Jun 262014
 

Join Sheffield #DPAC outside courts on 7th July

sheffielddpac

A peaceful direct action by disabled people and older people at Sheffield train station against South Yorkshire Transport for revoking free travel from March 31st has been marred once more by aggressive police actions. There have been peaceful direct actions since April.

Sixty protesters took part on 23rd June two were arrested and a blind freedom rider was knocked about falling on top of an activist in a wheelchair. George and Tony who were arrested are in court in Sheffield on 7th July.

Jen Dunstan, of Sheffield Disabled People Against the Cuts, told the Star: “Dozens of elderly and disabled people have been left with bruising. Some have cuts where their skin has broken from being pushed and shoved.

“A placid and calm gentleman was roughly manhandled. I am angry and shocked. The police are meant to protect elderly people.”

A Sheffield Star reporter was also warned to stop filming or he would be arrested under ‘anti terrorism laws’ by railway staff.

The Protesters have the full support of DPAC

Temporary pay pal account for the freedom ride campaign fund. 
Please donate suggested donation of £ 2 if you wish to support and * only * if you can afford it HERE

Support Sheffield DPAC on Facebook HERE

contact: dpacsheffield@gmail.com

See video and you decide what form of justice is being used….

May 172014
 

Work Capability Assessment Judicial Review for Mental Health Claimants Substantial Hearing 7, 8 and 9th July 2014, Royal Courts of Justice, London.

The Mental Health Resistance Network, supported by Disabled People Against Cuts, are holding a vigil at the front entrance of the Royal Courts of Justice on Tuesday, 8th July 2014 at 12 noon to 2 pm to highlight the important issues around this case.

Vigil for the Appeal of the Case in October 2013May 2013 Ruling in favour of MHRN

Two people who claim benefits on mental health grounds initiated a judicial review of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), supported by the Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN). In May 2013, the judges presiding over the case ruled that the WCA places mental health claimants at a “substantial disadvantage” and that the DWP should make “reasonable adjustments” to alleviate this.

Often mental health claimants struggle to provide further medical evidence to support their claim for Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and may not be able to accurately self report how their mental health conditions affect them, either when completing forms or at face to face assessments. Many claimants are wrongly found fit for work and subjected to the stress of appealing the decision.

The claimants who brought the case, DM and MM, asked the court to rule that the DWP should be responsible for obtaining further medical evidence at every stage of the process to improve the chances of a more accurate decision being reached about whether a person is able to work or to start preparing for work and to avoid the need for a face to face assessment in cases where this would be especially distressing for the claimant. In addition, claimants who are at risk of suicide or self harm would be more likely to be identified. In such cases, regulations 29/35 would apply. These regulations are intended to reduce risk of harm but the DWP often fail to identify who they apply to.

The DWP Appeal Fails

The Department of Work and Pensions appealed the judgement. Their appeal arguments were mainly concerned with legal technicalities but in December 2013 the judges issued a ruling that upheld the original judgement in May. The DWP did not launch a second appeal.

Reasonable Adjustments to WCA

Under the Equalities Act of 2010, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions is required to make “reasonable adjustments” to mitigate any disadvantages experienced by disabled people. The forthcoming hearing will be concerned with establishing what adjustments the DWP should make to the WCA process. We already know from the original hearing that they plan to run a pilot study to assess the “reasonableness” of obtaining further medical evidence. We want to ensure that any study will be fair, honest and approached with an open mind. Unfortunately we find it hard to trust that this will happen.

In his witness statement of July 2013 Dr Gunnyeon, Chief Medical Advisor and Director for Health and Well-Being at the DWP wrote, “ESA was designed to be a different benefit from Incapacity Benefit (IB), being a functional assessment rather than a diagnostic one. The face-to-face assessment is a key part of this process as the only truly independent part of the process. Moving away from this would, I believe, be a retrograde step which would seriously undermine the way in which the assessment process has been conceived and designed. It would represent a return to the position in Incapacity Benefit (IB), where claimants were “written off” on the basis of their diagnosis”.

Most people would be amazed to learn that the DWP are fighting tooth and nail against having to consider a person’s actual problems when assessing them for benefits!

Come and Support the Vigil at the Royal Courts of Justice

From 12-2 pm, on the second day of the court case, Tuesday 8th July, 2014, at the front entrance of the Royal Courts of Justice, a vigil will take place to highlight the important issues around this case.Picture taken at the Vigil for the appeal of the case in October 2013

The address is Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand, London WC2A 2LL.

Buses 4,11,15,23,26,76,172 and 341 all stop at the front of the Royal Courts of Justice, 171, 188, 243, 521 and X68 stop at Kingsway and Aldwych Junction nearby.

Nearest underground station is Temple (District Line), Holborn (Central and Piccadilly Line) and Chancery Lane, (Central Line)

Please come and share your stories of how you have been affected by the Work Capability Assessment and support DM and MM, in the fight for justice.

If you can’t make the vigil, show your support on twitter and facebook

If you are unable to make it to the vigil in person, you can show your support on twitter and social media, #wcamentalhealth

Watch out for further announcements about how you can show support on social media

 

The MHRN have been low key about publicising this case. We have been too cautious about declaring that we have been vindicated. As a result, few people know that the WCA has been found by a court of law, involving rulings by a number of senior judges, to be failing mental health claimants so badly.

We believe that it is vital that people do know about this victory. After all, outrageous lies about disabled benefit claimants have been shouted from the rooftops in much of the national press. Yet where have the front page headlines about this victory been? Nowhere! We now want to rectify this by making as much noise as possible about the truth: that the WCA does not fairly assess people with mental health problems and there has been terrible suffering as a result.

Please spread the word about the MHRN/DPAC vigil, and about the court case, far and wide.

 Posted by at 21:22
Apr 162014
 

DPAC Press Release: Top Corrie stars Support Save ILF Campaign

For immediate release: 16 April 2014

Coronation Street stars support the ‘Save the Independent Living Fund’ Postcard Campaign.

Stars of Britain’s longest running soap joined disabled people in their campaign to Save the ILF(1).  The fund which provides support funding to almost 20 000 disabled people is to close in June next year the Government announced last month(2). See Facebook campaign page

save ILF LM
Stars such as Bev Callard, who plays Liz McDonald, former Red Dwarf actor Craig Charles who plays Lloyd Mullaney and Jack P Shepard who plays David Platt ans several other stars posed with oversized postcards produced by campaign organisers who include DPAC(3)  (Disabled People Against Cuts), GMCDP (4)(Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People), Inlusion London(5), Equal Lives(6) and others.

Despite having their original decision to close the fund over-turned at the Court of Appeal late last year(7), the Government has re-announced the closure following a new Equalities Analysis(8) – where officials admit levels of support cannot be maintained and some users may end up having to move into Residential Homes to have their support needs met. Funding will be devolved to Local Authorities for 1 year until 2016(9), but not ring fenced, meaning there is no guarantee the money will be spent providing support for users, or indeed any disability services at all.

DPAC member Paddy Murphy said ‘At an annual cost of just over £350m, this isn’t a hugely expensive fund to run. Users receive an average of just £337 a week to maintain their independence. The Government have admitted some will be forced to move into Residential homes, and others won’t get the level of support they receive now – some none at all. Local Authorities are seeing their budgets decimated, and their largest expenditure is on Adult Social Care, they simply won’t be able to afford to meet people’s needs. Disabled People will once again be forced to pay the highest price to fund the bailouts and rescue plans for the banks, which is the underlying justification for the cuts to public services.’

Editors Notes & contact details here mail@dpac.uk.net

END

1.Http://dpac.uk.net/2014/04/save-the-independent-living-fund-postcard-campaign-saveilf/

2. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/future-of-the-independent-living-fund

3. https://dpac.uk.net/

4.https://gmcdp.com/

5.https://www.inclusionlondon.co.uk/

6.https://www.equallives.org.uk/

7.https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/news/2013/november/commission-welcomes-court-of-appeal-decision-overturning-the-abolition-of-the-independent-living-fun/

8.https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-the-independent-living-fund-equality-analysis

9.https://hadag.org.uk/second-closure-of-independent-living-fund-and-our-analysis-of-the-equality-analysis-by-dwp/

Apr 142014
 

Are you interested in challenging the government’s huge increase in court fees?

