Jan 112018
 

Why Universal Credit must be stopped and scrapped.

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

DPAC believes that UC has too many flaws to be simply paused and fixed – it must be stopped and scrapped. UC is rotten to the core.

Universal Credit replaces six benefits – Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance and Working Tax Credit.

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

Universal Credit is an economic and political disaster bringing further distress and impoverishment to those forced to endure it.  To date at least £15.8 billion has been wasted on its implementation.

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

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

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

General Problems

  • UC is based entirely on conditionality for those both in and out of work. Failure to meet these conditions can lead to the imposition of cumulative sanctions which could last 3 years.
  • Everyone will have to accept the Claimant Commitment and log in daily to Universal Job match account and complete your to do list and journal. There is harsh conditionality within Universal Credit such as 35 hour per week job searches.
  • Even with the changes brought in at the end of last year claimants face a 5 week wait which in many cases seems to be 3 months or longer for their first payment.
  • Loss of Mortgage interest payments which will now mean people have to take out a second loan if they are buying a home.
  • Hardship Loans are repayable meaning the full amount of money someone is entitled to isn’t paid for months as 40% of their entitlement can be taken away to repay a loan.
  • With UC, housing benefit isn’t paid straight to the landlord but to the claimant who may be in need of money to use in an emergency. In pilot areas this has resulted in up to 60% of claimants going into rent arrears.
  • Letting agents are already refusing to rent to anyone claiming UC.
  • Under the troubled families programme people could see their kids taken into care if the claimant is not meeting conditions set by DWP/Work Coach
  • Under UC data is shared by DWP, HMRC and banks to ensure no additional income is undeclared.

For Disabled People

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

Coercion of Mental Health claimants.

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

Loss of Womens’ Rights

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

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

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

 

Motion for unions 

Universal Credits – Stop and Scrap

This Meeting notes the following:

That Universal Credits, UC, was designed as an integral part of the Welfare Reform Act brought in by the Coalition Government following their election in 2010.

That underpinning the Act has been an ideological drive to making being on Welfare Benefits as degrading and punishing as possible with the intention of forcing as many claimants off benefits as possible.

Welfare Reform including the introduction of UC was accompanied with the rhetoric of benefit dependency, skivers and strivers, cheats and malingerers as a way of winning public support for pushing through the biggest changes in welfare since the 1930’s.

UC is just one part of these reforms which include the discredited and hated Work Capability Assessments, the change from DLA to PIP with a 20% budget reduction target and cuts to the Access to Work programme.

These changes are interconnected and form the core of the Tories making work pay programme.

That in November 2017 at a National Housing Summit meeting in central London Axe the Housing Act, other Housing campaigns and Disabled People Against Cuts, DPAC, called for a National joint Campaign to Stop and Scrap UC and to call a Day of Action early in 2018.

This meeting believes:

That UC can not be fixed.

That UC has to be scrapped.

That as with the Work Capability Assessments an entirely new scheme needs to be created making sure that Disabled Peoples Organisations and other groups affected are included at the heart of how these schemes are designed.

This meeting agrees:

To adopt a position of Stop and Scrap Universal Credits.

To support the national Stop and Scrap campaign called by DPAC, Mental Health Resistance Network, Housing campaigns and others.

To publicise the campaign and promote it to our members urging them to support the campaign.

To lobby the Labour Party and other organisations who currently have a Pause and Fix approach to UC and urge them to adopt and work with the Stop and Scrap campaign.

To support and build for a National Stop and Scrap UC Day of Action.

Proposed: Seconded:

 

 Posted by at 21:01
Jan 112018
 

More details to follow but there will be a national day of action to call for Universal Credit to be scrapped on March 1st. We hope local groups will be able to support this and please send us details of any planned events to mail@dpac.uk.net. Please save this date to take action against this vile Tory creation and beware the IDS of March.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 Posted by at 14:36
Jan 092018
 

DPAC Norfolk:

Lobbied against Norfolk STP

Protests against WCA outside Maximus assessment centre

Protest against PIP at Atos assessment centre Norwich

Took part in Norwich Pride parade in July

 

ROFA -UN CRPD delegation with DPAC.

Dpac Glasgow have built link with RMT, unison & PCS. We are co producing with PCS  a benefit survival tool kit booklet. We aim to distribute it to various locations across the city & continue to build solidarity & members. We have a meeting with PCS officials to strengthen our links & co working to fight welfare reform & office closures. We attended STUC disabled workers conference.

We had a few demonstrations with the RMTand have several actions organised with RMT including a meeting with transport minister all under the banner of access for all. We continue to have our monthly picket at Cadogen St outside ESA MAXIMUS assessment office. 

Suffolk DPAC.

1: UN report briefing on violations of disabled peoples rights (houses of parliament) Tuesday 24th January 2017, chaired by Baroness Deech.

2: Brexit Q&A Burlington Baptist Church Ipswich 1st February.

3: Norfolk DPAC meeting Norwich 6th February ( I attended representing Suffolk DPAC).

4: Public meeting on NHS, co-op education centre 9th February.

5: Save NHS Demo London 4th March.

6: Assistance with an appeal for a lady re ESA 10th March.

7: Protest against Housing Benefit Cuts, Parliament Square 1st April.

8: Ipswich May Day Festival 30th April (Paula Peters spoke after John McDonnell MP) 

9: #Not The Fucking Tories demo Old Palace-yard London 2nd May.

10: Ben Gummer (former Tory MP for Ipswich) Q & A at the Greyhound pub Ipswich 17th May, (gave him a right grilling re ESA & PiP).

11: Ben Gummer (former Tory MP for Ipswich) Kingfisher pub Ipswich 30th May.(I gave him a right grilling again).

12: NUT Question Time, Northgate Arts Centre Ipswich (Ben Gummer got a massive grilling at this event).

13: Peoples assembly #ToriesOut National demonstration London 1st July.

14: Interview with Laura Smith from RT at my home re disabled people turning to crowdfunding for wheelchairs etc, 6th July.

15: National day of action for local DPAC groups, Suffolk DPAC joined Norfolk DPAC at st marys house Norwich 18th july.

16: Attended PiP tribunal for a person with mental health issues at HMCTS tribunal services Ipswich as an advocate 21st August (outcome:-PIP awarded in favour of claimant).

17: Burston Rally Norfolk Suffolk DPAC in attendance.

18: Meeting with Sandy Martin MP in Parliament got him to attend a debate re Universal Credit! then home for ISCRE (Ipswich & Suffolk Council for Racial Equality) AGM, ISCRE has published two booklets called the “3Ds Project” Disability + Disadvantage = Duty. 1st one is for disabled people claiming JSA and the 2nd one is for disabled people claiming Universal Credit both tell you what you need to know before signing the claimant commitment, 19th September.

19: RMT strike at Ipswich train Station 5th October. 

20: Smash the Cap Rally Norwich 14th October.

21: Liberty Human Rights Award London 24th October.

22: National Disabled Peoples Summit London 4th November.

23: National day Of Action on Universal credit Ipswich town centre 2nd December.

DPAC occupation of lobby area of houses of parliament 19th july 2017

And anti – ATOS protest in London 21st July.

 

Berkshire DPAC

Apart from our meetings, the main action we took this year – along with other disability groups, was to take on the Royal Berkshire Hospital Trust. They wanted to close the hydrotherapy pool (the only one for about 30 miles) but prolonged action (demos, speaking at meetings and talking with the CEO ensured that it stayed open in the end. We also demonstrated in Maidenhead Theresa May’s constituency, in the run-up to the elections.

Finally we are engaged in a serious battle with an organisation claiming to support people with mental distress, which is run by an empire builder who doesn’t mind who gets hurt if they are in the way and also struggling to get Reading and District Labour Party to address disability issues properly.

We also improved our online presence and gained new members that way.

