Tag Archives: DPAC

Take part in the online day of action against Universal Credit sanctions

Today – July 1 – conditionality and sanctions return to the UK’s benefit system.

This means the two million people who signed up for Universal Credit because of the Covid-19 crisis will now be expected to show they are looking for work, and will be sanctioned if they fail to do so.

For the first time, they will experience what – for example – people with disabilities have suffered under the Conservatives for the last 10 years.

Some people are about to be rudely awakened from their previous complacency, I reckon!

Perhaps they would like to take part in this national day of action, organised by one of the larger representative organisations for people with disabilities, DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) under its banner of the Scrap Universal Credit Alliance (SUCA).

Here’s what they’re about and what you can do:

There is now overwhelming evidence of both the serious harm that the sanctions regime inflicts on the most disadvantaged members of society and the fact that sanctions are punitive and counter-productive to the aim of getting people off benefits and into work.

Join the Scrap Universal Credit Alliance in our demands to:

#EndConditionality

#ScrapSanctions

#NoMoreBenefitDeaths

Ways you can get involved:

  • Get active on social media at 12 lunchtime on 1 July using the above hashtags and directed @DWP @justintomlinson @theresecoffey . You can find a list of findings, facts, stats and links for reference here: https://dpac.uk.net/2020/06/sanctions-findings-facts-stats-and-links/
  •  Write to your MP asking them to put pressure on the government not to restart conditionality and sanctions.
  • We encourage people to write to their MPs.
  • Write to your local paper
  • If you think you may be affected by conditionality restarting and putting your safety at risk because you still need to shield, it may be worth gathering what medical evidence you have (for example if you received a letter or correspondence from the NHS telling you to continue shielding until the end of July) and pro-actively sending it in to your job centre/adding it in to your Universal Credit journal. It is difficult to know what to do given the complete absence of information from the government.

Source: National [online] day of action against sanctions – 1st July – DPAC

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Loach heads campaigners calling for benefit assessment ban after job centre death

Pointing the finger: Ken Loach joined the call to end unfair benefit assessment interviews after the death of a man in Llanelli.

A campaign to ban benefit assessment interviews has been launched after a 65-year-old man with diabetes collapsed and died after being found ‘fit for work’.

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) has called on the DWP to halt assessments for Personal Independence Payment and Employment and Support Allowance after the man died while waiting for an interview to discuss his future benefit options.

Discussing the death, This Site stated: “He would have been old enough to retire if the Conservatives had not decided to raise the retirement age for both men and women in an attempt to save a few pennies.”

I wrote: “Yes, he was obviously ill. But that doesn’t mean a thing to a Tory government… They call it a ‘positive benefit outcome’.”

Others compared the tragedy to a similar scene in left-wing film-maker Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake.

Now Mr Loach himself has spoken in favour of DPAC’s campaign.

Unconsciously paraphrasing my words, he said (according to the Morning Star): “What has happened really was disgraceful. The man was only 65 — he only had a few more months to go and he would have been retired anyway.

“Such is the brutality of it, but it’s clear that the Tories have no intention of changing their harsh system.”

And he said: “We have to vote them out — we may as well start with Iain Duncan Smith, the architect of this misery, who is as callous as he is sanctimonious.”

That is already well in hand – as you can read here.

Demanding an end to PIP and ESA assessments, DPAC activist Jennifer Jones raised the relevant point – that a man has died in a manner that could have been prevented.

It happened because a benefit assessor “lied about his fitness levels and abilities and he wasn’t given the support that his individual needs deserved”.

She’s right – and it makes a nonsense of repeated attempts by the DWP to claim that it does provide support tailored to the needs of each benefit claimant.

So far – in this case – the DWP’s only comment has been a message of sympathy to the deceased man’s family and friends.

DPAC – and Mr Loach – have demanded an end to benefit assessment interviews, for the obvious reason that they have now been proven to do more harm than good.

