May 152012
 


Press release

Experts Say Landmark Judgement Will Stop Benefit System Discriminating Against Disabled

 Leading Lawyer Says Court of Appeal Ruling Confirms Government Has to Give Special Provision To Disabled People So That Human Rights Are Not Breached

Experts at Irwin Mitchell have welcomed a landmark judgement handed down at the Court of Appeal today which they say sets out clear guidance to ensure that disabled people are not discriminated against by the Government’s benefit system.

Three families challenged the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (DWP) which stated that local authorities could not provide housing benefit for extra bedrooms needed by four young disabled people who were living in private rented accommodation.

Public law experts at Irwin Mitchell, representing the lead case, said DWP breached the British Human Rights law by not allowing their housing benefit claims to be treated differently to those of non-disabled people, which would have given them the extra provision needed.

And their view was backed by the Court, who ruled that “without the benefit of the extra room rate, Ian Burnip would be left in a worse position than an able bodied person living alone”.

Polly Sweeney, Solicitor for Ian Burnip at Irwin Mitchell said, “This Judgment has widespread implications for policy-making and is crucial to promoting equality for disabled people and assisting them to live independently. Whenever the Government introduces new policies, or reviews existing policies, they now face a duty to ensure that appropriate provision is made for disabled people to ensure that discrimination does not occur.“

The Court recognised that the object of Ian Burnip’s claim was not to give him some form of preferential treatment, but merely to ensure that housing benefit can fulfil its intended function for those who are so severely disabled that they need 24 hour care.

Lord Justice Maurice Kay, Vice President of the Court of Appeal, Civil Division, said in his Judgment that:

“Disability can be expensive. It can give rise to needs which do not attach to the able-bodied and Ian Burnip and the late Lucy Trengove provide stark examples”.

Specialists at the firm say today’s judgement will have a huge impact on discrimination in the benefits system, and will ensure that the Government now ensures there is a appropriate provision when considering disabled people’s needs.

In the lead case, Ian Burnip, represented by Irwin Mitchell, was told by Birmingham City Council that he could not claim local housing allowance (LHA) to cover an extra bedroom he needed for an overnight care worker.

A second case involved Rebecca Trengove whose daughter Lucy, who has since sadly passed away, was unable to secure the LHA she needed for an extra room for an overnight care worker from Walsall Council.

During the course of the Appeal process, the local housing allowance rules on extra bedrooms were changed by the Government and, since April 2011, extra LHA is now given to disabled people who need a bedroom for an overnight care worker.

However, a third case heard by the Court of Appeal was not affected by the coalition’s new rules. Richard Gorry, the father of two disabled children, one who has a physical impairment and the other who has autism, wanted Wiltshire County Council to provide enough LHA for his children to have separate bedrooms. This ruling will now ensure that he is awarded a rate of housing benefit which reflects his daughters’ accepted needs to sleep in separate rooms and ensure that they can afford to live in adequate and suitable housing.

The Court of Appeal found that discrimination had occurred in all three cases and that their human rights had been breached even though the appropriate provisions being sought for the disabled people required additional public expenditure.

Ian Burnip’s mother Linda, who set up the Local Housing Allowance Reform Group to campaign for changes in the system, said: “Winning this case reinforces disabled people’s right to not be discriminated against within the benefits system and also affirms their rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We hope that the case will help other disabled people who feel that they have been discriminated by government policies and law”.

 ENDS

  Contact Details:

PR Officer

Irwin Mitchell Press Office: 01142744666

 

Irwin Mitchell

 

Irwin Mitchell celebrates its centenary this year and is one of the largest law firms in the UK. The firm employs more than 2100 staff and has more than 150 Partners helping over 200,000 clients a year. There are offices in Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Bristol and Sheffield as well as a consulting office in Leicester and two offices in Spain. For more information visit www.irwinmitchell.com

The firm won an award for its innovative corporate strategy and was also named in the Industry Pioneers category at the annual ‘FT Innovative Lawyers’ awards in 2011. It was ranked in the Top 50 litigators in the world by The Lawyer magazine and in 2010 was named as one of the leading companies in the country for commitment to local communities in the prestigious Business in the Community’s (BITC) annual Corporate Responsibility Index.

