Emergency Call for Ceasefire in Welfare Reforms

 

 CALL FOR A CEASEFIRE FOR ESA

 

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.

*

Ceasefire is supported by –

*

Jonathan Bartley – Green Party Spokesperson for DWP

We look forward to Jonathan having the opportunity to support Ceasefire in this debate on 5th May

*

*election debate

Leanne Wood – Leader – Plaid Cymru

We look forward to support for Ceasefire in the next Parliament from Plaid Cymru

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 next Parliament from the SNP

*

Christina McKelvie has submitted the following motion to the Scottish Parliament Motion Text:

That the Parliament welcomes the campaign by Pat’s Petition and CarerWatch for an immediate “ceasefire” on welfare reform; notes their call for an immediate truce on the use of sanctions, timing people out, the use of the bedroom tax for disabled people and repeated assessments for those deemed unfit for work; believes that, throughout the Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse parliamentary constituency and across Scotland, disabled people are being punished by welfare reform, and notes the view that, until a system is introduced that supports carers and disabled people, welfare reform should brought to an end.
*
* LABOUR
Unfortunately Labour are not going to support Ceasefire. Below is a  lengthy correspondence with Kate Green of the Labour Party which makes this clear – in reverse time order – latest at top. Many thanks to Kate for explaining the Labour position so fully to us.
*22.04.2015 Kate Green Labour to PP and CW
The Work Support programme will replace the Work Programme and Work
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

Kate

*
19.04.2015 – PP and CW to Kate Green
Dear Kate
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 x
Frances
Rosemary
Pat’s Petition and CarerWatch
*15.04.2015
Last night at a hustings held by the Disability Benefits Consortium the Labour Minister Stephen Timms said –* Labour will take ESA off Work Programme apart from those with short awards (3 or possibly 6 months)

* 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.

*
12.04.2015 from PP and CW to Kate Green
Dear Kate
 
Thank you for taking part in this discussion. It has been very useful. 

We agree that ESA is still not fit for purpose.

 
We are pleased that you are suggesting yet further proposals to try and make ESA work, but trust you will understand when we say that we don’t think this is the complete answer.
 
After the weary history of past failed attempts, we remain sceptical that any further experimentation will provide the illusive solution. The five annual reviews of WCA have not made any significant impact, nor the many changes to the Work Programme over the last five years. As a result the WCA has resulted in damage to the health and wellbeing of hundreds of thousands of people.  Most people recognise now that there is no quick fix. We have to be realistic and face up to the reality that for the next few years ESA will still not be fit for purpose.
The test that reform has worked will be real evidence about people moving in to work and that will take time. 
 
Moving to self-referral to the Work Programme for a fixed period of time would provide an opportunity to develop the evidence for people who want to return to work. The benefits are likely to include a significant financial saving and increased wellbeing (less stress) for sick and disabled people. Only once the Work Programme has been proved to be helpful and successful, should we start looking again at sanctions and compulsory programmes.
 
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. Enough is enough.
 
So what we are asking in Ceasefire is for protection in the meantime until ESA is made safe. Please will you support Ceasefire and make the work programme voluntary and stop the time limits – until you have evidence that sick and disabled people are moving in to work.
 
It would be great to announce that Labour is supporting Ceasefire before the Thunderclap on Thursday and the next Leaders Debate.
 
Pat, Rosemary, Frances
 Pat’s Petition and CarerWatch
*09.14.2015 from Kate Green to PP and CW

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.

