Dec 102013


From University and College Union –

UCU has produced this film as a contribution to Disability History Month (22 November to 22 December). We have aimed to make this film accessible to all members and welcome any feedback. Please use this film to commemorate Disability History and as a trade union and teaching resource to raise awareness of the importance of the social model of disability. Please send any comments to:

Nov 212013

Reflections on Doing Disability Research: An audience with Colin Barnes: Wednesday 4th December

At the University of Leeds: 5-7pm Western Lecture Theatre (no. 18 on the campus map) with a drinks reception from 4-5pm in the Liberty Building atrium (no. 16 on the campus map).

As you are probably aware, Colin Barnes, founder of the Centre for Disability Studies, is due to retire at the end of this year. This presentation will provide an insight into the circumstances and influences that led to his involvement with the Disabled People’s Movement, the development of Disability Studies here at Leeds and his thoughts regarding its future.

This is a free event and everyone is welcome, but please can you let us know if you intend to come just so we have an idea of numbers. Please email

This extra-special CDS event promises to be a highlight of our programme for UK Disability History Month!

See event:


Aug 132013


Reclaiming Our Futures UK


Join this year’s week of action to protest against austerity, fight for our rights and celebrate disabled people


From 29th August – 4th September DPAC and other campaigns will offer a range of activities you can get involved in. These events will bring together our anger at what is happening now, and celebrate our victories won, both in the past and to come.



Our rights are being stripped away day by day, by the neo-liberal policies being imposed on us all by the Condems, leaving us without much hope for our futures – or our children’s.


We have been here before. Our history is littered with examples of how our community has come together when under attack to fight – and win. From the early campaigns of NLBDP (National League of Blind and Disabled People) through to the founding and manifesto of UPIAS (Union of


the Physically Impaired Against Segregation) and on to DAN (Direct Action Network)- Now we have DPAC leading direct action and a host of other key grass root campaigns working towards reclaiming our rights and futures.


We have fought our corner over 3 centuries. And those fights have brought victories; the Independent Living Movement, our early CILs (Centres for Independent Living) and early active DPO’s (Disabled Peoples Organisations) and the significant rights for disabled people (which are now under attack). They represent big victories, brought about by mobilizing in our communities around our common cause – and having the will and determination to see our demands met without compromising our rights. We have consistently united in anger and celebration.


Download easy read information about the week here:

DPAC easy read (2)


DPAC Reclaiming our Futures Action


This autumn, we are asking our community to come together in anger, and celebration again – and to unite around our demands


We will be launching the UK Disabled People’s Manifesto setting out our vision of how the resources, structures and institutions of our society today can be re-designed to empower disabled people to take part in life on our terms. Disabled people are, and always will be, the experts on our lives and our self-determination. It will be a vision and practical plan that we can take forward in our communities, workplaces and lives to reclaim our futures.


In the build up to the manifesto launch, DPAC is leading The ‘Reclaiming Our Futures’, seven days of action to protest against the targeting of disabled people by austerity measures, to fight for our rights for inclusion and independence as equal citizens and to celebrate the value, pride and self determination of disabled people.


From 29th August – 4th September DPAC and other campaigns will offer a range of activities you can get involved in. These events will bring together our anger at what is happening now, and celebrate our victories won, both in the past and to come.


The plan below is only half the story. We want YOU, your Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisation, your campaign group, your community, your friends to put on events and get involved too. Can’t get to our exhibition? – then put on your own. Can’t get to our direct action? – then do your own. Barbecues, debates, quiz nights, family days, picnics – whatever! ACT – in celebration or in anger! (PS don’t forget to let us know what you’re doing).