But there is no way the DWP – run as it is by a Conservative government – will take such action willingly.

Labour has promised to overhaul the benefit system completely, though.

The only way to be sure this does not happen in the future is to elect a Labour government.

Source: Campaigners call for benefit assessment ban after man dies in jobcentre | Morning Star

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Campaign group’s latest research shows the cruelty of Universal Credit

“Harrowing stories of people forced into debt, rent arrears, homelessness, crime, prostitution, hunger, people unable to afford fares to get to food banks, parents unable to get essentials for their babies, child poverty, worsening mental health, ex-service people considering suicide and even cases of actual suicide.”

These are the results of the Conservative government’s disastrous Universal Credit project, according to campaign group Disabled People Against Cuts.

The organisation has launched a new report in response to repeated attempts by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to “airbrush” the failed benefit’s reputation in the pages of the Metro free newspaper and others.

Here is what DPAC has to say:

“In response to the DWP’s lies trying to minimise the negative impact of Universal Credit (UC), by commissioning unbranded BBC documentaries and media articles highlighting UC success stories, Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) has compiled a damning record of UC systemic and catastrophic failures.

“This record draws on local and national press and media articles, government and research reports.   While the DWP bleat that UC is unfairly vilified the reality is that UC had always been a disaster for claimants and has already wasted millions of pounds.

“It has now reached a point where it is unable to adapt to claimants’ complex circumstances, and is forcing people with the least resources into further poverty, homelessness, and hunger.  These failures are driven by ideology. Making claimants wait for their first payment on the pretext that this mirrors the circumstances of working people is another DWP fairytale.

“Experts who have looked at UC have also identified design, management and IT issues which cannot be solved by tweaking the system.

“This is why DPAC is calling for UC to be scrapped. It has become a social security system, which not only does not offer security, but actively undermined people’s ability to cope with the hazards of life.

“So far DPAC activists have already removed many thousands of copies of the Metro and will continue to do so whenever a lie about UC is printed. RMT and UNITE members are monitoring each days’ delivery of Metros to help us with this.

“We are also calling for a boycott of Reach newspapers which have also in many cases published and republished one case study of one Job Centre manager saying UC works well. Reach’s Director, Helen Stevenson, is coincidentally a former non-executive director of DWP.”

Download the Report:

DPAC Report – Hunger Debt Homelessness Crime Prostitution and Suicide – Universal Credit Media Articles – May 2019

Source: Press Release: DPAC’s latest research shows the cruelty of Universal Credit – DPAC

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Tributes paid after death of prominent disability campaigner Debbie Jolly

Debbie Jolly was a co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC).

Debbie Jolly was a co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC).

Readers of Vox Political will be sorry to hear that Debbie Jolly, a founder and leading light of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) has passed away after a short time in hospital.

Our condolences go to her friends, family and colleagues.

The work of DPAC has been hugely influential on This Blog’s reporting of disability-related issues, but I cannot say I knew Debbie well, and will leave the tributes to those who did.

Mo Stewart, author of Cash Not Care: The planned demolition of the UK welfare state, put it much better than I could when she wrote: “Debbie was a remarkable woman, a powerful ally to many and a great supporter of my research over the years. She was kind enough to endorse my recently published book, and sent congratulations when it was finally released in September.

“Debbie represented the best of the disability movement. Her concern, compassion, courage and in depth knowledge made her a powerful ally, someone to make sure people knew they were not forgotten when times were tough, and someone who never forgot to say ‘Thanks’ whenever info or help was provided.

“I’m sure DPAC members will be planning to remember Debbie in a significant way.

“For those of us who didn’t know her well, but valued all she did for the disability movement, I’d just like to say ‘Thanks Debbie’ and Rest In Peace dear lady.”

DPAC co-founder Linda Burnip has said she will be setting up an online book of condolence shortly, where we can all post messages in memory of Debbie.

