Aug 262018
 

 DWP facing court over claimant’s universal credit ‘fit for work injustice’

A disabled man who was unfairly found “fit for work”, and then saw his benefits slashed by almost £180 per month after he was forced onto the government’s new universal credit benefit system, is seeking justice in the high court.

It is the latest in a series of legal cases that have been taken on behalf of disabled benefit claimants against DWP, as a result of a series of welfare reforms introduced under successive Conservative and Conservative-led governments.

The man, known as IM for legal reasons, had been claiming employment and support allowance (ESA), but after undergoing a work capability assessment he was told in March last year that he was no longer eligible for ESA.

His jobcentre advised him to claim universal credit instead, which he did, but he also successfully appealed against the decision to find him fit for work.

Although the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) now accepts that he was unfairly found fit for work and that he has limited capability for work-related activity – the equivalent of being in the ESA support group – he has been treated as a new universal credit claimant.

As a new claimant, he is not entitled to the severe disability premium (SDP) he previously received as a top-up to ESA.

If draft regulations become law, he may be entitled to the partial compensation of £80 a month agreed by work and pensions secretary Esther McVey for those who lost entitlement to SDP when they were forced to move onto universal credit.*

IM’s judicial review case has been taken by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), which has described DWP’s policy as “irrational” and discriminatory.

It has secured permission for a judicial review of the failure to provide IM with transitional protection after his move to universal credit, or, alternatively, the refusal to allow him to return to ESA.

CPAG is taking a similar legal action on behalf of TD, a single mother with a disabled child, which will be heard by the high court alongside IM’s case.

TD gave up her job to become a full-time carer but had her income support terminated when her child’s disability living allowance (DLA) was about to end and before it could be renewed.

She was also told by the jobcentre to claim universal credit, which she did.

Despite DWP eventually admitting that there had been a mistake, TD is now receiving almost £140 a month less under universal credit than she did when receiving income support.

The two cases are expected to be heard together in the high court early next year.

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) welcomed the judicial review and warned that if it was not successful, many other disabled people would be affected in a similar way.

DPAC said DWP was clearly engaged in “another cost-saving exercise”.

A DPAC spokesperson said: “Financially, the incentive for DWP is to find as many claimants as possible fit for work.

“Even if the decision is overturned, DWP is saving money by transferring claimants to universal credit.

“This is clearly just more evidence that universal credit is beyond being fixed.

“People already living on poverty-level social security payments are simply and randomly being thrown even further into destitution.”

Claire Glasman, from the campaigning organisation WinVisible – which supports disabled women – said: “Families are being devastated by abolition of income support, which is some recognition of caring work.

“We are contacted by stressed out mothers at their wits’ end when their children’s DLA and their carer benefits are threatened by the brutal personal independence payment [which is replacing working-age DLA]and universal credit system.”

A DWP spokeswoman said: “We are not able to comment on an ongoing legal case.”

23 August 2018 From Disability News Service

 

 Posted by at 18:20
Jun 082018
 

https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2018-06-07/HCWS745/

There has been some significant changes announced by the government concerning Universal Credit.  In a parliamentary statement yesterday Esther McVile says that the government intends to make the following changes-

The timetable for managed migration has been extended by 1 year.  It is now due to run from July 2019 – March 2023. Yet another delay on top of the years and many, many millions of pounds it has already taken

And transitional protection and the severe disability premium- some good news ahead of the court verdict which is expected shortly.

The Government has already made a commitment that anyone who is moved to Universal Credit without a change of circumstance will not lose out in cash terms. Transitional protection will be provided to eligible claimants to safeguard their existing benefit entitlement until their circumstances change.

Today I am announcing four additions to these rules to ensure that Universal Credit supports people into work, protects vulnerable claimants and is targeted at those who need it.

“In order to support the transition for those individuals who live alone with substantial care needs and receive the Severe Disability Premium, we are changing the system so that these claimants will not be moved to Universal Credit until they qualify for transitional protection. In addition, we will provide both an on-going payment to claimants who have already lost this Premium as a consequence of moving to Universal Credit and an additional payment to cover the period since they moved.

