Posts Tagged ‘benefit’

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
 
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Legal aid bill goes into the Lords committee stage today – Dec 20th 2011

20 December 2011

Guest post by Carita Thomas –  a member of Young Legal Aid Lawyers.

It’s Christmas, and I don’t know about you, but pennies are tight, and I’m only halfway down my shopping list! Austerity Britain is not much fun at the moment, and all this talk of “tightening belts” and “tough choices” is not creating much festive cheer. Then I read that the City is due to take home £4.2 billion in bonus cash this Christmas, instead of saving that to stave off another bailout from the state.

Helping the City through the credit crunch has meant bankers now cost us more than bin men, so a nice bonus on top of all that seems a bit wrong. We are going through the worst cuts of a generation – doesn’t everyone have to prove their value for money nowadays? I’m sure those bankers will get a firm talking to in 2012…. But for now the Government has other priorities.

This week its plans to reform legal aid are in the spotlight. Like so many public services, the Government wants to cut free legal advice back as far as it can, and on 20th December, the bill containing the proposals will be debated by the committee of the House of Lords.

Now, some might ask why anyone would object to plans like these. The Government’s proposals for legal aid would save £350 million. Who can argue with that sort of money?

Well, that’s small change out of £4.2 billion. And I don’t believe these cuts will save money, at least not in the long term. Studies have shown that legal aid can save money for the state, with Citizens’ Advice estimating this could be up to £8.80 for every £1 spent.  Getting help with a problem in the early stages stops things snowballing, leading to more public costs later down the line, like paying for homeless assistance if someone gets evicted because they get into debt and stop paying rent. Let’s talk one year after the cuts and see how bright the plans look then, when more people have had to turn to the state without basic help to let them fix their own problems.

Also, where is the talk of alternatives? The Government has either been unlucky in a game of cuts roulette or deliberately chosen policies that home in on people who have most to lose. At the moment, 80% of those who use legal aid are in the poorest 20% of the population, and 650,000 people will lose help each year if the cuts go ahead. You can do the maths about who is coming off worst. This bill is a travesty as it takes away the right to equality of arms from the poorest, making them stand alone against opponents who can pay for help, not least the state, whose pockets are deepest of all.

The Government admits the bill will have a disproportionate impact on certain groups, and one of these is disabled people. Just take benefits advice, which the Government wants to cut completely. 58% of clients here are disabled – which means 78,000 disabled people will lose out each year in this one area of law. Other important changes include a plan to only allow debt advice if your home is at risk. And for both debt and community care you will have to call a telephone line to get help, with no guarantee you’ll see someone face to face. This comes just as local authorities have to make tough choices about what they spend money on so it will be harder to get basic advice if you think you are not getting the social care service you deserve.

With all the other government “reforms” we have seen rolled out, it’s not a pretty picture ….  Tanni Grey-Thompson got it right when she said welfare reform plus a lack of appropriate legal advice is a “double whammy” for disabled people.

If we go back to what is value for money, I’d say carers beat the bankers hands down. Care provided to family and friends saves the state an unbelievable £119 billion per year, which deserves more than just a pat on the back. Pat Onions said it best when she asked the Government to stand by its duty to disabled people and carers and review the cuts to benefits and services that will affect them.

There is a Christmas message for the coalition if ever I heard one – if you have not signed Pat’s petition already – do this today. (click here!)

People like Pat get my fighting spirit back. There is still loads we can do and lots of peers with principles who can be encouraged to stop the worst of the bill. If you want to take action against the cuts to legal aid, join the campaign.

You could take a seat in Scope’s “virtual parliament” or tell them your story about how legal aid helped you. Check out these websites for more ideas and information: Save Legal Aid, Justice For All and Sound Off for Justice.

You can still make a huge difference, so please get involved.

Medway Council proposes £2.1m adult social care cuts

23 November 2011

Medway Council has laid out its proposals for cutting £2.1m from its adult social care budget.

It anticipates saving £1.1m in care home charges by privatising three residential care homes and closing an adult day care centre

READ IN FULL HERE

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.

Latest with Atos

26 August 2011

We would like to update CW members, along with our supporters, of the latest exchange with Atos.  (Having trouble with wordpress so cannot link back to other posts which details this situation. Will try later)

Received from Atos

Dear Frances,

Thank you for your email. The posting which we consider to be defamatory against Atos Healthcare and our employees is dated March 23rd, 8:51 pm.

