Jun 282018
 

https://bristolsafeguarding.org/adults/safeguarding-adult-reviews/bristol-sars/kamil-ahmad-and-mr-x-june-2018/

We are organisers of an event in honour of Kamil Ahmad and other disabled asylum seekers and refugees. Some of us knew Kamil, some of us did not know him but have been motivated to attempt to address the root causes of Kamil’s tragic experiences. We would like to respond to the Safeguarding Review for Kamil Ahmad.
We are pleased that the safeguarding review has recognised that Kamil faced ongoing racism, that he was failed by many agencies and that his search for justice was impeded by (perhaps unconscious) disregard for the rights of refused asylum seekers.

However, beyond that we are disappointed by this review and response by the Bristol safeguarding board. This was a chance to expose the catalogue of injustice that Kamil experienced and to provide a sense that action is being taken to address the racism and ableism which Kamil experienced.

We are puzzled by the repeated references to the lack of interpreters as if this were an excuse rather a fundamental failing on the part of the agencies concerned. If a person is reporting a crime and does not speak English, then it is the police responsibility to provide interpreters. We are aware of at least one occasion when Kamil organised his own interpreter but the police officer did not appear and did not ring to rearrange. We are aware that the police have suggested that Kamil’s interpreter cancelled the appointment. We ask for any plausible explanation as to why he would have done this, given that he and Kamil were waiting. We also ask why it was necessary for Kamil to rely on voluntary support of interpreters. We are disappointed in the lack of attention paid to the police failure to turn up, pay for interpreters or to press charges.

The assertion that Kamil did not wish to make a statement to the police in April 2016 does not convince us. Might this apparent ‘misunderstanding’ have been the result of the numerous times when no interpreter was provided or the failure of police to turn up for the appointment when Kamil had arranged his own interpreter?

There could have been deeper investigation into potentially racist attitudes towards Kamil as an asylum seeker by services that should have been providing support – this is implied where it talks about attitudes towards people with “failed” applications but is not explored in any meaningful depth. We ask what prevented the ‘attempts’ to contact Kamil and to warn him about the increased risk posed to him (paragraph 10.11). We assume that action is being taken to prevent this in future.

The report stresses that Kamil is not blamed, yet there is constant referencing to “dynamics” and “tensions” between the two men. This implies that the men were co-protagonists rather than that Kamil was the victim. We suggest that the structures and attitudes of a system that disempowers service users are so ingrained that even now, the report authors are not able to recognise the ways in which Kamil was failed. It appears that as a service user and as a refused asylum seeker, Kamil’s rights to live free from abuse, harassment and fear, were denied. Kamil had a strong sense of justice and because he did not passively submit to having his rights denied, he is referred to as if he were a co-protagonist. References to Kamil’s knife are hugely exaggerated. Given the repeated threats that he was receiving, it seems that the paper knife which he owned is rather minimal self-defence, yet it is referenced as if it were a sign of potential aggression.

We are surprised that agencies did not realise it would be traumatic when Kamil was threatened with eviction, given that this meant he would have been street homeless (paragraph 9.8). We are also puzzled at the manner in which the report refers to voluntary organisations. If Kamil had been evicted from the property, he would have lost his right to support from social services and would have had no support whatsoever, as is deliberate policy for refused asylum seekers.

It is deeply disappointing to see this safeguarding review used as an opportunity to promote the outsourcing of statuary responsibilities to the voluntary and charity sector. It is also It is insulting to the goodwill of volunteers to suggest that they could have taken up where statutory authorities failed. The reason that Kamil had originally been given an Care Act assessment was because of lobbying by the volunteers who had been supporting him. They were unable to support his mental health needs. And it is not their job. It is a misrepresentation, and indeed irresponsible, to suggest that volunteers can supply the level of mental health support that Kamil needed. The decision making, that led to a Disabled man with high support needs being assessed as ineligible for support from the local authority, is barely referred to, let alone questioned. The re-traumatising impact it had on Kamil as a person, and the potential breach of his human rights, is also further indication that the Care Act, and it’s implementation, is failing Disabled people and Disabled asylum seekers.

Frequent reference to Kamil cancelling appointments brings the implication that this was his failing. It should be noted that he never cancelled an appointment with the Trauma Foundation and his interpreter. Those agencies with whom he cancelled appointments need to ask themselves why he did so.

We are concerned at evidence in the report of the impact of the crisis in social care and mental health services, bed shortages and out-sourcing to private hospitals. We are aware that it is not uncommon for people to be sent many miles away from family and friends to private sector hospitals, such as Cygnet, owned by US giant Universal Health Services, and the added stress that this places on their mental health.

The repeated communication failures between the NHS, voluntary and private sector services which also contributed to Kamil’s murder are simply not a matter of ‘learning lessons’ or designing new ‘pathways.’ We believe these are a direct consequence of drastic funding cuts, unaccountable commissioning and the impact of service fragmentation on front-line staff.

We consider it wholly inappropriate that as part of the response from the safeguarding board, there is reference to the need for interpreters, refugees and asylum seekers to be trained. Kamil and his interpreter did all they possibly could have done to seek justice and to alert the authorities as to the danger that he was in. We ask what this training would include – the need to inform the police? Mental health services? Housing provider? All of which Kamil and his interpreter did on multiple occasions. Of course some people may need support in order to be as assertive as Kamil was but it is not him or his interpreter who needed training. Those who need training most urgently are those who did not listen to their pleas for action and those who have, what the report refers to as, ‘unconscious’ bias.

Despite reference to systemic issues, the report still attempts to shift the blame from the agencies to the individual. The report contains 15 references to Kamil and other disabled people as ‘vulnerable’. ALL humans are vulnerable. People become more vulnerable if barriers are faced getting their rights met. Kamil was failed by multiple agencies. He died because insufficient action was taken to prevent someone intent on killing him. This is not a sign of Kamil’s ‘vulnerability’ but of agency failures.

The response from the Bristol Safeguarding Adults Board also refers to their intention to attend the event that we are organising designed to build a broader movement of solidarity. We welcome anybody who would like to play their part in building such a movement, however we stress this event is not designed for ‘professionals’ to share their ideas of best practice.

In other responses to the review, Kamil is referred to as a ‘vulnerable’ or a ‘tragic case’. To different people Kamil was a brother, a cousin, an uncle, a son, a friend. He was a human with rights and needs just like any other human. Those people from agencies who still consider humans as ‘vulnerable cases’ are not only doing an injustice to those people, but you are also missing out. Kamil was a wonderful, intelligent, funny, kind and articulate human being who was failed, and, judging from this review, continues to be failed.

We are aware that Kamil’s family have waited two years for apologies from all those who failed Kamil. We would like to see evidence that the lessons are being learned.

Jun 212018
 

(For a word version of this article with references, click this link and then click on the document icon: DPAC-UBI )

 

Introduction

If disabled campaigners weren’t previously worried about growing support for the idea of a Universal Basic Income, then following the publication of the World Bank’s draft annual report for 2019 (2019 WDR), they should be now. This document clearly articulates the link between intensification of the neoliberal agenda and provision of a basic income, putting forward a policy programme of extensive labour deregulation including lower minimum wages, flexible dismissal procedures and zero-hours contracts , compensated in part by a basic income “modest in size” so as to “be complementary to work” and financed largely by regressive consumption taxes (i.e. increasing VAT). The study warns that care must be taken in scrapping existing benefits, but these proposals are a far cry from the urgent demands for greater security of income and of employment for those who can and want to work being made by those currently suffering under the dismantling of the welfare state. The approach taken by WDR 2019 in affirming “the importance of work as a complement to healthcare and education in the production of human capital” has worrying echoes of the mantra that “work is good for you” reinforced throughout Tory welfare reform policies that have caused avoidable harm to millions of disabled people.

Universal Basic Income – the idea of replacing complex social security systems with a single non-means-tested, unconditional flat payment to everyone regardless of employment status – is an idea that has steadily been gaining traction internationally on both sides of the political divide over the past few years. While right wing libertarians see UBI as a means to eradicating the entire welfare state including free healthcare, proponents on the left argue it has the potential to free the working class from wage labour and foster individual creativity and fulfilment. In Scotland, four Councils have bid for funds to pilot UBI schemes with support from Labour, SNP, Green and, in one case, Conservative councillors. Within the UK, UBI is being presented as a solution to a number of modern economic and political problems including the need to find an alternative to the considerable and well-evidenced failings of the current benefit system. Given the prominence of that line of reasoning within burgeoning comment and analysis, it is then notable how little attention has been given to the specific implications of UBI for disabled people .

UBI is not a new idea but over recent years has gained significant global currency becoming the focus of numerous studies and worldwide trials. Few of these manifest every characteristic of a basic income and to date there is no precedent for what it would mean to replace an existing complex social security system such as we have in Britain with a UBI . The 2019 WDR states that “For the moment, a true UBI is largely a theoretical proposition.” In Scotland even before the pilots began, Nicola Sturgeon publicly questioned the feasibility of the idea . Pilots in other developed countries are focused primarily on incentivising employment and have been met with opposition from anti-austerity campaigners: the version of UBI being trialled by Finland’s right-wing government has been described as a “UBI-as-workhouse nightmare” while opponents to Ontario’s guaranteed minimum income pilot have stated that “BI [basic income] is being developed as a measure of neoliberal attack that should be opposed” and “The hope that there is any realistic chance of ensuring a truly adequate, universal payment, that isn’t financed by undermining other vital elements of social provision, is misplaced” .

In Britain, as Labour prepares for the possibility of a Corbyn-led government, UBI has emerged as a key component within efforts to develop an alternative vision for social security. A 2016 paper from the think-tank Compass entitled “Universal Basic Income: an idea whose time has come?” called for a pilot in Britain. John McDonnell is supportive of UBI with both the TUC and Unite, Britain’s largest trade union, passing motions endorsing basic income in 2016 . By contrast, the Conservative party remains heavily opposed to the idea, fervently sticking to their commitment to dismantle the welfare state through increasing rather than removing conditionality. Conditionality – the idea that social security claimants must commit to “doing” in return for state-funded support with deemed non-compliance resulting in the sanctioning of payments, often reducing an individual’s income to zero – has been further and further intensified the longer the Tories have been in power . This trajectory is set to continue with the roll out of Universal Credit, extending the reach of benefit sanctions to those in part time work not deemed to be looking hard enough for additional work, and the introduction of the Health and Work Conversation as a new stage within the application process for Employment and Support Allowance which has now extended mandatory activity to all disabled people including those with high support needs and terminal illness, with very few exemptions.

As disabled people suffer under the impacts of welfare reform and a social security system designed to deny eligibility and punish rather than support claimants, there is an obvious attraction to the idea of UBI as an automatic payment administered without assessments. Supporters argue that with everyone, regardless of income status or disability, in receipt of a universal payment, this could lead to the de-stigmatisation of social security, ending the scapegoating of benefit claimants and associated hostility towards disabled people. However, if we look beyond the basic concept of UBI at what the detail of implementation would mean for disabled people, we see a more complicated and potentially regressive picture. The Citizens’ Income Trust, one of the major supporters of a basic (or “citizens” income) in the UK, now advocate that both disability and housing benefits would need to remain outside a model of UBI, which would mean continuing assessments and potentially conditionality for disabled people. Concerns have also been raised in a number of articles that funding a UBI would entail cuts to benefits and services that “vulnerable” groups including disabled people now receive.

