Disabled People Against Cuts

Disabled activist ‘is fighting for his life’ as he hands petition to Welsh government

THIS ARTICLE ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON THE DISABILITY NEWS SERVICE WEBSITE AND WAS WRITTEN BY JOHN PRING.

A disabled activist has handed in a petition of hundreds of signatures that calls on the Welsh government to reverse its decision to close its version of the Independent Living Fund (ILF).

Nathan Lee Davies (pictured) says he is fighting the decision to scrap the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) because he is terrified of the prospect of his cash-strapped local authority taking over full responsibility for providing his care package.

He has been told that without WILG his own care package would be reduced from 86.5 hours to just 31 hours a week.

He says that such a cut would put an end to all his current community activities, including his involvement with Wrexham Glyndwr University, Wrexham football club, Disabled People Against Cuts, FDF Centre for Independent Living, and the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales.

He is also writing two books, and a blog, and is working with Disability Arts Cymru to create a performance and exhibition of his poetry.

He told Disability News Service (DNS): “I cannot cope with such a limited number of hours per week. This is why I am fighting with every fibre of my being.

“It really is a case of life or death. I have no interests in merely existing. I want to live.

“Without help and support I would be unable to do any of this work that involves me in the community.”

The Labour-run Welsh government announced last November that, after a two-year transition period, it would transfer all of the £27 million-a-year provided by the UK government to support former ILF-users in Wales directly to councils.

There will be no new Welsh ILF – even though such a scheme has been set up in Scotland – and no continuation of the interim WILG scheme the Welsh government has been running as a stopgap to “ensure continuity of payments to recipients” since the Department for Work and Pensions closed ILF in June 2015.

Funding for WILG will now transfer to local authorities during 2018-19, with all former ILF-recipients in Wales having their support needs met solely by their local authority by 31 March 2019.

Since the Welsh government’s announcement, Davies has been campaigning to persuade it to reverse the decision, including setting up the petition – which has now been signed by more than 500 people online and in person – and collecting photographs of supporters holding one of his campaign postcards.

He said: “The current system allows users the security of depending on receiving their funding from three different ‘pots’ – WILG, local authorities and our own personal contribution.

“This gives us a sense of security and ensures that we cannot be dictated to as mere passive recipients.

“Instead, all parties have to be in agreement about what will benefit the individual the most.

“This is something worth fighting for.”

But instead of this three-tier system, he said, the Welsh government had now “sold disabled people down the river.

“They are washing their hands of all responsibility for social care to former ILF recipients and transferring the pressure onto local authorities.”

A Welsh government spokeswoman told DNS in a statement: “Organisations that represent disabled people who have been recipients of the Independent Living Fund, recommended that their future support would be best provided through local authority social care provision, with consistent arrangements in place to support disabled people in Wales.”

But Disability Wales, which was part of the stakeholder advisory group the Welsh government consulted, has made it clear to DNS that it did not support passing funding to local authorities.

The Welsh government added: “We would be surprised if Disability Wales were suggesting that certain disabled people in Wales should have their support needs met in a different way to other disabled people.”

Davies said he believed the Welsh government had listened only to the local authorities on the advisory group.

He has been supported by the north-east branch of the Labour left-wing grassroots campaign Momentum and the Unite union in Wales.

But he said he was disappointed that Disability Wales – the national association of disabled people’s organisations in Wales – had not supported his campaign.

Miranda Evans, policy and programmes manager for Disability Wales (DW), said they were not able to support the petition – which is critical of the Labour party in Wales – because it was too party political.

But she stressed that DW’s preferred option was for a new Welsh independent living scheme – a Welsh version of ILF – that would protect those currently receiving WILG funding and would also be open to new members.

DNS has seen DW’s response to an early consultation on the Welsh government’s plans, and it makes it clear that none of DW’s members or the other disabled people it had consulted about the future of WILG were in favour of handing the funding directly to local authorities, and had instead “expressed strong opposition” to this.

It also stressed that such an option was “totally unacceptable to existing ILF recipients, their carers and other disabled people”.

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Disabled people and their concerns can no longer be ignored

Reblogged from the Morning Star: http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-761f-Disabled-people-and-their-concerns-can-no-longer-be-ignored#.WZ9EjD595dg

Thursday 24th Aug 2017

ELLEN CLIFFORD and ANITA BELLOWS report on how disability rights activists brought evidence of the Tories’ savage policies to the United Nations

DEAF and disabled people’s organisations from across Britain have come together this week to give evidence about Westminster’s continuing violations of disabled people’s rights under the Convention on the Rights of Disabled people (UNCRPD), with a delegation that includes representatives from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and the Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance, as well as Disability Wales, Inclusion Scotland and Disability Action Northern Ireland.

