DPAC

URGENT Action needed over threats to disabled people in the Coronovirus Bill

The following was taken from the Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) website. It is essential that we all take the time to write to out MP this weekend for reasons that can be clearly seen below.

I do not believe that disabled people in Wales will be effected by these potential measures, but I am sharing this important information in a show of solidarity with my disabled brothers and sisters from across the border.

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Previously when we’ve asked people to write to their MP we haven’t had many people do it.

This situation is extremely serious and I can’t  stress this enough, WE NEED YOU TO WRITE TO YOUR MP THIS WEEKEND, this is being voted on Monday.

 

Please read this below from Inclusion London, and then ACT by writing to your MP, there is a template letter below.

If you don’t write to your MP and these measures get voted through and you lose your social care, or your civil liberties are legally infringed,  then you only have yourself to blame.


Coronavirus Bill could leave thousands of Disabled people without support

The bill potentially poses a serious risk and can put the wellbeing of many at real danger.  We ask you to write to your MP immediately.

Inclusion London is very much concerned about the devastating impact of the proposed Coronavirus Bill on the lives of thousands of Disabled people.  It potentially poses a serious risk and can put the wellbeing of many at real danger.

The Bill sets out emergency laws in response to the COVID-19 emergency. The Bill is being debated in Parliament on Monday 23 March. We urge you all to write to your MP expressing your concern over the implications of the Bill for Disabled people.

We have drafted a template letter which you can download here and send to your MP.

You can use this website to write to your MP:  https://www.writetothem.com/write

Why we are concerned

As it stands the Bill poses a serious risk to the lives of many Disabled people, especially those of us who need social care support.

The Bill will effectively free local authorities of their duties to provide social care support under the Care Act 2014 and will only oblige local authorities to provide support in cases where the human rights of Disabled people will be breached.

We know from experience that in order for human rights to be breached in social care context the situation has to be very critical or severe.

Please act now and write /email your MP before this Monday 23 March – you can use the template below. The letter can also be downloaded here as a word document.

 


Template letter to MP

Dear [add your MP’s name]

Coronavirus Bill: Disabled people are in danger

I am writing to ask you to take action to protect the lives of many thousands of Disabled people.  Please raise the issue and if possible table and support the amendments to prevent this from happening.

I believe that the #CoronaVirusBill presents a real and present danger to the lives of Disabled people. The government’s plans for Disabled children and adults during the crisis are effectively rolling back 30 years of progress for Disabled people.  They also come after years of chronic under funding of social care which have resulted in a social care system already at breaking point. The government’s plans are to:

  • remove Disabled people’s rights to social care
  • change the duties to educate to meet children’s educational requirements to a ‘reasonable endeavours’ duty
  • severely undermine the civil liberties of Disabled people and erode their rights to support.

I understand this is an unprecedented and extremely challenging situation, but given the already broken social care system this Bill will almost inevitably leave many thousands of Disabled people without essential support or any rights to request this support. Rolling back our rights is not good for anyone and in the current circumstances will put many lives at risk.

Rather than removing Disabled people’s right to social care support the government must treat our essential social care service as key infrastructure, alongside the NHS, and as such it must immediately provide the necessary funding to keep this vital service running.

To explain my reasons for writing to you, please see my understanding of negative social implications of the #CoronaVirusBill on the lives of Disabled people and their families detailed below.  This information was prepared by the barristers who specialise in public law and disability rights.

Yours sincerely

[Name]

Implications of the Bill for Disabled people

What does it mean for disabled adults? 

The Bill suspends every duty in the Care Act, 2014, including the duty to meet the eligible needs of disabled people (Section 18) and their carers (Section 20).  Under the #CoronaVirus Bill, Local Authorities will only have to provide care ‘if they consider it necessary’ for the purposes of avoiding a breach of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR).  There is no human right to social care or positive obligation under the ECHR to meet care needs.   See assessment from leading lawyers specialising in Social Care here: https://www.39essex.com/the-coronavirus-bill-schedule-11/

Other changes set to be introduced through the #CoronaVirusBill will allow health bodies to delay carrying out an assessment for eligibility for NHS continuing care

What does it mean for disabled children and young people?

Duties for young people transitioning to adult social care have also been suspended.

The Secretary of State for Education will have power to disapply the duty on schools and other institutions to admit a child to a school where they are named on an EHCP.  The Secretary of State will be able to vary provisions of the act, such as the core duty to procure provision set out in an EHCP, so instead of being an absolute duty it becomes a ‘reasonable endeavours’ duty, creating a lesser entitlement for up to two years.