 

Bristol DPAC formed in September 2017

Bristol Austerity March in September

At the momentum/people assembly’s demo to #unseat Crabb in Pembroke

And at Weston General Hospital to save the A&E dept

And we greeted Jeremy Hunt when he visited Callington Hospital in Bristol

We also attended Disability History month at Unite Bristol.

 

Sheffield DPAC

We’ve mainly been doing supporting stuff really but that has involved Tory party conference prime minister’s speech protest. Supported Mental Health Action Group Sheffield with article on their campaign, one of the DPAC Sheffield activists was one of the founders of it

There’s the save south Yorkshire women’s aid campaign in Doncaster that we’ve been supporting since the end of August.

We attended to the Orgreave Campaign death of justice march on 31st October in Sheffield

We’ve gone and checked out the Sheffield junk food project, but they don’t have much you can share online etc really they’re still starting up

We had some supported the McStrike strike on September 4th

Something else, we tried very hard to fight the closure of Eastern avenue job centre in Sheffield. The first of the list of over 70 proposed job centre closures nationally. Tim Jones and myself both leafleted, joined the picket, attended public meeting to speak as someone who uses that job centre. Did TV and newspapers interview to support the PCS but mainly the community, coming from disabled people’s perspectives but it has been closed down.

Three times this year we have been to support the RMT keep the guards on the trains

The latest local campaign that we’re helping to raise awareness of is the NHS minor injuries unit in Sheffield and the Barnsley maternity unit that are both at risk of closure.

 

Manchster DPAC

January: Free films screenings of I, Daniel Blake where we spoke to sell out audiences about the reality depicted in the film.

February: Met with Lifeshare charity to discuss ideas for helping disabled homeless people.

March: Planning meeting and questioning mayoral candidates at GMCDP event.

April: GMCDP (Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People) hustings for Mayor elections (Tory candidate failed to attend) and Unite Community Universal Credit talk given.

May: Confronted Government ODI (Office for Disability Issues) member over the UN report of grave and systemic human rights abuses of disabled people live on Al Jazeera.

June: #CripTheVoteUK to increase voting and political representation in the snap general election.

July: Members undergoing PIP assessments supported with our recording equipment (available to all Disabled Great Manchester residents, please ask for details).

August: Plans begin for Tory party conference, liaising with People’s Assembly and assessing access at Partisan communal space (not accessible until 2018).

September: Banner making with GMCDP’s new campaign group, accessibility survey, and final plans for Tory conference. Taking part in creation of Disabled People’s advisory panel to new Greater Manchester Mayor to improve our rights and representation in Greater Manchester.

October: Protest against Tory Party conference. Wall of Noise protest and disruption of Theresa May’s speech on Wednesday, kettling avoided.

 

November: Planning meeting and further work on advisory panel with Greater Manchester DPO’s. London National Disabled People’s Conference & workshops.

December: Working group to be established for Disabled People’s advisory panel in New Year. And finally Thursday 21st Ashton protest supporting Charlotte Hughes.

 

Ceredigion (Cardigan) DPAC – our newest local group

We’re very new, but so far a group of us approached our local MP Ben Lake regarding access for mobility challenged and wheel chair users in our town. We raised concern about Kinora, our local mental health drop in centre being inaccessible for wheel chair users. We met up with the people running the drop in centre to discuss wheel chair access when they move to their new building which we are told will be completely wheel chair accessible. Same with our local women’s aid group which has been running workshops in a basement till now. They now run some workshops in a local church hall to accommodate disabilities more. We are also encouraging them to do more outreach work with disabled people in the area. We are also campaigning to make our local swimming pool wheel chair friendly.

We will be having a follow up meeting with Ben in the new year regarding pavement dips (lack of them). Also had our first protest against UC, got petitions signed and more members on board. We had a Xmas get together and will be organising a Xmas get together for the Jo Cox campaign in our local town and to raise awareness of how isolation and loneliness affect our community.

We’re a very small seaside type town, so all this is very new here. CAB are really interested in working with us, our MP needs a poke every now and then to remind him what we are doing (could do better, were working on him, he’s very new to the role). The labour party here are also involved and support us with our campaign. Hoping for lots more action in the new year and to start fundraising.

 

 Posted by at 21:08
Jan 042018
 
The NHS is facing one of the worst winter crisis in it’s history, but it’s a crisis not caused by the weather alone, it’s caused by this Governments deliberate underfunding, cuts and privatisation. Along with Health Campaigns Together The People’s Assembly are calling a demonstration to demand that the Government fix the NHS crisis now.

NHS IN CRISIS – FIX IT NOW

12pm, Saturday 3 February 
Assemble: Gower Street, London WC1

The #NHSWinterCrisis has now descended into a perpetual year round  crisis. A crisis that has brought staff to their knees and patients languishing and even dying in overcrowded waiting rooms and hospital corridors.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

When headlines report there is a “third world” crisis in the 6th richest country in the world, let’s be clear and call this what it is: an entirely manufactured political crisis by the Tories.

It is time this Government stops blaming patients, nurses, doctors, immigrants, flu and the elderly for their shortcomings. It’s time they start listening to the country who is sick of empty promises from the mouths of cowardly politicians. The Tories must heed the call of the public, staff and patients alike who demand that #ourNHS is not only funded properly but brought back into public hands away from the waste and demands of shareholders and bankers’ bonuses.

On the 70th year of the NHS we created – we demand that #ourNHS is given back! We must end the NHS crisis now.

Join the demonstration, called by the People’s Assembly and Health Campaigns Together, on Saturday 3 February, 2018:

NHS IN CRISIS – FIX IT NOW
March and Demonstration
12pm, Saturday 3 February
Assemble Gower Street Central London WC16

Check out the Facebook Event here and share widely.

More info available soon on our website here.

If you want to get involved, get flyers and other materials sent to you, contact us today on office@thepeoplesassembly.org.uk

See you on the streets!

The People’s Assembly Against Austerity
http://www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/

 Posted by at 18:43
Dec 312017
 

As always we are so grateful to you all for the various types of support we’ve had this year from you. Without that support none of the things we do would be possible. We’ve seconded four extra people to the Steering Group this year and are very happy to welcome their input. We also always need help with the more boring admin tasks that are nevertheless so vital so if anyone has any time or energy to spare please get in touch with us at mail@dpac.uk.net

 

Also too I hope nothing vital is missed out of this round up but with around 15 pages of notes it is difficult to make sure everything and everyone is included.

This year saw yet another General Election and that together with the Brexit catastrophe we seem to be facing has made it difficult to raise our issues with politicians although we’ve succeeded in making ourselves very visible to them several times this year.

The unprecedented UN inquiry which we instigated found that the Tories (and indeed the Lib Dems and Sir Nick Clegg) were guilty of both the grave and systematic violation of our rights.

DPAC together with ROFA and Black Triangle Campaign have also been to Geneva in March and August to present further evidence to support these violations to the UN Disability Committee.This year as well as continuing to work on the Inquiry the Committee carried out the normal periodic review of the UK’s implementation of UNCRPD. This involved submitting two further detailed reports proving the regression and abuse disabled people face in the UK .

The UN report from this review was again very damning and Chair of the Committee, Teresia Derenger described what has happened to disabled people under the Tories rule as a “human catastrophe.”

 

We await the government’s response to that report which will no doubt be yet another barrage of lies and deceits as they thrash around trying to justify their horrendous treatment of disabled people. Meanwhile the research team continue to work closely with the UN to gather further detailed evidence of the atrocities faced on a daily basis.

 

Protests – both local and national

January started off with a protest at the High Court supporting Doug Paulley in his discrimination case against First Bus company.

We also protested against underhand changes to PIP regulations which were sneaked in and which have now been legally challenged.

LetmeLook TV

 

The judgement for the legal challenge is due any day now and we have been actively involved in supporting this including in November a vigil once again at the High Court with Mental Health Resistance Network and Winvisible.

