Making benefits work for long term health conditions

Reblogged from Limited Capability:

Can you take this survey to help design a better system for sickness, disability and work?

Forget lifting empty cardboard boxes or picking up pound coins from the floor.

What are the real life factors that limit or prevent you working with a long term health condition?
And what are the adjustments, or forms of support you would need to improve your chances of getting and holding down paid work?

Do you need a compulsory course in motivation building, for example? Or do you need an understanding employer who can tailor a job description to your capabilities?

An important consultation is taking place about the future of Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and the hated Work Capability Assessment (WCA) and your views are urgently needed to shape recommendations for what a better incapacity benefit and employment support should look like.

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How would cuts to Employment and Support Allowance affect you?

Spartacus Network

URGENT – YOUR VIEWS ON CUTS TO ESA IN THE WELFARE REFORM BILL NEEDED BY 15TH NOVEMBER

Spartacus produced a briefing when the Chancellor announced his plans this summer to cut £30 per week from the benefits of people in the ESA Work Related Activity Group in order to incentivise them to return to work.

We said that cutting social security for disabled people would place the UK government in breach of its international treaty obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as well as the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People. What’s more, this plan is based on the false assumption that people in the WRAG have motivational problems, rather than health or labour market barriers.

Now we welcome a parliamentary review led by Lord Low of Dalston in December to give evidence on how these proposed cuts will affect disabled people and…

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The inherent contradiction at the heart of the DWP’s employment support for disabled people

Guest post by Catherine Hale, @octoberpoppy

The Work and Pensions Committee published its report on the future of welfare to work this week. Its key message is that the government must focus employment support on people with complex needs, in particular expanding provision for people with substantial disability.

There is an obvious solution to the flaws identified in the design of the existing specialist disability employment scheme, Work Choice. And it is the same solution to some of the legendary flaws in the Work Capability Assessment, especially the vexing issue of the work-related activity group (WRAG), where people with severe ill health are put through a punishing back to work regime incapable of addressing their needs. Yet no one seems to have had the insight or will to name it. Continue reading

Mistrust and discrimination – or empowerment and aspiration?

A conversation with a colleague earlier this week made me think about what’s really wrong with this Government’s disability policy. I know disabled people are set up to fail by the actions of DWP and JobCentre Plus, that the Work Capability Assessment is a disaster, that many disabled people will have their independence compromised by the change from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payment, that “protection” of the “most vulnerable” (whoever they are!) from cuts is merely a rhetorical illusion, that cuts in funding to local authorities and the closure of the Independent Living Fund are undermining social care – to list just a few aspects of this Government’s lamentable record. It’s a depressing litany of failure… Continue reading

Vicious Vulnerability

Guest blog by members of the Spartacus Network

Vulnerability seemed to be last week’s buzz word. Are people on JSA with mental health problems “vulnerable”? Should society only support the “most vulnerable”? Is Cameron’s targeting of the “most vulnerable” a progressive policy?

By now your blood will probably coming to the boil and you’re likely to be screaming at your “interactive device” of choice. I really don’t blame you – “vulnerable” has become a toxic word in a toxic society with toxic Government policies.

The Social Model of Disability describes how society disables people. However, “vulnerability” seems to be a very different sort of model, artificially created to describe those who are “worthy” of help, to differentiate them from the rest – and it’s a double edged sword. Continue reading

#WRAG2ruin – Response to Budget ESA cuts

As widely trailed in the general election campaign and in the run-up to budget day, the Chancellor’s Summer 2015 budget included devastating cuts to social security and tax credits, effectively summarised by Disability Rights UK. Despite Osborne’s oft-repeated assurances, in both this and the last Parliament, that disability benefits would be excluded from cuts, there is much in the budget to cause deep concern for disabled people.  As in previous rounds of cuts, this is because disabled people rely as much, if not more than non-disabled people, on “mainstream” benefits – such as housing benefit and tax credits. Continue reading