Recognised in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 for a unique client-focused approach, Irwin Mitchell won the acclaimed Claimant Solicitor of the Year award (Rehabilitation Awards).

Other accolades include being listed among the top five Most Diverse Law firms in the UK by the Black Solicitors Network. The Legal Sector Alliance also found Irwin Mitchell to have the 2nd Lowest Carbon Footprint of any UK law firm.

Mar 232012
 

FURIOUS disabled workers protested yesterday against the boss whose report led to the Con-Dem Government closing their factories.

A group of workers from Remploy picketed a conference where Liz Sayce, chief executive of Disability Rights UK, was speaking.

Remploy chief shop steward Phil Branann said:

“We think it is an insult to disabled people and society in general for her to attend that meeting.

“Employers won’t employ disabled people – they are three times more likely to be unemployed.

“If it’s so easy to find employment, why not wait until the workers have found jobs before closing the factories?”

 

read the rest at http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/2012/03/23/furious-workers-hit-out-at-boss-whose-report-led-to-remploy-factories-getting-the-axe-86908-23798745/

Read also DPAC’s  London Meeting Unites Resistance to Remploy Closures

Feb 122012
 

LABELS-save ilf  for download (Word doc for envelope label size L7160)

Monday 13th Feb Come and join us in delivering Maria Miller (Minister of Disabled People) our protest letter opposing the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF).

Where: Caxton House, 6-12 Tothill Street, London, SW1H 9DA

 

When: Monday February 13th 2012

 

Time: Assemble: 2pm next to Caxton House

We really need your support to challenge the fact that funding through the fund, for over 20,000 disabled people with significant support needs are at risk.

 

This decision disregards disabled people’s human rights potentially removing us from the community to the care home. We were not even consulted.

 

Bring people, banners and noise! Invite media friends!

 

For further details contact DPAC: mail@dpac.uk.net or call Hammersmith & Fulham Coalition against Community Care Cuts (HAFCAC) on 07899 752877

Feb 122012
 

Cross posted from Disabled People Fight Back with thanks!

dignity not death

Disabled people: the first to go. Understand why & how to prevent the current backslide which threatens all groups who are discriminated against. RESISTANCE: a crucial & inspirational exhibition in Manchester til 3 Know this history to help fight current misinformation and hatred centered around the same ideals, spreading the idea that disabled people are unworthy and our state cannot afford us. Very similar propaganda is how the holocaust began – allowing it to happen led to the deaths of millions of other people too. Liz Crow tells us how the resistance of disabled people and our allies was central to bringing this to an end, as it still is now.

RESISTANCE ON TOUR

I had the opportunity on Friday to visit and participate on a panel discussion at Liz Crow’s hard hitting and inspirational installation “Resistance”  which I believe to be one of the most important projects about disabled people I have ever seen. It covers some of the hardest issues to cover in a radical and sensitive way and leaves people thinking about what we can all do to make sure nothing like a holocaust ever happens again. I found the discussion very inspiring and learned lots from the other (frankly, awesome) participants.

Then I finally went to see the installation RESISTANCE, which I have been waiting to see for years now, featuring some of my very favourite actors such as Jamie Beddard, Lindsay Carter, Mat Fraser and Ali Briggs.

It left me breathless.

I watched half of it with my head dropped in defeat on my friend Becca’s arm, soaking her sleeve. I felt grief stricken and angry. I felt euphoric seeing some fight back.

I felt confused at seeing highly skilled kickboxer Mat Fraser getting shoved into the death bus.. nothing like the man we know, no kicks in the face to his assailant, just the fear and confusion our people faced before the fightback started, before they knew what was happening. I wanted to scream KICK HIM MATT!