We need people eligible for legal aid to get in touch with Karen before the 22nd April

Don’t let them get away with it without challenge!

The fee hike – coming in later this month – will affect people bringing a wide range of civil cases, including consumer claims, family cases, personal injury claims, landlord-tenant disputes, and private discrimination cases. It means that only those with deep enough pockets to afford these expensive new fees will be able to take cases to court to uphold and protect their rights.

If you think you might be eligible for Legal Aid and are interested in acting as a claimant in a judicial review challenge to the new fees then please contact me directly karenpassmore@hotmail.com

With your contact details

Thank you, Karen

 

Apr 042014
 

We’ve had a great response to bookings for the DPAC conference on Sat 12th April in London, but places are now running out. Please email:  dpacfightback@yahoo.co.uk

with your details, number of places needed and any access needs.

12th April 2014 – 11am until 5pm

London Met University, Tower Building, 166 – 220 Holloway Road, London, N7 8DP

Since we started in October 2010 Disabled People Against Cuts has been at the forefront of the fight against austerity. With Atos on the run, and the bedroom tax on the ropes we are seeing the results of hard campaigning. But there is much more to do to ensure disabled people’s rights to live independently and with an adequate income.


The national conference is a chance for DPAC members to come together, to share experiences and discuss your ideas for moving forwards.


DPAC are working hard to bring to conference a surprise guest, a person who, if anyone has, has been the catalyst for the re-emergence of disability activism in the last few years, someone DPAC has enjoyed a close relationship with from visiting him at home to donating underpants to supporting his select committee appearances.


Workshops will look at: –  Where Now for the Independent Living Fund campaign,  – Developing a Social Model of Distress,  – Winning the Argument,  – Disability, Art and Protest,  – Building a National Network of Disabled People’s Organisations and Direct Action practical skills among others.

 Please note places are limited so priority will be given to DPAC members. For information about joining please contact mail@dpac.uk.net

The venue is wheelchair accessible. BSL and a note taker will be provided. For access information go to: https://www.disabledgo.com/access-guide/islington-council/london-metropolitan-university-tower-building

For access queries including booking parking please contact DPACfightback@yahoo.co.uk
To book places or for more information please contact DPACfightback@yahoo.co.uk

 

 

 

Mar 282014
 

NAPO, a member of Justice Alliance are striking on the 31st March and 1st April. London Criminal Courts Solicitors Association and Justice Alliance will join their protest on 1 April 2014. The protest will take place outside Westminster at 2.15 and then march to the MoJ at 3.30 where a birthday card will be delivered to Chris Grayling and we will sing an ‘alternative’ rendition of Happy Birthday.

Happy birthday to you
You want justice for the few
No more justice for the many
Only justice for you

https://www.savelegalaid.co.uk/justicealliance

twitter: @justallianceuk

image justice alliance

Mar 252014
 

Also see How to get your voice heard in Parliament

This new guide takes you through the Parliamentary process and details how Z2K – an organisation providing practical help for vulnerable debtors – tried to influence the outcome of the Welfare Reform Bill so that the legislation took into account the needs of their client group, which may be useful for your members. 

 

Plain English briefings on judicial review reform

 PLP  has developed Plain English briefings on judicial review reform Judicial review is the legal mechanism by which unfair and unlawful decisions made by public bodies can be challenged. Claims can be brought by individuals or groups who are affected by the decision. Examples of the kinds of decisions that may be subject to judicial review are:

  • Decisions by local authorities to close down libraries, hospitals, care homes,  advice centres or disabled people’s services
  • Decisions by the Department of Health to limit the availability of particular types of medical treatment, such as new cancer drugs
  • Decisions by the police or CPS not to investigate or prosecute allegations of domestic abuse, sexual assault or forced marriage

The Public Law Project  has developed plain English briefings about judicial review.  The briefings are available at: https://www.publiclawproject.org.uk/news/36/plp-briefs-parliamentarians-and-csoeys-on-judicial-review-reforms?dm_i=679,2AOUM,C758CV,8BSAZ,1

This work was funded by Trust for London and other independent funders.

More information about the Public Law Project is available at: https://www.publiclawproject.org.uk/

Please share widely.

Mar 142014
 

See below for a template covering letter citing case law that ‘obliges Decision Makers to take into account the relevance of a claimant’s existing DLA award when considering a Work Capability Assessment’

Date

 

 

ATOS Healthcare

SW95 9EB

 

Dear Sir/Madam

Re: M

 

We write on behalf of the above-named person. His authorisation to correspond is attached.

 

We helped M.. complete the enclosed ESA50 form.

 

M….short description

 

He gets highest rate care of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) because of his many care needs. He is also, for obvious reasons, in receipt of the higher rate mobility component of DLA. While we are aware that DLA has a different focus to ESA, case law (JW v SSWP (ESA) [2012] UKUT 256 (AAC)CE/2894/2011)obliges Decision Makers to take into account the relevance of a claimant’s existing DLA award when considering a Work Capability Assessment—there may be sufficient “common ground” for one to provide material evidence in respect of the other.

 

We are concerned that there would be substantial risk to M….s’ health if he were found not to have Limited Capability for Work (Regulation 29 ESA Regs.) or if he were found not to have Limited Capability for Work-Related Activity (Regulation 35 ESA Regs.). And given the level of care he requires, we cannot see what reasonable adjustments any prospective employer or JCPlus Claimant Adviser could put in place to lessen that risk.

 

In light of the above, we would ask that M….. be placed in the Support Group of ESA without having to undergo a Work Capability Assessment.

 

Yours faithfully

 

The use of these regs by doctors and welfare advisors has also been part of a long campaign by our sister group Black Triangle Campaign.

Attached is a piece of case law saying that a physiotherapist opinions re a claimant with mental health problems has no probative value whatsoever.   The reference is at paragraph 22.  

 This case law is very useful to include in ESA applications and WCA appeals so please pass to any Welfare Benefits advocacy/advisors or use yourself.  

This information has been proven to contribute to a high success rate re ESA/WCA

 Case law:SKMBT_C45114031409590

  

 

Feb 202014
 

Bedroom tax appeal judgment

Vigil outside Royal Courts of Justice: 9.15am Friday 21 February

Disabled people and supporters will gather outside the Royal Courts of Justice on Friday morning as the Court of Appeal delivers its judgment in the ‘bedroom tax’ legal challenge.

Under new Housing Benefit rules introduced in 1 April 2013, persons deemed to have 1 spare bedroom have had their housing benefit reduced by 14% and persons deemed to have 2, or more, spare bedrooms have had their housing benefit reduced by 25%. This bedroom tax or ‘removal of spare room subsidy’ as the government prefers to call it, has had a devastating impact with two thirds of those households affected containing a disabled person.

Last year 10 claimants represented by 3 law firms, argued the new rules discriminate against disabled people. In July 2013 the High Court accepted that they are discriminatory, however decided that the discrimination was justified and therefore lawful in cases concerning disabled adults, although not in cases of disabled children unable to share a bedroom because of their impairments.

Lawyers for disabled adults went to the Court of Appeal, arguing that the discriminatory impact of the measure on disabled people cannot be justified and is unlawful. Lawyers for disabled children and their families also appealed the earlier ruling because the Government has failed to provide a date by which it will implement the high court judgment meanwhile despite the judgement families with disabled children who cannot share rooms because of their impairments are still subject to the bedroom tax.

Evidence of the injustice of the bedroom tax is widespread with families falling into arrears and at threat of eviction. A report by the Papworth trust found that 1 in 3 disabled people hit by the bedroom tax have been refused the Discretionary Housing Payment so far and of those, 9 in 10 disabled people are cutting back on food or bills. There has been at least one suicide as a direct consequence of the distress caused by the new Housing Benefit regulations.

