January 29, 2011
At DPAC, we believe in being inclusive and accessible and here we are very grateful to Ellen and Kevin Clifford for doing this Easy Read version of the Disability Living Allowance for all of us. There is a Word Document version here
What is Disability Living Allowance?
Disability Living Allowance is a benefit that is paid to disabled people.
It is to help cover the extra costs of being disabled and so help disabled people to have the same chances to take part in life as other people.
You can get Disability Living Allowance if:
- you have a physical impairment or a learning difficulty or mental health support needs
- your impairment means that you need someone to support you or that you have difficulty walking and getting about. You are under 65 when you ask to go onto it.
- You must have been like this either needing support or having walking difficulties for at least 3 months and it must be likely you will carry on like this for at least the next 6 months.
If you are very ill and going to die within the next 6 months there are different rules for this benefit to make sure you get it more quickly and easily.
If you are over 65 there is a different benefit called ‘Attendance Allowance’ that you can get.
You can get Disability Living Allowance whether you work or not.
The amount you get is to do with what support needs and impairment you have; it is not to do with how much money you have coming in.
Disability Living Allowance has two parts called ‘components’:
- a care component – if you need help looking after yourself or support to keep you safe
- a mobility component – if you can’t walk or find it very hard to walk, or you need help getting around
Some people will be able to get only one of these parts but other people might be able to get both.
You can get different amounts for each of the two parts depending on how your impairment affects your day to day life.
For the care component you can get a low, middle or high amount.
For the mobility component you can get a low or a high amount.
If you can get Disability Living Allowance it might mean you can get more in other benefits.
For the Easy Read DWP consultation Disability Living Allowance reform – public consultation http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/dla-reform-consultation-easyread.pdf
January 29, 2011
Birmingham City Council are implementing £320 million of cuts which will have a drastic and very negative impact on provision of care and support for disabled people.
The eligibility criteria are to moved again to extra-critical only which will exclude huge numbers of disabled people in Birmingham from receiving the support they need to live inclusive and independent lives. We have submitted a FOI request to get more idea of numbers this would involve.
This protest is only a few days before the council meet to vote through the cuts. It is vital that we as disabled people have a presence at this demonstration.
Assemble Victoria Square, noon Saturday February 26th
January 29, 2011
Dear Margaret Curran,
We are writing to you as an organisation of disabled people concerned with what seems to be a sustained, unjustified and vicious attack against disabled people.
As shadow minister for disabled people we seek reassurances from you that you will support disabled people to be able to continue to live independently in the community and that you will work to prevent more and more disabled people being thrust even further into poverty.
We feel that these aims are fully in line with the United Nations Convention of Rights of Persons with Disabilities which has been ratified by the UK government.
Our main concerns are
• there should be a continuing commitment to provide the additional financial support disabled people need to meet the extra costs of their disability provided through Disability Living Allowance. We note with grave concern plans by the coalition government to arbitrarily remove one in five DLA claimants and that even for those disabled people who currently have been awarded DLA for life there will now be an expensive, unnecessary, and bureaucratic reassessments.
• Plans to remove the mobility component of DLA from 80,000 disabled people living in residential care homes can only be described as heartless and as you are aware will deny disabled people their convention rights to a family life. Removing this benefit amounts to a reduction in income for residents of 60%. We would also like the government to explain to us what will happen to those disabled people who use this money to purchase decent wheelchairs that meet their needs. Will anyone who has the mobility component removed from them also have their wheelchairs repossessed?
• Of particular concern in relation to independent living is the loss of funding from the Independent Living Fund which will be removed from 21,000 of the most severely disabled people by 2015 in spite of the fact that the coalition government promised they would protect this group of disabled people from cuts. Together with the unprecedented reductions to social services budgets this will result in independent living being impossible. In Warwickshire it is estimated that one-third of disabled people will lose their entitlement to free care, yet since only substantial and critical care needs are met these will be disabled people with the highest care needs. Failure to provide the care such people need is ultimately likely to result in them instead needing more complex and expensive health care. The admission of disabled people into inappropriate residential care due to lack of funding for independent living would further be much more expensive for the state to provide than to continue to adequately fund care in the community through the Independent Living Fund and social care provision.
