Disabled people and their lives are under threat

  • The Tories have threatened to remove our Disability Living Allowance (DLA) saying that the number of claimants must be reduced by one fifth. Even those who have been awarded DLA for life now seem certain to have to undergo a rigorous medical to see if they still qualify

 

  •  Employment Support Allowance and work capability assessments have been criticised by the Citizens Advice Bureau, disability charities and Disabled People’s Organisations. Even people with terminal cancer have been declared fit for work and removed from Incapacity Benefit. The government have now said that from October 2010 they will speed up the re-assessment of everyone currently claiming Incapacity Benefit so that 10,000 claimants a week are ‘processed’

 

  • These assessments which ignore doctors and consultant views are earning Atos healthcare £100 million a year

 

  • Housing Benefits for all tenants will be reduced. From October 2011 for those 2 million disabled people living in private rented accommodation and from 2013 for anyone living in social housing which is deemed too large for their needs

 

  • There are 1.8 million people on social housing waiting lists. Currently 1 million children live in overcrowded households

 

  • Already 30% of disabled people live below the poverty line and 1 in 4 families with disabled children cannot afford heating

 

  • The Chartered Institute of Housing has calculated that the cumulative effect of the coalition’s proposals mean that by 2020 every tenant’s Housing Benefit will be too low to cover their rent

 

  • Benefits will be linked to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) instead of the Retail Price Index, so claimants will lose £300 a year as the CPI ignores any housing costs you might have

 

  • Value Added Tax increased to 20% will hit those on the lowest incomes the hardest – it is estimated this rise will increase each household’s costs by £500 per year

 

  • Added to that funding from the Independent Living Fund for care and support has now ceased to all new claimants and any additional needs cannot be met by them

 

  • Social Services budgets are under extreme pressure and nearly all Social Services departments have been told to reduce their budgets by 25% which has an obvious knock-on effect to their provision of care and the amount people need to pay towards this. In Warwickshire it is anticipated that one-third of people who currently receive free care will no longer be eligible.

 

What disabled people say about these changes

“At the moment I am able to claim £17.75 per week for care and £49.50 for mobility which goes straight to the Mobility Scheme and in total that comes to £269 a month. Now consider the fact I work four days a week and roughly pay £160 in tax. Without DLA I wouldn’t be able to do my job, so I wouldn’t pay tax. Without DLA I wouldn’t be able to hire a Motability car which in turn means I wouldn’t be paying tax on petrol. Without a car I would be less likely to travel to shops or be able to engage in leisure activities; things which impact, albeit in a small way, to the British economy.

According to George Osborne the Government will introduce measures to assist disabled people ‘into the labour market’, however, I have shown that the removal of DLA would not only take me out of the labour market, it would also halt the spending power I currently have.

By going down this path, once at 2013 we could see disabled people like myself thrown onto the scrapheap and potentially becoming a greater drain on the Government’s own financial resources. I don’t need an Eton or Oxbridge education to know that this is a bankrupt political move which will do more harm than good to the economy, my life and family, as well as those of other disabled people.”

Bob Williams-Findlay, MA.

“I am in receipt of DLA, without which I could not survive. I have severe allergies, home bound, mostly bedridden.  I have carers, and have to pay for extra hours not subsidized by social services. My utility bills are extremely high, and I have to contribute to the rent, which is not met by housing benefits. I also suffer from malnutrition!! Being chronically ill is costly, being depending on carers for everything.

Cutting DLA would mean, that I have to find housing within the Housing Allowance which is much much lower than rental market. There are pockets of housing, in undesirable areas, with mould and cockroaches, and no amenities, no lift, or if on the ground floor, simply not safe.
I could go on and on, about the misery it would cause, to remove DLA.
It would lead to a slow death painful death. Worth adding here, I have spoken to many in my situation, who are discussing mass suicide, rather than suffer more health miseries, for which there are no cures! They are not depressed, but pragmatic about what awaits all of us.”

Disabled woman living in London

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We will have our own disabled people’s section of a legal organised march to protest against Tory Party attacks on disabled people. Please join us and ask others to come too.

When –                       Sunday, October 3rd, 2010.

Where-                       International Convention Centre, Birmingham

Rally– noon

March– 1 p.m.

If the weather is good we will meet at the fountain in Chamberlain Square at 11.30 am and walk to the ICC together otherwise, or for anyone who finds it easier, we will meet inside the ICC in the room where the rally will take place.

If anyone has any specific needs which they need to have met in order to attend this protest march please contact  –  linda_burnip@yahoo.co.uk

or  tina_hogg@yahoo.co.uk  Mobile phone number for those needing contact on the day itself is 0771 492 7533

Linda McLean

I heard of the experience of a disabled man in an electric wheelchair in Edinburgh. He was accosted by two twelve-year-old boys, who switched off the power in his chair and pushed him in front of the traffic in a busy street.

Was their concept that people with disabilities can do nothing and feel nothing?

As a drama, however, it makes the point.

It demonstrates what happens to people with disabilities daily throughout society.