Neoliberal versions of UBI promoted by right-wing economists and politicians offer a stark warning about the dangers of UBI. Paying each person a minimum basic income rather than investing in a living wage and social protection is seen as a way of ‘saving money’, reducing the size of the state and public services. Sam Bowman, executive director of the Adam Smith Institute, wrote in 2013: “The British government spends more on welfare than it does on anything else apart from healthcare…The ideal welfare system is a basic income, replacing the existing anti-poverty programmes the government carries out.” In the US, Charles Murray has proposed an annual unconditional grant of $10,000 for every adult while scrapping the rest of the welfare state, including Social Security and Medicare. Similarly, Milton Friedman advocated a similar system called Negative Income Tax where those who earned below a certain income threshold would receive money back from the government instead of paying any income taxes but also where all other existing welfare programmes would be abolished. The implications of such proposals on those with the greatest needs including disabled people would be devastating and, as pernicious as our social security system has become, would affect an even more serious and dramatic regression of living standards.

With over three million disabled people currently receiving social security payments in the UK today, DPAC would argue that disabled people need to involve ourselves in the debate on UBI, both in gaining an understanding of the wider economic implications of UBI and in identifying and voicing the implications for disabled people. The aim of this article is thus both to present an over-view of the wider arguments for and against UBI and to focus more specifically on the question of what UBI might mean for disability benefits and disabled people in Britain. UBI has been credited with achieving all sorts of radical and progressive changes in society such as balancing the economy, replacing incomes lost through automation and leading us towards a workless future, but, as DPAC’s Canadian allies Ontario Coalition Against Poverty warn, placing a welcome mat for the introduction of a basic income legitimises the neoliberal agenda of undermining social provision, increasing the rate of exploitation and disregarding the needs of disabled people.

 

Worldwide UBI pilots

Although the last few years have seen UBI pilots announced across the globe, such that Basic Income Earth Network founder Guy Standing dubbed 2016 “the year of the pilot” , there is to date no precedent for a UBI replacing a complex social security system such as we have in Britain. Examples cited by UBI supporters including pilots in Madya Pradesh and, historically, Manitoba province in Canada, and partial schemes operated in Alaska and Iran, are limited in their applicability and tell us little more than that giving money to people is popular and that decreasing poverty produces positive outcomes. More significantly, trials in Finland and Canada demonstrate how UBI can be used to fulfil a neoliberal agenda focused on pushing unemployed workers into poorly paid and insecure work. Models linked to the forthcoming Scottish pilots indicate that disability benefits will be retained alongside a basic income while Nicola Sturgeon’s advisors have warned that public money would be better spent on those most in need.

Limitations of examples used to support UBI    

Two pilots in Madya Pradesh in India launched in 2010 produced positive social and economic outcomes for the recipients with disabled people benefiting more than others through greater access to food, medical assistance and autonomy as well as enabling some to become economically active . This is hardly surprising given that many of those benefiting had received no previous support: only a minority of low-income households in all 20 of the villages where pilots took place had a BPL (Below Poverty Line) or Antyodaya Card and some of the poorest households had no poverty card at all. Unconditional payments enabled disabled recipients to move from dependency upon family members to being able to meet their own basic needs. Giving something to people who previously had nothing is very different to what would happen with the introduction of a UBI in Britain to replace existing social security payments.

A pilot conducted in Manitoba province in Canada in the 1970s was credited with eliminating poverty from the trial saturation site which was the small town of Dauphin. Here, in a programme known as “Mincome”, a guaranteed income was provided to those who had fallen out of work with 50% of every C$1 earned on returning to work clawed back. It stood out from similar American projects at the time because it didn’t exclude older people or disabled people from eligibility. The aim was to test whether giving unconditional payments to top up the incomes of the working poor would dis-incentivise paid employment. The finding was that working hours did not significantly decrease, although it can be argued that these drops may be artificially low because participants knew the guaranteed income was temporary. The Conservative government that took power provincially in 1977 – and federally in 1979 – had no intention of rolling the programme out more widely and shut the project down. No final report was ever compiled. A recent survey of the data as it related to other services in Dauphin found a significant reduction in hospitalization, especially for admissions related to mental health and to accidents and injuries, relative to the matched comparison group. It is again unsurprising that increasing the incomes of the poor leads to improved health outcomes and again the findings are too limited as an evidence base to justify the replacement of existing social security systems with a UBI. They do support the idea that ensuring the population has an adequate income will produce cost savings in areas such as healthcare.

There are two global examples of partial UBI schemes where citizens receive unconditional cash payments that are often cited by basic income supporters but which have limited relevance to Britain where taxation would be the most likely source of funding. In Alaska, citizens each get a variable amount each year – averaging around $1,100 (about £700) between 2010 and 2012. This money comes from taxed oil windfalls via the Alaska Permanent Fund and is paid as an annual dividend. Iran similarly uses oil revenues to subsidise a cash payment of about $33 a month given unconditionally to most of the population. The payment has partially replaced heavy subsidies to basic commodities such as bread and fuel including petrol. Neither example goes anywhere near providing a living for their recipients and are not a replacement for safety net support.

The Neoliberal Danger of UBI                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Basic Income (BI) pilots being taken forward by neoliberal governments in Finland and Canada exemplify how UBI supports negative employment trends such as low pay and insecure employment and can facilitate exploitation. In Ontario, 70% of those tested in the pilot will be low waged workers and earned income will be deducted at a rate of 50%. (This is technically an example of Negative Income Tax rather than UBI). The amount paid under the pilots are insufficient to live on and act as top ups to low paying employers, subsiding business from general tax revenues and making it easier for employers to lower minimum wages. Participants will be subject to fewer conditions in return for BI payments but will lose support and services they currently rely on. A whole range of additional entitlements benefiting disabled people will also be lost including the Special Diet that provides additional income on the recommendation of medical providers, medical transportation assistance and mobility aids. Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) points out that if the Ontario government were genuinely concerned about poverty and disability, they would urgently reverse the 22% welfare benefit cuts made by the Mike Harris government in 1995 and “Raise the Rates”, rather than spend years consulting and testing a basic income.

While the Finnish experiment has received positive press in Britain, focused in particular on the removal of bureaucratic intrusion and conditionality on job-seekers , left wing commentators in Finland are critical of its impacts. The trial involves 2000 mandatory participants randomly selected from unemployment rolls and paid €560 (£500) per month. This effectively replaces the payments from the existing Finnish basic unemployment allowance and labour market subsidy , but participants continue to receive the payments if they find work.

For the Finnish government, UBI is about increasing employment , which was a key Centre Party manifesto commitment in the 2015 election, encouraging workers to take bad jobs with low pay. Low-paid workers or adults out of the labour force for reasons other than unemployment were deliberately excluded from the pilot. Alongside trialling UBI, Centre has set out to achieve its policy goals by other measures including reducing the country’s unit labour costs and increasing the retirement age. Its version of UBI is a way to replace social protections with minimum payments while dismantling the welfare state through accelerated privatisation of health and social care. This represents a direct attack on Finnish trade unions whose collective bargaining power has remained higher than in the UK , and if rolled out has the potential to reduce the income security of unemployed workers while reducing the strength of organized labour.

Left wing commentators in Finland have described this as “a cautionary tale for basic income proponents on the Left”, evidencing how support for UBI on the basis that it will deliver progressive outcomes opens the door for the introduction of a scheme “forcing unemployed workers into bad jobs while undermining organized labour, earnings equality, and the welfare state.” As John Clarke of OCAP argues “The neoliberal attack is taking up Basic Income as a weapon. We need to fight it instead of laying down a welcome mat.”
In the UK we must not be fooled into seeing the Finnish experiment as offering a solution to the devastation that welfare reform has caused. Aside from the regressive realities of the Finnish scheme, there are considerable differences between the two countries that make it inappropriate to transpose any progressive benefits of the current experiment to the UK. Writing in The Guardian, Ellie Mae O’Hagan warns against a UBI “simply parachuted into a political economy that has been pursuing punitive welfare policies for the last 30 years.”

UBI as “unworkable” policy

In September 2017 while launching the SNP’s “Programme for Government” Nicola Sturgeon announced plans for the Scottish government to fund local authorities to conduct experiments into a “Citizens’ Basic Income” (CBI). This is in line with the official position of the Scottish National Party who at their 2016 conference passed a motion in support of the principle of a universal basic income. The motion stated: “conference believes that a basic or universal income can potentially provide a foundation to eradicate poverty, make work pay and ensure all our citizens can live in dignity”. The motion called for more research into the impact of the policy. Sturgeon’s announcement was welcomed by the think-tank Reform Scotland who in 2016 published a report making the case for UBI heavily influenced by Green Party policy .

The four Councils who are set to run the pilot schemes with the support of a £250,000 grant from the Scottish government (Fife, North Ayrshire, Glasgow and Edinburgh) were identified by the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) whose 2015 report ‘Creative Citizen, Creative State: the principled and pragmatic case for a Universal Basic Income’ made a call for local experiments . The models to be adopted by each of the pilot areas have yet to be announced but will likely require a two year lead in and last for around two years, following principles for UBI pilots outlined by Guy Standing in his book “Basic Income and how we can make it happen” . These include the principle that pilots be conducted on a saturation basis involving all residents. This will provide a more universal test of the impacts of UBI than either the Finnish or Ontario trials which have selected groups of particular groups of people to test.

Another key principle promoted by Standing is that people should be no worse off than if they were in receipt of means-tested benefits. Based on the detail of models promoted by UBI proponents involved in the pilots as discussed below, it is unclear how this can be achieved. A research paper prepared for Fife councillors concerning plans for their local pilot explains that most models set the level of basic income at £73.10 for working age adults. There is no detail on what benefits will be replaced but the paper is clear that “Housing and Disability Benefits payments would need to remain and be kept separate” and that “Means-testing of benefits would continue, but the amount received by each household or individual would be recalculated to account for the amount of basic income”. The paper presents the possibility of enabling people to choose not to work as a positive feature of CBI but this is unlikely on a weekly income of under £75. As one Fife People’s Panel member commented “£73.10 per week + benefits is not enough to live on”.

Glasgow Council has commissioned the RSA to develop its proposals for a Basic Income Pilot. The RSA Basic Income Model proposes £71 per week for working age adults which appears to replace ESA. Although housing and non-means tested disability benefits including Personal Independence Payment will be retained this nevertheless represents a loss for disabled people in the ESA support group. Modelling of the RSA scheme undertaken by the Housing and Social Justice Directorate for the First Minister estimates that over 10% of households in the lowest decile in Scotland would experience negative financial impacts, over 30% in the second lowest and just under 50% in decile 3. Most households would be losing in the region of 20% of their income.

The RSA report makes strong comments on the importance of doing away with the devastating impacts of conditionality and sanctioning, however it is also clear in its primary intention of incentivising employment and making work pay. They propose to pay no more than a “basic” income in order to ensure that those who are “fit and able to work…would have a very strong incentive to do so.” The report states that “It is Basic Income and Basic Income alone that sends out absolutely clear yet non-coercive signals about the incentive to work.” It also suggests design features such as a public “contribution contract” for 18 – 25 years olds to sign up to committing themselves to learning, working or entrepreneurship in return for their payments , and the supplementation of BI payments with offers of sub minimum wage employment in “publicly useful” roles such as “day centre staffing” .
The report by Reform Scotland “A Basic Income Guarantee” has a more singular focus on the role of UBI in incentivising work. It states that “Any system which actively discourages work, as the current system does, is in urgent need of an overhaul” and stresses the need for “a ‘safety trampoline’ to encourage more people to rejoin the workforce or set up new businesses”; it says that “the system in place at present actively discourages many to return to work or increase hours” and that “This inherent and long-standing problem with the current system is the principal reason for the Basic Income Guarantee”.

Using proposals from the Scottish Greens as the basis for their financial workings, Reform Scotland suggests a Basic Income could be set at £5,200 per year for adults and £2,600 for children which would replace the personal allowance, tax credits and a number of benefits. Under this model, Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance, Carers Allowance and Personal Independence Payments are all retained. The cost of this model would be £20.4 billion. Reform Scotland proposes raising all levels of income tax by 8% but their calculations for affording the model are still short by some £2 billion. This is substantially more expensive than the RSA model which the First Minister has already suggested is unfeasible.

