Category Archives: PIP/Disability Cuts

Shocking Announcement: Disability Benefits To Be Slashed For 640,000 People

ceiling hoist

A ‘low, one off cost’ according to the DWP

The government is set to slash benefits intended to meet the additional cost of living with a disability warning that up to 640,000 people could be affected by 2021.

The shocking announcement follows a recent consultation into Personal Independence Payments (PIP) – the benefit currently being rolled out to replace Disability Living Allowance.  This benefit is awarded based on a points system which assesses addional costs incurred due to disability such as care or mobility needs.  In a press release issued this morning the DWP have said that in future the numbers of points awarded to people who need some form of aid or appliance to help them dress or manage toilet needs will be halved.

According the department this is because much of the equipment needed by disabled people to manage these activites is available for one one off purchase at a low price or can sometimes be accessed for free from local councils or the NHS.  The key word here being sometimes.  If a disabled person needs a ceiling hoist to help them dress, or a specially adapted toilet, and their local authority will not pay for it, then unless they can find the money they will not be able to do these things unassisted.  And this money may have to come out of meagre out-of-work sickness benefits, soon to be slashed to just over £70 a week for some disabled people.

The changes were widely opposed in the recent consultation with just 11 individuals agreeing change were required to the current system out of a total of 281 responses.  Many disabled people’s organisations warned of the high costs of disability equipment, which also needs to be replaced, repaired and insured.  A list of equipment which could be affecting by the changes is included in the consulation and include ceiling hoist – currently availalable for just £1,410 on ebay, incontinence products – £11.04 for 40 pads from Age UK and grab rails which can cost over £100 according to the Disabled Living Foundation.  This is what the DWP means when they say items which can be “purchased for a low one-off cost”.  In a shabby attempt to disguise a straight up benefit cut, the department says some of these things will be covered by other areas of the PIP assessment.  This ignores the stark fact that these changes will mean some people will no longer be entitled to PIP at all.

The changes will initially only apply to new claimants, those who have a change in circumstances, such as moving house, and those being tranferred from Disability Living Allowance onto PIP – which will soon be everybody.

Charities and disabled people’s organisations have said that this cut will mean many disabled people will lose their independence and that costs may be pushed onto local councils and the already over-burdened NHS.  But even this will create a postcode lottery for vital support which many disabled people need to live an independent life.

With a new Health & Work Programme on the way, which could see forced medical treatment as a condition of claiming benefits, vicious cuts to out of work disability benefits and now a slashing of support available to pay for disability aids and equipment, this is a government waging war on disabled people like never before.  And that is a war on everybody.  The UK used to be a place where there was a consensus that if you became sick and disabled then the cost of living an independent life would be socialised – a social insurance system that benefitted us all. It may not have always worked out that way, disability benefits have never been generous, but that’s what most people wanted, and probably still do.  Soon however only the rich will be able to meet the cost of living with a disability.  For the rest of us an accident or illness will mean being abandoned to poverty as a lesson to the working class of what happens if your productivity and ability to generate profits for wealthy might be slightly impaired in any way.

You can read the government’s response to the consulation they ignored at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/personal-independence-payment-aids-and-appliances-descriptors

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Is Work Really Good For Your Health? Probably Not If You’re Sick, Disabled Or Poor Says DWP Research

work-makes-meA DWP funded study published in 2006 reached a clear conclusion: “there is little direct reference or linkage to scientific evidence on the physical or mental health benefits of (early) (return to) work for sick or disabled people.”

This is quickly qualified by the researchers, who are no doubt aware that you don’t get cushy jobs writing reports for the government by telling them things they don’t want to know.  So the study claims that there is a ‘a broad consensus’ that work is good for the health of sick or disabled people “across multiple disciplines and also, importantly, among disability groups, employers, unions, insurers, and the main political parties”.  In other words if enough important people say something is true then it must be true, despite the lack of evidence.  That’s science folks.