Grassroots campaigns have presented consistent opposition to the hated tax. In April last year a group of disabled activists and supporters from DPAC and UKUncut travelled to Iain Duncan Smith’s mansion in Buckinghamshire to present an under-occupation eviction notice and enjoy an uninvited picnic in his extensive grounds. There have been a series of legal rulings highlighting the unfairness of this poorly thought out and unworkable measure.

We say that no one should have to move and the answer is to build more social housing. A legal victory against this rotten policy would highlight how unworkable and unfair the government’s so-called welfare reforms really are.

The vigil has been called by the Anti Bedroom Tax Federation and Disabled People Against Cuts.

The judgment is due to be given in court room 72 at 9.55am.

 

 

Notes for editors

1) Two thirds of the people affected by the bedroom tax nationally (around 420,000 out of 660,000) are disabled people

2) The challenge against the government was brought by 10 families through a three day hearing from 15 to 18 May: https://www.leighday.co.uk/News/2013/May-2013/Bedroom-Tax-Challenge-at-the-High-Court-(1)

3) Aragon Housing published a report on the first 100 days of the bedroom tax that evidences the disproportionate impact on disabled people as many other issues that make it unworkable

4)  In December it emerged that a loophole had been identified whereby anyone receiving Housing Benefit continuously since before 1996 should be exempt and in January the government had to publish official guidance acknowledging this. A recent Upper Tribunal ruling that defined the term ‘bedroom’ using the plain dictionary meaning also implications for implementation of the bedroom tax.

https://www.insidehousing.co.uk/regulation/full-details-of-first-bedroom-tax-tribunal-rulings/6528701.article?PageNo=1&PageSize=50

https://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/housing_benefit_and_local_housing_allowance/changes_to_housing_benefit/bedroom_tax_loophole

https://www.innertemplelibrary.com/2014/01/upper-tribunal-on-bedrooms-nearlylegal/

5) Disabled People Against Cuts is a national campaign led by disabled people, set up to oppose the government’s attacks being carried out in the name of welfare reform. For more information see https://www.dpac.uk.net

6) The Anti-Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Federation is a federation of anti bedroom tax and benefit justice campaigns across England and Wales. We were formed in May 2013 shortly after the launch of the Scotland Anti Bedroom Tax Federation. For more information see: https://www.antibedroomtax.org.uk

 

 

 Posted by at 12:34
Feb 032014
 

We are conducting an investigation into the human impact of food poverty, child poverty, payday loans, and benefit caps. Our research will form a part of a wider investigation organised by Professor of Journalism Paul Bradshaw, who is gathering information from across the UK. Our focus is on people living in Nottingham,  and are looking to bring to light issues confronting those groups who are suffering as a result of economic changes in the past three to four years.


We are looking for people to come forward with experiences particularly of using food banks in Nottingham, especially those who have started using food banks in that last few years. We are also looking for people who are payday loan customers, and who have suffered financial losses as a result of using payday loans. If anybody has also experienced financial difficulties or has felt that they have been left vulnerable following changes to the benefits system, particularly regarding benefit caps, we would very much appreciate them getting in touch.


The questions we ask will be directed at understanding the impact of these circumstances on the daily lives of people in Nottingham, and the strains that they are under with reference to any of the issues stated above. Respondents will be encouraged to speak openly about their experiences, however all responses can be kept anonymous if preferred, and we will not publish any information without the express permission of respondents.

 

Please email editorinchief@impactnottingham.com

Jan 232014
 

Caroline Murphy

22nd January:  This is day three of the Court of Appeal hearing against the bedroom tax. Monday morning began with a vigil outside the Royal Courts of Justice, supported by Disabled People against  Cuts (DPAC)WinVisibleTaxpayers Against Poverty, Camden Association of Street Properties, the Anti Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Federation and others.

The Appeal concerns with discrimination against disabled people, a group disproportionately affected by the bedroom tax. Two thirds of all those hit by this iniquitous tax are disabled. Imagine for a moment that your life depends upon having ready access to cumbersome medical equipment or supplies. If you have the temerity to store them all in a small bedroom … tough. You get taxed. You should have someone living there.

If you’re facing mental health issues, changing your environment, or having personal boundaries invaded can trigger painful symptoms. But if you have that spare bedroom, you have to take in a lodger, or you have to pay the tax. It’s about as conclusive a “lose-lose” you could hope to impose on anyone.

One example given was of a mentally unwell resident whose home was filled with paperwork he had accumulated & stored over years. Was his home in an acceptable state to take in another resident?

Meanwhile, more evidence is emerging about how disabled people are plugging the holes that have opened up in their domestic budgets as a result of the bedroom tax. Personal Independence Payments (PIPs) for adults are intended to be used for specialist care & mobility support. Now they’re going on necessities.

Check out these figures from the National Housing Federation.
In a survey of disabled people denied local authority support to replace the money lost through the bedroom tax, nearly 40% had cut back on specialist mobility transport; over 25% had cut back on medical expenses; and 90% had decreased their spending on food.

Exemption from bedroom tax has been won for disabled children already. Now that exemption should be extended to disabled adults. And then it should be abolished entirely.”

 with thanks to Caroline
https://iamcarolinemurphy.tumblr.com

Caroline is on twitter: @_C_Murphy

Dec 302013
 

As a grassroots campaign group DPAC wouldn’t exist without the dedication of all those who give their time to exposing what is happening: coming out on the streets, writing reports, researching, writing web content and policy critiques, heading up and being part of the growing number of local DPACs, organising events, engaging with social media and a whole set of other stuff that keeps DPAC vibrant, active and strong – its thanks to you that DPAC exists.  DPAC also want to thank the growing number of grassroots groups, individuals, academics, supporters, unions and organisations we’ve worked with in 2013.

2013 began with DPAC being awarded campaign of the year for our work in 2012 the year ends with DPAC being named as ‘people of the year’ by Owen Jones. In 2013 DPAC supported many local based protests on transport, the bedroom tax, ILF, local authority cuts and privatisation. We blocked roads protested against fuel poverty, fracking, the loss of legal aid, the bedroom tax, the closure of ILF and more. We set up Reclaiming our Futures 7 days of action joined by hundreds to celebrate the gains of the disabled peoples’ movement and to protest at the effects of imposed austerity on disabled people. DPAC launched the UK Disabled Peoples’ Manifesto which was followed by an EDM.We also published a number of reports.

There was cause to celebrate: the Government were ruled to have made the decision to close the Independent Living Fund unlawfully. Mental Health Resistance network succeeded in winning both case and appeal by the Government on the discrimination of the WCA. DPAC were approached by the UN prior to Raquel Rolnik’s UK visit to feed-in –her findings on the bedroom tax were devastating for the Government. DPAC led a whole range of events and join events on benefit justice to join together and fight the evils that this Government have imposed. While every protest, every campaign, every new network and every exposure of this Government is a success, we received growing numbers of emails from those left without money, food, homes and suffering cuts to their support.

In 2014 we must continue to fight and take all actions we can to change and expose the devastation this Government is causing to disabled people.

You can subscribe to receive all DPAC web posts or become a DPAC member at www.dpac.net.uk join us on twitter @Dis_PPL_Protest or on Facebook

 Key highlights of DPAC actions from 2013 below….

January

DPAC were awarded campaign of the year (2012) by Lipstick Socialists. They said: The fight back by disabled people as the Con/Dem Govt stripped some of the most ‘vulnerable’ sections of the community of their benefits. Their campaign against Atos (who made the decisions) during the Paralympics was inspiring and they have led the way in the fightback against the Con/Dem Govt. – See more at: https://dpac.uk.net/2013/01/#sthash.tEoKp2ds.dpuf

Co-op Campaign: stop the Atos Contract! Launched to publicise that Co-op were thinking of renewing a three year Atos contract for occupational health-Eventual outcome Co-op publically state they wouldn’t renew the contract with Atos.

