Once again the Chancellor said in his speech to Conference that he was excluding disability benefits from cuts.
Once again it wasn’t true.
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 – * 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.
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 email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org These will be added to correspondence sent to MP’s from all Parties.
Pat Onions – Pat’s Petition
Rosemary O’Neill – CarerWatch
Pam Pinder – CarersforumUK
John McArdle – Black Triangle
Carole Rutherford – Act Now for Autism
Phil Connolly – DRUK
Sue Marsh – Spartacus
Simon Duffy – Centre for Welfare Reform
Paul Swann – Disability Wales
Ian Hodson BFAWU
Rosemary Trustam – Community Living Initiatives Ltd.
Sue Livett – The Aldingbourne Trust
Simon Barrow, Director of Ekklesia
Prof Peter Beresford
Prof Alan Roulsden
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 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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 Revealed – read here
Sanction numbers for Employment & Support Allowance claimants revealed – read here