Archive for the ‘welfare reform’ Category

Emergency Call for Ceasefire in Welfare Reforms

Monday, 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.

  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.

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 Trustan   – Community Living – CL Inclusive Ltd.

CFAFS England

Sue Livett  – The Aldingbourne Trust

Bernadette Meaden

New Approach

Simon Barrow, Director of Ekklesia

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disability is just not that simple

Sunday, December 29th, 2013

As most campaigners reflect on 2013, and look towards 2014, it was interesting to read this viewpoint.

 

This is also true of what I am now calling the ‘work shy’ movement, a movement that likes to call themselves the ‘sick and disabled’ movement but I feel it is unfair and wrong for these people to claim to represent all sick and disabled people, when they are simply about one way of thinking, and that is a way I find quite offensive. The ‘work shy’ movement is led by people like Sue Marsh, and Kaliya Franklin (better known as Bendygirl)

How can any one claim to represent all sick and disabled people. We are sure no one, including Simon Stevens makes this claim.

 

The confusion seems to arise because there are sick and disabled people who can overcome the societal barriers to work, and sick and disabled people who can’t,  and are overwhelmed by the barriers. In the middle are a spectrum of people having good days and bad days, and falling in to both groups for part of the time.

shaking-hands-150x150What is needed is for us all to work together to get more support for both these groups. It is unhelpful for any campaigner to identify with and campaign for only one of these two groups.

Disability just isn’t that simple.

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Employment Support Allowance is a disaster

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

Yesterday members of Pat’s Petition and CarerWatch met with Kate Green, Shadow Spokesperson for Disabled People. From there they went to Lambeth Palace to meet with Archbishops advisers.

Proposed Reforms to ESA – Pat’s Petition and CarerWatch

For many chronically sick/ill and disabled people the barriers faced in the open job market are so significant that they do not have the opportunity to compete on equal terms. This is the elephant in the room.

elephant 1

The main Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) Group – the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) – is based on the false premise that chronically sick/ill and disabled people can compete on equal terms. It makes no allowance for the barriers in the job market. Many can compete on equal terms. But many others have a lot to offer but can’t compete on equal terms.

It is unfair to place sanctions and time limits on disabled people in the WRAG until this problem is addressed and rectified.

ESA/WRAG is currently a disaster and we suggest the following reforms -

1. Find out how to make the labour market inclusive. Disabled people have a lot to contribute. Face up to the question of disabled people and open competition in a flexible labour market. Explore quotas, kite marks, subsidies, public pressure and any other option you can find.

2. Meanwhile place far more chronically sick/ill and disabled people in a safe, long term ESA group. The WRAG is not a safe group because of sanctions, time limits and means tests. The criteria to be placed in this safe group should be that you have an impairment which means you can’t compete in the labour market on equal terms. WCA isn’t designed to determine this. It doesn’t make allowances for the barriers in the labour market.

So scrap Work Capability Assessment

Some disabilities might involve a little more investigation, but with most the diagnosis should be a passport to a safe group.

3. Fraud has nothing to do with disability. Stop making the association.

4. Spend all the money on dedicated person centred support either to get paid employment that supports you financially or to live a happy, productive life doing voluntary work, permitted work, other activities – and don’t dismiss the second option.

This statement has received support from -

Pat Onions                               Pat’s Petition

Frances Kelly                            CarerWatch

Rosemary O’Neill                      CarerWatch

Rick Burgess                             Wow Petition

Jane  Benz                                 Wow Petition

Professor Nicholas Watson      Institute of Disability Studies, University of Glasgow

Sir Tom Shakespeare                University of East Anglia

Dr Simon Duffy                         Director Centre for Welfare Reform.

Paul Swann                               Disability Wales / Anabledd Cymru

Mo Stewart                               Disability Researcher

Gail Ward                                 Disability Campaigner

Catherine Hale                         South East London ME Support Group

Jim Elder-Woodward OBE      Chair of the UK Committee of the Campaign for a Fair Society

Jackie Maceira                         Scottish Disability Equality Forum

Michele Findlay                       Disability Campaigner

 

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WOW petition recently reached their target of 100,00 but there is another week to go. Time to still gather more support.

If you have not already signed, please do so and then share the link as wide as possible.

