Campaign to write to MPs
+ PLEASE WRITE TO YOUR MP
November 3rd, 2010
The program of welfare reform and cuts is proceeding with alarming momentum and the needs of carers and disabled people are being lost in the fiscal crisis.
Carer Watch are asking carers, disabled people and every one who cares about them to send this letter to MPs – and to disability charities and to post this letter in the media and to blogs.
Change or adapt it any way you like. But please, please send it.
Suggested e-mail /letter
The program of welfare reform and cuts is proceeding with alarming momentum. The thought behind it is that the only way out of poverty is going to be through work. I am writing to ask you to step back from this one size fits all thinking and to remember that there are some people for whom work is unlikely to be a realistic option. Please remember the duty of care to them and imagine how they are feeling as this pressure to work is heaped upon them.
They feel that for them the covenant on welfare seems to have been broken. They have been caught up as collateral damage in this push back to work and they feel very afraid.
They had never expected that the Conservative, Labour and LibDem Parties would all abandon them like this. No party is demonstrating any understanding of their situation or offering them any reassurance or protection. They cannot believe that all three main parties continue to sign up to the delusion that they can be forced back to work by pressure and removal of benefits. Unrealistic and cavalier talk of ‘helping’ them in to work is ill informed and adds to their fears that politicians do not understand the reality of caring, illness and disability.
Carers seem to have been completely forgotten as benefits are changed around them and every one is forced to work. Many carers can’t do this. I am extremely concerned that the recent government consultations - both ‘Refresh Carers Strategy’ and ‘21st Century Welfare’ - failed to address the issue of Carers Allowance. Ruling all financial considerations out of both these enquiries severely compromises what they can achieve.
Carers aren’t some optional extra to be added on as an afterthought. Our society would not function without the care currently provided by unpaid carers and the consistent refusal by Governments to improve Carers lives has ripple effects throughout Social Services and the NHS. Precious few people receive the actual support they need and so many carers are just not receiving vital services and support.
Employment Support Allowance is a disaster for the seriously ill and disabled people because neither ESA group has been designed to meet their needs. Welfare reform means ‘conditionality’ and ‘conditionality’ is completely inappropriate for people with a diagnosis of a severe and enduring disability. ESA has two sizes to fit all and the seriously disabled people do not fit safely in to either group. The ‘support’ group admits only a few of the most severely ill and offers people no help or hope. The second group – the work related activity group – the WRAG – is not a safe place either. The WRAG is predicated on ‘conditionality’. It is now proposed to be time limited to one year (this decision will take effect from 2012). It has coercive elements of pressure and sanctions which are completely inappropriate for disabled people. There is absolutely no reason why there can’t be a third option – a group free of pressure and sanctions where disabled people can get help IF they want it without the pressure. Instead of Mr Grayling wringing his hands about how to allocate people with a severe diagnosis between the two inappropriate groups – why doesn’t he introduce a third group that would actually meet their needs
And why when everyone wants disabled people to get out and live fulfilling lives would anyone take away Disability Living Allowance – the life line that makes this possible. DLA is an essential benefit that was specifically designed to provide financial support towards the extra costs incurred by people living with a disability. DLA payments have enabled hundreds of thousands of disabled people to maintain a degree of independence and quality of life that would have otherwise been lost to them. Because Middle and Higher rate DLA are both also passport benefits to enable family members to claim Carers Allowance, removing or reducing DLA will not only have an enormous financial impact on disabled people it will also impact on their carers – a double blow which will especially hit hard those families on the poverty line.
It is even more alarming that the Coalition plan a new regime of ’non medical tests ‘ as happened with Employment Support Allowance - a ‘test’ you are planned to fail. Cutting or reducing DLA will in many cases have a reverse effect on employment and remove the financial support that helps some disabled people get ready to go out to work.
I am outraged at the Coalition’s intention to remove the Mobility Component of DLA from those people in residential homes, and will strongly oppose this proposal.
Please also be aware how much the proposed cuts in housing benefit will bear down on carers and the long term sick and disabled.