As I said in my previous email, we fully support the right of people to express their opinions and would very much like to work with you to ensure your forum is reinstated as soon as possible.

If you have further questions, please do call me on: *********.

Best regards

Caroline

Our response  below

Dear Caroline

Thank you for supplying the date and time of the post that concerns you.

We have finally traced it. We run a live discussion group and posts are normally only current for a few days. In this case the post is five months old. It did not create any interest at the time and has long since become inactive.

Having seen the post we are even more confused as to why you took this aggressive action against us. We were surprised to see that this post was not written by a member of CarerWatch but is merely a link to an article on another site. We were also surprised when we followed the link to see that the original article is still visible on the site of origin. We cannot understand why you would take this matter up with us when your dispute is with the authors of the linked article. We feel like collateral damage in this.

We would like to point out that we are running a private discussion group for members and we do not know how you saw this link on our site. But if you have some how been watching the posts in our group you will know that members post on an enormous breadth of topics and post links to a wide variety of other sites. Members often post links to material on other sites precisely because they are vehemently opposed to the material.

We repeat – this is a discussion group and posts have to be read in the context of open discussion.

We are concerned that this type of extreme hyper vigilance of discussion groups could seriously damage free and open discussion.

You say that you embarked on this action to protect the reputation of your company. But you can call on unlimited resources to obtain legal advice and you should bear in mind that groups like us have no resources and cannot obtain legal advice. We think you should bear this in mind when making your actions proportionate and appropriate.

We are sure you, like us, wish to bring this situation to a speedy conclusion. As it was your action that resulted in our forum being taken down, we suggest the following. We will remove the post in question (without prejudice), and in turn you will make arrangements to have our forum reinstated, whilst also giving us a guarantee that should you have any concerns in future, you will bring them directly to us and not to the hosting company.

Considering the immense distress caused to our members, and the volume of unnecessary work created for us, we consider these to be extremely reasonable requests.

We await your reply.

Frances

 

Door slamming – by Pat Onions

3 July 2011

This is it. I have had enough.

I have reached the end of my tether. As far as being a strong advocate of an unpaid carer I am no more. I am an ex-advocate carer. Ex-unpaid advocate.  In fact ex- don’t care any more.

For many many years I have believed that one-day life would get better for carers. After all politicians have been banging on for even longer what a wonderful job these unpaid, unsung heroes do. Save the chancellor’s pocket millions of pounds. Almost as many as he doesn’t pay in taxes.

I have dragged David along to carers’ all day conferences. Whilst I have moved around ‘work shops’, which tell me, I can take advantage of ‘short breaks’ or win a holiday in X, Y and Z, he has tried to find somewhere comfy to park his broken body.

I have been to televised link- ups between Universities and carers, where every word spoken has created a cheer.

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End the care crisis: Dilnot must be a ‘turning point’

2 July 2011

End the care crisis: Dilnot must be a ‘turning point’

Care and Support Alliance

 

In advance of the publication of the Dilnot Commission’s recommendations on care and support funding, 25 members of the Care and Support Alliance – organisations representing older people, those living with disabilities and long-term conditions and their families – have set out the case for reform. In a joint statement they said:

“The publication of the Dilnot Commission’s recommendations must be a turning point in social care. We can no longer ignore the demographic reality of an ageing population and people living longer with illness and disability. Nor can we ignore a growing number of stories of abuse, neglect and unmet need from a chronically underfunded care system, which now faces further cuts. Successive Governments have kicked the question of long-term care into the long grass. This must not happen again, and the public will not forgive delay or half-measures.

The time is past for tinkering with a crumbling system, and urgent, fundamental reform is needed. A central part of that, and our bottom line for reform, must be additional public funding.

The current system is a postcode lottery of often high charges and poor quality services. Years of underfunding, compounded by cuts this year, mean that hundreds of thousands are going without vital support to eat, wash and live their everyday lives. If we want a care and support system raised to the standards we would all expect, then substantial additional funding cannot be avoided. Hard choices need to be made about who pays, but we cannot afford for decisions to be postponed as too costly or too controversial.