DPAC call Vigil on Judicial Review initiated by Mental Health Resistance Network on WCA

Benefit Justice organising meeting by Tenants, DPAC unions and others held in London. We also live streamed London DPAC meeting so that everyone could access it. Annie Howard exposed Atos and DWP in relation to the data protection Act https://dpac.uk.net/2013/01/dwp-and-atos-make-a-mockery-of-the-data-protection-act/ Alan Shellbrooke a Tory MP said he wanted to introduce US style cards for those on benefits. We also linked with Fuel Poverty Action for the first of the 2013 actions on Fuel Poverty. We urged everyone to have their say on the Care Bill and to mention the ILF issues and posted advice on the Bedroom Tax and Discretionary Housing Payments and how to access them ahead of this inhuman misery. Condemn Love anti-Atos song by the excellent Kevin Robbins got it’s first airing

February

Victory for Daniel Roque Hall and Winvisable as Daniel is released from prison. Annie and Bob uncovered The Atos and DWP’s Land of make Believe https://dpac.uk.net/2013/02/atos-and-dwps-land-of-make-believe/

Owen Jones donates some of his prize from young writer of the year (donated by Lord Ashcroft) to DPAC https://dpac.uk.net/2013/02/thank-you-owen-but-we-wont-count-on-the-money-until-lord-ashcroft-puts-it-in-our-account/

We publicised the workfare cases The judgment on cases brought by Cait Reilly and Jamie Wilson mean that all but one of the Government’s workfare schemes (Mandatory Work Activity) that force unemployed people to work unpaid or lose benefits have been deemed unlawful. As we know IDS went off and rewrote the law- See more at: https://dpac.uk.net/2013/02/#sthash.jZLw1k5A.dpuf

We publicised an update on the Bedroom Tax, unfortunately not rewritten by IDS or anyone else. The post by Frank proved to be an unfortunate prediction of what was to come.

On ILF we produced a template letter for MPs and our collected FoIs on what Local authorities responses were to the ILF consultation https://dpac.uk.net/2013/02/what-local-authorities-said-about-the-closure-of-ilf/

Whitehall Traffic was brought to a standstill outside the Dept of Energy and Climate Change https://dpac.uk.net/2013/02/whitehall-road-block-brings-traffic-to-a-standstill-outside-dept-of-energy-climate-change/

Unum were finally nailed on driving Governments’ on welfare cuts https://dpac.uk.net/2013/02/unum-finally-nailed-through-bragging-on-driving-government-thinking/

DPAC and Inclusion London issued a statement on ILF while our National English DPOs remained silent https://dpac.uk.net/2013/02/defend-independent-living-save-the-independent-living-fund/

Annie Howard exposed the myths around the support group and ESA https://dpac.uk.net/2013/02/11-was-never-intended-to-be-the-number-of-people-in-the-support-group-dwp-big-blunder-annie-howard/

Atos and the treatment of mental health users and survivors was further exposed through You Tube, while  Kate Belgrave asked where were the MFCs at Atos – we’re still looking… https://dpac.uk.net/2013/02/harrowing-atos-assessment-and-where-are-the-mental-health-champions/

A letter from Ed Miliband was publicised after it was sent to us by a supporter https://dpac.uk.net/2013/02/letter-from-ed-miliband-on-atoswca-but-is-it-enough/

DPAC joined the campaign against the privatisation at Barnet and the great Crapita takeover https://dpac.uk.net/2013/02/urgent-stop-captia-10-years-plus-contract-for-council-services-in-barnet/

We launched a campaign against Colin Brewer who said that disabled children should be put down – he later resigned, but tried to put himself forward in a subsequent election process. https://dpac.uk.net/2013/02/urgent-stop-captia-10-years-plus-contract-for-council-services-in-barnet/

We published an email from one of our supporters which asked SCOPE what it was doing to save ILF , SCOPE suggested they get in touch with  DPAC https://dpac.uk.net/2013/02/scope-and-ilf/

March

We reposted the excellent Nick on ESA Process in Chaos and the Government cover-up https://dpac.uk.net/2013/03/dwps-esa-process-in-chaos/

As DPAC is on the working group of the European Network on Independent Living (ENIL)  against European austerity and its effect on disabled people we asked you to write to your MEPs to support  a push to get this debated in the European Parliament

March 13th was the court case on ILF in which 5 ILF users took the DWP to court against the proposed closure of ILF in 2015 We stepped up the campaign to publish stories of ILF users and those that would have benefited from ILF if it hadn’t been closed to new users in 2010 by Miller without even a dodgy consultation process. https://dpac.uk.net/independent-living-fund/

 The Benefit Justice Summit co-organised by DPAC in London brought together unions, grassroots groups, lawyers and tenants groups

We publicised news for parents of disabled children in the private rented sector and how they could claim money back from the DWP https://dpac.uk.net/2013/03/urgent-news-for-parents-of-disabled-children-renting-in-private-sector-money-back-from-dwp/

Beth Tichbourne was fined £745 plus costs for saying that David Cameron had ‘blood on his hands’ in an outrage that we should never forget  https://dpac.uk.net/2013/03/bethan-tichborn-cameron-has-blood-on-his-hands5503/

We publish an update on ILF court case with video https://dpac.uk.net/2013/03/ilf-court-case-update-and-implications/

 

DPAC and our sister org Black Triangle issue a joint statement on Labour and Bedroom tax https://dpac.uk.net/2013/03/joint-statement-and-petition-by-dpac-and-black-triangle-anti-defamation-campaign-in-defence-of-disability-rights-on-the-labour-party-campaign-against-the-bedroom-tax/

DWP and Government lies on ILF closure are exposed by DPAC in previously classified papers and memos from the DWP to ministers https://dpac.uk.net/2013/03/summary-of-secret-correspondence-from-the-dwp-to-mcvey-on-the-ilf-closure/

ESA appeals increase by 70% DPAC reposts Nick’s analysis https://dpac.uk.net/2013/03/more-chaos-esa-appeals-up-by-70/

Disability charities consistent apathy for disabled peoples’ lives, but not for their high salaries for directors was highlighted yet again https://dpac.uk.net/2013/03/how-the-big-disability-charities-let-down-disabled-people-again/

DPAC supported local protests and campaigns and also protests against staff cuts on railways and transport protests

April

April was the month that the condemns brought in more of their cuts for ordinary people the hated bedroom tax, the end of council tax support, the benefit cap and more https://dpac.uk.net/2013/04/the-nasty-party-go-on-the-offensive-against-disabled-people/

DPAC and UKUncut served eviction notices on our ‘favourite’ MPs –they had too many bedrooms –a complaint was put into You Tube who were told to remove the videos of IDS’ mansion https://dpac.uk.net/2013/04/eviction-notice-for-ids-and-oh-my-what-a-big-house-you-have/ https://dpac.uk.net/2013/04/ids-home-occupation-videos/

The TUC disabled workers refuse to join the Government sponsored Disability Action Alliance hosted by Disability Rights UK (DRUK) https://dpac.uk.net/2013/04/the-disability-action-alliance-or-whatever-happened-to-the-disability-strategy/

After news that the 5 ILF users that took the DWP to court had lost the case processes began to appeal the decision and still not a word of support from the big Disability charities or the aforementioned DRUK  https://dpac.uk.net/2013/04/claimants-to-appeal-high-court-decision-concerning-closure-of-the-independent-living-fund/

DPAC learns of a man who was arrested and tried in a secret court and jailed due to Atos –DPAC launches a campaign https://dpac.uk.net/2013/04/man-arrested-and-tried-in-a-secret-court-after-atos-assessment-support-needed-in-nottingham/

We also supported and co-organised a number of Benefit Justice summits across the country, supported more protests on transport and privatisation and continued to support the Barnet crisis

May

We supported CSRF in protesting at the |PCS conference and their refusal to refuse to implement benefit sanctions https://dpac.uk.net/2013/05/civil-service-rank-and-file-protest-at-pcs-conference/

