Feb 022016
 

I have been in receipt of Disability Living Allowance since 2000, and have had to reclaim every five years. As such I was sent a DLA reclaim pack prior to my claim coming to an end on the 23rd of June 2014. Initially I thought I had been sent the wrong form and checked that I was to complete the DLA reclaim form and not the new Personal Independence Payment.

 

For various reasons known to many of us the form took so much time to complete. Filling bits out here and there made even more difficult for me due to dyslexia. I spent hours trying to track down an electronic copy to fill in and eventually ended up scanning pages into my computer manually.

 

I finally finished the form and sent it off with every bit of medical evidence I had including a letter of support from my GP and waited.

 

At the beginning of August I opened my post box to see the dreaded brown envelope and my immediate thought was that it was a reassessment for ESA. It wasn’t it was a letter from DWP DLA Blackpool informing me that I was not entitled to claim DLA however my claim could be ‘treated as a new claim for PIP’.

 

Obviously confused by this I rang the DWP and asked for an explanation to be told that as the reclaim form had arrived at their office 6 days after the end of my claim I had fallen outside of the reclaim period and my DLA had ended on the 23rd of June. However, the information provided was enough for the claim to be treated as a claim for PIP and that I should wait for the PIP Unit to get in touch with me.

 

I asked for a Decision Maker to look at the decision again and was again told over the phone that my DLA had ended but the claim would be ‘treated as a claim for PIP’ and again to wait. The DM also suggested I might want to contact my MP about this issue, something I have never had a DM say to me or others I know.

 

I duly contacted my MP, to be honest in a bit of panic as I had been using my DLA to cover the £20.00 shortfall in my Housing Benefit as a result of the Bedroom Tax. My only relief was that I could never afford to use the mobility allowance for a Motability car and so at least I didn’t have my car removed. Although finding the money to keep it on the road I knew was going to be very difficult.
I explained what had happened and asked for someone to get back to me as soon as possible. Two weeks passed so I emailed again, this time even more stressed and panicked. Another week went by so I emailed again this time not so polite and deferential.

 

Finally, I got a response but to my previous email not the stroppy one and so felt even more stressed that I had not exactly made myself likable to a woman I was asking to help me. So immediately emailed again to apologise.

 

What followed was a series of emails between me and the person in her office who was tasked with ‘Welfare Problems’ arguing over where PIP was being rolled out and to whom, the understanding of various Regulations and Statutory Instruments (pretty much a pissing contest) which yet again impacted on my growing stress levels.

I really didn’t expect when I got in touch with my MP I would know more than the person I was dealing with and so ended my communication with her office with a ‘I thought you might be able to help; I now realise I was barking up the wrong tree’.

 

Apparently when you do this some people’s ego goes into overdrive, I was mistakenly copied into emails between my MP and the person ‘dealing’ with my case. In which he stressed again and again ‘I am right!!!’. I got one last email from my MP a short one liner “I am sure he is right, sorry”’ At that point I didn’t know who to be angrier with the DWP or my MP’s office who thought it was more important to be right than actually help a constituent.

 

By this point over a month had passed since my DLA reclaim had been rejected, financially things were getting very tight. I had to borrow some money to pay for the car tax was worried about winter because my home has rotting window frames and an inefficient heating system. I was starting to think that I would just have to give in and make a fresh claim for PIP and forget about the weeks I had already been waiting, which was little comfort as daily there were reports about how badly PIP was rolling out and the massive backlog of claims to be processed.

 

Despite trying and trying to get through to speak to someone at PIP the phone was either engaged or I was placed in a queue which I couldn’t afford to be stuck in on a mobile phone.

 

I checked my emails to see yet another email from my MP’s office where he detailed what he thought the issues were with the reclaim. After reading it I realised that right from the beginning he hadn’t actually grasped what my problem was and was just giving me general information. I explained again and also apologised for being abrupt but that this situation was having a very real impact on my health

 

I was graciously forgiven and then told how amazing my MP is and what a good job she does working with disabled people and that he himself had been congratulated for his breadth of knowledge on the subject at a parliamentary meeting. I bit my tongue because I realised even if my MP was of no use it was better for the DWP to think that an MP was involved in my case the hope being that they wouldn’t mess me about any more than they already had.

 

I managed to get through to someone in the PIP Unit who told me that the information about being ‘treated as a PIP’ claim was correct and that she would get someone to contact me urgently to explain the process and let me know what the progress of my claim was.

 

Three weeks went by and the promised urgent phone call hadn’t materialised. I contacted the Unit again only this time to be told the exact opposite of what I had been told previously. My stress and frustration at this point was going through the roof so asked to speak to a manager. I was put through to a Manager who officiously told me that both the letter and information received about the claim being treated as a PIP claim was incorrect and that the letter I had received hadn’t been ‘worded properly’ and he advised me to contact the New Claims department of PIP to request a claim form.

 

I was stunned, and again not my finest hour but I do remember saying rather forcefully that if he thought I was going forget about weeks of waiting he had another thing coming and did he enjoy earning a wage deliberately misinforming people and making their lives even more complicated and stressful than it already was. Again emailed the MP’s office to update them on this new contact. Then went for a drive to try and just get away from thinking about it and calm down. It was really hard not to feel that this wasn’t a deliberate tactic of the government to make it as difficult and as stressful as possible to dissuade people from claiming Social Security. The news was getting worse regarding the PIP roll out and peoples experience of it.

I then managed to track down what ‘treated as a claim for PIP’ meant.

 

SI 2013/380 – Interchange with claims for other benefits 

 

S25 (4) Where it appears that a person who has made a claim for disability living allowance or attendance allowance is not entitled to it but may be entitled to personal independence payment, the Secretary of State may treat any such claim alternatively, or in addition, as a claim for personal independence payment. 

 

(5) In determining whether the Secretary of State should treat a claim as made alternatively, or in addition to another claim (“the original claim”) under this regulation the Secretary of State must treat the alternative or additional claim, whenever made, as having been made at the same time as the original claim. 

 

Universal Credit, Personal Independence Payment, Job Seekers Allowance and Employment Support Allowance (Claims and Payments) Regulations 2013.

http://lawvolumes.dwp.gov.uk/docs/a14-6701.pdf

 

I sent this to my MP’s office and said that given this information could they please contact the DWP urgently and ask them what the status of my claim was. Which they finally did and on the 19th of September 2014 I finally found out that yes my DLA claim had lapsed due to it reaching the DWP 6 days late but my claim was being treated as a claim for PIP and would be backdated to the date of claim (for DLA).

They went on to apologise to my MP for the lateness of their response and gave an excuse as to why there had been a delay in dealing with my claim but nowhere did they express any acknowledgment to me and nor did my MP think it was worth pointing it out.

