Jun 042013
 

Riot police wielding batons beat and dragged disabled workers in the Egyptian provincial town of Zagazig last week. Hundreds of disabled people who are employed by the Education Department in Sharqiyya province on poverty pay are continuing their sit-in on the steps of the local government buildings despite the attack.

 

Umran al-Khalifa, a law graduate who works as a teacher said: “The sit-in is because we have only temporary contracts. The government of Kamal al-Ganzouri made a decision in 2011 to offer disabled employees like us permanent jobs across the country, but the new local governor has refused to implement the decision.” Umran believes that the change of policy reflects the priorities of the new administration in Cairo. He added “the deputy told me, ‘if you join our party, I’ll make sure you get a permanent job.”

 

Between 100 and 250 disabled workers are taking part in the protest, sleeping out in tents on the steps of the governors’ offices. 

 

The riot police moved in to try and end the sit-in late last week, another activist, Fatima Musa Halim added. “We were just sitting there peacefully when we were attacked. Some thugs came and broke things and said we caused the damage. Then the Central Security Forces troops hit me and they dragged us away from the sit-in. We can’t survive on our wages, as prices are so high, but we are paid only 70 Egyptian pounds a month (7 UK pounds)

 

Mohammed, an administrator in the Sharqiyya Education department, sums up the mood of many on the sit-in: “I want to put the Minister of the Interior to trial for what the police did to us.” He also says he is frustrated and angry with the official representatives of disabled people, who have done nothing to help him and his colleagues in the fight for basic dignity. “The head of the National Council for People with Special Needs should resign. We have no confidence in this organisation.” 

 

Six of the protesters began a hunger strike on Sunday. Mahmud Manazm and Samah Attiyya spoke to reporters by phone from inside the governor’s office. “There are six of us inside,” said Mahmud. “Some of us have heart disease, some high blood pressure. We want the world to know that the Egyptian police attacked disabled people, beat them on the head and dragged them in the street.” 

 

“No one is listening to us” added Samah, “There is no freedom and no democracy here.” 

 

Youth activists from Zagazig’s revolutionary groups, including the Revolutionary Socialists, Egyptian Democratic Party, the Popular Socialist Alliance and the Constitution Party visited the sit-in with messages of support and food. Revolutionary activists were also planning to bring some of the protesters to Cairo for a press conference to get their message out to a wider audience. 

 DPAC have sent a message of support and solidarity to the workers

 

Jun 032013
 

As more and more people are finding that they go from hours to minutes of support from their local authorities, as ILF users are threatened with being passed into a local authority system that cannot serve the aims of independent living, and as independent living is becoming more of a mirage every day, despite article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons (UNCRPD) – we look at Angela’s story. Angela contacted DPAC several months ago when it was clear that her local authority were carrying out practices that appeared to be against protocol -legal representation was found. However, this could not stop the real threats to the reduction of Angela’s support or to her right to independent living:

Angela’s Story
I’m 28 years old – but if they take away my social care it’ll be the end of my life.

I’m disabled but I want to enjoy life the way any other young woman can.  I have two volunteer jobs.

 Now they’re threatening to take this support away – leaving me isolated at home, forcing me to go to bed at 9.30 every night, not even able to go to the toilet.

I did a degree in psychology and criminal behaviour. It was interesting but nothing like CSI! During one of the seminars, I met a representative from Headway, the spinal brain injury charity and I’ve been volunteering there for the last two and a half years. I won Luton’s Volunteer of the Year Award last year.

I’m constantly looking for paid work. I don’t sit around watching TV, I never have, I don’t believe in that. I would love to get a paid job. I have tried. I’ve been for interviews for customer services and as a support worker. Even though we are supposed to have equal opportunities, people still look at my wheelchair.

I was hit by a car when I was two. I have a spinal brain injury which has affected my left side. I can’t walk because I have no balance, so I use an electric chair.

When I turned 18, Social Services helped me find a place to live and be independent. Social care gave me total freedom to get up, go to bed, go to the toilet and settle into my new home and life. With decent social care I’ve been able to do whatever I want. I can go out and enjoy life the way any other young woman can. I have two volunteer jobs, and I can go shopping and see my friends.

Suddenly, out of the blue recently they’ve tried to cut my care from 20 hours a day down to three. I was shocked, upset and angry. I tried to negotiate with the woman at the Council and was told “life’s not perfect for anyone”.  I don’t expect it to be perfect – I want to have a life like any young woman.

I’d have no freedom. I’d have to be in bed at 9.30pm and get up at 7.30am, with no way to go to the toilet in the night either. My carer wouldn’t have time to cook me fresh food (microwaved horsemeat lasagne here I come!).

Imagine living this life for the next 50 years. If I was stuck with that forever, I would give up and lose my passion for living. I would find a way to end my life.

What I’m asking for isn’t unreasonable. I just want flexibility and freedom and a little support. I’m not asking for the world. But I do want dignity and I do want freedom. If I wasn’t in this wheelchair I would have those things, so why shouldn’t I.

What’s worse is it isn’t just me. It isn’t just about reducing how much support people get. They’re taking away all support for some disabled people. Every disabled person who needs support should get it – this is about the basic dignity and freedom to live our lives.

The government has what they call a spending review coming up – it’s when George Osborne decides: How will he spend our money? What do we care about as a country?

Will you sign the petition I’ve started and send George Osborne a message loud and clear that we want adequate support for disabled people to live independently?    They spent more than a billion pounds just on the Olympics village where the athletes stayed last year, surely they can put at least that much into social support for us? We only have a few weeks!
Angela Murray

Petition: http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/george-osborne-save-social-care-let-me-and-all-disabled-people-live-with-freedom-and-dignity

Please sign the petition and write to us at mail@dpac.uk.net with your stories. We are also looking for stories from people who were stopped from applying for Independent Living Fund support in 2010 when the Coalition closed it to new applicants.

This is not just about ‘care’ it is about independent living, the right to independent living and support for all. It is about the UK breaking its own signed commitment to the UNCRPD. It is about the impact on real lives like Angela’s. It is fundamentally wrong!