We continue to work closely with the free psychotherapy network made up of MH survivors and professionals plus a smattering of others and had a lively early morning protest outside the Savoy Conference Centre with them.

We joined in with UNITE’s National Day of Action against Benefit sanctions as did many local DPAC groups at the end of March.

March and April saw a lot of joint actions with RMT over the plans to introduce Driver Only Operated trains which for disabled people will be a disaster further reducing our ability to travel when and where we want. Further protests with RMT have continued throughout the year in London, Yorkshire, Ipswich and Brighton in particular.

 

April and May also saw us very busy both visibly and invisibly fighting to #TrashtheTories as part of our #NotthefuckingTories election campaigning. We held our week of action from April 14th-21st.

We held a Tories Out protest at parliament and tried to get into Tory party HQ although surprisingly they didn’t let us in and barricaded themselves behind locked doors.

LetmeLookTV

https://lucaneve.photoshelter.com/gallery-slideshow/G00008dg0Wwz.5jA/C0000GPpTqAGd2Gg?start

As part of  #TrashtheTories we joined activists from Berkshire DPAC in Maidenhead (Theresa’s constituency) on June 2nd and also on the same day activists in Windsor to get our message about her and Theresa’s team out to the electorate. We had earlier considered visiting the village she lives in, Sonning, but the many heavily armed guards and lack of accessible toilets made it an undesirable target. What it is to be so popular you have to be protected by dozens of armed police.

We also invested a lot of money, time and effort into facebook adverts during the election campaign which allowed us to reach over half a million voters in the most marginal constituencies with a series of messages. Not all of the responses we got back to the adverts were positive as some of those we reached were Tory or UKIP voters. In London we had an active and successful campaign in Croydon to get rid of the sitting Tory MP and held hustings in several places as well as enrolling disabled voters.

https://dpac.uk.net/2017/06/dpac-launches-election-film-series/

DPAC Launches Election Film Series

Given the election and the loss of time for serious lobbying we thought in July just before MPs went off for the summer recess that they needed to be reminded we’re still here so we blocked the lobby entrance in parliament getting much needed media attention from that action. Later this year we were shortlisted for a Liberty Human Rights prize for this.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/demonstrators-house-commons-pmqs-disability-cuts-protest-wheelchairs-parliament-entrance-block-a7848876.html

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/07/19/529018/Demonstrators-block-UKs-House-of-Commons

https://www.rt.com/uk/396813-protesters-wheelchairs-disability-parliament/

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/furious-protesters-wheelchairs-block-house-10829364

We also joined a number of other protests the Budget Day Protest, various NHS protests both against STPs and calling for a Scrap to the Cap on pay, Anti-Atos protest in July, and a National Day of Action against Universal Credit about which we are calling for #StopandScrap and not merely #PauseandFix as we do not believe UC can be fixed as it is like the WCA essentially flawed based as it is on conditionality.

Manchester DPAC also planned and hosted the protest at the Tory Party Conference there organising a wall of noise to disrupt Theresa’s speech.

Local groups have also been involved in many local campaigns and protests against STPs, Atos, Maximus and DWP assessments, Housing Benefit cuts, against loss of local services, and against closures of Job Centres and women’s refuges to name but a few.

Speaking and other activities

DPAC activists have spoken at events and meetings around the country far too many to mention them all but some events DPAC speakers spoke at include Bridges without Walls, RMT rallies, International Women’s Day, Norwich May Day rally, National Pensioners Party Conference, Marxism, CWU disabled workers conference, Reb Law, South West UNITE Bristol history seminar, Bristol Austerity March, Pembrokeshire demo to unseat Stephen Crabb, Weston General Hospital save A&E department, anti DUP rally called by Owen Jones, NEU disabled workers’ conference,  LRC fringe at PCS conference, and speech sent to UCU Equalities Conference.

At the Labour Party Conference Paula spoke as a CLP delegate and raised the attacks against disabled people and Ellen spoke at the PCS meeting on transforming social security, at Momentum’s a World Transformed festival and was also on a panel with Dawn Butler and Owen Jones. Roger also spoke at a fringe meeting.

We also had a number of successful local direct action workshops through our Lock Up Your Wheelchairs tour.

Last February we also exhibited various art installations at the LUSH summit which lasted for 2 days and had over 2,000 visitors.

We’ve also with help from some of you been interviewed for numerous programmes both for viewing in the UK and abroad, written articles for publication both here and abroad and generally kept spreading the word whenever possible. As well as this we’ve had various research interviews for projects and helped with film work especially for the election campaign.

More recently a DPAC steering group member was involved in co-ordinating the National Disabled People’s Summit including 14 workshops to look at how we can more effectively co-ordinate our resistance to the Tories and bringing together ROFA and TUC disabled members. We also funded and organised with support from ROFA an Independent Living Campaign Conference and have been working closely with Fuel Poverty Action group against restrictions on the cap on energy Bills which at the moment will exclude many people who should get this help.

We have also supported disabled and anti-racism campaigners in Bristol to respond to the murder of disabled asylum seeker Kamil Ahmed and plan a national event for next year.

Next year we also plan a major campaign to #StopandScrap Universal Credit and will continue as always to fight for disabled people’s right to live independently with the right levels of support.

 Posted by at 18:38
Dec 232017
 

with thanks to Crippen, cartoonist extraordinaire

 

The DPAC steering group would like to wish everyone our best wishes for the festive season and the New Year. We’ll be posting an update of our activities, and those of some of our local groups, this year as soon as possible and have some exciting events and plans for 2018. Our fightback against injustice and oppression will continue.

 Posted by at 16:24
Dec 212017
 

Today, the 21st  of December, the High Court judge Mr Justice Mostyn allowed the claim in the case of RF v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. The case was brought by a Disabled person with mental health support needs to challenge the changes the government made to Personal Independence Payment Regulations in March 2017[i].

These changes were urgently introduced to reverse the impact of the Upper Tribunal Judgement in the case of MH v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (PIP): [2016] UKUT 531[ii] 

These changes prevent thousands of people who cannot plan and follow a journey due to psychological distress from qualifying for higher rates of this benefit or qualifying at all[iii].

The Public Law Project, who represented RF argued in court that the changes are discriminatory and unlawful, because they go against original policy intent of PIP[iv].

 

The court said today that the regulations were discriminatory, and they have been quashed but it won’t take affect until the court of appeal decides the government can appeal

Tracey Lazard, CEO of Inclusion London  said:

“This is a hugely important case.  It challenges the discriminatory way the government treats Disabled people with mental health support needs.  The outcome can make a difference to thousands upon thousands of Disabled people.  We have always believed that these changes are discriminatory and unfair and should have never been introduced. It is incomprehensible that the government pledges more support for people with mental health support needs and at the same time introduces, through the back door regulation changes  that prevent many thousands of Disabled people with mental health support needs from qualifying for this essential benefit.

The government’s actions to change PIP regulations and single out people who cannot travel because of psychological distress are a brutal attack on the rights of Disabled people.  Today’s case illustrates the lack of concern for Disabled people and the government’s inability to listen to us and engage with us.  It is extremely worrying that many of us feel the legal action is the only way for us to get heard”.

Linda Burnip, co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts said:

“We are pleased with the judgement today. It will make a huge difference for thousands of Disabled people with mental health support needs.

We have to remember that this challenge is taken in a context when the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities found systematic and grave violations of Disabled people’s rights a year ago.  And again in August it called the situation Disabled people are in a ‘human catastrophe’.  The UN specifically called on the Government to repeal changes to PIP regulations because they breach our human rights under the Convention”.

 

[i] Personal Independence Payment is a new benefit which replaced Disability Living Allowance for Disabled working-age claimants.  The purpose of the benefit is to compensate for extra costs of disability.  Eligibility for PIP is a points-based system where points are assigned to descriptors illustrating the difficulties person experiences in carrying out specific activities.

