Archive for the ‘workfare’ Category

Sad news from DPAC

10 November 2016

It is with great sadness that we have to tell you one of our co-founders, Debbie Jolly has died following a short hospital stay. As disabled people everywhere we’ve lost a friend and advocate and a fighter for our movement.

Debbie has played a hugely influential part in the development of DPAC since 2010 and she and I have worked together virtually every day since dealing with the day-to-day things that needed to be done to make DPAC the successful campaign group we have become.

Read in full here

CarerWatch would like to extend our deepest sympathies to those that knew Debbie, both personally and through her campaigning work. RIP


The Work Programme’s ‘big society’ logic: get charities to do it for free

11 November 2011


In the current low growth-high-unemployment economic climate, it will not shock anyone that the mainly private Work Programme (WP) providers are seeking to drive down costs and transfer risk. What may come as a surprise, however, is the way some providers are going about this: by asking voluntary organisations to do their work for them, for free.

According to Volunteering England (VE) a number of volunteer centres across England report that long term unemployed people are being covertly referred to them by WP providers. The bulk of these referrals involve individuals being sent informally to centres to help them become "job ready". The hope is that volunteering will give them confidence and "work experience" and make them more attractive to potential employers.

No-one is questioning the value of volunteering in this respect: the problems arise over why the clients are being referred, who pays, and who benefits.

The Work Programme’s ‘big society’ logic: get charities to do it for free | Society |

Cap on Universal Credit ‘to hit 133,000 London households’

11 November 2011


An estimated 133,000 households in London will be unable to afford their rent if proposed changes to the welfare system go ahead, according to new research.

A report commissioned by London Councils claims the changes are likely to significantly impact on households in London, because the Government’s policy "takes no account of higher housing costs in the capital".

The benefit cap planned by the Government is expected to limit the total amount that workless households will be able to receive in benefits to £350 a week for a single person and £500 for all others. It is part of the Welfare Reform Bill which will see the implementation of a single payment known as the Universal Credit (UC).

Cap on Universal Credit ‘to hit 133,000 London households’ » Housing »

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

Welfare Reform Bill – Letter to Peers

10 October 2011

We have been asked to share this letter below, organised by Disabled People Against Cuts.  Please take time to read through and then contact Peers with your own concerns.

You can find names and addresses here . DPAC have suggested these names in particular :

Jenny Willott MP and Ian Swales MP in the House of Commons, and Lord German in the House of Lords. Other peers who are involved are Baroness Thomas, Lord Kirkwood, Lord Stoneham and Lord Addington.

Letter already sent to Peers as follows : (more…)

IDS goes back to Victorian values

3 October 2011


Iain Duncan Smith’s moral crusade on welfare at today’s Conservative Party conference does not address the concerns of 2.51 million unemployed

This morning at Conservative Party conference, we saw the welfare reform team take to the stage. It was a similar to last year’s panel show format, as we heard from people who had been successfully helped back into work, interspersed with ministerial speeches, before the keynote address delivered by IDS.

There were a few early clangers – work and pensions minister Chris Grayling started the session stating the government would ‘reassess IB claimants to try and give you the right support”. Clearly the ‘right support’ in the government’s eyes is ‘less support’, as the reassessments are migrating around two thirds of incapacity benefit claimants on to JobSeeker’s Allowance (£26 less per week and on a penalty system for failing to take work).

IDS goes back to Victorian values | Public Finance Opinion

Welfare Reform – Day2 at Conservative conference

3 October 2011

Today, Oct 3rd 2011 sees day 2 of the Conservative conference.

Full schedule can be read here

You can watch live here    also here

Please note 10am this morning is –

10.00 – Welfare Reform and Jobs
Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Letter to Professor Harrington re ESA groups and Fluctuating Conditions

19 September 2011

CarerWatch submission to Professor Harrington

Dear Professor Harrington

CarerWatch is a group of unpaid family carers. We also have very many members with severe long-term illness or disability.

We are an e-mail based group, which allows people who are often isolated in their homes to communicate freely. All our policy is decided by the members. We e-mail an alert whenever we are coming to a position or view and all members are invited to come and join the discussion. We decide policy by consensus during the discussion.

Our members are very concerned about ESA. We have never experienced this degree of anxiety and concern before. So we are very grateful for the opportunity to submit this evidence.

We realise that your review is limited to WCA and in our opinion the problems with ESA are deeper than that. We don’t think the ESA groups meet the needs of people with severe long-term conditions. Because the regime in the WRAG contains sanctions and time limits copied from the JSA regime for fit people we think it is too coercive for people with severe disability. This means far more people need to be allocated to the Support Group.

We don’t think the groups are defined clearly.

Are you fit for the WRAG because you can manage some activity or is it because you are mentally fit to stand this level of pressure?

