Archive for January, 2012

Welfare Reform – The Dread of Things To Come

31 January 2012

Tomorrow the Tories will try to push through their new Welfare Reform Bill. Read the story about welfare reform in our new Soundings free-to-download ebook Welfare reform – the dread of things to come

Contributors: Peter Beresford, Kaliya Franklin, Declan Gaffney, Steve Griffiths, Sue Marsh, Jonathan Rutherford

Please help distribute the link via your twitter accounts and your work and social media networks. With your help we can get tens of thousands of downloads.

Sign the petition
People with disability and their carers have been reeling from the attacks on benefits and services and so far their voices have been largely discounted.

Please sign Pat’s petition click here

If we all get behind Pat’s petition we can register our voices in one place and make the government listen.

details taken from LWbooks newsletter


Welfare Reform Bill prompts protest in London

28 January 2012

Activists and disability campaign groups are staging a demonstration in opposition to the government’s welfare proposals.

Campaigners say the changes in the Welfare Reform Bill would see half a million people lose their benefits.

listen here

To track the event on Twitter check out hashtags




If you are unable to attend the event please sign petition here  

Don’t just be a signer — be an organizer. Turn your signature into hundreds more by asking your friends to sign. Then they’ll ask their friends. That’s how we win. 

Photos courtesy of Sam

Illness as ‘Deviance’, Work as Glittering Salvation and the ‘Psyching-up’ of the Medical Model

21 January 2012

This blog link was sent to us and is a Must Read.

The one thing I am absolutely unreservedly and implacably opposed to in all of this is a real world test.” – Chris Grayling, Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions, 2011.

An ongoing British government mission of ‘inclusivity’ which has sought to draw into paid employment those previously depicted as ‘excluded’ by conditions of personal circumstance, such as lone mothers, or through lack of ‘skills’ such as NEETS, or to some extent disabled and older claimants, has recently been expanded much further, venturing into territory previously delimited by, and existing under the protection of, certain ‘norms’ – that is the widespread area of sickness and disability. Characteristic of government rhetoric towards an end of ‘including’ the sick and disabled within the work-not-welfare paradigm is the adoption of an ‘abandonment’ discourse when referring to those on long-term health-related benefits (Grayling, quoted in BBC, 2011) – work being posed as their ‘salvation’

see full details here

Welfare Reform Bill – Vigils & Lobbies: 1pm-3pm, MONDAY 23 JAN

21 January 2012
Received from Winvisible
Welfare Reform Bill — no going back to Dickensian days
Next Vigils & Lobbies: 1pm-3pm, MONDAY 23 JAN, WEDNESDAY 25 JAN, TUESDAY 31 JAN.
* Defend Child Benefit for all * Oppose all benefit caps and sanctions  
Cap greedy landlords, not low-income people!
called by
Single Mothers’ Self-Defence, WinVisible, Zacchaeus 2000 Trust
Meet opposite Parliament – Lords’ entrance
Old Palace Yard, Abingdon St SW1 – Westminster tube
All welcome
We have had two very successful vigils attended by over 30 people – people with disabilities, single mothers, claimants and other activists. The Royal College of Nursing joined the vigil last Tuesday. Alex Callaghan, who leads their policy work on the social determinants of health, had photos taken for Nursing Times

Work Capability Assessment ‘consultation’- Cancer

18 January 2012

This consultation ends 9 March 2012

Tom Greatrex (Rutherglen and Hamilton West, Labour)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many responses his Department has received to date to its consultation entitled Work Capability Assessment: accounting for the effects of cancer treatment.

Chris Grayling (Minister of State (Employment), Work and Pensions; Epsom and Ewell, Conservative)

To date we have received 12 responses to the consultation. The consultation runs until 9 March 2012 and during this time we are seeking views from interested stakeholders, particularly from individuals who have been or are being affected by cancer, their families and carers, health care practitioners and cancer specialists, and employers.

Details here

The Employment Support Allowance Trap

13 January 2012

by Frances Kelly

Here is a thumbnail of a person with disability. They have hope. They would
like to work. Realistically they know this probably isn’t going to be easy or perhaps even possible.

The government have set an Employment Support Allowance  trap for people like this and so far it is working like a dream. Sheffield Hallam statisticians  say 600,000 genuinely disabled people will fall in to the black hole and lose their benefits. Disabled people – amongst the poorest and most vulnerable in the country – will have their money taken to pay for the deficit created by others.
While the trap is working this well it can be extended to Disability Living Allowance/ Personal Independence Payment/ Universal Credit  – any/all future disability benefits.
The trap is laid with thumbnails. Disability comes in so many forms and degrees that people are forced to resort to quick thumbnail sketches in debates. So the trick is to start with one thumbnail and then deftly slip to
another without any one noticing the switch.

