UK Government

Emergency on Planet Earth

THIS POST WILL BE UPDATED REGULARLY THROUGHOUT THE TORY SPONSORED CORONAVIRUS CRISIS.

What follows is a random collection of thoughts from a human being trapped in 21st Century British society. 

***

Monday 30th March

This video was taken from YouTube and deserves everyone’s attention.

A challenge by Dr. Rupert Read to the UK Government: take responsibility for having got us into this public health disaster, and don’t try to put the blame for lockdowns on us.

***

Apologies for the fact that I am using a link from the Metro newspaper, but the article highlights something that we should all be concerned about. At least those of us with a heart and conscience.

People with Down syndrome could be left to die of coronavirus to ‘save’ medical supplies

***

Every day I am finding more and more positive aspects to this lock-down. One of these must be introduction to the wonderful world of the Tufnell Park Film Club.

The club was set up in July 2012 by Nigel Smith and Wayne Gooderham.  Nigel’s been a movie-geek since he first went to the cinema to see Superman II. You can follow him on Twitter at @nigelcsmith. Wayne has just about got over the discovery that Robert de Niro wore a bald wig in Taxi Driver. You can follow him on Twitter at @wb_gooderham.

Under normal circumstances they show films every week in a local pub. While the boozer is closed and we’re all staying at home, they are introducing one film each week and encouraging everyone to watch it. All are welcome to join in, wherever you are. You can see what films they have already chosen here.

This week’s ‘Film Club at Home’ selection is Ingmar Bergman’s classic The Seventh Seal, which we’d originally planned to show in tribute to Max Von Sydow who died earlier in March.

If you’ve never seen The Seventh Seal before, we hope Nigel’s introduction here will encourage you to do so. As he says, it’s only 90 minutes long and has more jokes than you might think. The film is widely available online and we’ve put links on the website. Like last week, do let us know what you think of the film and we’ll publish a section of responses online. From next week on we’ll start visiting our ‘also rans’ list with Woody Allen’s classic of cinema-as-escapism, The Purple Rose of Cairo.

***

Saturday 28th March

The following message was sent to staff members at the Neuro Therapy Centre in Saltney, Chester.

Hi both

I hope this message finds you both well in these surreal times.

I am contacting you in the hope that you may be able to suggest some exercises that I can do to strengthen my upper body from home during this awful coronavirus crisis. I have just bought a pedal exerciser from eBay and expect it to arrive next Wednesday.

I am determined to do all I can to prevent the onset of this virus. I was in hospital with a chest infection at the end of January. When I asked the doctor if there was anything I could do to prevent such infections again he said that I should work on my upper body muscles to make sure they are healthy.

Any help you can provide at this worrying time would be much appreciated.

Stay safe and I hope to see you at the Neuro Therapy Centre soon.

Nathan Lee Davies

***

Change.org Petition:

Today frontline NHS staff will begin to be tested for coronavirus. Care home manager Mark says that care workers must be urgently tested too as they look after the elderly and vulnerable who are at risk. Will you help by signing his petition?
Test all frontline care workers for coronavirus
Mark Topps started this petition to Boris Johnson and it now has 11,680 signatures
Sign now with a click

I’m the manager of a residential care home and facing one of the toughest times we have faced. I have seen staff having to self-isolate and residents doing the same, and there are hundreds of other care staff across the country in the same boat.

Every day we go to the care home and deliver care to the elderly and most vulnerable with limited supplies of gloves, aprons, masks, hand sanitiser etc. We are not being tested and nor are the residents. How do we know that we are not spreading it to them, or leaving the care homes and spreading COVID-19 to our families and members of the public? The truth is we don’t know.

That’s why we’re calling on the Government to urgently ensure care workers to be tested. 

The same dilemma is being faced by everyone working in a care home, domestic staff, cooks, administrators and volunteers. The Government classed us as unskilled and yet now we’re expected to be the frontline workforce, keeping residents out of hospitals and protecting your loved ones. 

The Government have announced the virus is spreading at a faster pace than expected and currently the only tests being done are to people who require hospital admission.

