Posts Tagged ‘welfare reform’

Employment Support Allowance – the elephant in the room

3 October 2013

HEALTH WARNING

This statement contains a message that no disability campaigner wants to hear – let alone campaign on. At first sight it appears negative and discouraging. However we believe that the best way to overcome a barrier is to name it and address it. And if it isn’t named, it leaves the government an open goal to take away safe, secure benefits.

MAKING EMPLOYMENT SUPPORT ALLOWANCE  FIT FOR PURPOSE

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With thanks to Grace Collins

With thanks to Grace Collins

CarerWatch and Pat’s Petition are concerned that Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) uses PUSH economics to take away safe benefits as a means of forcing disabled people in to work. But many disabled people can’t compete in the open job market and ESA is pushing them up against a brick wall. They have nowhere to go. The failure of the Work Programme is the result.

This is because many sick and disabled people have residual impairment, even after all adaptations are made, and are not as competitive in the open labour market as anyone else. Jobs are acquired through open competition: it is like asking disabled athletes to compete in the mainstream Olympics.

This is a very hard thing for disability campaigners to admit. We want to encourage people and talk up their strengths, not their weaknesses.  To admit that some disabled people are less competitive in the open labour market sounds like defeat. But the Social Model is about overcoming barriers. So far the focus has been on individuals overcoming their own individual barriers. But the competitive job market presents a structural barrier that also needs to be named and then addressed.

Of course there are many disabled people who, with adjustments and adaptations, can overcome their individual barriers to work and are just as competitive as everyone else. Talk about being less competitive is the last thing they want to hear.   But for many others this just isn’t the case. They are less competitive. And the relentless can do approach taken by ESA pushes them up against a brick wall.  ESA denies the can’t do. These people do not want to be written off as being unable to work (Support Group) but they can’t compete in the open labour market (Work related Activity Group (WRAG)). So there is no ESA group for people who have difficulty competing and they have nowhere to go. And these people have lost the security of safe benefits.

Let’s face up to and overcome the structural barrier in the job market. Because someone is less competitive it doesn’t mean they can’t work and contribute and there are still lots of options that might help them. Quotas, subsidies, campaigns, lots of opportunities for permitted and voluntary work. The government could intervene in the job market to make it a level playing field. Perhaps this needs a name – Supported Work. And being pushed down to work for less money below your level of competence is not a level playing field.

Brick_Wall

Meanwhile stop the unfair PUSH economics that is pushing less competitive disabled people up against a brick wall. They need the return of a safe secure benefit while they negotiate this impossible situation.   ESA is not fit for purpose. It has two groups. The Support Group provides long term safe support for disabled people who are not expected to be able to work. All other disabled people are put in the WRAG and classed as being ‘on their way back to work’ and they are expected to compete in the open job market. Some can compete but there is no group for the many who can’t.

A new structure is needed that recognises the reality of disability and the job market and provides safe, secure support for all disabled people.

Carers and Welfare reform – phone in Money Box Live

1 October 2013

carers_uk_logo2Head of Advice and Information Carers UK,  Jean French,  will be answering your questions on applying for welfare benefits as part of BBC Radio 4’s Money Box Live.

If you would like to ask a question call 03700 100 444 from 1pm to 3.30pm

on Wednesday October 2nd 2013

 

or e-mail moneybox@bbc.co.uk

You can listen to the programme live tomorrow at 1pm at this link: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03brqlc

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

 

 

 

VIAS AGM 2013 – Exploding the Myths!

19 September 2013
Start:  06/11/2013 10:00
End: 06/11/2013 15:30

The 6th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of VIAS will take place at Hillington Innovation Centre, Glasgow on Wednesday 6th November.

As well as the usual business of the AGM, Simon Duffy, The Director of the Centre for Welfare Reform, the architect of individual budgets and self-directed support, will present and facilitate sessions on

  • welfare reforms
  • employment.

We hope that you will come along to support our work and contribute to discussion on these important agendas. A light lunch will be provided.

FULL DETAILS HERE

 

 

Benefits Britain 1949 – Monday 12th Aug Channel 4 at 9pm

7 August 2013

 

Benefits claimants volunteer to live by the rules of the first year of the welfare state. This first episode asks how the state should support disabled, long-term sick and elderly people.

WOW Petition team take welfare campaign up a notch

1 August 2013

Received from WOW Petition team

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/43154

CLICK HERE TO SIGN

 

#wowpetition & #BeddingOut  Mass Tweet

Friday 2nd August     –     7pm

We are hoping to get the hashtags  #wowpetition#BeddingOut trending on twitter by tweeting it on Friday 2nd August at 7pm – including our own short messages about welfare reform, benefit cuts, what WOWpetition is (Resist the War On Welfare), the 3 phases of action and how to help.

The overall aim of the tweetathon will be to raise both awareness of what we’re doing, as well as signatures for the petition and publicise Liz Crow’s Fringe show which WOW is part of. Ultimately this is to save lives.

For full details read here

Sign the petition here    then share asking others to do the same.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MEPs back Green call for EU-wide Carers’ Leave law

9 July 2013

*MEPs BACK GREEN CALL FOR EU-WIDE CARERS LEAVE LAW*

EURO-MPs have voted for a raft of measures proposed by London’s Green MEP Jean Lambert to  prevent care for vulnerable groups falling victim to government cuts – including a proposal for a new EU law granting ‘informal carers’ time off
work.

The European Parliament voted by a clear majority today to adopt Ms Lambert’s report – ‘Impact of the Crisis on Access to Care for  Vulnerable Groups’, originally drafted for the Employment and Social  Affairs Committee, of which Ms Lambert is a member.

The  report, which will now be considered by the European Commission as ‘official’
European Parliament policy, sending a clear message to all EU governments that austerity measures and cuts should be evaluated to ensure they do not prevent the most vulnerable from being able to access healthcare, care services, and basic living support.

It calls for (more…)

URGENT – CARERS DEBATE, contact your MP

18 June 2013

URGENT - CARERS DEBATE

Following Carers Week, a debate on carers will take place in the House of Commons on Thursday 20th June

Full details can be found here  and you will be able to watch it LIVE via this link

It is vital you contact your MP , ask them to attend – and raise any/all issues that you are concerned about. Time is of the essence, so it may be worth phoning their office and following up with an email outlining your worries.

Questions can be asked on benefits, juggling work and care, social care, support from the NHS and all the other policy areas which affect carers.

Please share this with family, friends, contacts. The more MPs we have there, the more issues that can get discussed.

Share via Facebook and Twitter too. Hashtag during the event will be #CarersDebate

URGENT - CARERS DEBATE

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

Carers Week – ‘Prepared to Care’

10 June 2013

Press release from Carers Week.

Report here

UK carers suffering due to lack of support

  • 75% were unprepared for caring role
  • 81% said they were not aware of the support available
  • 61% of carers have experienced depression
  • 92% of carers say they feel more stressed because of their caring role

Carers Week 2013 10th – 16th June- Prepared to Care?

New research from Carers Week of over 2,100 carers has revealed that carers are being woefully let down by a lack of support when they first take on a caring role. The findings from the report, Prepared to Care? show that support is not being made available to new carers with often devastating consequences.

Released to coincide with the launch of Carers Week 2013, the findings show that (more…)


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