May 102012
 

Lord Freud – The Benefit Fraud

With thanks to the ever brilliant Johnny Void for letting us repost this– for more of The Void go to http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/

Lord Freud, the toff banker, will be defending the Government’s savage welfare reforms at a conference called by the National Housing federation on May 23rd.  Freud has been one of the chief architects of the vicious Welfare Reforms as both a Labour and then a Conservative Party member.

Freud was asked by Tony Blair to review the benefit system way back in 2006, despite Freud saying he knew nothing about it.  This didn’t stop him from leaping at the opportunity to claim that single parents should be sent to work, lay the foundations for the Atos shambles and encourage the use of fraudulent bastards like A4e to run huge chunks of the Welfare State.

The great welfare rip off has seen companies paid billions of tax payers’ money to provide barely existent training courses or claim huge fees every time someone unemployed finds a job.  The likes of the now disappeared Emma Harrison formerly of A4e have awarded themselves multi-million pound dividends whilst their staff, under enormous pressure from above, have ended up cooking the books to pay for them.  Like all the best scams, the companies involved don’t even have to break the law to make off with the cash.  Training providers on the Government’s flagship Work Programme can be paid up to £13,000 for claiming to have helped someone get a job who has barely even met them. 

Private sector sharks have also been brought in to carry out assessments for sickness and disability benefits, another of Freud’s ideas.  The Atos assessment system has turned out to be a disaster, costing a fortune in appeals against their flawed decisions, whilst being devastating for those forced to undergo the stressful and demeaning tests. This hasn’t stopped Atos creaming £100 million a year off the tax payer.  And Atos, along with prison companies like G4s and national joke Capita, are set to pick up huge contracts for re-creating the exact same shambles to re-assess over three million people currently claiming Disability Living Allowance.

With George Osborne promising up to £5 billion in cash to Work Programme contractors, it seems the gravy train for private sector sharks infecting the Welfare State is far from over.  Meanwhile millions of people face poverty and homelessness due to ideas generated on the back of an envelope by Lord Freud and his chums.

Lord Freud is a member of the pervy Freud dynasty and went to Whitgift Public School and then Oxford.  On leaving university he just happened to be offered a job at the Financial Times.  After a few years he ditched financial journalism to begin work as a professional crook for stockbrokers Rowe & Pitman (later to be taken over by SG Warburg).  His first job was to compile research on companies he was also taking money from, a practice which was made illegal after analysts were found publicly backing clients whilst slagging them off behind closed doors.

During his career Freud cost the tax payer a fortune when he botched the Eurotunnel flotation in a deal he describes as a ‘shambles’ and claims he ‘sold the market a pup’.  He did a similar thing with the Eurodisney flotation, costing investors millions.  Asked to handle the flotation of doomed company Railtrack, Freud priced the shares at £3.50 despite them being worth over four times that figure.  Freud remained a senior figure at SG Warburg helping to oversee the collapse of the investment bank in 1995 when it was taken over by the Swiss Bank Corporation.

David Freud’s omni-shambles career is best summed up by himself:

“Nearly everything I’ve done has been total chaos. I cannot believe it’s just because of me.”

This is typical of arrogant little posh boys like Freud.  Believing they are born to rule, their old school chums will prop them up as they fail time and time again.  In return they offer kickbacks, like the multi-billion pound give away to the private sector that Freud has overseen whilst involved in welfare reform.  They really are all in it together.  A self-serving smug elite sharing around power and money like pass the fucking parcel whilst the rest of the country gets on with doing the real work that keeps them rich.

When Freud saw which way the wind was blowing under the Labour Government he jumped ship to the Tories where he was immediately made a life peer and given a Baroncy.  As Minister for Welfare Reform he has wasted no time in continuing the incessant lies about benefit claimants he began telling under Blair.  The man who’s worth millions is outraged that single mums should be paid a pittance to feed their children, or large families in cities should have somewhere to live.

If the fraud Freud had been born on a council estate he’d probably be banged up by now for flogging fake Armanis or nicked ipods down the boozer.  Instead he picks up huge sums of tax payers’ cash he doesn’t need to advise the Government on something he knows nothing about.  All that’s required for the rich to succeed is the old school tie and a commitment to staying on the right side in the class war.  Brutality and incompetence is the hallmark of the English ruling class and there has rarely been a better example than Lord Fraud and his chinless cabinet cronies.