The knowledge that I could be spreading this with residents I work with and my family is the worst feeling. As a dad of three beautiful children -I struggle to know what the most responsible thing to do is.

There are care workers up and down the country delivering care into peoples homes, possibly spreading the virus further into other families.

I am petitioning for all care workers to be tested! We are your front line! Please help us by signing

Care Workers deserve better! We deserve to be tested and we deserve equipment to do our jobs!

Sign now with a click
At Change.org, we believe in the voice of everyday people. Is there something that you want to change?

***

Wednesday 25th March

This is obviously a very worrying time for us all. How on earth are the British public supposed to survive on a basic rationing of their favourite soap-operas?

If the worst happens, and I start to have symptoms of coronavirus, one of the first things that I will do is record a video-diary to chart the progress of my illness. I believe this is the socially-responsible thing to do, and I am surprised that others haven’t done so already, save from one or two in the establishment. #justsaying

VIDEO: JOHNSON TOOK 11 DAYS FROM ‘GATHERINGS HAVE LITTLE EFFECT’ TO THEY MUST BE STOPPED TO BLOCK CV – HOW MANY LIVES HAS HE COST?

I am enjoying the work of Johnathan Pie throughout this coronavirus crisis. Two exceptional pieces of work from the roving reporter can be found by clicking here and here.

This is the wrong time for anyone to be sexually frustrated. Mind you, is there ever a right time?

I have contacted WCBC, to try to get some PPE for my staff. Apparently, their supplies are extremely limited. Subsequently, I asked them to ensure those with symptoms were provided with PPE as a matter of urgency. I will only need such equipment if I fall foul of this virus myself, so at the moment I am not a priority. If only the rest of society thought in such a selfless and socialist manner…

I am enjoying trying to compile a music listography at the moment. It was a birthday gift from my sister, and I have bought hundreds of music stickers to decorate the book.

From Wikipedia:

Jamiroquai (/əˈmɪrəkw/ (About this soundlisten)) are an English funk and acid jazz band from London, formed in 1992. Fronted by singer-songwriter Jay Kay, the band were a prominent component of the London-based funk/jazz movement of the 1990s. Their sound draws from black music of the 1970s, and their lyrics and visual concepts occasionally deal with social and environmental idealism. They also drew from rockelectronica and Latin music, and on stage perform with several musicians in the band playing live. Over the years, Kay has consistently remained as the leader through several line-up changes.

The band débuted with “When You Gonna Learn” under Acid Jazz records, which led to Kay signing a record deal with Sony Soho2. While under this label, the group released a string of million-selling albums containing singles that have reached various charts worldwide, including the 1998 single “Deeper Underground“, which topped in the UK, while having moderate success in the US within the Dance charts. All eight of the band’s albums have entered the UK top 10. Three of them, Emergency on Planet Earth (1993), Synkronized (1999), A Funk Odyssey (2001), along with their greatest hits compilation, charted at number 1.

Jamiroquai have sold more than 26 million albums worldwide as of 2017. Their third album Travelling Without Moving (1996), received a Guinness World Record for the best-selling funk album in history. The music video for the album’s lead single, “Virtual Insanity“, was named Video of the Year at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards. The group has won an Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Song Collection from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers, and Authors, as well as one Grammy Award, two MTV Video Music Awards, and two Billboard Music Awards. They have also received sixteen Brit Award nominations.

Fear and Paranoia…

There is no doubt that we are living in worrying times. The coronavirus pandemic certainly needs to be taken seriously, and I have just finished writing a set of guidelines for my personal assistants and any visitors to my home. I would encourage others to do the same. A good article that lists what is known so far about the coronavirus pandemic and provides advice on how to protect against transmission, can be found here. 

The article above was written by BMA honorary vice-president Kailash Chand OBE, and was originally published on the Tameside Radio website.

What I want to underline briefly, is the politics behind the coronavirus scare. I state this while not wishing to detract from the seriousness of the situation we find ourselves in, but right-wing governments like to use such dramas to distract our attention and hide certain unpopular legislative developments. They like to have something to prevent us scrutinising their every move and developing our opposition. 