Second, we will increase the incentives for parents to take short-term or temporary work and increase their earnings by ensuring that the award of, or increase in, support for childcare costs will not erode transitional protection.

Third, we propose to re-award claimants’ transitional protection that has ceased owing to short-term increases in earnings within an assessment period, if they make a new claim to UC within three months of when they received the additional payment.

Finally, individuals with capital in excess of £16,000 are not eligible for Universal Credit. However, for Tax Credit claimants in this situation, we will now disregard any capital in excess of £16,000 for 12 months from the point at which they are moved to Universal Credit. Normal benefit rules apply after this time in order to strike the right balance between keeping incentives for saving and asking people to support themselves.”

The above changes will be brought in by new regulations in the Autumn (Universal Credit Managed Migration and Transitional Protection Regulations).

 Posted by at 21:29
Mar 132018
 

Badge saying "STOP & SCRAP Universal credit"

This Wednesday 18 April join DPAC, Single Mothers’ Self-Defence and WinVisible to call on the Government to #StopAndScrap Universal Credit. 

London Protest – meet for 11am outside the visitor’s entrance to House of Commons.

You can see details of local actions around the country on this page.

To download a flyer for use on the day click here: flyer 

 

Feb 132018
 

If you’re planning a local action around March 1st please let us know.

UC Day of Action local protests

Brighton– March 1st Clock Tower, Brighton, 10.30 am – 1pm information handout.

Facebook Event Link:  https://www.facebook.com/events/327263861014031/

 

Bristol – March 1st at Broadmead Shopping Centre 12 – 2 pm all meeting up in the middle. Please wear black if possible.

Facebook Event Link:  https://www.facebook.com/events/1575085919265099/

 

Ceredigion – March 3rd 11am – 1pm Guildhall, Cardigan, SA43 1JL

https://www.facebook.com/events/1725015990888709/

Chester- March 1st 12-2pm Job Centre Plus, City Road, Chester, CH1 3AQ

Facebook event Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/177236042877566/

Derbyshire –  Online Event: 1-2pm

Facebook Event Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/1570832732972130/

 

Dundee-  March 1st 12-2 pm Job Centre Plus, Wellgate, DD1 2DB

 

Edinburgh
Thurs 1st March  1pm (till approx 2.30pm)
Leith Jobcentre, 199 Commercial St, Edinburgh EH6 6JF

Edinburgh action called by Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty – grass-roots anti-austerity and disability rights groups invited to participate with their banners and stalls.

https://www.facebook.com/events/437482893334245/

 

Falmouth – March 1st 8-11am at Penryn Jobcentre, Penmarin House, Commercial Rd, Penryn TR10 8SB

https://www.facebook.com/events/560750934288894/

Leamington Spa Job Centre 58 Brandon Parade, CV32 meet noon

London (central action) –  11 am until 2pm.  House of Parliament, Westminster. Meet for 11 am outside visitor’s entrance to House of Commons

Facebook Event Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/323792051472634/

London, Kentish Town – 1-2pm outside Kentish Town Job Centre

https://www.facebook.com/events/2060011490902572/

 

Manchester- March 1st at 13:00–15:00

Norwich – Norwich City Hall 12.30 – 2pm

Facebook Event Link:  https://www.facebook.com/events/217086858848908/

 

Sheffield–  12 noon until 1 pm.  Sheffield City Hall, Bakers Pool, Sheffield, S1 2JA.

Facebook Event Link:  https://www.facebook.com/events/1756747394635182/

 

York – March 1st 10am -12pm Monkgate, York

https://www.facebook.com/events/1609285995821063/

More info
https://dpac.uk.net/2018/01/national-day-of-action-to-stopandscrap-universal-credit-march-1st/
https://dpac.uk.net/2018/01/dpac-position-statement-and-motion-for-union-branches-on-universal-credit/

 Posted by at 16:26
Aug 152017
 

Many claimants will be aware that with Universal Credit there are 7 waiting days when claiming , well some good news is that there are some exceptions. While this is going to be quite daunting for many, there are small things which will help existing IR ESA ,JSA,IS claimants.