DPAC is continually gathering evidence of the impacts of the cuts, their effects on independent living and quality of life for disabled people and those with long term health issues. Unlike some other organisations we are keen to bring this Government to task through every route we can, including the legal system.

 

 

May 282013
 

When I received the initial phone call, from the DWP, I was hopeful that my health would be assessed fairly. I knew nothing of Atos.

I was told that during the process, I would lose no money. That was the first inaccuracy of many to come.

I returned the completed health questionnaire and waited.

Soon after I was summoned to attend a medical assessment at Wolverhampton, to be conducted by a ‘health care professional’ (HCP). This turned out to be the strangest medical I’ve ever gone through. I was asked to squeeze the HCPs fingers; I was asked to squat, and was told that I could use the wall as balance if necessary.

What possible relevance could these exercises hold?

The HCP spent more time looking at the computer monitor than she did in eye to eye contact.

The assessment eventually ended and I left, with a feeling of impending doom.

When I received the decision from the DWP, I was a little shocked, I must be honest. I knew that I could not carry out constant functions over a period of hours. I knew how my symptoms displayed themselves.

I sought help at my local CAB centre and almost at once I felt a sense of relief that I was not on my own.

The CAB advisor spent over twice the time the HCP had done and she came up with a report which clearly explained how my health affected my ability to carry out day to day functions.

There was nothing so profound in the DWP report.

My first appeal, to the DWP, failed as was expected, and I was advised to appeal to the first tier tribunal.

I also contacted my MP, Valerie VAZ, who wrote to the DWP, arguing that the assessment had failed to consider the degenerative nature of my condition, and was therefore flawed.

Soon after I received a phone call from a Decision Maker (DM) at the DWP who, after running through the assessment findings, offered another assessment.

Subsequent I received a new date with Atos.

This was in June 2012.

Between then and May 2013 I attended a handful of appointments, all of which were either cancelled by Atos due to my falling poorly during an assessment or for some administrative reason, such as computer problems.

On one occasion I was conveyed from the assessment centre to the local AE dept., when my BP & Pulse Rate were exceedingly high, and I was experiencing chest pains.

I spent the rest of that day hooked up to a variety of machines in the hospital.

Days later I received another Atos appt., this time for 0900…there was no chance I could make an appt. so early in the morning.

They should have been aware of this. It’s mentioned in my medical notes.

These frequent journeys were taking their toll on my health. My GP was so concerned that he wrote to Atos, explaining and sharing these concerns.

The Atos response was to change my AC venue from Wolverhampton to Birmingham, which is further to travel, and to approve a taxi, for collection and drop off at the attendance centre (AC). I already had a lift too the AC. travel was NOT the issue.

Atos had, for whatever reason, misread or misunderstood the nature of the letter from my GP.

The next appt. was the first taxi journey to the new venue, Birmingham, and my appt. was for 1:15pm.

I rang Atos at 12:30 just to confirm the taxi was booked, and was told it was.

13:15 came and went with no taxi.

The taxi arrived at about 13:25, which meant I was already late.

I arrived at 1355. Almost 45 minutes late.

To add insult to injury, I had pre-arranged to meet my welfare advice rep. at Birmingham. He was not happy either.

Understandable really.

More complaints were submitted to Atos.

This time they responded, eventually, with the offer of a home assessment.

Great news? No!

By the time if my tribunal I had still received no appt. for the Atos doctor to attend my home for the assessment.

My appeal was heard by the First Tier Tribunal and I was successful.

As good as this news is, it must not be seen as a way out for Atos. They caused considerable stress and aggravated my medical conditions for over a year with the catalogue of errors conducted by their staff. Pure and simple.

This would not be tolerated in any walk of life, so why should Atos be permitted to behave in this manner?

Something needs to be done.

I am hopeful that someone reading this will be in a position to offer some advice and support.

I am very sorry for those who are still fighting Atos.

I understand how they feel and I hope that something can be done to help them.

Thank you for reading this.

If any journalists would like to follow up this story please contact mail@dpac.uk.net

May 222013
 

DPAC Logo 3 amendment 1 (Small)On the day of the success of the ruling against the WCA-Activists from DPAC and disabled workers attending the TUC Disabled Workers Conference have blocked Tottenham Court Road in an unprecedented act of solidarity.

 This Government has repeatedly used the language of division, trying to divide workers and claimants, public and private sectors workers, non-disabled and disabled people. Today we strike back as one, united voice.

 The Cuts imposed by the ConDem Government under the cloak of ‘Austerity’ impact on disabled people in every area of life. The scrapping of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and the Independent Living Fund (ILF) will tens of thousands of disabled workers, and will force many of them out of their jobs. Hundreds of thousands of disabled people both receive and deliver public services as workers in Public Service Departments, Local Authorities and the Voluntary Sector. ILF and DLA play critical roles in maintaining people in these jobs. The 1% uplift limit on Benefits, Universal Credit and the Bedroom Tax will impact on many disabled people both in and out of work.

 The removal of many of our basic rights affect not just disabled people, but all of us. For example, the removal of Legal Aid for medical negligence claims comes at the same time as every single contract within the Health Service is open to tender by private companies. This has serious and significant implications for each and every one of us who make up the 99%.

 But not everyone is being hit by austerity. While multi-nationals like Atos and Capita make fortunes, tax avoidance and evasion to the tune of tens of billions goes uncollected. The wealthiest 1000 UK residents increased their wealth by some 35 billion last year while disabled people and the poorest members of society were pushed into poverty and despair as the targets of brutal cuts.

 Disabled activists have led the fightback against this Government since the beginning, and today disabled activists and workers lead the way again in the first joint, co-ordinated direct action by campaigners and unions on the streets of the U.K.

 Shabnam O Saughnessy from DPAC said: “We are delighted to be joined on the streets today by our union comrades. This represents the first steps towards uniting resistance from communities and workplaces. It dispels the myth of disabled people as scroungers and workshy. We are not some separate group of others, we are your friends and neighbours, we work alongside you. Many millions of disabled people are being affected by cuts, and today is about getting our voices heard.”

