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.

Linda Burnip
DPAC

mail@dpac.uk.net

 

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”.

Growing evidence
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.”

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

The Broken of Britain is running a campaign on the DLA reform –

…….Members of the public: We may feel quite powerless at times, but there is a lot we can do to maintain the pressure. To do this, follow the steps in this Campaign Resource. The 14th-16th of January 2011 will be the date of The Broken of Britain’s blogswarm, entitled “One Month Before Heartbreak”. The DLA reform consultation end on 14th February, Valentine’s Day, as BendyGirl explains. Between the 14th and 16th, we hope that thousands of people will write – preferably on a disability-related topic – supporting The Broken of Britain and our campaign. If you want to go further, phone your constituency office and ask for a face-to-face meeting with your MP so that you can tell them why they should oppose DLA reform.

NB: Rosemary O’Neill of CarerWatch has another idea for campaigning. If you are unable to protest outside of your home, get your MP to come to you! Phone your constituency office and try to get your MP to visit you at home. The 11th of January is the last date before the DLA reform consultation closes, but you could ask for a home visit on any date up to then if the 11th isn’t possible. MPs are all off from next week until the 10th of January so give them a call at their office to arrange something. Remember, you have a right to see your MP, and if you are not able to make it to see them, they should come to you. When they d visit, sit them down with a cup of tea and tell them your fears of losing DLA…..

Read more at http://thebrokenofbritain.blogspot.com/2010/12/say-no-to-dla-cuts-how-to-take-part.html

Disabled People Against Cuts ( DPAC) totally condemn the proposed scrapping of DLA. This is yet another example of a complete U turn by the coalition government who promised to protect Disabled people and are now doing exactly the opposite. This must be seen as another outright attack against us all. Together with the swingeing cuts to care funding already occurring in places like Birmingham, Camden and Kensington and Chelsea it will force any ideas of independence, choice and control for disabled people back to the 1970s. Disabled people will become trapped and institutionalised in their own home due to the lack of support.

In essence the consultation document seems to be saying that if you need support and get funding from another source then you will not be eligible for a Personal Independence Payment but at the same time that if you don’t get funding for support from another source then in this case too you will not be eligible for PIP. Will any disabled people therefore be eligible?

We are further concerned that while the government claim to be consulting with disabled people this is not being done in any meaningful way and they seem oblivious to any of the problems disabled people face, completely ignoring their needs and the additional costs of being disabled.

We further question how reforming the system of DLA to PIP will achieve the stated objectives of the government to save money and feel this is simply a further ideological attack against disabled people who they have already castigated as benefit scroungers.

– Linda Burnip

DWP is now looking to scrap the DLA by 2013/14 and replace it with something called Personal Independence Payment, to “help disabled people remove the barriers they face to leading full and independent lives.”

The assessment will be objective, reflect the impact of the barriers disabled people may experience, and make sure they are treated as individuals. Central to Personal Independence Payment will be a new, fairer, objective assessment, which will allow us to identify those who face the greatest need, in a more consistent and transparent manner. We are developing the new assessment in collaboration with a group of independent specialists in health, social care and disability, including disabled people. Personal Independence Payment will be based on need not income and will be a more active benefit, recognising changes to individuals’ situations and taking account of the support that disabled people can access to help them live independently. Where possible, we will signpost individuals to support that may help them manage their condition. We will ensure that the award continues to reflect the individual’s changing needs over time by building in periodic reviews.

We want to know who these independent specialists might mean? And how independent will they be and who is paying these specialists and why did they think they need to replace the DLA in the first place?

Disabled people have to go through many hurdles to get the DLA anyway – this will enforce their fears that the Coalition intents to cut the existing benefits and put up more barriers to independent living.

Disabled people and their organisations should absolutely voice their rights in the consultation.

An article by Crippen, one of the co founders of DPAC

—————–

CartoonA week or so ago I made mention in my weekly cartoon blog of the fact that, despite being elevated to the House of Lords Jane Campbell was still hard at work fighting our corner, albeit no longer on the streets with other Disabled activists.

I know that some of you think that by accepting her seat in the House, she abandoned the cause and effectively sold out to the establishment. Well for those of you who doubted my statement, and her, read on!

Speech to the House of Lords

Last week Jane Campbell told the House of Lords in no uncertain terms just what she thought about the ConDem’s programme of ‘Fair Cuts’ and its impact upon Disabled people. This speech, apart from causing them a great deal of embarrassment and a lot of work trying to find an excuse other than their pathetic cries that this is really a local authority issue, looks as though it may cause the Government to make some kind of reassessment; in effect a U-turn. No mean fete in itself.

