Emergency Call for Ceasefire in Welfare Reforms

September 1st, 2014

emergency phoneSick 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


* 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.

Jonathan Bartley – Green Party Spokesperson for DWP

Leanne Wood – Leader – Plaid Cymru

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

Sue Marsh – 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


New Approach

Simon Barrow, Director of Ekklesia

Prof Peter Beresford

Prof Alan Roulsden


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 These will be added to correspondence sent to MP’s from all Parties.

Chancellor lies again

October 7th, 2014

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


Employment Support Allowance ‘easier to claim’ – joke

September 10th, 2014

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).

ESA logo

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 people? .

There are many other issues involved in the comparisons – this needs serious analysis from professional and independent statisticians such as those at Sheffield Hallam University. This would all be part of a thorough cumulative impact assessment and we urge the government to ensure this is completed as a matter of urgency.

Pat Onions

Frances Kelly





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

August 1st, 2014


.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

Pat's petition sml
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.

Therefore we welcome this report – Cumulative Impact Assessment: A Research Report by Landman Economics and the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) for the Equality and Human Rights Commission – that shows that a CIA is both imperative and possible.


Press release

The Equality and Human Rights Commission will be publishing this report, by Howard Reed (Landman Economics) and Jonathan Portes (NIESR), on Thursday 31 July  on the cumulative impact of changes to taxes, benefits and spending on different groups (men and women, disabled people and non-disabled people, and other “protected groups”).

Read the rest of this entry »

The Truth At Last – Ministers humiliated over cumulative impact assessment

July 12th, 2014

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 sml


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



The truth about Employment Support Allowance

June 25th, 2014

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 level of sanctions
· Take off the time limits
. Raise the income levels for means testing

· Stop the WCA re-testing for long term and progressive conditions.
·Take the Bedroom tax off disabled people

. Expand the Supported Permitted Work scheme

These changes will make the WRAG safer and reduce the costly appeals against WRAG allocation.

Making these simple changes will make the WRAG safer and give disabled people some space to feel safe away from anxiety, while everyone works together to look for the long term answers.


News articles below –

Work Programme ‘failing those most in need and should be broken up’

DWP denies risk of rising disability benefits breaching welfare spending cap

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

June 3rd, 2014

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 this is not appropriate for everyone, and that our society needs to ensure that those who cannot compete are supported with a safety net.

But disability leaders have fought for equal rights and removal of barriers. While that was well intentioned, it gave Iain Duncan Smith an open goal. He doesn’t need to pay support to disabled people who he thinks could get jobs and he doesn’t need to pay subsidies or insist on quotas for employers. It’s win win for him.

But it is now obvious that disabled people are not getting jobs: Employment Support Allowance is collapsing. We have millions of people who felt safe on Incapacity Benefit now being terrorised on the assumption of a false premise. We have to find a way of changing the accepted message to include the reality for disabled people and subsequently getting these policies changed.

So we are delighted with this lecture and hope it leads to a fresh look at campaigning on the basis of the reality out there in the job market.



Campaign Statement for the General Election

April 28th, 2014


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 Read the rest of this entry »

WOW petition has passed 1st stage in Parliament

February 27th, 2014


wow-splashMany 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.







Inquiry – Employment and Support Allowance and Work Capability Assessments

February 13th, 2014

With  reasonable adjustments many disabled people can work as productively as anyone else so that they can compete in the competitive  labour market on an equal playing field.

But many others can’t.


Elephant in the room by Grace Collins

This Elephant is not being addressed. It is sitting squarely in the road stopping further progress. Pat’s Petition and CarerWatch are submitting evidence to the Inquiry into  Employment and Support Allowance and Work Capability Assessments being conducted by the Commons Select Committee for the   Department of Work and Pensions.

Full details on link below

We urge every one concerned about disabled people and carers to do the  same


We will be drawing attention to the Elephant in the  room. Some disabled people have an impairment which means that, although they  can and would like to do some work, even with reasonable adjustments they cannot work as productively as people who do not have impairments. This means  that the potential employer will be faced with extra costs or losses. 
Employers recruit through the mechanism of a competitive labour market and this puts barriers in the way of disabled people   who are not able to work as productively. No effort has been made to name this problem or to solve it. Who should bear the extra costs or losses to the employer of taking a worker who cannot be as productive because of their impairments? Until this problem is named and addressed the progress of disabled people in to the workforce is blocked. The Elephant is sitting in the road.

As disability campaigners, we do not want to  undermine the image of disabled people who, with reasonable adjustments and enlightened attitudes, can compete in the labour market. But not speaking up  for disabled people who can’t compete on a level playing field has to stop.

WCA is finding many disabled people fit to work, but they are not fit to get a job in a competitive market. The misery being visited on these disabled people is cruel.  Sanctions, time limits, forced workfare – intolerable pressure to do something they cannot do.

Let’s get that Elephant moving. Let’s work on ways to  address the dilemma faced by employers in recruiting disabled people who will not be as productive. Society creates this barrier with a competitive labour   market and society needs to find ways to remove it.

Please come and help us formulate our evidence in the discussion group at   – http://patspetition.myfineforum.org/about31.html

Shocking Extent Of Sick And Disabled Benefit Sanctions Revealedread here

Sanction numbers for Employment & Support Allowance claimants revealed – read here