well-supported preparation period for claimants which will include a variety of communication formats, including face-to-face, internet and postal notification, to ensure claimants are aware of the managed migration process.

“There is flexibility to extend that period if necessary; and a process to ensure that, before the existing benefits are stopped, our staff will check for evidence of complex needs or vulnerability or disability and act accordingly to support the claimant.

“Additionally, if a claimant misses their deadline to claim there are provisions in the draft regulations that will allow DWP to back-date their claim.”

Lloyd said he has already tried locally to ensure that the impact of universal credit and other welfare reforms would not be as serious as it has been in other constituencies.

He brought food banks, housing association representatives, Citizen’s Advice and his own staff together in advance of the rollout of universal credit in his Eastbourne constituency last October, which he said helped ensure there was much less of a spike in the use of food banks in the town than in other similar constituencies.

Lloyd also believes that he is the only MP in the country who allocates a member of staff to attend regular benefit appeal tribunals on behalf of constituents.

So far this year, the staff member has attended about 70 tribunals (with a success rate of about 70 per cent).

During Lloyd’s previous stint as an MP, between 2010 and 2015, the same member of staff attended about 150 tribunals in four years.

He said: “As far as I know, no other MP’s office in the country sends one of their staff [so] regularly to tribunals.

“I basically lose him for three-quarters of a day a week, but it is the right thing to do.”

Meanwhile, tributes have been paid to the co-chair of the Liberal Democrat Disability Association (LDDA), Robert Adamson, who died just days before the conference began.

Born in Doncaster, and a retired civil servant, he was a former parliamentary candidate for the party and also stood in European and local elections, and was a former chair of the party’s Yorkshire and Humber region.

Baroness [Sal] Brinton, the party’s president, told the conference: “Robert never let his very disabling condition get in the way of campaigning locally and nationally.”

And Gemma Roulston, previously LDDA co-chair and now the association’s chair, said: “He wanted to improve the lives of people with or without disabilities, and anyone who was impacted by disability.

“He was always there for you, and was a good person to go to for advice and support.

“Conference hasn’t felt the same without him. He made a difference to people.”

20 September 2018

 

 

TUC piles pressure on Labour with vote to scrap universal credit

Trade unions have voted at their annual congress to call on the Labour party to shift its stance on universal credit and promise to scrap the controversial benefit system.

The annual TUC Congress approved a motion last week that had already been passed by disabled trade unionists at May’s TUC Disabled Workers’ Conference.

The motion called on TUC’s general council to tell the next Labour government to “stop and scrap” universal credit and carry out “far-reaching social security reform that truly makes work pay” and protects those unable to work.

Labour’s policy is currently to simply “pause and fix” universal credit rather than scrapping it.

The motion said universal credit – which combines six benefits into one – was a “draconian” system that had left many people in “debt, eviction and hunger”.

It pointed out that workers could – for the first time – face “savage sanctions for not demonstrating that they are seeking to improve their paid income”, while “part-time workers could be forced to leave work that suits their disability or family life for a worse paid, full-time job”.

Dave Allan, chair of the national disabled members’ committee of Unite the Union, proposed the motion on behalf of the TUC disabled workers’ committee, and it was seconded by Mandy Hudson, of the National Education Union.

Allan told delegates that the disabled workers’ committee had worked tirelessly to warn of the impact of universal credit and its roll-out, which he said would “fall like a hammer blow upon seven million households – including one million low-paid workers”.

He said there had been an “utter lack of support” for disabled claimants, while the “cruel programme of sanctions” was “landing on claimants like a series of bureaucratic punishment beatings”.

Allan said the “misery” and “destruction” caused by universal credit was no accident.

He said: “This is the cold, calculated and systematic impoverishment of disabled people. This is malice by design.”

He added: “A pause of the roll-out will not do. We are not just calling on the government to simply ‘think again’.

“We are calling for the immediate, unconditional and total ban on universal credit.”

Allan told Disability News Service this week that the TUC vote had been unanimous and that the next step was to persuade the Labour party to commit to scrapping universal credit and include that pledge in its manifesto for the next general election.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady added: “All politicians need to look at the disastrous effects universal credit is having around the UK, at how hard disabled people have been hit and how it is pushing people into rent arrears and poverty, leaving them turning to food banks.

“The roll out of universal credit should be stopped, before it continues to inflict more damage.

“And a fundamental rethink is required of the social security system, and how it can deliver a fair and dignified system for everyone.”

A TUC spokesman stressed afterwards that O’Grady was calling for universal credit to be scrapped and not just to “stop and fix” the system.

He said: “The TUC policy is not stop and fix. Our congress endorsed a policy of stop and scrap.

“The immediate priority has to be to stop the rollout, as that is the immediate danger to disabled people.

“But the current universal credit is not fit for purpose and TUC staff will now pursue the direction set by congress by developing policy for a system to succeed it that better meets the needs of disabled people and others who rely on social security.”

20 September 2018

 

 

Lib Dem conference: Members vote for rights-based reform to mental health laws

Liberal Democrats have called for an end to “discriminatory” laws that allow people with mental health conditions or learning difficulties who have capacity to make their own decisions to be detained against their will.

Current mental health legislation means that a person assessed as needing urgent medical treatment and assessment because of a “mental disorder” can be detained in hospital against their will.

But party members argued that detaining people based on whether they have a “mental disorder” was discriminatory, a breach of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and discouraged people from being open about their mental health.

Party members voted at their annual conference in Brighton this week to demand sweeping reform of the law in England and Wales, despite substantial opposition.

They agreed that people with mental health conditions or learning difficulties should not be forced to have medical treatment unless they do not have the capacity to make a decision about whether they wish to have that treatment.

And they said that people should be able to make advance decisions – as defined in the Mental Capacity Act – to refuse detention or treatment.

They also fended off efforts from some party members to amend the motion so that individuals could be forced to be treated and detained, even if they had capacity, if their refusal would pose a serious risk of harm to themselves or others.

One delegate compared the current legislation to historic witchcraft and slavery laws, and the Spanish Inquisition.

He and others argued that people who have capacity to make their own decisions, but have a mental health condition or learning difficulty, should not face the possibility of being detained against their wishes in hospital.

Henry Jones, who has a degenerative neurological condition, described how he had been held against his will in hospital for six months.

He had spoken at the time of wanting to end his own life because of his condition, and as a result “two large men showed up at my home” and took him into detention in a locked mental health ward.

He told delegates: “Even with my condition I had capacity. They treated me like an animal, they did everything they could to break me.

“It achieved nothing except to make me never ever want to engage with mental health services.”

But, he said, it did “make me want to reform the law before passing on”.

He said that if he had been treated “like a human” by mental health professionals he could have “talked openly about what was happening in my brain… it would have saved me and others around me four years of hell”.

He added: “All I am asking for is for us to have the same basic human dignity that other people have.”

Another party member, Andrew Muir, told the conference how his wife had been sectioned in 2006 after she complained about treatment she had received at a Scottish hospital.

She was forced to take medication while in detention for 51 days – when there was no evidence of mental ill-health – and was physically abused by staff, and then forced to take drugs for another year when she was released on a community order.

He also said that the review of the Mental Health Act 1983 – being led by psychiatrist Professor Sir Simon Wessely – should instead be led by a human rights expert.

Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton also spoke in favour of the motion.

He said: “In Scotland – and I am sure south of the border – we are stripping people of their basic right to be heard.

“People in the grip of mental illness, that’s when their human rights matter most.”

A string of mental health professionals spoke against the motion, including one who accused it of “muddle” and being “full of misconceptions”, and another who said it was “unworkable and not sensible” and would remove protections that were available in the Mental Health Act.

But one psychiatrist, Mohsin Khan, who supported the motion, pointed out that similar laws to those suggested had been introduced in some US states and Northern Ireland.

He said the motion “merely brings mental health in line with what happens with physical health”, and would allow adults “who have consistent, long-term capacity to rationally decide to make decisions for their own body for the future”.

20 September 2018

 

 

Pair of projects set to improve countryside access

User-led organisations have played a key role in two major new projects that aim to improve access for disabled tourists and ramblers.

In Oxfordshire, Natural England has opened the National Land Access Centre (NLAC), which will provide training for landowners, farmers and rights of way officers on how to ensure that gates and other countryside obstructions are accessible to disabled people.

And in Lancashire, Blackpool-based disabled people’s organisation (DPO) Disability First is celebrating a government grant of nearly £1 million for a project that will improve access to the Fylde, Wyre and Blackpool coastline.

NLAC, based at Aston Rowant National Nature Reserve, will offer training courses that show how to use, maintain and install fences, barriers and stiles that meet a new British Standard, which was published in February.

Natural England, the government’s advisers on the natural environment, has worked closely on the plans with the user-led charity Disabled Ramblers, and project partners The British Horse Society, the specialist gate supplier Centrewire and the Pittecroft Trust.

John Cutherbertson, chair of Disabled Ramblers, told Disability News Service (DNS): “There is a huge swathe of the population who cannot clamber over stiles.

“What we found is the main thing that stops people accessing the countryside is the lack of understanding by those people who are putting these gates in.

“Some of them still think that the less able would prefer to stay at home and watch the telly.

“They don’t realise that people want to get out there and need to get out there for their mental health as well as their physical well-being.”

He said Disabled Ramblers was trying to educate these groups, such as farmers, landowners and rights of way officers, about the “least restrictive” way to enclose land, and ideally install gates that disabled people can open and close on their own, without needing someone with them.

He said he hoped that the selection of gates and barriers on show at the centre would grow and would be joined eventually by accessible versions of other equipment, such as bridges and boardwalks.

Disabled Ramblers has provided an off-road mobility scooter to the centre so people who take the courses can use the vehicle to see how difficult it can be to manoeuvre through such obstacles.

Cuthbertson said that Centrewire, which was founded by Tom Bindoff, a non-disabled member of Disabled Ramblers, had been keen to modify its products to make them more accessible.

Bindoff has even designed a “kissing gate” that can be opened by a scooter-user using a RADAR key, he said.

The disabled Tory peer Lord Blencathra, deputy chair of Natural England, said: “Improved access will help to connect more people with their natural environment, giving them a chance to enjoy our countryside, its open space and fascinating wildlife – all key aspects of the government’s 25 year environment plan.”

Meanwhile, funding of £985,000 has been awarded to a consortium led by Disability First through the government’s Coastal Communities Fund.

Alan Reid, chief executive of Disability First, said his organisation was “thrilled and very proud” to be awarded the funding in its 25th year as a charity.

He said he wanted the Fylde, Blackpool and Wyre coast to “strive to become a more truly inclusive resort”.

The Access Fylde Coast project is supported by Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre councils, Blackpool Transport, Marketing Lancashire, Lancaster University, the access information provider DisabledGo, Blackpool’s Coastal Community Team and the area’s local Volunteering Centre.

Reid said the project, which will last nearly two years, was “exciting and unique”.

He told DNS the scheme would improve access for both visitors and residents by offering free access audits and disability awareness training to local shops and businesses.

The project will also develop a culture and heritage mobile phone app, linked to existing apps offered by Blackpool Transport and DisabledGo, and which will include a British Sign Language interpretation service.

He said: “This will support people with a variety of disabilities with tram and bus access once they step off the train station in Blackpool and venues will have details of their particular disabled facilities and heritage information on the app.”

The project also plans to showcase professional disabled performers at Blackpool Opera House theatre and disabled artists in a local art gallery, and improve access at existing events including the Blackpool Illuminations switch-on and Lytham Festival.

He said there was also the possibility that a disabled performer could perform at, or even switch on, the illuminations next year.

On a visit to Lytham Saint Annes, coastal communities minister Jake Berry said: “It’s really exciting to see money from the Coastal Communities Fund help kick-start these shovel-ready projects, which have the potential to unlock the barriers to development and growth in our coastal communities.”

The Coastal Communities Fund was established to support coastal projects in the UK to deliver sustainable growth and jobs.

20 September 2018

 

 

Lib Dem conference: Party anger over DPAC’s ‘don’t vote Lib Dem’ call

Two leading disabled Liberal Democrats have criticised anti-cuts activists over their public call for disabled people not to vote for their party.

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) published a high-profile message on social media this week during the party’s annual conference in Brighton, warning that disabled people “won’t forget” and “won’t forgive” its junior role in the coalition government between 2010 and 2015.

But David Buxton, the co-founder of the Liberal Democrat Disability Association, who has worked on campaigns with DPAC, said he would no longer support its work because of the message.

The party’s work and pensions spokesman, Stephen Lloyd, was also critical of DPAC.

But DPAC, which is not aligned with any political party, has defended its position.

It said it held the Liberal Democrats “jointly responsible” for coalition cuts and reforms such as the closure of the Independent Living Fund, damaging policies on the work capability assessment (WCA), the bedroom tax and the introduction of personal independence payment and universal credit.

It also pointed to the coalition’s “hostile environment benefits regime” and the “avoidable deaths and suicides of benefit claimants during the coalition years”.

DPAC added: “Our message to the Liberal Democrats is – you don’t get to walk away from your actions in those years – disabled people will remember.”

But Buxton said he was “very disappointed” by the DPAC message because he had been “very supportive of their work which has been excellent and has been important in stopping further cuts.

“Their job is to stop the cuts and we have been very supportive of that.”

He told Disability News Service at the party’s annual conference in Brighton that the coalition years had been “a very difficult time” and the Liberal Democrats had “tried to stop further cuts and were successful in stopping those cuts, but there were areas where the books had to be balanced”.

He asked why DPAC was not criticising Labour in a similar way.

He said Labour’s last government had rejected pleas from Deaf people for a British Sign Language act and had also been responsible for cutting disability services during its 13 years of office, while many Labour-run councils were now cutting services even though some, like Hammersmith and Fulham, had managed to protect disabled people from cuts.

He said: “Should Deaf people say they never forgive the Labour party? Thankfully, Labour have now changed their mind [on the need for a BSL act].”

He added: “Political parties can change. We have changed as a party. We are no longer in coalition government.

“There has been a change in leadership and we do recognise that we have to find ways of creating new policy that would be fairer and we will demand better for disabled people.”

Lloyd said DPAC’s message was “very disappointing” and ignored the fact that Labour brought in the WCA and awarded the contract to carry out the assessments to the much-criticised contractor Atos.

He said he was “proud” of what his party had achieved in coalition when facing “very challenging issues” with the economy, although there had been “some decisions in DWP that were wrong” and “others that were right”.

