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GMCDP Living Our Lives – Celebrate Disability History Month! Tomorrow

Celebrate Disability History Month!
 
Wednesday 7 December,
 
2:00-4:00pm
 
Come along, have an early mince pie, and celebrate what disabled people have achieved over the years by working together.
 
Living Our Lives is a series of workshops being organised by GMCDP. They are for disabled people of any age living in Manchester.
 
The word ‘workshop’ sounds a little formal, but these meetings are not very formal. They are a chance to find out information about topics of interest and use to us as disabled people, and to receive and give peer support to other disabled people.
 
The workshops so far have been very lively and informative.
 
One comment about the workshops has been:
“Coming here helps not being isolated, and I can socialize and get information. I appreciate being able to find out about my rights and get support whilst doing so.”
 
We would welcome suggestions for future topics.
For more information, please contact Linda by:
Email lmarsh@gmcdp.com
Phone 0161 636 7535

 

GMCDP Equality Forum: Celebrate Disability History Month! – Wednesday 7 December

Living Our Lives
GMCDP Equality Forum: Celebrate Disability History Month!
 
Wednesday 7 December,
 
2:00-4:00pm
 
Come along, have an early mince pie, and celebrate what disabled people have achieved over the years by working together.
 
Living Our Lives is a series of workshops being organised by GMCDP. They are for disabled people of any age living in Manchester.
 
The word ‘workshop’ sounds a little formal, but these meetings are not very formal. They are a chance to find out information about topics of interest and use to us as disabled people, and to receive and give peer support to other disabled people.
 
The workshops so far have been very lively and informative.
 
One comment about the workshops has been:
“Coming here helps not being isolated, and I can socialize and get information. I appreciate being able to find out about my rights and get support whilst doing so.”
 
We would welcome suggestions for future topics.
For more information, please contact Linda by:
Email lmarsh@gmcdp.com
Phone 0161 636 7535

New Disabled Artist Network in Manchester seeks artists

New Disabled Artist Network in Manchester seeks artists

‘We are looking for disabled artists that are interested in a project to develop disabled artist networks and create accessible opportunities in Manchester’s creative industry. At present we are bidding for funding so we require a collaborator/partner who has interests/expertise in this area and would like to help develop the bid. If interested, please get in touch with harrietepugh@icloud.com

(GMCDP does not necessarily support or promote any organisation, individual or website mentioned in this post.)

Welsh government has ‘sold disabled people down the river’ on post-ILF plans (Disability News Service)

From Disability News Service

The ruling Labour government in Wales has been accused of “selling disabled people down the river”, after deciding that local authorities will be handed all financial responsibility for supporting former recipients of the Independent Living Fund (ILF).

The Welsh government has decided that, after a short transition period, the £27 million-a-year provided by the UK government to support former ILF-users in Wales will be passed directly to councils.

There will be no new Welsh ILF – even though such a scheme has been set up in Scotland – and no continuation of the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) scheme the Welsh government has been running as a stopgap since the fund closed in June 2015.

Instead, Rebecca Evans, the social services minister, said in a statement – following a public consultation and advice from a stakeholders group – that funding for WILG would continue in its current form through 2017-18, but would transfer to local authorities during 2018-19.

More here

(GMCDP does not necessarily support or promote any organisation, individual or website mentioned in this post.)

DWP admits most Disability Confident employers just skipped across from Two Ticks

From Disability News Service

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has admitted flooding its under-fire Disability Confident scheme with hundreds of employers from the hugely-discredited disability employment programme it is replacing.

The revelation is yet another blow to the credibility of the newly-relaunched scheme.

Penny Mordaunt, the minister for disabled people, boasted earlier this month that more than 2,400 businesses had already signed up to Disability Confident.

But DWP has now admitted that all but about 100 of those 2,400 organisations have simply been transferred across from Two Ticks – the scheme that Disability Confident is replacing – with many of them not even having to fill in an application form.

Disability News Service (DNS) reported last week how new research had suggested that Disability Confident – which aims to encourage employers to take on disabled staff – was “trivially easy to abuse” and allowed organisations to describe themselves as “Disability Confident” even if they failed to comply with anti-discrimination laws.

More here

(GMCDP does not necessarily support or promote any organisation, individual or website mentioned in this post.)

GMCDP Living Our Lives: Your Right To Health Care – tomorrow!

Living Our Lives
GMCDP Living Our Lives: Your Right To Health Care
 
Wednesday 23 November
2:00-4:00
 
If you are interested in this session, please contact Linda by:
Phone: 0161 636 7535
Email lmarsh@gmcdp.com
Mobile for texts: 07508 537561
 
Let us know if you need BSL Interpreter/Lipspeaker, Personal Assistance, or assistance with travel. These workshops are being held in a wheelchair accessible office at the Windrush Millennium Centre in Moss Side.
 
Living Our Lives is a series of workshops being organised by GMCDP. They are for disabled people of any age living in Manchester.
 
The word ‘workshop’ sounds a little formal, but these meetings are not very formal. They are a chance to find out information about topics of interest and use to us as disabled people, and to receive and give peer support to other disabled people.
 
The workshops so far have been very lively and informative.
One comment about the workshops has been:
“Coming here helps not being isolated, and I can socialize and get information. I appreciate being able to find out about my rights and get support whilst doing so.”
 
We would welcome suggestions for future topics.
For more information, please contact Linda by:
Email lmarsh@gmcdp.com
Phone 0161 636 7535

GMCDP Equality Forum – Assisted Suicide: Who Would It Benefit? Tonight!

Equality Forum

Assisted Suicide: Who Would It Benefit?

A year ago campaigners fought back and stopped yet another “Assisted Dying Bill” from becoming law. Every disabled people’s organisation which spoke up was against it.

The next Bill is already working its way through the House of Lords.

Fighting For Our Lives Against Lethal Discrimination

This GMCDP Equality Forum, with Dennis Queen of Not Dead Yet UK, will consider:

  • What are the arguments against Assisted Suicide?
  • Why we fight the legalisation of assisted suicide and euthanasia for disabled people.
  • What we want instead.

Monday 21 November, 6:30 – 8:30pm

At Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People, Unit 4, Windrush Millennium Centre, 70 Alexandra Road, Moss Side. M16 7WD

Please let us know you are coming so we can be sure there is enough space. Let us know if you need BSL Interpreter / Lipspeaker or personal assistance. If you live in Manchester we may be able to assist with transport.

Contact Linda by:

Phone: 0161 636 7535;

Email lmarsh@gmcdp.com

Mobile for texts: 07508 537561

facebook_icon-128 Facebook event page

 

GMCDP Equality Forum – Assisted Suicide: Who Would It Benefit? Tomorrow!

Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People

Equality Forum

Assisted Suicide: Who Would It Benefit?

A year ago campaigners fought back and stopped yet another “Assisted Dying Bill” from becoming law. Every disabled people’s organisation which spoke up was against it.

The next Bill is already working its way through the House of Lords.

Fighting For Our Lives Against Lethal Discrimination

This GMCDP Equality Forum, with Dennis Queen of Not Dead Yet UK, will consider:
• What are the arguments against Assisted Suicide?
• Why we fight the legalisation of assisted suicide and euthanasia for disabled people.
• What we want instead.