But not content with that, she went on to directly confront other senior government ministers the week preceding the speech – Kenneth Clarke, and Lord McNally when she was taking evidence as a member of The Joint (Select) Committee and Maria Miller in Her Regular One-To-Ones. She is also due to see Eric Pickles and Treasury ministers on the same subject over the coming weeks about the inhumanity of some of these cuts, in particular the Mobility Allowance issue. Where would we get that kind of immediate access to the decision-makers so quickly I wonder?

Seriously flawed

Jane’s argument is that the Government’s proposal is seriously flawed. In her speech to the House of Lords she gave four main reasons to support this view.

1. These cuts will have negative and costly effects on disabled people’s health and well-being, their ability to develop social and community networks, and their capacity to move on from residential living.

2. It conflicts with the government’s policies for personalisation, independent living and encouraging Disabled people to gain or retain employment.

3. It is based on a misunderstanding of the purpose of modern residential care and the potential of the people living there.

4. It is incompatible with the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People.

She reminded the House that the Government’s own figures regarding DLA estimates that this cut alone will affect 58,000 Disabled young people and

working age adults and that over two-thirds of the care home resident’s income will be taken away (see Bert Massey’s comments regarding this issue in last week’s Crippen cartoon blog).This makes Britain’s most severely disabled people the group who lose most from the cuts.

I would love to have been a fly on the wall when Jane was heard to ask the Ministers:  “Some politicians are accepting a 5% cut but would they accept a 45% or 69% cut to the money that buys them their personal freedoms?!”

I’ve managed to get hold of a copy of Jane’s speech to the House of Lords and have summarised just a few of the points she made. She said:

“I am sure we all agree that people living in care homes are full citizens. We should therefore expect and want them to exercise their human and civil rights, and contribute to civil society like everyone else  …

“Residential care homes are not intended to be prisons or to hide people away or deny them opportunities the rest of us take for granted – independence and choice, access to public life, education, and for those who can – the possibility of work.

” … I do not accept that the national finances are such that we should now deny people living in care homes the same rights as other members of our society.”

Impact Assessment

Jane also raised the concern that this cut in spending was not subject to a disability equality and human rights impact assessment; or discussed with those Disabled people who have had years of experience of advising governments on disability matters, or indeed, why the treasury failed to run it by its own expert department – the Office for Disability Issues (ODI).

She asked: “Could the Minister please explain why this budgetary cut was not subject to any form of analysis?”

Employment and Support Allowance

Jane also took the Government to task on the issue of ending the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) after one year and for targeting this allowance for a £2 billion cut.

She confronted them with their claim that a high percentage of fraud was evident amongst people who claimed ESA and argued that the tough requirement to access ESA means that fraud is highly unlikely and that there is no evidence to support that this is the case to date.

Jane ended her speech with the following words:

“Disabled people have campaigned for the last 30 years to be treated as equal citizens. The CSR proposes cuts that will hit disabled people, (already some of the poorest in society), disproportionately hard and undermine their independence. That doesn’t fit well with the government talk of a ‘fair’ and ‘Big’ society.

“The “Big fair Society” can only be achieved, if support structures are there to enable disabled people to play their part. Otherwise we go back to a time, when most disabled people were caught in a culture of dependency with no alternative but to beg for charity and be grateful for what they received. This, my Lords fills me with dread.”

I’ve known Jane for quite a few years now and can remember her during earlier days of protest, waving her placard along with the rest of us on Westminster Bridge and chanting “rights not charity!”. It’s good to see that by accepting the ermine, she hasn’t lost any of her grass roots feelings and is playing the part of a very effective political agitator within the system.

For those people who doubt her integrity I would remind them that Women won the vote and slaves were emancipated by a combination of grassroots activism and friends inside governments. Like myself, I trust that you’ll now see just how effective she is in this role.

Dave Lupton

Aka Crippen – Disabled Cartoonist

Bob William-Findlay

Bob Williams-Findlay

One of DPAC members, Bob Williams-Findlay, will be writing commentaries on issues arising from the budget cuts and the spending review. This is the first one on the DLA mobility component and people in residential care homes.

——————————–

Unexpectedly, George Osborne announced as part of the comprehensive spending review (CSR), that after four weeks inside a residential care home those who are state-funded residents would have their DLA mobility component removed. How has the Government sought to justify this policy change and would it be lawful?