That is called a confidence trick.
Of course the favourite thumbnail is the fit, feckless scrounger pretending to have a bad back while refereeing football matches – boo hiss – the audience wakes up and remembers why they don’t care about disability. The Minister then slips this thumbnail to Incapacity Benefit claimants who he says have been claiming for years.  Long term illnesses are like that – they go on  for years – that’s why they are called long term. Let’s have a real thumbnail of a person with a long term degenerative condition.
Time to show compassion. The next thumbnail is the poor person so ill –
 they will never work again’. This was originally set up under ESA at 10% but they have had to increase it because of the absurdity of the level of  successful appeals. This is the Support Group where people are not expected to work. This sounds fine but for many people  it is actually not a good place to be. Safe but no hope. No young person should be there. But given the alternative people will continue to try and get in to the Support Groups because safety will win out over hope.
The alternative to the Support Group is the Work Related Activity group (WRAG.) This is the group for the majority of disabled people.                         

And it is a trick.

The thumbnail for the WRAG is a person not able to work but able to manage a
little back to work activity. In the early days of ESA it was suggested that this might be as gentle as an  occasional massage. But once you are in the WRAG just watch that thumbnail slip. No medical miracle has occurred. You still have a permanent or deteriorating condition, but you are subjected to compulsory interviews and work activity under threat of sanctions and loss
of benefit.

Then the thumbnail slips again and a time limit comes in. The  thumb nail is now a worker who is definitely on their way to work and the clock has started ticking before your benefit will stop. How did the thumbnail slip from a person who is assessed as unable to work to a person who will work.                              

It’s a trick.
ESA is flawed. The two groups are not fit for purpose. Neither of the groups  actually fits disabled people. Professor Harrington is doomed like Sisyphus  to forever attempt an impossible task.

Nothing he can do to the descriptors can change the flaw in the design of the groups.
Here’s a real thumbnail of a person with disability. They have hope. They would like to work. Realistically they know this probably isn’t going to be easy
or perhaps even possible.
Stick to the real thumbnail and design a group for the them.

Please leave comments below  or

contact Frances Kelly

Also please sign Pats Petition here and ask as many people/groups to do the same. 

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”


At last – a crack in the wall of silence on benefit cuts‏

12 January 2012

The government was defeated three times in a row in the Lords last night on its proposals to save money be limiting the benefits paid to ill and disabled people who claim Employment Support Allowance. You can read about it here

The three main parties have until now maintained a solid wall of silence acting together on welfare reform to cut and limit benefits to disabled people. Now – at long last it is sensational to see the first crack in this wall of silence.

Lord Patel made a compelling case. ( You can watch in full here , forward to 40mins for the start of the debate ).
It was great to hear him spelling out so clearly that people placed in the WRAG group of ESA who are being threatened with these sanctions and time limits are all people who have been assessed under the new tests as people who are not fit to be required to work. So why are these people being time limited and treated as if they are fit to work? As Lord Freud made very clear in the debate – the limits are being put on their benefits only to save money. ( Lords Hansard text here)
The deficit cannot be reduced on the backs of people who are assessed as not fit to work – some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the community.
More votes including one on DLA are coming up in the next few weeks. Campaigners are working tirelessly lobbying members of the House of Lords and media. Further details can be found here
It is even more important now to get the details of Pat’s Petition out to people to give them a chance to register their support for campaigners where the government can see and hear them. Please let people know what is happening and how they can sign Pat’s Petition.

Sign Pat’s Petition here

More details about the petition and the supporters here
See Pat’s Petition on FaceBook
and on Twitter
Read Resonsible Report ( Spartacus report ) Responsible Reform
Listen to Baroness Meacher here
Watch video of protest outside Westminster here  

Tweet to Defeat from the Hardest Hit

10 January 2012

Members of the House of Lords will vote next Wednesday (11th January) on whether 700,000 ill and disabled will see a crucial work benefit cut after receiving it for just twelve months.

Please tweet a peer the following message:

Please protect the #HardestHit & vote on Jan 11 for Welfare Reform Bill Clause 51 amends to help ill & disabled people.

see details here

First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. And then we win

8 January 2012

Copy of a post by Kaliya Franklin

Some much needed positive news….

As most of you know Sue Marsh has been co-ordinating a report researched, authored and funded by sick and disabled people which is released formally on monday.

As happens with every government welfare report, mysteriously, somehow, details leaked out to the media yesterday and so the coverage has already started. It turns out that Boris Johnson’s submission to the DLA reform consultation which closed in February 2011 was the smoking gun we needed and the government hoped no-one would ever find. The Mayor’s submission stood out from the other consultation responses, not because it was supportive of our claims (almost all the submissions were) but because it was incredibly thoughtful, well written and researched.

see here for her article in full

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