Next time you venture to the supermarket to top up on your supplies of toilet paper, hand wash and the like, remember the old adage that us British people are supposedly so fond of: Keep Calm and Carry On.

Keep Calm and Carry On is a motivational poster produced by the British government in 1939 in preparation for World War II. The poster was intended to raise the morale of the British public, threatened with widely predicted mass air attacks on major cities. If this poster had been produced by the current, helpless Government, I imagine that it would have said – Panic Buy and Prepare To Die.

Throughout much of Thatchers reign people were terrified of a supposed nuclear attack by Russia. It transpired to nothing, but this did not stop the BBC from producing scaremongering programmes such as ‘If the Bomb Drops’. 

This killer virus obviously needs to be taken seriously, but I would also ask people to stay switched on and analytical in their thinking. This is not the end of civilisation, despite what you may be reading, and it is important that we continue to prepare for future fights which we will no doubt be facing under Boris Johnson’s corrupt regime…

Government loses Universal Credit appeals against claimants with severe disabilities

The following article was taken from the website of the law firm Leigh Day. The original article can viewed by clicking here. There is precious little good news about for disabled people  at the moment, so victories such as these need to be celebrated and cherished.   

***

iStock_000017753342Small

The Court of Appeal has today dismissed the government’s appeals against two previous court judgments which found that the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions had unlawfully discriminated against thousands of severely disabled people who moved onto Universal Credit.

29 January 2020

The ruling upholds two successful High Court challenges brought by TP and AR, in which the courts found that individuals previously in receipt of the Severe Disability Premium (“SDP”) and Enhanced Disability Premium (“EDP”) are to be protected against a drop in their income when they move onto Universal Credit.

The first challenge brought by TP and AR was won in the High Court in June 2018. The men had been forced to move onto Universal Credit when they moved into a local authority area where the new benefit system had been rolled out. Under Universal Credit they lost out on the SDP and EDP, leaving them suddenly around £180 a month worse off. The judge found that this was unlawful because those that moved to a different local authority area were being treated differently to those who moved within their local authority area.

As a result of the first challenge the government attempted to rectify the situation by making regulations which stopped other severely disabled people from migrating onto Universal Credit and provided that those like TP and AR, (who had already moved onto Universal Credit), would receive retrospective and ongoing recompense. However, the Government chose to recompense TP and AR and those like them at a rate of only £80 per month rather than £180 per month which is what they had actually lost.

TP and AR mounted their second legal challenge along with a third claimant SXC (represented by Central England Law Centre) arguing that short-changing them was unlawful as they were being treated differently to those who remained on legacy benefits. The High Court found in their favour in May 2019.

The government, whilst appealing both judgments, increased the top-up payments but only provided recompense of £120 per month rather than the £180 lost. A third legal challenge regarding that decision is pending.

The Court of Appeal in an  judgment handed down today agreed with the lower courts that the Government had unlawfully discriminated against this cohort of severely disabled claimants. The Court also found that the Government had breached its duty of candour by failing to disclose during the first hearing that it had already made a policy decision to stop more severely disabled people from being moved onto Universal Credit and to provide transitional payments for those that already had.

AR said:

“We hope that the Court of Appeal ruling will finally bring an end to our fight for severely disabled people not to be disadvantaged by Universal Credit. It is still so shocking to us that we have had to fight so long and so hard just to get the government to see that their policy is unfair.”

Tessa Gregory, from law firm Leigh Day added:

“Today’s finding that thousands of severely disabled people have been subject to unlawful discrimination should be a wake-up call for the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

“The Government states that Universal Credit is protecting the most vulnerable but that has not been the experience of our clients who faced a dramatic reduction in their monthly income when they moved onto the new benefits system and when that was found to be unlawful were offered a monthly top up which didn’t even cover half of that loss.

“We hope that the Government will waste no more time or resources fighting this legal case  and will instead get on with what it should have been doing in the first place,  protecting this acutely vulnerable cohort of claimants and overhauling Universal Credit to make it fit for purpose.”

Leigh Day is continuing to bring a separate group claim, on behalf of those who previously received SDP and/or EDP and moved to Universal Credit prior to 16 January 2019, for the full amount lost as well as compensation for any pain and distress caused by the move to UC. We are still taking enquiries and more information can be found on our website. 