Monday 21 November, 6:30 – 8:30pm

At Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People, Unit 4, Windrush Millennium Centre, 70 Alexandra Road, Moss Side. M16 7WD

Please let us know you are coming so we can be sure there is enough space. Let us know if you need BSL Interpreter / Lipspeaker or personal assistance. If you live in Manchester we may be able to assist with transport.

Contact Linda by:
Phone: 0161 636 7535;
Email lmarsh@gmcdp.com
Mobile for texts: 07508 537561

GMCDP Living Our Lives: Your Right To Health Care Wednesday 23th November

Living Our Lives
GMCDP Living Our Lives: Your Right To Health Care
 
Wednesday 23 November
2:00-4:00
 
If you are interested in this session, please contact Linda by:
Phone: 0161 636 7535
Email lmarsh@gmcdp.com
Mobile for texts: 07508 537561
 
Let us know if you need BSL Interpreter/Lipspeaker, Personal Assistance, or assistance with travel. These workshops are being held in a wheelchair accessible office at the Windrush Millennium Centre in Moss Side.
 
Living Our Lives is a series of workshops being organised by GMCDP. They are for disabled people of any age living in Manchester.
 
The word ‘workshop’ sounds a little formal, but these meetings are not very formal. They are a chance to find out information about topics of interest and use to us as disabled people, and to receive and give peer support to other disabled people.
 
The workshops so far have been very lively and informative.
One comment about the workshops has been:
“Coming here helps not being isolated, and I can socialize and get information. I appreciate being able to find out about my rights and get support whilst doing so.”
 
We would welcome suggestions for future topics.
For more information, please contact Linda by:
Email lmarsh@gmcdp.com
Phone 0161 636 7535

Living Our Lives – Welfare Rights (ESA and PIP) – Tomorrow!

Living Our Lives
Living Our Lives – Welfare Rights (ESA and PIP)
 
Wednesday 16 November
 
2:00-4:00
 
Find out what you need to know if you are applying for, or being reviewed for Employment and Support Allowance or Personal Independence Payment. This session is being run by Debbie Whitton of Salford Welfare Rights Service.
 
If you would like to come please contact –
 
Phone: 0161 636 7535
Email lmarsh@gmcdp.com
Mobile for texts: 07508 537561
 
Let us know if you need BSL Interpreter/Lipspeaker, Personal Assistance, or assistance with travel. These workshops are being held in a wheelchair accessible office at the Windrush Millennium Centre in Moss Side.
 
Living Our Lives is a series of workshops being organised by GMCDP. They are for disabled people of any age living in Manchester.
 
The word ‘workshop’ sounds a little formal, but these meetings are not very formal. They are a chance to find out information about topics of interest and use to us as disabled people, and to receive and give peer support to other disabled people.
 
The workshops so far have been very lively and informative.
One comment about the workshops has been:
“Coming here helps not being isolated, and I can socialize and get information. I appreciate being able to find out about my rights and get support whilst doing so.”
 
We would welcome suggestions for future topics.
For more information, please contact Linda by:
Email lmarsh@gmcdp.com
Phone 0161 636 7535
 
#livingourlives
 
#welfarerights
 
#personalindependencepayment
 
#employmentsupportallowance

GMCDP Equality forum – Assisted Suicide: Who Would It Benefit? Monday 21st November

Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People

Assisted Suicide: Who Would It Benefit?

A year ago campaigners fought back and stopped yet another “Assisted Dying Bill” from becoming law. Every disabled people’s organisation which spoke up was against it.

The next Bill is already working its way through the House of Lords.

Fighting For Our Lives Against Lethal Discrimination

This GMCDP Equality Forum, with Dennis Queen of Not Dead Yet UK, will consider:
• What are the arguments against Assisted Suicide?
• Why we fight the legalisation of assisted suicide and euthanasia for disabled people.
• What we want instead.

Monday 21 November, 6:30 – 8:30pm

At Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People, Unit 4, Windrush Millennium Centre, 70 Alexandra Road, Moss Side. M16 7WD

Please let us know you are coming so we can be sure there is enough space. Let us know if you need BSL Interpreter / Lipspeaker or personal assistance. If you live in Manchester we may be able to assist with transport.

Contact Linda by:
Phone: 0161 636 7535;
Email lmarsh@gmcdp.com
Mobile for texts: 07508 537561

Educate Don’t Segregate – Call for action from ALLFIE

From ALLFIE (Alliance For Inclusive Education)

Educate Don’t Segregate – Call For Action!!!

As many of you may know the Government recently published it’s “Schools That Work for Everyone” Green paper consultation document outlining their plans to introduce selective education – the Green paper does not say anything about Special Education Needs and/or Disabled children and young people!

We need your help to make sure that the Government hears our voices loud and clear that their selective education plans will negatively impact on Disabled young people, will not increase social mobility and is an attack on inclusive education!

As part of our ongoing Educate Don’t Segregate campaign we are putting a call out to our members, supporters and friends to get involved in this social media stunt.

We want everyone we know, who supports our work, to either take a photo of yourself or making a video (please keep the film as short as possible, ideally using a smart phone) saying why you are against selective education and for inclusive education.

To help you we have attached a sheet of paper that you could use for your photo/video.   If you are unable to send us a photo of yourself with the slogan or an answer to the question – please do not worry – send your answer in the post or e-mail and we can still include your message in the stunt.

ALLFIE social media campaign ideas

Please email your message/photo/video to Jess.Cahill@allfie.org.uk

Also….. We need your stories……

We want ALLFIE’s response to the Green paper to be packed with case studies and stories about the impact that selective education is having/or could have on Disabled pupils & students with SEN and their families, as well as schools and educational professionals.

We are asking our members to help us gather information on the following in your local area, so if you are able to answer any/all of the following questions, that would be really useful:

  • Is there any grammar or selective schools in your local area?
  • In your experience what has the impact of selective schools have upon non-selective mainstream schools for Disabled pupils with SEN?
  • In your experience has selective education lead to an increase of segregation of Disabled pupils with SEN?
  • Do you have any case studies highlighting Disabled pupils and their families’ experience of selective education such as the 11 plus, or entrance test?
  • Has your Local Council taken a position on the Government’s plans to increase selective education in your local area – if you don’t know please ask a local councillor.
  • We are also interested in knowing if Disabled pupils with SEN have benefited from selective education so we can better understand what changes would need to be made if mainstream schools become selective in the future?
  • If you live in an area that has no selective schools, what would be your concerns if the Local Authority started to support the establishment of new selective schools?

Please email your answers and stories to Simone.Aspis@allfie.org.uk

This Call to Action will be followed by a Campaigns Briefing which will include various activities that you can get involved in – The time for action is now!!!

(GMCDP does not necessarily support or promote any organisation, individual or website mentioned in this post.)

GMCDP Living Our Lives – Welfare Rights (ESA and PIP) – Wednesday 16th November

Living Our Lives
Living Our Lives – Welfare Rights (ESA and PIP)
 
Wednesday 16 November
 
2:00-4:00
 
Find out what you need to know if you are applying for, or being reviewed for Employment and Support Allowance or Personal Independence Payment. This session is being run by Debbie Whitton of Salford Welfare Rights Service.
 
If you would like to come please contact –
 
Phone: 0161 636 7535
Email lmarsh@gmcdp.com
Mobile for texts: 07508 537561
 
Let us know if you need BSL Interpreter/Lipspeaker, Personal Assistance, or assistance with travel. These workshops are being held in a wheelchair accessible office at the Windrush Millennium Centre in Moss Side.
 