Day by Day: 29th August-4th September



Thursday 29th August – YOU launch our 7 days of action


A range of resources will be available for your use as we ask all supporters to start our week of action with an online blitz. You will be the ones creating the buzz and the hype sending letters and twitter messages to targets of your choice ranging from MPs to disability charities to the media. We will be producing twibbons and memes but make and circulate your own. If you haven’t got a Social Media account (such as Facebook & Twitter) set one up now, link to DPAC ( twitter: @Dis_PPL_Protest) and let’s create a cyber wave. #dpacrof


The launch will coincide with Transport for All’s Day of Action to make CrossRail accessible:




Friday 30th August – Local Protests


Last year during the ATOS Games over 30 local actions took place around the UK Local actions mean you get to choose the target of your choice. You could take the Reclaiming Our Futures manifesto to present at your local MP’s constituency office, spread it through social media, protest on the streets against segregated education, the proposed ILF closure or show solidarity at your local Remploy site (for those few factories in their last weeks of operation). Alternatively, you might want to lobby your local Council on the Bedroom Tax and cuts to local services/support. Oh, and as we know ATOS offices are still around too….we’re sure you have other great ideas to add… Remember to let us know what you are doing so we can promote your actions. We will be producing local action resource packs but any materials you develop please send us copies to share with other protests and online.



Saturday 31st – Disability, Art & Protest Exhibition and Fundraising Gig


An exhibition and sharing of work exploring disability, art and protest followed by a ticketed fundraising gig run in partnership with Madpride and Tottenham Chances. Come during the day and join in our banner making workshop to prepare for the big Freedom Drive on the 4th September. If you would like to nominate an artist, collective and/or piece of work please let us know (including any links) and we will try to get them involved. If you want to do a local, street or online art protest too-this could be the day to do it.


Venue: Tottenham Chances, 399 High Road, London, N17 6QN Times:


12 – 7pm Exhibition: disability, art and protest

1 – 3.30pm Banner and placard making workshop


4 – 6pm Work Sharing

7.30pm till late Gig



Sunday 1st September – Reclaiming the Social Model: the social model in the 21st Century


Anne Rae: former UPIAS and current chair of the Greater

Manchester Coalition of Disabled People (GMCDP),


Colin Barnes: Professor of Disability Studies at Leeds Centre for Disability Studies



As government and the private sector increasingly use a so-called ‘modern understanding of disability’ to redefine who is and who isn’t disabled it is more important than ever that we understand, defend and promote the social model of disability. This isn’t helped when the social model is not fully supported within our movement. This event will be a chance to hear from a range of speakers and to discuss why the social model is still relevant today to our lives and our futures and to map out what we need to do to fight for it. The event will be live-streamed with the opportunity for people to participate in the discussion virtually. We will also be promoting a range of resources around the social model.



UNITE House, 128 Theobald’s Road, Holborn, WC1X 8TN

Time: 12.30 – 4.30pm



Monday 2nd September – Direct Action


Despite the huge efforts of thousands of disabled people throughout the country, it is increasingly difficult to find spaces where lies, inaccuracies and mis-use of statistics can be challenged. DPAC recently released a study into how the DWP uses all of these to vilify and demonize disabled people.


See more at:


But why is this down to us? People should be presented with both sides of the story and this isn’t happening. Disabled people are having to find ways to make sure our truths will be heard. Watch this space…



Tuesday 3rd September – ‘I Dare’ day


A day of online action to reinforce that we want ‘Rights not Charity’, and a society where we are able to operate on our own terms as disabled people. Dare to ask for Rights not Charity. Dare to be an activist. Dare to ask more of ‘our’ organisations. We aren’t asking for Care, we want Power: Power to write the script for our own lives, and not to be written out or written off by others. A range of actions and captions will be available for you to capture in an image and circulate online.



Wednesday 4th September – UK FREEDOM DRIVE


A final-day march and events in and around Parliament. Four


themed ‘blocks’ will meet at 4 Government departments, central to the lives of disabled people. After handing over our demands, blocks will then move towards Parliament for a lobby where we will formally launch the UK Disabled People’s Manifesto and present our demands to our


elected representatives.