TP and AR were represented by Tessa Gregory, Carolin Ott and Lucy Cadd from law firm Leigh Day. Jessica Jones and Zoe Leventhal of Matrix Chambers were instructed.

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

Paralysed car crash victim calls for sex workers to give discounts to disabled people

The following article was taken from the Daily Star newspaper and can be read in full by following this link. 

I feel the pain of Alex Squires, as described in the article below, only to well. However, I do not believe that escorts should offer discounts to disabled people.

Instead, I think it is the government that should be offering monthly grants for disabled people with high support needs, such as Alex and myself, to unlock the doors to sexual exploration and intimacy for those who cannot easily access such a world. This is similar to what happens in Holland, but sadly it seems a long way away for those of us stuck in the Victorian style UK under a repressive Government.

If I ever manage to secure a full support package from Wrexham County Borough Council this could be my next crusade 🙂

*** 

A paralysed car crash victim is calling for escorts to offer him a discount because he can’t travel to have sex.

Alex Squires, 30, suffered devastating brain damage in a car crash more than two decades ago, which left him with spastic quadriplegia – leaving his muscles stiff and difficult to control.

The Lincolnshire blogger, who uses a chair full-time and relies on round-the-clock care to hoist him in and out of bed, first turned to escorts when his last relationship ended.

Now he wants sex workers to offer him a discount after he found he had to pay for expensive call-outs.

Alex, who lives with his parents in Bassingham, Lincolnshire, said: “One problem that irks me a bit about using escorts is that they always have to be out-calls.

“I can never go to the escort’s place because they aren’t accessible and they don’t have a hoist.

“Out-calls are always more expensive which is a bit frustrating. I would go to their place if I could.

“Maybe escorts should give disabled people a discount so that they are the same price as in-calls.”

Alex says in the past he and his last girlfriend relied on carers hoist him into bed so they could be together.

He now hopes to find an able-bodied partner which would make sex easier.

Alex said: “My last relationship was with a girl who was also in a power chair, so we couldn’t hug or kiss each other when we wanted to, which was frustrating.

“She lived in a care home and when I went to visit the carers would sometimes put us on the bed together and we could cuddle, but I found this a bit awkward as we had to be positioned by the carers which wasn’t very private.

“Once we were in position they left us alone, but I would prefer my next relationship to be with someone who was able-bodied.

“I wouldn’t have the same problem of having to rely on a third-party to be intimate all the time.”

Alex says he turned to sex workers out of frustration because his disability makes it hard to meet people, but he is desperate to find a love.

“Just a cuddle or any type of physical contact is nice, because I don’t have physical contact with anyone on a regular basis apart from my carers,” Alex admitted. “A long-term loving relationship will be much better, because you can’t have love with an escort, but I have hearing loss which makes it difficult to talk to people in noisy environments.

“Most people tend to hang out in noisy places like pubs or clubs, so it’s difficult for me to have a conversation with people in these places.

“This makes it difficult to meet new people.”

Statement from #SaveWILG Campaign at the #Right2IL Campaign launch

On April 25th, the #Right2IL Campaign was launched in Parliament. Unfortunately, I could not be there so I wrote the following which was read out by my good friend and comrade, Ellen Clifford.

Apparently, the message was well-received. I am looking forward to playing my part in the fight for the rights of disabled people to be recognised.

More about the #Right2IL campaign can be read here. 

***

“Good afternoon to everyone and apologies that I cannot be present today. As a disability activist who has spent the last 4 years campaigning for the protection of independent living for former ILF recipients in Wales, I feel that it is important to contribute to the meeting. I believe that it is essential that disabled people in Wales are also represented in the creation of any independent living scheme that we campaigned for.

The Welsh Independent Living Grant was given to former ILF recipients as a temporary measure while future arrangements were discussed. In November 2016, the Welsh Government announced they would be scrapping the grant and transferring all funds to local authorities. This could not be allowed to happen and we have campaigned tirelessly and imaginatively to push the Welsh Government into making a u-turn. Independent Social Workers and extra funds have been promised by the Welsh Government to ensure former ILF recipients can remain in their local communities.