 

 

Exceptions
5 A person will not have to serve 7 waiting days where

1. a new award of UC is made2

1.1 to a single claimant where a previous award has ended when the
claimant ceased to be a member of a couple or

1.2 to joint claimants where two previous awards ended as the result of the
claimants becoming a couple or

1.3 in any other circumstances where the assessment periods for the new
award begin on the same day of each month as the assessment periods for a previous award  or

2. on the relevant date, the claimant or either of the joint claimants

2.1 is terminally ill or

2.2 has recently become a victim of domestic violence  or

2.3 is a care leaver or

2.4 is aged 16 or 17 and has no parental support  or

2.5 has been a prisoner within the month ending on the relevant date or

2.6 has been entitled to new-style JSA or new-style ESA within the 3 months
ending on the relevant date or

2.7 was entitled to old-style JSA, old-style ESA or IS at any time during the
period of 3 months ending on the relevant date and ceased to be entitled
to that benefit on starting paid work or

2.8 does not fall within paragraph 5 2.7  and was entitled to one of the
following benefits at any time during the period of one month ending on
the relevant date

2.8.a old-style JSA or

2.8.b old-style ESA or

2.8.c IS or

2.8.d HB or

2.8.e child tax credit or

2.8.f working tax credit

 

1 UC Regs, reg 19A(3); 2 reg 19A(3)(a); 3 reg 21; 4 reg 19A(3)(b); 5 reg 98(2); 6 reg 8(3); 7 Universal Credit
(Transitional Provisions) Regs 2014, reg 16A; UC Regs, reg 19A(3)(b)

2.7 was entitled to old-style JSA, old-style ESA or IS at any time during the
period of 3 months ending on the relevant date and ceased to be entitled
to that benefit on starting paid work or
2.8 does not fall within paragraph 5 2.7 above and was entitled to one of the
following benefits at any time during the period of one month ending on
the relevant date
2.8.a old-style JSA or
2.8.b old-style ESA or
2.8.c IS or
2.8.d HB or
2.8.e child tax credit or
2.8.f working tax credit7 .

Aug 012017
 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find out more by signing up to the mailing list

Thanks,

Catherine Hale and Jenny Lyus.

Jun 212017
 

Did you know the DWP had a policy which says they can communicate with Disabled people via email, if a person needs this as an access requirement.  We often hear that in reality you have to fight hard to get them to agree to use an email.  We need to change this.

Inclusion London is working with lawyers to challenge the DWP’s failure to communicate with Disabled people in an accessible way.

You can support this challenge by sharing you experience with us.

If you have asked the DWP to send their letters to you via email instead of post, tell us what happened then.  The more people we hear from, the stronger out challenge will be.

Email Svetlana at Svetlana.kotova@inclusionlondon.org.uk

 Posted by at 19:27
Feb 132017
 

Unite Community (Coventry and Warwickshire Branch) along with co-sponsor UCU and supporting organisations Peoples Assembly and Coventry Recovery Centre will be screening the film I Daniel Blake.

Our aim is to raise awareness of the sanctions regime in the benefits system and to highlight the desperation and indignity that this imposes on thousands of people in Britain today.

The theatre will open at 18.00 and we advise that you be seated by 18.05 The film will start at 18.15 and lasts for 1 hour 40 minutes.

After the film there will be a question and answer session in the theatre led by the director of the film Ken Loach, which everyone watching the film is invited to. The Q&A session will last approximately 1 hour.

 

DATE AND TIME

Wed 22 February 2017

18:00 – 21:00 GMT

Add to Calendar

LOCATION

The Goldstein Lecture Theatre

Alan Berry Room

Coventry University, Jordan

Coventry

CV1 5FB

 

There are limited numbers of tickets available. To book tickets  and advise on access needs please email us at mail@dpac.uk.net

 Posted by at 19:50
Jan 052017
 

If anyone is willing to help with either of these requests please contact the relevant person directly.