Can I ask you if behind the enthusiasm for welfare reform there is any residual understanding of how this feels to people for whom work is probably not going to be the answer to poverty? People who now feel abandoned by all three main political parties and will never forget this. Please look past the fantasy and wishful thinking at the reality of what these cuts and reforms are actually doing to them.
And please post below and let us know if you find any MPs out there who will help us
+ Work, disability and real change
November 6th, 2010
Piece submitted to Compass
CarerWatch is a group of unpaid family carers. We have many members with severe and enduring disability. We work closely with Broken of Britain which is a campaigning group for disabled people. So we know what it is like at the coalface of disability.
We would like to congratulate Compass on the truly excellent think piece ‘Dark Times for those who Cannot Work.’ We have been campaigning in a climate of ignorance and misinformation about work and disability for so long that this research is like a blast of fresh air.
email below received from Steve Griffiths Nov 5th 2010
Updating and briefing following Compass Thinkpiece: Dark Times for Those Who Cannot Work
+ Neil Coyle, Disability Alliance and Mark Shrimpton, RADAR
November 3rd, 2010
Carer Watch are right to highlight that the Government agenda does not answer how or where disabled people will work, only that the system is being re-jigged to move people from one benefit to another (or to none at all). This is despite the significant support needs and higher costs of living many disabled people experience.
The absence of consideration and commentary on carers when changing disability benefits is also alarming; it is inevitable who will be relied on to fill the ‘care gap’ – undermining carers rights, opportunities and ability to work. Disability Alliance supports efforts to highlight these problems within the Government programme.
RADAR is extremely concerned about the moves to cease DLA mobility payments to disabled people in residential care. This change will in effect mean that people in this setting will be robbed of their independence and have four walls only to contemplate all day and night and that further responsibility will be given to carers.
We are additionally concerned about the numbers of multiple assessments for benefits, the wastage of public money involved and the trauma experienced by disabled people and carers. This must stop – for the benefit of disabled people and the taxpayer.
Neil Coyle Mark Shrimpton
Director of Policy Deputy Chief Executive
Disability Alliance RADAR
+ Housing Benefit Debate
October 31st, 2010
There is a debate on the cuts in Housing Benefit on 9th November and Ed Miliband said this weekend at the Scottish Labour party’s conference in Oban that he would encourage Liberal Democrat MPs to vote against the government a week on Tuesday, when the opposition plans to force a vote on the issue in the Commons.
“Our appeal is to all MPs of conscience: join us, vote against these unfair and unworkable changes and force the government to think again”
Several key Liberal Democrat figures, including deputy leader Simon Hughes, are known to be against the cuts.
You can amend and add to it in any way you like but please, please send it.br>
+ CW Evidence to Harrington
August 18th, 2010
Here’s the evidence that CarerWatch have submittrd to Harrington.
Rhydian fon James – a journalist (see articles in Guardian) helped us write it.
Our main point is still that the groups aren’t fit for purpose – there is no safe place for the long term sick to ‘have a go’ in safety without fear of being sucked down through the coercive WRAG to undefended JAS.
So as the groups aren’t fit for purpose the test can’t work however much they try and improve it.
Some of our members are horrified by the current B&W thread about what happens to you if you win your appeal. Straight back to ATOS apparently.
+ Many thanks to Crippen
July 26th, 2010
+ CarerWatch Statement on ESA
July 24th, 2010
This is the CarerWatch briefing statement on ESA
Firstly CarerWatch ask the Coalition to drop the sanctions under ESA and let sick and disabled people make their own choices freely and without pressure and coercion on their journey back to work.
Secondly Carerwatch ask the new government to stop and think carefully how to make the WCA test between JSA and ESA transparent so that it gains public confidence. And drop this terrifying target of moving 1 million people off IB/ESA to be unsupported on JSA.
CarerWatch are concerned that with the introduction of ESA the covenant between the state and the sick and disabled - established under the welfare state - is in danger of being broken. The state promised to support the sick and disabled if they became too ill to work so that they felt safe and secure.
CarerWatch welcome the positive promise behind ESA that all people however serious their illness or disability should be offered proactive help back to work. We are glad that there is no question of any one being ‘parked’ in the ‘support’ group and written off. We welcome information about back to work programs being promoted energetically.