But Bob Ellard, a member of DPAC’s national steering group, said: “We are not party political and we will criticise any party as we see fit.

“We will be publicly criticising Labour over their ‘pause and fix’ policy for universal credit during their conference and we’ve been very vocal in criticising Labour in the past.

“We’ve also criticised the Green party over their policy on assisted suicide.

“And we have been very critical of the actions of Labour councils.

“The Lib Dems have Vince Cable as leader, who was a cabinet minister in the coalition, and many of their MPs were MPs in the coalition and voted for Tory welfare reform.

“Just as the tweet says, ‘They don’t get to walk away from that.’”

20 September 2018

 

 

Lib Dem conference: Lloyd backtracks on support for Duncan Smith

A Liberal Democrat MP who has supported Tory former work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith has admitted he gave him “more benefit of the doubt” than he should have done during the five years of the coalition government.

Stephen Lloyd, who served on the Commons work and pensions committee while Liberal Democrat ministers were serving in the coalition government between 2010 and 2015, has previously defended Duncan Smith.

And during this week’s annual party conference in Brighton, he told a fringe meeting that Duncan Smith had had some good ideas about the importance of employment in addressing disadvantage but had been undermined by right-wing papers like the Daily Mail publishing stories about benefit “scroungers”.

When asked later about this statement by Disability News Service (DNS), Lloyd said he had challenged Duncan Smith in parliament on his inappropriate language.

But he insisted that DNS was only “half right” in suggesting that Duncan Smith was responsible for whipping up hostility in tabloid papers like the Mail.

DNS then repeated comments Duncan Smith had told The Sun in late 2010 in which he said he had been “appalled” at how easy it has been in the past for people to claim incapacity benefit and cheat the system and said that Sun readers were right to be “upset and angry” when they saw neighbours who do not work.

Duncan Smith also told the Sun that Britain had “managed to create a block of people” who “do not add anything to the greatness of this country” and had “become conditioned to be users of services, not providers of money.

“This is a huge part of the reason we have this massive deficit.

“We don’t want to talk about scroungers in the future, we want to talk about British people being renowned the world over for working hard.”

Lloyd said again that he had challenged Duncan Smith over the language he had used.

But he said he now acknowledged that in his own zeal to see more people in work, he could have overlooked the harm caused by Duncan Smith and his supporters.

He said: “I think I did and I acknowledge that. In recognising that Iain Duncan Smith got the importance of jobs I can see that in coalition there were times when I would have given him more benefit of the doubt than I should have done.”

20 September 2018

 

News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

 

 Posted by at 20:41
Sep 062018
 

 http://www.daleymichelle.co.uk/the-white-mans-burden-global-disability-summit-personal-reflection/

The White Man’s Burden – Global Disability Summit personal reflection

The title of this blog is intentional and aims to be provocative. I have borrowed the title from William Easterly’s book, “The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good”​. This is very true of the Global Disability Summit hosted in London.​

This blog is based on my personal experience and observations of the Global Disability Summit and doesn’t reflect anyone else’s opinion.

The continued road to discrimination and exploitation

I can say, without a doubt, that the Global Disability Summit was the ideal platform for our UK Government to embarrass and shame those present ‘developing countries’ for their failings with regard to Disabled People (as depicted in the image above) and their purposeful denial of their own wrongs in relation to Disabled People in the UK. We must remember that colonialism and imperialism do not die. The United Kingdom continues to be revered around the world as a country that is the voice of equality. At the Summit, there was an unequivocal message that the UK Government has an effect on other countries in terms of being a leader in disability equality and has paved the way for innovation. It’s no surprise the Summit was hosted on the site of the Global Disability Innovation Hub.

The UK Government needs you
The UK Government co-hosted “its first ever Global Disability Summit with the International Disability Alliance and the Government of Kenya”.

However, history has taught us about the slippery behaviour of the UK Government. Through the art of sophistication, control and dominance, the UK Government has a way of masking their horrible history, failings and exploitation. With this knowledge, it led me to ask the question as to who is receiving any benefit from this Summit? What was the purpose of the Global Disability Summit and hosting such an elaborate event? The Summit was held in the London Borough of Newham; an area with huge poverty and inequality. The Evening Standard has reported that the London Borough of Newham is one of London’s ten worst areas in terms of homelessness. Therefore, I felt it was key for me to show some of the delegates the true reality of the life of people living in the area. They were in total horror when they were more informed about the large number of people sleeping on London’s streets. One of the delegates commented, “this is so unexpected, not a place of inequality and I did not think people slept on the streets. The stories of these people are not often reported in our home countries.”

The idyllic picture was the reason that had attracted my parents to leave Jamaica for a home in the UK. Then, the UK was portrayed as the, “mother land and paved with gold; a country filled with opportunities”. This was an attractive factor that drew many people to the UK after the Second World War.

However, the truth was, the UK needed people from the colonial countries post-Second World War (1948 – 1957) in order to help address the labour shortage. The Caribbean was one of the countries that the UK received huge help from, particularly with regard to building the NHS.

Thus, it does not come as any surprise that with Brexit fast approaching, the UK Government is desperate to create global opportunities with their colonial countries. The recent news coverage reports that Theresa May, PM, is looking to secure trade deals with Africa after Brexit. Moreover, the “UK seeks to tap into the Kenyan markets as the Brexit deadline approaches” with this country also being the co-host country of the Summit.

However, I’m deeply saddened that the UK Government has ignored the findings of the UN Disability committee. The Disability Committee reported that the UK Government is causing a “human catastrophe” in relation to Disabled People and that they can no longer call themselves leaders of disability provision. As I write this blog, we have Disabled People taking up hospital beds, as in the case of Lakhvinder Kaur because she was evicted from a care home while in intensive care and made homeless.

We are seeing history repeating itself, with the UK masking its failings in order to attract help from other countries, create opportunities, secure their own dominance and obtain power at the expense of others.

The Aliens Act
Colonialism reinforces inequality so it will come as no surprise when I tell you that I’m frequently asked questions about where I come from or where I was born. Not satisfied when I reply in the UK, people normally continue with the question; and your parents? I could discuss this issue further but I will not because it is not the intention of this blog. Anyway, I was repeatedly asked at the Global Disability Summit the same questions about where I am from. It became painfully annoying and frustrating. I believe I was asked this question as the images portrayed of UK Disabled Leaders are mostly White Disabled Men and few Women. What this revealed to me is the level of inequality experienced by Black Disabled Women in the UK and reinforced that our presence in the UK is not recognised or embraced.

This experience drew me to the Aliens Act  (now known as the Immigration Act) which was introduced in the UK to control its borders, immigration and to view non-UK citizens as a threat. A threat is exactly how I was viewed at the Summit. I was totally taken back when I was asked for Identification (ID) at the registration desk. I became vexed instantly. All sorts of thoughts were rushing through my head as I knew assumptions were being made based on my skin colour and the assumption that I was a non-UK citizen. I remained calm and controlled by anger. I asked why ID was needed and why this information was not conveyed during the registration process. My blood was at boiling point because I knew this request was borne out of racism and I knew this system was set up to keep checks on the black oversea delegates to ensure they were at the event and returned to their home countries. So did I provide ID? No, because I knew it was not necessary. And, why were immigration control practices being applied at the Summit, particularly when delegates would have already completed the necessary checks to enter the UK?

Once I gained entrance. I rolled into the event but my frustration continued to rise, as well as my disappointment with the obvious signs of racial inequality within the job roles and the way Disabled People from Asian and African countries were being depicted as inferior. It did not matter that this event was being co-hosted with the Kenyan Government; it was clear who the power-holders were. White privilege and power has the ability to discredit the worth of Black People, segregate and create enormous damage in the way Black People are perceived. My feeling of uncomfortableness was painful as the reality is that the privilege of the power-holders has depicted our Black Disabled Sisters and Brothers as helpless and as the the White Man’s burden.

In fact, this is far from the truth since through my networking, I have learnt that many of the African countries present at the event have more Disabled People in their Government than the UK Government does.

A Change Is Gonna Come

The Global Disability Summit showed no respect for Disabled People globally and no appreciation for our shared experienced. The Summit was used as an attempt to mask “UK failure to uphold disabled people’s rights

The words of Marvin Gaye, “A change is going to come”, expressed the very essence of the International Disabled People movement’s demand for solidarity and unity. This is exactly what Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) did through hosting the rival International Deaf and Disabled People’s Solidarity Summit, which was a great event where Disabled People from around the globe came together to share our experiences. It did not waste resources and require an elaborate setting to bring people together. It was a perfect example to show why we need solidarity for our struggle and the liberation of Disabled People globally.

DPAC also hosted a “festival of resistance” outside the Summit in order to criticise the hypocrisy of co-hosting the Summit. Myself and Nadia Hadad, from the European Network on Independent Living, were prevented from re-entering the summit by security as we had DPAC leaflets (see image below), which were perceived as promoting negative messages about the UK Government. It was through our sister, Sojourner Truth, that I learnt about underground activism. Through her teaching, I managed to slip pass security with the leaflets and shared them with many of the delegates. I also got many Disabled People to leave the Summit and join in the festival, which was a proud moment for me.

Another huge applause must go to Alliance for Inclusive Education, Campaigns and Policy Coordinator, Simone Aspis for publicly calling out the UK Government for their failings with regard to Disabled People.

What’s going on?
When Marvin Gaye sung, “what’s going on”, it couldn’t be more of a poignant question to conclude this blog with.

Angela Davis’ quote perfectly articulates the point of this blog, although her reference relates to America. She says that, “as a black woman, my politics and political affiliation are bound up with and flow from participation in my people’s struggle for liberation, and with the fight of oppressed people all over the world against American imperialism”.

So when we discuss the question of the advantages and disadvantages of the Global Disability Summit, we need to decide if we want to support colonialism and imperialism or not. The other questions we need to ask are; did the Summit promote solidarity and unity between Disabled People globally or did it promote disability liberation or oppression?

Peace and one love

 

 Posted by at 14:34
Aug 182018
 

Norwich Art Show Announced

Vince Laws & DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) have teamed up to ensure there is a Norfolk Disability Pride Art Show. The show falls under 3 headings:

1) ‘I Protest!’ 

Protest Art by Vince Laws & DPAC Artists

including the DEAD PEOPLE DON’T CLAIM banner

and the DWP DEATHS MAKE ME SICK shrouds.

Supported by Disabled People Against Cuts

dpac.uk.net

2) A Very Queer Nazi Faust – Props, Photos, Poetry & More!

Highlighting the plight of disabled people under the current Tory government.

(Following the live art performance at Norwich Arts Centre on Weds 12 Sept at 8pm, tickets £6.66.)

Commissioned and supported by Unlimited, celebrating the work of disabled artists with funding from the Spirit of 2012. Supported by Norwich Arts Centre. Supported by Norfolk County Council.

avqnf.co.uk

3) Norfolk Disability Pride Art Show supported by DPAC

At St Margaret’s Church of Art,

St Benedict’s Street, Norwich, NR2 4AQ

Sunday 16 – Saturday 29 September 2018.

Accepting and hanging work Sunday 16 Sept 11am-5pm.

LAUNCH PARTY Sunday 16 Sept 5-10pm, (after the Norfolk Disability Pride event at the Forum earlier the same day, 11am-4pm.)

Performance evening Saturday 22 Sept, details TBC.

A Very Queer Nazi Faust end of show Party open to everyone on Friday 28 Sept from 5-10pm.

Take down Saturday 29 Sept. All work must be collected by 5pm.

Call to Artists

You don’t have to show protest art.

Work needs to be relevant to Norfolk Disability Pride, but you don’t have to be disabled to take part.

Work can be for sale or display only. Donate what you can afford to take part, all money goes to DPAC.

To enter work contact vincelaws@gmail.com

Volunteers Welcome

Help Vince hang work on Sunday 16 Sept 11am-5pm.

Help host the Launch Party on Sunday 16 Sept 5-10pm.

Help welcome visitors 17-29 Sept, open daily 10am-5pm. (Early shift 10am-1.30pm. Later shift 1.30-5pm)

Entry to the art show is FREE throughout, however donations to DPAC welcome. I hope to pay them back the venue hire & costs.

What: ‘I Protest!’ Art Show, with A Very Queer Nazi Faust props and photos, and Norfolk Disability Pride Art Show.

Where: St Margaret’s Church of Art, St Benedict’s Street, Norwich, NR2 4AQ.

When: Sunday 16 to Saturday 29 September 2018.

When: Launch Party: on Sunday 16 Sept from 5-10pm, then open daily 10am-5pm.

Why: Part of Norfolk Disability Pride 2018. Fighting for disabled peoples’ human rights.

Who: Vince Laws, DPAC, Art of Norwich, Unlimited, Spirit of 2012, Norwich Arts Centre, Norfolk County Council.

Contact: vincelaws@gmail.com

Norfolk Disability Pride contact: penny.parker@equallives.org.uk

Tickets for A Very Queer Nazi Faust: https://norwichartscentre.co.uk/events/vince-laws-queer-nazi-faust/?spektrix_bounce=true

Poster shows 3 images:

Top photo by Ruski: Shows Tory MP for Norwich North, Chloe Smith, speaking on the steps of Norwich City Hall at Norwich LGBT+ Pride, while Vince Laws stands silently beside her holding a sign which reads ’Tories Guilty of grave and systematic abuse of disabled people – United Nations’.

Middle photo by Vince Laws shows part of A Very Queer Nazi Faust sign, and 2 of The Naked Abseilers.

Bottom photo by Vince Laws shows an oil painting of some sunflowers.

 Posted by at 20:39
Jul 212018
 

 

Our Festival of  Resistance highlighting the hypocricy of the UK and Kenyan governments hosting a Global Disability Summit kicks off in ernest today/Saturday as our overseas activists arrive in the UK to join in with our fun.

On Sunday we are holding our own global summit which is very over subscribed with guest speakers including -:

Rose Achayo from the National Union of Women with Disabilities of Uganda (who will be talking about the particular barriers disabled women in Uganda face, the work of her organisation including its work with disabled refugees)

John Clarke from Ontario Coalition against Poverty (who shares DPAC’s concerns over universal basic income as a proposed solution to the future of social security)

Antonios Rellas from a disabled campaign group called Zero Tolerance in Greece (who campaigns against institutionalisation of disabled people and recently testified against Golden Dawn). https://dpac.uk.net/2016/09/greeces-shocking-secretthe-work-of-zero-tolerance/

Bolivian campaigners who were involved in this: https://www.theguardian. com/news/2017/may/05/the- fight-disability-rights- protestors-in-bolivia-on-the- barricades

And successfully forced their government to introduce disability payments for people. Although not yet at a high enough rate to enable an adequate standard of living.

