Archive for the ‘ signal boost ’ Category

WOW Petition Launch

Today at 8pm the fabulous comedienne, writer and vocal supporter of the disability rights movement Francesca Martinez launched the crowd sourced WOW Petition designed to help resist the ‘War On Welfare’. It is a UK government e-petition which ideally needs to get over 100,000 signatures. It’s going to need publicising and shouting about but I’m sure as a community we can do it. Heck, it’s been live for two and a half hours and it’s already been trending on twitter and received over 1,400 signatures!

It calls for: 

A Cumulative Impact Assessment of all cuts and changes affecting sick & disabled people, their families and carers, and a free vote on repeal of the Welfare Reform Act.
An immediate end to the Work Capability Assessment, as voted for by the British Medical Association.
 

Consultation between the Depts of Health & Education to improve support into work for sick & disabled people, and an end to forced work under threat of sanctions for people on disability benefits.

An Independent, Committee-Based Inquiry into Welfare Reform, covering but not limited to: (1) Care home admission rises, daycare centres, access to education for people with learning difficulties, universal mental health treatments, Remploy closures; (2) DWP media links, the ATOS contract, IT implementation of Universal Credit; (3) Human rights abuses against disabled people, excess claimant deaths & the disregard of medical evidence in decision making by ATOS, DWP & the Tribunal Service.

If you want to sign it click here. Once you have signed it then you will need to remember to check your inbox and click the confirmation email to make it count.

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New Report Highlights Failures of Work Capability Assessment

The Spartacus Campaign group has today released the Peoples Review of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA).

The press release sums it all up pretty nice nicley;

New report highlights failures of Work Capability Assessment as Spartacus campaign awaits Harrington’s final review

A new report from the Spartacus campaign today (Monday 12 November) analyses the failures of the Government’s Work Capability Assessment and the Employment & Support Allowance system, which is supposed to support people who are too sick or disabled to work.

It also warns that disabled people are at risk because of the government’s refusal to consider a ‘real world’ test – where part of the test would take into account the real barriers to employment.

The report, ‘The People’s Review of the Work Capability Assessment’, includes examples of people who have been told they are fit for work, including:

Someone with no short term memory mechanism
A man with a terminal brain tumour
An incontinent disabled man who is both blind and deaf

Other examples of claimants’ experiences include a man whose benefits were stopped for failing to return the necessary forms, despite his wife informing the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that he was in a coma; and a man who died 48 hours after filling in his questionnaire – after informing everyone of his death his wife received a call 3 months later asking him to come in for his assessment.

Overall the report highlights stories of more than 70 people who have been inappropriately  assessed, forced to go to tribunal, felt humiliated or treated inappropriately. It comes prior to the publication of the final review of the Work Capability Assessment by Professor Harrington, who steps down as advisor to the DWP this month, and whose resignation was announced in July, just days after the broadcast of two TV documentaries exposing the reality of claimants’ experience of the assessment process.

The report also highlights serious concerns about the number of people who have died after being told by the DWP they were ‘fit for work’ or have taken their own lives in circumstances where applying for ESA and going through the WCA appear to be factors in their deaths.

Professor Peter Beresford OBE, professor of social policy at Brunel University and chair of Shaping Our Lives, said:

“The work capability assessment is unreliable and unhelpful, as well as being arbitrary and cruel… No-one – not the doctors who make the assessment decisions, nor Atos which has responsibility for providing assessments, nor the Department of Work and Pensions which commissioned them – takes responsibility for the problems and failures in the system. It’s a perfect storm of irresponsibility and unaccountability.”

The report includes an analysis of the position of a number of professional and regulatory organisations on the WCA, including the British Medical Association, the Royal College of Nursing, the General Medical Council, the National Audit Office and the Citizens Advice Bureau, as well as Government statements and background information on Atos, the company  employed to carry out the assessments.

