“Dangerous” cuts to the care packages of former recipients of Independent Living Fund (ILF) support are exposing “false” government promises that they would not lose out when the fund closed say campaigners.One London council Waltham Forest, has admitted cutting the support packages of 28 former ILF-users since the fund closed at the end of June, even though it received nearly one million pounds from the government to maintain support for them and about 40 other former ILF-recipients for the rest of 2015-16.Of the 28 disabled people whose support has been cut in Waltham Forest, disabled campaigners are aware of at least eight who have experienced “really significant” cuts.Last month, Disability News Service (DNS) revealed that another London council, Hounslow, had slashed a disabled woman’s support by 48 hours a week after the fund closed.ILF was run by the Department for Work and Pensions and when it closed on 30 June was helping nearly 17,000 disabled people with the highest support needs to live independently.But the coalition government decided that it should be scrapped, promising instead that nine months’ worth of non-ring-fenced funding would be transferred through the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to councils in England, and to devolved governments in Wales and Scotland.But the transition process has been hit by reports of delays in reassessments for former ILF-users and cuts to their care packages, and government pre-closure statements and pledges appear now to be falling apart.Two days before May’s election, chancellor George Osborne told an ILF-user on a regional television programme that the government would “demand” that councils spent the extra funding they would receive on former ILF-users, even though that money was not ring-fenced.And Esther McVey, at the time the minister for disabled people, said in 2012 that the government believed that “the needs of current users could be met in a more consistent and effective way within a single cohesive system”.Tracey Lazard, chief executive of Inclusion London, which is working with other user-led organisations to research the impact of the ILF closure, said the situation in Waltham Forest “does not look good”.She said: “What is really clear with Waltham Forest is the whole approach has been on the assumption that cuts are inevitable, even though they have got something like [£955,000] in ILF funding [from the government].“They have just gone on the basis that there are going to be huge cuts.”Lazard said individuals had not been given independent advocacy through the assessment process, as they should have been under the new Care Act, while there were concerns about the process itself, and the lack of clear information about how to appeal.She said: “It’s really shoddy and the impact is hugely dangerous.“One of our concerns is that for a lot of ILF-users they have had minimal or no contact with the council and they are not in contact with community organisations. They could effectively be suffering these cuts in silence.”Lazard said that government promises that closing ILF was just a “process issue” and was about “getting rid of an anomaly in the system” were “tantamount to lying”.She said: “It is absolutely false. It used [the closure] to save money. There was no evidence to suggest that there would not be cuts. To hide behind that is adding insult to injury.”Gabriel Pepper (pictured), one of the most prominent campaigners against ILF closure, has seen his support package cut by Waltham Forest from 72 hours to 38 hours a week since ILF closed.Last week, he and other disabled activists held a protest about the cuts outside the council’s offices.He said the cut to his support risked leaving him a “prisoner in my house”, while he feared that his quality of life could “disappear”.He said: “My council at Waltham Forest was given £955,686 to do this, so where is all the money going?“It’s being squandered on pot holes, flower beds outside the town hall, huge salaries for suited executives and fancy painting on shop fronts.”Another former ILF-recipient from Waltham Forest said the way the process had been conducted by the council had been “inhuman, messy”, with “very poor standards of information”, and care packages cut before people’s appeals against those decisions had been heard.She said: “I am coming across people who have been bullied [by the council]. The whole process has been a complete shambles.”She knows three carers who have been told by the council that their relatives would be better off in a care home now ILF has closed.She added: “There is an acceptance of the inevitability that people are going to be institutionalised, which I find really scary.”Neither the Department of Health nor DCLG had commented by noon today (11 September).Waltham Forest council had not replied by noon today to email and telephone messages from DNS asking for answers to a series of questions.
A disabled employee of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) says he attempted to take his own life and experienced life-threatening physical health complications because of a culture of workplace bullying and discrimination.Paul* spokeout about his own experiences after reading a Disability News Service (DNS)report describing how DWPrepeatedly failed to make reasonableadjustments fordisabled people who were recruited into its Community Partners scheme.His accountof his own experiences working in a separate part of DWP adds to mountingevidence of disability discrimination within the department.Onlylast week,DNS reported how the proportion of DWP staff who say they have been victims ofdisability discrimination at work in the previous 12 months has risen by about50 per cent in just four years, according to Civil Service figures.There wasalso a rise of more than 10 per cent in just 12 months in the number of DWPstaff saying they had personally experienced disability discrimination at work,from 1,462 in 2017 to 1,612 in 2018.Thesestatistics, combined with other Civil Service figures, suggest that more than athird of disabled DWP staff experienced disability discrimination at work in2018.The latestevidence of discrimination within the government department responsible for themuch-criticised Disability Confident programme also further strains thescheme’s credibility.DWP itselfhas secured the status of Disability Confident Leader, the highest of threelevels within the scheme, which aims to work with employers to “challengeattitudes towards disability” and “ensure that disabled people have theopportunities to fulfil their potential and realise their aspirations”.Paul attemptedsuicide as a result of the abuse and discrimination he experienced, while theincreased stress levels led to significant, lasting and potentially fatal healthcomplications.He said hewas still waiting for all the reasonable