Loss of Motability Vehicles 

I’m a TV producer based in Southampton looking into PIP and Motability.  I’m looking for someone to film who is having to hand back a car and would like to speak to people who might be affected by this especially anyone willing to be filmed when their car is removed.

Feel free to circulate this email.

Jane Goddard

Assistant Editor Inside Out South

jane.goddard@bbc.co.uk

BBC South, Havelock Road, Southampton, SO14 7PU – 07740 732402

Removal of Benefits from people

My name is Jemma and I am a Producer making a BBC Three documentary with Stephen Manderson, also known as Professor Green, exploring the issue of families raising children with low incomes across the UK. I came across your campaign group in my research and I am hoping you may be able to help. Stephen Manderson, grew up in Hackney and is an award winning rap artist and documentary filmmaker. The film we are making follows on from the success of his recent BBC Three documentaries: ‘Suicide and Me’ about his personal experience of losing his father to suicide and ‘Hidden and Homeless’. In this new documentary, Professor Green will set out to understand the experience of families facing hardship in the UK. As an important part of Stephen’s journey we would like to speak to families with children who feel their benefits status or payments shifted at a time when they were unwell or vulnerable. I completely appreciate the sensitivities around this area as many have lost loved ones which is heart breaking and I understand even more so where they feel they have been let down by the benefits system. I would like to open up a conversation with you at DPAC to see if you may be able to help us reach out to families who might be open to having an initial chat about their experiences with the DWP? If you would like any further information please do not hesitate to contact me on the below numbers or via email. I very much look forward to hearing from you.

Jemma Gander Producer The Garden One America Street London SE1 0NE T: +44 (0) 20 7620 6734 F: +44 (0) 20 7620 6724 M: + 44 (0) 784 000 3976 E: jemma.gander@thegardenproductions.tv

 Posted by at 14:55
Jan 022017
 
My name is Helen and I am a Trainee Clinical Psychologist from Lancaster University. I am conducting research as part of my doctoral thesis about the psychological impact of benefits sanctions following the Work Capability Assessment process and what impact this had, if any, on peoples’ mental health and outlook. I’m involved with Pyschs Against Austerity who DPAC and MHRN both work closely with.

If you have a diagnosed mental health condition? Have you experienced the Work Capability Assessment? Have your benefits been sanctioned because of this assessment? .

The purpose of this research is to understand the psychological impact of benefits sanctions following the Work Capability Assessment process and what impact this had, if any, on your mental health and outlook. If you would like to take part in the study, you would be invited to be interviewed to discuss these experiences for around one hour. . It would be useful for this to be in the North West but I am willing to travel if necessary. I can also help with any travel costs people have up to £20.

If you would like to take part or would like more information, please email the principal researcher, Helen McGauley, email h.mcgauley@lancaster.ac.uk Please share this with anyone else who you think might be interested in taking part. Thanking you in advance, Helen McGauley

 Posted by at 16:57
Nov 202016
 

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

 

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

 

Please consider the following points

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 Posted by at 18:19
Oct 312016
 

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

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

Overview and what these changes might mean

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Write or email Damien to let him know what you think

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

also please respond to the consulation

Full consultation here

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

take part in consultation here

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

 

 

 

 Posted by at 18:51
Sep 192016
 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Benefits included in the cap

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

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

Benefits that aren’t included

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

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

 

 

 Posted by at 20:45
Aug 152016
 

 

For instance a bank may not have given you a loan or closed an account.

The Lords Select Committee is carrying out an inquiry into financial exclusion and one of the questions they are asking is, ‘What has been the impact of recent welfare reforms on financial exclusion?

Financial exclusion usually means a lack of access to a range of financial services such as those provided by banks including current or savings accounts, loans, credit and debit cards.

