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

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

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.
 
 
 
 

Letter from Samuel Miller to Liam Byrne

July 7th, 2013

Permission has been granted to copy this letter here, that was originally posted on Twitter.

Subject:

July 10th Parliamentary debate: Cumulative Impact Assessment (‘The effect of Government Policies on Disabled People’)

3:36 PM (1 minute ago)

To:

Rt Hon Mr. Liam Byrne, MP
Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
House of Commons
London, England
SW1A 0AA

Dear Mr. Byrne,

I am a 56-year-old Disability Studies specialist from Montreal, Canada who has been reporting frequently and voluntarily, since January 2012, to senior United Nations officials (see attached) on the crisis for the United Kingdom’s sick and disabled. Austerity measures, consisting of draconian welfare reforms and “sham” means-testing (Atos Healthcare U.K. and the Department for Work and Pensions) are ostensibly to blame for their plight—with disability hate crime and inflammatory media attacks factored into this mix.

I am writing you regarding this Wednesday’s Parliamentary debate on the effect of government policies on disabled people (http://carerwatch.com/reform/?p=1697), and in your capacity as Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

It is vital that such a cumulative impact assessment include a Read the rest of this entry »

OPPOSITION DAY – EFFECT OF GOVERNMENT POLICY ON DISABLED PEOPLE – How to take action

July 6th, 2013

Pat’s Petition welcome this debate on Wednesday 10th July 2013 regarding ‘The effect of Government Policies on Disabled People.’

Over 62,000 people signed Pat’s Petition calling for this debate.  And 48,905 people have now signed the WOW Petition . Please add your name if not already done so and then share asking as many others to do the same. ( 5 months remaining ).

We, along with many others, have continuously asked the government to conduct a Cumulative Impact Study to assess the cumulative effects of the myriad of changes in policy falling on disabled people and carers. The government refuses on the grounds that this is too difficult. It is totally irresponsible to conduct an enormous experiment like this on disabled people without attempting to predict or measure the effects on disabled people and carers. It wouldn’t be allowed in any kind of building project – so why is it possible to experiment on disabled people without checking that it is safe.

With recess 18th July – 2nd Sept,  followed by Party conferences 13th Sept to 8th October , this will be one of the last opportunities to get disabled peoples’ voices heard for some time.

Here at Pat’s Petition we will be sending briefing papers to MPs from all parties, but it is vital you contact them too.

It is personal stories about how these changes to benefits and services are affecting you and your families, that they need hear. This will help them understand why a Cumulative Impact Assessment is a necessity.

 

take action

 

 Actions you can take

 

1. Write to your MP and ask them to back the motion. Contact your MP   via this link

Here’s the motion in full:

 

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).

Ask them to attend and speak on your behalf

2. Watch the debate live on the day using this link

3. Share the information with all your friends, family, work colleagues, local media.

 

4. Don’t forget to use social media to raise awareness of this Disability debate.

Share the details on Facebook, and if you use Twitter we will be using the hashtag      #CiaDisability

 

Times are hard for everyone, employment, housing, cost of living – are problems for us all. We are all supposed to be in this together. But disabled people are not in this together because they often have far fewer options.

Support disabled people on Wednesday

 

 

OPPOSITION DAY – EFFECT OF GOVERNMENT POLICY ON DISABLED PEOPLE

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

 

 

 

Having a serious diagnosis doesn’t cut the mustard any more

June 29th, 2013

Taken from the Guardian

“At almost any other moment in the past 60 years, announcements of spending cuts of this scale would have created a storm,” says Institute for Fiscal Studies director, Paul Johnson . “The scale of cuts would have caused social unrest in any other era.”

So why this eerie silence from the public?

But social unrest doesn’t just consist of demonstrations and days of action. The millions of people affected by austerity know what’s happening: they have television and the internet. They know that this country hasn’t got any money and they are each busy fighting for their own security.

Times are very, very hard as the Spending Review  made clear. Every one is struggling – whether it is housing costs or lack of jobs or the rising cost of living. And we are all in this together.

Or are we?

Somehow rich and wealthy people aren’t quite in this with every one else.

And there is another group of people who are not in this together. People who are ill and disabled live in the community and are facing exactly the same difficulties as every one else. But when it comes to changing and adapting and fighting through these hard times disabled people are not in the same position. They have less options.

We know that disabled people can be strong, courageous and fearless – it goes with battling for services, and experience at negotiating life every day with less options. But a lot of ill and disabled people do need support. Those of us who were born fit and became unwell or disabled know the difference. That doesn’t mean we’ve given up the fight to show our abilities. We just want recognition that it’s ok to expect that society will support those members that need support - and that could be any of us at some point. We expect the right to safe state support.

mustard

Freud and Purnell and Iain Duncan Smith have out played us by redefining what a disabled person is – just having a serious diagnosis doesn’t cut the mustard any more – not if you can pick up a piece of paper from the floor.

They have eliminated the concept of disabled people which was a perfectly well understood concept. If we, or ours, get sick we go round to the doctor and ask for a diagnosis, not whether they can pick up a piece of paper. This concept has now disappeared in favour of images of cheats, Stephen Hawkins, Paralympians, and disabled people going off to work. This totally ignores the challenges of finding employers who can be flexible to the needs of disabled people, or that regular employment may itself cause relapses, or that people are unable to pick up that piece of paper from the floor.