Choose your ‘block’ and meet at 12.45pm at one of:


·        Department for Education to oppose government attacks on inclusive education and a return to segregation (Sanctuary Buildings, 20 Great Smith Street, London, SW1P 3BT)


·        Department of Energy and Climate Change if you’re angry about the numbers of disabled people living in fuel poverty while the energy companies rake in ever growing profits (3 Whitehall Pl, City of Westminster, SW1A 2AW)


·        Department for Transport to challenge inaccessible transport, the opening of new inaccessible stations for Crossrail and proposed cuts to rail staff further reducing customer assistance (Great Minster House, 33 Horseferry Rd, London SW1P 4DR)


·        Department of Health to defend our NHS and demand our right to levels of social care support enabling choice, control, dignity and independence (Richmond House, 79 Whitehall, London SW1A 2NS)


Lobby of Parliament: 5 – 6pm – launch of the UK Disabled People’s



WE WANT EVERYBODY TO JOIN US FOR THE FREEDOM DRIVE ideally in person, but also online-this is for everyone everywhere. There will be accessible transport from a variety of towns and cities throughout the country (details to follow) and there is some funding available for transport but we will need your co-operation and patience to make this work for everybody, so please bear with us and note that while DPAC members will be given priority we want to support as many people as we can. If you can’t get there send a photo or your name and you can march with us.


This week of action is yours. Please take part at whatever level suits you – BUT MAKE SURE YOU TAKE PART. Share our events, resources and actions as far and wide as you can.




Let’s Reclaim Our Futures, together!



DPAC web site:


DPAC facebook: Community group- including allupdates from DPAC) open groupDPAC page- faster paced and more opinion driven than community group )


DPAC Twitter: @Dis_PPL_Protest 


DPAC email:



Remember if you need help with funding to get to London (4th Sept) email us at with details. DPAC members will get first priority but we’re hoping to be able to contribute to all that want to come along. If you are unable to come but would like your picture carried send us a photo or message. Please get in touch with any other queries as well and we’ll try to help.

Download this as a PDF Doc:

 Download this as a Word Doc:


 Reclaiming our Futures is supported by The Edge Fund, Andrew Wainwright Reform Trust, Network for Social Change, Black Triangle, Mental Health resistance network, Wow Petition, Fuel Poverty Action, Occupy London, TUC, UK UNCUT, Boycott Workfare, Right to Work, Just Fair, Unite Disabled Workers, BFAAWU, European Network on Independent Living, Anti-Bedroom Tax and Benefits Justice Federation, and more…..