What about the Mental Health Act?

The power to recommend individuals be detained under the Mental Health Act will be implemented using one doctor’s opinion instead of two, making it easier for people to be detained.

The proposed bill will temporarily allow the extension or removal of time limits in mental health legislation which means individuals might be released into the community early, or find themselves detained for longer.

Under section 5, emergency detention for people already in hospital would extend from 72 hours to 120 hours, and nurses’ holding powers would extend from 6 to 12 hours. Under sections 135 and 136, police powers to detain a person found in need of immediate care at a “place of safety” will extend from 24 hours to 36 hours. Under section 35/36, the cap on how long someone can be held in hospital while awaiting a report (currently 12 weeks) will be lifted.

What about the rights of disabled people?

Local authorities will have a duty to uphold disabled people’s human rights under the European Convention on Human Rights, BUT the threshold for a breach, in terms of not providing care and support is high, which means that disabled people will be left without care and support. Lack of care and support will have a significant impact on disabled people’s well-being, but may not be considered to reach the threshold for their human rights to have been breached – they will NOT have a right to care and support.

Sources of information

Watch @stevebroach, Public Law Barrister talk about the impact of the Bill here: https://www.specialneedsjungle.com/steve-broach-public-law-barrister-on-the-coronavirus-bills-implications-for-disabled-children/

Read this Twitter thread for more information: https://twitter.com/JamieBurton29/status/1240781535340568577

Statement from National User Survivor Network: https://www.nsun.org.uk/News/covid-19-and-human-rights

Current hashtags: #CoronaVirusBill #CoronavirusBillUK

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) World Health Organisation Advice

The following has been taken from the Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) website. The original article can be found by clicking on this link.

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Forwarded by Disability Labour @DisabilityLab

In the absence of any effective action and advice from the UK Government all members and their families should be aware of the advice from the World Health Organisation regarding protecting yourself from the Covid-19 virus,  This is especially important for us as many of us have underlying immune system issues that make Covid-19 of greater concern than for the general populous.

PLEASE FOLLOW THIS LINK TO WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION ADVICE

Consultation on how the DWP treat disabled people

I have copied the following blog from the Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) website. It is very important that disabled people read the following and take decisive action (whether you have engaged with DWP in the past, or not), if we ever want anything to change…

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images

The government’s benefits advice body Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) are asking disabled people to contact them with details on how they have and/or are treated by the DWP, this is not about actual benefits, but how the DWP listen and include disabled people when formulating policies and processes which affect them.

This consultation closes at
11:45pm on 23 March 2020

If you want to include your evidence, follow the link in the How To Respond section below:


Open consultation

How should DWP involve disabled people in changing how it works?

Published 24 February 2020

Contents

  1. Consultation description

  2. Background to our research project

  3. Call for evidence

  4. How to respond

  5. How we will use your information

Consultation description

As part of its independent work programme, the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) is conducting research into how the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) engage with disabled people in formulating policies and processes which affect them.

We are seeking evidence to underpin our research. We would therefore welcome input from a broad range of organisations and individuals who have relevant insight or evidence to share with us.

Background to our research project

DWP regularly consults disabled people, or organisations representing them, in developing policies and implementing services affecting them. However, the extent, consistency and effectiveness of that engagement is not clear.

This research aims to build a better understanding of that, and consider what scope exists to improve DWP’s current approach, drawing on relevant best practice that exists elsewhere.

The majority of changes to disability benefits over the past decade have primarily affected those of working age. Our research will therefore focus on this group.

Call for evidence

SSAC is interested in obtaining evidence from a wide range of individuals and organisations who have relevant evidence, experience or insight on the questions below. In this call for evidence we are not looking for views about social security benefits, but about how you think DWP listens to feedback from disabled people or involves disabled people, and any ways in which this might be improved.

If DWP have engaged with you in the past, please answer the following questions:

1. Can you tell us about the process? For example:

  • how did DWP invite you to take part?

  • what information and/or feedback were you asked to give to DWP?

  • what were the positives and/or negatives of your engagement with the department? Can you explain why you have this view?

  • did you find the process accessible? If you requested accessible formats or adjustments were these made available?

  • [for organisations] Did DWP request that they could speak with individuals and/or groups of individuals from, or represented by your organisation, to provide evidence (i.e. interviews, focus groups, etc.)

  • did the DWP provide any comments on the advice or feedback that they received from you?

  • please share any other relevant evidence of your engagement with the department.

2. To what degree have there been benefits from engaging with DWP?

  • have you seen any tangible improvements to policies or practices for disabled people following your engagement with DWP? If so, could you set out what these are? If not, what were the tangible improvements that you expected to see?