The report’s author added:

These issues are a matter of survival for people living with illness and disability.  It is unacceptable that in 21st century Britain vulnerable people are being treated so appallingly. We hope The People’s Review will spur the Government into prompt and concrete action on the failures of the WCA. Radical change is needed – and it is needed now. Whilst there has been some acknowledgement of the problems following Professor Harrington‘s previous Reviews, our evidence from those at the sharp end of the process, including of the high rate of successful appeals and the huge backlog of unheard appeals, shows the whole system is still failing badly. The cost to the taxpayer is enormous and the cost to those going through it goes way beyond money.  In the meantime, sick and disabled people continue to be severely affected by what they’ve experienced, and terrified of what the future holds.  

The new report is available from:    http://wearespartacus.org.uk  

For more information contact:         Jane Young  jane@janeyoung.me.uk

The full report lists 14 pages of (often) single paragraph case studies of people who have been failed by the WCA, yet it is just the tip of a gargantuan iceberg. Like all the people here and the thousands of others who’s stories are not in the report I was given 0 points by ATOS and declared fit for work. The DWP then used my poor score on the WCA as it’s key reason to refuse to give me DLA. I spent the first two terrifying years of becoming disabled desperately appealing and going through tribunals with no financial support in the mean time. Here are four statements taken from a page at random in the new report which illustrate how this system has failed and upset other sick and/or disabled people who are clearly not fit to work (quotes come directly from the report & are written in their own words);

  • Detached labrum of the right shoulder(2 ops done so far), degenerative vertabrae in my neck with stenosis (shrinking of the outlet which the nerves to my left arm go thru) reducing sensation and strength, nerve damage to the right shoulder affecting the interior of my right arm, severe depression onset due to injuries and personal circumstances, and 3 types of drugs to keep things in order….their opinion…Nil Points and fit for work.
  • I went to one of these tests and had my benefits stopped plus they sent a letter to my doctors telling him to stop signing me off, i could’ve appealed but would’ve had to travel for 4 hours to get to the court! I felt so bad and had to get some work to survive but this then led to me having a heart attack! I have had to have a pacemaker fitted. They said is was deemed fit to work because in the test i sat on a table and all i did was swing my legs forward and back!!!!! Plus asked to bend over!
  • I suffer with borderline personality dissorder anxiety and depression plus i faint sometimes or have black outs. I am being forced back into work and to go to work meetings. I have been threatend with loosing my home, so i ended up self harming and now being threatend with loosing my benefits. If I don’t get my benifits nothing will get paid, and i’ll either end up topping myself or dying of starvation. I am now terrified, i am not ready to go back to work, and if they force me into work i have no idea how i will react. 1 mintue i can be fine next i feel like the anticrist. I can’t control my personality dissorder, mental illness does not have days off.
  • I have multiple health problems – some of which have taken years to diagnose eg, PTSD, diabetes, chronic fatigue, severe allergies causing angioedema and anaphylactic shock, asthma, gastritis, muscle weakness. I’ve just undergone TWO hysteroscopies and the biopsy has revealed a problem. We’ve discussed hysterectomy so I’m guessing the diagnosis won’t be a good one. I can’t climb stairs and I haven’t been out socially for two decades. My last job was as a temp for the NHS and I was dismissed from my job because I became ill at work and had to be hospitalised with pneumonia. They have now deemed me fir for work despite GP and Consultant’s notes which state the opposite.

If you get a chance have a look at the report, it really is worth a read. You can find a copy at the We are Spartacus webpage or this link should take you to a pdf file.

If you can please try and share this report with local MPs, councillors, journalists and groups that wish to ally themselves with the disabled peoples rights movement.

If you want to write to your MP you can find them on this website; http://www.writetothem.com/

I used this letter, you’d be welcome to do the same and edit it to make it more personal.

Dear [insert MPs name],

Today see’s the release of a report put together by disabled people and their allies to try and show the harsh realities of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) preformed by ATOS healthcare on behalf of the DWP to judge whether those claiming ESA are in actuality fit to work. It is so riddled with errors that all independent reviews say it isn’t fit for purpose (unless that purpose is finding severely sick & disabled people incorrectly fit for work of course).

You can find the report here; http://wearespartacus.org.uk/wca-peoples-review/ and I will paste the press release at the bottom of this email to give you a quick synopsis.

[Insert personal experience/story here if you feel comfortable doing so]

Warm Regards,

[Your name here]

—–

Press Release

[Copy & Paste Press Release here]

Birmingham Social Inclusion Green Paper Consultation

Today I discovered that a Birmingham based group, Be Birmingham, is launching a consultation on a paper they are putting forwards to try and improve social inclusion within the city.