In October Nicola Sturgeon, while continuing to support the trials, publicly raised the possibility that CBI might prove unworkable as a policy. Speaking during the Inclusive Growth Conference, she said: “I should stress our work on this is at a very early stage. It might turn out not to be the answer, it might turn out not to be feasible”. Her comments followed publication of a briefing for the First Minister obtained by the Scottish Tories via a Freedom of Information Response. Attention from right wing media focused on figures within the briefing taken from RSA’s Basic Income model costing implementation at £12.3 billion with a £3.6 billion shortfall raising the prospect of cuts elsewhere. The briefing also highlighted work by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation which found CBI would need a tax rate on all earned income of about 40 per cent if housing benefit was not included, rising to over 50 per cent if it was.

The briefing is strongly critical of CBI citing potential negative impacts on disabled people and “vulnerable” groups, pointing out how “most governments will not be able to afford both CBI and a generous welfare state.” It states “The higher the CBI the more likely it is to lift people out of poverty, but the higher the public finance cost to fund it and the harder it would be for government to fund other supportive social policies.” Concerns are raised about the potential of CBI to further entrench inequalities and increased stigmatization of benefits which will be claimed by a smaller group of the population. The briefing concludes that “significant modelling effort would be required to establish levels which did not impact negatively on vulnerable groups”.

Concerns in the briefing echo the view of Joseph Stiglitz, who has served as an economic advisor to the Scottish Government since 2012, that pursuing a basic income would represent misaligned priorities in light of Scotland’s fiscal constraints. In an interview for Sunday Politics Scotland in October 2017 he said: “If you don’t have a lot of resources, isn’t it better to try to target the limited resources you have at those who really, really need it, the people who are disabled, the people who are elderly without other sources of income, a variety of people who are seriously disadvantaged. The problem with the universal basic income is that you give a flat amount to a large amount of people, and that means, because you have so many people, you can’t give as much as you would to help those who most need it.” Instead he has urged the government to prioritize benefits targeted to those who need them most, job creation to ensure a job to all who want one, and a livable income for all who work full-time.

 

UBI and Disability benefits

Disabled people have been disproportionately hit by austerity measures and welfare reforms through a deliberate agenda to cut back the various different inter-related social security payments and public services that we depend upon . The situation is so serious that the UN disability committee found the threshold has been met for evidence of “grave and systematic violations” of disabled people’s rights . Nevertheless, and despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the Tories publicly maintain they are continuing to support “those most in need”. The suffering and avoidable harm that disabled people have gone through over the past eight years demonstrate the devastating impacts that an overhaul of the welfare system can cause unless the interests of the poorest and disabled members of society are properly understood and protected. Into this context, the introduction of UBI, replacing a targeted system with universal coverage, is likely to entrench growing inequality and the struggle to survive.

Simulations for “full” UBI schemes that would entirely replace the existing social security system in Britain show big losses for disabled people among other groups. This was the conclusion drawn from a series of simulations undertaken for the think-tank Compass . The three full UBI schemes that were examined were simulated on the basis of abolishing all means-tested benefits including Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), also the Severe Disablement Premium and Discretionary Housing Payments with only means-tested Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support retained. Although all three schemes also retained Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Carer’s Allowance as additional to a universal payment, the proposed rate for the UBI of £73.10 per week, equivalent to Job-Seekers Allowance (JSA) would be insufficient to compensate people who are out of work long term. JSA is set at a level only able to offer adequate social protection for short periods of time. Disabled people are more likely to be out of work for much longer periods: 10% of unemployed disabled people have been out of work for 5 years or more, compared with just 3 per cent of the non-disabled population, and people in the ESA WRAG are likely to spend around two years out of work.

Disabled people would not be the only losers. The Compass paper concludes that the three full UBI schemes simulated are not feasible due to severe negative impacts on the poorest households. The proportion of households losing more than a fifth of their income in the bottom decile stands at 18.2%, 16.7% and 23.0% respectively for the three schemes. Although there are no separate figures for the impact of poverty on disabled people, all the schemes lead to sharp rises in relative child poverty alongside modest increases in working-age adult poverty and increases in pensioner poverty.

Instead, Compass, who are in favour of UBI, recommend that pilots should be undertaken into modified (or “partial”) UBI schemes where the existing benefits system is retained, both means tested and non-means tested, in addition to a UBI. For the two modified schemes simulated, the number of households losing income in the lowest two income deciles is considerably lower than for their full UBI models, but does still entail negative financial impacts for 2,376,300 households under Scheme 1 and 1,335,000 for Scheme 2. This is a significant number of the poorest people in society. There is also no information about whether ESA would continue at the newly lowered rate for those in Work related Activity Group, a move that was met with widespread opposition, or whether it would be restored to its previous level.

Given findings such as these, prominent supporters of UBI such as the Citizen’s Income Trust now recommend a partial UBI where disability benefits and housing are retained as separate parallel systems. In Annie Miller’s 297 page Basic Income Handbook she includes just one page on “The needs of disabled people” (of which half a page is about carers) where she says “Disability benefits are based on need and are therefore a different system from BIs… Both housing and disability benefits are very much in need of revision but are beyond the scope of this book.” Given the scale of problems with the existing disability benefits system and the proven harm they are causing to disabled people, it is concerning to see the issue of disability benefits side-lined in this way and confirms that UBI offers nothing by way of a solution to the way the social security system is currently failing disabled people.

The implementation of UBI risks detracting attention and resources from the urgent task required to overhaul the disability benefits system and make it fit for purpose. The current assessment regime has been designed to push disabled people off essential benefits and there are high levels of inaccuracy and unacceptable standards in assessments reports leading to thousands of disabled people being wrongly found fit for work. From October 2013 – March 2017, 60% of ESA decisions (32,000) taken to appeal were over-turned. This is in addition to 12% of decisions (31,000) revised at Mandatory Reconsideration stage . The introduction of a partial UBI scheme alongside a parallel system of disability benefits could instead create further problems and pressures to tighten eligibility even further in order to afford both systems. Donald Hirsch in his paper for the Joseph Rowntree Foundations warns of “potentially greater stigma… and perhaps even a political pressure to lower the safety net to the citizen’s income level.” Supporters of a partial scheme where disability benefits are retained assure us that no disabled person will be worse off under UBI. We were told the same thing about Universal Credit and that has proved not to be true .

Alongside an adequate standard of income, disabled people require other support services in order to enjoy full and equal participation in society. The current crisis in social care is increasingly desperate with disabled people routinely denied access to the toilet and to food and water for hours at a time. Meanwhile local authorities are adopting increasingly harsh charging policies that are pushing disabled people out of the social care system altogether due to unaffordability. Disabled campaigners are calling not only for a reversal to social care cuts, but for the introduction of a national independent living support scheme funded from general taxation and free at the point of need which would compete with a UBI for additional government spending. Many of the public finance options currently being considered as ways to address the funding crisis in social care have also been put forward as ways to fund a UBI. There is also a more general concern about pressures on public spending and negative impacts on social programmes as a result of introducing a UBI.

 

The illusion of a progressive UBI

UBI has been credited with the power to achieve radical social and economic impacts such as ending the idea that human worth is tied to a person’s ability to labour and produce profit and freeing humanity to unleash our creative potential. The emancipatory potential of UBI to provide equality and freedom can only be realised by a basic income paid at a sufficiently generous rate to make wage work unnecessary for financial survival. In this instance workers would effectively have at our disposal an unlimited strike fund and the balance of power would be in our hands. Under these conditions, with the freedom to organise society and distribute resources in the interests of the many not the few, it has to be asked whether we would then need a UBI. Meanwhile, until we win a socialist society, and under the current politico-economic conditions of a Long Depression under pro-capitalist governments, it is more likely that models of UBI will be adopted that make savings, and cut public services. A basic income approach also leaves the fundamental inequalities and power structures of society unchecked. As an approach to the changing nature of work it facilitates greater job insecurity and wage reductions.

Mitigating the impacts of automation

The future of work and replacement of jobs with machines is a very current concern that proponents of UBI believe it can address. In December 2017 the IPPR think-tank warned 44% of jobs in the UK economy could feasibly be automated over the next 10 or 20 years, equating to more than 13.7 million people who together earn about £290bn . This follows a study by the Bank of England in 2015 which estimated that 15 million jobs are at risk with administrative, clerical and production tasks were most at threat . Advances in technology would improve productivity growth after years of stagnation since the financial crisis in 2008 . The Government argues that this will lead to wage rises for workers, but this will be of little consolation to those whose jobs are replaced.

Rising automation will result in higher profits for those who own companies at the expense of workers’ jobs. As the UK government is urged to address the sharp growth in inequality that this would cause, there are calls for redistribution of profits from automation through a UBI to ensure that the many rather than the few benefit from technological advances. Jeremy Corbyn used his party conference speech in September 2017 to suggest a Labour government would use the tax system to ensure that the benefits of automation are widely shared across the economy. This idea was quickly dubbed the “robot tax”.

The fundamental issue with automation is not the need to replace income for workless humans but the question of the ownership of the technology itself, from which the call for UBI serves as a distraction operating in the interests of the current owners of technology. It is no wonder then that tech entrepreneurs including Mark Zuckerberg (net worth $64.1 billion), Elon Musk (net worth $20.8 billion) and Richard Branson (net worth $5.1 billion) have united in calling for a guaranteed basic income. This has been described by one commentator as “a mechanism to continue to exploit desperate workers earning subsistence wages and whom they can hire and fire at will” . It is also an attempt to guarantee buyers for their products after people have been put out of work by their technologies. While these billionaires profess to care for the less fortunate, they remain against workers’ rights and a living wage.

A basic income only addresses the question of distribution, while ignoring that of production and would not confront the labour market inequalities that would arise from a more automated labour market. It is through common ownership of technology, as opposed to redistribution of profit, that it would be possible to go further, extending free services such as a national health service, education and independent living support while enabling people to work for fewer hours.

The actual level of threat posed to jobs by automation is debatable with the 2019 WDR stating its finding ”that the threat to jobs from technology is exaggerated” , but the problems of worsening working conditions are very real and very now . This is a particular concern for disabled people who are more likely to be in low paid work to start with. Demands for a living wage and workers’ rights need to be at the forefront of what we continue to fight for.

Insecure jobs

One of the arguments put forward in support of UBI is that it is a better fit with current trends in employment than the existing social security system. As a “solution”, this approach seeks to effectively subsidise business, supporting trends towards payment of low wages and lack of job security using public finance to facilitate increased private profit-making and with the potential to further depress wages. This is exactly the proposal put forward by the World Bank who propose UBI as a way of using social assistance to “relax pressure” on “setting the minimum wage and replace “severance pay” , reducing the burdens on employers and enabling labour markets to be “more flexible to facilitate work transitions” . Their response to what they describe as “the changes reshaping work today [that] are fundamental and long-term” is to facilitate greater insecurity and lower wages.

The problem of insecure, low paid work is a very real one. In 2014, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated that 1.8 million workers were on contracts that ‘do not guarantee a minimum number of hours’. A 2016 survey found 11% of the population aged 16–75 (the equivalent of nearly 5 million people) working for online platforms, paid by the task. Figures also indicate that a significant percentage of those in self-employment are not earning enough to make a living.

Disabled people engaged in mandatory work related activity are all too familiar with pressure from the DWP pushing them towards self-employment and insecure work in order to move off out of work benefits. A publication by the right-wing think-tank Reform argues that disabled people are missing out through lack of access to employment in the gig economy and that this could solve the poor job outcomes of long-term Employment and Support Allowance claimants. The drive to push disabled people into unsuitable work and self-employment is deeply concerning. Many aspects of the gig economy make it inaccessible and inappropriate for disabled people who may face barriers to online technology or negotiating contracts and who need a guaranteed income through periods of sickness and disability related absence. The British Psychological Society’s response to the government’s “Improving Lives” green paper consultation warned of the negative impacts of unsuitable work in exacerbating existing mental health conditions .