Living Our Lives is a series of workshops being organised by GMCDP. They are for disabled people of any age living in Manchester.
 
The word ‘workshop’ sounds a little formal, but these meetings are not very formal. They are a chance to find out information about topics of interest and use to us as disabled people, and to receive and give peer support to other disabled people.
 
The workshops so far have been very lively and informative.
One comment about the workshops has been:
“Coming here helps not being isolated, and I can socialize and get information. I appreciate being able to find out about my rights and get support whilst doing so.”
 
We would welcome suggestions for future topics.
For more information, please contact Linda by:
Email lmarsh@gmcdp.com
Phone 0161 636 7535
 
#livingourlives
 
#welfarerights
 
#personalindependencepayment
 
#employmentsupportallowance

GMCDP’s Living Our Lives: Mindfulness – Tomorrow!

Living Our Lives
GMCDP’s Living Our Lives: Mindfulness
 
Wednesday 9 November, 2:00-4:00
 
Mindfulness is a useful relaxation-based technique for being in the moment. It can help with everyday life and challenging situations. This session is being run by staff from Self Help Services.
 
If you would like to come please contact –
 
Phone: 0161 636 7535
Email lmarsh@gmcdp.com
Mobile for texts: 07508 537561
 
Let us know if you need BSL Interpreter/Lipspeaker, Personal Assistance, or assistance with travel. These workshops are being held in a wheelchair accessible office at the Windrush Millennium Centre in Moss Side.
 
#livingourlives
 
Living Our Lives is a series of workshops being organised by GMCDP. They are for disabled people of any age living in Manchester.
 
The word ‘workshop’ sounds a little formal, but these meetings are not very formal. They are a chance to find out information about topics of interest and use to us as disabled people, and to receive and give peer support to other disabled people.
 
The workshops so far have been very lively and informative.
One comment about the workshops has been:
“Coming here helps not being isolated, and I can socialize and get information. I appreciate being able to find out about my rights and get support whilst doing so.”
 
We would welcome suggestions for future topics.
For more information, please contact Linda by:
Email lmarsh@gmcdp.com
Phone 0161 636 7535

Goverment release information on benefit cap

There is now an overview on the government’s website (www.gov.uk) aboout the upcoming benefit cap and how it may affect you. It can be found here

(GMCDP does not necessarily support or promote any organisation, individual or website mentioned in this post.)

British welfare reforms trampled on disabled rights – U.N. inquiry

From DPAC

The long awaited report from the UN about our governments attacks on disabled people was published on Monday 7th November (more here). You can read the full report here.

Summary of the findings

A. General findings

82. The facts submitted by the source were disputed by the State party. The Committee engaged in a verification exercise in which the facts that appeared to be controversial were cross-checked with data collected from a variety of sources, including parliamentary inquiries, reports of the independent monitoring body of the Convention, official statistics, reports and data originating from other government departments or units, entity governments, research institutes, service providers, academic centres, independent experts, former government officers, grass-roots non-governmental organizations, organizations of persons with disabilities and individuals. In some cases, some State party’s statements were not supported by evidence collected by the investigation. In others, the State party indicated that no data were available. The findings below are based on a comprehensive analysis of data provided by various sources.

83. The State party launched, a considerable time ago, a major policy reform to the welfare system, aimed at reducing the fiscal deficit and achieving in 2020 a surplus in its balance of payments. Various policy documents and statements by high-level ranking officers have stated that this is the most fundamental policy change to the social protection system in recent decades. The stated goals of the policy are to transform British society from a low-wage, low-employment and high-welfare society to a high-wage, high-employment and low-welfare one. The policy makes the assumption that individuals are better off in work, dependency on benefits is in itself counterproductive and perpetuates poverty and beneficiaries of welfare benefits need to move into work both through improvement of incentives to employment and through a system of conditionality and sanctions. The policy intends that sectors of society who have been dependant on benefits move into work. It has also been stated that the policy aims at protecting those people who require more support or who are “most vulnerable”.

84. Changes to the welfare system include the overhauling of a wide range of entitlements in several areas, including social and private housing sector, contributory and non-contributory benefits, tax credits and out-of-work and in-work benefits and have affected all segments of the population, including children, women, single parents, older persons and persons with disabilities. With regard to persons with disabilities, the reform resulted in the overhauling of major disability benefits, including means-tested benefits, income-maintenance benefits and benefits related to the specific and extra costs associated with disability. In the period covered by the inquiry, a large number of persons with disabilities have been requested to undergo capability assessments, with pre-implementation assumptions that a significant percentage would no longer rely on social allowances.

85. The roll out of those policies included the issuing of statements by high-ranking officers that the reform was aimed at making the welfare system fairer to taxpayers and more balanced and transparent and reducing benefit fraud. Persons with disabilities have been regularly portrayed negatively as being dependent or making a living out of benefits, committing fraud as benefit claimants, being lazy and putting a burden on taxpayers, who are paying “money for nothing”. Although the State party produced evidence of formal efforts and public awareness campaigns to improve the image of persons with disabilities, the inquiry collected evidence that persons with disabilities continue to experience increasing hostility, aggressive behaviour and sometimes attacks to their personal integrity. The inquiry also found no substantiation of the alleged benefit fraud by persons with disabilities.

86. Public sector equality duty obliges State authorities to carry out impact assessments when they plan to introduce measures, including legislative measures, to ensure that groups with protected characteristics, among them persons with disabilities, are properly consulted and any adverse impact on them is properly justified. The State party submitted evidence that it has complied with domestic legal duties for all the intended changes to the welfare system. The inquiry collected evidence that a major piece of legislation of the welfare reform, the Welfare Reform Act 2012, was not thoroughly compliant with those requirements. Similarly, a court of law found that the decision to close the Independent Living Fund was not in compliance with domestic equality duty, which compelled the authorities of the State party to carry out another equality assessment. The inquiry also collected evidence that the views of persons with disabilities and their representative organizations who had participated in consultations launched by the State party, were not meaningfully taken into account in the decision-making and had little or no influence on policy decisions.

87. Although the State party asserted that a cumulative impact assessment of the various policy measures affecting persons with disabilities was not technically feasible or practicable, the evidence collected by the inquiry indicates that a cumulative impact assessment could have been conducted with the data and information available in the State party.

88. The Committee observes that various pieces of legislation related to recent welfare policies do not fully enforce the international human rights framework related to social protection and independent living. In connection thereto, it was observed that in the field of social protection, persons with disabilities have not been properly considered as right-holders and entitled to benefits with regard to their right to social protection. Similarly, while the Care Act 2014 reflects the principles of well-being of persons with disabilities and underlines the objective of personalization of support packages, it fails to properly acknowledge the elements of autonomy and control and choice, which are intrinsic to the right to independent living as referred to in article 19 of the Convention.

89. The Committee observes the prevalence of the medical approach in assessment procedures for determining the eligibility of persons with disabilities to entitlements. The main assessment procedure for determining eligibility for out-of-work benefits resulted in persons with disabilities being classified as either unable to perform work-related activity, having limited capability to work or fit to work. The above-mentioned assessment failed to take in account the support persons with disabilities need to perform a job or the complex nature of some impairments and conditions, or reflect the human rights-based approach to disability.