best wishes

Kate

*
PP and CW welcomed these assurances. However we were still concerned that the WRAG is not fit for purpose and sent the following reply to Kate.
*09.04.2015 from PP and CW to Kate Green
 Thank you for this. We welcome your assurances on the bedroom tax and the unnecessary repeated assessments.
That leaves us with the problem of the WRAG. When Labour introduced ESA Lord Oakeshott said that it was an enormous social experiment and there was no evidence to base it on. Lord Mackenzie for Labour agreed. Lord Oakeshott said that the Lords were effectively being asked to sign a blank cheque. Lord Mackenzie agreed. The check and balance they agreed on was that ESA would be closely monitored and adjusted in the light of emerging evidence. We think the time has come to deliver on that promise.
The evidence is now available. Most sick and disabled people in the WRAG are not getting jobs. This may be due to the nature of the competitive labour market that they have to compete in or the nature of the work programme. It is not the fault of sick and disabled people.
We think it is now time to deliver on that promise and stop penalising sick and disabled people in the WRAG in an attempt to force them to do something that they cannot do. Until such time as the evidence shows that sick and disabled people can move in to employment we think the work programme should become voluntary and the meaningless time limit should be lifted.
We really hope that you can agree to these promised checks and balances until the evidence shows that this model for ESA is delivering jobs.
Pats Petition and CarerWatch
*
*March 2015
Kate Green – Disability Spokesperson for Labour tells us – We have been clear that sanctions must be used sparingly and appropriately, and that there must be no “targets” for the number of cases sanctioned by Jobcentre Plus.
*
Kate Green has written to us and said –
You will also be aware that Labour has committed to scrap the bedroom tax as soon as we come into government, and this will of course particularly benefit the two thirds of households affected who have a disabled family member and the 60,000+ carers affected.   We are anxious to reduce the number of unnecessary face to face assessments, which can cause stress to individuals and pile up cost to the public purse, by better sharing of information across different assessment processes, and by imposing penalties on providers for poor or wrong assessments. And we also agree that those not required to look for work should be able to access support via the Work Programme (or the new localised programme of specialist support that we intend to put in place to replace it for disabled people) on a voluntary basis
*
 Read about the campaign here
 http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/campaigners-call-for-next-government-to-cease-firing-on-welfare-reform/

phone-31172_640Sick 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 carersSTOP * 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 DWPLeanne Wood  Leader Plaid CymruChristina 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  patspetition@gmail.com or admin@carerwatch.com.

53 Comments

  1. We need a decent welfare system where no one can die of cold or starvation or be penalized for their disability. So many people support the poppy appeal and yet fail to notice that many people having their benefits cut are heroes too wether ex servicemen or heroes in their own lifetimes such as nurses teachers carers good neighbours who have given their all and deserve our respect care and funding just as much. Many are heroes just for surviving each day in pain if some kind and not giving up despite the way the system is now treating them.
    P.S I am not disabled or a carer I just care for others less fortunate than I am and understand that good health has nothing to do with merit.

    Reply
  2. agree totally

    Reply
  3. it is just social clensing the Tory party is really just vile scum

    Reply
  4. Suffer from depression and chronic anxiety.
    Two years ago I had got myself to the point where I was almost ready to return to work, and then my ESA was removed, I spent 6 months living on tiny amounts of money leant to me by friends and family which I’m still paying back.
    I am currently awaiting yet another atos assessment and this constant pressure of knowing I will probably have to go through an appeal process because the assessment doesn’t take into account the good days/bad days nature of mental illnes means I don’t see myself getting my anxiety under control and able to work any time soon. I often can’t eat or sleep due to the constant worry.

    Reply
  5. Please call a halt to this as innocent people are dying and carers are struggling to support there loved once because what is happening is both cruel and unfair

    Reply
  6. Atos representative promised me a recorded interview then cancelled it without telling me when I attended the JC, causing me a great amount of stress. Still have not heard from them but now hope for home visit as I collapsed onto floor when in foyer of JC last time I went. I consider the whole reasoning behind WCA and the assessors to be unfit for purpose.

    Reply
  7. Please add Pete Perkins & Team from “We the People” advice & advocacy service to the list above.

    Reply
  8. I believe the a civilised country should support its most vulnerable citizens. In Britain we used to talk about social security. It is now called welfare but the present system is the opposite of that, it is resulting both directly and indirectly in suffering, health conditions being made worse and in some cases the n death. I wholeheartedly support this petition. Personally I had to go through the sea process about 2.5 years ago and it has resulted in a permanent deterioration in my health. Only the incompetence of the system has saved me from continued reassessments and for that at least I am grateful.

