Update: Support from PCS R&C Euston Branch

read it on their blog:

http://pcseuston.wordpress.com/2011/01/21/national-protest-against-benefit-cuts-triton-square-14-00-monday-24th-jan-2011/

Cities and towns across the UK are mobilising for the second National Day of Protest Against Benefit Cuts on 24th January 2011. Atos Origin, who carry out medical testing on behalf of the DWP and are likely to be involved in testing DLA claimants in future, have been named one of the main targets. Workfare sharks A4e are also set to be visited in Newcastle and Leeds.

A wide coalition of local and national groups, as well as autonomous benefit claimants, are holding events and protests around the country. For those unable to attend protests in person the Second National Troll A Tory Day has been called: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=174707432567575&

In London a Party and Picnic at Triton Square NW1, home to Atos Origin’s UK headquarters, will begin at 2pm prompt. Prior to this claimants groups will be gathering outside the the Archway Examination Centre, 1a Elthorne Road, N19 from 11.30am.

Atos’ Scotland offices in Livingston will be visited from 10am, whilst claimants in Leeds will be gathering outside Atos at 10 and then heading to A4e at lunchtime.

Tyneside Claimants Union will be at A4e Newcastle from 11am and call on people to join them. In Birmingham students will be holding an event to warn that the upcoming benefit cuts will harm the ability of Disabled Students to continue with their education.

Atos are also set to be visited in Glasgow and events are also planned in Lydney, Burnley, Brighton, Hastings, Crawley, Chesterfield and Oxford.

For full details of all events please visit: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=173084439389460

and http://benefitclaimantsfightback.wordpress.com/

 

DPAC was asked to help circulate this for HAFCAC

hafcac logo

No happy new year for local disabled and older people in Hammersmith & Fulham and across the country!

Hammersmith & Fulham Coalition against Community Care Cuts (HAFCAC) is sending a New Year’s card to all of Hammersmith & Fulham Councillors, local Members of Parliament, residents and supporters. It is sent to register our opposition to the devastating cuts proposed by both government and local councils.

 

The New Year brings only fear and justified concern that our right as disabled people to live independent lives can no longer be taken for granted. The government, along with local Councils, is making some of the severest cuts ever to take place in benefits and social care support and services. All of which will reduce the ability of disabled people and older people, their families and carers to manage on a day to day basis.

Kevin Caulfield, Chairperson of HAFCAC said:

“These cuts have nothing to do with fairness. They are reckless. Disabled people are now experiencing being doubly penalized, as we are targeted in a disproportionate and discriminatory way by both central and local government.

Hammersmith & Fulham’s budget proposals for 2011- 2014 outline million of pounds worth of cuts in the adult social care budget. See HAFCAC website http://www.hafcac.org.uk

Our Happy New Year card highlights a recent report which states:

“Many disabled people in Britain are living socially isolated, cash-strapped lives and struggling to participate in normal activities.”

Life Opportunities Survey, Office of National Statistics, December 2010

There is not, even before the cuts, a level playing field in society for disabled people. Statistics show that disabled people and their families are poorer than their peers and have less access to education, training and jobs because of discrimination and barriers in society. Therefore they are generally more reliant on benefits and services than other sections of the population.

Kevin Caulfield said:

“If the main focus of cuts is these very benefits and services then it is inevitable that they can only lead to greater social exclusion. The government says the Big Society is an inclusive society but actions speak louder than words.”

David Cameron wants us to believe we are all in this together.

Yet the Daily Mail critically reported that Nick Johnson, Hammersmith & Fulham’s Council’s interim Housing Director and the Chief Executive of H&F Homes was paid £260,000 in 2009/10  “the highest-paid council-funded official in Britain.”

Also in a month where bankers (who contributed significantly to the financial crisis) are due £7 billion just in bonuses we disagree with the Prime Minister.

The New Year card highlights just some of the cuts to disabled peoples standard of living proposed by the government and Hammersmith & Fulham Council.

Join Hammersmith & Fulham Coalition against Community Care Cuts (HAFCAC) and say No to cuts that affect disabled and older people and result in poverty.