The welfare reforms include:

  • Disability Living Allowance being abolished and replaced by Personal Independence Allowance

This includes the change from 50 metres to 20 metre walking distance criteria for enhanced rate mobility                     payment

  • Changes to housing benefit such as the social housing size criteria (commonly known as the bedroom tax)
  • Harsher sanctions regarding Employment Support Allowance or JobSeekers Allowance
  • Tighter criteria for Employment Support Allowance via the WCA
  • Benefit cap.

Please let me know your experience on any areas of financial exclusion by 5 September by email:

Henrietta.doyle@inclusionlondon.org.uk

Inclusion London is responding to the Lords Select Committee inquiry into financial exclusion and your experience will inform our evidence. Your anonymity will be preserved.

You are welcome to submit evidence directly to the inquiry.

Information about the inquiry is available at:

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/lords-select/financial-exclusion/news-parliament-2015/call-for-evidence/

The deadline for submissions is Wednesday 14 September.

 

 

 

 Posted by at 14:15
Jan 292016
 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Q&A

 

  1. Is the government going to appeal?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Applying for and Being refused a DHP

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

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

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

 

Why discretionary DHPs are not an adequate replacement for rights

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Posted by at 20:05
Jan 212016
 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 Posted by at 19:44
May 252015
 

Independent Living Fund

Frequently Asked Questions for Independent Living Fund ( ILF ) users and other people with High Support Needs

This has been written for people who do not have a legal background. However, any individual who is considering legal action in relation to problems with their support should not rely only on this guide but should seek specialist advice, including legal advice.

These FAQs have been prepared by Kate Whittaker[1] together with DPAC supporters who are ILF users, Inclusion London and Disability Sheffield Centre for Independent Living. Individuals and local groups are welcome to re-use extracts and are free to copy it and send it round by email. If extracts of the paper are used in other publications please state that the content was taken from this guide.

The full document can be downloaded from

http://www.inclusionlondon.co.uk/Independent-Living-Fund

[1] Kate is a consultant solicitor at Scott-Moncrieff & Associates, a national firm of solicitors specialising in community care, public law, mental capacity and other civil liberties work. Scott-Moncrieff & Associates have a franchise with the Legal Aid Agency to provide legal aid work in these areas.  Kate also provides independent legal consultancy and training. She specialises in cases involving disabled adults and children and others who need care and support from public bodies. As well as working as a solicitor Kate works closely with a number of disabled people’s organisations providing advocacy and other services, including Disability Sheffield where she is a trustee.

 Posted by at 20:22
May 172015
 

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

These are not costs you can claim for.

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

And here are some list

 

Disability related expenditure list

Wheelchair insurance

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

 

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

Recliner chair

Mobile – needed for safety reasons

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

NHS Bed

Stair lifts

Door opener/Intercom/remote control door opener

Two Closimat toilets

Wheel chair charging

Mobile phone charges

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

Health insurance

 

Replacement Equipment aids Costs
Heat pads

Hot water bottles

Bedding

Cushions

Lap Trays – activities/meals/computer

Pillows

Special mattress

Clothes

Wheel chair covers

Tens Machine – Batteries & Pad

 

PA Costs

– Hand wash

– Alcohol gel

– Toilet roll

– Hot water

– Kettle

– Drinks

– Protective/medical gloves and aprons

– Transport costs in order to escort on public transport

– Breakages

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

 

 Live in Carer potential costs

New Carpet

Electric costs

Gas costs

Laundry
Showers

Bedding

Food

 

Heath/Medical

Travel to GP, Nurse and hospital appointments

Hospital
– Neurology

– Eye Clinic

– Euro gynaecology

– Pain clinic

– Operations

– Chiropody

 

– Antiseptic Creams

 

General Outgoings

Electric

Gas

TV costs

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

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

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

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

Pet insurance if an assistance dog

Rent above levels paid in benefits

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

Water rates

Household insurance for appliances relating to impairment

Servicing of any aids or equipment

Wheelchair insurance

Gardening

Decorating

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

 

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

Taking disability-related expenditure into account

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Factsheet 46lApril 2015
Paying for care and support at home

22 of 48

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

 

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

 

There may be other costs that should be accepted.

