Information Breakthrough: Issue 72
A printable version of this bulletin can be found at: Issue 72 E-Bulletin
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Please let us know if any of the items mentioned in this bulletin are not accessible to you – we will try to source them in an alternative format. Contributions are always welcome. The views of external organisations or commentators mentioned in this bulletin are not necessarily those of Breakthrough UK.
01: What Are ULOs For?
This is the title of our latest blog:
“The disabled people's movement is still relatively young, and as Disability History Month recently launched on 22nd November and disabled people continue to bear the brunt of the governments austerity measures, it's worth taking a look at our organisations, how they are faring, and maybe most importantly what they are for.”
To read more, please visit:
02: Disability Hate Crime Network (DHCN) Response to Bijan Ebrahimi Murder Case
The DHCN has responded angrily in a letter to the Attorney General to the sentences given yesterday in court to the two people involved in the appalling murder of disabled man Bijan Ebrahimi. Lee James killed Bijan Ebrahimi and set fire to his body in July. The judge said he must serve a minimum of 18 years in prison. Stephen Norley was given four years for helping James to drag Bijan Ebrahimi's body from the scene and then burn the body.
The co-ordinators of DHCN said: "As co-ordinators of the Disability Hate Crime Network we would like the Attorney General to review the sentences handed down today to Lee James and Steven Norley in the case of Bijan Ebrahimi, a disabled Iranian man who was falsely accused of paedophila by a mob, and then burnt to death two days later in July 2013....
It is not thought that the police or the Crown Prosecution Service had asked the judge to enhance the sentence because of disability hostility, which would have meant that the judge could enhance Norley's sentence under sec 146 of the CJA 2005 and James's sentence under LASPO 2013 (the first of its kind). At any rate, the sentences are perceived by disabled people and other affected groups to be extremely low, given the overwhelming violence and sadism in the murder."
For their statement in full, see:
More background on the case is on the BBC website:
03: UK Disability History Month
This is well under way now with events planned across the region. http://ukdisabilityhistorymonth.com/
Launching the month, Professor Mike Oliver gave his first speech in over 10 years. In this he warned of ‘fakes and false friends’, and listed 6 lessons from history which disabled people must take on board sustain and build on recent achievements. In short, these are:
1. “never to forget where we came from”
2. Meaning of independent living is independent living is “having choice and control in our lives” and “autonomy and self-determination”.
3. beware of “the fakes who seek to jump on the independent living bandwagon”
4. be wary of “so-called friends”, especially those who want to replace the welfare state with the “individualistic” personalisation agenda.
5. “honour the many disabled people who never managed to escape from the isolation and neglect of earlier times, or those who died on the journey towards independent living”.
6. Don’t go along with governments attempts to “turn our ideas into their own agendas”
A detailed summary is on the Disability News Service website, from which the above points were quoted:
We have set up a page on our website to commemorate the month. Currently this contains links to the NHS Disability History Timeline which we were involved in producing:
04: Five Disabled People Win Independent Living Fund Case
Five disabled people have successfully appealed against a High Court decision earlier this year which said that the planned closure of the Independent Living Fund is lawful.
The appeal judges agreed that the decision to close the fund was made without proper evidence, therefore putting independent living in jeopardy for many disabled people:
Ministers are now seeking further advice, but will not be appealing the decision. There have been calls for Esther McVey to resign as a Minister, as she was Minister for Disabled People at the time that the decision was made to close the fund.
In Its Disability Policy, The Government Wants To “Have Its Cake And Eat It”
A detailed analysis here from Jane Young on the appeal court judgement in the Independent Living Fund case. Discussing the contradictions she perceives in government policy, Jane says:
"Whilst the Government repeatedly emphasises its desire for disabled people to work and to participate in society, at the same time its policies seek to prevent us from doing so. Many ILF users are able to work and participate despite significant impairments because they receive a high level of support, generally via a direct payment that enables them to employ their own staff to support them in the way that suits them best. Without that support, their ability to participate – or even get washed, dressed and out of the house – will be totally compromised; some may even have to move into residential care, an outcome as unacceptable to disabled people as it would be to anyone else."
"Why We Need To Build On The Independent Living Fund"
This piece by Jenny Morris was written in the aftermath of the Court of Appeal decision:
"I would say that those disabled people who were willing to go to court to defend their right to independent living have shown us that we need something worth fighting for – and the current tinkering with the social care system is not it. Building on what is good about the Independent Living Fund gives us many more opportunities for working towards the goal of implementing, in full, the vision of independent living that disabled people have been fighting for over the last 30 years."
05: "Over 50,000 Disabled People Could Lose Jobs As Vital Support Is Cut"
So says a new report from the Disability Benefits Consortium, a group of over 50 charities for disabled people. A Freedom of Information request they sent for indicates that a fifth of people who currently get Disability Living Allowance (DLA) are in work. Their survey of 1,000 disabled people showed that, of those in work, more than half said they would not be able to continue in employment without their DLA.
Steve Winyard, Co-chair of the DBC Steering Group said: “One in five disabled people use DLA to help them in work. But thousands could be forced out of employment as a result of cuts to mobility help. DWP has failed to analyse this issue to date. It is vital that cuts don’t force disabled people out of work and cost more to the public purse overall.”
