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The real life stories of disabled people’s experiences of the UK welfare system are being brought to life in a play. But far from being a fringe performance, the cast is taking it to the heart of political decision making – parliament.

Igniting disability

Ignite Me Workshop Theatre was formed in August 2017. And now, it’s bringing its latest work, a play called Lives Like These to parliament on 1 May. The Canary caught up with the group’s artistic director, Bryony Jayne Meteyard, to discuss igniting parliament with some hard-hitting theatre.

The group came about, Meteyard said, because she saw the need for a “people’s theatre” in south west London. The aim of Ignite Me is, in her words, to “hold up a mirror to society and show the truth”. Disabled people in the UK are often portrayed in the press as ‘benefit scroungers’, or ‘living off people’s taxes’, so a theatre company dedicated to busting these myths is refreshing. Meteyard told The Canary:

Disabled people and full-time carers need to have a voice in the current political climate. Austerity is having a major detrimental effect on their lives and bullying, discrimination and marginalisation are still massive issues. Theatre is one way to make an impact.

Damning figures. Damning criticism.

Meteyard is correct when she says that disabled people’s lives have been detrimentally affected in recent years. They have been subjected to seven years of what TV show The Last Leg described as a “genocide” by the Conservative Party. Because since 2010, the Tories have cut:

  • The Independent Living Fund (ILF), which previously supported people with care packages. Since the government cut it, in some areas 88% of people have seen their care packages reduced by up to 50%.


Source: Disabled people’s stories are about to give parliament a much needed wake up call | The Canary


The government has failed to set up a single committee involving experts from outside the two departments examining the future of working-age social care, nearly four months after the programme of work was announced.

On 16 November, Damian Green, at the time the work and pensions secretary, announced that the government would publish a new green paper on older people’s social care by the end of July.

He also announced a “parallel programme of work” on working-age adults with care needs, which would be aligned with the green paper and would be led by the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

But nearly four months later, and less than five months before the deadline Green set for the parallel green paper to be published, DHSC has told Disability News Service (DNS) that it has yet to set up a single committee or working group involving stakeholders from outside the two departments.

The admission came in a response to a DNS freedom of information request, which asked for the names of people from outside the departments who had joined any committees or working groups set up as part of the work stream.

DHSC said in its response to the request: “DHSC does not hold the information you requested, as no such committees or working groups have yet been established to support the programme of work on working age adults with care needs.


Source: ‘Extraordinary’ government response to question over social care progress | DisabledGo News and Blog

Thousands of people with learning disabilities and other needs depend on support provided via a care worker sleeping overnight, but these services are under threat because of a huge back pay bill.

Social care faces a funding gap that has been described by the Care Quality Commission as pushing provision to a “tipping point”; we cannot afford  continuing uncertainty around how to fund the estimated £400m cost of back pay for sleep-in shifts.

This crisis has arisen due to lack of clarity in national minimum wage regulations and inconsistent government guidance. The result is an impending disaster for learning disability care. Services are closing and providers are handing back contracts. We are asking the government to ensure that funding is made available to cover this liability – which could stretch to up to six years of back pay.

While the government has waived financial penalties over back payments, it has not presented a solution or funding to settle the bill. Instead, it has instituted the Social Care Compliance Scheme, which encourages care providers to calculate the extent of their own liabilities and pay them to HMRC by the end of March 2019. As Matt Wort, a partner at Anthony Collins Solicitors, wrote last November: “Forcing care providers to pay for the government’s own mistakes and leaving essential services at the mercy of HMRC is both unethical and nonsensical.”


Source: Learning disability care faces disaster over back pay bill | The Guardian

Unfortunately this Governments attitude and policy is taking the Thatcher directive to bring back ‘Victorian values‘, but are they values to be applauded, for were there not child labour, poor and workhouses, debtors prisons and many others.

Are the progressions of the 20th Century and the start of the 21st to be abandoned. Will we bring back poor and workhouses, debtors prisons and may be even child labour, will there still be free education for all children and the disabled and poor left to their own devices, while the rich elite gain all the benefits of life.

We have the Equality Act 2010, the Care Act 2014 and others but are these just bits of legal jargon, which when they come to be tested are not worth the papers they have produced.

Are they just bits of paper with no real significance, but giving all the non-elite a belief of a caring Government.

Are we now seeing the real true colour ‘Blue’, when previously there could have been a tinge of ‘Red’ now what does that produce, could it be purple, now what party does that create and do they still exist. Something with UK in their terminology, perhaps.

Is this what our recent forebears fought for in the wars of the 20th Century.

If so, is life really worth living for, are we not just producing for the wealthy elite, while fighting and working for a pittance.

Govt Newspeak

Minister suggests ‘realities of the world’ mean government will not halt attack on rights. The justice minister responsible for human rights appears to have dismissed calls for the government to do more to protect the social and economic rights of disabled people and other groups.

Dr Phillip Lee, a junior justice minister whose responsibilities include human rights, was speaking at the launch of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s (EHRC) new report detailing Britain’s progress in implementing the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

In a speech at the launch, he appeared to suggest that “the realities of the world” – including population growth, an ageing society, and mass migration – and “finite resources” meant the government could not afford to meet the report’s call for action on the rights laid out in the covenant. The covenant includes the rights to work, including safe and healthy working…

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It is good that Maija is realising her dream and acknowledged the barriers before her to which she managed to overcome.

Modeling is not an easy experience for anyone, but even with all her additional barriers Maija came through.

I wish her well for the future.

Same Difference

When a mixed-race girl with Down’s syndrome sat down to watch Finland’s Next Top Model, it might have seemed a distant world. But for Maija Mattila, it started the dream that changed her life.

