Archive for the ‘ lords ’ Category

WRB Will Be Made Law But It’s Not The End

So that’s it.

Tonight Lord Best forwarded an amendment to the WRB, asking that the government did detailed research on the impacts of the bill so that if it does – as many fear – cause more harm than good it can be dealt with quickly.

Lot’s of Lords spoke in support but eventually Lord Freud convinced the Peer that his amendment was not necessary and Lord Best withdrew. Now there will be no more ping-pong between the Lords and the Commons. The bill will become law. It just has to get Royal Assent, and that is a given.

It’s so sad to think that all the amendments put forward to help those who are vulnerable have systematically been denied by a blinkered government waving ‘finacial priviliage’ at any hint of Lords opposition.

Is this the end? No.

The big fight is just beginning.

Lawyers and Human Rights specialists are gearing up to fight it as are we. Remember the Poll Tax made law but was eventually defeated. We can work towards more protests and direct actions in the coming year.

The PIP consultation is currently ongoing so we have a chance to mitigate some of the damage it might cause. Go to wearespartacus.org.uk and you will find easy read documents, help and a sheet you just have to fill in to send off to the DWP so your voice is heard. There is even a forum you can join to get help and meet others like you. I’m making the most of it 😉

In a couple of years we’ll have another general election and we can show the government exactly what we think of them. We’ll also have had our chance to get our stories out nationally by then.

It’s important we try to make this a major area for Labour and other parties to focus on so they don’t forget the WRB should they come back into power. We can keep up the pressure there.

And those are just the first things off the top of my head.

Let’s no get too disheartened about this, there is still plenty more we can do. 

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Contact Lords About The Return Of The WRB

It’s been confirmed, the Welfare Reform Bill (WRB) will be back in the House of Lords this  coming Tuesday. Valentines day. One year after the DLA consultation we fought with the one month before heartbreak campaign ended.

Labour peers are saying they plan to try and fight for the women, the vulnerable, sick and disabled once more. I believe the party is once more going to challenge the bill at every step.

If we want to fight this bill and push once more for amendments that protect people against the damaging effects of this bill we need to act together once more. We need to convince Peers that the fight is not over and that justice and fairness for all can be achieved.

If you want to help and contact a peer (or fifty) you can do so in the following ways;

On Twitter

Type a message such as “When the #WRB returns on Tuesday please act to protect the vulnerable by curbing its cruel excesses” and copy and paste it to easily get your message over. The Lords are human and will respond as any human would to personal messages. Why not link them to any good pieces about the WRB on your blog whilst you are at it? The following lists are taken from LabourLordsUK on twitter


On Facebook

Send a slightly longer message to individual Lords by posting on their Facebook pages. You could direct them to the Resposible Reform Report (aka Spartacus Report). That way everyone can see your questions and messages adding a little bit of extra pressure.

I’m trying to find lists of all Lords of Facebook, but for now the best way of finding them is either to;

By Post

If you chose to write to them simply address your letter to [Name of the Lord], The House of Lords, London, SW1A 0PW. Making the letter personal, no matter how short, will really help.

If I come across a good template letter I will paste it here for those with trouble writing.

The Lords ignore bulk mailings if they are not individually addressed then they will not get read and you will have wasted the cost of a stamp.

By Fax

You can fax individual Lords, send it to 020 7219 5979.

Like with letters the Lords ignore bulk faxes, each one must be individually addressed.

By Telephone

You can even telephone the main parliamentary switchboard and ask if you can be connected to a specific Lord by calling 020 7219 3000 or you can leave a message by calling 020 7219 5353.

By Email

If you click on the name of a Lord on this list as well as getting a pretty picture of the person in question and some history, you will also see their email address listed in their contact details. Tell them why the WRB is unfair and damaging and why you would appreciate their help in fighting it. Maybe you could give them a link to the Responsible Reform report too?

Best of luck to you all x

Child Maintenance Reforms

Today the lords vote on the welfare reform bills changes to child maintenance.

Starting from 2013, the government proposes charging:

  • £100 as an upfront fee (or £50 for parents on benefit) for those who want to use the future CSA. Only “Victims of domestic violence” will be exempt (although there is no detail on how this will be proved or checked).
  • An on-going charge of between 7% and 12% on any maintenance paid to parents who rely on the future CSA to collect their child maintenance, as well as an extra 15-20% charge added to the non-resident parent’s payment. 