The Department for Work and Pensions began by offering a two part rationale for this policy change. Firstly, they sought to argue that this would bring residents in line with hospital in-patients. This absurd argument demonstrates a high degree of both ignorance and prejudice; the mobility needs of the majority of people who live in residential homes can in no way be compared with those of hospital in-patients. It also indicates that the DWP want to impose ‘the sick role’ on certain groups of disabled people in order to paint others “economically active” when it suits the Government’s needs.

The DWP’s second argument, as equally absurd and bankrupt, suggested individual residents didn’t need the DLA mobility component because their needs were already being met by local authority funding for transport for care home residents. Let us consider what this really means. To begin with there is firm evidence to suggest that many care homes simply integrate the money into a single pot and therefore each home determines how much is spent on ‘days out’ or ‘necessary travel’ for residents. This implies that individual residents should have little or no control over their mobility needs; the expectation is to be totally ‘dependent’ on the home and more often than not have no independence in terms of going outside the home. This is to treat disabled people like convicted criminals and must call into question disabled residents’ rights under Articles 14,19, 20 and 30 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD, *see below) because it is a form of ‘house arrest’ and among other deprivations, denies them the right and opportunity to associate with whom they please. Are we going back to the days of ‘warehousing cripples’?

Disability minister Maria Miller said: “Local authority contracts with care homes are designed to cover services to meet all a resident’s assessed needs, including any mobility needs. So an individual’s care, support and mobility needs should be met by residential care providers from social care funding.”

Everybody knows that local authorities aren’t meeting these needs at present and with huge budget cuts, rises in VAT and petrol duty, it will be disabled people who are ‘out of sight, out of mind’ in residential homes; people with minimum or no direct contact with the ‘outside world’, who are going to be punished. John Nawrockyi, from the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, acknowledges that, ‘With councils facing a 28% cut in government funding over the next four years they will struggle to maintain existing services, let alone fund new ones.’

In hard cold cash terms this policy change will result in saving £135m a year or in percentage terms just 0.2% of the public spending cuts announced in the CSR. Is this really a “fair price” for the loss of independence, freedom and choice of those on the end of state funding? This policy flies in the face of the approach found within the Convention on the Rights of Disabled People – it supports institutionalisation rather than independence, it is both callous and ill-liberal. Back to Victorian values and I’m in no doubt Osborne, Duncan Smith and Miller would’ve made ideal characters in a Charles Dickens’ novel.

–  Bob Williams-Findlay
* UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
from
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/disabilities-convention.htm


Article 14
Liberty and security of the person
1. States Parties shall ensure that persons with disabilities, on an equal basis with others:

(a) Enjoy the right to liberty and security of person;

(b) Are not deprived of their liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily, and that any deprivation of liberty is in conformity with the law, and that the existence of a disability shall in no case justify a deprivation of liberty.

2. States Parties shall ensure that if persons with disabilities are deprived of their liberty through any process, they are, on an equal basis with others, entitled to guarantees in accordance with international human rights law and shall be treated in compliance with the objectives and principles of this Convention, including by provision of reasonable accommodation

Article 19
Living independently and being included in the community
States Parties to this Convention recognize the equal right of all persons with disabilities to live in the community, with choices equal to others, and shall take effective and appropriate measures to facilitate full enjoyment by persons with disabilities of this right and their full inclusion and participation in the community, including by ensuring that:

(a) Persons with disabilities have the opportunity to choose their place of residence and where and with whom they live on an equal basis with others and are not obliged to live in a particular living arrangement;

(b) Persons with disabilities have access to a range of in-, residential and other community support services, including personal assistance necessary to support living and inclusion in the community, and to prevent isolation or segregation from the community;

(c) Community services and facilities for the general population are available on an equal basis to persons with disabilities and are responsive to their needs.

Article 20
Personal mobility


States Parties shall take effective measures to ensure personal mobility with the greatest possible independence for persons with disabilities, including by:

(a) Facilitating the personal mobility of persons with disabilities in the manner and at the time of their choice, and at affordable cost;

(b) Facilitating access by persons with disabilities to quality mobility aids, devices, assistive technologies and forms of live assistance and intermediaries, including by making them available at affordable cost;

(c) Providing training in mobility skills to persons with disabilities and to specialist staff working with persons with disabilities;

(d) Encouraging entities that produce mobility aids, devices and assistive technologies to take into account all aspects of mobility for persons with disabilities.

Article 30
Participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport

1. States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to take part on an equal basis with others in cultural life, and shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities:

(a) Enjoy access to cultural materials in accessible formats;

(b) Enjoy access to television programmes, films, theatre and other cultural activities, in accessible formats;

(c) Enjoy access to places for cultural performances or services, such as theatres, museums, cinemas, libraries and tourism services, and, as far as possible, enjoy access to monuments and sites of national cultural importance.