 Sean McGovern, co-chair of the TUC disabled workers committee said: “Trade unionists would like to send a clear message to this government that trade unions, workers and grass roots disabled groups stand together against the onslaught of vicious cuts rained down upon us by the Condems.”

DPAC and disabled workers from the TUC conference block Tottenham Court Road 22nd May

Notes

1)    Disabled People Against Cuts is a national campaign led by disabled people to oppose the attacks on disabled people being carried out under austerity. www.dpac.co.uk

 

2)    The 2013 TUC Disabled Workers’ Conference takes place on 22-23 May. The TUC Disabled Workers committee recently rejected an invitation to join the government’s new Disability Action Alliance on the grounds that involvement would restrict the TUC’s ability to campaign against government policies that are affecting disabled people.

 For more information contact Ellen Clifford on 07505144371 or ellenrclifford@btinternet.com

For updates see twitter: @Dis_PPL_Protest

and Disabled People against Cuts Face book Group

We previously incorrectly attributed a quote to  Mandy Hudson that was said by Sean McGovern. This has now been corrected after we were alerted to this by Sean (26th May)

May 052013
 

Herald View

THE misery that the UK welfare reforms have caused disabled people has been highlighted often by this paper.

But that makes the cases cited by doctors today in the Sunday Herald no less shocking. They are proof this system has failed.

There is the patient with schizophrenia who believed he was the Messiah, yet was declared fit to work. There is the man who suffered a stroke and had lung cancer but was too scared to go to hospital in case he missed a benefits appointment, fearing he would be at risk of losing his money.

There are examples of patients with mental health problems left so distraught at being told they are fit to work they have become suicidal.

This is not a system, this is a cruel disgrace. These examples hardly fit with the picture painted by the Westminster government of the “workshy” living it up at the taxpayer’s expense.

While Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith preaches of tackling welfare dependency, it is doctors who are witnessing the impact of his “reforms”.

This is placing a burden on the NHS – a situation which is expected to get worse as more welfare changes are introduced.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Health Secretary Alex Neil have warned there is an “intolerable strain” on care services and urged Duncan Smith to ensure there is a “fair, equitable” process that gets decisions right first time. This must be introduced to ensure benefit claimants and the NHS do not continue to be the victims of a flawed system.

The Herald Scotland

See also

Leading doctors protest at ‘cruel’ disability assessments ~ Letter Posted on May 5, 2013 

Leading doctors protest at ‘cruel’ disability tribunals Posted on May 5, 2013

Welfare reforms not fit to work ~ Leading doctors protest at ‘cruel’ disability tests Posted on May 5, 2013

with thanks to Black Triangle

 

Mar 112013
 

 

DPAC Logo 3 amendment 1 (Small) IL logo

 

VIGIL TO SAVE THE INDEPENDENT LIVING FUND

AND OUR RIGHT TO INDEPENDENT LIVING

March 13th 2013 – from 12.30pm

Outside front entrance Royal Courts of Justice, the Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Speakers: Linda Burnip (DPAC co-founder), Tracey Lazard, (CEO Inclusion London)

Writers/performers Sophie Partridge and Penny Pepper to read from their new script highlighting the impact of the ILF closure

Six disabled people who receive support funded by the Independent Living Fund (ILF) will take on the DWP in the High Court on 13th and 14th March to challenge the government consultation which proposed to close it.

The ILF was set up in 1988 to support disabled people with the highest levels of support need to live in the community. Since then it has helped thousands to live active and full lives.

The government decision to close the Independent Living Fund and instead devolve responsibility to local authorities follows a consultation that disabled people claim is unlawful.

Whereas support received through the ILF has transformed thousands of lives, local authorities are not able to provide the same level or range of support through their current systems. With central funding to local authorities being cut this can only get worse.

Join us to show support and solidarity to those disabled people taking the legal challenge on an issue that is importance to everyone who cares about social justice and the rights of disabled people to live independently, equally and with dignity.

Speakers will include Linda Burnip, co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts, Tracey Lazard, Chief executive of Inclusion London and many disabled people who are personally affected by the closure of the Independent Living Fund. Writer/performers and ILF users Sophie Partridge and Penny Pepper will read from their new script developed to highlight the importance of the Fund.

You can listen to how this vicious attack will affect disabled people at these links:

http://www.dpac.uk.net/2013/02/a-nasty-cut-people-affected-by-the-closure-of-the-independent-l5142/

For more information about the vigil contact: mail@dpac.uk.net

Attached information about the location of the High Courts and about accessible toilets in the area.

 Map courts

 Royal Courts of Justice

Strand,

London WC2A 2LL

 Travel: the tube stations around the Royal Courts are not accessible (nearest accessible tubes are Westminster and London Bridge and both are a bus journey away).

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: http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/courts/rcj/facilities-and-access/Facilitiesservicesleaflet2011.pdf

Jan 262013
 

Frances Ryan of the New Statesman is asking for disabled people’s experiences/fears/thoughts stories on the bedroom tax. Please send your stories direct to Frances at frances.ryan18@btinternet.com also on twitter @frances__ryan

Also please see http://www.dpac.uk.net/2013/01/bedroom-tax-and-discretionary-housing-payments/ for possible help

Nov 102012
 

Seventy- six percent of those going through the WCA were entitled to ESA support after appeal figures were taken into account. This obviously does not include who did not have the energy to go through yet another appeal, or those included in the 73 deaths and suicides per week happening as a result of the WCA regime. We expect the percentage would be even higher without the misery and death surrounding this constantly criticised regime imposed by the Government of millionaires. We ask when the media will start producing the correct after appeal figures and we call on MPs to take these into account and help smash the myths around this process which still leaves disabled people without income, suicidal, dead and on the verge of homelessness. If this was happening in any other country this Government would denounce it and call for an urgent inquiry – why are disabled people in the UK still enduring this process?

