We still need discuss the Elephant in the room

10 April 2014


Fit for work – but not fit to get a job

These last few weeks we have all been inundated with articles re Employment Support Allowance, Work Capability Assessments. From Atos announcing they were walking away from their contract, to a Work and Pensions committee evidence session held Weds 9th April. Available to watch here .

No one thinks that changing the provider will solve the problem

Mirror article here

Huffington Post here

So what is the real problem?

ATOS were asked to test disabled people and find out if they were fit for work.

Sadly being able to do some work is not the same thing as being able to get a job.


The real world out there is a competitive labour market. Employers hire the candidate who convinces them that they will be the most productive and stand up to the most pressure. The candidate who is the fittest, gets the job. That’s the real world of getting a job.


With thanks to Grace Collins

With thanks to Grace Collins


But what should an employer do when they are asked to take on a disabled person whose impairments will bring extra costs to the employer? No-one even asks the question. It’s the elephant in the room that no-one talks about. They’ll talk about reasonable adjustments and enabling people to overcome the barriers to being productive, but can that work for everyone?


Until we start asking these questions, we won’t find the solution. Governments intervene in markets all the time to promote equality: but apparently not for disabled people.


So let’s move the focus away from disabled people.

Stop blaming them and putting all the pressure on them to be fit for work when we know they need to be fit to get a job.

Let’s move the spotlight on to employers and the labour market out there in the real world. And look for solutions there.


Social care sector leaders urged to change direction on personal budgets

9 April 2014

A group of academics, activists and practitioners are writing this week to all directors of social services and other sector leaders to draw their attention to recently published evidence in relation to the current strategy of delivering personal budgets through self-directed support (SDS). The evidence shows the strategy to have comprehensively failed against all the key measures it set for itself.

read in full here



Upcoming business – Fraud and Employment Support Allowance

6 April 2014


Grimond Room
Meeting starts on Monday 7 April at 4.30pm   watch live here

Fraud and error in the benefits system

  1. Lord Freud, Minister for Welfare Reform, and Mike Driver, Finance Director General, Department for Work and Pensions, Mr David Gauke MP, Exchequer Secretary, HM Treasury, and Nick Lodge, Director General, Benefits and Credits, HM Revenue and Customs



Grimond Room
Meeting starts on Wednesday 9 April at 9.45am

Employment and Support Allowance and Work Capability Assessments  watch live here

  1. Rachael Holmes, Head of Policy Research, Families, Welfare and Work, Citizens Advice, Tom Pollard, Social Policy and Campaigns Officer, Mind, Donna O’Brien, Social Policy and Campaigns Advisor, Parkinson’s UK, Anna Bird, Head of Public Policy and Research, Scope, and Joanna Kennedy, Chief Executive, Zacchaeus 2000 Trust









Work and Pensions Committee announces first evidence session for inquiry into ESA and WCA

3 April 2014

Work and Pensions Committee
Select Committee Press Notice


AN42 2013–14
3 April 2014

For immediate release


Work and Pensions Committee announces first evidence session for inquiry into ESA and WCA

The Work and Pensions Select Committee has today announced the first oral evidence session for its inquiry into Employment and Support Allowance and Work Capability Assessments.

This session, with claimant and disability representative groups, will explore:

·         The effectiveness of the WCA in determining whether people are fit for work, including the findings of the Evidence Based Review and possible alternative assessment models

·         Key concerns about the delivery of the WCA by Atos, and how these issues may be resolved with the new provider


·         How eligibility for ESA is determined by the DWP decision maker

·         Outcomes for claimants following assessment

·         The process for appealing a decision and the available financial support during this period

·         The impact of time-limiting contributory ESA for those in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG)

·          The interaction between ESA and Universal Credit


The Committee issued terms of reference for this inquiry on 6 February 2014.


Details of the session are as follows

Time/date: Wednesday 9 April at 9.30 am

Location: Grimond Room, Portcullis House


  • Rachael Holmes, Head of Policy Research, Families, Welfare and Work, Chief Executive, Citizen’s Advice
  • Tom Pollard, Social Policy and Campaigns Manager, Mind
  • Donna O’Brien, Social Policy and Campaigns Advisor, Parkinson’s UK
  • Anna Bird, Head of Public Policy and Research, Scope
  • Joanna Kennedy, Chief Executive, Zacchaeus 2000 Trust



Details of further evidence sessions will be announced in due course.