They can be contacted at

PO Box 60928, London, W12 8UP

Telephone 07899752877 Type talk 18001 07899752877

Email hafcac@hotmail.co.uk

Web: http://www.hafcac.org.uk

DPAC members – Please remember to register yourselves (at the R2W website)  and to let us know if you have access requirements. It is imperative that you give us advance notice in order for us to be able to provide the support. The Friend’s Meeting House is wheelchair accessible. Email us at mail@dpac.uk.net to let us know about access requirements

A People's Conference

Saturday 12 February 2011
@ Friends Meeting House,
Euston Road, London NW1 2BJ

This Con-Dem coalition aims to roll back the welfare state, slash our living standards, attack our pensions and to drive up unemployment. We need to respond with protests, direct action and strikes.

At the People’s Convention on Saturday 12 February we want to discuss how we can do just that. We also want to examine alternatives to austerity – where the rich and the corporations pay for a crisis they caused.

Speakers include:

Diane Abbot MP

Mark Serwotka, PCS General Secretary

Tony Kearns CWU senior deputy General Secretary

Jane Loftus CWU President

Alan Whittaker, president of UCU

Jimmy Kelly, Head of UNITE in Ireland

Steve Hart, London and South East regional secretary of Unite

Jeremy Corbyn MP

Andrej Hunko, Die Linke MP (Germany)

Katy Clark MP

John McDonnell MP

Representative of FIOM (Italian metal Workers Federation)

Captain SKA, producer of the hugely popular ‘Liar Liar‘ YouTube hit

Workshops include:

* Organising claimants against benefit cuts

* Disabled people – at the forefront of resistance Sponsored by Disabled People Against the Cuts

* Students – at the forefront of struggle Sponsored by National Campaign Against Cuts & Fees and Education Activists Network

* How trades councils can build resistance

* Organising a local anti-cuts campaign

* NHS in crisis Sponsored by Keep Our NHS Public

* Housing Emergency Sponsored by Defend Council Housing

* Can the unions stop the ConDems?

* One million climate jobs now

* Organising migrant and precarious workers

* Alternatives to Austerity

* Debate – How can councillors resist the cuts?

More information at the T2W website.

We hope this article from Richard Light will help some people understand the social model and its development –

It is becoming increasingly clear that one of the key issues in disability activism-the Social Model of Disability-is subject to repeated attacks, particularly within the academic community. What is equally clear is that much of the ‘bad press’ has been prompted by interpretations of the social model that many of us would find particularly strange.

As you might expect, academic discussion is often marked by both completely incomprehensible language and a startling lack of humility-each writer seems to assume that their contribution offers an invaluable new insight and that anyone who does not accept it must be hopelessly stupid or badly informed.

This article seeks to describe, in straightforward terms, what the social model means to a great many disabled activists, including those of us at DAA. We believe that it is time for disabled activists to remind academics that the social model originated with us, and that we still have use for it!

Despite our concerns about harmful criticism of the social model, we wholeheartedly endorse attempts to offer a more comprehensive or inclusive social theory of disability. This article is not intended to condemn efforts to theorise disability and what it means, but it is a heartfelt plea for theorists to understand the damage that is done by sweeping claims as to the social model’s shortcomings, without proposing alternatives that are acceptable to the disability community.

We are in no doubt that repeated attacks on the social model, particularly where no acceptable alternative is proposed, causes harm. We hope that this article makes it clear why so much is at stake.

The origins of the Social Model

The origins of what would later be called the ‘social model’ can be traced to an essay by a disabled Briton: A Critical Condition, written by Paul Hunt and published in 1966.

In this paper, Hunt argued that because people with impairments are viewed as ‘unfortunate, useless, different, oppressed and sick’ they pose a direct challenge to commonly held Western values According to Hunt, people with impairments were viewed as:

  • unfortunate’ because they are unable to ‘enjoy’ material and social benefits of modern society‘
  • useless’ because they are considered unable to contribute to ‘economic good of the community’, and
  • marked as ‘minority group’ members because, like black people and homosexuals, they are perceived as ‘abnormal’ and ‘different’

This analysis led Hunt to the view that disabled people encounter ‘prejudice which expresses itself in discrimination and oppression.’