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

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

Additional suggestions

communication aid configuration, mounting , unmounting and charging up

private therapies including massage for either pain relief or anxiety

Dressings for self injury and extra water (OCD)

ready meals when unable to cook

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

 

 

 Posted by at 21:04
Mar 252015
 

A complaint to the United Nations was today launched on behalf of disabled people in the UK whose rights have been breached by the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF). The ILF, which is the subject of an on-going and desperate battle between disabled people and the Department for Work and Pensions (1), is high on the priority list for disabled people deciding how to vote at the forthcoming election. The complaint brought by Inclusion London (2) on behalf of two disabled women, Nicky Baker and Dr Melanie Wilson Jones, alleges that the government has violated Articles 17, 19, 20, 30 and 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), ratified by the UK in 2009 (3).

The Independent Living Fund was set up in 1988 to support disabled people with high support needs to live in the community when the alternative was residential care. Since then it has helped thousands to live active and full lives, contributing to their communities and participating in education, employment and volunteering, family and social life. It is an effective way to provide support with both low cost overheads and extremely high user satisfaction rates (4).

On 13 December 2010 without any consultation or impact assessment, it was announced that the ILF would be closed permanently to new applicants. A ministerial statement was made referring to “informal consultation with disability organisations” but there is no record of this consultation (5). Since then, disabled people who missed out on the Fund have been left without the support they need to take part in day to day life and disabled people’s life chances have dramatically fallen. Meanwhile the government has failed to monitor the impact of the closure.

Nicky Baker, age 30, is a qualified auditor working within a disabled people’s organisation as well as studying part time for a degree. Although eligible for support from the ILF, the Fund was closed the day after she telephoned for an application form. The social care package she receives from her Local Authority does not provide the support she needs to live an independent life, for example to go on dates with her boyfriend without having her parents there or to take part in sufficient training for the high level of powerchair football she reached.

Dr Melanie Wilson Jones received a substantial amount of support including from the ILF after sustaining a brain injury. She made such progress that her needs decreased and thus her support was reduced. However following a road traffic accident in 2011 she sustained a further brain injury requiring someone to be with her constantly. Now unable to get support from the ILF, she is reliant on her husband who works full time and her 16 year old daughter to make up the extra hours of support she needs for evenings and weekends.

Linda Burnip, co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts, who are supporting the challenge, said: “It is the pooling of resources and collective solidarity that has allowed this to happen. We’re grateful to DPAC supporters for their financial support towards travel costs, to the solicitor and barrister who gave their time pro bono, to Inclusion London for their staffing resources and of course to the two disabled women willing to put themselves forward to make a complaint on an issue that affects all disabled people in the UK. Without all of these factors this could never have been brought to fruition.”

Tracey Lazard, CEO of Inclusion London, who authored the complaint said, “The closure of the Independent Living Fund signals the end of independent living for disabled people. It took many years for disabled people to fight their way out of the institutions and to have the same chances as anyone else to live in the community alongside family and friends. At the current time Local Authorities are simply not able to provide the level of social care support required to uphold disabled people’s fundamental human rights”.

Sophie Partridge, a current ILF recipient, said: “The ILF has played a huge part in supporting me to have equal access to an independent adult life and a level playing field alongside non-disabled people. Without the ILF being re-opened to new applicants, I worry that young disabled people will never get the same life chances as I have had.”

Solicitor Louise Whitfield, from law firm Deighton Pearce Glynn, who is representing the complainants said: “From a legal perspective, I cannot see how the UK Government can justify closing the ILF to new applicants with no consultation or consideration of the rights protected under the UN Convention. Under Article 19, those rights include the fundamental right to independent living which has clearly been breached by this decision and I hope that the UN Committee takes appropriate action to recognise these very significant breaches”.

