Austerity 1: next year, UK ministers required to report progress on reinstating rights of people with disabilities


What is the point of the UN when nations just ignore it.

We have North Korea thumbing their noses at the UN by continuing with their aim to be a nuclear based country.

But is the UK also doing something similar by ignoring the UN report on the situation of disabled people in the UK.

So on the one hand the UK is condemning North Korea for not abiding by UN directives, while at the same time doing the same over disability rights, so to equalise the situation should not sanctions be raised against the UK.

Political Concern

Equal Lives chief executive Mark Harrison said: “In a very short space of time we have gone from having some of the best rights in the world to a crisis situation where people are dying because of the barriers and discrimination caused by austerity.” 

In 2015, a team of United Nations investigators began a two-week visit to the UK as part of an inquiry into allegations of “systematic and grave” violations of disabled people’s human rights.

Stephen Naysmith Social Affairs Correspondent of the Herald has reported that the UN Committee on the Rights of Disabled People has issued a 17 page report on the UK which contained more recommendations for improvement than for any other country in the committee’s 10 year history.

UK rapporteur to the committee Mr Stig Langvad, said the review had been “the most challenging exercise in the history of the Committee”, and criticised the government for…

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Challenges for the Islamic State: Manpower, Finance, and Information :: Middle East Forum


Originally published under the title “Challenges for the Islamic State and Restrictions on the Information Environment.” As the war against the Islamic State [IS] continues, it is clear that the state project in Iraq and Syria is facing a number of

Source: Challenges for the Islamic State: Manpower, Finance, and Information :: Middle East Forum

Why it’s time to see social care as an economic generator, not a financial drain


Original post from The Guardian

An extract

‘………..I want to begin with Graham, a friend of mine, and his wife Maureen. Married for just over 50 years, Maureen was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and attendant dementia in 2010. Graham is blind, and Maureen was admitted to a care home in 2013 because they could no longer manage together at home.

Graham says it’s a welcoming environment and the care workers are lovely people, but if Graham isn’t there (he visits her every day) she will spend all her time in bed. There isn’t an appropriate room for her to sit in and if she sits in a chair in her own room, there has to be a member of staff to supervise her – and there is never one to spare. Maureen can no longer express her own feelings, but Graham says she seems to enjoy sitting down. Staying in bed raises respiratory issues which seem to distress her. She simply weeps, he says.

Ever since the Sutherland Commission on long term care reported in 1999, and its initial recommendation for free social care was rejected, the response of the three main traditional political parties has consistently been that we could not afford to put social care on the same footing as the NHS and make it a universal service free at the point of delivery funded by general taxation. This, the argument goes, would just be too expensive.

The question is this: why do we think of looking after people as a financial burden? What underpins this way of thinking, that it is a matter of money out rather than money in? Why is it thought that helping to support children facing difficulties, disabled people and older members of our community is a negative rather than a positive?……………….’

Cuts and more cuts to Social Care


Deeper cuts to Social Care Budgets

Many, if not all councils are making cuts which will affect frontline services and some of these will reduce the amount of care being given or made available to some of the most vulnerable adults in the UK.

Many of these adults are reliant solely on their council funded care packages, as their disability benefits are used to fund other essential daily living costs, such as food, heating and other costs.

Some may have family carers, but these carers are already providing care to the limit of their resources. There is no slack for them to do more. many of the carers, themselves are aged and after many years of caring, their health as or is beginning to deteriorate.

The effects of any of these cuts will enhance the health deteriorisation of both family carers and those being cared for. This will, create many safeguarding issues and will further stretch the resources of both the NHS and Social Services.

Thereby creating a much greater funding crisis.

While I do not begrudge the ‘ring fenced’ money for Overseas Aid, thereby safeguarding the vulnerable overseas, but why can not the same be given to the vulnerable of the UK.

Sheffields Reputation Tarnished or Not?


Sheffield Half Marathon or not?

Was the Sheffield Half Marathon 2014 a disaster?