On DPAC’s own website, she has written the following:

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.

Debbie was one of the main people involved in initiating the UN inquiry into the UK’s grave and systematic violation of disabled people’s human rights which will be a lasting testimony to her life and work.

Debbie was a warrior and tireless campaigner for disabled people’s human rights and most of all she never wanted to be hailed as a heroine or praised by others for the work that she did.

All of the steering group and our allies from Black Triangle campaign are in deep shock and I have felt very lost in the past few weeks without Debbie to support me and be by my side. Many thanks to those who have responded to my requests for help during this time.

However we know Debbie would want us to gather ourselves together and fight on so we are asking that people join us in her memory to protest next Wednesday, November 16th at parliament. Meet Old Palace Yard at 5.30 pm highlight the damning findings of the UN report.

We will also now use all means at our disposal to toxify the Tory “brand” so thoroughly that they will be remembered for generations as the party that perpetrated grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s human and civil rights and we will not rest until this government is no more than a terrible part of our history.

Linda and all of the DPAC steering group

Source: Very Sad News – our obituary to Debbie Jolly, co-founder of DPAC » DPAC

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The DWP is now largely being held to account by activists with virtually no income | Benefit tales

150909MikeDrone

Should This Writer be worried about a possible drone attack in the future?

This is from the ‘Benefits and Work’ newsletter.

THE NEW FORCE IN CLAIMANTS RIGHTS
What is particularly notable about these news items is that they were all brought about by tiny, private sector or unfunded groups or individuals.

The ESA death statistics campaign is the work of Vox Political blogger Mike Sivier.

The bogus sanction claimants were revealed by Welfare Weekly – a one-person online news aggregator.

And the UN investigation has come about due to the tireless work of activist group Disabled People Against Cuts.

Add to this the story of the 49 secret DWP investigations into claimant deaths, revealed earlier this year by John Pring’s Disability News Service, and a startling truth emerges.

The DWP is now largely being held to account not by opposition politicians, not by well-funded charities such as Disability Rights UK, but by activists with virtually no income.

One of the main weapons of these new campaigners is the Freedom of Information Act. But we know that the government is already taking steps to try to dramatically curtail the use of the Act.

How long before the government – or its multinational partners – also decide to take action against the campaigners themselves?

Source: The DWP is now largely being held to account not by opposition politicians, not by well-funded charities such as Disability Rights UK, but by activists with virtually no income. | Benefit tales

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Join the fight to stop budget cuts to the disabled #voiceoftheignored

OnlineMilitantDisabledMovement

Will you be part of positive action to protect disabled people from further government cuts?

A new petition has been launched to stop the government from cutting the budgets of people with disabilities – and a Facebook and Twitter ‘storm’ at 5pm today (Sunday) is intended to amplify the “voice of the ignored”.

On the petition site at Change.org, Labour councillor Joshua Brandwood, writing for the Online Militant Disabled Movement, explained: “We are about giving a voice to disabled people through the usage of social media.

“Central government have planned to localise the Independent Living Fund (ILF), which leaves many unsure and sceptical about how they are going to live independently.

“Mainstream media claim that this won’t impact ILF claimants. However, after consulting with many disabled individuals, it has definitely become apparent that the impact is very real and something needs to be done.

“This petition aims to stop further budgetary reductions to society’s most vulnerable. We should be focusing on looking after one another.”

He added that signatories’ political views are irrelevant: “We are uniting to fight for our human rights.”

The social media ‘storm’ will begin at 5pm today (Sunday) using the hashtag #voiceoftheignored.

The plight of the disabled and long-term sick has become a hot topic – initially because of This Blog’s Freedom of Information request, forcing the DWP to admit the number of Employment and Support Allowance claimants who have died since the assessment system was changed by Iain Duncan Smith, and more recently because disabled protesters tried to storm the House of Commons on Wednesday to protest against the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) in England.