It sounds like I am mentioning this through frivolity but this is a perfect example of how people capable of so much more were institutionalised unwittingly slaughtered like lambs when taken for a ‘day out’. (If someone tried and do this to the real Matt.. I don’t think they’d live long..)

I felt afraid at how current beliefs are now so very close to the beliefs which led to the deaths of almost all identifiable disabled people in Germany, not so very long ago. I felt overwhelmed that the public accepted this and that their acceptance of such hatred against disabled people then also led to the deaths of millions of Jewish people, LGBT people, Roma people and others.

I felt determined I would continue to fight and advocate for our equal right to exist. My brain was exploding with the question WHAT MUST WE DO? What can I do that I am not already doing?

The first thing I’m doing is talking about Liz Crow’s installation and I am asking you come and experience it and / or to tell others about it too – share this blog, blog about it yourself, tell other people, ask people to support us in our current fight against fatal prejudices.

The fundamental MODERN belief that disabled peoples’ lives are of different value to others underpins ALL the prejudice we currently face – especially the dehumanisation we currently face in some areas of media and public opinion. The same beliefs which led to the holocaust now lead to cuts against every service which affects our lives, including those which keep us alive, hatred, attacks and murders, leaving disabled people destitute, locking 340,000 people in institutions in the UK, the killings of unborn disabled babies any time until birth, the do not resucitate procedures and withdrawal of treatment from disabled people of all ages, and the focus on ‘helping’ us to die by setting up special death centres to administer lethal drugs (‘assisted suicide’ centres).

Liz’s project is a crucial installation for all of us to see, disabled people and everyone else. Not just because it exposes our hidden history which is ignored by so many (because they just don’t mind) but because it also draws attention to how current government propaganda is leaning very close to that which was spread before the killing started. And most of all because Liz tells us how disabled people began to resist, inspiring us all to resist, continue to resist and resist harder.

Many people do not realise the Nazi holoucaust began with the extermination of disabled people and having perfected techniques of mass killing on our people, the Nazis went on to exterminate millions of Jewish people, travellers and queers. Disabled people were the testing ground – would the methods work? Would the public accept the annihilation of their fellow citizens? The answer was yes and then the creep began, into every community the Nazis believed did not fit their ideal of humanity.

This part of history must never be forgotten so we never allow it to happen again and Liz Crow questions what we will ALL do to make sure it does not.

It is crucial to understand disabled peoples’ history to understand how we got where we are today. It is esential to recognise that the politics of the past continues to affect contemporary strategies – which, having thrived uninterrupted are now on a steep increase in these ‘Times of Austerity’ – while government is intent on convincing the population that disabled people are a burden on the other citizens of this country which we cannot afford and we are worth less than others.

I reaffirm my foundational belief that while our lives continue to carry unequal status to the lives of others, most importantly our very right to exist in the first place and to continue to exist, we remain at great risk and the symptomatic discrimination we face is to be expected.

We must fight back on those core beliefs and not shy away from them as so many do, we do have a right to fight these beliefs, to fight for our very lives, to encourage disabled people, our families and our allies to fight back and to never ever stop. Not even just a right – we have a responsibility.

Please support Liz’s installation by visiting it during it’s time in Manchester at Zion Arts in Hulme. Please share this blog. Please talk about the issues it raises. Please keep fighting deadly prejudice.

Miss Dennis Queen (was Clair Lewis)

Sep 212011
 

The Labour party conference starts in Liverpool on Saturday. As we all know, Labour were the architects of Employment Support Allowance and the ‘not fit for purpose’ Work Capability Assessment which is so stressful and traumatic it was linked to the suicide of claimants whilst Labour were still in power. The Labour party are the official party of opposition, but they are not opposing the Welfare Reform Bill as they should be and seem to have forgotten that the 10 million sick and or disabled people plus carers, friends and family in the UK have the power to vote. It is time for us to remind Labour that they will not get any of our votes if they do not start to oppose the parts of the Welfare Reform Bill set to return sick people, disabled people and carers to a life of desperation, dependency, despair and charity.