 

That was the last contact I had with my MP’s office, she had been little to no help, had increased my stress and anxiety and forgot to delete my address on an email thread where she had asked if her staff member could ‘bear getting in touch with me’. I had to spoon feed this person what the issue was and track down the Statutory Instrument that related to treating one claim as a claim for different benefit. The only thing I couldn’t do is make the DWP treat me with the same respect that they treated my MP.

 

I then waited till February 2015 for a Disability Assessor to come out to my home and assess me, then waited again for the outcome. It was an extremely hard winter my car broke down, I couldn’t’ afford to heat my home and my diet was the worst it has ever been.

 

In April I got fed up of waiting so rang for an update to be told that a decision had been made and money was in my bank. I had not been awarded the mobility component, the thing that I needed. So asked them to resend the original decision letter as well as an explanation has to how the Decision Maker had reached that decision.

 

I got that letter at the end of May the next day I got another brown envelope through the post informing me that after a Mandatory Reconsideration the decision remained the same! A Reconsideration I hadn’t asked for, but had impressed on the person I had last spoken to that I needed to have sight of the original decision and reasons because time was running out for me to decide whether or not to ask for a Mandatory Reconsideration and gather any further evidence I could in support of my claim.

 

I can only assume that someone at the DWP realised that my claim had been a cock up from start to finish and were covering their backs. I was at an extremely low point emotionally and mentally and so took the decision to not pursue it to appeal or even to argue about the fact that I hadn’t asked for an MR. I felt too deep into a Kafka nightmare to be able to do anything other than accept what I had been awarded.

 

My PIP claim from start to finish took 42 weeks, 42 weeks of hell that I never ever want to revisit. Even writing this has brought back some of the anger and frustration I felt at the time.

 

Do I regret not questioning the mandatory reconsideration or pursuing it to Appeal? Yes, I absolutely do, my car has finally reached the point of no return and my health has progressively worsened. I’m waiting for a neurosurgical consult and another MRI, being without a car has had a huge impact on my ability to take care of myself in terms of shopping, engage with anyone outside my home and getting to GP and Hospital appointments is now a major mission of planning and physical effort which I cannot sustain. So yes I do regret it but then again at the time I don’t know if I would have had the strength to have pursued it to the end and I suppose at least I am in receipt of the Living Allowance which provides enough of a cushion to start this whole sorry process all over again.

By Toni

Jan 032015
 

Different forms of Government Propaganda began and ended the year. We saw delays, backlogs, more cuts, more campaigns and direct actions. We reproduce some of the DPAC actions, research and call outs from 2014. Highlights included the Westminster Abbey Occupation against the closure of ILF as part of the #saveilf campaign, lowlights included the court case that arrived at the decision that Penning had taken appropriate process into account by saying that ILF users could be entitled to less under local authorities. Chaos with the DWP, PIP, ESA was compounded by misinformation, dodgy stats , backlogs and increasing sanctions. The brilliant Hammersmith and Fulham Coalition against Cuts achieved the abolition of ‘care’ charges by their local authority-proving it can be done. Esther McVey was awarded Scrooge of the year. DPAC was threatened with legal action for our support of the Anthony Kletzander campaign -in response we increased the campaign, and the relationship in the propaganda against disabled people between the DWP and the Mail was finally exposed

News that the UNCRPD Committee had initiated its first ever inquiry into grave and systematic violations of the UN Convention against the UK identified how far our disability rights and independent living had been eroded by the Coalition-although the Mail didnt seem to like it much

Our constant court cases against the DWP continued, and we have more lined up for this year too- yes, we could be talking to you Motability!

We look forward to 2015 and a change in the regime that has seen the poor grow poorer, while the richest grew richer. A year in which we launch Who2vote4? and the DPAC revenge tour. We will continue to fight for #saveilf with an event on 6th Jan at the House of Commons and an online twitter event.

For an excellent review of the fight against cuts from 2010-2014 please download From Cuts to Resistance and if you want a count down to the election , then the DPAC downloadable calender can help

Here’s to a better year in 2015 with thanks to all our members and supporters. Keep up with news in 2015 by subscribing to posts through our website www.dpac.uk.net or follow us on twitter @Dis_ppl_protest

Some selected actions of DPAC in 2014

January saw the posting of a call for those who were waiting for PIP due to backlogs. This post has received over 40,000 views,shares and many comments. The situation has now been described as a backlog that , at the current rate , could take 42 years to clear. For those claiming ‘reforms’ are working have a look to see that they are not: https://dpac.uk.net/2014/01/have-you-waited-months-for-a-pip-assessment/ and let’s not forget the backlog in ESA either-in short complete chaos for disabled people.

In ‘Austerity Street: the real impacts’ we reproduced some of the stories we had received from those left without cash and homes via sanctions, delays and backlogs. This was in response to Love Production’s poverty porn , Benefits Street, part of the media’s continued demonization regime -the campaign incorporated a twitter fest against the format of biased programming. We supported our partners in Canada Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty (SCAP) and Ontario Coalition Aginst Poverty (OCAP). In an international campaign against increasing homelessness. Austerity is global. We supported Boycott workfare against CAPITA cashing in on poverty.

Through the excellent work of Nick Dilworth we exposed more BBC media double dealing and the fact that they weren’t publicizing the 88% success rates of those claiming ESA and asked ‘Are the DWP failing apart at every level? When a freedom of information response incorrectly claimed that PIP was subjected to sanctions. In another they claimed that the cap would be cut for those without children, both were incorrect. With Inclusion London we campaigned against the Care Act’s exclusion of ‘independent living’ and DPAC also  joined Hands off London Transport against ticket office closures, as well as regional Rail protests

February We joined  the many direct actions against the removal of legal aid. Raquel Rolnik ‘s report on the bedroom tax is published and recommends immediate suspension of the bedroom tax. The Government’s response is to accuse her of giving sacrifices to Marx and telling her to ‘sort out her own country’. We republish the excellent ‘Why the rise of UKIP is dangerous for disabled people’ and receive the usual abuse from Kippers proving the point. DPAC, Black Triangle and Wow publish a joint statement on Atos exit strategy , calling again for an end to the WCA. We expose how 9 out of 10 sanctions are dismissed when challenged

March More direct actions against proposed cuts in legal aid for judicial review.We publish ‘Punching Holes in Austerity’ an insightful analysis of DPAC and direct actions. DPAC supports #stopchanges2A2W against punitive changes in Access to Work. We publish an update on Anthony Kletzander and questions for HSE in Ireland with ENIL , a story of human rights abuse in Dublin, Ireland, a stand that we would later find invoked a threat of legal action against one of our co-founders.

