Emergency Call for Ceasefire in Welfare Reforms

CALL FOR A CEASEFIRE FOR ESA simply STOP the SANCTIONS and TIME LIMITS in the WRAG – UNTIL EVIDENCE SHOWS PEOPLE ARE GETTING JOBS 03.10.2015 A New Shadow Front Bench Team for Labour. WELCOME Jeremy Corbyn is the new Leader of the Labour Party and he has called for a New Kinder Politics. Pat’s Petition and CarerWatch ask Jeremy to fight for a New Kinder WRAG Debbie Abrahams is the new Shadow Minister for disability. Debbie already has a lot of experience of the harsh regime in the WRAG from her work on the Select Committee and we hope she will continue to fight against the sanctions and time limits which make the WRAG so unkind. Luciana Berger is the first ever Shadow Minister for Mental Health. An exciting new appointment especially as so many people with mental health issues are being subject to inappropriate pressure in the WRAG. Kate Green is the Shadow Minister for Equalities. Kate contributed to this blog for a long time in her previous post. We think Kate has the hardest job of all – the question of inequality in the workplace for disability is so much more complicated than the other Equalities. Some sick and disabled people may be less productive at times than fit workers and this makes this Equality fight different from the others. Eight years in to ESA and we still haven’t had the discussion – what does ‘fit for work’ mean. We test for it but we don’t discuss or define it. This is a capitalist society with a lean, mean labour market. To the employer ‘fit for work’ means an... read more

Kate Green outlines Labour plans for ESA

  Kate Green – Disability Spokesperson – for the Labour Party has made the following statment about the way the Labour Party intend to reform ESA . read more here “We are going to make sure that the work capability assessment is returned to its original purpose of being the first step in the process to diagnose and identify what sort of support somebody who could work at some point would need to have in order to enable them work, and so we will give every single person who goes through the work capability assessment, at the end of their assessment, a statement of how their condition or impairment impacts on their capacity to work. That will refocus the assessment into the right mindset, how to situate (? unclear) your capability for work. It will also, we hope, empower the individual, because that statement will be yours to take to your employer or your work programme provider or training provider and say ‘this is is what I have to contend with. How can we work together to build the support that I need.’” Please come and give us your views on Kate’s statement here – join with a click We are going to invite Kate to reply to what you... read more

Chancellor lies again

Once again the Chancellor said in his speech to Conference that he was excluding disability benefits from cuts. Once again it wasn’t true. Here and here... read more

Employment Support Allowance ‘easier to claim’ – joke

Pat’s Petition and CarerWatch welcome the discussion on 5th September 2014 comparing the ease of access to ESA (Employment and Support Allowance) with access to the old IB (Incapacity Benefit). However it is important to compare like with like. The new ESA is not equivalent to the old IB and they should not be compared directly. We would suggest that the new ESA Support Group alone should be considered as equivalent to the award of long term IB. If you compare these figures you will find that it is much harder to get in to the Support Group than it was to claim IB. The ESA WRAG (Work Related Activity Group) is a temporary, time limited benefit, suitable for people with short term injuries or illnesses, who will get better and return to work within a year. It only lasts twelve months. It is the equivalent of the old short term IB. We would also note other distortions to the figures including the time taken to process the initial application. If there is a short time to process, then all the short term injuries need to be counted, whereas with a longer processing period, these short term disabilities are gone before they are included. We have pressed for a cumulative impact assessment of these changes and slowly we are seeing acknowledgement that this must be done . We cannot wait much longer. We have always said that changes should not be brought in until the full effects are understood: they wouldn’t do this in any new transport system or construction plan so why are they allowed to experiment in this way on disabled... read more

Government said a Cumulative Impact Assessment wasn’t possible – THEY WERE WRONG

  .Pat’s Petition launched a petition on 1st November 2011 calling for a Cumulative Impact Assessment (CIA) . We, along with many supporters, also pressed for a debate in Parliament Liam Byrne said – This afternoon, I pay tribute to Pat Onions and her fellow campaigners, to the authors of the WOW petition and to the thousands of people up and down the country who have supported their campaign and will follow this debate closely In a debate in the House of Lords Jan 17th 2013 Baroness Hollis in her closing speech said –   The noble Lord, Lord Freud, referred to cumulative assessment. With the help of Citizens Advice and Landman Economics, we were able to work out pretty precisely-to within 10p or so-the total cumulative effect, since 2010, of the benefit cuts and tax changes. I did it for one family type-the security guard with a wife and two children. If we can do it over a weekend with wet towels and half a bottle of gin, I am quite sure that the Government can do it with the numbers of staff that they have in the Treasury. The answer is that the Government are not choosing to do it. They do not want to be shamed by us and others as to the effect of what they have done over time. There cannot be any other reason why the noble Lord, of all people, who has the utmost respect from the House for his integrity on these issues, and the Government continue to duck the consequences of their action by giving us the cumulative statistics today.... read more

