URGENT CALL TO ACTION FOR DISABILITY CAMPAIGNERS

  What a weekend! We have done an amazing amount of work over these last few days, and amazing to see all our supporters rally round. At the beginning of last week, no way could we envisage the events of this weekend just gone.     On the sunniest weekend of the year, we have been sweltering inside, organising blog posts, booking train tickets, desperately trying to arrange seats to watch the debate inside the House, contacting the many MPs who have been sympathetic to us, finding out about pauper’s picnics and now asking every one of you to make one final push for Pat’s Petition.   You have rallied around. Supportive MPs have now found seats for Pat and Rosemary so that they can be there on this important day.   The debate on Wednesday will be the last chance to get our voices heard in Parliament for some time. MPs will break up for the summer recess and then return, after their Party Conference, in October.   We need to make sure they are all briefed to understand the impact of Government Policies on disabled people and carers.   They need to know we are watching this debate. They have to be aware that they are under scrutiny on this issue.   We need them to vote for a Cumulative Impact Assessment. They have continually said this is impossible and too complicated, and we have answered that they wouldn’t conduct huge experiments with anything else, so why do it on disabled people? We have now heard that “the publication of cumulative impacts is a Coalition initiative” so...

Nightmare on Care Street

The theme for this week’s Carers Week – Prepared to Care? –  has made us think about the preparations that people take to care. Most people don’t think about it – we don’t think it will happen to us. Even armed with information and advice, sometimes we’re not as prepared to care as we think we are. We all know life is uncertain – but are we really ready for what life throws at us? Imagine you and your partner have been together a long time. You have made a home together, maybe brought up a couple of children. Now you are thinking towards retirement and putting some money aside for your old age. And then – wham bang – out of a clear blue sky – one of you gets a serious illness or injury. You aren’t high earners, but you have both worked all your lives and paid all those National Insurance Contributions. You have lost one income overnight. You are now learning you are a carer. This is your time to get support from the state. Right? No. Wrong. Your partner may be ill or disabled, but the government have tightened up the system. Your partner is put on Employment Support Allowance in the Work Related Activity Group and you think it will be OK. You are pleased to hear that he’ll be given support to find work that will fit with his disability. But then you both realise that if he doesn’t find work within a year, there will be no more money. ESA has changed from universal to means tested. Do you earn more than...

Supporting statement from CarersTrust

  Moira Fraser, Director of Policy at Carers Trust: “Carers Trust is gravely concerned about the impact welfare benefit cuts will have on carers and their families. Despite assurances, disabled people and carers have not been protected from the Government cuts and instead are taking more than a fair share. Carers are seeing their cost of living rise alongside, for some carers, a cap on benefits and cuts to family income arising from changes to Disability Living Allowance. Together, these changes will have a disastrous impact on carers across the UK.  The Government needs to publish a full analysis the impact and legacy of these cuts will have on carers and disabled...

Headway offers its support to Pat’s Petition team

Headway – the brain injury association supports the work of Pat’s Petition in highlighting the damaging impact the current programme of welfare reform is having on disabled people and their families and carers. Every day, the charity, which supports people affected by brain injury, receives calls to its helpline from people desperate for support, fearful of how they will continue to live independent lives in the face of cuts to their existing benefits. Many of these callers report receiving poor treatment during the claims process for key disability benefits such as ESA and DLA. Despite the attempts to improve the ESA claims process and the Work Capability Assessment, we are still hearing of people stuck in a distressing cycle of failed applications, successful appeals then reassessment just a few months later. Headway is also very concerned about the upcoming change of DLA to Personal Independence Payment, which has undergone a lengthy consultation period but still seems set to take essential support away from genuine claimants. The further award of assessment contracts to companies with track records of a failure to understand complex and often hidden conditions, such as ATOS, is extremely worrying. Headway has made repeated attempts to ask the coalition government to stop and rethink its damaging programme of welfare reforms. The charity has joined hundreds of other organisations across the UK in providing evidence to show the negative impact the current reforms are having on disabled people. It is with deep regret that these warnings continue to be unheeded. Headway offers its support to the Pat’s Petition team in its call for a Cumulative Impact Assessment. In...

Open Letter to Liam Byrne – from WOW Petition group

  Dear RT Hon Liam Byrne MP The WOW Petition  is a crowd-sourced grass roots campaign created and supported by disabled people, people with physical and mental health illness, care workers, carers and family members. We have come together because we are frightened. We have each been affected by the devastating consequences of the Welfare Reform Act and feel we are fighting for our lives. We are determined to continue and build upon the achievements of Pat’s Petition. We are not satisfied that the government will understand or care about the consequences of the cuts and changes to benefits and services until a comprehensive impact assessment has been completed. We are aware of the Prime Minister’s intention to scrap impact and equality assessments. It is vital therefore, that a cumulative impact assessment is carried out with urgency. Since the WOW Petition was launched on December 18th 2012, at the time of writing almost 18,000 people have supported us. We expect to reach the 100,000 target as we expand into new initiatives and the campaign grows. Our petition has been championed by disabled actress and comedian Francesca Martinez. Francesca has spoken out publicly against the arbitrary cuts and the unfairness of disproportionately targeting the benefits sick and disabled people rely on. She has appeared on Newsnight and BBC This Week Programmes to voice her concerns. Baroness Grey-Thompson has also supported our campaign. Sick and disabled people do not understand why the government wishes to wage a “war on welfare” against them. People who are genuinely too sick to work have been cruelly labelled as “feckless” and “scroungers” by government ministers....

Is UK Government in breach of its duty to respect human rights?

The Centre for Welfare Reform  has already demonstrated that the fiscal impact of UK government policy targets cuts and income reductions on people in poverty and disabled people is extraordinarily severe. The overlapping impact of social care cuts and benefit cuts for people with the most severe disabilities means that the average burden from the cuts, per capita, is 19 times greater for people with the severest disabilities. This is a shocking state of affairs and an unprecedented attack on a minority group. It is obvious nonsense to suggest that no reasonable Cumulative Impact Assessment of the cuts could have been made. It is clear that the failure to make such an assessment puts the UK Government in breach of its duty to respect human rights. Simon Duffy ***** Baroness Hollins backs Report Baroness Hollins back the latest report from The Centre for Welfare Reform: A FAIR SOCIETY? – HOW THE CUTS TARGET DISABLED PEOPLE Baroness Hollins says: “I welcome the report. It provides stark reminders of the cumulative effects of the current round of so called ‘reforms’ on disabled people. National debt is being turned into personal debt for some of the poorest people. We know that a reduced income does lead to debt, and we also know that debt leads to mental health problems for many, thus turning a financial crisis into a health crisis. Where is the sense in that?” Baroness Hollins of Wimbledon is also Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry of Disability, St George’s University of London, President of the BMA and Past President, Royal College of Psychiatrists. The report provides an overview of all of...