DPAC joins protests against DWP and ATOS country wide. Protests that were reminiscent of the very first DPAC protests against Atos carried out by DPAC from 2011 onwards, culminating in the 2012 DPAC Atos games that saw Atos tarnished forever. DPAC leads direct actions and online protests against the despised disability Con-fident, leading to the highest number of tweets and retweets ever, exposing the scheme as no more than a Government gloss while they were cutting access to work and removing the means for disabled people to work. We produce a critical analysis of Pennings impact assessment regarding ILF. We reproduce the piece by John Pring asking ‘Where was your MP during the Wow Debate’

April The brilliant Ellen Clifford travels to Canada to embark on a successful speaking tour with raise the rates. We hold a well attended DPAC Grassroots Fightback conference. DPAC, Inclusion London, Equal Lives and the Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People promote the #saveilf postcard campaignTop Corrie stars support the postcard campaign to #saveilf.  DPAC supports Lifeworks and protests against cuts to mental health support. DPAC gives its response to Labour on reform of WCA

 May DPAC releases its research documents for download. DPAC and ILF users block the DWP in protest. We learn that disabled students allowances are now under threat of cuts. DPAC publishes a powerful piece by one of our readers that sums up many peoples’ feelings: ‘I’ll never forgive or forget what this Government has done to me and thousands of others‘. We pay homage to the strength of Quiet Riot, celebrate the #dpactour and the success of the Freedom Riders.

June The Independent Living Fund’s Birthday protest happens in June with lots of action outside the DWP. We see JSA benefit sanctions sky rocket under the coalition Government. More actions happen to fight the bedroom tax.

We publish a piece by Angela 28 on how ‘care’ support has been threatened and why that threatens independent living and rights– legal representation was found for many people, but we were aware that this was happening to many more people through emails to dpac mail. Unlike some organisations we attempt to challenge these instances and reject the rhetoric that there is more ‘choice and control’ for disabled people.

At the end of June DPAC with UKUNCUT, and Occupy carry out a daring occupation of Westminster Abbey , after months of planning to highlight the #saveilf campaign. There were 3 police to every protester , and while we had no support from the dear old church , messages of support and publicity poured in

 July We publish a joint statement in response to the Work and Pensions Committee on the WCA from DPAC, Black Triangle, the Mental Health Resistance Network, Pats petition, Wow and New Approach in which we again say the WCA should be scrapped.

An ILF user makes a plea to Disability Rights UK (DRUK) on ILF after he was denied the right to speak at their independent living conference. DRUK did not feel the need to offer any response.  In Disability Rights UK : independent Living or new visions in Neo-Liberalism we ask why the DRUK ‘independent living ‘ conference was sponsored by an organisation running institutions, segregated schooling and ‘hospitals for those with mental health issues. We also launched a highly successful twitter campaign asking the same questions, again DRUK did not feel they owed disabled people any response to this outrage.

DPAC highlights more chaos at the DWP on appeals and sanctions. John McDonnell launches an Early Day Motion to #saveilf. Positive updates and actions on the WCA court case regarding mental health claimants by the Mental Health Resistance Network. We ask that people write to IDS to raise issues happening regarding mental health.

August Rethink calls people with mental health issues a ‘disease burden’ Mental Health Resistance Network respond to the outrage. We call for a stop to discrimination for those transferring from DLA to PIP who do not get backdated paymentsDPAC continues to support anti-fracking protests with Reclaim the power.

We republish the excellent Nick Dilworth’s piece on how the media are ignoring what’s happening to disabled people https://dpac.uk.net/2014/08/a-national-scandal-4-million-people-face-chaos-in-this-country-and-are-ignored-by-the-media/

ILF user John Kelly speaks to BBC on the impacts of the potential loss of ILF. We ask what happens when ILF funds are not ring fenced to local authorities

September sees a national day of Protest against sanctions, bedroom tax and benefit caps.

The fantastic Brian Hilton produces a set of pics for party conference season on #saveilf. DPAC crash the Tory Party Conference via a successful tweet attack and in person. We do the same to Labour.

We publish The Great Farago: UKIP sleight of hand and receive more abuse from Kippers, Richard Howitt Labour MEP quotes the piece and receives even more abuse.

New short film launched with the Daily Mirror on ILF.

The first inkling that the DWP are wrongly asking those in the ESA support group to attend work focused interviews comes to our notice.

DPAC is threatened with legal action for supporting Anthony Kletzander and publicising the abuse of his human rights in Ireland, our response is to publish an interview with Anthony’s parents  on the injustice Anthony and his family have endured.

October We reblog the excellent Johnny Void piece on the boss of Maximus https://dpac.uk.net/2014/10/meet-richard-a-montoni-the-five-million-dollar-maximus-boss-here-to-fleece-the-uks-benefits-system/.

We publish an open letter to Freud who declared that disabled people can work for less than minimum wage. DPAC and Occupy pay another visit to the DWP Caxton House building for ‘Freud must go!’ protest

In Secrets and Lies :maximus the new leader of the inhumans we ask why Disability Rights UK have agreed to a) be part of the Maximus testing process on the WCA and b) why they’ve teamed up with Unum and other insurance companies to develop a TV program showing how much better off disabled people will be if they take out private insurance- with user-led disability organisations like these we dont need enemies.

ILF users return to court to challenge the DWP on ILF. A successful #saveilf vigil happens with road blocks, many messages of support and some great pics.

Welfare assistance fund is next under threat of closure. Campaign to save it is launched.

November The Final Litchfield Review shows that the WCA should be scrapped.

One of our favourite reports of the year : IDS is chased around a building to drown out shouts of murderer at Ipswich- congratulations to the local dpac group for that one!

We ask people to come forward to launch a legal challenge on cuts to the disabled student allowance

£86 million goes missing from Pudsley’s children in need account BBC to blame for mislaying -complainants are actually advised to write to Pudsley via his BBC email

DWP increase attacks on disabled benefit recipients with claims they can harress them off benefits. We put out an urgent call-out https://dpac.uk.net/2014/11/urgent-people-awaiting-wca-assessments-particularly-in-birmingham-please-read/

Work Providers A4E are exposed again in relation to ESA and workfare. The Rev Paul Nicolson wins in court against council tax. Class War’s continuing protests against ‘poor doors’ get to the authorities who make arrests- and Boris is burnt. Meanwhile DPAC discovers Motability’s sneaky backdoor changes to individuals needing to be in work to qualify for support https://dpac.uk.net/2014/11/motability-and-the-deserving-and-undeserving-charity-not-rights/

December ILF users lose court case on ILF but its not over.

