Archives for category: Environment

A coach company is ignoring access laws by refusing to allow wheelchair-users to travel on its services on the same day they buy tickets, while exposing its drivers to possible criminal charges.

Transport laws state that any company that has already introduced accessible coaches – even though this is not obligatory until 2020 – must ensure that those vehicles provide a space for wheelchair-users to travel in their wheelchairs.

Although the coach company National Express does have such spaces on nearly all its vehicles, they are usually covered by temporary seats, and it demands at least 24 hours’ notice to remove them and so clear the space if a wheelchair-user wishes to travel in their wheelchair.

But accessible transport campaigner Doug Paulley has demonstrated that National Express is breaching the law by failing to ensure those spaces can be accessed easily and refusing to allow wheelchair-users to “turn up and go” on its services.

He is due to discuss the issue with the managing director of National Express, Chris Hardy.

Paulley’s concerns about the way the company dealt with wheelchair-users who wish to travel spontaneously were first confirmed last August.

He bought a ticket from Bradford to Leeds on a coach that was leaving within half an hour, but when he reached the coach he was told he should have given 24 hours’ notice and would not be allowed to board as it would take too long to remove the temporary seating.

Any coaches that have been adapted to be compliant with Public Service Vehicle Accessibility Regulations – as National Express’s have – must provide a wheelchair space and make that space available to wheelchair-users.

Separate laws state that a coach driver is committing a criminal offence* if he or she does not allow a wheelchair-user to access that space, if it is not occupied by another disabled passenger and the coach is not full.

Such spaces are legally defined as unoccupied even if they are covered by temporary seating.

After realising in February that the coach driver could have been committing a criminal offence, Paulley contacted West Yorkshire Police, which initially refused to treat the incident as a crime.


Source: Coach company’s wheelchair policy puts drivers at risk of criminal record | DisabledGo News and Blog


The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has breached freedom of information laws by refusing to explain how its new universal credit system of working-age benefits will affect disabled people.

Campaigners have been warning that the introduction of universal credit will see tens or even hundreds of thousands of disabled people with high support needs lose out on thousands of pounds a year because the new system will scrap the disability premiums that exist in the current system.

Both severe (£62.45 per week) and enhanced disability premiums (£15.90 per week) are currently added to some means-tested disability benefits to help with the costs of disability.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has been insisting since 2012 that “transitional protection” would ensure that no-one moving onto universal credit would see their benefits cut in cash terms.

But campaigners have remained sceptical, while also pointing out that the transitional protections will not apply if there are any changes in the disabled person’s personal circumstances – for example if they move to a new home, or their relationship status changes – and will not apply to new claimants.

And last month, a terminally-ill man, TP, won permission for a judicial review of the financial impact of the introduction of universal credit on disabled people with high support needs, through the loss of the two premiums.

According to his lawyers, the removal of the premiums has seen TP lose £178 each month after he moved back to London to receive treatment and had to claim universal credit (UC) for the first time.


Source: DWP ignores freedom of information laws in bid to hide universal credit impact | DisabledGo News and Blog

Some time ago I was sitting in the Sunday school room of a local church, with posters made by kids depicting the teachings of Jesus curling at the corners on the walls. I was there to do my advice surgery in my role as a local councillor.

A man came in to ask for help getting his family moved to a bigger house. His daughter had two children who had been removed from her care but were allowed to live with her on condition that she live with her parents and they acted as guardians. I diligently took down the names and ages of the children to assess the size of house they needed.


Source: How many Telfords before we get serious about child grooming? | The Guardian – Jess Phillips

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The public “tit for tat” row between the government and Motability has intensified after senior figures in the organisation and the minister for disabled people gave evidence to MPs.

The Treasury and work and pensions select committees are holding a joint inquiry following political and media criticism of how the car scheme for disabled people is run.

Following the evidence sessions on Monday, the committees have asked the National Audit Office (NAO) to investigate the scheme.

Sarah Newton, the minister for disabled people, suggested during one of the evidence sessions that letters she would release to the committee would show that Lord Sterling, the Tory peer who co-founded the scheme more than 40 years ago, was wrong to accuse work and pensions secretary Esther McVey of making a series of untrue and misleading statements about the schemeto MPs last month.

Lord Sterling – who also gave evidence to the committees on Monday – had said in his letter that McVey was wrong to claim that it had been her intervention as minister for disabled people in 2013 that led to Motability agreeing to pass £175 million to former disability living allowance (DLA) claimants who were going to lose their Motability vehicles in the programme to be reassessed for the new personal independence payment (PIP).

The committees also suggested that they might use their report to call on the government to allow rival organisations to set up as competitors to Motability, which they said might drive down the price paid by disabled people to lease vehicles through the scheme.


Source: Motability ‘tit for tat’ row intensifies as bosses and minister give evidence | DisabledGo News and Blog


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


Dear Friends,

But us Brits still chuck away 2.5 billion plastic-lined coffee cups every year — and hardly any get recycled!

We have a chance to stop this. The government is asking the public whether we’d support them charging a 25p ‘latte levy’ for takeaway coffee cups.



Ministers have said they aim to improve bus access for wheelchair users, following a Supreme Court ruling.

Clearer signs saying wheelchair users have priority, and powers for drivers to remove people who refuse to move from a wheelchair space are among the measures considered.

It may also involve an awareness campaign for “bus-friendly” – easily folding – pushchairs.

The review followed wheelchair user Doug Paulley’s court case.

Mr Paulley, from Wetherby, West Yorkshire, took legal action after he was left at a stop because a woman with a sleeping baby in a pushchair refused to move out of the designated area when asked by the driver of a FirstGroup bus to Leeds in February 2012. She said the buggy would not fold.

Transport Minister Nusrat Ghani said: “Passengers with disabilities must have the same opportunities to travel as other members of society, and it is essential that the services they rely on are accessible and work for them.

“Where people live, shop, go out or park their car should not be determined by their disability.

“Accessible transport networks are vital if we are to support those with disabilities to live independent lives and fulfil their potential.”

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled it was not enough for drivers to “simply request” a non-wheelchair user vacate the space without taking any further steps, and they must consider whether it was reasonable to “pressurise” reluctant passengers to move.


Source: Bus access to be improved for wheelchair users, ministers say | DisabledGo News and Blog


Where is the ‘Duty of Care’, pending Safeguarding issues and many other aspects, we now see the true values of this Tory Government and persons with disabilities are now no longer valued.

Same Difference

Life began at 40 for severely learning-disabled Colleen say her sisters, when she moved into her own home.

She is living happily in her Coventry house, 11 years after leaving unsuitable residential care, thanks to a carefully-crafted network of 24-hour care and a range of state benefits.

But due to the impending removal of the housing part of her support, known as Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI), that security has been mired in uncertainty and anxiety.

Colleen is one of 124,000 households in England who receive this particular benefit.

It helps them repay the interest on their mortgages and nearly half the recipients are pensioners.

However, within weeks the benefit will be axed and a loan offered instead.

Those who have not signed up to the new government scheme face losing their mortgage support.

Though small, the current funding arrangement makes enough difference to enable Colleen to live on…

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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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