    Reply
  9. Linda Ashford

    Reply
  10. it must be sorted out before there are any more deaths

    Reply
  11. It is time for a pause, time to rethink, and time to put consideration of individual need back into the picture. The current system is proven to be unfit for purpose. Any such ‘ceasefire’ would bring needed relief to those affected, and would perhaps even save lives.

    Reply
  12. Pumping Marvellous is a patient led Heart Failure Charity supporting people newly diagnosed people during what is a traumatic event for them and their families.

    We are happy to support and promote this call for a Ceasefire to Welfare Reform.

    Reply
  13. sanctions & misguided WCAs are killing people & making sick people homeless & even more sick

    Reply
  14. Please stop the reforms etc, many people have died as a result of these actions. You may as well line them up against the wall and shoot them, have you no shame, for even compassion for those a lot worse off than yourselves

    Reply
  15. I would like to sign this as myself and also on behalf of DPAC (Disabled People against the Cuts) Norfolk

    Reply
  16. Please add my name
    Helen McGoldrick – Disabled People For Yes

    Reply
  17. The speed at which these reforms are being brought in is causing stress, suffering for all disabled people. To have to go through yet another medical for anyone is very difficult but for those with mental health issues it is beyond stressful and could as it has already lead to further deaths. DLA once awarded should not be taken away, when that award is up for renewal then it would be more appropriate. The Bedroom Tax is illegal as there is not sufficient alternative accommodation for people to move to. THERE NEEDS TO BE A CUMULATIVE IMPACT ASSESSMENT AND NOW.

    Reply
    • I know there are people cracking up because this bedroom tax has caused so much pian and misery I only wish these nasty tories find out one day what its like living with no money. Cruel vindictive nasty bastards thats all they are. How people haven’t taken to the streets in anger baffles me it really does.

      Reply
  18. I support this and would like my signature adding – thank you.

    Reply
  19. This tory governments pushing people to the brink of madness. What makes me really mad is they are borrowing more than labour ever did.Austerity isn’t working just causing pain and anguish stress worry.All they are doi g is causing rifts in society.
    Even though there isn’t any jobs people are getting sanctioned. This is cruel unfair and I only hope this madness stops come may when hopefully these idiots get booted out. Ids needs to calm down with hammering the most vulnerable just like a bully in a playground.

    Reply
  20. its just sad for the future of sick old and low wage ppl and ther kids grr

    Reply
  21. As an individual, Imfind it shocking amd abhorrent thatbthis go ernment leaves people, even families, destitute, starving amd homeless. The institutionalised cruelty is breathtaking.

    Reply
    • Please excuse my typos!

      Reply
  22. adding my support to stop the persecution of people in need of ESA. The current situation is unacceptable with renewals taking over a year, sanctions removing even the most basic support, the list goes on. Dxxx

    Reply
  23. I just wonder what they will do with all those who will literally die from heart attacks caused by stress and or from starvation/ hypothermia due to benefits cessations.
    The Government, especially Iain Duncan Smith should be held for culpable manslaughter against any individual who has died as a result of these Dickensan benefit reforms.
    Time this was put to a stop and a manageable and sensible reform was put in place in stages and without causing so much damage to the already vulnerable.
    My final word is – Karma –

    Reply
  24. The stress of the ESA assessment process and the threat of further assessment was so terrifying to my partner, who had mental health issues it played on her mind every day untill finally it caused her anxiety and blood pressure levels to rise to such an extent, that she had a fatal bleed on the brain and died last December. Whilst still grieving they started on me in February. I have never felt so terrorised by my own government in my whole life!! I regard the current welfare policies as cruel, inhumane and criminal. Laws are supposed to made to protect citizens, not persecute, terrorise and harass them to their deaths! There should be an immediate ceasefire to these reforms and these assessments should be scrapped NOW!

    Reply
  25. Erik Zoha – online activist

    Reply
  26. Andrew Marlow national health Action Party

    Reply
  27. I agree very strongly. Give people time to catch breath.