We joined with False Economy in the search for the elusive Mental Function Champions at Atos , Dr Greg Wood  quits Atos and turns whistle blower https://dpac.uk.net/2013/05/where-are-the-mental-function-champions-at-atos-and-other-atos-type-things/

DPAC publishes info on Hardship payments and budgeting loans as we get more and more emails from people caught in the poverty and sanction traps set by the DWP –the post has been shared over 36,0000 times  https://dpac.uk.net/2013/05/hardship-paymentsbudgeting-loans-and-short-term-advances/

Black triangle meet with Scottish Government to discuss regulations regarding Atos and GPs https://dpac.uk.net/2013/05/esa-regulations-25-and-31-campaign-black-triangle-to-meet-with-scottish-parliament-welfare-reform-committee-chief-this-thursday/

The Mental Health Resistance Network win against Government on WCA , but spectra of legal aid cuts is raised too https://dpac.uk.net/2013/05/will-legal-victory-by-mhrn-against-atos-tests-be-our-last-we-need-to-act-now/

DPAC and the TUC disabled workers block Tottenham Court Road in an act of solidarity https://dpac.uk.net/2013/05/dpac-and-tuc-members-in-direct-action-of-solidarity/

DPAC publishes a critique of UKIP https://dpac.uk.net/2013/05/why-the-rise-of-ukip-is-dangerous-for-disabled-people/

DPAC’s own Ellen Clifford talks to real fare https://dpac.uk.net/2013/05/ellen-clifford-talks-to-real-fare-on-welfare-reform-and-protest/

June

June 1st marked a day of UK wide protests against the bedroom tax attended by DPAC

DPAC publishes stats by Nick that show the huge hike in sanctions under the Coalition  https://dpac.uk.net/2013/06/jsa-benefit-sanctions-sky-rocket-under-coalition/

DPAC holds a Birthday party protest for ILF https://dpac.uk.net/2013/06/press-release-independent-living-fund-birthday-protest/

The fight against the Bedroom tax continues with protests and new groups springing up and supporting each other across the country https://dpac.uk.net/2013/06/updates-the-fight-against-the-bedroom-tax/

DPAC publishes Lies, Damn IDS and Statistics  https://dpac.uk.net/2013/06/lies-damn-ids-and-statistics/

July

DPAC releases its program for 7 days of action, campaigns and protest: Reclaiming Our Futures https://dpac.uk.net/2013/07/reclaiming-our-futures-7-days-of-action/

DPAC joins protest at Downing Street against the bedroom tax

DPAC joins Justice Alliance to protest against cuts to legal aid

DPAC joins vigil for case against bedroom tax outside the Royal Courts of Justice

DPAC posts a list of advice and legal resources as emails from people in severe hardship escalates further https://dpac.uk.net/2013/07/advice-and-legal-resources/

Sisters of Frida go to Geneva to challenge the situation for disabled women at the UN https://dpac.uk.net/tag/sisters-of-frida/

We list the MPs that voted against a cumulative impact assessment https://dpac.uk.net/2013/07/for-fellow-extremists-everywhere-how-your-mp-voted-on-the-cumulative-impact-assessment/

Southwark DPAC challenge local politicians https://dpac.uk.net/2013/07/sdpac-challenge-local-politicians/

Government Issues ministerial statement on Atos https://dpac.uk.net/2013/07/government-issues-ministerial-statement-over-atos/

Bromley/Croydon DPAC join UKUncuts Stuff the Banks https://dpac.uk.net/2013/07/bromleycroydon-dpac-stuff-the-banks-update/

DPAC takes part in the anti-fracking protests at Balcombe where Caroline Lucas is arrested

August

Updates for Reclaiming Our Futures 7 days of Action https://dpac.uk.net/2013/08/reclaiming-our-futures-29th-aug-4th-sept-updates/

UK Disabled peoples’ Manifesto launched https://www.inclusionlondon.co.uk/UK%20Disabled%20peoples%20Reclaiming%20Our%20Futures%20Manifesto

John McDonnell puts forward an Early Day motion on the UK Disabled Peoples’ Manifesto put together by DPAC, Inclusion London, ALLFIE and Equal Lives Norfolk

Early Day Motion 483: Disabled People’s Manifesto
That this House warmly welcomes the launch of the UK Disabled People’s Manifesto, Reclaiming our Futures, developed by disabled people and their organisations across the UK, which sets out the shared vision of disabled people for an inclusive and equal society free from economic, social and cultural barriers; and urges all political parties represented in this House to engage in a constructive dialogue with the disabled people’s organisations promoting the manifesto with the aim of achieving its objectives. – See more at: https://dpac.uk.net/2013/09/early-day-motion-483-disabled-peoples-manifesto/#sthash.VWGXvrlo.dpuf

 

DPAC are asked by UN to assist Raquel Rolnik UN Special Rapporteur on Housing prior to her visit to the UK . The visit and her findings that the bedroom tax is regressive and unfair cause Tory ministers to say she should sort her own country out, she is a Marxist and produce other ridiculous statements in the right wing media https://dpac.uk.net/2013/09/un-investigator-recommends-for-bedroom-tax-to-be-scrapped-immediately/

DPAC block the front entrance of BBC for non reporting of the true situation in the UK under welfare cuts as part of the Reclaiming Our Futures 7 days of action https://www.katebelgrave.com/2013/09/disabled-people-against-cuts-block-front-entrance-of-bbc-portland-place/

DPAC host art exhibition and night of entertainment, plus a day debate on the continued relevance of the Social Model with Anne Rae, Colin Barnes and Debbie Jolly

The Brilliant Kate Belgrave writes on protests and Government Extremism, protests are held outside the DWP, the Department for Education, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Health before moving on to Parliament to host the launch of the UK Disabled People Manifesto: ‘reclaiming our Futures on the UK Freedom Drive day part of the Reclaiming Our Futures week of action

https://dpac.uk.net/2013/09/protests-and-government-extremism-kate-belgrave/

 

DPAC posts UK Freedom Drive film by Reel News https://dpac.uk.net/2013/09/uk-freedom-drive-the-film/

 

See also https://dpac.uk.net/2013/09/dpacrof-4th-september-highlights/

 

 

September

 

DPAC works with Just Fair on Independent Living Issues ahead of a planned visit by the UN special rapporteur on disability https://dpac.uk.net/2013/09/dpac-works-with-just-fair-on-independent-living-issues/

We publish George Berger from Sweden report on Atos, KPMG and the NHS https://dpac.uk.net/2013/09/atos-kpmg-and-the-nhs-be-afraid-be-very-afraid/

DPAC launches a new report on the WCA https://dpac.uk.net/2013/09/dpac-report-work-capability-assessment/

Two of the DPAC co-founders go to Strasbourg to join the European Network on Independent Living for the 6th ENIL Freedom Drive to march to the European Parliament and tackle MEPs. Debbie Jolly is elected to serve another term on the ENIL Board and presents on behalf of DPAC on protest and what is happening in the UK under imposed austerity https://www.enil.eu/campaigns/freedom-drive/

DPAC co-organises with Wow Petition for 10,000 Cuts Memorial for those that have died through Atos and in solidarity with all suffering under Cameron’s regime of imposed austerity https://dpac.uk.net/2013/09/10k-cuts-and-counting-video/ see also https://dpac.uk.net/2013/09/10000-cuts-and-counting-linda-burnip/

Dr Alison Wilde discusses the Paralympic Legacy https://dpac.uk.net/2013/09/paralympic-legacy-but-which-one/

DPAC supports the Ontario Coalition against Poverty who Government want to follow the lead of the UK in denying people their entitlements https://dpac.uk.net/2013/09/call-out-to-support-ontario-coalition-against-poverty/

October

IDS found misleading again https://dpac.uk.net/2013/10/ids-found-misleading-again/