Campaigners fear that the ILF’s loss will result in severely disabled people becoming prisoners in their own homes, unable to live independently or contribute in their communities.

The attempt to break into Prime Minister’s Questions has been described by Disabled People Against Cuts as a bid to deliver a letter to the Speaker, John Bercow.

The letter points out that the ILF closure was decided by the Coalition government, without a democratic vote in Parliament – and means that, from Tuesday (June 30), the UK will be breaching its commitments to meet the basic human rights of disabled people – as proved by the closure of the fund to new applicants since December 2010, which has placed “intolerable strain on relationships and [denied] disabled people the chance to live an ordinary life.”

The letter continues: “Now, as Local Authorities start to reassess individual support packages and inform disabled people what support we will receive after 30th June 2015, we are fearing for our futures. Currently we pay taxes, we work, we study, we raise our families and make many valuable contributions to society in other ways. The cuts in support that are being handed out to individuals will leave us without dignity, sitting in our own faeces for hours at a time dependent on the kindness of friends, family, neighbours and even strangers just to eat, drink and move.

“We urge the honourable Speaker to ensure that it is our elected Parliament that has a say on whether disabled people in the UK have the right to independent living or whether in the sixth richest nation in the country we are denied the same opportunities to live and to contribute to society.”

This is the choice before the UK’s citizens – able-bodied and disabled – today: Do we sit back like cowards, say “It’s nothing to do with me,” and let others be persecuted until, as Pastor Martin Niemoller stated, they come for us and there’s nobody left to speak in our defence?

Or do we show that we do have a backbone and support the people who need help now – thereby ensuring that none of our supposed public servants ever thinks they can go after anybody else in the same way?

The choice is ours.

Once again: The petition may be found – and signed – here.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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It’s time to take a stand against the Coalition’s new benefit-reduction enforcer

The leaflet advertising the anti-Maximus 'Mass Action' day.

The leaflet advertising the anti-Maximus ‘Mass Action’ day.

Today’s the day, people! It’s time to show the government what you think of its new Work Capability Assessment company – Maximus.

Demonstrations against the American insurance provider, which is said to have a long history of denying the existence of medical disability in claimants (in order to avoid paying out on claims), are taking place up and down the United Kingdom.

This writer has been asked to mention the campaign outside the Atos/Maximus assessment centre on St Agnes Road, Heath, Cardiff CF14 4YJ, taking place between 1pm and 4pm. Readers from Cardiff or parts nearby are urged to go along and show the strength of their feelings about this firm.

The main demonstration is in London, at the address in the image at the top of this article.

In Edinburgh, it is at Argyle House, 3 Lady Lawson Street, Edinburgh, EH3 9SJ.

Maximus has been hired by the Coalition Government after ending the contract with Atos due to “significant quality failures”. The contract is worth no less than £595 million over three years – nearly £200 million per year. No doubt public sector employees could have provided the service cheaply and more efficiently but right-wing ministers like the Tories always prefer contracting-out; it means they have someone to blame when things go wrong.

The company has a history of ending lawsuits against it in the USA by making out-of-court settlements costing millions of dollars, with the most notable plaintiffs being the US government in a case involving falsified Medicaid claims, and the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in a case involving disability discrimination.

Claimants of sickness and disability benefits in the UK are deeply distressed that their government should be insensitive enough to hire such a firm – the message it sends out to vulnerable people is that the government is happy to renege on its duty of care, when the message should be that vulnerable people should be able to rely on the support they deserve.

Remember, people suffering from long-term illnesses and disability have paid their taxes and are entitled to the benefits funded by those contributions.

So please, whether you are a benefit claimant yourself or are able-bodied but concerned, please consider attending at a location near you. The full guide to events is on DPAC’s (Disabled People Against Cuts) website.

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Action against new Work Capability Assessment firm is planned before it even starts

The leaflet advertising the anti-Maximus 'Mass Action' day.