You can read the consultation here;  Social Inclusion Green Paper Consultation

I think it is a wonderful idea so I have decided to try and see if I can engage with it. After having a read through it with an eye primarily for adult disability issues I composed the following email to them. It’s not wonderfully written (I blame the patriarchy my drugs) but hopefully it will help remind people that might not have ever had cause to engage with disability matters why it’s so vital that we do at this point.

Here is a copy of the email I sent;

Hello,  


I was reading through the Social Inclusion Green paper and I can’t find many areas that really reference adult disability in any way, other than pg 33. I see lots of mentions of social care for older people, children and families as well as a desire to make Birmingham more accessible and inclusive of people of all races & cultures; all of which is wonderful. Unfortunately I see nothing on the impact of welfare reform on disabled people, such as these issues;

  • Disabled people are disproportionately represented among benefit claimants due to educational attainment issues, higher poverty, lack of accessible work and employer discrimination.
  • 20% of people that currently DLA (to cope with the increased living costs of being disabled in a all too often non-accessible world) will be losing that income when PIP is introduced. DLA is already very hard to claim, you need a lot of letters and evidence from consultants, nurses, doctors, social workers and carers to realistically be awarded the benefit and even then chances are you will still be refused and have to go to tribunal.
  • DLA currently acts as a ‘gateway benefit’; those in receipt of it are eligible for blue badges, disabled persons rail cards, the Motability scheme (which is crucial if you need an adapted car or a electric wheelchair – something the NHS rarely can afford to provide) and a whole host of other schemes. It is heavily assumed PIP will preform the same role, except less people will receive PIP which means fewer people will have access not only to the extra income but the schemes that help make that extra income go further.
  • Contributions based ESA has been time limited to one year, which means those who have a working spouse/partner no longer receive any income of their own if their partner earns over £7500 pa. This massively increases financial dependency (something that can be a key cause of abuse), financial hardship and adds additional stress to families already struggling to adapt to having a suddenly chronically sick/ disabled person in their family. 
  • The loss of Legal Aid to challenge ESA & DLA/PIP decisions  At the moment 40% of those found ‘fit to work’ who choose to challenge that decision at tribunal are found ‘unfit to work’ and placed on ESA. 
  • Moving of people from Incapacity Benefit to ESA which means going through heavily criticised assessments where thousands of severely disabled people are found ‘fit for work’ until the decision is overturned after a stressful appeal & tribunal which can easily take a year due to the overcrowding of the tribunal system because of the flawed ESA assessment process. 
  • The bedroom tax now means that disabled people who had a extra bedroom to store essential medical equipment like dialysis machines or to provide a bed for carers/ partners that are unable to share a bed are being put at a disadvantage. Lord Freud stated during the Welfare Reform Bill debates that he believed that local councils would use the hardship fund/ social fund to help with these extra costs, but if the hardship fund continues to be only be available for short term aid then I can’t see this actually happening unless the money is explicitly ring fenced. 
  • The Independent Living Fund is also being abolished. The Independent Living Funds were set up as a national resource dedicated to the financial support of disabled people to enable them to choose to live in the community rather than in residential care. Without access to it many fear a return to the dark days when disabled people were forced into care homes and kept segregated from the community, reducing diversity and quality of life.
  • Changes to local council tax means that many disabled people who are not deemed ‘disabled enough’ to receive a disability premium because like many they either do not claim DLA, are waiting for a tribunal decision, have only been disabled for a few months or were not deemed disabled enough to warrant it will not be fully protected by the council and will have to find a way of paying a chunk of their council tax bill. 

There is a pernicious myth that charities provide money & services which will make up for the huge reduction in personal income. Sadly this isn’t the case. Charities use their money to support their awareness raising work, research and to man advice lines and centres. Most do not provide grants, adaptations, equipment, food parcels, money towards heating or care. Those few that do only provide very limited amounts to a few people with specific illnesses/disabilities in very specific circumstances. There is also another myth that fraud is rife when it comes to disability benefits, currently the fraud rate for DLA (not including errors) sits at 0.5%. Even if all the people committing fraud (and that figure includes those who’s conditions have changed and aren’t as disabled as they once were) are weeded out by the new assessments PIP will be bringing in 19.5% of those who loose out will be ‘genuinely’ disabled people who need the extra income.  