DPAC and Black Triangle consider legal action against GPs who refuse to provide evidence for disabled people and those with long term health issues https://dpac.uk.net/2013/10/legal-action-has-your-gp-refused-to-provide-further-medial-evidence-for-your-dwp-appeal/

Anita Bellows write another stunning piece exposing the bedroom tax https://dpac.uk.net/2013/10/bedroom-tax-the-policy-which-could-only-succeed-if-it-failed-anita-bellows/

DPAC organises vigil for Mental Health Resistance WCA case appeal by DWP https://dpac.uk.net/2013/10/vigil-for-wca-case-support-mental-health-resistance-network-21st-october/

DPAC joins UKUncut to protest to save Justice

DPAC join in protests against staff cuts on London Tubes https://dpac.uk.net/2013/10/boriss-latest-attacks-against-accessibility-and-safety-on-london-transport/ also see https://dpac.uk.net/2013/10/unions-unite-with-campaigners-on-tube-and-station-cuts/

DPAC publicises Punishing Poverty a report on Sanctions by Manchester CAB https://dpac.uk.net/2013/10/sanctions-punishing-poverty-new-report-by-cab/

DPAC publishes info on mandatory reconsideration https://dpac.uk.net/2013/10/some-information-on-mandatory-reconsideration-in-force-from-october-28th-2013/

UK Disability history month kicks off https://dpac.uk.net/2013/10/uk-disability-history-month-launch-event/

November

ILF users win appeal, Government say they won’t fight decision –a success but we wait for the Government next moves https://dpac.uk.net/2013/11/gov-will-not-appeal-court-ruling-on-closure-of-ilf/

https://dpac.uk.net/2013/11/victory-for-independent-living-rights-in-english-appeal-court/

DPAC reposts the critique of the Henwood and Hudson report as some in the disability field still claim that ILF should close https://dpac.uk.net/2013/11/why-the-henwood-and-hudson-report-failed-in-justifying-the-closure-of-the-independent-living-fund/

DPAC ask members and supporters to write to Penning on ILF https://dpac.uk.net/2013/11/write-a-message-to-penning/

Anita Bellows asks why Litchfield as ‘independent’ assessor of the WCA when he was involved in its design https://dpac.uk.net/2013/11/dwp-tactics-ask-litchfield-designer-of-the-wca-to-review-it-anita-bellows/

DPAC publishes info on fuel poverty as we receive more emails from people without heating or electricity due to sanctions and welfare cuts https://dpac.uk.net/2013/11/fuel-poverty/

Independent Living rights News is published on DPAC https://dpac.uk.net/2013/11/independent-living-rights-news-17-november-2013/

https://dpac.uk.net/2013/11/independent-living-rights-news-edition-2/

Paddy Murphy writes on the apparent idiocy of DECC https://dpac.uk.net/2013/11/disabled-people-and-fuel-poverty-what-does-decc-know-anyway/

DPAC attends the bedroom tax lobby at Parliament https://dpac.uk.net/2013/11/report-on-the-bedroom-tax-lobby-meeting-westminster-tuesday-12th-november-2013/

DPAC , Fuel Poverty Action and the London Pensioners are joined by hundreds on the streets to protest at unacceptable fuel poverty and deaths while the energy companies continue to make huge profits https://dpac.uk.net/2013/11/hundreds-protest-at-big-six-energy-companies-over-fuel-poverty-deaths/

https://dpac.uk.net/2013/11/npower-protest-against-31000-fuel-poverty-deaths-this-year/

DPAC supports ALLFIE’s campaign on no return to segregated education https://dpac.uk.net/2013/11/no-return-to-segregrated-education-please-sign/

DPAC and Inclusion London hear heartbreaking testimonies from disabled people affected by the cuts. We send them to the special rapporteur on disability.

DPAC and Inclusion London hold an Emergency  lobby at Parliament on Independent living to launch the DPAC report on Independent Living https://dpac.uk.net/2013/11/independent-living-and-the-cumulative-impact-of-cuts-from-the-streets-to-the-commons/

Mary Laver and ILF user film on life without ILF is posted https://dpac.uk.net/2013/11/an-important-request-on-ilf-from-mary-laver/

The Disability Crime Network write to the attorney General on disability hate crimes  https://dpac.uk.net/2013/11/disability-hate-crime-network-letter-to-attorney-general/

December

Anne Novis writes on hate crime https://dpac.uk.net/2013/12/a-life-less-valid-when-is-a-hate-crime-not-a-hate-crime-by-anne-novis-mbe/

Belgium vote yes on euthanasia for minors now accepted as law https://dpac.uk.net/2013/12/belgium-vote-yes-on-euthanasia-for-minors/

DPAC urges members and supporters to join Boycott Workfare in online action against workfare https://dpac.uk.net/2013/12/take-online-action-against-the-workfare-conference/

We publicise Habinteg’s report on the effect of the bedroom tax on independent living  https://dpac.uk.net/2013/12/what-price-independent-lives-a-new-report-on-bedroom-tax/

Government lose appeal against decision that WCA discrimates against those with mental health issues.  The Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN) who instigated the case against the WCA celebrate another victory. MHRN a grassroots group were later joined by the charities, but without MHRN the case would not have got to the courts. https://dpac.uk.net/2013/12/victory-against-wca/

DPAC joins Boycott Workfare in targeting companies replacing paid work with workfare https://dpac.uk.net/2013/12/target-the-companies-replacing-paid-work-with-workfare/

DPAC support ALLFIE’s call for action https://dpac.uk.net/2013/12/educate-dont-segregate-allfies-call-for-action-on-the-10th-december-1pm/

We publicise Equal Lives’ video on how the cuts effect at the local level https://dpac.uk.net/2013/12/our-lives-equal-lives-norfolk-and-the-cuts/

DPAC posts video by Colin Barnes on the importance of the social model by UCU https://dpac.uk.net/2013/12/interview-with-colin-barnes-what-are-the-origins-of-the-social-model-of-disability-and-why-is-it-so-important-to-equal-rights-campaigners/

DPAC attends open meeting with Mike Penning https://dpac.uk.net/2013/12/feedback-from-todays-meeting-with-mike-penning/

DPAC publicises the case of Anthony  Kletzander’s  treatment in Ireland at the hands of ‘professionals’ as he is denied basic rights https://dpac.uk.net/2013/12/update-anthony-kletzander-needs-your-help/

Owen Jones names DPAC as one of his ‘person of the year’ choices for 2013 https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/who-is-your-person-of-the-year-9018337.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dec 042013
 

The Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN) who instigated the case against the WCA celebrate another  victory. MHRN a grassroots group were later joined by the charities, but without MHRN the case would not have been brought. Full press release below…

Government appeal against Work Capability Assessment discrimination ruling is rejected

 

The Court of Appeal today (4 December 2013) rejected the Government’s appeal against a landmark ruling by the Upper Tribunal that the Work Capability Assessment discriminates against people with mental health problems.

 

During a four day hearing in January 2013, the Upper Tribunal heard evidence from the 2 disabled claimants, from mental health charities, Mind, Rethink Mental Illness and the National Autistic Society, as well as from the Government about the operation of the Work Capability Assessment[1], and the experience of people with mental health problems going through the process. In May 2013, having weighed the evidence, the tribunal concluded[2] that the process substantially disadvantaged those with mental health problems[3]. This was for two main reasons: first because the application process and the face to face interview can be particularly distressing and confusing for those with mental health problems; and second because of the great difficulty that many with mental health problems have in explaining their condition, which increases the risk that the benefit will be wrongly refused.

 

To remedy this disadvantage, the claimants, supported by the mental health charities and by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, argued that where ESA applicants have mental health problems, the DWP should consider obtaining medical evidence from the claimant’s doctor or psychiatric team at every stage of the process, and if a decision was taken by Atos or the DWP not to ask for medical evidence, this would have to be justified at each stage. This approach followed a recommendation made in November 2012 by Professor Malcolm Harrington, an independent reviewer of the process appointed by the Government.