Freud will be speaking at the National Housing Federation’s Welfare Reform Conference on the 23rd May.  Join protesters at 9.15 to tell him what you think outside the Commonwealth Club, 25 Northumberland Avenue,
London, WC2N 5AP

See also: ‘A Tale of Two models: disabled people vs Unum, Atos, Government and Disability Charities’ for more on Freud’s doings and the sell out of welfare http://www.dpac.uk.net/2012/04/a-tale-of-two-models-disabled-people-vs-unum-atos-government-and-disability-charities-debbie-jolly/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mar 012012
 

The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) today publishes its Report on the implementation of the right of disabled people to independent living in the context of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) which was ratified by the UK in 2009. The Report draws attention to a number of significant human rights issues, including:

 

  • the need for freestanding legislation to protect the right to independent living in UK law,
  • the effect of current reforms to benefits and services on the ability of disabled people to enjoy independent living,
  • the role played by the UNCRPD in policy development and decision making at all levels of government,
  • the use of equality impact assessments,
  • the effects of devolution on implementation of the UNCRPD, and
  • hate crime

 

The right to independent living does not exist as a freestanding right in UK law. Although it is protected and promoted to some extent by a matrix of rights, the Committee believes that this is not enough. It argues that the Government and other interested parties should immediately assess the need for, and feasibility of, legislation to establish independent living as a freestanding right. In addition, the Committee concludes that the UNCRPD is hard law, not soft law, and that the Government should fulfil their obligations under the Convention on that basis, and counter any public perception that it is soft law.

 

The Committee finds that:

 

  • reforms to benefits and services risk leaving disabled people without the support they need to live independently;
  • restrictions in local authority eligibility criteria for social care support, the replacement of the Disability Living Allowance with Personal Independence Payment, the closure of the Independent Living Fund and changes to housing benefit risk interacting in a particularly harmful way for disabled people;
  • some people fear that the cumulative impact of these changes will force them out of their homes and local communities and into residential care.

 

It also finds that:

 

  • the Government had not conducted an assessment of the cumulative impact of current reforms on disabled people. The Report urges them do so, and to report on the extent to which these reforms are enabling them and local authorities to comply with their obligations under the UNCRPD.

 

  • the UNCRPD did not appear to have played a significant role in the development of policy and legislation, as is required by the Convention. The Committee therefore argues that the Government should make a commitment to Parliament that they will give due consideration to the articles of the Convention when making legislation.

 

Further, the Committee deprecates changes to the duties of public authorities in England under the Equality Act 2010, which no longer require the production of equality impact assessments of changes in policy, nor the involvement of disabled people in developing policies which will affect them.

 

The Committee finds variations in the manner in which the devolved administrations have implemented the Convention, and uncertainty as to the role the UK Government should play in ensuring implementation. The Report notes with disappointment the lack of a strategy in Northern Ireland to promote independent living and reminds the UK Government to acknowledge their responsibility to ensure implementation.

 

The Committee also considers a range of other issues relating to independent living. It recommends that the Government should take further action to ensure that assessments for care needs are portable across the country in order to ensure disabled people’s right to choose their place of residence. It also expresses concern over a growing incidence of hate crime against disabled people and urges the Government take action to foster respect for the rights and dignity of disabled people.

 

 

Dr Hywel Francis MP, Chair of the Committee, said: “We are concerned to learn that the right of disabled people to independent living may be at risk through the cumulative impact of current reforms. Even though the UK ratified the UNCPRD in 2009 with cross-party support, the Government is unable to demonstrate that sufficient regard has been paid to the Convention in the development of policy with direct relevance to the lives of disabled people. The right to independent living in UK law may need to be strengthened further, and we call on the Government and other interested organisations to consider the need for a freestanding right to independent living in UK law.”

 

 

The members of the Committee Are:

Rehman Chishti MP (Conservative Gillingham and Rainham) Baroness Berridge (Conservative)
Mike Crockart MP (Liberal Democrat Edinburgh West) Lord Bowness (Conservative)
Dr Hywel Francis MP (Labour Aberavon) (Chair) Baroness Campbell of Surbiton (Cross-Bencher)
Mr Dominic Raab MP (Conservative Esher and Walton) Lord Dubs (Labour)
Mr Virendra Sharma MP (Labour Ealing Southall) Lord Lester of Herne Hill (Liberal Democrat)
Mr Richard Shepherd MP (Conservative Aldridge-Brownhills) Lord Morris of Handsworth (Labour)

Clerks to the Committee:

Mike Hennessy (House of Commons) 020 7219 2797 John Turner (House of Lords) 020 7219 6772

Enquiries: 020 7219 2467        Fax: 020 7219 8393        E-mail: jchr@parliament.uk

Homepage: http://www.parliament.uk/jchr

Media Inquiries:  Liz Parratt: 07917 488978.

Dec 202011
 

DPAC has been passed an unedited transcript from Work and Pensions Committee in which Maria Miller appears to admit that the changeover from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is set for cuts of £160 million from disabled people. It’s claimed that the department must raise the cash cuts lost in the U-turn on removal of mobility allowance for those in residential institutions. In the full transcript participants also seem to be talking as though DLA to PIP is already passed in law which it isn’t.

Q194 Sheila Gilmore: Some of my colleagues may want to ask whether or not it is just a question of people filling in the form. There is quite a lot of dispute as to whether it is fair to say that is all that goes on here. As to the financial position, a lot of people were very pleased to see the removal of mobility allowance from people in residential homes, which is something people have campaigned on from the time it was proposed. That also had a savings implication because a reduction of some £160 million was in the financial estimates. Is your Department still expecting to find additional savings from the migration from DLA to PIP that now will not be found from removing mobility allowance from people in residential care?