Jan 122012
Many thanks to Jenny Morris for allowing DPAC to reproduce her blog below as taken from:
In a discussion about my critique of disability policy, someone expressed surprise that I hadn’t written about the closure of the Independent Living Fund.  They were right that this is a serious omission from any analysis of the current attack on disabled people’s access to civil and human rights.  My only excuse is that every time I started to include the issue there was too much I wanted to say about the history and demise of the ILF.
The setting up of the Independent Living Fund in 1988 was an example of ‘progress by default’ in the heyday of the Thatcher government’s attack on the welfare state. This attack included abolishing something called the Domestic Needs Allowance.  This (unpublicised and therefore underclaimed) benefit was paid to a small group of disabled people who qualified for an addition to their Supplementary Benefit because they needed help with ‘ordinary domestic tasks’ like cooking and cleaning. Its abolition was part and parcel of the then Tory government doing what this Coalition government is doing – attempting to cut the benefits bill while claiming to be introducing new systems which would enable ‘better targeting’.  Then, as now, it was the House of Lords which mounted significant resistance resulting in a number of changes to the legislation, including the announcement by the government that they would set up a Fund to help ‘people who are severely disabled’, who were on low incomes, in receipt of attendance allowance, and who had to pay for their ‘domestic care’.   
The government thought that only about 250 people would qualify; Disability Alliance thought it would be several thousands.  By 1992, over 22,000 people were receiving an ILF grant and the original £5million budget had reached £97 million.
As with Disability Living Allowance, the government found it had introduced a method of supporting disabled people’s additional costs which was popular because it increased autonomy and quality of life.  But, as with DLA, instead of welcoming the success of the policy, the government’s response to the larger numbers of people successfully claiming than expected, was to attempt to reduce the numbers of people qualifying. In 1992, the original ILF was closed overnight and while a new Fund was set up, eligibility was tightened up and disabled people had to already be in receipt of local authority funded services.
Yet still its popularity grew, as did the principle at the heart of the ILF – giving people the money to enable them to purchase their own support. 
In 1993 I published research[i], comparing the experiences of people who were dependent on traditional services for the help they needed with those who received grants from the Independent Living Fund or cash payments from their local authority (at that point these direct payments were technically illegal until the 1996 Community Care (Direct Payments) Act was passed).  The contrast was striking in terms of people’s access to privacy and a family life, and to the opportunities they had for participating in society: ILF grants gave people control over the support they needed and meant their human and civil rights were protected and promoted.
These findings were echoed by all the research carried out during the 1990s and in more recent years – ILF grants have given people choice and control and have, as the most recent review found, been particularly good at reaching people with significant learning difficulties, who made up almost a third of those receiving grants in 2006
So why close it down?  The main incentive was of course the Department for Work and Pensions’ need to offer up savings to the Treasury in the context of cutting the deficit.  In looking for reasons DWP argued that “an independent discretionary trust delivering social care is financiallyunsustainable”.
The ILF was not a perfect system: amongst other things, it discriminated against older people (by imposing an upper age limit of 65 at the point of application) and against those with the highest support needs (by imposing a weekly limit on how much support can be funded). The independent review carried out in 2006 recommended – in the longer term – merging it into a new system of delivering social care based on the individual budgets which were being piloted at that time.
And the ILF is undoubtedly an anomaly.  In its initial phase it was entirely part of the national social security system but funded needs which were otherwise met by locally delivered social care systems. Since 1992, it has been more of a hybrid in that, while it is funded within the national social security system, the gateway to an ILF grant is through the locally delivered social care system.
When I was working with the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit, on what became Improvingthe Life Chances of Disabled People,   the logic of our analysis of independent living and the policies needed to deliver it led us to discuss whether there should be a national delivery mechanism – akin to the Independent Living Fund.  We drew back from this, partly because of political pragmatism but also on the grounds that it would undermine local democracy. 
I’ve never been entirely happy with this latter reason. It is only a historical accident – not because of considered policy design – that disabled people’s additional costs are currently addressed by two entirely different systems: Disability Living Allowance, non-means-tested and delivered through a national social security system; and community care (whether as services or direct payments) means-tested and delivered through a local system subject to local and professional discretion.
The Dilnot Commission, in response to the years of evidence of a ‘postcode lottery’ in access to social care recommends a national system of assessment.  We already have one – it’s called the Independent Living Fund.
For years, there have been attempts to encourage local authorities to use direct payments (and now personal budgets) to enable disabled people to have choice and control over the support they need to go about their daily lives.  Yet there remains a postcode lottery of not only the level of support available but the extent to which an individual can have control over the resources available.
As Colin Barnes has written, “One way out of this mess would be to take the distribution of direct payments out of the hands of local authorities and centralise it. This could be achieved by setting up a new national body similar to the ILF and accountable to organisations controlled and run by disabled people such as the National Centre for Independent Living (NCIL)”. [ii]
In the next few months the government will be publishing a consultation on the Independent Living Fund, and its long awaited White Paper in response to both the Dilnot Commission and the Law Commission’s report on community care legislation. The debate so far has mainly been related to how we can fund adult social care but there is an equally important debate to be had about the principles of delivery.  I would suggest, as a starting point, these should include:
– nationally consistent entitlements: ‘postcode lotteries’ are unjust and create disincentives to move in pursuit of employment opportunities or because of family commitments;
– universality, i.e. no means-test: disabled people face additional costs and a modern welfare state should fund these costs, out of general taxation, to create a level playing field;
– choice and control: self-determination is a basic human right which disabled people cannot experience unless they have choice and control over the support needed to go about their daily lives.
The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services told the Joint Committee on Human Rights Inquiry intoIndependent Living that, in the current climate, they are unlikely to provide replacement funding for all those who would previously have qualified for ILF grants.  This is the reality facing disabled people and which must be addressed by the government in its plans for the future of adult social care.
In the meantime, I would urge people to sign Disabled People Against the Cuts’ (DPAC) letter which urges the government to carry out a separate consultation on the ILF (rather than just including it in that on future funding of adult social care), and to continue the separate funding that the ILF provides. You can get a copy of the letter and sign up by visiting the DPAC website or emailing

[i] Morris, J. 1993. Independent Lives? Community Care and Disabled People, Macmillan.
[ii]  Barnes, C. 2007.’Direct payments and their future: an ethical concern?’ in Ethics and Social Welfare, 1(3), pp. 349-354.