 

The Government refused to implement this adjustment because it argued that the system did not discriminate against people with mental health problems. As stated above, the tribunal disagreed. It ruled that the adjustment to the process recommended by Professor Harrington might be a reasonable response to the “substantial disadvantage” it had found, and urged the Government to carry out a trial to see if obtaining further medical evidence earlier in the process would make the process better for people with mental health problems. Once the new process was trialled, the tribunal asked the Government to return to court for a hearing about whether – in light of the trial – the adjustment was reasonably necessary.

 

Instead of accepting the tribunal’s findings, and conducting an urgent trial, the Government appealed to the Court of Appeal against the tribunal’s finding of “substantial disadvantage”. It also argued that the two claimants did not have the right to bring the case because they themselves had not been adversely affected. Today the Court of Appeal rejected the Government’s arguments on both these points. In giving the main judgment of the court, Lord Justice Elias stated that:

 

“the Tribunal identified various ways in which [Further Medical Evidence] would assist [people] with a range of mental disabilities, and in my judgment there was sufficient evidence to justify the conclusion that [mental health patients] were placed, as a group, at more than a trivial disadvantage”.

 

The claimants solicitor, Ravi Low-Beer of the Public Law Project, stated:

 

“It is regrettable that the Government chose to appeal against the tribunal’s finding that people with mental health problems are disadvantaged by the current system, rather than take the steps necessary to improve it. Now that the Court of Appeal has upheld the tribunal’s finding, we sincerely hope that the Government will take immediate steps to improve the system. Disabled people, charities and many others are only asking the Government to implement the recommendation of the independent expert the Government itself appointed. This has been delayed since May 2013 while the Government appealed. It should not be delayed further.”

 

For further information contact Ravi Low-Beer on r.lowbeer@publiclawproject.org.uk or 020 7843 1264.



[1] The WCA is a face to face interview conducted by healthcare professionals employed by a private company, Atos Healthcare to assess eligibility for Employment and Support Allowance. Approximately 28,000 ESA claims (some 11,000 from existing Incapacity Benefit claimants, and some 17,000 from new ESA claimants) are made each week, around 40% of them by applicants who suffer from mental health problems. The speed and quality of the Work Capability Assessment interviews and the decisions resulting from them have been consistently criticised by disabled people.

Nov 292013
 

Please write to your MP urgently, asking them to save the Independent Living Fund which exists to help disabled people who need the highest levels of support. You can contact your MP easily through this website: www.writetothem.com.

Below is a message and links to a video from Mary, who is directly affected by welfare cuts. At the end of this email is a template you can use when writing to your MP.

Dear friends,
I’m writing to let you know about an emergency that is happening to disabled people in the UK right now as you read this email.

Some of Britain’s most disabled people – including me – are facing losing our right to living independent lives. The Independent Living Fund is a pot of money that helps disabled people who need the highest levels of support to do more than just exist.

But David Cameron’s government has already closed the ILF to new applicants – and now he wants to stop it for the group of 18,500 people who already receive it.

That will mean people like me will end up sitting alone looking out of the window for most of the day unable to even go to the toilet. Until now, despite being severely disabled by rheumatoid arthritis and unable to walk or use my hands or arms, I’ve been able to live a fulfilling life. In 2012 I was a Gamesmaker, and I carried the Olympic torch. Now, I will be imprisoned at home, and will even have to give up my beloved dogs Jack and Molly.

At 66 years old, severely disabled, and totally human and wheelchair dependent, I have found myself looking at the deep pond at the bottom of my garden, no longer wanting to live. My weight has dropped down from 9 stone to 6 stone.

But I didn’t want to just sit around feeling sorry for myself, so I asked campaigners to make a film about me. The trailer is right here. But you can also watch the whole 15 minute film by going to https://vimeo.com/79330726

You can read my full story by going to www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/ros-wynne-jones-column-mary-laver-2855221

It’s not just the ILF the whole of social care provision is in crisis. Sooner or later this will affect most of you if you become disabled or when you get older.

Disabled people are also under attack from the Bedroom Tax, from the flawed Work Capability Assessment process and ATOS’ reviled tests, from the abolition of Disability Living Allowance,from cuts to council tax benefit and Benefit Caps.

We wonder what we’ve done to deserve it. We aren’t the ones who caused the banking crisis. But it seems as if we are the ones who are paying for it.

We wanted you to know what’s happening to disabled people under ‘Austerity’, because we thought if you did you’d want to campaign with us about it.

If you do, please write to your MP urgently, asking them to save the ILF. You can send them a letter at the House of Commons, or email them via www.theyworkforyou.com.

And please forward this email to everyone you know.

Mary Laver

You could use this as a template:

Dear MP,
The government has already been found guilty of illegally deciding to close the Independent Living Fund and now have to remake their decision. I believe that closing this fund would violate the human rights of disabled people who have the highest support needs to live independently in the community. Closure of the ILF would not only force disabled people back into residential care homes but also cause the UK to breach its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

I urge you to watch this video, which gives a very real idea of how important this fund is, and to do everything you can to save this vital fund: https://vimeo.com/79330726

Nov 282013
 

It’s been a busy few days for DPAC gathering evidence on the cumulative impact of cuts on disabled people, and on the crisis in independent living.  On the 25th we heard moving and powerful testimonies of how the Government are ruining lives through their austerity regime. Disabled people are faced with a range of cuts and so called ‘reforms’ which are contravening our basic human rights. We are faced with stark choices between eating or heating while having our dignity stripped by a range of psychological attacks at the same time as having support removed.

 Testimonies will be sent to the UN rapporteur on disability-thanks to everybody who came to London to tell their stories and to those that submitted their experiences through email. This event was originally arranged by Just Fair, however due to the rapporteur being unable to come to the UK due to illness DPAC and Inclusion London stepped in to run this at the last minute, so we could get these important stories out to the UN.

On the 26th the morning saw a hugely successful protest on fuel poverty organised by DPAC, Fuel Poverty Action, the Greater London Pensioners and UKUncut: ‘Bring down the Big Six – Fuel Poverty Kills!’ against the increase in fuel poverty deaths and increasing profits and prices of the big 6. Supporting groups included No Dash for Gas, Campaign Against Climate Change, Climate Revolution, Young Friends of the Earth, Frack Off London, Power for the People, Barnet Alliance for Public Services, Lewes Against the Cuts, SOAS Energy & Climate Change Society and Southwest Against Nuclear. There were also protests in Oxford, Lewes and Bristol.

In the afternoon of the 26th the Emergency meeting on the crisis in independent living took place at parliament hosted by DPAC and Inclusion London.  An event originally planned by Just Fair to launch their report to the UN rapporteur which DPAC and Inclusion London stepped in to run with a new focus on the crisis in independent living.  This was in response to the successful appeal outcome at the courts on the Independent Living Fund-and the continuing awareness of the crisis for ILF users, those trying to access local authority support and the Government’s apparent non-compliance with article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The afternoon launched DPAC’s report on the crisis in independent living and cumulative impacts of the cuts, one of many that DPAC is working on, as well as the film by Mary Laver an ILF user. The afternoon was complimented by speeches from John Evans and reflection on the past battles for independent living.  We heard from the brilliant Louise Whitfield (one of the solicitors in the ILF case) and were treated to an excellent DPAC theatre performance which brought to life the reality of impacts on disabled people and the different barriers we face.

Despite extremely short notice the event was well attended by MPs and those from the Lords. Kate Green , Hywell Williams, Katy Clarke, Anne Begg, John McDonnell, Jim Shannon, Andy Slaughter, Baroness  Campbell, Baroness Wilkins  and a host of others including Mary Laver’s MP.  Apologies were sent from Anne McGuire, Caroline Lucas, Lucy Powell, Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa Pierce

Mike Penning ‘our’ new minister for disability was invited but did not respond or send apologies!

Many thanks to all that attended, supported and worked so hard towards the afternoon-especially the many DPAC members and supporters that wrote to their MPs and publicised this. Some may ask why English national formal disability organisations with much more money and resources than us aren’t putting their energies into these types of activities all the time- we don’t have any answers or understanding on that.