DPAC launches an Open letter to Ed, Kate and Rachel on ILF– we’re still waiting for a response

Hammersmith and Fulham abolish home ‘care’ charges, showing it can be done. Congratulations for a great campaign to the excellent Kevin Caulfield and Debbie Domb and all at Hammersmith and Fulham Coalition against Cuts

Esther McVey is named scrooge of the year, which we though was a little too kind to the creature

Unsurprisingly the Work and Pensions report slammed the Government ‘mismanagament of Access to Work – the stop the changes to Access to Work campaign continues.

Questions are asked on the Government costs in fighting against disabled peoples’equality

The link between the DWP and the Mail propaganda is finally nailed and exposed as the DWP is caught out https://dpac.uk.net/2014/12/dwp-caught-giving-disability-propaganda-to-daily-mail/

Oct 142014
 

A very interesting piece of information has come to light, which shows that Capita, which relies in part on contracted staff to deliver the PIP contract, has doubled the incentives offered to their staff, supposedly in order to clear the backlog which has accumulated since the introduction of PIP. As can be seen in the document below, a contracted HP can earn up to £6,300 a month for 21 assessments, after the report is completed. The target does not seem to be stretching it, as it represents 1 assessment per working day. Even if paying this whopping sum, Capita is still bound a make a profit.

see: www.trainedtodo.co.uk/Home

Capita graphic

New Incentive Payment Scheme
To further incentivise performance we have recently launched a NEW performance incentive scheme that runs from 1st August 2014 to 30th September 2014. The rate for completed and closed reports will be doubled for this period.

*New Incentivised Pay Rate for DWP Approved & Unapproved Contract Disability Assessors
Incentive Period 1st Aug 2014 to 30th Sept 2014
1 – 8 assessments        £160 per report
(£80 from 1st Oct 14)

9 – 14 assessments      £200 per report
(£100 from 1st Oct 14)
15 – 20 assessments    £240 per report
(£120 from 1st Oct 14)
21 assessments +        £300 per report
(£150 from 1st Oct 14)
* For DWP ‘Approved’ Disability Assessors
Approved is defined as achieving 4 consecutive Grade A reports following training.
Help where it really matters
Our overriding objective when carrying out each and every PIP assessment is to ensure an informed, fair and equitable decision is reached for the claimant and the DWP. Find out more
Latest jobs
We are currently recruiting Disability Assessors and Clinical Trainers for all areas across Central England and Wales

CONTRACT ROLES: New Incentive Period Pay Rate!

*£160 – £300 per completed and closed report
New Incentive Period 1st Aug 2014 to 30th Sept 2014

Reverting to £80 – £150 per quality completed report from 1st Oct to 30th Nov 2014
PERMANENT ROLES: New Incentive Payment

£300 for each case completed and closed above the monthly volume target. Incentive period is from 1st Aug 2014 to 30th Sept 2014

Reverting to £150 from 1st Oct 2014 to 30th Nov 2014

Salary: £32k plus 23 days holiday, contributory pension scheme and flexible benefits.

 

 

Apr 142014
 

The ‘One Show’ are looking for people who have had or are waiting for a PIP assessment with CAPITA. CAPITA carry out assessments in the midlands, parts of Yorkshire and in Wales only (please see map with postcodes to identify if you are in a CAPITA PIP area).

pip-postcode-map

 

If would be happy to talk about your experiences to Donna a film maker from the One Show in Manchester please read on -talking to Donna does mean you need to appear in the film , but obviously all that can will help get the message out on PIP. Filming will start week beginning 21st April- so please get in touch with Donna immediately-

 

see below for more details and contacts for Donna, and please contact Donna directly with any questions, not DPAC

 

The controversial Personal Independence Payments, brought in last year to replace Disability Living Allowance have been heavily criticised for causing ‘distress and financial difficulties’ to long-term ill and disabled people, due to the long waiting times and differences in the PIP assessment such as the new 20m rule. 

In this film I would like to meet some of the people behind the headlines and the statistics. I want to get across as much information about PIPs – in a clear and visually interesting way– in order to both engage the audience and get the main points across.

We are looking for people case studies of PIP

I would really like to meet some people who have had or are waiting for a PIP assessment, and find out their experience of PIP so far, and how it has affected them and their families everyday lives. The film will hopefully involve two such case studies, as well as a presenter who will be there to meet our case studies and chat to them about PIPs.

 There is a possibility that we would like the case studies experiencing PIPs assessments to get the chance to meet Stephen Duckworth from Capita so they can ask him any questions,  that they might have about PIPs. They would also be able to have a representative from a local  organization with them when they do this as support, if needed.

For this reason, we are currently only looking to feature PIPs Case Studies that have been assessed or are waiting to be assessed by a company called Capita (not Atos case studies). Capita assesses in The Midlands, Wales, and some areas of the north such as Yorkshire.

At this stage, it would just be good to chat to as many people as possible about their experience applying for and being assessed for PIPs, and if you talk to me, you are under no obligation to take part in the programme, and our conversations would be confidential.

If anyone would like to talk to me, please  pass on your  names and numbers to me with a good time to call, or you can get in touch with me on 07774027012 or email me at donna.wood01@bbc.co.uk. I am available at evenings and weekends too!

 Notes on Logistics of filming:

The film will be a short film of around 4 and half minutes long that will be shown on The One Show, in about 3 weeks time (date TBC could be a bit sooner or later than that!).

The film will prerecorded, and then some of the issues raised in the film will be discussed in studio with the presenter. Filming will take place on one day on the week beginning 21st April.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apr 042014
 

We’ve had a great response to bookings for the DPAC conference on Sat 12th April in London, but places are now running out. Please email:  dpacfightback@yahoo.co.uk

with your details, number of places needed and any access needs.

12th April 2014 – 11am until 5pm

London Met University, Tower Building, 166 – 220 Holloway Road, London, N7 8DP

Since we started in October 2010 Disabled People Against Cuts has been at the forefront of the fight against austerity. With Atos on the run, and the bedroom tax on the ropes we are seeing the results of hard campaigning. But there is much more to do to ensure disabled people’s rights to live independently and with an adequate income.


The national conference is a chance for DPAC members to come together, to share experiences and discuss your ideas for moving forwards.


DPAC are working hard to bring to conference a surprise guest, a person who, if anyone has, has been the catalyst for the re-emergence of disability activism in the last few years, someone DPAC has enjoyed a close relationship with from visiting him at home to donating underpants to supporting his select committee appearances.


Workshops will look at: –  Where Now for the Independent Living Fund campaign,  – Developing a Social Model of Distress,  – Winning the Argument,  – Disability, Art and Protest,  – Building a National Network of Disabled People’s Organisations and Direct Action practical skills among others.