The idea that UBI rather than greater employment regulations are the answer is problematic. Whereas supporters of UBI commonly cite its transformative potential as one of its major advantages, it is being put forward by the World Banks as a way to maintain and facilitate inequality and insecurity. The basic income demand is, as argued by the economist Michael Roberts, just too basic and not radical enough . It accepts current conditions without challenging them, and under socialism would be redundant. As a reform for labour, it is not as good as the demand for a job for all who need it at a living wage; or reducing the working week while maintaining wages; or providing decent pensions; or making full reasonable adjustments for disabled workers including guaranteeing sick pay and disability leave. These are demands that we need to be putting loudly here and now alongside calling for full and unconditional support for those unable to work.

 

Conclusion

UBI is not the demand we should be making if we want an end to the suffering that welfare reform is causing. We urgently need the abolition of sanctions and conditionality, of benefit assessments designed to deny disability and Universal Credit. The social security system is now one that is intended to create an intolerable environment for benefit claimants. The social security system of the future must be one capable of providing adequate social protection and standard of living for all in need of safety net support. Achieving such a radical transformation is no small task, requiring wholesale scrapping of existing systems and a fundamental redesign. Given the history of disabled people’s exclusion and the marginalisation of our issues it is reasonable for disabled people to fear that attention and resources dedicated to the task of implementing a UBI will be at the expense of effecting the level of change needed to ensure disabled people receive adequate support.

Proponents of UBI tell us that disabled people would not be worse off under UBI but there is a dearth of evidence to support this claim. On the contrary, simulations for the introduction of a UBI to the UK indicate that the only way to ensure this would be through a partial UBI system run in parallel to a continuation of disability benefits. Supporters for such a system are then silent on the detail of how this separate system would work for disabled people, how it would address the many and considerable failings of the current system and how it would be afforded. A recent paper from the University of Bath presents an idea for a UBI with additional disability and severe disability premiums which when micro-simulated produces strong reductions in inequality and poverty but would be very expensive and require significant increases in income tax. The report author concludes: “The unavoidable reality is that such schemes either have unacceptable distributional consequences or they simply cost too much.”

Financing even a modest UBI set at a Guaranteed Minimum Income level in the UK would require high tax rises, as demonstrated by an OECD study . The World Bank report, which promotes the idea of UBI as an international response to the changing nature of work, concludes that when it comes to the UK, “taxing cash benefits and eliminating tax allowances is not enough to cover for the UBI” . This is because the level at which current benefits are paid is so far below a Guaranteed Minimum Income level that it would require the raising of significant additional funds to afford. In the UK a monthly BI amount that would cost the same as existing benefits and tax free allowances would pay £230 yet the poverty line for a single person is £702. The fact that benefit levels in Britain are so far below the poverty line point back to issues with the current social security system that need urgently addressing.

While many disabled people would be in favour of tax rises to fund welfare provision – particularly corporation tax and a progressive rise in the higher rate of income tax – the use of this for a UBI rather than more traditional forms of disability and unemployment support would mean much of the benefit flowing back to employers rather than those in most need. In functioning as a wage subsidy UBI would act to significantly reduce employers NI contributions. It would be hard to make a case that this is a more progressive solution than simply reversing the damage that the Tories have done to current systems. For example measures such as restoring the Independent Living Fund, scrapping conditionality and sanctions, and re-establishing the principle of universal benefits payed for by progressive taxation where the rich pay a greater proportion

The distributional impacts of a UBI mean that there are winners and losers with the poorest households featuring as losers under certain models and simulations . This has the potential to divide against each other groups of people who are currently united in our opposition to the rich elite who we see as responsible for growing inequality and poverty. Maintaining this unity is essential if we are to bring about society that is structured in the interests of the mass of ordinary people before the pursuit of profit by a tiny minority.

Britain is currently home to the biggest socialist movement in Europe where demands for a living wage, for health and social care support services free at the point of need and a social security system that provides an adequate standard of living free from conditionality are all popular. These are what we need to fight for, not opening the door to policies that will be used to maintain existing power inequalities, facilitate greater job insecurity and low wages and risk further public service cuts.

Mar 132018
 

In November 2017 Disabled People Against Cuts and Disabled People’s Organisations involved in the Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance held a national Independent Living Campaign conference. The aim of the day was to take stock of the key barriers to independent living that Disabled people who use adult social care services face and assess how far the situation has deteriorated in the last year but also to explore a shared vision for an independent living support system that can truly uphold our rights.

Below you can find notes and films from the day as well as copies of hand-outs and presentations.

Notes from the conference: Independent living campaign conference notes Nov 2017

Opening plenary:

 

Workshop on assessments and reviews:

Reading by Penny Pepper’s:

Workshop on campaigning for rights to independent living:

 

Closing session:

Presentation slides:
• Opening session – Ellen Clifford presentation: Slides – introduction , Mark Harrison presentation: IL Campaign Conf 25 Nov 2017 (1)
Campaigning for the rights to independent living (2)
Charging and Financial Assessment (1)
Co-operative alternatives for personal assistance

Papers disseminated at the conference:
• NHS Continuing Healthcare Cost-Caps – Where we are with Warehousing – Fleur Perry warehousing update
• Social Care is Broken Beyond Repair – So what should replace it? – Peter Beresford and Mark Harrison examine the problems and potential solutions Harrison and Beresford LB final
• The need to campaign against institutionalisation – Simone Aspis Simone blog

UN disability committee General Comment on Article 19: General Comment on Article19
Inclusion London Briefing on General Comment on Article 19: Briefing on General Comment on Article 19

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 

 

Nov 102017
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feel free to check out our response for inspiration.

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

 

Oct 022017
 

At the People’s Assembly march in Manchester having allowed people into the official protest area at the Tory party Conference yesterday the police then proceeded to kettle them. DPAC activists then blocked a tram line in protest at what they saw as an unfair move by the scores of extra police who had been drafted into Manchester to protect the Tories.

 

Sadly the police in Manchester reacted rather aggressively to this and 2 disabled people were arrested and a veteran activist in his 80s was left badly bruised by being man-handled by them.

http://www.salfordstar.com/article.asp?id=4131

 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/uk-politics-41462576

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing, child and outdoor

Image may contain: 5 people, people standing and outdoor

Rick burgess of Manchester DPAC said “DAN (Direct Action Network) veteran & MDPAC member Dennis Queen has been charged with Public Nuisance after their arrest yesterday. We reject utterly the heavy handed policing and targeting of disabled people, all to protect a government found guilty of Grave & Systemic human rights abuses. If there are any arrests to be made it is of the Conservative party government over their democide of disabled people. Whatever costs Dennis incurs we pledge to meet with a crowdfunding drive. Our community shall not be victimised like this.”

Another member Sharon Hooley has been cautioned by police for protesting yesterday. Rick said “Full respect and support for her brave stand in defiance of quisling security forces protecting an unlawful government.” At one stage Sharon another wheelchair user was surrounded by 13 police officers.

 

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10155721308715489&set=gm.1831546200399434&type=3&theater&ifg=1

 

 

 

Sep 172017
 

Please join us at Robertfest 2017, a celebration of the life of Robert Dellar.

When: Sunday 24th September 2017, 12.00 – 0.00

Where: Amersham Arms, 388 New Cross Road, SE14 6TY (very close to New Cross station)

Tickets: Unwaged £5, Waged £10, Full ticket £20

Booking: via Eventbrite Robertfest 2017

The event will include some of Robert’s favourite bands, including ATV, Vic Goddard, The Long Decline, The Astronauts, The Ceramic Hobbs, Dave Kusworth, Jowe Head and the Infernal Contraption, Alan Tyler, Frank Bangay, Melanie Clifford, Salad from Atlantis, Dave Russell, Paul Caton, MC Razz and special guests.

RobertFest 2017 will also host the inaugural Robert Dellar Lecture, an annual lecture building on the life, times and activism of Robert Dellar. The first Robert Dellar Lecture will be given by Prof Esther Leslie at 4.30 pm at the Amersham Arms.

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 052017
 

DPAC has today launched a series of short films for the final week of the #GE2017 election campaign. The films, generously produced for us by Tough and Rumble media production company, aim to expose the reality of so-called welfare reform and why this election matters so much to Deaf and Disabled People.

The series of four films have been published on the #DPAC Facebook page – please watch and share far and wide.

Here are the four films, please watch then and then share them far and wide:

David’s Story

Jenny Sealey’s Story


Andria’s Story

Jenny Hurst’s Story

You can also watch footage from the film preview Q & A with film-maker Anthony Swords and discussion with disability campaigner Jenny Hurst and DPAC’s Paula Peters which was held last night in the marginal constituency of Croydon Central.

 

May 012017
 

It’s doubtful that anyone reading the DPAC blog will be in any doubt that Deaf and Disabled people in the UK cannot afford the Tories to get re-elected in June. Since 2010 the Tories have relentlessly attacked Disabled people, hitting the same group of people again and again with cut after cut.

While inequality and poverty increased for Disabled people and the poorest in society, the rich have got richer. Since 2010 when the Tories took power the richest 100 people in Britain have increased their wealth by £55.5 billion. Meanwhile nearly half of the poverty in the UK is now directly associated with disability.

Despite the UK becoming the first country in the world to be found guilty of grave and systematic violations of Disabled people’s rights, the Tories are determined to push through their planned welfare savings and ideological dismantling of state support whatever the cost to us.

Already, just this year, changes to PIP brought in through emergency legislation to avoid Parliamentary scrutiny have taken essential support away from 164,000 people predominantly with mental health support needs, Employment and Support Allowance has been cut by a third for people in the Work Related Activity Group and in April the Government sneaked through three more hidden cuts affecting Disabled people.

At the same time, social care packages are being cut to the bone leaving Disabled people trapped indoors without choice, control, dignity or freedom. Over the Summer, the Department for Work and Pensions will be rolling out the new “Health and Work Conversation” to create an added barrier before Disabled claimants even reach the notorious Work Capability Assessment.

It is wrong to assume however that because the Tories have been getting away with this for so long that this is what the majority of the public wants. Most people are shocked and horrified when they find out what has taken place, incredulous that this can happen in the UK in the twenty first century and angry that anyone would and could pursue policies of, in Ken Loach’s words, such “conscious cruelty”. As I argued in a previous post, the majority of people would rather live in a fair and just society that values diversity and works for the benefit of the many rather than the few.

What we have at the moment is a system when power and wealth are in the hands of the elite and that includes control of the mainstream media and the ability to communicate misleading information and to distract from the real problems in society. Thus we find people blaming migrants and benefit scroungers instead of challenging the real enemies who are those who choose to put profit before people.

Precisely because we are the many and they are the few, the obstacles to achieving a fairer society are not insurmountable. Jeremy Corbyn’s two elections as leader of the Labour party in spite of everything the right wing of the party and the media threw at him, the second time with an increased mandate, show that united we can win.

But social justice and a fairer society are not things that will ever be handed to us on a plate, they have to be fought for.

With a General Election called and the prospect of another five years of Tory rule bringing with it insurance based systems to replace benefits and the NHS, now is one of those times when we have to step up and fight even harder because of the very real human cost that a loss will entail.

We all have a part to play in the coming weeks.

It is up to us all to do what we can to make sure the real information gets out there about what a Tory election will mean for Disabled people.

On 2nd May DPAC will be officially kicking off our election campaign to #TrashTheTories with our #NotTheFuckingTories protest: https://www.facebook.com/events/247652075641387.


We would like as many of you to join us as possible on the day but what is even more important is that members get out on the streets and your keyboards in the coming weeks to get that information out there to make anyone thinking of voting Tory or voting in a way that would help the Tories get in, think again.