We will have a more detailed report on the Emergency meeting on the Crisis in Independent Living event in Parliament with film and photos soon

Download DPAC report Crisis in Disabled People’s Independent Living 

See Mary Laver’s film on ILF View the movie

kljxr

Nov 082013
 

Breaking news: the claimants in the ILF case have heard that the Government will not be appealing the decision taken by the courts on Wednesday to quash the closure of the Independent living Fund. All processes related to the closure e.g transition interviews for ILF users have been halted.

We all owe a great debt of gratitude to the five ILF users that took this to the courts and the solicitors and barristers who worked tirelessly, as well as all those involved in the research processes, and in supporting this. It has proved that disabled people can and will fight back, it has proved that disabled people can win.

DPAC want to thank all that supported this . We want to say to those organisations that didn’t , or claimed nothing would change, if you do not fight back now at a time of massive and savage cuts maybe its unlikely that you ever will, in which case you can no longer speak in the name of disabled people-there is one voice and that is the voice of people at the grass roots who appear to be fighting everything without you.

DPAC is proud to have supported and worked with the ILF case since it began, and we will continue to work against the cuts and abuse of human rights by this Government and any other through every means possible

for more on the case see: https://dpac.uk.net/2013/11/appeal-court-quash-decision-to-close-indepdent-living-fund/

 

 

Nov 062013
 
This morning the Appeal Court in London unanimously quashed the Government’s decision to close the Independent Living Fund on the grounds that it breached the Public Sector Equality Duty.
Although this ruling is a very positive development, one victory does not win a war! Solicitors Louise Whitfield, Diane Astin and Kate Whittaker and barrister David Wolfe QC have given us this opportunity through their commitment and tireless work, helped by the intervention of the EHRC and the hard work of a small group of claimants, ILF users and activists.

It is now up to the Disabled People’s Movement to intensify its campaign to save the Independent Living Fund and defend independent living rights with the support of the PCS union and all those opposed to closure

Well done to all those who have worked tirelessly for this victory.
We hope that those Disabled Peoples’ Organisations that stayed silent will now join us in this fight for disabled peoples’ rights to independent living
Transcript of case: bit.ly/18YYYW0
The fantastic Kate Belgrave who has supported this and many other DPAC campaigns throughout, this  includes a video and features footage of Inclusion London who have done the same:

https://www.katebelgrave.com/?p=6150

 

 BBC News link: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-2483455

A curious piece by Patrick Butler with quotes from a large disability Charity and Jane Young for no apparent reason we can think of -we asked if Mr Butler would like to talk to any people actually involved in supporting the past three years of the ILF campaign. He responded to tell us the ‘onus’ was on DPAC to get in touch with him and apparently not on him to contact us….

 

Nov 012013
 

We have just heard that the judgement on the ILF case will be made on Wednesday morning (6 November) at 9.45 am in court 63.  We will not know the decision until then

Our ILF solicitors are advising people that it would be good to be at the Royal courts of Justice on Wednesday for the judgement .  They are contacting the press and will be putting together a press release to hand out on Wednesday morning.  The hearing will only last a couple of minutes as there will be no legal submissions, just the court staff handing over the written judgment and someone reading out the court order.

We appreciate this is really short notice and that many of you will not be able to get to court but if you can that will be great!

We will be giving more info out on Monday.

 Posted by at 17:36
Oct 202013
 

As many of you know the DWP are appealing against the decision that the WCA is detrimental to those with mental health issues. DPAC wants to be there to support the Mental Health Resistance Network who originally won the case

The vigil will happen outside the front entrance, Royal Courts of Justice (The Strand, London, WC2A 2LL) on Monday 21st October at 12 noon until 2 pm.

The appeal will be heard in courtroom 72 Royal Courts of Justice, the case starts at 10.30 am.  

The WCA is detrimental to everyone, but the obvious added stress, anxiety and lack of Atos professionalism in gaining supporting evidence is particularly severe for those with mental health issues.

This system is breaking and we must keep up the pressure for the inhumane WCA to be scrapped completely, as DPAC has always argued.

Please check www.tfl.gov.uk for more travel information 

Accessible toilets around the royal courts:

–         There is an accessible toilet outside Embankment tube station and inside Charing Cross station.

–         There are toilets opposite the Royal Courts but these are not accessible

–         There are also accessible toilets inside the Royal Courts themselves – see page 10 of this booklet: https://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/courts/rcj/facilities-and-access/Facilitiesservicesleaflet2011.pdf

 

 

Oct 142013
 

15th October

ILF judgement will be given ‘soon’ 4-6 weeks.

Big thanks to the 5 brilliant disabled people who took the case, to the solicitors who have done a fantisitic job, and all that supported this- this is about all our futures and its not over yet…

14th October

It was never made clear if we have been given permission or not for the appeal to go ahead (had that confirmed by our solicitors!) But they are letting our barrister go through our arguments and have scheduled our side to finish off tomorrow morning and DWP barrister to present from twelve tomorrow.

The judgment could be not giving us permission to appeal or it could be to uphold our appeal or to dismiss it. …

As you may have seen from tweets, judges’ comments did bring up the whole issue of the courts not being there to micro manage government policy and really questioning our barrister about what evidence there is that the minister did not have due regard (it doesn’t matter that the outcome of the policy is to the detriment of disabled people, what matters for the case is proving she didn’t have all the information when she made the decision).

Our solicitors are pleased so many people being present there today as made a very good impact having so many disabled people in court so many many thanks to those who came.

On to day two…

Solidarity all.

with thanks to Ellen

Oct 072013
 

As all of you will no doubt be aware, Black Triangle and our sister organisation Disabled People Against Cuts have assembled a first-class legal team to take forward legal action against Local Medical Committees and individual GPs who have launched a disgraceful ‘Just Say No’ to providing Further Medical Evidence Campaign.

This campaign seeks to persuade GPs to deny sick and/or disabled patients the Further Medical Evidence (FME) required to support their ESA applications and achieve justice before First-Tier Social Security Appeals Tribunals.

We have already identified a number of cases with “standing”.

Our law requires that the party, or parties bringing a case before the courts must demonstrate:

“sufficient interest in the matter to which the application relates”

i.e.

“an individual who is directly affected by a decision or other measure” who will on that basis have a “sufficient interest”.

In our case, this means anyone who has requested FME from their GP to support their case with the DWP and has been refused (Their refusal to provide FME is the matter to which our legal action relates).

We now invite as many of you as possible who have been refused FME under this policy to make contact with us immediately so we can progress our case further, in the most legally watertight manner achievable, without further delay.

Sick and/or disabled people deserve and have an absolute right to expect better than this from our medical professionals.

The LMCs ‘Just Say No’ Campaign is a a disgraceful betrayal of patients by LMCs from across Britain.

It is, quite frankly, mercenary behaviour that is both morally repugnant and, as we shall fully demonstrate, unlawful.

We are going to put a stop to it.

In the initial stage, please text John McArdle at 07778316875 with ‘Refused FME by my GP’ in the line. We will then phone you back to discuss your case and take it from there. Alternatively you can email us at mail@dpac.uk.net

Yours in solidarity

John McArdle

Co-Founder

Black Triangle Campaign

 

 Posted by at 17:59
Sep 172013
 

On the 14th October, five ILF users will appeal against the previous court decision that the ILF consultation was carried out fairly at the Royal Courts of Justice. DPAC will be there again and, again have a vigil outside the courts to show support-we will update with further details as they become available.

The initial court case showed that the funds for ILF when transferred to local authorities will cover just one year, something that local authorities did not appear to be made aware of by this Government. A write up from those documents can be found here: https://dpac.uk.net/2013/03/summary-of-secret-correspondence-from-the-dwp-to-mcvey-on-the-ilf-closure/

In the meantime you might like to see some of the stories from those at risk of losing the support to independent living at https://dpac.uk.net/independent-living-fund/