    Reply
  28. It needs to stop

    Reply
  29. we support fully a halt to welfare ‘reforms’ targeting the poorest and most vulnerable in society

    Reply
  30. It is simply wrong, on all counts, to treat vulnerable human beings in the way that the current “reforms” are attempting to do.

    There have been enough deaths, and the cumulative effect of the changes have meant great hardship for many of those who are disabled or caring for them, especially those with mental health issues who find it difficult enough to cope without the added stress!

    CUMULATIVE IMPACT ASSESSMENT ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL – RIGHT NOW, AND CESSATION OF CHANGES, AT LEAST UNTIL THIS HAS BEEN CARRIED OUT!

    Reply
  31. I believe the number of people who have died or, killed themselves since 2008 is 72,000 a shocking figure & this need’s 2 b publicised as this is proof that the Government have ordered deliberate changes 2 Benefits, KNOWING what would happen & they WELL KNOW just how many have died! The TRUTH need’s to come out about this, people r STILL DYING!

    Reply
  32. Jo Walker

    Reply
  33. Vicki Hon

    Reply
  34. Please add my name to this list

    Reply
  35. remember, the seeds you sow are the seeds you reap

    Reply
  36. I am sick of living in fear

    Reply
  37. What will it take to stop the government making up unfair laws as they go along. One rule for them and one for us is not a democracy!

    Reply
  38. Please stop the cruelty of punishing people for the crime of being poor and ill deserved. We should be offering incentives rather than penalising those who have little choice. Moral of the story is – would you be happy with this treatment?

    Reply
  39. i fully support this call for a ceasefire on welfare reform. The changes have caused great distress and hardship for many sick and disabled people. The changes in welfare are inhumane and are not consistent with a civilised approach to supporting sick and disabled within our society.

    Reply
  40. Sad situation where politicians gear spending to votes rather than need. I support reversal of cuts except where benefit tourism is the background.

    Reply
  41. Kate jones – manchester, UK

    Reply
  42. A society is judged on how it looks after it’s most vulnerable members. How can we call ourselves civilised when we add to the suffering of those already in need.

    Reply
  43. I fully support this campaign. This government has caused untold suffering amongst the most vulnerable in society. The decision regarding a person’s fitness for work should be decided by those most qualified to make that decision, medical professionals. An idiotic ‘tick box’ one-size-fits-all WCA ‘system’ is unfit for purpose.

    Reply
  44. I have bipolar and severe arthritis. I find the form filling for ESA to be very anxiety provoking. My CPN fills them in for me because I cannot write due to arthritis in my fingers. My CPN will not always be here and I do not know what I will do then. I am scared my bipolar is triggered and I end up homeless once again. I have £74 per month stopped in bedroom tax and Council support tax. If I lose any more and struggle more. I will weigh up the benefit of being alive. I live in severe pain and if my bipolar triggers I live in hell. This government is lining its own pockets and cares nothing for the sick or disabled. I worked for 30 years and paid my dues and I am still paying them for what? For those who do not care to share the spoils with their tax avoiding mates. Its sickening!

    Reply
  45. I fully support this as a single parent full time carer of a daughter with Chronic Fatigue and Aspergers syndrome, two conditions woefully mis-understood even by doctors let alone WCA ‘Health Assistants’

    Reply
  46. I’m left with no justice thanks to the mp Im now in position for future no care I can’t expect all to just carry on ive no life whatsoever Im totaly relagated to a sad lonely life no point to try and rebuild my life a new partner would mean I couldn’t live with as they proved this in 2010 a new home my medics retired me and it’s not ended as was expected had I known they just as well shoved me off damming news of 08 I coped with I didn’t then expect 2010 to have rest of rubbished Im having to borrow money getting things done my family and carer are totaly used and abused my daughter gone into ill health her gp finds this aborent 1 day a week off for her doing my work since 2010 made to wear incontinent pads ive no diagnosis of incontinence Im sick to back teeth of this goverment who don’t listen they can do no more to me they break the law in my case and have lied in doing this

    Reply
  47. Wa

    Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Emergency Call for Ceasefire in Welfare Reforms... - […]   […]

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>