The Fragility of Human Rights

Must-read blog from the UK Human Rights Blog

UK Human Rights Blog

Holidays_Halloween_Boiling_cauldron_on_Halloween_024660_The announcement this week of a new Conservative Party plan to repeal the Human Rights Act, ‘Protecting Human Rights in the UK’, has brought to a boil a cauldron of incredulity (pictured) about the Government’s attitude towards the law. The response from human rights lawyers and advocacy groups has been swift. Liberty describes the Conservative Party plan as ‘legally illiterate’. The several ways in which that is true have already been the subject of detailed exposition. Indeed, Liberty’s response is even more accurate than it might first appear. If the Conservative Party plan is legally illiterate then it is best read as a political tactic to assure its supporters that it is the party of anti-European sentiment. 

Nevertheless, if the move helps to bring about a Conservative Party government after the general election next May, then there is a great likelihood that steps will be taken…

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Dignity and Opportunity for All – report published!

Report coverDignity and Opportunity for All:
Securing the rights of disabled people in the austerity era

This report I’ve helped to write for Just Fair has now been published. It analyses the extent to which the UK is meeting its obligations to realise the following rights in relation to disabled people, as set out in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD):

  • The right to independent living (UNCRPD Article 19)
  • The right to work (ICESCR Article 6 and UNCRPD Article 27)
  • The right to fair and just conditions of employment (ICESCR Article 7 and UNCRPD Article 27)
  • The right to social security (ICESCR Article 9)
  • The right to social protection (UNCRPD Article 28)
  • The right to an adequate standard of living (ICESCR Article 11 and UNCRPD Article 28)

Continue reading

Report launch: Dignity and Opportunity for All

Good news! The report on disabled people’s human rights, which I’ve been working on for 6 months, is to be launched on Monday 7 July.

The report

Last November, I was commissioned by Just Fair to produce a report entitled “Dignity and Opportunity for All: Securing the rights of disabled people in the austerity era”, to help fulfil the charity’s aim to increase understanding of economic and social rights and ensure that law, policy and practice comply with the UK’s international human rights obligations. The report analyses the extent to which the UK Government is meeting its obligations to respect, protect and fulfil some key disabled people’s rights, including the rights to independent living, work, social security and an adequate standard of living. These rights are set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

The analysis is rigorous and evidence-based, and includes a set of recommendations in relation to social care and social security policies. The report will be submitted to the UN committees that monitor these human rights treaties, in order to influence and inform their conclusions regarding UK compliance.

The launch

The report launch will take place in the Thatcher Room, Portcullis House, London SW1A 2LW, on Monday 7 July from 6.30 – 8 pm.

If you would like to attend the launch, please book your ticket online at Eventbrite, not forgetting to book an extra ticket if you need to bring a PA with you.  Tickets are available on a first come, first served basis. See you there!

Labour’s buried treasure

The Labour Party has commissioned, received – and buried – a superb and timely report into poverty and disability in the UK today.  If they won’t publicise it, then we must!

One of the big social and policy challenges in Britain today is the persistent and complex link between disability and poverty – disabled people are more likely to live in poverty,[1] but people living in poverty are also more likely to become disabled.[2] Approximately one-fifth (19%) of the UK population is disabled or has a long term health condition.[3] Disabled people are 30% less likely to be in paid work than non-disabled people[4] but face very high disability-related costs.[5] And this is all in spite of the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 (which replaced the Disability Discrimination Act 1995) and the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People, ratified by the UK Government in 2009.

Against this background, last Summer Labour commissioned a Task Force to look at ways to break the link between disability and poverty, sending out a press release.[6] All six members of the Task Force are supremely well-qualified, both personally and professionally, to bring together evidence, research and their own understanding of the complexity of disability and chronic ill-health to produce an outstanding report. Mindful of the economic constraints that will face whatever party forms a government in 2015, they tailored the report’s recommendations accordingly, although it is unrealistic to expect to tackle this issue effectively without any further investment at all. Using current expenditure more effectively is the priority. Continue reading