Ian Duncan Smith says the bill will incentivise parents to make private arrangements with regards to welfare. He also believes it will make parents seriously consider whether separation is necessary.

This is really unfair for many reasons:

  • It punishes single parents who have partners that refuse to engage with the CSA by charging them.
  • It’s sexist; 97% of those that will be affected by the changes will be female. Putting the apparent emphasis back on the Tories old favourite. Punishing single mothers.
  • Over half of the people in receipt of child support get less than £20 per week. By adding these charges it makes going through the task of claiming pretty pointless. Go through all that trouble for less than £10 extra support? You’d probably be better off buying lottery tickets.
  • It puts people who are financially dependant and wishing to leave a relationship in a even greater position of vulnerability. Stay in a unhappy relationship and risk the potential damage that can cause? Try and negotiate a separation and hope that you partner plays fair? Because once you express a wish for separation you can’t really take it back. Try to keep your children with the knowledge it might mean living in poverty? If we look at the kinds of people most likely to financially dependant we see women, people with disabilities, people with mental health problems and people in abusive relationships*. That list is by no means exhaustive.

In a happy turn of events a Conservative Lord who helped set up the CSA, Lord MacKay, is pushing for an amendment this afternoon which parents with main care of children who have no alternative but to use the CSA to get maintenance for their children would be exempted from government charges. He says;

“Of course we all agree that it is better for voluntary arrangements. But that is not the world we live in, unfortunately. You require the co-operation of another party and you cannot force them to give it.

“When a woman – as a typical example – has taken all reasonable steps and done all she can to reach an agreement but cannot manage it, I do not agree that she should be charged by the CSA for her application … That is utterly unfair. If anyone is to pay for that, surely it should be the person who has caused the difficulty by trying to escape from his moral obligations.”

I, like many others are hoping to see a Conservative and Lib Dem rebellion allowing this very sensible amendment to pass. Of course it won’t mean the end of the issue if it does. When the bill is returned to the House of Commons the Conservatives have vowed to overturn the amendments. This is why we need to keep up the pressure.

This issue isn’t just a feminist issue, it’s also a disability and mental health rights issue and deserves support from across the board. We should all help spread the word.

If you want to get involved have a look at Gingerbread‘s website and campaigning page.

* even though the legislation says that those people will be exempt we know that proving domestic abuse can be extremely hard if not impossible in many incidences of psychological abuse. Especially if it doesn’t go to court or get reported to the police.

Fighting For Amendment To The Welfare Reform Bill

Today we are fighting for an amendment to the Welfare Reform Bill (WRB). We [a large group of disabled activists, disability charities and politicians] believe that the following amendment will reduce some of the harm the bill in it’s current form may well cause.

The amendment is as follows:

Clause 80 – Amendment 50E

BARONESS GREY-THOMPSON
BARONESS WILKINS
LORD LOW OF DALSTON
BARONESS CAMPBELL OF SURBITON

Page 58, line 26, at end insert—

“( ) The Secretary of State must lay before Parliament an independent review of the plans for implementation of the assessments under section 79 before the provisions are brought into effect, and such plans must in particular provide for—

(a) a trial period before any assessment process is implemented fully for new applicants and those transferring from DLA;

(b) disabled persons organisations to be involved in formulating the assessment process.

 

When the ESA came into effect the ATOS assessments were never trialed first, and we now have a 40% (70% with legal/advocate support) of their negative decisions being over turned at appeal tribunals. I was one of those people, in fact many of my friends were in that category. We can’t let that happen again with DLA/PIP. We need to spread the word about this amendment and try to convince the Lords to vote for it. We have a few hours but please, do what you can.

If you know a Lord on a social network site, if you have access to their email address (many keep them private) or if you’d like to write to them about other issues with the WRB then please do. There is a list of names of lords (complete with their party affiliation) here.

  • If you chose to write to them simply address your letter to [Name of the Lord], The House of Lords, London, SW1A 0PW. 
  • You can fax individual Lords, send it to 020 7219 5979. 
  • You can even telephone the main parliamentary switchboard and ask if you can be connected by calling 020 7219 3000 or you can leave a message by calling 020 7219 5353.

The House of Lords does not except ‘bulk mail shots’ so every letter or fax needs to be individually addressed

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