Maria Miller: As you would expect me to say, the Department has very clear commitments to the Treasury in terms of the spending it is able to undertake in the spending review period. The answer to that question is, very firmly, that we will have to find the funding that was associated with the mobility component for people living in residential care, but we will not find it from within the Disability Living Allowance.

Q195 Sheila Gilmore: From within PIP?

Maria Miller: Yes.

DPAC are running a campaign on DLA as already people are losing this in increasing numbers see

DLA tell DPAC your story Campaign and Social model respomse to loss of DLA

See full unedited transcript of meeting of Work and Pensions Committee at link below

Proposal to replace disability living allowance with personal independence payment – uncorrected evidence

Organisation: House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee

Source: House of Commons – Uncorrected Commons Committee Evidence

Date: 18.12.11

The House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee has published an uncorrected transcript from its evidence session on December 12 2011 on the proposal to replace disability living allowance with personal independence payment.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmselect/cmworpen/uc1493-iii/uc149301.htm

Witnesses:

  • Maria Miller MP, minister for disabled people, Department for Work and Pensions
  • Dr James Bolton, deputy chief medical adviser, Department for Work and Pensions
  • Simon Dawson, deputy director of independent living and Office for Disability Issues, Department for Work and Pensions

18 December 2011

 

 

 

Dec 192011
 

Earlier this year I was asked by another disabled person “what is wrong with you anyhow?”  The person who asked this should have known better as they claim to work from a social model perspective. My obvious response to this was to ignore the question as there is nothing “wrong” with me. I have an impairment and because of the disabling barriers in society this means I am disabled.

 Now I have read that Sue Marsh (who writes for the blog ‘Diary of a benefits scrounger’) has been refused DLA in spite of having severe Crohn’s disease.

 DLA currently focuses on supporting people to live independently and to provide support for people’s mobility needs. The care component of DLA is a payment to meet the extra costs of being disabled whatever they are, extra food, extra heating, extra clothes, and if you’re an ILF user half of it goes towards the cost of your care and support package anyhow. To qualify for DLA you need to be unable to do certain specified tasks like cooking a meal, or have a need for constant supervision to help keep you safe. These descriptors are very medical model and look only at functional factors while ignoring issues such as you might be able to cook a meal if you had a fully adapted kitchen, or taps that you could actually turn on.

 Looking at the purely physical functions someone can do is also unsatisfactory. As much is made of the can you cook a meal descriptor in deciding someone’s entitlement to DLA let’s consider this a little further. One young man with Asperger’s syndrome who has lost his entitlement to the care component of DLA can physically cook a meal but needs support to do this. Another young man with Asperger’s says this functional ability test takes no account of how stressful the tasks are and how it leaves you feeling. Yet another disabled man who loses concentration frequently can theoretically cook a meal but keeps wandering off and leaving food to burn.

 For anyone with a fluctuating impairment it is impossible to get as you have to have these needs constantly for 3 months and be likely to have them for at least 6 months before you can qualify.

 As I too am disabled not just by my Crohn’s Disease but on a daily basis by the treatment I have needed for this to stay alive I have the greatest empathy for Sue.

 How people with impairments relate to society is complex and may be related to the nature of their impairment which can increase the barriers they face in daily living and leading a full and active life.  

 Using the social model approach towards defining disability as social restrictions imposed to top of people’s impairments it is necessary to make a distinction between the structures, systems, cultures, environments and attitudes that exist at the macro level of society – the level where they can institutionally exclude or marginalise people with impairments via how people with impairments are ‘taken into account’ and how they are not ‘taken into account’ – and the day-to-day social interactions which take place at the micro level of society.

 In my case for example the operations resulting in the loss of several large chunks of intestine cause me daily physical difficulties and I can no longer absorb Vitamin B12 which leaves me at risk of getting pernicious anaemia. These difficulties are exacerbated because of the lack of support available to disabled people who may be able to do some of the physical and medical model tasks to qualify for DLA some of the time but not all of the time.

 When my Crohn’s Disease flairs up I am unable to even get out of bed let alone cook. In fact the mere sight or smell of food often makes me be sick. I have to take massive doses of steroids to try to get better again which affects my immune system and means I’m more likely to get other illnesses too and this has also resulted in me having early onset Osteoporosis. I find it very hard to keep my weight at a reasonable level as often I can only eat things like ice cream and jelly for days at a time.

 I took early retirement from work because I was advised by consultants that I was more likely to remain healthy and well if I did not work and additionally this would save the NHS a lot of money. However, if work was more flexible and I was able to work when and if I could, and have the time off to rest when I needed it then I would have been able to continue to work.

 As a parent I also had the added barriers to face of having to support a disabled child who needed 24 hour support even when I was most ill. There was no help available on a short term basis and I could not afford to pay for any help myself. Many days I almost crawled around to get my son and daughter ready to go to school and then was only able to collapse back into bed. If only I had qualified for DLA then this might have been a different situation, or if social services had been able to offer some sort of short term, at home, respite support.