Rethink say in a  campaign –

Rethink Mental Illness is concerned that current benefit assessments fail to understand the reality of what it is really like to live with a mental illness. Further, 80% of people with a mental illness surveyed said the test has made their mental health worse.

After being assessed for Employment and Support Allowance, Ryan* told us –   

“As a direct result of the way I have been treated… I considered taking my own life on and off for a period of months. My GP even wrote a letter to them to spell out the severity of my illness and how the situation was putting me in danger.”

We have an opportunity to change the welfare system so that people like Ryan are treated fairly.

Rethink Campaigns Team

We agree with Rethink. The WRAG frightens people and is not a safe place for them to try and find work.

Our reservations are spelled out in more detail in a recent letter, which we sent to six charities, which is copied below.

We think that sanctions and time limits should be removed from the WRAG so that it is made a safe place to help people find work. Unless this happens the WCA descriptors must take account of the vulnerability of sick and disabled people to undue pressure and place most of them in the Support Group.

Frances Kelly

Letter to six charities from CarerWatch and the Broken of Britain

To – MS Society, ForwardME, Parkinson’s UK, Arthritis Care, National Aids Trust and Crohns and Colitis UK

CarerWatch and the Broken Of Britain are both online campaigning groups. Our members are family carers and people with various disabilities/serious illness.

We would like to congratulate you on your excellent report – ESA WCA Review – Making it Work for Fluctuating Conditions – 2011

In particular we would like to endorse your statement –

“Capability for work is not a clear cut issue. Although some people with long term conditions or disabilities can be completely fit for work or completely incapable of work many do not fit neatly in to either category. Those whose conditions fluctuate may move between the two extremes but more often will fall somewhere in the middle”.

All severe long-term conditions fluctuate to some degree. This statement applies to most people with severe long-term conditions. Most people with disability will never be fully fit for work – neither are they completely unfit for work.

This is the first time to our knowledge that this fundamental reality behind ESA has been so clearly identified.

We believe that this could provide a break through in solving the problems marring ESA. If it can be addressed then ESA can be transformed in to the supportive benefit it was designed to be.

Once it is accepted that most people with long-term conditions do fall squarely in the middle and will never be fully fit for work the solution is to design a group, which meets their needs. Unfortunately the WRAG in its current form with time limits, sanctions and mandatory work activity is not a safe place for people who will never be fully fit for work.

It is necessary to design a group which is a safe and supportive environment for people who will never be fully fit for work where they can attempt to work if they want to, without fear of losing benefits or being timed out.

What is the point of the time limit when people know they will not be better within a set period of time?

What is the point of sanctions when failure to comply may always be due to the condition?

How can you get people to agree to a program of activity when they will never be confident that they can fulfil the demands of a work program?

These coercive conditions frighten people and stress makes all conditions worse. They also frighten people in the Support Group in to abstaining from activity in case they are reallocated to the WRAG.

These threats in the WRAG have been designed by fit people and show no understanding of what it is like to try to find and keep work with a long-term disability. They have been taken en bloc from the program for fit people and they do not translate to the reality of disability. It is a tragedy that what started as a constructive and supportive program has become such a threat because of the unnecessary time limits and sanctions.

This one simple change – removing the time limits and sanctions from the WRAG – would make it a suitable group for most people with disability.

We would like to ask MS Society, ForwardME, Parkinsons UK, Arthritis Care, National Aids Trust and Crohns and Colitis UK if they have any news they could share with our members of any developments since the report was first published. Plus if any specific campaign is being planned.

We have shared this with many other individuals, groups, charities, and would welcome their comments too, along with details of any action being taken that our members would be able to support.

We look forward to hearing from you all.

Frances Kelly
Kaliya Franklin
Rosemary O’Neill

A breakdown of usual channels – Lords of the Blog

16 September 2011


Yesterday the ‘Usual Channels’, that’s the chief party whips meeting in private, failed to agree that the Welfare Reform Bill should be debated in its committee stages ‘in Grand Committee’, that is outside the main chamber. Grand Committee is usually held in the Moses Room but for Bills likely to generate more interest there is the option of using a larger room on the upstairs committee corridor.

A breakdown of usual channels – Lords of the Blog

Anger as Welfare Reform Bill debate ‘squirreled away’ from public scrutiny

14 September 2011


Peers agreed today to a Government plan to hold the committee stage of the controversial Welfare Reform Bill away from the main chamber of the House of Lords, despite strong opposition from Labour.
Government chief whip Baroness Anelay of St Johns argued that the next stage of the Bill should be debated in a committee room and peers accepted the plan by 263 votes to 211, majority 52.
Decisions on where committee stages are held are almost invariably taken in private between the parties, making today’s vote extremely unusual.
But today both sides blamed each other for the breakdown of negotiations.

Anger as Welfare Reform Bill debate ‘squirreled away’ from public scrutiny » Housing »

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