We will be live streaming this conference using our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/disabledpeopleagainstcuts/

And tweeting with the hashtag #Disability&Resistance

Unlike the summit arranged by DfID we will not be having anyone from any large corporations hyping expensive equipment which is beyond the reach of many disabled people to fund.

On Monday and Tuesday follow us on twitter @dis_ppl_protest and please use  hashtags #NowIsTheTime and #disability summit

Tweet to any or all of the following saying why the UK government is unfit to host a disability summit.

@DFID_UK

@IDA_Forum_CRPD  gate keepers for who was allowed to come to the summit, to be kind possibly due to ignorance of the UK violation of disabled people’s rights.

Speakers at Tuesday’s summit event

@SophMorgan a disabled model

@Lenin  Lenin Moreno (president of Ecuador)

@gabimichetti  (vice president of Argentina)

More to follow shortly re-tweets.

And remember watch out for any surprise events happening in the very near future after all no-one ever knows quite where and when DPAC will pop up unexpectedly.

 Posted by at 12:55
Jun 182018
 

DfID and DPAC Global Summits

In response to the UN disability committee findings and criticism of their record on disability rights, the Tories have been using international comparisons. The previous Minister for Disabled People used her time up in a debate on the UN CRPD that the SNP had tabled talking about how when she was in the navy she had liberated all these poor starving neglected disabled orphans from “the socialist republic of Romania.”

The implication is always that disabled people in the UK are over-privileged and should be grateful for what we get here. This shows a misunderstanding of the UN Convention as a progressive tool for rights implementation.

The same day as a much criticised government strategy on disability, health and work was published, the previous Minister for Disabled People, Penny Morduant, made an announcement in her new role as Minister for International Development that the UK would be holding a global summit on disability at the end of July 2018. This has proved a very popular initiative with international organisations falling over themselves to be involved and the Tories are using it to its maximum to validate their self-proclaimed status as “world leaders in disability”.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-government-to-host-its-first-ever-global-disability-summit

It is also linked to a 27m international disability development support programme and you can see from the announcement about the focus on technology companies (and opening up new markets).

We obviously support better rights for all disabled people regardless of where they live but cannot let the Tories continue to pass themselves off as world leaders in disability rights when they have been found guilty of the grave and systematic violation of those rights and their policies have been called a ‘human catastrophe’ by the UN Disability Committee.

Therefore we will be holding our own summit on Sunday, July 22nd with input from disabled activists from the global South. This will be near the Olympic Park although the venue is still to be confirmed.

On July 24th the actual day of the summit please join us for some on-line activism.

Further details to follow shortly.

 

 

 

 

 Posted by at 18:49
Jun 122018
 

Call for Submissions

Are you an artist, sculptor, film maker working around disability issues? 

Would you like your work to play a part in building a Global Resistance Movement of disabled people?  

Then here’s how

In July 2018, DPAC will be holding a public event around building a Global Resistance Movement of disabled people.

We need your creativity and energy to help make this happen.

We want to create an event which celebrates our shared experiences and aspirations; and which connects our struggles and campaigns. As a backdrop to this, we would like those attending on the day and taking part from afar to do so in a space filled with creative expressions of our lives and our politics.

We are calling for contributions, large and small to exhibit at the event. Artists can come and be part of our activities or can simply give us access to their material. We will store and exhibit your material and return it to you after the event.

We are asking for:

  • Imagery such as
  • Pictures
  • Prints
  • Collages
  • Photographs
  • Paintings etc

 

  • Ceramics
  • Carvings
  • Glass work
  • Metal work

 

  • Digital Art
  • Film
  • Animation
  • Video Art

 

If your work has supporting materials such as mounts, plinths, frames, description or requires these materials for exhibition, please let us know.

 

If you would like to find out more or contribute please email. mail@dpac.uk.net

 Posted by at 20:44
Apr 042018
 

As we’re being asked more and more often to endorse candidates standing for various political positions we feel that it is important to re-iterate that DPAC remains completely independent from supporting any particular political party.

Nor can we guarantee to endorse someone just because they are a disabled person – after all some disabled people vote Tory or even UKIP and we could not under any circumstances endorse anyone who supported such policies. However we will consider endorsing people seeking office in any other reputable political parties.

We will only be able to support candidates who contribute to DPAC’s aims and are prepared to support #StopandScrap Universal Credit and our manifesto demands from politicians.

Overall this means that while we might endorse someone to stand for a political party that does not in any way negate our independence or our right to criticise that party and its policies when ever we deem it necessary.

 

 Posted by at 18:00
Apr 032018
 

The Public Law Project (PLP) is an independent, national legal charity which aims to improve access to justice for those whose access is restricted by poverty, discrimination or other similar barriers. It represented RF in the recent High Court case where the DWP’s changes to the PIP regulations were found to unlawfully discriminate against people with mental health conditions. PLP is representing another individual client, who is bringing a case concerning the DWP’s “workaround” communications system for people with disabilities who receive DLA/ESA/IB/PIP.

 

The DWP has a policy that it communicates with (non-UC) benefits recipients by post. However, its policy allows them to agree to email as a reasonable adjustment (the “workaround”), for example where a recipient has a disability.

 

The case is that the workaround is not satisfactory because it puts people using it at a disadvantage, including because there is a risk of letters being lost and there is no provision for two-way communication.

 

PLP needs to gather evidence of examples of problems caused by the workaround to support its client’s case. If you have had difficulties with the DWP’s communications system because of your disability, in particular if you have had difficulties getting the DWP to agree to email you as a reasonable adjustment, or have had information lost,  and are willing to discuss this further then please email Ollie Persey (o.persey@publiclawproject.org.uk).

 

 

 

 Posted by at 21:13
Mar 202018
 

A report coming out tomorrow shows that since 2011, the Department for Work & Pensions has underpaid an estimated 70,000 people who transferred to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) from other benefits.

The ‘error’ related to people who may have been entitled to income-related ESA but were instead only awarded contribution-based ESA, and therefore may have missed out on premium payments.

The average underpayment is likely to be around £5,000 but some people will be owed significantly more. A review of a sample of 1,000 cases suggests that 45,000 claimants  entitled to the enhanced disability premium only may be owed around £2,500 and that around 20,000 claimants who are entitled to the severe disability premium may be owed around £11,500 each. A small number could be owed around £20,000.

 

If you think you might be affected by this complete botch up by DWP then BBC  and ITN news would like to speak to you. Please contact Camilla Horrox – Camilla.horrox@bbc.co.uk

Telephone – 02036143166 or Amie Stone amie.stone@itn.co.uk telephone – 020 74304551

 

 Posted by at 15:56
Mar 192018
 
NHS facing court action over unlawful policies

Published: 19 Mar 2018

NHS organisations are facing legal action over discriminatory Continuing Healthcare policies, the Equality and Human Rights Commission warned today.

The Commission has taken its first steps in judicial review proceeding by issuing legal letters to 13 Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).This follows an initial warning issued by the Commission, which highlighted concerns about NHS Continuing Healthcare (NHS CHC) policies being unlawful and breaching the human rights of patients.

If the CCGs fail to provide evidence to demonstrate that their policies are lawful, or do not take steps to review them, they will be taken to court.

The Commission has raised significant concerns about blanket NHS CHC policies having arbitrary caps on funding and failing to consider the specific needs of individual patients, such as living location and family life.

This is a serious breach of the Human Rights Act, the Public Sector Equality Duty and the Department of Health and Social Care’s own NHS CHC framework.

Rebecca Hilsenrath, Chief Executive at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:

‘It is utterly unacceptable that anyone should be forced into residential care when they are healthy enough to live independently and with their families. And it doesn’t make sense for individuals or communities.

‘A “one-size fits all” approach will never properly address every single individual’s healthcare needs, and NHS CHC policies are no different. This is another example of individuals being disabled by society, and prevented from living as full and independent lives as possible, as is their right. We will use our powers to ensure that the NHS thinks about this again.’

The Commission first aired concerns over discriminatory NHS CHC policies in October 2017, when it wrote to 43 CCGs demanding more information on their approach.

Following this warning, almost a quarter of those contacted are now reviewing their policies and the Commission will be writing to the others whose policies are of less concern.

It will use its formal legal powers to initiate judicial review proceedings against 13, who it determines have not considered their human rights and equality responsibilities in the way they operate their policies.

NHS CHC provide funding for care outside of hospital, either in a care home, nursing home, hospice or a person’s own home, funded by the NHS to meet physical, mental health and associated social care needs.

The letters have been sent today (19 March 2018) and the CCGs have 14 working days to respond, after which decisions about starting court proceedings will be made.

Notes to editors

The Commission will be writing to the following 13 CCGs across England:

  • Brent
  • Coventry and Rugby
  • Dudley
  • East and North Hertfordshire
  • Eastern Cheshire
  • Harrow
  • Hillingdon
  • South Cheshire
  • Vale Royal
  • West Cheshire
  • Warwickshire North
  • Lincolnshire West
  • Redditch and Bromsgrove
 Posted by at 18:38
Feb 272018
 

Press release:
Disability rights coalition calls for talks with prime minister over ‘human catastrophe’.

A coalition of Disabled people’s organisations has today written to the Prime Minister urging her to meet with them to discuss the deteriorating quality of life experienced by millions of disabled people in the UK.

The call comes exactly six months since the United Nations’ damning report on the UK Government’s implementation of the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD).

The report, published last August, made a number of recommendations but disabled people’ organisations which gave evidence to the UN say that the Government is not taking the urgent action required

The coalition has highlighted five areas of particular concern:

  1. The failure to fully implement the 2010 Equality Act.
  2. The lack of joined up working across the 4 nations of the UK.
  3. The lack of resources to ensure disabled people’s right to independent living  and inclusion in their communities.
  4. The continuing gap in employment opportunities for disabled people.
  5. The right of disabled people to an adequate standard of living and social protection.

Tracey Lazard, CEO of Inclusion London and Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance member, said:

“6 months on from the UN Disability Committee’s damning verdict on this Government failure to protect and progress Disabled people’s rights, things continue to get worse not better for Disabled people . The Government appears to be maintaining its position of blanket denial that there is anything wrong, dismissing our lived experience, the UN findings and failing to act on any of the recommendations put forward in the Committee’s Concluding Observations. This state of affairs cannot continue . Disabled people’s organisations from across the UK are calling on the Government to recognise the very serious concerns identified by the UN Disability Committee and to use the Concluding Observations as an opportunity to begin working with, not against Disabled people, so we can get our rights, inclusion and equality back on track.”

The coalition members include:

Disability Rights UK; Inclusion Scotland; Disability Wales;  Disability Action Northern Ireland; Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance; Disabled People Against Cuts; Black Triangle; Alliance for Inclusive Education; British Deaf Association; People First, National Mental Health System Service Users Network; UK Disabled People’s Council; Equal Lives; Inclusion London.

–ENDS–

Contact:

Tracey Lazard, tracey.lazard@inclusionlondon.org.uk, 020 7237 3181

Notes to editor:

Text of letter to the Prime Minister is as follows:

Rt. Hon Theresa May M.P.
Office of the Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
London SW1A 2AA

28th February 2018

Dear Prime Minister

United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities

We are a coalition of disabled people’s organisations, led and controlled by disabled people, who, following our participation in the UN’s examination of the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD) have come together to promote the Convention.

We are writing to draw your attention to the fact that the examination by the U.N. of the U.K.’s implementation of the CRPD was concluded in Geneva six months ago and that, to date, there appears to have been no response from HM Government. In its Concluding Observations, a number of areas for action were identified.

Among these, the UNCRPD committee particularly highlighted five significant areas of concern:

  1. the many gaps in safeguards and rights for disabled people including unimplemented sections of the Equality Act 2010, the lack of resources to ensure the Equality Act is implemented, and the need to enshrine the CRPD into U.K. law as we leave the E.U.
  2. the lack of joined up working between the four nations of the U.K. and the need for a fully resourced action plan to implement the CRPD across the U.K.
  3. our right to independent living and to be included in the community.
  4. our right to employment and
  5. our right to an adequate standard of living and social protection.

Further the U.N. committee recognised that the U.K. has previously been seen as a leader on disability rights by many countries around the world and therefore has a ‘special obligation’ to set world leading standards on the treatment of disabled people and their inclusion in society.  Sadly, the committee concluded that the UK’s leading position has been lost.

We note that during the two-day hearing in Geneva, 23 and 24th August, the U.K. Government delegation gave a commitment to continuing the dialogue on how disabled people’s rights can be realised in the U.K. and specifically how engagement might be improved.  In the spirit of Article 4.3 of the Convention, general obligations involvement of disabled people and their representative organisations we are willing, and indeed expect, to work with you on progressing disabled people’s rights across the whole spectrum covered by the Convention from access through to being included in the community and being able to realise our ambitions and potential.

We should therefore like to request a meeting with you and your officials to discuss:

  1. How government is implementing the UNCRPD committee’s concluding observations, and
  2. How Government plans to work with organisations led by disabled people monitoring and implementing the Convention.

We trust that the Government will embrace the need to be more proactive in promoting and implementing disabled people’s rights and inclusion in society. We look forward to hearing from you further and working with government on an action plan to complete the implementation of the rights of disabled people detailed in the CRPD which was ratified by the U.K. in 2009.  Our expectation is that the U.K. will once again be seen as a leader in implementing the human rights of disabled people by all countries across the world.

Your faithfully

Kamran Mallick – CEO Disability Rights UK

Dr Sally Witcher OBE – CEO Inclusion Scotland

Rhian Davies – CEO Disability Wales

Patrick Malone – Disability Action Northern Ireland

Eleanor Lisney – Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance

Dr Terry Riley – British Deaf Association

Tracey Lazard – CEO Inclusion London

Linda Burnip – Disabled People Against Cuts

John McArdle – Black Triangle

Tara Flood – CEO Alliance for Inclusive Education

Anne Novis – UK Disabled People’s Council

Mark Harrison – CEO Equal Lives

Dorothy Gould – National mental health system Survivor Users Network

Andrew Lee – CEO People First

 Press release:
Disability rights coalition calls for talks with prime minister over ‘human catastrophe’.