The tragedy is that this ‘broad consensus’ has manifested in a horrifying regime for disabled people or those out of work with a long term health condition.  Every benefit sanction, work capability assessment and forced unpaid work placement that has been inflicted on sickness benefit claimants can be traced back to this invented consensus.  So far has it gone that even the recent Mental Health Taskforce report – which highlighted the shameful lack of funding for mental health treatment – called for employment to be viewed as a clinical outcome.  In some parts of the UK trials are being established to put DWP funded ‘work coaches’ in GP surgeries.  Mental health treatment ‘hubs’ are being sited in buildings alongside Jobcentres.  A new Health and Work Programme is on the way aiming to strip benefit from up to one million claimants of Employment Support Allowance – the main out of work sickness and disability benefit.   All of this is being justified by the belief that work is good for the health of sick and disabled people based on the 2006 report which says there is no scientific evidence for this claim.

The study called ‘Is Work Good For Your Health And Well-Being’ was authored by Gordon Waddell and A Kim Burton, two specialists in back pain from Cardiff University.  It features a review of over 350 scientific publications examining the relationship between health and work.  The focus of the study is largely those who are non-disabled, healthy, or have mild to moderate health conditions.  What it found is that “work is generally good for your health and well-being, provided you have ‘a good job'” (emphasis theirs).

A  discussion of the study, published in an Oxford Journal, pointed out this is a “a no-brainer”.  If you love your job, are well paid, and have a boss who is sensitive to health requirements then this might well be better for your health then the poverty and social isolation that can come from unemployment.  But even this is only a ‘general’ effect. Work can also be bad for your health the study found.  Low status and low paid jobs are a particular risk, as is work that is ‘unsatisfactory’.  The review even found that for a significant minority of people, between 5 and 10%, unemployment can lead to improved health and well-being.

Even this may not tell the full story.  Often it is assumed that because evidence shows that (generally) unemployed people are less healthy then this means that unemployment is bad for your health – rather than poor health being likely to lead to unemployment.  The researchers warn of this ‘health selection effect’ although they claim to have accounted for it. There is also an economic dimension – unemployed people are poorer, and it may be poverty that is bad for your health, not unemployment.  The researchers appear to agree and caution that in areas of high social disadvantage then a range of factors impact on health and even then “It is all very well to say that work is good for your health, but that depends on being able to get a job.”

Finally it’s worth noting that many of these studies featured in this review were carried out in the US where the loss of a job may mean an end to health insurance.  Government policies can certainly attempt to socially engineer poor health due to unemployment – already the UK has a benefit sanctions regime designed to harm the health of those who do not keep up with endless Jobcentre demands to look for work.  It may be that impacts on health due to unemployment could be mitigated by paying people more benefits and ensuring access to free healthcare.  The idle rich seem healthy enough after all.  The Queen Mother was 101 when she died and you can’t get much more workless than someone who didn’t even wipe her own arse.

The truth then, at least as far as this review is concerned, is that a good and well paid job is probably good for your health if you only have a mild to moderate health condition.  But it might not be.  You might even be one of the 5-10% who are better off being unemployed. Also there is no evidence that the health benefits of work applies to sick and disabled people, although lots of very important people think it should.  A bad job however, with low pay, low status and little prospects, could be worse for your health than unemployment.  And yet these are exactly the types of jobs that many of the claimants who face being bullied off sickness or disability benefits are likely to end up in.

According to the Mental Health Taskforce “people with mental
health problems are also often overrepresented in high-turnover, low-pay and
often part-time or temporary work”.  Current Jobcentre policies aim to get people off benefits and into work – any work – as soon as possible.  Private companies running back to work schemes are paid according to how many people they find a job, not on the quality of those jobs. Some of those jobs will make people sick, or will worsen existing health conditions.

Astonishingly, if Iain Duncan Smith gets his way, then GPs themselves will be involved in handing out these work cures, without any regard for the evidence which shows that poor quality work might harm people’s health.  The employment advisors, soon to be installed in Islington GP surgeries offering ‘jobs on prescription’, work for Maximus, the sinister US outsourcing company who also run the despised Work Capability Assessments used to stop people’s benefits by finding them ‘fit for work’.  They cannot be trusted to be aware of the complex interactions between work and health.  They will not be medical professionals but welfare-to-work busy-bodies tasked with bullying and coercing people into low quality jobs as soon as possible.