 However with regard to social services I have to say that until it was absolutely necessary to have any contact with them I avoided this as the Children’s services and Occupational Therapy services available where I live were so shockingly awful, which having worked for Birmingham Social Services for 10 years I feel qualified to judge. What use is an OT who says things like “disability is always so dreadful” or “I’m sure new technology is very enabling but I don’t understand it” This was not the sort of attitude towards disability that I wanted my son to grow up with. He’d already discovered at the age of nine that he was considered a fire hazard so couldn’t go to the local inaccessible cinema like his friends so it was really important to me that he understood this wasn’t his fault but the fault of the cinema for not being accessible.

see DPAC campaign on DLA

Sep 112011
 

On September 13th the Welfare Reform bill passes to the House of Lords for debate and to be voted on. This bill is based upon the ‘Universal Credit: Welfare that Works’ white paper that puts forward the Condem’s proposals for reforming welfare to work incentives, to simplify the benefit system and to tackle administrative complexity.

In short it seeks to destroy the welfare state as we know it and in many cases slash benefit claims to the point where increased poverty and homelessness will result.

DPAC say that Disabled People and Disabled Children should not pay the price for welfare reform. Please email as many Lords as you can. This needs to be done now or very soon so please take a few moments to do this if at all possible.

A full list of Lords email addresses can be found here or at this blog

Dear Lords,

We are writing to express our concern over numerous aspects of the current Welfare Reform proposals which you are now being asked to consider and vote on. Many of these measures will adversely affect the lives of disabled people and children and will in many cases remove disabled people’s rights supposedly guaranteed under the UN Convention of Rights of Persons with Disabilities. If passed as they are many of these changes will result in widespread increases in poverty and homelessness.

A number of our concerns include the introduction of Personal Independence Payments to replace Disability Living Allowance with a stated aim of reducing the number of claimants by 20% when the fraud rate for DLA is according to DWP figures only 0.5% and the social security advisory committee have said they can see no reason for the changes. Re-testing of claimants regularly although their conditions will never change will be a further waste of public money and will merely add another test for disabled people to fear.

The proposed removal of the Mobility component of Disability Living Allowance from all residents of care homes, resulting in a fall in their incomes of 66% and leaving them with only £22 a week for all extra expenses will cause genuine distress  for many residents as well as in most cases removing from them a right to family life. Many disabled people living in residential homes use this component to pay for either a mobility aid such as a wheelchair or to pay travel costs to see family and friends. One care home resident tells us that he has to pay his home 65p per mile to travel anywhere although the home is paid over £1,000 per week for his care and the drivers are volunteers. This is typical and without mobility allowance many disabled people will effectively become prisoners.

The proposed abolition of the Independent Living Fund coupled with the reduction of local authority funding will result in massive numbers of disabled people losing their right to live independently in total contradiction to the UNCRPD which was ratified by the UK government. This fund should not be scrapped without an adequate and ring-fenced alternative being put in place. In other countries where similar moves have been made the costs to the state increased as large numbers of disabled people ended up being admitted to hospital for lengthy periods of time. This proposal in particular will be disastrous for disabled people’s rights.

Restricting the amount of Housing Benefit entitlement to social housing tenants whose homes are larger then they are deemed to need is ill thought out as many disabled people have had costly adaptations made to their homes which they would lose if forced to move. There is also a massive lack of accessible properties available anyhow thus making it almost impossible for disabled people to find alternative accommodation. Further for anyone with a visual impairment or a learning disability it is often vital for them to remain in surroundings that they are familiar with and to maintain contact with medical and other professionals who know them well.

Another potential problem with housing is that the bill will link Local Housing Allowance rates to CPI index, which excludes housing costs. Already with the changes to LHA made it is becoming increasingly difficult for disabled people who have additional housing needs eg. to use a wheelchair, or have non-resident carers to find accommodation they can afford in the private rented sector.

Limiting of Employment and Support payments to 12 months for those in the Work Related Activity Group seem particularly illogical as disabled people’s impairments are not likely to go away and may in fact deteriorate. It ignores the effects of chronic, fluctuating conditions such as MS, ME, inflammatory bowel diseases etc.

In addition, the universal credit and welfare reform will bring in ‘a commitment’ for those who fail to ‘apply themselves’ to proper work seeking activities to tougher sanctions. Once again this will not address the complexity of employment related barriers that disabled people face, even if they really are ‘fit for work’. Cuts to Access to Work funding will put in place additional barriers to disabled people in trying to secure employment.

Caps on the total amount of benefit any claimant can get, for both housing needs and living expenses. The suggested total amount is £500 per week regardless of family size, or costs of housing. Ian Duncan Smith says this is to ensure that work pays however it totally ignores the multiple barriers that disabled people face in entering and remaining in the job market, and the fact that many families with disabled children are forced to give up work to care for them due to the lack of adequate alternatives.

Many families with disabled children will face a cut to the financial support they receive. The new system will result in these children losing up to £1400 per year The Government estimates that 100,000 disabled children would lose out under this change.