The leaflet advertising the anti-Maximus ‘Mass Action’ day.

What’s the most notable fact about the government’s new Work Capability Assessment contractor – Maximus?

Is it the claim that the company will carry out no less than one million work capability assessments in its first year? No.

Is it the fact that the company has a history of ending lawsuits against it in the USA by making out-of-court settlements costing millions of dollars, with the most notable plaintiffs being the US government in a case involving falsified Medicaid claims, and the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in a case involving disability discrimination? No.

Is it the fact that citizens of the United Kingdom have already organised a day of action calling for the company to be sacked, before it has even started work? Could be!

Maximus has been hired by the Coalition Government after ending the contract with Atos due to “significant quality failures”. The contract is worth no less than £595 million over three years – nearly £200 million per year. No doubt public sector employees could have provided the service cheaply and more efficiently but right-wing ministers like the Tories always prefer contracting-out; it means they have someone to blame when things go wrong.

The firm is promising to clear a backlog of around 600,000 claims for Employment and Support Allowance. In the light of the Medicaid debacle in America, one is forced to question whether another falsification case is looming on the horizon.

Ah, but Maximus says it is hiring hundreds of “healthcare professionals” to deal with the heavy workload. This does not inspire confidence as anyone who has had dealings with the Atos version of this job description will be aware that very few of them had backgrounds in healthcare or behaved in a professional way.

Take note: Maximus is not taking on any additional doctors. This means the percentage of doctors involved in the process will decline against that of “healthcare professionals”.

According to the BBC, “Atos was appointed by the Labour government in 2008 to carry out assessments, but was dogged by controversy as the number of people wrongly assessed as fit for work grew.” In fairness it should be pointed out that the number of mistakes grew exponentially after the Coalition Government’s Iain Duncan Smith introduced stricter standards around 2011.

“At the same time, increasing numbers won their appeals at tribunal.

“Some people who had been told they were fit for work and should find a job later died.” Nobody knows how many, because the Department for Work and Pensions does not monitor what happens to people after they have been thrown off-benefit. The death toll could number thousands.

Meanwhile, we know that 10,600 people who were granted the benefit died between January and November 2011 – more than 200 per week.

The DWP has jealously guarded all death statistics since then – now nearly four years ago. It is believed this is because the total would cause public outrage on a level not yet seen.

This image shows the general public feeling towards Maximus.

This image shows the general public feeling towards Maximus.

It is therefore unsurprising that disability organisations have organised a day of action against Maximus, which they see as just another ‘front’ company supporting government policies that have not only failed, but have done so in the most prejudicial way possible – risking people’s lives.

The day of ‘Mass Action’ has been organised by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), New Approach, Black Triangle and the Mental Health Resistance Network.

It will take place at Maximus’ headquarters – Level 1, Queen Anne’s Gate, London, starting at 1pm on Monday (March 2).

If you have any doubts at all about the government’s motives in employing Maximus, or the company’s ability to assess people’s illnesses and disabilities in a reliable way, then you are invited to attend.

In addition – of course – please spread the word.

Further information is on DPAC’s website: http://www.dpac.uk.net

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DPAC threatened with legal action for supporting Anthony Kletzander: parents interview

Vox Political is glad to help publicise this campaign by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) to help Anthony Kletzander live independently. The introductory paragraph of DPAC’s current article on the subject should explain why:

DPAC has removed our most recent piece on Anthony Kletzander from our website due to a ‘cease and desist’ letter from solicitors representing Nua Healthcare threatening legal action against us for raising awareness of the case.

DPAC have published pieces on Anthony and his situation since late 2013. We firmly believe that Anthony’s desire for independent living, instead of institutionalisation should be upheld, as per Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We also believe that we have a duty to raise public awareness on Anthony’s experiences.

We will continue to campaign and to support Anthony, his parents: Linda and Sigi and his chosen advocate Joe Whittaker in any way we can. Anthony’s parents Linda and Sigi kindly agreed to an interview from their home in Ireland. We are grateful for their time and honesty.