A coalition of Disabled people’s organisations has today written to the Prime Minister urging her to meet with them to discuss the deteriorating quality of life experienced by millions of disabled people in the UK.

The call comes exactly six months since the United Nations’ damning report on the UK Government’s implementation of the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD).

The report, published last August, made a number of recommendations but disabled people’ organisations which gave evidence to the UN say that the Government is not taking the urgent action required

The coalition has highlighted five areas of particular concern:

  1. The failure to fully implement the 2010 Equality Act.
  2. The lack of joined up working across the 4 nations of the UK.
  3. The lack of resources to ensure disabled people’s right to independent living  and inclusion in their communities.
  4. The continuing gap in employment opportunities for disabled people.
  5. The right of disabled people to an adequate standard of living and social protection.

Tracey Lazard, CEO of Inclusion London and Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance member, said:

“6 months on from the UN Disability Committee’s damning verdict on this Government failure to protect and progress Disabled people’s rights, things continue to get worse not better for Disabled people . The Government appears to be maintaining its position of blanket denial that there is anything wrong, dismissing our lived experience, the UN findings and failing to act on any of the recommendations put forward in the Committee’s Concluding Observations. This state of affairs cannot continue . Disabled people’s organisations from across the UK are calling on the Government to recognise the very serious concerns identified by the UN Disability Committee and to use the Concluding Observations as an opportunity to begin working with, not against Disabled people, so we can get our rights, inclusion and equality back on track.”

The coalition members include:

Disability Rights UK; Inclusion Scotland; Disability Wales;  Disability Action Northern Ireland; Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance; Disabled People Against Cuts; Black Triangle; Alliance for Inclusive Education; British Deaf Association; People First, National Mental Health System Service Users Network; UK Disabled People’s Council; Equal Lives; Inclusion London.

–ENDS–

Contact:

Tracey Lazard, tracey.lazard@inclusionlondon.org.uk, 020 7237 3181

Notes to editor:

Text of letter to the Prime Minister is as follows:

Rt. Hon Theresa May M.P.
Office of the Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
London SW1A 2AA

28th February 2018

Dear Prime Minister

United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities

We are a coalition of disabled people’s organisations, led and controlled by disabled people, who, following our participation in the UN’s examination of the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD) have come together to promote the Convention.

We are writing to draw your attention to the fact that the examination by the U.N. of the U.K.’s implementation of the CRPD was concluded in Geneva six months ago and that, to date, there appears to have been no response from HM Government. In its Concluding Observations, a number of areas for action were identified.

Among these, the UNCRPD committee particularly highlighted five significant areas of concern:

  1. the many gaps in safeguards and rights for disabled people including unimplemented sections of the Equality Act 2010, the lack of resources to ensure the Equality Act is implemented, and the need to enshrine the CRPD into U.K. law as we leave the E.U.
  2. the lack of joined up working between the four nations of the U.K. and the need for a fully resourced action plan to implement the CRPD across the U.K.
  3. our right to independent living and to be included in the community.
  4. our right to employment and
  5. our right to an adequate standard of living and social protection.

Further the U.N. committee recognised that the U.K. has previously been seen as a leader on disability rights by many countries around the world and therefore has a ‘special obligation’ to set world leading standards on the treatment of disabled people and their inclusion in society.  Sadly, the committee concluded that the UK’s leading position has been lost.

We note that during the two-day hearing in Geneva, 23 and 24th August, the U.K. Government delegation gave a commitment to continuing the dialogue on how disabled people’s rights can be realised in the U.K. and specifically how engagement might be improved.  In the spirit of Article 4.3 of the Convention, general obligations involvement of disabled people and their representative organisations we are willing, and indeed expect, to work with you on progressing disabled people’s rights across the whole spectrum covered by the Convention from access through to being included in the community and being able to realise our ambitions and potential.

We should therefore like to request a meeting with you and your officials to discuss:

  1. How government is implementing the UNCRPD committee’s concluding observations, and
  2. How Government plans to work with organisations led by disabled people monitoring and implementing the Convention.

We trust that the Government will embrace the need to be more proactive in promoting and implementing disabled people’s rights and inclusion in society. We look forward to hearing from you further and working with government on an action plan to complete the implementation of the rights of disabled people detailed in the CRPD which was ratified by the U.K. in 2009.  Our expectation is that the U.K. will once again be seen as a leader in implementing the human rights of disabled people by all countries across the world.

Your faithfully

Tracey Lazard – CEO Inclusion London

Linda Burnip – Disabled People Against Cuts

John McArdle – Black Triangle

Tara Flood – CEO Alliance for Inclusive Education

Anne Novis – UK Disabled People’s Council

Mark Harrison – CEO Equal Lives

Andrew Lee – CEO People First

And others

 

 Posted by at 20:26
Feb 252018
 

For anyone who would like to email more than their own MPs all MPs email addresses are here. If as many people as possible email as many MPs as possible fromThursday March 1st then our message has more chance of being heard.