This follows on from a long list of events that have not gone according to plan in Sheffield. It has to be said that most of these have some, if not all, involvement from Sheffield City Council, however this would not appear to be so on this occasion. The last major sporting event that did not go according to plan was the World Student games  in 1991 for which the population of Sheffield is still paying for. This is even though some of the facilities from then have now gone, Don Valley Stadium for one.

But SCC have many others, while not sporting, to their name, ‘Sevenstone‘ being the latest, but this also includes the overhead walkway from Sheffield rail station to Castle Market, Mono Rail along The Moor to the Town Hall on to Castle Market to Sheffield Rail Station, creation of subways only for most to be filled in and many others. Even ‘Supertram‘ had to be sold to Stagecoach Sheffield to increase revenues from increasing usage.

But on this occasion some other organisation organised this, was it Sheffield Half Marathon, who appear to have had an address c/o HS Sports Ltd.

Water Direct have been mentioned as the company supposed to be supplying the water, did they not bother or was it ever ordered.

We have the ‘Tour de France’ ‘Stage 2’ within the next months, lets hope this latest event from an organisational view point is not a taste of yet to come.

We have the ‘Tour de France’ ‘Stage 2’ within the next months, lets hope this latest event from an organisational view point is not a taste of yet to come.

We also have the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, but some may say this is another disaster, while others will not.

But was the event a disaster, from an organisational view point, you could say yes. But to show the resolve of the people of Sheffield and those participants who did undertake the half marathon, it was not. Without hesitation the people of Sheffield came and supported those who decided to participate anyway and these Sheffield people provided the water for those participants to drink.

But was the event a disaster, from an organisational view point, you could say yes. But to show the resolve of the people of Sheffield and those participants who did undertake the half marathon, it was not. Without hesitation the people of Sheffield came and supported those who decided to participate anyway and these Sheffield people provided the water for those participants to drink.

This shows the true spirit of the Sheffield population.

Organisers say No Refunds

Margret Lilley, Chairperson of Sheffield Marathon Ltd, the organisers, says

“The rules say there are no refunds and, as people will appreciate, the infrastructure we had to put in place we still have to pay for.”

Direct Water are now reported to have stated that they were not paid to supply the water. This implies the organisers have not ordered the water or settled the invoice for the water. Should this be the case, is water not part of the infrastructure,. They appear to have not fulfilled the later part of statement, but are prepared to fulfill the former. If you have not paid for the water, then you should provide refunds. The organisers appear to want their cake and eat it. If only as a gesture of Good Will Sheffield Marathon Ltd should refund the entrants their entry fees.

If Sheffield Marathon Ltd have the gall to run the event again next year, will anyone be willing to enter.

 

Safeguarding will an issue happen in Sheffield?


Sheffield Social Services are they creating safeguarding issues

Sheffield Social Services (1) are currently in a financial dilemma, with an anticipated budget overspend, do they cut spending in the department or endeavour to obtain monies from other budgets, it would appear the former, but what will this eventually create?

What has occurred?

The Social Services budget for 2012/2013 was overspent by £6.3 million and there is now a projected overspend for Social Services of £11 million, of which £6.5 million is in Learning Disabilities (1).

So if there were not significant changes in practices or other means from 2012/2013 to 2013/2014 there would have been an expected overspend of £6.3 million. But due to Government austerity cuts, it is said that savings of 20% need to be made.

The following is an extract from  Budget Conversion 2014-2015: Shaping our future together (1)

‘But Sheffield Social Services accept that we have an increasing number of older people, particularly very old people. They also expect a 32% increase in people aged over 85 in the next 10 years.

For disabled Adults with complex needs (2), there is an increase of 5% each year.

This is in addition to an increase in the number of older people being discharged from hospital who need social care support.

There is more people with mental health issues seeking social services funded support – a 64% increase from 2011/2012 to 2012/2013.