[ii] See the judgement here https://www.gov.uk/administrative-appeals-tribunal-decisions/mh-v-secretary-of-state-for-work-and-pensions-pip-2016-ukut-0531-aac

 

[iii] The Government’s own Equality Impact Assessment stated that changes will prevent 164000 people from current PIP caseload from qualifying, 143.000 of those people will be prevented from qualifying at all.  https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/593392/pip-assessment-criteria-equality-analysis.pdf

Inclusion London supported the case from the start and provided a witness statement.

[iv] Statements made by the Government prior to 2014 as well as the Government’s 2012 Response to the consultation on PIP clearly express the intention of PIP to assess need rather than make decisions on the basis of impairment labels.

Statement from PLP

Statutory Instrument Quashed by the High Court

2017 Personal Independence Payment Regulations are Discriminatory

The High Court has found that part of the rules governing Personal Independence Payments are unlawfully discriminatory against people with mental health impairments. The Public Law Project’s client, RF, won on all three grounds of her challenge (RF v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions). The judge quashed the 2017 Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Regulations because they discriminate against those with disabilities in breach of Human Rights Act 1998 obligations. Because they were discriminatory, the judge also found that the Secretary of State did not have lawful power to make the Regulations (i.e. they were “ultra vires”), and that he should have consulted before making them, because they went against the very purpose of what PIP regime sought to achieve.

The judge heard that the Regulations were laid by negative resolution in February 2017, received relatively little parliamentary attention, and were rushed through the parliamentary process by the Secretary of State without prior reference to checks by relevant committees.  Contrary to the Secretary of State’s defence, the judge found that the decision to introduce the Regulations was ‘manifestly without reasonable foundation’ and commented that the wish to save money could not justify such an unreasonable measure.

During the course of the trial, the Secretary of State accepted that the testing carried out for PIP had not looked at whether the basis for treating those with psychological distress differently was sound or not, and the testing actually done was limited. 

RF’s claim was supported by The National Autistic Society, Inclusion London, Revolving Doors and Disability Rights UK. All of those organisations gave statements to the court that the Regulations were unfair and that the intention to treat those with psychological distress differently had not been made clear in the early PIP consultation stages. The claim was also supported by two interveners: Mind and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). The EHRC made written submissions to the Court on the ongoing and persistent breaches by the UK Government of its obligations under UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities arising from its austerity measures. The Judge found that this inconsistency with the UN Convention supported his finding that the measure had no objective justification.

RF commented: “This judgment is important for a community of people with mental health problems fighting for their lives against discrimination.”  

Note to Editors:

The case was previously known as SM and RF, but is now known as RF v Secretary of State for Department of Work and Pensions. There is an anonymity order in place protecting SM and RF.

The Government intends to appeal the decision. The Regulations will not be quashed until the Court of Appeal decides whether or not the appeal should proceed. RF is anticipating a decision on this in early 2018.

 A digital version of the decision will be available shortly here: https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/judgments/

Further enquiries can be made to o.persey@publiclawproject.org.uk.

 Posted by at 10:58
Dec 202017
 

Assistive technology for Deaf and Disabled people in work  – your experience

There is a Work and Pensions Select Committee inquiry on assistive technology for Deaf and Disabled people in work.

To inform Inclusion London’s evidence to the inquiry I would be grateful if you can send me:

  • Your experience of assistive technology, both the process of getting it and how useful it is to you for obtaining and maintaining employment and/or
  • Your answers to the questions below, which have been set by the Select Committee and some additional ones by Inclusion London. 

Please send all responses to Henrietta.Doyle Henrietta.Doyle@inclusionlondon.org.uk by Monday 15 January 2018.

‘Scope of the inquiry

The Committee invites evidence on the role of assistive technology in improving disabled people’s employment rates, drawing on the Government’s response to the Committee’s Disability employment gap report.

The Committee welcomes submissions addressing any or all of the following questions:

  • What role can assistive technology play in removing barriers to work and helping disabled people stay in work?
  • How should the Government support the development of this technology, and are there any particular innovations it should look to support?
  • Is Access to Work the most effective means of providing access to assistive technology? Should other funding models be considered?’

Additional questions from Inclusion London:

  • Are there barriers to obtaining assistive technology needed, if so what are the solutions to this?
  • What are the greatest barriers to disabled people obtaining and maintaining work – is it lack of assistive technology or other issues?

You are welcome to send a submission directly to the Select Committee. The deadline for this inquiry is 19 January 2018. 

Information about the inquiry is available at: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/work-and-pensions-committee/inquiries/parliament-2017/assistive-technology-17-19/

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/work-and-pensions-committee/news-parliament-2017/assistive-tech-inquiry-launch-17-19/

 Posted by at 11:39
Dec 152017
 

Closure of the independent living fund and the negative impacts of funding shortfall for maintaining individuals’ care packages has been the centre of disabled peoples independent living campaigns since 2012. Whilst cuts to state-funded assistance have been blamed on austerity, there is one area of care that is rolling in cash, hundreds millions of pounds being thrown into assessment and treatment units and psychiatric hospitals for people with learning difficulties and autism. Research by Mark Brown at Lancaster University’s Centre for Disability found that the Government spent £477m last year on incarcerating 2,500 people with learning difficulties and autism in ATUs ; in cash terms the state is prepared to pay £190,800 per year or £525 per day for institutionalized care for one individual.

Let’s not be under any illusion, whilst the numbers of disabled people being detained under the Mental Health Act (MHA) has reduced from 3500 to 2150 between 2011 to 2017, the trend for young people is going the other way: in 2011 young people made up 7.6% of the total of disabled people detained under the MHA but by 2017 this had risen to 13%. Many of these are people with learning difficulties or autism who are admitted for short-stays that then become long-stay placements. This is caused by the systematic failures of Local Authorities and Clinical Commissioning Groups to adequately fund local education, health and social care services that would facilitate disabled individuals’ participation in their local mainstream education provision whilst living with their families. These figures do not include people with learning difficulties or autism who have restrictions placed on their freedoms whilst living in institutionalised psychiatric and social care settings as a result of deprivation of liberty safeguard order issued under the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

No, this is no longer austerity, it’s now ideological. The Government does not believe that disabled people have a place in society and have developed polices that will turn us back to the era of Victorian asylums. Let’s not kid ourselves – these places are dehumanising and brutal as highlighted by practices exposed by BBC Panorama’s under-cover investigation into Winterbourne View. Since then there has been various investigations into abusive practices that have taken place in a range of ATUs. Disabled people with learning difficulties and autism have been killed in these institutions by toxic medication, neglect and total abuse inflicted by management and staff. Institutionalisation and forced overmedication are grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s human rights.
The psychiatric regime is rooted within the individualised and medical model of disability/mental disorder where its focus is on fixing, mending and curing the disabled person. Anti-psychotic medication infringes a disabled person’s autonomy, and control over their body and mind, altering personality and interfering with personal identity and life-style. When not medicated, inpatients will undertake a whole range of therapeutic activities that place an emphasis on developing individual’s coping strategies and where possible to help the person minimise or reject their disability identity and their sense of being, thinking and feelings; the patient is forced to follow neuro-typical patterns of being, thinking and feeling. Patients are self-obsessed with analysing and reviewing their own performance with no allowance given as to how institution and other powerful forces impact on their wellbeing.

Whilst working as an advocate for ATU inpatients with learning difficulties and autism wanting to get out of these institutions, I am increasingly finding that the Independent Living movement’s priorities are not the radical solutions needed if we are going to advocate for all disabled people rights to independent living, not only those with capacity. We are witnessing a resurgence of institutions for people with learning difficulties and autism – not a week goes by and there is a spanking new facility opening up to lock them up and throw away the key.
We can talk about all the cuts we like to independent living provision and dream about alternative models of care all we want, however this means little if we do not speak out against the millions of pounds being spent on creeping institutionalisation of disabled people. There are some cuts that we should all be advocating for, ones that prevent us from having a full life, on par with our non-disabled peers. Disabled people will always be threatened with institutionalisation and incarceration as long as ATUs and other institutions exist and are permitted under the Care, Mental Health and Mental Capacity legislation.