The voices of Disabled people can and does make a difference. In the 2014 local elections the Disabled campaign group Hammersmith and Fulham Coalition Against Cuts ran street stalls to engage with the public and hand out information about how the cuts were impacting on local Disabled people and what the different local political parties were saying on disability issues. Unexpectedly, Labour unseated the Tory Council and followed through on honouring significant pledges they had made to Disabled voters before the election on issues such as abolishing home care charging.

We are asking all our members to think about what you can do and how you can help and encourage you to target marginal seats. There are some resources you may find useful at the end of this post. The media are often keen to cover stories about access to voting for Disabled people so do use this angle to get local attention.

Can you:

         Make sure your friends, neighbours and colleagues are registered to vote before the deadline on 22 May and plan to use their vote?

         Leaflet on street stalls or door to door with information about how important this election is to Deaf and Disabled people?

         Circulate information about what the different parties are saying on disability issues?

         Hold a local screening of I Daniel Blake with a Q and A after?

         Organise a local Deaf and disability hustings event?

DPAC has some funding for leaflets, stickers and posters which we can post to you if you have an event organised. Please keep us informed with how you are getting on.

Love and solidarity.

 

 

Resources

Leaflet: Why this General Election matters to Deaf and Disabled people

List of marginal seats: marginal constituencies 2017

Polling station access guide: ODV-Access-Guide_3_sm

 

Feb 152017
 

Southampton City Council drafted in Capita to help deal with a backlog of assessments for care packages. Leaked emails suggest that staff who work for Capita are given financial incentives to reduce people’s care packages without assessment. To date 1 in 5 people have had their care packages reduced but none have had an increase, in spite of the increase in the National Minimum Wage (as employers disabled people now have to pay their PAs). This is contrary to the Care Act of 2014. DPAC held a protest against Southampton City Council on Wednesday 15th February 2017.

The protest was organised by Southampton DPAC with support from national DPAC

See the news item with an interview with DPAC’s Ellen Clifford on BBC South Today on 15th Feb:

Jan 152017
 

A specialist women’s mental health service attributed with saving lives is facing threat of closure under proposals currently being agreed by Croydon CCG. The 8-bedded facility providing holistic treatment in a supportive peer environment is highly valued by women who have used its services and their families. However, the CCG claim it is too expensive to run and the money cannot be justified for the number of women admitted each year. Women and their families say this is effectively putting a price on women’s lives.

Bromley and Croydon DPAC is asking for support to challenge the closure.

How you can help:

           Tweet at @NHSCroydonCCG calling on them to #SaveFoxleySaveWomen on Tuesday 17th January from 1pm.

          Sign the petition to stop closure. The consultation period has now ended but the campaign to save Foxley Lane is not done yet: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-foxley-lane-women-s-service

          If you are a Croydon resident please write to your local GP (who are members of the CCG) and to your MP. You can find template letters under this post. 

           If you have used Foxley Lane services in the past and are happy, anonymously or otherwise, to share your story about how this service has helped you and why it is important that it stays open please contact: ellen.clifford@inclusionlondon.org.uk.

          Join DPAC members at the CCG governing body meeting where they are considering the proposal for closure.  The meeting is taking place 1 – 4pm on Tuesday 17th January 2017 Conference Room, Croydon College, College Road, Croydon, CR9 1DX. If you can come along and want more information contact norwichpete@hotmail.co.uk​

 

For more information about the closure you can read these articles in Inside Croydon:

https://insidecroydon.com/2016/11/25/hundreds-sign-up-to-petition-to-save-foxley-lane/

https://insidecroydon.com/2016/11/25/please-dont-close-foxley-lane-it-saves-womens-lives/

To read our consultation response scroll down to below the template letters.

 

Letter to Croydon GP – please insert any relevant personal experiences of Foxley Lane

Dear

I am writing to you as my GP practice to ask for your support in opposing proposals by Croydon CCG to close Foxley Lane women’s mental health service.

Foxley Lane provides a highly effective and specialised service unavailable in neighbouring boroughs and to the benefit of women in Croydon. Just as this service has saved many lives, its closure will undoubtedly cost lives.

At a time when Government has recognised, in the words of Prime Minister Theresa May, the “burning injustice” of how society treats mental ill health, Foxley Lane is a model of provision that should be celebrated and promoted to improve women’s mental health services elsewhere.

There is wide opposition to the closure with a petition having now reached over 850 signatures and rising.

The recent consultation undertaken by Croydon CCG was inadequate and flawed. 54% of respondents to the consultation survey stated that they did not understand the proposals.

Information in the consultation document is misleading. It suggests that numbers of admissions to Foxley Lane have been falling due to declining need for the service. However, the reason for fewer admissions in 2015/2016 was due to longer stays which is indicative of growing rather than decreasing need.

The consultation document claims that home treatment can better meet the mental health needs of women in Croydon, but this is not a view shared by mental health service users, their organisations or staff. For many women the home environment is a dominant factor behind their need to access the Foxley Lane facility and the effectiveness of the support it provides is due to factors that cannot be replicated by home treatment including peer support and group therapy, 24-hour support and consistency of staffing from long-standing and experienced staff members.

A report for Croydon CCG’s January governing body meeting acknowledges that home treatment will not be able to meet the needs of all women impacted by the Foxley Lane closure and announces plans for a new 14-bedded women-only ward on the Bethlem. Acute wards in a hospital setting are not able to provide the same quality of environment as Foxley Lane and are therefore less effective. Moreover, the consultation proposals did not include this information.

The financial value of closing Foxley Lane does not appear to be as clear as the consultation makes out. Beds on acute wards at the Bethlem are more expensive than Foxley Lane and direct admissions to Foxley Lane prevent more expensive detentions under the Mental Health Act. The effectiveness of the support women receive in this service as a step down facility can also prevent readmissions.

Some of the things women who have used Foxley Lane and their families say:

“It is criminal to close such a unique centre. I owe my life and my road to recovery to the amazing staff and all services provided at Foxley Lane. It would be a great shame for other women to lose out on a place at the centre. A human life and mental stability should not have a price-tag.”

“When I was treated at Foxley Lane it was not tenable for me to remain in my home and receive treatment from a community team yet based on previous experiences, staying on a psychiatric ward can be very difficult and distressing for someone in an already vulnerable state. I am very concerned that if (when) I fall ill again in the future, the Foxley Lane service will not be available to me, and my recovery will take longer, at much greater cost to my family and to the NHS.”

“My own circumstances were unique to me but I was so grateful to be able to go to Foxley. I do feel it saved my life too. There is nowhere like this in the UK certainly not in Croydon and the health service should be using this as a model to copy. The other services in Croydon are not adequate and would have been unsuitable for me and many other women.”

“The service offered at Foxley lane is a showcase of best practice in the tortuous process of rehabilitation into the community for sufferers of severe mental illness. My own personal experience on several occasions with my daughter has seen long periods of difficult isolation at home followed by lengthy hospitalisation only for real and rapid recovery occurring at the Foxley lane facility. The peaceful calm environment and the amazing caring and professional staff combine with the result of a step change in speed of recovery.”

I hope that you would agree that Croydon CCG needs to at least rethink its proposal to close such a vital and effective service and look forward to your response.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Letter to Croydon MP – please insert any relevant personal experiences of Foxley Lane

Dear

I am writing to you as my constituency MP to ask for your support in opposing proposals by Croydon CCG to close Foxley Lane women’s mental health service.

Foxley Lane provides a highly effective and specialised service unavailable in neighbouring boroughs and to the benefit of women in Croydon. Just as this service has saved many lives, its closure will undoubtedly cost lives.

At a time when Government has recognised, in the words of Prime Minister Theresa May, the “burning injustice” of how society treats mental ill health, Foxley Lane is a model of provision that should be celebrated and promoted to improve women’s mental health services elsewhere.

There is wide opposition to the closure with a petition having now reached over 850 signatures and rising.

The recent consultation undertaken by Croydon CCG was inadequate and flawed. 54% of respondents to the consultation survey stated that they did not understand the proposals.

Information in the consultation document is misleading. It suggests that numbers of admissions to Foxley Lane have been falling due to declining need for the service. However, the reason for fewer admissions in 2015/2016 was due to longer stays which is indicative of growing rather than decreasing need.

The consultation document claims that home treatment can better meet the mental health needs of women in Croydon, but this is not a view shared by mental health service users, their organisations or staff. For many women the home environment is a dominant factor behind their need to access the Foxley Lane facility and the effectiveness of the support it provides is due to factors that cannot be replicated by home treatment including peer support and group therapy, 24-hour support and consistency of staffing from long-standing and experienced staff members.

A report for Croydon CCG’s January governing body meeting acknowledges that home treatment will not be able to meet the needs of all women impacted by the Foxley Lane closure and announces plans for a new 14-bedded women-only ward on the Bethlem. Acute wards in a hospital setting are not able to provide the same quality of environment as Foxley Lane and are therefore less effective. Moreover, the consultation proposals did not include this information.

The financial value of closing Foxley Lane does not appear to be as clear as the consultation makes out. Beds on acute wards at the Bethlem are more expensive than Foxley Lane and direct admissions to Foxley Lane prevent more expensive detentions under the Mental Health Act. The effectiveness of the support women receive in this service as a step down facility can also prevent readmissions.

Finally, there is also a clear conflict between the closure and with national government policy on mental health. The green paper “Improving Lives: disability, health and work” makes clear the Government’s ambition that health services should fit holistically around individuals, tailored to meet individual need in order to better facilitate all Disabled people into employment with no one left behind. Women who have used Foxley in the past have recovered sufficiently to either return to or take up employment as a result of the high quality individualised support available. In line with government aims to address mental health injustice and to support more people with mental health support needs into work, services such as Foxley Lane should be promoted as best practice.

Some of the things women who have used Foxley Lane and their families say:

“It is criminal to close such a unique centre. I owe my life and my road to recovery to the amazing staff and all services provided at Foxley Lane. It would be a great shame for other women to lose out on a place at the centre. A human life and mental stability should not have a price-tag.”

“When I was treated at Foxley Lane it was not tenable for me to remain in my home and receive treatment from a community team yet based on previous experiences, staying on a psychiatric ward can be very difficult and distressing for someone in an already vulnerable state. I am very concerned that if (when) I fall ill again in the future, the Foxley Lane service will not be available to me, and my recovery will take longer, at much greater cost to my family and to the NHS.”

“My own circumstances were unique to me but I was so grateful to be able to go to Foxley. I do feel it saved my life too. There is nowhere like this in the UK certainly not in Croydon and the health service should be using this as a model to copy. The other services in Croydon are not adequate and would have been unsuitable for me and many other women.”

“The service offered at Foxley lane is a showcase of best practice in the tortuous process of rehabilitation into the community for sufferers of severe mental illness. My own personal experience on several occasions with my daughter has seen long periods of difficult isolation at home followed by lengthy hospitalisation only for real and rapid recovery occurring at the Foxley lane facility. The peaceful calm environment and the amazing caring and professional staff combine with the result of a step change in speed of recovery.”

I hope that you would agree that Croydon CCG needs to at least rethink its proposal to close such a vital and effective service and look forward to your response.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Response to consultation on closure of Foxley Lane women’s mental health service

 

We are deeply concerned by and opposed to proposals by Croydon CCG to close Foxley Lane women’s mental health service. Foxley Lane provides a highly effective and specialised service unavailable in neighbouring boroughs and to the benefit of women in Croydon. At a time when Government has recognised, in the words of Prime Minister Theresa May, the “burning injustice” of how society treats mental ill health, it is a model of provision that should be promoted and built upon to improve women’s mental health services elsewhere. Just as Foxley Lane has saved many lives, its closure will undoubtedly cost lives.

The following response sets out our main points of concern regarding the planned closure.