The real results!

What the DWP don’t want
you to know

The following percentages reflect the monthly figures for claimants who were awarded their Employment & Support Allowance upon ‘conversion’ from Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance and Incapacity ‘credits’ for incapacity. They are taken from the data table sets released by the DWP on the 6th November 2012 (see above) relating to the first statistical release of figures since the National roll out of the reassessment programme after the Aberdeen & Burnley pilots conducted from October 2010.

These figures are a far cry from the grossly distorted media headlines
depicting ‘75% of incapacity claimants as faking their illnesses’

They also raise concern over claims made by the DWP Press Office yesterday that the numbers being declared entitled to their benefits after reassessment was 64%. Their figure of 64% was arrived at by averaging the 3 months from December 2011 – February 2012, you can see from the figures below that they chose the three months which provided them with the lowest award percentages.

The DWP will of course know how these figures will increase even further once statistical information is added for appeals dealt with by Tribunals which have yet to be confirmed by statistical data releases from Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS). The figures are adjusted to take account of appeals; some of which will be resolved by the DWP at the reconsideration stage whereas others will be subject to appeals to tribunals for which the data has yet to be added.

Below are figures for claimants who previously claimed incapacity benefits but were then placed in either the ‘Work Related Activity’ or ‘Support’ Groups in Employment & Support Allowance once their awards had been converted – they make interesting reading:


* 76% – Mar-11

* 71% – Apr-11

* 67% – May-11

* 66% – Jun-11

* 69% – Jul-11

* 68% – Aug-11

* 67% – Sep-11

* 67% – Oct-11

* 66% – Nov-11

* 64% – Dec-11

* 64% – Jan-12

* 65% – Feb-12

Will the media now apologise for their

“75% faking it” claims?

The figures were compiled by Nick at My Legal. You can read more at

http://mylegal.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=display&board=frontline&thread=789&page=1#2325#ixzz2BmJ8ZN2G

 DPAC are once again grateful to Nick for allowing us to share this and urge you to support him at http://mylegal.proboards.com/index.cgi

 

   

 

Oct 212012
 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nILPstGiigI&feature=share 

http://bambuser.com/v/3077474
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fYbqtrhBuU 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VS646g6yqfk&feature=youtu.be 

http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/2012/10/21/video-tuc-a-future-that-works-marble-arch-and-park-lane-traffic-blockade-by-disabled-people/?utm_source 

http://www.itv.com/news/update/2012-10-20/disabled-protesters-bring-london-to-s-standstill/

http://libcom.org/blog/what-october-20-tells-us-about-state-movement-21102012 

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.4778642389217.191551.1390352675&type=1 

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/david-cameron-is-clueless-ed-miliband-joins-austerity-protesters-in-london-8219204.html 

http://soundcloud.com/mattieu-varnham/dpac-in-blockade-send-strong 

https://twitter.com/donnachadelong/status/259684038716030976/photo/1 

https://twitter.com/jamesvarnham/status/259664424112095233/photo/1 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/68488342@N02/8108048736/

 

http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2012/10/21/marching-is-not-enough-boycott-workfare-and-dpac-show-the-way/#comment-13305

 Posted by at 15:28
Sep 012012
 

from livestreams of the day with Bambuser

The Closing ATOS ceremony DPAC UKUNCUT from Small Axe Films on Vimeo.

 Disability protesters clash with police
Report by Sam Datta-Paulin (ITN video)

Atos protest: Disability rights groups target firm BBC News London (video)

Channel 5 news: Atos Closing Ceremony

Jun 192012
 
Next national day of action..

CELEBRATE NHS 64th BIRTHDAY
BY ORGANISING TO KEEP VIRGIN OUT OF IT!
SATURDAY 30 JUNE
After 64 years of the NHS its very future is threatened by privatisation now the Health & Social Care Act is law.
Richard Branson’s Virgin is one of the companies looking to make massive profits by taking over more and more of our health service.
We are asking you to celebrate the NHS 64th birthday by telling Virgin to keep out of it!
We said our last action when we picketed and closed Virgin stores and gyms was just the start
Send Branson and Lansley a message that we are not going to let the NHS be destroyed this year or any other.
Local groups are asked to pick a Virgin store or Gym and organise a protest.
Let us know when and where.
POSTERS / LEAFLETS/ BALOONS/ MASKS
If you want leaflet, posters, Richard Branson masks or balloons we can help if you email us at londonkeepournhspublic@gmail.com

WHERE TO FIND YOUR VIRGIN STORE
Virgin media store locator: http://shop.virginmedia.com/store-locator.html

Virgin Active club finder: http://www.virginactive.co.uk/en/club-finder

THE ACTION LAST TIME
Virgin media stores were closed and picketed round the country.

IS VIRGIN COMING TO A HOSPITAL OR CLINIC NEAR YOU?
Before the new Health Act is even in force, Richard Branson’s Virgin Care is already taking over whole parts of our health services. They already run:

* £500million contract for community health services in South West and North West Surrey
* Sexual Health Service for Milton Keynes
* Dermatology service in the Isle of Wight
* Shortlisted as potential providers of integrated children’s services in Devon

RICHARD BRANSON AND DAVID CAMERON 
“You scratch my back – I’ll scratch yours”
It is not surprising “Virgin Care” is doing well out of the NHS.

Just before the 2010 election Richard Branson was photographed supporting David Cameron’s election bid. A month later he bought loss-making Assura private health company for the knock down price of £4m, saying Virgin had been waiting to find “the right entry point” into the health market. That put Virgin in pole position to have influence in the government’s new commissioning arrangements. A year later Virgin was the private health company with most links on the shadow commissioning boards.

BRANSON DOESN’T LIKE CRITICISM – SO LET’S GIVE HIM MORE!
Branson obviously doesn’t like bad publicity. An article appeared in the Telegraph mildly critical of Virgin’s takeover of NHS services. Virgin tried to stop the publication applying for a high court injunction. So lets get as much publicity as possible for the way Virgin aims to make profits out of the NHS.