adjustments he needed to do his job, morethan 18 months after he requested them.He said hehad received phone calls from fellow disabled employees who were in tearsbecause of the failure of the department to make the reasonable adjustmentsthey needed to do their job.Paul saidthat when he and others pass on concerns about the impact of bullying andharassment on their mental health, they are told to take anti-depressants orseek counselling, while the staff and managers responsible are moved to otherdepartments or rewarded with promotions.Hisexperiences with DWP have had, he said, “a devastating effect on my careerprospects, a devastating effect on my potential earnings, and a devastatingeffect on my potential life expectancy and ability to live on my own”.He added: “Infact, this has had a devastating effect on my life.”DWP’swidespread failings call into question its fitness to judge disabled people’seligibility for benefits, he added.A DWPspokesperson said: “We are absolutely committed to ensuring allcolleagues, including those with disabilities or health conditions, get thesupport they need to thrive. “The department has a duty of care to its colleagues andaims to lead by example as a Disability Confident employer, following bestpractice in recruiting, retaining and developing disabled staff. “This includes making workplace adjustments for staff whorequire them and providing a dedicated team to deliver this.“We have in place robust processes for colleagues andmanagers to follow in relation to diversity and inclusion and, while the numberof staff reporting disability discrimination is very small, we treat any caseextremely seriously.”She said DWP takes “active steps” to promote equality,and that more than 10,500 employers have signed up to Disability Confident,while the department was modernising its recruitment practices to make them “fairer and moreinclusive”. She added: “Shouldany individual feel they or their circumstances have not been treated withrespect; believe they have been treated unfairly; or not in line with ourinclusive principles, our policies and procedures provide a route forescalation so it can be considered and addressed.”*Not his real name. DNS has disguisedhis occupation within DWP and has not provided full details of the healthproblems caused by the discrimination he has experienced to avoid identifyinghimSamaritans can be contacted free, 24 hoursa day, 365 days a year, by calling 116 123 or emailing [email protected] note from the editor:Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS…
A majority of Labour members believe that Alastair Campbell should not be readmitted to the party as a member, the latest LabourList survey has found.Of 7,650 party members polled by LabourList over the weekend, over 50% said he should not be let back into the party while 43% said he should be. The rest were uncertain.A lower percentage of LabourList readers as a whole, including non-members, believed he should not be readmitted. They were more evenly divided than members, with 48% against readmittance and 46% in favour.Campbell, a director of communications and spokesman for the Labour Party under Tony Blair, was automatically expelled from the party after announcing on television that he had voted for the Liberal Democrats in the European elections.Commenting on the decision at the time, a Labour spokesperson said: “Support for another political party or candidate is incompatible with party membership.”The Blairite critic of Jeremy Corbyn and Labour’s Brexit policy has stated that he intends to appeal his auto-exclusion, and many Labour members have expressed their support and solidarity – particularly as others also voted against Labour.But LabourList-reading members who took our latest survey are divided on the issue, with fewer in favour of readmitting him (43%) than against (50.6%).Appearing on ITV’s Peston last week, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey suggested that the story had been engineered by Campbell to cause trouble in the party.“Alastair knew exactly what he was doing,” the trade union leader said. “He knows that there’s an auto-exclusion policy within the Labour party rules. He did it to create a controversy.”Do you think Alastair Campbell should be readmitted to the Labour Party as a member?Click to enlarge.Readers:No – 47.6% (4,420)Yes – 45.9% (4,264)Don’t know – 6.5% (602)Click to enlarge.Members:No – 50.6% (3,869)Yes – 43% (3,289)Don’t know – 6.4% (492)The survey was open from 11am on Sunday 2nd June until 6pm on Monday 3rd June. Thank you to all 9,286 readers who took part. Read the full results here.Tags:Labour /Alastair Campbell /labour members /European elections 2019 /
SAINTS have announced their squad for Friday’s Stobart Super League Round 25 game with Castleford Tigers.Michael Shenton, Josh Jones and Jon Wilkin miss out through injury, but there is a return for Sia Soliola.The squad is:1. Paul Wellens, 4. Sia Soliola, 5. Francis Meli, 6. Lance Hohaia, 7. Jonny Lomax, 8. Josh Perry, 9. James Roby, 10. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 11. Tony Puletua, 13. Chris Flannery, 14. Anthony Laffranchi, 15. Mark Flanagan, 16. Paul Clough, 17. Gary Wheeler, 18. Shaun Magennis 19. Andy Dixon, 20. Lee Gaskell, 21. Tommy Makinson, 34. Adam Swift.Ian Millward will choose his Castleford side from:1. Richard Owen, 2. Nick Youngquest, 5. Josh Griffin, 7. Danny Orr, 8. Jacob Emmitt, 10. Craig Huby, 13. Steve Snitch, 14. Stuart Jones, 15. Adam Milner, 16. Ryan Hudson, 17. Lee Mitchell, 19. Paul Jackson, 20. Grant Millington, 21. Oliver Holmes, 22. Nathan Massey, 24. Steve Nash, 25. Jordan Thompson, 26. James Clare, 30. Ben Johnston.The game kicks off at 8pm and the referee is George Stokes.Tickets are on sale for the game, which is sponsored by Oval Insurance Broking, and details are here.Stat Pack:St Helens have won their last eight meetings with Castleford.The Tigers’ last win against the Saints was 30-24 at The Jungle (as it was then known) on 6 April, 2008.Castleford are seeking their first summer era away win at St Helens on Friday night. In the 16 visits they made to Knowsley Road between 1996 and 2010, the Tigers were defeated on 15 occasions.The closest they got to a summer victory at Saints’ old home came with a 32-32 draw on 13 September, 1998.The Tigers also lost, 22-20, at Widnes in 2011.Castleford’s last win at St Helens was 12-8 in the third round of the Regal Trophy on 19 December, 1992. Their last league win was 29-16 on 21 October, 1990.2012 Meeting:Castleford 12, St Helens 18 (SLR11, 9/4/12)Super League Summary:St Helens won 27 (includes win in 1999 play-offs)Castleford won 41 drawUps and Downs:St Helens highest score: 72-4 (A, 2006) (also widest margin)Castleford highest score: 36-22 (H, 2002) (Widest margin: 35-16, H, 1997)
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