Template letter has also been posted

diane.abbott.office@parliament.uk, abrahamsd@parliament.uk, nigel.adams.mp@parliament.uk, bim.afolami.mp@parliament.uk, adam.afriyie.mp@parliament.uk, peter.aldous.mp@parliament.uk, heidi.alexander.mp@parliament.uk, rushanara.ali.mp@parliament.uk, lucy.allan.mp@parliament.uk, heidi.allen.mp@parliament.uk, rosena.allinkhan.mp@parliament.uk, mike.amesbury.mp@parliament.uk, amessd@parliament.uk, jenny.chapman.mp@parliament.uk, bambos.charalambous.mp@parliament.uk, joanna.cherry.mp@parliament.uk, rehman.chishti.mp@parliament.uk, chopec@parliament.uk, jo.churchill.mp@parliament.uk, colin.clark.mp@parliament.uk, greg.clark.mp@parliament.uk, clarkek@parliament.uk, simon.clarke.mp@parliament.uk, james.cleverly.mp@parliament.uk, cliftonbrowng@parliament.uk, ann.clwyd.mp@parliament.uk, vernon.coaker.mp@parliament.uk, ann.coffey.mp@parliament.uk, therese.coffey.mp@parliament.uk, damian.collins.mp@parliament.uk, julie.cooper.mp@parliament.uk, rosie.cooper.mp@parliament.uk, coopery@parliament.uk, jeremy.corbyn.mp@parliament.uk, barronra@parliament.uk, robert.courts.mp@parliament.uk, ronnie.cowan.mp@parliament.uk, coxg@parliament.uk, neil.coyle.mp@parliament.uk, stephen.crabb.mp@parliament.uk, crausbyd@parliament.uk, angela.crawley.mp@parliament.uk, creaghm@parliament.uk, , tracey.crouch.mp@parliament.uk, cruddasj@parliament.uk, john.cryer.mp@parliament.uk, judith.cummins.mp@parliament.uk, alex.cunningham.mp@parliament.uk, eleanorm.connolly@parliament.uk, nic.dakin.mp@parliament.uk, edward.davey.mp@parliament.uk, wayne.david.mp@parliament.uk, chris.davies.mp@parliament.uk, david.davies.mp@parliament.uk, geraint.davies.mp@parliament.uk, glyn.davies.mp@parliament.uk, mims.davies.mp@parliament.uk, daviesp@parliament.uk, david.davis.mp@parliament.uk, martyn.day.mp@parliament.uk, thangam.debbonaire.mp@parliament.uk, marsha.decordova.mp@parliament.uk, emma.dentcoad.mp@parliament.uk, gloria.depiero.mp@parliament.uk, tan.dhesi.mp@parliament.uk, caroline.dinenage.mp@parliament.uk, jonathan.djanogly.mp@parliament.uk, leo.docherty.mp@parliament.uk, martin.docherty.mp@parliament.uk, annaliese.dodds.mp@parliament.uk, nigel.dodds.mp@parliament.uk, jeffrey.donaldson.mp@parliament.uk, michelle.donelan.mp@parliament.uk, dorriesn@parliament.uk, steve.double.mp@parliament.uk, stephen.doughty.mp@parliament.uk, peter.dowd.mp@parliament.uk, oliver.dowden.mp@parliament.uk, jackie.doyleprice.mp@parliament.uk, richard.drax.mp@parliament.uk, david.drew.mp@parliament.uk, jack.dromey.mp@parliament.uk, , rosie.duffield.mp@parliament.uk, david.duguid.mp@parliament.uk, alan.duncan.mp@parliament.uk, olivia.kybett@parliament.uk, philip.dunne.mp@parliament.uk, eaglea@parliament.uk, eaglem@parliament.uk, jonathan.edwards.mp@parliament.uk, effordc@parliament.uk, julie.elliott.mp@parliament.uk, michael.ellis.mp@parliament.uk, louise.ellman.mp@parliament.uk, philip.hammond.mp@parliament.uk, hammonds@parliament.uk, matt.hancock.mp@parliament.uk, handsg@parliament.uk, david.hanson.mp@parliament.uk, emma.hardy.mp@parliament.uk, harriet.harman.mp@parliament.uk, mark.harper.mp@parliament.uk, richard.harrington.mp@parliament.uk, carolyn.harris.mp@parliament.uk, rebecca.harris.mp@parliament.uk, trudy.harrison.mp@parliament.uk, simon.hart.mp@parliament.uk, helen.hayes.mp@parliament.uk, hayesj@parliament.uk, sue.hayman.mp@parliament.uk, chris.hazzard.mp@parliament.uk, oliver.heald.mp@parliament.uk, john.healey.mp@parliament.uk, james.heappey.mp@parliament.uk, chris.heatonharris.mp@parliament.uk, peter.heatonjones.mp@parliament.uk, gordon.henderson.mp@parliament.uk, mark.hendrick.mp@parliament.uk, drew.hendry.mp@parliament.uk, hepburns@parliament.uk, , sylvia.hermon.mp@parliament.uk, mike.hill.mp@parliament.uk, meghilliermp@parliament.uk, damian.hinds.mp@parliament.uk, simon.hoare.mp@parliament.uk, wera.hobhouse.mp@parliament.uk, hodgem@parliament.uk, sharon.hodgson.mp@parliament.uk, hoeyk@parliament.uk, kate.hollern.mp@parliament.uk, george.hollingbery.mp@parliament.uk, kevin.hollinrake.mp@parliament.uk, philip.hollobone.mp@parliament.uk, hollowaya@parliament.uk, hopkinsk@parliament.uk, hosies@parliament.uk, george.howarth.mp@parliament.uk, howelljm@parliament.uk, gaskillm@parliament.uk, nigel.huddleston.mp@parliament.uk, eddie.hughes.mp@parliament.uk, huntj@parliament.uk, rupa.huq.mp@parliament.uk, nick.hurd.mp@parliament.uk, imran.hussain.mp@parliament.uk, alister.jack.mp@parliament.uk, margot.james.mp@parliament.uk, christine.jardine.mp@parliament.uk, dan.jarvis.mp@parliament.uk, sajid.javid.mp@parliament.uk, , bernard.jenkin.mp@parliament.uk, andrea.jenkyns.mp@parliament.uk, robert.jenrick.mp@parliament.uk, boris.johnson.mp@parliament.uk, caroline.johnson.mp@parliament.uk, johnsond@parliament.uk, gareth.johnson.mp@parliament.uk, jo.johnson.mp@parliament.uk, andrew.jones.mp@parliament.uk, darren.jones.mp@parliament.uk, david.jones.mp@parliament.uk, gerald.jones.mp@parliament.uk, graham.jones.mp@parliament.uk, jonesh@parliament.uk, kevanjonesmp@parliament.uk, marcus.jones.mp@parliament.uk, sarah.jones.mp@parliament.uk, susan.jones.mp@parliament.uk, mike.kane.mp@parliament.uk, kawczynskid@parliament.uk, gillian.keegan.mp@parliament.uk, barbara.keeley.mp@parliament.uk, liz.kendall.mp@parliament.uk, seema.kennedy.mp@parliament.uk, stephen.metcalfe.mp@parliament.uk, ed.miliband.mp@parliament.uk, maria.miller.mp@parliament.uk, amanda.milling.mp@parliament.uk, nigel.mills.mp@parliament.uk, anne.milton.mp@parliament.uk, andrew.mitchell.mp@parliament.uk, , carol.monaghan.mp@parliament.uk, moonm@parliament.uk, damien.moore.mp@parliament.uk, layla.moran.mp@parliament.uk, penny.mordaunt.mp@parliament.uk, jessica.morden.mp@parliament.uk, nicky.morgan.mp@parliament.uk, stephen.morgan.mp@parliament.uk, annemarie.morris.mp@parliament.uk, david.morris.mp@parliament.uk, grahame.morris.mp@parliament.uk, james.morris.mp@parliament.uk, wendy.morton.mp@parliament.uk, david.mundell.mp@parliament.uk, ian.murray.mp@parliament.uk, sheryll.murray.mp@parliament.uk, murrisona@parliament.uk, lisa.nandy.mp@parliament.uk, bob.neill.mp@parliament.uk, gavin.newlands.mp@parliament.uk, sarah.newton.mp@parliament.uk, caroline.nokes.mp@parliament.uk, jesse.norman.mp@parliament.uk, alex.norris.mp@parliament.uk, neil.obrien.mp@parliament.uk, matthew.offord.mp@parliament.uk, brendan.ohara.mp@parliament.uk, jared.omara.mp@parliament.uk, fiona.onasanya.mp@parliament.uk, melanie.onn.mp@parliament.uk, chi.onwurah.mp@parliament.uk, guy.opperman.mp@parliament.uk, kate.osamor.mp@parliament.uk, albert.owen.mp@parliament.uk, ian.paisley.mp@parliament.uk, neil.parish.mp@parliament.uk, withammp@parliament.uk, patersono@parliament.uk, mark.pawsey.mp@parliament.uk, stephanie.peacock.mp@parliament.uk, teresa.pearce.mp@parliament.uk, penningm@parliament.uk, matthew.pennycook.mp@parliament.uk, penrosej@parliament.uk, andrew.percy.mp@parliament.uk, toby.perkins.mp@parliament.uk, claire.perry.mp@parliament.uk, jess.phillips.mp@parliament.uk, bridget.phillipson.mp@parliament.uk, chris.philp.mp@parliament.uk, laura.pidcock.mp@parliament.uk, christopher.pincher.mp@parliament.uk, joanne.platt.mp@parliament.uk, luke.pollard.mp@parliament.uk, daniel.poulter.mp@parliament.uk, steve.pound.mp@parliament.uk, rebecca.pow.mp@parliament.uk, lucy.powell.mp@parliament.uk, victoria.prentis.mp@parliament.uk, natalie.bithell@parliament.uk, pritchardm@parliament.uk, tom.pursglove.mp@parliament.uk, jeremy.quin.mp@parliament.uk, will.quince.mp@parliament.uk, yasmin.qureshi.mp@parliament.uk, dominic.raab.mp@parliament.uk, faisal.rashid.mp@parliament.uk, angela.rayner.mp@parliament.uk, john.redwood.mp@parliament.uk, steve.reed.mp@parliament.uk, christina.rees.mp@parliament.uk, jacob.reesmogg.mp@parliament.uk, ellie.reeves.mp@parliament.uk, rachel.reeves.mp@parliament.uk, emma.reynolds.mp@parliament.uk, jonathan.reynolds.mp@parliament.uk, marie.rimmer.mp@parliament.uk, michael.tomlinson.mp@parliament.uk, craig.tracey.mp@parliament.uk, tredinnickd@parliament.uk, annemarie.trevelyan.mp@parliament.uk, jon.trickett.mp@parliament.uk, elizabeth.truss.mp@parliament.uk, tom.tugendhat.mp@parliament.uk, anna.turley.mp@parliament.uk, karl.turner.mp@parliament.uk, derek.twigg.mp@parliament.uk, stephen.twigg.mp@parliament.uk, liz.twist.mp@parliament.uk, chuka.umunna.mp@parliament.uk, ed.vaizey.mp@parliament.uk, shailesh.vara.mp@parliament.uk, vazk@parliament.uk, valerie.vaz.mp@parliament.uk, martin.vickers.mp@parliament.uk, , charles.walker.mp@parliament.uk, robin.walker.mp@parliament.uk, thelma.walker.mp@parliament.uk, wallaceb@parliament.uk, david.warburton.mp@parliament.uk, matt.warman.mp@parliament.uk, giles.watling.mp@parliament.uk, tom.watson.mp@parliament.uk, catherine.west.mp@parliament.uk, matt.western.mp@parliament.uk, helen.whately.mp@parliament.uk, heather.wheeler.mp@parliament.uk, whiteheada@parliament.uk, martin.whitfield.mp@parliament.uk, philippa.whitford.mp@parliament.uk, craig.whittaker.mp@parliament.uk, john.whittingdale.mp@parliament.uk, bill.wiggin.mp@parliament.uk, hywel.williams.mp@parliament.uk, paul.williams.mp@parliament.uk, chris.williamson.mp@parliament.uk, gavin.williamson.mp@parliament.uk, phil.wilson.mp@parliament.uk, barronj@parliament.uk, rosie.winterton.mp@parliament.uk, pete.wishart.mp@parliament.uk, sarah.wollaston.mp@parliament.uk, mikej.wood.mp@parliament.uk, john.woodcock.mp@parliament.uk, , jeremy.wright.mp@parliament.uk, mohammad.yasin.mp@parliament.uk, nadhim.zahawi.mp@parliament.uk, daniel.zeichner.mp@parliament.uk, stuart.andrew.mp@parliament.uk, tonia.antoniazzi.mp@parliament.uk, edward.argar.mp@parliament.uk, jon.ashworth.mp@parliament.uk, , austini@parliament.uk, richardbaconmp@parliament.uk, kemi.badenoch.mp@parliament.uk, baileya@parliament.uk, steve.baker.mp@parliament.uk, harriett.baldwin.mp@parliament.uk, stephen.barclay.mp@parliament.uk, hannah.bardell.mp@parliament.uk, baronj@parliament.uk, barronk@parliament.uk, guto.bebb.mp@parliament.uk, margaret.beckett.mp@parliament.uk, bellinghamh@parliament.uk, hilary.benn.mp@parliament.uk, richard.benyon.mp@parliament.uk, bercowj@parliament.uk, annie.winsbury@parliament.uk, luciana.berger.mp@parliament.uk, jake.berry.mp@parliament.uk, officeofclivebettsmp@parliament.uk, mhairi.black.mp@parliament.uk, ian.blackford.mp@parliament.uk, bob.blackman.mp@parliament.uk, kirsty.blackman.mp@parliament.uk, woodsr@parliament.uk, paul.blomfield.mp@parliament.uk, crispinbluntmp@parliament.uk, nick.boles.mp@parliament.uk, bonep@parliament.uk, bottomleyp@parliament.uk, andrew.bowie.mp@parliament.uk, tracy.brabin.mp@parliament.uk, ben.bradley.mp@parliament.uk, karen.bradley.mp@parliament.uk, ben.bradshaw.mp@parliament.uk, altsale@parliament.uk, mickey.brady.mp@parliament.uk, , brennank@parliament.uk, jack.brereton.mp@parliament.uk, andrew.bridgen.mp@parliament.uk, steve.brine.mp@parliament.uk, deidre.brock.mp@parliament.uk, james.brokenshire.mp@parliament.uk, alan.brown.mp@parliament.uk, brownl@parliament.uk, nickbrownmp@parliament.uk, fiona.bruce.mp@parliament.uk, bryantc@parliament.uk, buckk@parliament.uk, robert.buckland.mp@parliament.uk, richard.burden.mp@parliament.uk, alex.burghart.mp@parliament.uk, richard.burgon.mp@parliament.uk, conor.burns.mp@parliament.uk, alistair.burt.mp@parliament.uk, dawn.butler.mp@parliament.uk, byrnel@parliament.uk, vince.cable.mp@parliament.uk, ruthcadburymp@parliament.uk, alun.cairns.mp@parliament.uk, lisa.cameron.mp@parliament.uk, alan.campbell.mp@parliament.uk, fieldingm@parliament.uk, ronnie.campbell.mp@parliament.uk, dan.carden.mp@parliament.uk, carmichaela@parliament.uk, james.cartlidge.mp@parliament.uk, mcconaloguej@parliament.uk, maria.caulfield.mp@parliament.uk, alex.chalk.mp@parliament.uk, sarah.champion.mp@parliament.uk, douglas.chapman.mp@parliament.uk, tobias.ellwood.mp@parliament.uk, chris.elmore.mp@parliament.uk, charlie.elphicke.mp@parliament.uk, bill.esterson.mp@parliament.uk, george.eustice.mp@parliament.uk, chris.evans.mp@parliament.uk, evansn@parliament.uk, david.evennett.mp@parliament.uk, michael.fabricant.mp@parliament.uk, michael.fallon.mp@parliament.uk, paul.farrelly.mp@parliament.uk, farront@parliament.uk, marion.fellows.mp@parliament.uk, suella.fernandes.mp@parliament.uk, fieldf@parliament.uk, fieldm@parliament.uk, jim.fitzpatrick.mp@parliament.uk, colleen.fletcher.mp@parliament.uk, caroline.flint.mp@parliament.uk, , vicky.ford.mp@parliament.uk, kevin.foster.mp@parliament.uk, yvonne.fovargue.mp@parliament.uk, ione.douglas@parliament.uk, vicky.foxcroft.mp@parliament.uk, mark.francois.mp@parliament.uk, lucy.frazer.mp@parliament.uk, george.freeman.mp@parliament.uk, mike.freer.mp@parliament.uk, james.frith.mp@parliament.uk, gill.furniss.mp@parliament.uk, marcus.fysh.mp@parliament.uk, hugh.gaffney.mp@parliament.uk, galerj@parliament.uk, mike.gapes.mp@parliament.uk, barry.gardiner.mp@parliament.uk, mark.garnier.mp@parliament.uk, gauked@parliament.uk, ruth.george.mp@parliament.uk, stephen.gethins.mp@parliament.uk, nusrat.ghani.mp@parliament.uk, gibbn@parliament.uk, patricia.gibson.mp@parliament.uk, michelle.gildernew.mp@parliament.uk, preet.gill.mp@parliament.uk, cheryl.gillan.mp@parliament.uk, paul.girvan.mp@parliament.uk, john.glen.mp@parliament.uk, mary.glindon.mp@parliament.uk, roger.godsiff.mp@parliament.uk, , goodmanh@parliament.uk, robert.goodwill.mp@parliament.uk, michael.gove.mp@parliament.uk, patrick.grady.mp@parliament.uk, luke.graham.mp@parliament.uk, richard.graham.mp@parliament.uk, bill.grant.mp@parliament.uk, helen.grant.mp@parliament.uk, peter.grant.mp@parliament.uk, jamesgraymp@parliament.uk, neil.gray.mp@parliament.uk, chris.grayling.mp@parliament.uk, chris.green.mp@parliament.uk, damian.green.mp@parliament.uk, kate.green.mp@parliament.uk, greeningj@parliament.uk, lilian.greenwood.mp@parliament.uk, margaret.greenwood.mp@parliament.uk, dominic.grieve.mp@parliament.uk, nia.griffith.mp@parliament.uk, andrew.griffiths.mp@parliament.uk, john.grogan.mp@parliament.uk, gwynnea@parliament.uk, , louise.haigh.mp@parliament.uk, kirstene.hair.mp@parliament.uk, , luke.hall.mp@parliament.uk, fabian.hamilton.mp@parliament.uk, stephen.kerr.mp@parliament.uk, afzal.khan.mp@parliament.uk, gerard.killen.mp@parliament.uk, stephen.kinnock.mp@parliament.uk, sothcottt@parliament.uk, julian.knight.mp@parliament.uk, kwasi.kwarteng.mp@parliament.uk, peter.kyle.mp@parliament.uk, eleanor.laing.mp@parliament.uk, lesley.laird.mp@parliament.uk, ben.lake.mp@parliament.uk, norman.lamb.mp@parliament.uk, lammyd@parliament.uk, john.lamont.mp@parliament.uk, officeofmarklancaster@parliament.uk, pauline.latham.mp@parliament.uk, ian.lavery.mp@parliament.uk, chris.law.mp@parliament.uk, andrea.leadsom.mp@parliament.uk, karen.lee.mp@parliament.uk, phillip.lee.mp@parliament.uk, jeremy.lefroy.mp@parliament.uk, edward.leigh.mp@parliament.uk, chris.leslie@parliament.uk, letwino@parliament.uk, emma.lewell-buck.mp@parliament.uk, andrew.lewer.mp@parliament.uk, toby.willmer@parliament.uk, clive.lewis.mp@parliament.uk, lewisi@parliament.uk, , ianlg@parliament.uk, david.lidington.mp@parliament.uk, david.linden.mp@parliament.uk, emma.littlepengelly.mp@parliament.uk, stephen.lloyd.mp@parliament.uk, tony.lloyd.mp@parliament.uk, rebecca.longbailey.mp@parliament.uk, julia.lopez.mp@parliament.uk, jack.lopresti.mp@parliament.uk, jonathan.lord.mp@parliament.uk, loughtont@parliament.uk, caroline.lucas.mp@parliament.uk, lucasi@parliament.uk, holly.lynch.mp@parliament.uk, mccabes@parliament.uk, elisha.mccallion.mp@parliament.uk, kerry.mccarthy.mp@parliament.uk, mcdonaghs@parliament.uk, andy.mcdonald.mp@parliament.uk, stewart.mcdonald.mp@parliament.uk, stuart.mcdonald.mp@parliament.uk, mcdonnellj@parliament.uk, barry.mcelduff.mp@parliament.uk, mcfaddenp@parliament.uk, conor.mcginn.mp@parliament.uk, alison.mcgovern.mp@parliament.uk, liz.mcinnes.mp@parliament.uk, craig.mackinlay.mp@parliament.uk, catherine.mckinnell.mp@parliament.uk, rachel.maclean.mp@parliament.uk, patrick.mcloughlin.mp@parliament.uk, jim.mcmahon.mp@parliament.uk, anna.mcmorrin.mp@parliament.uk, john.mcnally.mp@parliament.uk, macneila@parliament.uk, stephen.mcpartland.mp@parliament.uk, esther.mcvey.mp@parliament.uk, justin.madders.mp@parliament.uk, mahmoodk@parliament.uk, shabana.mahmood.mp@parliament.uk, maina@parliament.uk, alan.mak.mp@parliament.uk, seema.malhotra.mp@parliament.uk, kit.malthouse.mp@parliament.uk, mannj@parliament.uk, scott.mann.mp@parliament.uk, gordonmarsdenmp@parliament.uk, sandy.martin.mp@parliament.uk, rachael.maskell.mp@parliament.uk, paul.maskey.mp@parliament.uk, paul.masterton.mp@parliament.uk, chris.matheson.mp@parliament.uk, mayt@parliament.uk, paul.maynard.mp@parliament.uk, ian.mearns.mp@parliament.uk, mark.menzies.mp@parliament.uk, johnny.mercer.mp@parliament.uk, huw.merriman.mp@parliament.uk, robertsonl@parliament.uk, gavin.robinson.mp@parliament.uk, robinsong@parliament.uk, mary.robinson.mp@parliament.uk, matt.rodda.mp@parliament.uk, andrew.rosindell.mp@parliament.uk, douglas.ross.mp@parliament.uk, danielle.rowley.mp@parliament.uk, lee.rowley.mp@parliament.uk, chris.ruane.mp@parliament.uk, amber.rudd.mp@parliament.uk, lloyd.russellmoyle.mp@parliament.uk, david.rutley.mp@parliament.uk, joan.ryan.mp@parliament.uk, antoinette.sandbach.mp@parliament.uk, liz.savilleroberts.mp@parliament.uk, paul.scully.mp@parliament.uk, bob.seely.mp@parliament.uk, andrew.selous.mp@parliament.uk, naz.shah.mp@parliament.uk, jim.shannon.mp@parliament.uk, shappsg@parliament.uk, alok.sharma.mp@parliament.uk, sharmav@parliament.uk, sheermanb@parliament.uk, alec.shelbrooke.mp@parliament.uk, tommy.sheppard.mp@parliament.uk, paula.sherriff.mp@parliament.uk, gavin.shuker.mp@parliament.uk, tulip.siddiq.mp@parliament.uk, simpsond@parliament.uk, keithsimpsonmp@parliament.uk, chris.skidmore.mp@parliament.uk, skinnerd@parliament.uk, andy.slaughter.mp@parliament.uk, ruth.smeeth.mp@parliament.uk, officeofangelasmithmp@parliament.uk, cat.smith.mp@parliament.uk, , eleanor.smith.mp@parliament.uk, henry.smith.mp@parliament.uk, jeff.smith.mp@parliament.uk, julian.smith.mp@parliament.uk, laura.smith.mp@parliament.uk, nick.smith.mp@parliament.uk, owen.smith.mp@parliament.uk, royston.smith.mp@parliament.uk, karin.smyth.mp@parliament.uk, gareth.snell.mp@parliament.uk, nicholas.soames.mp@parliament.uk, alex.sobel.mp@parliament.uk, anna.soubry.mp@parliament.uk, john.spellar.mp@parliament.uk, , mark.spencer.mp@parliament.uk, keir.starmer.mp@parliament.uk, chris.stephens.mp@parliament.uk, andrew.stephenson.mp@parliament.uk, jo.stevens.mp@parliament.uk, john.stevenson.mp@parliament.uk, bob.stewart.mp@parliament.uk, iain.stewart.mp@parliament.uk, rory.stewart.mp@parliament.uk, jamie.stone.mp@parliament.uk, deans@parliament.uk, wes.streeting.mp@parliament.uk, mel.stride.mp@parliament.uk, graham.stringer.mp@parliament.uk, graham.stuart.mp@parliament.uk, julian.sturdy.mp@parliament.uk, rishi.sunak.mp@parliament.uk, swayned@parliament.uk, paul.sweeney.mp@parliament.uk, jo.swinson.mp@parliament.uk, hugo.swire.mp@parliament.uk, symsr@parliament.uk, tamim@parliament.uk, alison.thewliss.mp@parliament.uk, derek.thomas.mp@parliament.uk, gareth.thomas.mp@parliament.uk, nick.thomassymonds.mp@parliament.uk, ross.thomson.mp@parliament.uk, emily.thornberry.mp@parliament.uk, maggie.throup.mp@parliament.uk, timmss@parliament.uk, kelly.tolhurst.mp@parliament.uk, justin.tomlinson.mp@parliament.uk, michael.tomlinson.mp@parliament.uk, craig.tracey.mp@parliament.uk, tredinnickd@parliament.uk, annemarie.trevelyan.mp@parliament.uk, trickettj@parliament.uk, elizabeth.truss.mp@parliament.uk, tom.tuggendhat.mp@parliament.uk, anna.turley.mp@parliament.uk,