May 252012
 

 Deadline for signatures: 30th May 5pm-releasing to press day after

Posted on Social Welfare Union

 Dear Sir/Madam,

 We the undersigned are deeply angered and concerned with the way sick and disabled people are being portrayed by the press and wider media as well as the distinct lack of fair and accurate reporting in relation to disability benefits.

The use of defamatory language is being used in a totally irresponsible and callous manner by a steadily increasing number of newspapers and other media providers.

We believe that the press and the wider media are blatantly using this language as a means of labelling all disabled benefit claimants as ‘cheats’ and ‘scroungers’, yet most are genuine sick and disabled people who are in many instances unable to work and are asking for only the very basic levels of support.

Such support is in no way over generous as some newspapers are claiming with administrative error and miscalculations at 0.5%. In fact disability benefits like Disability Living Allowance have some of the lowest levels of fraud of all forms of social security benefits and it is estimated that billions remain unclaimed in benefits every year. A significant fact that news provider’s and even the coalition government are neglecting to inform the public.

We also believe that whilst many claimants are now being found fit for work through the use of new assessment processes, most often the press and wider media are shirking in their responsibility to report from both sides and about the large number of sick and disabled people who are being wrongfully found fit for work and who are later having those decisions overturned in their favour by a social security tribunal. They also fail to report on people found ‘fit for work’ by Atos Healthcare, the private health firm contracted to carry out work capability assessments on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions. Those people then find that they cannot claim Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) because they are ‘unfit for work’ as deemed by the JSA qualifying criteria. These people often have to rely upon handouts and food parcels and become lost statistics unseen by the public.

The signatories of this letter are greatly concerned that the way the press and wider media are portraying sick and disabled people will continue to fuel a growing hatred and discrimination, adding to increasing reports of hate crime towards disabled people and the potential for suicides already being reported by some news providers.

Whilst we support the democratic idea of a free and open press we feel that they have a moral and social duty. We ask that they refrain from the use of language and/or defamatory terms which is fuelling the growing and unjust public hate and disdain of sick and disabled people and benefit claimants. We also ask that they honour and obligate to report all stories related to disability and disability benefits in a manner that best informs their readers and viewers which is balanced, accurate and fair.

To add your signatures go to: Social Welfare Union

Disabled Peoples’ organisations support saving Remploy Jobs: letter published in print and online versions of Guardian

 Action, All Posts, Disability Rights, media, News, Politics, Welfare reforms  Comments Off on Disabled Peoples’ organisations support saving Remploy Jobs: letter published in print and online versions of Guardian
May 112012
 

Please see below for published letter in Guardian put together by Inclusion London, DPAC and allies including unions. The final letter needed to be shortened for publication, as a result we apologise to any signatories who may have missed as the Guardian also insisted on individual names representing each organisation. The text of the original full letter with our recommendations can be seen at: http://www.dpac.uk.net/2012/04/sign-up-to-support-the-remploy-workers/

The strength and number of signatories that were published makes a mockery of the assertion in the Sayce report that 100% of disabled organisations support the closure of Remploy factories- this is simply not true!

DPAC, Inclusion London, listed organisations, unions and individuals will continue to support the Remploy workers against the loss of their jobs and will not be taken in by the spurious ‘disability inclusion’ argument being used to advocate more disabled people losing their jobs in a time of economic disaster for disabled people.

Please help support the Remploy workers by leaving comments to the letter at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/may/10/disabled-works-fight-remploy-jobs

Disabled workers fight to save Remploy factory job

Thursday 10 May 2012 21.00 BST

As a group of disabled people’s organisations, run by and for disabled people, we – together with other individuals and organisations – believe the government’s decision to make 1,518 disabled workers unemployed by August, and a further 1,282 unemployed next year, by closing the Remploy factories is wrong (Report, 12 April). We do not believe these job losses constitute a victory for inclusion in the workplace. We have fought long and hard for an inclusive society where disabled people have the same employment chances, choices and opportunities as everyone else. Our goal and demand for inclusive employment must not be used to justify job cuts that will push these workers into poverty, exclusion and isolation.

This decision will effectively put these disabled workers on the scrap–heap at a time of recession when there is little to no hope of finding alternative employment, when eligibility for benefits is being slashed, and when support services for disabled people are being destroyed.

True equality and inclusion will be achieved through development of a plan of investment and support to transform the Remploy factories into viable social enterprises controlled by disabled employees, rather than their closure; investment to increase and expand the access to work scheme; investment in high-quality employment support services that enable disabled people to find employment and stay in employment; the right to inclusive education and accessible training and apprenticeships for all disabled people; and commitment to tackle discrimination in the workplace through better understanding and enforcement of Equality Act duties.
Deaf and disabled people’s organisations and groups:
Tracey Lazard CEO, Inclusion London, Linda Burnip Disabled People Against Cuts, Bill Scott Manager, Inclusion Scotland, Rahel Geffen Interim CEO, Disability Action in Islington, Lucy Byrne CEO, Richmond AID, Michelle Baharier CEO, Cooltan Arts, Caroline Nelson Director, Choice in Hackney, Roy Benjamin Chair, Merton Centre for Independent Living, Mark Harrison CEO, Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People, Alan Kerr CEO, Artsline, Dr Ju Gosling Chair, Regard, Rosemary Nicholson Visually Impaired in Camden, David Stock CEO, Southwark Disablement Association, Joanne Munn Director, Greenwich Association of Disabled People, Pat Bhabha Director, Disability Action Waltham Forest, Sharon Schaffer London Visual Impairment Forum, Mary Hick deafPLUS, Caroline Jones Chair, Norfolk Association of Disabled LGBT People, Ellen Clifford Bromley Experts by Experience CIC, Gill Goble Brighton DPAC, Andy Greene Islington DPAC, Roger Lewis Lambeth DPAC, John McArdle Black Triangle Anti-Defamation Campaign in Defence of Disability Rights, Kevin James Atos Victims Group