  • has DWP provided feedback to you on improvements the department made as a result of engagement with stakeholders?

  • following your engagement, did DWP give you the opportunity to comment on draft proposals before final decisions were taken?

3. Based on your experiences, would you wish to engage with the DWP in future?

  • what do you see as the positives and negatives of engaging with DWP, based on your experience? Would you engage in similar circumstances in future?

  • could the process of engagement with the department be improved? If so, how?

4. Please tell us about other engagement you have had on disability issues with public sector or other organisations outside of DWP? For example:

  • please explain the process for this engagement?

  • how did it compare with the way in which the department engaged with you? What were the similarities and/or differences?

5. In your view, can the DWP’s process of engagement be improved and, if so, why and how?

6. Is there anything else you wish to add about this subject?

If DWP have not engaged with you in the past, please answer the following questions:

7. In what ways do you think you could have made a valuable and constructive contribution to DWP’s work, and what would be the most effective way for DWP engage with you?

8. Would you wish to engage with DWP in future? Please provide the reasons for your answer?

9. What would be the most effective way for DWP to make sure you could engage with them?

10. Are there any areas or types of engagement that you would not have with the department?

11. Please tell us about other engagement you have had on disability issues with public sector or other organisations outside of DWP? For example:

  • please explain the process for this engagement?

12. Do you have any suggestions to develop the process for you to be able to engage with DWP in future?

13. What would be your minimum expectations of who the department should consult, and how that consultation should take place, to provide reassurance that decisions taken by the Department are well-informed and credible?

14. Is there any other evidence on this subject you would like to add?

How to respond

Responses, focusing on the above questions, are needed by 11.45pm on 23 March 2020 and should be emailed to:

ssac.consultation@ssac.gov.uk

Or send to:

The Committee Secretary
Social Security Advisory Committee
7th Floor
Caxton House
Tothill Street
London
SW1H 9NA

Tweetathon

The following article was taken from the DPAC website.  I would encourage all my readers to join in with this mass tweetathon and remind everyone why the disabled community will not stand by quietly while the disastrous Universal Credit is rolled out.

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Tuesday evening February 4th – please join a mass tweetathon to the BBC and especially BBC Two

@BBCTwo 

They are hosting a programme on Universal Credit which we think is the one we were told had been commissioned by DWP along with the adverts DWP placed in the Metro newspapers.

Here are some possible tweets  you could copy and paste

@BBCTWO #UniversalCreditCrimesAgainstClaimants UC is rotten to the core #StopandScrapUC

@BBCTWO #UniversalCreditCrimesAgainstClaimants 7m households will be affected, including over one million low paid part-time workers.

@BBCTWO #UniversalCreditCrimesAgainstClaimants UC has too many flaws to be simply paused and fixed – it must be stopped and scrapped.

@BBCTWO #UniversalCreditCrimesAgainstClaimants at least £15.8 billion has been wasted UC, yet only £1 billion will be saved by 2020.

@BBCTWO #UniversalCreditCrimesAgainstClaimants No civilized Government should impose UC on its citizens

@BBCTWO #UniversalCreditCrimesAgainstClaimants  No credible opposition party should want to simply pause and fix UC.

@BBCTWO #UniversalCreditCrimesAgainstClaimants UC is claimed and managed digitally which is impossible for many disabled people.

@BBCTWO #UniversalCreditCrimesAgainstClaimants Health & Work conversations are mandatory, any failure to attend will lead to claim being closed.

@BBCTWO #UniversalCreditCrimesAgainstClaimants People in part time work could be forced to give up work that suits their Disability.

@BBCTWO #UniversalCreditCrimesAgainstClaimants UC has no Severe and Enhanced Disability Premiums- single disabled people lose around £2,000 pa.

@BBCTWO #UniversalCreditCrimesAgainstClaimants UC includes the vile rape clause – violating womens’ rights

 

And lots of newspaper horror stories here https://drive.google.com/file/d/12XXQDqzVm2UVexcO2Gli1DltuN0mzHbp/view

 

You get what you vote for, use your vote wisely… #GE2019


[Video and text credit,
Christopher John Ball]

There is more at stake in this 2019 UK General Election than Brexit. Please use your vote responsibly and with compassion for others. For how you vote impacts others. Disabled people have been hit very hard indeed by the Conservative policies of this government. The UN researched the impact of said policies upon disabled people and found that they had created a ‘human catastrophe’. Disabled people have died as a result of these pernicious policies. The film includes several examples of the monochrome photographs I have made whilst campaigning as a member of ‘Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC).