Our mission at Pat’s Petition is just the same – we need to get the message out about what they are doing to disabled people and carers – past the image of the cheating football referee or the capable Paralympians.

wow-splash So keep fighting with us for disabled people – sign WOW  petition.

Send us your suggestions for getting this message across to the public.

 

You can read about Pat’s Petition at change.org

 

.

This is an unacceptable abuse of power

June 25th, 2013
 

The government are accused of taking money and services from disabled people and carers, without any attempt to measure the cumulative impact of what they are doing. They do not deny that this. Apparently they think their duty of care does not extend to knowing what they are doing to disabled people.

Last night in the House of Lords there was a Motion of Regret moved by Lord Alton of Liverpool, with much discussion  following.

That this House regrets that the Social Security (Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance and Carer’s Allowance) (Amendment) Regulations 2013, laid before the House on 4 March, will result in the loss of Motability provision for many disabled people; and that this House considers that transitional arrangements should be put in place urgently. (SI 2013/389

In his closing remarks Lord Alton stated -

House of Lords : 24 Jun 2013 : Hansard Column 599
 

I repeat what I said in our deliberations earlier this year. It is our duty to understand the impact of the decisions we make. The Minister has just said that we cannot reliably estimate the impact; we do not know. That is not a good position for us to be in. Decisions will affect the mobility and independence of people with disabilities. The noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, put it very well when she said that you turn a person from being independent to being dependent when you take such decisions

The economic crisis shows no sign of coming to an end. The Government and the Opposition remain determined to carry on with Welfare Reform and cut the Welfare Budget.

They haven’t predicted or measured the damage that they are inflicting on disabled people and carers. It is one big unquantified social experiment on vulnerable people who have nowhere else to turn. So we have no choice. We have to carry on fighting and asking the government to measure what it is doing.

The WOW petition is following on from Pat’s Petition and after that – we will do whatever it takes.

 

The government cannot carry on

taking from people

who have so little,

Government are refusing to take responsibility

and record what they are doing.

This is an unacceptable abuse of power

 

 
 
 
 

Nightmare on Care Street

June 10th, 2013

The theme for this week’s Carers Week - Prepared to Care? –  has made us think about the preparations that people take to care. Most people don’t think about it – we don’t think it will happen to us. Even armed with information and advice, sometimes we’re not as prepared to care as we think we are.

We all know life is uncertain – but are we really ready for what life throws at us?

Imagine you and your partner have been together a long time. You have made a home together, maybe brought up a couple of children. Now you are thinking towards retirement and putting some money aside for your old age.

And then – wham bang – out of a clear blue sky – one of you gets a serious illness or injury. You aren’t high earners, but you have both worked all your lives and paid all those National Insurance Contributions. You have lost one income overnight. You are now learning you are a carer. This is your time to get support from the state. Right?

No. Wrong.

Your partner may be ill or disabled, but the government have tightened up the system. Your partner is put on Employment Support Allowance in the Work Related Activity Group and you think it will be OK.

You are pleased to hear that he’ll be given support to find work that will fit with his disability. But then you both realise that if he doesn’t find work within a year, there will be no more money. ESA has changed from universal to means tested.

Do you earn more than £7000 a year?

Have you saved more than £16,000 for retirement?

Sorry – you won’t qualify for ESA any more.

And the Disability Living Allowance you might have received to help you meet the costs of disability, including a taxi to work or equipment to help you access the internet, has changed to Personal Independence Payment. But PIP has been tightened up and he might not qualify for that any more. Without that you won’t get Carers Allowance.

So you start to worry about what life will be like after a year in the WRAG group. He has no disability benefits. You don’t receive carers allowance. You both start to feel depressed and anxious about what lies ahead. Can you carry on working when you can’t concentrate with the worry? What if his support needs start to increase and he needs more care?

Is this really the sort of welfare system you paid in to? Is this what you expected to happen when you needed it?

safety netLife is uncertain. But we used to be able to trust the government to help us at these times of crisis. Not any more. So remember if the time ever comes when you step up and say you are prepared to be a carer – you may be on your own. Iain Duncan Smith has taken away your parachute and your life jacket.

The safety net you thought would be there has been stripped away.

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Edinburgh 5th June – Welfare conference

June 7th, 2013

Scotland is devolved from the rest of the UK in all but 3  government departments. Welfare is one of those 3 so I was keen to attend this conference.

Much has been written and discussed about the welfare cuts coming out of Westminster and very little is spoken in favour of any of them.

Call for action

I was apprehensive that this conference was going to be one of – well this is it – nothing we can do – so we all roll over in acceptance.

How wrong I was. Far from accepting it there was a definite air of anger in that room. This was a conference about how welfare reforms were going to affect the people of Scotland and what we intended to do.

The format for the day was 4 sessions with speakers from across Scotland, all experts in their own field, talking for around 10 minutes with questions from the 50 attending.

With my escort Sue firmly attached to me , we all settled down for a long day.

We opened with words from Read the rest of this entry »

Holyroods Welfare Reform Conference June 5th 2013

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