Individuals:
Bill Holmwood, Richard Sturgess , Stephen Lee Hodgkins, Mo Stewart, Dr Stephen Hall, Caroline Richardson, Calum McLean, Pam Tinsley, Valerie Lang, Geoff Dewhirst, Sandra Dooley, Rubbena Aurangzeb-Tariq, Mik Scarlet, Isabel Ros López, Caroline Jones, Liana Lloyd, Alan Woodward, Diane Lucas, Ralph Pettingill, Alexandra Stein, Brid Fitzpatrick, Sasha Callaghan, Beverley Woodburn, Keith Hodgson, Ben Samuel, Julia Cameron, Ellen Clifford, Elane Heffernan, Vicky Ayech, Teresa Rayner, William Nutthall , Merry Cross, John Collings, Derek Kelter, Kaliya Franklin, Richard Lumb, Derek Stevens, John Newman, Maureen and Martyn Stagg, Stephanie Cadd, Jayne Linney, Liaquat Hussain, Ian Parkhill (a member of Worcester Coalition for Independent Living), Pat Onions, Rosemary O’Neill, Jean Ashlan, Jonathan Toye, David Steele, John McArdle , Paul Smith, Deborah King, Alison Morgan, David Brown, Mark Thomas, Danka Gordon, Les Seavor, Sue Brassey, Maureen Armstrong, Iyiola Olafimihan, Eleanor Firman, Gail Jeynes, Rosemary Iddenden, Dora Kostiuk, Bronwen Williams, Roger Lewis, Rob Murthwaite, Andy Greene, Beverley and Robert Stevens, Paul Farrelly MP, John McDonnell MP, Lisa Nandy MP, Peter Beresford, Karen Wild, Ellen Goodey

 

Other organisations/groups:
Jonathan Bartley Co-director, Ekklesia, Dr Artemi Sakellariadis Director, Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education, Jo Claire CEO, Three Cs Support, Martin Rathfelder Director, Socialist Health Association, Alison Blackwood Head of policy and knowledge, London Voluntary Service Council, Peter Corbett CEO, Thomas Pocklington Trust, Margie Arts Barrow and Furness Pensioners’ Association, Stefania Rulli-Gibbs Communications manager, Brandon Trust, Gordon McFadden Director of policy, Limbcare, Bahir Laattoe Barnet Alliance for Public Services, Marie Lynam The Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group

Unions:
Sean McGovern Unite executive council disability representative, Ivan Hickman Secretary, Stoke-on-Trent NUT, Steve Roberts Chair, Warwickshire Fire Brigade Union, Rob Crowther Unite (UCU branch), Ray Smith Secretary, Newcastle Central Unite 1901, Dr Helen Groom GP, Gateshead Medical Practitioners Union (part of Unite), Gavin Dudley GMB workplace rep, Helen Winterburn Branch chair, Unison Darlington LG branch, Barrow Trades Union Council, Chris Youett NUJ rep on TUC Midlands, David O’Tooe Branch development organiser, UCU Exeter office, Doug Oxer RMT Union, David Lowdon GMB member, SWP member, Martin Bove Unite member, John Lea Unite, Matt Brierley on behalf of PCS Ofsted branch committee, Rugby Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, Neil Smith GMB branch secretary

Jan 292012
 

Disabled people protest at Welfare Reform Bill [BBC video]

Campaigners protest in London over disability cuts [BBC Breakfast video]

BBC Radio news headlines [BBC London 94.9 FM] (Jump to 57 minutes)

Disability campaigners stage central London protest against welfare reforms [Guardian with video]

Activists join together to fight ConDem attacks on the disabled [Indymedia]

Disabled bring Oxford Circus to a halt in welfare cuts demonstration [Mirror]

Wheelchair users chain themselves together and blocked centrael London over welfare cuts [Mail on Sunday]

Disabled Protesters Block Regent Street [Sky News]

Disability campaigners occupy Oxford Circus [ITN Video]

The demonisation of the disabled is a chilling sign of the times [The Observer]

Disabled People’s Protest In Oxford Circus [Personal report from Pseudodeviant

An ‘amazing success’ – disabled protest blocks Oxford Circus [Coalition of resistance]

Disabled Protesters Block Regent Street LBCFM 97.3

Disabled people lead central London blockade in Welfare Benefits protest | Ekklesia

Photo sets: Demotix1 Demotix2 DPAC [Flickr]

http://www.metro.co.uk/news/888720-oxford-street-brought-to-a-standstill-by-uk-uncut-protesters

UK Uncut joins fight against welfare reform bill Guardian 25th Jan

Blogs, local coverage, You Tube and others

Excellent video showing D.A.N (Direct Action Network) at full power
Disabled People against Cuts by Lee Nichols

From Politicus

DISABLED ACTIVISTS BLOCK OXFORD STREET | Politicus

From Fitzrovia News

Protesters block Oxford Circus in demonstration against Welfare

From Able Magazine (links to Guardian video)

Welfare reforms protest blocks Oxford Circus – video »

Photos from Citizenside
Disabled protestors block Oxford Circus in protest against cuts

FromMSN News

Disabled groups in welfare protest

From Virgin Media

Disabled Groups in Welfare Protest

From Lancashire Evening Post

Disabled groups in welfare protest

From Morley Observer and Advertiser

Disabled groups in welfare Protest

From Liverpool Daily Post

Disabled groups in welfare protest

From Scarborough Evening News

Disabled groups in welfare protest

From Newmarket Journal

Disabled groups in welfare protest

From Doncaster Free Press

Disabled groups in welfare protest

From Mansfield Chat

Disabled groups in welfare protest

From Dewsbury Reporter

Disabled groups in welfare protest

From Burnley Express

Disabled groups in welfare protest

From North Wales Weekly News

Disabled groups in welfare protest

From Retford Today

Disabled groups in welfare protest

———

We know that is much more at the local level with most local newspapers covering -Let us know if you find more ….

with thanks to Steven Sumpter @latentexistance for national links and thanks to all that made this a success!

