UK Government

Emergency on Planet Earth #27

I WILL WRITE A NUMBER OF EMERGENCY ON PLANET EARTH BLOGS THROUGHOUT THE TORY SPONSORED CORONAVIRUS CRISIS.

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

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PLEASE SIGN AND SHARE THE FOLLOWING PETITION TO ENSURE THE £500  BONUS  PAYMENT THAT IS BEING PAID BY THE WELSH GOVERNMENT TO SUPPORT STAFF ACROSS WALES IS NOT SUBJECTED TO TAX BY THE UK GOVERNMENT.

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The Welsh Labour Government has announced social care staff across Wales will receive a special one-off payment of £500, as further recognition for their work on the frontline of this crisis. This includes ancillary staff such as cooks and cleaners, as well as nursing staff employed by care homes.

We want every penny of this £500 to be in the hands of those care home and domiciliary care workers who have done so much for so many during the coronavirus pandemic.

The UK Tory Government has said it won’t make this payment tax-free. This means our hardworking social care workforce won’t be able to keep every penny of this special £500 payment.

Our social care workers are providing an exceptional service – an exception should be made in this case.

Tell the Tories to reward our social care workforce in full.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN THE WELSH LABOUR GOVERNMENT PETITION – DON’T FORGET TO SHARE THIS PETITION VIA SOCIAL MEDIA. 

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Meanwhile in Wrexham…

Emergency on Planet Earth #19

I WILL WRITE A NUMBER OF EMERGENCY ON PLANET EARTH BLOGS THROUGHOUT THE TORY SPONSORED CORONAVIRUS CRISIS.

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

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I just wanted to use this blog to send a big thank you to First Minister Mark Drakeford, for the way in which he continues to handle the Coronavirus crisis. He has more than repaid the trust put in him by myself personally, and all the #SaveWILG campaigners who voted for his 21st Century socialism.

I feel safer under such dignified leadership, and can only sympathise with my English friends who are nervously awaiting tonight’s announcement from Boris the Butcher.

Our next aim is to ensure Welsh Labour win the 2021 Assembly elections. It seems obvious that Drakeford should win another term for his party, but we can take nothing for granted in the current political climate…

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Thank you to Skwawkbox and Novara Media for the following jpegs. There is also a very interesting blog that sums up the UK Government’s handling of the COVID-19 situation, written by Skwawkbox. This can be read by clicking on the link below:

Government’s new slogan derided as meaningless as Johnson primes UK for lock-down downgrade – and thousands more deaths.

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new-slogan

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Independent Living Film Project

Calling all Deaf and Disabled People – tell us why Independent Living matters to you!

How to get involved?  Easy – make a video on your phone and send it to us, we will do the rest.

What do I need to do? Answer the questions below on camera and then send your video to us at info@rofa.org.uk

How long does it need to be? Maximum length is 4 minutes – one minute per question – we want quality, not quantity!

Questions

  1. What’s your name, where do you live and why is independent living important to you
  2. Based on your experience what is the difference between social care and independent living
  3. Why do we need a legal right to independent living and a national independent living support service?
  4. What is your main message to the UK Government?

At the end of the video tell ROFA you give us permission to use your video for campaigning purposes to win a legal right to independent living and a national independent living service then send it to info@rofa.org.uk

 

Emergency on Planet Earth #5

I WILL WRITE A NUMBER OF EMERGENCY ON PLANET EARTH BLOGS THROUGHOUT THE TORY SPONSORED CORONAVIRUS CRISIS.

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

Thursday 2nd April

I received the following email from Board Members of Wrexham Supporters Trust in regards to the future of Wrexham AFC. Basically the club will be furloughing all of their staff in a highly sensible move. The ramifications behind such a move could be huge. Previously, I would have been deeply concerned by what I had read, but since those involved in the running of the club have treated disabled supporters with disdain, I can’t say I will be losing any sleep over the uncertainty of the situation.

While I am struck with a general sense of apathy, I realise that this isn’t the case for many, including a great deal of my friends. For these people I would not like to see the club fold, but for a great deal of us the community club we once held in such high esteem, died many years ago…

UPDATE | COVID19 – Impact on Wrexham AFC

Important update regarding the financial impact of coronavirus

The Board of the Wrexham Supporters Trust wishes to share the following important update regarding COVID-19 and its impact on the Football Club.

