Posts Tagged ‘conservatives’

Carers – They walk among us, unseen, unheard but ever near

1 October 2013

IDS1

This week sees the Tory conference held in Manchester. Various ministers have already spoken but today we will hear from a man, Iain Duncan Smith,  who for many carers is the biggest failure to date.

Past, and present governments, have continuously ignored the plight of carers, a group of people that give so much. Their Love, and the care they provide,  taken for granted by those in power.

So why has Iain Duncan Smith failed miserably?  

We are in the middle of the biggest shake up to the welfare system for over 60 years, changes that see many benefits changed/cut, support withdrawn, and yet the issues surrounding the LOWEST benefit of all were not addressed. Carers Allowance is just £59.75 and care must be provided to a minimum of 35 hours .

In the report Breakthrough Britain, by the Centre for Social Justice, a think tank of which Mr Smith is Chairman, they reported that…

Family carers are undervalued in our society and receive a disproportionately low level of financial support given the many hours of work that they do.

Carers of elderly and disabled people are not adequately resourced or recognize for the work they do

Mr Smith has missed a golden opportunity to reform this benefit.

Carers have accepted their responsibility, WHEN will government accept theirs

 

 

 

Is the government prepared to take action? Carers Week report

14 June 2013

Carers Week logoWhen the invite came to attend a speed-networking event in Parliament with MPs I initially said no. Doing a return trip from the North East in same day is not ideal, early start and extremely late arrival home, all for a 2-hour event. However, I have always said that apart from our own MPs, those of us in the North East don’t get much opportunity to meet with other politicians, so I changed my mind and said ‘yes’.  I am now glad I did so, and appreciate the opportunity given by CarersUK and CarersWeek.

The train journey down started really well with an unexpected turn of events. A young man sat a few seats from me and I recognised him as Chris Ramsey, stand-up comedian and actor from South Shields. Those that know me will not be surprised at my next actions, which was to start tweeting him. As most people travelling were using phones, he was unaware who was relating to his twitter  followers what he was doing. Once I identified myself we spoke a little while. Talk about Big Brother is watching. Thanks for the laugh Chris, you were a good sport.

After this light relief it was over to Westminster for the event. I was met by Carers Week staff and introduced to others from various organisations, including Age UK and Carers Trust. Then it was to business.

As a Carers UK member my companions were Emily Holzhausen, Director of Policy, and Chloe Wright, Senior Policy Officer. They took turns to sit with me. Also helping oversee the event was Steve McIntosh.

It was explained how the event would unfold. As MPs arrived they would be guided to tables to speak with carers, how long for was unsure, depending on if they had any other appointments they needed to attend.

I had no worries about speed networking. Those that know Geordies will know we talk fast. My main concern was how much ground could be covered when the issues surrounding carers are many. It was not just about my family’s’ circumstances, but many others out there too, struggling to cope on a daily basis.

We managed to see 8 MPs, names as follows –

Carers Week blogIan Mearns  Lab
Guy Opperman  Con
Norman Lamb  LibDem
Peter Aldous  Con
Sheila Gilmore   Lab
Grahame Morris   Lab
Stewart Jackson  Con
Caroline Lucas   Green

As well as outlining how caring has impacted on my family, other issues discussed were as follows.

1.    The issue of the Children and Families Bill and the lack of parent carer rights in it, and the concern that they would be left behind. We also talked about when the Care Bill comes to the House of Commons, to stop carers from being charged for their own services and to put an amendment, which would prevent family and friends’ support being taken for, granted.

2.    We discussed the impact of welfare reform on carers, in particular the bedroom tax

3.    The benefits system, which causes huge difficulties in trying to juggle work and care.

4.    Lack of services that are right for the people we care for, e.g. lack of dementia services and support for younger people.

5.    Lack of investment locally in carers’ support e.g. carer’s dementia work.

6.    Concerns about cuts to services and reassessments of severely disabled people and the impact on the caring support and family

7.    Concerned about the cumulative impact of different changes and cuts that are hitting families hard.

8.    Problems surrounding Employment Support Allowance process

9.    Impact on disabled people, as well as carers, re closure of Independent Living Fund.

10.   Advice and information being hard to come by but being vital.

11.  Importance of strong local advocates within local carers’ organisations.

12.  The level of Carer’s Allowance and the failure of this Government and the last Government to reform this benefit.

With thanks to Ian Mearns, Grahame Morris and Guy Opperman for the North East presence, to Norman Lamb who stayed longer than intended and was late for his next appt, and remaining MPs for the interest they showed, and the many questions asked.