You can read the interview on DPAC’s own site. Please share the link with your friends, to raise awareness of this campaign.

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Vigil to support judicial review for ESA claimants with mental health issues

Vigil: This was taken when the case was appealed in October 2013.

Vigil: This was taken when the case was appealed in October 2013.

Does anybody fancy helping create a stir outside the Royal Courts of Justice next week? Don’t worry, you shouldn’t get arrested.

The courts will be the venue for the judicial review of government policy regarding claimants of Employment and Support Allowance who have mental health issues, from July 7-9. That’s between Monday and Wednesday next week.

On Tuesday (July 8), the Mental Health Resistance Network, supported by Disabled People Against Cuts, will be holding a vigil at the front entrance of the Royal Courts of Justice building on The Strand, between midday and 2pm.

The aim is to highlight the important issues around the case.

This should help: Buses 4,11,15,23,26,76,172 and 341 all stop at the front of the Royal Courts of Justice, 171, 188, 243, 521 and X68 stop at Kingsway and Aldwych Junction nearby. The nearest underground station is Temple (District Line), Holborn (Central and Piccadilly Line) and Chancery Lane, (Central Line).

Anyone with stories of how you have been affected by the Work Capability Assessment is invited to come and share them – and support the fight for justice.

So how about it?

DPAC’s website has this to say about the judicial review: “Two people who claim benefits on mental health grounds initiated a judicial review of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), supported by the Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN). In May 2013, the judges presiding over the case ruled that the WCA places mental health claimants at a “substantial disadvantage” and that the DWP should make “reasonable adjustments” to alleviate this.

“Often mental health claimants struggle to provide further medical evidence to support their claim for Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and may not be able to accurately self report how their mental health conditions affect them, either when completing forms or at face to face assessments. Many claimants are wrongly found fit for work and subjected to the stress of appealing the decision.

“The claimants who brought the case, DM and MM, asked the court to rule that the DWP should be responsible for obtaining further medical evidence at every stage of the process to improve the chances of a more accurate decision being reached about whether a person is able to work or to start preparing for work and to avoid the need for a face to face assessment in cases where this would be especially distressing for the claimant. In addition, claimants who are at risk of suicide or self harm would be more likely to be identified. In such cases, regulations 29/35 would apply. These regulations are intended to reduce risk of harm but the DWP often fail to identify who they apply to.

“The Department for Work and Pensions appealed the judgement. Their appeal arguments were mainly concerned with legal technicalities but in December 2013 the judges issued a ruling that upheld the original judgement in May. The DWP did not launch a second appeal.

“Under the Equalities Act of 2010, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions is required to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to mitigate any disadvantages experienced by disabled people. The forthcoming hearing will be concerned with establishing what adjustments the DWP should make to the WCA process. We already know from the original hearing that they plan to run a pilot study to assess the “reasonableness” of obtaining further medical evidence. We want to ensure that any study will be fair, honest and approached with an open mind. Unfortunately we find it hard to trust that this will happen.

“In his witness statement of July 2013 Dr Gunnyeon, Chief Medical Advisor and Director for Health and Well-Being at the DWP wrote, ‘ESA was designed to be a different benefit from Incapacity Benefit (IB), being a functional assessment rather than a diagnostic one. The face-to-face assessment is a key part of this process as the only truly independent part of the process. Moving away from this would, I believe, be a retrograde step which would seriously undermine the way in which the assessment process has been conceived and designed. It would represent a return to the position in Incapacity Benefit (IB), where claimants were “written off” on the basis of their diagnosis’.

“Most people would be amazed to learn that the DWP are fighting tooth and nail against having to consider a person’s actual problems when assessing them for benefits.”

For those who cannot attend the vigil, it is still possible show your support on Facebook and Twitter, using the hashtag #wcamentalhealth

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