ESA and WCA – Work and Pensions committee

2 April 2014

Details of this enquiry were released Feb 2014. You can read about it here

With thanks to Grace Collins

With thanks to Grace Collins

The committee has now published submissions and they can be found here

CarerWatch, together with the team behind Pat’s Petition, sent a joint submission which can be read in full here

Our personal experience of ESA has not been a happy one. Members of our team have been involved in the anxiety of the original migration from IB to ESA. And now only a year or so later we, or the people we care for, are being recalled one by one for re-assessment. This looks as if it is going to be a regular, repeated feature of our lives at very short intervals even though we and the people we care for are all faced with diagnoses with conditions that will not get better. What is the point of this? It is causing gratuitous, unnecessary stress and is a waste of money. It feels like bullying and it adds to a climate of fear.


Lords grand Committee – Debate on Independent Living Fund

26 March 2014

Details: Upcoming Business – Lords: Grand Committee (31 Mar 2014) 
Independent Living Fund – Baroness Campbell of Surbiton. *Short Debate*

There will be a short debate on ILF on Mon 31st March – it is really important that as many ILF users and supporters are there as possible.


You can also watch live on the day here -  


Baroness Campbell of Surbiton   

to ask Her Majesty’s Government what arrangements they are putting in place to ensure that disabled people currently in receipt of money from the Independent Living Fund will not be left in hardship when the Fund is wound up next year and the responsibility for Fund recipients is handed to local authorities. (1 hour) 

Further details and testimonies can be found on DPAC website here . You can contact them here

Blue badges and Pip, Fraud, and also Care for adults

17 March 2014

Upcoming business
Wednesday, 26 March 2014


Lords: Main Chamber

Access to blue badges for vehicles following the introduction of the Personal Independence Payment – Lord Touhig Oral Questions

Commons: Select Committees

Work and Pensions: Fraud and error in the benefits system

9:30 am   Witnesses: Private sector companies and electronic payment system operators

Public Accounts: Care for adults in England

2:15 pm  Witnesses: Sandie Keene, President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and Director of Adult Social Care Services, Leeds City Council and Emily Holzhausen, Director of Policy and Public Affairs, Carers UK; Sir Bob Kerslake, Permanent Secretary, Department for Communities and Local Government and Jon Rouse, Director General, Social Care, Local Government and Care Partnerships, Department of Health




Caring for parents and elderly relatives

4 March 2014


Womans Hour today discussed caring for parents.  You can listen to it here

Like it or not many of us are living longer and as we approach the end of our
lives, many of us  need more rather than less care.  Often it falls to the next
generation – the adult children, relatives, sometimes even neighbours or friends
– to pick up the reigns.  We’re looking at what happens when you’re called on to
provide this kind of care for parents and other relatives.


How involved are you? 

Are you able to share the responsibilities with your siblings or other

What impact does caring for them have on your own life and other
family responsibilities. 

Have you thought about moving a parent in with you or perhaps moved into their home instead.  Or perhaps you’ve helped to move them
into some kind of sheltered accommodation or care home. 

We’re going to be exploring the other side of the coin too – how it feels to ask for help when living independently becomes a problem. Author Carol Lee joins Jane in the
studio. Her memoir Out of Winter, explore how she cared for her parents long
distance. We also hear from listeners and from Nel Hales, who is still
living independently at the age of one hundred.



Bedroom Tax Appeal Judgment Friday 21st Feb 2014

20 February 2014
Received from Ellen Clifford
Bedroom Tax Appeal Judgment
Vigil outside Royal Courts of Justice: 9.15am Friday 21 February

Disabled people and supporters will gather outside the Royal Courts of Justice on Friday morning as the Court of Appeal delivers its judgment in the ‘bedroom tax’ legal challenge.

Under new Housing Benefit rules introduced in 1 April 2013, persons deemed to have 1 spare bedroom have had their housing benefit reduced by 14% and persons deemed to have 2, or more, spare bedrooms have had their housing benefit reduced by 25%. This bedroom tax or ‘removal of spare room subsidy’ as the government prefers to call it, has had a devastating impact with two thirds of those households affected containing a disabled person.

Last year 10 claimants represented by 3 law firms, argued Read the rest of this entry »

Counting the Cuts – Report Published

18 February 2014

Received from Simon Duffy – Director of the Centre for Welfare Reform

Counting the Cuts is a new report by Dr Simon Duffy, Director of the Centre for Welfare Reform. The report is based on analysis of the latest statistics from the Government.


There have been large cuts in public spending, and these cuts have targeted on people who are already disadvantaged.

People on low incomes face cuts twice as large as average

Disabled people on low incomes face cuts four times larger than average

People who need help form social services face cuts six times greater than the average

This report is released in advance of Read the rest of this entry »


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