90. The Committee observes that persons with disabilities who have undergone functional assessments aimed at determining their eligibility for social benefits felt that they were merely processed rather than being listened to or understood. The inquiry was informed that several measures have been adopted to make adjustments to procedures to improve service delivery, including the time frame for the assessment procedures, and ensure a better understanding of the diversity of persons with disability by assessors. The evidence collected from various sources indicates that the needs, views and personal history of persons with disabilities, and particularly those requiring high levels of support such as persons with intellectual and/or psychosocial disabilities, were not properly taken into account or given appropriate weight in the decisions affecting them.

91. The inquiry collected evidence indicating that information, advice and counselling provided to persons with disabilities about different steps in the assessment processes and decisions about their entitlements was limited, non-existent or not provided in accessible formats and languages. That was coupled with uncertainty about the outcomes of those processes triggering anxiety, psychological strain and financial hardship. The Committee also collected evidence about persons with disabilities whose mental health condition had severely deteriorated as a result of the aforementioned factors.

92. Evidence indicates that legal aid to challenge administrative decisions ending or curtailing their benefits before first-tier tribunals has been restricted. Legal aid for cases before those tribunals has also been curtailed. Similarly, access to review by an independent and impartial tribunal has been restricted by the introduction of mandatory reconsideration procedures before the same administrative entity that has ruled on benefits.

93. Evidence indicates that State party authorities carried out surveys and regularly published statistics about welfare reform. States party authorities also cooperated with parliamentary inquiries and provided answers to the recommendations issued by that oversight body. However, there is no evidence of periodic monitoring and evaluation activities involving persons with disabilities and their representative organizations about the impact of the implementation of measures.

94. Evidence was produced about mitigating measures put in place by central authorities to support persons with disabilities in coping with the curtailing of their social security benefits. Evidence was also produced indicating that those mitigating measures were of a temporary nature for individuals concerned by the measures, not regularly offered or known by claimants affected by decisions and not sustainable enough to outweigh the financial impact of the reduction or suppression of income-maintenance benefits. The Committee also observes that the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales had put in place mitigation measures and takes note of the mitigation plan agreed upon in Northern Ireland.

B. Living independently and being included in the community (art. 19)

95. The Committee observed throughout the inquiry process that the interaction of various reforms on welfare schemes, in particular changes in housing benefits, the establishment of a cap on household benefits, changes in eligibility criteria for the “moving around” component under the new Personal Independence Payment, tightening of criteria to access social care and the closure of the Independent Living Fund in the State party, have disproportionately affected persons with disabilities and hindered various aspects of their right to live independently and be included in the community.

96. The Committee is concerned that the set of reforms has limited the right of persons with disabilities to choose their residence on an equal basis with others, resulting in persons experiencing increasing reliance on family and/or kinship carers, reduction in their social interaction, increased isolation and, in certain cases, institutionalization. The deinstitutionalization process in the State party has been adversely affected.

97. The Committee is of the view that changes in housing benefits, specifically the implementation of the social housing size criteria through the reduction in social housing welfare payments referred to as “the spare room subsidy”, the establishment of a cap on household benefits and changes in local housing allowances for private-sector tenants have curtailed the right of persons with disabilities to choose a place of residence in accordance with article 19 of the Convention. The Committee notes that, in multiple cases, social housing size criteria failed to recognize the specific living arrangements that persons with disabilities require in connection with their impairment and respect of their autonomy, will and preferences. The Committee observes that measures have caused financial hardship to persons with disabilities resulting in, inter alia, arrears, debts, evictions and cuts to essentials such as housing and food. The Committee, while noting that Discretionary Housing Payments have been established as a form of mitigation, observes that the concerns and views of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context (see A/HRC/25/54/Add.2) persist.

98. Evidence indicates that persons with disabilities affected by cuts in their housing benefits have undergone high levels of stress, anxiety and depression as a consequence of the shortfalls in their budget and the costs to recover financial stability. In many cases, the implementation of welfare measures has reinforced the dependency of persons with disabilities on informal and/or family care and has hindered deinstitutionalization plans.

99. The Independent Living Fund in the State party has been closed to new claimants since 2010 and was definitively closed in June 2015. The funds transferred from the central administration to local authorities under the scheme of localization were not ring-fenced in England, affecting the majority of former Fund users. It was observed that social care packages have been reduced in the context of further budgetary constraints at the local level. The Committee finds that former Fund claimants have seen the support they received from local authorities substantially reduced, to the extent that their essential needs in areas such as daily personal care are not sufficiently covered. The Committee takes note of the decision made by the devolved administrations in Scotland and Northern Ireland for the maintenance of schemes equivalent to the former Independent Living Fund, as well as in Wales. However, it remains concerned about the lack of acceptance of new applicants to the fund in Northern Ireland.

100. According to the Care Act 2014, social care provisions and schemes realize the principle of well-being. However, the information brought to the attention of the Committee demonstrated increasing financial hardship for persons with disabilities at the local level and the reduction in time and quality of social care services for those persons who are considered “not having substantial or critical levels of need”. Prioritization and tightening of eligibility criteria for adult social care has been implemented on a regular basis, adversely affecting persons with disabilities who are not being supported to the extent that they need. The Committee gathered evidence indicating that the level of care has diminished, affecting older persons with disabilities, and received testimonies about the reduction in time for visits by social carers, who in certain cases are limited to 15-minute visits to assist persons with disabilities with basic needs such as meals and personal hygiene. It was observed that the reduction in the provision of support services at the local level has curtailed the ability of persons with disabilities to take part in community life.

101. The State party provided information about measures to transfer more responsibilities to local authorities and the personalization of budgets for personal care. The Committee, however, received evidence that personal care packages have been reduced and that the availability of support is established on the basis of what is considered to be an affordable service in the market, rather than on the specific needs of the person concerned. The Committee received evidence that personal budgets do not necessarily allow persons with disabilities to have access and control over social care services and restrict the level of personal assistance they receive.

C. Work and employment (art. 27)

102. Evidence indicates several flaws in the processes related to the Employment and Support Allowance. In particular, the Committee notes that, despite several adjustments made to the Work Capability Assessment, the assessment has continued to be focused on a functional evaluation of skills and capabilities, and puts aside personal circumstances and needs, and barriers faced by persons with disabilities to return to employment, particularly those of persons with intellectual and/or psychosocial disabilities. In the initial period covered by the present report, evidence indicates a significant percentage of assessments were overturned by tribunals.

103. Despite the training delivered to assessors and decision makers, evidence indicates a persisting lack of awareness and limited knowledge of disability rights and the specific needs of persons with disabilities, particularly of persons with intellectual and/or psychosocial disabilities. The Committee also collected evidence of lack of reasonable accommodation and inaccessible information about the assessment process.

104. While the Committee notes the effort of the authorities to shorten the length of mandatory reconsideration procedures, evidence indicates that claimants requesting reconsideration have frequently experienced long waiting periods. The Committee also observes that, during the mandatory reconsideration procedure, Employment and Support Allowance benefits are suspended.

105. Evidence collected points to significant hardship, including financial, material and psychological, experienced by persons with disabilities undergoing assessments. Persons who have been compelled to undergo a new assessment shortly after a first assessment have been particularly affected.

106. The number of sanctions of claimants in the Employment and Support Allowance work-related activity group has increased significantly between 2012 and 2014, and evidence indicates that they have been applied in a disproportionate manner. Opportunities to apply for hardship payments exist, but few people appear to have been informed thereof; the payments are also modest, discretionary, subject to strict access rules and of a temporary nature. Evidence indicates that claimants who have been sanctioned have faced financial hardship, including through becoming indebted, relying on the support of relatives or on food banks or having reduced essential services.