That is just one area in which many disabled people will be negatively affected and Birmingham needs a coherent policy to deal with. These issues are real and will increase isolation (which isn’t an issue that just effects the elderly), increase the risk of abuse (at a time Disability Hate Crimes are at an all time high), increase poverty amongst some of the most vulnerable people in the city and potentially increase the amount of people being forced into care homes as a result of a huge withdrawal of funds and services. We live in a city where many pavements don’t have lowered curbs which makes them non-accessible for those with mobility issues, many traffic lights are not set up to be used by those with visual impairments, the local ESA assessment centre at Fiveways is not wheelchair accessible, local high streets are too narrow to allow for ramps into shops, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 & the Equalities Act 2010 are only enforced if the disabled person discriminated against can afford the cost (both in financial and personal terms) of taking the offending business to court, the Ring and Ride scheme has started to charge, accessible social housing for those with mobility impairments is primarily reserved for over 55’s, there are huge cuts being made at every budget to Adults & Communities (which lead to the ill fated decision not to provide support for those without ‘super critical’ needs) and there is little/no representation of disabled people in our cities decision makers. Things need to change and I think your paper could be a big step in the right direction.  

I would be more than happy to meet with you and discuss these issues and help to solidify some additional proposals to strengthen your policy when it comes to disabled people. I am not affiliated with any charities but I am a disabled woman who has dedicated herself to trying to improve the lives of disabled people, especially in Birmingham.  


Warm Regards


If you live in Birmingham and feel strongly about these issues I can only suggest that you consider contacting the group and getting involved.

You can contact the campaign in the following ways;

  • Write to:
  • Jackie Mould
  • Giving Hope Changing Lives
  • PO Box 16253
  • B2 2WS
  • Via Twitter @fairbrum or use #fairbrum
  • Telephone the Partnership Team on  0121 675 3499

Reversing Recovery Report

The grass roots team that brought us the Responsible Reform Report (known to many as the Spartacus Report) have launched a new report called Reversing Recovery. You can see pdfs of the summary or full version by clicking these links and if you go to the website there are links to accessible formats too. 

For those that don’t have time to read the report here is the press release whic nicely summarises the main points raised by Reversing Recovery; 

New report warns car industry to lose out under welfare reform plans

A new report has highlighted the dangers to the UK’s economy following an analysis of the impact of welfare reform on the motor industry.

‘Reversing from Recovery’, published by the WeareSpartacus campaign group, analyses figures supplied by the Department for Work and Pensions and Motability, the organisation that supplies lease cars to disabled people claiming Disability Living Allowance. The report focusses on some of the impacts of the government’s plans to reform Disability Living Allowance (DLA), and its proposal to remove 280,000 disabled people from claiming the higher mobility rate of DLA, which currently qualifies them to lease a car under the Motability scheme.


The analysis estimates that, under DLA’s replacement benefit, Personal Independence Payments (PIP), there will be a 27% reduction in the number of working age disabled people, and a 17% reduction in the number of disabled people overall, qualifying for the Motability scheme. 


Motability’s publication ‘Economic and social impact of the Motability Car Scheme’ (2010) identified the scheme’s contribution to the economy through employment generation and tax receipts. The new report shows that welfare reform plans will lead to a domino effect including the loss of:

·         3,583 jobs (from 21,080 jobs to 17,497 jobs in Motability-related industries)

·         £342 million contribution to GDP (from around £2 billion to £1.67 billion)
·         £79 million in tax receipts
·         Up to £324 million contribution to GDP from disabled people’s ability to undertake paid work.

Jane Young, an independent disability consultant who co-authored the report, said: 

“It’s not just disabled people who will lose out under the Government’s welfare reform plans. Changing from DLA to PIP means fewer people qualifying for Motability cars to the tune of about 31,000 fewer vehicles a year. Less demand means fewer jobs for the car manufacturing industry, a lower contribution to GDP and the exchequer, and a knock on effect on the availability of cars in the second hand market, which also contributes to the economy.”

