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

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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.

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.

ENIL has launched a web questionnaire to ask what’s happening with the UN Convention in your country.

Do you think the Convention has made any difference? What do you think could strengthen the Convention? Have you seen any changes by your governments? Has your government asked an organisation with knowledge of independent living to help the monitoring process or a traditional medical based organisation? Have you seen any changes around article 19?

Help us to let governments know what we think about what they are doing (or not doing). There are just 13 main questions most of which are click through. Do you have 4 minutes? Go to:

http://www.easyresearch.se/s.asp?WID=769823&Pwd=91127753&key=75649,3

MINISTER of State for Disability Issues John Moloney has said he will draw up plans which could give disabled people direct payments to pay for services rather than giving the money to institutions.

Speaking following the annual general meeting of Inclusion Ireland, the national association for people with intellectual disabilities, Mr Moloney said individualised payments were the way forward.

“As far as I’m concerned, this is the future. I want to drive this idea and as part of a policy review, I hope to bring proposals on this area to Cabinet before the end of the year,” he said. At present the State pays disability organisations and charities about €1.6 billion per year to provide day and residential services for people with disabilities. Mr Moloney was responding to calls from groups who say the move would give people with disabilities and their advocates far greater choice in the type of services they receive.

Séamus Green of the National Parents’ and Siblings’ Alliance said it would also ensure that services fit around the needs of people with disabilities, rather than the other way around.

“This is about giving people with disabilities the kinds of choices and the kind of life that we have; helping to integrate them into mainstream society, give them a chance of a better quality of life,” he said.

The conference also heard that a 60-bed residential development built to transfer people who are inappropriately housed in a psychiatric hospital has been lying empty for the past year.

Plans for a modern campus of six 10-bed units on the grounds of St Ita’s Psychiatric Hospital was originally announced almost 12 years ago. Gerry McDonald, whose son was due to be transferred to the new facility, said parents and their children were deeply frustrated over the slow progress in opening the facility.

“These residents are living in out-dated, over-crowded conditions. The dilapidated building they’re in was constructed as a lunatic asylum in the 1800s. It’s totally inappropriate for the needs of people with disabilities.”

Mr McDonald said parents had not received any firm commitment over when the unit will open.

St Joseph’s Association for the Intellectually Disabled has also been lobbying the Health Service Association to open the facility.

Mr Moloney said he was unable to give a commitment on extra staff for the unit.

Reference: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2010/0426/1224269093646.html