Their motivation is isolated and turned off. They are left in a place that is not of their choosing.  Society puts them in a position of being unable to contribute anything, where they are regarded as helpless and hopeless. Then they are labelled “disabled”.

Interestingly, the Police are looking for the two youths in the Edinburgh incident.

Perhaps one day, when it is recognized that this episode is only the tip of the iceberg, they will widen their search.

 Is it recognized that it is not appropriate to keep a citizen in their own home, week after week, month after month, because they have a disability?

I learnt recently that prisoners are paid £25.00 per week. My mind boggled as I considered.

If you have committed a crime, you receive free lodgings, your bills are paid, and you get £25,00 per week . You are offered work, training, recreation, and access to computers.

Contrast that with the person with a disability, trying to live at home on benefits: paying bills, paying for food, paying rent or mortgage and paying for care. And what are they offered?

In whose name are such things done? Is it fair? Is it legal?

Is it too much, for those who have committed no crime, to want freedom?

Centre of Independent Living, DublinOn 1 March this year I started working as an intern in the Centre for Independent Living (CIL) in Dublin for three month. Last year, in December 2009, I finished my studies (special needs education) at the university of Hannover/Germany and I decided to do an internship abroad. On the internet I found out about the European Network on Independent Living and I sent an email with my application form to the office in Valencía, Spain. In my last year at the university I studied a lot about the Independent Living Movement. So it was clear for me that I wanted to do my internship in this field. Jamie Bolling then offered me the chance to go to Dublin to work there in the CIL Carmichael House. So, this is how I came to Dublin.

I am very satisfied with the overall placement in the internship. I got a lot of important experience. My main tasks during the internship were developing an implementation guideline handbook for the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and a database of organisations from the western region of Europe. I also wrote several information papers about the UN Convention in different formats (Power Point Presentation, leaflet, plain language version) to make the Convention as accessible as possible.

I learned a lot about the CRPD, the Independent Living Movement and also about organisations in Western Europe that work on Independent Living. Furthermore I had the opportunity to attend some training and workshops (an advocacy workshop, social media training, Dreamweaver training, a community support workshop). All the people I worked with during my internship were very friendly and supportive. I could always talk to my mentors about my work, my wishes and my ideas.

I am very glad about the possibilities the internship offered me. I feel very inspired by all the people I met living for the Independent Living Movement. It is such an important issue that definitely needs people standing up for their convictions. I have got a notion that there is a strong network in Europe of people fighting for the rights of persons with disabilities to become a reality in their daily lives. That really impressed me! And it felt good being a little part of this movement.

I advise anybody who is interested in Independent Living to gain experiences in the Movement itself. It is such a great experience to meet people from the Movement, to talk to them, to see what they organise every day to let Independent Living become a reality. You can’t gather all the impressions and experiences I got during my internship just by reading books about Independent Living!

The 15th World Congress of and for people with intellectual disabilities and their families begins tomorrow in Berlin.

Elisabeth Schroedter, vice president of the Employment and Social Committee in the European Parliament says:  

“The Federal Government is again playing a masquerade to the international public. To the international guests of the World Congress who travelled to Berlin, she plays the miracle worker concerning inclusion. On the European stage she still blocks the most important directive, which in Europe and Germany enables people with disabilities to participate in society in accordance with the UN Convention.  

For me it is a farce, if now Mrs. Merkel talks in her speech about “inclusion of people with intellectual disability – a social duty” (1), although she has recently signalled to the Spanish Presidency that the 5th anti-discrimination directive would be too heavy a burden for Germany and is therefore fundamentally opposed to this important law for the inclusion of people with disabilities.

I therefore call on Mrs Merkel, either to end the masquerade and to admit that she refuses equal opportunities and social participation as a right for people with disabilities or to finally support the necessary legislation at a European level.   Mrs. Merkel, give yourself a jolt and the World Congress a gift tomorrow: Stop its blockade against the principal anti-discrimination policy for people with disabilities! ”  

(1)  Title of the video message by Angela Merkel at the opening of the 15th World Congress’ inclusion – rights a reality on 16 June 2010.  

Background: The UN convention on the rights and social participation of people with disabilities is the basis of the 15th World Congress of Inclusion International which opens tomorrow and takes place until 19th June in Berlin. The ratification of the UN Convention was adopted in December 2009 by all EU governments. The proposal for the 5th Anti-discrimination policy is in its essential parts equivalent to the legal implementation of this UN convention. Negotiations between the European Parliament and the Council on this dossier falter because of the fundamental blockade the German government.

The European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) is seeking an Intern, based in the offices of the Center for Independent Living, Carmichael House, to assist in our work promoting human rights, equality and social justice for people with disabilities in Europe.

The European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) is a European wide network of disabled people. It represents a forum intended for all disabled people, independent living organisations and their non-disabled allies on the issues of independent living and the independent living movement. ENIL promotes social inclusion based on solidarity, peer support, de-institutionalization, democracy, self-representation and self-determination.