The relationship between economics and cultural attitudes toward disabled people is a vital part of Hunt’s understanding of the experience of impairment and disability in western society.

The UPIAS Definition

Ten-years later, the Union of the Physically Impaired Against Segregation (UPIAS) developed Paul Hunt’s work further, leading to the UPIAS assertion, in 1976, that disability was:

‘the disadvantage or restriction of activity caused by a contemporary social organisation which takes little or no account of people who have physical impairments and thus excludes them from participation in the mainstream of social activities.’

It must be acknowledged that the UPIAS definition of ‘disability’ only refers to: ‘people who have physical impairments...’ and the failure to include any other types of impairment has led some people to claim that the social model only applies to wheelchair users

We would make two responses to response to such criticism: firstly, that the group ‘people who have physical impairments’ includes many people who are not wheelchair users. Secondly, and far more importantly, the statement was made by an organisation whose membership was made up of people with physical impairments-how could UPIAS speak for any other group of disabled people?

The vital feature of the UPIAS statement and, indeed, Paul Hunt’s 1966 essay, is that for the first time disability was described in terms of restrictions imposed on disabled people by social organisation

The Social Model is born

It was not until 1983 that the disabled academic, Mike Oliver, described the ideas that lay behind the UPIAS definition as the ‘social model of disability’

The ‘social model’, was extended and developed by academics like Vic Finkelstein, Mike Oliver and Colin Barnes in the UK and Gerben DeJong in the USA (amongst others), and extended by Disabled Peoples’ International to include all disabled people So, whilst the original formulation of the social model may have been developed by people with physical impairments, the insight that it offered was quickly seen as having value to all disabled people. To suggest that the social model amounts to a conspiracy by one group of disabled people, against the remainder is, therefore, either incorrect or mischievous.

The social model – an evolving idea

It is an inevitable aspect of human development that new ways of interpreting the world around us are introduced by an individual or, more often, a small group of people. It is simply the support and agreement of a wider group that transforms these interpretations into a social movement-precisely what happened with the African-American civil rights movement and feminism. As more and more people are introduced to these new interpretations, so the original ideas are questioned, argued over, developed and refined-precisely what happened to the social model of disability.

For those of us at DAA, the evolving nature of the social model, made possible by the interest it has generated throughout the disabled community, is a positive and necessary thing. Knowledge is always partial-the best that we can achieve at a particular time and place-but subsequent debate has ensured that the social model remains relevant to our lives- primarily because it still has the power to dramatically change the way disabled people think about themselves and their place in the world. What can be more liberating than the discovery that being disabled does not have to be viewed negatively-as some failure or weakness in us-and that there are people all over the world that feel a sense of community because of disability?

The social model and different impairments

DAA’s work is driven by an inclusive view of the disabled community – defined quite simply as those people who choose to identify as ‘disabled’. We are aware that not all groups of disabled people adopt such an inclusive approach, sometimes using both formal rules and informal sanctions to discourage people who are not seen as belonging to ‘their’ group, but such difficulties are caused by the individuals involved, not the social model!

The construction of the social model which DAA adopts defines ‘disability’ quite simply as: ‘the social consequences of having an impairment.’ It is unquestionably the case that using ‘disability’ to describe such a huge and very different group of people is difficult, not the least because the label is artificial and because too much is usually taken for granted when the wider community talk about ‘the disabled’.

It is also the case that all members of the disabled community have not had the same opportunity to have their opinions heard. Self-advocacy ultimately depends on individuals being prepared to advocate for themselves.

Demanding the right to advocate for ourselves is a dynamic process, it is not something that others can give to, or provide for us (although the space and opportunity to be heard may). No matter how much disability advocates might want to be joined by under-represented groups within the disability community, this requires those groups to want to be part of the wider community.

Blaming the social model for the undoubted shortcomings of the disability movement is, quite simply, unreasonable!

