#stupid stuff in action – PIP

The Campaign’s response to extended period of phasing in of PIP payments

The Campaign for a Fair Society welcomes the recent announcement of the need to take stock & ensure the implementation of Personal Independence Payments adopts a ‘controlled approach to the introduction…continuously testing & reviewing the processes to ensure they are right’ (www.gov.uk).

This is something the Campaign & others within the disability movement have been asking for since the inception of the Welfare Reform Act, 2012.  However, we know this pause is related to the practicalities of implementation, rather than the need to look at ‘what is right’. The problems with undertaking the amount of assessments needed by organisations such as ATOS are well documented.  Taxpayer’s money seems to be very poorly spent on a system that is not working.  ATOS & others are simply not delivering on the targets they put in their tenders for the work.  The amount of assessment centres is considerably less than intially proposed & all the while new claimants are suffering unnecessary delays & upset.

Our call for a cumulative impact assessment of changes to welfare & social care remains

The Campaign disputes the argument about the  growth in DLA claimants being unsustainable – this is misleading & based on incomplete data. In an ageing population mobility issues will inevitably increase. Incomplete, as there is no account taken of the future costs that will be incurred in health & social care in withdrawing this workbased benefit from hundreds of thousands of individuals.  Not investing in ensuring as many people remain as independent as possible will have huge cost implications for the future.  We want everyone’s taxes, including those of working disabled people, to be spent in the most efficient ways, leading to long term sustainability in health, social care & welfare.

Eg, the new PIP assessment says if a person can walk more than 20 metres, aided or unaided, they do not need or deserve the highest level of help the state can offer to cover mobility costs.

This 20 metre rule is replacing the qualifying distance of 50 metres used to assess people for Disability Living Allowance. 20 metres for most people will enable them simply to be able to navigate around their own homes. We believe that this policy, if left unchecked, will lead to disabled people dropping out of work & education & lead to increased poverty & isolation, increasing costs in other areas of government spending. We believe such a potentially risky change in policy should not be taken any further forward without a robust & accurate evidence base.

Gary Aldridge, Campaign for a Fair Society, English Steering Group

Spend to Mend

WHAT DISABILITY?: Spend to mend

After one month on the road, co founder Martyn Sibley has completed his Britain’s Personal Best challenge – rightfully named “What Disability?”. This challenge has brought up to the surface many questions about disability issues; here Martyn shares his views on what could, and should, be changed.

Well guys, we did it! Kasia, Martin and I traversed the UK from John O’Groats to Lands End. I hope you’ve been following the articles on Disability Horizons, the videos on my blog, the flickr photos and social media updates. The planning and executing of this trip was exhausting. However the media and the public really grasped the message that we carried.

I do not want to repeat the magnitude of what a personal challenge this was. This has been documented sufficiently for the Britain’s Personal Best project (www.whatsyours.org). Instead I want to share my reflections on a wider social scale.

I am so passionate about disability issues, I was very sad to see and realise how much more work we have to do in 2013. Disabled people should not need or want for anything relating to their medical condition. Especially things that are so basic. Continue reading Spend to Mend

Winterbourne View – 2 years on, we need you to ask some questions

The Campaign for a Fair Society welcomes the recent joint statement on 2 years post Winterbourne http://bit.ly/11mks1V. It is encouraging to see the Minister for Care, Norman Lamb, committing to name & shame those local authorities not making progress against the commitments made nationally that should lead to all individuals receiving personalised care & support in appropriate community settings no later than 1 June 2014.

However, we believe that although local progress needs to be monitored, as a national strategy more needs to be done at a national level to ensure success.  1 area that highlights this is the requirement for all individuals currently living in out of area placements to have had an assessment to establish whether the placement is suitable by June 2014. Our question is how is the quality of these assessments being monitored & is there an agreed national standard for them?

Likewise, at a time of unfair cuts & a squeeze on local authority funding, authorities are being asked to achieve more for less.  The ability to think innovatively is being impaired by the constant drive to lower the costs of local social services. We believe there are national directives & strategies which would be beneficial, namely: ensuring funding follows individuals through transition & back ‘home’.

We know that services such as Winterbourne View not only provide very poor outcomes, they are expensive.  There has been a commitment for ‘pooled’ health & social care funding, this needs to happen.  Ring fencing of current spending on ‘out of area’ placements, could facilitate innovation leading to future savings.