Disabled people whose capacity is not being questioned by the state cannot be complacent either – with savage cuts to care packages, disabled people are being institutionalised within their own homes or within residential and nursing homes. And as such institutionalisation is on the way back for all disabled people.
The UNCRPD committee review of the United Kingdom’s (UK) progress in implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities observations and recommendations included the tackling of increased state-sanctioned institutionalisation and compulsory treatment of disabled people.

We need to take the lead and act now – change our focus of our campaign work to a big NO to institutionalisation and their oppressive practices together with highlighting how such places have and will continue to violate disabled peoples human rights as set out in the UN Convention Rights for Persons with Disabilities articles. We need to be campaigning against the setting up and continuation of these institutions and the legislation that gives the state power to force disabled people out of their own homes and communities alongside full implementation of the UNCRPD underpinned by the 12 pillars of independent living. Alongside a plan to phrase out ATUs, we need to be strongly advocating for our right to be provided with the support and services (including mental health ones) we need to live fulfilled lives.

By Simone Aspis (Changing Perspectives and Free Our People Now Advocate)
I am a disabled person who is acting as an advocate for detained in-patients with learning difficulties and autism who want to be released from psychiatric hospitals. I have over 20 years experience campaigning for disabled peoples’ human and civil rights, working for People 1st, the United Kingdom’s Disabled Peoples Council and the Alliance for Inclusive Education and Not Dead Yet. Anyone wants to contact me please do so via Ellen Clifford at ellen.clifford@inclusionlondon/org.uk.

Dec 082017
 
Work & Pensions Committee hears from specialist disability groups on the PIP and ESA assessments on Monday
One of the big concerns the Committee has heard about DWP’s contracted PIP and ESA assessors is how their staff are qualified to assess the impact of multiple, serious and complex physical and mental health conditions on people’s lives, and how those conditions can affect the assessment process itself. Mencap’s evidence to this inquiry includes instances like a claimant being asked what medication he was on for Down’s Syndrome and learning disability – displaying deep ignorance of the condition, its effects and how it is dealt with.
In the video below from our in evidence this week, Committee Member Alex Burghart asks what specialist measures these companies have in place when they are working with someone with a serious mental health condition like schizophrenia: the answer was, effectively, none. All three companies insisted that no specialist medical knowledge is required to perform the “functional” assessments they carry out.
On Monday at 15:45 in Wilson Room we’re asking the specialist disability advocacy groups asking Scope, Sense, the Disability Benefits Consortium,  Citizen’s Advice and Mencap if they agree. You can also watch online. /ENDS

 Posted by at 18:48
Dec 052017
 

Many of the areas identified by the United Nations disability committee where regression of Disabled people’s rights are taking place are socio-economic. Section 1 of the Equality Act 2010 that has never been implemented would place a duty on all public bodies to assess the socio-economic impact of all policy decisions. This would add an important protection against further regression of Disabled people’s rights and is something that Deaf and Disabled people called for in our submissions under the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities this year. The Scottish government has already announced an intention to bring Section 1 into force in Scotland and the human rights consortium Just Fair has launched the #1forEquality campaign to make Section 1 a reality across Britain.

Please write to your MP asking them to sign Early Day Motion 591 in support of a socio-economic duty and send us copies of any responses you receive.

For more information about Just Fair’s #1forEquality campaign see: https://1forequality.com/

Below is some text you may wish to use for your letter:

Dear xxx

As you know, income and wealth inequalities are severe problems in our country. Abundant evidence shows that inequality harms our physical and mental health, self-esteem, happiness, social mobility, trust and civic participation, and puts the enjoyment of human rights at risk.

The Equality Act 2010 was a significant step forward in tackling social inequalities in our society. Chief amongst its instruments was the Socio-economic Duty (Section 1), which would require public bodies ‘when making decisions of a strategic nature about how to exercise [their] functions’ to ‘have due regard to the desirability of exercising them in a way that is designed to reduce the inequalities of outcome which result from socio-economic disadvantage’.

Unfortunately, to this day Section 1 remains one of the few uncommenced clauses of The Equality Act 2010.

The Socio-economic Duty offers a powerful lever for reducing the damaging gaps between us all.

In this regard, we urge you to consider supporting EDM 591 on the commencement and enforcement of the Socio-Economic Duty.

Yours,

 Posted by at 15:54
Nov 302017
 

Difficulties accessing Universal Credit?

Please let Al at Inclusion London know any difficulties you have had with accessing Universal Credit.  We will pass this information to the DWP who are now interested in making the application process for Universal Credit (UC) more accessible.

Difficulties with accessing UC could include:

  • A lack of accessible information about UC itself, or about Advance Payments or any other aspect of UC.
  • Communications that are not accessible, such as phone calls that are not accessible to Deaf people, or lack of Easy Read.
  • Accessing/problems with the online application process.
  • Venues for assessments that are not accessible.

Please send your experience to Al by 3 January 2018 onellen.morrison@inclusionlondon.org.uk

 Posted by at 20:04
Nov 212017
 

On November 16 2017, during a  House of Lords debate on Universal Credit, Lord Shinkwin, who is himself disabled, accused MPs from the ‘hard left’ of scaremongering, and exaggerating the problems that Universal Credit is causing.

We know that the problems are already very real, and directly impacting on disabled people.

When Disabled people in high places like Lord Skinkwin downplay what is happening it makes it much more difficult for campaigners to get our voices heard.

So DPAC is encouraging anyone who has a personal story about how Universal Credit is causing you problems to write to him and let him know.

You can write to him at: House of Lords, London, SW1A 0PW

Or send an email marked for him in the subject line to: contactholmember@parliament.uk

Please send copies of your letters and any response you receive to us here at: mail@dpac.uk.net

His speech is available on the Hansard website.

 Posted by at 22:16
Nov 212017
 
NDEPENDENT LIVING CAMPAIGN CONFERENCE
Saturday 25th November, 2017   11am – 4:30pm

336 Brixton Road, London, SW9 7AA

The aim of the conference is to take stock of the key barriers to independent living that Disabled people who use adult social care services face. The day will aim to assess how far the situation has deteriorated in the last year and also to explore a shared vision for an independent living support system that can truly uphold our rights.

AGENDA 

11 – 11:30am Registration

11:30am Opening Session
Welcome – Brian Hilton (Chair)
Introduction to the day & recap since last year
– Ellen Clifford (DPAC) and Mark Harrison (Equal Lives/Norfolk DPAC)

12pm Workshops – Barriers to Independent Living
Charging – facilitated by Jenny Hurst (ADKC)
Assessment And Reviews – facilitated by Mark Williams (BDEF) and Tracey Lazard (Inclusion London)
Hourly Rates And Recruiting PAs – facilitated by Theresa Hodge (SENDPO)

12:45pm Lunch

1:30pm Welcome back
Book reading by Penny Pepper from her memoirs “First in the World Somewhere”
Using the media to make the invisible visible – Cherylee Houston (actor and campaigner)

2pm Workshops – the way forwards
Alternative Models Of Independent Living – facilitated by Steve Graby (Manchester DPAC) with a presentation by Emma Vogelmann on ‘Looking abroad to alternative models’
Independent Living Support Principles – facilitated by Mark Harrison (Equal Lives/Norfolk DPAC) with a presentation by Zara Todd (ENIL) on ‘Lessons from Australia’s National Insurance Scheme’
Campaigning For The Right To Independent Living – facilitated by Tracey Lazard (Inclusion London) with a presentation on ‘Using local elections’ by Kevin Caulfield (hafcac)

3pm Break

3:20pm Feedback from workshops and next steps
Independent living principles
Core characteristics of alternative models
Key campaign objectives & actions

3:45pm Agreeing our positions

4:30pm Close

Mark Harrison and Peter Beresford have written an article for Labour Briefing on alternative models for independent living – CLICK HERE to read and HERE for plain text format.