For further details see WoW website here

 

 

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Making Employment Support Allowance fit for purpose

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

 

HEALTH WARNING

This statement contains a message that no disability campaigner wants to hear – let alone campaign on. At first sight it appears negative and discouraging. However we believe that the best way to overcome a barrier is to name it and address it. And if it isn’t named, it leaves the government an open goal to take away safe, secure benefits.

MAKING ESA FIT FOR PURPOSE.

Pat’s Petition and CarerWatch are concerned that Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) uses PUSH economics to take away safe benefits as a means of forcing disabled people in to work. But many disabled people can’t compete in the open job market and ESA is pushing them up against a brick wall. They have nowhere to go. The failure of the Work Programme is the result.

http://www.onethousandprinces.tumblr.com
Elephant in the room by Grace Collins

http://www.onethousandprinces.tumblr.com

 

This is because many sick and disabled people have residual impairment, even after all adaptations are made, and are not as competitive in the open labour market as anyone else. Jobs are acquired through open competition: it is like asking disabled athletes to compete in the mainstream Olympics.

This is a very hard thing for disability campaigners to admit. We want to encourage people and talk up their strengths, not their weaknesses.  To admit that some disabled people are less competitive in the open labour market sounds like defeat. But the Social Model is about overcoming barriers. So far the focus has been on individuals overcoming their own individual barriers. But the competitive job market presents a structural barrier that also needs to be named and then addressed.

Of course there are many disabled people who, with adjustments and adaptations, can overcome their individual barriers to work and are just as competitive as everyone else. Talk about being less competitive is the last thing they want to hear.   But for many others this just isn’t the case. They are less competitive. And the relentless can do approach taken by ESA pushes them up against a brick wall.  ESA denies the can’t do. These people do not want to be written off as being unable to work (Support Group) but they can’t compete in the open labour market (Work related Activity Group (WRAG)). So there is no ESA group for people who have difficulty competing and they have nowhere to go. And these people have lost the security of safe benefits.

Let’s face up to and overcome the structural barrier in the job market. Because someone is less competitive it doesn’t mean they can’t work and contribute and there are still lots of options that might help them. Quotas, subsidies, campaigns, lots of opportunities for permitted and voluntary work. The government could intervene in the job market to make it a level playing field. Perhaps this needs a name – Supported Work. And being pushed down to work for less money below your level of competence is not a level playing field. Brick_Wall

Meanwhile stop the unfair PUSH economics that is pushing less competitive disabled people up against a brick wall. They need the return of a safe secure benefit while they negotiate this impossible situation.   ESA is not fit for purpose. It has two groups. The Support Group provides long term safe support for disabled people who are not expected to be able to work. All other disabled people are put in the WRAG and classed as being ‘on their way back to work’ and they are expected to compete in the open job market. Some can compete but there is no group for the many who can’t.

A new structure is needed that recognises the reality of disability and the job market and provides safe, secure support for all disabled people.

 

 

 

 

 

Report – OPPOSITION DAY – EFFECT OF GOVERNMENT POLICY ON DISABLED PEOPLE

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

 

Wednesday 10th July 2013 was a great day for Pat’s Petition.  After a year of working to get over 62,700 signatures we finally had our debate  in the House of Commons.

Two of our team travelled from Scotland and the North East to watch the debate live from the gallery. Pat is blind, and Rosemary is a family carer, but they made it.

On arrival at Kings Cross they met with Rick and Jane from WOW petition, ( please sign and share as widely as possible), and then all made their way to Westminster. There they met with more campaigners, Ian, Andy and Adam.

Following a short chat it was time to gain admission to the debate. Jim Hood MP, who had secured the tickets to enable Pat and Rosemary entrance to watch/listen to the debate live arrived, and pointed out that HoC business was running late. This caused all previous plans about meeting up with other campaigners afterwards to be changed.

Following section from Pat and Rosemary.

Having to hand over phones meant we were unable to keep supporters informed as to how the debate was going but we knew many many people were watching the event on parliament tv, and engaging with each other via social media. We were later informed the hashtag #CiaDisability had trended for over 2 hours, peaking at UK trend no 3.