The reforms suggest that all claims should be processed via the internet which is not accessible for many disabled people. What alternatives are being proposed for those who do not have or cannot access this method of claiming.

We hope that you will ensure these issues are fully addressed before you vote on this bill, the future of disabled people now lies in your hands.

Yours faithfully,

(fill in your name and address)


Aug 162011
 

Iain Duncan Smith was reported today at The Broken of Britain blog as having used the accessible loo at a Covent Garden studio causing a disabled person to have to wait in some pain. While that was undoubtedly an embarrassing moment for him it looks  that he was not overly welcomed when he was down under either.

Iain Duncan Smith photo supplied

Simon Collins from NZ Herald called him “UK hatchet man:

Iain Duncan Smith, a former Tory leader and now a Cabinet minister, is speaking at the Maxim Institute’s annual Sir John Graham Lecture at the Heritage Hotel.

Ms Bradford, a former Green MP, said Mr Duncan Smith’s “horrendously damaging” welfare reforms in Britain, which include cutting housing benefits for thousands of low-income families, inspired many of the proposals by economist Paula Rebstock’s Welfare Working Group in NZ. Government decisions on the Rebstock report are expected before this year’s election.

Hilary Stace asked :

Why is he visiting and why should New Zealanders to be vigilant about his message? The answer is that the New Zealand government is about to drive through similar welfare ‘reforms’, otherwise known as cuts, following the work of its Welfare Working Group which was appointed in 2010. The WWG reported on 22 February 2011, an hour before the destructive Christchurch earthquake. The signs weren’t good.

Many of us have been watching with horror as the welfare ‘reforms’ have been rolled out in Britain. The  justification is that there is something evil called ‘welfare dependency’ that many poor and disabled people and single parents suffer from, and which can only be cured by paid work, preferably fulltime.

Mr Duncan Smith expressed his underlying assumption for this policy – that welfare dependency leads to ‘worklessness’ (not the other way around). But I suggest there are two basic things missing in this equation: the role of the government to create jobs; and the role of the state in ensuring the dignity of all its citizens. He did not apologise for, or even acknowledge, the role of neoliberal policies under Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher which destroyed industries and millions of jobs. Yet he claimed that one million people will be lifted out of poverty by these reforms.

These assumptions are underpinned by an absolute belief in the moral good of paid work and the lack of value of any other kind of work including voluntary work or child rearing. The Tory minister said that it is very important for the child of a single mother to see his/her mother go off to paid work every day as that would normalise ‘work’ for the child. The only unresolved question, he suggested, is what age that should happen. In New Zealand proposals the child could be as young as 14 months. In Britain it is five years old.

When a member of the audience asked about creating work he replied with a sigh that he thought we had moved beyond that question. He said it is the private sector’s job to make jobs and the state’s only role is to make things easy for the private sector to do that. He claimed that the private sector had created half a million jobs in the last year but – wait for it – British people didn’t want them so they had gone to ‘immigrants’. So if the hundreds of thousands of unemployed British people are ungrateful and lazy, what does that say about disabled people?

For disabled people in Britain currently on welfare the first step out of ‘dependency’ is an assessment for ‘workfitness’ (a term that harks back to eugenics). To assess the ‘workfitness’ of disabled people, a private multinational company, Atos,  has been contracted to do a tick box computerised assessment without any contextual information such as mental health or disability history.  Depending on what an individual scores they can be placed in three categories: work fit and ineligible for even basic employment support, work fit with employment support, and not work fit (ie unfit).  It is easy to imagine how aspects of a condition such as autism are overlooked by medical questionnaires which ask questions such as can you walk, or dress yourself. There are incentives such as rewards of additional contracts for the company to push people off the welfare system, and its profits are currently at record levels.  But it seems there have been so many challenges to the insensitive and inaccurate assessments that the system can’t cope.

As well as workfit tests, there are also cuts to other aspects of the welfare system such as allowances for housing, programmes, and disability support including such things as continence supplies. There have been reported suicides, and regular reports of disabled people suffering because, for example, they can’t afford adequate housing and families unable to get supplies for their disabled children.

Mr Duncan Smith has also distorted the concept of social justice, with its implications of equity, inclusion and bottom up social policy, by using it for the name for his own right wing think tank, the Centre for Social Justice, whose purpose appears to be championing policies to inflict social injustice on the poor and powerless.

It is rare for us here to have the chance to get up so close with someone so powerful, so I listened carefully. After all, there is the equivalent of the population of NZ on welfare in Britain, out of a population of 62 million. He is a very smooth and persuasive talker, obviously clever, and had the look of someone who has been well nurtured with a comfortable life; I suppose you don’t get to be head of the Conservative Party without these attributes. So how can he justify the misery and pain his policies are so clearly causing? He is not evil and is clearly genuine concerned. One of my interests is ethical public policy*; I think that the only way powerful people can inflict such policies on other people is by seeing them as ‘other’ not fully human, or objects of scorn or laziness. Interestingly, in Britain the opponents of these policies have adopted the black triangle  – the Nazi symbol used to classify the  ’workshy’, one of their ‘othering’ labels – as their campaign symbol.