It is totally unacceptable to us that any disabled person as is now the case in Kensington and Chelsea should be refused night-time care and instead be issued with incontinence pads and waterproof sheets. This is a total and utter abuse of disabled people’s right s and dignity.
• The continuing lack of transportability of care packages across county boundaries further makes it virtually impossible for disabled people to move, either to seek employment, to find more suitable, or even cheaper accommodation or to move nearer to family and friends who may be able to offer support. We would therefore welcome a commitment from you to support a national care service where an individual care package would be easily transportable.
• While we welcome some of the moves to help disabled people who are able to seek work to find suitable employment we remain concerned that there are no real mechanisms in place to remove any of the considerable barriers disabled people face in being able to find and keep employment. Certainly the recent cuts to Access to Work funding will in no way contribute to facilitating getting more disabled people into sustainable employment.
Moving 1 million disabled people from Incapacity Benefit onto JSA in the midst of a recession and rising unemployment predicted in both public and private sectors while doing nothing to remove any of the barriers that exist and prevent disabled people gaining work is unacceptable to us. For most disabled people Incapacity Benefit is a contributory benefit which they are entitled to through having paid National Insurance contributions whilst working.
We are further very concerned that no consideration seems to have been given to how fluctuating impairments can effect disabled individuals and that they may as a result of this find themseleves subjected to having their benefits sanctioned if they are unable to meet the conditions imposed on them in seeking work. While we welcome any support we therefore feel that sanctions should not be used against disabled people.
The emphasis on ‘working’ means the needs of those disabled people who will never be able to work are not being fully met. The considerable input from disabled people into the voluntary sector is further ignored.
Heavily criticised ESA assessments which ignore GP and consultant views are earning Atos healthcare £100 million a year, how can this amount of money be justified?
• Already 30% of disabled people live in poverty yet the bulk of the plans outlined by the coalition government in relation to Housing Benefits will exacerbate these levels of poverty further.
There is a continuing dire shortage of accessible social housing throughout the UK with one in four disabled people living in properties they are unable to get into and out of.
In Stratford-on-Avon constituency there is such a shortage of social housing that people are helped to rent in the private sector yet the reduction of Local Housing Allowance to the 30th percentile rent from October 2011 will mean that poverty amongst disabled people renting in this sector will soar, as is the case elsewhere in the country. In many London boroughs the waiting list for social housing is over 10 years.
Further no consideration is given to the difficulties faced by disabled people in finding suitable accommodation to meet a range of needs. For example a wheelchair user may need a larger and therefore more expensive property to meet their needs, someone with a visual impairment would find moving elsewhere very difficult, anyone with a learning disability may take several years to learn to find their way around an area and needs to have continuity of care and support.
All of these additional difficulties mean that for disabled people it is impossible to move to the cheapest properties in an area. Since disabled people are more likely to suffer disability hate crime living in the most deprived areas of towns and cities these actions are also likely to result in an increase in such crimes. Yet another breach of human rights under UNCRPD.
The plans to remove disabled people from social housing that is larger then their current needs dictate from 2013 is flawed. From a financial point of view since many disabled people who are currently living in a social housing property with an extra bedroom have had extensive adaptations made which in order for them to be able to continue living independently would then need to be done and funded yet again if they are forced to move by Housing Benefit being restricted to a one bedroom rate.
Further plans to extend the single room rate to anyone under 35 years of age unless they are in receipt of the higher or middle rate of DLA will affect many younger disabled people with Mental Health conditions, neuro-diverse conditions, and learning difficulties, Precisely those disabled people who need secure accommodation with a reasonable level of privacy. These cuts according to a recent DWP select committee report will result in a difference of an average £47 a week between the HB rates for a one bedroom flat compared to a room in multiple occupancy.
The same DWP select committee has expressed concerns over plans to reduce Housing Benefit for claimants who are out of work for over 12 months. As the select committee point out it is not until you have been out of work for 12 months that people are able to even try to access additional support to find work. Given the additional and substantial barriers that disabled people face in finding work at all this proposed change will impact very badly on them.
The coalition government have said that they have increased the amount of money available through Discretionary Housing Payments to help with such costs however a report by the Mayor of London shows that demand for DHPs will be 4 times higher than the extra amount of money made available to claimants, Further many councils do not pay DHPs for longer then 13-26 weeks and there is no right of appeal against being refused one.