107. Various programmes have been designed to encourage persons with disabilities to move into paid employment. The two main programmes, the Work Programme and Job Centre Plus, where persons with disabilities were mostly referred, had no visible impact in decreasing unemployment among them. Persons with disabilities who have had access to other programmes that have been more successful have experienced reductions in the support provided to them, in some cases resulting in loss of employment. Evidence indicates that the Work Programme helped persons with disabilities back to work to a very limited extent and that persons with substantial support needs were left aside.

108. The situation of persons with disabilities deemed “fit to work” is not monitored as such. Those who have re-entered the system by claiming the Job Seeker’s Allowance to support them until they find work face stringent levels of conditions and sanctions, which do not take into account the specific barriers they face. The Committee was informed that, in some cases, sanctions had led to financial hardship for persons with disabilities, and particularly persons with intellectual and/or psychosocial disabilities.

109. The State party initially stated that it did not monitor deaths that occurred after assessments. Evidence gathered during the inquiry indicated that, in 2012 and 2015, such information was released by the Department of Work and Pension following freedom of information requests. Additionally, information originated from official sources indicated that 33 deaths of claimants who died after being assessed were being examined. The State party claims that there is no causal link. The Committee is not aware of any attempts at objective, thorough, open and impartial investigation regarding those deaths by an independent body.

D. Adequate standard of living and social protection (art. 28)

110. The Committee had access to official statistics indicating that, overall, households with one or more persons with disabilities are more likely to have a relatively low income than households without persons with disabilities. The Committee was presented with evidence that changes operated in the welfare system had had a more negative impact on households with persons with disabilities, especially on those living on low income.

111. The Committee observes that equality impact assessments carried out by authorities for various welfare benefits did foresee that a large number of persons with disabilities would be affected by policy changes. The Committee also received evidence that the cumulative impact in the reduction of welfare benefits has led persons with disabilities to struggle to maintain minimum level of income, driving many into increased dependency on relatives and increased levels of indebtedness and resulting in an inability to manage the bare essentials and recourse to food banks.

112. The authorities foresaw that the transition from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payment would result in 620,000 fewer people receiving Personal Independence Payments and would represent a 20 per cent saving in expenditure. The eligibility criteria and the threshold for qualifying for Personal Independence Payments have been tightened, with the result that many claimants with moderate or lower levels of support have been excluded from the benefit. Similarly, the tightening of the eligibility criteria for the mobility component has resulted in Personal Independence Payments beneficiaries losing their entitlements to that component. Persons were reassessed based on functional criteria and evidence indicates that, despite assurances that the assessment period would be shortened, there were claimants experiencing long waiting periods. Information also indicates that the authorities intend to further reduce the support available to access assistive devices.

E. Systematic violations of the Convention

113. Consequently, the Committee considers that there is reliable evidence that the threshold of grave or systematic violations of the rights of persons with disabilities has been met in the State party. That conclusion is based on the following findings:

(a) The State party has implemented a policy aimed at reforming its welfare system and the reforms have been justified in the context of austerity measures to achieve fiscal and budgetary policy consolidation;

(b) The assumptions made under the policy include that: taxpayers need to be treated with fairness; large numbers of persons with disabilities have been relying and dependent on social benefits; persons are better off in work than on benefits; the dependency of persons with disabilities on benefits is in itself a disincentive to move them into employment; the number of persons with disabilities relying on social benefits were to be decreased; and tightening sanctions and conditionality of social benefits is a legitimate tool for incentivizing their moving into employment;

(c) The impact assessments conducted by the State party prior to the implementation of several measures of its welfare reform expressly foresaw an adverse impact on persons with disabilities;

(d) Several measures have disproportionally and adversely affected the rights of persons with disabilities;

(e) Measures resulting in reduction of support provided to meet the extra cost of disability, denial of reasonable accommodation in assessment procedures and realization of the right to employment have had a discriminatory effect on persons with disabilities;

(f) The core elements of the rights to independent living and being included in the community, an adequate standard of living and social protection and their right to employment have been affected: persons with disabilities affected by policy changes have had their freedom of choice and control over their daily activities restricted, the extra cost of disability has been set aside and income protection has been curtailed as a result of benefit cuts, while the expected policy goal of achieving decent and stable employment is far from being attained;

(g) There is evidence that a large number of persons with disabilities have been affected (e.g. 13,900 persons with disabilities have lost their Motability schemes and therefore their adapted cars, upon implementation of Personal Independence Payment up to February 2016; 492,180 had been placed in the Employment and Support Allowance work-related activity group by end of 2015; 41,792 Employment and Support Allowance work-related activity group sanctions were handed out up to March 2014);

(h) Evidence gathered nationally by the Parliament, the independent monitoring framework, universities and research institutes and centres and independent experts, has documented adverse and disproportionate effects of measures on persons with disabilities;

(i) The State party has not conducted a comprehensive human rights-based cumulative impact assessment even though reliable sources have indicated it is feasible;

(j) The State party continues its policy of reducing social benefits of persons with disabilities as reflected in the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016.

VIII. Recommendations

114. The Committee recommends that the State party:

(a) Conduct a cumulative impact assessment of the measures adopted since 2010, referred to in the present report, on the rights to independent living and to be included in the community, social protection and employment of persons with disabilities. The State party should ensure that such assessment is rights-based and meaningfully involves persons with disabilities and their representative organizations;

(b) Ensure that any intended measure of the welfare reform is rights-based, upholds the human rights model of disability and does not disproportionately and/or adversely affect the rights of persons with disabilities to independent living, an adequate standard of living and employment. To prevent adverse consequences, the States party should carry out human rights-based cumulative impact assessments of the whole range of intended measures that would have an impact on the rights of persons with disabilities;

(c) Ensure that: any intended legislation and/or policy measure respects the core elements of the rights analysed in the present report; persons with disabilities retain their autonomy, choice and control over their place of residence and with whom they live; they receive appropriate and individualized support, including through personal assistance, and have access to community-based services on an equal basis with others; they have access to security social schemes that ensure income protection, including in relation to the extra cost of disability, that is compatible with an adequate standard of living and ensure their full inclusion and participation in society; and they have access and are supported in gaining employment in the open labour market on an equal basis with others;

(d) Ensure that public budgets take into account the rights of persons with disabilities, that sufficient budget allocations are made available to cover extra costs associated with living with a disability and that appropriate mitigation measures, with appropriate budget allocations, are in place for persons with disabilities affected by austerity measures;

(e) Introduce all adjustments necessary to make all information, communications, administrative and legal procedures in relation to social security entitlements, independent living schemes and employment/unemployment-related support services fully accessible to all persons with disabilities;

(f) Ensure access to justice, by providing appropriate legal advice and support, including through reasonable and procedural accommodation for persons with disabilities seeking redress and reparation for the alleged violation of their rights, as covered in the present report;

(g) Actively consult and engage with persons with disabilities through their representative organizations and give due consideration to their views in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of any legislation, policy or programme action related to the rights addressed in the present report;

(h) Take appropriate measures to combat any negative and discriminatory stereotypes or prejudice against persons with disabilities in public and the media, including that dependency on benefits is in itself a disincentive of employment; implement broad mass media campaigns, in consultation with organizations representing persons with disabilities, particularly those affected by the welfare reform, to promote them as full rights holders, in accordance with the Convention; and adopt measures to address complaints of harassment and hate crime by persons with disabilities, promptly investigate those allegations, hold the perpetrators accountable and provide fair and appropriate compensation to victims;

(i) Ensure that, in the implementation of legislation, policies and programmes, special attention is paid to persons with disabilities living with a low income or in poverty and persons with disabilities at higher risk of exclusion, such as persons with intellectual, psychosocial or multiple disabilities and women, children and older persons with disabilities. Those measures should be put in place within contributive and non-contributive regimes;

(j) Set up a mechanism and a system of human rights-based indicators to permanently monitor the impact of the different policies and programmes relating to the access and enjoyment by persons with disabilities of the right to social protection and an adequate standard of living, the right to live independently and be included in the community and the right to work, in close consultation with persons with disabilities and their representative organizations in all regions and countries that constitute the State party;

(k) Respond to the present report within the time limit prescribed under the Optional Protocol, widely disseminate the Committee’s findings and recommendations and provide appropriate follow-up to the recommendations of the present report, including during the consideration of the State party’s initial report before the Committee.