2. States Parties shall take appropriate measures to enable persons with disabilities to have the opportunity to develop and utilize their creative, artistic and intellectual potential, not only for their own benefit, but also for the enrichment of society.

3. States Parties shall take all appropriate steps, in accordance with international law, to ensure that laws protecting intellectual property rights do not constitute an unreasonable or discriminatory barrier to access by persons with disabilities to cultural materials.

4. Persons with disabilities shall be entitled, on an equal basis with others, to recognition and support of their specific cultural and linguistic identity, including sign languages and deaf culture.

5. With a view to enabling persons with disabilities to participate on an equal basis with others in recreational, leisure and sporting activities, States Parties shall take appropriate measures:

(a) To encourage and promote the participation, to the fullest extent possible, of persons with disabilities in mainstream sporting activities at all levels;

(b) To ensure that persons with disabilities have an opportunity to organize, develop and participate in disability-specific sporting and recreational activities and, to this end, encourage the provision, on an equal basis with others, of appropriate instruction, training and resources;

(c) To ensure that persons with disabilities have access to sporting, recreational and tourism venues;

(d) To ensure that children with disabilities have equal access with other children to participation in play, recreation and leisure and sporting activities, including those activities in the school system;

(e) To ensure that persons with disabilities have access to services from those involved in the organization of recreational, tourism, leisure and sporting activities.

Reference to –  Early Day Motion 706 ‘Spending Cuts and Disabled People’

Dear (you can find your MP by entering your postcode at http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/)
As you are no doubt aware many disabled people protested on October 3rd against yet further cuts to care and benefits which the Coalition government are planning to introduce as they have very real fears their lives are under threat from these combined attacks.

Disabled people feel they now have no option other than to continue to fight against these unfair cuts they are facing. The recent DEMOS report showed that by 2015 over £3.6 million disabled people and carers will lose large amounts of funding and that in total from cuts to benefits alone disabled people will lose £9.2 billion. These cuts include removing an arbitrary one in five claimants from receipt of DLA which is a benefit meant to help compensate for the additional costs of disability, and 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. For most disabled people Incapacity Benefit is a contributory benefit which they are entitled to due to having paid National Insurance contributions whilst working.

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?

Housing Benefits for all tenants will be drastically reduced. From October 2011 for those 2 million disabled people living in private rented accommodation and from 2013 for anyone living in social housing which is deemed too large for their needs

There are already 1.8 million households on social housing waiting lists, and currently 1 million children live in overcrowded households. In Leicester in June 2010 there were 500 households needing an accessible property and only one available. Increasing numbers of homelessness disabled people surviving on the streets in dire poverty will reduce this country to little more than a third world nation, yet that is the likely outcome without some protection for disabled people in relation to housing costs.

Benefits linked to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) mean claimants will lose a further £300 a year Already 30% of disabled people live below the poverty line and 1 in 4 families with disabled children cannot afford heating. A tenth of disabled woman have incomes below £31 per week and a tenth of disabled men have incomes below £59 per week including earned income and benefits.

VAT increased to 20% will hit those on the lowest incomes the hardest – it is estimated this rise will increase each household’s costs by £500 per year

Added to that funding from the Independent Living Fund for care and support has now ceased to all new claimants and they are under threat of closure entirely.

Social Services budgets are under extreme pressure and nearly all Social Services departments have been told to reduce their budgets by 25% which has an obvious knock-on effect to their provision of care and the amount people need to pay towards this. eg In Warwickshire it is anticipated that one-third of people who currently receive free care will no longer be eligible, and Nottingham County Council have cut £72 million from their adult care budget resulting in a riot against council property.

We are asking you to help protect disabled people against both cuts to benefits and care funding and through that to help prevent more disabled people either killing themselves or being forced to live in increasing fear. These cuts contravene the convention rights guaranteed to disabled people under the UNCRPD which was ratified by the UK government last year which as I am sure you know is currently being monitored.

Please support EDM 706 ‘Spending Cuts and Disabled People’

Please also email one of us, linda_burnip@yahoo.co.uk, to show your support. We would be happy to meet with you to discuss these issues further.

Growing evidence
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.

More details can be read at 30 September 2010 News provided by John Pring at 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.

Read the comments from disabled people at https://disabledpeopleprotest.wordpress.com/uk-disabled-peoples%E2%80%99-protest-virtual-protest-page/