We would be happy to brief you further on any of these issues and would like to leave you to consider a message from one of our members.
“Yes you, and you and you, all of you who stand by and say nothing or encourage such vicious and undeserving attacks are just as responsible for what is happening.
Those who stand by and allow this are equivalent to those who stood by when disabled people and Jews were targeted by the Nazi’s for annihilation.
Too harsh for you?
Its our lives we are fighting for, our very lives, some have already killed themselves due to what is happening, many more are considering it.
Will you stand by?”
Anne Novis MBE
We look forward to receiving your response which we will publish for our members.
Historically, disabled people have been excluded from or marginalised within mainstream social activities. As a result we are often viewed as passive and dependent receivers of charity and services. Disabled people believe we have a right to self-determination and therefore need to take the leading role in decisions that directly affect our lives. This is why we insist on there being
“Nothing about us without us”.
Disabled people are providing growing evidence that councils across the country are cutting the support they need to live independently. A disabled man in Dudley said the council had been cutting people’s support after moving them from direct payments to personal budgets. He said: “People who were on direct payments and are now on personal budgets are talking about a 33 to 50 per cent cut, but probably closer to 50 per cent. That is based on what a lot of disabled people are telling us.
In another urban borough, a disabled man, David has been given a package of four hours a week over four visits, plus one night visit a week. Another man in the same borough with a similar level of support need, who died earlier this year, had been receiving 24-hour support. David’s partner said she was told by a social worker: “If it had been so many months earlier he would have got it [24-hour care], but they have cut the packages and at the moment this is what we can offer…because of the cuts.”
A manager working for the borough’s centre for independent living said: “ It is looking like it is going backwards from community care. It could be that people will be going into nursing homes.”
Disabled people in the London borough of Brent say they have also been told by their council that they will have their hours halved from next November. She said “They are scared, they are really scared. They don’t know what is going to happen.”
Anthony from Camden faces a range of environmental barriers which mean that he needs someone available to support him 24 hours per day whereas his local authority alleges that he can manage with just 11 hours per day support. When he was at university he was able to get the kind of support he needs, whereas now his local authority are effectively telling him to “cope” in an unsafe and highly restrictive environment.
Meanwhile, the Coalition on Charging has pointed to evidence that disabled and older people and carers are being hit disproportionately by spending cuts in local authorities, with some councils planning to restrict access to support and raise service charges.
30 September 2010 News provided by John Pring at http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com
Meanwhile we are hearing of more and more disabled people who are thinking of killing themselves because they feel that their lives will no longer be worth living.
“I am in receipt of DLA, without which I could not survive. I have severe allergies, home bound, mostly bedridden. I have carers, and have to pay for extra hours not subsidized by social services. My utility bills are extremely high, and I have to contribute to the rent, which is not met by housing benefits. I also suffer from malnutrition!! Being chronically ill is costly, being depending on carers for everything.
Cutting DLA would mean, that I have to find housing within the Housing Allowance which is much much lower than rental market. There are pockets of housing, in undesirable areas, with mould and cockroaches, and no amenities, no lift, or if on the ground floor, simply not safe.
I could go on and on, about the misery it would cause, to remove DLA.
It would lead to a slow death painful death. Worth adding here, I have spoken to many in my situation, who are discussing mass suicide, rather than suffer more health miseries, for which there are no cures! They are not depressed, but pragmatic about what awaits all of us.” October 11, 2010
“I am disabled with both physical and mental health problems. For months now, I have been worried sick about all the benefit cuts due to happen, wondering how I will live and survive and sinking further and further into depression so severe, I am one of those who feels suicide would be the only way out.
Having heard David Cameron’s speak about protecting the sick, old and vulnerable, I could feel my jaw drop to the floor in sheer disbelief at the lies coming out of his mouth. Not only am I worried about meeting my bills, the medical re-assessments despite being awarded DLA indefinately, but I have now after 7yrs of having direct payments been told I must pay £200 per month towards my care. The government are now doing a complete u-turn and as mentioned above, this will kill people.”
Disabled comedian and activist Liz Carr will be speaking at the People’s Convention on February 12th.
