CALL FOR A CEASEFIRE FOR ESA
So a new day – a new beginning – a new Conservative government and a new Labour opposition.
Pat’s Petition and CarerWatch will continue to campaign to persuade the new Labour opposition to support CEASEFIRE.
We know that we have strong support in the new Parliament from the SNP, the Greens and Plaid Cymru. Over the next few months we will be trying very hard persuade the leadership contenders in the Labour and LibDem parties to commit to supporting Ceasefire.
Watch this space.
Statement from Pat’s Petition and CarerWatch
Pat’s Petition and CarerWatch have tried to find out from all parties whether, if elected, they would call a halt and make time to put right the mistakes that have been made in welfare reform for disabled people and carers. Thousands of people have signed petitions asking for the government to assess the impact of all the changes before continuing with the experiment. We have asked for a ceasefire on ESA until they can prove that work programmes are successful.
Our findings are that the SNP, the Green Party and Plaid Cymru are supportive of these views.
The Conservative and Labour Parties are not.
Many thanks to all of you who have supported the Emergency Ceasefire campaign.
Please pass this statement on to everyone who may find the information helpful in deciding how to cast their vote.
The Contradiction that makes the WRAG Inhumane
The primary legislation for ESA defines sick and disabled people awarded ESA as having a condition that means that they are not required to work.
However the conditions in the WRAG for the last five years – mandatory work activity enforced by sanctions and a time limit of one year – is a regime that appears to require people in the WRAG to find work within a specific timescale. This is in contradiction to the legislation.
This is despite the evidence that continues to show that people in the WRAG don’t and can’t find work: the work programme isn’t working.
There is now also a terrible legacy of the many sick and disabled people who have been through the WRAG but have not found work within a year, and then been unjustly timed out from ESA. The Disappeared.
* Leaders Debate on 16th April
Many, many thanks to Natalie Bennett of the Green Party for so forcefully raising the issues of welfare in the Leaders Debate. We have to break the silence on welfare in these debates. Thank you.
Jonathan Bartley – Green Party Spokesperson for DWP – supported Ceasefire in this debate on 5th May
Leanne Wood – Leader – Plaid Cymru supports Ceasefire
We look forward to support for Ceasefire from Plaid Cymru in the new Parliament
Read the Plaid Cymru Disability commitments here
Christina McKelvie – SNP Member Scottish Parliament – Deputy Convenor of the Welfare Reform Committee
We look forward to support for Ceasefire in the new Parliament from the SNP
Christina McKelvie has submitted the following motion to the Scottish Parliament Motion Text:
Choice for those on ESA (other than those with a very short prognosis
of a return to work) , and will be contracted at local level so that
we are able to draw upon the expertise of specialist and local
disability organisations. I welcome your suggestion that innovative
projects could be co-produced with disabled people and carers, and we
will certainly want to encourage local authorities and others to
foster such approaches.For those in the WRAG, participation in the programme will be
mandatory, although Jobcentre Plus staff will work with claimants via
the claimant commitment to ensure the support they receive and the
programme they participate in is appropriate to their needs and
circumstances.We do think it’s reasonable that there should be conditions for
benefits for those able to work or prepare for work, but the system
must be proportionate, supportive and fair. Our reforms to the WCA,
our offer of specialist employment support, and our commitment to
abolish targets for sanctions will all help to ensure this.best wishes
We understand that Stephen Timms meant that Labour intend to replace the Work Programme with the Work Support Programme.
Please could you now give us more clarity and a statement on how you see the new Work Support Programme? In particular whether participation will be voluntary.
A new Programme could provide some innovative projects based on local need and co-produced with disabled people and carers. But collating evidence from disparate projects will be even more difficult.
As we said in an earlier e-mail – every key benefit change means some degree of experimentation, but experimenting on real people in real time has a real consequence for those it fails. The past five years have been excessively and unnecessarily traumatic. This new Programme is yet another experiment and as such we believe it should be treated as a pilot. We therefore think that, until the evidence comes in that it works, participation must be by choice rather than by sanction.
We believe that removing sanctions will enable any new programme to work with people who want to return to work. This gives an opportunity to build up some positive evidence on financial savings as well as success rates. Once it has been proved to work, then perhaps consider sanctions. But until any programme can be shown to be successful, it is unfair to sanction people who do not want to take part.
Enough is enough. We need a ceasefire for disabled people and carers.
Pat’s Petition and CarerWatch
* He also said that if Labour had resources to commit to welfare reform one of the first things he would like to do is extend time limiting for ESA beyond 12 months because it wasn’t long enough for people to recover.
We agree that ESA is still not fit for purpose.
Dear Pat, Frances and Rosemary
In response to your further points about the WRAG, there are twoissues to address: ensuring that the WCA process allocates people to that group only if it is appropriate to do so; and ensuring that those who are properly placed in the WRAG are able to access good quality employment-related support.
On the former, we have set out how we will improve the quality of the WCA, including introducing penalties on assessors for poor or wrong assessments. On the latter, we will replace the generic and failing Work Programme with a specialist programme of Work Support for disabled people on ESA, contracted locally, with the opportunity for smaller and specialist organisations to participate.
I believe these two strategies can address the concerns that have been raised about the experiences of those in the WRAG, including by the select committee. We will of course keep this under very close review in government.
Of course you may share this response (and my previous response) with your supporters via your website.
Sick and disabled people, and their carers, are suffering every day – caught up in the disaster that is the failed Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
Groups from across the whole spectrum of disability campaigning have come together to call for a CEASEFIRE – until this is sorted out.
We call for an immediate truce during which the following practices are ended, while a new programme is co-produced with disabled people and carers – STOP * the use of sanctions * timing people out * means testing * bedroom tax for disabled people * repeated assessments We also suggest that – * anyone can use the current Work Programme – but only on an opt-in basis and without sanctions
This does not prejudice any long term changes, and we recognise that different groups have different aims.
These measures are not a long term solution, but together they would offer a period of safety in which to consider a better way forward.
The following people have signed in support of this Emergency Call for a Ceasefire
Jonathan Bartley Green Party Spokesperson for DWP – Leanne Wood Leader Plaid Cymru – Christina McKelvie SNP Member Scottish Parliament – Deputy Convenor of the Welfare Reform Committee -Pat Onions Pat’s Petition – Rosemary O’Neill CarerWatch – Gail Ward – Mo Stewart – Pam Pinder CarersforumUK – John McArdle Black Triangle – Carole Rutherford Act Now for Autism – Phil Connolly DRUK – Caroline Richardson Spartacus – Catherine Hale – Simon Duffy- Centre for Welfare Reform – Paul Swann Disability Wales – Ian Hodson BFAWU – Rosemary Trustam Community Living Initiatives Ltd CFAFS England – Sue Livett The Aldingbourne Trust – Bernadette Meaden – WOWcampaign -New Approach – Simon Barrow Director of Ekklesia – Prof Peter Beresford – Prof Alan Roulsden – Steve Griffiths – Chris Johnstone GP – Samuel Miller
If you, as an individual or group/organisation, support this action, please add your name in the comments below. You can also send any supporting statements to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.