If there were loads of great jobs out there, jobs which are genuinely rewarding, well paid and enjoyable, then any coercion or conditionality within the benefits system would seem bizarre.  People are already queuing round the block in some parts of the country just to work in a coffeeshop.  Tens of thousands of people are working without pay. Despite the snide rhetoric from government ministers and the media that unemployment is caused by lazy or deficient unemployed people there is no shortage of hunger for work.  There is a shortage of jobs though, especially good ones, likely to not damage your health.

In such a cut-throat employment market, dominated by ever more demands on workers to raise productivity then patients themselves, not welfare-to-work advisors, or even doctors, are the best ones to judge whether a job is likely to be suitable for them, or whether they want to go back to work at all.  The medical ‘consensus’ that work is good for your health may apply to doctors, healthcare bureacrats and other pampered professionals but it is just not true for many of us who face long hours, low pay and insecurity.  A middle class solution to a working class problem is not acceptable.  The duty of the medical profession is to first do no harm, not parrot ideology intended to trick us into low paid work by lying about the health benefits.  And that means keeping the Jobcentre out of the NHS.

Join the protest to keep work coaches out of doctor’s surgeries outside City Road Medical Centre, 190-196 City Road , London, EC1V 2QH on Friday 4th March from 3pm.  Please spread the word, more details on the facebook page.

You can read the report at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/is-work-good-for-your-health-and-well-being

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Keep The Jobcentre Out Of The NHS – The Fightback Against The Health And Work Programme Starts Now! #donoharm

do-no-harm

Job coaches in GP Surgeries? No!

We call on GPs to #‎DoNoHarm.

Join DPAC, Boycott Workfare, Mental Health Resistance Network on

4 March, 3pm at the City Road Surgery, 190-196 City Road, London EC1V 2QH.

Groups supporting benefit claimants and disabled people are uniting for a protest on the 4th March following the news that Employment Coaches from shadowy US outsourcing company Maximus are to be stationed in GP surgeries in Islington.

The demonstration will take place outside City Road Medical Centre, one of six GP practices in the borough who have opted to take part in the DWP funded pilot scheme.  These surgeries will now have their own Employment Coaches drawn from the welfare-to-work industry who will provide the kind of Jobcentre harassment that disabled people and those with health conditions are already all too familiar with if they are unable to work.

The scheme has been devised by Islington Clinical Commissioning Group who oversee healthcare in Islington and is backed by the local Labour Council who say on their website that this service will create ‘jobs on prescription’.  Many claimants fear the reality could be benefit sanctions on prescription, as doctors are turned into a weapon to impose labour market discipline and bully unemployed, disabled or unwell people into low paid or unsuitable work.

GP referrals to Employment Coaches will not be compulsory to attend – yet.  But this pilot scheme forms part of a national strategy by Iain Duncan Smith to bring Jobcentres into the heart of the NHS.  A new Health and Work Programme is being planned, with the aim of slashing spending on already meagre sickness and disability benefits.  Even those with the most serious conditions may soon to be forced to prove they are constantly looking for work whilst the government are examining the possibility of compulsory treatment for some health problems.

Campaigners warn that any attempt to merge healthcare with the vicious benefit cutting agenda of the DWP will demolish the trust that exists between doctors and patients.  An activist from Disabled People Against Cuts warns that “many disabled people already feel they have to watch every word they say when seeing their GP in case it is used against them at some point to stop their benefits.   Placing Jobcentre funded staff in doctor’s’ surgeries could destroy the doctor/patient relationship and may lead to some people not accessing vital healthcare when they need it most.”

Perhaps most appalling is that the Employment Coaches in Islington are set to come from Remploy – once a government run service that provided jobs for disabled people – now sold off and turned into a privatised welfare-to-work company responsible for sanctioning disabled people’s benefits.  Remploy have become a subsidiary of Maximus – the same company who run the despised Work Capability Assessment used to declare that disabled people or those with a long term health condition are ‘fit for work’.  Maximus are also providers of the Work Programme, a Jobcentre scheme which involves compulsory training or workfare with brutal benefit sanctions inflicted for ‘non-compliance’.

At a time when some claimants have been driven to suicide by the constant bullying, assessments, threats and sanctions that now form part of the UK’s benefits system, there must be no place in the NHS for Jobcentre busy-bodies.  Disabled people, benefit claimants and supporters can and will defeat this appalling attack on the fundamental principle that healthcare professionals should ‘first do no harm’.  Join campaigners from DPAC, Mental Health Resistance Network and Boycott Workfare outside City Road Medical Centre, 190-196 City Road , London, EC1V 2QH on Friday 4th March from 3pm.  Please spread the word and make this huge!