Social Care problems – Taking On the Local Authority

The following article was taken from the DPAC website. I thought it might be of use to individuals having the same problems with social care services that I have experienced throughout the #SaveWILG campaign.

It seems that this information might be more relevant to my comrades in England, but it is a good starting ground for all disabled activists across the United Kingdom.

It should also be noted that DPAC reblogged this article mainly from the Independent Living website https://www.independentliving.co.uk/

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What to do when you have a problem with social care services?

Many people have a problem with services they receive from their local authority, either for themselves or someone they are caring for. As council budgets are increasingly under pressure, and demand for services is going up, it is no surprise that there may be a gap between what is offered and what is expected when it comes to social care services.

Monitoring Officers are responsible for investigating unlawfulness

If you have an issue with a local authority, there is an easy – and free! – way of raising your concerns. It is not much talked about, so you may well not realise that every council has a “Monitoring Officer“, whose brief is to look out for incidents of alleged unlawfulness within the council.

The duties of a Monitoring Officer were established under the Local Government and Housing Act 1989. If they become aware of any proposal, decision or omission by the local authority that has led, or is likely to lead, to a contravention of any statute – like the Care Act – or Regulations – like the Assessment Regulations – or rule of law, they have to prepare a report and arrange for each member of the authority to receive a copy. While members are considering the report, the relevant actions or proposals are automatically suspended. They have 21 days to consider the report.

MOs have to look into any matters referred to them

To keep Monitoring Officers independent, they are protected from dismissal, except through special steps. The creation of the office is intended to manage legal risk in an effective way, thus minimising the need for legal proceedings. The MO or their deputy is personally responsible for considering any matter referred to them which involves a coherent statement that the local authority is in breach of the law in something it has done or failed to do. They can’t just ignore it. If they believe that the case you have brought to their attention is not a matter of unlawfulness, they should provide you with the reasons why they have reached this conclusion. The council has to provide the Monitoring Officer with the resources necessary to do their job, including paying for legal opinion, if it is outside the expertise of the MO.

As you know, there is a Local Authority Ombudsman scheme for problems with council services, but the ombudsman will not consider your case until you have made a complaint to the council and received no satisfaction. Making a representation to the Monitoring Officer is an effective way of showing that you have tried to resolve the issue with the LA.

Information from Belinda Schwehr of Care and Health Law

This information about the role of Monitoring Officers comes from Belinda Schwehr, the leading expert in adult social care law. She has also put together a list of contact details for most MOs in the country. It is downloadable as a PDF from the page link below, about halfway down.

http://www.schwehroncare.co.uk/using-the-monitoring-officer-as-a-free-and-convenient-means-to-raise-concerns-about-illegality-in-the-public-law-sense-in-adult-social-care/

Although approaching a Monitoring Officer is free, it does require you to understand the law sufficiently to be able to make a case as to why you believe the authority is acting in contravention of it.

If you are in a dispute with your local authority about adult social care, the legal advice charity Cascaidr, is a good place to start to look for advice. https://www.cascaidr.org.uk/contact-us/

Mainly reblogged from Independent Living https://www.independentliving.co.uk/

 

Why disabled people need a general election now

The following article appears on the DPAC website, was written by Mark Dunk and Paula Peters and can be viewed here.

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Boris Johnson’s hubris and scheming in his attempt to bounce the country into leaving the EU with no-deal has brought about the prospect of an early General election. 

While many are wary of Johnson manoeuvring over the date of the election we believe that any opportunity to get the Tories out should be seized upon. 

If this chance to take on the Tories at their most divided is squandered it would see disabled people and others suffering after almost a decade of Tory attacks facing that brutality for longer. 

As with any battle in our long war there is no guarantee that we will win but if we do not fight we have already lost. In the last election in 2017 the press and polls would have had us believe the Tories were on course for a historic win – it wasn’t true then and we shouldn’t believe they are right now. We must certainly be wary of advice from figures such as Tony Blair who never had our interests at the front of their thoughts or actions when laying the basis for the WCA.

The former Tory Chancellor George Osborne’s paper the Evening Standard is certainly not of the opinion that Johnson and the Tories are confident of electoral success:

“The fact is that Mr Johnson’s closest electoral advisers think privately there is a high chance that he might lose an election.”

We need to stop and scrap the horror of Universal Credit, sanctions and the Work Capability Assessment now – not at some fictionalized perfect moment in the future which may never come. 

We need a general election now. 

[By Mark Dunk and Paula Peters]

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