We are asking you to help with a mass email to the Labour party to remind them of our voting power. Please include the following details in your email and send it to Ed Miliband, Margaret Curran (shadow minister for disability) and Liam Byrne (shadow minister for DWP). If you have time please also email it to any Labour MP and particularly any members of the shadow cabinet. We have provided a list of email contacts below.

Please aim to send your email at 11am tomorrow (Thursday the 22nd September) If you can’t send the email at 11am, don’t worry, just please try to send it at any time between then and the end of Labour party conference on Wednesday 29th September.

The email subject  should read “Your Silence Is Deafening”

We suggest embedding a link to this youtube video “The Sound of Silence” To embed the video into your email just copy and paste the link below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvsX03LOMhI

Then please copy the following text into your email;

Dear (insert name here)

‘The 10 million disabled people in this country plus their carers, relatives and friends are watching what your party do in relation to disability issues and wondering why you seem uninterested in trying to get their votes by opposing the savage attacks against disabled people being made by the Coalition government. During conference season we wish to remind you, the architects of Employment and Support Allowance to ‘never fall ill, never grow old, never become disabled’ (and never become a carer), for if you do, as we have found, not even Labour will speak up for you.’

If you would like to add a short, personal message explaining to Labour how you feel about their lack of support for sick, disabled people and carers then please include it after the suggested text. You might also like to include a photo of yourself, or perhaps a photo of what disability, sickness or caring means to you. Don’t worry if you don’t want to personalise the email, sending the suggested text is fine.

Ed Miliband MP, Leader of the Labour Party

House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 4778
ed.miliband.mp@parliament.uk

Shadow Secretary of State for Work & Pensions

Liam Byrne

House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 6953
Fax: 020 7219 1431
byrnel@parliament.uk

House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 8102
Fax: 020 7219 6656
margaret.curran.mp@parliament.uk

Shadow Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities

Rt Hon Yvette Cooper MP

coopery@parliament.uk

Shadow Chief Secretary

Angela Eagle

eaglea@parliament.uk

Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills

John Denham

denhamj@parliament.uk

Cabinet Office and Minister for the Olympics

Tessa Jowell

jowellt@parliament.uk

Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

Caroline Flint

House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 4407
Fax: 020 7219 1277
caroline.flint.mp@parliament.uk

Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport

Ivan Lewis

House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 2609
lewisi@parliament.uk

Shadow Leader of the House of Commons

Hilary Benn

House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 5770
hilary.benn.mp@parliament.uk

Shadow Secretary of State for Defence

Jim Murphy

House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 4615
Fax: 020 7219 5657
jimmurphymp@parliament.uk

Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Mary Creagh

House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 6984/020 7219 8766
Fax: 020 7219 4257
creaghm@parliament.uk

Shadow Secretary of State for Education and Election Coordinator

Andy Burnham

House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 8250
andy.burnham.mp@parliament.uk

Shadow Lord Chancellor, Secretary of State for Justice

Sadiq Khan

House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 6967
Fax: 020 7219 6477
sadiqkhanmp@parliament.uk

Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

Meg Hillier

House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 5325
Fax: 020 7219 8768
meghilliermp@parliament.uk

Shadow Secretary of State for Health

John Healey

House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 6359
Fax: 020 7219 2451
healeyj@parliament.uk

Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

Shaun Woodward

House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 2680
woodwardsh@parliament.uk

Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland

Ann McKechin

House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 8239
Fax: 020 7219 1770
ann.mckechin.mp@parliament.uk

Constituency

Shadow Secretary of State for Transport

Maria Eagle

House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 4019
Fax: 020 7219 1157
eaglem@parliament.uk

Shadow Secretary of State for Wales

Peter Hain

House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 3925
Fax: 020 7219 3816
hainp@parliament.uk

Steven Timms MP

timmss@parliament.uk
stephen@stephentimms.org.uk

Karen Buck MP

buckk@parliament.uk