 Please note places are limited so priority will be given to DPAC members. For information about joining please contact mail@dpac.uk.net

The venue is wheelchair accessible. BSL and a note taker will be provided. For access information go to: http://www.disabledgo.com/access-guide/islington-council/london-metropolitan-university-tower-building

For access queries including booking parking please contact DPACfightback@yahoo.co.uk
To book places or for more information please contact DPACfightback@yahoo.co.uk

 

 

 

Mar 162014
 
Thursday 20th march the public accounts committee is meeting to discuss personal independence payments (PIP), the vice president of Atos and Capita are going to be in attendance as witnesses.
 
Meeting will take place room 15 palace of westminster 9.45 am spread the word on this atos and capita in the same room…. we need a presence at this one!
Feb 122014
 

With 2/3 people being rejected for PIP and apparent everlasting delays causing more misery and destitution we need to raise this issue more through the media. 

Journalist Francis Ryan is looking for people

1.       –Who have been rejected by the PIP system

2.      – Those who are being forced to endure long and damaging delays

We can completely recommend Frances who has written many excellent and supportive pieces on the situations facing disabled people.

Please get in touch with Frances directly at frances.ryan18@btinternet.com

Comments will only appear on the DPAC site and do not go direct to Frances

Frances is also on twitter @frances__ryan 

You can read more about Frances at http://differentprinciples.co.uk/about/ 

Jan 252014
 

This month DPAC ran two articles , one on PIP being sanctionable evidenced through a DWP Freedom of Information request (FOI) response https://dpac.uk.net/2014/01/how-can-pip-be-sanctionable/ (we put our own FOI in on this on the day) and the other on DWP information of cuts to the benefit cap for couples without children https://dpac.uk.net/2014/01/dwp-cuts-by-stealth-benefit-cap-for-couples-without-children-from-26000-to-18000/

The PIP being sanctionable issue had a lot of attention – how could they possibly do this? Kate Green responded to DPAC on Twitter, after asking questions and obtaining info and documents from the Parliament library to say PIP wasn’t sanctionable, other MPs said they would raise questions on this. John Pring of DNS News also contacted the DWP and their view was PIP wasn’t sanctionable. But we were all confused, none more so than the DWP, it seems. On 23rd January the DWP issued an apology ( yes really: an apology) and said they had made a mistake: PIP is not sanctionable https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/192913/response/474265/attach/html/3/WDTK%20FOI%20194%20correction.pdf.html

We are still not entirely clear how PIP fits in with ‘withdrawal of benefits’, linked benefits to PIP and other puzzles set up by minsters and the DWP which it appears that the DWP themselves cannot properly follow either.

The second story on the benefit cap information and its cut was also clarified by DWP –they didn’t apologise this time, but again they got it wrong! The cap wont be cut, at the moment anyway. http://nationalhousingfederation.newsweaver.com/update/15j1xj9pu8q?utm_source=hootsuite&utm_campaign=hootsuite

We are all trawling through these cuts they call reform, and its difficult enough, given 2 cock ups in 3 weeks by the DWP, plus all those emails that DPAC gets through its mail box from people whose lives are affected by DWP incompetency-we ask: are the DWP falling apart at every level? If so UNUM will be pleasedDWP

               

Jan 212014
 

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is the new benefit which replaces Disability Living Allowance (DLA). 

DLA was introduced in the UK in 1992, and its main purpose was to compensate for the extra costs associated with disability and it was therefore not means tested, non contributory and not taxable. Although the majority of people claiming DLA had mobility issues, some disabled people would also choose to claim it to cover their personal care costs. Many were awarded DLA for life in recognition that their impairment/health issue would be with them for life. DLA was for those both in and out of work for the extra costs associated with disability. The Government presented PIP as a ‘like for like’ payment to replace DLA.

PIP was introduced in 2012 to replace DLA, the government arguing that the increasing number of claimants made DLA unsustainable.  PIP is therefore more restrictive and will lead not only to a reduced number of claimants but also to a reduced number of claimants entitled to the enhanced rate of the mobility component. http://disabilitynewsservice.com/2014/01/shocking-pip-figure-raises-new-motability-concerns/

PIP has also been riddled in controversy because of Atos, the firm contracted by the government to undertake the PIP and the Work Capability Assessments, which has led to 1 million disabled people appealing in court, with 43% of them succeeding in having their fit for work decision overturned. https://dpac.uk.net/2012/11/esa-appeals-increase-by-40-what-the-newspapers-wont-print/

Therefore it really came as a surprise to discover that in 2012 PIP had become a sanctionable benefit.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/192913/response/472770/attach/3/8.194%20Clarification%20letter%20Jones%20WDTK..pdf

http://legislation.data.gov.uk/ukpga/2012/5/schedule/9/crossheading/social-security-fraud-act-2001-c-11/data.htm?wrap=true

However aborrhent sanctions are, there is a kind of twisted logic behind them.  JSA and ESA claimants have to sign a contract (under duress, meaning threat of sanctions) and have to comply with the terms of this ‘contract’ (again under threat of sanctions). If they don’t, they will lose some of their benefits and many JSA and ESA claimants have been sanctioned, some 120 disabled people up to three years http://www.cpag.org.uk/content/3-year-benefit-ban-hits-120-disabled-people-under-new-sanctions-regime

 But with PIP, there is no contract, no Jobseeker’s agreement, no Claimant Commitment and it still remains a recognition that life for disabled people is more expensive, if they have to buy appliances or care that non disabled people don’t need in order to live a decent and dignified life or to work.

So what does it take to have your PIP sanctioned?  Is there somebody in the twittersphere or reading this article who can answer this question?  Because making PIP sanctionable does not make any sense, unless the DWP or IDS have a cunning plan. And they might.

Nov 112013
 

Are you a Disability Living Allowance (DLA) user that has been forced into a Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment? We are looking for stories of those that have been forced into a PIP assessment through a third party. For example, if you have had an ESA assessment, failed and then details have been passed on to the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) and  triggered a PIP assessment.  Also if you think you have been reported to any agency for a change of circumstances and this has forced a PIP assessment.

This does not apply if you have reported a change of circumstances, but in any other case where you have been told that you must be assessed for PIP due to a change in your circumstances.

Please send any stories to mail@dpac.uk.net  

All details will remain confidential.

Aug 052013
 

Hoban-Expenses-235x300

Last month (12 June), Mark Hoban said this during a debate on people’s right to ask for a recording of their employment and support allowance face-to-face assessments: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm130612/debtext/130612-0004.htm#13061288000001

 

“The Department and Atos are in the process of amending written communications to claimants by updating the WCA AL1C form. The document is sent to claimants when they need to arrange a face-to-face assessment and will provide more information on how to arrange an audio-recorded assessment. We expect the revised form to be sent out to claimants by the end of next month, once the necessary changes have been made and the form has been cleared for use.” 

In other words – the DWP was finally going to change the documents it sends to ESA claimants to let them know that they can ask to have their Atos face-to-face assessments recorded. It’s vital that people know they have that right, because with a recording, they are able to demonstrate beyond doubt what was said and what happened at their assessments.