So at question time I asked Mr Duncan Smith whether it worried him that his policies might be hurting real people. He initially didn’t agree, blaming misinformation campaigns and claiming disability groups had asked for these changes, but it clearly needled him. I think this is the way to challenge those whose policies risk hurting and harming other people – as human to human. And we need to keep doing it otherwise inequality and suffering will only increase.

Alternatively,  we can always hope that politicians will actually ask real people for input into policy, and listen to the wisdom that comes from their  lived experience. But not much sign of that happening.

From: http://humans.org.nz/2011/08/02/politician-does-it-worry-you-that-your-policies-hurt-real-people/

We send this to New Zealand campaigners in support of their protest:

Disabled People Against Cuts stands in solidarity with New Zealand campaigners against poverty. As British Government Secretary for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith prepares to speak, disabled people in Britain want you to know the dangers of following a British approach to welfare reform and the threat that it represents to your equality, human and civil rights.

The Coalition government which came into power in Britain in May 2010 made rapid and sweeping changes under a welfare to work programme that targets the poorest and the most oppressed in British society. This programme is underpinned by a deliberate ideological policy of removing support from those in the greatest need. Meanwhile so-called austerity measures are disproportionately affecting disabled people. At the same time that local governments are removing support from disabled people, central government is re-assessing the benefits disabled people rely on to survive while imposing arbitrary targets set to reduce the numbers of claimants.

The Condem’s Welfare to Work vision has already costs lives. In June 2010 Paul Reekie, the Scottish author, took his own life. Laid out on the table next to him were 2 letters, one telling him his housing benefit had been stopped and the other telling him his incapacity benefit had been stopped. This is just one example of what is becoming an all too common issue. Senior government officials have acknowledged that the welfare reform programme will cost lives but they see it as an unavoidable consequence of a direction they are determined to pursue. In 2005 the previous government set a target of 2025 by which time disabled people should have equality. Without income, without housing, without support to leave the house or even to use the toilet, this target is completely unreachable. Moreover, government propaganda that paints all benefit claimants as scroungers contributes to existing discrimination against disabled people at a time when hate crime against disabled people is an extremely serious issue and the names and numbers of those killed through prejudice mount up.

Duncan Smith’s Welfare to Work programme does not represent value for money and cannot be excused as a necessary austerity measure. At the same time as a recent report commissioned by the government, found that the Access to Work programme makes a profit for the government of 48p for every £1 spent, the Department for Work and Pensions which runs the programme continued its policy of cutting resources to Access to Work, with the effect of denying support to disabled people trying to get in and stay in mainstream employment. The proposals for removing Disability Living Allowance and replacing it with a system which requires continual review for people with lifelong impairments will require investment at a level which can only be sustained by removing benefits from genuine claimants.

ATOS, a profit-making healthcare company, has been given a 300 million pound contract by the government to carry out work capability assessments on disabled people to review their eligibility for employment and support allowance (previously called incapacity benefit). ATOS works to a target of finding disabled people fit for work and ineligible for the benefit. In order to meet their targets they disregard information from medical professionals, GP’s, consultants and psychiatrists. The advisors look for any reason to remove support. In one example a man with a mobility impairment lived in a flat which was too small for his wheelchair. When at home he uses furniture to get himself around. His ATOS assessment used this as proof that he could manage without a wheelchair. ATOS assessments are notoriously inaccurate. 40% are overturned on appeal and, with representation, that level raises to 70%. In other examples soldiers returning from Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress disorder and people with terminal cancer have been declared fit for work.

Money is being spent paying private companies to find ways to declare people fit for work when they are not and to take away benefits from the poorest and most powerless members of society. Rather than being an effective use of money, this is ideological, it is about pushing those people already on the margins of society even further into poverty and obscurity.

In Britain disabled people have not stood by and let this happen. We have mobilised and protested to defend our rights to the support we need to live an equal life. We urge campaigners in New Zealand to resist any attempt by their government to erode fairness and social justice the way ours has.

–Ellen Clifford

Jul 282011
 

DPAC notes with interest the news reported by John Pring that disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) are to boycott a review, set up by Leonard Cheshire Disability (LCD) and Mencap,  into one of the most controversial parts of the government’s welfare reform bill.

The two big disability charities, announced this week that they were launching a new “independent review” into how the mobility needs of people living in residential care are met and funded.

The bill currently gives the government powers to stop paying the mobility element of the new personal independence payment – which is set to replace disability living allowance – to people in state-funded residential homes.

Given that the review will be led by  “crossbench peer Lord [Colin] Low, former chair of RNIB and now its vice-president and also president of Disability Alliance with other members of the review’s “steering group” include a  disabled resident of a Leonard Cheshire residential home, the governor of a special school, a local government expert, the director of a think-tank, and an expert in care provision”, it is not surprising that DPOs should raise concerns about the independence of the charities’ new review.

