Archives for posts with tag: Disability Politics

John Pring Disability News Service 14th September 2017

About 900,000 disabled people will see their weekly incomes fall by at least £50 a week by 2020, because of the continuing impact of the government’s welfare reforms, according to new research.

The research by the consultancy Policy in Practice found that, of 7.2 million working-age, low-income households, more than two-fifths of those containing a working-age disabled person would lose at least £50 a week, compared with November 2016.

The report, The Cumulative Impact Of Welfare Reform: A National Picture, says the impact of measures introduced after November 2016 will see the average low-income household containing a working-age disabled person lose £51.47 a week by 2020, compared with an average loss of £35.82 for households not containing a disabled person.

This will come on top of an average weekly loss of more than £20 for low-income households containing a working-age disabled person as a result of welfare reforms introduced pre-November 2016 – such as the benefit cap, cuts to housing benefit and the bedroom tax – although this figure does not take account of rising living costs.

 

Source: Welfare reform ‘will see £50 a week more cuts to 900,000 disabled people’ – Black Triangle Campaign

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Disabled campaigners say they are encouraged by a new public statement from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which describes how it will prosecute disability hate crime.

The statement was one of a series published by CPS that cover the different strands of hate crime, with others covering racist and religious hate crime; and homophobic, biphobic and transphobic hate crime.

Its publication came only days after the Disability Hate Crime Network (DHCN) wrote to the solicitor general to warn him that that “alarm bells are ringing” over the “massive discrepancies and inconsistencies” in the way the criminal justice system deals with disability hate crime prosecutions.

That letter pointed to the network’s “deep dismay” that six recent court cases involving violent attacks on disabled people – reported last month by Disability News Service (DNS) – had not been treated as disability hate crimes.

In its new statement, CPS pledges to “identify disability hate crimes and other offences targeted at disabled people as early as possible”, “build strong cases with our partners”, “remind the court of its powers to increase a sentence” under section 146 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 if there is evidence of disability hate crime*, and “apply for an increased sentence in all other cases where disability is an aggravating factor in the case”.

The statement also includes a commitment to the social model of disability, and a recognition that the belief that disabled people “are somehow inherently vulnerable, weak and easy targets is an attitude that motivates some crimes against disabled people”.

But it also states that some crimes are committed “because the offender perceives the disabled person to be vulnerable and not because the offender dislikes or hates the person or disabled people”, and are therefore not disability hate crimes.

CPS says that any such evidence will still be put before the court – even if the offence was not a hate crime – so that “the sentence reflects the gravity of such offending”.

It also promises that it will “not make assumptions about a disabled victim’s reliability or credibility, and [will] challenge

 

Source: CPS hate crime statement wins support – Black Triangle Campaign


The bus industry is facing fresh legal action over its failure to ensure disabled people have access to the designated wheelchair spaces on buses, six months after a Supreme Court judgment that campaigners hoped would finally settle the issue.

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in January that wheelchair-users have a right to priority access over the wheelchair space on a bus, and that a driver must do more than just ask a non-disabled passenger to move if they are occupying the space and it is needed by someone using a wheelchair.

But accessible transport campaigners said this week that, although there had been an initial improvement following the judgment, standards “were starting to slip again”.

London’s user-led accessible transport charity, Transport for All (TfA), met last week to mark six months since the Supreme Court judgment.

The meeting heard from one wheelchair-user

 

Source: Bus industry set to face fresh legal action over access to wheelchair space – Black Triangle Campaign


Disabled campaigners have written to a government minister to warn him that “alarm bells are ringing” over the “massive discrepancies and inconsistencies” in the way the criminal justice system deals with disability hate crime prosecutions.

The Disability Hate Crime Network says there is “increasing concern” over these failings.

And it has asked solicitor general Robert Buckland to create “tighter and understandably clear guidance”, and to pressure the system to comply with the rules on disability hate crime.

Stephen Brookes, a coordinator of the network, says in the letter that he and his colleagues felt “deep dismay” that six recent court cases involving violent attacks on disabled people – reported last month by Disability News Service (DNS) – had not been treated as disability hate crimes.

Source: Minister told ‘alarm bells are ringing’ over disability hate crime – Black Triangle Campaign


A disabled people’s organisation (DPO) has intervened in a “hugely significant” court of appeal hearing that is set to decide how far the government’s Care Act protects disabled people’s independent living and well-being.

Inclusion London is the first DPO to intervene in a case involving the “flagship” Care Act 2014, while it will also be the first such case to be heard by the court of appeal.

To highlight the importance of the case, Inclusion London will hold a vigil outside the Royal Courts of Justice on Thursday (17 August), from 9.15am, to show the three judges the impact the case will have on disabled people’s lives.

The case has been brought by Luke Davey, a disabled person with high support needs, whose support package was “slashed” after the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) in June 2015.

He lost his high court case earlier this year, after seeking a judicial review of Oxfordshire County Council’s decision to cut his support from £1,651 to £950 a week from May last year.

The council had decided both to increase the number of hours Davey spent without the support of his personal assistants (PAs), and reduce the rates of pay of his PAs.

His lawyers are now arguing that the care plan drawn up by the council should be quashed, while it should draft a new plan that takes into account the risks its decision poses to Davey’s wellbeing.

They will argue that the council is breaching the Care Act by suggesting that he can rely on volunteers or unpaid family carers if he wants to go out for longer than three hours at a time.

And they will argue that the council should have seriously considered the risk to Davey’s wellbeing if his long-established team of PAs broke up.

Source: DPO plans court vigil as it intervenes in ‘hugely significant’ Care Act case – Black Triangle Campaign


A newly-elected disabled MP is calling for action to address the bullying and harassment he has witnessed in the House of Commons, in a bid to introduce a new culture of “decorum and professionalism” into parliament.