Please CLICK HERE to view Occupy London’s event page for the day where you will find a link to the livestream channel. The channel won’t be showing videos of the conference until the event starts this Saturday (but you may see Occupy London posting livestreams before then). For anyone you know who can’t make the day, please share the link with them. Please join us in using the hashtag #Right2IL to tweet about the conference.

If you have any questions about the day, please email ellen.morrison@inclusionlondon.

 Posted by at 22:09
Nov 182017
 

Thanks to Nick Dilworth who wrote this template letter

You can follow him @Mylegalforum http://ilegal.org.uk/

 

[Your Address]

 

The Customer Complaints Manager

[Address of your Employment & Support Allowance Office]

*shown on your most recent correspondence from them

 

Date

 

Dear Sir / Madam,

National Insurance No:

Arrears of Employment & Support Allowance which may be owed to me through your official error

My attention has been drawn to some recent media coverage by the BBC entitled ‘Mistakes in benefits claims could cost up to £500m’ (dated the 17th November 2017).  As a result of this I am making an official complaint, I believe I may be affected and entitled to arrears of Employment & Support Allowance.The media coverage states:

“The errors identified by the Department for Work and Pensions affect the main sickness benefit, the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).  The BBC understands that assessors wrongly calculated the income of around 75,000 claimants.  Ministers say that they are aware of the problem and that repayments have begun to be made.  The department, which says it discovered the mistakes last December, is understood to have contacted about 1,000 people so far.  It says it is still trying to understand the scale of the problems with ESA, which is paid to about 2.5 million people, and will contact anyone affected.”

 

Having made some enquiries, I understand that I may be an affected individual because I underwent a ‘conversion’ assessment from older Incapacity Benefits / Income Support paid on the grounds of incapacity for work / Severe Disablement Allowance.  My recollection is that this was subject to a decision made by you on or about the [insert date].

The conversion process should have been carried out in accordance with the Employment and Support Allowance (Transitional Provisions, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit) (Existing Awards) (No.2) Regulations 2010 and it is my understanding that in confirming your decision you should:

(a) have ensured I was entitled to the correct amount of ‘transitionally protected’ benefit at a rate whereby my converted Employment & Support Allowance award was equal to what I received before conversion and should have continued to be protected on a ‘mark time’ basis until the level of Employment & Support Allowance either caught up with my transitionally protected amount or until the 5th April 2020.

(b) As part of the conversion decision making and notification process you should also have checked any existing contributory award to see if I may qualify for an income based amount on the converted Employment & Support Allowance award as confirmed by the Upper Tribunal in [2015] UKUT 342 (AAC) where it was held [In considering Regulation 8 of Employment and Support Allowance (Transitional Provisions, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit) (Existing Awards) (No.2) Regulations 2010]:

 

“Given the unified nature of ESA as described in paragraph 25 above, the determination by the Secretary of State of the amount of ESA to which a person would be entitled on conversion under regulation 8(1) in my judgment must encompass consideration of both the contributory amount and the income-related amount.”

 

I am therefore asking you to confirm that neither of the above omissions (a) or (b) occurred as a result of any official error on my claim.  If official error has occurred and I have been underpaid in consequence of that error, please ensure that you pay me any amounts owing to as a matter of urgency and without unacceptable delay.

Please note that this request is an official one which you must treat by way of an anytime review or supersession request.

I must further point out that this request applies to a retrospective decision and therefore applies in cases where there may have been a subsequent successful appeal against any initial decision to refuse or otherwise restrict the Employment & Support Allowance award made.  Likewise, the fact that I have since stopped claiming Employment & Support Allowance or taken up another claim to other benefits does not prevent me from making this request.

So that I can check the accuracy of your records please treat this letter as a Subject Access Request and supply me with copies of my pre – conversion awards and all claim details pertaining to my Employment & Support Allowance claim from the point of conversion of my claim.

Please also consider this as a complaint of potential maladministration on my claim and consider issuing me with an appropriate compensatory or special payment.

On a final point, please make me aware of the effect which this may have upon any other benefits such as Housing and or Council Tax Benefit paid at the point of conversion.

I look forward to hearing from you and trust that you will look in to and act on this request as a matter of urgency.

Yours faithfully

 

 

[Name]

 Posted by at 20:38
Nov 162017
 

On the 22nd of November, the statistics of “excess winter deaths” from 2016 will be released.

At the same time, Ofgem are considering details of their “safeguard” cap, which excludes many who need it most – see post about this here: https://dpac.uk.net/tag/vulnerable-customer-safeguard-cap/

Fuel Poverty Action believes next week would be a good opportunity to present Ofgem with a letter in person explaining why it is wrong to exclude disabled people from their proposed safeguard tariff and is asking for help to get the message across.

If you are disabled and can’t afford your energy bills and are happy to speak to the media about how this affects you (anonymously or otherwise) please contact  fuelpovertyaction@gmail.com.

We would also like to invite people to come and join in handing over the letter on Tuesday 21 November, at 11 a.m. at the Ofgem office, 9 Millbank SW1P 3GE. We’re planning on making this loud and colourful outside the building, so banners and placards are encouraged! If you can make it then please let Fuel Poverty Action know.

 

 Posted by at 01:11
Nov 102017
 

Mon 13 November at 9 am is the deadline for responses to a proposed limited cap on energy prices.

You may know that the government has for over a year been promising relief for people who pay the default “standard variable tariff” (SVT) – and who are getting ripped off as a result. Meanwhile prices have soared, and so have suppliers’ profits. A small cap on tariffs has been brought in for people with Prepayment Meters. It’s inadequate, but better than nothing. For people with credit meters, Theresa May promised a cap, then went back on it, then promised it again: u-turn upon u-turn. And she is now reassuring the energy industry that it will take ages, if it comes in at all. But meanwhile, the energy regulator Ofgem, with government support, is proposing a limited “safeguarding” cap, which would apply only to people who receive the Warm Home Discount.

Here the story gets murky. Warm Home Discount – worth £140 a year off your electricity bill — is awarded automatically to pensioners on low incomes. People deemed “vulnerable” for other reasons – particularly disability or illness, or children aged 5 or under, can apply to their energy supplier and may get it, but it is “first come first served” with a limited pot, and all the suppliers have different requirements to say who qualifies, mostly based on what benefits you receive. Some smaller suppliers don’t offer Warm Home Discount at all.

This means that despite being eligible, disabled people and children will often be excluded – not only from the discount itself, but now from the cap, which Ofgem say could save the average user around £120 a year. That is a total of over £260 a year, and much more if you need the heat on a lot or use a lot of power.

Ofgem are consulting on this plan, and Fuel Poverty Action will be telling them that this is particularly shocking. Disabled people often need more heat, for medical reasons or if we’re home a lot, and can suffer much worse effects if we can’t afford to keep warm. And, having been hit hardest by multiple cuts, disabled people are in a worse position to deal with rising fuel prices. The same is true for the parents of babies and young children, with benefit cuts, universal credit and low wages causing a massive increase in child poverty.

There is even a risk that, if the cap is applied to some people, the people who don’t qualify for the cap may see our fuel prices rise by even more, as suppliers try to make up the difference through cross-subsidisation!

An Ofgem press release says they will “Ofgem will work on extending price protection to at least a further 2 million vulnerable households for winter next year once the timing of the Government’s price cap is confirmed”. However, there is nothing about this “work” in the actual consultation papers; instead they repeatedly say that to bring the cap in quickly, they will limit it to people who already get the Warm Home Discount.