There are two parallel processes. The UNCRPD committee will simultaneously hear about British progress in implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People, as part of a periodic review of all nations that are signed up to the convention, as well as a presentation following up on the initial complaint made by DPAC under the optional protocol of the CRPD, which triggered the first inquiry against a state under this process.

The periodic review is wide-ranging and covers detentions under mental health legislation, employment, education, transport, housing, social care and independent living, specific discrimination against women, black people, intersex people, people with learning difficulties and so on.

On Monday August 21, deaf and disabled people’s organisations from across Britain gave a presentation in front of the committee in a closed session.

We highlighted the gaps in state provisions which undermine the government’s claim that the Westminster government’s public spending on disability and incapacity is higher than all other G7 countries bar Germany.

The issue is complicated by devolution and the different laws and arrangements which exist in the four nations.

What came out of the meeting was that not only has the Westminster government failed to progress CRPD implementation, but that rights hard fought for by disabled people have been dramatically eroded since 2010 by cuts. This has led us to today’s state of crisis where high numbers of people with learning difficulties and autism are trapped in institutions, there has been a rise in disabled children educated in special schools and the destruction of community support is leading to greater marginalisation and isolation of disabled people.

Following the closed session, deaf and disabled people’s organisations will have the chance to arrange meetings with individual committee members on specific matters such as access to justice, before the committee quizzes the Westminster government representatives on August 23-24. These examination sessions will be open to the public and livestreamed.

Also this week, the CRPD committee heard a follow-up presentation on the specific issues which triggered its inquiry in 2015 which found evidence of grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s rights by the Westminster government due to welfare reform.

These violations were closely related to welfare reform and the devastating and disproportionate impact on disabled people. The investigation carried out by the committee was indepth, involving reading thousands of pages of evidence and reports and a visit to Britain where disability committee members spoke to over 200 disabled people and organisations.

However, the government rejected the findings and dismissed the inquiry report as “patronising and offensive,” questioning the competence of the committee members.

The CRPD committee’s report was leaked to the Daily Mail the day before the US election. The response from the government was dismissive and totally ignored the committee’s conclusions.

One specific demand was for the government to undertake a cumulative impact assessment of the cuts, something that it has consistently refused to do.

This week disabled people had the chance to give a presentation on the worsening of the situation since that inquiry took place and the new cuts and measures that have been introduced withouBrit consultation or by bypassing Parliament and scrutiny — including the cut to personal independence payments brought in at the start of the year that will affect 164,000 people, predominantly those who experience psychological distress.

One major concern that disabled people have is around proposals outlined in the government green paper Work, Health and Disability: Improving Lives.

Its purported aim is to reduce the disability employment gap, but key measures it introduces will extend conditionalities and sanctions to more disabled people, ignoring calls from the National Audit Office to follow up on its initial examination of the impact of sanctions on disabled people, which suggests they actually lower chances for disabled people of finding employment.

For the government, the default position is that all disabled people are able to work, or able to do some work, if given the right incentives and motivation to do.

Using the flawed argument that work is the best way out of poverty, when more and more people in work are getting poorer, the government has devised a regime even more coercive than the previous one, for which impairments are something temporary which can be overcome with willpower and the right mindset. This government is a step away from denying the existence of disability.

Reflecting on the long journey, which has taken disability activists to the United Nations, there is some grounds for optimism.

The inquiry and its outcome mean that disabled people and disability issues can no longer be ignored. Their experiences have been validated by the inquiry’s findings, and the CRPD provides a framework for expressing our grievances and holding the government to account that is missing from domestic legislation. The fight is far from being over, but disabled people have become a vocal and powerful force in Britain.

  • Ellen Clifford is campaigns and policy manager for Inclusion London and Anita Bellows is a Disabled People Against Cuts activist.

That was the week that was

What an eventful week.

To begin with, I must assure you – and anyone reading from Wrexham Council or the Welsh Government – that there has been the usual hours of struggle without care or support that has left me frustrated without being able to communicate while spending hours sitting in discomfort.  The fact that I have achieved so much is because I have a great team of support workers who have helped me excel DESPITE the shortage of social care hours of support that I receive.

On Sunday evening (July 16th) I went to see comedian/activist Mark Thomas at the Llangollen Fringe Festival.  After his enjoyable set, I was lucky enough to meet him and ask for his advice and support for my petition. He kindly agreed to Retweet information about my petition and within an hour I received an extra 22 signatories.  I have currently received 174 online signatures and have a healthy paper petition that is growing as we speak.

Thanks to Mark (pictured above) for his support and I look forward to seeing him in the not too distant future as I am interested in attending a gig of his on October 4 at theWaterside Arts Centre in Sale, Greater Manchester.

After a couple of humdrum days I then travelled to London on Wednesday  (July 19th) to take part in a Disabled People Against Cuts protest in the Houses of Parliament.  We managed to occupy the central lobby in the Houses of Parliament, which is used as the MPs entrance to the House of Commons.

