The dreaded brown envelope

Our supporters often contact me telling me a bit about their story, in the hope that it can contribute towards our evidence. But one in particular stands out at this time of the year. This gentleman was dreadfully upset at having received his ESA50, that large brown envelope containing the questionnaire which could change his life, but with a deadline of return of 25 December. That was Christmas Day for heaven’s sake. He phoned requesting an extension in returning his forms. The answer given was a resounding NO. He has no idea if that form even arrived by 25 December. If your form arrives late, there is a penalty to pay with stopped benefits. No excuse that there’s no delivery or an overloaded postal system due to Christmas season. There was little possibility of sending the form back early – it is a tight turnround, and like everyone else, he needed appointments to get help with the form. When, I ask you, did they intend to read it? Somewhere between Boxing Day and New Year? Unlikely. Highly unlikely. That form would sit, with many, many others until the staff returned to work, probably not until the new year. He knows that many applications are rejected and people have to appeal, so he tried to think ahead and look for support. But the CAB naturally could not offer him an appointment until the decision came back from the DWP. And who knows how many people will be chasing those scarce appointments come the New Year. The whole process is an appalling mess. This is reality Ms McVey. Not the Christmas...

What you can knit in 12 months

Twelve months ago when seven women launched Pat’s Petition  12 months seemed a huge amount of time. The closing date of Pat’s Petition was way way in the distance. By New Years Eve we were approaching 10K and we all felt that would be a huge milestone to start the New Year. Friends, family, students, yes they joined in, and we achieved our first target. It was an amazing night. The next 10 months saw our contact list grow in leaps and bounds. We wrote emails, we rang people, we twittered and blogged our message. Men, and women, of the Church – big organisations and litle pockets of supporters.  We hit doldrums and peaks – despair and elation. But never ceasing in finding people to sign and support. But twelve months turned in to a very short time. We ended those 12 months with a flourish of support and thanks to a twitterthon and several newsleters – gained 5,000 more sigs to bring the final numbers to 62,693. Sadly we had lost one of our team and we were now six. Pat’s Petition has brought awareness to tens of thousands of people who might not of otherwise realised others felt the same. It was hugely successful. It never occurred to us to stop fighting.   It will be another Christmas Day just one week today. The horrors of the last year continue unabated. Cuts to our lifelines. Cuts to our services. Now we have heard of cuts to the new disability allowances. The out of control Coalition train hurtles on its way through our lives. Far too many will not...

Live debate today re welfare reform

All of us at Pat’s Petition congratulate Ian Mearns for securing today’s debate on the impact of welfare reform on disabled people, carers and families. We know that this will be watched with interest by many of the 62,600+ people who signed the Petition. We hope that there will be as much interest within Westminster. We continue to ask for a Cumulative Impact Assessment, so that we can all understand the true scale of the impact of welfare reform at the same time as wholesale changes to the NHS and the slashing of local authority budgets. Westminster Hall Meeting starts on Tuesday 18 December  at 2.30pm Private Members’ Debate: Effects of welfare reform on disabled people, their carers and families – Ian Mearns...

PATS DEBATE – the WRAG – a ticket to nowhere

ESA WRAG is a ticket to nowhere. CarerWatch hope that Employment Support Allowance (ESA) will be put fully under the microscope for the first time in Pat’s Debate. In particular that speakers will look at the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) and tell the real truth about it.   The government should admit that the WRAG is not about finding work. The WRAG is simply about moving sick and disabled people from an unconditional benefit to a means tested benefit to save money.   Four fifths of sick and disabled people will be allocated to the WRAG on migration from IB. It’s becoming clear that the WRAG  is an out of work benefit like JSA. It wasn’t protected from the inflation cap in the Autumn Statement. You are expected to find work.    It treats people as effectively fit and time limits them to a year before means testing. The feature that terrifies most disabled people is the coercion in the work program with forced work placements and sanctions for non compliance. It is unfair to force these decisions on disabled people if you haven’t walked in their shoes.   The cover story is that these people are on their way to work when in fact only 1.5% of sick and disabled people are finding work through the work program in the WRAG.   The WRAG is a confidence trick for moving to means testing disability support. Can speakers in this debate be the first to be honest about this.   The heart ache over the WCA tests is really located in what the future holds when you are allocated to the...

Pat’s Debate – your support needed more than ever

After a year of very hard work and wonderful encouragement from all of our friends and supporters Pat’s Petition  closed with over 62,600 signatures. We then sent an open letter to Liam Byrne. We are delighted to announce that all the effort succeeded and we have a result. Liam Byrne has been in touch and the Labour Party are giving us an Opposition Day Debate in the Commons based around Pat’s Petition. This means the debate will take place in the Chamber at the House of Commons with Ministers and front benchers as well as back benchers. So fantastic news – Pat’s Petition is moving to Pat’s Debate. Tell everyone – shout, sing, tweet using hashtag #PatsDebate. Let’s shake this government into listening to us at last. The debate will probably take place some time in January and we will only have a weeks notice so the important thing now is to get ready for the debate and make sure all the issues we have been campaigning on get attention. The theme of the motion for the debate will be the Pat’s Petition demand that the government – Stop and review the cuts to benefits and services which are falling disproportionately on disabled people, their carers and families and a demand for a Cumulative Impact Assessment. It’s a very wide brief so if you want to focus on a particular issue that’s fine. We will need lots of help from you all to make sure that after all your effort this debate gets real results. We are hoping that many of you will put up blog posts in support...