Fuel Poverty Action think a cap should apply across the board – no means-testing, no cliff-edge where your bills go up if you get knocked off disability benefits, or get a rise in pay, or get married … The prices are too high for everyone now, thousands of people in all sorts of situations are dying from cold every year, and suppliers are making a killing.
But in the meantime, the Ofgem cap is scheduled to come in this coming February. At the very least, it should apply to everyone who would be eligible for Warm Home Discount, whether or not you actually get it. If you want to help make sure that the cap covers more of the people who need it most urgently, you can send a simple email to:

Jemma Baker at vulnerability@ofgem.gov.uk, by 9am on Monday 13 November

And send us a copy at fuelpovertyaction@gmail.com!

Tell them: warm homes are a right – not a “first-come-first-served” lottery!

Feel free to check out our response for inspiration.

Cold homes, fuel poverty, climate change, millions of homes in debt to their energy supplier, huge profits for the Big Six… the energy system isn’t working.
Another energy system is possible! Get behind the Fuel Poverty Action Energy Bill of Rights

 

Nov 062017
 

Dear friends and colleagues

I am writing to invite you to the launch of the Austerity Campaign Action Pack, being developed by the Austerity Action Group formed by BASW following the Boot Out Austerity walk, with the support of the Social Workers Union.

The flyer for the event is attached and I would be grateful if you could share this widely. It is taking place on the evening of Thursday 30th November, at the University of Salford. It is a free, UK-wide event at which we will be hearing of anti-austerit activity in Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England. We are delighted that Rebecca Long-Bailey, a member of the Shadow Cabinet, will be speaking, alongside other notable speakers; and there will also be music, songs, poems, readings and film, in true Boot Out Austerity style. See the flyer for more details.

Food and refreshments will also be served.

You are receiving this email because of the interest you expressed in Boot Out Austerity. If you’d rather not receive future emails regarding BASW’s austerity campaigning, let me know by email, and I will remove your details from the mailing list.

Best wishes

Guy

Guy Shennan

BASW Chair

07841 529798

Visit our website at basw.co.uk

Wellesley House, 37 Waterloo Street, Birmingham, B2 5PP. Tel 0121 622 3911

The British Association of Social Workers is a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England No. 982041.

 Posted by at 19:49
Nov 032017
 

DPAC received this letter a while ago. At first, it did not make sense. What was Swanee? Then, looking around, we started to make connections with words associated with swans and babies’s swans.

UP THE SWANEE:

Hello, you have reached the SWAN,

kontroller of many Sicknets.

Fancy a stay in one of our private mental health hospitals?

Don’t fret about the cost! The NHS pay us approx £12,000 – £32,000  per week (all dividends boosting a USA owned company).

Long stays are assured.

Correct treatments not guaranteed.

All our staff are lovely (in our opinion), we are talking textbooks enjoying our very rewarding jobs patronising clients, dodging real issues, & creating drug addicts.

On average, we will force you to take 24 pills every 12 hours – so we can stay in our offices, & keep you feeling unwell.

If you don’t swallow, law says it’s OK for you to be thrown to the floor, held down & forcibly injected.

If you dare to raise a little finger to defend yourself, we accuse you of assault, police come, you are blamed.

No, whilst in our “care” you will not be allowed to leave, or go outside. You stay inside, with no fresh air, activities or access to education.

There’s no point us providing that as patients are too drugged to do anything.

Yes, our slick, well oiled sales pitch, aimed at maximising numbers of customers, does give onlookers the impression we provide HOTEL like facilities – a gym for example.

We have an Occupational Therapist. I’m not sure why – in this heat nobody has much motivation…

But our brand new buildings –  quickly put up constructions similar to MacDonalds, are a facade.

Seems like patients are on holiday!

There’s even a chef to cook your meals.

Admittedly it’s not homely. It is like living in a glass office 24/7 with approx 30 complete strangers – some of whom are dangerous – full of fear – desperate to go out / escape.

So you’re watched by staff & cameras 24/7.

Staff control everything! What you can read, you are not allowed to write (a pen is a potential weapon). But if you want to cut yourself with razor blades, that’s OK, we  can’t watch you all the time! Ha ha. (Even though we are paid to safeguard you).

When you realise you are suffering from EXTREME boredom caused by not doing anything month after month, year after year – you may develop some nasty new habits like trying to gauge your eyeballs out.

It is upsetting for staff. But these side effects are all due to your illness, and part of your recovery. It is a sign of progress! Due to your condition getting worse.

No! None of what you are feeling / suffering is attributable to your environment, or fact you are being tortured by us.

This is new-style USA medical kidnapping, in the UK, with the image all sorted out so it seems palatable to less discerning eyes.

Oh, we don’t worry about inspections, inquests, complaints, or cuts in NHS funding!

Who do you think our shareholders are?

Anyone can invest in our multi-Billion $ business – the funders of NHS Commissioning groups do, MH Trusts… acquire shares – it’s a fast growing industry – very attractive to most (& not repulsive enough to cause disternation amongst those who might see through the sham. Or should I say scam?)

(It suits Conservatives – they cause the conditions that drive folk to distraction – the stressful conditions Tories like to inflict on lower income groups beneath them, increases illnesses – if it’s cogs that go, all drives ’em to our door, so it’s win win for us!

It’s not a revolving door! We let ’em in a door we then keep shut.

That’s all we need to do really – herd ’em in like cattle.

Of course we don’t like deaths! That’s a loss of approx at least £300,000 a year per expired patient.

Quickly replaced by another dying to get in, yes. But we would prefer to get that £300 grand plus  get another £300 grand.

Never mind.  Our insurance covers us against dead losses.

Luckily for us (on the dark side) nobody has scrutinised deaths caused. Nobody in authority wants to link them!

Each death is explained away by a coroner scattered someplace in the UK, if we get told off a bit for not providing the best care, we promise to improve, and jackpot!

We’ve perfected our operation – our branding – everything – so disgruntled relatives can’t even leave negative comments on our websites. We churn out photos to promote us… I particularly like  awards put in our reception areas –  so  assuring to our customers & clients, reminding them what we do is very rewarding.

Our complaints procedure has become increasingly obscure.

We say one thing, do another. 99% we get away with it. We hire a pretty youngling to listen pseudo sympathetically, then write saying you have got it wrong, the hospital is right. Works like a charm! Complaints fade away like patients

No, we don’t allow 2nd opinions when it’s claimed a patient is misdiagnosed, or put on a wrong ward.

Yes, we do get annoying Nearest Relatives to either put up & shut up, or get lost.

What’s it to us if a patient is 100’s of miles from home with no-one to check on their welfare?

Do we help alleviate the mental health of patients?

A few compliant types – 1 or 2 are released.  We love it when the grateful sing our praises – that’s good PR.

If discharged into the community – you still have to take all the drugs, or you are sent back on a Section.

So, we create the illusion we do, but we don’t.

If you say you have a mental health problem, I’ll give it a name, I’ll tie you in knots – you haven’t got a degree in psychobabble, but I have – I get paid to confuse you, throw the weight of the establishment on you and they will back me, not you…because… I am omnipotent… so big & powerful…

What’s the point in making patients better?

That is counter productive for us. You do see that, don’t you?

Ethics? What’s that got to do with us? We are not in the business of selling ethics! We’re here (to exploit and) make money. From drug sales…

Yes, we are fundamentally (excuse the pun) very different from the founding NHS principles. The NHS aim to get you better double quick.

We do not need a heart, soul, or conscience to make huge profits. We only care about acceptably fixing figures so attractive sums end up in offshore accounts.

I should care about tricking people, destroying quality of lives, futures?

No thanks, the money does me. Their mental health has gone to pot. My pot!

So, when are you signing up to join us?

You can trust in me, I’m a professional.