The question is posed as to why no user-led organisations were told about it or asked to take part.

Jaspal Dhani, CEO of UKDPC  said he was concerned that the review could be used to promote the need for residential services rather than disabled people’s right to live in the community.

Mark Harrison, chief executive of Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People, said he was “angry” with the decision to set up the review, which he said was “typical behaviour from two disability charities that are for disabled people, not of disabled people”.

He said the two charities had yet again “violated” the disability movement’s principle of “nothing about us without us”.

Sue Bott, director of the National Centre for Independent Living (NCIL), said NCIL would also not be taking part, while she was “struggling to see what this independent review will achieve other than to try and raise the profile of the two organisations involved”.

DPAC would like to point out although we understood the need for disabled people to march with the big charities at the Hardest Hit rally, we had grave reservations about their (big charities’)  motives for organising the event, it looks like we might be confirmed in our suspicions.

Source: http://www.disabilitylib.org.uk/component/content/article/1-latest-news/597-dpos-boycott-charities-independent-review-of-mobility-needs

Apr 182011
 
"Atos don't give a toss" placard

"Atos don't give a toss"

On the last Day of Action Against Benefit Cuts protests, actions and demonstrations were organised in Dundee, Edinburgh, Westminster, Leeds, Liverpool, Bristol, Newcastle, Brighton, Glasgow, Poole, Burnley, Islington, Kensington, Cardiff, Poole and Truro.  This time we’ve got all week!

Disability activists, claimant groups and anti-cuts campaigners have called a week of action against poverty pimps Atos Origin beginning on Monday 9th May with a picnic and party in Triton Square*, home of their head office, at 2pm.

Atos Origin have just begun a £300 million contract by the Con-dem Government to carry out ‘work capability assessments’ on all of those claiming Incapacity Benefit.

It is claimed assessments are to test what people can do rather than what they can’t. The real purpose is to strip benefits from as many people as possible.

This testing system has already led to people with terminal illnesses and severe medical conditions being declared fit for work and having benefits cut. GP’s are ignored in favour of decisions made by Atos Origin’s computer.

Plans announced for the scrapping of Disability Living Allowance have also revealed that this intrusive testing is likely to be extended to everyone on some form of disability or health related benefit.

To date around 40% of appeals against Atos Origin’s decisions have been successful.

On the 24th January claimants from around the country demonstrated outside Atos Origins premises, with many choosing to close for the day rather than face their ‘clients’. We call on all groups around the UK to take action against these parasites who have been dubbed ‘the racial purity and euthanasia arm of the DWP’

A list of Atos Origin’s corporate offices and testing centres can be found via: http://benefitclaimantsfightback.wordpress.com/2011/04/15/national-week-of-action-against-atos-origin-begins-monday-9th-may/

If you are holding an event, protest or action in your home town please add details on the wall below to have your event added to this page and the website. Alternatively contact us at: notowelfarecuts@yahoo.co.uk

*Triton Square is on the North side of Euston Road, just over the road from Warren Street tube and less than five minutes from Euston/Euston Square or Great Portland Street tube stations.

facebook event at: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=121624627914913

Supporting groups (please contact us to be added to the list)

Supported by:

o Armchair Army
o Anti-Benefit Cuts Glasgow
o Black Triangle Anti-Defamation Campaign
o Brighton Benefits Campaign
o Cardiff’s Unemployed Daytime Disco
o Carer Watch
o Carer Watch fb page
o Crippen – Disabled Cartoonist
o Diary of a Benefit Scrounger
o Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC)
o Dundee Unemployed Workers
o East Lancs Right to Work
o Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty (ECAP)
o Free London Listings
o Goldsmiths in Occupation
o Haringey Solidarity Group
o Ipswich Unemployed Action
o Islington Deaf and Disabled People Against Cuts (IDPAC)
o Islington Hands Off Our Public Services (IHOOPS)
o Islington Poverty Action
o Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group
o Lancaster and Morecambe Against the Cuts
o London Coalition Against Poverty (LCAP)
o London Foodbank
o Mad Pride
o Medway Against The Cuts
o Mental Health Resistance Network
o Norfolk Community Action Group
o Nottingham Claimants’ Union
o Nuneaton Against Benefit Cuts
o Oxford Save Our Services
o Squattastic
o Tyneside Claimants Union
o Welfare Action Hackney
o Welfare Rights 4 u (UK)
o Work Programme & Flexible New Deal Scandal
o World Homeless Day

Mar 142011
 

Linda Laurie5,000 people turned up to march on the Lib Dem spring conference in Sheffield on Saturday. £2 million was spent on security to protect them so we weren’t allowed to get anywhere near them and surprise, surprise, Nick Clegg didn’t come out to speak to us despite his claiming that he and his ministers wouldn’t hide away. I went to speak at the rally after Linda Burnip (from DPAC) asked for a volunteer (speaker for Disabled people ). This was what I tried to say although speakers were curtailed to a few minutes each.

“Apparently we are all in this together.

Apparently the country doesn’t have any money.