An increase in the demand and cost of support packages for people needing support. Between 2011/2012 and 2012/2013

– number of customers supported increased by 11%

– average cost of support per customer increased by 8%.’

This is at a time when according to the article 72 more jobs in social services are at risk. Who will be going and what action is being taken?  Is this action appropriate? As the facts are extremely limited, and knowledge is not forthcoming due to apparent employment restrictions.

So at a time when demand is increasing to make savings staffing levels are being reduced.

If by any methods of reducing costs the demands on the service are not met, this will result in some safeguarding issues for the most vulnerable adults residing in Sheffield.

While this may not be at the scale of Winterborne (2) or Mid-Staffs (3). It will cause a degree of risk to some, at least, of these adults who are vulnerable.

These are not people who can be discarded or left to fend for themselves.  Without the services they require to ensure their critical needs are met, these needs will not be met.

These social services are priority services and need to be maintained at all costs.

While I do not have the figures to hand, it is logical to assume, if there was an over spend in the budget of 2012/2013, then there would be an over spend in 2013/2014, before taking into account the budget reduction, and the increases in the demand and resultant increase in costs.

You have to question, was the budget set for 2013/2014, a realistic budget (1) and if not, it was doomed to an over spend greater than in the previous year.

As the budgets, I assume, are monitored by the Chief Executive and the Leader of the Council, why have they been so quiet?

Some budget information was apparently released, but no apparent mention re Social Services

Is Sheffield being fairly treated by Central Government.

(1) © Copyright of Sheffield City Council 2013

(2) Crown Copyright. Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v2.0

(3) © The Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry 2010

Body integrity identity disorder


BIID amputation or not?

BIID is a psychological disorder and some suffers can be treated by psychotherapy or medication, but amputation is highly controversial. On viewing some of the comments, some people are of the opinion that Chloe is in the wrong by wishing to become disabled. A psychiatric disorder is still a medical condition and Chloe should not be blamed for having this disorder.

For those, who thinks the doctor, who is willing to provide the amputation for £16000, is wrong to do this, would think twice, if they also suffered from this disorder.

What needs to be considered, as it should be for everyone suffering from any condition, what is the best form of treatment for the individual concerned. To treat by psychotherapy or medication will be lengthy and costly. While amputation , will be a quick immediate solution, what will be the long term effects, may be even more psychotherapy and medication. This is not taking into account any costs relating from the resulting physical disability.

I can see why many people believe that amputation will never be a solution. I myself, have a daughter who has multiple physical disabilities and I would not wish for anyone to intentionally become disabled.  This would be seen by many persons with a disability to not take disability seriously. To some extent I would agree, but I do not have BIID and therefore do not have the ability or the experience of this disorder to say it would be wrong. To live with any disability is not easy for anyone, especially if you do not have the resources at hand to help. Many, certainly in the UK, have to rely on the state for this help and depending where you live in the UK, may range from difficult to obtain to not being able to obtain at all. The resources are expensive to obtain and maintain and that is where they are even available.

Not easy and I do wish Chole does manage to obtain all the help she needs.

Tesco; Every Little Helps- Now Coffee Shops


Harris + Hoole

When you shop at an establishment, do you ask who the owners are or who the shareholders are? No you do not, you shop there as you may like the shop, it has what you want and hopefully at a price you are prepared to pay.

Many of our High Street and some non- High Street shops are owned by multinational organisations and I assume many, if not all, are doing as much as they can to manage and reduce, where possible, their liability to tax. Do not we all, or am I assuming all these people complaining of tax avoidance have not got at least one ISA.

Tax avoidance will always be with us, it is one of the actions of the Governments of the day to minimise the opportunities for all, companies and individuals, to be able to avoid paying tax.

In an ideal world tax avoidance would not occur, but where is this ideal world? I am not saying it is right to avoid paying tax, as this deprives the country of income needed to fund the running of the country and its services. All Governments should do all they can to minimise this practice. However, close one loophole and the tax avoidance experts, Chartered Accountants, employed by these companies will do all they can to find another. You could say it is providing employment, if only for the Chartered Accountants.