Maija watched in awe as the tall, dark, aspiring model walked in front of judges of the reality TV show and posed for the camera. This was Polina Hiekkala, and she was doing everything Maija wanted to do.

Maija’s hazel brown eyes light up when she talks about modelling.

The young Finnish-Nigerian woman explains how she has watched countless hours of catwalk videos on YouTube since being inspired by Hiekkala in 2012.

“I started practising my walk at home, in front of the mirror,” she says.

Maija, who was born with Down’s syndrome and is now 20, leans gently against her mother and laughs shyly when recalling her early steps towards a modelling career.

Her mother…

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The government must do more to offer incentives to businesses to take on disabled people as employees, and to tackle the barriers that prevent them finding jobs, according to cross-party MPs.

MPs from Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the SNP and the Conservative party all pushed the government to improve its policies.

Disability Rights UK, which helped secure the debate, said afterwards that it was the first time MPs had debated disabled people and economic growth in the main Commons chamber.

Disabled MP Marsha de Cordova, Labour’s shadow minister for disabled people, told fellow MPs that the government had done far too little to remove the barriers faced by disabled people in the employment market.

She said: “It is a matter of serious concern that we have a government who barely speak about removing barriers, while actually creating new ones through their austerity cuts and their punitive social security system.”

She said the disability employment gap – the difference between the employment rates of disabled and non-disabled people – currently stood at more than 31 percentage points, and was even higher for some impairment groups.

De Cordova was among MPs who criticised the government’s Disability Confident scheme, which is supposed to encourage employers to take on disabled employees.

She said it had been “a dismal failure” and “has yet to produce any concrete evidence of results”.

She asked the minister for disabled people, Sarah Newton, how many disabled people had found jobs as a direct result of the scheme, but Newton later failed to provide an answer.

De Cordova told fellow MPs how one deaf man had been offered a job by an employer signed up to the Disability Confident scheme.

But when the employer realised that the man’s Access to Work support would be capped – because of government policy – and they would have to meet the rest of his disability-related workplace costs, the job offer was withdrawn.


Source: Government ‘must do more on disability employment’, MPs hear | DisabledGo News and Blog

The son of a Sainsbury’s worker diagnosed with Alzheimer’s five years ago has revealed in an ‘uplifting’ post on social media how the supermarket giant fought to keep her job open and handled her condition with ‘compassion, class and dignity’.

Doron Salomon, who works for a football agency, has seen his emotional thread praising Sainbury’s go viral after he detailed the lengths staff at the store, in Harrow, North London, went to to keep his mother, who he doesn’t want to name, employed in a job she loves.

Doron says the supermarket has helped to ‘normalise’ his mother’s life over the last few years as her illness has deteriorated, giving her self-worth when ‘she was quite literally losing everything she once was’

The supermarket chain told MailOnline their former employee had been an ‘inspiration’.  

Read more:
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook


Source: Sainsbury’s praised for helping worker with Alzheimer’s keep job : Mail Online

In 1890, no one foresaw the rise of the internal combustion engine: horses were the fastest means of transport, and a status symbol. Today, society stands at a similar tipping point. No one can really predict how transport will be used in the coming century, or if people will even need to travel as much as they do today. But some of the most commonly used modes of public transport may be closer to extinction than previously thought.

Buses have been a reliable feature of urban and rural landscapes for more than 200 years. They have helped to define communities; think of London’s red double-decker bus, or the iconic Greyhound bus across the US. And buses have traditionally been a great social leveller: ethnic minority groups fought hard for the right to share the same seats and stops and the poor enjoy the same regulated prices as the middle class.

Yet the end of the bus has already been signalled. In the UK, there has been a reported decline in bus and train usage over recent decades – and it’s not related to the nation’s sluggish economy. Today, only 5% of journeys are made by bus, with 10% by rail, 1% by air, 1% by bicycle and 83% by car or taxi.


Source: Buses could be history sooner than you think – here’s why : The Conversation

Govt Newspeak

Dealing with the disability benefit system can be highly stressful. 

In a major undertaking, the government announced in late January that it will review all 1.6m claims for Personal Independence Payments (PIP) – one of the benefits that supports people with a disability.

There are serious issues with the benefits applications process, and many disabled people who claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or PIP find the process very stressful. In just over two years, the British government has spent more than £100m managing reviews and appeals against their disability benefits decisions.

My new research found that people who receive disability benefits find changes to the system powerfully dehumanising. Changes since 2010 have included cuts to the financial support that people receive and the introduction of new types of benefits – the ESA and PIP – which have tighter eligibility criteria than the previous benefits. With the move to…

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Social care providers must adopt new approaches if they are to survive the challenges of funding cuts and policy changes, according to a new publication released today.

The VODG discussion paper, Challenges can fuel change, outlines what social care providers believe are the future hopes for the sector as well as the barriers that block progress. The publication is a contribution to Civil Society Futures, the national independent inquiry into English civil society.

Based on the views of VODG members, the paper argues that voluntary social care organisations must adapt to be sustainable. By 2025, there will be 11.7m disabled people living in England, compared to today’s 11 million today. Cumulative adult social care cuts since 2010 have amounted to £6.3 billion, more savings are planned and the recent cash injection for social care in the local government funding settlement is only a temporary solution. Meanwhile the retrospective requirement for providers to fund national minimum wage/living wage back pay to sleep-in shift workers would be financially disastrous for many providers and Brexit is a threat to labour supply.

However, the paper argues, voluntary adult social care sector could be stronger if disabled people were more involved in decision-making. For example, providers could enable people supported to articulate their own demands for social care to government, arguing for better funding and support for high quality care.

The paper includes other hopes and solutions for the sector:


Source: Social care providers must adopt new approaches if they are to survive | Care Industry News

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