An online protest will also be held for those unable to attend in person.  Watch this space for further details and in the meantime please tweet using hashtag #DoNoHarm

See the Facebook Event Page for more details and please support the Thunderclap – timed to go off just as the protest begins

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Big Disability Rides To The Rescue With Too Little Much Too Late

goofy-on-horse

In an unprecedented show of absolutely fuck all, members of the Disability Benefits Consortium – which includes some of the UK’s largest disability charities – have written a stern letter to Iain Duncan Smith asking him not to cut disabled people’s benefits.

In the Welfare Reform and Work Bill, due to be debated in the House of Lords next week, plans have been announced to slash some out of work sickness and disability benefits by almost a third.  New claimants in the so-called Work Related Activity Group, meaning people assessed as likely to be fit for work at some point in the future, will receive just over £70 a week – the same amount as those currently on the dole.  People in this group include those with degnerative or progressive diseases such as Multiple Schlerosis, Parkinson’s disease or cancer.  This vicious benefit cut is not being done to save money, but to ‘incentivise’ people to find a job.  It is about as vile as anything that Iain Duncan Smith has done so far, and he’s done a lot.

In response the Disability Benefits Consortium have written a letter, which only half of their members bothered to sign, and which was published in the Daily Mirror over the weekend.  Big fucking deal.

According to their website the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) is a “national coalition of over 60 different charities and other organisations committed to working towards a fair benefits system.”  They include Disability Rights UK, an organisation who have recently been handed a huge contract to work for Maximus – the shady US conglomerate who carry out the despised Work Capability Assessments which will be used to decide which disabled people face a benefit cut under the new rules.  Other charities involved in pretending to defend social security are MIND, RNIB, Leonard Chesire and Mencap – all of whom happily accepted lucrative sub-contracts to run Iain Duncan Smith’s  mandatory Work Programme which disabled people are forced to attend under the threat of vicious benefit sanctions.  Also on the list are the workfare supporting Papworth Trust, along with Age UK who in 2013 were accused of running a ‘workfare warehouse’ in East Sussex.  Citizen’s Advice, who welcomed the introduction of the Claimant Commitment under which unemployed people are forced into pointless jobsearch for 35 hours a week under threat of benefit sanctions, are also included in this fight for a fairer benefits system.

Despite the vast resources possessed by the 60 charities who make up the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC), their website is hosted for free on wordpress.com.  It looks like someone knocked it up on a cheap smartphone during their fag break.  Last year this group of fearless campaigners made a total of 12 posts on their blog – and I thought I was getting slack.  According to the website they have not been arsed to contribute to a government consultation on welfare reform since 2012.

Compare this to the now defunct Disability Works campaign – launched with a glitzy House of Lords reception by many of the DBC charities and used to lobby the government to hand them juicy welfare-to-work contracts and you see the true priority of these organisations.  Money.

The very worst thing that could happen is big disability charities hijacking the fight against welfare reforms, although there is little danger of that.  The fucking awful Hardest Hit demonstration they organised in 2011 was little more then a march to protect disability charity funding, not disabled people’s benefits.  And it’s been downhill ever since.  For every statement released by charities condemning social security cuts a story emerges of them quietly sidling up to the DWP in the hope of lucrative contracts. Until disability charities form a united stance of complete non co-operation with this government then their words mean fuck all when their actions are complicit in destroying the lives of sick and disabled people.

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Access To Work Cuts Show The True Nature Of This Pig-Fucking Government

access-to-work-marchCuts to the Access To Work scheme – which pays for adaptations, equipment and support for disabled people in the workplace – shows the true nature of this pig-fucking Government.

Whilst Iain Duncan Smith rants at disabled people to get a job, the changes being made to Access To Work will make this impossible for many.  That won’t stop people’s benefits being slashed however.  Some sick and disabled people are now being plunged into desperate poverty, with no way out.  It is little wonder that benefit claimants and disabled people are now openly calling Iain Duncan Smith a murderer.