Journey back took several hours and it was past midnight when I got home, extremely tired but an enjoyable day.

So, following on from the Carers Week theme of ‘I’m Prepared to Care’ – my question would be – What next?

Many of us have already been caring for as long as we can remember. Governments past and present have failed to fully address many of the carer issues.

We need action now

Give us the tools to assist us in our caring roles. It may be finances, respite, services, equipment, understanding from employers etc. Investing in us now can only strengthen the foundation we provide that prop up both NHS and Social Services.

We are ‘prepared to care’ 

 Is the government prepared to take ACTION?

Rosemary

Carers UK blog

Employment Support Allowance – the 2 groups are flawed

29 September 2012

copy of letter sent to the Guardian

With regards the article by Amelia Gentleman about Labour’s call for review of sickness benefits assessment. At CarerWatch, this is something we have fought for since 2008 under the last government, and we still fight to this day.

Initially we concentrated on issues surrounding mental health, as that is where our members were informing us the problems arose. However, during the last 4 years we have witnessed a huge increase in problems, that cuts across most disabilities/serious ill health.

The fact remains that no amount of tweaking the descriptors of the Work Capability Assessment will ever make it fit for purpose whilst the 2 groups, Work Related Activity group ( WRAG)  and Support group remain as they are.

The WRAG is a harsh group involving threats, sanctions and time limits. It is not a safe place to help disabled people deal with the enormous barriers they face in finding and keeping work. It is the coercive nature of the WRAG that is causing the fear and causing the problems. Paul Farmer knew this when he stood down.

February 2009 we used an article from your newspaper to make an appeal to Ed Balls to speak up when James Purnell was overseeing Welfare Reform.

The truth about the harsh realities of reforms were plain to see even then.

Purnell was wrong re ESA in 2008/9, so is Iain Duncan Smith today. His vision of a new welfare system is dangerous. It is an experiment played out on people with real lives, not statistics on a piece of paper. The speed with which he is pushing changes to welfare through is alarming. As is his attempt to bring forth the new Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payment, when so many issues still need addressing regarding ESA.

We are in the middle of a crisis as all benefits are being changed around us. Being done under the guise of ‘reform’, it is really cuts, falling disproportionately on disabled people, their carers and families.

We welcome Labours call for a review. However, they must not stop there but go back to the drawing board and start with the 2 groups of ESA, which are flawed.

There is no time for further mistakes to be made. Welfare reform will also have a massive impact on social care, and possibly limit what the new Care and Support Bill can achieve.

Problems with Implementation of Universal Credit – evidence to Works and Pensions committee

6 September 2012

UPDATE – IDS and Lord freud to give evidence re Universal credit Monday 17th 2012

Witnesses

At 9.30am, Wednesday 5 September 2012, Grimond Room, Portcullis House

  • Cllr Sir Merrick Cockell, Chairman and Cllr Catherine West, (Islington Council), Local Government Association
  • Gavin Smart, Director of Policy and Practice, Chartered Institute of Housing
  • Pete Challis, National Officer (Local Government and Housing), Unison

At 10.30am

  • Professor Mike Brewer, Research Fellow and James Browne, Senior Research Economist, Institute for Fiscal Studies
  • Tony Wilson, Director of Policy and Research, Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion
  • Fran Bennett, Senior Research Fellow, Oxford Institute of Social Policy, Women’s Budget Group

Grimond Room
Meeting started at 9.29am. Ended at 11.32am

watch video here 

Next session Monday 10th Sept 2012  4.30pm

Witnesses: Citizens Advice, Child Poverty Action Group  and Children’s Society

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We have not had time to watch the full video but enough to know there are serious problems regarding the implementation of the Universal credit.

Comments made by witnesses in the video above were -

troubles with no of claimants with internet access

enormous challenge to have it ready on time

concerns about skills and ability of many benefit claimants in completing forms online correctly. Many people still need face to face support

it is a Big bang approach with a high risk

more and more caework of people needing support but few contact places remaining

grave concerns about frequency of payments. DWP wants UC paid monthly but this would cause serious problems for many families

targets for JSA claimants to do so online have not been met, so extremely doubtful future targets for UC would be met.

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The Coalition government MUST start to take heed of the warnings it is receiving from many individuals, grassroot group, charities, Unions, etc. Universal Credit is only one of many changes but link them all together and many families will be hit several times over.

There has been no real thought as to how welfare reform will also impact on Social Care.