 

Summary of main points

·         Flawed and inadequate consultation process

·         Disproportionate equalities impact

·         Inappropriateness of home treatment as an alternative

·         Conflict with national government disability policy and negative impact on employment outcomes

·         Questionable value for money

 

Flawed and inadequate consultation process

The engagement document published by Croydon CCG setting out its plans concerning Foxley Lane presented closure as the only option available and feedback from local residents unhappy with the proposals indicates they saw the closure as “a done deal” that they had no power to stop happening.  We believe that this had the effect of limiting the response to the consultation.

Information in the engagement document is misleading. It suggests that falling numbers of admissions to Foxley Lane from a comparison of the 2014/2015 and 2015/2016 figures are evidence that need for a service of this type is decreasing. However, the reason for the lower numbers is that length of stays were longer in 2015/16. This is consistent with the wider picture of growing demands on mental health services and does not prove declining need due to improved community services. The engagement document also fails to explain how the referral procedure for Foxley Lane has changed which has restricted access through direct admissions.

The Croydon CCG “Case for Change” report recommending closure of Foxley Lane includes information about a planned 14 bed women only ward at the Bethlem as a mitigating factor in the impact of the closure of Foxley and as additional alternative provision. There is no mention of plans for this new facility in the engagement document which informed the consultation process. The document makes clear that the primary arguments for closure are cost savings and an emphasis on home treatment. However, replacement of some of the service provided by Foxley Lane with new acute inpatient provision represents both additional cost and a move further away from home and community treatment. Costs per bed for acute wards are higher than the costs per bed at Foxley Lane. None of the additional costs associated with alternative provision on an acute wards are included in the proposals outlined in the engagement document.

The consultation survey was publicised predominantly online and may not have reached or been available in a format appropriate to responses from local mental health service users and survivors. Furthermore, the survey questions were both limited and confusing. Despite good attendance at open meetings and over 700 signatures to a petition opposing the closure, only 57 consultation survey responses were received.  54% of respondents said they did not understand the CCG proposals.

Some of the groups and organisations supporting this submission, whose members include women who have used Foxley Lane and their families, only learned about the planned closure shortly before Christmas. A request for an extension to the deadline was denied.

 

Disproportionate equalities impact

We are concerned that the proposals do not put forward adequate measures to mitigate the disproportionate impact that the closure will have in regards to gender, disability and ethnicity.

In Croydon a similar facility for men, Ashton, was closed and replaced by home treatment as an alternative service. Firstly, we would ask what the measured impact of this closure has been. Secondly we would point to differential factors which need to be taken into account when considering the needs of women for both direct admissions to Foxley Lane and for the step-down facility it provides. These include situations including domestic violence and caring responsibilities which are more likely to affect women.  

 

Inappropriateness of home treatment as an alternative

We question the evidence base on which the claim is made that home treatment can deliver more effective outcomes than a stay at Foxley Lane. For many women the home environment is a dominant factor behind their need to access the Foxley Lane facility and the effectiveness of the support it provides is due to factors that cannot be replicated by home treatment including:

          Refuge away from the home environment

          Peer support and group therapy

          Consistency of staffing from long-standing and experienced staff members

          24 hour staff presence

The proposal document claims that home treatment will be a better option as women who use Foxley Lane predominantly come from north of the borough whereas the service is based in South Croydon. We agree that it is detrimental for women to be sent for inpatient treatment many miles from home but do not consider that the distance between the North and the South of the borough presents the same issue. Foxley Lane is well served by Purley transport links and close to local amenities whilst occupying a peaceful environment conducive to restoring well-being. The suggested alternative of an additional ward on the Bethlem would place women in a location with fewer transport links and in an institutionalised setting away from the local community.

There is also evidence that the home treatment service provided in Croydon is currently unable to satisfactorily meet the needs of its existing service users. For example:

           Lack of consistent staffing. Women accessing the home treatment service have described having to go through the same information again and again to new staff.

          Limited visits at set times rather than support being available as and when required.

 

Conflict with national government disability policy and negative impact on employment outcomes

The green paper “Improving Lives: disability, health and work” makes clear the Government’s ambition that health services should fit holistically around individuals, tailored to meet individual need in order to better facilitate all Disabled people into employment with no one left behind.

By closing the Foxley Lane service, Croydon CCG will be restricting the types of service that are available to meet the different needs of women in the borough. The service provided by Foxley Lane has successfully supported women to return to employment following a mental health crisis. We are concerned that replacement of Foxley Lane with less effective treatment options will negatively impact on the employment outcomes of Disabled women in Croydon.

 

Questionable Value for Money

The consultation document makes clear that the intention behind the closure of Foxley Lane is to save money. Foxley Lane provides a service that is different from anything else on offer and just as it has saved the lives of many women, its closure will cost lives. To deem the service too expensive to continue to run is to in effect put a price on a woman’s life. It also ignores the social returns from enabling a woman to continue in her role within her family and as a member of her community.

As a purely financial exercise the proposal is however also questionable. The cost per bed at Foxley Lane is cheaper than per bed on a ward at the Bethlem. The current context is one where detainment under the Mental Health Act is rapidly increasing as low level and preventative services are cut. The resulting chronic bed shortage is leading to patients being sent many miles away to available places in acute settings. Acute wards provide a very different environment to the one on offer at Foxley Lane where chaos and disturbances can exacerbate and prolong mental distress. There is a likelihood that the closure of Foxley will result in:

·         a rise in more expensive admissions to acute wards

·         increased stays on more expensive acute wards due to a lack of step down facility

·         increased pressure on inpatient beds through readmissions due to the lack of availability of more effective holistic support as provided at Foxley Lane

 

Some of the things women who have used Foxley Lane and their families have told us:

“It is criminal to close such a unique centre. I owe my life and my road to recovery to the amazing staff and all services provided at Foxley Lane. It would be a great shame for other women to lose out on a place at the centre. A human life and mental stability should not have a price-tag.”

“When I was treated at Foxley Lane it was not tenable for me to remain in my home and receive treatment from a community team yet based on previous experiences, staying on a psychiatric ward can be very difficult and distressing for someone in an already vulnerable state. I am very concerned that if (when) I fall ill again in the future, the Foxley Lane service will not be available to me, and my recovery will take longer, at much greater cost to my family and to the NHS.”

“My own circumstances were unique to me but I was so grateful to be able to go to Foxley. I do feel it saved my life too. There is nowhere like this in the UK certainly not in Croydon and the health service should be using this as a model to copy. The other services in Croydon are not adequate and would have been unsuitable for me and many other women.”

“The service offered at Foxley lane is a showcase of best practice in the tortuous process of rehabilitation into the community for sufferers of severe mental illness. My own personal experience on several occasions with my daughter has seen long periods of difficult isolation at home followed by lengthy hospitalisation only for real and rapid recovery occurring at the Foxley lane facility. The peaceful calm environment and the amazing caring and professional staff combine with the result of a step change in speed of recovery.”

 

 

 

Dec 312015
 

Independent Living Fighting Fund – donations needed now to support Disabled people hit by the closure of the ILF fight cuts to vital day to day support

DPAC is asking for donations for an Independent Living Fighting Fund to support individual Disabled people to challenge cuts to their social care support packages following closure of the ILF. The ILF campaigners fought fiercely against the closure, taking their protest right to the doors of the House of Commons chamber, exposing to the world the disgraceful way the UK government is treating its Disabled citizens. The Fund finally closed on 30 June but the fight is far from over. Disabled people hit by the closure need solidarity now more than ever as the cuts we all fought so hard to prevent start to kick in.

The government said the closure of the ILF was a transfer not a cut (http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jun/11/impact-of-changes-to-disability-benefits). This was a lie. Some notable Councils such as Hammersmith and Fulham have committed to protecting people’s support packages in the short-term but in other areas serious cuts are already starting to happen as former ILF recipients are re-assessed to determine the level of social care support their Local Authorities will continue to fund. In Waltham Forest for example nearly 90% of former ILF recipients have had their support package cut as a result of the closure of the ILF, with more than a quarter having a cut of 50% or more (http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/independent-living-fund-shocking-drop-in-support-after-ilf-closure/).

Cuts of this level mean robbing Disabled people of independence, dignity and equality. It also places people at risk as tragically evidenced by the case of Amanda Richard (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3266218/Disabled-mother-died-house-fire-24-hour-care-cut.html) who died in a house fire in Coventry after her support hours were cut. Forcing use of incontinence pads on Disabled people who aren’t incontinent is emerging as one common tactic, as is blanket removal of night-time support and increasing expectations on, often elderly, family members and neighbours. One former ILF recipient was told that if she wanted to continue attending her community choir, other members of the choir could assist with her physical needs in place of needing paid support hours. The reassessment of another made a recommendation for behaviour therapy in order to cope with the removal of their night-time support following closure of the ILF.

Disabled campaigners warned that the closure of the ILF signalled the end of independent living for Disabled people. Local Authority administered care and support has proven itself unable to consistently provide Disabled people with adequate support to live, work and study in the community with the same chances as non-Disabled people. The current crisis in social care funding means things are only getting worse as Councils consult on further cuts to community support (http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/council-is-trying-to-push-through-care-cuts-without-proper-scrutiny/), meanwhile investing in the building of new ‘super care homes’ to house Disabled people en masse (http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/threat-to-independent-living-as-council-plots-raid-on-high-cost-care/).

Having lost the legal challenge to quash the decision to close the ILF it is now imperative that support is available for each former ILF recipient at risk of cuts to essential support. There are a number of dedicated solicitors committed to providing legal advice, however changes to legal aid mean that some Disabled people are no longer eligible yet not in a situation where they can fund the legal action they need to challenge what is happening. It is also true that we cannot reach every former ILF recipient affected and we also know that many are too frightened to speak out for fear of losing what support they have got. Legal challenges are an important way of testing out the rights of former ILF recipients under the Care Act 2014 and making examples out of Local Authorities that are not meeting their legal duties.

This is why we need a fighting fund available to support legal challenges by former ILF recipients not eligible for legal aid.

What you can do:

  • Donate to the fighting fund. We have cases that need to be actioned in early January so the sooner you can give the better. To donate go through DPAC’s paypal or contact us via mail@dpac.uk.net for details for a BACS transfer. Include “ILF FF” as the reference.
  • Circulate this post to your friends, family and fellow campaigners asking them to donate too.
  • Donate through gofundme at https://www.gofundme.com/9up7iw
Jun 282015
 

On 30th June, the day the ILF closes, ILF recipients, campaigners and Allies will meet outside Downing Street to hand over petitions calling on the Prime Minister to protect Disabled people’s right to independent living. Over 25,000 signatures have been collected online (supported by the brilliant video made by the stars of Coronation Street) and also during the Graeae Theatre Company’s 2014 UK Tour of The Threepenny Opera.

After laying a wreath for the ILF, Schimmel, the equine star and proud battle horse of the Threepenny Opera will lead a march to the Houses of Parliament to continue the fight for dignity and equality.

But this isn’t theatre… It’s real and it’s our lives.

Join us in person or show your support on social media with the hashtag #SaveILF, to say “Today marks the closure of the ILF. This terrible action is wrong but the battle to protect our right to Independent Living will go on. For disabled people and for everyone who cares about fairness and social justice.”

Meet 11.30am outside Downing Street.

Jun 252015
 

Freedom of Information requests asking the following questions were sent out on 15th April to 151 English Local Authorities:

Q1 Will you be ring fencing the lF money passed to you to: –
A) Individual ILF users
B) Adult Social Care
C) No ring-fence at all

Q2 Have you received the details of how much money you are being allocated and if so how much?

Q3 When will be starting reassessments of ILF users and wjen do you anticipate completing those assessments?

Responses were received from 147.