Following the recent National League announcement, in which it was confirmed the current season would be suspended indefinitely – and in light of ongoing, vital UK Government restrictions – important decisions have had to be made to safeguard the future of the Football Club.

As well as providing reassurance for supporters, we have been making provision to save every penny we can by systematically shutting down the Racecourse and having a structured approach to cost reduction. However, there are only so many costs we can take out from that approach.

As a result, we have today communicated with all employees of the business – including the playing and coaching staff – to ask them to agree to move into the Government-organised Job Retention Scheme. The decision to furlough employees means we can pay them on an ongoing basis under the conditions announced by the Government.

All employees would remain employees of Wrexham AFC under the terms of their employment contracts.

This decision has not been taken lightly, and we need the understanding, sacrifice and co-operation of the employees of Wrexham AFC for the club to survive and move forwards.

Why have we made this decision?
As communicated on March 17, when we stated the initial suspension of the National League would not cause any immediate issues, we have continued to monitor the situation and its financial impact on the Football Club.Since then, however, the UK Government has imposed restrictions on leaving home and shut down all non-essential business activity.Combined with the indefinite suspension of the National League, and the uncertainty of how long this will continue, coronavirus is having a serious effect on the financial health of the Football Club.

What has happened to Wrexham AFC due to coronavirus?

  • We have lost almost 25% of our home league fixtures (five games) of income from the season and our matchday revenue on the season will be down by in excess of £250,000 versus our budget
  • We have had only two home fixtures since January and, as we move into April, this will be a third month with minimal down to no income
  • All of our non-match day events at the stadium have had to be cancelled
  • We cannot sell season tickets for next season as the future of football is very unclear at this point in time
  • We are left with no way of generating any income to try and cover this period due to Government restrictions

This is the perfect storm at the very wrong time of the year and the majority of clubs in our division will be similarly impacted – with some talking to employees about alternative arrangements as early as March.

Can Wrexham AFC survive this crisis?
The Wrexham Supporters Trust has a track record of steering the club through crisis. Ten years ago, we took over a club that was losing £750,000 per year, with debts of £500,000, that had no assets. We are proud to have turned that into a sustainable business that doesn’t spend more than it can bring in in revenue.

However, coronavirus is the biggest impact on society in living memory and the effects of it are a threat to the continued existence of the Football Club.

The decision to furlough all employees of Wrexham AFC has been taken to protect the future of the Football Club.

Had there been no coronavirus then Wrexham AFC would have continued as a financially stable football club, only spending what it can afford, but coronavirus has impacted us significantly and we understand what a distressing time this is for everyone connected with the Club.

We know that this announcement will cause worry and anxiety for employees, fans and WST Members but we want to assure people we will do all that we can to navigate the Club through this unprecedented time and we will only be able to do that as a collective together.

We also know that people will naturally start to ask what they can do to help as we know how much the club means to so many people. We will continue to communicate as best we can in the coming days/weeks to steer the club through this.

The Board of The Wrexham Supporters Trust.

Emergency on Planet Earth #3

I WILL WRITE A NUMBER OF EMERGENCY ON PLANET EARTH BLOGS 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.

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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

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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.

ROFA Correspondence with Justin Tomlinson MP

ROFA have at last received a response to our letter to Justin Tomlinson. Unfortunately, he failed to address the majority of their concerns and provides no indication that the culture in the Disability Unit is going to be any different to that of the Office for Disability Issues (ODI) when it was in the DWP. Here is a link to their second letter after they waited a month for a response to their original. 

Here is the response from Justin Tomlinson in full:
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Dear ROFA

Thank you for your email of 20 February. I am grateful that you took the time to share your thoughts on the National Strategy for Disabled People. I am sure you will appreciate that we are currently experiencing an unprecedented situation with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic and so I am sorry for not being able to respond sooner.

The Government is strongly committed to ensuring that disabled people have a central voice in the process of determining the National Strategy for Disabled People. You are correct in thinking that we have started some initial scoping with several disability charities and via our Regional Stakeholder Networks. We are keen to include the widest possible range of disabled people’s organisations in this process as we progress and I intend to host quarterly round table discussions, with representatives from these organisations, which would obviously include yourselves.