By “the end of next month,” Hoban surely meant the end of July – and we’ve just gone past that deadline.

 

Jayne Linney, DPAC, Black Triangle, False Economy and Public Interest Lawyers  (who, with disabled man Patrick Lynch, took a legal action against the DWP last year on people’s right to record their assessments http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/dec/13/disabled-man-government-court-benefit-test ) are publishing this blog and asking you to reblog and share it to find out if the DWP has changed the documents it sends out to ESA claimants and if people have noted that. Earlier this month, the DWP sent Public Interest Lawyers this document as an example of the leaflet that claimants should receive about their face-to-face assessments. This document includes information which advises people of their right to ask for a recording. We want to know whether people are getting that document and if word is spreading that people can make that request.

 

This is important for a number of reasons. The first is, of course, that people need to know they have this right and that they can request a recording when they are called to an Atos ESA face-to-face assessment. The second is that Hoban claims that he is evaluating the demand for recordings and that he’ll be doing so until the end of summer 2013. (It will be important for people to respond to these blogs as soon as possible – by the end of August 2013 at the very latest – that being the case). http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm130612/debtext/130612-0004.htm#13061288000001

 Hoban continues to argue that the demand for recordings is not high. Campaigners have argued, rightly, that their surveys https://dpac.uk.net/2012/11/dpac-survey-responses-on-wca-what-harrington-didnt-ask/

 and calls for information show that people do want recordings – and that demand may well increase if people actually know that they can ask for a recording. Unfortunately – or intentionally – Hoban says that the evaluation of demand will finish at the end of summer. That isn’t far away and doesn’t give anybody much time to find out if the amended documentation (presuming that people are receiving it) is having an effect. The third reason that this is important is that the DWP says it has based its decision NOT to offer recordings for Personal Independence Payment assessments on the ESA experience: “the DWP has not seen evidence from other disability assessments that this would improve the quality of assessments,” Esther McVey told parliament this year. So evidence of the demand for ESA recordings is very relevant to the PIP debate. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm130418/text/130418w0003.htm#13041838000125  The department’s whole approach to recording PIP assessments is a mess – Capita, which has a contract to carry out some of the PIP assessments, originally said it would offer recordings. McVey put a stop to that and said that it wouldn’t. Meanwhile, the DWP was telling journalists that recordings would be offered for PIP assessments.  http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2013/07/secret-cuts-part-four-personal-independence-payments They’re making it up as they go along, so pressure needs to be applied.

 

The aim should be to get rid of the work capability assessment altogether – but while it’s there, safeguards like recordings of assessments need to be in place. Claimants and campaigners have fought hard for the right to record their face-to-face assessments. As we’ve said, people need to be able to demonstrate beyond doubt what is said at assessments. Atos is notorious for returning fit-for-work reports which ignore a claimant’s true circumstances and the details shared in face-to-face assessments. The ever-increasing number of ESA appeals  http://mikesivier.wordpress.com/2013/06/28/esa-appeals-more-than-double-and-decisions-in-the-claimants-favour-are-increasing/ prove Atos’ problems with accuracy.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/dec/13/disabled-man-government-court-benefit-test

Campaigners have won some concessions through their hard work. These include a commitment from the DWP to offer ESA assessment recordings (on “official” dual-CD recording equipment – people still can’t bring their own recording equipment unless it can dual-produce a CD or cassette). The changed paperwork was another concession. Let’s see if they’ve done it and if people are aware of it.

Download DWP Notes Sheet on assessment

https://dpac.uk.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/WCAAL1C_0713-21.pdf

 

 

 

 

May 252013
 

Any campaign from this Government which claims to support disabled people should be viewed with suspicion and the latest offering from the DWP is no exception.

The department yesterday put out a press release boasting: “Celebrities have joined forces with the government to help launch a campaign aiming to promote positive role models for disabled people.”

This campaign features a youtube channel where 50 videos have been posted which have “been produced with a focus on overcoming barriers”.  Many of these videos are unsurprisingly about disabled people who have high flying careers, such as Dame Anne Begg, or are stories of disabled entrepreneurs.

The accompanying press release includes a gushing quote from Emmerdale actor Kitty McGeever explaining how after becoming disabled it ‘took some time to get back into work’ but she managed it with the help of the Government’s Access To Work scheme.

This scheme provides funding for workplace adaptations, travel or some care needs for disabled people in employment.  The number of people benefiting from Access To Work has plummeted by over a third since this Government weren’t elected showing the true situation for disabled people currently seeking employment.

Whilst this campaign may be a cheap attempt to improve those figures, it comes against a background of savage cuts to benefits, services and housing for disabled people.  It is a campaign run by a government which is declaring hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled people to be ‘fit for work’ with the aim of stopping their benefits.  A government which has been only too happy to force sick and disabled claimants onto workfare as part of the Work Programme –  with no public scrutiny of where they are being sent or for how long.  A government that is set to force potentially hundreds of thousands of disabled people from their homes due to the bedroom tax, benefit cap and other measures.

And when Personal Independence Payments (PIP) fully replace Disability Living Allowance, this is a Government which will have slashed completely a vital benefit for 20% of disabled people.

This move alone is likely to mean that over 50% of disabled people are forced to leave work as funding for specialist equipment, care and transport disappears*.

Vast numbers of disabled people are set to be plunged into poverty by these measures, and it is this which reveals the true intentions of this latest DWP run project.  One of the charities involved in the campaign is quoted as saying that the “project is about showing what disabled people can do – not what they can’t”.

This is eerily similar to David Cameron’s line when interviewed shortly after the opening of the Paralympic games when he said: “It’s about the inspiration and it will change people’s minds and that’s what matters. It’ll teach people about what they can do, rather than what they can’t do.”

It is also the line used to justify the benefit-stripping Work Capability Assessment which according to the DWP focuses on “what an individual can do despite their health condition, rather than simply what they can’t.”

Minister for Murdering Disabled People, Esther Mcvey also pops up in this week’s press release, and whilst not quite so explicit, her underlying message is the same:  “young disabled people tell me they want to see more inspiring role models to show where disabled people have achieved their ambitions despite the odds being stacked against them”

For young disabled people the odds are stacked against them like never before due to this Government and in this context the true nature of the DWP’s latest campaign becomes clear.  This is not about providing role models for young disabled people or helping people fulfil their potential or even changing perceptions of disabled people as is claimed.  This Government doesn’t care about any of that.  This campaign is yet more insidious DWP propaganda attempting to give the impression that those plunged into poverty due to the ruthless cuts to disability benefits will only have themselves to blame.  If only they’d learnt to play wheelchair rugby, or been a fucking Dame, then they could afford to put the heating on.