DPOs criticise DWP for excluding them from green paper launch

From Disability News Service

Grassroots disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) have criticised the government’s decision to exclude them from an event held to launch its new work, health and disability green paper.

The event for “stakeholders” was hosted by the disability charity Scope at its London headquarters, and attended by Penny Mordaunt (pictured), the minister for disabled people.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said in its invitation – it turned down a request from Disability News Service (DNS) to attend – that the event would “start the consultation period” on its green paper, Improving Lives.

It said that it was “launching a new conversation with disabled people and people with health conditions, their representatives, healthcare professionals and employers”.

More here

(GMCDP does not necessarily support or promote any organisation, individual or website mentioned in this post.)

‘Grave concern’ over coroner’s refusal to hold inquest into Maximus WRAG death

From Disability News Service

A coroner has refused to hold an inquest into the death of a disabled man who had a fatal heart attack an hour after being told the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) was threatening to stop his benefits.

Alan McArdle, who had previously been homeless but was living in council accommodation in Slough, Berkshire, told the friend who had read the DWP letter to him: “They’ve sanctioned my money,” before he collapsed.

The discredited government contractor Maximus had reported him to DWP for failing to attend appointments intended to move him towards work, as part of the Work Programme, despite being told about his severe ill-health.

Despite his deteriorating health – he had alcoholism, a serious heart condition and diabetes – he had been placed in the work-related activity group (WRAG) of employment and support allowance (ESA), designed for those found “fit” enough to carry out some work-related activity, but not yet well enough for a job.

McArdle had attended the first couple of Work Programme appointments in the Maximus offices with the support of a local charity, but his health and mobility had continued to deteriorate.

The impact of the diabetes meant he had no feeling in his arms and legs, and could hardly move.

After a fall, he had to be admitted to hospital, and asked a manager at the charity to explain to Maximus why he had not been in touch.

But when she called Maximus, she was told: “He hasn’t come in, so we will get him sanctioned.”

He had just come out of hospital when the letter from DWP arrived on 29 August last year.

More here

(GMCDP does not necessarily support or promote any organisation, individual or website mentioned in this post.)

 

GMCDP’s Living Our Lives: Mindfulness – Wednesday 9 November

Living Our Lives
GMCDP’s Living Our Lives: Mindfulness
 
Wednesday 9 November, 2:00-4:00
 
Mindfulness is a useful relaxation-based technique for being in the moment. It can help with everyday life and challenging situations. This session is being run by staff from Self Help Services.
 
If you would like to come please contact –
 
Phone: 0161 636 7535
Email lmarsh@gmcdp.com
Mobile for texts: 07508 537561
 
Let us know if you need BSL Interpreter/Lipspeaker, Personal Assistance, or assistance with travel. These workshops are being held in a wheelchair accessible office at the Windrush Millennium Centre in Moss Side.
 
#livingourlives
 
Living Our Lives is a series of workshops being organised by GMCDP. They are for disabled people of any age living in Manchester.
 
The word ‘workshop’ sounds a little formal, but these meetings are not very formal. They are a chance to find out information about topics of interest and use to us as disabled people, and to receive and give peer support to other disabled people.
 
The workshops so far have been very lively and informative.
One comment about the workshops has been:
“Coming here helps not being isolated, and I can socialize and get information. I appreciate being able to find out about my rights and get support whilst doing so.”
 
We would welcome suggestions for future topics.
For more information, please contact Linda by:
Email lmarsh@gmcdp.com
Phone 0161 636 7535

GMCDP Equality Forum: Celebrate Disability History Month!

Living Our Lives
GMCDP Equality Forum: Celebrate Disability History Month!
 
Wednesday 7 December,
 
2:00-4:00pm
 
Come along, have an early mince pie, and celebrate what disabled people have achieved over the years by working together.
 
Living Our Lives is a series of workshops being organised by GMCDP. They are for disabled people of any age living in Manchester.
 
The word ‘workshop’ sounds a little formal, but these meetings are not very formal. They are a chance to find out information about topics of interest and use to us as disabled people, and to receive and give peer support to other disabled people.
 
The workshops so far have been very lively and informative.
 
One comment about the workshops has been:
“Coming here helps not being isolated, and I can socialize and get information. I appreciate being able to find out about my rights and get support whilst doing so.”
 
We would welcome suggestions for future topics.
For more information, please contact Linda by:
Email lmarsh@gmcdp.com
Phone 0161 636 7535

GMCDP Living Our Lives: Stress Management – Tomorrow!

Living Our Lives

Stress Management – 2 November, 2:00-4:00
 
Find out about techniques to help you through those difficult times – assessments, exams, medical appointments, life crises. This session is being run by staff from Self Help Services.
 
Please let us know if you would like to come
 
Phone: 0161 636 7535
Email lmarsh@gmcdp.com
Mobile for texts: 07508 537561
 
Let us know if you need BSL Interpreter/Lipspeaker, Personal Assistance, or assistance with travel. These workshops are being held in a wheelchair accessible office at the Windrush Millennium Centre in Moss Side.
 
Living Our Lives is a series of workshops being organised by GMCDP. They are for disabled people of any age living in Manchester.
 
The word ‘workshop’ sounds a little formal, but these meetings are not very formal. They are a chance to find out information about topics of interest and use to us as disabled people, and to receive and give peer support to other disabled people.
 
The workshops so far have been very lively and informative.
One comment about the workshops has been:
“Coming here helps not being isolated, and I can socialize and get information. I appreciate being able to find out about my rights and get support whilst doing so.”
 
We would welcome suggestions for future topics.
For more information, please contact Linda by:
Email lmarsh@gmcdp.com
Phone 0161 636 7535

GMCDP Equality Forum: Assisted Suicide: Who Would It Benefit? – Monday 21st November

Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People

Assisted Suicide: Who Would It Benefit?

A year ago campaigners fought back and stopped yet another “Assisted Dying Bill” from becoming law. Every disabled people’s organisation which spoke up was against it.

The next Bill is already working its way through the House of Lords.

Fighting For Our Lives Against Lethal Discrimination

This GMCDP Equality Forum, with Dennis Queen of Not Dead Yet UK, will consider:
• What are the arguments against Assisted Suicide?
• Why we fight the legalisation of assisted suicide and euthanasia for disabled people.
• What we want instead.