ENIL addresses the under-representation of persons with extensive disabilities in European disability politics and social organisations as well as mainstream society. ENIL and its member organisations believe that full citizenship and human rights for disabled people will only be achieved through increasing awareness, challenging traditional services and positive debate throughout Europe and internationally.

Our vision is of a world in which every person enjoys all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

ENIL Internship:

In conjunction with the support offered to ENIL by the intern, the primary purpose of the Policy Internship is to give applicants an opportunity to learn about equality, community development, programs, policies, and practices first-hand. By the end of the internship, the intern will have been supported to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to work in and contribute to the community/voluntary sector in the future.
ENIL are looking for a committed and flexible individual with strong research, report writing and communications skills to provide research support to ENIL’s policy work and campaign development. The intern will work as part of an innovative and effective department which seeks to influence policy and practice in relation to equality for people with disabilities in Europe.

Role Specification for the European Intern:

• Preparation the ENIL General Assembly in Brussels; circulation of information to members, support with audit and presentation of a coherent set of accounts.
• Development of summary report based on annual report
• Report on the activities of ENIL for 2010 and preparation of report identifying priorities for remainder 2010.
• Research in to best practice models of developing an ENIL youth network
• Support to Development Workers in linking with youth networks developed internationally for young people with disabilities
• Monitoring of the ratification and implementation of the UN Convention in Europe
• Support to member organizations in lobbying and campaigning for ratification and implementation of the UNCRPD
• Development of work plan for the Western Region for the 2nd half of 2010 with the support of existing staff
• It envisaged that this person will accompany some executive members to attend the General Assembly and other meetings in Strasbourg 20-23 of sept

Skills Required:

– Fluent speaker and writer of English
– Experience of policy advocacy or campaigning, either paid or voluntary
– Experience with working to deadlines
– Interest in Communications, Accounting, Marketing
– Report writing
– Previous experience in the communications field
– Excellent communications skills, both written and verbal
– IT skills – use of Microsoft Office Suite
– Keen interest in and/or experience in the aims of ENIL
– Interest or experience in human rights
– Flexibility and willingness to take on a wide variety of tasks

Hours of work: 32 hours per week

Duration of internship: 3 months

If you are interested in this position, please send your CV and an accompanying cover letter, to Martin Naughton, Co-Executive Director, at m.naughton@enil.eu

The closing date for applications is Friday June 25th 2010 at 5 pm

Qualified applicants will be subject to interview and reference checks.

ENIL is committed to equality of opportunity and welcomes applications from all sectors of the community.

European Surf Week, Belgium

There are still some places available for European surf week from 22-28 of August in Willebroek, Belgium. The event is held by the Belgian organisation Recreas and personal assistants are welcome so that you can learn to surf with your personal assistant.

The cost is free for anyone with a disability, not including the cost of travel but it costs €330 to participate with your personal assistant. This year Recreas is celebrating its twentieth year of surf week by offering 15 free places for 15 foreign contestants.

There will also be Recreas assistants on hand throughout the week.

For more information, please go to: http://www.recreas.be/Recreas/WatDoenWe/europeansurfweek.htm

Or email: info@recreas.be

ENIL director Corina Zolle in front of the German Reichstag for the Human Chain protest

ENIL is proud to be associated with the European protest day for the equality of people with disabilities that was held in Berlin and in 400 other places in Germany on 05 May.

On 05 May, a human chain from the Brandenburg Gate to the Reichstag called for the fast and thorough implementation of the United Nations Convention on the rights of people with disabilities. 

The motto for the protest was ‘Inclusion – being there from the start.’  Inclusion, as SPD (Social Democratic Party) General Secretary Andrea Nahles said at a rally in front of the Reichstag, begins with “inclusive education and community at school.”

ENIL director Corina Zolle saw the protest as an opportunity to raise awareness among politicians about the needs of Personal Assistance users: “the budgets for personal assistance have to be sufficient concerning the needs of an assistance user and must not be means tested.”

With the passing of a light in the chain of more than 500 people, the organizers wanted to connect symbolically the Brandenburg Gate with the German Bundestag to show politicians the way to inclusion. Georg Schnitzler, managing director of Lebenshilfe gGmbH in Berlin, stressed that the UN Convention does not only describe general rights, but also very concrete measures, geared towards the reality of disabled people’s lives.

“Although Germany has ratified the UN Convention, that does not mean that we can take it for granted that we get our rights,” said Dorte Gregorschewski of Women’s Web, mentioning the child abuse cases from the 1960s and 1970s. She criticized the fact that neither special interest groups of disabled women nor any other organization of disabled persons were invited to a roundtable with the Federal Government. “And this even though it is well-known that girls and women with disabilities experience violence more frequently than non-disabled. Circa 60% of women with disabilities living in institutions have already experienced sexual violence. This is a scandal. ”

Even if the UN Convention has been applied in German law for more than a year, the state and federal governments should finally act to make it a tangible reality, especially in education. When it comes to disabled and non-disabled students learning together, the Federal Republic is far behind other European countries.