Unless you’ve been through the social care system it is difficult to understand how urgently it needs reform. If you need medical treatment, the NHS provides wherever you live. But different councils provide different levels of care services, and the state only pays for the care of people with the lowest levels of income or savings. If you have savings, income or a home worth more than £23,250, the costs of care in your own home or in residential care can be catastrophic.

The current system means that someone with dementia and their family could end up having to pay over £100,000 for the costs of care. Disabled people who want to live independently face a lifetime of huge bills to get basic support. Carers caring round the clock for loved-ones are forced to pay hundreds of pounds to get a few hours rest.

This is not simply a question of a societal duty to a small group of the vulnerable. Every family in this country will be affected by ageing, illness and disability. We all need a care and support system which protects families from catastrophic care costs, ends the postcode lottery in care and delivers fairness, dignity and independence.”

 Signed:                                          (more…)

Potential DLA legal challenge – Disability Alliance UK (United Kingdom)

2 July 2011

 UPDATED WITH BBC VIDEO – Watch from 1 mins 48 secs

You may have heard that Disability Alliance might be taking legal action against the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) over some Government welfare plans. Our legal advisors, Unity Law, have examined Government plans and believe there is a very credible case.

Disability Alliance is especially concerned over plans to abolish Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for working age people (defined as 16-64 years of age by DWP) and introduce a new benefit (Personal Independence Payment – PIP) which will have a £2.17 billion lower budget by 2015. PIP will not provide an equivalent level of support for the 652,000 disabled people currently receiving low rate care DLA payments.

We have raised our concerns with DWP over the last year, since plans were announced in June 2010. We have ensured our member organisations’ views and those of the disabled people we have surveyed have been communicated to DWP. We have aired concerns in meetings, briefings, a consultation and evidence to two parliamentary committees. Over 5,500 organisations and people responded to the Government consultation on DLA reform. But concerns have sadly gone unanswered and the Government have made no changes to plans to reflect the level of anxiety disabled people and organisations like Disability Alliance have communicated.

Potential DLA legal challenge – Disability Alliance UK (United Kingdom)

Joint Committee on Human Rights – Tuesday 28 June

29 June 2011

This meeting can be watched from the start here

Committee Room 4a
Meeting started on Tuesday 28 June at 2.22pm
ended at 4.12pm

The implementation of the right of disabled people to independent living
Witnesses

  1. Disabled people with experience of independent living issues
  2. Carers UK, People First, Scope, and Age UK

 Visit the Committee’s homepage.

 

Employment Support Allowance and Work Capability Assessments

29 June 2011
submitted by Frances Kelly
 
Anyone with a long term illness or disability is already feeling the impact of the government welfare reforms. Incapacity Benefit has been abolished. Sick and disabled people are in the process of being forcibly migrated to Employment and Support Allowance. They are being subjected to Work Capability Assessments which are tests unrelated to their medical condition, tests which they do not understand and which have dubious validity.
 
The government target is for two thirds of sick and disabled people to be moved off the new replacement for Incapacity Benefit. This will be done by ‘helping’ them find work along with a regime of mandatory activity and  threats and sanctions. If this fails they may hit a time limit.
 
The main impact on the lives of sick and disabled people is fear. Fear that the meagre financial support that they depend on will be withdrawn. Fear that they will not be able to cope with the requirements being put upon them. In many cases the stress is impacting on their health and making them less well.
 
This is why the Impact Report published by the DWP on the recent proposed changes to ESA is truly shocking.
 
It isn’t just the inaccuracies in the report identified by Steve Griffiths that are so appalling.
  
It is the tone and focus of the report that is the real wake up call. As far as the government is concerned the impact of these reforms is not about the fear being visited on vulnerable people but solely about how much money will be saved.
 
Have the government completely abandoned any residual of duty of care to people with long term sickness or disability. Do the government now regard people who are disabled only as an economic burden to be minimised or otherwise disappeared.
 
Where is the compassion and concern for the lives of these people. Where is the assessment of how their lives will be turned upside down and made impossible as their only income is reduced and often time limited and stopped. Where is the covenant between the community and people who are disabled.
 
Fear and the loss of security, support and trust is the real impact of the introduction of ESA but shockingly these concerns are not raised in the Impact Report as the focus moves to saving money. The government has just wished all this fear and hardship away.
 
Further details can be found here
 
and here

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