Housing is a real issue.  In some areas social housing & housing stock that would provide the variety of service models needed just don’t exist.  See David’s story  http://bit.ly/15jUOK9. If there is nowhere for individuals to move to, how will the June 2014 deadline ever be met? A national approach to delivering on housing stock is essential to achieving success.

Competitive tendering for local care services, driven more & more by cost, means that innovation & partnership working are harder to achieve.  Likewise, short term contracts lead to short termism & an inability for partnerships to develop. A clear message from government on this matter would be beneficial.

Over the coming months the Winterbourne View Joint Improvement Programme is asking local areas to complete a stocktake of progress.  The purpose is to enable local areas to assess where they are & share this nationally.  It is also intended to enable local areas to identify what help & assistance they require from the JIP & identify where resources can best be targeted. The Department of Health will publish a progress report later this summer, setting out how well the sector is meeting the milestones & providing further checks to make sure that the number of people in assessment & treatment centres continues to go down.

The Campaign is getting ready to respond to this report, we need campaign members to help:

Please write to your local M.P. & ask:-

  1. How have the quality of the assessments carried out on the 2,300 people in out of area placements been monitored?
  2. How has it been ensured there is no vested interest in continuing in patient care by the assessor?
  3. How many of the people reviewed have been recommended to move into their local community & how many remain in out of area placements?
  4. How many of the former Winterbourne View patients have been moved into community settings near their families?

Please share any responses you receive from your M.P. to help the Campaign to continue to raise awareness & keep this firmly on the agenda.

Massive economic benefits of social care

An indepth, independent study by Deloitte highlights for every £1 spent on services like support in the community, housing & communication, benefits worth an average of £1.30 are accrued to carers & local/central government.

Experts analysed 4 distinct services used by disabled people who need a lower level of care, which is often just a few hours a week.  Totalling up the costs in comparison to the benefits & savings, the returns ranged from 18% to 53%. 

Benefits to the Exchequer, local health & care commissioners at least 30%.

For the report see http://bit.ly/14Oyncm


A mother’s story

What is it like to be in a position where you need support from the state? A mother tells us of her daughter’s experience.

About 2 years ago I was contacted by letter to say that 2 people were coming round to our home to inverview us regarding my daughter receiving DLA.  This turned out to be the second time in about 4 years that someone has contacted them to say that in their opinion, she should not receive benefits.

I was unaware at the time, but when 2 officials arrived, their attitude of suspicion made me immediately aware that I was being interrogated. This was followed up some weeks later by a visit from a (presumably retired) gp, who again acted as if she was claiming money under false pretences.

I will tell you that my daughter, now aged 37, contracted a rare virus at the age of 17 months which caused brain damage – I would say she has an academic age of about 4 or 5 and a social age of maybe 12 or 13.  She has always, and still does, live at home.  In the following years she has been diagnosed with severe & multiple allergies, lupus, meningitis which cause the loss of some toes & now kerataconus wich has caused virtual blindness in one eye.

Anyone speaking to her for more than about 10 seconds would realise there was something pretty seriously wrong.  However, we were treated the whole time with suspicion – this culminated in a final question from the doctor as to whether I had anything else to add.  I commented how it was not easy to bring up a daughter alone as a one parent working mother, for most of her life with problems physically & mentally such as hers.  Her reply was – “I meant medically”.

My daughter was made to sit with us the whole time at both interviews.

Having spent years encouraging her & telling her how clever she was when she achieved something small, this was ruined by 2 visits during which I had to tell them all the things she can’t do.

Amongst the illnesses she has, brain damage is irreversible, lupus is incurable, allergies cause problems on a daily basis, she will never grow new toes & the keracatonus will, sometime, affect her other eye too.

I can understand that these officers & the gp must see lots of people who do try to claim benefits falsely but their attitude caused both of us to be in tears after they had left.  It then took 3 months for them to reach the decision that she is entitled to the benefits she gets.

The following year, she was subject to another assessment, another 2 hour stint, because of local authority cuts to see whether she qualified to keep the 2 days she attends at a local creative arts workshop.  She does.

Now we’ve heard that DLA is changing to PIP so another assessment will take place.  Apart from costing the Government a fortune, this continual fear & uncertainty has given me, amongst other things, high blood pressure.  In my opinion, they’ve targeted the very section of society who are the most vulnerable & are unable to speak up for themselves. When you have it on record the problems that my daughter has, I cannot understand what you gain by these reassessments.