Sorry

Apart from the

* £2 million that we are paying for the security to protect the Coalition govt Lib Dem millionaires, including Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne, inside our City Hall.

* Apart from the £20 million that we are paying for Will and Kate’s wedding.

* Apart from the £6.5 million bonus that the boss of Barclays bank is getting.

* Apart from the £20 billion of our money that the British govt have spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

Apart from, according to Nick Clegg last April, the £100 billion it will cost us to replace Trident.

Apart from the £210bn in avoided, evaded and uncollected taxes according to the Public and Commercial Services Union who organise Inland Revenue Staff, so they should know!

That is how they spend our money.

Yet the Lib Dem Coalition govt says that it is your fault – students, disabled people, pensioners, trade unionists – that the country has a budget deficit.

They say we must pay for the deficit with the destruction of the welfare state.

* The Liberals and their Tory friends say the NHS must pay with cuts of £20bn and the loss of 53,000 jobs including 6,346 jobs in mental health services by 2015.

* The ConDems say public services must pay with spending cuts of £31.9bn and job losses of 725,000 by 2015.

* The Liberals meeting today in City Hall say that poor people must pay with welfare spending cuts of £11bn.

They say that workers in the public sector must pay by having their pay frozen for 2 years.

* The Liberals and Tories (is there any difference any more?) all say that children must pay with a 3-year freeze in Child Benefit.

* The ConDems say that 3,000 council workers in Nottingham must pay by losing their jobs.

They say that public sector workers must pay through cuts in their pensions.

Our own council in Sheffield – run by the Lib Dems – says that the youth training charity Sheffield Futures must pay by losing 28% of their funding.

* Sheffield’s Lib Dem Council says that South Yorkshire Police have to pay with £40m of savings and 1,100 job cuts.

They say that 270 Sheffield council workers have to pay with their jobs.

They said that Sheffield Forgemasters had to pay by axing an £80m loan to them.

* The Liberals and Tories say that 120 carers in Barnsley have to pay by losing their jobs.

The Coalition govt says that disabled people have to pay by losing their Disability Living Allowance, by losing Employment Support Allowance after 12 months, support from the Independent Living Fund which has been abolished, support from the DWP Access to Work scheme that enables many of us to work and pay taxes, by having our housing benefit cut which will put up to 450,000 disabled people at risk of losing their homes according to independent BBC research and the National Federation of Housing Associations, and by disabled people living in residential homes losing their Mobility Allowance,

Disabled people are more likely to be unqualified, unemployed with only 47% being in paid employment in 2009, be paid less than non-disabled people, experience barriers to employment, incur more expense as a result of living with an impairment, have to rely on public services and live in low-income families.

* The ConDems say that the Big Society will provide the services lost through the cuts. We are told by the Tories and their LibDem allies that the Big Society is supposed to be about communities taking more control, more charitable giving, social enterprises taking on a bigger role, people establishing public services themselves.

The Big Society is a big con that is headed by the big con himself – David Cameron – supported by his lackeys – the Lib Dems

The Big Society is a cover up for the cuts being made by Nick Clegg and his mates the Tories whilst they award contracts like the £500m one given to the French owned company Atos, to bully people, like those with terminal cancer back into work, and harass people such as a former miner in Chesterfield whose family say they believe the stress of undergoing 2 Atos medical assessments led to his death from heart failure.

The main difference between the Big Society and the Big Issue is that some people buy the Big Issue.

The Lib Dems didn’t have to have their spring conference here in Sheffield where:

270 council workers face losing their jobs

1,100 staff from South Yorkshire Police face losing their jobs

A £80million loan for Sheffield Forgemaster was axed.

156 job cuts are expected in Barnsley NHS

145 job cuts are expected from Doncaster NHS

Having their conference here demonstrates their contempt for people here in Sheffield and South Yorkshire.

· Yesterday in the House of Commons, Labour had an opportunity to vote against the Coalition’s planned attacks on Disabled People, but they abstained! Trade unions, which have been described in the past as ‘Lions led by donkeys’, now need to take a lead too! Organising a mass demo of 2 milllion plus on 26th March is great, but that has to be just the start. Demonstrating is not enough.

· Disabled People call upon the TUC and the public sector trade union leaders to join with us, with students and others to take action now before it is too late to save our NHS, to save our public services, to save our universities, our schools, our jobs, our city, our country.

Disabled People say Rights Not Charity.

Disabled People say Can’t pay, Won’t pay.

Disabled People say “We have no time to waste, a new campaign coalition is needed; a coalition that brings together both disabled and non-disabled people. We need an active voice in the mainstream – a voice that challenges the lies about DLA, exposes the real agenda – cuts in welfare – and combats the ideology that says DLA should only be for the “most vulnerable”, If we don’t all stand up and be counted then many of us will see our benefits stolen from us by one hand and a one-way ticket to the euthanasia clinic Dignitas in Switzerland offered by the other!”

We say to Nick Clegg and the other traitors inside that building = shame, shame, shame on you. Shame on you for turning blue.

—-Linda Laurie