 

 

 

 Posted by at 21:51
Nov 012017
 

A little later than planned is our second blog about Cygnet Health Care and what appears to be their shocking treatment and restraint regimes. The latter seems almost certainly to be illegal yet NHS England continues to have a £300 million deal with them.

This couldn’t of course have anything to do with the fact that Cygnet is now owned by US Universal Health Services, whose executive was Simon Stevens now head of NHS England.

Payers of $8.4 million for false claims Universal Health Services take over Cygnet Health Care for £205 Million.

MP Louise Hague has also written to the health secretary to demand an urgent meeting about the quality of care at Cygnet Hospital Sheffield.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has rated the hospital “inadequate” on safety.

The CQC has held inspections at the site three times in 13 months, two of which were prompted by serious incidents.

Similarly Cygnet hospital, Woking was actually forced to close down and some of the more disturbing findings included adolescents allowed to self-harm with objects they found in the rubbish, while four allegations of sexual assault were reported by patients supposedly under “constant observation” there.

Investigators found that staff on the adolescent wards had used physical restraint 839 times in six months, including 88 cases of face-down restraint.

A patient also required emergency help after being given a significant overdose of medicine.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/10/14/vindictive-hospital-staff-taunted-young-psychiatric-patients/

The most recent CQC report for Woking found

http://www.cqc.org.uk/sites/default/files/new_reports/AAAG7870.pdf

Ratings

Overall rating for this location

Inadequate

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Are services safe? Inadequate

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Are services effective? Inadequate

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Are services caring? Requires improvement

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Are services responsive? Requires improvement

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Are services well-led? Inadequate––

 

And then there are the worrying number of deaths which have been allowed to occur including

https://finolamoss.wordpress.com/2016/12/01/24-year-old-dies-in-cygnet-after-11-forced-olanzapine-injections-in-10-days/

 

https://finolamoss.wordpress.com/2016/12/09/jodies-cygnet-help-no-psychologist-communicationassessment-plan-protection-death-for-21000/amp/

Let us remind ourselves of Cygnet’s record on ‘treatment’.

https://finolamoss.wordpress.com/2016/12/25/a-christmas-tale-of-autistic-lives-and-cygnets-12500-a-week-nhs-bonanza/

And the fact that Cygnet is now owned by US Universal Health Services, whose executive was Simon Stevens now head of NHS England.

https://finolamoss.wordpress.com/2016/11/25/payers-of-8-4-million-for-false-claims-universal-health-services-take-over-cygnet-health-care-for-205-million/

And let us remind ourselves that rehabilitation to enable going ‘home’, is a home of drugged containment termed ‘community living’, also increasingly owned by US Universal Health Services via Cambian.

https://finolamoss.wordpress.com/2017/07/01/adult-treatment-units-to-community-living-turf-war-for-billions/

And here we have workers comments on Cygnet’s services.

https://finolamoss.wordpress.com/2016/12/29/comments-on-cygnets-services/

Finola Moss sums up her views on Cygnet and their service provision for autistic people.

Autistic people are huge cash cows, they earn Cygnet £13,000 a week being rapidly tranquilised in a secure Unit, whenever they are deemed ‘unmanageable’ in community placement or rehabilitation.

The Spring Centre with this new provision for an extra 14 men in locked rehabilitation and 4 rapid/emergency tranquilisation beds, earn £13,000 a week per ‘patient’ in addition to the existing 26 bed low secure units where each ‘patient’ earns £7,000 a week. That is £416,000 a week.

Over one and a half million a month and over 16 million a year ‘to look after’ 44 autistic people.

And what do they get for this colossal amount of public money ?

Renovation of a large house in a cheap area, plenty of drugs until compliant, containment, a consultant psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, a nurse practitioner, an occupational therapist, a manager and deputy, and minimum ratio to patient care workers/nurses on shifts, and cooking, cleaning and laundry provision.

Is there any competition ? No, as Cygnet is deemed the only ‘specialist provider’ under HSCA 2012.

The ‘patients’ have no rights, as sectioned each year under MHA and if necessary deemed ‘incapable’ for life under the MCA with yearly rubber stamped reviews of Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards. All this in their ‘best interests’.

Please help us get A moved from Cygnet Derby to live nearer her grandmother and out of the clutches of Cygnet.

https://www.thepetitionsite.com/en-gb/798/440/513/release-my-grandayghter-from-detention-in-cygnet-private-hospital/?taf_id=44510916&cid=twitter

 Posted by at 21:19
Oct 282017
 

To confirm attendance please email
ellen.morrison@inclusionlondon.org.uk 

And with any information about any dietary and access requirements. There is parking outside and the nearest tube is Brixton. For more information about the venue see:

http://www.weare336.org.uk/

There will be more detailed information including programme for the day, workshops and speakers list to follow after the National Disabled People’s Summit is out of the way

Please share this information across your social media platforms

 Posted by at 20:56
Oct 282017
 
By the kilburn Unemployed Workers GrouK
The government has already closed 24 jobcentres since August this year. They plan to close a further 78 Jobcentres by April of 2018.
16 of these Jobcentres are in London.
Poor people and people facing the biggest challenges need local jobcentres, not some superhub that they have to walk miles to reach.
Benefit money is too little to cover regular trips on public transport. People will have to walk. And don’t be late or too ill to walk over a mile each way whenever the jobcentre demands it-– you’ll be up for a sanction!
The Torys say that much of the jobcentres work is now done online, but 5.3 million people in Britain have never used the internet, and 10 million lack the basic digital skills. And millions of these people will be in receipt of benefits.
You can’t use the internet if you can’t afford a computer or a mobile phone contract or or the fee for using library or internet cafe
You can’t use the internet if you are illiterate (and six to eight million Britons are borderline or fully illiterate)
Our local Jobcentres, Kilburn and Neasden, serve one of the most deprived areas in the country. If they are closed then over half of the borough of Camden and around two thirds of Brent will be more than half a mile from the nearest jobcentre, i.e. more than a mile round trip. These areas contain heavily populated areas: a lot of people are going to be affected.
In amongst the people who can’t use the internet are hundreds of thousands of people who have lost their disability benefit because they aren’t disabled enough for the Tories. They may be able to walk just 200 meters, or sometimes panic when out and get lost, or nor be able to plan a journey to places they dont know, or have epilepsy. They may be seriously depressed or suffering from brain fog brought on by medication or illnesses like Fibromyalgia. They may be recovering from Cancer or waiting for a heart operation. They may have variable conditions that mean that they can’t guarantee being able to go out at all on any particular day.
Let’s meet outside the DWP’s headquarters at Caxton House and let them know what we think about this. Save our Jobcentres!
The 16 London jobcentres that are closing are:
Highgate, – 24 November 2017
Eltham, – 1 December 2017
Edgware,  – 8 December 2017
Finchley,  12 January 2018
Dagenham, – 19 January 2018
Southall,  January 2018
Kingston,  February 2018
Brixton,  9 February 2018
Neasden Chancel House,  16 February 2018
Clapham Maritime House, – 23 February 2018
Kilburn,  2 March 2018
Hammersmith 9 March 2018
Croydon, – 16 March 2018
Wandsworth,  23 March 2018
Leytonstone, 30 March 2018
Hounslow, 1 – 6 April 2018
 Posted by at 19:15
Oct 282017
 
It’s been reported http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/disabled-people-interned-care-homes-nhs-cost-cutting-a8019906.html that across the country disabled people are receiving threats from their local NHS service that they may have to be moved from living in their own homes to a residential setting due to newly capped funding.
 
I’m looking to speak to disabled people in this situation to raise awareness of the issue. Please note, it isn’t necessary that you’ve actually been moved to a care home but that you’ve been directly told this is a possibility. 
 
Please get in touch on: frances.ryan.freelance@guardian.co.uk 
 Posted by at 19:05