Whilst the academic community may view it differently, for the disability movement the social model provides a way of thinking about disability that accords with our experience of being disabled people-that disability is caused by the attitudinal, physical and communication barriers imposed on us, rather than the effects of our impairments

Despite the artificial nature of the label ‘disabled’, this shared experience of external barriers allows disabled people, irrespective of their different impairments, to feel a sense of shared identity. Having a shared identity as ‘disabled people’ need not and, in our opinion, should not, interfere with our identities as people with specific impairments, nor should they cause some impairment-specific needs to be promoted at the expense of others. The disability movement can only remain strong and effective when we each respect the enormous diversity within the movement

After years of campaigning and persuasion, the social model has offered a valuable and effective tool for helping people, disabled and non-disabled alike, to view disability in a way that does not put the ‘blame’ for disability on the disabled person.

Disability equality trainers, activists and academics have used the insight provided by the social model to make a real difference in all areas of social, political and economic life.

It is also true that the changes won by disabled campaigners are unpopular with those who see their authority, power and, in some cases, wealth, being eroded by social model ideals.

Theorising disability is important, but it’s time that some of those who do theorise adopt a little more humility and understanding before making public attacks on the social model.

Richard Light

This article is reprinted with kind permission from Disability Awareness in Action.

With just one week to go until the second National Day of Action Against Benefit Cuts on the 24th January, please take time to invite your friends to the events below – share on your profile, blog, tweet, email and let’s spread the word.

The main page for the national Day of Protest Against Benefit Cuts can be found at: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=173084439389460&index=1

The website is at: http://benefitclaimantsfightback.wordpress.com/

In London a Party and Picnic has been called out Triton square, NW1 from 2pm.  Bring banners, stuff to make noise, food to share, etc, please get in touch asap if you can help.

Protests/events are also being held in Livingston (nr Edinburgh), Leeds, Brighton, Lydney, Burnley, Crawley, Hastings all on Monday 24th January and Cardiff (on 20th Jan).  Please visit the website or facebook pages for full details of events.

It’s not too late to organise a protest near you, if you have something planned and would like us to publicise it then please contact us at notowelfarecuts@yahoo.co.uk

Crippen's Tory Scam

Crippen's Tory Scam

Description: The cartoon shows two figures standing in front of a large flow chart. One of them is a white man in a grey suit carrying a large cheque with ‘HM Government pay ATOS ORIGIN £300,000 tax free’ printed upon it. The other person is Prime Minister Cameron. He has a thumb raised and is holding a large bag of cash behind his back. The flow chart designates the path of a benefits claiment from being assessed by ATOs and having their benefits stopped then appealing against the decision and having their benefits reinstated. The flow chart also indicates that the money that is stopped during the appeal process is given to ATOS and that up to 50% of appeals against the stoppages are upheld, although the restarted benefits are not back dated. The flow chart also indicates that the claiment is reassessed after 6 months and has to start the process all over again!

Read the rest at Crippen’s blog

Anne Novis was awarded an MBE in the Queens New Years Honours in recognition of her dedicated work and ‘Services to disabled people’.

She writes:

I am a disability activist, you know one of those people who will complain, (how dare I?), when facing discrimination, challenge inequality wherever I find it and advocate for other disabled people.

Oh one of those you might say, YES! one of those who believes in the human rights of every single person, those ‘rights’ so many take for granted as they have not had them taken away yet.

I have fought, yes fought, for nearly twenty years for disabled people to be believed about their experiences of targeted hostility, harassment and abuse, hate crime and for an appropriate response from society.

Within all this I also fight for myself as a wheelchair user who needs care to live independently.
One of those who relies on benefits to live, to carry on having a family life, to practise my faith and be safe.

Oh I hear it already I am ‘burden on society’, ‘work shy’, a ‘fraudster’ and should have been ‘killed at birth’, I have actually been told this when attacked on a local high street and read it every day in the media .

I would love to get paid for the volunteering I do, for the contribution I have made to this society, for caring for my children and 23 foster kids, for advocating and counselling, advising and supporting other disabled people.

But hey I am part of the Big Society, one of those who does all this for free, you know like David Cameron wants you all to do now.

I am qualified up to my eyeballs, have attempted to get paid work many times often just a couple of hours here and there as that’s all I can commit to due to my body not being as active as my mind.

Most employers don’t want those who are sick, disabled a burden, work shy and fraudsters to work for them you know?