We are also running a workshop in the afternoon ‘At the Forefront of Resistance’
We would like as many disabled people as possible to come to this to tell us what you think. It starts at 10.30- 5 pm but the afternoon workshop if anyone is unable to come for the whole day should start at 2pm. Please support us.
The venue is Friends Meeting house near Euston Station. You need to book tickets from www.righttowork.org.uk £2 unwaged £5 waged to cover the costs of putting on the conference.
March 26th TUC march and rally, London – meeting Victoria Embankment from 11 am. More details to follow regarding this but please come if you are able to and tell others about this very important date.
DPAC supporters who are able to go would like to carry with us placards and banners with the photographs of anyone who would like their views about these savage attacks against us all represented.
Please could anyone who would like to be represented in this way send a photograph and if possible short statement to say what they think for attention of Linda Burnip c/o Melanie, Warwickshire and Coventry Council of Disabled People, Room 6, Koco Building, Unit 15, The Arches Industrial Estate, Spon End, Coventry, CV1 3JQ by the end of February
If you are unable to do this please email to firstname.lastname@example.org
January 29, 2011
If you haven’t already asked your MP to visit you at home to tell them how important DLA is to you please try to speak to them or email before February 14th. You can find their contact details at www.parliament.uk or many have their own websites with details of their constituency telephone and email contact details there. Letters should be sent to your MP at House of Commons, London, SW1 0AA.
There are at the moment 2 very supportive EDMs concerning independent living which we should be asking our MPs to sign. However as many MPs are unable to sign up to EDMs since doing so may commit their parties financially and ministers/shadow ministers in particular are sometimes not allowed to sign EDMs also ask them to raise the issues on your behalf if they don’t feel able to sign the EDM itself. ( draft email/letter below)
Early Day Motion on the Disability Living Allowance Consultation . EDM 1332 tabled by Hywel Williams MP (Arfon).
Early Day Motion 1231 to stop the closure of Independent Living Fund. (ILF)tabled by Katy Clark, MP
Please support EDM 1231 to stop the closure of ILF.
That this House notes with concern the Government’s announcement that the Independent Living Fund will be permanently closed to new applicants and completely phased out by the end of this Parliament; further notes that this will affect around 21,000 current recipients as well as those who would have applied to the fund in the future; acknowledges the fantastic assistance that the Independent Living Fund has provided severely disabled people to live independently; and calls on the Government to reconsider its decision, which will affect thousands of severely disabled people and will in the long term lead to greater financial costs as more people are placed in long term care.’
Dear Member of Parliament,
Please sign EDM’s 1231 and 1332 both of which support disabled people’s right to independent living. If you are unable to sign EDMs please let me know you intend to support the contents of the EDM and confirm you will write to the Government highlighting my concerns.
The closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) and the loss of funding will potentially put at risk 21,000 of the most severely disabled people around the country; disabled people who as a result may be unable to continue to live independently in the community. The existing fund is already failing to meet current demand against a restrictive criteria.
These are the very same people, disabled people with the highest support needs, that the coalition government says they are committed to supporting. However this along with a host of other policy decisions that adversely affect disabled people, would suggest that this is not the whole truth.
There is clearly no commitment to ensure that disabled people can continue to lead inclusive lives and to be treated as citizens. The result of the loss of funding to the ILF, and DLA together with the drastic reduction to entitlements to health and social care budgets will be in contradiction to disabled people’s rights under the UN Convention on Rights for People with Disabilities to live independently.
Any government should be ashamed of such decisions which in day to day terms can only push disabled people even further to the margins of society.
As your constituent I want you to please ask why the ILF is being scrapped, even before any consultation has taken place and why there seems to be little practical commitment to support disabled peoples’ equality and human rights by this government.
(add your name)
January 28, 2011
Disabled People Against Cuts as a campaigning group was established by disabled people who came together to protest at the Tory Party Conference against the so called emergency measures later announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review. Within our ranks are people who have a track record of working within both mainstream and disability politics at national and international levels.