The event was a huge success and received a great deal of media coverage as can be seen by following the links below:

http://news.sky.com/story/protesters-in-wheelchairs-block-mps-entrance-to-the-commons-10953908

People in wheelchairs block MPs’ entrance to House of Commons to protest against cuts

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/demonstrators-house-commons-pmqs-disability-cuts-protest-wheelchairs-parliament-entrance-block-a7848876.html

https://dpac.uk.net/2017/07/week-action-dpac-occupies-parliament-lobby-area-protest-cuts-social-care-funding/ 

https://www.thecanary.co/2017/07/19/corbyn-mays-final-pmqs-summer-nearly-shut-today-wont-see-bbc-video/

It was a great day and I really enjoyed taking on the establishment and making my voice heard. I also met up with my MP for Wrexham, Ian Lucas who has arranged a home visit with me next week.

Nathan Lee Davies and his Personal Assistant Tia Louise Wills.

 

It was also a special day for one of DPAC’s lead activists as Paula Peters celebrated her birthday. This was a chance for me to chat and mingle with some of the magnificent DPAC members who had travelled far and wide for the protest. There was also a surprise guest as John McDonnell turned up to give his best wishes to the remarkable Ms Peters. How many other politicians would give up their spare time to attend a birthday celebration for one of their supporters? Not many.

 

Vice Chancellor John McDonnell meets Nathan Lee Davies.

 

On Friday morning (July 21st) I was also chuffed to see that I was featured in the Wrexham Leader. I have been speaking to a journalist from the newspaper all week – in fact Mark Thomas actually suggested to the scribe that he should cover my story.  I was pleased with the finished article that can be seen below:

I think that I now deserve a break, but this is something I just cannot do. I will be a long time dead and there will be plenty of time to rest then. In the meantime, there is a fight to be won…

Protect WILG Campaign

I have now achieved over 60 signatures for my petition, which means the closure of the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) will be discussed at the Welsh Assembly when it reconvenes in September.

I am not just going to let the petition stagnate over the summer period though as the more signatures we can get, the more pressure the Welsh Government will be under to examine how they have handled this closure. I will therefore keep spreading my petition online and through social media with the help of my friends from Disabled People Against Cuts, who are also helping me to create a series of memes that I will share as soon as they are available.

A paper version of the petition will also be available next week which I will be carrying round with me everywhere I go.

I am also going to London soon to take part in a DPAC protest at the Houses of Parliament.

A year ago, I remember that a friend of mine on Facebook launched a petition about the closure of football fields in the local area and received something like 15,000 signatures and rightly so. However, it is soul destroying that I struggle to get half as much support despite this being a more serious issue that will destroy thousands of lives.

Anyway, enough of my moaning. Please sign this petition before you carry on enjoying what is left of the weekend.

https://www.assembly.wales/en/gethome/e-petitions/Pages/petitiondetail.aspx?PetitionID=1216

Thanks for your support.

 

DPAC Video: Jenny Hurst’s Story #TrashTheTories

Everyone connected with Disabled People Against Cuts has been working hard on social media to promote the #TrashTheTories campaign. I have been tweeting as if my life depended on it  – it sort of does – and now we are sharing these videos in an attempt to illustrate why a vote for the ‘nasty party’ should not even be a consideration.

These videos are excellently produced and highlight why we need #GE17 to produce a total change of Government that will work for the many, not the few.

Do you really think the Conservatives are strong and stable leaders? Watch Jenny’s story to hear how Tory policies are forcing disabled people onto benefits rather than getting us back into the workplace. Strong and stable or weak and wobbly? #GE2017

DPAC Video: Jenny’s Story #TrashTheTories

Everyone connected with Disabled People Against Cuts has been working hard on social media to promote the #TrashTheTories campaign. I have been tweeting as if my life depended on it  – it sort of does – and now we are sharing these videos in an attempt to illustrate why a vote for the ‘nasty party’ should not even be a consideration.

These videos are excellently produced and highlight why we need #GE17 to produce a total change of Government that will work for the many, not the few.

Think austerity is all about saving money and balancing the books? Watch Jenny’s story to find out how Tory policies are damaging the economy as well as the prospects of many talented disabled people. #GE2017

DPAC Video: Andria’s Story #TrashTheTories

Everyone connected with Disabled People Against Cuts has been working hard on social media to promote the #TrashTheTories campaign. I have been tweeting as if my life depended on it  – it sort of does – and now we are sharing these videos in an attempt to illustrate why a vote for the ‘nasty party’ should not even be a consideration.

These videos are excellently produced and highlight why we need #GE17 to produce a total change of Government that will work for the many, not the few.

56 year old Andria talks about the harsh reality of being severely disabled in 2017 Britain.