We had thought to start these as a series of face-to-face meetings towards the end of March. However, current health concerns make this impossible at present. We are progressing our plans to develop a digital engagement programme so that we can undertake some engagement during the current crisis. I do recognise that many disabled people are not able to access digital means of communication and I can assure you this is only a temporary approach and, once we can meet face-to-face again, we will be undertaking extensive regional and local engagement.

As the current pandemic is the priority for the Government, we will need to review our plans for the development of the National Strategy for Disabled People. We want to ensure that we have enough time to get this right and undertake a full and appropriate programme of stakeholder engagement.

My officials will contact you as soon as possible with respect to engagement on the National Strategy so we can agree how you and your organisations are part of extensive plans to engage with as many disabled people and disabled people’s organisations as possible.

Finally, thank you for your comprehensive list of concerns. My officials are working across Government to ensure that the needs of disabled people are centred in our response to COVID-19. These are rapidly developing circumstances but I can assure you that, as both the Prime Minister and Chancellor have made clear, the Government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID-19. We will ensure that Government communications and messages about the coronavirus are available in many accessible formats.

I look forward to discussing the specific queries you raise for inclusion in the National Strategy for Disabled People when we are able to meet in person.

Kind regards,

Justin Tomlinson MP

Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work

The ROFA Steering Group will be following up and arranging a meeting after our conference. We will continue to keep you informed if any progress is made.

ROFA COVID-19 Statement can be found here:

Coronavirus Bill Statement

The following statement was taken from the Disability Wales website, which can be viewed here.

Corona Virus Bill: Suspension of Social Services and Well-being Wales Act (2014)

National Disability Umbrella Organisations in Wales have serious concerns about the implications of the Coronavirus Bill on human rights, especially the rights of specific groups, including disabled people.

The second reading of the Bill was on Monday 23 March in the UK Parliament. A Legislative Competence Motion on the Coronavirus Bill will be debated in the National Assembly for Wales today on Tuesday 24th March.

We welcome the UK Government’s amendment to ensure the Corona Virus Bill to ensure that it is to be renewed every six months, given the sweeping nature of the powers. Nevertheless, we remain concerned that the Bill suspends the key provisions in the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 unless services are needed to protect an adult from abuse or neglect or a risk of abuse or neglect. Unlike the suspension of the Care Act (2014) duties in England, there is no express requirement to avoid breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights included.

We call on the Assembly to take action to protect the lives of many thousands of disabled people by ensuring that no services are withdrawn without undertaking an assessment to verify whether there would be a breach of human rights.

We believe that the Corona Virus Bill presents a real and present danger to the lives of disabled people. It will effectively roll back 30 years of progress for disabled people.  It also comes after years of chronic under funding of social care which has resulted in a social care system already at breaking point. The bill will:

– 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.

We understand this is an unprecedented and extremely challenging situation, however 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.

Our understanding of the negative social implications of the #CoronaVirusBill on the lives of disabled people and their families detailed below.  This information was prepared by barristers who specialise in public law and disability rights.

Implications of the Bill for Disabled people

What does it mean for disabled adults? 

Schedule 11 of the Bill [pages 111 – 122] effectively suspends / downgrades almost all adult social care duties (including charging duties).  As the Explanatory Notes (at para 175) explain, the various duties to assess and meet eligible needs of adults and carers in the Care Act 2014 and adults, young people and carers in the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 (SSWWA) are downgraded to powers.

A duty to meet needs will only arise in England if a failure to provide care and / or support would be a ‘breach of an individual’s human rights’.  In Wales a duty only arises where a failure to do so would mean that the individual may be experiencing or at risk of abuse or neglect

Education

Schedule 16 of the Bill [page 158 – 181] provides the Secretary of State / the Welsh Ministers with powers to issue directions suspending school provision and attendance duties and downgrades local authority education law duties (including those relating to the provision of  Additional Learning Needs) to obligations ‘to use reasonable endeavours to discharge’ the duty.

Mental Health Detention

Schedule 7 Part 2 para 3 of the Bill [page 90] provides that an application by an approved mental health professional under the Mental Health Act 1983 sections 2 or 3 need only be founded on the recommendation by a single registered medical practitioner.

Sources of information

Suspension of Care Act

www.lukeclements.co.uk/the-coronavirus-bill-social-care-sen/

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.   

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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 🙂

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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.”