Monday 21 November, 6:30 – 8:30pm

At Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People, Unit 4, Windrush Millennium Centre, 70 Alexandra Road, Moss Side. M16 7WD

Please let us know you are coming so we can be sure there is enough space. Let us know if you need BSL Interpreter / Lipspeaker or personal assistance. If you live in Manchester we may be able to assist with transport.

Contact Linda by:
Phone: 0161 636 7535;
Email lmarsh@gmcdp.com
Mobile for texts: 07508 537561

DWP forced to release reports revealing its secret thoughts on the media

From Disability News Service

Documents the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) tried to keep hidden for more than a year have revealed some of the tactics civil servants have used to manipulate media coverage on welfare reform.

The “DWP media evaluation” reports have been produced by a member of the department’s communications team nearly every month since March 2014, and analyse mainstream and social media coverage of DWP issues.

But DWP has repeatedly refused to release the reports – arguing that they were “commercially sensitive” – since Disability News Service (DNS) first asked to see them through a freedom of information request in September 2015.

It took a complaint by DNS to the Information Commissioner’s Office for DWP to agree finally to release the reports, more than 13 months later.

The documents detail how the DWP press office has tried to reduce negative media coverage, revealing that it successfully “dampened interest” in a report on benefit sanctions by the Commons work and pensions select committee in March 2015, resulting in “a smaller spike in coverage than previous critical reports”.

The committee’s March 2015 report had called on the government to set up a new independent body – modelled on the police complaints watchdog – to investigate the deaths of benefit claimants, and called for an independent inquiry to investigate whether benefit sanctions were being applied “appropriately, fairly and proportionately”.

 

More here

Candoco Dance Company presnt a double bill at Contact theatre 16th-17th November

Candoco Dance Company, the professional company of disabled and non-disabled dancers, presents a bold double bill of exciting works at Contact on Wednesday 16 & Thursday 17 November, that invites audiences to consider what dance can be.

In these two outstanding works, Set and Reset/Reset and Let’s Talk About Dis, Candoco brings together iconic choreography and playful questions and offers audiences an evening as diverse and exciting as the company itself.

For more information, visit – http://www.candoco.co.uk/home/event/double-bill-at-contact-manchester/

‘Britain’s leading integrated company is on assured, ambitious form’ – ★★★★
The Sunday Times – Double Bill, Sadler’s Wells Theatre

‘The sheer joy of movement shines through’ – ★★★★
The Stage – Double Bill, Sadler’s Wells Theatre

(GMCDP does not necessarily support or promote any organisation, individual or website mentioned in this post.)

Work capability assessment overhaul planned

From BBC

The scheme that assesses claimants of disability benefits faces a major overhaul, with ministers promising to extend a “revolution” of getting more people into work.

A consultation on reforming the Work Capability Assessment was announced on Monday.

Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green said he wanted a “personalised” way to help more people find jobs.

The charity Scope said it welcomed the planned changes.

Both Employment Support Allowance (ESA), which is paid to more than two million people, and the assessments, were originally introduced by Labour and then expanded by the coalition government.

The consultation follows the announcement that people with severe conditions will no longer face reassessments for their benefits.

It will examine how people receiving ESA can be helped back into employment without having their benefits put at risk while they search for a job.

More here

(GMCDP does not necessarily support or promote any organisation, individual or website mentioned in this post.)

Labour admits ‘confusion’… but still no shadow minister for disabled people

From Disability News Service

Labour has admitted that it has still not appointed a shadow minister for disabled people, nearly three weeks after party leader Jeremy Corbyn completed a reshuffle of his top parliamentary team.

There has now not been a Labour shadow minister to hold the government to account on disability issues since the promotion of Debbie Abrahams (pictured) to shadow work and pensions secretary in July, more than three months ago.

Two weeks ago, on 12 October, a party spokesperson told Disability News Service (DNS) that the process for appointing a new shadow disability minister was “ongoing”.

But that process appears to have dissolved into confusion.

Corbyn’s official spokesman originally told DNS this week that there was to be no shadow disability minister, and that “the relevant Shadow Minister for Equalities is Paula Sheriff”.

When DNS asked why the party had decided it no longer needed a shadow minister for disabled people, he said he had made a mistake, and that “whilst it does come under Paula Sheriff’s Equalities brief, the designated Shadow Minister for Disabled People is Margaret Greenwood”, as part of the team under shadow work and pensions secretary Debbie Abrahams.

He said this appointment had been made on the evening of 9 October.

When DNS said the party had claimed on 12 October that the process of appointing a shadow disability minister was “ongoing”, he said: “Roles have been more clearly assigned since the 12th, apologies for the confusion.”

After DNS then asked when exactly Greenwood had been handed the post – there appeared to be no mention of the appointment on her Twitter or Facebook pages, or the Labour party’s website, or her own website, which described her as shadow employment minister – he admitted that he had made another mistake.

He said that his “understanding” instead was that Abrahams was “going to be appointing more people to the DWP team and she’s going to create a shadow minister for disabilities”.

He said Greenwood was not the new shadow disability minister, and that there had been “a bit of confusion”.

He added: “Sometimes these things take time. I am sorry there has not been an appointment yet but there absolutely will be.

“The discussions are ongoing at the moment. That post will definitely be filled.”

Asked why the process had taken so long, he said: “That’s a question for Debbie. It’s obviously Debbie’s team. Maybe she’s looking for the right person for the job.”

He said any appointment had to be agreed between Corbyn, as party leader, and Abrahams, as shadow secretary of state.

He promised (on Monday evening) to ask Abrahams why it had taken so long to make the appointment.

By 11am today (Thursday), he had failed to respond to messages requesting an answer to that question.

This morning, Abrahams released a statement to DNS which made no mention of the failure to appoint a shadow minister for disabled people.

She said: “The work I started as shadow minister for disabled people is very important to me, so I will continue to lead on the portfolio and build on the work and relationships I’ve established with disabled people, and their organisations, over the last six years.”

She added: “I’m pleased to be able to announce the formal launch of my Disability Equality Roadshow in November in Manchester which will ensure the views and experiences of disabled people are at centre of Labour’s policy making, as we look to transform social security to a holistic, person-centred system.

“Fundamentally it’s about changing the culture of the system, how it’s delivered, performance managed and perceived.”

More here

(GMCDP does not necessarily support or promote any organisation, individual or website mentioned in this post.)

Equality Forum: The Continuing Struggle For Inclusive Education – Monday 24th October

equality FB

Joe Whittaker, long-time campaigner for, and former Lecturer in inclusive education, will be outlining the issues and leading this discussion.

The Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People Equality Forum is a space for disabled people in Manchester to debate and discuss issues important to us.

We welcome your views and ideas. Some possible issues for discussion are:

• Why does it remain a significant struggle for disabled learners to attend their local mainstream school?

• This is a human rights issue not an educational technique/s or national curriculum issue.

• People with particular impairments are used to divert the focus away from human rights to a schooling issue – i.e. People with Autism and/or Neurodiversity.

When? Monday 24 October, 6:30 – 8:30pm

Where? Friend’s Meeting House, 6 Mount Street, Manchester, M2 5NS

*Please let us know you are coming so we can be sure there is enough space. Let us know if you need BSL Interpreter / Lipspeaker or personal assistance. We may be able to assist with transport*.