Dec 142011
 

In March 2011 I wrote about the ways media portrayed disabled people at a time of punitive cuts to disabled peoples’ social and financial supports.

….a range of false accusations against disabled people and those with long term health conditions are visible in the media. Rather than offering support to disabled people, certain sections of the media prefer to label disabled people as unsustainable, unproductive or immoral members of their communities. The major accusation, however, is that disabled people are not disabled at all, but profiting from fraudulent benefit claims

Eight months on there is a clear escalation of the negative portrayal of disabled people in the UK media. These attacks are no longer confined to screaming newspaper headlines in the Daily Mail and Daily Express declaring that the majority of people on disability benefits are frauds, but a whole host of television programs setting out the Saints and Sinners, even programs with usually good credentials such as Panorama have jumped on to the band wagon of who’s responsible for ‘Broken Britain’. Since March 2011 negative and unbalanced reporting has become worse.

Social and Economic facts versus ideological messages

At the same time unemployment has increased to the highest rates ever recorded for youth and women, and the highest since 1992. On average vacancies have decreased from an average of 2/1 (2005) vacancy rate to a 6/1 (2011) with six people chasing one job according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS). Figures on averages hide local variations which are often much higher.

Yet, still unemployment or any need for state support is consistently identified as a personal failing regardless of personal circumstances or societal limitations: it’s this ideological message, rather than economic and statistical facts that gathers pace and shouts out loud and clear from some sectors of the media, with disabled people most often identified as the group needing to leave welfare and get jobs because they are ‘faking it’.

How the Newspapers are reporting Disability

A recent report commissioned by the organisation Inclusion London and carried out by the Strathclyde Disability Research Group and Glasgow Media Studies group at the University of Glasgow: Bad News for Disabled People: How the Newspapers are reporting Disability, found significant changes in media reporting of disabled people which show a clearly defined increase in stories and views identifying disabled people as ‘undeserving’.

The report identified changes in reporting through comparative content analysis of tabloid newspapers in 2005/6 and 2010/11and through focus groups. The researchers found that incidents of negative language regarding disabled people in print media had more than doubled over the time period, while what they termed ‘sympathetic’ stories had more or less disappeared in the tabloid press. Terms such as ‘burden’, ‘scrounger’, and ‘cheat’ were used repeatedly in 2011with a rapidly decreasing use of articles on disability discrimination. In addition stories outlining the political and economic context were rare. When the focus groups were asked to describe a typical disability story in the newspapers: disability benefit fraud was the top theme.

 The media examined were the Mirror, the Sun, the Daily Mail, the Daily Express, and for balance the Guardian. The researchers also carried out a number of focus groups asking what each group thought the level of disability benefit fraud was, there were variations from rates of 50% to 70% of perceived disability fraud from focus groups.

The reality in terms of incapacity benefit it is just 0.03% according to the ONS the report states. The Department of Work and Pensions own figures on Disability Living Allowance are 0.05% both stats also include administrative errors within their figures. The media strategy appears to be working when focus groups state perceived incidents of fraud of up to 70% which is more in line with Daily Mail and Daily Express headlines, than any statistical realities.

The report’s timely commission by Inclusion London, a London wide Deaf and Disabled Peoples’ organisation provides more evidence for further campaigns and for those who doubted that the print media in particular were objective. In addition, there have been several examples of stories usefully backed by a quote or two from Iain Duncan Smith MP welfare and pensions’ secretary. The most stunning in the Sun newspaper in 2011 when he happily implied that disabled people were responsible for the UK deficit, the most recent quoting him as ‘enraged’ and ‘shocked’ based a story that carried false figures regarding mobility cars. He wasn’t shocked by the inaccuracies but by the figures which weren’t checked before publication, but false figures are par for the course, as are false accusations.

The Cuts, Media and ‘real life’ Implications

Sheffield Hallam University have also produced a report outlining the impact of the cuts in incapacity benefit, claiming that almost half of those now receiving incapacity benefits will lose them, not because of fraud, but because of a tightening of the qualifying criteria for the replacement of lower income benefit Employment Support Allowance. The report by the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University, estimates that the reforms will cut the number of disabled people on out-of-work disability benefits by nearly one million in just three years. Add to this other reforms set to take away any support from disabled people and those already carried out removing over 9 billion pounds worth of support and we see a very different story from one of fraud. We see a story of ‘cuts’ to a group that the UK public had consistently agreed to be deserving of support in national surveys such as the British Attitudes Survey.

Professor Fothergill author of the report on Incapacity Benefit changes said

The large numbers that will pushed off incapacity benefits over the next two to three years are entirely the result of changes in the benefit rules” and added that this ..’would impoverish vast numbers of households and cause untold distress to countless more. The incapacity numbers need to be brought down, but this is not the way’

He is also clear that this is not about fraud, but about ‘changes in the benefit rules’ see Jolly . He adds: “Incapacity claimants often face multiple obstacles to working again and their concentration in the weakest local economies and most disadvantaged communities means they usually have little chance of finding work.”

Yet, it is the benefit fraud stories that abound despite the 0.03% figure; people believe the figure is much higher. A rise in disability hate crime has been linked to the media strategy on the demonising of disabled people. One example was reported on 4th December, one day after the International Day of People with Disabilities. It tells of Peter Greener’s constant barrage of abuse from his neighbour.

Sometimes, it was eggs thrown at his house, stones thrown at his windows or paint thrown at his fence; more often, it was words hurled in his face: spastic, cripple, scum, scrounger. These assaults went on for months, leaving the former Nissan car-sprayer in floods of tears, feeling suicidal and on antidepressants. He was scared to leave his home in Hebburn in South Tyneside and blamed himself for the upset it caused his wife and two children. “It made our lives hell,” he said.