However CarerWatch do not accept the idea of coercion and sanctions on sick and disabled people in the main ESA group to force them to work. Our first demand is that the government drop the idea of sanctions within ESA.
The dynamic between a sick or disabled person and the modern, competitive, flexible labour market is multi-dimensional. Obviously the nature of the illness or disability and the prognosis plays an important part. But all research shows that the chances of disabled people finding work depend significantly on the buoyancy of the labour market. Negotiating for disability with prospective employers is a major factor.
The difficulties of this possible journey back to work are daunting and CarerWatch believe that in the end the choices must belong to the disabled person alone.
What is the point of sanctions? Is it meant to provide motivation, push people by threat to attempt something they would otherwise not feel confident to try. Surely the challenges of living with disability and the difficulties of entering a competitive job market with a disability are sufficient challenge on their own.
The threat of sanctions has caused widespread distress and anxiety. The mere threat of sanctions has changed the dynamic between the DWP and their agents and sick people and caused a break down in trust.
Who has the competence to judge when coercion will pay off and when it will just lead to distress and anxiety. You need Solomon to judge this. The mere threat of sanctions is terrifying many. Some people are saying that they are demotivated and frightened to demonstrate any skills or competences for fear of being pushed too hard. This is the opposite of a safe situation where people might take a risk and have a go.
Without sanctions the hated WCA assessment between the two ESA groups would be unnecessary. ESA would be a positive program of back to work help for all disabled people. Why ruin a great new initiative by adding unnecessary threats and sanctions.
Our second demand focusses on the ESA/JSA interface. CarerWatch do accept that there does need to be some kind of ‘test’ to identify people with disability at the ESA/JSA interface. It needs to be more discerning than merely reaching a target of 1 million. It needs to be transparent so that potantial claimants understand clearly who gets this benefit and so that the public understand why people are awarded ESA and respect people who claim the benefit. This is where the government should concentrate and focus on changing WCA to make sure it works and the public trust it.
CarerWatch are horrified by the baldly expressed intention to move 1 million people from ESA/IB to JSA where they will be unsupported. Professor Gregg has also expressed concern about this. ESA was introduced to help disabled people who wanted to work to achieve their goals. There is no place for any kind of calculated cost cutting exercise.
We accept that at the ESA/JSA interface detection of fraud is necessary. But we have to separate the argument about fraud from the majority of people claiming ESA who are have a disability.
CarerWatch ask the new government to stop and think carefully about the way the test between ESA/JSA should work and drop this terrifying target of 1 million.
These two changes would simplify the hated testing system, gain public confidence, return respect and control of their lives to sick people and allow the government to concentrate its resources and energy on positive ways of helping people get back to work.
please tell us if you agree with this statement or if you think we should modify it in any way.br>
+ Minister makes Concession on ESA
July 20th, 2010
In Parliament yesterday – Monday 19th July 2010
Nadhim Zahawi: In my constituency, people are rightly worried about relatives with severe mental health disability attending the work capability assessment. Can my hon. Friend tell us what safeguards will be put in place for those people?
Maria Miller: The work capability assessment was, of course, developed in consultation with medical experts and disability specialist groups. There will be an annual review to ensure that any problems with the assessment are dealt with, and there has already been a Department-led review dealing with some of the issues that my hon. Friend raises in connection with people with mental health problems.
Modifications will be made, especially by expanding the support group to cover people with severe disability issues, to ensure that they are not inappropriately put into groups of activity.
CarerWatch welcome this statement from the Minister. This is exactly what we asked for in the CarerWatch General Election ESA campaign.
It’s a small step and we hope it will lead the way for more protection for the many groups of people with severe and enduring illness.
But it is certainly a very welcome statement from the Minister.br>
+ what other people are saying
July 9th, 2010
Guardian – food vouchers
IDS – my plans for benefits
Community Care - WCA assessments
yesminister – Professor Gregg
organised rage - private welfare providers
Iain Duncan Smith at loggerheads with Treasury over benefit cuts.
Minister told to ‘do his sums’ over proposal for multi-billion welfare and benefits revolution
Ann Clywd SICK ex-miners are being “upset and insulted” by the drive to medically assess benefit claimants, a Welsh MP claimed last night.br>