For more information or to speak to either the complainants or other disabled people affected by the closure of the ILF contact: ellen.clifford@inclusionlondon.co.uk or call 07505144371.

Notes for editors:

1) The future of the ILF has been the subject of two legal challenges: the first was won by disabled claimants at the Court of Appeal in November 2013 and the second was lost in the High Court in December 2014. There have been continued protests and direct actions led by disabled people and their supporters since 2010, including in June 2014 the attempted occupation of the grounds of Westminster Abbey.

2) Inclusion London is a pan impairment pan London Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisation (DDPO) which provides policy, campaigning and capacity building support for London DDPOs. Inclusion London promotes disability equality and has been working with the disabled people led campaign Disabled People Against cuts to support ILF recipients in the campaign to keep the ILF open.

3) The UK is signed up to the UNCRPD Optional Protocol. This means that individuals can take complaints to the UN disability committee for breach of the UNCRPD if all domestic avenues have been exhausted. If the committee find the complaint admissible, they will investigate. and produce a set of recommendations for the State in question. One previous complaint was made to the UN disability committee but found inadmissible as the incidents in question which related to employment discrimination occurred before the UK ratified the convention. For more information about the UNCRPD: http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?id=150

For more information about previous uses of the Optional Protocol: http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/TBSearch.aspx?Lang=en&TreatyID=4&DocTypeCategoryID=6

4)

5)

 Posted by at 21:42
Mar 062015
 

Hallo dear DPAC members

As an occasional reader of your blog and website I am writing from New Zealand. There have been developments here that may be of some interest to you in the UK also. We have had major, some will say draconian, welfare reforms here in mid 2013, which also affect many disabled people on benefits. So far we have not had quite the same level of pressures put on persons with serious, longer term sickness and with physical and mental impairments as the DWP and their assessor ATOS put onto persons with the same conditions in the UK. But as the “reforms” are kind of “evolving”, and gradually being implemented, I fear that we are heading down a very similar path as has been followed in Great Britain.

So your former Provider of assessments ATOS will be replaced by US
 corporate MAXIMUS, while the WCA (Work Capability Assessment) remains little changed. That means there are likely to be little if any “improvements” coming to the disabled people already harassed with work capability assessments and the continued “tightening” of the welfare system in the UK.

 

We have here in New Zealand also had a few of the dubious, obviously hand-picked and biased UK “experts” – using a perverted version of the “bio psycho social model” approach – come here to “advise” our government on “welfare reforms”. One was Professor Mansel Aylward, who has visited here a few times now, and another was Dame Carol Black. There is also a “President” of the so-called AFOEM (Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine), by the name of Dr David Beaumont, who once worked for ATOS in the UK, and he has helped introduce Aylward’s theoretical teachings and approaches, that have now been widely accepted and adopted by the medical professional organisations for Australia and New Zealand “google” AFOEM and RCAP). Like in the UK attempts are made to tie in and put “expectations” onto doctors and other health professionals, to cooperate, and deliver the results the welfare agencies and governments here want.

The New Zealand and Australian governments seem both hell-bent to put more pressure on chronically ill and disabled people to get them into whatever kinds of jobs, while there are few suitable employment opportunities, and while employers are not by law expected to employ disabled, and to provide truly suitable work places and conditions. The focus is clearly on cost savings, and on reducing welfare numbers, and all else is more or less window dressing, to make the “reforms” look acceptable.

 

Hence a similar approach to the one used in the UK is applied here now, but in a slightly different way, where they are trying to avoid some “mistakes” that were clearly made in the UK. Nevertheless, we are in New Zealand faced with a very bizarre work ability assessment approach, which allows the assessors and the case managers of “Work and Income” (our equivalent to the DWP) endless DISCRETION. The last Reviewer of the DWP’s WCA now appears very interested in how New Zealand has “reformed” welfare and uses work ability assessments.