These changes may not affect you personally now, but may do so in the future. Add your voice to almost 46,000 people in saying – ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

Iain Duncan Smith battles to save his universal credit scheme – Mirror

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There is no need for anyone to fight alone. Voices are being raised louder and increasing in number. Below are links to various campaigns that would welcome you.

WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER

Pats Petition  sign but also share widely and ask others to do the same

DPAC   lists of many direct actions

Black Triangle   defender of Disability Rights

We are Spartacus Disabled peoples views on welfare reform

Hardest Hit  alliance of charities and others

A Future that Works  a march in London 20th october 2012

South Tyneside Welfare Protest Meeting – Hardest Hit/PSA

3 September 2012

Welfare Protest Meeting – South Shields

On Friday night I attended a meeting held in South Shields Town Hall, jointly held by local Public Services Alliance and Hardest Hit North East Group.  I would say approx 100-120 people attended. They consisted of local councillors, residents, representatives from various unions.

Chairing the meeting was Tina Roche (Unison), with speeches from Iain Malcom, Leader of the Council, David Miliband MP and Peter Bennetts, spokesperson for HH North East. All outlined the huge problems ahead. Tina ensured that more time was given for questions and statements from the floor.

Iain Malcom

Mr. Malcolm covered many issues that would affect our local area. Cuts to services, impact of welfare reform. He also spoke of proposed bedroom tax and abolition of council tax. Huge concerns re social care.

Mr Miliband

Mr. Miliband spoke about 3 warnings – Awareness, Protest and Preparation.

More work needs doing raising awareness of welfare benefit changes, as so many people are still unaware of what is in the pipeline ahead.

Protest – protest voices need to be heard and more grassroots groups, charities, unions need to work together. Protests, petitions, write to MPs outlining how changes are impacting on families.

Preparation – How we need prepare for the Tsunami of change, not just locally but nationally. People will need advice, support and information.

He spoke of the impact of welfare reform on families and the fear of them using loansharks.  A place for credit unions. Impact on local services. Of Alf Morris. Local housing issues.

Note

Comment was made from the floor by Stuart Bracking (DPAC North East) that there should be a 4th point made, and that is Reflection.  Labour need look back on their policies; amend mistakes made, especially with the work capability assessment. I hope to have a statement from Stuart soon to add here.

Lady from floor said that Labour need to be a stronger opposition party, as this is not visible to people.

Peter Bennetts

Peter was excellent. He outlined many of the changes ahead re welfare benefits and held nothing back, describing the fear among disabled people regarding losing their independence.  He spoke of the Hardest Hit rallies already held and informed us of the next event to be held in Newcastle October 27th. Also there will be HH members attending the A Future that Works protest Oct 20th

Participating in the meeting meant I have only managed to note down some of the topics discussed, not all, but will hopefully give you an idea of the issues raised.

Bedroom tax was raised time and time again.

Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payment

Loss of DLA could mean a double whammy for families if Carers Allowance is lost too.

Employment Support Allowance and Work capability Assessment not fit for purpose

Cuts to care services will bring added pressure on carers, many of whom are struggling now.

Those in low paid jobs and effect if lose their council tax benefit and need to find money to pay an increased charge.

Loss of Independent Living Fund

Loss of local jobs as council makes cuts

Impact of welfare reform on social care – NHS and social services departments will not be able to cope

Overall the meeting went very well. It was a great opportunity for local people to come together and realise they are not alone.

As a campaigner the biggest issue for me was Awareness. It was mentioned from the front table about how councils, and other bodies/organisations do not want to alarm people too soon about the changes. This was disputed from the floor. Marion, local resident, stood up and said people need informed now. It was waiting too long re welfare reform that meant too little time to fight.

Friday was the start of our local fight and arrangements already in place for further meetings.

Rosemary

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Please sign  PAT’S PETITION

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What would be your message to government ?

28 August 2012

Are you affected by welfare reform, cuts to services, closure of Independent Living Fund, changes to Council Tax benefit, changes within NHS –  and many more…..

You have a blank canvas, can address it to any Minister of your choosing.

You can ask a question or make a statement.

What would be on YOUR canvas? Add comments below

Please note some of the comments will be used by CarerWatch

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Please sign Pat’s Petition here

Then share the link asking as many others to do the same.