The Truth At Last – Ministers humiliated over cumulative impact assessment

With thanks to John Pring at Disability News service – The truth at last.   “Institute for Fiscal Studies has proved that a cumulative impact assessment is possible for disabled people in Wales.” So the government excuse that a CIA was ‘too difficult’ has been shown to be a fiction.   Pat’s Petition team, along with many others, call upon the government to finally do a Cumulative Impact Assessment (CIA) for the rest of the United Kingdom. We have been calling for a CIA since 2011. Responsible governments don’t make cuts of this severity to the income of vulnerable people without a full risk assessment. You can read the report in full here  ... read more

The truth about Employment Support Allowance

Congratulations to Dame Anne Begg who has finally spoken the truth about the Employment Support Allowance  “work related activity” group (WRAG). Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Dame Anne Begg, chair of the work and pensions select committee,  said last Friday that large groups of people appear to have been “parked” on the benefit in the “work-related activity” group, which covers all those found neither to be fully fit for work nor so disabled that they cannot be expected to look for employment. Disability activists across the country will be as delighted as Pat’s Petition and CarerWatch that politicians are finally admitting to the false premise on which Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) was based. ESA is a failed experiment conducted live on sick and disabled people. Sick and disabled people who are assigned to the WRAG are found not fully fit for work. Almost none of them are finding work. Yet the government is sanctioning and stopping their benefits; telling them they are ‘expected’ to find work. This is cruel, it defies logic and is causing tremendous anxiety for claimants. They are being threatened and required to do things that they are not able to do because of their physical or mental condition. ESA was designed using flawed premises and has failed. It needs to be completely rethought. Meanwhile Pat’s Petition and CarerWatch call upon this government and the next to take responsibility for this disastrous mistake. We call upon them to introduce the following immediate reforms to prevent disabled people having to live this nightmare existence while the politicians responsible sort it out. . Reduce the... read more

Tom Shakespeare on Enabling Equality: from disabling barriers to equal participation

Pat’s Petition team and Carerwatch would like to congratulate Tom Shakespeare on the ground breaking lecture ( read in full here ) that he gave to the British Sociological Association on Friday ( podcast will be available soon ). It was a breath of fresh air in a debate that has been hi-jacked by politicians and subverted for their own ends. In his speech Tom Shakespeare emphasised that: I do not think that equal treatment will liberate all disabled people, in the same way as it has the potential to liberate other disadvantaged groups.  I believe that a level playing field is not enough to equalize opportunity for disabled people.  It may work for those disabled people who do not experience major limitations in their functional abilities, but it will not work for people with more significant or complex impairments. That may sound controversial and does not sit easily with the models proposed by disability ‘leaders’. But it is reflected in the statistics for attitudes to disability amongst disabled people: •46% of disabled people believe that health problems alone are responsible for them not leading as full a life as non-disabled people •Of those disabled respondents who said they were not able to lead a full life, 87 per cent said it was because of their disability, while only two per said that it was due to attitudes and barriers in society and 8 per cent said it was due to both (ODI, 2008). Government policies follow directly from the belief that disabled people can be liberated to compete in the competitive labour market on equal terms.  We have always argued that... read more

Campaign Statement for the General Election

  Pat’s Petition called for a Cumulative Impact Assessment and are delighted that there is now talk of establishing one through the EHRC. We understand that after the debacle that is welfare reform – a new government will want to take a very careful long term view as to how to get things right. The long term solution will be more complicated than simply reforming the Work Capability Assessment (WCA). The WCA has to test for something meaningful. The Employment Support Allowance (ESA) groups at the moment are meaningless. People in the Work Related Activity group (WRAG) can’t move to work. The new government has to understand that sometimes impairment does actually impair and lead to extra costs to the employer. As a society we need to think about whether it is government or employers who will pick up any on going extra costs of impairment when employing a disabled person. The government will probably have to intervene in the labour market to solve this problem. Until these extra costs are openly debated and it is decided who will pay – the government cannot continue to air brush the costs of impairment away because they are an inconvenient truth. They cannot continue to use ESA to try and force disabled people in to a labour market where they cannot compete. This is the Elephant in the room. But disabled people can’t wait for the long term solutions. They are in crisis. Carers and disabled people have always faced long term poverty and lack of support. Welfare reform has made it far worse. ESA has added undue stress and pressure and... read more

WOW petition has passed 1st stage in Parliament

  Many thanks go to the team, and all supporters, behind WoW petition. Pat joined them in London today and will give an update on her return. Although poorly attended by MP’s, those that did speak spoke of the real horror stories they are hearing from some of their constituents. You can read it in full here   and watch it on Parliament TV here ( debate starts at 1 hour 47 mins ) We hope everyone has a safe journey home and look forward to their reports.          ... read more

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