The report also raises concerns about future investment in the UK by car manufacturers, given the demand for new cars is going to drop as the government phases in its plans.


Rob Parsons, an Open University lecturer who also contributed to the report, added: 

“We must remember, of course, that part of this picture is the impact of these changes on disabled people themselves.  85% of Motability car users say the car has a positive impact on their ability to access health services, whilst more than 1 in 3 of those able to work say it maintains or improves their ability to undertake paid employment. 7% of customers’ families say it enables a family member to gain or keep a job.“We’ll see disabled people less independent, less likely to be able to get or keep a job and more likely to close businesses or give up self-employment. Having welfare reform plans which interfere with employment prospects is nonsensical. The Government should think again.”

The report is calling on the Government to give further consideration to the wider consequences of disability benefits reform, including consulting more widely, before finalising the regulations under the Welfare Reform Act.

For more information or to obtain a copy of ‘Reversing from Recovery’, the full report or summary version, contact:

Notes for editors:


·         ‘Reversing from Recovery’, both the full report and the summary version, will be available to download from http://wearespartacus.org.uk after publication (25 June 2012)

·         Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a benefit that helps individuals meet the additional costs that come from living with a disability and is payable to people in work as well as out of work
·         Details of the Government’s proposals for PIP, including projections of the number of people expected to be eligible for the enhanced mobility rate, can be found in the DWP consultation document, ‘Personal Independence Payment: Assessment thresholds and consultation’ (January 2012), available at http://www.dwp.gov.uk/consultations/2012/pip.shtml
·         The Motability publication, ‘Economic and social impact of the Motability Car Scheme’ (2010), is available for download at http://www.motability.co.uk/documents/PDFs/OEReport.pdf
·         The WeareSpartacus campaign group is an internet-based group of disabled and sick people from around the UK which campaigns for welfare benefits and social care services that enable disabled and sick people to live independently and with dignity.

DPAC & UK Uncut – Message From The Invisible

I’m getting up very early tomorrow morning to head to London with my other half. We are planning to join with other sick, disabled and UK Uncut activists to try to send a message to the Coalition. We will not be punished for deficit caused by the excesses of the City. We will fight the damaging changes the Welfare Reform Bill is threatening to inflict and we will not let the government off lightly.

You can read more about it here – UK Uncut Press Release & at the DPAC website.

If you can make it that would be great, though I totally understand peoples ability to be there in the flesh is limited by way more than just will alone.

You can also help raise awareness by blogging about it, bugging the media to get the message out and tweeting about it using the #invisibleinvincibles, #dpac & #ukuncut hashtags.

See you on the other side!

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

Report By Disabled People Slams Government DLA Plans.

Today a Report compiled by disabled people, led by the wonderful Sue Marsh & Dr Sarah J Campbell has been released. I’m posting the body of the press release here.

Revealed: New Report shows overwhelming opposition to coalition’s disability benefit reforms kept hidden by the government Conservative Mayor of London heavily critical of government’s plans for Disability Living Allowance

The report was entirely researched, written, funded and supported by disabled people.

A report published today (9 January) finds that Government misled MPs and Peers over the
hostility to disability benefit reform. It finds that Parliament has been given only a partial
view of the overwhelming opposition to the Coalition’s planned reforms of a key disability
benefit, Disability Living Allowance (DLA). It finds that this opposition was previously not
released to public scrutiny by the Government.

It is based on the responses to the government’s own consultation on its planned DLA
reforms, which were only made public once disabled people requested them under the
Freedom of Information Act. Findings included:

  • 98 per cent of respondents objected to the qualifying period for benefits being raised from 3 months to 6 months 
  • 99 per cent of respondents objected to Disability Living Allowance no longer being used as a qualification for other benefits
  • 92% opposed removing the lowest rate of support for disabled people
In all three cases, as well as many others, London’s Conservative Mayor, Boris Johnson also
objected to the proposed changes. He said in his response

“The Mayor would call for the Government to retain the three‐month qualifying period as the increase to six months will mean that people with fluctuating conditions have increased difficulty meeting the qualifying period. People with fluctuating conditions face the same barriers that all disabled face in relation to higher costs of living and DLA is essential to maintain a decent quality of life.”