Even though the #SaveWILG campaign has been a success in protecting the rights of former ILF recipients, the Welsh Government are not planning to extend these rights to disabled people who missed out on the ILF. Our campaign has produced a positive result for approximately 1,300 of us, but this does not mean we can forget about those who never received the Welsh Independent Living Grant. We do not believe any disabled people with high support needs should be purely at the mercy of cash strapped local authorities. 

The tripartite system that the ILF established – between recipient, local authority and independent social worker – should be something that we all receive. I would welcome the opportunity to be part of the ROFA campaign and share the skills and tactics that we have built up during our successful campaign. Please do keep in touch and let me know  how the people of Wales can get involved. There may be a different legal system in Wales to contend with, but I believe that any Welsh Political Party – with the possible exception of Plaid Cymru – would welcome the opportunity to work with the UK Government to protect disabled people with high support needs.

My contact details are as follows:

Twitter: @nathanleedavies

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nathanleedavies

Website: https://nathanleedavies.wordpress.com/ 

Many thanks for allowing me to be part of your discussion and let us hope that this is the beginning of a new campaign that will result in justice for disabled people and their families. 

Solidarity to you all. 

Nathan”

A National Independent Living Support Service #Right2IL

The following article was taken from the Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) website and can be read in full by clicking here. 

The Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance, a network of  disabled people and our organisations in England, is asking for support for a bold new vision for independent living* for the future. (* The phrase ‘independent living’ is not about disabled people doing things on our own, it means having choice and control over our own lives, being included in the community and having the same chances to take part as other people.)

The social care and mental health systems are currently in crisis and as a result disabled people’s rights to an adequate standard of living, to dignity and inclusion and to equal participation in society are being taken backwards.

In its present state, the system is not fit to respond to current needs, let alone predicted greater needs in the future. Disabled people’s experiences of support are subject to a post code lottery and differ considerably depending upon impairment.

Disabled people and our organisations are calling for a better system guaranteeing consistent levels of adequate support. This will not only benefit us and our families but will strengthen wider society, save costs in other areas and produce social and economic benefits.

Our vision of a national independent living support system is set out in the position paper “Independent Living for the Future” which you can download above or below for the easy read version.

Please sign up in support using the form at the end of this page and help us reclaim disabled people’s futures by making our vision a reality. [The form is published on the DPAC website and can be found by clicking here]

NILSS-1-218x300

Download report here: NILSS_final

Sadly, I couldn’t attend Thursday’s meeting at the Houses of Parliament, but Ellen Clifford of DPAC kindly read out the following message on my behalf:

“Good afternoon to everyone and apologies that I cannot be present today. As a disability activist who has spent the last 4 years campaigning for the protection of independent living for former ILF recipients in Wales, I feel that it is important to contribute to the meeting. I believe that it is essential that disabled people in Wales are also represented in the creation of any independent living scheme that we campaigned for.
 

The Welsh Independent Living Grant was given to former ILF recipients as a temporary measure while future arrangements were discussed. In November 2016, the Welsh Government announced they would be scrapping the grant and transferring all funds to local authorities. This could not be allowed to happen and we have campaigned tirelessly and imaginatively to push the Welsh Government into making a u-turn. Independent Social Workers and extra funds have been promised by the Welsh Government to ensure former ILF recipients can remain in their local communities.

Even though the #SaveWILG campaign has been a success in protecting the rights of former ILF recipients, the Welsh Government are not planning to extend these rights to disabled people who missed out on the ILF. Our campaign has produced a positive result for approximately 1,300 of us, but this does not mean we can forget about those who never received the Welsh Independent Living Grant. We do not believe any disabled people with high support needs should be purely at the mercy of cash strapped local authorities. 

 

The tripartite system that the ILF established – between recipient, local authority and independent social worker – should be something that we all receive. I would welcome the opportunity to be part of the ROFA campaign and share the skills and tactics that we have built up during our successful campaign. Please do keep in touch and let me know  how the people of Wales can get involved. There may be a different legal system in Wales to contend with, but I believe that any Welsh Political Party would welcome the opportunity to work with the UK Government to protect disabled people with high support needs.