Now I face cuts in my personal care, the ILF which funds half my care package is scrapped and I will only get 5 more years of such support, that’s if I still qualify of course.

To qualify for ILF you must be on the high rate care component of DLA and need more then £340 plus pounds worth of care from your local authority.

But DLA is to be scrapped too , the local authority has no money and will be implementing increased charges for care and cuts in care as soon as possible.

I will be reassessed for the Severe Disability Allowance I get and probably have this taken away and be put on Job Seekers Allowance, after all I should be in paid work you know.
It does not matter about my health issues, regardless I must be in paid WORK!

Yet if I lose my care I cannot function, get up, get dressed, shop, socialise, practice my faith, in fact do nothing let alone be in paid work in some sort of ideal world where priority is given to sick and disabled people to get into work first before all those others sacked, made redundant, not sick, more experienced employees out there seeking work too.

I may get a basic income but I will have to jump through hoops, attend interviews, training and more and if I don’t ? Well I will be punished of course, the finance will be lessoned and eventually stopped.

Yet if I have no care support I cannot get up, dressed, eat, go out, and attend interviews or training.

But that does not matter I should make more effort as I am work shy, a fraudster and a burden on the state and ‘unsustainable’ as government ministers keep telling me.

So how will I survive? I will not.

But that’s ok too as then there will be less disabled people and we will save the government some money and all these incentives will have been shown to work as I, and so many others, will not exist.

And if we do mange to ‘exist’ it will be in residential care, or in bedsits, living on the scraps of funding society can ‘afford’ or deem reasonable for us to live on, we will return to begging on the streets then everyone will be happier as I will not be a ‘burden’ or a ‘fraudster’.

Yet once upon a time I had a dream, to own a home, have a career, travel and enjoy my retirement.
I was in paid work, as was my partner, we contributed to society by it’s current definition.

But oops! One day my body gave out, my back ripped apart and I entered the world of spinal injury, discrimination, inequality and prejudice.
Overnight I was unable to move from a bed, lost my work, my foster children, my partner and myself.

I did not choose this,it happened to me, as so many illnesses and accidents do.

One day you may find you or a member of your family becomes sick or injured, be born too early or face being different.

Now I face increased poverty, for no matter what you think disabled people on benefits are not rich, I face medical tests (many of them) by unqualified people who will decide whether I am too ill/disabled or not to be in paid work.

I face serious cuts in my care package, lose the five personal assistants I employ to help me, lose my wheelchair adapted car, lose DLA which was meant to help with some of the extra costs of being a disabled person.

Once I fail the ESA medical, which most do, I will become one of the invisible disabled, those not on anyone’s radar. I will face sanctions for not complying with job seeking requirement’s and lose even more of the pittance I am meant to survive on.

I will lose myself again.

Not due to an injury that was no ones fault but due to a society that is allowing a government to implement the most discriminatory harshest attacks on disabled people this generation has faced.

A society that is allowing those who can fight least to be targeted as the scapegoats for the financial mess they and the succeeding governments got us into.