At the time of responding to the FOIs 12 said a decision had not yet been made as to how they will use the money with 2 if these explaining that they were waiting for confirmation of the amount of monies they will be receiving from central government before they decide.
31 said they will not be ring-fencing at all while 60 have decided to ring-fence to their Adult Social Care budget. 3 LAs will be ring-fencing to individual ILF recipients for a set amount of time (Camden for three months and Enfield and Slough for six months) while 9 said they will ring- fence individual awards until review and reassessment of individual support packages over the course of the nine months.
28 LAs responded that they will be ring-fencing to individual ILF users up until the end of March 2016. Those Local Authorities are Bath, Bedford, Birmingham, City of London, Cornwall, Derbyshire, Greenwich, Hammersmith and Fulham, Hartlepool, Herefordshire, Hertfordshire, Hounslow, Islington, Kingston, Lambeth, Lewisham, Medway, Merton, Middlesbrough, Richmond, Rutland, Shropshire, South Gloucestershire, Southend, Stockport, Trafford, Wokingham and York.

88 out of the 147 Local Authorities who responded said they had not received details about how much money will be transferred from central government. 41 said they have an indicative amount they are working to based on the amount paid to ILF users now minus the 5% “attrition rate” the government will be top slicing. Only 15 said yes they do know how much they will be getting.

Most LAs (78) are aiming to have completed reassessments of all ILF recipients in their area before 30 June 2015. 30 do not have a timescale for completion while 17 LAs have set a target date later within the next nine months. 12 LAs said reassessments would be completed between July 2015 and March 2016. 7 said they had already completed theirs.

For those LAs who said they had completed their reassessments it was not clear whether all of them were referring to reassessments to calculate the support package ILF recipients will receive from the LA after transfer from the ILF or whether they had answered the question in relation to the joint transfer reviews with ILF assessors which were conducted as part of the transition process.

Some LAs who have committed to ring-fencing such as Stockport, Islington and Kingston have also completed their reassessments. Others such as South Gloucestershire will be reassessing over the next nine months.

For more information about these FOIs and the findings contact mail@dpac.uk.net or ellen.clifford@inclusionlondon.co.uk

Jun 252015
 

Dear Mr Speaker,

On 30th June the Independent Living Fund, providing essential support to disabled people with high support needs with everyday basic tasks such as eating, drinking and going to the toilet, will close. This is the result of a decision taken by the government without a vote in Parliament.

The closure will have a devastating impact on disabled people. In December 2014 the High Court found that as a consequence of the closure of the Fund “independent living might well be put seriously in peril for… Most (or a substantial number of) ILF users”.

Without the ILF the UK is not able to meet the basic human rights of disabled people.

We have seen this since the closure of the ILF to new applicants in December 2010 which has resulted in disabled people left trapped in their own homes or dependent on friends and families, placing intolerable strain on relationships and denying disabled people the chance to live an ordinary life.

Now as Local Authorities start to reassess individual support packages and inform disabled people what support we will receive after 30th June 2015 we are fearing for our futures. Currently we pay taxes, we work, we study, we raise our families and make many valuable contributions to society in other ways. The cuts in support that are being handed out to individuals will leave us without dignity, sitting in our own faeces for hours at a time dependent on the kindness of friends, family, neighbours and even strangers just to eat, drink and move.

We urge the honourable Speaker to ensure that it is our elected Parliament that has a say on whether disabled people in the UK have the right to independent living or whether in the sixth richest nation in the world we are denied the same opportunities to live and to contribute to society.
Yours ever,
Disabled People

May 152015
 

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) are looking for disabled people to speak to a national newspaper about problems they have had with zero hours contracts. If you think you might be willing to speak to the paper please contact Ellen.clifford@inclusionlondon.co.uk.

Even if you don’t want to speak to the paper but have information you are willing to share with DPAC please email.

Your information might, for example, cover:

– not being granted reasonable adjustments

– the impact of zero hours contracts on your impairment or health

– the impact of being disabled on your ability to meet your zero hours contract

– being dismissed

– ill-treatment in the workplace

– financial problems

– being pressured into a zero hours contract by JCP/DWP

 

Thank you for any help you can give.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mar 152015
 

The Ministerial statement issued this week by Mark Harper, Minister against Disabled People, announced measures which will discriminate against Deaf BSL users and those with higher cost support needs by introducing a cap on Access To Work packages. The statement mentions personal budgets and the idea of giving greater flexibility and choice in how ATW customers use their packages. Deaf and disabled people are under no illusions that this will mean anything but a further driving down of support costs. There is no recognition within the statement about the value of investing in Deaf and disabled people’s employment or the proven economic benefits for the state of Access to Work. Instead there are references to taxpayers money and the implication, consistent with the cultural shift we have seen within ATW over the last year or so, that Deaf and disabled people don’t have a right to aspire to equal life chances due to cost.

Campaigners at this week’s StopChanges2ATS meeting commented that the government may as well just send us all back to the workhouse. Already the changes to ATW have pushed Deaf and disabled people out of professional positions, careers and businesses they have spent decades building. The pressure on employers to “redesign” jobs to reduce support needs is pushing Deaf and disabled people into unskilled, lower paid work.

Harper’s statement also confirms the introduction of a framework agreement which will mean the outsourcing and privatisation of BSL interpreting. A similar framework adopted four years ago in the Ministry of Justice has been a categoric disaster. The framework for translating and interpreting currently being proposed is entirely unworkable, will drive down standards and leave Deaf BSL users without the communication support they need not only day to day but also in life or death situations interacting with for example hospital or social services. In a survey carried out by the National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters, 48% of interpreters surveyed said they are considering leaving the profession.

For more comment see:
https://stopchanges2atw.wordpress.com

To view the statement:
http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-vote-office/March%202015/12%20March%202015/40.DWP-Access-to-work.pdf

Mar 112015
 

Mental health charity Mind excludes election candidate, mental health service user and disability campaigner, Mick Hardy, from its mental health election panel.

Mind, the largest mental health charity in England, has excluded Mick Hardy, a mental health service user and disability campaigner, from its General Election Panel Event at The Curve, The Forum, Norwich NR2 1TF on Friday 13th March, 2015 between 1300 and 1600.

Mind claims that the event, chaired by national Mind’s Chief Executive, Paul Farmer, is “to give people with lived experience of mental health problems, their carers and support workers, volunteers and Mind staff an opportunity to ask the questions which matter to them and to hear what our parliamentary candidates from the north and south of Norwich have to say about the future of the services they use.” Yet Mind seeks to exclude Mick Hardy, disability rights campaigner and Dandy Party candidate in Norwich North from its event.

Mick Hardy said:

“I couldn’t believe it when Mind refused to have me, a prospective parliamentary candidate in Norwich North and mental health service user, on their panel. I believe this is due to my criticism of the failure of the local Norfolk Mind organisation to speak out against the massive cuts to mental health services at Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) which included the closure of the assertive outreach and homeless teams. Indeed, the local Mind has sought as a ‘service provider’ to profit from the cuts and privatisation of services at NSFT. The Mind volunteers and donors will find this shocking.”

“Mind receives more funding from Norman Lamb’s Department of Health than it receives in public donations. This reliance on government funding means that Mind is compromised when it comes to speaking out in defence of mental health service users. Nothing demonstrates this more than Mind’s attempt to exclude a mental health service user candidate from their panel in Norwich. This breaches Mind’s obligation as a charity to be apolitical.”

“I encourage all those concerned about the crisis in mental health services in Norfolk and Suffolk, which has seen our local trust NSFT rated inadequate by the CQC and put into special measures by health regulator Monitor, to lobby outside the Forum on Friday both before (1230-1300) and afterwards (1600-1630). It is a shame that those holding such views have been excluded from Mind’s event.”

“Mind claims to campaign for social inclusion but seeks to exclude me.”

Notes to editors:

Mind received £3.697m in public donations in 2014. Mind received £5.26m in government grants over the same period, with £4.651m from the Department of Health including £100,000 for the crisis care concordat and £4.262m for Time to Change.

Amanda Hedley, Chief Executive of Norwich Mind has written “As part of the Redesign Process we have tried to play a constructive role in helping to suggest good alternatives provided in the third sector which would provide support for people at a lower cost but achieve similar outcomes…..’ She

also told the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee of Norfolk County Council “…MIND could even deliver some of the services currently delivered through the Trust…”

 

Jan 182015
 

SUPPORT PEOPLE, HEALTH, JOBS
Scrap Trident and BAN all Nuclear Weapons!

After the 2015 general election a final decision will be made on replacing Trident nuclear weapons systems. We have to send a clear message to M.Ps: Trident must be scrapped not replaced. That is why D.P.A.C. needs to be present at this protest, says DPAC activist Sam Brackenbury.

The government wants to sign contracts for us to be a nuclear power the NEXT 40 YEARS, we have to stop this madness or 100 billion pounds will be waisted… How many disabled people could be helped with this money ???

South Africa used to be a nuclear power, since the end of Aparthied, it has decomissioned its nuclear weapons so it can be done.

Lets oppose Nuclear Power in all its forms!

Oct 272014
 

On Wednesday the DWP select committee is holding its final oral evidence session for its inquiry into Access to Work. Mark Harper, Minister for Disabled People, will be giving evidence.

The StopChanges2ATW campaign will be attending the evidence session as observers and then holding a rally in Old Palace Yard to protest against changes to Access to Work that are driving Deaf and disabled people out of employment and undermining our employability.

Speakers will include Jenny Sealey, artistic director of Graeae Theatre Company, Geraldine O’Halloran, Inclusion London and co-founder of StopChanges2ATW, Nicky Evans, branch secretary of the National Union of British Sign Language Interpreters, David Buxton CEO of the British Deaf Association and Teresa Pearce MP.

For more information contact:

For more information about the changes to Access to Work and how they are impacting on Deaf and disabled people go to:

http://stopchanges2atw.wordpress.com/

https://dpac.uk.net/2014/10/what-the-f-is-going-on-with-access-to-work-join-the-stopchanges2atw-campaign/

http://www.deafatw.com/

http://www.inclusionlondon.co.uk/ATW-ILs-%20and%20stop-changes2atw-respond-to-call-for-evidence

 

Oct 212014
 

More and more people are asking what is happening with Access to Work, the programme that supports Deaf and disabled people to get into and stay in employment, as changes are making it harder and harder to use. Despite the government’s well publicised extra investment in the scheme Access to Work’s clear direction of travel is to cut individual packages, with the result that the employability of Deaf and disabled people is being seriously undermined.

When the Tories closed the Remploy factories in 2011-2012 they said there was no place for segregated workplaces in modern society and the money used to fund the factories would be better spent supporting Deaf and disabled people to get into and stay in mainstream employment through the Access to Work programme.

Over the past year, with the factory closures out of the way, changes introduced to the AtW programme have decreased eligibility, brought considerable distress and uncertainty to customers who had previously and successfully used the programme for many years, pushed Deaf and disabled people out of jobs and left others fearing for their futures.

It is difficult to summarise all the changes: AtW is awarded on a discretionary ‘case by case’ basis and the programme has always denied the existence of any blanket rules for particular impairment groups. What we have seen emerging are some clear patterns around the cutting of packages, lack of information and hostility to AtW customers alongside growing inefficiency and cuts to AtW service delivery.

The first clear pattern emerged with respect to Deaf customers who suddenly found themselves labelled as ‘fraudsters’. Individuals contacting AtW advisers, in some cases advisers they had had for many years were greeted with a completely different and hostile attitude. They were told ‘there are high levels of Access to Work fraud in the Deaf community’. Changes brought in including the notorious ’30 hour rule’, requiring Deaf customers using more than 30 hours of BSL interpreters per week to employ a salaried interpreter, have literally left Deaf people unable to continue in their jobs.  The government has sought to justify what it is doing by pointing the finger at interpreters, blaming them for ‘costing too much’, meanwhile undermining what is a highly skilled and important profession.