The MPs who spoke in favour of our petition could not have done more to support us.  Coalition ministers that spoke were unable to name an individual, academic, grassroots group, a charity – that agreed fully with their policies. Instead many names were reeled off that were against these reforms/cuts. Facts and figures were given, and yet from governments front bench there appeared to be an attitide of boredom,  and total disregard for the situation many disabled people now found themselves to be in. They showed no interest in what opposition members were saying and at times their bodies were partly turned, away from whomever was speaking at that time. This was more noticeable when Tom Greatrex MP was speaking.

As the debate progressed you can imagine our horror when Mr Maynard, MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, suddenly made an impassioned speech calling us ‘extremists’, and saying that we didn’t represent disabled people. We will be taking this further.

Me, Liam Byrne Pat

In between the votes, we met with Liam Byrne, and issues concerning both disabled people and carers were discussed. It was agreed how evidence is going to be more vital in future, for people to also contact their MPs and explain how the cuts are impacting on them. More importantly, our campaigning continues.

The vote on the motion itself was lost… Ayes 227, Noes 296 – but the day itself was not.

These last few years with cuts raining down – the whole solid brick wall against us – Labour and Tory both supporting the cuts and the charities having to fit in somehow, was beyond belief.

Brick_Wall

Now the consensus is broken there will be far more open debate and we may start to get somewhere.

Independent campaigners from many groups  took the lead in breaking down this wall. This experience has shown all of us that grassroots campaigners are essential to the political process.

We need to stay vigilant

We need to keep fighting

We need to ensure any promises turn in to real action.

 Well done every one.

But the Fat Lady hasn’t sung yet.

URGENT CALL TO ACTION FOR DISABILITY CAMPAIGNERS

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

 

What a weekend! We have done an amazing amount of work over these last few days, and amazing to see all our supporters rally round.
At the beginning of last week, no way could we envisage the events of this weekend just gone.
 
Call for action
 
On the sunniest weekend of the year, we have been sweltering inside, organising blog posts, booking train tickets, desperately trying to arrange seats to watch the debate inside the House, contacting the many MPs who have been sympathetic to us, finding out about pauper’s picnics and now asking every one of you to make one final push for Pat’s Petition.
 
You have rallied around. Supportive MPs have now found seats for Pat and Rosemary so that they can be there on this important day.
 
The debate on Wednesday will be the last chance to get our voices heard in Parliament for some time. MPs will break up for the summer recess and then return, after their Party Conference, in October.
 
We need to make sure they are all briefed to understand the impact of Government Policies on disabled people and carers.
 
They need to know we are watching this debate. They have to be aware that they are under scrutiny on this issue.
 
We need them to vote for a Cumulative Impact Assessment. They have continually said this is impossible and too complicated, and we have answered that they wouldn’t conduct huge experiments with anything else, so why do it on disabled people? We have now heard that “the publication of cumulative impacts is a Coalition initiative” so our hopes are raised that they will now agree that this needs doing for disabled people and carers.
 
take action
ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE
 
 
1. Write to your MPs asking for their attendance and that they back this motion. You can find their details here
 
 
 
That this House believes that the Government should publish a cumulative impact assessment of the changes made by this Government that affect disabled people (to be published by October 2013).
 
2. Use social media to broadcast all messages with the hashtag  #CIADisability
 
 
3. Sign and share the link to WOW Petition  
 
And it is vital that you watch the debate live on the day here
 
We have learnt an incredible amount by watching debates.
 
You can see how full or empty the room is!
 
See if your MP is interested in your issues.
 
Hear who really understands the challenges faced by disabled people and note who mentions the impact that falls on carers and families too.
 
And you can join in the twitter conversation at the same time as watching it all.
 
It will be a historic day for us – we hope you’ll be there too.
 
 
 
 

OPPOSITION DAY – EFFECT OF GOVERNMENT POLICY ON DISABLED PEOPLE

Friday, July 5th, 2013

Opposition Day (5th allotted day, 1st Part)

WEDNESDAY 10 JULY

EFFECT OF GOVERNMENT POLICY ON DISABLED PEOPLE

Edward Miliband

Mr Liam Byrne

Hilary Benn

Andy Burnham

Mrs Anne McGuire

Ms Rosie Winterton

That this House believes that the Government should publish, by October 2013, a cumulative impact assessment of the changes made by the Government that affect disabled people.