For more on this, see:
06: Emergency Meeting Held In Parliament On The Future Of Disabled People's Independent Living In The UK
Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC) and Inclusion London held an emergency meeting with politicians on 26 November in Parliament:
"The Emergency meeting hosted by Kate Green, shadow Minister for Disabled People, will include a drama created especially for this event to enable disabled people with a range of experiences to express their stories in an accessible and inclusive way. It will also preview a powerful film by journalists Ros Wynne Jones and Kate Belgrave showing a day in a life without the Independent Living Fund of ILF recipient Mary Laver."
A report of the meeting is now online at:
07: Making Hope Possible - New Blog
Neil Crowther has set up a blog on the future of independent living. It "will showcase exciting ideas, promising practices, innovative thinking, powerful evidence and compelling new narratives which together will demonstrate how independent living provides answers to the big social policy challenges facing the UK and other countries."
08: Petition: Stop the Changes to Access to Work Support for BSL Users
This petition to Sir Malcolm Bruce & Iain Duncan Smith is asking "Please stop the changes to Access to Work support for BSL (British Sign Language) users. Deaf and hard of hearing people are being restricted to unrealistic salaried budgets that do not meet their support needs."
Since the petition was started, Malcolm Bruce MP has raised the matter with Mike Penning, Minister of State for Disabled People. It currently has over 4,000 signatures.
For more on this, see the article on Limping Chicken at:
The petition itself is at:
09: Review Launched on Exploitation in the Social Care Sector
The Labour Party have called for this and it will be led by Baroness Kingsmill. Its focus appears to be the exploitation of workers in the sector, for instance those on zero hours contracts. For some analysis of the need, see:
Understanding the Law on Zero Hours Contracts
Meanwhile, the CIPD has produced guidance 'Zero-hours contracts: understanding the law', to help employers ensure that they are using zero-hours contracts responsibly and understand the legal issues surrounding them:
10: Briefing from Charities on the Welfare Cap
This about the ‘Annually Managed Expenditure’ (AME) cap announced in the autumn budget which is due to be fleshed out by George Osborne on 5 December. This technical briefing has been written by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) with other charities including Action for Children, Age UK, Barnardos, Child Poverty Action Group, Crisis, Oxfam, SCVO and Shelter and airs their concerns about the proposals.
“As a group, we have been considering the potential impact of the cap on people’s lives, while recognising the government’s policy objective to bring a greater level of scrutiny to AME spending. We’re now seeking a meeting with Ministers and officials to discuss these points further.”
11: Who Needs To Be Disability Confident?
As the government's Disability Confident initiative for employers held its first conference, Phil Friend told BBC Ouch that, for him, disabled people themselves need more confidence building and support to retain work:
"Most disabled people acquire their impairments as adults and many of them are in work when the onset occurs. It's a crucial point at which a newly disabled person could easily slip into unemployment if he or she doesn't feel like being proactive, or believes there are no solutions.
Is an employer given appropriate advice on how to keep that experienced person on the team? Or, perhaps more crucially, who is talking to the newly disabled person? And who is telling his or her family about the benefits of staying in work."
12: Scaling the NHS’s Diversity Problems
This is a piece written by members of the former Equality and Diversity team at NHS North West. In it, they address the institutional discrimination facing BME staff in the NHS, addressing areas such as barriers to progression, loss of diversity in reorganisations and disproportionate disciplinaries:
13: Commons Debate On Housing Benefit Changes
A debate took place on 12 November in the House of Commons on the changes to Housing Benefit. It was an Opposition Day debate during which Labour called for the spare room subsidy ‘bedroom tax’ to be abolished. They were defeated, but only by a Coalition majority of 26, with several Lib Dem MPs voting with Labour or abstaining.
A recent letter from the Disability Benefits Consortium to Iain Duncan Smith, based on their own research, states:
"It (the bedroom tax) is hitting disabled people who need an extra room for essential home adaptations or equipment which enable them to live independently; seriously or terminally ill people who sleep on hospital beds and cannot share a room with a partner who cares for them and parents caring 24/7 for disabled children who need a room for a care worker to stay in to give them a night off from caring.
None of these groups are exempt and our organisations are seeing the devastating impact it is having on those who now face a shortfall in their rent as a result of the changes. Nine in 10 disabled people and three quarters of carers affected are now having to cut back on food and heating to pay the shortfall in rent they face as a result of this policy.
Our organisations are hearing time after time from disabled people, carers and families of disabled children who are being forced deeper and deeper into debt and falling behind on their rent, putting them at risk of eviction."
A lobby was organised by Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC) to take place at Westminster on the same day, also on the ‘bedroom tax’, and was attended by 8 labour MPs.
14: Breakthrough’s New HQ Should Boost Inclusion
This is the Disability News Service report on the rationale behind our office relocation, quoting Deputy Chief Executive Peter Jackson:
"One of the added value benefits of re-locating to here is that rather than being in our own building, which was pretty much isolated from any other services, we are co-located with a whole bunch of other public and community services, including schools.
“The opportunity to network and work in partnership with those other services, particularly from an inclusion perspective… is obviously easier to do when you are co-located.
“We are looking forward to developing these partnership opportunities [and]… to work with the primary and secondary school on inclusion issues.”
15: Contact Us
Telephone: 0161 234 3950
Breakthrough UK Ltd.
The Kevin Hyett Suite
Abraham Moss Centre, Crescent Road, Crumpsall, Manchester M8 5UF
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