Jan 122012

Baroness Meacher, an independent crossbencher, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The British public do not accept the idea that the banks screw up and very disabled people pay the bill.”
The Lords vote see the Government defeated by 234 to 186, a majority of 48, over a plan to limit to one year the time people can claim Employment Support Allowance.
Peers agreed a move to replace the one-year cap with the ability for the Government to specify a limit of no less than two years.
Lord Patel, an independent crossbench peer, said: “I am sympathetic to cutting the deficit, but I am highly sympathetic to sick and vulnerable people not being subjected to something that will make their lives even more miserable.”
The Government was also defeated when peers voted by 222 to 166, majority 56, to accept another amendment by Lord Patel removing the time limit on contributory ESA payments from people receiving treatment for cancer.
Employment minister Chris Grayling said the welfare state should be focused on supporting those with the most need quotes the BBC –DPAC agrees that it should too but we think Grayling is a bit confused over whose those might be – fortunately the Lords are not.

Labour said the coalition was defeated for trying to “cross the basic line of British decency”.

DPAC networks should congratulate themselves for the long months of protests and lobbying on Atos, WCA and on ESA since 2010- but the battle is not over yet. As responsible groups we know that the lobbying must continue when the amendments go to the House of Commons.

Pictures of Tuesday’s protest can be found here




Sep 052011

New developments! Please read
Great news on the ESA Amendment! at George Potter’s blog.

DPAC is calling upon all members to write to the Lib Dems to build support for a motion being put forward at their annual conference on September 17th about fundamental changes to the Employment and Support Allowance assessment system.

The Lib Dem motion, to be proposed by Liberal Youth, will make five key demands including calling for:

–       a clearer assessment process,

–       greater accuracy in assessment, particularly for those with fluctuating conditions,

–       ensuring disabled people get the support they need

–       all claimants on appeal to be given access to adequate representation

–       a less stressful assessment process

An amendment to the motion put forward by George Potter relates to the difficulties currently faced by disabled people placed in the Work Related Activity Group, many of whom have fluctuating conditions which may vary widely from day to day, who face the ongoing  threat of having their benefits sanctioned if they fail to fully comply with conditions imposed on them regardless of how difficult this may be for them.

Lib Dem Youth believe that the government will listen if the motion is passed.

DPAC would ask its members to contact your Lib Dem MPs, MEPs, councillors and peers to urge them to vote in favour of the motion. You can find their contact details at www.parliament.uk If your MP is not a Lib Dem then please write instead to Nick Clegg, deputy prime minister and Simon Hughes, deputy leader of the Lib Dems who it is very important to influence.

Nick Clegg, deputy PM, Cabinet Office, 70, Whitehall, London, SW1A 2AS or nick.clegg@cabinet-office.x.gsi.gov.uk

Simon Hughes, deputy leader Lib Dems, Lib Dem head office, 4,Cowley Street, London, SW1P 3NB or info@libdems.org.uk

Please send us copies of any letters you do send and we would also like to hear what responses you receive.

You can use this template letter: template letter

Mar 182011

The Work and Pensions Committee have launched an inquiry into the migration from Incapacity Benefits to Employment and Support Allowance, including the Work Capability Assessment.

ESA replaced incapacity benefits for people making new claims from October 2008. To be eligible for ESA, a person must usually undergo a Work Capability Assessment (WCA).

The introduction of ESA in 2008 was initially limited to new claimants. Existing incapacity benefit claimants are now being reassessed under the Work Capability Assessment. The process will last until 2014 with around 1.5 million people being reassessed.

Reassessment commenced on 11 October 2010 with a trial in Aberdeen and Burnley. At the end of February, Jobcentre Plus began a limited introductory phase, and will move to full national reassessment of incapacity benefit claimants from April 2011.

Short submissions (no more than 3,000 words) are invited from interested organisations and individuals.

The deadline for submitting evidence is 14 April 2011.

Full terms of reference and further information about submitting evidence can be found on the Inquiry page.

More information at the Parliament website.