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

DPAC is joining RtW Campaign for the People’s Convention 12th Feb 2011


The Right to Work Campaign is calling for a wave of protests against the Tories’ surrender to the bankers and the outrageous awards of huge bonuses to some of Britain’s richest men.
Paul Brandon Chair of the Right to Work Campaign said “Millions of ordinary people will be outraged by the sight of wealthy bankers getting even richer while the workers who keep our hospitals, councils and schools running are made redundant in droves.
“It comes as no surprise that Cameron and Co have made it clear that they will let the bankers pay themselves unlimited bonuses, despite the trillion pound state bailout of the banks.
“While hundreds of thousands are being thrown onto the dole queues and public services are being slashed the very men who got us into this mess have their snouts back in the trough.”
Bob Diamond’s £8 million bonus at Barclays and Stephen Hester’s £2.5 million at RBS are an insult to every ordinary person in Britain . But we know they are just the tip of the iceberg.
Chris Bambery the National Secretary of Right to Work said: “We can’t sit back and take this latest outrage without a fight. We need to take a lead from the student protests against tuition fees and the end of EMA. We need a wave of protests against the bankers. Right to Work is calling for protests at Barclays and RBS branches across the country”.
Protestors in Birmingham shut a branch of RBS on Tuesday see here
Right to Work placard design for Barclays and RBS for download here
In London Right to Work has called for a protest this Friday at the Royal Bank of Scotland building, 280 Bishopsgate EC2M 4RB from 4pm. London protest leaflet for download here
Leaflet for bankers protests with blank box for local details download here
Protests organised so far:
Brighton – Saturday 15th January, 1,30pm, Barclays North Street – facebook event here
Bristol – Saturday 15th January, 1pm, Meet Castle Park, top of Union Street, Bristol. March on a bank !
Hackney – Saturday 15th January, 2pm, Barclays Dalston
Manchester – Saturday 15th January, 2pm, Barclays, top of Market Street http://www.righttoworkmcr.org/
Sheffield – Saturday 15th January, 2pm, Barclays Bank, opposite Town Hall – facebook event here
Swansea – Saturday 15th January, 1pm, Lloyds TSB, Oxford Street
Worthing – Saturday 15th January, 10am – 2pm picket of banks and open air debate on bankers pay and bonuses. South Street,
opposite Lloyds. http://worthingsolidaritynetwork.blogspot.com/
More protests will be advertised on the Right to Work website here and our facebook page here
Please let us know about protests that you plan and send reports to reports@righttowork.org.uk
A Peoples Covention PosterPeople’s Convention platform grows
The planning meeting for the People’s Convention held on Tuesday 11th January was very productive.
Joining Right to Work, Labour Representation Committee and Disabled People Against the Cuts were representatives from Keep Our NHS Public, NUJ, Defend Council Housing, migrant worker groups, Climate Change Campaign and others.

Latest speakers include:
Diane Abbot MP
Mark Serwotka, PCS General Secretary
Tony Kearns CWU senior deputy General Secretary
Jane Loftus CWU President.
Alan Whittaker, president of UCU
Steve Hart, London & South East Regional secretary of UNITE
They join
Jimmy Kelly, Head of UNITE in Ireland,
Jeremy Corbyn MP,
Andrej Hunko, Die Linke MP (Germany),
Katy Clark MP,
John McDonnell MP,
Representative of FIOM (Italian metal Workers Federation),
Captain SKA, producer of the hugely popular ‘Liar Liar‘ YouTube hit


Saturday 12 February 2011
@ Friends Meeting House,
Euston Road, London NW1 2BJ
For more on the conference and to register click here
EMA day of action
On Wednesday 19th January, MPs will debate the abolition of the Education Maintenance Allowance.
TUESDAY 18th JANUARY – Taking back education Terry Eagleton, Laurie Penny, Alfie Meadows and others discuss what we are fighting for and how we can win 7pm Tuesday 18th January, The Quad, London School of Economics
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=136064176453230
Click to download a flyer
TUESDAY 18th JANUARY: National day of action. The National Union of Students has called for a day of action, with events, rallies and protests at colleges and campuses across the country.
WEDNESDAY 19th JANUARY: March on Parliament to save EMA Students, education workers and all defenders of the right to education, unite and join the demonstration as MPs debate the end of EMA. Bring your friends, your colleagues and your union banners.
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=173551569353859
4pm: Assemble at Piccadilly Circus
5pm: March to Parliament Square
Supported by EAN, NCAFC, Free Education Campaign and London Student Assembly.
Click here to download flyer
Events this week include:
Friday 14th January, 1pm, Bank of England ‘dance off’ here
Saturday 15th January, SERTUC day of action here
Monday 17th January, 5pm, Haringey, mass lobby of councillors, Haringey civic centre
Thursday 20th January, 7.30pm, Oxford, Stopping the cultural vandalism of library closures, Oxford Town Hall
Friday 21st January, 8pm, Bolton, Bolton Socialist Club, called by Bolton TUC
More events on our Action Diary here
Highlighted stories this week:
Birmingham Council are rubbish, not the workers
Kirklees council – round one to the workers
Protesting in Cameron’s back yard

Better late than never – video from Oxford 15/12/2010 demo with thanks to Xanna Ward-Dixon

Crippen's charity cartoon

Crippen's charity cartoon

 

Read the rest at Crippen’s blog