The campaign also has a facebook page which might be a good place to share experiences of what people can no longer do due to the vicious cuts to benefits: https://www.facebook.com/Rolemodelsinspire

Dawn Willis writes well about this kind of narrative: ‘I’m not Stephen Fry, how damaging is that?’ from Dawn

*this figure comes from a survey carried out by Disability Rights UK (DRUK) which reported that 56% of those asked said they would have to leave work if they lost their DLA.  DRUK are notoriously in the pockets of the DWP, with Chief Executive Liz Sayce writing a report which recommended the closure of the Remploy factories.  The survey relating to the number of people likely to leave work due to PIP seems to have disappeared from DRUK’s website, for which there is surely an entirely innocent explanation.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

With massive thanks to the brilliant Johnny Void for letting us re-post

See more from Johnny at http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2013/05/25/achieve-your-potential-or-starve/

 

Jan 192013
 

Ellen Clifford joins Paul Carter and Sophie Partridge to talk about DPAC, the end of DLA and the migration to personal independence payments, sport and the Independent Living Fund with Neil Coyle from Disability Rights UK,  and Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson. Includes John Evans interview with Sunil Peck on the closing of the ILF.

from Disability Now – The Download podcast: DLA sport and the Independent Living Fund (to listen to the podcast click on image below)

 

 

Nov 152012
 

Dear Committee Members,

 Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is being introduced in April 2013 and Atos Healthcare has been selected by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) as one of the delivery partners in the UK.

 DPAC wishes to lodge a formal complaint that its name has been inappropriately used in the PIP Tender Documents submitted by Atos to the DWP as part of the Claimant Representative Groups with which Atos claims to have a successful record of engagement.

 The tender document specifically states “Before designing our PIP solution, Atos engaged with Claimant Representative Groups to take their views into account”.

The other references to CRGs in which DPAC has been identified by name as being included, deal with the future level of engagement that Atos will have with CRGs in order to take the needs and wishes of disabled people into account. Successful engagement with CRGs was an important criterion in this tender, as the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) made clear in August when it stated that successful PIP assessment bids had “demonstrated strong evidence… of close working with disabled people’s representative groups”.

 DPAC has been shocked to learn that its name (and the names of other CRGs mentioned in the tender which have also protested) has been used to lend credibility to Atos’ claim of future successful engagement with these organisations, on which depends, according to DWP, the successful implementation of assessments responsive to needs of disabled people.  DPAC has staged protests against Atos, in particular during the Paralympics games, and has repeatedly denounced Atos’ treatment of disabled people and the computer based assessments leading to so many wrong outcomes.  DPAC does not wish to be associated with Atos in any way, shape or form, and DPAC’s brand has been compromised by this false association.

 DPAC believes that if one excludes CRGs named in the tender which have never been consulted by Atos, which have never had and never intended to have any engagement with Atos, and which have expressed their dismay at the possibility of engaging with what they see as a flawed process, Atos’s claim in this area is not only weak, but also mendacious. 

 We feel it is essential for these assessments that those employed using taxpayers money to carry them out are not awarded the contracts based on the use of false information and we would like the Public Accounts Committee to investigate these matters further.

 Linda Burnip

Co-founder DPAC on behalf of all DPAC members.

 

May 132012
 

 

 DISABLED PEOPLE AGAINST CUTS (DPAC)

www.dpac.uk.net

 Briefing Notes DLA Abolition.

 

Contact – Linda Burnip DPAC co-founder

01926 842253

0771 492 7533

linda_burnip@yahoo.co.uk

 

Debbie Jolly, DPAC co-founder

01572 820546

079461 40765

mail@dpac.uk.net

 Background to the Abolition of Disability Living Allowance  

 Disability Living Allowance was introduced in 1992 to provide support with the extra costs of living that disabled people face.  

 In the Budget (June 2010) and Comprehensive Spending Review (October 2010) the new Condem government announced its intention to arbitrarily cut spending on Disability Living Allowance by 20 per cent or remove eligibility from half a million disabled people.

 In December 2010, government then published its detailed plans to abolish Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and introduce Personal Independence Payment (PIP), for those of working age from 2013-14. This is in spite of the fact that the fraud rate is only 0.5%.

 The government said that the changes to the assessment and eligibility would be the means through which a 20 per cent cut in spend and recipient numbers would be achieved. By 2016 this cut was intended to amount to savings of £2.6bn annually.

 The government has said that it wants a more ‘objective’ assessment a statement driven by the political goal of lowering the spend on DLA, as there is little evidence of unnecessary payments:  fraud rates for DLA are low at only 0.5%[1]. This indicates there is sufficient rigor and objectivity under the present DLA assessment system. In addition only about 50% of DLA claimants are successful and in 2008 49% of appeals were turned down, which also suggests that the assessment is rigorous. 

 “The new benefit will have two components, linked to a range of activities that will be considered in the new assessment. One will be awarded on the basis of the individual’s ability to get around (the mobility component), the other on their ability to carry out other key activities necessary to be able to participate in daily life (the daily living component).”

 The government continue to echo the notion that support should go to those “who face the greatest need”. However they do not justify how they intend to equate ‘greatest need’ with enabling disabled people to fully participate within society and DPAC has concerns that any such false distinction will simply further  the notions of the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ disabled.

 The policy goal which frames the PIP assessment criteria DPAC  would argue is totally flawed. We believe that the proposal for PIP is driven by a cost cutting agenda and a predetermined goal of cutting spend by 20 per cent, rather than any kind of objective assessment of need of support to cover disabled people’s extra costs of living.  

 Maria Miller has once more stated that the cost of supporting disabled people is unsustainable but that “The Coalition Government is committed to helping disabled people to exercise choice and control over their lives and ” “We have been absolutely clear that our welfare reform plans are designed to protect people in the most vulnerable situations, including disabled people.”

 However in reality both the work capability assessment for ESA and the proposed planned changes of replacing DLA with a Personal Independence Payment are simply designed to reduce the number of people whose disability is recognised by this government.

 We further believe that government ministers have continually created confusion over DLA by linking it to a goal of encouraging people to be in work. DLA is not an out-of-work benefit and people can receive it whether in or out of paid work. For many disabled people DLA is what allows them to be able to work and without it they will no longer be able to continue in employment.

 Assessment development group

 The government formed an ‘Assessment Development Group’ to design the assessment, comprising The government’s ‘Assessment Development Group’ which drew up the draft assessment has ten health and social care professionals plus government officials, yet only one person representing disabled people. Since the numbers of health professionals and officials heavily outweighed the number of disabled people present, it is not surprising that the group was able to come to a ‘broad agreement’ on the proposed assessment.