 

But this should send warning signals to disabled people and others that may be affected in the UK. By looking more closely at what they have so far done in  New Zealand, it can hardly be useful for the UK as a “model” to follow. The New Zealand department “Work and Income” is as part of the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) actually conducting experiments with disabled people , trying out various assessment and job referral approaches, now increasingly provided by outsourced providers. 

There is little legal certainty and consistency in the system here, and this makes it very difficult for affected “clients” to challenge decisions, and to ensure they get a fair and reasonable treatment, that can also be based on clear legal and medical scientific guidelines.

So perhaps have a look at the information I can offer via the links below.

Read some of the following about this:

https://nzsocialjusticeblog2013.wordpress.com/2015/01/23/the-discredited-indefensible-work-capability-assessment-wca-in-the-uk-and-what-its-demise-must-mean-for-nz-welfare-reforms-part-1/

 

https://nzsocialjusticeblog2013.wordpress.com/2015/01/28/the-discredited-indefensible-work-capability-assessment-wca-in-the-uk-and-what-its-demise-must-mean-for-nz-welfare-reforms-part-2/

 

Also of interest:

http://nzsocialjusticeblog2013.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/medical-and-work-capability-assessments-based-on-the-controversial-bio-psycho-social-model/

 

http://nzsocialjusticeblog2013.wordpress.com/2013/12/28/designated-doctors-used-by-work-and-income-some-also-used-by-acc-the-truth-about-them/

 

http://nzsocialjusticeblog2013.wordpress.com/2014/06/21/work-ability-assessments-done-for-work-and-income-a-revealing-fact-study-part-a/

(see the other parts published via that small blog offering a huge amount of useful information about what is going on here, and how it is linked to what has been, and is being done in the UK)


Keep up the good work with your movement, despite of times being very hard and challenging.

Best wishes

Marcus

New Zealand

 Posted by at 21:27
Jan 292015
 

Legal Challenge re-PIP claims

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

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

Legal Challenge re- Sanctions

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

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

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

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

 

 Posted by at 13:08
Jan 092015
 

Join The Day Of Action Against Maximus

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

Please organise in your local area and spread the word.

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

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

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


 

List of Maximus Health programme Locations

Manchester

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

Birmingham

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

London (City)

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

London Bridge

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

HML Transport (Derby)

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

 

Employment and Works programmes

London Branches

Ilford

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

Camden

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

Ealing

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

Hammersmith and Kensington

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

Hillingdon (Hayes)

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

Islington

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

Peckham

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

Romford

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

Walthamstow

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


List of Maximus Work Programme Locations

London Branches

Ilford

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

Camden

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

Ealing

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

Hammersmith and Kensington

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

Hillingdon (Hayes)

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

Islington

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

Peckham

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

Romford

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

Walthamstow

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

South East Branches

Aldershot

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

Aylesbury

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

Banbury

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

Bracknell

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

Burgess Hill

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

Chichester

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

Dartford

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

Eastleigh

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

Guildford

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

High Wycombe

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

Horsham

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

Milton Keynes

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

Oxford

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

Reading

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

Slough

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

Southampton

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

 Posted by at 14:12
Jan 072015
 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 Posted by at 16:03
Dec 032014
 

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

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

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

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

We have sought legal advice to see whether these changes can be challenged as discriminatory and now need to hear from anyone who is or would be affected by these changes in the near future and who would qualify for legal aid.

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

 

http://linkis.com/disabilitynewsservice.com/fZhn2

 

https://dpac.uk.net/2014/11/motability-and-the-deserving-and-undeserving-charity-not-rights/

 

 

 Posted by at 18:27
Nov 182014
 

New regulations have very recently been laid before Parliament which will cut Disabled Students Allowance. At DPAC we are concerned that these cuts will seriously reduce or even prevent disabled students from taking part in higher education. We are concerned that the Regulations were laid without a public consultation and in breach of the public sector equality duty. If you are worried about the cuts to Disabled Students Allowance because you are (or will be) a university student who would apply for DSA, please get in touch with us at mail@dpac.uk.net

 Posted by at 21:42