Contact Linda by:
Phone: 0161 636 7535
Email lmarsh@gmcdp.com
Mobile for texts: 07508 537561

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Disability Rights UK: United Nations Convention On The rights of People With Disabilities

From Disability Rights UK

We want to hear from disabled people and people with long-term health conditions about how you think the UK is doing in upholding our rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

In 2017 the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will conduct its first examination of the UK, looking at the steps it has taken to implement the UNCRPD. The Committee, the majority of whom are disabled people, is a body of experts, nominated and elected by governments.

 

The examination will look at the UK performance across all of the provisions of the Convention, which include:

·      Living independently and being included in the community

·      Personal mobility

·      Access to information

·      Respect for privacy and for home and family

·      Inclusive education

·      Health

·      Work and employment

·      Adequate standard of living

·      Participation in public life

·      Participation in culture leisure and sport

 

 

Disability Rights UK (DR UK) are holding 7 half day events across England. There is no charge but places are limited so don’t delay, book today!

As well as the Government giving their view, disabled people and our organisations can prepare and submit shadow or parallel reports, offering an independent account of the national situation from our point of view. The Equality & Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has funded DR UK and Disability Wales to produce such a report.

We need to hear from you! 2016 Dates and Venues

 

For more information or to book your place, please email Nick Ash at events@disabilityrightsuk.org

All venues are accessible, however please let us know of any access needs you may have in advance.

Important consultation on a replacement for ESA

From Spartacus Network

ESA needs replacing; there is little disagreement about that. What has not yet been proposed is a system to replace it. Such a system should be designed primarily by the sick and disabled people who will depend upon it.

This is what Ekklesia is proposing to do. In its initial survey, Ekklesia asked respondents about what support they needed in order to be able to work (if work were possible at all) and how the assessment process should occur. The results of this survey have been published in two reports. The first focusses on the support that sick and disabled people say that they need if they are to be able to work. The second report presents a proposal for a new assessment and support process, again based upon the responses to the survey. But there is more work to do.

Ekklesia are asking people to respond to their initial proposal with comments and critique. Their second report is also a consultation document, asking for responses to the proposed system and principles. Twelve weeks have been given to respond to this consultation, which is running from 9th August to 31st October 2016. Ekklesia are particularly keen for responses from people with sensory impairments, spinal or limb injuries, learning disabilities and autism spectrum disorders as these groups were under-represented in the initial survey. However, chronic physical and mental illness continue to be central to the design of a suitable assessment process, especially given their traditional under-assessment in income-replacement and extra-cost benefits.

You can find the first report here, and the second (consultation) report here.

You can respond to the report by emailing your response to ekklesiasurvey@gmail.com or by posting it to Ekklesia Survey c/o Simon Barrow 3/3 Kirk St, Edinburgh, EH6 5EX.
If you prefer, for simplicity, you can answer the consultation questions using a scale of Strongly Disagree / Disagree / Neither Agree nor Disagree / Agree / Strongly Agree.

The report by Ekklesia shows that the government is badly failing its sick and disabled citizens. The government claimed that the Incapacity Benefit system abandoned disabled people to a life on benefits. Yet we are far more abandoned by ESA. Under IB we were given the freedom to live and manage their lives; on ESA WRAG or JSA we are mandated to activities beyond our capabilities without the support we would need to be able to undertake them.

Without this support, any attempts to get us into work are simply doomed to fail. It is a waste of the government’s resources to put money into a scheme that cannot work, and a waste of our health, energy and capacity for social inclusion. The government cannot have it both ways; it cannot refuse to pay the cost of employment support and simultaneously insist that we ‘prepare for’ work that we will never find.

The principles that Ekklesia propose allows the government to make the choice of whether to fully support someone to work, or to support them in a life of independence and social inclusion outside of the workplace. By basing the decision upon what support is needed for an individual to work, we ensure that the decision on capacity for work is tied in to both what support an employer can provide, and what the government is providing. We end the farcical situation where individuals are told by the DWP’s mechanistic system that they are fit for work, when the assessor and employment support worker know that the individual is demonstrably unfit for work. And we ensure that no-one is asked to work before the government has made it possible for them to do so.

Based on the results from the respondents to Ekklesia’s survey, Ekklesia have proposed, as a starting point for this consultation, that a new assessment process should include the following features:

  • Medical evidence should be provided for all individuals; this is a more efficient way to get an accurate medical opinion than having to employ medics who are not involved in the individual’s care.
  • The assessment should be in the format of a discussion taking place over several meetings.
  • Claimants should have the opportunity to comment on the assessor’s report before a decision is made.
  • The assessor should also be the one who makes the decision on fitness for work.
  • Reassessment need only occur for those not in regular contact with a caseworker, and should be light-touch in recognition that these are the people who are least likely to become fit for work.

The criteria of fitness for work should be based on the following:

  • The decision of capacity for work should include labour market competitiveness.
  • The assessment should consider the overall capacity for work, including the need to work at a slower pace or have breaks from work, rather than focussing on isolated activities.
  • The assessment should give direct consideration to the skills that the individual has and whether or not these can be used given the claimant’s health condition.
  • A decision of fit for work should be based upon the ability to identify jobs that that individual could perform.
  • If an individual needs particular forms of support to be able to work, that individual is considered unfit for work unless and until that support is provided.

The underlying policy position, principles and assumptions should recognise that:

  • Individuals contribute to society in a number of ways other than paid work, and the value of these contributions should be recognised.
  • The social security system needs to protect those whose health and quality of life is at risk of being damaged by requirements to engage in work or work-related activity.
  • Voluntary work should be encouraged as a valuable contribution to society and as an acceptable activity for people with chronic illness who claim sickness benefits.
  • The basic rate of benefit should be set at a level that is adequate for long-term living including social participation in society.
  • Sanctions and conditionality are detrimental to health, well-being and financial security. They should not be used for people with chronic illness. Instead, a system of top-ups (above a liveable base-level benefit) could be acceptable to compensate individuals for engagement in activity.
  • A range of areas not well captured by the WCA are key to the understanding and assessment of capacity for work. These include mental health, varying or unpredictable capacity for work, and the accumulation of incapacity from multiple origins.
  • Capacity for work is impacted by the provision of support in areas of life outside of the individual workplace. These can include health care, personal assistance, home help, caring responsibilities, commuting and regulation of the labour market to promote more and better quality jobs.
  • People with chronic illness need a wide range of support if they are to be able to work.
  • People with chronic illness may benefit from re-training, particularly where re-training may allow the individual to use remaining health capacity better or compensate for loss of capacity in a previously trained area.
  • Employers may be reluctant to employ people with chronic illness due to founded or unfounded concerns of associated costs. Employers may need practical advice, support and/or financial assistance to make it viable for them to take on an employee where the any associated costs are uncertain.
  • There is a mismatch between what employers mean and can manage when they refer to flexible working, and what people with chronic illness mean and need when they refer to flexible working.
  • There is a difference between an individual being ‘capable’ of work (which could include working for small units of time at irregular intervals, spread out over a longer period), and an individual being employable or being able to find or sustain work.

You can find the first report here, and the second (consultation) report here. You can respond to the report by emailing your response to ekklesiasurvey@gmail.com or by posting it to Ekklesia Survey c/o Simon Barrow 3/3 Kirk St, Edinburgh, EH6 5EX.
If you prefer, for simplicity, you can answer the consultation questions using a scale of Strongly Disagree / Disagree / Neither Agree nor Disagree / Agree / Strongly Agree.
The consultation is running from 9th August to 31st October 2016.

Original article here

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