A march is taking place in London on Saturday (26th Sept) to protest against the cuts to the Access To Work scheme.  According to the organisers:

“Changes to Access to Work mean that Deaf, Deaf blind and hard of hearing and disabled people are being restricted to unrealistic budgets for support that does not meet their needs. The budgets are insufficient to fund qualified interpreters and personal assistants and prevent personal choice or control, placing jobs at risk.

“The introduction of arbitrary rules has changed the relationship between Access to Work and the individuals it supports. Deaf and disabled people are no longer being acknowledged as the experts in their own access needs and issues and problems they raise are being ignored.

“Please stop the changes to Access to Work support for BSL users and disabled people.”

The march will be gathering at Old Palace Yard, Westminster, SW1P 3JY at 12pm on Saturday 26th September.  Please help spread the word and share the facebook page.

For more info visit: http://stopchanges2atw.com/

And don’t forget the Fuck Parade on Saturday night in Shoreditch!

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Wednesday 8th July – DPAC Return to Parliament in a day of action to say #Balls2TheBudget.

assorted-game-ballsvia Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC)

DPAC joined by Class War, Streets Kitchen, Black Dissidents & others
Announce:
Balls to the Budget
#Balls2TheBudget
Wednesday 8th July, 10.30 am
Downing St

Big balls, small balls, footballs, tennis balls, volleyballs, handballs, rubber balls, plastic balls, flour balls, paint balls, canon balls, beachballs, hairballs, furballs, glitter balls, gumballs, basketballs, garlic balls, initialed balls, personalised balls.

Get creative.

Balls to austerity;
Balls to taking our rights;
Balls to taking our jobs;
Balls to cutting our services;
Balls to bankers bonuses;
Balls to cutting the ILF;
Balls to Met Police;
Balls to cuts to Access to Work;
Balls to cuts to Social Care;
Balls to the Bedroom Tax;
Balls to Workfare & Sanctions;
Balls to Forced Treatments;
Balls to Maximus, Atos & PIP;
Balls to Child Poverty & inequality;
Balls to low pay & exploiting workers;
Balls to anti-homless laws;
Balls to stifling protest;
Balls to migrant bashing, racism & Islamophobia;
Balls to cuts to Housing, Education, NHS, Legal Aid, Womens Refuges, CAMHS and much much more.

Then, afterwards – We Are Going Back.
11.30 The Lobby, House of Commons.

Bring balls.
Online: Twitter from 10.30 am till yer tweeting fingers wear out

Take part online by using and sharing: #Balls2TheBudget

There is a tweetlist you can use here: http://dftr.org.uk/Songbird.php?TweetFile=Balls2theBudget

Please spread the word!

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Minister for Disabled People’s Cosy Relationship With Mayor Sacked In Disgrace For Disability Hate Comments

tomlinson-martinNew Minister for Murdering Disabled People Justin Tomlinson refused to condemn his long-standing colleague Mayor of Swindon Nick Martin who was forced to resign after making vile comments about disabled people.

Martin was forced put of his position in 2014 after he was heard asking “”Are we still letting mongols have sex with each other?” at a council meeting.  Despite initially denying making the comments he eventually resigned after he was found guilty by the Council’s Standards Committee of making abusive and insulting references to disabled people.

Throughout the affair, Justin Tomlinson, MP for North Swindon, refused to condemn his long-standing colleague for the remarks.  This prompted local Labour Party parliamentary candidates to issue a public letter to Tomlinson asking whether they supported Nick Martin remaining a councillor and member of the Conservative Party.  Tomlinson apears to have simply ignored this letter.

The truth is that Tomlinson and Nick Martin go way back.  As recently as last week the new Minister spoke warmly of how Martin introduced him to local politics over 15 years ago after he had contacted him about an overgrown hedge.  As can be seen above, Tomlinson and Martin remain facebook friends.

Nick Martin will be grateful for his colleague’s lack of condemnation, he was re-elected as a Councillor at the local elections last week.  And Tomlinson went off to the DWP for his new job designing and implementing disability strategy.  His voting record on matters that concern disabled people already speaks for itself.  But if you can judge a person by the company they keep, then Tomlinson’s cosy relationship with the former Mayor of Swindon tells us everything we need to know about his true attitude towards disabled people.

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