karl.turner.mp@parliament.uk, derek.twigg.mp@parliament.uk, stephen.twigg.mp@parliament.uk, liz.twist.mp@parliament.uk, chukka.umunna.mp@parliament.uk, vaizeye@parliament.uk,

vazk@parliament.uk, shailesh.vara.mp@parliament.uk, valerie.vaz.mp@parliament.uk, martin.vickers.mp@parliament.uk, theresa@theresavilliers.co.uk, broxbourne@tory.org, robin.walker.mp@parliament.uk, thelma.walker.mp@parliament.uk, wallaceb@parliament.uk, david.warburton.mp@parliament.uk, matt.warman.mp@parliament.uk, giles.watling.mp@parliament.uk, tom.watson.mp@parliament.uk, catherine.west.mp@parliament.uk, matt.western.mp@parliament.uk, helen.whately.mp@parliament.uk, heather.wheeler.mp@parliament.uk, whiteheada@parliament.uk, martin.whitfield.mp@parliament.uk, philippa.whitford.mp@parliament.uk, craig.whittaker.mp@parliament.uk, john.whittingdale.mp@parliament.uk, bill.wiggin.mp@parliament.uk, hywel.williams.mp@parliament.uk, paul.williams.mp@parliament.uk, chris.williamson.mp@parliament.uk, gavin.williamson.mp@parliament.uk, phil.wilson.mp@parliament.uk, barronj@parliament.uk, rosie.winterton.mp@parliament.uk, wishartp@parliament.uk, sarah.wollaston.mp@parliament.uk, mikej.wood.mp@parliament.uk, john.woodcock.mp@parliament.uk, william@williamwragg.org.uk, jeremy@jeremywright.org.uk, mohammad.yasin.mp@parliament.uk, nadhim.zahawi.mp@parliament.uk, daniel@danielzeichner.co.uk,

 

 

 

 Posted by at 20:50
Feb 252018
 

for anyone who can’t get to a protest please email your MP fromThursday March 1st onwards. A template letter is below. Even if you can get to a protest you may also want to email your MP.

 

Dear MP name,

Universal Credit is the punishing regime due to be more widely imposed on people with low incomes both those in and out of work.

UC has too many flaws to be simply paused and fixed – it must be stopped and scrapped.

Universal Credit is an economic and political disaster bringing further distress and impoverishment to those forced to endure it.  To date at least £15.8 billion has been wasted on its implementation although only £1 billion is likely to be saved by 2020.

Seven million households will be affected, including over one million low paid part-time workers. For the first time ever people in work could face being sanctioned (having their benefits stopped) if they don’t prove to the job centre that they’re searching for better paid work or more hours. Pensioner couples will also be affected if one of them is under pension age.

No civilized Government should impose this on its citizens and no opposition party should want to simply pause and fix it.

Areas already subjected to UC have reported serious hardship with visits to food banks soaring along with rates of people sanctioned and left without any income for 3 months or more.

Just some of the many problems with UC are listed below.

General Problems

  • UC is based entirely on conditionality for those both in and out of work. Failure to meet these conditions can lead to the imposition of cumulative sanctions which could last 3 years.
  • Everyone will have to accept the Claimant Commitment and log in daily to Universal Job match account and complete your to do list and journal. There is harsh conditionality within Universal Credit such as 35 hour per week job searches.
  • Even with the changes brought in at the end of last year claimants face a 5 week wait which in many cases seems to be 3 months or longer for their first payment.
  • Loss of Mortgage interest payments which will now mean people have to take out a second loan if they are buying a home.
  • Hardship Loans are repayable meaning the full amount of money someone is entitled to isn’t paid for months as 40% of their entitlement can be taken away to repay a loan.
  • With UC, housing benefit isn’t paid straight to the landlord but to the claimant who may be in need of money to use in an emergency. In pilot areas this has resulted in up to 60% of claimants going into rent arrears.
  • Letting agents are already refusing to rent to anyone claiming UC.

 

For Disabled People

  • UC is claimed and managed entirely digitally which is difficult or impossible for many disabled people. Any mistakes on the form will likely lead to loss of benefit or a claim being disallowed.
  • Health and Work conversations are mandatory and any failure to attend will lead to your claim being closed.
  • People in part time work could be forced to give up work that suits their Disability or family life in order to take up worse paid full time work or risk sanctions,.
  • UC brings in the loss of Severe and Enhanced Disability Premiums which mean single disabled people lose around £2,000 per annum and a disabled couple over £4,000 per annum.

Coercion of Mental Health claimants.

  • As part of the Health and Work Programme we are seeing the use of the DWP nudge unit and psycho compulsion. This effectively means the introduction of forced treatment through the use of IAPT therapists based in job centres. If claimants don’t take the treatment prescribed they face being sanctioned.

Loss of Womens’ Rights

  • Changes to benefit payments will make women financially dependent on men trapping many in endless domestic violence.
  • The appalling Tax Credit ‘rape clause’ means that women can only get Child Tax Credit payments for their first two children unless they can prove they were raped. This involves filling out a detailed 45 page form about being raped..

For those in work, self-employed or on zero hours contracts

  • Even those in work will be expected to look for more hours up to 48 hours a week so you are not reliant on state support or face Sanctions for failing to comply. Warning- if your earnings exceed qualifying levels in a month they can close your claim and your online history will be erased when they close your claim down without warning. Make copies of all your actions to copy into your Journal or To Do List so you have evidenced back up files. To get this reinstated can take 8 months without money.
  • Going on Holiday? Think Again- If you fail to do your job match account even over Christmas and other bank holidays you will have your money stopped and you must always be available for interviews.
  • For every £1 earned Universal Credit takes away 63p meaning people are working for 37p for every pound earned per hour.
  • Self employed people will have to submit their monthly, instead of annual, income before any UC payment, including for housing costs, will be made for that month causing untold chaos and hardship. If they earn too much in any month their claim will be closed and they’ll have to start all over again.

As your constituent I am asking you to support scrapping Universal Credit.

 

Yours sincerely,

Xxxxxxx

address

 Posted by at 20:44
Feb 252018
 
The Alliance for Counselling and Psychotherapy has organised a demo at the New Savoy conference again this year. It’s an early start at South Kensington.

Wednesday 21st March 2018 from 8.15am!

Millennium Conference Centre!

4-18 Harrington Gardens!

South Kensington, London, SW7 4LH

 

The New Savoy Conference is the annual gathering of professional and

charity bodies providing psychological therapies (IAPT) in NHS primary

care.

IAPT is an assembly-line service providing short-term therapies to over

a million people every year. Despite the commitment of its frontline

therapists and psychologists, IAPT is failing the mental health needs of

communities all over England, while working with government policies

that themselves generate psychological distress and social alienation.

Come and join therapists, mental health activists, psychologists and

welfare campaigners. Meet at the Harrington Gardens entrance of the

Millenium Conference Centre (Gloucester Road tube) from 8.15am to

greet conference goers.

 

Contact info@allianceforcandp.org for more information.

Some context:
• The hierarchy of IAPT and psychological services in the NHS who gather at these conferences continue to offer liberal mouthings about DWP welfare reform policies, WCA and PIP, sanctions, coercion around Work and Health. But they’ve actually taken no real action to boycott DWP/Health collaboration, despite all the developments re judicial reviews, UN condemnations, the recent Parl Committee report, and the UC debacle.
In his intro to the conference, in the programme link above, Jeremy Clarke (NS chair) says:
“The second issue is the running sore of welfare benefit reform, and its negative impact on mental health, that undermines whatever benefit we make to population wellbeing. Have we reached a consensus now for how we can turn the tide? The BBC’s Mark Easton will find out”
• The overall theme is depression; there are sessions on the crisis in the IAPT workforce, latest staff survey, impact of targets; session on Work and Health Unit; Wessely’s review of human rights and compulsory treatment; session on Employee Assistant Programmes (often run by people like Maximus); familiar faces in the list of speakers
•The scam of IAPT as a service in local communities. It has a massive evidence base, tons of statistics for every CCG in England including “recovery” rates; ethnicity stats; deprivation stats; etc etc No-one really analyses the figures. For IAPT it seems just collecting the stats is their claim to being evidence based and therefore their claim for funding from the Government. In fact, their stats reveal a shockingly failing provision.
For example, ot of 1,350,000 referrals a year 85% either never enter any kind of therapy, or never finish a course of treatment, or don’t “move to recovery” (as IAPT jargon has it). In my CCG (Tower Hamlets) only 6.6% of referrals to IAPT “recovered” and among the Bangladeshi community who make up over 30% on TH population only 3% “recovered”. Farmer’s Taskforce target for % of population who “need IAPT therapy” is 15%, rising to 25% by 2021. In TH about 2% of the pop were referred/referred themselves to IAPT, of whom as I say 6.6% “recovered”.
IAPT will be a major part of the propaganda around the NHS reorganisation now in progress, via the STPs and the ACOs they are developing . STP management have “the mental health crisis” high on their agenda – certainly their PR agenda – and selling more provision for IAPT services will be a major plank of the campaign. See Hunt on this role for IAPT here.
IAPT is rarely taken to task as a service that is massively failing communities all over England. This is true in the Labour Party as much as any where ekse. This has to stop. It is a propaganda service for neoliberal capitalism and its dissemination of psychological scapegoating and coercion across society
 Posted by at 16:27
Feb 212018
 

Our very committed steering group member Ellen Clifford stayed up until 1am to speak to canadian radio about our concerns on UBI. Also speaking about concerns about UBI was John Clarke from Ontario Coalition Against Poverty. You can hear the discussion here

Democracy North: Are Basic Income Programs Too Good to be True?

A much more detailed and authoratitive study will be published shortly but as others support the concept we wanted to flag up just some of the reasons we’d suggest great caution is needed in relation to a Universal Basic Income.