You have to give it to Tesco, they appear to know about marketing, as they say’ Every Little Helps‘ even money from coffee shops.  What will they try next, or is there something to try?

They appear to be very successful in what they do, what about ‘Tesco Government’, could they be any worse. They could start by sponsoring their own MP’s, at least you would know what they stand for, just look at their shops.

Family carers; How they are not recognised


Family carers in the UK are saving this country millions.

Carers Allowance

An immediate family carer can receive £58.45 to care for a family member, provided :
You look after someone who gets a qualifying disability benefit.
You look after that person for at least 35 hours a week.
You are aged 16 or over.
You are not in full-time education.
You earn £100 a week or less (after deductions).
You satisfy UK presence and residence conditions.

The minimum wage is :
2012 (current rate)

Year 21 and over £6.19
18 to 20 £4.98
Under 18 £3.68
Apprentice* £2.65

So to compare for a 35 hour week

Carers allowance for over 16 years £58.45
Minimum wage for under 18 years £128.80
Minimum wage is 21 or over £216.65

The Carers Allowance is not a payment for looking after your disabled relation, but a benefit for giving at least 35 hours per week to look after the relative. Mostly the carers will give up their normal employment to do this, but are allowed to earn £100.00 a week less deductions..

Both the Carers Allowance and Minimum Wage are taxable.

Whether you are taxed is dependent on your total income with regards to your tax free allowance currently for someone under 65

Personal Allowance 
2012-13 tax year
Basic £8,105
Income limit £100,000

As the Carers Allowance is technically a payment for giving up your paid employment, when you reach retirement age and you receive your pension from the State, the Carers Allowance is no longer paid to you, but you still retain the right to receive it. So if a younger member of the family wishes to take on the responsibility of Carer, the permission of the original carer needs to be obtained before the benefit can be passed on.

So in effect for at least providing 35 hours per week care, a carer is not receiving the minimum wage. When you take into account there are 168 hours per week and normally the working week is no more than 36 hours or at least 48 hours, according to the Working Time Directive, there are 120 hours per week provided by a carer, assuming the disabled person requires 24/7 care, which on an over 21 years minimum wage is £742.80, a discrepancy of £684.35 owed to a 24/7 carer.

While it is not Slavery, as this was abolish in 1833, from which no payment was given, it is something.

What it is, is the LOVE that a carer holds for their disabled relative, which is not being considered by this Government or for any previous Governments. The Personal Family Carer is providing a commitment to a responsibility, that is unfortunately lacking in some who are in paid employment.  many people in employment do it just for the money and that is their commitment, how many of these people would do their job for the hourly rate of a Personal Family Carer, which for the minimum of 35 hours is £1.67 per hour and that is the minimum hours for the benefit. When normally this is for up to anything from 35 hours to 168 hours, what a commitment this is for £58.45 per week.

I do realise that it will never be possible to pay a family carer the correct amount, but at least they should be recognised for the service and the cost savings they are bringing to the country.

Sheffield needs an airport?


Reopen Sheffield Airport?

So Sheffield business leaders say Sheffield needs its own airport, but some years ago, Sheffield did have an airport, Sheffield City Airport which was situated just off the Sheffield Parkway, a dual carridgeway leading from the M1 motorway directly into the centre of Sheffield.  The reason it was closed was due to it not being commercially viable, due to lack of use and the inability to accommodate medium to large aircraft, because of the length of its runway.

With the recent past experience I would feel it unlikely that anyone would consider opening or reopening an airport in Sheffield.  A possible solution would be if the Federation of Small Businesses, feels an airport to be essential, is for them, in conjunction with the associated or involved businesses in Sheffield to provide at least the initial capital outlay and to then part fund the running of the airport.

This would show commitment to the venture by the local businesses of Sheffield and would encourage  an operator to come forward to run the airport.

Or is this just an idea with no formal commitment.