A particularly nasty move has been the introduction of retrospective decision making experienced by both Deaf and disabled people who have had their packages cut with the cuts being backdated after support costs have already been incurred. This situation has been compounded by the fact that has review notices are no longer sent out warning AtW customers when their packages are due for renewal which easily leads to people not realising their packages have ended. Deaf and disabled people have been left owing thousands of pounds and has left interpreters and support workers owed thousands of pounds, causing considerable hardship and distress.

Successful appeals against changes to packages have been made but many people do not realise they have a right to appeal or how they would go about making a complaint. Others are too worried about losing the rest of their package to make a fuss. This is where the website DeafAtW has been invaluable, providing information and support on how to challenge decisions.

There is a growing level of misinformation, confusion and chaos coming from AtW itself as a result of a restructuring that has seen a dramatic reduction in the numbers of contact centres and outsourcing. AtW invoices remain unpaid from months and months ago because the addresses of the payment centres changed but customers weren’t told. Meanwhile application backlogs have amassed. Given that Deaf and disabled people often cannot start a job until their AtW package is in place, yet can only make an application after an employment start date has been confirmed, this has presumably Deaf and disabled people unable to take up job offers.

Money pledged by this government for the Access to Work budget has yet to appear. This was highlighted at the Work and Pension Select Committee oral evidence session when Remploy confirmed that the £80million per year “saved” from the closure of the factories hadn’t materialised in AtW support. There was also an additional £17million that hasn’t appeared. These two amounts would mean the AtW budget should have doubled in the past four years, yet cuts are being made.

For a government that claims its welfare reform measures are all about supporting more people into employment, the changes to Access to Work appear counter-productive.

Moreover, in a time of austerity, changes to the programme represent a cutting back of a scheme that actually makes money for the state: the Sayce report found that for every pound invested in Access to Work, £1.48 is recouped by the Treasury.

But for anyone familiar with Tory welfare policies none of this comes as a surprise. Ill-thought through ideologically driven policies are seeking to reduce ‘dependency’ and dismantle the welfare state, removing social security from those that need it and creating situations that will end up costing more.

While the Tories describe AtW as a ‘benefit’ and a dependency and fail to understand it as an investment, campaigners have beaten back some of the attacks. AtW eventually conceded that it was not realistic to expect employers to contribute the on costs for salaried interpreters under the 30 hour rule. In May the Minster for Disabled People announced a review into the 30 hour rule and the DWP Select Committee Inquiry agreed not only to take evidence on how changes were impacting on Deaf people but also extended the deadline for submissions whereas originally the inquiry had been intended to focus on employment support for people with mental health support needs and learning difficulties. Individual decisions have also been revised in the face of continued campaigning and challenges.

More is needed though. We have yet to hear the outcome of the Minister’s review. Meanwhile we are hearing of cuts to AtW packages impacting ever wider, putting jobs at risk and pushing Deaf and disabled people out of employment. We need to step up our campaign to make sure information is available and accessible and people know what to do if they are impacted by the changes, to fight for the employment rights of Deaf and disabled people and to protect the terms and conditions of BSL interpreters and ensure we are not divided.

StopChanges2ATW campaign open meeting – Thursday 23rd October 2014, 6 – 7.30pm, 336 Brixton Road, London, SW9 7AA.

For more information read StopChanges2ATW and Inclusion London’s submissions to the DWP select committee inquiry: http://www.inclusionlondon.co.uk/ATW-ILs-%20and%20stop-changes2atw-respond-to-call-for-evidence

Oct 192014
 

Solidarity to our DPAC members and all in Parliament Square fighting oppression! DPAC fully supports Occupy-go and support them too…
Update: London police torment #OccupyDemocracy protestors on Parliament Square
Overnight in Parliament Square, #OccupyDemocracy protestors aiming to draw attention to the growing democratic deficit in the UK, have been enduring systematic torment from the Metropolitan Police and Heritage Wardens, who have been zealously enforcing new restrictions on the right to protest and assembly in the Square (Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011).
The reaction of the Police and the State to the #OccupyDemocracy protest is in complete juxtaposition to David Cameron’s recent comments regarding the Occupy Central pro-democracy demonstrations in Kong Kong, when he said that “rights and freedoms, including those of person, of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of travel, of movement, and, indeed, of strike … These are important freedoms … which, most of all, we should stand up for.” [1]
Timeline of #OccupyDemocracy
5pm Friday 17 October – Occupation begins on Parliament Square with an overnight vigil to mark the UN Day for the Eradication of Poverty with speakers from groups including War on Want, Fuel Poverty Action and Reverend Dr Keith Hebden (author of Seeking Justice: The Radical Compassion of Jesus). Throughout the night protestors’ right to assemble and protest were contravened – with protestors not being allowed to rest and being forced onto the pavement.
Daytime Saturday 18 October – Protestors support the TUC March.
7-10pm Saturday 18 October – Scuffles instigated by police against protestors as Heritage Wardens instruct that the protestors should be removed. Police kettle the protestors. Two protestors are assaulted, several personal items removed. Banners calling for “Real Democracy Now!” and a small, battery-powered sound system – used by speakers such as Green Party leader Natalie Bennett and Labour MP John McDonnell to address the crowd – were all confiscated by the police. Later witnesses say that journalists and photographers were denied access to the protest by the police and removed from the Square. At around 10pm the police back off.
2am Sunday 19 October – Whilst protestors try to rest police arrest attempts were made with further harassment of the group who were huddled together in the mud. Police also confiscated cardboard that protestors had been using to keep warm. One protestor, a 24 year old woman from Manchester, reported that she was not permitted to lean against her own bag as it was camping equipment. Another woman, 65, has an air mattress literally pulled from under her, casting her to the ground.
7am Sunday 19 October – Things calm until 7am when the police entered the gathered crowd to remove printed materials including banners, hand held signs and a flag displaying a rainbow and the word ‘Peace’. A woman had the occupation’s Safer Spaces sign ripped from her hands as she shouted ‘No’ – this sign set out the ground rules for behaviour to ensure every individual feels safe, comfortable and welcome.
10.30am Sunday 19 October – Another protestor arrested – police allege that he cut a piece of string.
Upcoming – Sundays’ theme is “taming the power of finance” featuring speakers and workshops from UK Uncut, Tax Justice Network, New Economics Foundation and the Robin Hood Tax campaign.
On Monday the focus is on the attacks on our public services including NHS privatisation and cuts in welfare benefits.
Details of planned events for the rest of the week at the #occupydemocracy protest can be found at http://occupydemocracy.org.uk/.
The protest, organised by #OccupyDemocracy – a group that grew out of Occupy London – is demanding reforms to our democratic process so that it serves the public interest, rather than the interests of corporations, banks and a tiny wealthy elite.
Alison Playford from #OccupyDemocracy said: “The way the State has responded to our protest with this political policing just shows how frightened the elite are of a new movement pushing for radical democratic reform.”
Amongst the flurry of support coming in via social media, support includes:
Labour MP John McDonnell who also spoke at the protest said:
“When politicians and parties ignore them, people have no other option but to take direct action. Occupy Democracy is a way people can have their voice heard.”
Donnachadh McCarthy, the whistleblowing former Deputy Chair of the Liberal Democrats and author of The Prostitute State who also spoke yesterday said:
“Our political parties have been hijacked by the corporate lobbying classes, our media perverted by a handful of extreme right-wing billionaires, our tax system plundered by the tax-haven elite and our think-tanks, schools and universities increasingly corporately manipulated. Britain is no longer a democracy but a Prostitute State, which is reflected by the rise of UKIP. We desperately need a 21st Century Great Democratic Reform Act to re-gain our democracy for the sake of social and political justice and the very future of our planet’s ecosystems.”
Notes
1. http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/10/15/uk-hongkong-china-britain-idUKKCN0I41C620141015

Reblogged with thanks to Occupy http://occupydemocracy.org.uk/2014/10/19/update-london-police-torment-occupydemocracy-protestors-on-parliament-square/
Twitter: @OccupyLondon

Sep 082014
 

Tory welfare reform is in crisis. Last week 70 Conservative MPs ignored a three line whip and stayed away from Westminster for the vote on Andrew George’s bedroom tax bill. Protests have beaten back government attacks on benefits but we need to keep fighting to see off the hated bedroom tax once and for all and to stand up against sanctions, which remain a vicious plank in the government’s punitive policies, whose use is rocketing and which are still supported by Labour in Parliament.

Join protests happening in the areas below or hold your own. Send pictures and updates to benefitjustice@gmail.com and/or mail@dpac.uk.net.

 

Barnet

9.00am: Jobcentre Granta House 1 Western Rd London N22 6UH. Go to Barnet Housing Action Group on facebook for more information.

 

Birmingham

12 noon: Broad Street Job Centre, Centennial House,100 Broad St, B15 1AU.

1.15pm: Centenary Square, Broad Street.

Sandk123456@aol.com

 

Huddersfield

12 noon: Upper Head Row, Huddersfield, HD1 2JL. (near main entrance to bus station) juneholmes@btopenworld.com

 

Leeds

12 – 2pm: Street meeting on benefits and sanctions: Briggate, LS1 6JX (near the Body Shop). ellenrobottom@hotmail.com

 

London

11am Old Palace Yard Westminster SW1P 3JY
and 1pm DWP HQ Tothill St SW1
(Southwark Benefit Justice Campaign will be meeting 10.30am outside Metropolitan Tabernacle opposite Elephant and Castle tube station to go up to Parliament)
Anti-Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Gig: Starring: THE WICKED VENETIANS + PARVA HINTON + SEBASTIAN MELMOTH + MYLAS: New Cross Inn, 323 New Cross Road London SE14 6AS: http://newcrossinn.com/?p=1&m=09&y=2014

Milton Keynes

12 noon – 1pm outside Milton Keynes Jobcentre Plus, Midsummer Blvd, MK9 3BN. E.kate.hunter@googlemail.com

 

FRIDAY 12th SEPTEMBER

 

Brighton

11am: Brighton station forecourt: brightonbenefitscampaign@gmail.com
Witney

Paupers Picnic outside David Cameron’s Witney Conservatives event at Witney Lakes with tax-dodging, expenses-grabbing MP Nadim Zahawi. Coaches leave Oxford at 5.30pm. For more info contact: mail:dpac.uk.net

Aug 262014
 

Thursday 11th September 2014

End Bedroom Tax; No Sanctions for Claimants – No Targets for Staff

On 11th September the Anti-Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Campaign is holding a day of protest: say no to claimant sanctions, bedroom tax and benefit cuts

Government attacks on benefits mean hunger, debt and fear. Ex-soldier David Clapson died hungry and destitute after his benefits were stopped, the latest in a string of deaths and suicides related to sanctions and benefit cuts.  The overwhelming majority of referrals to food banks are due to  claimants being sanctioned.

Sanctions cutting benefits of disabled people on Employment and Support Allowance, rose by nearly 580 percent between March 2013 and March 2014, and total sanctions rose to over a million last year, from 100,000 in 2010 (DWP figures).
PCS union is supporting the 11 September protests.  Research by PCS members working in the DWP revealed that 82% of members felt ‘pressured’ into sanctioning claimants, and 62% said they had made ‘inappropriate’ sanctions decisions.Protests have forced Government to promise changes: see Review report. But sanctions remain a vicious plank of the Government’s punitive welfare reforms, and are still supported by Labour in parliament.

Join us on one of protests below or organise your own.  Demand an end to the Bedroom Tax and link it to the slogan: ‘No sanctions for claimants, No targets for staff’. Build links with local PCS members – contacts for local PCS in DWP and PCS regions.The Bedroom Tax is almost dead – we will demand MPs kill it now  and up the pressure to beat the sanctions regime too. Let us know any actions you are planning so we can promote them.

End Sanctions, Bedroom Tax and benefit cuts11am Old Palace Yard Westminster SW1P 3JY
and 1pm DWP HQ Tothill St SW1

Other protests planned in
Leeds, Sheffield, Oxford, Manchester/Liverpool, Birmingham, Glasgow