 If more disabled people had had been present it is doubtful that such a medicalised/ functional ability type of assessment would have been agreed on.  Disabled people should have been fully involved in this decision making process at the early stage of discussion, i.e. as members of the Assessment Development Group in at least an equal number of disabled people representing disabled people’s organisations as government and other officials.

 Article 4 of the UNCRPD states; the general obligation on government to consult with disabled people, before not after decisions or policies are changed.

This lack of early involvement is compounded by the government  ignoring the concerns raised by disabled people and their organisations via consultation responses by refusing to amend the Welfare Reform Bill sufficiently to address these concerns.  

 PIP components and eligibility assessment 

 PIP Components

 Personal Independence Payment will have two components:

  • daily living component
  • mobility component  

 Each component has two rates rather than the existing three rates:

  • daily living component standard rate
  • daily living component enhanced rate
  • mobility component standard rate
  • mobility component enhanced rate

 PIP Eligibility Assessment

 Activities for daily living and mobility

The new assessment will cover activities for daily living and mobility. To qualify for PIP disabled people will need to score enough points in the following daily living and/or mobility activities:

 Daily Living Activities:  

  1.  planning and buying food and drink
  2. preparing and cooking
  3. taking nutrition
  4. managing medication and monitoring health conditions
  5. managing prescribed therapies other than medication
  6. washing, bathing and grooming
  7. managing toilet needs or incontinence
  8. dressing and undressing
  9. communicating with others

The mobility activities:

  1. planning and following a journey
  2. moving around

The number of points scored will dictate whether a claimant is assessed as having a ‘limited ability’ or ‘severely limited ability’ to carry out daily living activities and/or mobility activities. The score will also dictate whether a claimant will receive the standard or enhanced rate of the Daily Living component.[2]     

PROBLEMS WITH PIP

  • In order to receive PIP disabled people must be aged between 16 and 65 years and satisfy the daily living and/or mobility activities test for 3 months prior to claiming and be likely to continue to satisfy this test for a period of at least 6 months after claiming.

 

  • It remains very unclear what will happen to anyone who becomes 65 and is in receipt of the mobility component of PIP as they would have to claim Attendance Allowance which has no mobility component. (currently anyone in receipt of DLA mobility component who becomes 65 continues to receive this). DPAC is therefore concerned that any older disabled people will lose their independence simply because they have reached the age of 65.

 

  • There is also no clarity about what will happen when someone is admitted to hospital for any length of time but with the proposals for PIP as they now stand it would seem that even a very short stay in hospital could result in someone losing their mobility cars, plus any equipment such as wheelchairs or hoists and other essential equipment they may be using PIP to pay for.

 

  • Government guidance on DLA states that ‘Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is not based on your disability but the needs arising from it’. This is not reflected in PIP and the assessment involves a rigid and crude set of questions which examines what a disabled person cannot or can do from a prescribed list that only covers basic mobility activities and daily living activities.  This method of assessment follows the medical model of disability. 

 

  • The Work Capability Assessment was described by Professor Harrington as ‘impersonal and mechanistic’ [3] and has resulted in many flawed decisions, which have been over turned on appeal. It is deeply worrying that the government appears be adopting a similar rigid assessment for PIP.    

 

  • The estimate for ESA tribunal appeals for 2012-2013 is £50 million and the backlog of cases is so long that tribunals are sitting even on Sundays so the logic behind also adopting a similarly flawed assessment process for PIP remains unclear to DPAC.

 

  • The cost of changing from DLA to PIP has also been estimated to be £65 million and on top of that there are plans to regularly re-assess even claimants whose condition will never improve. Not only does this seem a waste of money but it will add unfair additional stress to the lives of people who are already struggling to overcome the disabling barriers put in their way on a daily basis.

 

  • DLA acts as a passport to other welfare benefits and concessions such as the Blue Badge, loss of which will increase the impact of losing DLA. We feel the government have failed to consider how these passporting functions will be replaced if PIP is introduced.

 

  • Higher rate care component of DLA has passported disabled people to eligibility for funding for care and support from the Independent Living Fund although this is also now closed to new applicants and due to close completely by 2015.

 

  • Being in receipt of higher and middle rate care components of DLA has also passported disabled people to additional disability premiums in both Income Support and Housing Benefits. These premiums are now also planned to be abolished with no clear guidance on what these additional amounts of funding will be replaced by or how people will become eligible for any additional amounts of basic benefits.

 

  • Many disabled people will live in increased poverty because of the new assessment.  The government has not sufficiently tested what the impact on those losing DLA will be. In particular the cumulative impact of benefit changes remains unknown.

 

  • By depriving disabled people of a much needed benefit we believe the government is failing in their duty under the Equality Act and its responsibilities under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

 

  • The assessment of mobility impairment is ridiculously crude and neither allows for cumulative impact, fluctuation in factors such as stiffness and pain, nor for factors such as steps. A person may be able to walk 50 or 200 metres on one day but none on another. They may be able to walk short distances on a flat surface but be unable to walk up and down steps to access buses and tube trains safely. An assessment of these factors is needed. 

 

  • Many claimants with Neuro-diverse and Mental Health conditions also say that while they can plan a journey the stress and anxiety involved in making such a planned journey has simply been ignored and that they can physically only carry out the planned journey if they have support from another person to do so. This is another group of disabled people whose real needs will be ignored by changes to PIP>

 

  • Claimants with conditions such as arthritis or osteoporosis may be able to complete a one off physical task, but completing several tasks over the course of a day can have a cumulative effect and increase pain and immobility to totally debilitating levels.  Additional consideration of the impact of pain and fatigue is essential.

 

  • Again many claimants with Neuro-diverse and Mental Health conditions can physically cook a meal but find that to do so is stressful and exhausting for them so in reality they are not able to prepare and cook a meal.

 

  • Disabled people are already twice as likely to live in poverty as non-disabled people. Far from the intention to ‘improve the support for disabled people and better enable them to lead full, active and independent lives’, these proposals will lead to an increase in disabled people’s poverty and isolation.   Therefore DPAC is strongly opposed to the introduction of PIP and the eligibility assessment.  

 

  • The government’s work and pensions select committee recognised that many more disabled people need to be lifted out of poverty and recommended a DLA awareness campaign. 

 

  • DLA supports disabled people to become more equal and independent.  Instead of attacking DLA, which supports independence (including helping to overcome barriers that prevent some people taking up employment), government should be doing more to stimulate demand in the economy so that jobs are available and to tackle discrimination by employers by vigorously enforcing the Equality Act 2010.

 

 

 



 

 

 

 
Mar 012012
 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The Committee finds that:

 

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

 

It also finds that:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

The members of the Committee Are:

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

Clerks to the Committee:

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

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

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

Media Inquiries:  Liz Parratt: 07917 488978.