Concerns with UBI

  • The UK has in place a complex and targeted social security system. UBI trials in countries without the same levels of support infrastructure produce positive results, for example the pilots in Madhya Pradesh showed significant benefits for disabled people such as being able to afford food and medical assistance, as well as providing independent income for disabled people so they are not entirely reliant on families and enabling autonomy. Introducing a UBI in the UK would require that all or some of our present benefits and support systems are replaced which would be a far more complex undertaking. The distribution of gains and losses would depend upon the detail of the UBI scheme.
  • The cost of UBI in the UK at Guaranteed Minimum Income levels would significantly exceed current spending on cash benefits and tax-free allowances. A budget-neutral UBI would therefore require either a UBI below GMI levels, or additional tax increases.
  • Full UBI schemes that are in any way financially feasible result in big losses for disabled people. As a result, supporters of UBI such as the Citizen’s Income Trust now recommend a partial UBI where disability benefits (and housing) are retained as a separate parallel system. In Annie Miller’s 297 page Basic Income Handbook she includes just one page on “The needs of disabled people” (of which half a page is about carers) where she says “Disability benefits are based on need and are therefore a different system from BIs… Both housing and disability benefits are very much in need of revision but are beyond the scope of this book. The interaction between BI and support for these costs (and between them) would need to be considered in developing policy in each area.”
  • Supporters of a partial scheme where disability benefits are retained assure us that no disabled person will be worse off under UBI. We were told the same thing about Universal Credit and that has proved not to be true. The social security system is extremely complex and without detailed modelling setting out exactly how UBI would sit alongside a system of disability benefits sufficient to meet need it is difficult to be confident that it could work in this way without losses. A briefing to Nicola Sturgeon states: “Significant modelling effort would be required to establish levels which did not impact negatively on vulnerable groups.” One key benefit that UBI would most likely replace is ESA yet the rate of ESA for those in the support group is significantly higher than what is considered a feasible UBI level. This brings the prospect of “rough justice” for those who face the most disadvantages. The University of Bath paper presents an idea for a UBI with additional disability and severe disability premiums which when micro-simulated produces strong reductions in inequality and poverty but would be very expensive and require significant increases in income tax. The report authors conclude: “The unavoidable reality is that such schemes either have unacceptable distributional consequences or they simply cost too much.” DPAC members have concerns that the process for proving eligibility for disability premiums could be as problematic as the current system for applying for existing benefits.
  • Not only would running a UBI in parallel to disability benefit systems be complex, there is also the potential danger of increased stigma against those for whom the UBI is insufficient to meet their needs and less public will to fund them.
  • The disability benefits system is not fit for purpose. While proponents of partial UBI schemes propose retaining current disability benefits, disabled people are calling for an urgent overhaul. We are concerned about how the long and complex task of introducing a UBI would impact on the considerable task of reforming social security for disabled people. Attempting to manage both at the same time risks mistakes and as we have seen under welfare reform, where admittedly the many ‘mistakes’ are the result of deliberate ideological policy, mistakes cost lives.
  • Alongside an adequate standard of income, disabled people require other support services in order to enjoy full and equal participation in society. The current crisis in social care is one example of the urgency of the question of how to fund these. If independent living support remains under the administration of local authorities, then in order to end the situation whereby disabled people’s rights are being breached on a daily basis by lack of provision, one obvious solution would be to remove the cap and increase council tax. Increasing council tax alongside an increase in income tax to afford UBI could by very unpopular. Disabled people are calling for independent living support (i.e., social care) to be removed from local authorities and instead administered by a national independent living support system to be paid for out of general taxation. We are concerned that the introduction of UBI funded by increases in income tax will reduce the amount available to fund an independent living support system capable of meeting disabled people’s needs. While many disabled people would be in favour of tax rises to fund welfare provision – particularly corporation tax and a progressive rise in the higher rate of income tax – the use of this for a UBI rather than more traditional forms of disability and unemployment support would mean much of the benefit flowing back to employers rather than those in most need. In functioning as a wage subsidy UBI would act to significantly reduce employers NI contributions. It would be hard to make a case that this is a more progressive solution than simply reversing much of the damage that the Tories have done to current systems.
  • There is also a more general concern about pressures on public spending and negative impacts on social programmes as a result of introducing a UBI. In Hirsch’s paper for the JRF he warns about the need to take account of the fact that income tax is used for public expenditure other than income transfers and the dangers of underestimating the rate of income tax increase required without making cuts in public services.
  • The distributional impacts of a UBI mean that there are winners and there are losers– whereas under the current system the biggest losers tend to be those who face the biggest barriers, eg disabled people and the poorest members of society, some UBI models will benefit low income deciles while increasing inequality for the poorest. This is at odds with what the public generally understand as the aims of a social security system. It also has the potential to divide against each other groups of people who are currently united in our opposition to the rich elite who we see as responsible for growing inequality and poverty.
  • UBI provides a useful contribution to the debate on the future of social security where it adds support and evidence for the need to end conditionality and the impacts of inadequate income and punitive approaches in moving people further from the labour market. However DPAC’s view is that this is the extent of its usefulness.
  • UBI in the wrong hands could be extremely dangerous. Libertarians want to use it to sweep away the welfare state including the NHS while neoliberal governments see it as a way of forcing unemployed workers into insecure low paid jobs. The version of UBI being trialled by Finland’s right-wing government has been described as a “UBI-as-workhouse nightmare”[1]. Ontario Coalition Against Poverty issued a statement supported by Canada’s largest public services trade union saying “The emerging model of basic income reflected in pilot projects and initiatives in a number of countries and jurisdictions is one that would intensify the neoliberal agenda”[2]. John Clarke from OCAP has written ““The neoliberal attack is taking up Basic Income as a weapon. We need to fight it instead of laying down a welcome mat.”
  • UBI compensates for while leaving unchallenged the structures that cause inequality. This is no doubt why Silicon Valley is so much in favour of UBI as a way to tackle the problem of job losses through automation, because it ignores the question of the ownership of the technology. Instead, UBI accepts the status quo. By subsidising low wages there is a danger that UBI could encourage employers to further drive down wages and job security. This is a concern to disabled people who are statistically much more likely to be in low paid work than non-disabled people. A large proportion of politicised disabled people know that capitalism has no reason to accommodate us, in fact the very opposite, and that full disability equality cannot be achieved under the current system. Instead we need a socialist society operating on the principle of from each according to their abilities to each according to their needs.
  • The emancipatory impacts of UBI can only be realised by a level of payment sufficiently high to free us from wage labour. If the conditions were such that we could introduce that, it can be argued that we would then be in a situation where we had arrived at socialism and didn’t need UBI. Introducing a below poverty-line UBI will do little to improve the material circumstances of those who are most in need but would require a big upheaval – bearing in mind that millions are already suffering following the enormous shake up of the social security system introduced since 2010 – while creating a new pattern of winners and losers.
  • Britain is home to the biggest socialist movement in Europe where demands for a living wage, for health and social care support services free at the point of need and a social security system that provides an adequate standard of living free from conditionality are all popular. These are what we need to fight for.

 

 

 

[1] https://www.jacobinmag.com/2017/01/ubi-finland-centre-party-unemployment-jobs

[2] https://ocaptoronto.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/the-neoliberal-danger-of-basic-income/

 Posted by at 20:18
Jan 232018
 

Please respond to the latest Office For Rail and Road consultation on Assisted travel. It is really important that they have as many responses as possible so the strength of public opinion cannot be ignored. That is why it is vital everyone responds as an individual or as a family to say they want staff on stations and trains. With 13.3 million people reporting a disability in 2015/16 we all have friends and relatives who will be discriminated against if there are no staff at stations or on trains. Women too will be much more at risk when traveeling.Below is a suggested response or you can send in whatever you want to say. Please share with friends and family and ask them to respond also.

Just e-mail DPPP@orr.gsi.gov.uk with your name and address by 31 January 2018

Suggested text 

Dear ORR 

Assisted Travel Consultation  

I recently read your consultation document

http://orr.gov.uk/rail/consultations/open-consultations/improving-assisted-travel-consultation

and very much welcome that you state “Our vision is to empower confident use of the railway by all”

As you are no doubt aware there are currently a number of proposals to introduce Driver Only Operation on trains.

I believe that passengers deserve more than just a guaranteed driver on a train and that as a minimum there should be a fully qualified and safety critical Guard, as well as the driver.

I believe it is guards and station staff who are absolutely crucial to ensuring confident safe, secure and accessible rail experience for all, but especially the older, vulnerable or disabled passenger. 

I want to see more not less staff at stations and on trains. It is the staff on the railway who assist passengers and provide invaluable information, help, advice, security, safety and re-assurance. They must be retained at stations and on trains if disabled, older and vulnerable passengers are not going to be discriminated against and are free to travel as and when they want, safe in the knowledge that help is close by and they are not alone on the train.

I hope you will take on board my concerns and ensure that these essential staff are retained so that my family and I can have the same access to rail transport as everybody else, to be able to go where everyone else goes and to do so easily, confidently and safely.

Thanking you in anticipation

Add your name

 Posted by at 14:00
Jan 152018
 

Have you experienced barriers to legal action re your Human rights?

Please let me know If you have ever taken legal action regarding your rights under the Human Rights Act 1998 or if various barriers has prevented you from doing this, such as

The lack of:

·        information about how the Human Rights Act 1998 applies to Deaf and Disabled people

·        information about how to take legal action, including how to find a lawyer

·        legal aid or any other finances

Please send your experience to Henrietta.Doyle@inclusionlondon.org.uk by 22 January.

Your experience will help inform Inclusion London’s evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights ‘Defending Rights: attitudes to enforcement inquiry. Information about the inquiry is below:

‘Scope of the inquiry

The United Kingdom has a proud tradition of respect for human rights.

Those rights are supported by political parties, and such rights have long been an integral part of common law, as well as being enshrined in statute by the Human Rights Act 1998.

However much rights may be recognised and protected within the legal framework, there can be barriers to achieving a culture which understands and respects human rights and practical barriers to those who wish to enforce their legal rights.

In this wide-ranging inquiry, the Joint Committee on Human Rights is calling for evidence on factors which may impede individuals from using the UK’s human rights framework effectively.’ 

 Posted by at 21:33
Jan 132018
 
 

 

 

 

This is from a post sent to us asking us to make people aware of the issues

Brighter Berkshire/Conservatives for Mental Health

I am worried about labour politicians being co-opted into promoting Conservative mental health policy in mental health initiatives that have cross party support. There is metal health awareness campaign in Swindon started by a conservative and is using Conservatives for Mental Health to work under. The women who has started it is calling on people from all parties to work together. http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/15559149.Activist_launches_cross_party_campaign_to_tackle_mental_health_issues/ This is the organisation that she is working with https://www.conservativesformentalhealth.co.uk/

There is a mental health awareness raising campaign called Brighter Berkshire that looks quite similar. It says it has cross party support but to my mind shows conservative bias and has Theresa May on the front page and Richard Benyon, Tory MP for Berkshire is heavily involved. They tweeted support for Richard Benyon in the run up to the General Election. They get involved at about the time they were both talking about new Conservative mental health campaigns.

Looking at this closely it seems there is an emphasis on cutting services and putting pressure on getting people back to work as cheap labour. Here is a link to Brighter Berkshire http://brighterberkshire.com/ Unfortunately a small number of labour politicians have got involved and endorsed the campaigns, one being Matt Rodda MP for Reading East.

I am worried that Brighter Berkshire become a model for mental health awareness campaigns across the country and that they will be used to promote Tory policy and make them look good. So I would be grateful if you could discuss this and address it at a national level and warn labour MP\’s to be careful before attaching themselves to any mental health campaigns to make sure they are not biased campaigns or promote Tory policies.

I have set up a facebook group about this. The founder of Brighter Berkshire is on group. https://www.facebook.com/groups/199827027227205/ Feel free to share it around or join.

 Posted by at 20:57
Dec 082017
 

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

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

Philip Hammond is a prick. We know this, you know this  – everybody knows this. Let’s not encourage him. Assume everything he says is just pure shite. This load of shite is particularly dangerous because it reinforces stereotypes and myths, and enables othering. More dangerously, some people feel empowered to go further than othering and take their frustrations out on people who’ve done nothing but try to live the best lives they can.
Don’t be a prick. Don’t believe or peddle this shite.
And Philip Hammond should fuck off now.
 Posted by at 11:59
Nov 172017
 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Local Events

Local Events

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

 

London

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

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

 

Manchester

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

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

 

Southampton

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

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

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

 

Eastbourne

Public Meeting and Collection:

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

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

 

Swindon

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

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

 

Calderdale

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

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

 

Hastings

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

 

Merseyside

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

 

Milton Keynes

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

 

Fenland

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

Fenland Peoples Assembly

 

Nottingham

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

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

 

Derby

Wednesday 22nd November 5.15pm outside… 6pm inside

Demonstration & Lobby re NHS cuts & STP

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

saveournhsderby@gmail.com

www.facebook.com/SOSNHSDerbyPage

 

North East

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

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

 

Sheffield

5:30pm, Tuesday 21 November, Sheffield Cathedral

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

 

Birmingham

5:00pm, Wednesday 22 November, Waterstones Birmingham

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

 

Bristol

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

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

 

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 Posted by at 17:47
Oct 132017
 

National Disabled People’s Summit

Saturday 4 November 2017; 11am – 4.30pm

NUT headquarters, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, Kings Cross, London WC1H 9BD

Since 2010 Disabled people have been subject to brutal attacks in every area of our lives caused by the disproportionate impact of austerity measures and the dismantling of the welfare system. In August the United Nations disability committee publicly declared that they are now more worried about the UK than any other country in the entire history of the committee and that UK Government “social cuts” have led to “human catastrophe”. This followed publication at the end of last year of the Committee’s investigation into the UK which found evidence of “grave and systematic violations” of Disabled people’s rights due to welfare reform.

Yet the Tory Government continues to deny there is a problem.

This summit will bring together Deaf and Disabled people from the trade union movement, Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations and grassroots campaigns to explore how we can more effectively co-ordinate our resistance and organise joint campaigning in identified areas.

The event will be largely workshop based with the aim of each workshop to come up with and agree a campaigns plan that participants will go away and work together to put into action. The idea of the Summit is to inspire concrete activity that will lead to real change.

Workshops: (choose one per session)

Session 1 – Campaign priorities

  • Independent Living
  • Social security
  • Accessible transport
  • Inclusive education
  • Mental health
  • Employment

Session 2 – Organising

  • Protest and direct action
  • Legal challenges/ using the law
  • Art and protest
  • Using the media
  • Intersectionality
  • Trade union organising

The venue is wheelchair accessible, BSL interpretation will be provided and there will be a quiet room. Lunch will be provided (with thanks to the National Education Union). Please book via: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/national-disabled-peoples-summit-tickets-38706991654

If you are unable to attend in person, we will be livestreaming the plenary. For more information or if you have any access queries please contact: ellen.morrison@inclusionlondon.org.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Posted by at 17:38
Sep 292017
 

Many thanks to Inclusion London for this useful analysis.

The Court of Appeal’s decision in the Davey case: what it means for DDPOs and Disabled people

Luke’s appeal was dismissed.  This is a devastating outcome for him as he won’t only be stuck at home with minimal support he also risks losing his support team, who were with him for 18 years.  The outcome is also disappointing and worrying for other Disabled people, as this case sends a message to local authorities that they can implement whatever cuts they want as long as they follow the right process.

Tracey Lazard interviewed outside the Royal Courts of Justice with a man in the foreground holding a placard reading 'Right2IL'

On the 1st of September the Court of Appeal handed down its judgement in the case of Davey v Oxfordshire County Council.  In this case Luke Davey, who is a former Independent living fund recipient, challenged a 40% cut to his personal budget after the closure of the ILF.

Luke’s appeal was dismissed.  This is a devastating outcome for him as he won’t only be stuck at home with minimal support he also risks losing his support team, who were with him for 18 years.  The outcome is also disappointing and worrying for other Disabled people, as this case sends a message to local authorities that they can implement whatever cuts they want as long as they follow the right process.

To us the case also clearly demonstrated the limits of judicial review in cases where disabled people are trying to argue against professional opinions of social workers.  Judicial review does not look at whether local authority made the right decision or the best decision; it looks at whether or not the decision was lawful.