Jared O’Mara has previously spoken to Disability News Service (DNS) about some of the access barriers he has faced in parliament since he defeated former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg to win the Sheffield Hallam seat in June.

Now he is calling on the House of Commons to draw up a policy on bullying and harassment by MPs, and to carry out a regular access audit of the parliamentary estate.

Many disabled people were appalled when O’Mara – who is unable to stand for longer than five or 10 minutes – described earlier this month how he had been unable to attend a couple of debates in the main Commons chamber because there were no seats available.

But he has now told DNS that he wants the parliamentary authorities to introduce an anti-bullying and harassment policy that would prevent the kind of behaviour he has witnessed in the Commons chamber.

He said he had not been bullied or harassed directly, but had been affected by the comments and “jeering” directed against male MPs who have taken advantage of new rules allowing them not to wear ties.

The new rules are believed to have been introduced by the Commons speaker, John Bercow, after O’Mara made it clear he was unable to wear a buttoned shirt and tie because of his impairment.

All male MPs are now allowed to speak in the Commons chamber without wearing a tie, while O’Mara has also been allowed to wear a tee-shirt under a jacket.

But O’Mara said that comments made by the transport minister, John Hayes, who warned that he would refuse to take interventions from any male MPs who were not wearing ties, had made him feel “really upset and uncomfortable”.

He said he had taken these comments as “harassment”, even though they were not directed at him.

A spokesman for Hayes had failed to respond to a request for a comment by noon today (Thursday).

O’Mara said: “There has been other jeering when MPs have been not wearing a tie. It’s Neanderthal and bestial.”

He said he was also disturbed by the general “heckling and shouting” at fellow MPs that takes place in the Commons chamber during debates.

He said: “That comes under that umbrella of bullying and something I would like to take up, so people are more civilised while in the chamber and so they don’t make other people uncomfortable.”

He said that this kind of “very shrill, aggressive, intimidating environment” could cause problems for MPs who have

 

Source: Jared O’Mara calls for action on bullying and harassment by MPs – Black Triangle Campaign


What you will read may be very distressing for you, but we are looking at the worst-case scenario and identifying measures to help you and other claimants.
It would be good to have some feedback on the Health and Work Conversations from people who have made an ESA claim. More we know about it, and more we can fight this.
What you should not do, is to decide not to claim ESA. That is what DWP wants you to do.
Some documents released by the DWP have shown the direction of travel in terms of claiming ESA under UC.
Under the old regime, a person wishing to claim ESA was placed in the ESA assessment phase, attracting the lowest ESA rate (JSA rate), and also no conditionality, and this until a Work Capability Assessment could decide whether the claimant was fit or unfit for work.
The Work and Health Conversation
Under Universal Credit, a person wishing to claim ESA will be first called for a Health and Work Conversation (HWC). This conversation is basically a Work Focus Interview, and is mandatory, which means that a claimant can be sanctioned for not attending. Attending does not only mean being physically present at the interview but also fulfilling all the requirements set by DWP for a WFI:
Regulation 57 of the Employment and Support Allowance Regulations 2008:
57.—(1) A claimant is regarded as having taken part in a work-focused interview if the claimant—
(a) attends for the interview at the place and at the date and time notified in accordance with regulation 56;
(b) provides information, if requested by the Secretary of State, about any or all of the matters set out in paragraph (2);
(c) participates in discussions to the extent the Secretary of State considers necessary, about any or all of the matters set out in paragraph (3);
(d) assists the Secretary of State in the completion of an action plan.
 (2) The matters referred to in paragraph (1)(b) are—
(a) the claimant’s educational qualifications and vocational training;
(b) the claimant’s work history;
(c) the claimant’s aspirations for future work;
(d) the claimant’s skills that are relevant to work;
(e) the claimant’s work-related abilities;
(f) the claimant’s caring or childcare responsibilities; and
(g) any paid or unpaid work that the claimant is undertaking.
(3) The matters referred to in paragraph (1)(c) are—

Source: Nobody is Unfit for Work – Black Triangle Campaign


Ministers have been accused of ignoring a public consultation and ploughing ahead with plans that will make their “fitness for work” testing regime even more stressful and unfair for sick and disabled people.

A presentation delivered by two senior Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) civil servants earlier this month suggests that ministers have decided – as many disabled activists feared after the publication of last year’s green paper – to introduce new benefit sanctions for sick and disabled people with the highest support needs.

The presentation at a DWP “Operational Stakeholder Engagement Forum” appears to confirm that the government had decided how it would reform the system of out-of-work disability benefits before its “consultation” process had finished on 17 February.

The government had claimed that it wanted to make the work capability assessment (WCA) less of an ordeal for claimants, with work and pensions secretary Damian Green telling last October’s Conservative party conference he wanted to support those disabled people who cannot work, and “sweep away unnecessary stress and bureaucracy which weighs them down”.

But slides from the presentation appear to show that his new regime will be even harsher, and that many employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants with the highest support needs and barriers to work will for the first time face having their benefits sanctioned if they do not co-operate with the regime.

The slides show DWP has already begun introducing a compulsory, face-to-face “health and work conversation” (HWC) with a jobcentre work coach that will apply to nearly all new claimants of ESA, weeks or even months before they go through the WCA process to decide whether they are not fit for work and eligible for the benefit.

Source: DWP presentation on ESA plans ‘confirms worst fears’ about green paper – Black Triangle Campaign


Source: DWP report confirms fears over impact of ILF closure – Black Triangle Campaign


 

Source: Council wants to watch abuse survivor shower and toilet to check post-ILF needs – Black Triangle Campaign

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