Like many people with conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Greener’s regressive condition fluctuates. One day, it affects his memory, the next his speech. Sometimes, he uses a wheelchair; at other times, he can haul himself around on crutches. But this only led to more abuse, with angry shouts he was faking his disabilities and exaggerating his problems to get benefits

This is just one story; but the climate of fear is clearly working, there are disabled people who are frightened to leave their homes because of verbal and physical abuse, and accusations of being scroungers and frauds. There are those who refuse to claim their entitlement to support in spite of previously paying years of national insurance when they were in work, because they do not want to be labelled as benefit cheats. In total 16 million pounds worth of entitlements goes unclaimed. There are also those denied entitlement to support through the tougher regimes for claiming any benefit such as the replacement for incapacity benefit through the work capability assessment, carried out by the private company Atos who are being paid 100 million pounds per year by the government. The sums do not add up, but the strategy seems to:

A further report carried out by BT showed that a third of those questioned demonstrated increasingly negative attitudes towards disabled people. Reasons cited for this ranged from disabled people being seen as a burden on society (38%), ill feeling around the perceived extra support given to disabled people (28%), and the personal worries and sensitivities which rise to the fore during a recession (79%).

European Media Strategies

The media attacks on disabled people are not just happening in the UK. In Holland up to 90% is being cut from support for disabled people, similar media demonization is taking place in the popular press identifying perceived ‘undeserving’ cases. In Sweden cuts are being made to assistance to support disabled people with tougher qualifying criteria being put in place, they too have a focus on those who defraud the system highlighting such stories while record numbers of people loose entitlement to support.

The figures for fraud are just 0.05% in Holland. Yet, the magazine Vrij Nederland, a major quality magazine in Holland reproduces outrageous comments from the Secretary of State, responsible for the drastic 90% cuts:

The State Secretary of Health, Marlies van Zanten Veldhuijzen finds it unacceptable that some thirty percent of people with a personal budget (PGB) wrongly receive it. She said in an interview this week: “It can have you on the internet looking for the name of a disease, and then think: look, I can get 2000 Euros per month. With PGB we need to sort the wheat from the chaff.

 She states that 30% receive a budget without having the right to receive it, as if it is a fact. Yet, here is no existing evidence or research confirming or even indicating this. Before receiving a PGB, as in most countries, a strict assessment is carried out. However, here we have a government minister saying that individuals can simply choose a disease at random by searching the internet to gain these funds.

Stories used by media to usher in cuts to disability support appear to converge into strategies by particular populist media to create a media panic around the extra perceived support given to disabled people for the extra costs of disability. This is proving effective , especially when there are examples of ‘undeserving’ cases being presented to shift the traditional view of disabled people as ‘tragic victims of circumstance’ –the  claim of ‘tragic victims’ has always been rejected by many in the disabled peoples’ movement –maybe this will change as the 21st century welfare reform policies and the media strategies in the UK and Europe reinvent millions of disabled people as the tragic victims of the circumstance of recession and easy targets for savings from the state budget.

The political use of media to promote demonization of disabled people is aiding the work of governments’ intent on cutting the support and the human rights of disabled people.  There are rising cases of verbal abuse against disabled people such as that endured by Peter Greener and rising cases of suicide amongst disabled people with one couple entering a suicide pact after surviving for a year by walking 10 miles to receive food parcels which they made last all week.

The Challenges

Ann McGuire Westminster Shadow minister for work and pensions wrote recently:

Disabled people say they are fed up with being labelled as scroungers in the media – and are beginning to point the finger in the direction of the Government. Yesterday at Work and Pensions questions I asked the Minister for Disabled People to assure the House, and disabled people up and down the country, that Ministers are not behind the stories knocking disabled people that seem to be emerging with alarming regularity…

 McGuire called on the minister for disabled people to quell the insidious media attacks, a challenge that was also made directly to Miller at a recent disability conference in London: McGuire said:

The Minister for Disabled People has a responsibility as the champion of disabled people inside government to challenge some of the more outrageous and outlandish comments by some of her senior colleagues and others associated with her government…And I call on her to do so.

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Article 8(2c) of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states:

‘Encouraging all organs of the media to portray persons with disabilities in a manner consistent with the purpose of the present Convention’.

This would include any change in reporting over time: it seems that there has been a change in reporting which is clearly not in line with the convention’s principles of promoting, protecting and ensuring the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms nor with promoting respect for disabled peoples’ inherent dignity. In fact the opposite seems to be occurring.

UK Responses

Inclusion London, the pan Deaf and Disabled Peoples’ organisation that commissioned the Glasgow University research into the media have led a response on the Leveson Inquiry. The response: titled ‘Open Season on Disabled People?’ supported by Disabled People against Cuts and others states:

  • The Government must issue a clear and public rebuttal every time the media release inaccurate information citing Government / Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) statistics.
  • That the Government commit to full transparency in their dealings with the press including  keeping a publically available record of all communications between Government officials, Ministers, their aides and special advisors and the media.
  • That there needs to be an independent review of how the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) releases and provides commentary on its statistics to assess how fair and balanced this data is presented and communicated.
  • That the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) must carry out further research on the impact of media coverage on disabled people and the implications this has for disability hate crime, disabled people’s protection under The Equalities Act and the UN Convention on the rights of disabled people.

We call on the Leveson inquiry, Press Complaints Commission, and OFCOM to:

  • Carry out an independent investigation into the media reporting of disabled people. This investigation needs to include the impact this coverage is having on disabled people and the implications this biased and inaccurate reporting has for the culture, practices, ethics and standards of the press. It must also examine the opportunities disabled people should have for effective redress.

 Debbie Jolly

Debbie Jolly is on twitter: @redjolly1

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An edited version of this paper is published on British Politics and Policy London School of Economics,  entitled: ‘As the government moves to cut the number of disabled people on benefits, the media is increasingly portraying them as ‘undeserving fraudsters’.http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/2011/12/14/disabled-people-media-attacks/

 Acknowledgements: I would like to acknowledge the assistance and kind support of Jamie Bolling Executive Director of the European Network for Independent Living (ENIL) and Peter Lambreghts of ENIL and the Expertise Centre Independent Living

Please see and support: www.enil.eu  and http://www-en.independentliving.be/