The decision

The Court of Appeal confirmed that the decision to cut Luke’s personal budget was reached as a result of a lawful process.  Largely the judges agreed with legal analyses and the findings of Mr Justice Morris, who made initial decision in the High Court. Here are some of the most important points:

  • The duty to promote wellbeing in section 1 has 2 aspects: firstly it requires local authorities to take positive steps to promote wellbeing, and secondly it requires local authorities to pay regard to circumstances listed in section 1.3 of the Care Act 2014.
  • The assessment under the Care Act 2014 is an objective assessment, done by social workers of OT’s for local authorities
  • The wishes of the disabled person may be a primary influence, but they do not amount to an overriding consideration.
  • The UN Convention on the rights of Persons with Disabilities can be used to help interpret the law (with caution), however in this case no particular ambiguity was identified and the balance between person’s wishes and LAs views has been struck in the Care Act itself.  However the Court of Appeal acknowledged that this should not prevent from this point being raised in future proceedings.
  • The judge confirmed that the council was entitled to set a pay of PAs at a lower rate as long as it reflected local market conditions and  that the law did not require it to pay for a more expensive option, which was preferred by an individual. The judges were prepared to accept social worker’s view that the rates reflected local market conditions.  This however potentially puts into questions provisions in the Care and Support Guidance which say that local authorities should choose not the cheapest option, but the one that is best value for money.  The guidance clearly says they should go for an option that better promotes wellbeing and delivers the outcomes for an individual.

Our intervention

Inclusion London intervened in this case.  We wanted to show that the case was not just about Luke’s care package.  It could have an impact on many Disabled people.  Our intervention helped to draw media attention to this case and enable us to talk about our right to independent living in mainstream media.  We also believe our intervention helped to clarify the point that local authorities have to consider what might happen in the future when there is an imminent risk of negative consequences as a result of their decisions.

Besides the fact that Luke lost and the impact this will have on his life, the biggest concern in this judgement from our point of view is the statement about intensity of judicial review in social care proceedings.  The Court of Appeal effectively warned against overzealous analyses of social care assessments.  This is worrying, because life changing decisions are made based on those assessments, and unfortunately there is no other way to properly scrutinise them.  This is why we will continue to lobby for the appeals system, which was meant to be introduced by the Care Act 2014.

The fact that local authorities at the end of the day make final decisions about our needs and how we will be supported is not new.  The law has always said this.  However many of us felt disappointed when we saw the judgement.  This firstly is because the case clearly shows that in the age of austerity, when local authorities have to find significant savings, the provisions of the Care Act about choice and control do not have teeth.  It also is disappointing for us to see how our views can so easily be overridden by professional opinions of social workers and local authorities not being properly scrutinised for some of the decisions they make.

This was the first case brought under the wellbeing duty and it clearly demonstrated the limits of this duty.  It is worth bearing in mind though that the case was mainly lost because of factual evidence. (Luke couldn’t prove that his PAs of 18 years would leave and refuse to work for less)

Lessons for DDPOs

This case clearly shows that local authorities can get away with implementing even very significant cuts if they follow the process set out in the Care Act and can give a logical explanation to their decisions as well as commiting to reviewing the situation and stepping in if things go terribly wrong.

It does not mean however the cuts cannot be challenged; we can and should do this.  Here are some of the basic things you could do to increase a chance of success in your case:

  • Know the process well and challenge when it has not been followed;
  • Ask for explanations early on, ideally with references to the law. Although local authority can submit further explanatory evidence it will be difficult to do so if it contradicts what they said before.  For example if they are suggesting a cut to your support package, ask them to explain how this will promote your wellbeing;
  • Think of evidence.  If we want to challenge cuts, the onus is on us to prove the impact.  Just a statement from a disabled person will not always be enough. The judges will most likely accept social workers view, unless it is irrational;
  • Pay attention to the assessment process, prepare and clearly explain what you mean.  Make sure to ask for a correction of all factual mistakes in the assessment document;
  • Challenge decisions: yes this case was not successful, but it cannot and should not deter others from challenging cuts to their support.

We lost this battle, but we will keep fighting.

 Posted by at 20:18
Sep 252017
 

Disabled People Against Cuts and Black Triangle Campaign are horrified to find that so-called Labour MP and Chair of the Work and Pensions Select Committee Frank Field has put forward the suggestion that disabled people do not deserve to earn the living wage and argues that they are less productive than non-disabled people. These comments have been published in a set of essays in Learning and Work.

http://www.learningandwork.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/LW-Opp-for-All-FINAL.pdf

 

“One idea that has been mooted is to grant a specific

exemption to the National Living Wage to those whose

disabilities are deemed so severe that they will never

be capable of enough output to warrant payment of

the minimum wage, but who might nevertheless enjoy

significant wellbeing gains from involvement in an

appropriate workplace environment.”

Mr Field goes on to say that some disabled people might benefit from this as it would make them more attractive to employers in spite of the obvious potential for exploitation this would entail. We have news for Frank we do not wish to be paid less than non-disabled people for the same work and we are not happy to be exploited by anyone.

Both disability groups are calling for Frank Field to resign or be sacked from his role as Chair and have approached Jeremy Corbyn to insist that Field immediately withdraws this highly offensive comment. To date we’ve had no reply but will be following this up again after the Labour Party Conference has ended.

If this is allowed to pass unchecked by the Labour leadership people will then be entitled to ask whether the party really has fundamentally moved on since it introduced the catastrophic Work Capability Assessment regime under the last New Labour Government.

A DPAC spokesperson said “ This is more or less exactly what Lord Freud suggested about 3 years ago but to find the same offensive idea being pedalled by a Labour MP supposedly opposed to the abuse of disabled people’s human rights is somehow even more offensive. Frank Field’s comments are nothing short of disgraceful.”

How can Labour hope to be trusted as true champions of disability rights when they are represented on a key committee by someone with such retrogressive, Victorian views?

John McArdle from Black Triangle said “Field must now be publicly censured by the Labour Party. The suggestion that disabled people’s labour is worth less than that of other people and the Tory-set minimum – let alone a ‘living wage’ – is an affront not only  to the human dignity of every disabled person in the U.K. and is a stark betrayal of the values of fairness and equality upon which the party was founded. “

Labour still has a mountain to climb before it can convince the majority of disabled people and their friends, families and colleagues that they have truly changed. If they wish to convince us that they are now firmly set upon reversing all these barbaric, deadly cuts to our support and intend to fully comply with the spirit and the letter of the UNCRPD then they must act now to impose party discipline on Field in keeping with their stated intention. As stated elsewhere, we require Labour to now wage war with the Tory Party in defence of our human rights in order to win the next general election by the landslide it deserves. Tolerating the views of frontline Labour politicians whose views are more in accord with Tory politicians than ordinary Labour members and supporters is no longer acceptable and that uncompromising message needs to go out, loud and clear.

You can read Frank’s even more offensive response here https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/labour-mp-told-to-quit-influential-post-after-offensive-minimum-wage-call/

And many thanks to John Pring from Disability News Service for alerting us to this.

Please let Frank Field know what you think about this idea

You can email using this contact form http://www.frankfield.co.uk/contact/contact-information.aspx

or tweet to him

@frankfieldteam

 

 

 

 

 Posted by at 15:33
Sep 252017
 

reposted from OCAP and signed up to by DPAC

The Neoliberal Danger of Basic Income

wolfsheep

Statement for endorsement: We have drawn up the following statement on basic income (BI). It makes the case that, progressive hopes to the contrary notwithstanding, BI is being developed as a measure of neoliberal attack that should be opposed. We invite progressive organizations and individuals who hold positions in agencies and academic institutions, who agree with our arguments, to sign onto the statement. We hope that it will raise a voice of opposition and help develop information sharing and forms of co-operation among those, internationally, who reject the notion that basic income represents any kind realistic response to the neoliberal attack.

Endorsements and other responses can be directed to us at ocap@tao.ca.

The Neoliberal Danger of Basic Income

We, the undersigned, are convinced that the emerging model of basic income, reflected in pilot projects and other initiatives in a number of countries and jurisdictions, is one that would intensify the neoliberal agenda. The hope that there is any realistic chance of ensuring a truly adequate, universal payment, that isn’t financed by undermining other vital elements of social provision, is misplaced in our view.

We are far from wanting to suggest that existing systems of income support are anywhere close to adequate.  They provide precarious sub poverty income under conditions that are marked by intrusive regulations and forms of moral policing.  Moreover, decades of neoliberal austerity have made these systems considerably worse.

However wretched and inadequate present systems may be, the assumption that basic income must or even could be an improvement on the status quo has to be tested by considering a number of factors.  Historically, income support has been provided because those in political power concluded that outright abandonment of those not in the workforce would create unacceptably high levels of unrest and social dislocation. In the far from dead tradition of the English Poor Laws, income support has been provided at levels that were low enough to maintain a supply of the worst paid workers, in forms that were as punitive and degrading as possible. Again, the neoliberal years have seen these features intensified in what we must concede has been a highly effective drive to create a climate of desperation and a plentiful supply of low paid and precarious workers.

If austerity driven governments and institutions of global capitalism are today looking favourably at basic income, it’s not because they want to move towards greater equality, reverse the neoliberal impact and enhance workers’ bargaining power. They realize that a regressive model of basic income can be put in place that provides an inadequate, means tested payment to the poorest people outside of the workforce but that is primarily directed to the lowest paid workers. This would be, in effect, a subsidy to employers, paid for out of the tax revenues and it would be financed by cuts to broader public services. Such a model would lend itself to disregarding the particular needs of disabled people and, as a “citizen’s income,” could readily be denied to many immigrants, especially those left undocumented. Under such a system, you would shop through the rubble of the social infrastructure with your meagre basic income. The kind of pilot projects and other initiatives that are emerging offer severe warnings in this regard (we include some links that provide information on several of these)*.

However, some suggest that while regressive models could be developed and may pose a danger, a progressive and even “emancipatory” form of basic income is possible and realistic as a goal. Often, this is linked to the idea of preparing for a “workless future” in which vast numbers of technologically displaced workers can be provided for. The notion is that a universal payment would be provided unconditionally and that it would be adequate enough so that paid work, if it were an option, would be a matter of choice rather than necessity. While there are a few who suggest this could be won through large scale social action, advocates for a progressive basic income more often seem to assume that capitalist support and acceptance by the state can be won by way of a vigorous lobbying effort.

In our view, a truly adequate and redistributive, let aside transformative, basic income is not possible within the confines of the current economic system. Firstly, the present balance of forces in society, after decades of neoliberalism, does not lend itself to the conclusion that a sweeping measure of social reform, that would reverse this whole agenda, is immediately likely. Beyond this, however, an income support system that removed economic coercion in a way that progressive basic income advocates suggest, would be more than turning back the neoliberal tide. It would actually mean that the state was providing the working class with an unlimited strike fund. It would undermine the very basis for the capitalist job market. It would constitute social transformation, a revolutionary change that is, to say the least, beyond the capacity of any possible social policy enactment.

If basic income as emancipation is not possible, it can only too easily take form as neoliberal intensification.  Yet, sadly, progressive advocates end up offering legitimacy to that regressive alternative but placing hopes in musings about basic income by Silicon Valley billionaires or by presenting cynical pilot projects, set up by austerity driven governments, as flawed but important first steps. However much they wish otherwise, the sow’s ear will not become a silk purse.

If faith in a progressive basic income is misplaced, we wish we could offer a shining and readily attainable alternative but this is not possible.  We are largely fighting a defensive struggle against a virulent agenda to undermine social provision and increase the rate of exploitation. We can only offer the hard slog of building stronger inclusive movements of social resistance, rejuvenating unions and building a working class political challenge to neoliberalism. As we do this, we must fight for free, expanded and accessible public services. We must win decent wages and workers’ rights. We must struggle for income support systems that are based on adequacy, full entitlement and that are purged of intrusive rules and moral policing. We must infuse all of these movements and struggles with a sense of a very different kind of society from the capitalist one we are fighting. This doesn’t have the glitter of the dream of a progressive basic income but it does accept that reality that there is no social policy way around neoliberalism or a long and hard fight against it. The progressive welcome mat for basic income is a very big mistake.

*Links:
https://recoveryinthebin.org/2017/06/25/the-neoliberal-writing-on-the-wall-ontarios-basic-income-experiment/

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2017/01/ubi-finland-centre-party-unemployment-jobs/

http://basicincome.org/news/2017/02/16732/

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/universal-basic-income-scotland-week-cash-payment-life-nicola-sturgeon-first-minister-snp-a7934131.html

 

 Posted by at 15:16
Aug 012017
 

 

The Chronic Illness Inclusion Project is a new research project aiming to capture the views, needs and aspirations of people with chronic illness. Sign up to get involved. In the longer term our ambition is to grow into a user-led organisation.

new project aims to give a voice to people with chronic illnesses that get overlooked and misunderstood by the systems that should be supporting us.

The Chronic Illness Inclusion Project is a research project aiming to capture the views, needs and aspirations of people with chronic illness. It is part of the DRILL programme of user-led research and is supported by the Centre for Welfare Reform. You can sign up to find out more and get involved here

As a sufferer of chronic ill health, I fully support the Chronic Illness Inclusion Project. People with chronic ill health are forgotten by governments when designing policies and never mentioned. We are often hidden by the umbrella term of ‘disabled’. The impacts of chronic ill health are wide ranging, from severe fatigue and cognitive problems, to days spent in lots of pain. The effects have a huge impact on the day to day functioning of a person. Many spend long hours unable to sleep or sleeping for long hours out of sheer exhaustion. You really cannot grasp those impacts unless you are affected by chronic illness. It’s not just the physical issues, you have to store that energy up to even have a shower or even go out for the day and plan well in advance, only to spend the next few days paying the price for small bit of enjoyment. It is time our voices were heard too, instead of our voices being alone in the wilderness. It can be very isolating. I urge people to join and support this campaign.”

– Gail Ward, Disability Campaigner DPAC NE/Black Triangle Campaign

We are inviting people to sign up to our mailing list where we can keep you up to date with activities and opportunities to get involved. Currently we’re planning an online discussion forum for people who are interested in having in-depth discussions about the social and political aspects of living with chronic illness. But in the longer term our ambition is to grow into a user-led organisation. How this happens could be up to you!

It will take time because we are two people with chronic illness working very part time hours. But this is a lottery-funded project where numbers count so by joining us you can help to show what a large and overlooked group we are.

Find out more by signing up to the mailing list

Thanks,

Catherine Hale and Jenny Lyus.