“We would recommend that the passporting system remains the same as under DLA as it has worked well when signposting people to additional benefits to which they may be entitled.”

“The Mayor does not support this change, as those on the lower rate care component may have additional costs as a result of their impairment but may lose their access to this benefit as part of the proposed removal under the reforms.”

The Mayor also objected to the government’s strategy for clamping down on disability benefit fraud, arguing:

“The government proposes imposing penalties if disabled people do not inform the government in changes in their circumstances. However, the Department of Work and Pensions statistics give the overall fraud rate for Disability Living Allowance as being less than 0.5%. For those with fluctuating conditions asking them to report every change to their condition would prove very stressful.”

The Mayor’s views were representative of the overwhelming majority of responses to the
Government’s consultation..

The new report, Responsible Reform, suggests that the government’s DLA consultation
breached the government’s own code of practice and was “highly misleading”. Researchers have used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain more than 500 responses
to the consultation that were submitted by disabled people’s organisations, disability charities and other groups – including the response submitted by Boris Johnson – and have carried out the first detailed, independent analysis of those responses.

The analysis showed overwhelming opposition to replacing DLA with a new Personal
Independence Payment (PIP). The government also plans to cut spending on DLA/PIP by
20%.

The new report has been researched, written and funded by sick and disabled people, thousands of whom contributed to the research through their use of social media.
Its authors now hope to use the report to persuade members of the House of Lords to back
an adjournment debate calling for a pause of at least 6 months. In that time, plans for PIP
should be reconsidered with the views of disabled people properly taken into account.

The report has already been backed by organisations and disability experts including

Disability Alliance
Mind
Papworth Trust
Scope
Bert Massie CBE &
Ekklesia

Disability Alliance ‐ “The Government’s mis‐portrayal of the DLA consultation response is
truly shocking and could represent a betrayal of the process of consultation and engagement with disabled people. The Government has refused to provide a justification for a 20% cut in DLA expenditure and we fear that the same faulty rationale, misunderstanding of disability and higher costs of living and poor judgement exposed in this report sadly underpin the basis of the entire reform plans.”

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of the mental health charity Mind, said:

“The ‘Responsible Reform’ report is essential reading for everyone with an interest in
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) reform including the Government and Department for
Work and Pensions Select Committee. It is a vital contribution to the debate on reform and a
huge achievement for the volunteers who have produced it.
“As well as forensically deconstructing many of the arguments offered by the Government
for their proposed reform, the report shows that much of the rise in claimants over recent
years has been down to better access to the benefit for people with mental health problems,
whose needs are often fluctuating and invisible.
“Rather than getting out of control as the Government claims, DLA has been increasingly
going to people who really need it. The proposed 20 per cent cut to the budget will have an
enormous impact on many people with illnesses and disabilities, and we remain very concerned about the unintended consequences this could lead to.”

Papworth Trust supports this report’s concerns that the decision to reduce DLA by 20% may
have been based on incomplete or misleading data about the reasons for growth in DLA.
Our recent survey found that almost 9 out of 10 people would have to cut back on essentials
such as food or being able to get out and about if their DLA payments were reduced or
stopped under PIP. We believe that the proposed 20% cut will push more disabled people
into poverty.

Given that this report was entirely researched, written, funded and supported by the people
that these changes will affect, we believe that the questions it raises should be answered by
the Government.

Richard Hawkes, Chief Executive of disability charity Scope said:

“This report once again reveals the very real concerns disabled people have about the
government’s reform of Disability Living Allowance.
“We know that this benefit is a lifeline for millions of people and families.
“It gives them the opportunity to meet the extra living costs they incur as a result of living
with a condition or impairment and we know that people are genuinely worried about the
impact these reforms will have on their quality of life.
“We urge the government to listen and act on these concerns and to ensure its replacement
takes into consideration all the barriers disabled people face in everyday life so they can live
independently and play an active role in their local community.”