Many thanks for allowing me to be part of your discussion and let us hope that this is the beginning of a new campaign that will result in justice for disabled people and their families. 

 
 Solidarity to you all. 
 
Nathan”

Disability News Service: ‘Delight’ over breakthrough on Welsh independent living scheme closure

The following article is taken from the Disability News Service website and was written by John Pring. I am taking no credit for the writing of this article and urge readers to visit the Disability News Service website. You can do so by clicking here. 

***

Disabled campaigners have welcomed measures that aim to address concerns over the imminent closure of the Welsh government’s independent living grant scheme.

Julie Morgan, the deputy minister for health and social services, has written to council leaders to ask for an immediate “pause” in the closure programme and its replacement with a system of council-funded support.

There will now be new independent assessments for any former recipients of the Welsh Independent Living Grant (WILG) scheme who are unhappy with the new support packages allocated by their local authority.

The new measures came just two weeks after Nathan Lee Davies (pictured), who has led the campaign to save the WILG scheme, sent an 80-page dossier of evidence about the closure to Welsh Labour’s new leader and first minister, Mark Drakeford.

Davies told Drakeford in an open letter accompanying the dossier that closing WILG would leave disabled people with high support needs, like him, “at the mercy of cash-strapped Local Authorities who seem intent on cutting vital support packages across the board with no guarantee that further cuts will not follow”.

He sent his letter with just two months to go until the interim WILG scheme was due to close.

Now Morgan has announced a pause in the transition to the new system.

WILG was set up – with UK government funding – as an interim scheme following the UK government’s decision to close the Independent Living Fund in June 2015.

The Welsh government is now closing WILG for good and transferring the funding to local councils, and by April the 22 local authorities were due to be solely responsible for meeting the support needs of all former ILF-recipients in Wales.

But in a written statement to assembly members, Morgan said she had considered the evidence and decided there needed to be a “change in direction” because her government’s own review had shown a significant variation in how support packages were being cut by different councils.

Morgan said that all WILG recipients who were unhappy with their new care and support package and would like a second opinion would now be offered an independent assessment.

These assessments will be funded by the Welsh government, which will also pay for any resulting additional hours of support.

The government said that the new assessments would “acknowledge the historical entitlement of former ILF recipients”, while Morgan told assembly members in a written statement that there would be “no financial barrier [so]no-one need have less favourable care and support than they had under ILF”.

Morgan, who praised Davies and his fellow campaigners, said: “It is paramount that people’s ability to live independently is not compromised by changes to the care and support provided for people previously in receipt of the Welsh Independent Living Grant.

“These changes will ensure that is the case and deliver a consistent level of care and support across Wales.

“While the majority of former ILF recipients are receiving the same or more care as they were previously, a significant number have experienced a reduction in hours of support.

“There is also considerable variation in the reductions in support.

“I have therefore written to local government leaders to request a pause of the transition with immediate effect in order to bring in the revised arrangements.

“This is a significant change of approach that ensures that the needs of former WILG recipients will be fully met, and that resources are no barrier to a full package of care and support.”

Davies, who was celebrating his birthday on the day of the announcement, said it was “the perfect 42nd birthday gift”.

He said later in a statement: “I would like to place on record my delight at the breakthrough we have made.”

He added: “It is a pleasure to be working with our new first minister Mark Drakeford and his revamped cabinet that differs substantially from the previous regime.

“Welsh Labour have now successfully re-branded themselves and are moving forward with a clear vision of creating a society based on 21st century socialist ideas.

“There is still some work to be done with Welsh Labour on the new arrangements to support disabled people to live independently.

“I am confident that this work will be carried out constructively and add to the ‘clear red water’ that Welsh Labour are once again setting between themselves and Westminster.

“The fact that the party that I am proud to be a member of, has listened and acted appropriately is really encouraging and gives me hope for the future.”

Disability Wales praised Davies’s campaigning work and the Welsh government for “listening and responding to the evidence” and added: “This is really welcome news for Welsh disabled people who had lost vital support after the ILF closed.”