You will be able to watch live on the day here

Pats Banner

Pat’s Petition

Team PP meeting

FURTHER INFORMATION ADDED SOON

 

 

 

Holyroods Welfare Reform Conference June 5th 2013

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

I shall be off to this conference, in Edinburgh tomorrow, with my many hats tucked into my handbag.

They will make an appearance in no particular order – just depending on who is speaking on which topic.

HolyroodI am concerned however that the words by Margaret Burgess MSP could be an indication of how the day will run. The acceptance by the Scottish Government that these Welfare cuts, sorry reforms, are done and dusted, and we have to make the best of a bad job. For example Employment Support Allowance was designed on the back of an envelope by an ignorant man who knew nothing about welfare.

Why do we have to accept this when a few simple changes could make it safe and supportive.

There is a word in common use which has no place in my life. ‘Can’t.’

You can’t do this or that because …and there follows a whole stream of excuses.

I’ll count them and let you know.

Pat x

http://welfarereform.holyrood.com/#.UawN4oSXwHY.email

 

In the meantime some of the actions you can take…..

Sign WOW petition here

Join discussion forum to cover the issues with Welfare Reform

 

 

Employment and Support Allowance is not fit for purpose

Monday, May 27th, 2013

 

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) isn’t working. The design isn’t fit for purpose. Pat’s Petition think it is high time that we all got together and challenged the basic structure of ESA.

jobcentre3In particular the division of disabled people in to two arbitrary groups – Support Group and WRAG -  which do not describe disabled people or provide a safe and supportive environment for them.

Imagine devising a test to decide between oranges and apples and then a whole lot of pears come a lot. Push the rounder ones in to oranges and greener ones in to apples? Ridiculous.

We have set up a discussion space for this. Please come and discuss this with us at – http://patspetition.myfineforum.org/     (join with a click)

Please tell other people about this discussion.

Let’s all look carefully at ESA together and we may be able to come up with a better structure and get ESA changed so that it is actually fit for purpose.

Pat x

This is just the end of the beginning – Welfare Reform

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Iain D Smith

The government is bringing in so many cuts that a Cumulative Impact Assessment is far too difficult

April Fool – it’s actually really very simple 

 

At last more and more people are waking up to the realisation of the horrors lying in wait for disabled people, their carers and families. At last there are debates in Parliament with dozens of MPs relating true stories from their constituents. They all tell the same story. How disabled people, those with serious illness, and carers are being hit the hardest.

And this is just the end of the beginning.

Six more drastic cuts come on line today.

It is the perfect storm

That’s why I’m so proud of Pat’s Petition and what we achieved together.Pat’s Petition asked the government to “stop and look at the way all these changes would add up and impact on the lives of disabled people and their carers.” 62,709 people signed in the year that was open to us.

But the government refused. They say it is too difficult. You can read their response on Pat’s Petition here . They are conducting one enormous social experiment and leaving it for history to tell them what they did to us.

How can they get away with this?

Well – they can’t get away with it. We won’t let them. And neither will you.

The government are pretending that it is amazingly complicated when we are asking for something that is really simple. We are asking for an assessment of the impact on individual disabled people. There is no reason why they can’t run example cases through all the benefit changes one by one and show us, and the voters, exactly what they are doing to individual disabled people.

Scope/Demos  have released research on these changes. And it isn’t as impossibly difficult as the government maintain.

We aren’t going anywhere until the government face up to their responsibilities and produce a projection of what their policies are, and will be doing, to disabled people and their carers.

Pat’s team is working with many other campaign groups and we are meeting with government statisticians to discuss how they can carry out a Cumulative Impact Assessment.

The WOW petition is still active and you can sign that here. Their number of supporters is growing daily. Please share this petition as wide as possible asking others to sign and share too.  You will note they have had a preliminary response in which again the government states -

“Cumulative impact analysis is not being withheld – it is very difficult to do accurately and external organisations have not produced this either.”

This is NOT acceptable.

We still receive many emails and requests from people wanting to support this campaign. To this end a space has been created here to add your support, comments can be added too.

This Cumulative Impact Assessment

is going to happen

 

 

 

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