DPAC firmly sees the issue of disability as being a political one; where people with impairments are subjected to ‘unequal and differential treatment’ as a result of social relationships found within society. From this political perspective DPAC believes the campaign against the cuts has to be understood within the context of the overall struggle against injustice and inequality – not only do disabled people cover all the equality strands, their unnecessary exclusion from mainstream social activities means many have been denied the right or opportunity to forge meaningful relationships with non-disabled people. Whilst the cuts themselves will have differing amounts of impact upon individual disabled persons’ lives, DPAC believes the cumulative effect upon disabled people’s lives will mean a removal of human and civil rights and the deepening of the experience of social oppression.
There is an old saying, “My enemy’s enemy is my friend”, however there are real dangers lurking within this crude logic. Not all who oppose the cuts are doing so for reasons which benefit all people or to support disabled people in particular. DPAC is willing to work with a broad spectrum of forces who are in opposition to the cuts however we will not support or work with campaigns or organisations we believe are a threat to disabled people’s rights and where we see disabled people being used as a stepping stone to further these bodies own interests at disabled people’s expense.
In a similar fashion DPAC fully accepts that probably the majority of disabled and non-disabled people have never viewed disability as a form of social oppression or wouldn’t necessarily support what DPAC stands for.
Since the 1980s the politics of the Disabled People’s Movement have been characterised as ‘not representative’ especially by Government who, in the very next breath, have turned towards the disability charities to discover what “is best for disabled people”. The Disabled People’s Movement has been typical of most social movements for change in the sense that it has progressed through various stages.
Some of the most political elements within the Movement warned in the early 1990s that the Movement put itself at risk if it put all its eggs in one basket by focusing solely on the struggle for anti-discrimination legislation. It has also been said the passing of the Disability Discrimination Act was a “victory” for the Movement however all the evidence suggests the exact opposite – this feeble piece of legislation became a major disabling barrier to real social change. New Labour used it to cause deep divisions among the disabled community and as a consequence the Disabled People’s Movement fragmented and went into steady decline.
What has this to do with DPAC and the current battle? We believe the last few years have weakened disabled people’s collective voice. Many individuals and organisations appear to ‘talk the talk’ in the language of the Movement but their practices show they no longer ‘walk the walk’ and it has become increasingly more difficult to make a distinction between them and the traditional disability charities who have stolen the clothes of the Movement but never the less continue to oppress disabled people in their residential homes and services. Other disabled people have undergone a 180 degree shift and now align themselves with these charities against disabled activists and their organisations. The weakened collective voice also means a fracturing of the ‘politics of disability’ – there is a whole generation of disabled people who have no idea of the battles won and lost. Basic ideas behind the politics of disability have become either watered down or lost completely. It isn’t something DPAC wants to admit to but it has to be said: disabled people are fighting for their lives from a position of weakness – oppression has always held us back, but the de-politicisation of the Disabled People’s Movement is a further hurdle we are being forced to overcome.
In the present climate simply by staying grounded within the politics of disability DPAC risks being characterised as “extremists” or “sectarian”. We would argue that the drift towards pandering to dominant representations of disability and disabled people and the accommodation of traditional disability charities leaves us no choice but to draw a line in the stand and be critical of people who might be viewed as “fighting alongside” disabled people. It is also important to understand what sectarian means. It usually means only prepared to work within narrow framework. DPAC wants to work with and support opposition to the cuts and we certainly aren’t asking anyone to recite the social model of disability to us or follow a specific ‘political line’ before we engage with them, but it is equally the case that we will not work with or support any organisation or campaign, no matter how well intentioned or popular, if we believe the rights and interests of disabled people – not just our own – would be damaged by our involvement or by the messages being conveyed and actions undertaken.
We will evaluate each and every approach made and ensure our decisions are based upon serving the best interests of disabled people both in terms of the fight against the cuts and the wider struggle against disablism. Where we feel there is a need to be critical of others we will attempt to do so in a reasoned manner and by the same token DPAC will pay our utmost attention to any criticism aimed at our campaigning.
Finally, we know there is another old saying, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”. We are aware that not all organisations with charitable status or campaigns not led by Disabled People’s Organisations are out to do disabled people harm or damage their interests. DPAC will not aim a size nine boot in the direction of everyone who utters a disablist word or fails to remove disabling barriers immediately! We are here to help make a real difference and that includes supporting others to understand the implications of their actions or inaction. Disablism has a huge influence within society and its harm is not always obvious.