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/20968

 

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DLA/PIP Help Group’s Response to – DLA reform and Personal Independence Payment

25 June 2012

received from DLA Help Group

Please  find attached our group response to the above consultation.
Submitted  10:20 25/06/2012

read here   DLA Help group submission

 

 

Baroness Tonge tells BBC Radio 4 – Nick Clegg “isn’t thinking straight” over welfare reform changes

12 January 2012

We covered the details regarding the votes in House of Lords last night here re Welfare Reform. Crack in the wall of silence

Earlier today BBC Radio 4 interviewed Baroness Tonge and you can listen to it again here. Please forward to 17 mins

 Lib Dem peer Baroness Tonge BBC Radio 4 – ” Nick Clegg “isn’t thinking straight” over welfare reform changes”

 

Three little words – ‘Tax Payers Money’

11 October 2011

Blog piece by Pat Onions

There is a word or three I loathe.

More than the Employment Support Allowance.

More than the Work Capability Assessment and probably more than the Personal Independent Payment.

‘Tax Payers Money.’

I have been listening to Ms Miller talking about the new PIP. She sounded quite nice and chatty. Of course they will continue to pay £40 million to those disabled. Good. She then used those words… from ‘Tax Payers Money.

It is a move to stir up the people of this country. She could just say the amount which will be paid. Why add those 3 words at the end?

Effect of course is to make me feel worthless and useless. The effect is to let the ordinary man or woman, who works and pays tax, where their deductions are going.  I too am ordinary but I can’t use the library, drive on the roads or play ping-pong at the leisure centre. That of course is totally different. It always is when it comes to those of us with a disability.

Ordinary men, and women, would have no idea if they weren’t reminded at every verse end. They would sit at home watching another reality show on their 40″ Plasma screen. They’re probably not wondering too much where all the tax they pay each month is being spent. It is the duty of politician, newspaper and television reporters to tell them. And they do. Constantly. All the time and endlessly.

Like many others I did work. I did pay my taxes and did pay my NI. I still pay taxes on everything I eat, drink, sit on or sleep in. I don’t think the air that I breathe comes ‘from Tax Payers Money’  but I wouldn’t put any money on it.

When you are poorly and hurting…say with an abscess and extreme toothache…. you don’t want some smart Alec telling you that your dentist isn’t funded from ‘Tax payers Money’ anymore. You don’t want to hear that you have to dig deep in your pocket for some painkillers. You want support and help. Oh dear…. perhaps involving the NHS as an example is not such a good idea.

I get reminded that I have languished for more than 10 years on benefits. Benefits paid from ‘Tax Payers Money’. I haven’t actually languished at all. I have a rare, irreversible, hereditary condition. Proper experts diagnosed me, not a nurse playing at being an ophthalmic consultant with years of training & experience. The consultant recognised my disability and knew I would not be able to work. Nothing in society or the work place has changed in all those years to enable me to work. So why oh why do Politicians believe it has?

They can beat me with sticks; tell me if I don’t work I lose my benefits. It makes not one jot of difference to my disability. It is unchanged and always will be.

By taking my ‘Tax Payers Money’ from me it will mean I don’t eat, clothe myself and lose the roof over my head. They can assess me; reassess me as many times as they decide. I have no eyes, and no matter how many assessments, those eyes will never grow back and see again. Somehow Politicians seem to think they have a magic power to make them work…after all ‘Work Pays.’

Pat Onions

Coalition government – a ‘machine’ made from steel

8 September 2011

For countless years, with successive governments, family carers have continuously raised their voices outlining the many problems they face, about resources, finances, respite and/or equipment.

Yet no matter how much they chipped away at the brick wall no real action has been taken, by past and present govts. Campaigns have followed one after the other from many individuals, groups, and charities.

We are currently witnessing the biggest shake up of welfare benefits in over 60 years and still the issues surrounding Carers Allowance are not being addressed.  It is the LOWEST of all benefits at £55.55  per week.

As campaigners we will not give up even though the brick wall is now made of re enforced steel. Behind that wall lies a Coalition machine made from cold steel too. It shows NO understanding, NO compassion. It operates so clinically, so precise and its actions prove that it has no heart.

It speaks of Responsibility, Big Society, yet continues on its mission to persecute many disabled people, their families, and carers, with this current Welfare Reform Bill.

Is this the future we want for ourselves, for our children?

A future where disabled people and their families are battered from all directions.

Borrowing the famous words from Winston Churchill and altering them slightly…

Never has so much been given so freely by so few, for the benefit of so many.

 Carers need action and they need it NOW

 Please contact any groups/charities you belong to. Tell them your concerns surrounding Welfare Reform.

Contact your MP . Add your postcode in the box on this link to find their details

Feel free to use this template from Sue Marsh of The Broken of Britain

Support the Hardest Hit campaign which following on from a successful march in May 2011 are now planning local protests.

One simple change re ESA

As individuals any action we take may seem so small, but collectively we can be stronger.


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