Sir Bert Massie CBE said:

“The Government’s proposed changes to the system of financial support for disabled people,
from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payment, has caused anxiety to
many disabled people. I have always found the explanations offered by the Government to
be unconvincing and I therefore welcome this report which analyses the evidence on which
the decisions were based. It shows that rather than being broadly welcomed by disabled
people and disability organisations the new proposals were subject to widespread criticism
and alarm. I hope this report will result in the Government reviewing its proposals so they
enhance rather than damage the lives of disabled people.

Simon Barrow, Co‐Director of the beliefs and values thinktank Ekklesia, said:

“This is an excellent piece of research. There remains a gaping chasm between the government’s rhetoric about maintaining support for disabled people and the actual
evidence about the impact of the changes and cuts it is imposing. The voices of those at the
sharp end are not being listened to in a way that shapes policy. The concepts of justice
dignity and social solidarity are being eroded and replaced with a piecemeal approach to
provision which sees care as essentially voluntary.”

Sue Marsh, the disabled blogger and activist who led the research, alongside Dr Sarah J
Campbell, said:

“For some years now, poorly designed Social Security reforms have created a “trust deficit”
among disabled people towards government.

“We believe that reform must be measured, responsible and transparent, based on available evidence and designed with disabled people at the very heart of decision‐making. Currently, we do not believe this to be the case. 
“While disabled people welcome reform of DLA where it will simplify the system and better support their needs, they do not want a new benefit. They believe it is a costly irrelevance during a time of austerity.
“We urge members of the House of Lords – across party political boundaries – to take note
of this research and the strength of opposition to the proposals. It is not too late for them to
halt these deeply damaging reforms.”

Another contributor to the report, Kaliya Franklin, said:

“Cutting spending on DLA will increase the burden on local authorities, the NHS and
community services at the very time they are seeking to find savings by reducing eligibility,
particularly for social care support.
“Sick and disabled people have voluntarily combined our skills, experience and talent to
produce this report, demonstrating that if we are able to work in the way our conditions
demand we can participate in the world of employment, but only if it is willing to receive us
on our terms, with more flexible ways of working and participating.”

Among the report’s conclusions:

  • Only 7% of organisations that took part in the consultation were fully in support of plans to replace DLA with PIP
  • There was overwhelming opposition in the consultation responses to nearly all of the government’s proposals for DLA reform
  • The government has consistently used inaccurate figures to exaggerate the rise in DLA claimants
  • The report shows that nearly all of the recent increase in working‐age claimants of DLA has been associated with mental health conditions and learning difficulties.
  • Between 2002 and 2010, the number of working‐age DLA claimants – excluding
  • those with mental health conditions and learning difficulties remained remarkably
  • stable
  • 98% of those who responded opposed plans to change the qualifying period for PIP from three months (as it is with DLA) to six months
  • 90% opposed plans for a new assessment, which disabled people fear will be far too similar to the much‐criticised work capability assessment used to test eligibility for employment and support allowance (ESA)
  • Respondents to the consultation repeatedly warned that the government’s plans could breach the Equality Act, the Human Rights Act and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Other Points to bear in mind:

  • The government’s response to the consultation on its DLA reforms was published in April 2011
  • Discussion of the Welfare Reform Bill is due to resume at its report stage on 11 January in the House of Lords
  • The report was written by Sue Marsh, the author of the blog Diary of a Benefit Scrounger, and Dr Sarah J Campbell
  • Employment and Support Allowance is the replacement for Incapacity Benefit introduced by the Labour government in 2008
  • The research suggests that, although the number of people with mental health conditions claiming DLA has risen continuously over the last 15 years, only one in 100 working‐age adults is claiming DLA in association with a mental health condition. This is far lower than estimates of the population prevalence of more severe mental health conditions. This is a global phenomenon and unlikely to be related to the design of the UK benefit system.
  • The research also suggests that the rise in the number of people with learning difficulties claiming DLA is likely to be due to earlier diagnosis of certain conditions
  • Boris Johnson’s full response to the consultation can be found here: http://www.leftfootforward.org/images/2012/01/Mayoral-Submission.pdf

If anyone reading this want’s to get in contact with Sue Marsh please either drop me a line & I can pass on contact details or please visit her blog, Diary of a Benefit Scrounger.

Please do what you can to spread the word.

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